Category Archives: Uncategorized

How Do We Best ‘Save the Poor’?

The data is in: Shared growth, not top-heavy growth, helps the poor.

[cross-posted from Inequality.org]

Note to BfAZ readers: I love being right, which made this post especially fun. The new data not only debunk the argument of the Illinois professor in her NY Times piece, but also the rantings of ole Thuckenthal, who regularly proclaims the superiority of America’s economy over the French economy. It just ain’t so.

Two months ago, in Equality for Taxi Drivers and Surgeons Taxi Drivers, I challenged the logic of Illinois professor Deirdre McCloskey in her New York Times op-ed,  Growth, Not Forced Equality, Saves the Poor. Continue reading

Happy Valentine’s Day…NOT!

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

On this Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d ask, when it comes to our public schools students in Arizona, “who loves you baby?”  Yesterday, I was listening in on the AZ House Education Committee meeting. There were many bills on the agenda, but I was primarily interested in HB 2394; empowerment scholarship accounts [ESAs]; expansion; phase-in. I wasn’t hopeful the bill would die, as its companion bill SB 1431, had already been given a due-pass by the Senate Education Committee. As expected, HB 2394 followed suit on a 6–5 vote as did HB 2465, which will allow all students eligible for an ESA account to remain on the program until age 22 and for up to $2,000 a year to be put into a 529 savings account.

The passage of these bills, along with the companion ones in the Senate, demonstrate the disdain many GOP legislators have for our district schools and, for the underpaid educators who toil within. This, because ESAs divert more general fund revenue per student to private schools than district schools receive. As reported by the Arizona School Boards Association, an ESA student, on average, costs the state general fund $1,083 more in grades K–8, and $1,286 more in grades 9–12 than a district student. This is in part because there are many school districts that enjoy a fair amount of locally controlled support in the way of overrides and bonds. The state therefore, is relieved of providing equalization funding to them, but when students leave to go to private schools, all the funding must come from the state general fund. ESA students also receive charter additional assistance funding of roughly $1,200 per student, which district schools do not receive. Turns out that the claim of voucher proponents that they save the state money, is not just “alternative facts” but totally untrue. And, although voucher proponents love to claim there is no harm to district schools when students take their funding and leave, the truth is that about 19 percent of a districts costs are fixed (teacher salaries, transportation, facility repair and maintenance, utilities) and can’t be reduced with each student’s departure. Continue reading

Stephen Miller’s Outsized Radical Influence: A Threat We Should Have Seen Coming

My son-in-law just reminded me that Stephen Miller, a co-author of Trump’s unconstitutional and racist ban on Muslims entering America, was John Shadegg’s press secretary during my race against him. Which makes for perhaps the easiest exercise in dot connecting ever. Dots we should have connected years ago.

Although under-reported by the media, Shadegg was a raging Islamaphobe. I learned this about midway through the campaign, when he used his two-minute speech at the annual AIPAC breakfast in 2008 to tout two books: Knowing the Enemy and America Alone. Later that day, a Google search revealed that Shadegg was pimping those books every chance he got. Although I was inundated with reading material related to the campaign, I felt compelled to read them.

I’m glad I did. I could never have known who I was running against without doing so. I never understood, however, that he was under the spell of a 23 year-old monster. Continue reading

Profiles in Cowardice

I’ve taken issue with David Brooks of the New York Times on countless occasions here. I rarely agree with him.

But Brooks’ column today is entitled The Republican Fausts. In my post yesterday, I referenced the Faustian bargain conservatives had made with Trump. Not much vapor between those perspectives. Brooks explains the Faustian bargain reasonably well:

Many Republican members of Congress have made a Faustian bargain with Donald Trump. They don’t particularly admire him as a man, they don’t trust him as an administrator, they don’t agree with him on major issues, but they respect the grip he has on their voters, they hope he’ll sign their legislation and they certainly don’t want to be seen siding with the inflamed progressives or the hyperventilating media.

The dynamic referenced by the clause I’ve bolded overshadows all else. Brooks is dead on, but at the same time he sugarcoated his criticism of Republicans who refuse to oppose Trump. Not surprising. The reality of Republican cowardice is far more sinister. Continue reading

Book Review: Born on Third Base

Full disclosure: Chuck Collins, the author of Born on Third Base, is a personal friend and a colleague at the Institute for Policy Studies. So, after he gave me a copy at the conclusion of a workshop on economic inequality to which I had been invited only at his urging, it was out of friendship that I cracked it open on the plane ride home the next day.

But that’s not what made me get choked up reading the preface. Out of the thousand odd books I’ve read in my life, I don’t recall that happening before.

Born on Third Base is an important book, and a throughly enjoyable one. Chuck’s perspective is not unique, but it is rare. As the great-grandson of Oscar Mayer, Chuck truly was born on third base. At a young age, he did something remarkable. He gave away his wealth. Since then, he’s spent the better part of his career working against economic injustice. Continue reading

Women’s March in Tucson: “This is what Democracy looks like” (updated photos)

The estimate of the huge Women’s March in Tucson crowd that gathered this morning at Armory Park on S. 6th Avenue and marched to Jacome Plaza (in front of the Joel D. Valdez library) was about 15,000.  Lots of very creative signs went by, carried by people of all ages, children, elderly, even people with crutches and walkers…gay, straight, multi-racial, many with dogs, wagons, etc.  Every few blocks people were chanting “This is what Democracy looks like”.  Here’s some photos of today’s crowd.

Large crowd gathering at Armory Park, photo courtesy of George Girard

Crowd at Armory Park, courtesy of Kristel Foster

Women’s March proceeding west on Congress Street to Stone Avenue, photo courtesy of George Girard

Continue reading