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Stimulus Package & the Anti-Stimulus Crowd





handfleisch


Here's a good report by Maddow, mandatory viewing for anyone who wants to learn about the anti-stimulus crowd and their fruitcakey Republican talking points. They just don't make sense.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdoS_PobFRk

ocalhoun
... Because anybody who doesn't advocate giving free money away to badly managed banks must have evil intentions...

Why not save the 700 billion for relieving poverty, rather than throwing it to the most wealthy and wasteful? It is NOT free money to be given away: it comes at a huge price.
deanhills
The poster reminds me of Hitler's propoganda campaign when he was building national socialism in Germany. The posters at the URL below are typical ones for the pre-war years (note: even the fonts are about the same):
Source: http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/posters2.htm
jmi256
handfleisch wrote:

Here's a good report by Maddow, mandatory viewing for anyone who wants to learn about the anti-stimulus crowd and their fruitcakey Republican talking points. They just don't make sense.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdoS_PobFRk



This is obviously just an editorial rather than real news.

One question though:
In past posts handfleisch, you have suggested that Sean Hannity is bad/evil/etc. because of editorial style and political views. But are you now saying this person’s editorial style is "good"? They may reside on polar opposites of the political spectrum, but they seem basically the same in terms of style, tone, etc. to me.

Just like anything, there are always opinions. There may be some people who advocate for no stimulus, just as there are probably people who advocate a bill that 10x as much as currently projected. I think the overall criticism is that people should be allowed to examine what they are being forced to vote on before we risk trillions of dollars on programs and schemes that may or may not have any benefit, but will definitely cause problems down the road in the form of higher taxes, inflation, etc.

This isn’t a criticism from Republicans alone, however. Even some Democrats are acknowledging that they are not getting a chance to review the bill. It would seem the prudent thing to do would be to actually know what is being voted on. I find it funny that some of the very Democrats who complained that they did not know what they were voting on when they voted in favor of the Iraq War are now either silent and/or complacent when the exact same situation has presented itself.

Quote:

Democratic Senator Predicts None of His Colleagues 'Will Have the Chance' to Read Final Stimulus Bill Before Vote
Friday, February 13, 2009
By Ryan Byrnes and Edwin Mora



Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D.-N.J.)(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) predicted on Thursday that none of his Senate colleagues would "have the chance" to read the entire final version of the $790-billion stimulus bill before the bill comes up for a final vote in Congress.

“No, I don’t think anyone will have the chance to [read the entire bill],” Lautenberg told CNSNews.com.

The final bill, crafted by a House-Senate conference committee, was posted on the Website of the House Appropriations Committe late Thurday in two PDF files.

The first PDF was 424 pages long and the second PDF was 575 pages long, making the total bill 999 pages long. The House is expected to vote on this 999-page bill Friday, and the Senate either later Friday or Saturday. [Editor's note: The first PDF, as posted on the House Appropriations Committee website as of 8:20 AM Friday morning, had grown by 72 pages to 496 pages, increasing the length of the total document to 1,071 pages.]

Of the several senators that CNSNews.com interviewed on Thursday, only Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) claimed to have read the entire bill--and he was speaking of the preliminary version that had been approved by the Senate, not the final 999-page version that the House-Senate conference committee was still haggling over on Thursday afternoon.

When CNSNews.com asked members of both parties on Capitol Hill on Thursday whether they had read the full, final bill, not one member could say, "Yes."

And only one--Voinovich--volunteered that he had actually read the version of the bill that had passed the Senate.

Both Republicans and Democrats told CNSNews.com they were eager to read the unseen bill--once they could get get their hands on a copy of the final legislation.

Nonetheless, members from both sides of the aisle in both the House and Senate admitted they doubted they would have adequate time to read the bill before they actually voted for it.

“Certainly I hope to have the opportunity to go through [the bill] before the vote takes place,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told CNSNews.com. “But that’s something I’ve found doesn’t always happen around here.”

Some lawmakers said one of the reasons they would not vote for the bill was because there would be no time to study it before it came up for a vote.

“The Democrats have thrown this at us very last-minute,” said Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.). “That’s why the rule of thumb in the United States Congress should be, ‘When in doubt, vote no,’ because the devil is in the details and that’s why this stimulus is not worthy of support.”

Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark.) shared that sentiment. “The American public expects for us to get in and know what we’re voting on,” Boozman said. “But there are very few members from Congress that are going to have time to actually read this thing.”

“This is not light reading,” Boozman added. “It’s difficult reading, it involves policy and things.”

“Right now, because of those things, I will probably vote against it,” he added.

Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), President Barack Obama's successor in the Senate, seemed baffled by the thought of actually reading the entire bill--as did his press secretary.

“I think it’s about 800 pages,” Burris's press secretary said before laughing lightly. “We’ll do the best we can.”

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said that due to the hasty process, he may not have time to read the whole bill.

“I will, as much as I can, get through all the changes that occurred in the conference committee,” says Thune.

“That’s assuming we have time to review it prior to the vote,” he added, “This is a very rushed process, the whole process, starting from the beginning has been very rushed.”

Voinovich, the only member of Congress who told CNSNews.com that he had taken the time to read through every line of the stimulus bill that had been initially approved by the Senate, said he planned to do the same for the final version of the bill that had been approved by the House-Senate conference committee.

But the Ohio Republican wasn’t sure if his colleagues would be as meticulous as he had been. “I don’t know,” he said, when asked if he thought others would read every line of the bill. “You’ll have to ask them.”

The bill is expected to land on President Obama’s desk no later than Monday, and the president is expected to sign it into law--whether the nation's lawmakers have read it or not.


Source = http://cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=43478
jmi256
It looks like while the American taxpayers (who will be on the hook for this massive bill) and some of the politicians who are supposed to vote on the bill aren't allowed to get access to it, lobbyists have been provided the bill (or at least parts of it).

What happened to Obama's call for transparency and his promise to end the Democrats' backroom deals?

If you're able to, I encourage everyone to call their senator and congressman to let them know your frustration.


Quote:

Congressional Offices Don't Have the Stimulus Bill, Lobbyists Do
February 12, 2009 04:14 PM ET | Paul Bedard | Permanent Link | Print
By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

We're receiving E-mails from Capitol Hill staffers expressing frustration that they can't get a copy of the stimulus bill agreed to last night at a price of $789 billion. What's more, staffers are complaining about who does have a copy: K Street lobbyists. E-mails one key Democratic staffer: "K Street has the bill, or chunks of it, already, and the congressional offices don't. So, the Hill is getting calls from the press (because it's leaking out) asking us to confirm or talk about what we know—but we can't do that because we haven't seen the bill. Anyway, peeps up here are sort of a combo of confused and like, 'Is this really happening?'" Reporters pressing for details, meanwhile, are getting different numbers from different offices, especially when seeking the details of specific programs.

Worse, there seem to be several different versions of what was agreed upon, with some officials circulating older versions of the package that seems to still be developing. Leadership aides said that it will work out later today and promised that lawmakers will get time to review the bill before Friday's vote.

Source = http://www.usnews.com/blogs/washington-whispers/2009/2/12/congressional-offices-dont-have-the-stimulus-bill-lobbyists-do.html
deanhills
jmi256 wrote:
What happened to Obama's call for transparency and his promise to end the Democrats' backroom deals?

True. I have not a clue what they are doing right now, other than that people are supposed to sign a blank cheque. Nothing is in the open. No details of how it will be administrated. Symbolically it is exactly like the big banks are. Much too big to deal with the people in the street, that are now supposed to bale them out of their dilemma. Government is acting as though they are the benevolent people for the Banks, and lots of pally pally talks behind the scenes, and people in the street are still being kept in the dark.
handfleisch
jmi256 wrote:

In past posts handfleisch, you have suggested that Sean Hannity is bad/evil/etc. because of editorial style and political views. But are you now saying this person’s editorial style is "good"? They may reside on polar opposites of the political spectrum, but they seem basically the same in terms of style, tone, etc. to me.


I agree it's (obviously) commentary, it's not supposed to be a hard news report, but that is where my understanding of your points ends.

To compare Maddow to Hannity is a pretty out there, really. They have the same job but that's about it. Hannity is an infamous liar who routinely shouts down opponents. For example, Hannity sold us Saddam's WMD and even tries to say that they were found! Maddow in this report mainly lets Republicans speak for themselves, shows Republicans talking about the stimulus package, so we can all see how ridiculous the things they say are.

Did you even watch the report? Did you see the head of the Republican party, Michael Steele, spouting pure nonsense in the difference between work and jobs? By his definition a fireman or a soldier doesn't have a real job. Which pretty much shows why right wing views have been rejected by the US public, and why Obama was able to pass historic legislation less than a month in office. Yes we can!
deanhills
handfleisch wrote:
Which pretty much shows why right wing views have been rejected by the US public, and why Obama was able to pass historic legislation less than a month in office. Yes we can!
Maybe it went through too fast? Does everyone have a clear picture of what is happening with the Bill? Is all the information about the Banks, all their debts, completely transparent, summarized and available for everyone to see? Do you know what the affect of this is going to be in the future? Do you know whether that money is going to get to the people that it is intended for? Via that same sick BIG bank ? Guaranteed most of the money will go to propping up that BIG SICK bank, perhaps a trickle will flow through to people.

I don't see simplicity, I don't see transparency, I don't see all the facts. Isn't there a saying somewhere that if you want to get things to change, you have to do them different from before? Having those same banks that should have expired responsible for change is a fallacy. What will happen is that the rich people will be OK, as BIG banks are mostly about rich people, and the poor people will not be OK. If Obama had started smaller banks in communities where they are needed, directly for the people by the people (creating jobs at the same time), I would have been impressed. But to use the same failing banking infrastructure, that had become too big to continue, is a disaster in the making.
ocalhoun
To put it simply, I'm anti-stimulus because I'm against big government. It is exactly the opposite of what I'm hoping for when the government suddenly gets hundreds of billions of dollars bigger.
Xanatos
ocalhoun wrote:
To put it simply, I'm anti-stimulus because I'm against big government. It is exactly the opposite of what I'm hoping for when the government suddenly gets hundreds of billions of dollars bigger.


I completely agree. Want to cut government spending? Worried about the economy? Cut the government in half! It would solve quite a few other problems as well.
deanhills
Xanatos wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
To put it simply, I'm anti-stimulus because I'm against big government. It is exactly the opposite of what I'm hoping for when the government suddenly gets hundreds of billions of dollars bigger.


I completely agree. Want to cut government spending? Worried about the economy? Cut the government in half! It would solve quite a few other problems as well.


Well put for me too. Would be great if they could especially make the Federal Government invisible. That has to gobble up a lot of resources in terms of expert manpower and of course cost. Canada has the same problem. Almost symbolic. Big Banks going under, and that could easily mean Big Government going under too. For the same reason. They have become too big.
Voodoocat
"Evil Republicans" are not the only people that think the stimulus package will not work: Wall Street has obviously given the stimulus package a big "F*** You!" by dropping hundreds of points immediately following the signing. Then Obamination makes the announcment that he has a plan to stop forclosures and the stock market drops again!

"Fruitcakey talking points"? How about the overwhelming consensus of Wall Street?
handfleisch
Voodoocat wrote:
"Evil Republicans" are not the only people that think the stimulus package will not work: Wall Street has obviously given the stimulus package a big "F*** You!" by dropping hundreds of points immediately following the signing. Then Obamination makes the announcment that he has a plan to stop forclosures and the stock market drops again!

"Fruitcakey talking points"? How about the overwhelming consensus of Wall Street?


Are you joking? The stock market is not an opinion poll, and it often drops at announcement of major financial or economic or political changes. For you to cite this as some sort of evidence is ludicrous.

About the nutty RW talking points, did you even watch the report? Did you see the head of the Republican party, Michael Steele, spouting pure nonsense in the difference between work and jobs? By his definition a fireman or a soldier doesn't have a real job. Unlike your Wall Street daydream, this is a real statement of opinion from the supposedly sane person officially leading the Republicans. What do you think of this statement, if not that it is high-grade fruitcake?
deanhills
handfleisch wrote:
Voodoocat wrote:
"Evil Republicans" are not the only people that think the stimulus package will not work: Wall Street has obviously given the stimulus package a big "F*** You!" by dropping hundreds of points immediately following the signing. Then Obamination makes the announcment that he has a plan to stop forclosures and the stock market drops again!

"Fruitcakey talking points"? How about the overwhelming consensus of Wall Street?


Are you joking? The stock market is not an opinion poll, and it often drops at announcement of major financial or economic or political changes. For you to cite this as some sort of evidence is ludicrous.


No handfleisch. This is a very good point. People always look at what the stock exchanges are doing as a source of "political sentiment". Right now Wall Street is not impressed with what is happening. And for very good FUNDAMENTAL reasons. The bale-out package obviously falls short on FUNDAMENTALS. Does not take rocket science math to work that one out.
handfleisch
Xanatos wrote:

I completely agree. Want to cut government spending? Worried about the economy? Cut the government in half! It would solve quite a few other problems as well.


As you can see from the graph below, the place where there's plenty of room to cut is military spending. US should cut that in half or slowly divert it to fund infrastructure improvement or universal healthcare.
Xanatos
handfleisch wrote:
As you can see from the graph below, the place where there's plenty of room to cut is military spending. US should cut that in half or slowly divert it to fund infrastructure improvement or universal healthcare.


Actually I think that the best way to reduce government spending is to reduce many of the government programs. These include social programs.
handfleisch
Xanatos wrote:
Actually I think that the best way to reduce government spending is to reduce many of the government programs. These include social programs.


Any business manager would look at this graph and instantly see where it would easiest to cut costs, since it is a lot easier to save money by cutting in a bloated part of the budget that dwarfs every other part. Never mind that it's a part with the most negatives, producing destructive products. (And injuries and death -- which from an economic standpoint are expensive. Disabled vets can't be as productive to society, deceased vets' families get hefty compensation. I won't go into the moral costs.)
Xanatos
handfleisch wrote:
Any business manager would look at this graph and instantly see where it would easiest to cut costs, since it is a lot easier to save money by cutting in a bloated part of the budget that dwarfs every other part. Never mind that it's a part with the most negatives, producing destructive products. (And injuries and death -- which from an economic standpoint are expensive. Disabled vets can't be as productive to society, deceased vets' families get hefty compensation. I won't go into the moral costs.)


Often the place where you spend the most money is the most important. Making cuts there would have drastic consequences. Any business manager could see that. We need to continue spending lots of money on national defense. The benefits far outweigh the consequences in my opinion.
handfleisch
Xanatos wrote:
Often the place where you spend the most money is the most important.


Maybe, but not in this case, given that US spends as much on warmaking than the rest of the world combined, more than 10 times the runner up, it is painfully obvious to anyone with common sense that it spends way too much.
jmi256
Xanatos wrote:
Often the place where you spend the most money is the most important. Making cuts there would have drastic consequences. Any business manager could see that. We need to continue spending lots of money on national defense. The benefits far outweigh the consequences in my opinion.


I agree. To continue handfleisch's business manager analogy: A business should always invest its resources toward the main purpose of the business. So in the US, one of the main purposes (as originally intended) of the Government is defense of its citizens and the forwarding of national interests. Therefore, most of its resources/spending should go toward that purpose, not discretionary spending. In times of distress a business/government should look at discretionary spending to cut costs as well. It's not a matter of "not caring" or whatever, but just a pragmatic approach. And it's not a matter of what percentage that discretionary/non-critical spending is set at. So for example, a manufacturing company that invests 90% of its revenue in manufacturing and 10% in support services would look at support services to cut costs in times of distress, not at manufacturing. To decrease spending in its core purpose would result in terrible consequences for the business/government in the long run.

In a world with unlimited resources and no need to prioritize, it would be different. But we don't live in such a world yet.
Bikerman
That is a rather revealing analogy. It leads directly to the assumption that the US is a militaristic, empire building state. If the primary purpose of the US is military spending, and the results that obtain from that, then I see no other conclusion. Now, of course, that is the picture that many around the world have of the US, but to see it put in such stark terms is interesting.
Most western states operate on the assumption that the primary purpose of Government is the welfare of the citizenship. Granted, part of that includes national defence, but the US spends FAR more on that aspect (by any comparator) than can be justified purely in terms of that goal. Much of the remainder is spent propping up a military-industrial complex and furthering US corporate financial interests abroad, which might be to the benefit of SOME citizens, but certainly is NOT to the benefit of the majority.
jmi256
Bikerman wrote:
That is a rather revealing analogy. It leads directly to the assumption that the US is a militaristic, empire building state. If the primary purpose of the US is military spending, and the results that obtain from that, then I see no other conclusion. Now, of course, that is the picture that many around the world have of the US, but to see it put in such stark terms is interesting.
Most western states operate on the assumption that the primary purpose of Government is the welfare of the citizenship. Granted, part of that includes national defence, but the US spends FAR more on that aspect (by any comparator) than can be justified purely in terms of that goal. Much of the remainder is spent propping up a military-industrial complex and furthering US corporate financial interests abroad, which might be to the benefit of SOME citizens, but certainly is NOT to the benefit of the majority.



That's not what I said, so please don't try to put false words in my mouth. I said "...in the US, one of the main purposes (as originally intended) of the Government is defense of its citizens and the forwarding of national interests."
deanhills
jmi256 wrote:
Xanatos wrote:
Often the place where you spend the most money is the most important. Making cuts there would have drastic consequences. Any business manager could see that. We need to continue spending lots of money on national defense. The benefits far outweigh the consequences in my opinion.


I agree. To continue handfleisch's business manager analogy: A business should always invest its resources toward the main purpose of the business. So in the US, one of the main purposes (as originally intended) of the Government is defense of its citizens and the forwarding of national interests. Therefore, most of its resources/spending should go toward that purpose, not discretionary spending. In times of distress a business/government should look at discretionary spending to cut costs as well. It's not a matter of "not caring" or whatever, but just a pragmatic approach. And it's not a matter of what percentage that discretionary/non-critical spending is set at. So for example, a manufacturing company that invests 90% of its revenue in manufacturing and 10% in support services would look at support services to cut costs in times of distress, not at manufacturing. To decrease spending in its core purpose would result in terrible consequences for the business/government in the long run.

In a world with unlimited resources and no need to prioritize, it would be different. But we don't live in such a world yet.


Well said jmi256. I do believe the US is spending a big amount on the military, but stats like this, anywhere in the world, is never really transparent anyway. But yes, defence of its citizens, especially after the catastrophe of Sept11, has to be first. The way things are moving in Afghanistan have a feeling it will be staying this way for a while yet.

Spending lots of money on the military is also not that bad either, as obviously it is being spent on armaments equipment, so that would help the armaments industry with upping technology, employing people, funding education in technology at Universities, etc, it would also be spent on training of the military, and help people in the countries like Afghanistan where the US is active at the moment. There are many secondary positives. I just hope the US can sustain this position during the current financial crisis. I am really worried about Iran and of course North Korea in addition to Pakistan and Afghanistan. And given that, military spending would not be a luxury, but a necessity.
Bikerman
jmi256 wrote:
That's not what I said, so please don't try to put false words in my mouth. I said "...in the US, one of the main purposes (as originally intended) of the Government is defense of its citizens and the forwarding of national interests."
I didn't. You drew the analogy with a manufacturing business and said
Quote:
To decrease spending in its core purpose....<etc>
Now that clearly implies that the core purpose of the US is defence. However, let's not get into a semantic argument - you have a point, and I think, so do I. Let's accept that you meant 'one' of the core purposes.

The point is that the Government has a duty of care to citizens which includes defence, for sure, but also includes ensuring that they have shelter, heat, food and the other necessities of life. In the US much of that is provided by the private sector (as it is in other countries) BUT when the system fails then the government has to step in. The alternative would be to see many tens of millions of people loose their savings, their houses, their businesses, their jobs. That is the point of the bailout and the fiscal stimulus.
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
The point is that the Government has a duty of care to citizens which includes defence, for sure, but also includes ensuring that they have shelter, heat, food and the other necessities of life. In the US much of that is provided by the private sector (as it is in other countries) BUT when the system fails then the government has to step in. The alternative would be to see many tens of millions of people loose their savings, their houses, their businesses, their jobs. That is the point of the bailout and the fiscal stimulus.


Agreed, both have some good points. But must say I am leaning more in the direction of jmi256. What would the good be of rescuing the US domestic financial dilemma at the expense of world terrorism shifting back into the United States. This is almost certain to happen if the US should cut military spending and withdraw its troops from the Middle East. The US would then move from being proactive in tackling terrorism at a respectful and safe distance from the US, to defensive within the borders of the US and at a disadvantage. From a financial point of view this could lead to even worse economic consequences in that an unstable unsafe domestic US cannot be a good environment for stable growth?
Bikerman
This perception is almost laughable to us in Europe.
The US has had ONE major terrorist attack from abroad. ONE.
Most countries in Europe have had dozens, hundreds, even thousands.
The notion that the current US actions in Afghanistan and Iraq (where a huge part of the budget has been, and is being, spent) have lessened the threat of terrorism on the mainland of the US is simply bonkers and is denied by leading military and security analysts both here and in the US. In addition to which most Americans don't believe it either (or at least they didn't in 2005 when a large-scale poll was carried out, and I suspect this has not changed much).
http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/view/8434
Xanatos
I personally think that the U.S should pull back from all overseas operations, except for a few key military bases. I do not agree that the U.S should be the police of the world or an empire builder etc. If we pulled most of our troops home, the amount of spending on national defense would drastically reduce. Not only does this appease those who are in favor of reducing government spending on national defense, It would probably improve our image across the world. I am in favor of national defense spending on research and upkeep far more than I am in favor of it being spent on war.
deanhills
Xanatos wrote:
I do not agree that the U.S should be a police state


You have to be kidding! Why would you think the US is a police state? Do you know what a police state is? Question
Xanatos
deanhills wrote:
Xanatos wrote:
I do not agree that the U.S should be a police state


You have to be kidding! Why would you think the US is a police state? Do you know what a police state is? Question


I meant to say the police of the world.
Bikerman
I suspect that Xanatos might mean 'world policeman' (though I leave it to him/her to clarify).

I see I was late and he/she already has Smile

PS - I say 'he/she' not out of some wind-up but because I don't like to assume the gender of posters and also Xanatos is, I believe, the Greek God of death and why should men have all the fun Smile
deanhills
Xanatos wrote:
I meant to say the police of the world.


Thanks for the explanation, this is better, but not sure whether it is accurate either, except perhaps in a lighthearted kind of way. The US is looking after its own interests outside in the world, and if there is the appearance of looking after the world's interests, it can always be reduced back to self-interest of the US. Its presence in the Middle East for example is purely to keep the struggle with the terrorists away from US soil. Which I think is a very wise action. Safety and security of US citizens as well as of course economic interest are paramount. The benevolence parts, as they are, are purely to work on a better image of the US abroad. Although it feels good when we are reading about the benevolence acts, viz Iraq after its destruction by the US, self-interest is usually what it is about, as it should be of course.
Bikerman
deanhills wrote:
Its presence in the Middle East for example is purely to keep the struggle with the terrorists away from US soil. Which I think is a very wise action.

Er..no, 'fraid not.
a) The US presence in the Middle East is nothing to do with keeping terrorists away and everything to do with keeping a stable supply of oil flowing by 'balancing' the region.
b) Were it not for the US presence in the Middle East most of the terrorists would not exist, and would certainly not be threatening the US mainland.
jmi256
Bikerman wrote:
The point is that the Government has a duty of care to citizens which includes defence, for sure, but also includes ensuring that they have shelter, heat, food and the other necessities of life.


I think this is the point that many disagree on. I would argue that government has an obligation to ensure that its citizens have access to shelter, jobs, etc., by enforcing anti-discrimination laws, etc., but not that it needs to ensure that all citizens actually obtain all these goals or to what level.

However, as humans we do have the mandate to follow "love thy neighbor," but my opinion is that it's just not the government's role. This should be done through volunteering, sacrificial giving to churches and social-service organizations, taking care of friends and family when in need, etc. Before the era of Big Government it was often the case that families participated in this “social contract” and cared for elderly parents/aunts/uncles/etc. rather than relying on someone else to do it for them. And neighborhood associations, unions/guilds, congregations, etc. also stepped in to help its members in times of hardship. (If you're ever in NYC, I highly recommend visiting the Lower Eastside Tenement Museum for more on this subject.)

But as the government created poorly functioning programs, such as social security, welfare, etc. the social contract was altered. First of all, because the government increased everyone's tax burden to pay for these programs, they could no longer give as much of their income to private social service organizations, churches, etc. They also had fewer resources in which to care for elderly family members, neighbors, etc. Secondly, because the idea that "the government was taking care of it" and a new dependence on the government, the social contract was again damaged as many felt it wasn't their duty to care for other, and they were not held accountable. (Many would also argue that the campaign to "redefine" the family is an extension of the damage.) And finally, the institutional care the government provided paled in comparison to the care provided previously due to bureaucracy, inefficiencies, waste, political infighting, etc.

To bring it all back to the subject at hand, this is exactly why many are highly bearish on Obama's plan to increase the size and scope of government. Big Government is a black hole where you will never get near the level of return as you would if you allowed individuals and private groups to care for each other.
Bikerman
This picture is SO different from the real history of the UK, for example, that I have difficulty accepting that it is accurate.
Certainly in Victorian times here in the UK there was no central welfare state and 'help' was provided by families, in some cases, and philanthopists in others. The notion that this was anything other than abject misery for a large part of the population, however, is entirely wrong and the notion that this was in some way superior to the welfare state (which here in the UK was started in 1911 and 'completed' in 1942) is entirely fanciful. Life expectancy for poor people was woeful, as was the quality of that life. Since the poor made up the great majority of the population, that was rather a lot of people dying young and living in misery.
Now, maybe things were radically different in the US - I don't know, but I suspect not THAT different.
jmi256
Bikerman wrote:
This picture is SO different from the real history of the UK, for example, that I have difficulty accepting that it is accurate.
Certainly in Victorian times here in the UK there was no central welfare state and 'help' was provided by families, in some cases, and philanthopists in others. The notion that this was anything other than abject misery for a large part of the population, however, is entirely wrong and the notion that this was in some way superior to the welfare state (which here in the UK was started in 1911 and 'completed' in 1942) is entirely fanciful. Life expectancy for poor people was woeful, as was the quality of that life. Since the poor made up the great majority of the population, that was rather a lot of people dying young and living in misery.
Now, maybe things were radically different in the US - I don't know, but I suspect not THAT different.


You make good points. I agree that poverty is a miserable situation and that we should go about helping ease that misery. I think we just have different views on how to accomplish the same goal.
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
This picture is SO different from the real history of the UK, for example, that I have difficulty accepting that it is accurate.
Certainly in Victorian times here in the UK there was no central welfare state and 'help' was provided by families, in some cases, and philanthopists in others. The notion that this was anything other than abject misery for a large part of the population, however, is entirely wrong and the notion that this was in some way superior to the welfare state (which here in the UK was started in 1911 and 'completed' in 1942) is entirely fanciful. Life expectancy for poor people was woeful, as was the quality of that life. Since the poor made up the great majority of the population, that was rather a lot of people dying young and living in misery.
Now, maybe things were radically different in the US - I don't know, but I suspect not THAT different.


Well that is probably why (a) many UK citizens emigrated to the US and (b) eventually decided to end their relationship with the UK Smile quite a few centuries ago. To my mind there was enough misery in the UK to prompt a large number of them to emigrate from the country. They wanted to get away from BIG Government, BAD justice, and ARROGANT interference in their way of doing business by imposing taxes and all kinds of rules and regulations on them. I think there is more freedom in the way of doing business as described by jmi256. The current Obama plan is going against the grain of that freedom. Also against his presidential speech in which he said he was going to make things more efficient. Propping up BIG failed Banks is hardly making things more efficient. Governments notoriously do not know how to manage money anyway, and should leave the business of finance to the banks, including letting them fail if they have failed in their business. I believe the Banks have failed much longer ago than they are letting us believe, and we still do not know what is really going on as none of what is going on is transparent. The Obama plan will make it even more complicated and less transparent. With good intentions of course, but bad consequences.

Bikerman wrote:
deanhills wrote:
Its presence in the Middle East for example is purely to keep the struggle with the terrorists away from US soil. Which I think is a very wise action.

Er..no, 'fraid not.
a) The US presence in the Middle East is nothing to do with keeping terrorists away and everything to do with keeping a stable supply of oil flowing by 'balancing' the region.
b) Were it not for the US presence in the Middle East most of the terrorists would not exist, and would certainly not be threatening the US mainland.


We probably will have to disagree on this one too Chris. Both points (a) and (b) make no sense to me. Point (b) is beyond absurd for me.
handfleisch
Bikerman wrote:

Er..no, 'fraid not.
a) The US presence in the Middle East is nothing to do with keeping terrorists away and everything to do with keeping a stable supply of oil flowing by 'balancing' the region.
b) Were it not for the US presence in the Middle East most of the terrorists would not exist, and would certainly not be threatening the US mainland.

Bikerman, it seems you constantly need to reprise the classic summary:
Bikerman wrote:
I'm sorry but I believe you are talking nonsense.

http://www.frihost.com/forums/posting.php?mode=quote&p=860008
ocalhoun
handfleisch wrote:
Xanatos wrote:
Actually I think that the best way to reduce government spending is to reduce many of the government programs. These include social programs.


Any business manager would look at this graph and instantly see where it would easiest to cut costs, since it is a lot easier to save money by cutting in a bloated part of the budget that dwarfs every other part. Never mind that it's a part with the most negatives, producing destructive products. (And injuries and death -- which from an economic standpoint are expensive. Disabled vets can't be as productive to society, deceased vets' families get hefty compensation. I won't go into the moral costs.)


Your graph is for discretionary spending only, a very small part of the budget!


Lets look at a graph of the WHOLE budget, one that actually includes those social services:

The bullets on the right are listed in order of the amount of money allocated for them.
The department of defense is the 2nd highest, not the first, and it gets 16.6% of the budget, not 59% as you would like us to believe from your chart.

Personally, I would much rather cut social security, medicare, medicaid, and welfare, then work on reducing national debt interest. This would initially reduce the budget by 52.7%, and gradually increase to a savings of 61.7%.

... Cutting taxes by more than half? Now that might just stimulate the economy a bit.

Yes, the DOD gets a lot of money, but if I were looking for a place to cut costs like a business manager, I would be very inclined to look at the other huge (and less vital) expenses. Decimating the social security budget wouldn't jeopardize the future of America, but slashing the defense budget could.
Xanatos
ocalhoun wrote:

Your graph is for discretionary spending only, a very small part of the budget!


Lets look at a graph of the WHOLE budget, one that actually includes those social services:

The bullets on the right are listed in order of the amount of money allocated for them.
The department of defense is the 2nd highest, not the first, and it gets 16.6% of the budget, not 59% as you would like us to believe from your chart.

Personally, I would much rather cut social security, medicare, medicaid, and welfare, then work on reducing national debt interest. This would initially reduce the budget by 52.7%, and gradually increase to a savings of 61.7%.

... Cutting taxes by more than half? Now that might just stimulate the economy a bit.

Yes, the DOD gets a lot of money, but if I were looking for a place to cut costs like a business manager, I would be very inclined to look at the other huge (and less vital) expenses. Decimating the social security budget wouldn't jeopardize the future of America, but slashing the defense budget could.


Thank you for posting this Ocalhoun, it brings quite a bit of light to the table.
deanhills
Xanatos wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:

Your graph is for discretionary spending only, a very small part of the budget!


Lets look at a graph of the WHOLE budget, one that actually includes those social services:

The bullets on the right are listed in order of the amount of money allocated for them.
The department of defense is the 2nd highest, not the first, and it gets 16.6% of the budget, not 59% as you would like us to believe from your chart.

Personally, I would much rather cut social security, medicare, medicaid, and welfare, then work on reducing national debt interest. This would initially reduce the budget by 52.7%, and gradually increase to a savings of 61.7%.

... Cutting taxes by more than half? Now that might just stimulate the economy a bit.

Yes, the DOD gets a lot of money, but if I were looking for a place to cut costs like a business manager, I would be very inclined to look at the other huge (and less vital) expenses. Decimating the social security budget wouldn't jeopardize the future of America, but slashing the defense budget could.


Thank you for posting this Ocalhoun, it brings quite a bit of light to the table.


Absolutely ..... Applause Thanks Ocalhoun. A sober common sense perspective, and I agree with less Government as well and cutting taxes, especially in the higher income groups. I thought that was what Obama said he would be doing too, i.e. cut taxes. Instead it would appear that he is fiddling with it instead. Refer jmi256's excellent posting in the thread:
http://www.frihost.com/forums/vt-99883-2.html
jmi256 wrote:
Now I know you're going to come back with some quack argument that since the claim in the article is that it affects those making more than $250,000 it's not a real tax increase. But there are other areas that he has said he is increasing taxes as well, such as the self-employment tax. These increases in tax burdens do not offset any decreases he claims to be providing those who barely pay any taxes to begin with. The net result is not zero, but rather an increase in the tax burden overall.

Here is a very, very basic example and I kept the numbers simple so you can understand them (we'll see).

A small company owner makes $200,000 a year and is in the 40% tax bracket. This means he pays $80,000 a year in taxes.

The two individuals he employees (A and B) make $40,000 each and are in the 15% tax bracket ($6,000 in taxes apiece).

So in total the government is taking $92,000 from these three people.

Now say Employee A and B’s taxes are reduced by 15% (to a zero tax liability), and the small company owner’s taxes are increased by 15% (to a 55% tax liability). The two do not offset each other. In fact, the government is now taking more ($110,000).

So now the government has taken more liquidity out of the system, and the business owner is penalized for starting and maintaining a business. Once you factor in costs and expenses, his employees are most likely bring home more than he is, and he's the one who to the risk of starting a business."


Small businesses need critical help and I am sure relief in taxation would go a long way to help them. As I think they would be the ones who have the most to loose with being maxed out on loans. Some of them may have genuine short-term problems
handfleisch
Grab a dictionary or ask someone to explain to you the difference between "discretionary" and "mandatory" when it comes to the budget.

It's amusing, I suppose, to see so many willing -- in 2009, with all we have learned in the last few years -- to want to put knife to Social Security or privatize it or whatever. It's the gov't program that works; Bear Stearns wishes it had such relative stability. And the same loons who want to gut Social Security advocate still more tax cuts for the rich! It's precisely a failed program that has helped land us in deep water. So, no thanks. Next idea, please.

It's appropriate that this cockamamie is only to be found in the fringes of the internet.
Moonspider
handfleisch wrote:
Grab a dictionary or ask someone to explain to you the difference between "discretionary" and "mandatory" when it comes to the budget.


"Discretionary" spending is that amount of the budget directly controlled by congress (about 33%). The remaining two-thirds of the U.S. federal budget is "Mandatory Spending." "Mandatory" spending, mostly entitlements, is dependent upon the number of people enrolled in the programs. Furthermore, mandatory spending is governed by permanent laws, and therefore is not part of the debatable budget each year.

As a side note, prior to the 1960s the budgetary proportions were reversed. Mandatory spending grows at a rate much higher than discretionary spending.

Respectfully,
M
Xanatos
handfleisch wrote:
And the same loons who want to gut Social Security advocate still more tax cuts for the rich!


I want there to be less taxes for everybody. Mostly do to having less government to pay taxes to.

Quote:
It's appropriate that this cockamamie is only to be found in the fringes of the internet.


No it is not only found on the fringes of the internet. You know Ron Paul had a pretty sizeable movement growing.
ocalhoun
handfleisch wrote:
Grab a dictionary or ask someone to explain to you the difference between "discretionary" and "mandatory" when it comes to the budget.

When we're in the middle of a budgetary crisis, we need to re-evaluate mandatory spending as well.
Just because it is added to the budget automatically, doesn't mean we can't end it if higher priorities exist.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
When we're in the middle of a budgetary crisis, we need to re-evaluate mandatory spending as well.
Just because it is added to the budget automatically, doesn't mean we can't end it if higher priorities exist.

Good point, given that what is happening right now is a radical departure in the history of US Government spending. Every cent needs close scrutiny.
Moonspider
ocalhoun wrote:
handfleisch wrote:
Grab a dictionary or ask someone to explain to you the difference between "discretionary" and "mandatory" when it comes to the budget.

When we're in the middle of a budgetary crisis, we need to re-evaluate mandatory spending as well.
Just because it is added to the budget automatically, doesn't mean we can't end it if higher priorities exist.


I agree wholeheartedly. The only difference is that Congress has to change the laws in order to affect mandatory spending. It's not part of budget negotiations. Unfortunately I seriously doubt many representatives or senators have the political will to do that.

Respectfully,
M
deanhills
Moonspider wrote:
I agree wholeheartedly. The only difference is that Congress has to change the laws in order to affect mandatory spending. It's not part of budget negotiations. Unfortunately I seriously doubt many representatives or senators have the political will to do that.

Respectfully,
M


Agreed. Politics is probably going to run counter to saving the economy. The machinery in the United States is just TOO big. Too much energy is needed to make practical changes like these. Almost like one needs to call a federal emergency, elect a small taskforce of wise financial gurus, and give them the power to do on a short term basis what is necessary to bale everyone out of this financial emergency. Think another problem is that this financial disaster of failing banks, inflated stock markets, etc. have been around for much much longer than last year in September. They must have been propping up those Banks for years, not only since last year. So there are serious flaws, and to use the same machinery, same methods to sort out a problem, may have the same results?
Afaceinthematrix
ocalhoun wrote:
handfleisch wrote:
Xanatos wrote:
Actually I think that the best way to reduce government spending is to reduce many of the government programs. These include social programs.


Any business manager would look at this graph and instantly see where it would easiest to cut costs, since it is a lot easier to save money by cutting in a bloated part of the budget that dwarfs every other part. Never mind that it's a part with the most negatives, producing destructive products. (And injuries and death -- which from an economic standpoint are expensive. Disabled vets can't be as productive to society, deceased vets' families get hefty compensation. I won't go into the moral costs.)


Your graph is for discretionary spending only, a very small part of the budget!
I took out the image because it's large and there's no use in posting such a large image twice on the same page...

Lets look at a graph of the WHOLE budget, one that actually includes those social services:
I took out the image because it's large and there's no use in posting such a large image twice on the same page...
The bullets on the right are listed in order of the amount of money allocated for them.
The department of defense is the 2nd highest, not the first, and it gets 16.6% of the budget, not 59% as you would like us to believe from your chart.

Personally, I would much rather cut social security, medicare, medicaid, and welfare, then work on reducing national debt interest. This would initially reduce the budget by 52.7%, and gradually increase to a savings of 61.7%.

... Cutting taxes by more than half? Now that might just stimulate the economy a bit.

Yes, the DOD gets a lot of money, but if I were looking for a place to cut costs like a business manager, I would be very inclined to look at the other huge (and less vital) expenses. Decimating the social security budget wouldn't jeopardize the future of America, but slashing the defense budget could.


Are you serious, ocalhoun? Wow... Now I know where the major problems in this country are coming from! The US spends less than 2% of its budget on education? The U.S. spends approximate 4.7 times more on interest from national debt than on education...
deanhills
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Are you serious, ocalhoun? Wow... Now I know where the major problems in this country are coming from! The US spends less than 2% of its budget on education? The U.S. spends approximate 4.7 times more on interest from national debt than on education...


This problem is not limited to the US. It is a worldwide thing. Teachers are notoriously paid very low salaries, and in developed countries like Canada for example, a great percentage of funding is gobbled up by bureacratic organizations and Departments. This is super sad.
Moonspider
deanhills wrote:
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Are you serious, ocalhoun? Wow... Now I know where the major problems in this country are coming from! The US spends less than 2% of its budget on education? The U.S. spends approximate 4.7 times more on interest from national debt than on education...


This problem is not limited to the US. It is a worldwide thing. Teachers are notoriously paid very low salaries, and in developed countries like Canada for example, a great percentage of funding is gobbled up by bureacratic organizations and Departments. This is super sad.


Actually U.S. spending on education is at an all time high. The United States also spends more on education than any other country, as far as I know.

However, I don't think historical data supports the notion that increased spending equals increased academic performance. I'm not certain, but I'd challenge someone to find data that says otherwise.

The Untied States is a different animal than most countries. If I were president (and had the political capital and influence to do it) I'd revamp the entire system and eliminate the Department of Education. The bulk of money for education comes from state and local sources and I believe education to be the sole responsibility of individual states, not part of the federal government's duties. The federal government was created to do those things which are best done collectively. I don't think education falls into that category.

Respectfully,
M
deanhills
Moonspider wrote:
If I were president (and had the political capital and influence to do it) I'd revamp the entire system and eliminate the Department of Education. The bulk of money for education comes from state and local sources and I believe education to be the sole responsibility of individual states, not part of the federal government's duties. The federal government was created to do those things which are best done collectively. I don't think education falls into that category.

Respectfully,
M

Excellent thinking. I really like this idea as that of course will make more money available as well for education. Let's hope that all those States would be spending it on Education. Looks as though quite a number of States, and California seems to be ranking almost highest, are in serious financial problems needing BIG bail-outs by the Federal Government. I would have thought bail-out of the States should have taken priority over bail-outs of FAILED Banks!
Bikerman
There is some truth in that - the US certainly spends more than most (if not all) other countries on education. One could argue that this is inevitable - given that the US has a huge immigrant population which obviously requires considerable resource in terms of language teaching.
I am not opposed to states taking the major role in the provision of teaching (in fact it doesn't matter whether I am opposed or not since I'm not a citizen) but I would say that the state (federal authorities) should have a role - if only to set a national minimum standard in terms of a national curriculum...
Afaceinthematrix
Moonspider wrote:
deanhills wrote:
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Are you serious, ocalhoun? Wow... Now I know where the major problems in this country are coming from! The US spends less than 2% of its budget on education? The U.S. spends approximate 4.7 times more on interest from national debt than on education...


This problem is not limited to the US. It is a worldwide thing. Teachers are notoriously paid very low salaries, and in developed countries like Canada for example, a great percentage of funding is gobbled up by bureacratic organizations and Departments. This is super sad.


Actually U.S. spending on education is at an all time high. The United States also spends more on education than any other country, as far as I know.

However, I don't think historical data supports the notion that increased spending equals increased academic performance. I'm not certain, but I'd challenge someone to find data that says otherwise.

The Untied States is a different animal than most countries. If I were president (and had the political capital and influence to do it) I'd revamp the entire system and eliminate the Department of Education. The bulk of money for education comes from state and local sources and I believe education to be the sole responsibility of individual states, not part of the federal government's duties. The federal government was created to do those things which are best done collectively. I don't think education falls into that category.

Respectfully,
M


Well maybe I underestimated the amount that 2% was; it just seemed low when I compared to to a 9% spending on interest. But I do think that there a couple of things that could be done to improve education that would require money. One thing would be an increased school day (which would pretty much require a pay-raise for teachers because who wouldn't be mad to find out that their workday is being increased yet their pay isn't?).
deanhills
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Well maybe I underestimated the amount that 2% was; it just seemed low when I compared to to a 9% spending on interest. But I do think that there a couple of things that could be done to improve education that would require money. One thing would be an increased school day (which would pretty much require a pay-raise for teachers because who wouldn't be mad to find out that their workday is being increased yet their pay isn't?).

I wonder whether it would help if all the schools would be privatised? Government would then make contributions on the basis of specific parameters and outcomes? Perhaps there would then be greater creativity in terms of establishing schools? Like some could be on the basis of more science and math teaching?
Xanatos
deanhills wrote:

I wonder whether it would help if all the schools would be privatised? Government would then make contributions on the basis of specific parameters and outcomes? Perhaps there would then be greater creativity in terms of establishing schools? Like some could be on the basis of more science and math teaching?


I personally think that not all people need to or should attend even high school as it stands in the U.S today. Something related to professional or vocational education for some would be better in my opinion. This would be a system not unlike Germany's in many respects.
deanhills
Xanatos wrote:
deanhills wrote:

I wonder whether it would help if all the schools would be privatised? Government would then make contributions on the basis of specific parameters and outcomes? Perhaps there would then be greater creativity in terms of establishing schools? Like some could be on the basis of more science and math teaching?


I personally think that not all people need to or should attend even high school as it stands in the U.S today. Something related to professional or vocational education for some would be better in my opinion. This would be a system not unlike Germany's in many respects.

Now you're talking. Germany's education system must be one of the greatest in the world. I especially love their apprentice system. Worth emulating and adapting anywhere in the world.
ocalhoun
Afaceinthematrix wrote:


Well maybe I underestimated the amount that 2% was; it just seemed low when I compared to to a 9% spending on interest. But I do think that there a couple of things that could be done to improve education that would require money. One thing would be an increased school day (which would pretty much require a pay-raise for teachers because who wouldn't be mad to find out that their workday is being increased yet their pay isn't?).

2% is the federal education budget most education money and administration comes from the state level. Each state has its own mostly-independent education system.

Bikerman wrote:
I would say that the state (federal authorities) should have a role - if only to set a national minimum standard in terms of a national curriculum...

From what I understand, that's mostly how it is now: Education is funded and administrated at the state level, while the federal government is in charge of keeping the individual states up to minimum standards, which is why it needs only a relatively small amount of money (2% or so).

Here's an example of a state (Mississippi) budget, which puts much more emphasis on education:

(Coincidentally, despite putting over 30% of its money in education, Mississippi had the worst education system in the nation, last time I checked.)
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
(Coincidentally, despite putting over 30% of its money in education, Mississippi had the worst education system in the nation, last time I checked.)


I found a very good article on: "Race and the Public Education System in Mississippi" at the URL below (the report is dated 2003, but probably is still relevant for today):

http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/msdelta/ch2.htm
Quote:
One of the biggest challenges facing the Mississippi public school system today is poverty. According to Dr. James Hemphill, special assistant to the state superintendent and director of external relations of the Mississippi State Department of Education, this is particularly evident in the Delta where the economy is so depleted that obtaining a quality education is extremely difficult.[4] High rates of poverty coupled with a legacy of unequal educational opportunities for people of color, who make up more than one-third of the population, have left Mississippi’s children at a substantial disadvantage compared with the rest of the nation.

Background

In 1990, 75.2 percent of the total U.S. population had a high school diploma or higher educational attainment. This figure was 77.9 percent for whites and 63.1 percent for blacks. In Mississippi, however, the figures were much lower with a rate of 64.3 percent for the total state population, including 71.7 percent for whites and 47.3 percent for blacks. The gap between educational achievement in Mississippi and the rest of the nation and that between black and white Mississippians are equally dramatic for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Compared with 20.3 percent of the total U.S. population, only 14.7 percent of the Mississippi population had a bachelor’s degree or higher. Nationwide the figures for whites and blacks were 21.5 percent and 11.4 percent, respectively, compared with 17.2 percent of Mississippi whites and 8.8 percent of Mississippi blacks. Only Arkansas and West Virginia lagged behind Mississippi in equivalent educational attainment.[5]

In 1995, the national high school graduation rate was about 86 percent—the same level as in 1990.[6] In contrast, Mississippi had a graduation rate of 75 percent in 1995.[7] And that number had declined to 73.8 percent by 1998.[8] Although the total number of public high school graduates is projected to increase 20 percent between 1995–1996 and 2007–2008, in Mississippi the total number is expected to decrease 1 percent.[9] Failing to complete high school has a direct impact on a person’s potential for financial stability and success. In 1992, for example, high school dropouts were three times more likely to receive income from AFDC or public assistance than high school graduates who did not go on to college (17 percent versus 6 percent).[10] And in 1998, high school graduates nationwide had an unemployment rate of 4 percent compared with 7.1 percent for those who had not completed high school.[11]

Education constitutes a major expense for Mississippi. In fiscal year 1995, Mississippi spent $1.478 billion on education or 58.7 percent of all general fund appropriations.[12] The Mississippi public school system comprises 149 school districts and three agricultural high schools, which in 1995 served 503,301 elementary and secondary students.[13] It is difficult to approximate the number of private school students in the state because various sources provide different figures. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that in 1993, Mississippi had 221 private elementary and secondary schools that served 58,655 students.[14] More recently, the Mississippi Private School Association was estimated to have 90 member schools representing 36,000–37,000 students, and the state’s Catholic schools, which do not belong to the association, were calculated to represent an additional 10,000 students.[15] Overall, the Mississippi Council of Chief State School Officers estimates that 88.7 percent of Mississippi’s school-age children are in public schools compared with the national average of 90 percent.[16]

Quality of Education

Testimony at the Mississippi Delta hearing brought forth a harsh indictment of the Mississippi public school system. Roger Malkin, chairman of the Delta and Pine Land Company in Scott, Mississippi, testified that his company, during the hiring process, has found that many young people applying for work with a high school diploma are “functionally illiterate.”[17] Mr. Malkin testified, “I think it’s a tragedy, and I’m here as a U.S. citizen, a Mississippi citizen, and I think that public education in the United States is appalling, and we have to do something about it.”[18]

As in many high poverty areas, many Mississippi public schools are characterized by dilapidated buildings and insufficient resources. In June 1995, the State Department of Education visited, unannounced, the Quitman County schools and found filthy buildings, truant students, and “depressing and appalling conditions.”[19] Clearly, the physical conditions of a school setting—including lighting, air and ventilation, classroom space, and outside distractions—can play a role in the educational process.[20] Many schools in the Delta were built in the 1940s and 1950s and have not been properly maintained.[21] Furthermore, it has been estimated that 30 percent of all Delta schools need additional classroom space to accommodate students adequately.[22]

Mississippi uses a performance-based accreditation system to evaluate its school districts. The accreditation levels are from level 1, which is probation, to level 5, which is excellent. A level 3 is considered successful. For 1995, only one school district received a 5, and 19 school districts were ranked at level 4. The majority of school districts, 90 in total, fell into the 3–3.9 range. Twenty-four schools received a performance index between 2 and 2.9, and 19 received a performance index between 1 and 1.9.[23] Of those 19 low-scoring districts, 10 were located in the Delta or its periphery.[24] The student performance in Tunica County, for example, has been so poor that the district has been under state oversight since March 1997.[25]

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