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How does lowering the minimum wage in Greece do anything to improve the economy of the nation?  Does lowering the income of those barely making it in any way contribute to stimulating the economy, or is it merely to increase profits of those already benefiting from wages that are insufficient?

Why is the Obama administration taking $6 million dollars from the funding of NAEP - the National Assessment of Education Progress, aka the nation's report card on education - and devoting it instead to creating yet another international comparison?

Why do we insist on "looking forward" and not holding to accountability CIA agents, military planners, elected and appointed officials who lied us into a war that cost trillions, committed war crimes, and worse, yet we are willing to destroy the lives of teachers and principals who are trying to help our children because their scores on poorly designed tests being used for purposes for which they were never intended are not high enough?

How if we think people gamed the financial system or worse, do we not insist on full accountability and restitution to make whole those whose lives and dreams were restored?  Oh, and while we are at it, why do we wait until after the statute of limitations is passed to even begin to explore some of the financial crimes?  Are both of our political parties so indebted to big money that no one holds the super rich accountable?

Why do we continue to lie to the American people, and especially our young people, with the untruth of American Exceptionalism, when the only things exceptional about this nation are
-  the world's highest incarceration rate
-  the only industrial democracy that does not provide complete health care to all of its people
-  our economic inequality continues to increase while in other nations it is decreasing
-  our history includes more broken treaties than any other 5 nations combined:  remember, we signed treaties with what we called the Indian Nations

And as I acknowledge that I cannot come up with justifiable answers to these or to the many other questions I can pose, I have to ask myself these:

Why do I continue to try to teach about a government that is decreasingly as described in our founding documents?

Why do I continue to participate in a political process as if we were a liberal democracy when increasingly all that matters is who has the money to spend and how one can pervert both who can vote and how the votes are counted - if they are counted?

Of what value are these, or any other words I might choose to post?

As Rachel Maddow would say,  talk me down.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is not just because I have a head cold (39+ / 0-)

    it is because I am taking time to step back and consider the future, if there is a future, and what in that future my role should be.

    I honestly do not know.

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 02:27:44 PM PST

  •  I do not posit that this is cogent - (16+ / 0-)

    one might well argue that it is more of a rant than a series of questions.  I won't argue back.

    It is a continuation of things I have been writing recently.

    I acknowledge that at times in how I wrestle with doubt and pain my expressions may be awkward, may be far from perfect, that I will express things in unnecessarily awkward ways.

    To teach is to have hope.

    To teach is to believe that one can make a difference.

    To write is to believe that one's words have purpose, at least to one reader.

    To doubt is normal.

    Bu this is beyond doubt.

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 02:30:04 PM PST

  •  Your question... (13+ / 0-)
    Are both of our political parties so indebted to big money that no one holds the super rich accountable?
    Ummmm....bingo!

    Anncr: Tell the man what he's won, Johnny!

    Johnny: A moped, A Winnebago...

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 02:38:40 PM PST

  •  answers (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, blue aardvark, Lujane, maf1029

    1. It doesn't. But it makes the Germans and the German banks that ripped Greece off much richer and allows the uniquely ugly version of German Nationlism to again rear it's head as their culture again tries to take over Europe.

    2. What's the "international comparison"

    3. Because Obama knows Republicans would block any and all attempts to hold the rich accountable. So he spends his time on things he can do for the poor instead.

    4. See #3

    5. We don't. Xenophobes and racists do.

    6. You continue to teach because America dominates the world and our kids will either grow up to be ignorant bloodthirsty racists... or liberals who know the ugly history of this country. You teach because you know humanitarians must prevent the young from becoming Ugly Americans.

    7. See #6

    We do what we do as liberals because as Americans we're too spoiled rotten to ignore our obligations to the rest of humanity. We do what we do because Americans are too xenophobic and stupid (even after only 4 years) to realize that Rick Santorum is George Bush and Sarah Palin genetically human centipeded and hooked up to steroids.

    •  How would Republicans block the Justice Dept (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, little lion, kurt

      from investigating the criminal organizations we call "banks"?

      With an eye toward convictions and claw-back instead of "give us 2 or 3% of your profit and we'll call it even, you don't even have to admit guilt, nobody loses freedom or position, nothing more will ever happen to you." (see, for instance, the various drug-money laundering settlements involving the largest banks in the US where hundreds of billions were knowingly laundered and the settlements total in the tens of millions.)

      J of D investigations are not done by committee vote in the House or Senate.


      Today, if you exist... that's already suspicious.

      by Jim P on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 03:53:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  1001 ways (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lujane

        Refusing to appropriate money for the DoJ comes to mind.

        In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra En théorie, il n'ya aucune différence entre théorie et pratique, mais en pratique, il ya toujours une différence. - Yogi Berra

        by blue aardvark on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 03:54:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, impeachment (0+ / 0-)

        They'd probably shut down the government to impeach both Obama and Holder for being too black or for Fast and Furious or some such nonsense.

        And before you tell me they don't have any valid reasons or legal standing... take a look at the Supreme Court and admit there is no such thing as valid legal reasoning anymore.

  •  Wish I could talk you down (14+ / 0-)

    But I pretty much feel the same way.  I left the U.S. more than three years ago at the insistence of my dual-citizen wife.  There was no desire on my part to leave the States as it had always been my home.  

    Now that I've had a chance to experience life in Canada, I really don't have any desire to go back to the U.S.  The weather sucks here, but I really enjoy my free healthcare, my wife's full year of maternity leave, an electoral cycle that lasts months (or less) instead of years, federally recognized gay marriage, and a political system that just seems some much more congenial than the current U.S. system.

    That said, John Candy in Canadian Bacon had it right, the beer sucks.

    "Religion and Government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together" - James Madison

    by SierraDrinker on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 02:44:53 PM PST

  •  I really cannot blame you for feeling down (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, little lion

    about where America is headed right now.  I feel the same way.

    Are both of our political parties so indebted to big money that no one holds the super rich accountable?
    I'll comment on that quote as well.

    I know you were talking about the financial crisis, and that fact that not one person has been sent to jail.  That indeed bothers me, and it is one of the biggest failures of this administration.

    But, the thing is, it is not only the super rich, it is any group that holds power and can gather enough finances to buy influence in politics.  Everything is for sale!  Our politicians are indebted up to their eyeballs to any and all special interest groups who can help finance the next election.

    Well, I have an answer for that.  Term limits and public financing of elections.

  •  I'm right here with you. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clio2, Ree Zen, blueoasis, coral

    This just makes teaching harder. First you have to teach the ideal, then you have to teach reality and then you have to instill confrontational skills. I'm not a teacher, but I'm a parent so we all have to inform about the ground rules and then illustrate how they are cheated/manipulated/ignored.....all the while knowing that those options are not available to us little guys.

    It's a fine bunch of lines.

  •  been right where you are for some time now. (6+ / 0-)

    if we are to have any chance at regaining some footing, we have got to stop kidding ourselves about Democrats in Washington.

    and we have got to find a way to muscle our way into local and regional politics.

    the thing is: who is the "we"?

    this whole making Dem or Repub more important than issues is killing our culture, our values, our ability to save ourselves.

    it'd be nice to find people who would bring common sense into public life, who understand and believe in common good, social and economic sustainability and fairness, separation CLEAR separation of church and state (no creches on public property, et al).

    we need people who think good policy and good governance equals sustainability and stability... in our country and around the world.

    i could go on... but...

  •  I am rereading a novel by Edith Wharton, (9+ / 0-)

    The Custom of the Country, published 1913.

    Wharton was not only a novelist but a sociologist of sorts.

    Wish I could immediately light on the passage that I almost wanted to underline last night; but decided not to deface the book. Because it described exactly what we are facing.

    Politics as basically nothing but a useful adjunct to business. "Bought" Congressmen. Wealth that pours in to raise the ships of financial and political manipulators. Business as a dog-eat-dog affair in which cold corruption is routine and yesterday's allies are today's enemies, as well as vice versa.  And the innocent shall be fleeced. Hypocrisy rampant in religion as well as busines and politics.

    It's been there all along, Ken. It's always been part of of us. More people know more about it now, because of better information resources and communications at the moment, including (God love it) the Net. And we are more outraged by it now, because of the extremely high-toned, idealistic civics education some of us have received (thanks in part to anti-Communist hysteria starting in the 1950s).

    With that educational background, with the constant tub-thumping about America's superiority based on principles, shoot, a bunch of us believed it.

    A bunch of us felt tears come to our eyes in the classroom, which is where we first heard the words of Patrick Henry -- and Emma Lazarus. You don't forget the stuff that moved you to tears when you were 12.

    A bunch of us wanted and fought for America to hold true to those implicit promises, that glorious vision. Ironically --- because so much tub-thumping was instigated by right-wing law-and-order types -- the cognitive dissonance between real and ideal was the source of much of the civic unrest in the 1960s and 70s.

    It's been bad before this. It's been worse.  Shoot, we (finally) got rid of CHATTEL SLAVERY. Courage, patience.

    Most likely, none of us alive today will ever be able to recede from this struggle with consciousness of a job over and done. Shoot, that is the human condition. "The heart goes where no footstep may/Into the promised land."

    Hope you don't decide to lay down teaching until you have to, Ken. ((((((((((((())))))))))))))))))

  •  It's all about preserving systems that (4+ / 0-)

    have worked exceedingly well for a tiny population, very well for another 9%, and well for another 10%.  The only problem is that the systems are based on 80% contributing more than they get and massive basic resource exploitation.  Neither of which is endlessly inexhaustible and are beginning to reach their limitations.  So, time to reduce the consumption of the 80%.

  •  I don't have the answers, but I know we have to (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ree Zen, 3goldens, freesia, coral

    keep asking the questions. Hang in there , we need you.

    Just give me some truth. John Lennon--- OWS------Too Big To Fail

    by burnt out on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 03:03:52 PM PST

  •  That's a hell of a cold you're sporting, Ken. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChuckInReno

    You wrote:
    ...the only things exceptional about this nation are
    -  the world's highest incarceration rate
    -  the only industrial democracy that does not provide complete health care to all of its people
    -  our economic inequality continues to increase while in other nations it is decreasing
    -  our history includes more broken treaties than any other 5 nations combined:  remember, we signed treaties with what we called the Indian Nations

    Really?

    Our nation is imperfect, I'll grant you, but what other nation comes close to having as many Nobel Prize winners as the U.S.?

    What other country has colleges and universities that are the envy of the world?

    What other country has been a beacon to immigrants for as long or as successfully as we have? Yes, I'm aware that immigrants have had to endure much. I know the stories firsthand, being a first-generation American.

    Yes, nations such as Finland and Norway always rank highest in various surveys, but keep in mind they're lightly populated countries with abundant natural resources. They should be doing well.

    I'll take my nation of 300 million any day of the week. Imperfect? Certainly. Exceptional? You're damn straight it's exceptional.

    And the best America is still in front of us.

    Chicken soup, Ken. Or Nyquil if you want to go the over-the-counter route.

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 03:10:17 PM PST

  •  I agree in every respect (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, 3goldens

    with each of your questions--especially when I consider that not one presidential candidate is even talking about climate change--the biggest challenge humanity is facing--a challenge we may very well lose, within my lifetime.

    Our political process is broken, perhaps irrevocably damaged. Maybe we can restore it. Maybe we can take the best parts of it and fashion a new process for this new century. Studying why it worked (when it did), what it tried to do at its best, and how and why it failed can help us to design a better future. American Democracy was a wonderful thing; that we failed to meet all of our goals does not detract from the fact that those goals were among the greatest ever envisioned for any system of government.

    For the Enlightenment teaches us that we can learn; we can use science and art and literature and history to make life better for us all. The greatest achievements of philosophy and religion and art and science remind us that humans can overcome their baser, selfish instincts, that compassion and curiosity and empathy can ennoble us all.

    That even though a few of us are stupid, and evil, and selfish, the vast majority of human beings are capable of great sacrifice and compassion.

    If I am going to be true to my liberal arts education, to the legacy of the Enlightenment, then I, myself, will continue to learn and to teach--whether in the classroom, or in print, or online, or in another career altogether, and in every aspect of my life. Like me, whatever you do, you will always be a teacher--your audience will just be different.

    I recommend reading Theodore Sturgeon's classic short story "Thunder and Roses." In it, the protagonist has every reason in the world to give up on the future of humanity. And yet, when the moment comes, he sets aside his fear and rage and pain to preserve our most important virtue: Hope.

    TeacherKen, whether you remain in the classroom or move to a different arena, you will be using your talents to make the world a better place. It's ok to change course. You are a marvelous force for good in the classroom--you will be a marvelous force for good whatever you do. "To everything there is a Season," and it may be time to try something new. Nothing wrong with that at all.

    Sometimes there are no wrong choices. Just different directions that lead to different adventures.

    I wish you smooth sailing, whatever direction the wind may take you.

    Namaste, and Peace

  •  I am right there with you Ken. I have been (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens

    fighting a norovirus (stomach virus) since Saturday. All this RW stuff and all of your points are well taken and I agree. I also feel your pain being sick and all. This stomach bug sucks.....

  •  Occam Is None of Our Friends But He Does Have (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TJ, kurt

    the simplest answer.

    They're taking over.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 03:45:50 PM PST

  •  Be careful about the CIA agents (0+ / 0-)

    The Iraq war commission was pretty careful in what they said about the "intelligence failures" ... that they had no documentary evidence of untoward pressure being applied to analysts to tailor their results to what the administration wanted.

    Per the NYT, there were at least 6 (IIRC) agents who testified under oath that there was intense pressure - but not in writing. Your boss tells you verbally to change your write up or be fired, people change their write ups.

    Or, to put it another way, the CIA didn't lie us into Iraq. George Bush and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfield and George Tenet lied us into Iraq.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra En théorie, il n'ya aucune différence entre théorie et pratique, mais en pratique, il ya toujours une différence. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 03:53:34 PM PST

  •  Look, if you're not going to vote (0+ / 0-)

    be my guest. But why do you feel compelled to take to a political blog to discourage others from voting?

    You never trust a millionaire/Quoting the sermon on the mount/I used to think I was not like them/But I'm beginning to have my doubts -- The Arcade Fire

    by tomjones on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 04:06:28 PM PST

  •  Good questions and it's very confusing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens

    I have been 4 years. I will not give up my anger. Just trying 2 direct it appropriately.

    Tipped & rec'ed, luv ur work!!!!!

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 04:37:09 PM PST

  •  Re (0+ / 0-)
    How does lowering the minimum wage in Greece do anything to improve the economy of the nation?
    It makes Greek exports cheaper, which helps Greece dig itself out of its fiscal hole. The more Freece exports, the better off it is. For a country like Greece, stimulus is worthless.

    It's like saying you'll stimulate your family by increasing the daughter's allowance. It's nonsense. The parents' income pays for the whole party.

    Same with Greece, exports pay for everything. Moving money around inside Greece does nothing at all.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 04:40:26 PM PST

  •  and in return the internal economy (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, Mostel26, kurt

    suffers because the lowest paid just lost buying power at the same time as services on which they were depending are being cut, hence it does not benefit Greece but maybe benefits countries who want to buy Greek goods

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 04:44:40 PM PST

  •  Hang in there!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens

     Maybe you are singing to the choir about these things, but the choir enjoys the music!! Keep on keeping on...

  •  about Greece (0+ / 0-)

    Reportedly, the (twice reduced) minimum wage in Greece is still higher than a teacher's salary in Estonia, so the Estonians (and other small EU countries with low wages and comparativley sound finances) don't see any good reason why they should pay for Greece, or support payments for Greece.

    That being said, I believe lowering wages is unfair to ordinary people who relied on stable incomes. As it was unfair to open the cab and truck driving businesses to anyone without a license, when many Greek cab or truck drivers are still paying off huge credits for licenses they bought which are now worthless.
    My best guess, though, is that the lowered minimum wage will not affect many people, because they have large, powerful unions there.

    Again reportedly, Greece has like 10 billion outstanding taxes both from individual citizens and corporations. Their tax collection agency is said to be not really working.

    And once more, reportedly, some years ago the then gouvernment of Greece did a major currency swap deal with a major US bank which afforded them fresh money on the short run, while incurring a huge additional debt in the future. Apparently, several banks as well as several consecutive Greek gouvernments gambled that the rest of the EU would bail Greece out.

    Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

    by intruder from Old Europe on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 05:23:50 PM PST

    •  Clearing some things up (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt

      The Greek minimum wage is 500 euros a month for 40 hours a week, or 6,000 euros a year. That's not a lot. But the true measure of these things is not national averages. For instance, the Canadian dollar is at par with the American dollar right now, and in many places, I use the American dollar in Canada. This means I can also compare wages between the two countries. But there's very little to be gained in such an analysis because the real income after taxes and costs-of-living make such an analysis worthless. If Greece has 23% VAT tax and Estonia doesn't, then this will skew real income.

      Look at this graph to see the impact on real income in Greece:

      http://i.telegraph.co.uk/...

      Real disposable income is down 23% which is a depression level adjustment. If I reduce your pay and then hike your taxes, you have much less disposable income than someone who seems about at par with you.

      As for taxes, look at this: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/...

      Click on the following:

      1. Database
      2. Annual Government Finance Statistics
      3. Government Revenue
      4. Under the INDIC scroll menu, click on Total Government Revenue

      You'll see that Greece averages more in tax collection relative to GDP than Estonia does, though last year they were about even. When you consider that shipping is 15% of Greek GDP and is a totally untaxed industry (for obvious reasons) you can probably crank up that revenue figure even higher and realize that the Greek tax take is one of the highest.

      Stats show that 86% of Greeks pay full in taxes. 14% are responsible for 30% tax evasion. If your paycheck is docked art the source, how can you cheat? There are also 23% VAT taxes. We shouldn't differentiate too much between very high tax evasion of very high taxes with lower tax evasion of very low taxes. The net result is the same. nor should we assume that a country could reduce their tax evasion to zero from 30% and thereby somehow net an extra 10 billion in revenue, not when the eurozone average is 19% and the USA average is 17%. Even more, if they did manage to collect that much, they would probably reduce their very high taxes and collect the same amount regardless.

      As for the final part about Greek lies, check out the date of this article: http://www.risk.net/...

      How do you hide something that everyone knows about, a deal that everyone in the eurozone did, a swap that everyone took advantage of (off the books), but that eurostat was entirely aware of, so aware of, in fact, that it petitioned the EU to change accounting rules, and the EU did change those rules so that the hidden Greek debt was counted as debt.

      All told, the amount "hidden" was less than 1% of Greece's budget, and though Greece would have missed the 3% threshold by a smidge had it counted, Germany and France blew through the 3% threshold the next year on the way to 7% budget deficits so that the threshold was waived for everyone. in other words, Greece would have gotten in.

      Another article points out common usage of derivatives in national budgets, even in Germany:

      http://www.reuters.com/...

      Also check this out:

      #1

      http://www.ekathimerini.com/...

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Wed Feb 22, 2012 at 09:15:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ken, here are your answers as to why it "helps" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt

    http://www.reuters.com/...

    It undercuts labor and forces all salaries down, punches holes in the minimum wage, even forces workers to work for free.

    Talos at Eurotrib went into detail on this:

    http://www.eurotrib.com/...

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Wed Feb 22, 2012 at 09:19:16 AM PST

  •  One more thing I should add... (0+ / 0-)

    when Greece approved the austerity measures last week, they were told to go back to the drawing board and look for another 325 million to cut. Many interpreted this as a taunt for Greece to get out of the eurozone. But they ddi go back, and they proposed cutting that much from military weaponry procurement.

    This cut from the national budget was rejected by the EU. And the Greeks were told to go back and cut pensions instead. So they did.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Wed Feb 22, 2012 at 09:21:10 AM PST

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