Why Scott Walker’s Drug Testing Proposal Is A Waste Of Taxpayer Money

By Darlene Cunha
Time (9/15/14)

The tired image of the welfare queen with six kids, driving around in a Cadillac, watching soap operas on an expensive television and eating junk food on the couch has had its day.

It is 2014, years into the Great Recession, and millions have been helped by hundreds of social services put in place by the government to stabilize families in this time of need. Yet the states insist upon making the lines between the rich and poor ever darker, ever harder to cross. Maine lines up as the latest in a host of states beginning to enforce drug-testing legislation for welfare recipients.

Drug use is not the problem

The testing is meant to assure taxpayers their money isn’t being “wasted” on the less desirable, those who would somehow manage to buy drugs with the assistance. But in Tennessee, where drug testing was enacted for welfare recipients last month, only one person in the 800 who applied for help tested positive. In Florida, during the four months the state tested for drug use, only 2.6% of applicants tested positive. Meanwhile, Florida has an illegal drug use rate of 8%,meaning far fewer people on services are using drugs than their better-off counterparts. The drug testing cost taxpayers more money than it saved, and was ruled unconstitutional last year.

People tend to forget that those using the programs are most likely also taxpayers, or were at some point. In 2010, nearly half of poor or near poor mothers on welfare were working at least part time. My husband and I, for instance, worked a combined 45 years, paying taxes, before he lost his job two weeks before I had premature twins, and had to apply for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. During the time we were on aid, I held a fulltime job, meaning I was paying in to the system from which I was simultaneously benefiting.

Our family is not alone. Denise Calder, a middle school teacher in Broward County, Florida, has a Bachelors of Science from Tufts University and has worked steadily since 1994. “Now I’m 42 years old, divorced, a single mother of four,” she told me. She makes $41,300 year. “Every penny goes to food, rent, gas, medical bills,” she says. “Since 2009, I have had to apply for and accept Medicaid & SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] twice to provide for my children when I took maternity leave in 2009 and 2013.”

When I signed up for WIC services in 2008, I was a television producer in Boston, creating a news show seen by millions of people a night. I was making $40,000 a year and my husband had just been laid off. During my three months of maternity leave, my salary was $25,000, but our family qualified for the WIC program on my full income. We used it for 18 months. And we needed it.

WIC is an income-based program. Women must make no more than 185% of the Federal poverty line guidelines, and in some states, they must actually be living at or below the poverty line. Statistics from the Food and Nutrition Service department show that 73% of people on WIC are making less than the federal poverty line. The income cut-off for a family of four is $44,123 a year.

Paper chase

It’s also not just a phone call and done. Women applying must be pregnant or up to six months post-partum. Children can receive services up to their fifth birthday, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Services. Once you’ve called, you have to provide proof of income for everyone in the household, proof of identity, proof of residence, proof of participation in any other program—including Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or General Assistance—immunization records for your children, pregnancy confirmation (official note from your doctor), recent height and weight measurements and a blood test for hemoglobin levels, and a WIC Referral Form from your doctor. You also have to provide documentation of any child support payments, unemployment benefits, or short-term disability money received. These requirements vary slightly from state to state, but for the most part they are consistent.

Once you’ve gone through all that, you have to wait to be processed and either accepted or rejected. After the whole process, you may still hear that you aren’t poor enough (for instance, if you are receiving child support or if you can’t provide certain paperwork). Bree Casson, a divorced former army wife who works part-time at McDonald’s, was turned away from the WIC office last week because she didn’t have her family’s Medicaid cards, despite multiple phone and mail requests to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“I dragged my three kids out, with all our paperwork, including our Medicaid numbers,” she said, “and they insisted they needed the physical cards to prove our income eligibility. I’ve been trying to get those cards for two years with no luck. All this for some milk and cheese and vegetables.”

Humiliating the poor

Applying and being accepted for aid is a mentally grueling process that can stretch on for months. Add to that the humiliation of having to pee in a cup just because you can’t afford to eat. There’s already a huge stigma about having to receive services, a spiral of shame and embarrassment that permeates the use of the system. Instead of wasting taxpayer money to weed out a small percent of those in need, demonizing an entire sect of people in favor of misleading stereotypes, maybe it’s time we put our funds into helping them find their way out of the system and onto their own two feet.

Read the Rest: Why Drug Testing Welfare Recipients Is a Waste of Taxpayer Money | TIME.

Posted in 2014-09-24, Newsletter | Comments Off

How The United States Government Got So Good At Selling War To Us Gullible Dupes

(Editor’s Note: Edward Bernays was Sigmund Freud’s nephew. Ironically, the Nazis used the propaganda techniques developed and honed by Bernays, a Jew, to come to power and justify their persecution of the Jews. Our government uses his techniques for our own particular brand of international murder and mayhem. — Mark L. Taylor)

 
 
Brasscheck TV (9/22/14)

There’s always been propaganda, but in the last 100 years, it’s been raised to a high art.

In fact, propagandists control what’s called the “news” media.

Sounds far-fetched?

If you knew the history of warfare in the last 100 years, you wouldn’t think so.

One man led the development of this dark science: Edward Bernays.

Experts like Bernays called the tune and the news media danced. It still goes on today.

Link to 5-Minute Video

Posted in 2014-09-24, Newsletter | Comments Off

Naomi Klein On ‘Capitalism Vs. The Climate’

(Editor’s Note: It’s always cringe worthy when one of your heroes doesn’t stand bold and, unfortunately, Naomi Klein does just that in this interview when asked what her alternative would be to the current pathological capitalism laying waste to the planet and humanity. When asked what she would suggest as an alternative she sounds like any run-of-the-mill congress critter. She calls for bold change and then evades and avoids answering the question: If not what we have now, what? She calls for bold change then goes all timid. Disappointing. But the rest of the interview is worth listening to and I have ordered her newest book. — Mark L. Taylor)

By Tom Ashbrook
On Point Radio 99/22/14)

Big climate protests in New York before a big UN summit.  Activist and author Naomi Klein says change the economy or die. She’s with us. Three hundred thousand in the streets of New York yesterday, shouting for change on the deteriorating global climate.  More marches in more than 100 cities around the world.  And more thousands flooding Wall Street this morning, saying no more business as usual.  Steps so far aren’t cutting it.  My guest today, Naomi Klein, says there’s a reason for that.  We’re in a system, she says, that drives us toward global warming.  A system called capitalism.  It’s time to rein it in, she says.  It’s the conservative nightmare.  And a new rallying cry. This hour On Point:  climate change and capitalism. Guests

Link to 47-minute Audio

Posted in 2014-09-24, Newsletter | Comments Off

Why A Kindergarten Teacher Is Running For Congress

“I have become increasingly alarmed over what appears to be an attempt to destroy the public school system across the nation by people from both political parties. “

 

(Editor’s Note: If we had a true democracy Congress would be filled with a lot of more folks like this. Until that happens we will continue to have a government geared to the greedy goals of a tiny minority of the richest of the wealthy. — Mark L. Taylor)

By Janet Garrett
The Washington Post (9/20/14)

It’s the first day of school. A 5-year-old boy whom we will call Bobby walks through the door tightly gripping his father’s hand. He is wearing  new school clothes and new shoes. He has on his back a new backpack containing all his school supplies. He is nervous, even a little scared. I imagine that he is wondering: “Will I know anybody? Will I make friends? Will my teacher be nice? What if I don’t know what to do? What if I get into trouble? I hope my teacher thinks I’m a good boy!”

I, his teacher, greet Bobby and his father at the door with a big smile. I invite them in and show Bobby where his cubby is, with his name on it, so he can put his things away. I tell him that I am very glad he has come and that we are going to have a great day. I encourage him to give his dad a hug and say, “I’ll see you later.” He does, much to his dad’s relief. Bobby and I go into the center of the classroom where several children are already waiting, sitting cross legged on the rug. There is another friendly lady in the room, helping the children get settled.

I begin class. I welcome my new students and ask them to tell everyone else their names. Then I explain that I have a rule –that we are all friends. Nobody can tell another student:”You can’t play” or “I’m not your friend” or “I’ll be your friend if you do something for me.” Bobby smiles and I see his body relax. He smiles at the boy who is sitting next to him and who is smiling back.

My last year of teaching

I have taught for 34 years. This is the beginning of my last year of teaching. I know young children. I know their families. I have been in their homes. I see their struggles and I suffer because I see the struggles getting worse. We used to teach children and then give them a test to see if they learned what they were taught. The purpose was to see if they needed to be re-taught the material. Now we are teaching to the test. We lose vast amounts of instructional time to test prep and testing. This is going on now at every grade level.

The state of Ohio Department of Education, now requires the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA). Half of the test is due by the end of September and the rest is due by November first. This test requires a minimum of 1 1/4 hours of teacher instructional time to administer PER CHILD. The developer of the KRA advises that if a child is not doing well to suspend the test to another time. This appears, on its face, to be kind. In reality, it means that the teacher could potentially be tied up in testing for the entire first two months of the nine months of school. And that’s not all. There are two other tests which must be done by the end of September and redone in April. The legislators who enacted these requirements obviously have no idea what Bobby needs to start his school experience off right. Perhaps they don’t care. They certainly never took the time to ask teachers and parents what they thought.

In anticipation of this untenable situation in my classroom, I lined up an army of help. The “friendly lady” who was in my classroom that first day is a friend and a retired teacher. I have three retired teachers, one retired school secretary, and a retired playground supervisor all coming in to volunteer in my classroom. I am determined that my last class, before I retire, will not be short changed due to the madness of testing.

Movie time replaces education time

But , sadly, my personal solution to this problem is not one that will work for others. I have heard many stories of kindergarten teachers who, in desperation, put their students in front of movies all day so that they can test their students, one by one, for hours on end. There are Bobbys across Ohio who are starting their school year, being led into a classroom and put in front of movie after movie. These Bobbys are led in by obviously stressed and nervous teachers. Since children take their cues from the adults in charge, they sense that something is wrong and are more agitated than they would be otherwise. Some of them have not had breakfast. Some of them come from violent home lives and are terrified that they will be beaten if they make mistakes at school. They get up from the movies and attempt to get reassurance from their teachers, who are testing other children . In some cases the stressed teachers respond to these interruptions in anger which increases the stress level in the classrooms. How does this square with what their parents have told them to expect? How does this square with what the children need?

I want to state loudly, that I do not blame the teachers who are doing this. I blame the state legislators and the state Board of Education for creating this situation. This is a tragic way for a child to start school! Bobby needs social interaction. He needs physical and mental activity. He needs to start learning from day one. One of the beautiful things about teaching young children is watching how fast they learn, grow and develop. Even after all these years, I still get goose bumps when I witness a child reading for the first time. My students have been in school for four weeks and what they have learned already is amazing. Not so for the kindergarteners stuck in front of movies all day.

Let’s go back to the first week of school. As I do with other children, I call Bobby to my table alone so I can test him. I ask him questions, show him pictures and objects to assess him on this state-mandated exam. He becomes nervous, being questioned closely by his teacher. On some questions he gets the wrong answers because he is actually “over-thinking,” or  thinking beyond the scope of the test. His answers show me that he is a very thoughtful child but that his scores will be low and as a result, I will be required to put him in a remedial program that I can see he doesn’t need and that will waste his time and school district money.

Education comes to screeching halt

The problem with these tests is not that there is any one question that is harmful to children. It is the sheer weight and volume of these tests that cause the entire educational process to come to a screeching haul. And the sad thing is, in all this testing, I am not able to get to the information I really need. For example, two of the tests ask for the children to name a fewletters. As the child’s teacher, I want to know how many letters, and which ones the child knows so that I can teach what is needed. Only after all of the required testing is done, can I ask for the information I really need.

The legislators keep tightening the noose on public education: requiring more and more time devoted to testing so that there is less and less time for instruction, raising the bar on school district grading systems to make schools look worse than they really are, extracting funds so that profits can be made. Every place I go where teachers are gathered, I hear the same conversation revolving around this question: “How can I get out?”

Bipartisan attack on public schools

Public education is one of the foundations of our democracy. It is, arguably, the only equalizing force in an otherwise unequal system. Over the years I have seen many fads and trends come and go. Over these last few years, however, I have become increasingly alarmed over what appears to be an attempt to destroy the public school system across the nation by people from both political parties. It started with President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind, a mandate without funding and a pretty way to say, “No child left untested.” President Obama’s “Race to the Top” competition for federal education funds has only intensified the testing. We have public-funded vouchers for students to spend at little-regulated or unregulated private schools, and we have publicly funded charter schools, some of which are run by for-profit companies making a great deal of money from the enterprise. More recently we have seen the rise of the Common Core State Standards, which is probably a good concept but has been badly implemented.

People ask me from time to time what I think of the state of public education. I tell them we desperately need educational reform. What children need is not to be taught how to pass endless tests. They need to be taught problem solving, creativity and, most of all, a love of learning. We must give them the tools they need to learn. We are teaching children, today, for a world we cannot foresee. What we need is a new, child centered, not profit driven, education agenda.

Link to Story

Posted in 2014-09-23, Newsletter | Comments Off

Wisconsin Electric’s War On Solar Energy: A Case Study

Proposals are clearly designed to put a huge dent in free market competition in Wisconsin and preserve WE Energies’ for-profit monopoly.

 
 
By Windtalker
The Daily Kos (9/7/14)

In Wisconsin, WE Energies has proposed rate changes to the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) that will increase monthly facilities fees on all customers and add crushing tariffs to those who produce grid-tied renewable energy. Their latest attempt to gain support for their proposals was contained in a brochure that went out to all of their customers with this month’s billing (“Learn about Our 2015-16 Rate Request”). In short, it contains information that is simply not true in order to demonize solar customers as unfair moochers. How do I know it’s not true? We are having a grid-tied solar array installed this week, and I know exactly what it will cost us to use the grid. The truth needs to get out before the PSC hearings in Madison on September 24 and Milwaukee on October 8. Follow me below the jump and tell all of your friends in Wisconsin the truth!

 

I want to first focus on what we will pay even without the new increases, as this addresses WE Energies’ claim that solar producers are currently not paying their “fair” share to use the grid. Each month, WE customers pay a $9 facilities charge, which, according to the above-mentioned brochure, “covers costs to serve customers – from meters to poles, from the person who answers a billing call to the person who restores service during a storm.” (Note that it says “covers,” not “almost covers.” This will be an important distinction later on in this tome.)

The brochure states that customers with solar use the grid “essentially for free,” and some sell excess power to WE “without paying to use the grid.” Oh yeah?

When our solar array is connected next week, this is what we will pay: the $9/month facilities charge for our house, the same as other customers; the $9/month facilities charge for our outbuilding, the same as other customers with separately metered outbuildings; AND a $9/month facilities charge for a separate meter that WE Energies requires us to install to measure solar output. It will cost us $27/month or $324 a year just to use the grid, compared to a regular customer who pays $108 a year to use the grid. Last I looked, $324 is not free, “essentially” or otherwise. Even without the outbuilding, we would be paying twice as much to use the grid as regular customers do.

The truth is that solar customers already pay more than regular customers to use the grid. How did I arrive at this conclusion? Very high level math…

So what is “fair?” Said brochure: [solar customers] “still need to use the electric grid, yet pay less than their share for their use of the grid. This leaves more of the cost of the grid to be paid by customers who do not have or cannot afford their own systems.”

Please note that there are no actual dollars and cents numbers given to support any of these statements. I think that paying $108 a year more than regular customers, in spite of the fact that we’ll be supplying the grid with energy during peak use, is actually way more than fair, verging on unfair! I therefore went on a personal quest to find out exactly what solar customers are costing WE Energies when they send those little electrical particles zooming through the existing wires.

First, I called the guy at WE Energies I’d been dealing with about our application to connect to the grid …

Link to Story

Posted in 2014-09-23, Newsletter | Comments Off

For Those Concerned About Deadly Oil Trains Putting Our Coummunities At Risk

Important News!  Secretary of the US Department of Transportation Anthony Foxx will be in town at 6 p.m. Wednesday (TOMORROW), September 24 as featured guest of Sen Ron Kind at his annual Corn Roast at the State Fair Grounds in West Salem.

Please consider attending this event, introducing yourself to Sec. Foxx, and sharing your concerns about safety, speed limits, noise, vibration, pollution, crossing delays, access to Hixon Forest, property values, impact on tax base and taxpayers, and impact on the La Crosse River Marsh to serve as a flood plain, wildlife preserve, and the City’s most heavily used recreational area.

City of LaX update:  We were pleased the La Crosse City Council voted to allow a public hearing at their meeting on Sept. 11, allowing both BNSF and some of the concerned citizens present to speak.  We requested a full public hearing with sufficient notice in the near future, asked the Council to delay an agreement with BNSF until the Army Corp renders a decision about building in the Marsh, presented statistics and concerns about property values and tax revenues, and presented our list of “asks” in behalf of concerned residents, and more.

Hope to see you at the Corn Fest Wednesday night!  Details below.

From Rep. Ron Kind:

I am excited to announce my special guest for the Corn Roast: the Honorable Anthony Foxx!  Anthony has been an outspoken advocate for job creation and investment in our nation’s roads and bridges.

He will be our headline speaker but will also spend time experiencing his first Old-Fashioned Wisconsin Corn Roast.  Help me make sure it’s a great one!

Join us at the La Crosse County Fairgrounds on Wednesday, September 24th from 6-9pm: W4985 County Highway M, West Salem, WI.

A traditional Polka Band, games for the kids, great food and cold drinks will be provided. While entrance is free as always, we are partnering with the La Crosse Hunger Task Force to collect non-perishable goods to help combat hunger in the area. If you can, bring two or three items you may have lining your cupboard to help a great cause!

Karen Ringstrom

CARS, Citizens Acting for Rail Safety

Posted in 2014-09-23, Newsletter | Comments Off

Progressive Dems Sink Loser Obama Appointee For Federal Bench. Obama Still Supports Him.

By Jennifer Bendery
The Huffington Post (9/22/14)

WASHINGTON — Progressives appear to have won their fight to sink President Barack Obama’s controversial judicial nominee Michael Boggs.

The New York Times reported Monday that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in an interview that Boggs lacks the support to pass the committee and should withdraw his nomination.

“He doesn’t have the votes,” Leahy told the paper.

Boggs, who is up for a lifetime post on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, has been under attack all year from progressive groups and Democratic lawmakers over his socially conservative track record as a former Georgia state legislator. Among other things, he voted to ban same-sex marriage, to keep the Confederate insignia on the Georgia flag and to require doctors to post online their personal information and the annual number of abortions they performed.

NARAL Pro-Choice America has been one of Boggs’ biggest critics, launching an entire campaign aimed at sinking his nomination.

The White House has been backing Boggs because he was part of an all-or-nothing package of seven judicial nominees that Obama agreed to with Georgia’s Republican senators. But their deal was that those seven nominees get a hearing, which they have, so the remaining six have moved on without Boggs.

Boggs has the distinction of being Obama’s first judicial nominee to go down at the hands of Democrats. A number of Senate Democrats have already said publicly that they would vote against Boggs, including some on the committee and in leadership.

UPDATE: 1:55 p.m. — White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said later that Obama will not urge Boggs to withdraw his nomination, despite Leahy saying the votes aren’t there and it’s time for him to throw in the towel.

“The president believes that Judge Boggs has the necessary qualifications to serve in this role,” Earnest said during his daily briefing. “That’s why the president nominated him.”

Link to Story

Posted in 2014-09-23, Newsletter | Comments Off

Sept. 24 & 25: Documentary Film On The Impact Of Frac Gas Drilling In Pennsylvania (And Other States)

Filmmakers Melissa Troutman and Joshua Pribanic present their riveting and definitive film on the impacts of frac gas drilling in Pennsylvania (and Western states). “Triple Divide” will be screened on the following dates:

  • WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2014   UW-La Crosse, Room CC332 at Cartwright Center 1725 State Street, La Crosse, WI 54601, on Wed. Sept. 24, 2014. Guest speakers and information-sharing at 6:00pm, film Triple Divide at 7:00pm, discussion at 8:00pm.

 

  • THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2014  Park Hall 307 Polk St., Sauk City, WI 53583, on Thurs. Sept. 25, 2014. Come at 6:30pm to see the filmmakers’ fully electric Tesla car, then see the film at 7:30pm. Reedsburg Area Concerned Citizens

Facilitated by Reedsburg Area Concerned Citizens and the Freethinkers Park Hall. 608-356-3556.

Posted in 2014-09-23, Newsletter | Comments Off

Hell Freezes Over: Rockefellers Divesting From Big Oil

By Alana Horowitz
The Huffington Post (9/21/14)
 

The Rockefeller family is divesting some of its massive fortune from fossil fuels, the New York Times reported on Sunday. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the family’s charitable arm, will announce the landmark move in a video conference on Monday along with 49 other foundations.

According to USA Today, the 50 groups will divest from 200 major oil and gas companies.

The Rockefellers are especially noteworthy given their family history. Patriarchs John D. Rockefeller and William Rockefeller amassed their fortunes while working in their oil industry. The Rockefeller brothers were co-founders of the Standard Oil Company, the world’s largest oil refiner at the time.

The Rockefellers were also celebrated for their philanthropic work. According to his 1937 New York Times obituary, John D. Rockefeller gave $530 million to charity during his lifetime. He also helped establish the University of Chicago.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund has been a major supporter of environmental advocacy. Last year, the charity gave over $6 million in grants to sustainable development projects.

The fossil fuel divestment movement has gained many other high-profile supporters in recent months, including actor Mark Ruffalo.

“It’s a snowballing movement,” Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, told USA Today.

According to the Washington Post, the Rockefellers plan to first divest from coal and tar-sands mining.

Link to Story

Posted in 2014-09-23, Newsletter | Comments Off

The Koch Brothers’ 3-Step Plan To Buy The Next Generation

“The Kochs’ economic philosophy is essentially, “Fuck you, I’ve got mine.””

 
By Carl Gibson
Reader Supported News (9/17/14)

Right-wing oligarchs dominating our political process, like the Koch Brothers, are wealthy beyond measure. Combined, Charles and David Koch are worth over $100 billion, and make $6 million per hour. That translates to over $1600 per second, which is enough to feed someone on food stamps for an entire year. Compare that figure to the $13 million that former Kroger CEO David Dillon earned in his last year with the company, which he called “ludicrous.” Their only problem is their age – David Koch is 74, Charles Koch is 78. For their class to maintain power over American politics and government, they have to make investments in future generations to ensure their ideology will live on beyond them.

It’s been well-documented by now how the Koch Brothers are sponsoring economic programs at colleges and universities around the country. By itself, this could be interpreted as philanthropy. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a billionaire donating some of his wealth to education. But the greater strategy in the Kochs’ chess game isn’t just to make themselves wealthier, but a far more sinister one. That strategy can be broken down into three steps:

1. Defund Public Schools

America’s public schools and universities are all being deprived of state tax dollars slowly but surely. This is not an accident. Model bills written by the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (an innocuous-sounding merger of right-wing state legislators and corporate lobbyists) accomplish this goal threefold. First, model legislation aimed at giving corporations huge tax breaks gets passed. Then, model resolutions stating that balancing the budget must take priority over funding public institutions are passed. Finally, ALEC legislators use those resolutions as justification to slash public services, like schools, to the bone in order to plug the gaping budget hole made by corporate tax breaks.

Florida governor Rick Scott has slashed school funding while simultaneously advocating for over $140 million in new corporate tax breaks. Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett has given out $3 billion in corporate tax breaks during his tenure, and has cut education funding by $1 billion. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker cut schools by $1.2 billion and has given out $570 million in corporate tax breaks. On its own, this could be seen as, at best, a radical gamble in economic growth with schools on the line. But when this tactic is repeated in multiple states in different geographical regions, it’s apparent there’s a strategy at play.

2. Make Schools Dependent on Private Entities for Money

At Florida State University, emails from an economics professor in 2008 show that the Koch Brothers were willing to donate millions to the university through their foundation, but only if they had a say in the curriculum that was taught and in the hiring of professors to teach the curriculum. FSU took the donation, and consulted with the Koch Foundation on who would be hired to teach courses that largely vilified government services and promoted the Kochs’ unique brand of libertarian free market ideology. At the time, Florida’s public universities had seen their funding levels fall by 41 percent over the previous five years.

Public universities traditionally depend on state government funding for 53 percent of their operational budgets. But without a dependable key funding source like state governments, colleges and universities are forced to raise tuition, which results in only a privileged class of students able to attend college. Public universities are also forced to come crawling to private interests like Koch-funded foundations for funding, which always comes with strings attached.

3. Ingrain students with Greed-Based Ideology

To be blunt, the Kochs’ economic philosophy is essentially, “Fuck you, I’ve got mine.” In 1980, David Koch ran for vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket. Some of his proposals included killing Medicare and Medicaid, eliminating federal campaign finance laws, doing away with all environmental protections, abolishing the minimum wage, and privatizing water systems, railways, and the post office. Koch also called for eliminating laws that prevent creditors from gouging debtors with high interest rates, deregulating private health insurance companies, and killing the food stamp program.

In the college and high school courses on Libertarian thought offered by the Institute for Humane Studies, a Koch-funded think tank, many of these ideas are taught to unsuspecting and impressionable young students. As the Center for Public Integrity reported, students are taught about how sweat shop workers in third world countries don’t have it so bad, how the federal minimum wage kills jobs, and how the Environmental Protection Agency is bad for the environment.

With this strategy, students attending college would mistakenly interpret such greed-inspired drivel as scholarly research to be taken as gospel. Upon graduation, it can be assumed they would start families and impress their ideologies upon their children. Colleges themselves would be transformed from institutions that cherish and develop critical thinkers into additional cogs of the corporate machine, with corporate-approved professors churning out obedient workers instead of independent-minded leaders.

This strategy is nothing short of generational conquest. It is only by insisting that our public schools be properly funded by our tax dollars, instead of by oligarchs with their own agendas, that we can stop the corporate brainwashing of our kids.

Link to Story

Posted in 2014-09-23, Newsletter | Tagged | Comments Off

Helping Children In Hidden Rural Poverty

By Marian Wright Edelman, Childrens’ Defense Fund
The Huffington Post (9/12/14)

When many people hear child poverty in America, the first stereotype is an inner-city child and discussions about solutions to poverty often focus on concentrated poverty in urban areas. But in a nation where over 16 million children, more than one in five, are poor, the plain truth is that child poverty is pervasive and affects children everywhere although we know it affects urban, suburban, and rural children in some ways differently. The Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio (CDF-Ohio)’s new report “Health Disparities Are Leaving Ohio’s Rural Children Behind” shares findings often true for poor rural American children. As they say about Ohio’s 190,000 poor rural children: “These children go to bed hungry. Many of them live miles from the closest pediatrician, children’s hospital, and other services. They need help — and it is a different kind of help than what may be needed for children in Ohio’s cities.”

CDF-Ohio’s report notes that a few years ago, NBC News reported on pervasive hunger in Appalachian Ohio

“and the impact on families ‘who’ve had it all vanish — jobs, homes, and dreams — [and have to] choose between paying [their] bills and feeding [their] kids.’ In an area defined by valuing self-sufficiency, families are trying everything before turning to emergency food banks. Anita Hayes, mother of a 14-year-old daughter, Lydia, and 9-year-old son, Lyle, describes this struggle, saying, ‘The first few times I had to swallow my pride. But I wasn’t doing it for myself. I have to feed my children. They come first.’ Anita, her husband, and her two children live in a camper without running water and borrow a neighboring trailer’s electricity. She describes feeling guilty that she can’t meet her children’s needs and that sometimes a bowl of cereal is ‘dinner in a household where the children are growing up fast.’ Too many children are growing up too fast, without adequate nutrition, in rural and Appalachian counties hard-hit by the recession where, despite being surrounded by farmland, food is often in scarce supply.”

Many rural children live in “food deserts” without close access to grocery stores selling affordable, nutritious food. Ohio areas like Vinton County have no full-service grocery store at all; a local school administrator said in a 2012 news story:

“You know that it’s an issue when a little kid is going through the lunch line, and they’re already asking what’s going to be for breakfast the next morning, because they’re concentrating on the fact that perhaps this might be their last meal before they come back to school the next morning.”

Food in rural communities often costs more because supermarkets are so limited and there’s less price competition. In part due to food insecurity, children in rural Ohio are at greater risk of obesity. Other factors including reliance on driving and a lack of community resources like public parks, playgrounds, and exercise facilities probably play a role too in putting children at greater risk for obesity-related physical, emotional, and psychological health problems that may diminish their quality of life from youth into adulthood.

Poor access to health care is a second piece of the rural health disparities puzzle. Put simply, poor children in rural Ohio have more trouble than children in other parts of the state finding doctors to care for them.  CDF-Ohio found this is part of a national trend: Regions with a low supply of pediatricians are disproportionately rural and tend to be poorer than high-supply regions. Nearly 1 million rural children live in areas with no local pediatrician. This shortage of general pediatricians and family doctors serving children in rural areas is compounded by a lack of access to pediatric subspecialists. In the United States, there are approximately 28,000 pediatric medical subspecialists and surgical specialists to care for over 80 million children. Most practice in academic settings, often a long drive from rural areas. About one in three children must travel 40 miles or more to receive care from a pediatrician certified in adolescent medicine, developmental behavior pediatrics, neurodevelopment disabilities, pulmonology, emergency medicine, nephrology, rheumatology, or sports medicine and there is a shortage of available critical care for children in rural emergency rooms. Finding a dentist is a huge challenge too.

CDF-Ohio offers solutions to some of the health risks poor children face including teaching families how to grow healthy food and community-based fitness and wellness programs. New ways of providing health care for rural children including community center- and school-based or linked health services, mobile dental vans, and new uses of technology like videoconferencing consultations are helping. Some key state policy changes could make a difference like tax incentives for buying nutritious food, encouraging more grocery stores in rural areas, increased public transit, and more incentives like loan forgiveness programs for graduates of the state’s medical schools to practice in rural areas.

The new Ohio report sums it up: “While there are great barriers to health care for rural and Appalachian children, there are also great opportunities to act and ensure a healthy future for all children across Ohio. Now is the time to act.” Another report just released this week by First Focus reaffirms the importance of ensuring health care for rural children across the country.  It also makes clear that children in rural communities are more likely than their urban peers to get health care through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid, and reinforces the importance of extending CHIP funding now for four more years. We must keep CHIP for these children as we seek other improvements on their behalf as well. I hope not only Ohio but every state will do more for the too often hidden rural poor children in our midst.

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Posted in 2014-09-23, Newsletter | Comments Off

John Oliver On Last Week Tonight, “Miss America Pageant”

John Oliver does a great rap on the fraud of the Miss America Pageant and their claims to being the largest provider of scholarships to women. Oliver and his crew not onl d great entertainment, they do great journalism.

As a bonus check out the contestant’s response to the question of what to do with Isis.

15-Minute Video

Posted in 2014-09-23, Newsletter | Comments Off

Cartoon: Losing Our Heads (And Reason) Over Our Pals In Saudi Arabia

By Mark Fiore
Daily Kos (9/19/14)

Now that the United States is forming another military coalition to combat evil in the Middle East, maybe we should pause to take a closer look at the members of this coalition. Sure, ISIS is terrible and does awful things like behead people, but they’ve got nothing on Saudi Arabia, whichbeheads people as a matter of policy.

Between August 4th and 22nd, Saudi Arabia executed 22 people, bringing the yearly total to 34. (They executed 79 people in 2013 and killed 2000 people between 1985 and 2013.) They recently killed four members of the same family for drug trafficking.

I’m not saying every one of our allies in the fight against ISIS has to be perfect, but it does seem a bit hypocritical when one of our most important allies in the Middle East has such a thing for beheading— just something to keep in mind when the next terrible ISIS beheading video is released. Nobody seems to get worked up when prisoners who have been tortured and condemned by a religious court are beheaded in a public square, as long as it happens in Saudi Arabia. Dogboy is a little confused by this whole thing, and Mr. Dan is trying desperately to make the world black and white. You can of course find more links about the news behind this cartoon here.

Link to 1+-Minute Video

 

Posted in 2014-09-23, Newsletter | Comments Off

This 17-Year-Old’s Brilliant Invention May Lower Accidental Gun Deaths In America

By Amanda Scherker
The Huffington Post (9/11/14)

Seventeen-year-old Kai Kloepfer’s idea for a finger-print sensitive smart gun came to him in a dream. This week, the Colorado teen won a $50,000 grant from the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation with the hopes of bringing that vision to life.

In an interview with FOX’s Denver news channel KDVR, Kloepfer said that he believes his invention could improve America’s gun safety and reduce accidental gun deaths. He describes a design that is simple and user-friendly.

“All you have to do is pick the firearm up and the way you naturally rest your hand on the firearm unlocks it,” he says. “So you don’t have to swipe or anything like that.”

The design uses fingerprint sensors to prevent anybody but the gun’s owner from firing a bullet. Because the gun can be programmed to store an unlimited number of owners, Kloepfer’s invention could even be used by police forces and military units.

Previously, Kloepfer entered his design in the 2013 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, where he was ranked in the top 34 out of 7 million high school students.

Link to Story

Posted in 2014-09-23, Newsletter | Comments Off

Dept. Of Much Needed Humor — Largest Climate-Change March In History Unlikely To Convince Idiots

By Borowitz
The New Yorker (9/21/14)

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) – A climate-change march that organizers claim was the largest on record is nevertheless unlikely to change the minds of idiots, a survey of America’s idiots reveals.

Despite bringing attention to a position that is embraced by more than ninety per cent of the world’s scientists, the People’s Climate March, which took place on Sunday in New York City, left a broad majority of the nation’s idiots unconvinced.

“Look, if hundreds of thousands of people want to march about something, it’s a free country,” said Carol Foyler, an idiot from Kenosha, Wisconsin. “But let me ask them something: if the climate is really getting warmer, why was it so cold up here last winter?”

Harland Dorrinson, an idiot from Hollywood, Florida, was also unmoved by the message of Sunday’s march. “What these marchers don’t realize is that the planet goes through natural cycles of heating and cooling,” he said. “Blaming people for global warming is like blaming dinosaurs for the ice age.”

Skepticism about scientists characterized many of the idiots’ remarks, including those of Tracy Klugian, of Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Those marchers are holding signs that say ‘Scientists this, scientists that,’ ” he said. “Well, how can scientists be sure that the Earth was colder thousands of years ago, when no one had invented a thermometer?”

Klugian said he was confident that, despite the impressive numbers for Sunday’s march, idiots would prevail in the ongoing climate-change debate. “At the end of the day, there are more people like us in Congress,” he said.

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Posted in 2014-09-23, Newsletter | Comments Off