frankilin roosevelt

It's not about being liberal or conservative anymore y'all. That is a hype offered by the fascist whores who want to confuse the people with lies while they turn this country into an aristocratic police state. Some people will say anything to attain power and money. There is no such thing as the Liberal Media, but the Corporate media is very real.

Check out my old  Voice of the People page.

Gino Napoli
San Francisco, California
High School Math Teacher

Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.

a middle-aged
George Washington

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Sunday, 2 December 2012 at 2h 54m 6s

Liquidity trap

The history of dealing with financial crises goes back to before the constitution. Dealing with them has always taken ingenuity, and some form of economic rebalancing.

the central principle for understanding macroeconomic policy has been that everything is different when you’re in a liquidity trap. In particular, the whole case for fiscal stimulus and against austerity rests on the proposition that with interest rates up against the zero lower bound, the central bank can neither achieve full employment on its own nor offset the contractionary effect of spending cuts or tax hikes.

This isn’t hard, folks; it’s just Macro 101. Yet a large number of economists — never mind politicians or policy makers — seems to have a very hard time grasping this basic concept.

A Liquidity trap occurs when investment opportunities are not attracted by low interest rates, and thus economic growth cannot be stimulated by simply making borrowing less expensive.

[SOURCE: Paul Krugman | New York Times | 1 December 2012]

Saturday, 1 December 2012 at 22h 54m 35s

Learning styles is bunkum ???

Apparently there is no substance to the belief that people have different "learning styles." This surprises me, but I'll defer to the scientists while I assess their study.

Research has never been able to back up that which seems so obvious in the classroom. Studies reveal that under controlled conditions, there is actually no difference in the way people respond to visual, auditory or kinesthetic modes of teaching

According to science, our brains all learn in pretty much the same way. What does differ between students is background knowledge, areas of greater or lesser ability and areas of more or less interest. All of these factors affect how well people learn

Incorporating variety in lessons, then, and even sensory variety, is an excellent approach to increasing understanding across the board -- but not because students have inherent, sense-based learning styles. Variety helps because students come with different knowledge bases, talents and interests -- and because it can help keep them awake during math class

Psychologist Dan Willingham at the University of Virginia, who studies how our brains learn, says teachers should not tailor instruction to different kinds of learners. He says we're on more equal footing than we may think when it comes to how our brains learn. And it's a mistake to assume students will respond and remember information better depending on how it's presented.

For example, if a teacher believes a student to be a visual learner, he or she might introduce the concept of addition using pictures or groups of objects, assuming that child will learn better with the pictures than by simply "listening" to a lesson about addition.

In fact, an entire industry has sprouted based on learning styles. There are workshops for teachers, products targeted at different learning styles and some schools that even evaluate students based on this theory.

This prompted Doug Rohrer, a psychologist at the University of South Florida, to look more closely at the learning style theory.

When he reviewed studies of learning styles, he found no scientific evidence backing up the idea. "We have not found evidence from a randomized control trial supporting any of these," he says, "and until such evidence exists, we don't recommend that they be used."

Willingham suggests it might be more useful to figure out similarities in how our brains learn, rather than differences. And, in that case, he says, there's a lot of common ground. For example, variety. "Mixing things up is something we know is scientifically supported as something that boosts attention," he says, adding that studies show that when students pay closer attention, they learn better.

And recent studies find that our brains retain information better when we spread learning over a longer period of time, say months or even a year, versus cramming it into a few days or weeks. Rohrer and colleagues nationwide are currently researching what teaching methods work best for all students, but only using the evidence.

[SOURCE: Cedar Riener & Daniel Willingham | Change magazine | Sept-Oct 2010]
[SOURCE: Patti Neighmond | NPR | 29 August 2011]
[SOURCE: Julia Layton | How Stuff Works | 1 December 2012]

Cedar Riener is an assistant professor of psychology at Randolph-Macon College.

Daniel Willingham is a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. He blogs at the Washington Post and is the author of Why Don't Students Like School?

Saturday, 1 December 2012 at 3h 1m 34s

The don't care about the debt

It's just a subterfuge to disguise what they are really after. A Trojan Horse.

One of the Fix the Debt campaign’s main proposals for deficit reduction is creating a “territorial tax system” that would enable corporations to evade taxation on offshore earnings—which amounts to a combined $418 billion from the Fix the Debt member corporations—when they bring that money home, and giving themselves a $134 billion tax break, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies titled “The CEO Campaign to ‘Fix’ the Debt: A Trojan Horse for Massive Corporate Tax Breaks.”

Just to be clear, they are talking about paying off the national debt by pocketing $134 billion in taxes annually.

And that’s just from Fix the Debt corporate signatories. Taken as a whole, the S&P 500 currently has an estimated $1.5 trillion in revenues in offshore havens. That’s roughly the size of the national debt in 2009.

You should read the entire article.

[SOURCE: Jonathan Valania | Philly Magazine | 29 November 2012]

Saturday, 1 December 2012 at 2h 58m 25s

Yep, the class war never sleeps

These multi-millionaires can't take defeat. Just can't stand it. They must have their way and they will spend their money to get what they want, because it's not really one-man-one vote. The Supreme Court said Money is Free Speech. Money can influence and manipulate voters and get face time with politicians that ordinary middle-class folk do not have. The opinions of the elite are pushed into the minds of the media watching public. The beliefs of ordinary folk (unless they agree with the elites) not much at all, even though those beliefs are in the majority.

The class war is from above, not from below. Rich people aren't in danger of having their money taken by an uprising of poor, angry citizens. The poor, angry citizens make their voices heard the only way they can, by showing up in droves and voting on election day. They aren't storming the mansions and gated communities. Not yet.

But the mega-rich are sore fucking losers. So spoiled and used to always getting what they want, they mistake their morbid selfishness for patriotism.

Here's what Paul Krugman had to say about this today:

what voters said, clearly, was no to tax cuts for the rich, no to benefit cuts for the middle class and the poor. So what’s a top-down class warrior to do?

The answer, as I have already suggested, is to rely on stealth — to smuggle in plutocrat-friendly policies under the pretense that they’re just sensible responses to the budget deficit.

Consider, as a prime example, the push to raise the retirement age, the age of eligibility for Medicare, or both. This is only reasonable, we’re told — after all, life expectancy has risen, so shouldn’t we all retire later? In reality, however, it would be a hugely regressive policy change, imposing severe burdens on lower- and middle-income Americans while barely affecting the wealthy. Why? First of all, the increase in life expectancy is concentrated among the affluent; why should janitors have to retire later because lawyers are living longer? Second, both Social Security and Medicare are much more important, relative to income, to less-affluent Americans, so delaying their availability would be a far more severe hit to ordinary families than to the top 1 percent.

Or take a subtler example, the insistence that any revenue increases should come from limiting deductions rather than from higher tax rates. The key thing to realize here is that the math just doesn’t work; there is, in fact, no way limits on deductions can raise as much revenue from the wealthy as you can get simply by letting the relevant parts of the Bush-era tax cuts expire. So any proposal to avoid a rate increase is, whatever its proponents may say, a proposal that we let the 1 percent off the hook and shift the burden, one way or another, to the middle class or the poor.

One of the comments left was also insightful, and historical

I agree with Mr. Krugman that there is a class war but the choice between Romney and Obama is not a very comforting one for those - the poor and middle class - on the losing end of that war. President Obama, after all, invited the captains of industry and the architects of the crash to help steer the country back to health. In the middle ages noble lords defended their wealth with armed mercenaries. In the 20th century they did it with tax lawyers and corrupt politicians. This strategy has expanded in the 21st century to include entire parties, news outlets and pet pundits in the service of preserving the wealth of their masters. It is an odd phenomenon but I've noticed that those who have more than they need are often those who are most afraid to lose what they have.

Many of the founders feared the creation of an hereditary aristocracy in America. Their fears seem to have been realized. The only antidote I'm afraid, is the dreaded income redistribution. When a hedge fund manager - a person essentially charged with the socially useless task of making rich people much richer - makes a billion dollars or more a year and wages of people doing useful work stagnate, something is seriously wrong with society. When a professional golfer makes more in a weekend than a teacher makes in 15 years something is seriously wrong with society. Yes, there is a class war but unfortunately, while the Republicans may be part of the problem, the Democrats really aren't par of the solution.

[SOURCE: Paul Krugman | New York Times | 30 November 2012]

Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 3h 37m 32s

Why I love Duncan Black

They're usually not quite as transparently fraudulent as Fix The Debt, but all debt/deficit hawkery is just a front for cutting taxes on rich people. No this doesn't make any sense, but it sounds great to the likes of Dancing Dave so they get away with it.

Rich people want to steal the Social Security money. It's really that simple.

Despite being a person schooled in graduate level economics, Duncan Black keeps it real every single time. Perhaps his knowledge of the insider monkish ritualism gives him confidence to call a turd a piece of shit.

Of course, I suppose it helps that I also agree with him nearly 100% of the time.

[SOURCE: Clinton Black | Eschaton blog | 28 November 2012]

Wednesday, 28 November 2012 at 1h 45m 28s

Outlining the Democratic approach to a

From a speech before the Center for American Progress, Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois outlined his view of the Administrations ideas and intentions:

  • In addition to rejecting the privatization of Medicare or Social Security and the block granting of Medicaid – a common tactic to reject the extreme view to provide space for more modest but still damaging cuts – Durbin took Social Security almost entirely off the table.

  • Durbin said, regarding spending cuts on anti-poverty social programs, “Let me be clear: Those cuts will not happen.”

  • Republicans would have to build the framework on taxes, which includes an increase in the top marginal rates, before any Democrat will even begin to talk about social insurance programs.
  • He sought to line up with the Administration’s viewpoint that any changes to Medicare and Medicaid can happen without cuts to benefits.

  • He also wanted to exempt infrastructure spending fully from any cuts. In fact, Durbin said that any long-term deal would have to include short-term stimulus:“We can’t just cut our way out of this deficit or tax our way out. We have to think our way out. We have to invest and work our way out”

  • Durbin also said that any deal would have to include a solution for extending the debt limit

[SOURCE: David Dayen | Firedoglake | 27 November 2012]

I will not offer any opinions at this time. I'm just passing along the information.

Monday, 26 November 2012 at 4h 0m 53s

It's the Low Wages, Stupid

A recent NY Times article by Adam Davidson points out that manufacturers screaming about not being able to hire enough workers with the requisite skills are really just not willing to pay enough money to attract the necessary talent.

Eric Isbister, the C.E.O. of GenMet, a metal-fabricating manufacturer outside Milwaukee, told me that he would hire as many skilled workers as show up at his door. Last year, he received 1,051 applications and found only 25 people who were qualified. He hired all of them, but soon had to fire 15. Part of Isbister’s pickiness, he says, comes from an avoidance of workers with experience in a “union-type job.” Isbister, after all, doesn’t abide by strict work rules and $30-an-hour salaries. At GenMet, the starting pay is $10 an hour. Those with an associate degree can make $15, which can rise to $18 an hour after several years of good performance. From what I understand, a new shift manager at a nearby McDonald’s can earn around $14 an hour.

The secret behind this skills gap is that it’s not a skills gap at all. I spoke to several other factory managers who also confessed that they had a hard time recruiting in-demand workers for $10-an-hour jobs. “It’s hard not to break out laughing,” says Mark Price, a labor economist at the Keystone Research Center, referring to manufacturers complaining about the shortage of skilled workers. “If there’s a skill shortage, there has to be rises in wages,” he says. “It’s basic economics.” After all, according to supply and demand, a shortage of workers with valuable skills should push wages up. Yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of skilled jobs has fallen and so have their wages.

In a recent study, the Boston Consulting Group noted that, outside a few small cities that rely on the oil industry, there weren’t many places where manufacturing wages were going up and employers still couldn’t find enough workers. “Trying to hire high-skilled workers at rock-bottom rates,” the Boston Group study asserted, “is not a skills gap.” The study’s conclusion, however, was scarier. Many skilled workers have simply chosen to apply their skills elsewhere rather than work for less, and few young people choose to invest in training for jobs that pay fast-food wages.

[SOURCE: Adam Davidson | New York Times | 20 November 2012]

UPDATE: 28 November 2012 ~ ~ ~ ~
This got me thinking, how much is this entrance wage of $10 an hour in an entire year? Or the top wage of $18 an hour?

Assuming a 40 hours a week (big assumption) and that 50 weeks total wages are paid, minus the various holidays, this is 2000 times 10 and 2000 times 18. $20000 a year low end and $36,000 a year high end BEFORE TAXES ARE TAKEN OUT, which is probably close to 70% left -- that's $14,000 and $25,000 a year after taxes.

1,350 to 2,083 per month. Depending on where you live, rent can start at $600 or $1200. With food costs a minimum of $10 a day, that's another $300 a month. Assuming you can afford a car, there is $100 a month insurance and gas that could be more than $100 (especially if you need the car to go to work 5 days a week). At the low end with $600 rent, that's already over $1000.

This is not a lot of money. Try paying off $50,000 in student loans, especially when the loans have 6% interest. If you own a car, there is always $1000 of expenses extra per year. Tires, Oil changes, Brakes cost money.

And if you want to raise a family, it's called POVERTY.

How outta touch are these employers? They complain that the country is lacking skills when they are paying nearly poverty wages, and don't realize that only the lower 30% is applying because the upper 70% is better educated and gets better jobs.

So you see, their paradigm is the real problem.

Monday, 26 November 2012 at 22h 24m 47s

Tom Ricks Rocks

In this Fox News interview with Washington Post journalist Tom Ricks, Tom Ricks says that Fox News was "operating as a wing of the Republican Party." Then the interview ends.

But hey, at least they let him finish his sentence. Give the network at least that much credit.

Saturday, 24 November 2012 at 22h 5m 24s

The bill to end the cap on Social Security

Senator Begich of Alaska is trying to get a Bill passed that will, among other things, increase the salary cap on social security taxes. Here's the skinny from Senator Begich's press release

  • Increases Benefits for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities. Currently, Social Security benefits are adjusted by the Consumer Price Index for workers. However, costs and spending patterns for seniors do not mirror those of the workforce. That is why Sen. Begich’s bill calls for adjusting cost-of-living increases with a Consumer Price Index specifically for the elderly which was created to more accurately measure the costs of goods and services seniors actually buy.

  • Lifts the Cap on High-Income Contributions. Current law sets a cap based on income at $113,700 for paying into Social Security. If an individual’s wages hit that total for the year, they no longer pay into the program. Sen. Begich’s bill lifts the cap and asks higher income earners to pay Social Security on all their earnings in order to increase the program’s revenue stream and extend the overall solvency of the program.

  • Extends Social Security for approximately 75 years through modest revenue increases gradually implemented over the course of seven years

Senator Begich also provides a Scribd Social Security Fact Sheet. Click here for the fact sheet.

The fight is on again. Bernie Sanders (one of the greatest Senators in the history of our nation) has already gotten 29 Senators to sign a pledge to refuse to make any cuts at all to Social Security. Every single one of them are Democrats. There is not a single Republican signature, which represents the divide between the two political parties. Republicans really don't care about Social Security. Either they are naive, or they are part of the deliberate obfuscation.

Bernie Sanders is a Senator from Vermont, who is registered Independent. He is not a Democrat, nor a Republican. Go to Bernie Sanders website often and find out about the issues and Bernie Sanders. Or click here to read an article in Politico on 19 November 2012 where Bernie Sanders makes his views known and states "We must not balance the budget on [the] poor, [and the] elderly ..."

Let's go through this again. Social security and Medicare are paid for by separate taxes, just look at your paycheck. These revenues are completely separated from the general revenues that the government raises through income, corporate, and excise taxes. Whatever issues Social Security and Medicare might have should not be commingled with the issues of the national debt and budgetary deficit. The bonds (treasury bills) that are sold to deal with the budget deficits are not at all related to the funds that go into Social Security and Medicare. Anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant or deliberately stupid.

[SOURCE: Gaius Publius | Americablog |19 November 2012 ]

Friday, 23 November 2012 at 17h 42m 33s

Really? On the Front Page.

On the Front Page of the Friday, 23 November 2012 Edition of the New York Times is the following headline: "Jeb Bush in 2016? It’s Not Too Early for Chatter."

Are you fucking kidding me? The front page is a public relations organ of the establishment, and already the establishment is promoting their favorite son. How many other person's wanting to be President get this kind of help, the day after Thanksgiving ! The election isn't even a month old.

[SOURCE: By JIM RUTENBERG and JEFF ZELENY  | New York Times | 23 November 2012]

And they call this "News" ? It's news to read what the opinions of the establishment are, and to focus on selected nuanced details of but one scion of the American Oligarchy who has huge important backers in the elite circles of finance and industry.

I'm beginning to think that the main Presidential candidates are selected, and then these two are surrounded by a bunch of lesser quantities called "hopefulls" that give the two main candidates an easy opportunity to separate themselves from the pack. And if that doesn't work out as planned (Jim Dean in 2004, Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012) then the media acolytes help them look better and drive out the "opposition" with non-sequiturs and ad-hominem attacks until they get the chosen conclusion.

Note to world: although it is true that Ron Paul enabled racism in his monthly info-zine, it is not true that the Dean "scream" presaged radicalism and extremism that was thankfully avoided by the nomination of John Kerry. Remember your history.

In the Times article, we get to hear all about good ol' Jebbie's current issues and family situation. He married a women born and raised in Mexico, so he'll be strong on the Latino vote, ya dig. And she's supposedly good on education, just like Laura Bush was supposed to be good on Reaching out to the poor and downtrodden. His Education Foundation also gets big grants from the right sort of people -- the famous foundations (but mainly the funds) of Singer, Gates, and Bloomberg See he's a real down-home family sorta guy, not just a fourth generation wall street and oil baron connected scion of billions of dollars in net worth.

Hmm, what is this "Foundation for Excellence in Education" actually do? According to the web site :

Our mission is to ignite a movement of reform, state by state, to transform education for the 21st century.

Which is a translation for spending money to pursue the Educational agenda of the persons that fund the Education foundation. And what is the sort of "Reform" the foundation desires?

Well, if you click on Reform news you can at least get an idea what types of "reform" are "news worthy". And right now there is a lot of applause for states that are releasing "the A-F school grading system." As regards Indiana,

Patricia Levesque, Executive Director of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, released the following statement regarding Indiana’s A-F school grades:

“We applaud the State of Indiana for its continued commitment to meaningful education reform. By providing a thoughtful and transparent accountability system through A-F school grades, the State has taken an important step in raising expectations while helping struggling students.

[SOURCE: Foundation For Excellence in Education | 31 October 2012]

So apparently you raise "expectations" and help "struggling students" by giving the grades A thru F to the schools. Really? Struggling students are going to do better by knowing their school got a letter grade? And expectations are raised when a school gets a letter grade, because don't you know,the fear of failing is what drives the teaching staff to teach their students?

Message to world: teachers are not motivated by the fear of failure.

This is called focusing on the wrong aspect of the problem without understanding the actual nature of the problem. If students are struggling and expectations are low or not being raised, it's not because their is a lack of school accountability. Good schools have systems in place and networks of layered assistance that provide multiple outlets for student issues. Bad schools don't, and this is almost always because of a combination of high staff turnover and low funding. A school with limited funds can manage if the longevity of the staff is not affected.

And what isn't stated is the rubric used to assess these grades? What is being measured? What are the weights given to each measurement? A good school can be made to fail if the grading rubric is structured in a way to diminish the actual strengths of the school.

Which is why so many public schools are in "program improvement" as a result of the Leave No Child Behind statutory requirements. Most schools in "program improvement" got that way because of a few percentage points, despite the reality that certain groups of students change every single year because of the reality of student mobility, and thus swing the test results every year. Some schools are more affected by student transience then others, but this isn't a problem that should cause a school to go into "program improvement". Yet that's what the real agenda was, to create a loophole through which the private charter school movement could find more gains. This was the true purpose of "Leave No Child Behind", and they got the naive to buy into the trojan horse movement by using faux-grass roots Foundations liek the Foundation for Excellence in Education as camouflage.

Then there's the "Common Core Standards" which is yet another round of setting standards that apparently is going to update our school system, better prepare students for the future, and

to deliver new online assessments and for schools to build the technology infrastructure they’ll need to use the assessments.

[SOURCE: Foundation For Excellence in Education | 18 October 2012]

So basically, this means that we'll be assessing the students and feeding data into a "technology infrastructure". The agenda items of the Common Core are as follows:

  1. Measure and report the quality of education,
  2. Hold schools accountable for learning,
  3. Incentivize student achievement,
  4. Use technology to customize learning for every student,
  5. Recruit and retain the best teachers, and
  6. Expand choices for parents and students.

Be wary of this movement. Some of these agenda items will get more stressed then others, and the rest is just window dressing used to conceal the real objectives: to privatize the school system by separating the upper level students from the rest of the pack -- sending them to "charter" schools and leaving the public school system with the students who need the most and/or the most difficult to teach. Agenda items 1, 2, 4, and 6 correlate highly with this objective.

Here's how it works. Measure the "quality" of the schools using a non-transparent and complicated rubric, then when you hold the schools "accountable" you expand the "choices" for parents and "incentivize" the upper level students by pushing them in charter schools thereby decreasing the funds from the public school system. This creates a two-tiered system, but doesn't bring anymore money or better quality, and also starts a new incentive structure because private firms have the goal of profit as their only true agenda. But since "technology" will be customized for "every student" the students who are left behind will have software packages and learning ritualization that caters to their dysfunctionalism. Teachers will then be "recruited" and those who can survive will be "retained" but notice nothing is said about "incentivizing" teaching or giving hard working teachers pay raises. Nope, only the students need to be "incentivized".

The devil lives in the details people, and all of the minions and light bulbs surrounding this mantra do not negate the reality of poison pill legislation.

Bill Clinton himself seems to take the issue seriously. Says so in the article.

Public opinion is managed. And this is how that works.