Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Oh Nancy

I have been amazed at how utterly ignorant politicians seems to be when it comes to economic principles. I have witnessed high school students who understand the basic concepts of supply and demand and the effects of increased taxation on business etc. They have explained to me that the minimum wage increase is likely to cause either higher prices on products and/or fewer jobs as employers lay off workers to offset the net income change. They get it why don't politicians? Believe me I am not interested in returning to a time when the factory owners hired children to do dangerous work and paid them little to compensate. I am not advocating for a return to a time when you could be fired for complaining about a wage that was below subsistence level. What I would like to see though is a government which is careful not to change things when they are going well, and apparently some people think that the status quo is not good enough. Nancy Pelosi had a few things to say about the recent surge in the stock market.

Nancy Pelosi condemned the new record highs of the stock market as "just another example of Bush policies helping the rich get richer". "First Bush cut taxes for the rich and the economy has rebounded with new record low unemployment rates, which only means wealthy employers are getting even wealthier at the expense of the underpaid working class."

She went on to say "Despite the billions of dollars being spent in Iraq our economy is still strong and government tax revenues are at all time highs. What this really means is that business is exploiting the war effort and working Americans, just to put money in their own pockets."

When questioned about recent stock market highs she responded "Only the rich benefit from these record highs. Working Americans, welfare recipients, the unemployed and minorities are not sharing in these obscene record highs". "There is no question these windfall profits and income created by the Bush administration need to be taxed at 100% rate and those dollars redistributed to the poor and working class". "Profits from the stock market do not reward the hard work of our working class who, by their hard work, are responsible for generating these corporate profits that create stock market profits for the rich We in congress will need to address this issue to either tax these profits or to control the stock market to prevent this unearned income to flow to the rich."

When asked about the fact that over 80% of all Americans have investments in mutual funds, retirement funds, 401K's, and the stock market she replied "That may be true, but probably only 5% account for 90% of all these investment dollars. That's just more "trickle down" economics claiming that if a corporation is successful that everyone from the CEO to the floor sweeper benefit from higher wages and job security which is ridiculous". "How much of this 'trickle down' ever get to the unemployed and minorities in our county? None, and that's the tragedy of these stock market highs."

"We democrats are going to address this issue after the election when we take control of the congress. We will return to the 60% to 80% tax rates on the rich and we will be able to take at least 30% of all current lower Federal Income Tax tax payers off the roles and increase government income substantially. We need to work toward the goal of equalizing income in our country and at the same time limiting the amount the rich can invest."

When asked how these new tax dollars would be spent, she replied "We need to raise the standard of living of our poor, unemployed and minorities. For example, we have an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in our country who need our help along with millions of unemployed minorities. Stock market windfall profits taxes could go a long ways to guarantee these people the standard of living they would like to have as "Americans"."

Let me summarize Nancy's school of economics: low unemployment rates mean that workers are being exploited. Spending money to rebuild a ravished country is bad. We should tax the rich at %100. The stock market is evil. Rich people are evil. Illegal immigrants should be supported by tax payers to the level of middle class. Wealth redistribution is the answer.

It is odd how she is so interested in making everyone equal and yet requested and received her own jumbo air force jet to fly her from Washington to San Francisco; the jet has been called "Pelosi One." She makes me want to shake her so hard that she suffers from shaken Congresswoman Syndrome. I don't feel as though I need to debrief her absurd remarks because they are so absurd, so I will just leave it at that.


I am sorry for any one who checks this blog regularly so as to read my brilliant posts as soon as I post them because I have been remiss in posting these last couple of weeks. Ok, well that is probably no one. I will try to make up for it with blinding brilliance. I have a great number of things that I could share, but I am not sure what you might want to read. Let's see... well I went on my first Men's advance (we are not calling it a retreat) and that was a lot of fun. I started coaching (sort of) baseball, I finished teaching WWII, and I am getting ready to teach the Cold War one of my favorite topics because I myself am a pinko commie. Besides that there have been some interesting things in the news, like Brittany Spears shaving her head or something stupid like that, as if I really cared. A crazy astronaut tried to murder the woman that her adulterous lover is with. Then Anna Nicole Smith died and no one talked about the astronaut chick any more. My Dad suggested that maybe NASA killed Anna to get their girl off the headlines (something to think about). The stock market slipped yesterday and everyone had a cow. So what it is higher than it has ever been, consumer confidence is up, unemployment is down, and Nancy Pelosi is the speaker of the house. Ok well maybe that last one doesn't help. Trust me I listened carefully when I heard that someone tried to kill Chaney. You can say what you want about W, but if we had to suffer Nancy he would look like a saint I suspect. So anyways, enjoy the posts, and for goodness sake, leave some responses.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Land Wars

As I was driving around this morning after dropping my kids off I drove by a field with hundred of fig trees piled up ready to be burned. As usual being that I have a soft spot for agriculture, I was sad to see the figs ripped out in order for developers to build more houses. In and around Fresno this is a common sight. Farm land being destroyed and replaced by cookie cutter houses. But this is nothing new for me; I have come to accept although not support the urban sprawl that has become standard in the United States. As I was lamenting this phenomenon I thought how ironic it is that at one point there was nothing there but wild grass and any trees that happened to grow there all by themselves. Before the figs and other trees were planted, and rough grasses plowed into neat rows, there was only natural flora. Then I thought that some people protest the development of so called "wilderness" into farm land. Here is the process: naturalists protest the use of wilderness for agriculture, agriculturalists protest the development of farm land into suburbs, then no doubt someone protests the purchase of those properties (after many years) for city projects or freeway onramps.

In many places of the world even today there is conflict over land. A classic example is Israel and Palestine, but there are others. In our own country there is conflict over tribal lands and who has the "right" to use the land. This issue has been addressed by several philosophers, including John Locke, whose philosophy is a cornerstone of our government and society. He claimed that a man could only possess as much land as he could use. But technology has made it possible to use much more land than a man who lived 300 years ago could. The point is that we are still fighting over land. Unlike in the Middle East however, we don't use guns and bullets to settle disputes, but we still do use a weapon of sorts. It seems to me that we use money to wage war over land now. Farmers have more than whoever controlled it in the first place. Developers have more than farmers. Cities have more than the poor saps who have their land bought up using imminent domain. We are waging war over land, just as we have for thousands of years.

So what is the point? It brings me back to one of the things that I go back to again and again. That man is not really all that advanced. We have not really advanced at our core as much as we would like to think. We still struggle to walk the straight and narrow. Prostitution, murder, pillage, rape, maim, destroy, these are the things we have done since the dawn of time, and we are still doing them. Maybe we are not as savage as we once were, but I think it is debatable. But maybe I am just disturbed over the story of the astronaut who drove halfway across the country to kill her lover's lover. That story sure sounds savage to me. And must I point out that we are still worshiping idols? If you don't think so consider how much media attention Anna Smith got for her untimely death. Oh well, I can complain all day, but all I can control is how I act, and sometimes even that is too much. Have a nice day.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


I learned something very important about teaching this week. We began the WWII unit this week and on Monday I stated by having the students first talk about what they know about WWII and then ask questions to drive the learning. I used the question model to begin a lesson about Pearl Harbor and the US entering the war. We talked about whether the US should get involved when other countries have conflicts, and most of my students had an opinion. We used that discussion to lead into a lesson about the US foreign policy leading up to the war, and then our entrance into the war. I felt that it was a good lesson and was glad that I had succeeded in stimulating learning. The next class period we did a lesson on the diverse people who were involved in the war, women, hispanics, blacks, Japanese and Native Americans. I did not use any questions to drive the learning only dove right in. I was dissapointed with their reaction. So I completely rewrote the lesson for the next day (they are on a block schedule) and changed the lesson drastically. Instead of being about diverse groups in the armed services, it became about freedom, and what freedom means. I feel like it was a much better lesson. I had the students write a parallel poem at the end of the lesson, and the "Freedom for Some" poem is the one I wrote to model for them. The moral is that questions drive our learning. We do not usually care to learn something that we do not question or that we already understand. I am going to try to always allow for questions to lead the learning in my classroom.

Freedom for Some

This poem I wrote the other day because I was having my students write a poem to show the paradox between the diverse groups of people fighting in WWII and the freedoms they had or didn't have in the USA. We did a lesson on Tuskegee Airmen, 442nd (an all Japanese unit), women in the armed forces, Navajo Code Talkers, and Mexican Americans in the military. All of these people served in the war, and yet they did not all have equal freedoms. Anyways, this poem shows that paradox. My wife objects to the language I used, but I feel it is appropriate.

I am a white man.
I am a black man.
I am a free man.
I am told where I can eat, drink, sit, and even pee.
I am loved by all.
Some love me, but others hate me.
I want to serve my country.
I want to serve my country.

The Army drafted me to fight.
I had to fight to get into the Army.
They trained me and called me a soldier.
They spit on me and called me a nigger.
The men around me were my brothers.
The men around me were closer than brothers.
I fought in France and felt like a hero.
In France they treated me like a hero.

I was proud of my service, fighting for freedom.
I was proud of my service, but I don’t know what I fought for.
I came home and they called me a hero.
I came home and they called me a nigger.
I love my country and my country loves me.
I love my country, but my country doesn’t love me.
The USA is still the land of the free.
They give freedom to some, but not to me.

Experiencing Death

This is a poem that I wrote in High School. It is a parallel poem, which means it shows two different things that happen at the same time. In this poem I was comparing a soldier with a person who decided to go to college to avoid being drafted.

I am but a young man.
I am but a young man.
I don’t want to die.
I don’t want to die.
I will go to school for escape.
I will face the Death.
I want the Country to help me.
I want to help the Country.
I go away to learn at school.
I go away to live in Death.

School is so stressful.
Death is terrifying.
I know I can make it.
I don’t think I will survive.
I fear nothing at all.
I fear for my very life.
I curse the Country.
I fight for the Country.
I read about the Death.
I live the Death.
I don’t think there is really a Death.
I cannot escape the Death.
I will never die.
The Death will swallow me.

I drink with friends in happiness.
I drink alone to forget.
I am completely healthy.
I am numb with pain.
I am full of life.
The Death took my life.
I know everything.
Nobody knows anything.
My whole life is ahead of me.
My life was left behind.
Here’s to life.
Here’s to Death.
I am a great man.
I am a dead man.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


I wanted to apologize for my earlier rant. I was simply upset at the facts surrounding FDR. I need to give credit where credit is due, and I wanted to acknowledge that FDR was very good at keeping up the nation's moral. It should be credited to him because had this not been the case, had despair and fear continued, a more radical leader may have gained power, as in Germany. Also despite the internment of the Japanese Americans, FDR was a good war time president. He foresaw the need to combat Fascism in Europe and imperialism in Asia, and took action when it was needed. While I am still overall critical of his leadership, I recognize that there are important contributions that he made to our nation. I just wish that his failures are not ignored because of his successes.

First four weeks

After four weeks and an entire unit I have learned a lot about teaching. There are many things that I would do differently, and yet many that I think I did well. For this unit on the Great Depression, I wanted to focus a lot on writing. Obviously writing is something that I find very valuable, and I wanted to share my experience with it in the classroom. I thought that it would be a shame to do something well and not use it to teach my students. So I created fictional characters set in the 30s, and gave each student one of the characters. As the unit progressed and their characters experienced some of the ups and downs of the time, I had them write journal entries to reflect their learning. Some of them did very well with this, and others not so well, but the point was that they were writing. For a unit assessment I had them use their characters to write a narrative essay about the Great Depression. While some of the essays are not well organized, I was pleased that nearly all of the students wrote. I had one student who hates writing, and doesn’t like school in general write two and a half pages. I was so pleased with him. Even if the essay was not excellent compared with others, for him it was the best he could write, and he will only benefit from having done it. Writing is proof that a person is thinking, and I know now that my students were thinking. So no matter the things that I have struggled with in these first few weeks, there is at least one success, and that is that my students wrote a story. If nothing else went right for the rest of the semester, this would be enough.