Thursday, July 17, 2014

Just Say No to Koch in School!



Let’s just say, for arguments sake, that you are a dyed in the wool Republican.  I’m not talking an old school Eisenhower Republican; I’m talking a true right-wing libertarian, Fox News watching, Glenn Beck loving, free market, trickle down economics Republican.

And then, for the fun of it, I told you that the Teamsters and the Service Employees Union had gotten together and are sponsoring a business class for high school students, taught by your local high school teacher in your local high school.  And what if that class focused on the importance of unionization to the economic future of America?

And for the icing on the cake, at the end of the class, the students got paid with scholarships etc.

Would you be comfortable with that?  (If you are such a Republican, I suspect you just popped a nitro tablet to fight off the angina.)

Well my hardcore Republican friends don’t worry.  It is actually just the opposite of what I described.  It is, instead, the very right wing Charles G. Koch Foundation and they are buying their way into schools to teach the anti-regulation, free market dogma that mirrors the Tea Party libertarian view of the world.

That’s right folks, the hardcore right wingers at the Koch Foundation don’t like the fact that kids go to college and start thinking, so they are trying to indoctrinate them before they get there through a subsidiary organization called Youth Entrepreneurs.

“Lesson plans and class materials obtained by The Huffington Post make the course's message clear: The minimum wage hurts workers and slows economic growth. Low taxes and less regulation allow people to prosper. Public assistance harms the poor. Government, in short, is the enemy of liberty.”

And this it isn’t just the interpretation of the Huffington Post.  Emails obtained from the program’s open Google group (thanks guys!) make the true intent of the program is clear.


“…the current structure of the program began to take shape in November 2009, documents show, when a team of associates at the Charles G. Koch Foundation launched an important project with Charles Koch's blessing: They would design and test what they called "a high school free market and liberty-based course" with support from members of the Koch family's vast nonprofit and political network. A pilot version of the class would be offered the following spring to students at the Wichita Collegiate School, an elite private prep school in Kansas where Koch was a top donor.

"First, the Koch team chose its mascot: a golden eagle holding a knife in its beak. They also assigned each other nicknames: Ol' Mucky Terrahawk, Mighty Killer, Big Gay Mule, Midnight Bandit and the Erratic Assassin. The group dubbed itself the "Wu-Teach Clan.

"Over the next six months, members of the Wu-Teach Clan exchanged hundreds of emails with one another and with Koch lieutenants. They hashed out a strategy to infiltrate public schools after surveys showed that the wealthy prep school students largely failed to absorb their libertarian message.

"The emails show that Charles Koch had a hands-on role in the design of the high school curriculum, directly reviewing the work of those responsible for setting up the course. The goal, the group said flatly, was to turn young people into "liberty-advancing agents" before they went to college, where they might learn "harmful" liberal ideas.” [HuffPost]


Here are just a few of the “falsehoods” that the YE group wanted to dispel with students:

·         Rich get richer at the expense of the poor
·         FDR/New Deal brought us out of the depression
·         Government wealth transfer programs help the poor
·         Private industry incapable of doing functions that public sector has always done
·         Unions protect the employees
·         People with the same job title should be paid the same amount ...
·         Minimum wage, "living wage," laws are good for people/society
·         Capitalist societies provide an environment for greed and materialism to flourish

Hey, this is a long article and I’m not going to run through the entire thing.  The bottom line is this.  The Koch Foundation is targeting woefully underfunded school districts that are desperate for any infusion of cash or free curricula with right wing propaganda designed to shape the student’s ideology so that it more closely reflects their own. They aren’t teaching kids to think, they are attempting to indoctrinate them into the extreme political right-wing.

And it doesn’t have to stop after high school.
 
“A student can take the YE course in high school, participate in the YE Academy to earn scholarship money and then use that money to pay for a degree from a Koch-funded university. So it isn't just a relatively small but growing high school program offered in Kansas and Missouri. It's part of a larger mission.” [HuffPost]

YE isn’t about the students, its mission is creating a political future that serves to protect the wealth of the elite to the detriment of the rest of us. It is about securing the future of those with money and power.  It is, simply put, class warfare designed to ensure that the robber barons of today continue to pillage the economy of tomorrow.
Full Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/16/koch-brothers-education_n_5587577.html

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Stock Markets Are Just a Casino


This report from Yahoo Finance shows just how Vegas like the financial markets have become.  They are no longer about investing in something, they are no longer about owning a part of a company that builds things, they are about moving money and making short-term profits – in other words, gambling Texas Hold’em style.

The company profiled in the article is called CYNK Technology.  It claims to be some sort of social media company and its stock price has climbed nearly 25,000 percent in the past three and a half weeks.

You are reading that correctly, twenty-five thousand percent

That growth, as of the writing of this post, gave the company a market cap of around 5 BILLION dollars.  According to the filings on the company, they have no assets and at last reporting an operating loss of 1.5 million dollars.

But here’s the thing, no one can even prove that that the company exists.  It has never turned a profit, it has only one known employee, and the location of the company is uncertain.

Given that, how is that kind of growth in price even possible?

Because investors no longer care what a company makes, they just want to know if they are going to make money. They don’t buy the stock for the dividend or the long-term prospects of the company.

They buy it for the change in price.  It is buy low, sell high on steroids.

This is one of the reasons our infrastructure in America is crumbling.  Investing in infrastructure is a long-term investment and investors are looking to the next quarter, to the next trade, not years down the road.

From ten cents a share to over four dollars a share in a month…based on absolutely nothing.

If this doesn’t make the case for more regulation in the financial markets, if this doesn’t illustrate what is wrong with the ever growing investment side of our economy, then I don’t know what to tell you.

Something has to be done before we find ourselves in another recession built on the ponzi-scheme like greed of the financial players in our investor class.  Like Veruca Salt of Willy Wonka fame, they want it all and they certainly don’t care what it takes to get it.  And that includes screwing the economy into the ground and leaving the American people to pick up the tab…again.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Courage Under Fire




Girls are constantly under attack for the way they look.  The clothes they wear, their body type, the hair style they choose.   Carleigh O'Connell was bullied by peers through a piece of graffiti.  It hurt, she was upset, and then she decided to fight back in the best way she could, by showing her courage to the world. 

She donned a swimsuit and stood next to that piece of hateful scrawl and took a picture.  She then put that picture up on Instagram and sent it to her mother so she could share it on Facebook. Carleigh wanted other victims of this type of bullying to know “There are people there for you. You’re not alone,” 


To quote Carleigh's mother:


"For all youth across America and the world. Words can hurt but how you handle the words makes all the difference.

"Please share this example with anyone you think is hurting because of others and thank you for reading this."

Carleigh O’Connell, as the father of two daughters I want you to know that I am proud of you for the example you just set for young women everywhere.  You knocked it out of the park.

And to the person(s) who wrote that little missive on that concrete all I can say is: 

Well...I can't say what I want to say because I'm attempting the same level of class and dignity as Carleigh, something I'm not always capable of doing, particularly when it comes to bullies.

To help share this example of courage, go here to Daryl Lynn O'Connell's Facebook post.  And while you are there, read the entire post by Carleigh's mom.  As a parent, I totally get where she is coming from and I applaud her for standing up with her daughter in her efforts to help others. It is hard to let your kids be courageous, your instincts are to protect them.  But sometimes the best way to protect them is to let them be brave.  It's not always easy to do.

Kudos Ms. O'Connell, you and your daughter have done something special and I applaud you. 

(If you know of a kid struggling with these kinds of problems http://us.reachout.com/, and http://www.about-face.org/ have a really positive message and were created for teens to have someone to talk to whenever they need it, day or night.)

Thursday, June 05, 2014

I Can’t Be a Slut, I Have a Gold Card!



Where are the feminists when you need them?
When I was a kid, you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a dyed in the wool feminist.  They wore their empowerment, their sexual liberation, like a medal of honor.  And they demanded that women stand together in their hard fight for equality.  

Well turn back the clocks ladies, because the young women of America are eating their own and they are doing it in a nasty way. 

A recent study out of the University of Michigan has examined the act known as “slut shaming” and has found that rich girls are using the label of "slut" to separate themselves from those girls who come from lower incomes.

According to the study as reported on NBC.com:

Researchers […] studied a group of 53 women who lived on the same college dorm floor in the 2004-2005 academic year and followed them for about five years for the study published in the June issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.
What the researchers found is that class warfare, expressed in terms of sexuality, is alive and well. Rich girls, who have more hookups than their less well-to-do female classmates, believe their own sexual escapades are "classy." Their poorer classmates who have the same sexual behaviors are "trashy," or "slutty."
That so-called "classiness" gives the more well-to-do young women license to enjoy sexual exploration without the fear of a derogatory label, explains lead researcher Elizabeth A. Armstrong, associate professor of sociology and organizational studies at the University of Michigan.
"We were surprised by how willing (these) women were to throw around the word 'slut,' since it's so clearly damaging," says Armstrong, co-author of "Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality." 
Simply put, the rich girls are actually having more sex but they want you to think they're classy.  So they throw damaging labels like "slut" and "whore" on girls who aren’t as rich as they are in order to feel better about their own sexual escapades.

I’ve written more than once on the damage income inequality does to our country and our society. But I never thought about this cruel and personal way that it affects our young girls. As a parent of two girls, I am both worried and disgusted by the way they could be treated merely because we are middle class.

Feminism, in nearly all its forms, would not condone using sexual slurs as a way to cement a woman’s superior social status over another woman. The way that these girls are bullying those less financially fortunate than themselves hurts both the individuals targeted and the overall cause of equality for women. Women are still paid less than men.  Women are still be bought and sold as sex slaves. And yet the little rich girls would rather bully another young woman than stand with her in solidarity.

Of course, it could be a case of depraved indifference.  The rich girls have it pretty good these days.  Their families are getting richer while everyone else is treading water or getting poorer. They have their designer bags to hold their gold cards while the rest of us are pinching pennies at WalMart.

Or maybe it is just a manifestation of the dark side of human nature. Since the beginning of human civilization, beating up on the poor has been a popular sport for the well-to-do, why should today be any different? 

All I know is, Bella Abzug must be rolling in her grave.