Morning Links

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011
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83 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  qwints | 

    Small point – should be “U.S. company assisting” not ‘assistant.’

  2. #2 |  Dante | 

    Regarding cops who speed and run red lights, and then try to weasel out of the ticket:

    “Maybe there’s a reason why the officer wasn’t going to a call, still went through a red light and was still doing his job,” Cherry said. “The last thing we want to do is Monday-morning quarterback from headquarters or from the courts. I don’t want to limit our front-line officers in making decisions when their goal is to make the public safe.”

    Almost too easy, but here goes: If the police are truely concerned with keeping the public safe, they shouldn’t speed and run red lights. We (the public) just want to go home to our families at the end of the day.

    Just doing my job.

  3. #3 |  SamK | 

    I suppose I now have a reason to actually like red light cameras . I did enjoy some of the excuses in the article, which basically boiled down to “but I was going somewhere for work!”…wish that worked for me. Seems to be clear we’re talking about non-emergency, non-response issues where the cop is just driving illegally. I’m not-so-strangely ok with ticketing that.

  4. #4 |  Elroy | 

    Regarding camera cops, I am certain local governments will act to grant protections for police and emergency personel as soon as possible. After all they are not the target of these revenue generating programs and they are important allies.

  5. #5 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    The Police/Traffic Cameras story reminds me of something I’ve been watching for ever since these cameras started to become widespread; Legislators can’t have it both ways with these things. They can’t post a road 25MPH to please the homeowners and then fail to enforce it to please the drivers. So, if they jump on the Camera Bandwagon, they will have to make sure that the speed limits and stop lights that the Cameras enforce impose limits that the public will tolerate.

  6. #6 |  Z | 

    Re the reason article:It is a legitimate question. I never hear about firing bad cops but firing teachers is all the rage now. Altho recently there have been rumblings about reforming cushy overtime, pension and disability perks like the ones that allowed Johnny “Iron Lungs” McLaughlin, a one time firefighter, to retire on disability due to a bad lung and then spend his spare time winning marathons.

  7. #7 |  André | 

    In Re: Rye Whiskey

    I finally made bacon bourbon this year for the superbowl. It was amazing. Thank you, Radley.

  8. #8 |  misterMania | 

    I really wish you would go into more detail on your links such as ‘Obama keeps journalist in jail.’ For one he’s an anti-American journalist. An anti-American journalist who has connections with many radical Muslim extremists and Al Qaeda. He’s not some poor little journalist who’s been wrongfully imprisoned because he spoke up against government oppression. Don’t fool your readers Radley, at least admit the journalist is anti-American scum who would like nothing more than to see American soldiers die.

    Let him rot.

  9. #9 |  jppatter | 

    <blockquote?I don’t want to limit our front-line officers in making decisions when their goal is to make the public safe.

    Bonus points for use of the paramilitary “front-line” adjective. But yeah, this is the first article about red light cameras that made me kind of laugh.

    Brian Greene is a rock star.

  10. #10 |  jppatter | 

    Ugh, HTML typos. Fail!

  11. #11 |  Mario | 

    [I]t’s worth asking advocates for dismissal of incompetent teachers whether they think that teachers are the only underperforming public-sector workers. Do they also favor more dismissals of subpar police officers and firefighters?

    I don’t know the motivation behind this quote, though having taught briefly in public schools, and having a girlfriend who still teaches in a public school, I’ve said the same thing myself. Ultimately, I’m for complete privatization of education; but in the meantime, I’m what some people might consider a bit sensitive, here’s why.

    In my opinion, people are particularly critical of the schools and the pay that teachers receive, in part, because their school district receives funding through local taxes which are voted on every year. People see the money coming right out of their pockets in a way different than they do the money that funds the under-performing police, the pothole-ridden highways, and the redundant and inefficient civil service workers.

    I would have everything, as much as possible, funded by local taxes that are voted on every year. Let people feel the pinch as readily as possible, and let them see who’s doing the pinching.

    And while we’re at it, end payroll deductions as well.

  12. #12 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “never hear about firing bad cops but firing teachers is all the rage now.”

    It’s has to do with the idea that bad cops is a redundancy. These public servants were once the guys you called to help get a kitten out of a tree. Now it’s all about being the biggest baddest gang in town. And if a few of them accidentally get caught on tape kicking and punching a teenager, well, you know, they were just “bad apples.”

  13. #13 |  Radley Balko | 

    I never hear about firing bad cops but firing teachers is all the rage now.

    First, “firing bad teachers” is a self-evidently sensible position. I don’t understand why someone who makes a self-evidently sensible argument must prove that they’re willing to buy into some other position that you feel is related in order for you to take them seriously. It’s this whole attacking the messenger thing again. Is firing bad teachers a good or a bad idea? If you think it’s a good idea, then we should fire bad teachers. If you think it’s a bad idea to fire bad teachers, then I’m not sure there’s much more to discuss.

    Second, if you “never hear” anyone advocate firing bad cops, then you haven’t been reading very many libertarian publications.

  14. #14 |  Mattocracy | 

    “Obama intervenes to keep a Yemeni journalist in jail.”

    How dare you critisize our great leader. He promised he wasn’t gonna be like George Bush. We’ve always been at war with Eurasia!.

  15. #15 |  Mattocracy | 

    #8 | misterMania |

    It remarkable foolish to believe what you wrote. “He’s anti-Amreican! I mean just look, the government said so!”

    Just because our government has made the accusation doesn’t mean it’s true. Our government has been known to lie it’s ass off to cover up it’s misdeeds.

    In fact, the article pretty much makes it clear that’s what’s happening with this guy. He is that poor journalist that is imprisoned for reporting about government oppression.

  16. #16 |  SJE | 

    Cops and red light cameras:

    “In navigating the cumbersome system, the judges wrote, “the officers were no worse off than a regular citizen.”

    Now we know why they are pissed off.

  17. #17 |  FridayNext | 

    Of course we should fire sub-par teachers, firemen, and cops, but for me the issue is who gets to decide? The same ass hats enforcing those zero tolerance pill and weapons rules that get kids expelled for butter knives and ibuprofen (and chronicled at The Agitator), or the ones who call the cops to arrest a 9 year old for assault or to get 12 year-olds tazed for being “difficult” are the same people who do the sorting and rewarding. If my career were in the hands of one of those d-bags, I’d join a union too. No one else will have my back when I start teaching controversial topics like evolution and the cause of the Civil War was slavery.

  18. #18 |  Tweets that mention Morning Links | The Agitator -- Topsy.com | 

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by FoxArtCultTech and Gangsters In Blue, teaist ats. teaist ats said: Morning Links http://bit.ly/hZGJzH http://t.tatsn.com/n […]

  19. #19 |  Mario | 

    The problem with schools is the same problem with any non-profit enterprise. How are we going to identify the bad teachers in an objective manner? By the performance of their students on state tests? By the evaluation of their principals?

    I’ve taught in public schools, and I know plenty of public school teachers. State tests are a joke. They’re rigged. The scoring is massaged to create whatever kind of result the politicians want. As to administrators, plenty of them are incompetent. Often, they’re former gym teachers or “business” teachers, at least in the schools I’m familiar with. They play favorites, and their favorites are the teachers who spare them the most paperwork and trouble with parents: in other words, teachers who make problems “go away.”

    I know for a fact that the teachers I know don’t agree with me when I suggest that the entire public school system be ended, or at the very least replaced with a very unrestricted voucher system; but if you’re going to reform public schools, how do you do it?

    We imagine that the “bad teachers” will be gotten rid of. Believe me, I have seen bad teachers. They should be fired, immediately.Nevertheless, what I think is far more likely to happen is that good teachers will either leave the profession, be forced out unfairly, or will never enter the profession to begin with.

    Bad teachers are a problem. However, I don’t think they’re the only problem, or even the main one.

  20. #20 |  daveadams | 

    My wife recently brought home some Traminette from Tonne Winery in Muncie that was excellent. I am looking forward to trying some others.

  21. #21 |  Gaunilo | 

    For those with any illusions left about Stalin and his inner circle’s direct involvement in the genocide in Ukraine, please read Stalin In the Court of the Red Tzar (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400042305/theagitator-20/. Any warm fuzzies you may have left for the noble Commies will be quite worn away.

  22. #22 |  André | 

    Also, if it takes revolting cops to kill red light cameras, I’ll accept that.

    (“You said it! They stink on ice!”)

  23. #23 |  random guy | 

    My god, the cannibalism article. For anyone who skipped over it, read the first link in the last point of Radley’s post.

    I wish I could go back in time with that book and have all those conversations with the college Marxists over again. I knew of the starvation campaigns but I had no idea just how monstrous they were. The notion that the Soviet Union was in any way distinct from the Nazi regime in its capacity for evil is completely delusional.

  24. #24 |  thom | 

    The Sun also did a piece just on professional courtesy that ran shortly after the red light piece:

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/commuting/bs-md-dresser-getting-there-02-09-20110204,0,353880.story

  25. #25 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    at least admit the journalist is anti-American scum who would like nothing more than to see American soldiers die.

    Uhm…
    1. get out of their country
    2. stop killing and torturing their people
    3. stop propping up thug dictators
    4. stop spreading corn if you don’t like the chickens coming home to roost

  26. #26 |  Big A | 

    Regarding the red light camera article- thought Officer Cherry’s quote was interesting. “…[we don’t want our boys to have to worry about stopping for red lights]… when their goal is to *make* the public safe” (emphasis added). Usually, the phrase is ‘keep the public safe’ as in, it’s not so dangerous out there and the police are there to keep it that way. But to ‘make’ the public safe sounds either like the cops have a lot of clean up to do, or citizens are largely unsafe and should be guided toward safety (you know, for their own good). Just wondering if his wording was a slip-up or if this is how police are viewed now.

  27. #27 |  Joe | 

    I hate red light cameras, but I do feel a sense of schadenfreude over cops getting nailed by them.

  28. #28 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    random guy,
    There was an excellent thread on reddit along the lines of “Who has the most suffering?” Some good Int’l comments about Japan, Russia, Nazis, etc. The Holocaust was not a unique event. This is where anarchists can point out only State’s can murder like this. Post-Revolution Russia wiped out millions of their own people and then also a lot of neighbors (Poland remembers).

    Some Chinese posts mention that Japan is their Nazi Germany and the Holocaust has nothing on their dead.

    You go thru life and learn about these events and then you get reminded just how horrible they are again.

    Rant: Most every instance the USG pops up, publicly condemns the murderers, and then pours over the notes to learn secrets while safe-housing many of the leaders (to learn from them).

  29. #29 |  Joe | 

    Now we need a few politicians to get nailed by these cameras and they might actually get booted.

  30. #30 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Fat fingered an apostrophe there.

  31. #31 |  Joe | 

    Boyd Durkin, the Sopranos did an episode where all the characters got in arguments over which of their relatives had it worst. Very funny.

  32. #32 |  Curt | 

    Just to be clear about cops caught on camera, the cop is risking the safety of other drivers to “make the public safe”. That public safety is being assured by responding to “emergencies”(note that this is in quotes in the article). And what are the examples of emergencies… “a guy on the next block had a gun or was selling drugs.”

    Not just is this bad reason to run a red-light without putting his flashing lights on, it would be a bad reason to screw up traffic for a few seconds and run a red-light even with his flashing lights on.

  33. #33 |  Brandon | 

    MisterMania, if you read the article, it says that the accusations Shaye made about the US were correct. and provable. This is a case of our government requesting that another government hold one of its citizens on sham charges because releasing him would embarass our government. And you think that that is justified because he is “Anti-American?” Seriously?

  34. #34 |  luvzbob | 

    “Bad teachers are a problem. However, I don’t think they’re the only problem, or even the main one.”

    Correct, the problem is the average teachers, even the good teachers aren’t good enough. Its not a few bad teachers.

    What’s the problem? Consider the management structure of your average school: 1 or 2 administrators manages a staff of 40-80 and 400 to 1500 kids. Management ratios are often 40:1 instead of 10:1 (or less) in the private sector. These are impossible management ratios, and the entire layer of middle management, which the private sector relies on to ensure quality and performance, is absent from scools. Administrators, competent or not don’t have time or resources that would be de riguer in a private business.

  35. #35 |  Radley Balko | 

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

    I don’t think resources are the problem. The average public school spends twice as much money per student as the average private school.

  36. #36 |  luvzbob | 

    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. More good teachers will lose their jobs if tenure goes than bad teachers.

    I have a relative who worked for an insurer (no tenure protection) who was fired without cause (after 15 years of good performance reviews) 4 months before he became eligible for retirement benefits from the company.

  37. #37 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Re; the firing of “bad” teachers, and who gets to decide which ones are bad…..

    The core problem with the public schools is that the trust that parents once had for their local schools is broken. One can have all kinds of opinions as to why, but the fact remains that the trust is gone. It really seems to me that every idiocy I hear about from the schools comes back to this problem, or somebody’s boneheaded attempt to deal with said problem. And I don’t see any way to fix it short of widespread use of vouchers.

    Zero tolerance policies? Parents don’t trust teachers to use judgement, and sue when they do. Asinine hiring and firing policies? Parents don’t trust administrators to use judgement, and so benchmarks are imposed on matters that aren’t readily measured by benchmarks.

  38. #38 |  luvzbob | 

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

    I don’t think resources are the problem. The average public school spends twice as much money per student as the average private school.”

    The milwaukee voucher study conclusively showed that private schools don’t do a better job than public schools with the same students. Further the public school doesn’t spend any more on the median student than the private school- but public schools spend considerably more on disabled, english language learning, or other challenged students that private schools DON”T have to deal with. You need to look up the facts about what goes on in schools before making blanket statements. Private schools spend less because they get to choose their students and avoid the expensive ones – in general they focus on a much less diverse population with a narrower range of needs – it is a much easier and less expensive task.

    Besides, that is irrelevant – 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?

  39. #39 |  luvzbob | 

    Question: does your local school district have a Quality department? If it does, how does it compare in size to a similarily sized private professional service company in your area. If it doesn’t, can you find a similiarily sized private company that doesn’t have a Quality department?

  40. #40 |  Radley Balko | 

    Further the public school doesn’t spend any more on the median student than the private school- but public schools spend considerably more on disabled, english language learning, or other challenged students that private schools DON”T have to deal with.

    Citation? In D.C. switching from mean to median actually increases the public vs. private disparity.

    http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/the-real-cost-of-public-schools/

    The Milwaukee study was based on standardized test scores, which measure little more than how well students take standardized tests. (Hey, even the teachers unions agree on this.) If you look at parental satisfaction (as in the D.C. program), parents of former public school kids were much happier with the private schools. And in fact were pretty pissed off when Congress and Obama killed the program.

  41. #41 |  Brandon | 

    You mean the study that said voucher schools produced higher graduation rates? Do any of your monikers use legitimate arguments? The primary criticism of the Milwaukee voucher program was that it didn’t go far enough. And you think the answer is to throw more money at status-quo administration?

  42. #42 |  luvzbob | 

    Also, your statement that private schools spend less, is false:

    http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2010/02/20/stossel-coulson-misinformation-on-private-vs-public-school-costs/

    And parental satisfaction is a worse measure than standardized testing.

    Besides, that is irrelevant – 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? WHy do you avoid answering this question?

  43. #43 |  luvzbob | 

    Actually the study showed parity between public and private schools: http://www.jsonline.com/news/education/29543004.html

  44. #44 |  luvzbob | 

    “And you think the answer is to throw more money at status-quo administration?”

    No, I think the answer is to take the lessons we know about private sector management and apply it to school management. Make schools look like private sector management structures.

  45. #45 |  Brandon | 

    Why is parental satisfaction a worse measure than standardized testing?

  46. #46 |  Marty | 

    in most of the St. Louis area, cops monitor the red light cameras to determine if a ticket is ‘justifiable’. amazingly, in these areas, cops never run red lights… neither do politicians…

  47. #47 |  Brian | 

    Damn it Balko! How dare you not inform your readers that a link is about someone who is anti-American.

    #8 misterMania,

    So in your world the US government has the right to demand that a Yemeni citizen, in Yemen (who’s only real crime is exposing the US government for the murdering, hypocritical shitbags they are), be locked up. And you justify this because he’s “anti-American”?

    Oh, I know our gummint accused him of being a friend to crazy islamists or what not but did they provide any proof? Probably the same proof they have provided for all the guys they still have locked up in Cuba they put on trial. Oh wait. There haven’t been any trials because there is no proof.

    Lemme guess, you voted for W 2x? You may be more comfortable reading RedState.

  48. #48 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Obama intervenes to keep a Yemeni journalist in jail.

    The hypocrisy with regard to stuff like this is stunning. U.S. politicians and the media would have a field day if some foreign head of state tried to interfere in our justice system. Remember a few years ago when there was concern that the Chinese were trying to influence our elections? Basically, the attitude was “How dare they!”, while at the same time we think nothing of supporting corrupt foreign regimes and forcing others we dislike from office.

    Luckily for us, no one notices how two-faced we are, so the citizens of those countries we’ve treated that way still love us for our uncompromising integrity and our absolute respect for their sovereignty.

  49. #49 |  Mario | 

    The core problem with the public schools is that the trust that parents once had for their local schools is broken.

    I’ll go further: the core problem is that the trust that (good) parents had in parents (in general) is broken. There are far fewer parents nowadays, though there are plenty of indulgent “I-want-to-be-my-child’s-friend” types, or amoral “my-child-can-do-no-wrong” types, or assorted, irresponsible baby mommas and baby daddies “raising” children.

    The most powerful tool for reform would be to have the parents of well-behaved students who come from home that care about education find and get to know one another. They ought to ask their kids who the other good kids are, find their parents on Facebook, and “friend” them.

    Our culture has slipped to the point where all sorts of disruptive behavior is tolerated because of craven administrators in a sue-crazy society where every little deviant claims some sort of protected status from his “disability.” We don’t need more than 180 days of school — we need to start getting some of these days back from the miscreants robbing students who want to learn and demoralizing teachers who want to teach.

    What goes on the kids think is normal and the parents are ignorant of.

  50. #50 |  luvzbob | 

    First of all standardized testing is not a bad measure of progress – if well designed. The WKCE (used in milwaukee) has its issues, but its a pretty good status measure in certain core areas for elementary students. It does math pretty well. Research shows that Average standardized ACT or SAT scores for a school are well correlated with the average success of the students from that school in college.

    On the other hand parental satisfaction has no evidence that it correlates well with any achievement measures.

  51. #51 |  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.

  52. #52 |  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.

  53. #53 |  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.

  54. #54 |  Nando | 

    Radley,

    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.

  55. #55 |  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?

  56. #56 |  J sub D | 

    Obama intervenes to keep a Yemeni journalist in jail.

    Hope! Change! Meet the new boss …

  57. #57 |  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.

  58. #58 |  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.

  59. #59 |  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.

  60. #60 |  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….”

  61. #61 |  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

  62. #62 |  perlhaqr | 

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

  63. #63 |  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?”

  64. #64 |  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.

  65. #65 |  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.

  66. #66 |  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

  67. #67 |  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.”

  68. #68 |  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-

  69. #69 |  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.

  70. #70 |  albatross | 

    luvzbob:

    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.

  71. #71 |  albatross | 

    SJE:

    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.

  72. #72 |  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.

  73. #73 |  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?

  74. #74 |  Marty | 

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

    exactly!

  75. #75 |  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.

  76. #76 |  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.

  77. #77 |  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.

  78. #78 |  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).

  79. #79 |  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…

  80. #80 |  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.

  81. #81 |  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.

  82. #82 |  Evidence Of Control, Rosenbaum on Snyder on Stalin | 

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

  83. #83 |  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.

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