Friday, February 1, 2013

nFocus: February 1, 2013

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Educational Socialism

Full Disclosure: I am currently employed in school transportation for a public school system.

If we need an example for the future of our healthcare system, we need to look no farther than our education system. Like our healthcare deform, the federal role in education was expanded with the promise of providing results at a reasonable cost, and like every nation that has attempted nationalized healthcare, our educational system has resulted in a system that demands greater amounts of money with fewer positive results. In essence, American education has become a microcosm of socialism.

The opportunity to obtain a high school diploma is a right guaranteed by every state. However, receiving that education in a quality school is not a right. Instead, the quality of your education is determined by the location of your home. Children who reside in a richer area are able to attend schools that can afford to hire the best teachers and provide increased opportunities. Those who live in a poorer area are forced to attend schools that will generally have to take whatever teachers the richer districts turn down. (Certainly, not all teachers in poorer districts are of a lesser quality, but since they cannot afford to pay at the same rate, many of the teachers are.)

Furthermore, just like a socialist economy, choice is virtually eliminated. Parents who live in a district with a failing school are often forced to either send their children to that school, pay the tuition rates at a private school, or homeschool (with a considerable cost for homeschooling materials). With tuition or homeschooling costs being too expensive for many parents, approximately 85% of American students attend public schools.

Without competition, poorly performing schools have no incentive to improve. If Congress passed a bill mandating the purchase of a particular cell phone model at a set price based on your state of residence, what incentive would Apple, Samsung, or Motorola have in producing better phones? They have a guaranteed customer base and no opportunity for expansion into new markets. Eventually, these companies would focus on producing their phones as cheaply as possible in order to maximize their profits. They have no incentive to improve their product quality or develop new features because doing so would result in added expense that would yield no added reward.

Unfortunately, our fictitious cell phone example is a reality for our public schools. Without major competition (since, in most cases, the only competition comes at a much greater expense), schools have no incentive to improve and innovate. Leadership knows that it will continue to collect a check from the state regardless of performance. Without competition, these schools have little incentive to succeed.

Recent innovations in education have helped to alleviate this problem in some districts. Private school vouchers and charter schools have allowed parents some degree of choice in the educational process, and one of the positive points of Bush's No Child Left Behind law was the implementation of school choice for those enrolled in failing schools. These have started to create a competitive environment for schools which could eventually require them to improve if they are to survive.

Nowhere have these innovations been more successful than in New Orleans. Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, the school district covering Orleans Parish needed assistance in getting schools ready for students. The district turned to outside groups to create charter schools in place of many of the public schools. As of 2010, all of the 46 charter schools and 23 traditional public schools had open-enrollment policies. The results have been positive: more than half of the failing schools are now passing, and the gap between the district and the rest of the state has also been cut in half. (See The Daily Beast for more on the success in New Orleans.)

Socialism either has failed or is failing in every nation where it has been tried, including the recent move toward socialism in America. Yet the model of socialism has been embraced by our public schools, and it is also failing. If we are going to improve American education, we must start by basing it on the model that built the American economy into the greatest economic force the world has known: the free market. Until we change our educational model, any other attempts at reform will be futile.

D.C. Daily: February 1, 2013

Senate

During business yesterday, the Senate passed the following measures:
  • S. Res. 24, commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia.
  • S. Res. 25, honoring Gonzaga University on its 125th anniversary.
  • H.R. 325, the "No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013", after rejecting four proposed amendments and a motion to commit.
The Senate also began consideration of the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 47, the "Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013". The Senate agreed to vote on the motion to proceed to consideration of the bill at 5:30 PM on Monday, February 4.

The Senate will not meet today. The next scheduled meeting of the Senate will be on Monday, February 4.


House of Representatives

The House was not in session yesterday.

The House will meet today at 11:00 AM in a pro forma session.

Morning Media: February 1, 2013

First, Steve Breen solves the Super Bowl Chicken Wing problem. View at Townhall

Next, this Homeland Security Department release describes how to oppose an active shooter, but carrying a firearm is not included. View at Conservative Videos

And finally, Bill Whittle responds to Hillary Clinton's "What difference does it make?" comment. View at YouTube

Thursday, January 31, 2013

D.C. Daily: January 31, 2013

Senate

During business yesterday, the Senate passed the following measures:
  • S. Res. 13, congratulating the members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. for 100 years of service to communities.
  • S. Res. 22, recognizing the goals of Catholic Schools Week and honoring the valuable contributions of Catholic schools in the United States.

The Senate will meet today at 9:30 AM. The Senate will begin consideration of H.R. 325, the "No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013", with a series of votes on amendments and passage of the bill.


House of Representatives

The House was not in session yesterday.

The House will not meet today. The next scheduled meeting of the House is on Friday, February 1.

Morning Media: January 31, 2013

First, Steve Kelley explains what Obama means when he "goes shooting". View at Townhall

On the same subject, Glenn McCoy has a slightly different take. View at Townhall

Next, Dick Morris explains the GOP's con game in Washington. View at Hope for America

And finally, Ted Cruz took the Senate to task for operating in a "fact-free zone" on gun control. View at RightScoop

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

D.C. Daily: January 30, 2013

Senate

During business yesterday, the Senate passed the following measures:
  • S. Res. 14, designating January 2013 as "National Stalking Awareness Month".
  • S. Res. 20, designating Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
  • Confirmed the nomination of John Kerry to be Secretary of State, by a vote of 94 yeas to 3 nays, with 1 voting present.
The Senate will meet today at 9:30 AM. The only item presently on the Senate's agenda is the farewell address of Senator John Kerry at 2:30 PM.


House of Representatives

The House met yesterday in pro forma session.

The House will not meet today. The next scheduled meeting of the House is on Friday, February 1.

Morning Media: January 30, 2013

First, Steve Breen has reaction to the immigration proposals. View at Townhall

Next, we have Greg Gutfeld's reaction to the Obama/Clinton interview. View at Hope for America

And finally, immigrant Henson Ong has a warning on gun control. View at YouTube

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

nFocus: January 29, 2012

Tonight's edition of nFocus has been emailed. If you did not receive it, you can view it by clicking on the link below. View nFocus

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Before We Deal with Entitlements...

America has a problem. Amazingly, the source of this problem is not in Washington, D.C., nor is it in the 50 state capitols of this country. This problem lies in the hearts of American citizens. All across this country, Americans have developed an attitude that has convinced them that they are entitled to something. While government benefits are certainly one part of this entitlement mentality, this way of thinking stretches far beyond just food stamps and welfare.

America's entitlement mentality starts with a piece of plastic just larger than six square inches. As of November 2012, 47% of American households carried a balance on their credit cards. For these households, the average debt carried stands at over $15,000. Credit cards are currently the third-largest source of debt, following only mortgages and student loans.

Certainly, there are some Americans who are forced to use credit cards in order to put food on their table or keep the electricity running, and I can understand why these people would be willing to go into credit card debt rather than let their kids go hungry or cold. However, those who have an iPhone and iPad while carrying thousands of dollars in credit card debt need to evaluate their priorities.

This problem has destroyed the connection between the cost of an item and the item itself. No longer are hours of hard work and savings required in order to get that iPhone or iPad; we can buy it now and pay for it later. Plus, when we are making minimum payments instead of paying up front, we fail to see the true cost of what we are purchasing. Advertisers have understood this for years: it sounds much more appealing to advertise a product's cost as “five easy payments of $19.99” than to inform people that the entire product costs $99.95.

After so many items have been charged, it is impossible to even know what one is paying for. No one ever stops to think, “Is this for the iPad I bought two years ago, the new Droid I bought for my son last year, or for the latte I picked up from Starbucks last month?” It simply becomes the “credit card bill” and the money for it gets paid every month without much thought. Instead of costing $500, the iPad comes “free”, and you just keep making your monthly payment on the credit card.

If our nation is ever going to solve the problem of entitlements, we must have a change in the attitude of the American people. We must restore the connection between the cost of an item and the item itself. The connection between who pays for the food stamps and the food itself has been destroyed just as much as the connection between the credit card bill and the iPad.

Before we can solve our entitlement problem, we must deal with the underlying mentality that expects to receive something for free. Credit cards do have a useful purpose in our society, but when misused, they contribute to this growing entitlement mentality. In order to solve this problem, we must educate our children to see the value in the items we own, and we must teach them to recognize the true cost of those items. Only then will we be prepared to deal with entitlements.

D.C. Daily: January 29, 2013

Senate

During business yesterday, the Senate passed the following measures:
  • H.R. 152, the "Disaster Relief Appropriations Act".
  • S. Res. 9, designating January 2013 as "National Mentoring Month".
  • S. Res. 19, congratulating the University of Alabama Crimson Tide for winning the 2012 Bowl Championship Series National Championship.

The Senate will meet today at 10:00 AM. The Senate is expected to begin consideration of the nomination of John Kerry to be Secretary of State.


House of Representatives

The House will meet today at 1:00 PM in a pro forma session.

Morning Media: January 29, 2013

Good morning! It's time to take a look at some of the yesterday's best media.


First, Michael Ramirez shows the hypocrisy of the media's coverage of Obama's agenda. View at Townhall

Second, a journalist asked Mayor Bloomberg if he planned to disarm his security detail. The response was to harass the questioner. View at YouTube

Monday, January 28, 2013

D.C. Daily: January 28, 2013

Senate

The Senate will meet today at 2:00 PM. The Senate is expected to consider one measure:
  • H.R. 152, the "Disaster Relief Appropriations Act".



House of Representatives

The House will not meet today. The next scheduled meeting of the House will be on Tuesday, January 29.

Morning Media: January 28, 2013

Happy Monday! It's time to take a look at some of the weekend's best media.

First, Bob Gorrell has another note for the President. View at Townhall

Second, Jerry Holbert shows Obama's enlightening idea. View at Townhall

Next, did you know that you can be shot by an unloaded gun? One city councilwoman in California thought so, and her statements even made the news. View at Conservative Videos

And finally, Wild Bill explains the hypocrisy of liberals on gun control and abortion. View at YouTube