Archive for February 2011

Save Texas Schools

February 26, 2011

The Texas education system – public schools as well as institutions of higher learning – is in a crisis. The state’s budget deficit is so great that this year’s legislature is considering cutting the state’s education budget by $4.8 billion. In fact, the Texas Education Agency has already begun laying off personnel.

Local public school districts are cutting their budgets. Austin Independent School District has already laid-off 1,000 employess and Dallas ISD may lay-off as many as 4,000 people. One district that I am very familiar with is planning to cut its budget by $2.5 million to $5 million starting this school year

The effects of such measures are disasterous. Budget cuts mean fewer personnel to take care of the business of educating our children, increased unemployment numbers, larger classroom sizes, greater teacher-student ratios, greater teaching challenges, fewer programs and extra-curricular activities, and the closing of facilities. The list could go on, but the point is that the current economic crisis that our nation and states are in the midst of is having a disasterous effect on our children, their education, and their families.

But, if there is a positive note about all of this, it is that people are responding in growing numbers to the decisions and actions that state legislatures are taking to reduce public services like education and healthcare programs. People are rallying, gathering, and protesting against such actions when state legislatures could take other steps to address state budget spend-and-cut measures.

One such action is a “Save Texas Schools” rally that is going to take place in Austin, Texas on Saturday, March 12.

Save Texas Schools will hold a rally and march at the State Capitol on March 12, 2011. We are expecting thousands of parents, teachers, students, community members, business owners, and faith organizations to attend. And we need YOU there with us!

The proposed legislative cuts to public education funding are unacceptable. Texas – we deserve better. If you agree, stand with us at the capitol on March 12 to say YES to a strong public education system that supports our children, our communities and our future.”

Join thousands of other Texans who will gather at the Texas State capitol on March 12 to let our voices be heard when we say, Save Texas Schools!

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A “Working Man” Salute To the Workers of Wisconsin

February 18, 2011

If you have been listening to or watching the news the past several days, you know that Wisconsin’s public sector unions and workers are being targeted by the governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, and the Republican Senate  in an austerity assault to combat that state’s budget woes.

Austerity is an attempt to bring the state’s economy and budget under control by limiting unions in their activities, rights, and benefits and cutting the budgets of public services which means reducing aid and assistance for those who need it the most. At the same, the austerity assault refuses to impose a progressive income tax on the wealthy and corporations, close loop holes that serve the rich and corporations, and cut spending in other budget line items that are superfluous.

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Wisconsin Workers, We Salute You

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Yesterday, 30,000 people gathered at the Wisconsin State capital to express their opposition to Governor Walker’s attempts to restrict the activities of the state’s public sector unions, Democratic senators fled the state to avoid a Senate vote on the issue, and teachers walked out of schools and called in sick to join the protest.

Wisconsin’s attempt to restrict union activity and impose austerity cuts in the budget is only the first of what will prove to be many state austerity campaigns over the next several months. (We are also seeing it at the federal level.)

Join the people of Wisconsin, growing numbers of others around the country, and me as we support unions and public sector workers – teachers, fire fighters, law enforcement personnel, nurses, and others – as they take a stand for their rights as working men and women.

Education Budget Cuts and A Hippo

February 15, 2011

A Texas school district will soon trademark its mascot, a hippopotamus, in an effort to generate money to help finance itself as the state prepares to reduce its education budget by $4.8 billion over the next two years.

You can read about the Texas education budget cuts and the negative effect it is having on Texas school districts in the New York Times article, “Aid Cuts Have Texas Schools Scrambling to Find Cash,” here.

Public Education: Target of Austerity Programs

February 13, 2011

Public education is a target of the big business-government austerity war that is currently being waged against public services in our nation. Other targets include health care and public sector unions.

My children attend public schools in our community, will probably attend public schools of higher education, and I work as a para-professional at the local high school during the school year, August-May. (During the summer I am not employed with the school system and have to scramble for employment, usually, construction work).

Because of our relationship to public education, I am very concerned about the education system, our public schools, their employees, and their future.

Today, I received an email from Labor Notes and was pleased to discover that their February issue contains a special series of articles entitled School Wars: A Labor Notes Special Report. I have not had an opportunity to read all of the articles contained in this month’s issue but want to share them with you.

If you are concerned about education, the current economic condition of our nation, and the big business-government assault on public services and public sector unions and workers, I encourage you to read the Labor Notes articles.

Boycott JP Morgan Chase Banks

February 10, 2011

In 2007, the Chairman and CEO of JP Morgan Chase Banks, James Dimon, received $25 million in salary and benefits. When the United States government was giving bail-out money to banks and other giant corporations, JP Morgan Chase received $25 billion dollars.

The other day, a friend wrote me a check for $100 on his Chase Bank account. When I went to his bank to cash the check, they wanted to charge me a $6.00 cashing fee because we do not have an account at Chase. I thought to myself, “Don’t they already have enough money?” I said, “No thank, you” and walked out of the bank lobby with the check in my hand.

Now, if all of the above is not enough to make me wonder about what is going on in our big-business world, and with Chase, in particular, ABC News had a disturbing report about JP Morgan Chase and its financial practices on their evening broadcast last night (2.9.11).

It was reported that Chase Bank has been violating federal banking laws that prevent banking institutions from taking advantage of United States military personnel when they are serving our country – which includes the Chase enterprise – in dangerous places, or any place for that matter. These violations included exceeding  a 6 percent cap on the mortgage interest rates of active duty service men and women and foreclosing on homes while many service  personnel were and are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While JP Morgan Chase has issued a public apology for such unexcusable conduct, this is a simply a case of their “hand getting caught in the cookie jar.”

I would encourage you to read and view the ABC report  here. And, if you bank at Chase Banks or have one of their credit cards, let me strongly encourage you to change banks and get another credit card to express your contempt over their banking practices.  And,when you do, be sure and tell them why you are doing it.

Democracy or Plutocracy?

February 3, 2011

Democracy: “government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them.”

Plutocracy: ” the rule or power of wealth or of the wealthy.”

So what’s it going to be? Democracy of Plutocracy?

I found the very interesting comparison chart below on the truth-out website. It was posted January 28, 2011

Democracy of Plutocracy? A Chart

DEMOCRACY PLUTOCRACY
We, the People Wealthy Few
One Person One Vote One Dollar One Vote
Government Limited Government
Majority Supermajority
Information Propaganda
Taxes on the Wealthy Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
Budgets Budget Cuts
Jobs programs Bank Bailouts
Welfare Warfare
Express Lanes for 2 or More People Express Lanes for 2 or More Dollars
Security Lines at Airports Special First-Class Security Lanes at Airports
Public Schools Private Schools
Public Investment Private Investment

Updates

Public Transportation            Private Jets
Accountability Impunity
Rule Of Law Above The Law
Transparency Secrecy
Sustainable growth Polluter Growth
Medicare-For-All Healthcare For Profit
Clean Elections Rigged Elections
Savings Accounts Offshore Accounts
Credit Card Debt Credit Default Swaps
Union members Serfs
Layoffs Payoffs
Homies Cronies
Grassroots Astroturf
Pensions 401Ks
Honest Brokers Self-Interest
Free Will At Will
Citizen Consumer
Citizen Employee
Participant Observer
Actor Acted On
Doer Done To
Majorities Markets