Morning Links

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

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83 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Another testament to the perils of foreign entanglements: Is a U.S. company assisting Egyptian surveillance?

    You know how there are some things that both the Republicans and Democrats both support? That would include stuff like protectionism, corporate welfare, support for the Patriot Act, the drug war, public education, etc.

    Well, when it comes to surveillance of their own populations, despite any rhetoric to the contrary, all governments everywhere are in favor of it. Hell, if the U.S. government sees our own Bill of Rights as a nuisance (something that is beyond doubt for anyone with brain), what makes anyone think they give a rats ass about citizens of any other country?

    U.S. government concerns over human rights is nothing more than one of those issues (and there are many) whose only purpose is to divert attention away from how they are abusing their power on other matters.

  2. #2 |  J sub D | 

    Many Maryland jurisdictions are holding officers and other emergency workers personally liable for the tickets, unless they can prove they were responding to legitimate emergencies at the time.

    Cops in black and whites just run red lights, speed and otherwise ignore the traffic laws they are supposed to enfoce?

    I would never have believed this occurs if I wer blind and living in a cave.

  3. #3 |  Marty | 

    ‘…the private sector believes that a robust management structure with ratios generally less than 10:1 is a requirement for success? Why does that same logic not apply to schools?’

    an interesting premise- span of control for fire departments is to have no more than 7 (5 being ideal) people answer to any one person. this is bottom up management- command structures are supposed to be built by what’s needed by the personnel dealing with the emergency. the problem with applying these methods to schools- do you build the organization based on how many students you have? the teachers are supposed to be the ones that are productive… should assistants, secretaries, administrators, etc be put in place based on the number of teachers? many colleges have classes with 150+ students… with the additional resources (online access, video, assistants, etc), this seems to work well.

    my issues with education are pretty simple- I don’t want to be forced to pay for something I don’t want. I feel my kids should have vouchers- the money should be tied to them. if we decide to attend the local school- great. if we want a private or parochial school- great. If we want to homeschool- great. I know people who are happy with each system. I don’t feel people should have to be tied to a monopolistic public school or should have to fully fund a private school and a private school. I haven’t seen a system that looks more fair, to me, than vouchers.

  4. #4 |  Nando | 


    The reason people don’t want to “look into” lengthening yellow lights is because many Americans have this old Puritan spirit in them whereby there must be a punitive measure to discourage bad behavior (or so they think).

    It’s the same reason why some people believe the death penalty is a deterrent.

  5. #5 |  Joe | 

    It is hard for doctors and lawyers to lose their professional licenses, but it does happen (I have heard a 1:200 chance). But teachers with tenure getting fired? Try 1:3000.

    There is arguably a reason for tenure for college professors (a weak arguement but an argument nevertheless). There is no reason that public school teachers should not be at will employees like most people.

    The United States spends more money on grammar and high school public education than all coutries except Switzerland. Yet we are not getting anywhere near that back in results. Newark, NJ and Washington, DC spend more than $25,000 per student per year. How are those schools doing? Horrible. Yet parochial schools taking kids from the same neighborhoods achieve far better results for a fraction of the cost. I recognize that parochial schools do better, in part, because the parents of student who enroll in such schools went out of their way to provide their kids that education (and also volunteer and expect their children to perform). But don’t you think decent education could be provided if there were competive systems in Newark and DC?

  6. #6 |  J sub D | 

    Obama intervenes to keep a Yemeni journalist in jail.

    Hope! Change! Meet the new boss …

  7. #7 |  Mario | 

    I recognize that parochial schools do better, in part, because the parents of student who enroll in such schools went out of their way to provide their kids that education […]

    If that’s not the number one reason, it’s the number two. Its pair is the fact that such schools can throw students out of school. Your public school district must provide a tutor.

    One of the things wrong with public education is that the kind of 1-to-1 education once reserved for child actors and royalty is now being awarded, at tax payer expense, to burgeoning criminals in public schools.

    At my girlfriend’s district, the principal was told by the superintendent that there could be “no more out-of-school suspensions” for the year. The district couldn’t afford them. This was in October. Right there that undermines discipline, since where do you go after detention?

    Again, there are bad teachers, and the unions make firing them arduous. But, the system is so badly damaged at this point that it’s a popular oversimplification to imagine that getting rid of the bad teachers will solve the problem. And, again, as I’ve said earlier in this thread, much of the motivation for the criticism, and at times outright hostility, towards teachers is because taxpayers more directly feel the pinch of their under-performing schools. They vote on their district’s budget and pay that tax directly. And, being part of a labor intensive industry, the teachers’ salaries are the biggest item in the budget, and thus garners the bulk of the bad feelings.

    I am sympathetic that some teachers seem to be paid too much and their benefits packages seem awfully good. There is certainly room for reform. But, I tell you, there is far more going on behind the scenes that is responsible for the mess we have.

  8. #8 |  SJE | 

    “the problem with eliminating tenure, by the way, is that districts are more likely to use the power get rid of experienced senior teachers to save money (new hires are less expensive) than they are to get rid of the few bad teachers.”

    This only makes sense if the people are paid solely by seniority and not by quality. The solution is to use quality metrics, like they do in most industries which use seniority as only one factor in pay, but not the only one. The private sector has already worked all of this out.
    So, if someone can do twice as good a job and asks only 1.9x the salary, then the system still comes out ahead. For example, I work with people who are very senior, and very expensive, but that OK because they are very very good and what they do.

  9. #9 |  SJE | 

    Joe: yep, $25K per student in DC. When Michelle Rhee came in, she showed how much of that was going to wasteful managment, etc, and not students.

  10. #10 |  Nick T. | 

    Re: the question.

    I see what you’re saying, Radley: why should it be a question that people who want bad teachers fired would also want bad cops etc. fired? Obviously everyone should want (or maybe not want) both of those things.

    But that question is actually very important, and you can’t fault the person who asks it. The sad fact is that most people in our society would not be able to provide a simple and similar answers to each question.

    Indeed, most people who support the idea of firing bad teachers (as a political issue – cuz, let’s face it, there are political issues tied into that question), then confronted withthis question would start their response by saying “well, look, ya know, cops have a very dangerous job….”

  11. #11 |  Nick T. | 

    Re: Obama

    At this point, I just ahve to turn this whole thing into a game: What incredibly disappointing and hypocritical step will the Obama administration take next?

    – Detaining a journalist directly 5:2

    – Rhetorically attacking an aggressive pro-peace/pro-civil rights organization practicing protected activity 7:2

    – Systematically whitewashing any reporting on conditions in Afghanistan/Iraq/Yemen/Pakistan 3:1

    there are no longshots

  12. #12 |  perlhaqr | 

    The US snuggled up to Mubarak, why wouldn’t US companies think that doing so was perfectly acceptable?

  13. #13 |  wunder | 

    Re: the teacher comment, there was a great issue of the Economist covering the public sector unions. Then there were two letters to the editor published, both of which consisted basically of this …

    “you’re picking on the public sector unions! what do you have to say about the horrible fat cats on wall street who walked away while everyone else suffered?”

  14. #14 |  luvzbob | 

    “Newark, NJ and Washington, DC spend more than $25,000 per student per year.”

    The DC number of $25000 is bogus because it includes a large capital expense amount. This amount needs to amortized over the life of the buildings. I can’t find the average per year capital expense, but considering the stimulus provided funds for school construction and modernization I wouldn’t be suprised if the number was much inflated. The number also includes teacher retirement – but that should be adjusted to the present value of the contributions to the retirement of the teachers currently teaching, which ( I believe) is less.

  15. #15 |  luvzbob | 

    “The private sector has already worked all of this out.” Yes, in the private sector you find people working in the same job with large differences in ability but only small differences in pay. The top employee might be getting an extra 5-10%, but these differences are usually small compared to the differences associated with longevity.

  16. #16 |  Jesse | 

    If people cannot see that the US government’s involvement in WW2 was a massive mistake, that handing eastern Europe to Stalin was condemning many, many more millions to death that Hitler could have dreamed of, then debating the idea of firing bad teachers and cops is futile.

    The idea is that government was, is, and will be, always and forever, bad for humanity but good for itself (and those employed by it.)

    Government is not eloquence, it is not reason, it is force.——-Jefferson

  17. #17 |  TC | 

    Cops and cameras; from the replys in the article, I doubt this will be seen very often.

    “tbrown21061 at 11:03 AM February 08, 2011

    Come on, as a Police Officer am I the only officer that feels that we need to be held to a much higher standard then others! how can we issue citations to citizens for traffic infractions when we are the highest offenders? how can we expect people to respect us and when so many officers don’t know how to respect citizens? I call everyone sir or maam whether it is a doctor or the clerk at the local Walmart.

    It is time that we as a profession realize that were not going to just be given respect, were going to have to show that we deserve respect. The feeling of entitlement that I hear from us makes me even cringe. Look I think you are going to have people that for whatever reason will not like police no matter what but I feel the vast majority wants to respect and feel pride with the police, but when we as a profession keep disappointing them and and doing everything negative well we just make that so hard. We yell about furloughs when everyone has lost jobs, we yell about pension fixes when most don’t have them, we yell about cost of insurance when ours is among the best. I know it is a hard job I think most people know it is a hard job but show you deserve the money and the respect and I think you will find people will not begrudge us those things they feel we deserve! JUST MY OPINION.”

  18. #18 |  luvzbob | 

    “#66 | Jesse | February 8th, 2011 at 8:33 pm
    If people cannot see that the US government’s involvement in WW2 was a massive mistake, that handing eastern Europe to Stalin was condemning many, many more millions to death that Hitler could have dreamed of,…”

    You need to get your history straight- Stalin’s genocide occured BEFORE WW2. And millions more would have died if it weren’t for US involvement. Either Hitler would have beat the USSR, and then begun a systematic extermination of all the slavic eastern european peoples (the jews were just the first of his plans) or Stalin would have won, and probably over run western europe too-

  19. #19 |  Z | 

    #13- I am not against firing bad teachers. However I am not hearing the same about bad cops, prosecutors, soldiers, firefighters etc at least not on the same scale and with the same intensity. I like your blog. I seek it out and read it. But it’s not a mass marketed mainstream publication (neither is reason btw) and I defy you to find me three that call for sacking bad cops/soldiers/firefighters etc etc.

  20. #20 |  albatross | 


    One huge benefit all private schools have is the demonstrated willingness of the parents to spend their own money on their kids’ education. That surely correlates with willingness to make your kids do their homework, emphasizing the importance (to both their long-term well-being, and to their short-term comfort) of your kids doing well in school, willingness to teach your kids on your own time when they seem receptive, etc.

    There’s one really critical benefit of parental happiness–it’s surely going to be positively correlated with kids’ happiness. If your kid is miserable in his current school, the ability to move him is a big win.

  21. #21 |  albatross | 


    That only works if you assume the school administrators are trying to maximize quality. If they’re trying to minimize costs, they’ll prefer the cheaper, less-competent teachers.

  22. #22 |  BoogaFrito | 

    Administrators, competent or not don’t have time or resources that would be de riguer in a private business.

    Yeah, I’ve always thought the real problem with public schools was not enough administrators.

  23. #23 |  BoogaFrito | 

    But it’s not a mass marketed mainstream publication (neither is reason btw) and I defy you to find me three that call for sacking bad cops/soldiers/firefighters etc etc.

    Is the idea that any publication not writing an article directly stating “We need to fire bad cops!” is implicitly advocating bad cops not be fired?

  24. #24 |  Marty | 

    ‘If your kid is miserable in his current school, the ability to move him is a big win.’


  25. #25 |  Justthisguy | 

    @#68 luvzbob: Actually had we stayed out of WWI, it’s very likely WWII wouldn’t have happened. I think Britain would have been better off staying out of WWI, too. Goddamn you, Woodrow Wilson and that Sir Henry Wilson.

    Used to be, America was the friend of liberty everywhere, and the guardians only of our own. I am among those who believe the rot set in with the arrival of the “’48ers” from Germany. Busybody socialists that they were, they were a big influence in the founding of the Republican party, the original busybody nationalizing centralizing party. I do sometimes think that the 1924 immigration law was about 100 years too late.

  26. #26 |  Z | 

    73: If a publication (ny post leaps to mind) relentlessly (and rightly in my view) calls for firing bad teachers but can’t bring themselves to say the same about cops, an argument can be made that they are implicitly accepting of these cops yes. The media is essentially propaganda and whose water it chooses to carry often speaks volumes.

  27. #27 |  MPH | 

    Cops & red lights…

    While working in Connecticut some years ago I watched a marked police car, with a man driving and a woman in the passenger seat, BOTH in civilian clothing, turn right on a red light to get on an I95 entrance ramp without signaling or stopping, without either emergency lights or siren on.

    However, in the defense of CT police, another time, at the same exit, at the end of the exit ramp, I had stopped in the right lane of the two left turn lanes for a light that had just turned red, and 4 cars that were behind me in the leftmost left turn lane ran the red light. First in line on the cross street was a marked police car, and I know he had to wait beyond getting the green light for these 4 morons to finish running the red. But he did not pursue any of them.

    I guess, in CT, the police think running reds is OK as long as no accident occurs. But at least, in my anecdotal example, the police behavior was consistent – civilians weren’t ticketed for doing what the police do.

  28. #28 |  MPH | 

    Firing bad teachers.

    The problem with the “public school system” isn’t tenure, the retention of bad teachers, fudging test scores, etc. These are all symptoms. You might be able to get rid of the bad apples today, but tomorrow, they’ll start creeping back in.

    The underlying problem with public schools is that parents do not pay the full costs of their children’s education. That is why private schools do well. Parents know that not only are they paying their share to send their kids to public school, they’re paying the full cost to send their kids to private school, and they demand value for their money.

    With public education, the discount is HUGE for the parent. Less than 50% of households have kids under 18 in them. And of course, some of those kids will be “pre-school”, and not in public schools. So if we assume that households with and without children pay the same amount of taxes to support public education, parents see a 50% discount on their children’s education costs, if they only have 1 kid. A 2 kid family sees a 75% discount. So the incentives in public education are perverse – the more kids you have, the bigger the discount (because people aren’t taxed for education based on the number of kids they have).

    Want to fix education? Get the government out of funding it or providing it. That means no taxpayer funded vouchers. No government employed teachers. Have parents pay the costs of their kids’ educations. Allow people to set up scholarship funds, or otherwise pay for education without tax liability on the part of the recipients (or their parents), so those who want to help others pay their kids education bills can do so with minimal fuss.

    You can bet your butt that when parents pay the full costs of their kids education, more of them will pay attention to what they’re getting (you’ll never get 100% parental participation in kid’s education until we can somehow prevent people from breeding who wouldn’t be interested – and I wouldn’t want to live in a country that even attempted to do that).

  29. #29 |  akb4189 | 

    That Stalin book looks like self-torture to me. I know Stalin’s bad – every bit as bad as Hitler and perhaps then some by reasonable metrics. Reading the details of what some people were debased to under these horrifying cicumstances? No thanky…

  30. #30 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    MPH, good post. I wish more parents could experience a private school so they could compare, contrast, and then get bat-shit angry in demanding change at public schools.

    I love my kids’ private school.

  31. #31 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    @#75 Justthisguy,
    It is interesting that proponents of state violence and wars always point to a specific issue (WWII and Hitler) and claim a certain action was needed. Yet, they seem to never discuss the errors that led up to the specific issue (raping of Germany after WWI and many other things).

    We did it again with 9/11 of course. Every good American knows the US was minding its own bidness when out of the blue we were attacked. No history existed prior to 9/11.

    Not a good recipe for improvement.

  32. #32 |  Evidence Of Control, Rosenbaum on Snyder on Stalin | 

    […] in the popular imagination. Posted 10 minutes ago Tagged: history, fascism, communism, . Source: A euphemism for […]

  33. #33 |  M. Simon | 

    Every good American knows the US was minding its own bidness when out of the blue we were attacked. No history existed prior to 9/11.

    And of course the fact that Islam has been at war with other religions for 1400 years and (off and on) with the US since before 1800 is a very good history to ignore. It doesn’t fit the narrative.