Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Regna Lee Wood on literacy

From surfing Lew Rockwell I read this article by Linda Schrock Taylor:

Keeping Their Toes to the Fire

My own personal mission to end the travesty of public miseducation began in 1992 after reading the article, "That's Right – They're Wrong" written by Regna Lee Wood. Mrs. Wood is the Director of Statistical Research for the National Right to Read Foundation, and her work has appeared in National Review, Destiny, and The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs 'Perspective'. I recommend that parents and other advocates begin their own educations, as I did, by reading the work of Regna Lee Wood.

Speaking with the directness and strength that we all must bring into play as we attempt to educate others regarding the actual errors and agendas behind the fraud of public schooling, Regna boldly states, "Nothing can be done with our schools until the basic problem is solved – and no one even sees what it is." We must join Regna in seeing the problem and planning for a solution. With "That's Right – They're Wrong," Regna Lee Wood provides strong fuel for the fires of change as she addresses:

Literacy rates

"Official" literacy rates, published after the Census every ten years, have been as fictional as Little Red Riding Hood ever since 1940. Through 1930, Census takers counted readers – by giving reading tests if necessary. But starting in 1940 the Census no longer counted readers. Instead, it counted as literate, adults with a certain number of years of school attendance.

Correctly interpreted, the official 1980 and 1990 literacy rates of 95 percent and 95.5 percent indicate that 95 to 96 out of 100 U.S. residents have attended American schools for at least five years. This may be valuable information, but it has little to do with literacy. Schooling for any length of time no longer equals literacy.

Reading Grade Levels

Reading grade levels (RGLs) have been similarly disguised. Since World War II they haven't equaled skills that students must have to read lessons in particular grades. Instead, reading grade levels have equaled skills that students in each grade do have – as demonstrated by average scores on standardized reading tests. And the difference in reading skills that students must have and those they do have is like the difference between Mark Twain's "lightning" and "lightning bug." It's a big one.


Literacy is a touchy subject, and it is measured in different ways by different people.

The following comes from an outfit called Pro Literacy Detroit:

Functional Illiteracy Defined

Functional illiteracy refers to the inability of an individual to use reading, speaking, writing, and computational skills in everyday life situations. The functional illiterate person cannot process written material. Quite often, this person is unable to understand basic mathematics.

The impact of functional illiteracy is tremendous. The health, safety, and welfare of entire families are compromised. Illiteracy tends to be intergenerational, resulting in poor academic performance, and higher school dropout rates among school-age children in homes where caregivers cannot read. The inability to read dosage information on over-the-counter and prescription drugs is life threatening.

Now get these statistics from the same site:

The Scope of Functional Illiteracy in Detroit, Highland Park, and Hamtramck, Michigan Adult literacy estimates, complied by the National Institute for Literacy in 1998, for Detroit , Highland Park , and Hamtramck , defined illiteracy rates, among adults as follows: Detroit 47%, Highland Park , 56%, Hamtramck 38%. The social and economic impact of illiteracy in these cities is staggering.

Those stats are an eye opener. One thing I have to beg though, isn't that a run-on sentence in bold? Couldn't they clean that up a bit? I shouldn't throw stones about English composition, but they are a literacy site. That said, half of the city of Detroit being functionally illiterate is staggering. Where is the outrage?

Back to Regna Lee Wood:

So, someone should have noticed that there was trouble in more than River City long before the 1983 National Commission on Excellence in Education report. For the average SAT verbal scores fell 24 points – from 500 to 476 – in the 11 years from 1941 to 1952, and AFQT scores indicated that illiteracy (defined by the War Department as inability to read 4th-grade lessons, or today's 5th-grade lessons) among millions of prospective recruits with at least four years of schooling soared from almost zero (0.004 per cent) during World War II to an unbelievable 17 percent during the Korean War.

But apparently no one did notice. No one wondered why virtually all World War II recruits with any schooling could read, whereas 17 out of 100 Korean War recruits could not read.

I should add for further reading an article by Gary North "The Good Old Days". I think it is a classic and one of my internet favorites. It touches on historical literacy as well. It is tough to quote it without quoting too much of it so check it out...

From John Taylor Gatto, Intellectual Espionage

"Looking back, abundant data exist from states like Connecticut and Massachusetts to show that by 1840 the incidence of complex literacy in the United States was between 93 and 100 percent wherever such a thing mattered. According to the Connecticut census of 1840, only one citizen out of every 579 was illiterate and you probably don’t want to know, not really, what people in those days considered literate; it’s too embarrassing. Popular novels of the period give a clue: Last of the Mohicans, published in 1826, sold so well that a contemporary equivalent would have to move 10 million copies to match it. If you pick up an uncut version you find yourself in a dense thicket of philosophy, history, culture, manners, politics, geography, analysis of human motives and actions, all conveyed in data-rich periodic sentences so formidable only a determined and well-educated reader can handle it nowadays. Yet in 1818 we were a small-farm nation without colleges or universities to speak of. Could those simple folk have had more complex minds than our own?

By 1940, the literacy figure for all states stood at 96 percent for whites, 80 percent for blacks. Notice that for all the disadvantages blacks labored under, four of five were nevertheless literate. Six decades later, at the end of the twentieth century, the National Adult Literacy Survey and the National Assessment of Educational Progress say 40 percent of blacks and 17 percent of whites can’t read at all. Put another way, black illiteracy doubled, white illiteracy quadrupled. Before you think of anything else in regard to these numbers, think of this: we spend three to four times as much real money on schooling as we did sixty years ago, but sixty years ago virtually everyone, black or white, could read

I always wondered why anyone thought it was a good idea to put the government in charge of educating our children. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Robert Nisbet Quote I read today...


From Busing’s Boston Massacre

In The Quest for Community, Robert Nisbet wrote that the central crisis of the 20th century is the continuous assault on "natural authority" and community through the state’s progressive invasion into our daily lives. "The alleged disorganization of the modern family is, in fact, simply an erosion of its natural authority, the consequence, in considerable part, of the absorption of its functions by other bodies, chiefly the state." Busing is a perfect example of such a state-sponsored assault on community and family.

Dad used to "bring home the bread" and "put a roof over your head". In the womb to tomb nanny state, the State can give you food stamps and housing vouchers. No need for dad. You can see what has happened to the family.

I think the real cuture war is Married with Children (or had Children) vs. the other. People of all races and creeds that marry and have children tend to share similar values and be more conservative than those who don't. And single women who have kids out of wedlock have the most to gain by joining the Democratic party and supporting their nanny state gravey train. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, May 13, 2010

James Galbraith Will Prove To Be The Most Ignorant Man In America

James Galbraith actually said this to Ezra Klein:

Galbraith: The danger posed by the deficit ‘is zero’

EK: But putting inflation aside, the gap between spending and revenues won't have other ill effects?

JG: Is there any terrible consequence because we haven't prefunded the defense budget? No. There's only one budget and one borrowing authority and all that matters is what that authority pays. Say I'm the federal government and I wish to pay you, Ezra Klein, a billion dollars to build an aircraft carrier. I put money in your bank account for that. Did the Federal Reserve look into that? Did the IRS sign off on it? Government does not need money to spend just as a bowling alley does not run out of points.

What people worry about is that the federal government won't be able to sell bonds. But there can never be a problem for the federal government selling bonds. It goes the other way. The government's spending creates the bank's demand for bonds, because they want a higher return on the money that the government is putting into the economy. My father said this process is so simple that the mind recoils from it.

EK: What are the policy implications of this view?

JG: It says that we should be focusing on real problems and not fake ones. We have serious problems. Unemployment is at 10 percent. if we got busy and worked out things for the unemployed to do, we'd be much better off. And we can certainly afford it. We have an impending energy crisis and a climate crisis. We could spend a generation fixing those problems in a way that would rebuild our country, too. On the tax side, what you want to do is reverse the burden on working people. Since the beginning of the crisis, I've supported a payroll tax holiday so everyone gets an increase in their after-tax earnings so they can pay down their mortgages, which would be a good thing. You also want to encourage rich people to recycle their money, which is why I support the estate tax, which has accounted for an enormous number of our great universities and nonprofits and philanthropic organizations. That's one difference between us and Europe.

EK: That does it for my questions, I think.

JG: I have one more answer, though! Since the 1790s, how often has the federal government not run a deficit? Six short periods, all leading to recession. Why? Because the government needs to run a deficit, it's the only way to inject financial resources into the economy. If you're not running a deficit, it's draining the pockets of the private sector. I was at a meeting in Cambridge last month where the managing director of the IMF said he was against deficits but in favor of saving, but they're exactly the same thing! A government deficit means more money in private pockets.

The way people suggest they can cut spending without cutting activity is completely fallacious. This is appalling in Europe right now. The Greeks are being asked to cut 10 percent from spending in a few years. And the assumption is that this won't affect GDP. But of course it will! It will cut at least 10 percent! And so they won't have the tax collections to fund the new lower level of spending. Spain was forced to make the same announcement yesterday. So the Eurozone is going down the tubes.

On the other hand, look at Japan. They've had enormous deficits ever since the crash in 1988. What's been the interest rate on government bonds ever since? It's zero! They've had no problem funding themselves. The best asset to own in Japan is cash, because the price level is falling. It gets you 4 percent return. The idea that funding difficulties are driven by deficits is an argument backed by a very powerful metaphor, but not much in the way of fact, theory or current experience.

Speechless. James Galbraith and I live in different worlds. I find it hard to believe that people believe him.

As Michael Kinsley noted, if deficits aren't the problem and will never be the problem, why not spend more? Why aren't we doing more for the poor? Why aren't we doing more for the unemployed? If deficits don't have any drawbacks, why not double the deficit? Even that would be wrong if you could triple or quaduple the deficit instead without any ill effects. The reason we don't is because the whole system could collapse.

James Galbraith will be first against the wall when the revolution comes. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Markets In Everything: Revenge Crabs

This site is absolutely hilarious. I don't endorse giving anyone crabs. I am married and have never strayed. If I came down with genital crabs I would be convinced my wife had cheated on me. What a horrible thing to do, but the humor is somewhat delicious on the FAQ page. What a riot.

Revenge Crabs

Also on the web this week is the Yo-Yo Champ that did a tour of Wisconsin television. I don't know if the guy is disturbed of if he is a comic genius...

Fake Yo-Yo Trickster fools TV stations everywhere

If you click that link you have to suffer through all the videos. It is hard to watch, but that guy bombs on every show and gets progressively worse. Made me laugh and cringe at the same time.

Back to the revenge crabs. I laughed my ass off and that is evil. Think of the dinner parties you go to or other social occasions. You pause and go to the bathroom and take out a vial and infect the bed of the hosts (which presumably you don't like) with these genital crabs. When they start itching they both with be blaming the other mate. You could disrupt a marriage. It is pure evil.

Lucky for me I don't go to parties with people I don't like. And even the people I don't like I wouldn't wish crabs on them. If that is a serious business (which it appears to be), that is really something. I can only imagine the real life drama.

Markets in Everthing! Even genital crabs. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Greek Tragedy

Paul Krugman

The bad news is that Greece’s problems are deeper than Europe’s leaders are willing to acknowledge, even now — and they’re shared, to a lesser degree, by other European countries. Many observers now expect the Greek tragedy to end in default; I’m increasingly convinced that they’re too optimistic, that default will be accompanied or followed by departure from the euro.

I remember when people talked up the Euro against the dollar and the moneyman at Berkshire was betting on the Euro. Hope he got he money out.

I expect the Greek tragedy to end in default. At some point you simply rack up too much debt. Here in America, I fully expect us to just print money to pay off our bills. For Greece that is not an option.

Robert Samuelson

What we're seeing in Greece is the death spiral of the welfare state. This isn't Greece's problem alone, and that's why its crisis has rattled global stock markets and threatens economic recovery. Virtually every advanced nation, including the United States, faces the same prospect. Aging populations have been promised huge health and retirement benefits, which countries haven't fully covered with taxes. The reckoning has arrived in Greece, but it awaits most wealthy societies.

Coming to a theater near you!

Samuelson's closer:

If only a few countries faced these problems, the solution would be easy. Unlucky countries would trim budgets and resume growth by exporting to healthier nations. But developed countries represent about half the world economy; most have overcommitted welfare states. They might defuse the dangers by gradually trimming future benefits in a way that reassured financial markets. In practice, they haven't done that; indeed, President Obama's health program expands benefits. What happens if all these countries are thrust into Greece's situation? One answer -- another worldwide economic collapse -- explains why dawdling is so risky.

The collapse is going to be spectacular.

I have often joked (darkly) that it is wishful thinking when conservatives complain that our children are going to be paying off the debts that we are incurring today. I think that assumes that we can keep spending like we do and just hand it off to our children. I think the reality is that WE are going to be paying off these bills, and that the due date is going to come sooner rather than later.

Like everything else, in hindsight it will be abundantly clear for all to see. Life isn't lived in hindsight though, and it is going to be one collasal clusterfudge when we hit the wall. At this point I am convinced that neither political party has the will to cut the size of government until it is too late.

"Things that can't go on forever, don't"

20 Things You Will Need To Survive When the Economy Collapses and the Next Great Depression Begins

The New York Times on Health Care Reform:

Another reform high on the list is removing the state from the marketplace in crucial sectors like health care, transportation and energy and allowing private investment. Economists say that the liberalization of trucking routes — where a trucking license can cost up to $90,000 — and the health care industry would help bring down prices in these areas, which are among the highest in Europe.

It looks as if the New York Times doesn't support socialized medicine, at least when it comes to the Greeks. Maybe they should have told us a little about this when Obamacare was making the rounds... Sphere: Related Content