Blogarama Vocal Minority: April 2005

Vocal Minority

Thursday, April 14, 2005

10,000 Down - 990,000 to go

It was probably accidental, but the Feds finally did something that made sense. They enlisted state and local law enforcment officers all over the nation and rounded up 10,000 fugitives from the FBI's National database. And they did it in just one week for only $900,000. Sounds to me like they should repeat the show another 99 times and arrest all of the 1,000,000 fugitives in the database. That would only cost a miserly $100 million and would stop a hell of a lot of violent crime since 70% of the ones arrested had previous convictions. Who knows, they might even find a terrorist or two.

Just to put the cost in perspective, the Feds:
- gave $121 million to the National Endowment for the Arts
- spent $168 million of sexual-abstinence education
- spent $10 billion developing an anti-missle defense system (that will never work)
- spent $600 million on Army recruitment advertising
and spent $40 million investigating Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky (Clinton)
Note- Above figures from Parade Magazine

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Monday, April 11, 2005

A primer on credit card fraud

The above link is for those of you that that do not use the internet to pay bills and are very careful with your personal information. You know, the one's that think it could never happen to them. The real problem here is not that the internet allows the crooks to communicate and organize their efforts, it that there are virtually no laws governing how our information is protected. Come on Congress, get off your butts and pay attention to the real world.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A new low for blogging Terri Schaivo

Blogs are terrific. It's like writing letters to the editor of the local paper and every one of them gets published. Most of us understand that bloggers can and do say whatever they want to and many don't bother with facts, but then what the hell, the media acts the same way many times. It's up to the reader to sort out the truth from the wishful thinking or even malicious intent. There are, however, limits to what should be presented for our consideration and the above site is one that has exceeded the limit. This blog makes Tom Delay look pretty good, even though he threatened the Federal Judges.

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Jane Fonda apology - I think not

I recently read that Jane Fonda had apologized for her actions during her trip to N. Vietnam in 1972. The following quote from Newsmax doesn’t sound much like an apology to me, just more of her lame bullshit.

NEW YORK – Jane Fonda says her 1972 visit to a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun site, an incident that brought her the nickname "Hanoi Jane," was a "betrayal" of American forces and of the "country that gave me privilege."
Story Continues Below

"The image of Jane Fonda, 'Barbarella,' Henry Fonda's daughter ... sitting on an enemy aircraft gun was a betrayal ... the largest lapse of judgment that I can even imagine," Fonda told Leslie Stahl in a "60 Minutes" interview that will air Sunday night.
Fonda, whose memoir "Jane Fonda: My Life So Far" comes out next week, said she did not regret meeting with American POWs in North Vietnam or making broadcasts on Radio Hanoi. "Our government was lying to us and men were dying because of it, and I felt I had to do anything that I could to expose the lies and help end the war," she said.

In case you’re unfamiliar with her position, you can get most of the details from Snopes.com.
Another lame attempt to deflect criticism was made in 1988 because her past was affecting her currant income. It appears the new apology is more of the same. She now has a book to sell and needs to get the monkey off her back. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to throw a manage a trois’ in the book to help it sell. If she had any guts at all, like the 50,000 soldiers who died fighting in Vietnam she would take her argument to the current invasion of Iraq where her argument is a much better fit. Let’s face it, she’s just another media whore.

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Sunday, April 03, 2005

Schools and Numbers

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m getting tired of the school budget issue. It’s everywhere we turn. Today’s Oregonian (April 3, 2005) has another tired article about the teachers in Hillsboro’s district having to absorb the financial screw-ups for the board. In Salem, the issue is whether they give them $5.2 or $5.4 billion. So finding this addtl. $200 million means that every other budget issue there is tainted with the concept of stealing from the schools. Now I don’t want to be in a position to argue whether teachers are over or underpaid, or how many months they work each year. Those are not my issues. What I’d really like to see is some valid, reliable numbers so I can figure out if my small part of that $5+ billion is enough. Everyone knows that government will spend every penny they get. Our part is to give it to them and tell them when we’ve hit our limit. I tried to do exactly that today with the Oregonian article and got the following results.

Article Facts:

Hillsboro has 19,347 students, almost 1000 teachers, a 28:1 student-teacher ratio and a $130 million budget.
Based on the above:
At $130 mil and 19,347 students that figures out to $6,719 per student. Is that it? Does it include 40% of property taxes and federal money, because if it does it seems out of line with the claim of $7,357 in 2001 according to the Oregon School Boards Assn.
They claim that core classes exceed the ratio and give as an example the teacher with 38 students in her class. But doesn’t that mean that other classes are smaller than 28, like 18. Based on a 28:1 ratio that means the school should have 690 teachers, so what about the other 310.
Although the article says 86% of the budget is spent on wages and benefits, the Oregon State Education Dept. says 70.1% is the average for teaching staff. That leaves $91,130,000 for either 690 full time or 1000 full & part time teachers. You don’t need a calculator to ask how in the world could it average $91,130 per year per teacher.

At the Oregon School Boards Assn. I also found the following interesting facts:
In 2001 Oregon ranked 20th in the nation in expenditures per student at $7,357, higher than Washington $6,496, California $6,255 and Idaho $5,386.
Oregon spends $346 less per student on salaries than the national average but ranked 14th for the average salary paid. Meaning that they have bigger classes, but are paid above
average.
So, is there a crisis in education funding in Oregon? Beats me. It depends on where you get your facts. There seems to be as many funding angles as there are school districts in Oregon. Hillsboro has 28 students per teacher but Salem-Keizer has 23.2 Beaverton has been able to stay within budget without cutting days but Portland can’t even come close and has the shortest year in the nation. On top of all this the legislature keeps playing around with the school system, like CIM & CAM. What I’d like to see is the Oregon Secretary of Education promote an accounting system for all school districts that gives all of the costs for education in a form we can trust and understand, a system that wouldn’t allow distortion or hiding of expenses.
Just the facts.

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