Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic

     Free education in the USA is a joke. There is nothing free about it. We pay dearly in taxes. The education opportunity given to our children is a golden gift. They waste the gift from grades 1-12 daily. Our kids just do not get it. They are too young to get it on their own. The problem is with parents who fail to take their parental responsibility seriously.

     My own parents did not have the same opportunity that they gave me. Their formal education was at a fourth grade level. Both Mom and Dad left their homes in a foreign country to migrate to America as teenagers.  The experience of coming to a new land on your own at age sixteen is unimaginable. Yet, there were thousands of European kids coming to America for a better life. When they arrived, they did not find a friendly country. People called them greenhorns and hunkies. They stuck with others of their own nationality in order to survive.  After they settled into a community, they attended school for two reasons: first to learn the language, second to become citizens.

     What I am getting to is that they understood the value of education, and insisted that we get a good one.  My own philosophy is the same. My children’s philosophy is the same as mine. Our kids will not squander the golden gift. I made sure the kids went to good schools.  We insisted they show us their assignments, and reviewed their homework. We talked to their teachers and gave them our permission to discipline our kids when they were out of line. Every teacher they had was a caring person who was serious about his work and my kids. I am satisfied that my kids took advantage of the gift.

     What makes me upset today, is the low graduation rate and the number of kids who get out of school, and do not know how to read. I hear politicians campaigning on the promise to spend more money on education. I see Chicago schools that are a hundred years old, and in need of serious repair. I see school busses lined up to deliver kids to school. I see kids getting free breakfast and lunch. I see teachers afraid to enter a classroom because of discipline problems. I see parents who do not give a hoot about their kid’s education. I see gangs substituting for parents and family in a kid’s life.

     All of the above only makes me mad as hell. What makes me furious is when I hear about teachers who are no longer interested or capable of teaching, and the administration cannot fire them because of their tenure. Between tenure and the teachers unions, I see my tax dollars flushed down the toilet.  I recently learned that it costs $219,000.00 to fire a bad teacher in the Chicago system. As a result, the bad teachers remain in force. They ignore our kids, and waste our dollars. When they retire, they get great pensions. Our kids are screwed.

     My point is that we have to make the teacher unions give a little in order to improve the school system. Certainly, more money is not the answer.

A Public Option Lesson

     Let me start by chronicling an event that just occurred. Two days before I left on a long trip, I went to the post office to change my address so my mail would be forwarded. In past years, I went in, filled out a yellow change of address form, handed it to a local USPS clerk and forgot about it. I left town, and the mail stopped coming to the old address on the date I requested, and it arrived a week later at my new address. Each piece of mail forwarded had a yellow sticker on it with the new address.  I timed my travel to cover the time of the relay. It worked every time.

     This time, I was in a hurry when I went to the post office. I asked a clerk for the form.

     She asked me, “only one?”

    “Yes,” I responded too quickly. I went to the counter to fill it out when I remembered that I have to fill out a form for each name that receives mail to an address. In the past, I was lucky. I got away with one form for my Sur name, and covered my family by checking the family box.  That way, my wife’s mail forwarded also. This time, I had to complete four cards. 1) Peggy is known by her former name, 2) her new name covered by a check in the family box, and 3)a hyphenated combo.  The fourth is mail that still comes for my beloved Aunt Marie. In the interest of time, I got sucked into doing the job on-line.

     The USPS web site is enormous, but relatively easy to navigate. I found the page quickly, and filled out the form. I clicked finish and the damn thing asked for  a one dollar transaction fee. Hmmm, they never ask for that in the PO. I thought a computer was supposed to improve productivity, and reduce costs. Each name cost me another buck on the credit card. I saved the transactions, and went about packing.

     The result of the new on-line system is totally unsatisfactory. Here is what happened:

  1. The mail continued to come to my old address for one week beyond the asked for shut off date.
  2. It’s been eleven days since I left home, and fourteen days since I filed my on-line change, and the mail is still not coming.

     If this on-line system were implemented in the private sector it would have worked like a charm.  The USPS has some of the most sophisticated automation systems in the world. It knows about computers, they have used them for years. So why can’t they get something as simple as changing an address? They did okay when it was a paper system.

   The supporters of big Government argue that the USPS is not a government run service. Why then, does Congress have to approve every move the USPS tries to implement? If they want to change the price of a stamp, it takes a congressional approval. If they try to change work rules to get concessions from the union, it takes a congressional approval, and Congressmen don’t like upsetting unions.

     Imagine a Public Option Health Care System that works like the USPS. I see a nightmare. I see a dollar charge for every on-line appointment I make with a doctor. I see a major delay in getting satisfaction because of the inability of the bureaucrats to run anything. I see the administrators going to Congress to beg for money to continue the job. I see the American people being taxed to death to pay for a system that gives nothing in return but health improving stress.

What do you see?

Creating Jobs the SEIU Way

Those who know me well, know that I have a hang-up about unions. Perhaps they had a real purpose in the days of the Industrial Revolution when America was coming out of the agricultural age, but they have no useful purpose today, than to promote socialism. They were a tool used to boost individuals from agricultural serfdom to the industrial middle class.  On the political side, unions were used to elect Democrats. My Dad, who was forced to join a union when he worked for the railroad was told how to vote by union bosses. Eventually,  American workers abandoned unions as a tool because unions no longer  function to their benefit in this society

Today, unions are a business. Their goal is to make money, and  to keep union bosses employed. Many times, unions are in the pocket of the management. They know the management position is right, and the unioin is left with a “take it or leave it” proposition. Much of the export of  US industry to foreign countries is the result of union demands making business more expensive  to work in. Unions also demand more pay for less work.  Very often, the negotiated work rules have no reason, and offer a company less flexibility. For example continuing to demand a coal-shoveling fireman on deisel-electric locomotives. Too many union/management relationships are adversarial in nature. Instead of building a relationship that will foster a “together we will prosper’ attitude, it is a “we’ll take you down before we give in” credo.

Last week, I read an article about a Boy Scout who built a hiking-biking trail as his Eagle Scout project. Having served in the BSA for twenty five years, I thought he picked an remarkably ambitious project. He might become an Eagle Scout as a result, because with his leadership, he completed the project. His Eagle Board of Review has to determine if he met the requirements of  an Eagle class project.  Meanwhile Allentown benefits.

The Service Employees International Union argued that the work should have gone to fired union employees instead. Did the SEIU or their members conceive the project? Did they take it before  a Scout board of approval? Did they get  permits from the park district? Did they plan the work? Did they recruit people to work? Did they lead the workers, and arrange for removal of the trash? The SEIU leaders who filed the complaint against Allentown, PA  got paid. The Boy Scout didn’t, nor did his recruits. I guess the SEIU calls him a SCAB.

Perhaps the SEIU should redefine what it’s mission statement is and what it stands for; “The desecration of the basic human values that make our country great.” They fill that requirement exactly.

We May Indeed Be Nuts!

My Flag Flies Everyday

My Flag Flies Everyday

I am almost over the election. I haven’t blogged because the need to do so dried up when BO won. This week, however, I have to speak my piece on the latest of Uncle Sam’s idiotic moves. Why do we want to bail out GM? This car company has consistently thrown poor quality, and reliability at us in the name of “Made in the USA.” The same goes for the UAW. I tried my best to hold out by buying American for many years. I owned an Oldsmobile Intrigue for eight years. It was without a doubt, the best GM car I ever owned. I bragged about it’s reliability and performance. I tried in vane to get my kids to buy “American.” No amount of reason or guilt worked. Two of my kids  don’t even know that there are cars made in America that are not Honda or Toyota. They grew up on Honda, and Toyota. They are brand faithful. At the same time I was bragging about my Intrigue with 110,000 miles on it, my daughter bragged about her Honda with 180,000. All she ever did was change oil, and put brakes, tires and gas in it.  At 111,000 miles my Intrigue crapped out. It leaked fluid into the cyclinders and locked the engine tight. After I spent $1800 to replace a leaking intake manifold, I learned on the I-net that GM cars are notorious for this failure. They have had the problem for years, but have never taken any steps to fix it. 

The US car companies, management and the UAW, have let the Japs take them down. Now GM wants the tax payer to bail them out. The argument is that if they are allowed to go bankrupt, many thousands of jobs will be lost, thus fueling the recession.

The truth is that filing for bankruptcy will not be a loss of jobs. They can go on making crappy cars as is their usual business. The difference is that they won’t get any “free money,” from the taxpayer.

A few years ago, GM divested itself of a division called Delphi. Delphi makes electrical systems for GM and other car companies. GM gave Delphi as much pension debt as they could. Eventually, Delphi filed for chapter eleven. They couldn’t make a profit with all the baggage GM dumped on them. I know, because I am a stockholder. Want to know what happens to the stockholder when a company files for bankruptcy? The old shares become worthless, meaning the stockholder loses his investment. GM didn’t give a hoot about losing Delphi, it became Delphi’s problem.  Even though Delphi filed for bankruptcy, it has continued to operate for several years. They keep on shipping orders. They even entertained the purchase of another electronics company. How can a business that is in bankruptcy buy another company?

What GM is afraid of is all it’s incompetent managers losing their options and bonuses paid in stock.

The capitalistic system rewards companies that can design, make, and sell useful products that buyers want. GM does not do any of these things. They design cars that have a shorter life than their competitors, their designs are ugly, and they are made by the most unproductive union in the world, i.e. the UAW.

If we reward GM and the UAW with a government bailout, we are indeed nuts. Let the system work, we’ll all be better off for it. We won’t have to worry about BO turning the country socialist. WE will hand a socialist government to him on a silver platter.

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