The Monroe County School District is pondering whether or not to take one point five million dollars offered by Florida in the Race to the Top program. The idea is that the district will get the money to reward teachers who are best and better as a way to encourage excellence. Board member Steve Pribamsky is the only loud voice in favor, and rumor has it he may be leaving soon to inflict himself on St Lucie county in some, no doubt divisive, capacity. The sooner the better, if true. Everybody else is asking to see the small print and wondering what the State will demand in return for the handout. Of course there are time constraints and everything needs to be rushed. Union lawyers are leading the opposition at the moment because they fear Florida, the "right-too-work" state par excellence is looking to use this particular race to dole out money to weaken the teacher's union. And so it all becomes political.
This sort of thing may show us the way ahead. The Government hands out billions in untrammeled money to supporters and lobbyists and doles out with great parsimony and attention to detail the crumbs to the people who could make the best social use of the cash. I don't really see much in the way of social improvement across the US as a return on investment for the tax dollars handed over to banks. I feel the money could have done a lot more good if thrown away in different directions, directions that cannot pay lobbyists to encourage government support. As it is banks are not writing down their weak assets, and in claiming profitability are paying back portions of the Government relief money to free up their bonus schemes from oversight. However their profits are fake, their books are cooked, and the fundamental flaws in the economy are not being addressed. Still, the state is going to make sure it keeps a microscopic watch on the paltry millions it doles out to schools for use as bribes to break the unions. Get rid of the unions and thus get rid of job security, affordable health care and you help to create a yet weaker and more compliant workforce. It's not exactly Henry Ford's principle of paying workers enough to buy the products they build.
I have been reading about the Next Big Scare which is Sovereign Debt Default which is a fancy way of asking what happens when entire countries default on their debts, with the overriding fear of what happens when the US or China call it a day. Consider this: the industrialized country with the lowest deficit to GDP ratio is Canada at 79%. That's right, Canada with its single payer health care system, its government controlled drug prices, it's tightly regulated financial system is doing far better than the US (and Britain) at 95% or Japan at 275%. Australia, another socialist state (in the Tea bagger's scale of atrocious government practices) never even went into recession during the recent crisis. Does anyone think that regulating banks, controlling health care costs and offering workers a modicum of security makes for a weak economy?
One last thought: I found out, in reading about Japanese irritation over the US base on Okinawa, that the US has 47,000 military based in Japan. My question is simply: Why?