America’s Teachers

April 12, 2018

America’s teachers have notoriously been underpaid relative to their peer group. The excuses include, (a) Flexibility; (b) Summers off; (c) a profession dominated by women (and we all know that women earn about 80% of what men earn for comparable experience in similar jobs).

If I were a young person approaching college graduation, I might look at starting salary, and projections for advancement over the course of my career.

If I did that, teaching would not likely be on my list of job choices.

According to a study published by US News and World Report looking at the best jobs for 2018 college graduates, there are dozens of opportunities which absolutely blow away starting salaries for teachers, which seem to be in the $38k range.

One random example is an entry level Financial Analyst in the area of investment banking, private banking and the securities industry. The highest paid in the financial analyst profession work in the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, New York City, and San Luis Obispo, California. The Stamford /Bridgeport, CT area also pays well, as does the city of Salem, Oregon.

San Francisco      $141,840
New York City     $133,130
San Luis Obispo, CA  $120,750
Bridgeport (Stamford), CT   $120,520
Salem, Oregon            $120,150

These are median starting salaries for newly minted graduates.  What’s most egregious about this?

On a really good day, financial analysts provide zero economic value-added to our overall economy and society; on a bad day, they can cause catastrophic damage. Financial analysts produce no tangible outputs; they endeavor to discover and exploit financial opportunities to benefit their firm and its clients at the expense of other individuals.

Teachers bring value every day, yet they are generally under-respected and certainly, under-compensated. Teachers are the mechanism by which we build future intellectual capital to benefit future generations in and across the U.S.

Some may argue that this example attempts to pit Capitalism against Socialism:  Nice try on that one!

Pure capitalism relies on the premise that private capital, invested strategically, adds value to the overall economy and society, while providing a fair and reasonable profit to the capitalist(s).

Pure socialism requires a government controlled population of workers to both plan and operate the system; true socialism requires government control of all economic as well as political and public affairs.

By levying fair and reasonable income taxes on excess or suspicious profits, a nation is able to re-invest those taxes into strategic and forward-focused programs and initiatives, such things as: bridges; tunnels; airports; rail rapid transit; healthcare research and innovations; and public education – including teacher quality and teacher compensation.

Teachers need to re-focus their compensation and resource allocation argument toward pure economics.

It strikes me that the message needs to be:  “High quality, well-compensated teachers who are provided with appropriate and needed classroom resources help to shape and create the next generation of high-performance, highly motivated and productive citizens our nation will need to ensure future economic and political success.
There is no substitute for a ready and reliable supply of intellectual capital waiting in the wings to take charge in the coming decades.”

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A half century ago, the Baby Boomer generation entered adulthood with plenty of energy and commitment to help make our world safer and better.  As they set forth to establish families of their own, careers and all of the rest, they faced some unexpected head winds.  The rapidity of technological change combined with growing economic and social divides put extraordinary pressure on these young families, and they became self-absorbed.

The direct socioeconomic impacts of American suburbanization didn’t really begin to take hold until the 1970’s.  The resulting economic and racial segregation shielded the next generation(s) of middle class young people growing up in suburbia, away from their less affluent peers who were left behind in urban neighborhoods. They lost touch with each other, not able to see common ground.

Somehow, things have begun to change for the positive.

Maybe Trump’s legacy will be as the unconscious ‘uniter’ of the people of good will — Americans who reject corruption, self-dealing and bullying — who regardless of hair color, height, weight, economics, gender, race, skin tone, religion, sexual orientation, learning and/or mobility differences, and many more… — refuse to participate in the Trump Swamp.

This emerging generation, evidenced by the Parkland students, are showing signs of unity under a new paradigm of The American Dream, where the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are honestly and equitably recognized and applied.

To date, Trump has certainly distinguished himself as the polar opposite of genuine American values.

While it’s still too early to celebrate any victories, I am betting on the young people who have taken an active role in the March For Our Lives movement — and the millions of their supporters (average age 48!) — to continue to energize and inspire the vast majority of U.S. citizens and residents who want to see common sense prevail.

Liberal

February 9, 2014

When the Walrus was a young pup, he was introduced to a number of new words and concepts.

One of those new words was “Liberal”.

The Walrus learned that people who were categorized as Liberal were those who:

–          Are not opposed to new ideas or ways of behaving that are not traditional or customary;

–          Believe that government should be active in supporting social and political change;

–          Are broad-minded and tolerant of different views and standards of behavior in others;

–          Are politically and/or socially progressive, supportive of gradual reform, particularly political reforms which extend democracy, distribute wealth more evenly, and protect the personal freedom of the individual.

Today, it seems as though some people have bastardized the meaning of Liberal.  These folks seem to want to demonize those who identify as Liberal!

I’ve enjoyed the past 6 decades of my life thinking that: While change is always difficult for us humans, looking at situations in new and different ways is productive, healthy and sometimes truly beneficial.

I’m very sad that some of my fellow Americans are unable or unwilling to embrace this philosophy, but I guess in a free society, that is their prerogative.

US Unemployment

July 8, 2012

There are so many ‘experts’ weighing in on the US unemployment rate, I find it’s increasingly hard to find thoughtful and objective opinions.

I feel that our domestic economy is doing pretty well, and that the White House has been more or less on-point, given the limitations imposed by folks like John Boehner and Eric Cantor.

The unemployment numbers released on July 6 painted a dismal picture to some, yet the facts reveal that some jobs have been created in the private sector each month since President Obama took office.

There are 2 issues no one seems to focus on. (1) Gross over-employment in the public sector, and (2) the 3+ million private sector job openings that are currently open and unfilled.

Jobs are open and unfilled for a number of reasons, often related to labor mobility and/or experience and training. (For example, a skilled manufacturing job in Raliegh would not be a good fit for a high school dropout living in Buffalo.)

Unemployment trends from April 2008 (@ 5%) to October 2009 (@ 10%), reflect that it took just 18 months for unemployment to double.

Who should we blame for that?

Since late 2009, we’ve seen a gentle but persistent upward trend in the overall employment rate, and during that time period the elusive cluster of unfilled job openings has grown steadily from around 2.6 million in 2009 to around 3.2 million today.

Following the release of June 2012 employment numbers, Governor Romney was heard to say this from the helm of his yacht on Lake Winnipesaukee, “The president’s policies have not gotten America working again, and the president is going to have to stand up and take responsibility for it.”

It is this sort of bad behavior that creates enough of a distraction to shield the real issues from the people.

A lot of blather with no constructive suggestions on how to move forward in a positive fashion, and a seeming unwillingness to look critically at the whole story.

This is very sad coming from a fellow who purports to be a leader.