Proposition Picks

Several of my friends and readers have asked about the whereabouts of my typical proposition recommendations. I have posted my thoughts about two of this year’s propositions (30 and 32) in my post from September 28 in detail. As usual, I have read the texts of the propositions and try to see past the ads that misrepresent to voters what they will really result in. My thoughts on the others, as far as I have them, are presented here.

Prop 30 – increases sales tax and income taxes on high income earners. The presented purpose is to support schools, however, the text of the law creates NO NEW ACCOUNT and, in fact places all of the increased revenue in the hands of the very politicians that have been mismanaging the state budget for years; in the general fund to be used as the legislators dictate. Recommendation – NO

Prop 31 – Increased accountability and forces a 2 year budget. Recommendation – Yes

Prop 32 – Stops unions from taking money from employees without consent to use for political support. CTA and other unions are trying to convince voters that this law prevents unions from supporting political causes while allowing private industry to continue to do so. The key fact is that a business owner uses his own money or money from his or her company to support what they choose, while the unions take money from employees and use it, in many cases, to support political causes contrary to the employees’ whose money they are taking. Recommendation – YES

Prop 33 – Allows consumers to change insurance providers and transfer their ‘good driver’ discount with them. Recommendation – Yes

Prop 34 – Repeals the death penalty in California. Recommendation – vote your conscience.

Prop 35 – Increases penalties for human trafficking convictions. Recommendation – Yes

Prop 36 – Modifies ‘3-Strikes Law’ to reflect the original intent. Currently, an individual with two violent convictions could get a life sentence for a non-violent conviction. The law would change to only give a life sentence to those with three violent convictions. Recommendation – Yes

Prop 37 – Requires labeling of genetically engineered food. In my opinion this is a waste of money. Recommendation – No

Prop 38 – Increases income taxes to provide funding for schools. This proposition is vague at best. It seems to be poorly written and gives more money to the politicians that have been mismanaging it. I don’t trust them. Recommendation – No

Prop 39 – Restructures corporate tax laws to require companies to pay taxes based on where their business is done, rather than where they have their corporate headquarters. Eliminates the advantage of placing the headquarters of a company outside California when their business is done in the State. Recommendation – Yes

I hope this helps you all make informed decisions. Happy voting!

“Oh CTA, ‘there you go again'”

The biggest problem with the California Teachers Association is that they attempt to use our children in an attempt to blackmail us into paying for their liberal causes. If you happen to lean left, this may be OK with you, but I think it is fairly obvious that their political agenda is much more important to them than are teachers or students.

The CTA support of propositions 30 and 32 illustrate this pretty effectively.

Proposition 30 is a tax increase for high income earners, but also a sales tax increase (supposedly temporary, but I’ve never seen one that is). The CTA is telling us that there will be mid year cuts to education if this is not passed. The truth is that there may be. I didn’t say the blackmail was a bluff. However, the wording of the proposition does not guarantee the funds raised go to education. They go to the general fund, which means it can be spent any way the legislature chooses. The legislature has mismanaged our money so badly, I just don’t see any reason to give them any more. Not only that, increasing sales tax always leads to less buying power and lower consumer confidence. Raising taxes has never had the effect of improving the economy.

The CTA opposes proposition 38 because it does not have the automatic guarantee that mid year cuts will be avoided, but, in fact, the current budget was not approved based on the passage of proposition 30, so it’s failure shouldn’t affect the current budget… I point again to the blackmail.

Proposition 32 limits the ability of unions to take workers’ money and use it for political contributions. Again, if you lean left, you probably don’t mind how the CTA spends the money they collect from teachers to support liberal candidates and causes, so, like the CTA, you might want to vote this down. The argument of unions is that wealthy individuals and corporations can make large contributions, but this takes away the political voice of the unions.

Here is the key difference… wealthy individuals and corporations are spending individuals’ money to support causes and candidates they believe in. Unions, on the other hand, take workers’ money and spend it how the unions want to, regardless of what the workers themselves may want to support. More conservative teachers, for example (I know we are rare, but we do exist), have our dues taken from us to support liberal politicians and legislation aimed at increased government, taxes, and social programs. Not to mention the CTA’s role in taking away parental rights for parents of students in public schools. We are told we can “opt out” of the political contribution part of our dues, but it never ceases to amaze me that when they calculate the part of our dues used for “contract negotiation” it always comes out that the political part is a very small slice – of course, those who get the money are the ones who get to determine this, hmmm. They also make certain that those who “opt out” are not protected if there is any legal action against them.

Truth be told, the propositions determine who gets your money and what they can do with it. I suggest you read them and decide for yourself. I’m voting “NO” on 30 and 38 and “YES” on 32. I’ll decide where my money goes, not the CTA.

Distractions

After running the 7 mile race last weekend I succumbed to the business of life and to some distractions that really interfered with my training this week. I didn’t run as much as I had hoped and my core work was severely lacking, as well. Today I ran 9 miles with the Folsom Trail Runners along Folsom Lake. I was able to keep up and ran the whole way. It looks like I am still on track with my training, despite my lax work ethic this week. Next week is a 10 mile run, as I continue to ratchet up towards my 26.2 in December, so I better step up my performance this week.

On the fundraising front, I have 4% of my goal. In the coming weeks I will have an chance to meet some of these children that I am running for. The important thing is to help these kids get the things they need and, hopefully, give them an opportunity to break the poverty cycle they are trapped in. You can help too… https://grouprev.com/kirkmcmorris

On Our Way…

I felt slow this week!

The Insanity workouts seem to be building up my wind, but the muscles are sore and I just can’t generate any speed while I am running. Then again, I ran 7 miles at Run On The Sly this morning and did it in only 4 minutes more than my 10K (6.2 miles) from the beginning of the year. I even ran the last mile in 7:36 while focusing more on form than speed (thanks Shaun T)… lift those knees, tighten those abs!

My training dilemma at this point is whether to work through the Insanity AND keep up with the running and hope (trust) that when the Insanity 60 days is over, I will have gained strength and endurance. Or, do I lay of the Insanity a bit so that I can make sure I complete the training for the marathon? Hmmm! Not sure yet, but I did end up skipping a couple of days of Insanity this week. For now I will continue to both as best I can.

I know I have several friends also training for the CIM… let me know how you are doing.

On the fundraising side, I see that a couple of friends have donated on my be change site (https://grouprev.com/kirkmcmorris). Thank you for supporting this great cause. Maybe we can’t change the whole world, but we can change this part of it and it won’t take very many of us to make a big change. I can’t wait to see what we can do together.

Week One Done

Although my running remained about what it was, adding Insanity this week definitely stepped up my over all training. I can’t keep up with Sean T yet, but I did notice an improvement in my running form, I believe is caused by the ab work included in the Insanity workouts. The other thing I noticed was the added stress on my body increased my need for food and for naps.

Running the marathon, even improving my physical condition, is not the main point, however.

There are kids in Oak Park who have never seen a dentist… who do not have the supplies they need for school… who do not believe they will ever have the opportunity to leave their neighborhood for any reason, let alone go to college. We can help them. We spend so much effort, time and money helping people in other parts of the world (all worthy causes to be sure), but we sometimes forget those in need right in our own back yard. Over the next 140 days, I am committed to raise $3000 (enough to provide much needed support for 3 children). My part is to raise awareness by running a marathon. Your part, dear readers, is to pledge your support on my fundraising page (https://grouprev.com/kirkmcmorris). I promise to come through and finish my first marathon. Please be generous in your giving to help these kids.

Hyperinflation and Education…

 

I’m not quite as anarchical as some of the people in this video. However, it is critical for us to realize that it may be too late to save our economy and, perhaps, our nation. The government is NOT our friend. After hyperinflation destroys our monetary system as we know it, those who have a tradable skill or the ability to produce a necessary product will be the ones who survive. Everyone else will be forced into a life of servitude and absolute poverty like we have never seen. I am not talking about a great depression – I’m talking about the absolute and complete collapse of our economic system. The government strategies are NOT working. They cannot work.

It’s true that the education system we now live and work in is actually a propaganda machine whose largest purpose is to create more people dependent on that very system.  On the other hand, we live in that system so we have to learn to work within it. There are exceptions, but, in general, higher education still leads to better jobs, but so does more practical experience. While a college degree does not set you apart, because everyone has one, NOT having a college degree puts you well behind those who do for most career paths. You have to have both. Get as much education as you can without debt. Get as much experience as you can. Learn to think creatively. Realize that owning a home is not, necessarily, the key to the American Dream. Invest in your future (real estate is not a good investment) and live within your means.

Truth be told, the student who is able to work and gain experience while putting themselves through college, graduates with true value in the real world and in the job market place.

You think Jerry Brown supports education? Really?

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine and said that I really would like to get away from political commentary. There are so many bloggers out there covering the ridiculous antics of politicians and the deceptive methods of the mainstream media outlets of covering political issues. However, every time I think I am ready to break away from politics, somebody does something so insanely stupid that I just have to talk about it. The CTA is usually on the top of the list of ignorant, stupid and deceptive, even coercive, political propaganda.

The latest is that they want us to support Jerry Brown for governor and Barbara Boxer for senate, because they support education. Really?

A little history lesson for those not paying attention… When Jerry Brown took the leadership of our state, he inherited the number one state in education, the best state for starting and growing a business (filled with entrepreneurs), a surplus budget and the most popular place to move to in the country. When Jerry Brown left office he left us with a failing education system that has continued to decline. Higher taxes with so many entitlements that our budget has been in perpetual decay since, now approaching bankruptcy. Businesses and citizens are leaving California in droves. Boxer and Feinstein have combined for the highest tax and spend policies of any state, yet the money that has gone to education has been largely ineffective.

Truth be told, California now has the highest illiteracy rate in the nation. Our state is close to bankruptcy and we have some of the highest tax rates. It all started with Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer. At least we still have great weather.

What did you do on your summer vacation?

For the past 13 years I have taught summer school each summer. I always hoped that someday I would not have to… that I would be in a financial situation allowing me to enjoy the summer with my family traveling or otherwise enjoying my time off. That’s not the way it went.

Elk Grove School District did not offer summer school this year because of budget cuts. Teachers’ salaries have been cut and furlough days are mandated. We have lost all of our pre-service days and we will have an additional number of days that we are being forced to take instruction away from students.

Apparently the President believes throwing more money at it will solve the problem. Another bail-out plan to “save jobs” will send money to school districts to hire back laid off teachers. It’s yet to be seen if this is a long-term fix or a band-aid, but it should be noted that none of the other bail-out plans have had the desired effect.

I spent my summer trying to sell granite http://capstonebrazilianimports.com and designing web pages http://www.belachifoods.com and I have no intention of spending more than a few hours at school getting ready for the new year. It’s a feeble effort, but, truth be told, I know that the expectation is that teachers will do what they do to help students because we care and we will do it without being paid. We will teach the same with less prep time and less instructional time. I hate being taken advantage of.

Primary Decisions

With the primary fast approaching, I have finally decided who to support. I have listened to the ads and to the candidate’s rhetoric and I have come to the conclusion that the best choice for California is Meg Whitman. Poizners ads are far from truthful and he has chosen several out of context sound bites in an effort to portray Whitman as something other than she is. Our economy is a mess and Whitman knows how to run a successful company (eBay seems to be doing OK). I have also chosen to support her “team,” those with whom she would like to work. So here it is:

Governor: Meg Whitman

Lt. Governor: Abel Maldonado

Atty. General: John Eastman

Insurance Comm.: Mike Villines

Controller: Tony Strickland

Sec. of State: Damon Dunn

US Senator: Carly Fiorina

US Rep: Dan Lungren (dist 3)

Assembly: Jack Sieglock (dist 10)

County Central Committee: Tony Andrade (dist 5)

Board of Equalization: George Runner (dist 2)

I’d also like to put in a plug for Jim Cooper as sheriff. I know Jim, but I know his daughter well from coaching Sheldon softball. Here is what I know about good kids… they come from good parents and Jim’s daughter is a good kid. I can’t give a higher recommendation than that.

Truth be told, I think we should elect only candidates who are not currently in office and that is how I am voting, with very few exceptions. Fire em all! Let’s start over.

California Education – Can You Buy Results?

Last week our district superintendent addressed our site concerning the current budget situation and how it will affect education. He posed an interesting question: “How is it that the 8th largest economy in the world ranks below the territories in education spending?”

Although it doesn’t change the point that was being made, some corrections to the facts should be pointed out. First, California ranks 11th as a world economy and we rank 47th among states in per student educational spending. More importantly, we rank 34th in SAT scores. This begs the question; does spending really have an effect on educational results? Even a quick glance at the two lists would indicate that the answer is no. The highest ranked state in SAT scores (Iowa) ranks near the middle in spending, while the state spending the most (Vermont) ranks 29th in SAT scores. Even in California, we rank higher in scores than many states spending more, but also lower than some spending less per student.

Due to the nature of our economy, it is unreasonable to even compare the cost of anything in California with that in other states directly. Everything in California costs more. It costs more to live in California, so it stands to reason that teacher salaries have to be more here than in other states. Construction costs are higher, as are maintenance and utilities. These are arguments (and there are others) for increased spending in California.

On the other hand, we have higher SAT scores than states spending more than we do per student. Does that mean that our programs are more effective than those states? Does that mean our teachers are better? Every state uses curriculum from only a few text book publishers. We all have the same material. We have the same or similar credentialing criteria. The biggest single factor seems to be the local economy.

Truth be told, the government has longago proven that the cost of something has little to do with its value. The local economy determines the time that parents have to spend with their children and that is the major determining factor of success.