THCB

The Decline of the Public Good

Meryl Streep’s eery reincarnation of Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady” brings to mind Thatcher’s most famous quip, “there is no such thing as ‘society.’” None of the dwindling herd of Republican candidates has quoted her yet but they might as well considering their unremitting bashing of everything public.

What defines a society is a set of mutual benefits and duties embodied most visibly in public institutions — public schools, public libraries, public transportation, public hospitals, public parks, public museums, public recreation, public universities, and so on.

Public institutions are supported by all taxpayers, and are available to all. If the tax system is progressive, those who better off (and who, presumably, have benefitted from many of these same public institutions) help pay for everyone else.

“Privatize” means pay-for-it-yourself. The practical consequence of this in an economy whose wealth and income are now more concentrated than any time in 90 years is to make high-quality public goods available to fewer and fewer.

Much of what’s called “public” is increasingly a private good paid for by users — ever-higher tolls on public highways and public bridges, higher tuitions at so-called public universities, higher admission fees at public parks and public museums.

Much of the rest of what’s considered “public” has become so shoddy that those who can afford to find private alternatives. As public schools deteriorate, the upper-middle class and wealthy send their kids to private ones. As public pools and playgrounds decay, they buy memberships in private tennis and swimming clubs. As public hospitals decline, they pay premium rates for private care.

Gated communities and office parks now come with their own manicured lawns and walkways, security guards, and backup power systems.

Why the decline of public institutions? The financial squeeze on government at all levels since 2008 explains only part of it. The slide really started more than three decades ago with so-called “tax revolts” by a middle class whose earnings had stopped advancing even though the economy continued to grow. Most families still wanted good public services and institutions but could no longer afford the tab.

From that time onward, almost all the gains from growth have gone to the top. But as the upper middle class and the rich began shifting to private institutions, they withdrew political support for public ones. In consequence, their marginal tax rates dropped — setting off a vicious cycle of diminishing revenues and deteriorating quality, spurring more flight from public institutions. Tax revenues from corporations also dropped as big companies went global — keeping their profits overseas and their tax bills to a minimum.

But that’s not the whole story. America no longer values public goods as we did before.

The great expansion of public institutions in America began in the early years of 20th century when progressive reformers championed the idea that we all benefit from public goods. Excellent schools, roads, parks, playgrounds, and transit systems would knit the new industrial society together, create better citizens, and generate widespread prosperity. Education, for example, was less a personal investment than a public good — improving the entire community and ultimately the nation.

In subsequent decades — through the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War — this logic was expanded upon. Strong public institutions were seen as bulwarks against, in turn, mass poverty, fascism, and then communism. The public good was palpable: We were very much a society bound together by mutual needs and common threats. (It was no coincidence that the greatest extensions of higher education after World War II were the GI Bill and the National Defense Education Act, and the largest public works project in history called the National Defense Interstate Highway Act.)

But in a post-Cold War America distended by global capital, distorted by concentrated income and wealth, undermined by unlimited campaign donations, and rocked by a wave of new immigrants easily cast by demagogues as “them,” the notion of the public good has faded. Not even Democrats any longer use the phrase “the public good.” Public goods are now, at best, “public investments.” Public institutions have morphed into “public-private partnerships;” or, for Republicans, simply “vouchers.”

Mitt Romney speaks derisively of what he terms the Democrats’ “entitlement” society in contrast to his “opportunity” society. At least he still envisions a society.  But he hasn’t explained how ordinary Americans will be able to take advantage of good opportunities without good public schools, affordable higher education, good roads, and adequate health care.

His “entitlements” are mostly a mirage anyway. Medicare is the only entitlement growing faster than the GDP but that’s because the costs of health care are growing faster than the economy, and any attempt to turn Medicare into a voucher — without either raising the voucher in tandem with those costs or somehow taming  them — will just reduce the elderly’s access to health care. Social Security, for its part, hasn’t contributed to the budget deficit; it’s had surpluses for years.

Other safety nets are in tatters. Unemployment insurance reaches just 40 percent of the jobless these days (largely because eligibility requires having had a steady full-time job for a number of years rather than, as with most people, a string of jobs or part-time work).

What could Mitt be talking about? Outside of defense, domestic discretionary spending is down sharply as a percent of the economy. Add in declines in state and local spending, and total public spending on education, infrastructure, and basic research has dropped from 12 percent of GDP in the 1970s to less than 3 percent by 2011.

Only in one respect is Romney right. America has created a whopping entitlement for the biggest Wall Street banks and their top executives — who, unlike most of the rest of us, are no longer allowed to fail. They can also borrow from the Fed at almost no cost, then lend the money out at 3 to 6 percent.

All told, Wall Street’s entitlement is the biggest offered by the federal government, even though it doesn’t show up in the budget. And it’s not even a public good. It’s just private gain.

We’re losing public goods available to all, supported by the tax payments of all and especially the better off. In its place we have private goods available to the very rich, supported by the rest of us.

Even Lady Thatcher would have been appalled.

Robert Reich served as the 22nd United States Secretary of Labor under President William Jefferson Clinton from 1992 to 1997. He shares many of his thoughts and columns at Robert Reich, where this post first appeared.

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69 replies »

  1. long time being about 10 years after the liberals started doing it to conservatives. After a decade of hearing being conservative meant you were racist, sexist, uncompasionate, greedy, etc it finally sunk in that the only way to combat it is to give it right back.

    saul alinsky knew how to fight dirty and do it well.

  2. “Nate, do you really think that you can settle disagreements in a definitive way by universally labeling whatever the other party suggests a liberal thing?”

    Margalit, it’s been a long time strategy of the radical right to demonize the word liberal, like pedophile. It means they need few factual points for their arguments as people just look at each and nod their heads in parrot like agreement – yes, liberal, it must be wrong.

  3. Yes, just like people who forgo having children don’t receive anything but bills for K-12 education, so I guess the government is bribing us into being fruitful and multiplying. Cool….

    I have no clue what makes you get up every morning, or what your ultimate goal is, but allow me one more quote from a famous liberal, written in the midst of a revolution he helped lead, and these where his goals:

    “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.” — John Adams, 1780

  4. “When the issues on the table today in public politics are about complex monetary policy, complex scientific issues, global finances, global military strategy, etc., people must be educated enough so they themselves “may be relied on to set them right”.

    I would argue that vocational training, although perhaps sufficient to provide you with well trained serfs, which could potentially be reduced to China level employment as quoted by Peter below, is not enough to allow the people to govern themselves.”

    Problems reading Bobby? How can you take her statement any other way?

  5. opportunity is not the same as bribery. Federal government gives college students 10s of thouands and loans them even more. Students forgoing college and entering the workforce to learn a skill or trade get nothing but the bill for those that went to college.

    Exact same problem we ended up when the government bribed people to buy houses and gave them money to do so. Exact same result, people that should not take them up on the free handouts do and we all pay the price.

  6. Barry,
    Nothing is ever certain, but it is a percentage game, and educated people do better on average.
    Every young person should have the same opportunity. Obviously, not all will achieve the same results, but the opportunities should be equal. They are not.

    Nate, do you really think that you can settle disagreements in a definitive way by universally labeling whatever the other party suggests a liberal thing?

  7. Margalit doesn’t see college as a needed step to get a job, she wants everyone to go to college so they can be indoctrinated in liberal ideology. You can’t be a good citizen according to Margalit unless you have had liberal professors brainwashing you for four years.

  8. Margalit –

    We have a big diverse country, economy and population. We will always have a significant percentage of jobs that don’t require a college degree but rather specialized training in, say, welding, carpentry, plumbing, operating sophisticated machinery, etc. Many of these jobs can provide the holder with a very satisfactory standard of living for him or her and family. After a 40 year career dealing with companies in a wide variety of industries from an investor’s perspective, I can tell you that there are lots of jobs in corporate America that the human resources department determined requires a college degree but they really don’t. The college requirement is often an HR crutch and screening device in many cases. For people who have basic literacy and math skills and the appropriate job related aptitude, a training program of a few weeks to a few months in duration can get people ready to perform quite satisfactorily in the workplace without a college degree or maybe with just a community college associate degree.

    In a knowledge based economy, a greater percentage of jobs do require a college degree than 40 or 50 years ago. Competition is also more intense today because of globalization and advances in technology. The number of man hours required to produce a ton of steel, for example, is down about 90% from 40 years ago and other technology advances have, in effect, de-skilled other jobs by, for example, replacing skilled machinists with button pushers who just need to watch over a group of machines and call the maintenance department when one breaks down.

    Even people who don’t go to college right out of high school or shortly thereafter and later decide that they want to can often go part time in the evenings or on weekends sometimes even with employer help to cover tuition payments. I repeat my strong belief that the notion of the need to go to college for four years right after high school or soon after is way oversold. Moreover, given the combination of high and rapidly increasing costs and the need for many students to take on significant student loans, a college education is a less and less attractive value proposition for more and more young people, at least from a pure economic (incremental lifetime earning power) perspective. You also don’t need to go to college to be an intelligent, active and engaged member of your community. If you don’t go, you can still be intellectually curious, widely read and well traveled. You’re not condemned to a life of poverty and ignorance. Conversely, if you do go, a life of superior earning power and economic security is far from assured to put it mildly.

  9. do you really believe every kid would benefit from 4 years in college? That is one of the most aburd and clueless things I have ever heard in the education debate.

    Some people do not do well in a classroom or with book smarts, those people are wasting time and money in college.

    Being a liberal I’m sure you would have no problem ruining their lives and taking their money chasing your cause. People like you don’t care about individuals just your ideology. That is how you were able to come up with housing projects and still pat yourself on the back for doing a good thing.

  10. “Many kids are just not college material and would be better served if they learned a trade.”

    I cannot agree with this statement. It belongs to another era. This sentence has been used historically to keep the children of laborers and other lowly groups from climbing out of their station in life.

    This country achieved greatness precisely the opposite way. We educated more children in larger amounts, and the economy grew as a result. We are now being passed by over half of OECD countries in higher education attainment because the U.S. rates are stagnating and so is our economy. This is not a coincidence, and it will just get worse because the modern global economy does not need any more carpenters. It needs folks able to do nanotechnology research and China and Korea to name a few are producing them at better rates than the we do.
    http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/61/2/48631582.pdf (this is very painful to read)

    Education has been unequivocally linked to better income, better social mobility and better GDPs. Maybe instead of whining about how health care is growing to larger percents of GDP, we should find a way to grow the GDP faster, and we won’t achieve that by turning out plumbers and welders in record numbers.

    I agree that college tuition is completely out of whack, and I agree that our schools need fixing, but I do not agree that we should accept a broken system and adjust our expectations to the broken state of affairs.

  11. Here is the Truth of College

    ISI reports that the average score for college graduates with at least a bachelors degree is 57%, versus 44% of non-graduates. Of the 33 questions, college graduates answered 18.9 correctly, versus 14.4 correct answers for non-graduates. ISI claims that a college education adds little value to the civic literacy of Americans. Some of the more astonishing results include:

    (a) 36% of college grads can’t name all 3 branches of US government
    (b) Only 33% of college grads know the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits the establishment of an official religion in the US
    (c) Only 54% of college grads can correctly define free enterprise
    (d) 18% of college grads can’t name a single right of the 1st Amendment
    (e) Only 24% of college grads know that slavery was the main issue of the Lincoln-Douglas debates
    (f) Only 24% of college grads know that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” came from Lincoln’s speech

    Who’s interest are you serving with your lies Margalit?

  12. “So why on earth would someone so distrustful of government, as you seem to be, argue for the dumbing down of the electorate, in direct opposition to our founders vision?”

    So your saying only liberal indoctrination is education? If you don’t spend four years listening to professors that have never earned in a living in what they teach you can’t be educated?

    I’m saying we need to enlighten our electorate by not filling their head with crap like you have to go to college to make a good living and government loans and grants make college more affordable. If you want more education and want it affordable get the government out of it.

    How can you look at the price inflation and not say government has failed.

    “When the issues on the table today in public politics are about complex monetary policy, complex scientific issues, global finances, global military strategy, etc., people must be educated enough so they themselves “may be relied on to set them right”.”

    Colleges in Ameica fail miserably at this. Your average college grad can’t discuss the basics on any of the issues you mention. Want to talk gender equality, rights, and idelogy you stand a chance.

    Your arguing we need college for reasons college don’t evewn provide.

  13. “there is no reason why education can’t be a part of one’s whole life that the whole of a part of their life. ”

    I wish more people would think like this. I can’t think of a single employee that ever went back to school to freshen up and improve their skills.

    Employees expect annual raises but seldom do anything to improve their value. Its doesn’t have to be getting a masters it would be nice if older employees would just invest the time to get better on computers for example.

  14. Margalit –

    As a general statement, I think the concept of a four year college education has been oversold to a lot of young people and it costs way more than it should. When I went through the University of Pennsylvania from 1963-1967, my whole four years cost $14,000 all in – tuition, room, board, books, incidentals, travel home for holidays, etc. When my son went through the same school from 1995-1999, it was roundly $140,000. Now it’s about $220,000 or 15.7 times what it cost when I went. Over the same period, inflation as measured by the consumer price index is up “only” about 5-6 times. Tuition at state universities is considerably lower but overall costs also increased as much or more in percentage terms over the same time period.

    Many kids are just not college material and would be better served if they learned a trade. Others would be better off if they went to a two year community college at much lower cost and learned some marketable skills there. If they want to get a four year degree, they could transfer after two years and save a lot of money. Still others might be better off working for a year or two after high school, even at low wage jobs, and gain some maturity and a better sense of what they might want to do longer term before making the large investment in a college education.

    I know and have met plenty of people over the years that never went to college but are pretty darn smart about everything from running a household and raising a family to getting good value for their money to politics and current events. Especially in this age of high technology and computerization, there is no reason why education can’t be a part of one’s whole life that the whole of a part of their life. Given the high cost of a four year college education and the fact that student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy, whether or not to make the financial investment, the time commitment and to incur the opportunity cost of lost wages in the interim should be much more carefully considered than it generally is today.

  15. Your insistence on equating people with jobs is unsettling to say the least. People in a democracy have responsibilities beyond their jobs.

    “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” — Thomas Jefferson

    BTW, this one founder proposed an amendment to the constitution to allow federal government to finance education. He did so in an inaugural address in 1806, so he must have considered it important enough. During his times most jobs did not require reading or writing skills, so why would Jefferson want to burden the nation with teaching unnecessary skills for the job?

    Because, in his opinion, government should be “by the people”, not by a super-class that can swindle the people into virtual bondage. And this is exactly what is happening today, or at least what is being attempted by the super-rich and “coincidentally” super-educated class.

    When the issues on the table today in public politics are about complex monetary policy, complex scientific issues, global finances, global military strategy, etc., people must be educated enough so they themselves “may be relied on to set them right”.

    I would argue that vocational training, although perhaps sufficient to provide you with well trained serfs, which could potentially be reduced to China level employment as quoted by Peter below, is not enough to allow the people to govern themselves.

    So why on earth would someone so distrustful of government, as you seem to be, argue for the dumbing down of the electorate, in direct opposition to our founders vision?
    Whose bidding are you doing, Nate? Because it doesn’t look like it’s the people’s……

  16. “In fact we are almost on labor price pariety with China”

    “Nor do the data on international wage comparisons point to dramatic deterioration in China’s wage advantage. According to research published in the Monthly Labour Review of the US Bureau of Labour Statistics in April 2009, compensation of Chinese manufacturing workers was only $0.81 per hour in 2006—just 2.7% of comparable costs in the US, 3.4% of those in Japan, and 2.2% of compensation rates in Europe. While these figures are now out of date by nearly four years, they underscore the magnitude of the gap between China and the developed world—and how difficult it would be to close that gap even under the most excessive of Chinese wage inflation scenarios.”

    “For example, even if Chinese manufacturing wages increased at an average annual rate of 25% over the 2007-10 period—highly unlikely for reasons noted below—the hourly compensation rate would be just $1.98 in 2010. That would boost Chinese compensation to only about 4% of US pay rates—barely making a dent in narrowing the arbitrage with major industrial economies.”

  17. Robert Reich is the equivalent of a free agent starting pitcher with a 5.74 ERA. How can you justify paying him 200K and not admit the system is broken. What has he ever produced in his life that would justify that level of compensation?

    No wonder kids are graduating idiots, not only are they paying the high cost of tution but this is what they are getting for it, blow up the whole system and start over. The current one can’t and isn’t worth saving.

  18. http://www.bcg.com/media/PressReleaseDetails.aspx?id=tcm:12-75973

    And since wage rates account for 20 to 30 percent of a product’s total cost, manufacturing in China will be only 10 to 15 percent cheaper than in the U.S.—even before inventory and shipping costs are considered. After those costs are factored in, the total cost advantage will drop to single digits or be erased entirely, Sirkin said

    Shipping cost, Piraticy, poor quality, all are huge offsets to labor. As long as we get Obama and his job killing administration out of office a large portion of our lost jobs will come home. We drove these jobs way and replaced them with unlimited umemployement and welfare. Better someone work for $5 an hour and work their way up then live off of saftey nets.

  19. As of 2007, public records showed that over 17,000 employees in the University of California system earned over $100,000 a year.

    One of this number was Prof Reich, who earned $205,000 and was #2444 from the top.

    I realize that the cost of living is high in much of California, but this is still a reason for higher tuition.

    In order to find ‘the top 1%’ some social critics can start by looking in the mirror.

  20. when have i ever once defended healthcare wages? I would be the first in line to cut specialist and hospital administrator wages. I would cut academia out of it almost entirely.

    Hard to argue with you peter when you just start making things up.

    wage is one small piece of cost, you seem to forget ot don’t know this. We don’t need to make any where close to asian, I assume you mean china not japan, wages. In fact we are almost on labor price pariety with China, calcaulted at 5 times for most industries. That means you can pay an American 5 times what you would pay a worker in China and be further ahead keeping the job here.

    Did you get a chance to say goodbye to your argument before I blew it up?

  21. In March, “Professor X,” an anonymous English instructor at two middling northeastern colleges, published In the Basement of the Ivory Tower, an expansion of an Atlantic essay arguing that college has been dangerously oversold and that it borders on immoral to ask America’s youth to incur heavy debt for an education for which millions are simply ill-equipped. Professor X’s book came out on the heels of a Harvard Graduate School of Education report that made much the same point. The old policy cri de coeur “college for all,” the report argues, has proved inadequate; rather than shunting everyone into four-year colleges, we should place greater emphasis on vocational programs, internships, and workplace learning. Then, last month, a front-page article in the Times delivered striking news: Student-loan debt in the U.S. is approaching the trillion-dollar mark, outpacing credit-card debt for the first time in history. With all that debt, more and more are asking, what are we buying?

  22. “I have actuarial training, and the true cost of state pensions is 20% of payroll. And has been for a long time.”

    Bob – Thanks for that.

    So, what should it be?

    “Misunderstandings Regarding State Debt, Pensions, and Retiree Health Costs Create Unnecessary Alarm
    Misconceptions Also Divert Attention from Needed Structural Reforms”

    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3372

    “There was a time 30 or 40 years ago when states like CA were investing significantly in infrastructure and higher education to support economic growth and build for the future.”

    Not sure I agree with your analysis Barry.

    “This commitment to infrastructure funding came to a stop in the 1970’s. Decreases in capital investment took place during the late 1960’s signaled by Gov. Ronald Reagan’s skepticism towards public sending. Then, during his term, Gov. Jerry Brown slowed infrastructure finance under the belief that growth should not go on without limit. Inadequate funds for transportation growth along with Brown’s support of environmental reviews and regulations led to fewer new highways. Environmental concerns also stopped the building of new water storage facilities. Proposition 13’s passage in 1978 led to a sharp diminishment of infrastructure projects owing to the proposition’s requirement of a majority for the passage of any new bonds or taxes. Many believe that Prop. 13’s success is an indication of 1970’s California voters dissatisfaction with government expansion.

  23. “When [my daughters are] 18 years old, just hand them $200,000 to go off and have a fun time for four years? Why would I want to do that?” To Altucher, higher education is nothing less than an institutionalized scam—college graduates hire only college graduates, creating a closed system that permits schools to charge exorbitant ­prices and forces students to take on crippling debt. “The cost of college in the past 30 years has gone up tenfold. Health care has only gone up sixfold, and inflation has only gone up threefold. Not only is it a scam, but the college presidents know it. That’s why they keep raising tuition.”

  24. well paying work does not require a college education. Plumbers make mopre then history majors or poly sci by a factor of 2-3 and there are actually plumbing jobs available.

    I know dozens of businesses desperate for skilled workers that can’t find any while at the same time we have millions of unemployed recents grads. Kids are going to college and getting worthless degrees, look at any of the post graduation employement numbers. There are only a handful of degrees, hard sciences, where gradautes are getting jobs in their field.

    This isn’t a new problem its been going on for years, people like you insist on continuming to lie to kids to feed your liberal indoctrination machine,

    http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/CollegeForAll/graduates.html

    Even college graduates are not getting the expected payoff from college, according to critics of the college movement. Many find themselves in low-paying service jobs and other lines of work not traditionally associated with a college education. From this perspective, graduation no longer provides reasonable assurance of a “college-level job,” e.g., a white-collar job in an organization that provides reasonable pay, good benefits, training opportunities, and the prospect of advancement at least to middle-management or mid-level professional status. We will examine first the changing occupational distribution of college graduates and then their earnings, premiums, and rates of return to investment in college.

    “The proportion of graduates saying that their job did not require college-level skills increased from 24 percent in 1976 to 44 percent in 1991 and remained at that level in 1994.”

    That alone destroys everything you argued.

    44% of grads could have had their same job minus the 4-6 years in college and all the debt. Why continue your lies Margalit?

  25. can we really call them saftey nets when 20-40% of the population are using them and people spend their entire life collecting them? We need to be honest and admit they are no longer saftey nets but tralling nets like you catch fish to harvest. Our saftey net programs are nothing more then vote nets any more.

  26. Peter1 –

    The attractiveness of a non-union environment to employers often has more to do with flexibility around work rules and the ability to cross train employees to do multiple jobs so they can fill in for each other and rotate work assignments. The hourly wage is less of an issue, especially in industries like autos, aerospace and steel. To the extent that wages are lower in the south than in the north is likely to reflect lower living costs in the south so the standard of living the wage can support is often comparable. New employers to the region like foreign owned car assembly plants do not have the retiree health and pension legacy costs that the old line companies have which is a significant competitive cost advantage.

    Recently, more than a few jobs have actually started to return to the U.S. from overseas. Average hourly labor and benefit costs in the manufacturing sector are now actually lower in the U.S. on average than in Canada and much of Western Europe. Call center jobs are returning from India to improve service as customers prefer to speak to Americans with understandable accents. Where low wage countries like Mexico and China compete best is in the manufacture of products that are labor intensive like apparel and footwear, toys and electronic assembly. Outsourcing is still an issue in other industries as well but it’s not the race to the bottom that you suggest.

  27. Capital always moves from higher costs to lower costs, usually subsidized by the taxpayer. Jobs moved south for non(anti)-union lower wage as well as for huge tax incentives (you know, that, government is an anchor comment). Nate, do you want U.S. workers to work for Asian wages and benefits? You’re the one defending health care wages here and about how they support the economy four times over as well as urging us to buy “American”.

    Do you really think jobs moved south because southerners stayed in school and did better math or that jobs moved to Asia because their high schoolers did not drop out?

    Asians will struggle for better wages and benefits just like everyone else and capital will try to find the next slave wage economy.

  28. “I have actuarial training, and the true cost of state pensions is 20% of payroll. And has been for a long time.”

    Bob –

    Thanks for that. For the last 18 years, I worked for a subsidiary of a large manufacturing company with a significant percentage of unionized employees. Employees hired after July 1, 2003 were put into a defined contribution pension plan while the traditional defined benefit pension remained in place for employees hired before that date. For the defined contribution participants in their mid-40’s or older, the company’s annual contribution to the DC plan is 8% of payroll and that’s reasonably generous by private sector standards. Only about 20% of the private sector workforce has a defined benefit pension plan today vs. about 40% in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Also, cost of living increases for pensioners generally don’t exist in the private sector except on an occasional ad hoc basis because they are cost prohibitive from a funding standpoint.

    Rhode Island’s recent pension reforms reduced its unfunded liability from $7 billion to $4 billion as even the unions finally came to understand that the problem was real and couldn’t be solved by further increasing taxes. Everyone took a hit including current retirees. Cost of living increases were eliminated until the pension fund gets back to at least an 80% funded ratio. NJ recently enacted a similar provision.

    There was a time 30 or 40 years ago when states like CA were investing significantly in infrastructure and higher education to support economic growth and build for the future. As the state and its localities agreed to ever more generous medical and pension benefits for its public sector workforce and retirees, funding for growth investments were crowded out by public sector compensation. When there are dozens and sometimes hundreds of qualified applicants for every teacher and police opening even when the economy is booming, the total compensation for those positions is far more than it needs to be to attract and hold qualified people. It’s about as simple as that.

    While it may be feasible to raise taxes on the wealthy, especially on capital gains and qualified dividends, there aren’t enough rich people to come anywhere close to paying the bills for our entitlement and social safety net programs. If the middle class thinks these programs are important enough to sustain, they will have to pay more in taxes as well. At the end of the day, the middle class doesn’t deserve any more government than it’s willing to pay for.

  29. My kids went to public school. No, it was not in the inner city, but a good percentage of students is bused daily from the city to our public school district. The district, inclusive of bused kids, by itself scored better than all other countries in the PISA tests. http://bit.ly/Aicyhb
    Public education can work, if done well.

    My kids have been organizing volunteer work in inner city schools for five years now. Nobody gets killed there, except the hopes and dreams of innocent children.

    Education programs for teachers need to be as selective as those for engineering and lawyers, and compensation should follow the same rules. I am not a fan of teachers unions protecting members from being fired (wage negotiations is a completely separate thing).

  30. Nate, you seem to be oblivious to how economies have changed during the last few decades. Today well paying work requires education. College educated people experience much less unemployment and earn a lot more than their uneducated peers on average. An outlier here and there does not change these facts.

    Are those conservatives who believe that we send too many people to college inclined to send their own kids to the mines when they turn 16? or is this advice only applicable to “our poor”?

    Neither political party is acting in the best interest of the people today. The game is rigged by big money and this has to stop.

  31. I read the 14 pages and thus my comment it was drivel. How would I know it was filled with Dogma unless I read it? Where in education do we address comprehension?

    “conservative well reasoned ideology,”

    Conservative by who’s measure? I don’t know any conservatives who foolishly believe more indoctrination by universities would improve anyone’s life. Most agree we send to many people to college.

    “The only way out of poverty, other than luck and crime, is education.”

    Most sheep end up at slaughter not a life of roaming pastures Margalit. Education is not a solution to poverty, work is. Education is one form that work can take. Merely going to college does not increase a person’s earning potential. i.e. see women lib majors, history majors, etc etc. The American middle class did not achieve its growth from going to college, they did it by working, as has every other nation that advanced from third world. Very little of a person’s education comes from school, over reliance on public education is what leads people to mass debt and no job.

    “I appreciate your desire to maintain a well stocked, well fed, arsenal of uneducated people to be exploited at will,”

    You mean the Democrats power base, all those inner city poor voting Democrat 95% of the time even after 30 years of nothing in return. Yes you liberals know that game very well.

  32. are you willing to send your kids to an inner city school where they could possibly be killed on any given day? By far its liberals in big cities who partake in the private schools, while you claim its a liberal solution its to a problem largely created by liberals.

    See Obama as a prime example, after all his talk about public schools when it came down to it where did he send his kids?

    What if a school is a failure, you would really require a kid to go there and receive an inadequate education just to support your principal?

    Why should a well behaved kid suffer for the actions of truants?

    “pay teachers enough to attract the best and brightest into that profession.”

    How much is that? More importantly with such attractive wages how do you keep the average and poor from getting these jobs you intend for the best and brightest? Cleveland use to have civil test to get public jobs and promotions. These were such plum jobs that politicians bustardized the system to get their friends and family in. Obviously the result was terrible people grossly overpaid. And when I say politicians I really mean democrats as that is who runs Cleveland.

    So while it sounds great on paper your exemplifying the typical liberal solution, pass a bill saying everything is going to be roses and unicorns and act shocked when it doesn’t work out. If you can’t fire criminal teachers now in most districts how do you plan on getting rid of them when you increase pay?

    “break down the segregated poor neighborhoods and offer folks housing solutions in better places.”

    Who is going to rent them housing in nice neighborhoods when they destroy them? Have you ever been a section 8 landlord? Again great on paper but not possible.

    Teachers are already paid more than they would make in any other profession based on education and IQ, how is paying more going to weed out the bad ones?

  33. The liberal solution is to create one public school system for everybody, including the rich and famous, with no options to “separate but equal”, or “the best money can buy”.
    And my liberal addendum #1 to that solution is to pay teachers enough to attract the best and brightest into that profession.
    My liberal addendum #2 is to break down the segregated poor neighborhoods and offer folks housing solutions in better places.
    Social engineering? You bet.

  34. I link a very pertinent document filled with conservative well reasoned ideology, including reference to Mr. Reich. Too bad 14 pages is too much to read nowadays.

    Our poor need to not be poor. The only way out of poverty, other than luck and crime, is education.
    I appreciate your desire to maintain a well stocked, well fed, arsenal of uneducated people to be exploited at will, but this is neither freedom nor democracy. Go read the over 14 pages where our founders address education.

  35. really?

    Percent of people by income who have gone to a museum in the past 12 months;

    over 50,000 67.1%
    under 9,999 35%

    That would be almost half the usage. Unless you want to argue he literally meant not a single poor person has ever stepped foot in one the data clearly shows a far lower percentage of poor have been to a museum in the past 12 months.

    In case someone wants to argue they dont have time only 35% of those that dont work at all have been either.

  36. appears our worst schools spend almost three times as much as finland per student, what exactly are you liberals doing with all this money we give you and why do you keep demanding more? If this was healthcare you would say the government should take it over and spending reduced to their levels. Government already runs it and your spending 3 times as much, whats the liberal solution when government has failed Margalit? Ah thats right there is no such thing.

  37. Nothing in that report to support the blanket statement that “The poor don’t go to museums.”

  38. you link a 14 page document filled with dogma, what was the purpose of that? Yes like Peter you need a better base of reading material. Post deadline come back and make some specific points.

    Did you really expect an academic to not argue we need more educaiton? Especially one from Harvard, imagine I typed that with that annoying accent filled with sarcasim and derision. Our poor don’t need to go to college, they need to learn to do entry level work.

  39. Wow you liberals really don’t connect the obvious unless someone hits you upside the head with it do you.

    Hey Peter, think the reason why those jobs might go overseas in the first place is because in the US they can’t find someone to do the job at a reasonable cost? If you can’t find a press operator in the us even paying $20 an hour you really have no choice but to go to Mexico or China and you get the added benefit of only paying $5 an hour. The job didn’t leave becuase they could save $15 an hour in left because there was no one here to do the work.

    We have no class of labor ahead of unskilled jobs filled by illegal immigrants, and under those that require extensive training and education. These are jobs that should be filled by the millions of high school drop outs. If they had completed a decent high school education they would be filling those jobs, instead they dropped out of failed schools to dumb for the trades and to lasy for the manual work.

    “Clearly a high school education is not enough anymore, so how do you propose we go back to the “good old days”?”

    By fixing high school so it is enough. Stop social promotion, 100% liberal creation, stop lowering test standards. Change what they are tought to have relavancy to the job market. Kids can sing songs about obama but can’t read or do basic math.

    Make a high school diploma mean something and provide ZERO public assistance for anyone without one. Any one arrested without a HS diploma should get no early release time off for good behavior or anything else untiil they earn one.

    Its very simple, stop coddling and promoting failure.

  40. even though its true we shouldn’t say so because the truth might hurt someone’s feelings?

    Its not just a US thing, its a fact all over the world that poor partake in museums at a far lower rate then those with higher incomes.

    http://research.mla.gov.uk/evidence/documents/Attendance%20of%20Museums%20and%20Galleries.pdf

    chart 3.6

    instead of being offended by someone stating the fact you should be offended by the fact. For all the money spent why do the poor not take the inititive to utilize the museums more? Its far cheaper then going to the movies and seeing the crap hollywood puts out. More beneficial then sitting home smoking and drinking a 6 pack.

  41. Nate, I like the link to the Brookings article, if you read the whole thing, but as usual you add rubbish; “We know without doubt what caused the wealth gap, ignorance and hubris of individuals like Robert Reich. A high school diploma today means nothing.”

    Do you think the loss of semi and low-skilled manufacturing jobs by companies who relocated operations overseas (tax payer funded) had anything to do with the decline in opportunities for high school grads? Was it “liberals” who made that transition? Clearly a high school education is not enough anymore, so how do you propose we go back to the “good old days”?

  42. “The poor don’t go to museums.”

    As someone who grew up in deep rural poverty, I’m qualified to say that you have no idea how offensive that comment is.

  43. I don’t think there would be any data to support b. First most funding comes from States for the State University and Colleges. Republicans dont have control over many of these when you look at enrollment. How do you blame Republican’s for the decline in CA schools, at any level.

    http://www.sheeo.org/about/paulpres/Baruch%20College.pdf

    Wont let me copy but page two starts that state funding has kept pace with not only inflation but enrollment. $7 billion 1970, $21 billion 1981, $42 Billion 1991 and $72 billion 2005. 2001 it was $7,121 per FTE adjusted for inflation. Highest ever.

    What’s interesting is they point out most of the expense of college is labor, the same top 1% that Robert complains about are the very people making all the money from Higher Education.

    Net tuition(tuition less waivers and student aid has grown from 22% of expenditures in 1981 to 26% in 1991 to 37% in 2005. Again, by no means a funding issue, once again liberals have a spending issue, if you fund it they will spend 110% of it.

    Student aid has grown from $3,840 in 1985 to $10,119 in 2005. Republicans have failed miserably to underfund if that was ever their goal.

    I don’t think it’s just professors, you have school administrators making 7 figures and the number of administrative positions has exploded. I was reading a list of all the new 6 figure jobs in university for administrators for BS like vice chair environmental outreach blah blah. The problem is money is being spent all over the place to do everything but actually educate the students. I get to interview graduates when we hire and we also occasionally take in interns, there are exceptions but today’s college grad is not even to the level of a high school graduate 20 years ago. We are not far away from a day when a college diploma means as little as a high school diploma.

    It’s bad enough these kids waste 4-6 years of their life for a meaningless piece of paper but they are going in debt 100K to do it. Most kids would be better served not going to college at all. You could get an entry level job in most industries and work your way up in only 2-3 years to a position making more than you would coming out of college. And you wouldn’t have been earning a paycheck that entire time and not be in debt. These kids are 25 years old, in debt, and no marketable skills. They have every right to be pissed, unfortunately they are to poorly educated to be pissed at the right people.

    College endowments total over 100 billion dollars. We need to end all federal and state support of higher education. If colleges provide their students with an education that truly empowers them to earn more then they would without said education then the college should be the one to finance that education. This will eliminate most of the fraud and the waste in 1-2 years. It will also reduce the incredible number of drop outs. Only thing worse than 100K of debt for a worthless piece of paper is 70K in debt and not even having the paper.

    The one thing we can be sure of is Robert Reich is 100% wrong as usual.

  44. It might be time to go back to Mickey Kaus. He wrote a terrific book in the 1980’s about civic liberalism. About two years ago he ran for Senator in Califiornia, and his main target was the very high compensation for public employees.

    When I attended college in 1970, tuition for a tull load of classes was $298 in Minnesota.

    If the comparable tuition for my son today is $9,000, is that because:

    a. Professors make more money for teaching fewer classes,and professors live longer on large pensions;

    or

    b. Stingy Republicans have slashed state aid to the University.

    Robert Reich hints that (b) is the answer. I do not have time to find the real answer, but I suspect it is a combination of both of the above.

    I feel that the same would be true for academic hospitals and other public institutions.

    I must side with Nate on public pensions. I have actuarial training, and the true cost of state pensions is 20% of payroll. And has been for a long time.

    Bob Hertz

  45. http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2011/1202_jobs_greenstone_looney.aspx

    “Forty years ago, a high school education gave workers the skills they needed to hold down middle-class jobs and to participate in the gains of a growing economy. Virtually all men, from those with only a high school diploma to those with college degrees, were gainfully employed.

    the employment rates and median earnings of Americans with only a high school degree have declined considerably over the past 40 years,

    the earnings of the median high school graduate are lower today than they were in the early 1970s, after adjusting for inflation. This trend is particularly evident over the last two decades during which employment rates have fallen from a high of 81 percent in 1989 to 71 percent today.

    The employment rate for male high school graduates has fallen from 96 percent in 1970 to only 75 percent today, as shown below. Median annual earnings are just $26,000 today—about half of the $50,000 the median man with a high school diploma brought home forty years ago.”

    We know without doubt what caused the wealth gap, ignorance and hubris of individuals like Robert Reich. A high school diploma today means nothing. Liberals turned the best public education system in the world into a joke, a money making machine that eats our young and turns their futures into profit and power for the liberals and their supporters. In my work I deal with hundreds of small business owners and every last one struggles to hire qualified employees. There are tons of decent paying jobs left unfilled because our failed public schools can’t turn out students competent enough to run a drill press. They can complete an application for student loans and grants but don’t poses any skills one can actually earn a living with.

    Our growing wealth gap has nothing to do with greed by the rich like Robert and other liberals would like you to believe. It has everything to do with more kids not even graduating high school and those that are being less qualified and skilled then those that graduated 20 years ago. We spend more on public education then we ever did in the past yet are getting a fraction of the results. This failure is 100% the result of liberal greed and ideology.

    the employment rates and median earnings of Americans with only a high school degree have declined considerably over the past 40 years,

    the earnings of the median high school graduate are lower today than they were in the early 1970s, after adjusting for inflation. This trend is particularly evident over the last two decades during which employment rates have fallen from a high of 81 percent in 1989 to 71 percent today.

    The employment rate for male high school graduates has fallen from 96 percent in 1970 to only 75 percent today, as shown below. Median annual earnings are just $26,000 today—about half of the $50,000 the median man with a high school diploma brought home forty years ago.

    We know without doubt what caused the wealth gap, ignorance and hubris of individuals like Robert Reich.

  46. I did read the link and the comments dismissing it and laughing at the logic, or lack there of.

    The second link, hyperlinked one not the Wisconsin lie is just as bad and lacking in logic. Look how they parse their words.

    “However, the short answer is that there’s simply no evidence that state pensions are the current burden to public finances”

    “Pension contributions from state and local employers aren’t blowing up budgets. They amount to just 2.9 percent of state spending, on average”

    No dah, because States and Localities aren’t making the payments they are required and should. Thus the whole billions in unfunded pension obligations. Their argument is rank stupidity. Because states aren’t making the contributions they need to because they can’t afford them and thus are passing on bigger unfunded obligations its not a problem. States should be spending 10% of their budget to properly fund but instead are only able to spend 2.9 and in lefty land this means there is no problem, not the sign of a growing problem. This is why Liberals bankrupt everything they run.

    “The nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that retirement funding for private employers amounts to about 3.5 percent of employee compensation.”

    Except private pensions are not underfunded at near the level of public and if something happens to a private company pensions are near the top to be repaid. Unless your a salaried employee and Obama throws out 50 years of pension law to move Unions in front of you.

    “Nor are state and local government pension funds broke. They’re underfunded, in large measure because — like the investments held in 401(k) plans by American private-sector employees — they sunk along with the entire stock market during the Great Recession of 2007-2009.”

    This is BS and complete lie, they have been underfunded well before 2007. The crash is a very very small part of their underfunding.

    “Boston College researchers project that if the assets in state and local pension plans were frozen tomorrow and there was no more growth in investment returns, there’d still be enough money in most state plans to pay benefits for years to come”

    Where do you find this crap? Years to come, what sort of argument is that? Does years to come cover the 40 year old still working who has already contributed for 20 years? Who won’t even collect for 10-25 years and then should expect to collect for 15-20 years when he does? Of course not, that is why they say meaningless and non specific years to come.

    Junk in junk out peter, you need to find better sources

  47. Obviously you didn’t read my link Nate. Of course pensions are future obligations, that’s why they’re called pensions.

  48. ” The Wisconsin Lie Exposed – Pulitzer Prize winning tax reporter, David Cay Johnston, has written a brilliant piece for tax.com exposing the truth about who really pays for the pension and benefits for public employees in Wisconsin.”

    Peter do you think for one second if their true compensation was calculated and future pension and health benefits monotized they would make half of what they make? Pension and health benefits are structured the way they are to hide how much these workers really make. If the public knew janitors were making $100 per hour this all would have ended decades ago.

    I actually think that is the solution though, governments should not be allowed to offer any deferred or defined benefit plans. All cost and compensation should be paid in the course of the contract and funded during that contract. One session or period of elected officials should not be allowed to spend future revenue by making promises they don’t have to pay for. If workers want a pension their Union can offer it or they can buy one. Taxpayers should not be on the hook.

  49. to the Democrats raking in millions in contributions from that same Wall Street obviously no. To the average person on the street 35 billion of my tax dollars being spent is worth far more then paper loans.

  50. “What defines a society is a set of mutual benefits and duties embodied most visibly in public institutions — public schools, public libraries, public transportation, public hospitals, public parks, public museums, public recreation, public universities, and so on.”

    Like the Ancient Greeks and Romans before them, Robert and his liberal cohorts won’t rest until they to stand above the ashes of a once great society congratulating each other on finally turning it into Utopia. Don’t measure them on the deaths they cause and generations they ruin, life is temporary, measure them instead on the intent and what should have been if only reality wasn’t real.

    “Public institutions are supported by all taxpayers,”

    Except the 48% that don’t pay federal income tax. How is it they support our national parks, military, and other federal programs if they don’t pay federal income tax?

    “and are available to all.”

    Unless Occupy has decided to occupy it in which case you’re either not allowed in or if granted entry stand a better than normal chance of being raped or killed. Robert forgot to mention the use pass, are available to all who are granted a use pass, without such pass it’s illegal to use said taxpayer facility and you will be arrested….unless your part of Occupy, they are not required to have use passes the rest of us are. A simpler, yet correct, statement would have been for Robert to claim are available to all Liberals, anyone that disagrees with us we’ll get back to you if your allowed to use them.

    “If the tax system is progressive, those who better off (and who, presumably, have benefitted from many of these same public institutions)”

    Rich people use public schools and libraries more? Museums maybe but they all charge a entry fee so that is also counter to Robert’s argument. Oh my bad, I forgot my own statement above, ignore reality and focus on the ideology, why yes Robert is correct the rich do use these more and thus pay more so they are available to all, and a heck of a fine job they do as well. Public education, can’t beat it!

    ““Privatize” means pay-for-it-yourself. The practical consequence of this in an economy whose wealth and income are now more concentrated than any time in 90 years”

    This gap had nothing to do with 20 million non English speaking non educated illegal aliens or a failed public education system ran by liberals. The fact that our bottom level of workers are less educated and less skilled then 90 years ago would no way impact their ability to earn money. Public housing, welfare dependence, single mother homes, none of those have been shown to restrain earning potential.

    “The financial squeeze on government at all levels since 2008 explains only part of it.”

    Detroit, Cleveland, Philly, DC, etc etc where all thriving right up till 2008. Again if you ignore the reality that democrats have been destroying government for 30 years it’s very easy to pick a meaningless point in time, 2008 let’s say, and pretend that is where it started. The financial squeeze on government started 30-40 years ago when they started borrowing endless billions and issuing bonds on future income to pay for indulgences today. The squeeze isn’t the day you hit your credit cards max, it’s the day you start using the credit card in the first place.

    “In consequence, their marginal tax rates dropped — setting off a vicious cycle of diminishing revenues”

    When has there ever been sustained diminishing revenue? There might be a year here or there but chart 40 years of government tax revenue and it only goes up. The problem has never been revenue, Robert is lying when he claims that. It’s always been a spending problem. Spending grew faster than revenue grew. Promises were made, entitlements, but not paid for and when the bill came due it squeezed out other spending. You want nice parks and great schools? Go back in time and repeal Medicare. You want your grandkids to even know what a park is, kill SS and PPACA.

    “Medicare is the only entitlement growing faster than the GDP”

    More ignorant lies from Robert, Higher Education, are you really that clueless Robert? How about housing up until 2 years ago? In fact you can look at any service the government subsidizes and it usually is rising faster than inflation.

    How can someone supposedly as educated as Robert be so clueless? Its like he doesn’t even know what the internet and a search engine is.

    “Unemployment insurance reaches just 40 percent of the jobless these days (largely because eligibility requires having had a steady full-time job for a number of years”

    No minimum duration of employment is in effect when you put in a claim for unemployment benefits in Illinois. Instead, the state examines your employment earnings during what it calls your base period. Your base period is a 12-month period, specifically the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters. The state requires you to have made $1,600 during the base period as of 2011, including $440 outside your highest-earning quarter. The amount of time you need to earn these amounts is the amount of time you have to work to qualify for unemployment benefits.

    Number of years Robert? Try weeks. For someone that is so wrong factually on everything you say you sure have a heck of a lot to say. How much “public” money was wasted on your education and where do we go for a refund?

  51. “b. In some cases, public services have been undermined by the unending cost of unionized public employees. Between perpetual salary increases, expanding medical benefits, and generous pension plans, the cost of public services has in some cases increased far beyond what any group of taxpayers can support.”

    Wow, that’s a mouthful, and hard to discuss without links that will put me into the, “your comment is awaiting moderation” category.

    Just on pensions alone there are lots of countervailing views. Just Google, “US public employee pensions” and you’ll find a lot of discussion.

    ” The Wisconsin Lie Exposed – Pulitzer Prize winning tax reporter, David Cay Johnston, has written a brilliant piece for tax.com exposing the truth about who really pays for the pension and benefits for public employees in Wisconsin.”

    Or: “Why employee pensions aren’t bankrupting states”

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/03/06/109649/why-employee-pensions-arent-bankrupting.html

  52. Two points about public services and institutions……………

    a. There was always a big gap between blue and red states in this area.
    New York City had free public universities and free public hospitals as far back as 1940. The South never had this, to be sure that black people would not benefit..
    The states that were settled by Germans and Scandinavians, like Miinnesota and Wisconsin, always had more public services than Western states. New England had good public services because in part they had tiny populations.

    And so on.The electoral ascendancy of the West and South under the Republican party has had an inevitable effect on public services.

    b. In some cases, public services have been undermined by the unending cost of unionized public employees. Between perpetual salary increases, expanding medical benefits, and generous pension plans, the cost of public services has in some cases increased far beyond what any group of taxpayers can support.

    This is not only true in the USA. As I understand it, both the British NHS and the Canadian hospitals have been forced to make cutbacks just in order to meet salary and benefit demands. I am sure one can find public school systems in the USA that have done the same thing. And that does not begin to cover the repulsive examples in places like San Diego, where libraries and parks are closed in order to pay spiked pensions to retired city officials.

    This is not intended to defeat the theories of Prof Reich,,,,,,,,,,but just to clarify the context a little.

  53. “Safety nets should catch you when you fall.”

    Like Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and the entire American economy?

    “And you should not vote if you are on the dole.”

    Would there be anyone left to vote?

    “Government needs to get out of the way for opportunities of every kind to flourish. Government is a boat anchor.”

    Doesn’t seem to be the opinion of businesses asking for federal, state and local subsidies. Private “enterprise” would not have built the transcontinental railway or our system of highways or airports which provided tremendous “opportunity” for growth and riches by private citizens. Government educated this country and provided the ladder for success of millions, not just the well heeled.

    “their[sic] is no Constitutional authority to mandate Americans purchase anything.”

    Is there a “constitutional” authority to restrict what Americans can purchase? Should the government get out of the way of the sex and drug trade so they can “flourish”?

    “Government is a boat anchor.”

    Would that include health, safety and pollution laws?

  54. The lefties have morphed the “safety net: into a minimum standard of living for voting Americans, regardless of their own contributions to their own fate. They want to continue to fund it for the continued electoral support that it provides. There is no way this will work.

    Safety nets should catch you when you fall. They should be subsistance levels at best. All the public services are neither Society nor safety net.

    And you should not vote if you are on the dole.

    “Everything Public” must not drain from “everything private”.

    “What defines a society is a set of mutual benefits and duties embodied most visibly in public institutions — public schools, public libraries, public transportation, public hospitals, public parks, public museums, public recreation, public universities, and so on.”

    This is BS.

    It sounds pretty. It is fallacious to use these as definitions of society. Museums charge admission. Public universities charge tuition. Public transportation costs more than if it were private. The poor don’t go to museums.

    Have you ever been to an airport that did not have construction going on? Airports are built and managed by government. Government cannot run a lemonade stand. What makes them think or us think they should design, build and run airports? From the overpriced artwork to the extra high ceilings that require exorbitant energy for cooling and heating they are prime example of government ineptitude and largesse.

    Government needs to get out of the way for opportunities of every kind to flourish. Government is a boat anchor. Nothing in governemnt is unpolitical.

    Government should not be making loans to Russion steel factories. i guess they figured that out this week. Government should not be in the direct to the citizen benifit business. Soc sec and Medicare and Obamacare need to go awayl

    There is no science to support the practice of annual pediatric Physical exams paid for by Medicaid. The pediatricians of this country have been bought and paid for by this boondoggle.

    There is no science to support the wholesale adoption of electronic medical records. They will be full of useless data that will be nothing but errors, creating untold dangers for patients and the doctors and nurses who try to use them.

    There is no Constitutional authority to mandate commerce; i.e. their is no Constitutional authority to mandate Americans purchase anything.

    I could go on.

    Mr. Reich is a tyrant. He wants governemnt into all aspect of the lives of Americans. He is the worst kind of public offiical.

    The American dream is to be rid of overbearing government, Ala Declaration of Independence, Magna Carta, TEA party.

  55. Curly–you really think that the zero based lending to Wall Street is worth LESS than $35 billion over 5 years (which is the cost of the EMR subsidies). Methinks you think bankers can’t do math….co is they can they’re taking truckloads more home than that

  56. “Mitt Romney speaks derisively of what he terms the Democrats’ “entitlement” society in contrast to his “opportunity” society. At least he still envisions a society. But he hasn’t explained how ordinary Americans will be able to take advantage of good opportunities without good public schools, affordable higher education, good roads, and adequate health care.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/04/us/politics/04bain.html?pagewanted=all

    The opportunity must be an opportunity of birth.

  57. Brilliant piece of analysis. Could you be a little more specific, while avoiding the invective?

  58. In all due respect to your intellect, Mr. Reich, you are incorrect. The grandest entitlement contains the boatloads of cash going from the taxpayers in to the pocket of EHR vendors (as ordered in HITECH) who do not have to demonstrate safety or efficacy, and until recently, usability (though this remains a meaningful joke) of the devices they are selling.

    To make matters worse, the public good and health is being threatened by the very devices for which the public is paying while they are deceptively being made to believe otherwise.

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