Jon Stewart on the cushy lives of teachers

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100 Responses to “Jon Stewart on the cushy lives of teachers”

  1. inkfumes says:

    I am a first year teacher.

    I currently teach two classes, computer graphics and video production. I am in the classroom about 3 hours a day, 15 hours a week. I get paid for these hours.

    I get up at 6 am so I can arrive 30 minutes before class to prepare for the day’s lesson and I don’t get paid for it. I stay through lunch to keep the lab open for kids to do extra work and I don’t get paid for it. I open the lab after school for kids that struggle with classwork and I don’t get paid for it.

    Before a lesson, I spend about 5 hours of prep time, researching, planning, practicing, writing and posting lessons and assignments. I do this about 4 times a week, twice for each class. On average 20 hours per week and I don’t get paid for it.

    I currently teach 1 class through the county, and one class for the district. Technically I should have benefits, but because I am employed by two different agencies I do not qualify for benefits.

    I would say that after dividing my pay with the hours I don’t get paid for my hourly wage is embarrassingly low. In fact the more I think about it the crappier I feel.

    I just want the world to have a real perspective on this issue, if you have never stepped into the classroom and worked as a teacher, you have no concept how difficult it is. I have been teaching for almost 2 years and I go to work nervous everyday, stressed out about paperwork, grades, attendance, my legal obligations with students under IEP, ELL and ESL students, special needs kids being mainstreamed in my class with out a handler, etc. Most teachers quit after 5 years, that’s the standard burnout rate. Are there bad teachers? Of course, but I think the rate of incompetence is about the same in the private sector.

    • magista says:

      I’m right there with you, inkfumes. It’s 6:10 pm on a Friday, and I’m still at school because there’s a yearbook deadline coming up. Do I get paid for that? No.

      By my math we work pretty much the same as anyone with a 40 hour week for a year. We just do it all in 10 (or 9 – ymmv). Pretty easy math to figure out how long our days are.

      Having been at it for 15 years now and being fortunate enough to teach the same courses quite often, I can at least manage with less up front prep-time. It hasn’t changed the amount of marking, though. This weekend’s task is two chemistry labs for one class, and a report on the physics of intersection yellow light timing for two classes. Plus assorted stuff handed in late.

      Sure, we do it because we love it, and we love seeing our students finally ‘get it’, but we love being able to have a place to live and food on the table for our own families too.

      And sure, we’ve all known incompetant workers in all professions. But critics of unions make it sound as though we’re somehow all sitting on our asses doing sweet FA as soon as we’ve got a continuous contract just because we know we can’t be gotten rid of. That’s f-ing insulting.

      Of course, I’m in Canada, so Walker et al’s heads would likely explode at my salary and benefits… but this is redneck Alberta, and the rightest wing here would surely love to follow in their footsteps.

      • Anonymous says:

        As a graduate of the Alberta school system, I tip my hat to you, Magista. I thank you for loving it and spending that time on students, and I thank those that share the cut of your jib.

    • Cowicide says:

      Thank you for your service to your country.

      REAL service that serves to help educate the masses instead of enslave them.

      I notice that many people jump over themselves to always thank soldiers for their service to their country. Personally, I’m tried of paying my money to men and women who fight for corporatists to support the military-industrial complex and not much more in this day and age.

      Why should I thank them when they should thank my ass for paying for them to do nothing more than drain our country of money for nothing more than feeding itself. Sorry, I don’t feel honor for people who suck away money for health care for the destruction of America and civilians all over the world because of their own ignorance.

      I respect that some of them don’t know they are dupes and think they are on the side of right when they go blow up brown people in some country that never attacked America, but that’s about it. I’ll save the honor for vets of WWII and that’s about it.

      I’ll save thanks for people like teachers who actually deserve my respect and honor. Teachers are the only ones that can save us now.

      So of course the corporatists want to kick them around. Public teachers are the enemy of corporatists. They want privatized teachers with Coca-Cola logos on their backs that eschew the health benefits of soda pop. The liars want liars to help propagate their lies.

      Well, the can go fuck themselves. The fight is on.

  2. freddy nono says:

    Stewart and Fox seem to miss the point of whats happening in Wis. It’s not about the money. The union says they are willing to pay for more of their health care and pension. It’s about collective bargaining. The problem with collective bargaining in the public sector is that in many cases the union is bargaining with people who they helped get elected.

    We have this very problem in California. Even Willie Brown now admits that the pension plans he helped put in place was a mistake. In California’s case the union didn’t even have to bargain for those pensions. The people they helped get elected just wrote it into law.

    • Anonymous says:

      That would seem to be the same problem with corporations being allowed to lobby.

      The difference is one helps individual people who aren’t making a whole lot, and the other helps multinational conglomerates who ARE making a whole lot. So, I’m not all that concerned with the dangers of collective bargaining in the public sector. If the elected officials are bad at it, replace them. Don’t say they don’t have the right to negotiate.

    • iserlohn says:

      The point is that those that are arguing for busting unions aren’t areguing for busting executive pay packages of bailed out bankers.

      It’s not about saving money, it’s about the methodical dismantling of the middle class so that the rich can get richer.

      • freddy nono says:

        It’s not about “dismantling” the middle class. That is pure political hype on your part. There is a fiscal crisis heading to many states. Public sector unions have managed to get elected officials to cut them very generous deals over the years.

        The bottom line is this, “elections have consequences.”

  3. OrcOnTheEndOfMyFork says:

    I’m centrist / moderate. I’m sure of this because conservatives call me liberal, and liberals call me conservative. I like the “romantic ideals” of libertarianism (even though it’s impractical) at the same time as enjoying Jon Stewart’s self-deprecating liberalism.

    While I understand the motivation behind Walker’s desire to bust public unions, I feel it’s utterly misguided. They should be increasing teacher benefits with the goal to attract the most talented teachers possible instead of slashing their pay and bargaining rights in order to attract nothing more than glorified babysitters to kids who won’t amount to anything.

    I’m all for pulling-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps, but nothing, absolutely nothing, gives you the tools or the motivation to do that quite like a first-class education. Investing in the future of Wisconsin simply must begin in the classroom.

  4. Rainer says:

    Fox News will always support policies that cut education off at the knees in order to sustain and grow their audience base of slobbering Neanderthals. The US is fucked if they don’t figure out how to turn around an anemic education system. Future generations of Americans will be wiping off tables at mall food courts in Beijing if it is not attended to in a collective manner.

    This issue is the terrible specter of us politics. There are many demons that will haunt while the politicians sit around giving the lobbyists’ hand jobs.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Bravo John stewart and I am a Republican. Teachers have had their legs cut-off for a long time. They are responsible for educating up to 30 of your kids in one classroom. try doing that and think of your bratty nephews and neices not your own perfect kids. All this and the kids can do no wrong in the eyes of the parents. A far cry from days of the past where if you said I am going to call your mother they would cringe instead of laugh. They deserve more.

  6. slgalt says:

    The right wing noise machine has talking points and booking agents and speakers. The next time any news org lets them on to echo them, perhaps they will take a minute to look back at the previous times the person was on their network and actually do the work of journalists.

    And news orgs – stop trying to imitate the Daily Show by attempting to be humorous – try imitating their ability to reveal the truth.

  7. gwailo_joe says:

    My ex teaches ESL in Oakland. . .and she is woefully underpaid.

  8. Branden says:

    I know I’m murdering his quote, but I think comedian Jimmy Dore said it (kinda) best: “There is not ONE problem in this country that can be solved by having dumber kids.”

  9. Fully says:

    I am a teacher with twenty years in the classroom. I am amazed at the current state of politics. With years of spending money on the war machine in Iraq and Afghanistan, with years of tax cuts to the wealthy, with years of big business refusing to manufacture goods in the U.S., with years of operating our school system on a bare bones budget, and with years of having to teach to a two hour test that I am not allowed to even look at or get results back that I can use to actually see what standards I need to improve upon, I am incensed at the attack upon collective bargaining, our right to due process which everyone calls tenure, and the attacks to vilify and dismantle our associations. It took me three years to achieve due process. I had to go pass rigorous tests and meet state requirements to get my certification. On top of that, I had to get trained by the students so that I could actually manage a classroom of gang members, teenage mothers, and narcolepsy sufferers in order to teach them. Believe me, it is sink or swim with those kids. When I hear state legislators say that they love teachers, heck, they used to be one themselves for a couple of years, it makes me want to vomit. Real teachers know that when you say that you taught for a couple of years it means that you couldn’t cut it in the classroom. The students ate you alive and you went home to cry in the fetal position every night until you father-in-law let you come to work for him selling insurance. Hey, those of us that stayed spent a few nights in the fetal position too; we just learned from it and figured out how to manage a large group of kids. We love our job so much that we have to buy our own printer cartridges, our own paper for the printer, our own marker board markers, our own pens, pencils, and staplers, and paperback books and supplies for our students. We love our job so much that we have to spend at least ten hours a week after work grading essays and tests as well as creating new lessons that align to our state standards and to our state mandated tests. I don’t apologize for getting some time off in the summer. I more than earn the money and benefits that I make. I just wonder where all of the people rushing in to take our awesome, cushy jobs will come from after they cut the pay and make it so unpleasant to stay in our profession that many of us leave. I’m sure it will be those people who later on become state legislators and discuss how they were a teacher for a couple of years.

    And just so you know, some of those gang members, teenage mothers, and narcolepsy sufferers have gone on to be very productive members of our society. Plus, now that I have several years experience, they even let me teach the kids who like to learn and soak it up like a sponge.

  10. Anonymous says:

    teachers get the short end of the stick… they are under funded (they buy most of the school supplies out of their own pockets!!!) and work long hours for half the pay of the school board members who only show up for meetings!!! most of the school budgets goes to those who are NOT in the classroom or even directly interacting with the students!!! the system is broken and everyone blames the teachers rather then those in the system who cause the problems…

    I’d point out that new’s reporters only work 20 min a day… after all that’s the only time they are in front of the cameras… same goes for school teachers… they put in very long hours that few see because most of the work is behind the scenes… after hours, weekends and giving half their pay checks back in the form of printer ink, paper, decorations etc etc etc.. look around a classroom and take note, everything in the classroom that is not nailed down with few exceptions is stuff the teacher supplied out of their own pockets!!!

    No one would take such a job if not for the love of teaching… and fewer want to take the job the more they see what it really is…

    school teachers (the good ones) should be paid more then politicians.. they are worth more to society…

  11. radam says:

    I’m sure everyone supporting Walker’s agenda would feel the same if it were effecting teachers at the private schools they send their children to (sarcasm tag). They don’t care about the quality of schools for average Americans because better schools mean an average American could be more likely to move up the social ladder. A poor educational system keeps the working class the working class.

    This whole thing is class discrimination.

  12. Cheaplazymom says:

    One thing that I think a lot of people don’t realize is that many States opt out of the federal Social Security program. They decided that they could provide state funded pensions more cost effectively. So pension funds for state employees were set up as an alternative to the federal program. There is an exemption that allows states (as the employer) to not make payments to the program if employees are enrolled in a state plan. So, the state financed pension plans include what would have been social security payroll taxes. You can’t blame unions or collective bargaining for this.

    Also, for years, teachers and other government workers have been trading pay raises for deferred payment through their pensions. Many pension plans that were adequately funded have lost a lot of their value due to the recession. Is this the union’s fault, should we blame this on teachers?

    Isn’t this a little bit like the tortoise and the hare? The people who go into public service tend to be people who are looking for slow, but steady careers. They are willing to work for less money in exchange for stability and security. Teachers and public employees trade professional honors, fame and recognition, stock options, large salaries and bonuses for a gradual increase in wages and an investment of their time and money into their pension plans. We all know that this is the trade off. Those who want a shot at more money in the short term do not go into public service. Those who are looking for prestige, social status, popularity, celebrity or fancy perks go into other jobs, or become entrepreneurs. So here we are at the end of the race– many of us who shot out of the gate chasing more money and more satisfying careers, find ourselves losing jobs or working without pension plans. The teachers who were willing to work for years at substandard wages and are now ready to collect their pensions are being told that it was an unfair race or worse that they cheated.

  13. Cheaplazymom says:

    There is just no logic at all to piling on teachers. I know that everybody wishes their kid’s school was a little bit better or sometimes you get a teacher that’s a bit of a dud– no spark or charisma. But jeesh. Could one honestly replace a public school education with a private sector equivalent for the same money that we pay in property taxes? I live in Maine and I pay $2,400/year in property taxes. Most of that is for the school system. I have 3 kids attending public school. So, I am paying approximately $800/year/kid for their basic academic education which btw includes excellent music instruction and a lot of extracurriculars. The only private school option in my area is a K-8 program that costs $9,000/year. When I lived in New Jersey my property taxes were $10,000, so I was paying about $3,000/year/kid. Private schools in suburban NJ start at $18,000/year. I don’t care where you live or how high your taxes are. Public Schools and the teachers they hire are an incredible bargain and an amazing value. What’s happening now is just a smear campaign and it is ugly and unwarranted. Any sensible evaluation of the numbers involved would conclude that we should be spending more money on teachers and education not less.

    And thanks to all the teachers commenting and reading this thread. Many people are grateful and appreciative for what you do.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with your sentiment but I’m not sure about your numbers. I don’t know if your comparison is exactly fair…

      1. You should only care about the average number of kids per household. I don’t know about your town, but in mine, I would guess that it’s less than 1 (think about how many homes have _no_ kids currently in the school system…). Assuming that it’s similar in your town, and that your home is an average one, that would be likely over $3000 per student per year. In my NJ town it would probably be upward of $12k. Of course, we get other services besides education. But bear with me…

      2. Are public school costs as high as private ones? I doubt it. Do public schools pay taxes? Do they get federal aid? Are the facilities as expensive? Do they pay their teachers as much?

      Anyway, just wanted to point this out…

  14. Anonymous says:

    I would argue that a democracy cannot function with extremes of wealth and poverty. I think the actions of the Koch brothers in Wisconsin serves as an excellent example of this. Do you disagree?

    penguinchris :

    I believe extreme poverty is directly caused by extreme wealth. This is why I consider it disingenuous to defend both the poor AND the plutocrats.

    sapere_aude:

    “In his view, as in mine, there’s nothing wrong with using your talents to earn a large salary…so long as you don’t…)

    So then, do you think this is the case? Do the rich pay their fair share? Do they not “steal food from the mouths of the poor and the working class so that you and your rich friends can have an even bigger feast”? And if they do, then aren’t you agreeing that it IS wrong and should be illegal?

    And even so, let’s say we have benevolent plutocrats, I would still disagree with allowing extreme wealth. I have no problem with prosperity. I want people to live comfortably. But under any system, no individual is that much more valuable than any other individual such that they should be rewarded with billions of dollars made off the labor of others. Have you forgotten that there is no such thing as self-made wealth?

    Stewart’s position has never been that unless the criteria you listed is met, then and only then would he support the concentration of wealth. NO, he supports it under our current system. That is the reality. When Stewart defends an individual’s right to horde billions of dollars, thus giving them vastly more political power than a less wealthy individual, he adds no caveats that say that this is wrong and should be illegal.

    So, a question for both of you: given that wealth can influence our political process, and given that it is easier for a person born rich to stay rich than it is for a poor person to become rich; how is the concentration of wealth beneficial to our democracy? And I don’t mean how is it beneficial to THEIR economy, but how is it beneficial OUR democracy?

    Why do I say THEIR economy vs. OUR economy? Because they are two very different things. The bottom 80%of the country is left with 15% of the wealth. You really want to argue in favor of that? Try it in Egypt.

    “In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%. Table 1 and Figure 1 present further details drawn from the careful work of economist Edward N. Wolff at New York University (2010).”

    http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

    • sapere_aude says:

      Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, two of the richest people in the history of the world, have pledged to give half their wealth to charity, and are encouraging other billionaires to make the same pledge. Several of them have done so already: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Giving_Pledge

      And Buffett and Gates both have long argued that the rich pay too little in taxes.

      This is not about the rich vs. everybody else. It’s about the greedy vs. everybody else. People should not be punished for being rich any more than they should be punished for being poor. We should simply make the rich pay their fair share; which many of them are perfectly willing to do. Unfortunately, the greedy (essentially by definition) are NOT willing to pay their fair share. (And not all greedy people are rich, by the way.) It has often been said that the Republican Party is the party of the rich while the Democratic Party is the party of the working class and the poor. But that’s not quite accurate. In reality, the Republican Party is the party of the greedy and selfish while the Democratic Party is the party of the altruistic and civic minded.

      Besides, in my previous comment, I said nothing about the concentration of wealth. I was speaking of individuals, not classes. In fact, I agree with you (and I suspect that Jon Stewart would, too) that the concentration of wealth in the hands of a tiny elite is a bad thing, both for our economy and for our democracy. But this concentration of wealth in the hands of a tiny elite is not the fault of wealthy individuals; so blaming them isn’t going to fix the problem. It’s the fault of a market system that tends to produce a lopsided distribution of economic rewards, combined with a tax system that tends to reinforce that lopsidedness rather than leveling it out. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and their philanthropic billionaire buddies could give away all of their wealth to the poor, and it still wouldn’t solve the world’s economic problems, because the system is still skewed to funnel money up towards those at the top of the socioeconomic hierarchy rather than down towards those at the bottom. This is not an individual problem; it’s a systemic problem. So, blaming and punishing successful individuals for the fact that the system is skewed in their favor is futile.

      Instead, we should pin the blame where it really belongs: on those who have done everything in their power to make sure the system continues to favor those at the top at the expense of those at the bottom. In other words, instead of blaming/punishing the rich, we ought to be blaming/punishing the greedy, and the party that does their bidding: the G.O.P.

      • Anonymous says:

        sapere_aude (sorry to “Fisk” you): “Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, two of the richest people in the history of the world, have pledged to give half their wealth”

        Is it really their wealth? What did they do to deserve their wealth (Buffet: predatory financial speculation & Gates predatory monopolistic business practices)? Is this what society should reward with wealth? Do the contributions of Gates and Buffet mean more to us than the contributions of a teacher or a paramedic such than one is billions of times more important than the other?

        Is a voluntary pledge enough? Isn’t that the equivalent of telling everyone to pay only the taxes they want to? Is this a standard you would support for Citigroup? Pay only the taxes they want to, and hope that they are altruistic? Or should it be law that they cannot amass extreme wealth in the first place?

        Also, when wealth is donated to private institutions, that situation is entirely different than collecting taxes. Not all institutions serve the public good. A billionaire with different politics could donate all their money to the Westboro Baptist Church. Is that the system you want?

        “And Buffett and Gates both have long argued that the rich pay too little in taxes.”

        Their argument is not matched by action. They could donate the amount they feel they should pay to the government, but they don’t. They haven’t even donated the amount they think they should pay (exactly what is it?) to private charities. They’ll give back their money at their own discretion or when they’re dead. Imagine Donald Trump says, “I’m too rich, it’s wrong, but I’ll keep my money regardless”. Who cares?

        “This is not about the rich vs. everybody else.”
        I could not disagree with you more, it has always been about this.

        “People should not be punished for being rich any more than they should be punished for being poor.”

        Poverty itself IS punishment. And no, I’m not for punishing the rich, I’m for banning their excessive wealth.

        “We should simply make the rich pay their fair share;”

        How about 100% tax on everything over 5 million? Are you going to argue that’s not enough money for an individual to possess? That if people could only make 5 million, all innovation would dry up? You would still have rich people and a huge incentive to climb the economic ladder. But the gap would not be so extreme.

        “which many of them are perfectly willing to do.”

        Many being, what, 25%? over 50%? I doubt it’s even 5% Can you cite anything besides a few public celebrities? It’s not like the bottom 90% oppose the rich paying more taxes. Who do you think funds efforts to extend tax cuts for the top 1%? Poor people?

        “It has often been said that the Republican Party is the party of the rich while the Democratic Party is the party of the working class and the poor. But that’s not quite accurate. In reality, the Republican Party is the party of the greedy and selfish while the Democratic Party is the party of the altruistic and civic minded.”

        If so, please explain this discrepancy:

        Obama’s campaign funding:
        http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/contrib.php?cycle=2008&cid=n00009638

        McCain’s campaign funding:
        http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/contrib.php?cycle=2008&cid=N00006424

        Is the party of Goldman Sachs the party of the “altruistic and civic minded”? There is no way I would ever argue that the Republicans are not beholden to money, but the Dems are no better. Remember, for example, that it was Clinton who gutted welfare and deregulated Glass-Steagall.

        “Besides, in my previous comment, I said nothing about the concentration of wealth. I was speaking of individuals, not classes.”

        You defended earning limitless wealth provided the wealthy adopt (voluntarily, apparently) an altruistic attitude. Wealthy individuals are what create the wealthy class, not sure what your point is.

        “In fact, I agree with you… not the fault of wealthy individuals; so blaming them isn’t going to fix the problem. It’s the fault of a market system that tends to produce a lopsided distribution of economic rewards, combined with a tax system that tends to reinforce that lopsidedness rather than leveling it out.”

        Glad we agree (I don’t think Stewart does). But if you agree that the system itself is wrong because it is harmful to society, then it doesn’t make sense to argue that the behavior of individual’s exploiting that system is not also harmful to society. Just because they can get away with it, does not justify their wealth. If it was legal to own slaves, it still could not be justified. If the rich agree with us, then they need to abandon their wealth.

        “Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and their philanthropic billionaire buddies could give away all of their wealth to the poor, and it still wouldn’t solve the world’s economic problems, because the system is still skewed to funnel money up towards those at the top of the socioeconomic hierarchy rather than down towards those at the bottom.”

        I agree. But as a political and symbolic act is would be quite meaningful. And if they put all their money into building a movement to abolish extremes of wealth, it might actually create a mass movement. If nothing else, they could stop living in opulence while people are starving in the streets. (Okay, Buffet’s lifestyle is far more modest than other billionaires, but he’s pretty unique in the sense).

        “This is not an individual problem; it’s a systemic problem.”

        It’s both. Your argument is the same as saying that slavery was not an individual problem because it was a systemic one. Extreme wealth imperils both human rights and democracy. It is a ethical problem as well. Given the relatively small number of global billionaires, this is definitely both an individual problem and a systemic problem.

        “In other words, instead of blaming/punishing the rich, we ought to be blaming/punishing the greedy, and the party that does their bidding: the G.O.P.”

        Democratic control of the House, Senate, and Executive branch; a greatly demoralized republican party with Palin as their leading figure; a filibuster that could be defeated with a simple majority (not 60 votes) under the so-called “nuclear option”; and what happened? Altruism? Progressive taxation? Severing of corporate influence? No. As Obama’s former Chief of Staff would say, “fucking retarded”.

        The rich got richer and the poor got poorer. We got more war and less civil liberties.

        Can you really not see how this “good cop/bad cop” routine plays out? Every two years, both parties move further right.

        • sapere_aude says:

          Is it really their wealth? What did they do to deserve their wealth (Buffet: predatory financial speculation & Gates predatory monopolistic business practices)?

          Who said wealth had anything to do with desert?

          Is this what society should reward with wealth?

          Society doesn’t reward people with wealth any more than a herd of cattle rewards particular cows with an abundance of grass. The herd simply moves aimlessly through the pastureland, and each cow grazes as best it can. Some end up finding more grass than others; but this is not a “reward” for anything – it’s just the breaks. The same is true with wealth. Society doesn’t confer wealth on people. Society just moves aimlessly through history, and each individual ekes out a living as best he or she can. Some end up earning more money than others; but, like their bovine counterparts, this isn’t a “reward” for anything – it’s just the breaks.

          Do the contributions of Gates and Buffet mean more to us than the contributions of a teacher or a paramedic such than one is billions of times more important than the other?

          Actually, yes they do. Gates and Buffett have probably saved countless more lives through their philanthropy than any single paramedic ever will in the course of his or her career, and have probably helped educate countless more students around the world than any single teacher ever will in the course of his or her career. Not to mention the fact that they have created many thousands of jobs, and have produced numerous products that greatly benefit the world. A paramedic is important. A teacher is important. But let’s not lose our sense of perspective here.

          Is a voluntary pledge enough? Isn’t that the equivalent of telling everyone to pay only the taxes they want to? Is this a standard you would support for Citigroup? Pay only the taxes they want to, and hope that they are altruistic? Or should it be law that they cannot amass extreme wealth in the first place? Also, when wealth is donated to private institutions, that situation is entirely different than collecting taxes.

          I never claimed that a voluntary pledge was enough, or that philanthropy is, or ought to be, a substitute for taxes. I merely pointed to their philanthropy as evidence that not all rich people are selfish jerks who are trying to game the system to screw the little guy. My argument was that “rich” does not necessarily imply “selfish”. I was not making an argument about private charity vs. a taxpayer-supported welfare state.

          Their argument is not matched by action. They could donate the amount they feel they should pay to the government, but they don’t.

          [citation needed]

          They haven’t even donated the amount they think they should pay (exactly what is it?) to private charities.

          Never heard of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, huh?

          Poverty itself IS punishment.

          I’ll refer you back to my cow analogy. Poverty is not a “punishment” any more than wealth is a “reward”. A punishment is deliberately inflicted on someone as payback for some perceived wrong. The poor are poor simply because they didn’t get the same breaks as the rich, not because they are being punished for something they’ve supposedly done.

          How about 100% tax on everything over 5 million?

          That would be naïve in the extreme. Come back when you have a serious proposal.

          Are you going to argue that’s not enough money for an individual to possess?

          Depends on what they’re using it for. If they’re spending it on champagne, caviar, and botox treatments, then it’s more than enough. If they’re using it to invest in a startup company that will create jobs, and produce products that benefit society, then it may be barely enough. If they’re donating half of it to a charity that is devoted to fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa, it’s nowhere near enough. Unlike you, I don’t automatically assume that all rich people are motivated purely by selfish concerns, or that they all spend their wealth frivolously.

          You would still have rich people and a huge incentive to climb the economic ladder. But the gap would not be so extreme.

          You can’t raise the floor by lowering the ceiling. If you want to help those at the bottom, then that’s where your focus should be. Personally, I don’t care how big of a gap there is between the richest and the poorest, as long as the poorest are doing okay. Your problem is that you’re thinking in zero-sum terms, as if there’s only one pie of fixed size and we just need to figure out the fairest way of slicing it. I prefer to think in non-zero-sum terms. I want to figure out how to make more pie so that everyone can have their fill.

          Many being, what, 25%? over 50%? I doubt it’s even 5% Can you cite anything besides a few public celebrities?

          Well, it’s hard to get data that deals specifically with the opinions of millionaires and billionaires; but recent opinion surveys have shown that a person’s income has only a relatively small effect on his or her views about taxes, whereas party affiliation has a much more substantial effect: Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to say that their taxes are too high and that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy ought to be extended. So, party affiliation could serve as a very rough proxy measure of attitudes about taxes. In the last three presidential elections, between 35% and 55% of people in the highest income brackets supported the Democratic candidate. (SOURCE) This would seem to suggest that a sizable percentage of the wealthiest Americans are willing to pay their fair share of taxes. Not all of them, to be sure; but certainly more than your hypothesized 5%.

          Who do you think funds efforts to extend tax cuts for the top 1%? Poor people?

          Selfish rich people (i.e. Republicans). I’m pretty sure that Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, George Soros, and Ted Turner are not funding these efforts.

          Is the party of Goldman Sachs the party of the “altruistic and civic minded”? There is no way I would ever argue that the Republicans are not beholden to money, but the Dems are no better. Remember, for example, that it was Clinton who gutted welfare and deregulated Glass-Steagall.

          There’s simply no way to win an election today without tons of campaign funding from wealthy corporate donors. The Democratic Party can either accept these donations, or else commit electoral suicide. But, you’re right to point out that many Democrats, including Bill Clinton, fell for the neoliberal scam that promised big payoffs in the short run for those willing to defer the costs to the long run. But at least the Democratic Party is starting to have its doubts about neoliberalism, and is developing a renewed appreciation for the wisdom of Keynes. The Republican Party, on the other hand, still clings dogmatically to neoliberalism, refusing to acknowledge how it almost led to a collapse of the entire global economy.

          You defended earning limitless wealth provided the wealthy adopt (voluntarily, apparently) an altruistic attitude.

          Did I? I think you’re reading more into what I wrote than what I actually wrote. I said nothing about “limitless” wealth. In fact, I defended a highly progressive tax system, which would, by definition, preclude the accumulation of “limitless” wealth.

          Wealthy individuals are what create the wealthy class, not sure what your point is.

          Wealthy individuals make up the wealthy class in much the same way that individual airline passengers make up the First Class section of the aircraft. If you’re flying Economy Class, your section of the plane might be crowded, and your seat might be uncomfortable; and you may resent the fact that only a few people get to fly in relative luxury at the front of the plane. But blaming the individual passengers in First Class for occupying those comfy seats seems rather petty. They’re just doing what every other passenger on the flight would do if they could. (Has any airline passenger in history ever turned down a free upgrade to First Class out of a sense of solidarity with the folks in Economy?)

          But if you agree that the system itself is wrong because it is harmful to society, then it doesn’t make sense to argue that the behavior of individual’s exploiting that system is not also harmful to society.

          First of all, I didn’t say that the system itself is “wrong”. I would no more apply a moral judgment to the operation of the market economy than I would apply a moral judgment to the laws of physics. Gravity is sometimes harmful. That doesn’t mean that it is “wrong”. But it does mean that there is a need for safety measures – e.g. guardrails, safety nets – to prevent injury from falls. The market, like gravity, is an impersonal and amoral force that can be put to good use, but that also carries the potential for harm. This harm is not necessarily the result of anyone’s malfeasance; though sometimes malfeasance does occur. But exploiting the market for one’s own benefit is no more immoral than exploiting gravity for one’s own benefit; so long as you are careful not to harm others in the process, and are willing to take responsibility (including financial responsibility) for any harm you might unintentionally cause.

          Just because they can get away with it, does not justify their wealth. If it was legal to own slaves, it still could not be justified. If the rich agree with us, then they need to abandon their wealth.

          Sorry, but I just don’t buy your analogy. Being wealthy is simply not the moral equivalent to owning slaves. In the former case someone merely has an (over)abundance of something that other people may lack, which may offend our sense of fairness, but does not violate anyone’s human rights. In the latter case someone is directly and deliberately subjecting other human beings to abuse for purely selfish motives. There is no comparison between the two at all.

          And if they put all their money into building a movement to abolish extremes of wealth, it might actually create a mass movement.

          Yeah. Those NEVER go badly.

          Your argument is the same as saying that slavery was not an individual problem because it was a systemic one.

          Again, false equivalency. Wealth is not slavery; and, in my view, unlike yours, wealth per se is not immoral. Some of the things that people do in order to acquire and hold onto their wealth are certainly immoral. Some people use their wealth in ways that are immoral. Greed and selfishness are immoral. But money itself is amoral. It’s merely a tool; and like any tool it can be put to good use or bad, depending on the character and motives of the person using it.

          Extreme wealth imperils both human rights and democracy.

          That statement is a bit too oversimplified. Over the past few centuries the production of wealth has actually gone hand-in-hand with the expansion of human rights and the spread of democracy. The problem with what we’ve seen in recent decades is not that certain individuals are wealthy, it’s that there is a growing disparity between rich and poor, unseen since the days of the so-called “robber barons”. Wealth and power are becoming more and more concentrated in the hands of a few, and there are fewer and fewer opportunities for the average person to get ahead. This is not the fault of any individual rich person. It’s the fault of government policies – promoted by the Republican Party – that are designed to dam up the flow of wealth from the top of the socioeconomic hierarchy to the bottom.

          Democratic control of the House, Senate, and Executive branch; a greatly demoralized republican party with Palin as their leading figure; a filibuster that could be defeated with a simple majority (not 60 votes) under the so-called “nuclear option”; and what happened? Altruism? Progressive taxation? Severing of corporate influence? No.

          The problem is that the Republican Party is highly organized and very disciplined, with a single mission statement: do everything necessary to block progressive reform, no matter what it takes. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is hopelessly disorganized and divided, with nothing even remotely resembling party discipline. Yes, the Democratic Party technically had a majority in both houses of Congress. But a sizeable chunk of that Democratic majority consisted of conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats – basically politicians who think like Republicans but run as Democrats. (Yeah, American politics is weird, I know.) In order to get anything done in Congress for the past two years, Obama, Pelosi, and Reid had to bargain and cut deals with the more conservative members of their own party before they could even sit down at the negotiating table with the Republicans. And all the while the Republicans were engaging in a propaganda campaign designed to convince the voters that even the most moderate reforms proposed by the Obama administration were evil socialist plots to ruin America. Yet, in spite of all of this, if you actually look at the record of what Obama/Pelosi/Reid got accomplished over the past two years, it’s extremely impressive. Arguably, they got more progressive legislation passed than this country has seen since the 1960s. If you compare what Obama has gotten done with what previous presidents have gotten done, his record looks amazing. It only looks disappointing if you insist on comparing it with some absurdly pie-in-the-sky ideal of what you wish he had been able to accomplish.

          The rich got richer and the poor got poorer.

          Can’t argue with that. But this is the result of a long-term trend that is not going to be reversed overnight, no matter who is in office or what policies get enacted. Even if the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy had been allowed to expire, the rich would still be getting richer and the poor would still be getting poorer. It’s gonna take a lot more than a few tax reforms to turn this puppy around.

          We got more war and less civil liberties.

          You’re kidding, right? Were you even awake during the Bush administration?

          Every two years, both parties move further right.

          Sadly, that is true. Or at least it was true until quite recently. After the president’s most recent State of the Union address, Rachel Maddow advanced the hypothesis that Obama has staked a claim to the “center” of American politics, resisting the Republican pull to the right. But, at least until Obama, it is true that both parties have moved further and further to the right. Why is this? For one thing, for the past 30 years or more, the right has been better organized than the left. For another thing, folks on the far left, like you, don’t support the Democratic Party anymore. If the party knows that it isn’t going to get your vote anyway, why should it bother trying to appeal to your political preferences?

  15. Anonymous says:

    I have been a teacher for 12 years. I did a change of career at the age of 42 because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of our young people. I worked as a letter carrier for the postal service and when my day was over, it was over. As a teacher I work long hours, have duties where I don’t get paid — for example I supervise the playground and get a 10 minute lunch 3 times a week. My planning hour is spent with IEP, ILP’s, lesson plans, doing my own copying, grading papers, contacting parents and basically working my tail off all in the name of raising test scores so the monies can go to McGraw-Hill — the creators of the test. It costs Colorado 15 million dollars for this test. I make 39,000 a year with a master’s degree plus 30 additional hours beyond my master’s degree. When I think how much Jon Stewart makes with probably less education it makes me want to regurgitate. The people who complain the most about teachers always say they wouldn’t want to do my job. Why is that? The low pay? The long hours? The discipline of their kids while they work and use us as a day care? You tell me. I will be glad when I can retire in 7 years because I won’t have to be disrespected for doing something I love. Maybe we should tear up Jon Stewart’s contract and see how he feels. At least he’s paid well for being just a talking head.

  16. IronyElemental says:

    Oh, Jon Stewart. It doesn’t matter how many times you fly into the heart of the Fox News cognitive dissonance Death Star and blow it the fuck up. They will just build a new one.

  17. jonr says:

    Incompetent teachers should be fired, yes, as opposed to the perfectly competent people who ran the mortgage industry (and almost the entire economy) into the ground… THOSE people continue to get not only salaries of literally hundreds of times those paid to teachers, but BONUSES. Because… wait… huh?

    Oh, and we dare not regulate the system because that would cost jobs… wait… huh?

  18. bunaen says:

    Does anyone have a link to this 7:56 video? All I can find at the Daily show site are three and five minute versions.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Here the conservative capitalists, present the argument that these are people funded by taxpayer dollars. It is this argument that is the basis of cutting salaries of teachers and funding for education. The salaries in which are not in the six figure range of most of the pundits and television analysts that are crying our for them to take a cut in their earnings. There is no one in this country or any other that needs a six figure income to live a more than comfortable life. Instead of hitting the people who are responsible for making sure that generations to come are capable of making informed and intelligent decisions. Why not cut the salaries of the government officials that reach well into the six figure range, who work far less on a yearly basis than the teachers or our children. I don’t need a Mercedes or a million dollar home. So why should the people that I and other tax payers employ get more than we need for our selves. Seriously, who’s boss drives a shittier car than they do? Anyone? Wait, you there in the corner. Oh never mind that was the shadow of logic this species lost long ago.

  20. Prof Yeti says:

    I’ve been a teacher for the last 5 years in China, teaching at both a university and smaller private schools, mostly to ESL students. Right now there are tons of applicants from the US to international schools here: I’ve heard that many of the open positions are getting up to 400 applicants. Lots of teachers searching for greener pastures.

    As for me, I’m probably moving back to the US next year and plan on going back to school to get into a different career. Being a teacher is hard enough without having to deal with all of the shit and disrespect teachers are getting nowadays in the U.S. (and as for everyone and anyone who has anything to say about teachers without having been a teacher, GFY. You don’t know, so STFU). I have a master’s in Education. I’m glad I got it for personal reasons (you know, being educated and all), but it seems like a bit of a waste at this point. As others (teachers) on here have pointed out, what’s the point of spending your own money for your own supplies and education, spending extra time grading/in the classroom to do what’s REQUIRED to be a good teacher; dealing with kids in gangs, pregnant teen mothers, kids with severe home problems; dealing with shitty administrations and even shittier representatives who say one thing and do another; dealing with all of this and usually not getting any special clout because of it but getting this sort of “well, he must be a teacher because he wasn’t good at anything else” sort of look from people, as though it’s some kind of publicly undiscussed secret that most teachers actually come from garbage bins, and isn’t it a little embarrassing that one teaches your kid, and, well, it’s too bad there’s no better options, and hey, you don’t really deserve those benefits, do you?

    fuck.

    I’m over “doing it for the kids.” Sorry kids. Let someone else “do it for you” for awhile. l say let the whole thing burn to the ground at this point.

    And, just to not end on a sour note: I want to see TEACHERS getting more funding, not educational bureaucracy, though even that could use a bit more (cut military spending). Every classroom should have either a) two teachers–a novice teacher and a more experienced teacher who can model good teaching to the new teacher and help bring them more easily into the teaching fold (someone above quoted a 5 year average before teachers leave the field. It’s closer to 2-3 years); or, b) 12-15 students per class. I think the first option makes the most sense. Yes, let’s make it harder to be tenured. Let’s also pay teachers more when they get there. Like, a lot more. Research is great. Let’s not let it get in the way of local contexts and situations however. Teachers are smart. When they are treated as such and given the tools and the means to solve the problems happening in their classrooms, they will. Treat teachers like capable professionals who have been highly trained and certified, not like slaves who need utmost guidance from those on high and whom most likely haven’t been to a classroom since graduation.

    @burritoflats
    Over the last decade class sizes have nearly doubled in many states, teachers are getting paid the same while prices have risen, economic crises have effected the middle class (teachers) and done serious damage to their own financial lives, the poor AND THEIR CHILDREN have gotten poorer and then they’ve gone to school without eating breakfast, No Child Left Behind has stripped teachers of any freedom they had (not that they had much to begin with) and made classes infinitely more tedious, the teachers’ unions are both a godsend (sometimes) and a terrifying army of pit bulls (sometimes), and now, as their jobs are getting EVEN HARDER, people are trying to say, “nope, you don’t deserve what you get” in the same breath that they say corporate swindlers who have wrecked an economy deserve huge bonuses. Teachers have every right to feel undervalued times a billion, not just by their government and communities, but also by their own families that suck up the BS coming from the tube with a straw. It’s only a matter of time before everybody jumps the education ship because it’s on fire.

    RANT OVER YES NOW I FEEL BETTER

    • burritoflats says:

      In my specific part of America, teachers average $67,000 per year. They do not have to pay for health benefits. They only work nine months per year. If and when they retire, they will retire with upwards of a 80 percent pensions.

      In my area it is nearly impossible for a teacher to get fired (thanks, teacher’s union!)

      Children are not graduating with reading skills. Children have low overall test scores.
      Obviously teachers in my area are not doing their jobs. Maybe they should work a little bit harder and produce students of at least average intelligence.

      Yes, teachers work hard. We all work hard. Is there someone here that doesn’t work hard?

      • VagabondAstronomer says:

        Dude, what planet are you on? In what cave under what rock on said planet do you live? Three months a year off? Kee-rist!
        Care to think what we did during those three months? Planning, dude! During spring break? Usually workshops. Some of us taught summer school, night classes, or tutored. Did I get a bump in pay for all those extra hours? Bueller? Bueller?
        No, bf, because we was salaried (and the clincher? While my benefits were the same and we kept the same hours, I was at a private school that did work with the state public school system).
        If teaching is so cushy, try it, and then get back to us here in a little neck of the woods we like to refer to as reality.

      • kjulig says:

        And you think that’s solely the teachers’ fault and that it can be fixed by paying them less? Why, in your opinion, do better-paid teachers in other countries produce dramatically better results, and with 100% unionization at that?

        No, it can’t be that the system is broken and that being a teacher needs to be more attractive. It will surely get better if you pay them less, the same way you would presumably be more motivated if you got less money.

      • Anonymous says:

        “Where I live there are no plans to cut teacher pay or pensions (or heavenly health benefits)”

        Good.

        “Where I live the public sector unions will soon bankrupt not only our city, but most likely our entire state – that is unless the unions man up and ask their pampered teacher employees to take 10 percent pay cuts across the board.”

        I don’t know where you live but in Wisconsin, the budget shortfall coincidentally came about after Walker gave tax breaks to billionaires in the state and gave raises to his buddies. The unions agreed to take the cuts Walker asked for as long as they could keep collective bargaining rights — Walker refused.

        Where you live, why don’t you look at what sort of tax breaks the rich have gotten lately? Why don’t you ask your Republican representatives to take pay cuts?

        “Frankly, I’m a bit shocked to see all of the general union support here at BB – unions may have been wonderful and brilliant back in the late 1940s up until 1963 or so.”

        Unions could use reform, this is true. But that doesn’t mean you get rid of them completely. You axe the unions and you can say goodbye to regulations that keep workers safe and provide them with a livable wage and time off.

        So unless you want to work fourteen hours a day, seven days a week with no vacation time and no standards to protect you for less than minimum wage, you better think twice about getting rid of the unions.

        “But unions (private and public) have ruined many things here in America. What have the unions done to help Detroit, now in it’s time of need? Not much. Most of the world’s auto manufacturing is done outside of the USA while a major city (Detroit) dies more and more each day”

        Instead of blaming the unions, why don’t you ask the CEOs of that corporation what THEY’VE done to help Detroit in its time of need?

        In the 60s, CEOs made around 20% more than their employees. Today, CEOs make 200% more than their average employees. They also give themselves bonuses and expense accounts. They cut corners on safety regulations. They get tax breaks. And they say that they need to ship jobs overseas to save money? Bull and shit. They ship jobs overseas to MAKE money.

        Try living on what workers make in China or Mexico. You won’t be able to.

        “In my specific part of America, teachers average $67,000 per year.”

        God forbid you pay someone what they deserve.

        “They do not have to pay for health benefits.”

        Good.

        “They only work nine months per year.”

        No they don’t. Many teachers spend their summers getting further education and they do so with their own money. The teachers who don’t have a tendency to teach summer school or get a part-time job during the summer.

        “If and when they retire, they will retire with upwards of a 80 percent pensions.”

        Those pensions aren’t given to them — they pay into those pensions and as a result, their social security payments will be less.

        “In my area it is nearly impossible for a teacher to get fired (thanks, teacher’s union!)”

        Good.

        “Children are not graduating with reading skills. Children have low overall test scores. Obviously teachers in my area are not doing their jobs. Maybe they should work a little bit harder and produce students of at least average intelligence.”

        Or maybe standardized tests have crippled the ability of teachers to do their jobs properly. Finland has one of the best education systems in the world and they don’t use standardized tests. If classes are overcrowded, students can’t get the attention they need. This is how students fall through the cracks.

        “Yes, teachers work hard. We all work hard. Is there someone here that doesn’t work hard?”

        Yeah, CEOs. Wall Street bankers. They make their living off the backs of the working people. And yet you seem to have no qualms with them. No, it’s all the fault of those damn teachers with their middle class wages.

  21. ADavies says:

    Teaching is hard work. I know, because I was a pain in the ass as a student.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I mean, the BB summation is slightly misleading, but if you’re not used to that, you must be new here. The BB headlines tend to be more provoking than the reality in general.

    It’d be better to just say that Fox is a 2-faced lying machine with no real ethics. Not news, but Jon Stewart puts it together so poignantly with the aid of news clips that it still strikes even the most cynical of us as beautiful.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Do some teachers have university style tenure? This confuses me. Pre-collegiate instructors have no great need of tenure. They generally aren’t researching or putting forth controversial theories. Granted, I think the intelligent design/evolution BS that the US has had to go through indicates that non-research instructors do need some protections, but certainly not to the degree that someone who actively needs money and administrative support to pursue research does. Teachers need protection more from [moronic, ]provincial parents than they need protection from their peers.

  24. Anonymous says:

    When you (illegally) bailout a private company, rather than let it go bankrupt, you have no say in the existing contracts of the company. If the company had filed for bankruptcy, all contracts become null and void.

    Perhaps the government should have bailed out the companies AFTER letting them file for bankruptcy?

    I see a stark difference between an individual’s contract with his company and eliminating collective bargaining for a public union.

    First and foremost, a transaction must be between two willing parties. Wisconsin was not willing to deal with the teachers union. Those teachers are also not legally forced to continue working for the state of Wisconsin.

  25. Raj77 says:

    Yes, I for one will never forgive those pesky unions of Detroit auto industry workers who decided to move to offshore production in order to exploit the supply of much cheaper labour in South-East Asia, so they could lay off the Detroit auto industry workers.

    Oh wait, that *wasn’t* the unions, was it?

  26. ill lich says:

    There are so many arguments to make for either side, and if you take them all at face value it’s hard to make a reasoned choice. So instead ask yourself: do you want good public schools or not? Budget problems aside, would you be willing to pay more for better teachers and better schools? You’re simply not going to get good teachers and a good educational system by paying less, anymore than you’re going to get a good car by paying less. If “bad teachers making too much money” is the problem then address that problem specifically, not with the clumsy and contentious “solution” of castrating the teachers union (I guarantee the teachers union does not want to have bad teachers either, so find a better way of dealing with bad teachers.) It’s no coincidence that the states with teachers unions and collective bargaining also have better educational performances than the states without.

    But anyway, whatever money Wisconsin saves by Walker’s heavy-handed tactics against teachers is a tiny drop in the bucket compared to their budget shortfall (this is like saying we can balance the federal budget by doing away with “earmarks”– it’s a miniscule portion of the deficit.) Every state has budget problems, but trying to solve it by skimping on our kids education is going to breed a generation of stupid adults. . . or maybe that’s what the GOP really wants anyway. GOP congressmen and the talking heads on Fox don’t have to worry– they can afford to send their kids to private schools (I’ll bet most of them already do too.)

    Cutting education budgets is like sweeping the problem under the rug– it won’t become apparent that this was a bad decision until years down the line when the drop-out rate soars and crime statistics rise. If we cut the budget for roads it would only take one year before the public was screaming about all the potholes, but education we can apparently ignore because the consequences are not so immediately obvious.

  27. Anonymous says:

    You should put all teachers on minimum wage. I mean, a college degree for teaching kids ? Many home schooled kids turn out way better, and the little woman can surely teach them the basics between trips to the stove and the washing machine. An added benefit is that they learn whats important in life : men bring home the bacon and women cook it for them.

  28. james4765 says:

    This old goddamn saw about unions making it impossible to fire someone. I was a union shop steward (not in education, but in another fine old industry). A lot of the mischief makers were quite convinced that they were un-fireable – that the union contract made it impossible for them to lose their jobs.

    In actuality, it was incompetent, lazy management. As soon as our piece-of-s**t manager got fired and they brought in a troubleshooter, things changed. He told me and the other stewards up front that he would be building a paper trail on everyone, and to let people know to shape up or ship out. We told him we’d fight every step of the way, but thanks for the warning.

    And he did. And we did. And because he was actually a competent administrator, with experience in dealing with union issues, he won the grievances, and a few of the really bad actors lost their jobs. He didn’t win every one, but it had a huge effect on the shop – with the worthless thugs gone, first shift (where most of the bad ones were) became a lot more efficient.

    You want to know why worthless teachers stay around? Because worthless administrators can’t be bothered to put forth the effort to get rid of them. It should be hard. It should involve multiple levels so local grudges don’t cause good teachers to lose their jobs. But bad employees only stay around because crap management lets them.

  29. koichan says:

    Gah, you so need a sarcasm tag or something.

    Reading this at work on my (android) mobile, i was left to stew over a seemingly rabid right-wing psychopathic view. Upon getting home i see the video was literally dripping with sarcasm.

    Whilst on a highly bandwidth-starved ~5kb/sec GPRS mobile link at work, the text version of this article looked like rightwing propaganda, the dripping sarcasm of the video is absent on a low bandwidth link.

    Please take into account those who are bandwidth-starved depending on location, in a bandwidth-starved non-3G area your site could easily take on a rightwing edge by accident due to the videos not being viable to watch.

    • SamSam says:

      Err, the people calling for a sarcasm tag were referring to other commentors. Not the text of this article. I don’t think the issue was your phone, I think it was lack of careful reading.

      The text of the article says “the same people who object to limiting the tax-funded bonuses of bailed out bankers because it would violate their contracts say that teachers’ contracts should be torn up and their benefits slashed.”

      There is no sarcasm there at all. Nor does it sound anything like right-wing propaganda. Maybe you got the subject and the object mixed up or something? The article is saying that the same idiots who want to tear up teacher’s contracts also fell over backwards to defend the bankers. That’s all it says. It’s pretty clear.

  30. ananken says:

    The problem of, “tenure for [seriously] incompetent teachers”, isn’t going to be solved by taking away and/or limiting benefits for ALL teachers. This is just the typical, hypocritical, double standard, employed by the greedy, corrupt, and heartless.

    I would love to see all those folks who thought living on $5x,xxx a year was extravagant attempt to raise their families on that income – without benefits.

  31. Anonymous says:

    It’s a shame that incompetent citizens can’t be fired.

  32. Donald Petersen says:

    Others have mentioned the long hours that many (most?) teachers have to put in off the clock, from classroom preparation to grading papers. I will add the out-of-pocket expenses which a great many teachers incur simply to have educational materials and consumables on-hand. My wife teaches fourth grade. I can’t even calculate how much we have spent on pens, pencils, ink cartridges, and other expendables for the students, many of whom are too poor to furnish their own school supplies, and the school itself hasn’t enough to go around. I can’t admit that it happened lately (certainly not here in this fine, fine multinational corporation that currently employs me and furnishes the high-speed network through which I am typing at you even now), but there may have been several reams (nay… cases!) of copier paper that have found their way to my wife’s classrooms simply because the district couldn’t afford it, but I happened to be working near an unattended shelf full of it. (But not here, not lately, not me, no way!) Still, the out-of-pocket expenses were jaw-dropping to me, when I met my wife six years ago. She just shrugs and figures it’s part of the job.

  33. burritoflats says:

    I’ve been surroundd by teachers all of my life. All four of my older sisters are teachers. My oldest sister has been teaching kindergarten for forty years. I have at least 8 close friends who are teachers of varying levels

    ALL of these teacher friends and relatives of mines have always been quite happy in their profession, lovingly preparing lesson plans and materials for their classes.

    Starting about 2 years ago I’ve noticed an ever-creeping bitterness in each of my teacher friend/relatives. I’ve also noticed an ever-increasing disenchantment with their work hours, pay and pensions. In my state teachers get FREE medical for themselves and up to 4 family members PLUS teachers generally get full pay pensions until they die

    In a time when unemployment is roughly 10-20% nationwide I get sick to the stomach when I hear my friends and relatives moan and moan about their measely pay and low pensions

    I used to be pro American teacher – now I am not

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey, in my country everybody, not only teachers get free medical care. We live in the 21st sentury …

    • mdh says:

      So, you’re not pro-teacher and you wonder why your teacher relatives seem to resent you.

      Hmmm. Really?

    • Anonymous says:

      Burritoflats and others may be missing something major here.

      I work 10 months a year as a teacher, with the same conditions as others have mentioned: spending several thousand dollars a year on my own classroom supplies – yes, we report it to the IRS – and working about 10-12 hours a day for those ten months a year, so yes, it works out to the same hours as any other masters-degree-requiring field. In my case, not belonging to the union is useless, incidentally – we have to pay the same mount either way as a penalty, so why not join? And incidentally, I’ve been doing it for about twenty YEARS.

      But the bigger issue in terms of time and compensation is the degree and professional licensure issues. Comparing teacher salaries to blue collar workers makes little sense; to be able to stay a teacher for more than about 5 years, one must get a higher degree, and pay for jobs that require masters degrees is assumed to be higher culturally, not just to pay off loans, but because it’s a profession – like, say doctor or lawyer – that requires the professionalism and degree, and SHOULD _ because kids should be taught by someone who has studied the profession, and has a professional license. THEN, In order to get and retain a license, teachers must PAY FOR and ATTEND – outside of those ten months – the equivalent of a year of a masters degree program PER YEAR. On their own time, and most often, at least partially on their own dollar. Guess what my summer vacation is spent doing. Here’s a hint: when you take classes all summer, if you want to have a few hours a day with your kids, you have to do your summer job instead of sleep.

      Let’s be clear about the money and time, then. Like teachers in most states, my salary – which is currently at the wisconsin average, it seems – has 11% taken out FOR my retirement – this is no entitlement, it is a loss of spendable income in the short and medium term for me to buy lunch for my kids, or pay my mortgage. It has another 11% taken out for benefits. It has ANOTHER 3-4% going to classroom supplies. It has 2% taken out for “union non-member penalty” – which is the ten dollars less that union fees I pay to NOT belong to the union. It has about 2% going to medical deductables, which are very high for the benefits package the state offers us, and which we cannot choose to leave. And it has ANOTHER 4% going to courses, about 2% going to clothes that I have to wear because of the “professional dress” expectation [think of having to pay for your own uniform, but not being able to wear the same one every day], and about 1% going to licensure requirements of other types. All that, and I have to spend the equivalent of those “extra” two months a year in the classroom, or doing homework for graduate-level courses. And that’s AFTER working the same hours as a 40 hr. a week, two weeks vacationa year employee anywhere else.

      After all that is taken into consideration, despite the fact that I “make” about 50k a year – a mid-to-high range teacher salary – my two-kid family is currently UNDER THE POVERTY LINE in my state. We used food stamps to make sure we had the proper nutrition for our kids when they were small, and thank whatever higher power you prefer to cite for having that outlet. Putting my kids through college will be quite literally impossible, and as our local taxes go up, we’re getting squeezed out of our relatively small one-family home.

      So I call BULLSHIT on those like burritoflats who think that teacher salaries are high. When one takes into account what money of that is actually TAKE HOME SALARY, one finds that teachers still get what they’ve always gotten – barely sustainable, non-union-equivalent blue collar entry-level pay for white-collar professional work. And increasingly, they get shit on for it. No wonder they’re despondent.

    • Anonymous says:

      So. Their “bitterness” angers you.

      How much have you borrowed from teacher-supported family members since your contract gigs dried up 3 years ago?

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you sick of highly paid teachers?

      Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or10 months a year! It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – babysit!

      We can get that for less than minimum wage.

      That’s right. Let’s give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan– that equals 6 1/2 hours).

      Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.

      However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.

      LET’S SEE….

      That’s $585 X 180= $105,300

      per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).

      What about those special

      education teachers and the ones with Master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an

      hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.

      Wait a minute — there’s

      something wrong here! There sure is!

      The average teacher’s salary

      (nation wide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days

      = $277.77/per day/30

      students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student–a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!) WHAT A DEAL!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      I would really like to know what state you live in. In California where I work a teacher gets a pension of about 50% of their average salary for the last three years they work after working for 20 years. They generally get medical benefits until they reach age 65 (if they are younger when they retire) when they have nothing but Medicare. So what state do you live in–I want to work there!

    • Anonymous says:

      Two years ago would have been when the idea of severely cutting public spending was first doing the rounds: until then, teachers’ pay was fairly stable as adequate, but not as much as similarly qualified private sector workers, just adequate and stable, good things to have in a job you love, especially in tough times.
      Now that there are plans to cut pay and benefits for teachers, the pay and benefits don’t look so good, because they’re on the way down. What’s more, the tough job market means there’s nowhere else to go, meaning the high unemployment gives them MORE reason to resent the pay and conditions because the only choices are that or unemployment.

      As for getting healthcare for their families and an admittedly cushy pension, far as my European eyes can see, you’re just jealous because they’re being treated like human beings. That’s what unions are good for, and it’s what you Americans are missing out on. Don’t complain that someone else has healthcare and a pension, demand them for yourself.

      • burritoflats says:

        Where I live there are no plans to cut teacher pay or pensions (or heavenly health benefits)
        Where I live the public sector unions will soon bankrupt not only our city,
        but most likely our entire state – that is unless the unions man up
        and ask their pampered teacher employees to take 10 percent pay cuts
        across the board.

        Frankly, I’m a bit shocked to see all of the general union
        support here at BB – unions may have been wonderful
        and brilliant back in the late 1940s up until 1963 or so.

        But unions (private and public) have ruined
        many things here in America. What have the unions done
        to help Detroit, now in it’s time of need? Not much.
        Most of the world’s auto manufacturing is done
        outside of the USA while a major city (Detroit)
        dies more and more each day

        • Anonymous says:

          What have the unions done to help Detroit? Well, they’ve taken pay cuts in exchange for job security. They have also accepted new job descriptions that allow them to be much more flexible than they have been in the past. Bearing in mind that the union members cannot earn a living on Mexican or Asian wages, I would like to know what else you propose they do to “help Detroit, in its time of need”. And lest you go on to paint all unions with the same neo-conservative brush, I direct you to Germany, which still has incredibly powerful labor unions — have you ever tried to fire somebody in Germany? — and yet trails only China in terms of net exports.

          On the flip side, I am not somebody who blindly supports unions. A couple of unions that worked for the Detroit newspapers basically disintegrated in the early ’90s when they went on strike after refusing, essentially, to change their job descriptions to be compatible with then-modern technology and newspaper markets. I did not support that strike because it was clear that the newspapers would die if the unions got their way (ironically killing all of the jobs the union was fighting for in the process). Most of the union members saw it the same way, quit the unions, and crossed the picket lines (the now-famous Mitch Albom was one of them).

          As for teachers, I agree that it should be easier to fire bad ones. I also don’t have much sympathy when I hear about all of the “unpaid” work they do — like many of us, they are salaried employees hired to do a job, and if they choose to spend extra time on it, that is on them. Where I went to school, teachers spent six hours a day in the classroom — that’s nominally a 30-hour work week. I currently have a (nominally) 38-hour work week, but it is not unusual for me to spend 50-60 hours a week on work. A teacher can spend an extra 5 hours preparing lessons and 10 hours grading papers and still be working many fewer hours than me even *before* factoring in the summers off. That said, teachers perform a vital function and spend money out of their own pockets (something I do not do for my employer). I think they *ought* to earn high salaries — $67,000/year plus benefits does not seem unreasonable to me, and I would even support much higher salaries for good teachers — and I do not begrudge them their summers off. University professors get much more and do much less, at least in terms of teaching, and often do so on the public’s dime.

          I highly recommend a recent episode of NPR’s Planet Money podcast where they discuss the economic value of teachers. They interview somebody who claims to have quantified how many trillions — yes, trillions — of dollars bad teachers cost the US economy, and how many trillions good teachers can generate. He also claims to have a merit-based way of separating the good from the bad. Whether you agree with him or not, it is thought-provoking.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Please tell your sisters that and post pics of the abrasions and contusions.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I’m posting in response to the person who said that K-12 teachers don’t need tenure. My dad was a teacher, and a year seldom went by that someone didn’t try to get him fired. And he was one of those sweet, pushover, bleeding-heart teachers. And a shop teacher. But he’d fail a kid now and then (who couldn’t add, wouldn’t attend class, etc.), and that would lead to someone coming after his job. Or he’d send a kid to the office, and being somewhat of an idiot (or fair), he’d send football players and the sons of the local politicos too. So the faculty/administration didn’t support him, not to mention that they thought a shop teacher was a joke and failure anyway. All he had to protect himself was tenure and the union (that he hated).

  35. AGC says:

    Teachers are there to teach the basic curriculum, that’s it. Don’t expect them to be superheros. I don’t want a mechanic to do more than to fix cars.

    Teachers with hobbies like bird watching, acting, carpentry make good teachers. They know how to separate the actual content from make work bureaucracy. To be a great teacher you have to know something, be interested in something.

    The educational system we have is antiqued. We should have a central guidance councilor leading 30-60 students and bringing in a rotation of professionals in various fields for instruction, specialized advice. Things should be always moving. Not doing well in one class – time to move you to another. Staggered start times throughout the year. There is no point in watching a kid struggle along only to just keep getting by.

  36. chgoliz says:

    The way to get substantial numbers of quality teachers is the same way we get quality doctors, lawyers, architects, or business executives: you have to pay for it.

    If public school teacher salaries went to $80-120K after the first three years and continued to rise as teaching awards and other indications of greater skill accumulated, highly intelligent college students would consider a career in teaching as a first choice instead of a last resort. If we had competition for entry level teaching positions the way we have for first year law associate positions, and at least three years for them to prove themselves in the classroom before being being accepted to “partner” level, we’d have a better quality of teachers to pick from at that three year mark.

    It’s a disrespected and poorly paid profession (in the US). Yes, there are selfless idealists who teach anyway because they get so much more out of it than “mere” money, but that’s not a realistic plan to convince large numbers of the best and the brightest to turn away from a professional career making family-supportable money and having a big office and support staff.

    Make it a career that people can brag about, and see how many more highly qualified people you can get.

    • Cheaplazymom says:

      Sounds like you are describing (a bit) Finland, which leads in international test scores. I read a great article about the Finnish system but can’t find it now. Here’s something close: http://thetim.es/hfpWQa The basic premise– make it hard to be a teacher, pay them well, and give them lots of freedom. It really is the antithesis to how we do it here. And the results are dramatically better.

      I personally stand by all the civil unions. This fight has very little to do with state budgets and contractual details, this is about crushing labor. Period. and it is disgusting. Collective bargaining is the life blood of the labor movement. Without it there are no protections for common sense labor laws. And all the things we take for granted are suddenly up for grabs. Collective bargaining is about workers having a seat at the table. Don’t they deserve a voice?

      I frankly found Mr. Stewart’s video heart renchingly painful. How have we come to this? Fox News commentators spitting with contempt for teachers– scape goating people who seek no limelight, no great power, no bags of gold. Just makes me sad, disgusted and angry.

  37. hbl says:

    “Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don’t need little changes, we need monumental, gigantic changes. Schools should be palaces. The competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be making six figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and be absolutely free of charge to its citizens, just like national defence. That’s my position.” – Sam Seaborn

    • professorzed says:

      I agree with Mr. Sam Seaborn’s statement. In fact, I would like to see this on a calendar of inspirational quotes one day.

  38. Anonymous says:

    I have trouble getting worked up about it all, but for a weird reason. My wife’s experience just doesn’t jive with the apocalyptic rhetoric. She’s just one person, but her perspective is interesting none the less.

    My wife is a teacher at a school with maybe 2 people in the union. So it’s not really a factor. Her biggest complaint (besides her self imposed 12 hour days) is tenure for incompetent teachers*. Or maybe it’s the politics. Either way, there are just some people that suck as educators and really need to be dumped as fast as possible. Unfortunately these people remain a cancer even without a union to enforce tenure.

    I guess unions have no traction around here because everyone’s figured out it’s nearly impossible to get fired. Heck, they might actually get more members by offering to get the bad teachers fired!

    *seriously incompetent. One science teacher is so bad, they have been filming the other science teacher on closed circuit tv to make up for the first guy’s utter lack of .. of .. anything! For 3 years!

    • Anonymous says:

      I think the problem you need to look at there is how soon and how easily tenure is granted, not the means for rescinding it. Tenure is supposed to make educators bomb-proof, so that they can teach evolution and sex ed and fail students for plagiarism without fearing for their jobs, which is why getting rid of someone with tenure is such a PITA, but it’s also supposed to be something that takes years of continuous, high quality work to earn. So how long does it take to get tenure?

      • Bookburn says:

        I was tenured at the end of last school year and fully agree that it was all to easy. Certainly I feel much more comfortable in my science curriculum this year than I have in the years past. But I would like to see some kind of formal portfolio, presentation, or interview before tenure is simply handed out. Perhaps at first there is a “baby tenure” or initial tenure that provides limited protections while other requirements are met such as an additional 5 years teaching in a district and a masters degree. And I would like to see some kind of tenure probation where a crap teacher could get a tenure demotion and if they didn’t get their act together it would be easier for a district to remove them from service. One last suggestion would be to have some outside feedback. Perhaps a state education agency could observe teachers in their classrooms, assignments, curriculum and student progress. I think this would both insulate the teacher (to protect against administration/parents bearing some form of malice)as well as support districts with a second opinion (yes this teacher is crap).

        It also takes some balls. Districts can step up and implement some of the needed actions on their own. But administrators with some backbone are few and far between (it’s a lonely life to be sure). Most will simply wait until it becomes a state or federal policy.

    • JonStewartMill says:

      My wife is a teacher at a school with maybe 2 people in the union. So it’s not really a factor. Her biggest complaint (besides her self imposed 12 hour days) is tenure for incompetent teachers*. Or maybe it’s the politics. Either way, there are just some people that suck as educators and really need to be dumped as fast as possible. Unfortunately these people remain a cancer even without a union to enforce tenure.

      So, in a school where the union is “not really a factor”, there are incompetent teachers who can’t be fired, therefore unions are bad? I’m not seeing the logic here. It’s almost like an inverse no-true-Scotsman fallacy.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry, let me clarify. My point wasn’t that unions are bad. Just that one of the protections they normally offer isn’t needed at my wife’s school district. Just the opposite. A data point, not a generalization.

        Bad teachers are damaging to students, other teachers, budgets, and to the extent protected by tenure, lazy administrators, or unions, damaging to them as well. I can’t help but think of a scene from Waiting for Superman. If the bottom 6% of teachers were replaced with average teachers (not good, average), student performance would increase to on par with Finland.

        It’s a pity teachers unions don’t see doing that is in their self interest. If they made themselves the guarantor of teacher quality, there would be no way for Walker or anyone else to stand up to them. Weakening them would mean saying you wanted bad teachers. And think of the children … yada yada yada

        My 2 cents worth. Maybe less.

    • Anonymous says:

      A lot of teachers come home to non-teacher spouses and tell stories. I think most of those stories are negative. I mean, do you come home from the office and say, ‘guess what, honey? Everything went great today. We had a plan, we saw it through. Clockwork, sweetheart! What can I make for dinner?’

      I teach. Most days are great- I CHOSE THIS PROFESSION FOR MY CAREER, after all. The people I work with are professionals who care about kids and really know their subject areas. We face kids who are trying to sabotage instruction, parents who think their kid could NEVER do anything wrong and public opinion that we are freeloaders…and we face it by laughing and winning. Not ‘Charlie Sheen’ winning; but the less-focused kids go away, the good kids go on to college and we…keep…teaching.

      I wish you’d do me a favor: could you ask your wife who are the best teachers at her school? Get her to keep listing names…I think you’ll find that most of the teachers there are actual teachers.

    • Anonymous says:

      Incompetent, entrenched teachers are frequently the result of nepotism not unions. Mayors and board members get their friends and relatives jobs and then principals have a difficult time doing their jobs. Your wife should be angry with the administration that is not doing its job!!!!Unions only want teachers to have a chance to improve before being fired. Too many principals are not good administrators.

  39. bitter almond says:

    I’ve been teaching for nine years (six in Texas) and I am about to fucking crack.

    Nine months of work a year? Are you fucking kidding me? Seriously? First of all, my contract is for 7.75 hours a day, for ten months out of the year. I have never known a single teacher who works those hours. It’s more like 10-12 hours a day and then they send us to endless trainings of questionable usefulness during the summers. Starting this past year, we’ve been forced to go to trainings on weekends and evenings, outside our contract hours, when in the past they would hire substitutes and send us to professional development during the work day. I am sick to death of people saying how cushy teacher work hours are. They have no idea. Oh, and that “free” planning period they are required to give us? It’s eaten up by endless and useless meetings. We have actually had meetings about how to have meetings. Meta-meetings. Really.

    I pay for my health benefits. They were cut this year. If I were to keep the same level of benefits I’ve had for the past five years, I would have to pay approx. $1700/mo. Now I’m dropped down to the lowest level of healthcare and am paying the same out of pocket cost I paid before, for a much higher level of care. Awesome.

    Our principal makes jokes about us getting fired every faculty meeting. Morale is in the toilet. We are micromanaged to death. My class size has increased to the point that I no longer have enough seating in my classroom to house all the students. I have no power. I have been ordered to change failing grades to 70s. If students fail a test we are required to give them retakes. If students don’t turn in work, we can’t fail them.

    I have to serve my students freaking breakfast in my classroom and clean up their trash.

    Don’t get me started on testing. The kids have no real penalty for failing the tests. They go to summer school, worst case scenario, and are promoted to the next grade. They get a retake, sometimes two. I am the only one accountable for their scores. Not them. Just me. One of the tests I’m held accountable for isn’t even aligned to our curriculum. The kids are sick to death of the testing and some of the older ones have figured out that teachers’ jobs depend on them. There is talk of flunking to “get” teachers they have grievances with. As I said, they have no penalty for failure.

    Texas does not have real teachers’ unions. We have professional organizations that get us cheap tickets to the rodeo and occasionally defends us against criminal charges. We do not have tenure. We are getting fired left and right. And we have the same problems as districts with strong unions and tenure, by the way.

    I love teaching. It’s just… I hate my job.

  40. Wally Ballou says:

    the same people who object to limiting the tax-funded bonuses

    I call BS. Show me that a majority, or even more than a handful, of those who support Walker also support bonusing the bailed out bankers.

    • jjsaul says:

      Whoa, for a minute I almost thought you were serious. The internet really needs a sarcasm tag.

      But someone who really held that moronic opinion would be walking right into it:

      http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-march-3-2011/crisis-in-the-dairyland—for-richer-and-poorer—teachers-and-wall-street

    • Anonymous says:

      I call BS on your BS. Show me that a majority, or even more than a handful, of those who support the unions are also supporters of bonusing the bailed out bankers.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s not what the entry here says. It says “the same people who object to limiting the tax-funded bonuses of bailed out bankers because it would violate their contracts say that teachers’ contracts should be torn up and their benefits slashed.” And if you look at the video, you have the fox footage to compare and contrast.

    • William George says:

      Psst…

      He’s talking about those walking piles of horse shit at Fox News.

      The more I watch this news, the less disgusted I am at the Wisconsin branch of the Kochtopus because it’s like being angry at a fungus that grows in your bathroom: That’s just what fungus does.

      I’ve been getting more angry at the common people who support Walker for the exact same bullshit lies FoxNews is peddling about it even though his every move will hurt them as well. I shouldn’t but I expect better of humanity.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why do we have to call others with whom we disagree names? I used to love fox new and now I see the hypocracy on their side too. The fact they they could support driving teachers into poverty is so unbelievable to me that I am now willing to say yes tax the rich more!!!!!!! I used to be teacher who was a conservative and now I am an independent that thinks both democrats and republicans both need to clean up their acts. Lets not call names and further polarize our polarized system.

    • Anonymous says:

      Watch the FFFine video: The same woman who says the Wall Street bonuses can’t be grabbed because they’re in contracts goes on to say the teachers should set a good example for all the little children and give up their benefits.

  41. PaulR says:

    Props for finding a non-US-accessible link! Thanks!

  42. zyodei says:

    There is a lesson here about how the American propaganda apparatus works.

    If you want to vilify and destroy something, first you put together an outfit than claims to represent it, and then make them do awful things.

    It’s not all that different from Mubarak’s agent provocateurs.

    Do you really think Fox News, and the Billionaires who back it, really want truly free markets and no government intervention?

    No. They want free markets to the narrow extent that it will make their corporations a bit more profitable.

    But they love the favored status that regulations give large corporations. They love the coze relationship between the Federal Reserve and wall street/big banks. They love the massively lucrative contracts they regularly sign with the US government.

    So, they put together a “news channel.” In rhetoric, it speaks to some American ideals as economic liberty, personal liberty, and a small government. However, they mix it with all sorts of fascistic nonsense – hating on muslims and gays, regulating people’s social lives, canonizing the corporate and bankster crooks who have robbed the country blind, never questioning the largest fully socialized government institution of all, the military.

    What the the effect? The most gullible people get hooked in by the bits they agree with, and also swallow all the other Palinesque nonsense.

    The more intelligent people see the glaring hypocrisy and stupidity, and write off the more defensible things that Fox claims to represent as being associated with these crooks.

    So, people hear the term “free market,” and they think “Ah! You want to give the monopoly water company to Bechtel Corporation and the Koch brothers, and protect the freedom of wall street executives to keep their ill-gotten gain?”

    Folks such as Jon Stewart, on the other hand, also play a part in this..by helping to keep the debate narrowly limited to these two options, the not so good Democratic party or the much worse Republican party. Remember than Jon Stewart is also an employee of a multi-billion dollar media corporation.

    It’s one of the oldest tricks in the propaganda book: if you want to destroy your opposition, first you co-opt them, and make the public associate your paid agents with the group you want to destroy.

  43. Armada Volya says:

    Wow… this is sad… education is the most important thing there is. Without it there will be no talents, there will be no bankers and there will be no politicians. The world would be a darker place. For example before comunist revolution only 5% of people in Russia new how to read and write. The result? almost all the people there were slaves to 2 percent of the population. 50 years later Russia was anongst the most technology advancet countries in the world. What changed? everyone got education.

  44. Anonymous says:

    If yuo think Winsconsin is bad. The person in charge of the treasury department in Mexico believes that a family can live like kings with less than 6hundred dollars a month; he said that with that money a family can pay for a car, a house a private school etc. Of course someone that makes more than 20 thousand dollars a month cannot understand what is the reality of the people.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am pretty sure you can live rather well in Mexico for $600 a month. I had co-workers who worked minimum wage in Ohio 6 month a year and lived on that for the other six months in Mexico, rather well too.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t Scott Walker a public employee? Is he taking a paycut?

  46. anharmyenone says:

    I saw a documentary called “The Lottery” on Netflix instant watch. There is hope.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Taylor Mali said it best I think.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxsOVK4syxU

    • Anonymous says:

      I just spent 30 minutes watching Taylor Mali on Youtube – he did say it best. What a cool guy, thanks for the link.

    • facetedjewel says:

      Excellent! Oh, I like that guy, he’s old school, like the kind of teachers I had. Yes, I’m older than dirt.

  48. Anonymous says:

    If you watch his recent interview with Diane Ravitch, Stewart seemed awfully close to defending the current levels of testing, charter schools, Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind. I suppose you could argue that he was playing Devil’s advocate, but that certainly wasn’t the impression that I got. In particular, his characterization that the push for charter schools was a sincere attempt at education reform rather than a greedy privatization scheme.

    On the other hand, I completely agree with with his defense of the “fat cat teachers”. Although, it’s hard to take him seriously when, in spite of this, he believes that people should be allowed to amass and horde limitless wealth (his brother, for example, is the NYSE Chief Operating Officer).

    • mdh says:

      I don;t see the disconnect between defending teachers and thinking people should be able to earn and keep what they can get paid.

      Stewart didn’t come out against taxation, if he had then it would be hard to take him seriously.

      I think you’re filling in an information gap with what you want to be true, rather than with what you can prove. It’s your right.

    • penguinchris says:

      I too caught a weird vibe in that interview, as if he were defending No Child Left Behind etc. However, partway through it became clear he was indeed doing a bit of devil’s advocate to get a good response from the guest. He’s good at getting the guest’s point of view out by asking the right questions (he also does insert his own opinions into the discussion and the questions, true). He was also definitely being sarcastic in that interview, though it didn’t seem so at first.

      Regarding people being “allowed” to amass limitless wealth… nothing Jon Stewart says paints him as a socialist (and no, socialized or one-payer health care is not the same thing). It’s not inconsistent to think people should be “allowed” to be successful. Jon Stewart and people who think like him are against people being “allowed” to amass limitless wealth through unscrupulous (either legally or morally) means, but I don’t think being the COO of NYSE puts one in a position of doing illegal or immoral things to get money… in fact that seems like the opposite position.

    • sapere_aude says:

      Jon Stewart is not a radical socialist from the far left. He’s a pragmatic liberal from the center left. (Which is one of the reasons I like him so much, since I happen to share his political philosophy.)

      In his view, as in mine, there’s nothing wrong with using your talents to earn a large salary, or enjoying the material and social benefits that come with wealth, so long as you don’t buy into the attitude that your financial success makes you better than people who earn less than you, so long as you’re willing to pay your fair share to maintain the society that allowed you to become wealthy in the first place, and to help the disadvantaged to have the same opportunities for success that you did, and so long as you don’t support policies that would, in essence, steal food from the mouths of the poor and the working class so that you and your rich friends can have an even bigger feast. That position is neither radical nor unreasonable (unless, of course, you’re a Fox News viewer, in which case it’s practically bolshevik).

  49. facetedjewel says:

    As usual, the numbers posted by FOX News are complete and utter horseshit.

    At the end of my father’s career of teaching special education for 30 years, he was almost making that kind of money plus benefits. Most teachers in this country are not making anywhere near as much. They make less than the ‘average’ public sector worker($48K). I wonder how many of those average workers are showing up every day with supplies, just so they can do their jobs. After deductions and divided by the number of hours they put in each day, they don’t even make minimum wage. Yet this is the group charged with educating the next generation. They see far more of kids than their parents ever will.

    I figure teachers teach for the same reason firefighters fight fires. It must be for the glory, the intrinsic rewards, and not having a second set of job skills to fall back on. It sure as hell isn’t for the money.

  50. benher says:

    Convert schools to prisons/factories – problem solved and um… Freedom!

  51. TerribleNews says:

    Thank you thank you thank you, for posting a video clip visible in Canada! In the event that it is taken down, or the only clip availble is the comedy central one, it is nice to include the episode and clip number so that visitors from Canada can get to it through the comedy network website when the the US version invariable provides a useless error message about the importance of imaginary lines drawn on maps.

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