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Screwtape’s Reflections on Marriage & the Indiana GOP State Convention

Posted by wisejargon on June 13, 2014

C.S. Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters, is famous for exposing Satan’s method of paving the road to hell with good intentions.  Little did anyone suspect that the subject of Lewis’ book, the demon, Screwtape, is still at work.  Let’s examine a recent letter penned by the demon to his nephew, Wormwood, regarding his activities at the recent Indiana Republican State Convention.

My Dear Wormwood:

Congratulate me!  I have just returned from the Indiana Republican State Party Convention to happily report that our campaign to rename the “Grand Old Party” with the slogan “Grow Our Party” was a rousing success.

As you know, Our Father Below developed a strategy to promote homosexual marriage by telling the party faithful that, by doing so, they could win votes.  Now, if there is anything a politician loves it is winning votes!  Willing participants cheerfully handed out stickers to people with the statement “Grow Our Party” without nary a clue that we were promoting homosexual unions.   Many an unsuspecting delegate put the stickers on their shirts, never suspecting that Our Father Below had designed the ploy to exchange the truth for a lie.

Now, it is true that the Party Delegates saw though our ruse and overwhelmingly defeated a proposal that would have removed support for traditional marriage between a man and a woman from the platform.  They succeeded in defeating our motion by a margin of 80% to 20%.   However, that does not matter.  For, you see my devoted nephew; the members of the news media did our bidding in reporting the results.

For example, Indianapolis Star Reporter Tony Cook wrote:

“The in-fighting is a reflection of just how divided the party has become on the issue.”  Cook went on to write: “At the convention, disagreement was evident everywhere. Delegates could almost be divided into two camps based on their political accessories: Those with yellow, “Pro Pence, Pro Marriage” buttons, and those with green, ‘Grow our party don’t divide it’ stickers.”

You see, this is the beauty of it all.  Never mind what the delegates really did at the convention.  As long as our minions in the media TELL the public what happened, that is all that matters!   And, nearly 10% of the delegates who had promoted the “Grow Our Party” propaganda walked out when they did not get their way.  Truly, this was a victory on our part to sow the seeds of discontent among so many!

Yes, there were a few moments when I was concerned.  One was when former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee rose to speak to the convention.  His was a message of remaining steadfast to Our Father Below’s arch nemesis.  He had an especially poignant closing message of steering into the coming curve of adversity in order to move forward to provide hope and leadership to the masses.  Fortunately, however, his speech came late in the day on Friday.  The seeds of hunger and the desire to “party” we had planted caused them to barely pay him any attention.

There was another moment that concerned me.  It was when that lame duck State Treasurer, Richard Mourdock, warned of the looming financial collapse of the United States and the danger of following in Germany’s footsteps to elect a modern day Hitler.  He spoke early in the day on Saturday, when the delegates were alert and paying attention.  He was met with rousing applause as he relayed the historical fact that Hitler rose to power in Germany because of the economic collapse that threatened to destroy that country via hyperinflation.   The truth of his statement is easy to discover, as one can easily find video of this on Youtube and other websites.

But, once again, Indianapolis Star reporter Cook came to our rescue when he confronted the leader of the Republicans, Tim Berry, with what Mourdock had said:

“After the convention ended, Indiana Republican Chairman Tim Berry declined to endorse Mourdock’s speech.  ‘I’ll be honest, I did not hear the comment, so I really can’t refer to that,” he said. “Certainly any reference to Nazi Germany is not appropriate’.”

Yes, this was a wonderful convention, as even their own Chairman could not bring himself to defend the truth in the face of our well-crafted lie.  This guarantees victory with the “Grow Our Party” slogan.

It never entered their heads that to truly grow the Republican Party, they might reach out to such groups as Eastern Star Church, that has an outreach ministry to pregnant girls and their fathers in order to provide parenthood coaching.  It never occurred to them to reach out to Crossroads Bible College which has a program on Urban Leadership and Racial Reconciliation, where they actively seek to promote Christianity through “Released Time Education.”   These and other groups, which support marriage between one man and one woman, are made up of socially conservative African Americans who are slowly awakening to the idea that the Democrat Party they support is leaving them.  Indeed, Wormwood, we must keep these “low information voters” from learning that the Democrat party turned its back on their view of marriage with the following wording of their 2014 Indiana Democrat Party Platform:

The Indiana Democratic Party opposes all forms of discrimination based upon sexual orientation or gender identity. We support full marriage equality, oppose amending the Indiana Constitution to define marriage and support repeal of statutes like the Defense of Marriage Act that define marriage by gender.

So long as we can divert their attention away from  what will TRULY grow the Republican Party, and keep these potential converts to the Republican Brand preoccupied with such labels as racist and homophobe, our strategy to bring America down will succeed.

Wormwood, that is our challenge.  And, so long as we succeed in drawing divisions on these issues, and continue to confuse people about the newly adopted 2014 Indiana Republican Platform, we will continue to win.  After all, who would ever wish to ACTUALLY READ their silly platform, which states:

We believe that strong families, based on marriage between a man and a woman, are the foundation of society. We also recognize that some families are much more diverse and we support the blended families, grandparents, guardians and loving adults who successfully raise and nurture children to reach their full potential every day.

Your affectionate uncle, hungering for the souls of Low Information Voters:

Screwtape

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Applying Indiana’s Economics Education Standards to Evaluate the Common Core

Posted by wisejargon on April 27, 2014

In March of this year, the Indiana legislature passed, and Governor Pence signed, Senate Bill 91, making Indiana the first state to dump the Common Cores Standards.

There’s just one problem with this: The standards the Indiana State Board of Education plans to adopt are said to be Common Core without the label. Given this state of affairs, I’d like to talk about three things as they relate to what is really going on in the politics behind the Common Core initiative. They are:

  1. Apply current Indiana Social Studies Standard E.4.6 for high school economics students to the role of government in a mixed economy.
  2. Define what political scientists call a “cozy triangle” and show how it is related to Indiana Social Studies Standard E.4.6 to help students “develop skills for thinking, inquiry and research, and participation in a democratic society.”
  3. Use Indiana Social Studies Standard E.4.6 to illustrate how the debate over Common Core is really about how vested interests are shaping education policy for their own benefit instead of the students’, and to call on Governor Pence to ask some very specific questions of his State Board of Education.

The Role of Government in a Mixed Economy and Standard E.4.6

Indiana’s Standard 4 for Economics seeks to have students understand the typical microeconomic roles of government in a market or mixed economy. According to the Indiana Department of Education’s 2013 Indiana Academic Standards for Social Studies for Economics as found on page 4, Standard E.4.6 states:

Explain how costs of government policies may exceed benefits because social or political goals (rather than economic efficiency) are being pursued.

Keynesian economic theory is the branch of economic thought that believes government intervention in a market economy is not only necessary, but preferred. This particular branch of economic theory asserts that, left to the “invisible hand” of each individual acting in his own best interest, economic resources will not be used as efficiently as they could. Thus, government must step in and make choices to “adjust” the economy. While Keynesian economics acknowledges that the costs of government policies may exceed their benefits, the risk of this is minimal.

The Austrian school of economics believes, as Ronald Reagan said, that government IS the problem. This particular branch of economics holds that individual choice via the invisible hand is more efficient than government intervention. The reason: Powerful interests will use their power and money to skew economic policies to benefit themselves, rather than the common good. The Austrian School of Economics believes that in virtually all cases, the costs of government policies will exceed their benefits, and so no rationale person would routinely pay more for something than the benefits received.

Cozy Triangles, Government Market Failure, and Standard E.4.6

A “Cozy Triangle” (also called an Iron Triangle) is a small group of people controlling a particular policy area. There are three corners of this triangle: Select politicians serving on legislative committees, government agencies that implement any laws that are passed, and lobbying groups that raise money and turn out votes for the legislators who promote the interest group’s legislative agenda. It is a common occurrence for junior staffers to begin their government careers as staff to such key politicians, then get a job with a government agency they used to cover, and then use their government and legislative experience to get a job with an interest group that lobbies the original politician the now “experienced” former junior staffer used to work for.

When I teach Economics at the college level, I always describe how a Cozy Triangle functions in order to apply it to how government failure can occur in a mixed economy. The following comes from Essentials of Economics by Bradley Schiller, 9th edition, p. 196. This is a textbook used in Econ 101 at Ivy Tech Community College:

VESTED INTERESTS:  Vested interests often try to steer the search away from the social optimum. … They may try to sway public opinion with public interest advertising.  And they may use their wealth to finance the campaigns of sympathetic politicians.  Government officials, too, may have personal agendas that don’t reflect society’s interests.

Cozy Triangles, Standard E.4.6 and the Common Core Crony Capitalists

In November of 2013, the Gates Foundation  gave the U.S. Chamber a $1.38 million grant “to lead the effort to engage and educate state and local chambers to support Common Core State Standards.” A good question to ask is whether the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce took any of that money to lobby in favor of common core. Certainly, Stand for The Children, an organization that operates in 11 states, received over $4.5 million from the Gates Foundation from 2005 to 2009 to promote the Common Core. In 2013, Stand for the Children ran TV to promote the Common Core.

In addition to supporting both Stand for the Children and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provides funding to a nonprofit group called WestEd.  They do research on education policy.  One of their employees, Sujie Shin, according to her bio, worked  as the Assistant Director of the Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation to help states navigate transitions, “particularly in the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.”   Pearson Education is listed as one of this organization’s donors.  The Gates Foundation is not only a donor to WestEd (the Gates Foundation gave WestEd $378,500 in 2013); Gavin Payne, Director of Policy and Advocacy, US Program for the Gates Foundation, sits on WestEd’s Board of Directors.

Why is Bill Gates trying to use government lobbying efforts to fight for Common Core? A key reason is because he has partnered with Pearson Education to create a textbook monopoly. You see, Microsoft knows that for about $1,000, a self published curriculum writer can purchase the needed software and equipment to create textbooks with embedded video and audio files on virtually any topic you’d like. This will eat into the revenues of the text book publishers, who are bleeding revenues as self published authors bypass the behemoth publishers to sell directly to end use consumers.

I am a member of a Linked In group called Home School Vendors and Customers. Many of the nearly 1,200 group members have educational products we want to sell to home schoolers. In my case, I’ve created a curriculum called The Brotherhood of the Scroll: Clash of the Superpowers. By forcing states to use the Common Core, they lock in the use of copyright protected curriculum – excluding competition, creating a monopoly, and thus raising costs. This is a clear example of how the “costs of government policies may exceed benefits” per Standard E.4.6.

One last point on this. Even though Senate Bill 91 got Indiana out of the Common Core Standards, the Indiana Department of Education is requiring new teachers to take a test titled the Indiana CORE Assessments for Educator Licensure program (Indiana CORE Assessments).  Sujie Shin, the WestEd employee, has worked with the IDOE to implement these assessments. The Indiana CORE Assessments are provided by Pearson Education – you can learn more about their copyrighted teacher assessment curriculum at  and the accompanying exam.

Conclusion

Governor Pence has encouraged the Indiana State Board of Education to adopt new standards that are nothing more than Common Core relabeled. It may be the case that while concerned parents have been focusing on the Common Core Standards, they have missed the Cozy Triangle of textbook publishing monopoly interests, education bureaucrats and politicians eager for political contributions that have been that have engineered the implication of Common Core through the back door.

Here are three questions that Hoosiers should hold the State Board of Education accountable for.

  1. How did Pearson Education get the contract to create teacher licensing exams BEFORE the State Board of Education approved the curriculum standards?
  2. Was the contract let after a competitive bidding process?
  3. Given the new education standards are simply Common Core in all but name only, will Pearson Education also be the textbook publisher that will get the contract to implement Indiana’s new standards?

Governor Pence should make sure that information on how these contracts – both those that have already been signed, and those that will be signed by text book publishers, are made available to the citizens of Indiana.  We should be told the price tag of these contracts, as well as the alternative competitive bids that were turned down.

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Love God, Love Each Other, Serve the World

Posted by wisejargon on April 20, 2014

In his article, “The Gospel in its Fullness,” Chuck Colson shares this thought that speaks volumes about why Jesus came into the world:

One of the things I do when I meet people is ask them, “What is Christianity?” Undoubtedly half will respond, “A relationship with Jesus.”  That is wrong. The gospel cannot be merely about a private transaction. … Jesus came as a radical to turn the world upside down. When we believe it is just about Jesus and yourself, we miss the whole point. (emphasis added)

Colson goes on to point out that the Gospel is a world view, a way of life, designed to be shared with others in community. I completely agree with this concept. With this as an introduction, I’d like to apply this understanding to examine the meaning of the phrase “Love God, Love Each Other, Serve the World.”

Love God

In John 8:31-32, we read what I believe is the greatest conditional proposition ever spoken:. “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus’ point is that if you abide in His word, you not only know it intellectually, but you experience it vicariously. While bible study is necessary, it is not sufficient. Jesus not only wants us to love Him, but to love and care for His sheep. He makes this point in speaking with Peter – not once, but three times, He tells Peter that if he truly loves Jesus, to “feed My lambs …take care of My sheep …feed My sheep.” (John 21:15-17).

It is easy to focus on bible study only.  Creating community and lifestyle application for discipleship training  is much more challenging.

Love Each Other

A ministry my church has been involved in since the late 1990s is “The Great Banquet.” It is a 72 hour spiritual retreat lasting from Thursday evening to Sunday late afternoon. Designed to introduce non-Christians to Christ, and strengthen existing Christians’ walk with Christ, it has, at its core, the concept of building Christian Community. Those who go through this weekend experience are encouraged to come back to serve other people who, in turn, experience this spiritual retreat for the first time. Over the years (we’ve now done 69 of these banquet retreats), we have built a vibrant, loving community of fellow believers who, as the Body of Christ, seek to build up others toward spiritual maturity, and gain a sense of personal spiritual renewal through the process.

This concept of community, as Colson points out, is central to the message of Jesus. In John 14:2, Jesus tells us: “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, for I go to prepare a place for you.” The Greek word used here for house is “insula.” At Ray Vander Laan’s website we read this description of the word “insula” – used by Jesus to describe His Father’s “house:”

People in Galilee often lived in family housing complexes known as insulae (singular: insula). Although not everyone lived this way, many people (particularly extended families) combined living units around an open courtyard. This living arrangement allowed extended families to live, work, and interact with each other on a daily basis. The family’s values were preserved as young people learned from the stories of older family members. As sons married, they built additional rooms on the family insula and brought their bride to live with their extended family. (emphasis added)

To love each other, and care for God’s sheep, we must live in community with one another.

Serve the World

Recently, my friend, Micah Clark with the American Family Association of Indiana, provided me with this statistic, based on research from the Barna Group:

A study conducted by the Barna Group discovered that nearly 60 percent of all Christians from 15 years of age to 29 years of age are no longer actively involved in any church.

I paid particular attention to this statistic, as the President of the Barna Group is David Kinnaman. It just so happens that I am currently reading his 2007 book titled Unchristian. In that book, he notes that only 3% of Christians have a biblically informed world view. Kinnaman writes:

Our research indicates that we have let discipleship languish in far too many young lives. Our enthusiasm for evangelism is not matched by our passion for and patience with discipleship and faith formation. (p. 77)

I suspect one reason the Church in America has done a poor job of discipleship is that we’ve had our focus everywhere else but on those things that create true disciples. In his book, Church Unique, author Will Mancini asks people to describe their church in ten words or less. His challenge to church leaders is that if hardly anyone comes up with the same description, then the church leaders have not infused their congregation with a cross-functional lifestyle vision.  Mancini goes further, writing:

When programs exist in a vision vacuum, the how of doing the program displaces the why in the heart of the program’s leaders. We need the vision to raise our sight to see the why behind the program to begin with. (emphasis added)

What is God Calling Your Church to Do?

I believe that each church has a certain set of shared experiences, ministries and gifted people that constitute their unique Kingdom ministry, if only they would take the time to focus on those qualities.

Determining what “Love God, Love Each Other, Serve the World” means for your congregation requires that you engage in an intentional, focused discussion. I’ve created an online, on-demand video based course that can help in that regard titled Pursuing Your Mission from God: Leading Your Ministry Into the Promised Land.

Having said this, and given the state of our culture, I’d like to suggest that the answer to what “Love God, Love Each Other, Serve the World” might be is something like the following:

  1. What if we recognized that to “Love God,” we must intentionally feed His sheep and take care of His lambs – particularly teens and young adults?  We adore little children, as we should, but we tend to shrug our shoulders as they turn 16 and approach adulthood.
  2. What if we recognized that to “Love Each Other,” we must intentionally focus on ministries that touch families.  What if we, as a congregation, understood that “love each other” means to build families through sound biblical teaching, community building ministries, and intentionally loving people suffering in their marriage, their jobs, and the circumstances of life that threaten to undermine the family – and that the older members of our congregations have a unique role to play in this process?
  3. What if we recognized that to “Serve the World,” we must intentionally extend our church family into the community.  As the average age of church members continues to increase, “seasoned seniors” must consider how they might best pass the baton to the next generation.  In Titus Chapter 2, instruction is given so that older men and older women will instruct younger men and women on how to lead godly, productive lives so that the grace of God might be revealed, “bringing salvation to all people” (Titus 2:11).

What about you and your church?  We all suffer from the “Tyranny of the Urgent.”  Certainly, church finances are urgent, but young people want to go where God is active, and where young people are welcomed.  Will you take a few minutes to take your eyes away from the merely urgent, and focus on both the urgent AND the important question of how we pass the baton to the next generation of Christians?  We are in danger of fumbling the hand-off.  We need to make straight arrows out of our children, and the only way to do that is invest in the nurturing and discipleship of those in our care.  If we fail in this task, then there will be no church budget in need of balancing.

thinkleadkindleDavid Lantz is the author of Think Like Jesus, Lead Like Moses: Leadership Lessons from the Wilderness Crucible.  Based on his book, David has developed two online leadership courses: Think Like Jesus, Lead Like Moses and Pursuing Your Mission from God.

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Common Core and the McGuffey Eclectic Readers: Follow the Money

Posted by wisejargon on April 26, 2013

Indiana appears on the verge of getting legislators to take a “time out” when it comes to implementing Common Core – a set of education standards tied to mandated curriculum the schools MUST purchase.  However, you wouldn’t know that if you listened to the Indianapolis Star.  In its 4/25 editorial on Common Core, the Indianapolis Star wrote:

“As The Star Editorial Board noted in March, when we first addressed the need for the Common Core, the numbers don’t look promising for Indiana. We rank 40th among the 50 states in the education level of its workforce.”

Interestingly, on March 23, 2013, Indiana University ran a headline which read: “CEEP report: Indiana eighth-graders outperform much of world in math, science.”  The Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University press release contained this quote:

“Indiana performed as well or better than some of these educational systems that are the features of ‘educational tourism’ such as Finland and Hong Kong,” said Leslie Rutkowski, assistant professor of inquiry methodology at the IU School of Education. “It’s a bit of an ‘Indiana Miracle’ alongside the Finland Miracle.”

Meanwhile, the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce has been running radio ads calling anyone who supports putting a “pause” on Common Core implementation a “right wing teaparty” extremist.  (Seriously, think about what the Chamber is calling the legislators – Republican AND Democrat – who voted for this.  Someone needs to be fired for this PR fiasco!)

So here’s my question:  Why are the Indianapolis Star and the State Chamber of Commerce shilling for Common Core?  The Gates Foundation, as of 2011, has given $3.5 million to Stand for Children, a group with offices in 11 states that has been running ads in favor of Common Core.  They’ve also given money to the Pearson Foundation, which was set up by Pearson Education Publishing.

You see, Microsoft knows that for about $1,000, a self published curriculum writer can purchase the needed software and equipment to create textbooks with embedded video and audio files on virtually any topic you’d like.  This will eat into the revenues of the text book publishers, who are bleeding revenues as self published authors bypass the behemoth publishers to sell directly to end use consumers.

Here’s a question to ask as a way of testing this:  Would the State Chamber of Commerce be willing to accept Common Core IF the state of Indiana mandated that the required reading texts would be the McGuffey Eclectic Readers?  You can purchase the 7 volume set online from Mott Media LLC for $100.  Would they go for it?

They’d probably say that we can’t do that because many of the lessons are based on the bible.  But another reason is that they’re not sold by the text  book monopolists.  Instead, they’re sold by a small business virtually no one has ever heard of.

And how can we expect the crony capitalists and their high priced lobbyists to make any money if some small online start-ups chip away at the “education blob’s” monopoly?

Bottom line:  Follow the money.  How much of the $4.5 million the Gates Foundation gave to the US Chamber of Commerce end up paying the lobbyists at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce?  This might be the real reason the Indiana State Chamber is so outspoken in favor of Common Core.

David Lantz is the author of The Gray Champion: Searching for a President with 2020 Vision.  Visit his Amazon book page at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00464TFTS

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Posted in Economics Matters | Leave a Comment »

Common Core and the Textbook Monopoly

Posted by wisejargon on March 17, 2013

I teach online for several colleges.  I am also in the process of writing an online entrepreneurship curriculum through a company I’m a part of, Generation Self Employed.  As a small player in a big pond, I am part of a movement that traditional text book publishers are trying hard to put out of business.

In 2003, the Book Publishing Industry made $32 billion.  In 2011, the industry made $27 billion – that’s a loss of 16% in just 8 years.  What happened?  Essentially, self published authors like me discovered we can not only write books, but also self-publish them on the Kindle, the Nook, and other e-book platforms.

At the same time that the book publishing industry saw revenues drop like a rock, e-book revenues skyrocketed from just $18 million in 2003 to $3 billion in 2011.  And, it’s not just “The Great American Novel Writer” who doesn’t need the big time publishers any more.   With new software like Ibooks2, anyone who is knowledgeable about their subject matter can create their own textbook.

School textbook publishers are the last remaining bastion of the publishing industry, and they’ve been shaking their heads as they watch their market share plummet.  Their big question:  How to continue justifying selling textbooks for $200 a pop as the tide of online education driven by a multitude of education entrepreneurs threatens their monopoly.  They’ve found their answer by getting in bed with the Crony Capitalists supporting an education standard called Common Core that has ties to the Obama Administration and liberal elite establishment.

COMMON CORE, CRONY CAPITALISM AND THE INFLUENCE OF VESTED INTERESTS

Enter the Gates Foundation, the National Governors Association, and the Obama Administration, as the three combine to push a national, one size fits all curriculum.  The textbook monopoly sees this, and their promotion of something called Common Core as their salvation.  The textbook publishing Goliaths are working hard to lobby government officials to grant them the monopoly status they need to wipe out all those pesky net-savvy David’s set on eating into their market share.

I’m not the only person to have noticed this.  Here’s what Alan Singer, education blogger for the Huffington Post, in February 28, 2013 post titled “Cumo, Common Core and Pearson-For-Profit:

If it has its way, Pearson will soon be determining what gets taught in schools across the United States with little or no parental or educational oversight. Pearson standardized exams will assess how well teachers implement Pearson instruction modules and Pearson’s common core standards, but not what students really learn or whether students are actually learning things that are important to know. Pearson is already creating teacher certification exams for eighteen states including New York, organizing staff development workshops to promote Pearson products, and providing school district Pearson assessment tools. (emphasis added)

It seems that Pearson Education has partnered with the Gates Foundation to leverage the power of “crony capitalism” to secure a monopoly status when it comes to curriculum that will conform to Common Core standards.  On April 27, 2011, Pearson issued a press release announcing a partnership with the Gates Foundation to “help create comprehensive instructional system to prepare America’s students to meet Common Core State Standards.”  In the press release, they state:

The Pearson Foundation today announced a partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support America’s teachers by creating a full series of digital instructional resources. Online courses in Math and Reading/English Language Arts will offer a coherent and systemic approach to teaching the new Common Core State Standards.

I’ll come back to this connection in just a moment.  But first, I need to mention one of the economics textbooks I teach from, Essentials of Economics, 8th Ed., by Bradley Schiller.  In Chapter 9 on Government Intervention, Schiller has the following to say about vested interests (p. 201):

Vested interests often try to steer the search away from the social optimum. … To do so, they may generate studies that minimize the size of external costs.  They may try to sway public opinion with public-interest advertising.  And they may use their wealth to finance the campaigns of sympathetic politicians (emphasis added).

Speaking of trying “to sway public opinion with public-interest advertising,” a TV advertisement in favor of the Common Core standards recently started airing here in Indiana.  It’s promoted by a group called Stand for the Children.  I went to their site and discovered they have offices in 10 other states besides Indiana.  I’ve been around politics much of my life, and immediately smelt the heavy hand of national powers that want something REALLY BAD to spend this sort of money.  And so, I looked up the funding source of Stand for the Children

The BBB Wise Giving Alliance indicates that they have about $5.5 million in the bank.  According to Ken Libby and Allen Sanchez in their 2011 blog post For or Against the Children, we discover this connection between the Gates Foundation and Stand for the Children:

Stand has seen an enormous influx of corporate cash. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation began by offering a relatively modest two-year grant of $80,000 in 2005. In 2007, Stand for Children received a $682,565 grant. In 2009, the point at which Stand’s drastically different political agenda became obvious, Gates awarded a $971,280 grant to support “common policy priorities” and in 2010, a $3,476,300 grant.

COMMON CORE’S COZY CONNECTIONS

In politics, there is something called a “Cozy Triangle.”  It is the idea that a vested interest group, partnered with a government agency, works with elected officials to maintain their power and influence.  Former State Superintendent Tony Bennett, until his defeat in the 2012 election campaign, served as the elected official who could use his state agency to do the bidding of the Common Core Cozy Connection.  With his help, they got the State Board of Education to adopt the Common Core standards before anyone ever truly knew what they were.  The same tactic has been used across the country.

But Bennett lost, partly because Conservatives with Hoosier Common Sense were tired of the crony capitalists using the power of government to create a self serving monopoly.  They wanted to send a message to elected officials in Indiana that they should pay attention to Hoosier Common Sense instead of the Common Core Cozy Connection.

Now that Senate Bill 193 has passed out of the Indiana Senate and awaits a hearing in the Indiana House Education Committee, the Common Core Cozy Connection in Indiana is worried.  That’s why they are running those TV advertisements.  And, it may be that’s not all they are doing.  Remember the words of economist Brad Schiller, who said that special interests “may use their wealth to finance the campaigns of sympathetic politicians.”

We don’t need to be experts in economics.  We just need to apply a little Hoosiers Common Sense and follow this piece of advice:  Follow the money, and see if members of the Common Core Cozy Connection are making political contributions, and if so, to whom.

Are such contributions being made?  I have no clue.  But, given the Common Core Cozy Connection that I’ve talked about in this post and how it is being used to create a monopoly for the textbook publishers, the question should be asked.  Only then will we be certain that Hoosiers, not out of state lobbyists, are truly the ones who “Stand for Children.”

David Lantz is the author of The Gray Champion: Searching for a President with 2020 Vision.  Visit his Amazon book page at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00464TFTS

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Posted in Economics Matters | 2 Comments »

Barack Hussein Obama, You’re No Ronald Wilson Reagan

Posted by wisejargon on September 6, 2012

Last night, I watched former President Bill Clinton address the Democratic National Convention. He said that no one – not himself, not Bush, not ANY of his predecessors – could have fixed the economy President Obama inherited in just 4 short years. Therefore, he argued, we need to give President Obama another four years to finish what he started.

In 1980, Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan asked the country if they were better off than they were four years before. He developed what he called “the misery index,” calculated by adding the inflation rate and the unemployment rate together.

In 1980, the misery index reached the highest point it has ever been. It was 20.76 percent. That’s what President Reagan inherited when he took office in January, 1981 from President Jimmy Carter. By the end of his first term in 1984, the average misery index in 1984 had been reduced to 11.81. In other words, it was nearly 50% less than what he had “inherited.”

Here’s a graph of the data. If you want the raw data to create your own graph, visit http://www.miseryindex.us/

In 2008, the misery index was 9.65.  In 2009, it fell to 8.94.  The average for the months January through July of 2012 is 10.45 (it was 9.71 in July 2012).  In other words, as bad as our economy is, it was not as bad as what President Reagan inherited from Jimmy Carter.

So much for what Bill Clinton’s predecessors could or could not do.

And President Reagan improved the economy, increasing GDP growth by three times as much as President Obama.  In the graph below, from the first quarter of each president’s third year of office through the end of the first quarter of each president’s fourth year in office, President Reagan reported a GDP growth rate of over 8 percent. Except for one quarter, President Obama didn’t get above 2 percent.

The bottom line is this.  We remember President Ronald Reagan.  President Reagan inherited a much worse economic mess than you did, President Obama.  President Reagan kept his promises and made America better off than before he took office in just four short years.

Barack Hussein Obama, despite what you might see each time you look in the mirror, you’re no Ronald Wilson Reagan.

———————

David Lantz teaches economics at several Indiana Colleges. He is the author of The Gray Champion: Searching for a President with 202o Vision.

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The Antidote to Hopelessness and Despair

Posted by wisejargon on October 10, 2011

What do Margaret Thatcher, Herman Cain, and the movie, The Book of Eli, have in common?

Stay with me and let me explain.

In the movie, The Book of Eli, Eli (Denzel Washington) is a lone black man in a white man’s post-apocalyptic world.  Though he cannot see those around him, he is not blind to the truth.   He walks throughout the land on a journey to deliver the one antidote to the hopelessness and despair that infects the people, turning them into brainwashed zombies in the service of Carnegie (Gary Oldman).  The antidote, The Book of Eli, is the lone surviving Bible known to man.  Committing it to memory by reading it every day, Eli is able to walk by faith, not by sight, for he knows the power of its message.  If you’re looking for a great bible study using this concept, click here.

The Book of Eli came to mind as I thought of two leaders, both of whom stood up against those who threatened them because of their message.  And, both were firsts in their own rights as leaders of a conservative, limited government message.

Margaret Thatcher

The first is Margaret Thatcher.  Known as the “Iron Lady,” she was the first (and so far only) female British Prime Minister.  I had the privilege of meeting her when, as a student studying in England in 1978, I went to visit Parliament in London.  I attended University in Grantham, Lincolnshire, which was in her district.  At the time, she had not yet been elected Prime Minister.

When she ran for the office, just about every labor union in England was on strike.  Determined, and some said, strident, she set out to revolutionize the economy.  She declared that the idea of nationalization, deficit spending, central control, and too much regulation had to end.  She cut government spending, subsidies to business, and slashed government red tape.

She once said:

Although 364 economists wrote to the Times and said, “This is outrageous; you’ll put us into a deep depression from a recession,” 364 were wrong, and the half dozen who supported us were right.

And those who urge us to relax the squeeze, to spend yet more money indiscriminately in the belief that we’ll help the unemployed and the small businessman, are not being kind or compassionate or caring. I have only one thing to say: U-turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.

Thatcher had to deal with a bunch of brainwashed zombies in her country that bought into the lie that they were powerless to help themselves.  They had  bought the lie that only government could solve their problems.  They were blind to the truth.  And when presented with the truth, like the power hungry who could “see” in the movie The Book of Eli, they could not grasp the truth.

Here is a link to a video clip about the struggles she faced from the PBS documentary, The Commanding Heights (the part with Thatcher starts about 2 minutes 47 seconds into the clip):

 

Herman Cain

The second is Herman Cain.  If elected president, he will be the first AMERICAN Black president – Barack Obama, because his father was from Kenya, was the first African-American President.

In recent days, Herman Cain has stood up to both Lawrence O’Donnell and the Occupy Wall Street crowd.  He’s not been afraid to question who is funding them, and what the motives of those people behind the scenes are.  And, he’s talked about what is needed with regard to getting out of the problems Americans face.  It’s the same antidote Margaret Thatcher proclaimed.  To see a clip of Cain’s comments on this, see

 

In the movie, The Book of Eli, Eli needed to remain steadfast, because he carried a message of hope that would free the brainwashed zombies of a post-apocalyptic America from the hopelessness and despair that enslaved them.  Margaret Thatcher became known as “The Iron Lady” because she stood steadfast against the attacks of the trade unions to deliver the antidote to hopelessness and despair that gripped England in the early 1980s.. 

Herman Cain carries the same message of hope to the brainwashed zombies of our nation that Thatcher carried to hers.  His is a message of rolling up one’s sleeves and getting to work.  But he can’t do it by himself.

There are still men and women in this nation who are not brainwashed zombies.  We, The People, need to help spread the antidote to the hopelessness and despair the “Occupy Wall Street” people are complaining about.  They need the antidote Mr. Cain has prescribed to restore faith, family and the American work ethic.

Now is the time to make your voice heard, and let Mr. Cain know you’ve “got his back.”

David Lantz is the author of 

Think Like Jesus, Lead Like Moses: Leadership Lessons from the Wilderness Crucible.  To learn more about him, go to his website at

www.wisejargon.com

Posted in Economics Matters, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Cain and Obama: How Their Fathers’ Dreams Affect America

Posted by wisejargon on September 24, 2011

Presidential debates often focus on what the candidates say about their policies, but rarely allow us to become familiar with the character of the man or woman running for that office.  Recently, I had two experiences which allowed me to understand more fully the character of our President, Barak Obama, and Mr. Herman Cain, who is running for President in the Republican primary.

The Character of President Obama’s Father

While listening to the radio driving home one night, I heard an interview with Sally Jacobs about her new book, The Other Barack: The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama’s Father.  Through listening to the interview, and reading about her book online (see, for example, http://yourblackworld.com/2011/07/07/new-book-says-president-obamas-father-considered-putting-him-up-for-adoption/  ), I learned that Obama’s father was a polygamist and an alcoholic.  I also learned that he had been an economist.  In 1965, he wrote a review of a publication on African Socialism in which he stated

“True there are cases in which nationalization is bad, but there are, likewise, quite a few benefits to be derived from it.”  (Obama, Barak H. (July 1965).  “Problems facing our socialism: another critique of Sessional Paper No. 10”East Africa Journal (Nairobi) 2 (4): 26–33. )

I’ve provided a link to the entire paper for those interested in the quote’s context, but it is clear that President Obama’s father saw nothing wrong with socialism.  In fact,  his review of socialism looked at how African socialism generally could work in Kenya specifically.

The Character of Herman Cain’s Father

Mr. Cain came to Indianapolis in mid-August, and I had the pleasure of hearing him speak to a crowd of about 200 people.  I was particularly impressed with the story he told of his father.  As a boy, Mr. Cain said to his father “why do we live in half a house?” to which his father responded “It’s not half a house.  It’s a duplex!”   Cain’s father didn’t attend Harvard, as Obama’s father did.  Instead, he worked three jobs – as a janitor, a barber and a chauffeur.  Cain said one of his father’s proudest moments was when he took his family to a new house he had saved money to buy, surprising his wife as well as his children, when he presenter her with the keys to the house.

The Character of the American People

I believe the question Americans should be asking themselves is what kind of people we want to be.  Do we want to be a people who believe that the way to get ahead in life is to take from the labor of others and aggrandize ourselves with that for which we have not worked?  Or do we want to be a people that seek to get ahead by the sweat of our brow and earn what we have?

Do you remember when Senator Obama, as a candidate for President, met Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known as “Joe the Plumber”? When asked about his tax plan, Obama responded by saying:

“If you’ve got a plumbing business, you’re gonna be better off […] if you’ve got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you, and right now everybody’s so pinched that business is bad for everybody and I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

Somehow, I think that Mr. Cain’s father would have been offended if someone tried to suggest that he should be the recipient of someone else’s hard earned money.  Listening to Herman Cain in Indianapolis, I got the distinct impression that the dreams he got from HIS father were to grow up to be a man of character, to work hard, to stand on one’s own two feet, and to help others when they needed help – but not to “share the wealth” of other people when he lent that helping hand.

Who we have as President, and the quality of their character, matters to the American people.

Back in 2001, Lawrence M. Stratton and Paul Craig Roberts wrote a paper titled The Fed’s “Depression” and the Birth of the New Deal in which they looked at the history of the Great Depression.  While I encourage anyone to read the entire article, the following statement at the end of their essay stands out:

“The great depression’s most serious and long-lasting consequence was not the collapse of prices and employment, but the displacement of the traditional reliance on individual responsibility with government guarantees of security. Beginning with Social Security, these guarantees have grown into the all-encompassing welfare state. This has changed the character of the American people, and it has changed the character of their government.” (emphasis added)

In 2012, we need a President with the character to remind America of the qualities this nation was founded on.  We need a President who doesn’t believe in spreading the wealth around; we need a president who believes in working hard to create wealth.  Herman Cain’s story is one worth telling, and I’m happy to share a part of it here.

David Lantz is the author of Think Like Jesus, Lead Like Moses: Leadership Lessons from the Wilderness Crucible.  To learn more about him, go to his website at www.wisejargon.com

 

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Even FDR Knew Social Security was a Ponzi Scheme

Posted by wisejargon on September 8, 2011

In her book, The Forgotten Man, Amity Shlaes talks about what FDR and his administration knew about the sustainability of the Social Security system.

In her chapter, The Chicken vs. the Eagle, on page 229 of the paper back version, Ms. Shlaes writes:

Roosevelt himself saw that while the program’s revenues might cover its costs now, the numbers from the actuaries suggested that there would not be enough money for old-age pensions for future generations.”

Imagine that.  FDR knew this was a ponzi scheme!  She goes on to quote Roosevelt, who said:

“It is almost dishonest to build up an accumulated deficit for the Congress of the United States to meet in 1980.  We can’t do that. We can’t see the United States short in 1980 any more than in 1935.”

Yet, we were short.  In fact, President Reagan appointed a commission to fix Social Security, at least for a period of time, in 1982 – right on schedule for when FDR knew the system would be bankrupt!

So, if the creator of Social Security knew it was a Ponzi Scheme, and Rick Perry and Herman Cain simply agree with its creator that it’s a Ponzi Scheme, then why won’t Americans face the truth that IT’S A PONZI SCHEME?

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Budget Wars: As the Lemmings Approach the Cliff

Posted by wisejargon on July 15, 2011

Before I get to the facts about the debt ceiling, we have this report from our embedded reporter, John Stewart, as he accompanies the President of the Lemmings aboard his flag ship, The Death Spiral.  Our reporter indicates the President wants to lead his faithful lemmings off the cliff in an effort to “Win The Future”.

 

As We Head Toward the Cliff

No doubt, those paying attention to the debt ceiling debate can get plenty of information from all over the internet. Here, I want to touch on three topics.

First: How has America’s debt increased over the last ten years? The following chart demonstrates that our debt has gone from just under $6 trillion to over $14 trillion.

Second, in recent years, the Fed has been purchasing about 70% of our debt. The debt is issued in the form of treasury bills. The Fed doesn’t purchase Treasury Bills directly from the Treasury Department. Instead, Fed Chairman Ben Bernake will place an order with the Fed’s “primary dealers through a series of competitive auctions operated through the Desk’s FedTrade system.” These “primary dealers” include such companies as Goldmen Sachs, Morgan Stanley, the Deutsche Bank of Germany, and 15 others. These companies purchase the Treasury Bills at a private sale, and then turn around and sell them to the Fed with a small percentage markup. Of course, even a few tenths of a percentage point mark up on billions of dollars in Treasury bills results in millions of dollars in bonuses for these companies.

As a consequence, companies like Goldman Sachs (where former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, and former Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, work) are guaranteed a sure profit. This is why purchases of US Treasuries by the Fed have grown from just 10% of all Treasury sales to about 70%, as the accompanying chart demonstrates:

Here’s my analogy to this: A husband writes his wife a Cashiers Check for $100 drawn from money in their joint checking account. She then takes it to the bank to first cash the check and then put the money BACK in their joint checking account and log that as not only covering the cost of the money order, but as a net INCREASE in their checking balance of $100.

No one in their right mind would do that. The government shouldn’t do that either.

 Third, no one really knows what we should do, and what happens if we fail to raise the debt ceiling. The following from a recent PBS Newshour on May 16th illustrates this point:

RAY SUAREZ: On one side of the argument, people from the administration are promising calamity if Aug. 2 comes and goes with no settlement for this, while some on the other side are saying, well it’s a detail. It’s — we will miss a couple of payments for a couple of days or a couple of weeks, but then, eventually, this will get settled.

Is the truth somewhere in the middle?

BINYAMIN APPELBAUM: We don’t know. You know, I think Robert Rubin, the former treasury secretary, said it best. He said, we don’t know what will happen, but why would you want to find out? And that seems to be, you know, a perspective that certainly all of our former treasury secretaries have, that you’re wandering off into an unknown space. There is no telling how markets would respond if the government stops paying some of its bills. Some people are willing to run that experiment. Others fear it greatly and don’t want to. But we really won’t know until, if and when we get there.

From this, I conclude that we should raise the debt ceiling, but only under the following 3 conditions:

1. We extract significant cuts in spending, either based on what Paul Ryan has indicated, or the Debt Commission’s requirements, or some combination thereof.

2. We create long term balance for our federal budget, including a balanced budget amendment and tax restructuring.

3. We enact a prohibition on the Fed using the Treasury Arbitrage system to continue monetarizing the debt. It make no sense for us to purchase our own debt, and prevents us from having an honest discussion on budget priorities in Washington.

If we don’t do these things, we might as well all become lemmings and look for a cliff to jump off from.

 

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