Government Fail: Public Education

This post is part of Doing Good: Effective Alternatives to the Welfare State, July 2016. For the full PDF, click here.

In 2012, the U.S. high school graduation rate reached 80.8 percent, the all-time high. While this is a sharp improvement—a 6 percent increase in just five years—it still means that one in five students fails to graduate within four years of entering high school.

US HS GR

Over the past few decades, we as a nation have increased our spending on students considerably. In 1980, we were spending $6,321 per student on average, and by 2012, we were spending $11,014. Personally, when I pay for something, I expect results. What has almost doubling per-student spending bought us? Less than a 10 percent increase in graduation rates over 32 years.

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The IRS is Lazy … and That Helps Bitcoin Donors

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By William Digges

What’s the first thing big government does when something new is invented? Tax it.  The IRS loves nothing more than to categorize wealth as taxable.  The IRS is also scared of technology.  I’m not just saying this because Uncle Sam’s taxmen are using 13-year-old outdated, unsupported Windows XP software.[1]  Nor is it because the IRS writes code in an obsolete COBOL programming language from JFK’s times for mission-critical applications.[2]  No, the IRS fears technology so much it refuses to think about proper ways to tax Bitcoin, a “digital currency” that exists only on the internet but has real value.  Rather than propose an addendum to the tax code, the IRS classifies Bitcoin as property, akin to stocks and real estate.  This harms the day-to-day benefit of Bitcoin but boosts its philanthropic potential.

Many financial advisors see Bitcoin and its unique characteristics as a very useful means of philanthropic work.  Laura Saunders, a specialist on taxes at the Wall Street Journal, writes, “The American Institute of CPAs sent the IRS a letter this month requesting clarifications on…donating digital currencies to charity”.  Pensco Trust Company is another wealth manager that accepts Bitcoin in its IRAs and trusts.  Fidelity Charitable allows Bitcoin to fill their donor-advised funds.[3]   Fidelity’s website provides infographics on donating though a donor-advised fund.  Several of the “tax advantages” are

  • donors minimize their capital gains tax exposure,
  • charities receive up to 20% more, compared to self-traded assets,
  • donors enjoy a tax deduction,
  • and donors pay no fees for trading and processing.[4]

Sounds like a good deal to me.

Fidelity Charitable’s Bitcoin-specific website offers an example of how someone used Bitcoin to increase the value of his donation and his donor reach.  Back when Bitcoin traded at around $100 a coin, “Alex” owned 400 Bitcoin worth $40,000.  But in 2015 when he wanted to donate to a lymphoma charity he realized that a coin was worth around $400.  That meant a much higher capital gains tax would reduce his donor power if he traded the Bitcoin for U.S. dollars.  But by cutting out the middle man and pledging his Bitcoin directly to a donor-advised fund, “Alex” avoided all capital gains tax.  This in turn raised the power of the donation from $131,440 to $160,000.  It also reduced his tax obligation by another $63,360.[5]  With the additional remaining funds, the donor was not only able to increase his support to the original charity; he was also able to grant a gift to his alma mater.  In the world of Bitcoin, everyone benefits.

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Hijacked! How Obama and the Left Killed NASA: The journey from the Moon to radical activism

OT Obama NASA

Organization Trends, July 2016 (PDF here)

By Art Harman

Summary: American leadership in space exploration helped create and fuel the high-tech boom that led U.S. global competitiveness since the early 1960s. NASA returned to our national prosperity and national security far more than the investments we made in the agency. We beat the Soviets to the Moon and pioneered the way for many commercial ventures. NASA was preparing to take Americans back to the Moon and on to Mars—until President Obama took office and had a very different objective in mind.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration used to be on the cutting edge of science, leading the way in space exploration and having an outsized impact on technological progress worldwide in the process. But today NASA is a shadow of its former self. President Obama isn’t interested in anything unless it advances his so-called social justice agenda. For example, left-wingers in general don’t like U.S. soldiers fighting wars; they prefer the armed forces performing social work on humanitarian missions. Sending Americans to Mars or beyond doesn’t move the leftist ball forward.

So NASA’s costly manned space exploration programs were low-hanging fruit for an administration whose primary interest is in making government bigger and more centralized. The more NASA is cut, the more the Obama administration can spend on welfare programs to buy more votes by expanding the ranks of the government-dependent.

But instead of baldly stating his objectives, President Obama has simply put NASA on the back burner, turning it increasingly into an agency disseminating left-wing political propaganda for mass consumption.

Remember NASA’s glorious past

The world held its collective breath on July 20, 1969 as Neil Armstrong took the first step on the Moon and proclaimed, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Generations since benefitted from American-led advances in technology, medicine, and manufacturing, as humanity entered the space age. The space program is “American exceptionalism” defined, and NASA has continued to benefit America by carrying out its official mission: “To pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.”

President Obama subverted this mission to concentrate on global warming extremism, Muslim outreach, missions to nowhere, and a future almost devoid of the giant leaps and planetary probes that rightly awed us for decades and advanced America’s competitiveness in high technology. (For a riveting history of the lunar program and the way it overcame immense technological and managerial challenges, see Apollo by Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox.)

The Hijacking

Here’s how it went down: In early 2010, Obama cancelled the Constellation program (already a reported $10 billion and seven years in progress) and its Ares I and Ares V rockets, the Orion spacecraft, the Altair lunar lander, and even America’s plans to return to the Moon and go on to Mars.

With that, American space exploration was dead, and it may remain so for a decade or longer.

To create the appearance that America still has a space program, a project was invented to spend the next 10 to 15 years planning one single mission to a fragment of an asteroid.

A bipartisan majority in Congress united against Obama’s destruction—partially. While Congress didn’t have the courage to force NASA to restore the plans and hardware required to return to the Moon, lawmakers did save the two most critical elements of the program, the Orion spacecraft and the Ares V rocket, and approved funding for commercial crew launches. The Ares V Moon-Mars rocket was renamed the “Space Launch System” (SLS) and was somewhat improved. Congress’s apparent goal was to proceed with the core elements of the program to allow the next president to restore NASA’s mission of space exploration.

While this was happening, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, a former astronaut, U.S. Marine Corps flag officer, and test pilot, was making diversionary excuses for the cancellation of manned space exploration and carrying out President Obama’s orders. In July 2010, Bolden explained to Al-Jazeera:

When I became the NASA administrator, [President Obama] charged me with three things. One, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering.

Michael Griffin, who ran NASA in President George W. Bush’s second term, described the Muslim outreach initiative as a “perversion” of the agency’s mission:

“NASA was chartered by the 1958 Space Act to develop the arts and sciences of flight in the atmosphere and in space and to go where those technologies will allow us to go,” Griffin said. “That’s what NASA does for the country. It is a perversion of NASA’s purpose to conduct activities in order to make the Muslim world feel good about its contributions to science and mathematics” (Truth Revolt, Feb. 20, 2015, http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/flashback-obama-turns-nasa-muslim-outreach-program).

Nowhere on Bolden’s list was advancing NASA’s mission of space exploration and remaining the world leader in technological innovation.
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Communist-Linked Apollo Alliance Dictates to Congress

President Obama’s new “green jobs” czar Van Jones, an avowed militant communist, had been on the board of the pressure group Apollo Alliance, which aspires to flatten the U.S. economy by having government fund “green jobs” scams, according to the “Glenn Beck Program” earlier this week.

Even worse, the green gangster group, which has ties to ACORN, SEIU, and Center for American Progress president John Podesta, has significant pull in Congress and helped to write the stimulus bill.

The Apollo Alliance “is designed to bring together the elements of organized labor with the community organizers with the green groups, the environmental groups, and to access all of the big foundation money that’s been supportive of those causes in the past,” explained Phil Kerpen, director of policy for Americans for Prosperity.

Jones described the group’s “mission as sort of a grand unified field theory for progressive left causes; it ties all these things together,” Kerpen said. He added

They really admire the Apollo mission, the moon-shot mission, and they think that we need a similar centrally-planned, organized massive mobilization to reorder society and take control of energy and their various other objectives. They admire that and they want it like a moon shot.

Beck asked if Wade Rathke, the disgraced founder of ACORN who was expelled by the radical left-wing group last year for covering up his brother’s embezzlement of nearly $1 million in ACORN funds, had been a member of the Apollo Alliance’s board.

Kerpen responded, “Yes. He’s on — he was until this year on the board of the Tides Foundation and the Tides Center, which are the parent organizations that host the Apollo Alliance.”

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Big Fat Tax

Another blast from the past.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Urban Institute is clamoring for a new tax aimed aimed at the corpulent members of society.

“Facing the serious consequences of an uncontrolled obesity epidemic, America’s state and federal  policy makers may need to consider interventions every bit as forceful as those that succeeded in cutting adult tobacco use by more than 50%,” the report says.

One of the remedies proposed is a new tax on fattening foods.

They’ll have to take my chocolate bar from my cold, dead hands.

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Dueling Waterloos

Liberal pressure groups are freaking out that President Obama’s monstrous government-run healthcare plan is running into significant roadblocks as even Democratic lawmakers begin to openly question its wisdom.

And they’re livid that Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) dared to say what everyone in the Beltway is already thinking.

Here’s what the senator said, according to a report in the Politico:

“I can almost guarantee you this thing won’t pass before August, and if we can hold it back until we go home for a month’s break in August,” members of Congress will hear from “outraged” constituents, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint said on the call, which was organized by the group Conservatives for Patients Rights.

“Senators and Congressmen will come back in September afraid to vote against the American people,” DeMint predicted, adding that “this health care issue Is D-Day for freedom in America.”

“If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him,” he said.

This led to two angry solicitation emails that arrived in my inbox this afternoon. The first was from Organizing for America, which is part of the Democratic National Committee. The second was from MoveOn.org.

Organizing for America’s said

Friend —

Last week, Republican Senator Jim DeMint made it pretty clear why the opponents of health care reform are fighting so hard. As he told a special interest attack group, “If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.” Here’s how the President responded:

    Think about that. This isn’t about me. This isn’t about politics. This is about a health care system that is breaking America’s families, breaking America’s businesses and breaking America’s economy. And we can’t afford the politics of delay and defeat when it comes to health care. Not this time, not now. There are too many lives and livelihoods at stake.

With Congress only days away from finalizing their plans for reform, it’s time to stand up with the President and fight back against this disastrous brand of old-style politics. So we need as many people as possible to publicly support the President’s principles for health care reform and call on Congress to act.

Before the first full votes in Congress, we’ll publish the signatures in newspaper ads across the nation, to make sure your voice is heard.

Watch President Obama’s full response, then add your name in support of reform. [LINK DELETED] Or if you’ve already signed, please forward this message to every one of your friends and neighbors so they can join you.

The President is more dedicated than ever to passing health care reform that satisfies the three requirements he’s been talking about for months: Health care reform must reduce costs, guarantee choice — including the choice of a strong public insurance option — and ensure all Americans have quality, affordable health care.

If we do not reform our broken health care system this year, we will only shackle future generations with spiraling costs and deteriorating care. The cost of inaction is simply more than this country can afford.

But the special interests who profit from the status quo won’t go down without a fight. The ads, the smears, and the attacks — targeting both President Obama and members of Congress who support reform — will only get worse. So it’s crucial that we show huge backing before Congress finalizes their plans this month.

Stand with President Obama on health care reform:

[LINK DELETED]

Thanks for standing up for change.

Thanks,

Mitch

Mitch Stewart
Director
Organizing for America

MoveOn’s said

Dear MoveOn member,

“If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”1

That’s what a Republican senator said last week about health care. Republicans will stop at nothing to kill health care reform and undermine Obama’s agenda for change.

We can’t let that happen.

So we’re ramping up our campaign: from now until health care reform passes, we’ve got organizers planning events from coast to coast, ad-makers working around the clock, and MoveOn members hitting the phones daily.

The next two weeks will make or break health care reform. Can you chip in $20 to help us beat back the right-wing effort to derail health care reform?

[LINK DELETED]

Republicans won’t hold back on using scare tactics and outright lies to stall reform—so we just have to make sure that the voices of regular Americans are so constant and so strong that it overwhelms the opposition’s rhetoric.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll make sure calls are pouring into Congress daily, hold rallies at Senate offices, run ads hitting back at health care opponents, organize a massive day of action for health care reform, and more.

There’s five million of us, and millions more across the country who want—and need—reform now. Without a public outpouring of support, it’s too likely Congress could squander the best opportunity we’ve had in decades for real reform.

If we all step up, though, we can win this. Can you give $20 to support our campaign today?

[LINK DELETED]

Thanks for all you do.

–Nita, Kat, Matt, Laura and the rest of the team   

Source:

1. “Health reform foes plan Obama’s ‘Waterloo,'” Politico, July 17, 2009.
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51638&id=16628-10523989-0K68aUx&t=5 [LINK DELETED] 

 

Want to support our work? We’re entirely funded by our 5 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Chip in here. [LINK DELETED]

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Patients United Now Ad

Patients United Now, which is a project of Americans for Prosperity Foundation, is now running an effective TV ad opposing President Obama’s socialist healthcare scheme.

It features patient Shona Holmes of Waterdown, Ontario, Canada. As her brain tumor grew, Holmes was told by Canada’s dysfunctional government-run healthcare system that she would have to wait for six months to see a specialist. “In six months I would have died,” Holmes says in the spot. The Mayo Clinic where Holmes received successful treatment tells her story at its website. (Mayo also is fiercely critical of ObamaCare.)

Of course the liberal journalists at CNN who are cheering for ObamaCare attempted to discredit Holmes in a recent news package. They were unable to do so but did manage to find another patient who claims to have received speedy treatment following a cancer diagnosis. Nonetheless on average Canadians have to wait a long time before receiving medical treatment for serious ailments as Canada’s preeminent think tank, the Fraser Institute, has demonstrated time and time again. (See PDF file of the Fraser Institute’s “Waiting Your Turn: Hospital Waiting Lists in Canada,” 2008 Report, 18th edition.)

CNN also managed to pull Canadian Sen. Hugh Segal away from the all-you-can-eat buffet for a quote. Segal is what’s known in Canada as a “Red Tory.” In other words he may belong to the Conservative Party but he’s ideologically a liberal with very little in common with American conservatives. Not surprisingly, this soulmate of Lincoln Chafee defended Canada’s universal healthcare system. (By the way, the Canadian Senate is unelected. Its members are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the prime minister so it bears more than a passing resemblance to the British House of Lords.)

The well-practiced liar who would feel perfectly at home in America’s Democratic Party told CNN his “fellow conservatives” in the U.S. are dead wrong about Canada’s healthcare system. “What you have is a longer life span, better outcomes and about one-third less costs. That’s what you have,” said Segal as he resisted the urge to snarf down a dozen Timbits.

Here is the video featuring Holmes:

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Dems Dumped Cash On Members During Cap-and-Trade Armtwisting

Democratic leaders dumped a ton of cash on Democratic backbenchers in the days leading up to the critical cap-and-trade vote that would effectively impose a massive energy tax on Americans, the Politico reports:

Three House Democratic leaders who were whipping members on the climate change bill gave tens of thousands in campaign cash to party moderates around the time of the 219-212 vote on June 26, according to Federal Election Commission records.

It’s impossible to tell if that torrent of cash was an attempt to schmear wavering Democrats — or just part of the usual cash dump made by leaders on the eve of the June 30 quarterly fundraising deadline.

Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) doled out $28,000 to reps who eventually voted yes on June 24, two days before the big vote — on a day when House leaders were doing some heavy-duty arm-twisting.

Clyburn recipients who voted for the bill included a who’s-who of battleground district Dems: Steve Driehaus, D-OH ($2,000); Martin Heinrich, D-NM ($2,000); Suzanne Kosmas, D-Fla. ($4,000); Betsy Markey, D-Colo. ($2,000); Carol Shea-Porter, D-NH ($2,000), Baron Hill, D-Ind. ($2,000); Alan Grayson, D-Fla. ($2,000); Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa ($2,000); Jim Himes, D-Conn. ($2,000);  Mary Jo Kilroy, D-OH ($2,000); Kurt Schrader, D-Ore. ($2,000); Jerry McNerney, D-Calif. ($2,000) and Tom Perriello, D-Va. ($2,000). […]

Democrats respond by saying the Republicans did the same. The Politico article notes that Democratic leaders also gave money to lawmakers who voted against the bill.

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California’s Karen Bass, Leftist Bigot

Another example of what’s gone wrong in California.

California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, a former community organizer, told the Los Angeles Times that support for limited government is tantamount to terrorism.

in the state’s budget battles Republican lawmakers “were essentially threatened and terrorized against voting for revenue. Now [some] are facing recalls. They operate under a terrorist threat: ‘You vote for revenue and your career is over.’ I don’t know why we allow that kind of terrorism to exist. I guess it’s about free speech, but it’s extremely unfair.”

I wonder if Bass, who founded the Community Coalition in south Los Angeles, favors the so-called Fairness Doctrine.

(Hat tip: Neal Boortz)

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