Tag Archives: public education

SOCIALISM – PART TWO (CAPITALISM VS. SOCIALISM)

Currently candidate for the Democrat nomination for President of the United States, Bernie Sanders, is an avowed socialist, calling himself a Democratic Socialist. While Senator Sanders will probably lose the nomination to Hillary Clinton, he is currently a viable candidate. As of this writing, he will soon be giving a speech explaining just what a Democrat Socialist is, but in the meantime, the following will contrast Capitalism, our current economic system in the United States with Socialism. As you read this, keep in mind that while we call or economic system capitalism, it is not a purely capitalistic system.

The central arguments in the socialism vs. capitalism debate are about economic equality and the role of government. Socialists believe that economic inequality if bad for society and that the government is responsible for reducing it through programs that benefit the poor such as free public education, free of subsidized healthcare, social security for the elderly, and higher taxes on the rich. In contrast, capitalists believe that the government does not use economic resources as efficiently as private enterprises do, and therefore society is better off with the free market determining economic winners and losers.

As I indicated above the United States is considered a bastion of capitalism. However, large parts of Scandinavia and Western Europe are considered socialist democracies. As you know, though, the United States has a plethora of entitlement programs that allegedly benefit the poor. The U.S. also offers free public elementary and secondary education to its citizens and has implemented a Social Security program to benefit the elderly. Furthermore, its present tax system imposes higher taxes on higher income earners. As such, the United States is not a pure capitalistic society. We currently have a strong private sector and income inequality. Those individuals who work hard and take risks have chances at accumulating more wealth than those who prefer not to take large risks and work less. But for those individuals willing to work harder than normal and take the risks, additional wealth is not guaranteed. Of course, there’s those in between. In a capitalistic society such as what we have in the United States, you get to choose.

The following will outline the differences between capitalism and socialism:

DEFINITION

Capitalism: A theory or system of social organization based around a free market and privatization in which ownership is ascribed to the individual persons. Voluntary co-ownership is also permitted

Socialism: A theory or system of social organization based on the holding of most property in common, with actual ownership ascribed to the workers.

PHILOSOPHY

Capitalism: Capital (or the means of production) is owned, operated, and traded in order to generate profits for private owners or shareholders. Emphasis on individual profit rather than on workers or society as a whole. No restriction on who may own capital.

Socialism: From each according to his ability, to each according to his contribution. Emphasis on profit being distributed among the society or workforce to complement individual wages/salaries.

 

IDEAS

Capitalism: Laissez-faire means to “let it be;” opposed to government intervention in economics because capitalists believe it introduces inefficiencies. A free market produces the best economic outcome for society. Government should not pick winners and losers.

Socialism: All individuals should have access to basic articles of consumption and public goods to allow for self-actualization. Large-scale industries are collective efforts and this the returns from these industries must benefit society as a whole.

KEY ELEMENTS

Capitalism: Competition for ownership of capital drives economic activity and creates a price system that determines resource allocation; profits are reinvested in the economy. “Production for profit:” useful goods and services are a byproduct of pursuing profit.

Socialism: Economic activity and production especially are adjusted by the State to meet human needs and economic demands. “Production for use:” useful goods and services are produced specifically for their usefulness.

ECONOMIC SYSTEM

Capitalism: Market based economy combined with private or corporate ownership of the means of production. Goods and services are produced to make a profit, and this profit is reinvested into the economy to fuel economic growth.

Socialism: The means of production are owned by public enterprises or cooperatives, and individuals are compensated based on the principle of individual contribution. Production may variously be coordinated through either economic planning or markets.

POLITICAL SYSTEM

Capitalism: Can co-exist with a variety of political systems, including dictatorship, democratic republic, anarchism, and direct democracy. Most capitalists advocate a democratic republic.

Socialism: Can co-exist with different political systems. Most socialists advocate participatory democracy, some (Social Democrats) advocate parliamentary democracy, and Marxist-Leninists advocate “Democratic Centralism.”

PRIVATE PROPERTY

Capitalism: Private property in capital and other goods is the dominant form of property. Public property and state property play a secondary role, and there might also be some collective property in the economy.

Socialism: Two kinds of property: Personal property, such as houses, clothing, etc. owned by the individual. Public property includes factories, and means of production owned by the State but with worker control.

 

OWNERSHIP STRUCTURE

Capitalism: The means of production are privately owned and operated for a private profit. This drives incentives for producers to engage in economic activity. Firms can be owned by individuals, worker do-ops, or shareholders.

Socialism: The means of production are socially-owned with the surplus value produced accruing to either all of society (in public ownership models) or to all the employee-members of the enterprise (in Cooperative ownership models.)

SOCIAL STRUCTURE

Capitalism: Classes exist based on their relationship to capital: the capitalists own shares of the means of production and derive their income in that way while the working class is dependent on wages or salaries. Large degree of mobility between the classes.

Socialism: Class distinctions are diminished. Status derived more from political distinctions that class distinctions. Some mobility.

FREE CHOICE

Capitalism: All individuals make decisions for themselves. People will make the best decisions because they must live with the consequences of their actions. Freedom of choice allows consumers to drive the economy.

Socialism: Religion, jobs, and marriage are up to the individual. Compulsory education. Free, equal access to healthcare and education provided through a socialized system funded by taxation. Production decisions driven more by State decision than consumer demand.

The above outline a few of the major differences between capitalism and socialism. Again, pure free market capitalism doesn’t exist on the planet. The United State, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong are strongholds of capitalism.

With Bernie Sanders running for the Democrat nominee for president, front-runner Hillary Clinton has moved far left. Millennials are leaning toward socialism because they see our capitalistic economic system as one that benefits the wealthy. However, younger adults tend to be more idealistic, but tend to change as they mature and are able to view the world from a practical standpoint rather than an academic stand point.

It is my hope that American from the entire political spectrum will read this post and think hard and long about socialism. Is this something you really want because there is a good chance this country, built on the principals of capitalism and a free market will veer toward socialism if Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders are elected President in 2016.

The contents of this article was mostly provided by diffen.com and your administrator’s personal opinions.

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ABOUT PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS, SOMETHING WE’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO TALK ABOUT

Depending on whose reading this post, I may ruffle some feathers, but I don’t care. I guess Donald Trump has emboldened me to say what I think, no holds barred, and no apologizes. So, here goes.

Day before Yesterday a story surfaced that Ohio Governor and Republican candidate for President, John Kasich wants to abolish teachers’ lounges. His reasoning is that teachers won’t have a place to go and talk about their problems.

Well, I totally disagree with Governor Kasich, I think teachers’ lounges should be expanded and open 24/7, so they can gripe till their heart’s content. That way, I don’t have to listen to them. I know several public school teachers and I have never heard one of them say that they liked their job. All they do is gripe about how hard they have to work, how they’re underpaid, etc.

In my career, there have been times when I was underpaid. I’ve always had to work hard and throughout a good portion of my career to date, it was normal to work Monday through Saturday and a half-day on Sunday. Of course, now that I’m a small business owner, there’s no such thing as being off. When I’m not eating, sleeping, or doing necessary personal stuff such as grocery shopping and getting my nails and hair done, I’m working. I might have expressed some occasional frustration at having to work so much, but I know I didn’t continually complain like most school teachers do about having to work hard. If I was with one or more school teachers, there was no way anyone but them could complain because they monopolized the conversation with their gripes. No one else could get a work in edgewise.

One time, I was having lunch with a group of people. This was shortly after a new school year had begun. Someone asked the teacher at the table how school was. We then had to hear a litany of how hard she was having to work and how budget cuts had affected the classroom and she was having to use her own money to buy supplies. H-E-L-L-O! I was in a job for about ten years where I had to spend from $500 to $1,000 of my own money yearly for supplies, reference materials, and continuing education. I traveled extensively during this period, and because the company was so cheap, I often times didn’t turn in certain expenses. I almost never turned in tips. If I decided to go to a nice restaurant for a nice dinner, I wouldn’t turn in the full amount. I never quite had enough, though, to deduct on my tax return.

They gripe about being underpaid. Well, it’s not exactly breaking news that school teachers’ salaries are not generous. You knew that when you went into the profession. They grip about being underfunded. Well, I have news for them. A lot of budgets out there, not just education budgets are skimpy. They gripe about having to spend their own money in the classroom. Well, so do I. See my above comments.

Years ago, when I was very underpaid, I told a teacher that I did make a little more money than she did, but it was just that, a little more. And it was. I worked an average of 55 to 60 hours a week, received ten vacation days and seven holidays.

Furthermore, after five or so years, most teachers have what is called “tenure.” In other words, they can’t be let go from their job except for certain types of mis-conduct and then it’s a big thing. In the private sector, one can be let go at the drop of a hat and the company, in most states, is not required to give you a reason. I will clarify by saying that firing someone and not giving them a reason why they were fired is rare. A company doing this on a regular basis is sure to get a reputation and will not attract the best and the brightest people.

A school teacher friend and I were driving back from the beach one Sunday afternoon in the summer and this school teacher friend said to me, “Nancy, you have a perfect job, don’t you?” I let it all out in about a thirty minute diatribe. This poor teacher was cowering and said, “I had no idea, because you never talk about work.”

“That’s right,” I said. “I keep my professional and private lives separate. When I’m away from the job, I really don’t want to be reminded of it. I want to forget about my problems at work. I have no desire to gripe about my job to friends.” After this, she was careful about griping about her job, especially in front of me. But, you could tell that she wanted to.

I had one school teacher friend tell me that she would like to have a job where she didn’t have to take work home. This was in the early nineties, before logging in and working from home because common place. I promptly told her that while I can’t bring company documents home and work on them, it was rare for me to leave work at quitting time. And most weekends, unless I had something else to do, I was in the office working.

One teacher friend of mine replied “well it must be nice” when I took a day, a day of vacation in September after she had just started back to school after summer break. I was very busy that year and was doing a lot of very stressful business travel. I also purchased my house that year and was studying hard to get a professional certification. Up until that September day of vacation, I had only taken two days of vacation and that was to deal with purchasing the house and moving. So that one measly day of vacation was the first I had taken all year where I actually relaxed and did some stuff for me. This particular teacher had just returned to work after having two months off and she makes a smart-ass comment about me taking a day of vacation. Sheesh.
Yeah, I’ve unloaded on school teachers. And while I do acknowledge that they face difficulties in their professions, the rest of us do also. No school teacher I’ve known has ever asked me how my day was, how my week was, or how my job was going. However, they insist on monopolizing every conversation with their griping. Then they wonder why folks don’t like them.

It looks as though Governor Kasich’s comments may be soon forgotten about. Of course, the teachers’ unions won’t forget about them. Like I said, I don’t agree with Governor Kasich. I think they ought to be expanded where hopefully the teachers will stay in them and gripe till they can’t gripe any more, if that’s possible.

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PUBLIC EDUCATION’S RESISTANCE TO CHANGE

Since I created this blog, I’ve written on many political topics: the economy, foreign policy, business, ideology, liberal v. conservative, etc. However, I have written very little on the state of public education.

While I’m not an expert on public education, I have observed many things over the years and I hate to say it, but I feel like there’s a lot that’s negative about public education. I do have a lot of friends who are teachers in various public school systems, most of them elementary and secondary. Most of them are liberal; most, but not all. Of course, I have more differences with my teacher friends who are liberal.

I had a teacher friend, a couple of years ago, to comment that teachers were hated by so many people. I told my friend that the word hate was a strong word and I don’t know that people hate teachers, but I do know that many people do have some problems with today’s school teachers. I further indicated to my friend that there were two main reasons why teachers might not be liked among the outside world.

1. Teachers’ Unions: Alabama is not a union-friendly state and a lot of folks just don’t like the AEA, the NEA, or other teachers’ unions. They have a bad perception of them.
2. All teachers do is gripe. Every teacher I know gripes about how much work he or she has to do. I know it’s a lot of work and a lot of responsibility, but so are our jobs. I’ve worked very hard throughout my career, still do, and don’t see any end in sight. I do get tired of the attitude that school teachers are the only ones who ever had to hit a lick at a snake.

I was right, my teacher friend didn’t like what I had to say at all. In fact, she pouted about it.

A number of years ago, another teacher friend of mine and I went to the beach for a weekend. This was in the summertime, so my friend wasn’t working, but I was. On the drive home, she said to me, “Nancy, you have a perfect job, don’t you?” I was driving and almost wrecked the car. Then I unloaded on her for about thirty minutes about the problems I had at work.

She replied, “I had no idea how you felt. You never say anything.” Then she asked me if I had someone that I called at night and shared my day with.
“Not only no, but HELL NO! Why would I want to re-hash my day and why would anyone in their right mind want to listen to me?”
After that, she toned down her griping about her job.

Every time a new innovation is education is implemented, public school teachers gripe about it and say it’s not good and they do site some points. They’re against home schooling, charter schools, school vouchers, and just about anything that deviates from the old standard of a teacher with a class of students.

I can appreciate that. No one likes change, especially in their job. When you’re told that there will be changes in your company, changes in your department, changes in management, changes in employee evaluation methods, you cringe. I cringe. Most of the time, we’re not going to like the change and we’re not going to come out for the better. Again, I can see why teachers resist alternative education methods. They’re human, they don’t like change, any more than I do.

A bill that would allow charter schools in Alabama has just been signed into law by Alabama’s governor. Of course the public school teachers are out there squawking. There is a provision in the law that would allow someone without a teacher’s certificate to come in and teach. If I had taken all those courses and was certified, I wouldn’t like someone coming in who was not certified. I’ve had to deal with similar situations in my career and it can be humiliating.

I’ve also heard public school teachers say that charter schools are just an avenue for the members of the chartering organization to make money. Of course, that’s typical for a liberal to say, since most school teachers are liberals and liberals don’t want any of us to make money.
To the public school teachers out there; if you’re a proponent of the “one size fits all” type of school; that’s changing. And you’re going to have to accept that things are changing. We’ve all had to do it. There have been times when I’ve “sucked it up” and dealt with the change. However, most recently, I decided that I couldn’t endure the changes and left my company and started my own business. Remember the old one room school? What if the teachers had said “no” way back when?

As one gets older, it’s harder to adapt to change. I can remember when I was younger and those much older than me resisted change, particularly when it came to computers taking over everything. I heard so much griping and teeth-gnashing that I made a vow not to sound like an old fogey when I started getting older and things were changing that I didn’t like. Have I done what I said I was going to do? Most of the time; yes. Although, I do catch myself sometimes complaining. And when I do, I try to pull back.

Many school teachers began their careers when they are in their early twenties and remain a teacher until they choose to retire. In Alabama, you can retire after twenty-five years. There is no job that doesn’t change in that period of time. Even ditch digging and janitorial jobs are subject to change over long periods of time.

While people should speak up when they don’t like something, if you’re constantly dissing changes and new ideas, you’re going to be labeled an old fogey. If you start getting shrill and emotional, accusing people who don’t agree with you that they don’t care about education, you’re doing what all liberals do when conservatives are attempting to have a discussion with you. In fact, you’re doing what typical liberals do. So, I guess there’s no point in trying to have a discussion with you about anything.

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UNION MEMBERSHIP IS DOWN

As some of us will remember, almost a year ago, the United Auto Workers was dealt a stinging blow when a majority of the employees at a Volkswagen plant near Chattanooga, Tennessee voted against establishing a union. The loss came after plant management welcomed the union into the plant for the purpose of promoting membership in the United Auto Workers Union. Needless to say, the pro-union far left was devastated and blamed the Republican politicians who didn’t support the unionization of the plant.

According to an article in dailysignal.com on January 23, union membership rate falls to a 100 year low. The Daily Signal goes on to indicate that union membership has been on a steady decline over the past three decades, although it grew slightly in 2008.
The liberals/Democrats were beside themselves when the workers voted down unionization. Of course, they blamed the Republicans and George W. Bush. They also trashed the southern state of Tennessee, calling the good people of Tennessee lots of unflattering names.

Now why wouldn’t anyone want to join a union? Usually union-scale wages are higher, you get better benefits, and when the union contract is up, you might get a couple of days off should the members go on strike. You get to “cut up” a bit and say bad things about your superiors without fear of losing you job.

At one time, unions were a good thing. People were working sixteen hours a day, seven days a week, and making a dollar a day. There were no child labor laws and worker safety wasn’t a factor. If a worker got hurt on the job and was unable to work again, he was let go and lost any earning capacity. If a worker was killed on the job, no benefits were paid to his family and the family lost a wage earner.

Unions came in and changed all of that making mobility between classes possible. When unions were first established, a large majority of workers were illiterate and not capable of communicating with management. Besides, management had no obligations workers and would just fire a worker if he or she complained.

I really believe that a major factor in the decline of union membership is the rise in public education. Up until I’d guess, the mid-seventies, there were workers who were not able to read, write, and do simple math. In other words, they never went to school and were illiterate. These folks were pretty much destined to be manual laborers. Any kind of upward mobility was very, very limited for these individuals. As a result, these individuals did really need someone to represent them and make sure they were being paid adequately for the work they were doing, and were receiving other benefits that would allow them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. With the forty hour work week, the folks had free time on their hands to enjoy. The money they were making and the benefits they were receive compliments of the union, allowed them to purchase automobiles, telephones, televisions, radios, etc. They were also able to take vacations.

Now, children must enroll in school or be home-schooled until the age of sixteen. As folks are required to have more education, upward mobility between social classes and the workplace is more common. If a person gets an education and works hard, chances are that person will succeed in life.

I’ve never been employed in a place where there was union presence, but I do know that the presence of a union in the modern day workplace, more often than not, drives a wedge between management and non-management employees. Plus, there are so many tacky rules to follow.

My mother spent almost all of her career working for the Cullman Electric Co-operative. The Co-op purchased electricity from the TVA and sold it to its members. For the Cullman Electric Co-operative, its members were those who resided in rural Cullman County, Alabama. The Co-op was a small to medium company in a smaller town.

Whenever there was inclement weather in the area and power outages were occurring, the manager, the late Claude E. Wood, always worked the radio because he wanted to do it and be a part of getting the power back on to the members. With Mr. Wood, working the radio, this would free up a few extra linemen to facilitate the efforts.

Shortly before Mama retired, the union came in and made their pitch to the employees who voted to go union. Mama, being management, was against the union coming in and felt that it would ruin a really good place to work. After the union took over, Mr. Wood was not allowed to work the radio anymore. Others who didn’t regularly work as linemen, but would do so when the weather was bad, were also prohibited from working on the lines. Only linemen could work on the lines to restore power.

The higher educated worker coming into the workplace and having aspirations of climbing the corporate ladder, wants to work and work hard. Also, he or she wants to be friendly with managers and let the managers know they’re willing to do what it takes to get ahead. They don’t want to deal with that wedge and they don’t want to be squelched by a bunch of union rules. Also, with folks more educated now than they were in the middle of the twentieth century, they are better able to communicate with their superiors and if they have a problem, would prefer to talk to their manager directly than have to go through a grievance committee. Also, it is likely that most, if not all of the managers, once worked on the plant floor and could better identify with the employee.

In the case of the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant, the workers were aware of the differences in the non-union plants and the union plants. The non-union plants were always clean as a whistle and there was a family-like atmosphere. Employees cared for one another. Union plants were almost always filthy and there was friction between workers and management. Two good examples were the Honda plant in Lincoln, Alabama and the Mercedes plant in Vance, Alabama.

It’s ironic to me that the teachers’ unions push getting an education, but lean very left. They think that solutions to their problems would be resolved by just pouring money on the problem and getting that money from the rich. They resent the rich and even resent middle class folks who are working hard and becoming successful. So, let’s see…you should get an education in the public schools, but when you do and you work hard and become successful and start voting Republican, we’re going to turn on you and come after your money.

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