Why Betsy DeVos Could Be Awesome for America

We all saw it. What an awful committee hearing. Betsy DeVos’ confirmation session looked more like a Comedy Central celebrity roast with zero jokes and Elizabeth Warren doing her best Jeff Ross routine. No one exited that hearing feeling good about themselves – Democrats, Republicans, Independents, the stray cat scavenging the Capitol dumpster – no one. And now Jeff Ross feels equally insulted, too. Sorry, Roastmaster.

But now that it’s all passed, why don’t we talk about why Betsy DeVos could be a GOOD thing for America. Yes, you heard me correctly. Why?  Let’s start with the obvious question: How much worse can it get?  If you really think about it, the answer is, “Not much.” American education is in the shitter. The proof? Read on.

The United States dumps 5.5% of its GDP into education. Not bad, when you look at other nations.

education

As a matter of fact, if you were to look at this, you’d think we’re right in line with several other countries.

And you’d be completely wrong.

This is what the exact same six nations look like when we compare actual educational spend.

educationspendBoy-howdy! With that much investment, we should be churning out cures for cancers every other week! Of that $1.07 TRILLION, the federally funded portion is responsible for about 10%, with the other 90% being coming from the states and localities. As a matter of fact, federal spending has increased consistently since the Department of Education was founded in 1979. Today’s level of spending is, after inflation, 374% higher than it was in 1979, but since the establishment of the Department of Education, grades have improved less than 2%. More on that later.

First, let’s take a peek at what our money is buying us, courtesy of the Programme for International Student Assessment, the world’s foremost assessment of educational quality.

usaedu

Well, shit. That’s not what we wanted to see, is it? Unbelievable. 60% of us basking in white privilege and we still can’t beat the Brits. Screw it. At least we have better teeth. And if you happen to be a sapiosexual with an Asian fetish, just take a minute to stare at the chart. Enjoy it…. ooohhh yeah.

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Whew.. alright.. back to serious stuff. Let’s have a chat about how this all ties into Betsy.

Her critics (especially Elizabeth Warren) have often complained of three things:

  1. Betsy supports school vouchers.
  2. Betsy supports the privatization of education.
  3. Betsy has no educational leadership experience.

When taking it at face value, #3 there seems to be a big bugaboo for dear Betsy. I mean, would you go to the proctologist to get your teeth cleaned? Maybe if you were talking out of your ass, but that’s for another post on a different site. Look, I cannot defend those who have concerns over point #3, but here’s the deal; it may not matter. Sure, the concern is valid when you consider the education system staying in its current form, but here’s a newsflash for those not paying attention: schooling in the United States may be about to change, big league. Betsy may try to take the purchasing power of education out of the hands of the government and put it in the hands of the parents.

What the HELL does that mean? Maybe the Democrats have a good reason to freak out!

What it means is that we could soon be living in a world where schools are forced to compete with one another for funding. How’s that? Because instead of taking your tax dollars and allocating them for you, the government will give you a voucher for education and let you decide which school is going to get your money. That’s a system where the parents decide who gets funding and the money goes directly to the school. Imagine the systemic change that could occur in the very near future. What could it look like?

Picture the following:

How would school change for the teachers?

Better schools are going to be better because they employ better teachers and give them better pay. Shitty teachers will no longer be able to hide behind their seniority levels, and new teachers will no longer have to wait several years to feel like they have job security. In short: Teachers will be better, better teachers will be rewarded, and teachers will make a salary that reflects their performance instead of their seniority.

How would school change for poor people?

A voucher system means that areas where the population is most dense (inner cities) will have the most vouchers (read: funding) to invest in education. Instead of the Department of Education wasting millions of dollars giving poor kids iPads that don’t help them, parents can take that same funding and invest it in the teachers. Poor people with poor schools will finally have the power to provide themselves with a quality education.

How would school change for wealthy people?

It wouldn’t.

What impact would it have on the quality of education?

Before we can answer that question, we need to understand the current state of our education system. Brace yourselves: It ain’t pretty.

In aggregate, American high school seniors are proficient in math at an embarrassing rate of 26%. To go along with that, they are competent in reading at a still-embarrassing rate of 38%. Unfortunately, only 38% of Americans are able to read those results, and only 26% of Americans actually understand them.

nae

Among races, white people are proficient in math and reading at the rates of 33% and 47%, respectively. Black people yield the lowest proficiency at rates of 7% and 16%, which an indication of the shamefully bad schools found in Americas inner cities and a truly perfect explanation for President Trump’s campaign question, “What the hell do you have to lose?” Lastly, Asians come in the best shape, with proficiency rates in math and reading of 47% in each category. I argue that Asians would’ve had a higher proficiency in reading, but for many, Engrish is a second language – so let’s cut them some slack.

How does that look compared to the rest of the global average? Well, not as bad as you’d think. The US is actually above average in science but lags in both mathematics and reading (shown below). The problem? Americans shouldn’t be happy with being “average,” especially with its current price tag. 

overallaverage

Here are some quotes from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“While the U.S. spends more per student than most countries, this does not translate into better performance. For example, the Slovak Republic, which spends around USD 53 000 per student, performs at the same level as the United States, which spends over USD 115 000 per student.”

Key Findings 2012

So, how is it that we can invest as much as we do in education, and the best we can eek out on the global scale is “average” or “below average”? The answer lies in how our education system is designed.

The American education system is designed to make as many students graduate as possible.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Yeah, that’s what the Democrats want you to think. The concept I just mentioned is a fantastic end-goal, but it skips out on all the details. The system isn’t designed to produce top performers, it’s designed to keep low performers from failing.

“No child left behind? Wasn’t too long ago you were talking about giving children a head start. Head start? Left behind? Someone’s losing fucking ground.” – George Carlin

Look at the conceptual bell curve shown below. The vertical line represents proficiency, and the orange curve represents the student population. Our education system is designed to squeeze that curve towards the middle, and success is measured not by the quality of education received or the brilliant minds produced, but by the mere number of people walking out the door with a diploma.

current

Doesn’t sound that great anymore, does it?

The acceptance of that truth allows us to realize a number of other issues.

  1. Students are being taught for a test. Instead of allowing teachers to focus on topics that interest students or even themselves, teachers and students alike have their passions taken away from them by the system which dictates what students must learn and when. Where a privatized solution would allow a high school student who is passionate about the arts to attend an arts school, public education requires that they focus on calculus. Tell me, when was the last time you benefited from taking the derivative of an equation?
  2. When students can’t make the grades, we just forget about it. In my home city, students are not actually allowed to fail anymore. Teachers are required to give them the minimum passing grade for all subjects, even if the students do absolutely none of their work. Sound anything like a participation trophy to you?
  3. While the current system does produce a higher number of graduates than other options, remember that it does so by squeezing the bell curve. Not only does that bring the lagging students up to the group, but it also brings the brilliant students down. We simply do not have a system that caters to advanced thinkers. When I was a child, my parents were so disgusted with the public school system that they had my teacher give me spelling tests that were several years above my grade level. That was in the 90’s. Today, it’s even worse.

Under a privatized system, we would witness the curve get wider. Admittedly, a privatized system will likely produce fewer graduates than the system we currently have; however, it will be more likely to produce top performers. Instead of a system that helps push students through like cattle, the system will be one that lets students get only what they earn. The blue line below represents this shift.

probably

You might find yourself asking, “If that’s the case, why are the Democrats freaking out?” To answer that, let’s take a look at what the Democrats claim will happen. If you want their reasons for why they think this way, I’m sure Occupy Democrats has some truly remarkable bullshit cooked up that will explain it. I’ll give the truthful reasons below.

what-dems-say

First, Democrats represent the interests of the teachers’ unions, and the teachers’ unions do not wholly represent the interests of the students. Secondly, a society of people who are educated enough to do the work and be productive but are too stupid to question the system is much easier to manipulate than a diverse society of brilliant thinkers and hard workers who understand that they reap only what they sow and that life awards no participation trophies. In other words, the socialized system generates votes for Democrats. Once again, for the Democrats, all it comes down to is votes.

Now, let’s tie it all together.

When the Democrats gripe that Betsy supports privatization and school vouchers, what they’re really doing is expressing their fear – their fear that she may very well push the United States in that direction and that the public may very well realize that it can work if we keep the government out of it. How do I know this? Because even Elizabeth Warren supports school vouchers!

“A taxpayer-funded voucher that paid the entire cost of educating a child (not just a partial subsidy) would open a range of opportunities to all children. With fully funded vouchers, parents of all income levels could send their children—and the accompanying financial support—to the schools of their choice.”

“An all-voucher system would be a shock to the educational system, but the shakeout might be just what the system needs.”

“Under a public school voucher program, parents, not bureaucrats, would have the power to pick schools for their children—and to choose which schools would get their children’s vouchers. Students would be admitted to a particular public school on the basis of their talents, their interests, or even their lottery numbers; their zip codes would be irrelevant.”

Elizabeth Warren, 2003

When I say that Betsy’s lack of educational experience may not truly matter, it’s because I sincerely hope that she decentralizes the education system altogether. If she distances government from the students, she distances herself from students, and that’s what needs to happen. Donald Trump owns golf courses – that doesn’t mean he needs to be a PGA pro. Betsy is in a truly perfect position to make a revolutionary change, and I think all Americans should rally behind her and see what happens.

If you’d like to see more material on this debate from a professional, here’s what Dinesh D’Souza has to say. Both of these videos are short, but brilliant.

Until next time,

TP

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A Millennial’s Point of View on Work

Greetings, folks! I’m changing gears today, thanks in part to hearing that Donald Trump wants to put an emphasis on vocational education – something I couldn’t support more. Before I start, however, I want to share a little background on my academic and professional qualifications that ultimately determine my perspective.

Simply put, I’m an academic, but I work in a world far from it. My undergraduate degree is in engineering. I majored in mining and minored in geology and green engineering. I also went on to get my MBA and was recognized then for my strengths in computational data extraction. When I graduated from college, my first job was working as a supervisor trainee in an underground coal mine south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Since that time, I’ve moved from coal to industrial minerals to precious metals and from the danger and the dirt to a corporate office. I’ve done all that in about six years. When people ask me, “What do you want to do in your career?” my response is pretty simple. “Keep climbing.” That said, I acknowledge only one path to success – that’s working hard and working honest.

Being an employee of the mining industry, I’ve witnessed things that truly fuel my fire – like Alpha Natural Resources CEO, Kevin Crutchfield, leading the charge to strip retirement and health benefits from former employees while giving himself multi-million dollar bonuses for things like driving a company into the ground. I keep thinking that maybe I’ll get the chance to stop people like him someday. Unfortunately, the more time I spend in the industry, the more I realize that the system caters largely to those who are willing to lie, cheat, and steal their way to the top. That’s not part of my modus operandi, so I guess I’ll either make it or get fired trying.

With all that said, I’m going to share something near and dear to my heart when it comes to the mining industry – or any other labor industry for that matter. Right now, the United States has approximately 3 million jobs open to be filled, and instead of having workers to take them, we have a generation of college graduates living at home with their parents. Why?

Because we told them that the government would give them money (that it didn’t have) to send them to college to get trained for jobs (that don’t exist), and now, they owe $1.3 trillion (that they can’t pay back). What has been done to the millennial generation  – my generation – is nothing less than the criminal theft of their pursuit of happiness, because hidden in our own country are 2.7 million jobs in vocational trades that require no college degree. I consider myself to be in a unique position because I’m both well educated and an employee of an industry suffering from this skills gap, and I know of the success that is hiding right in front of their faces.

One of the things I have been fortunate enough to do in my short career is give advice. I’ve spoken to school children about mining. I’ve given career advice to colleagues who are looking for help after the decline of the coal industry. I’ve gotten to talk to old friends who are now war veterans and try to help them make decisions on what to do with their lives moving forward. I’m by no means an expert, but my career field has blessed me with a unique perspective on the values of higher education and hard work, and let me tell you something:

Higher education is completely overvalued.

To the baby boomer generation, I want to say thank you. Thank you for telling your children that the only way your life could mean anything would be to go get a college degree. You have done an entire generation a huge disservice by failing to prepare them for the labor force and leaving them with the largest amount of debt in human history.

To the millennials, I want to say, look, if you are certain that your future lies in the world of academia, like I was, then by all means, go get that degree and make your living; however, let me give you one piece of advice: Don’t do it with debt. Degrees cost money, but education, like a library card, is free. Consider all options and understand that you don’t need formal education to be educated, and you don’t need a degree to be a success. Choose a path that rewards you for working hard.

If you all have never heard of mikeroweWORKS, first, shame on you. Second, go check it out at ProfoundlyDisconnected. The foundation is based on the principle that success is not guaranteed only to those with a college education, and they even offer scholarships not based on grades or need, but by demonstrated work ethic. If you happen to have been crippled by student loan debt, or are trying to avoid being crippled by student loan debt, consider a different path. Those who work in vocational trades can effectively write their own ticket right now, and this country needs more people like them.

I’ll leave you guys with this: The SWEAT Pledge, written by Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs, Somebody’s Gotta Do It, and of course, mikeroweWORKS.

resized-downloadable-sweat-pledge
Cheers,TP

Donald Trump’s Numbers Surge with Minorities

Something I wanted to show you guys. I found a poll that was, obviously, not publicized very much from the last month, showing actual candidate support by race. Here are the numbers

Whites for Donald Trump: 45%
Whites for Hillary Clinton: 39%

I guess you could say that isn’t much of a surprise. But let’s keep looking.

African Americans for Donald Trump: 19%
African Americans for Hillary Clinton: 73%

Folks, that is the highest amount of African American vote that a Republican has carried in over half a century. Surely there isn’t more you say!!

Hispanics for Donald Trump: 36%
Hispanics for Hillary Clinton: 47%

What was that, Democrats? The Republicans are racists? Hmm… Guess the people you’ve been screwing over for the past 100 years aren’t buying it anymore.

Since this poll was done, Donald Trump’s numbers have surged with minorities. Change is coming. Keep it going.

 

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My Thoughts on Charlotte

Warning: This post comes with no editing or revising. I’m just going to start typing and type until I’m finished.

I’m not in the mood to do any number crunching. By now, you guys know how I feel about Black Lives Matter, but in case you forgot, Black Lives Matter doesn’t matter to me. You see, a few days ago, someone very close to me accused me of being racist because of my opinions. What that person doesn’t realize is that they are what’s wrong with the world. How do we come up with solutions when you label someone as evil simply because you don’t understand their point of view (side note: the individual definitely didn’t)? Better yet, how do we come up with solutions when you label someone as evil simply because you don’t want to understand their point of view (side note again: the individual definitely didn’t)? That same person told me that what I write here only works more to divide people and fuel hatred. I hope that isn’t what I’m doing, but if the good Lord feels that things need to get worse before they get better, at least I’ll know my contributions to making things worse were done with good intentions.

I’m an east coast native. I have very close friends (read: might as well be family) in and around Charlotte. I feel sorry for them. Sorry that the disgusting disease infecting Baltimore and Ferguson made it to Charlotte, but more importantly, sorry that the country’s leaders are too busy trying to find ways to profit off the hatred than find ways to protect people, and now it’s their turn to take the punishment. Even more important than those, however… I’m sorry that people are so misinformed that we allow these things to continue. I mean what I said about punishment literally, as the Charlotte PD has stated that 70% of the rioters arrested were not from Charlotte.

We live in a bizarre age. The millennials are getting older but not wiser. Thomas Jefferson was thirty-three years old when he wrote the Declaration of Independence. Today we light a city on fire because someone in that same age group screams “they shot my daddy” on Facebook. We do it without proof. We do it simply because “daddy” was black. We are a simple-minded, pathetic people. The power to influence people has never been more readily available, yet the influences we select have never been more flawed.  I almost don’t blame the political left for not giving people their liberties back, because God only knows what stupid shit we’d do with them. But folks, we’ll never fix anything without them.

Every day, I walk to lunch. It takes me about 15 minutes to get to the area where I decide what I’m going to eat, but during that 15 minutes, I listen to music and think. Whatever is on my mind that day, that’s when I knock it out. Fifteen minutes to lunch, fifteen minutes back to the office. Today, my music pulled up a song I hadn’t heard in years, and it is a song was born from a place not too far from Charlotte. A few hours away from Charlotte is Columbia, South Carolina. Known for a few things, including being a really great place to watch really bad college football, Columbia also is the birthplace of Hootie & The Blowfish. If you’ve got any white privilege jokes, now’s a pretty good time to make them, because Darius Rucker probably has disproportionately more white fans and fewer black ones than any black man in history, but I digress. One of Hootie & The Blowfish’s songs is entitled, “State Your Peace”.  It spoke to me about why I write what I write regardless of how contrarian or alone I am in my opinions. I can tell you right now, if you require a group of people to tell you how right you are in order to prove your point (looking at you, BLM), you’re on the wrong side.

Hootie & The Blowfish, “State Your Peace”:

Why am I always the last one to say how I feel?
It’s like driving down the middle of the road
with no hands on the wheel

And I keep hearing stories about the guy who was killed while he prayed
Well you should go ahead and say it ’cause we’re all gonna die anyway

State your peace,
Go ahead and say it I swear it can’t get much worse
Make a piece of history,
a blessing from a curse… before it gets worse

You can try and be a hero but people keep dying everyday
You can keep earning money but your money keeps burning away

And it feels like the future’s always waiting on the tip of my tongue
Like a cat holding back ’till it’s too late the damage is done

State your peace,
go ahead and say it,
I swear it can’t get much worse
Make a piece of history,
a blessing from a curse… before it gets worse

You can try and change the world by showing everyone a better way
But the world’s gonna do what the world’s gonna do at the end of the day

State your peace,
go ahead and say it,
I swear it can’t get much worse
Make your peace with history,
a blessing from a curse
State your peace
blow it wide open, did you find you an oyster pearl
Make your peace with history
you just might be the one who can change the world

Can you save the world
You can change the world

Prayers for Charlotte. Prayers for everyone.

 

TP

History Repeats Itself: How Democrats Used Bernie Sanders’ Model to Buy the Minority Vote… 80 Years Ago.

Just in case anyone needs a refresher on how Bernie Sanders garnered his support this year, take a look at this montage below:

 

Any questions? Moving on.

The fact of the matter is that Bernie Sanders’ 2016 Free Stuff Tour was neither original nor innovative nor progressive nor realistic; it was however, ironic – ironic in the fact that people are so poorly versed on their own American history that they’re willing to watch it repeat itself right before their eyes and run with it hook, line, and sinker. The last time it happened (on a scale of this magnitude)? When the Democrats stole the minority vote in the South by promising a beleaguered post-slavery population a boatload of goodies – many of which are still costing tax dollars today. I’m talking about FDR’s New Deal. Prior to the 1930’s, the African American population in the US was by and large Republican; however, that all changed.

I’ve already talked about Americans voting against their own interests, but it’s incredible just how quickly we’re willing to do it. One could easily make the argument that supporting FDR was absolutely in the best interest of the entire country. We were trying to get out of the Great Depression, and a candidate promising jobs and prosperity amidst a time of perpetual hopelessness is pretty appetizing, especially if you’re a member of the black community. Do not forget, however, who the black community had to support, side-by-side, in order to get it done: racist Southern Democrats. Because of the allure of the New Deal, the African American population began its alignment with the same political party who felt that they should still be enslaved. In 1938, 50% of African Americans were Democrats.

Folks, this isn’t racism. This isn’t propaganda. This is American history.

In previous posts, I’ve already discussed how that 50% jumped to 90%, but here’s a recap:

… prior to 1948, the black community was split about half-and-half Republican and Democrat. Early in 1948, President Truman signed an executive order desegregating the military and began working on eliminating the racial bias in the federal government (FactCheck.org). You’ll see another spike in 1964. Why is that there? Because Lyndon Johnson was running for president, and at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, he helped eliminate the South’s all-white primaries, creating a huge wave of support for Johnson from the black community. When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed, only two Senate Republicans opposed it, one of whom happened to be Johnson’s presidential opponent, Barry Goldwater. Additionally, the Republican Party really had no footing in the South, so when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed (signed by then-President Johnson), naturally, the Democratic Party absorbed most of the black vote. At that point, the Democratic Party established itself as the party of the African-American people – despite the fact that Republicans supported their civil rights at a higher rate than Democrats (based on Congressional votes). From that point on, no Republican presidential candidate has garnered more than 15% of the black vote. – @JustifiablyPolemical, “Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?”

But let’s get back to Bernie. He’s been heralded as some kind of political maverick this year, and in reality, he’s just new packaging on the same tired message: “Vote for me because I’ll give you stuff and make other people pay for it.” But he’s clever! I’ll give him that. Bernie pandered quite well to the minority vote by saying that they had been given a “raw deal.” What he failed to mention is that his own political party who gave it to them.

So, when I see people call Donald Trump a racist for saying things like this, I really don’t understand why:

Look how much African American communities have suffered under Democratic control. To those I say the following: What do you have to lose? … You’re living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. 58% of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose? – Donald Trump

Oh, goodness, no! The racism – it burrrrnssss! 

I have just one question: How in the hell is that racist?? That’s like saying that Al Gore is anti-Earth because he said we’re catastrophically warming it (except in this case, Trump is telling the truth, and Al Gore is completely full of bovine post-digestion material). Take a look at this headline:

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NEWSFLASH: Donald Trump accused of racism for saying non-racist things. Want to know how confused people are with what racism even means these days? It’s in the top 1% of popular terms researched on Encyclopedia Britannica.

 

racism.png

I guess you really can’t fix stupid. At least we can give people credit for wanting to know what racism is. Unfortunately, most of them probably just did it to know the correct spelling for their Black Lives Matter protest signs.

With love,

TP

The sun is setting on solar power, the money’s gone and nobody’s asking any questions.

Pointman's

If you keep an eye on the financial world, which I do, and especially the green sectors, which I also do, it’s been an interesting time of late. Within the last few weeks, Solar Trust of America (STA), owner of the world’s largest solar plant, filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11, and nobody expects much of it, if anything, to emerge from it. STA joins a long list of companies in the solar energy sector, who’ve gone bankrupt, ducked into protection from their creditors, suspended production indefinitely or are simply circling the plughole.

Across the world, a few of the more prominent and expensive casualties are Solyndra, Solar Millennium AG, Energy Conversion Devices Inc, Q-Cells, Solon, Solar Millenium, Solarhybrid, Ener1, Range Fuels, Beacon Power Corp and there’s a whole lot of others. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s probably not a good idea to invest your hard-earned pennies in any company with “solar” in its…

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