The Magical Minimum Wage

Over the hubbub of the minimum wage hike racket, I’ve heard a lot of people shouting about different sides of the debate. Yesterday, someone shared this picture on Facebook:

minimum.wage.1

I’m getting tired of hearing the debate. Here’s the real facts.

Raising minimum wage to $15 an hour will be disastrous. You want inflation? Double the minimum wage then stand back and watch the fallout. I can’t believe nobody is wondering why gas prices more than doubled after Obama took office. I will tell you why: federal minimum wage was kicked up from $4.75 an hour to $7.25 an hour. Businesses do not eat those losses; they pass them on to the consumer. When a business that pays minimum wage for new workers suddenly has to pay twice what they were paying, they’re not going to sit there and say, “oh, well – we’re not gonna make as much money!” No. They’re going to raise the price of everything they sell. Everything is going to cost more, from a loaf of bread to a gallon of gasoline to a crappy McDonald’s hamburger. It’s going to go way up in cost, so it’ll go way up in price.

The more a business has to pay to make a product, the more it costs for the consumer to enjoy it. My girlfriend’s 22-inch tube TV cost about $100 when she bought it. My 55-inch flat-screen cost about $600 when my dad got it for me for Christmas a year ago. The technology of both of these items is very different; a tube TV (which they no longer make) is simple to build and the parts are cheap. A large flat-screen requires more expensive parts, more time, and more labor to build. Compare two different restaurants: McDonald’s and Smashburger. A quarter pounder at McDonald’s costs about $4 (depending on where in the country you are). A “small” hamburger at Smashburger costs about $6. Why? Because Smashburger pays more for better ingredients and they pay their employees slightly more than minimum wage.

The concept is the same for workers. The more a business pays its workers, the more the consumer will pay for the products being assembled and sold by those workers. My iPhone cost me about $200 (I had to sign a new contract with my cell carrier to get it that low, but hey…). My iPhone was also assembled at a factory in China. Had my phone been assembled at a plant in the US, it would have been exorbitantly expensive and I wouldn’t be able to afford it. Why? Because workers in the US cost that much more.

The principle will not change if minimum wage is doubled. These people keep thinking, “oh, if I only made more money…” Yet they refuse to face the fact that if they make the government force their employer to pay them more, things are going to go downhill fast. Their employer will raise the price of the food they’re making, driving some consumers away. The poor people who tend to eat at places like McDonald’s won’t be able to afford it anymore. The cost of basic necessities will shoot up. Suddenly, making more money means nothing because the problems just followed them right into their new predicament. These people don’t think about the consequences of their demands.

What I’m going to say next is going to really piss off a few people, but it needs to be said.

If you want a better life, you have to make it yourself.

I used to work for JP Morgan Chase. After that, I worked for American Express. I hated working in an office setting and having to kiss ass everywhere I went. I really, truly, genuinely hated my job. I made a lot of money, but I hated where I was and felt like I was in a dead end profession. I would prove my abilities beyond everyone else, but would always lose out on promotions to new departments because my boss needed me where I was. I was tired of it. So, I took a pay cut to go work as an EMT full-time. I’m actually making more money now because I love my job and I’m willing to work a lot of overtime. I can take my EMT certification back to my home state and make even more money there. Emergency medical and rescue are always in demand, and since I am capable of dealing with people who are bleeding and throwing up, it works for me. I wanted to make a change in my life and be happy, so I went out and found something that would facilitate that for me.

If you are going to screw around in high school, refuse to attend college, and spend all your time and money trying to have fun, then the consequence is that you’ll never be worth more than minimum wage. You’ll never have marketable skills. Thus you will never have a better job.

Oh, and this whole thing about having kids and working minimum wage? Oh, please. If you hadn’t hopped in bed, you wouldn’t have a kid. If you couldn’t afford a kid, you should have thought about that before jumping in the backseat of that car. Yay, you had sex! I’m glad it was fun! Now, here’s the consequence – a responsibility to take care of a tiny little person who will be completely dependent on you for the next eighteen years (likely longer, considering how poorly you’ll teach basic principles of responsibility). Just like you’re not thinking now about how your demand for more money will affect the future, you didn’t think about how that twenty minutes of fun might affect your personal future. Whose fault is that? I didn’t benefit from you having sex. Why should I have to pay for it?

Cry me a damn river.

Find a trade school – yeah, the ones that your beloved President makes fun of when he tells you to go get an education – and learn an in-demand skill. Learn how to weld. Learn how to fix a car. Learn to be a plumber, an electrician, or a licensed contractor. Go learn medical coding and billing. All of those professions make a lot more money than fast food does (and don’t require mopping up after a patient who misses the emesis bag). And, bonus, you won’t have other minimum-wage earners yelling at you for screwing up their orders and throwing food at you.

You want more money? Go find a way to earn it honestly rather than twisting people’s arms with some emotional appeal that will only make things worse. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, stop expecting everyone else to pay your way for you, and make your own life better. Nobody is responsible for you and your spawn except YOU. Forcing the minimum wage up with not magically solve your problems, nor will yelling at me that you slaved over a hot stove for that cheap chicken sandwich that I just bought to get my blood sugar back up again. I tell you what…do that for 24 hours at a stretch and I’ll be impressed.

Reinventing The Truth

My roommate and I have taken in a 15-year-old girl recently. Her mother is a meth addict and her home life has been remarkably unstable; she’s an amazing kid and a very attentive student (and the only living teenage girl I’ve met so far who didn’t know who Grumpy Cat was and didn’t care). One of my primary duties is helping her with homework.

When I sat down for the first time to help her with a world history assignment, I nearly fell over. The teacher had handed out a map that they were to label and color. It was a map of the Mideast as it was during the time of Alexander the Great – and it, like the textbook she was copying from, had the area we know as Israel labeled clearly as Palestine.

This was the first of many untruths that I discovered in her history book – which, notably, was published by National Geographic. The anti-Zionist crowd would proudly crow about such a thing; it’s a blatant lie. At the time of Alexander the Great’s rule over Asia Minor, the name “Palestine” had not even been invented yet. The region was taken over first by the Babylonians, then by the Persians – but it was always home to the Jews and was often referred to as Judea. There was a neighboring “state” known as Philistia, which tried to take Israel over at one point and lost (read about King David’s early life). The Romans took the region from the Persians around 63 BC, but the overwhelming majority of the people in Judea were still Jews. Then, in 70 AD, a major rebellion was mounted. The Bar Kokhba revolt (led by Simon Bar Kochba, who some believed was the promised Messiah at the time) was soundly crushed by the Romans. Emperor Hadrian was infuriated by the continued Jewish rebellions, so he ordered the complete destruction of Jerusalem – including leveling the Second Temple. The Western Wall is all that still stands and is among some of the best archaeological evidence that Jews have had the longest presence in the region.

Hadrian almost immediately made all things Jewish illegal. Religious observations were banned – even to admit you were a Jew could result in execution. Jews had to preserve their history, lineage, and faith in complete secrecy after Hadrian passed down his edicts. Not only that, but he re-named the region known as Judea. It became known as Palestine, after the Philistines that the Israelites had so famously defeated centuries before.

To label the area as Palestine several hundred years before the name came into usage is, I think, deliberate. If the anti-Zionists in education can establish Palestine as a legitimate entity during a period before the current age, then claims that today’s Palestinians have to the area are justified. It’s a slow way to redefine the truth. A slow introduction to half-truths and lies by omission is the only way to get people to accept a lie; Adolf Hitler learned quickly that if you try to introduce an extreme too quickly, the people won’t tolerate it. That was how he ended up in prison. When he got out, he started over, slowly introducing extremes to Germany until they became a way of life.

The same thing has been done by Holocaust deniers. I’ve heard people try to tell me that, in fact, it wasn’t really six million Jews killed in the camps – it was more like one and a half million. That is a partial truth. On a stone marker in front of Auschwitz, visitors can see that one and a half million Jews died in the camp. Of course, that is just the number that died at one single camp, but those who want others to believe that it never happened will start there – as if Auschwitz were the only concentration camp run by the Nazis.

Not only does this girl’s history book dishonestly establish Palestine long before its time, it fails to point out that the Muslims actually invaded Palestine in 632 AD and took it by force from the Byzantine Empire. When the Muslims invaded, they killed off the peasant Arabs living in the area. They had decided that the farmers and shepherds that inhabited the area were inferior and weren’t worthy to own the land. The book barely mentions that the Crusaders targeted Jews on their trek to Jerusalem, instead focusing on the economic and political impacts that the Crusades had on Europe.

Still later in the book, when talking about more modern history, further egregious omissions are made. “Jihad” is defined as “an emotional and spiritual struggle.” When I was 15, my history book rightly defined it as “holy war.” When discussing 9/11, the book describes the 19 hijackers as “international terrorists” rather than telling the truth, that 15 of them were from Saudi Arabia and ALL of them were jihadists. It misrepresents the term “infidels”, claiming that it was the European Crusaders who coined the term to describe Muslims as unbelievers. All of this is done by design to blunt the fact that jihad is alive and well in the Middle East. It is deliberately twisted to blind this generation to the reality that Muslim terrorists are very real, many Muslims aren’t willing to admit it, and we are still in very real danger from their extreme ideology. The book spends far too much time teaching smoke and mirrors about Islam, leaving out key points about the life and beliefs of Muhammad – while practically ignoring the beliefs of Jews.

Hysterically, the book has an exercise called “critical thinking skillbuilder: distinguishing between fact and opinion.”

If only…

Somebody Save Us

I had a love/hate relationship with school when I was a kid. I loved learning but I hated doing homework. I preferred recreational reading and writing my own stories to completing assignments given to me by teachers. I went to several different schools in different states, and I can remember having some really bad teachers along the way. One teacher, however, changed my life; Nita Norwood taught my 7th-grade English class. Even the most boring subjects were interesting in her class. She had well over a hundred students during the course of a semester, but she found a way to make my recreational reading habits a part of my lesson plan. When she saw me getting bullied in the cafeteria – I had lunch during her class – she offered to let me have lunch in the classroom with her. When she found out that I liked to write, she wanted to read it all. Despite how juvenile I’m sure it was back then she encouraged me to never stop writing. Mrs. Norwood was, by far, the best teacher I ever had, and she’d been teaching for eons.

I have just finished watching an eye-opening documentary about the public education system in America called “Waiting For Superman”, and I am floored. I have known for a long time – since I was a kid – that our education system has serious problems. I saw it firsthand when kids I went to school with were coming into class drunk, high, angry, and not paying any attention to the teacher. I saw it when teachers would leave us to do whatever we wanted while they did whatever they wanted. I went through grade school in the 80’s, jr. high and high school in the 90’s…we’re talking two decades ago that I was in elementary school, and I had teachers that I knew didn’t care. I had classmates who were so used to other teachers that didn’t care that when they came into a class where the teacher DID care, they all but ruined the profession for that teacher.

I knew nothing of teacher’s unions when I was a kid. I never heard about it. Now, it’s all I hear about anymore – when teachers are mentioned in the news, they are invariably coupled with unions. Not long ago I linked Matt Damon’s uber-liberal rant about how teachers deserve tenure because, if you believe him, they make next to nothing and there’s not a teacher in the system that doesn’t care, because nobody gets into a profession like that without caring.

(To that, I say this: in EMS, or emergency medical services, we make less money than teachers do, and we have to go through a lot more to prove that we’re worthy of keeping our credentials. I have worked with more than a few who had no business working on ambulance crews. Every profession is plagued by those who don’t want to work.)

In the documentary, writer/director Davis Guggenheim spotlights DC schools chief Michelle Rhee and her quest to do what no superintendent of the DC schools district had ever done: reform the district and improve the state of education in the area. I remember a few years ago, when Rhee caught unimaginable vitriol from teachers and their unions for closing 23 DC schools and firing several principals. She fired a total of 266 teachers whose evaluations revealed remarkably poor teaching skills – what’s more, 76 of those teachers did not even have the proper credentials to teach, yet they were still defended by their union. Rhee also suggested a reform that gave a few union leaders gray hair: she offered salaries in the mid-six-figure range to high-performing teachers who were willing to give up tenure and offered much smaller pay raises to those who refused to give up tenure. The AFT, or American Federation of Teachers – the union that covers DC schools – was so threatened by the proposal that they refused to even allow the body to vote on it. It was never even considered.

What is tenure? It began in colleges and universities, where professors used to have to teach for years and jump through a myriad of flaming hoops to achieve it. The point was to protect them from losing their careers based on bias or political motivation. When I was a kid, tenure was unheard of for public school teachers.

The unions began back in the 1950’s when teachers organized to protect themselves from unfair pay rates. Back then it was believed that men were the primary bread-winners, and since women were teachers, they didn’t need to make much money. Those unions have evolved into massive money machines that give more money to political campaigns than any other special interest group – and over 90% of their money goes to Democrats and liberal causes. Why? Because the Democrats will fight for anything the unions want, including teacher tenure.

The United States sits at the bottom 10% of developed nations for education rates. In most states, math and reading comprehension rates are abysmal – they tend to run between 15%-35%. The last public high school I went to was in Demopolis, Alabama, and as a sophomore (I was homeschooled after that) I had seniors in some of my classes who could barely read, and they were taking these classes because they wouldn’t graduate without them. Many of these kids graduated despite still failing. In the years that have passed, I have seen the paper in that town report that a number of them are either in prison or well on their way.

And we wonder why idiotic shows like “Jersey Shore” and “Teen Mom” are all the rage with kids.

We have tried every single reform we can come up with. The one thing that stands in the way of true reform and an education system that is workable is the union and it’s demand for teacher tenure. Once a teacher is tenured, by contract, they cannot be fired – no matter how often they miss work, no matter how poorly their students perform, they cannot be fired. We need to put an end to that. The unions need to stick to defending the actual rights of teachers, not keeping poorly-performing teachers in their positions. I would be willing to bet that if teachers had to prove that they deserve their jobs, just as I and my fellow EMT’s and paramedics must, there would be an incredible turnaround.

Economics Just Aren’t Sexy Enough

“If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.” -Mark Twain

Matt Damon was captured on camera defending all teachers as angels and our educational system as a modern marvel. When caught in an error and called on it, he became indignant and spit out expletives to defend himself and his mother (who, coincidentally, is a teacher). Never mind the fact that public education in America falls well below the standard in other countries. Never mind the fact that kids that I went to school with managed to graduate despite being damn near illiterate, and it’s only gotten worse since then. Never mind the fact that our public schools churn out violent thugs with an efficency only a prison could admire. And please, never mind that guy doing that horrible rap calling achievement a “crime spree”.

We now have a generation coming up that cannot bother themselves to understand the facts before deciding what they believe – and basing it entirely on their feelings – and our celebrities are defending our educational system as above reproach. It’s almost as if they want things to be this way.

So, naturally, as soon as Standard & Poor’s, the famous credit rating agency, downgraded the US credit rating, the MSM began trumpeting the Democratic Party’s view that the decision to downgrade was a “flawed”, “facts-be-damned” decision based on so-called fuzzy math. It’s easy for the Democrats to say that; they’re going to do what they must to defend their positions. The MSM is practically owned by liberals, so they are going to spit out what Democrats feed them. Then, all of these folks who don’t want to lose precious time learning actual facts will take such claims as gospel, believe them wholeheartedly, and parrot them unfailingly.

Then, when you hit them with facts, they’ll come up with some pretty outrageous stuff – arguments such as, “how come S&P didn’t downgrade the credit rating of all those subprime mortgage beasts but they’re downgrading the country’s credit rating now? They’re hypocrites!”

Here and I was hoping for a real challenge.

The role of a credit rating agency is pretty simple. They assess risk. That’s it. They look at a handful of factors and determine the risk of granting credit to a person, company or government. We all know the three major credit bureaus to be Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, and for the most part we all understand what they do. They take our income into account, look at the debt that we’re paying (including mortgages, rent, car loans, credit cards, etc.), and issue a score that companies use to decide whether or not to issue us a new line of credit falling into one of the aforementioned categories. Companies also use those bureaus to determine a job candidates’ eligibility. If the risk is too great – meaning we’re not making enough money to pay our debt or not paying the debt on time without taking out more debt – our score dwindles and most companies won’t grant any new credit. Experian doesn’t take it upon itself to examine the investments I’m making and whether or not I’m taking a risk there; if they did, my credit rating would be better than it is.

Nor is it the job of larger-scale credit rating agencies to make a determination of the risk of investment being made by a company or a government.

Take a look back at the beginning of subprime mortgage as we knew it. Alan Greenspan went on TV and essentially told the country, everybody, from peons like me to the CEO’s in mansions, that investing in real estate was a flawless move because once people buy a house and move in, they don’t want to move out – ever. It’s a pain, he said, so turn your attention to mortgages.

Banks and other lenders began to look more closely at a very convenient piece of legislation known as the Community Reinvestment Act. In 1977, then-president Jimmy Carter signed into law the act that would make it a crime for any lender of any kind to red-line risky neighborhoods and required those lenders to, in effect, accept a certain percentage of risky lending as a requirement of being in the business. In essence, the government stepped in and guaranteed that people who were not credit-worthy obtained credit anyway, facts be damned. Sound familiar?

Entire companies sprang up to take advantage of a whole new opportunity: subprime lending. It’s an infallible investment, right? Nobody wants to move out of their house. They’ll do whatever they can to keep it. So let’s lend to anyone and everyone because the government has sanctioned it. Oh, even better, once we get these mortgages out there, let’s create a whole new type of security investment based on packages of these mortgages and ignore the credit-worthiness that they’re based on! We’ll be billionaires overnight!

Everyone got on that get-rich-quick scheme just as quickly as they got on the dot-com train. They failed to recognize the exact same indicators of a pending doom that George W. Bush tried to warn Congress of as early as 2003. Bush, while I sincerely disliked his fiscal policies, had few options on what to do. People on BOTH sides of the aisle failed to see what was coming, and as long as everyone was rolling in money, it didn’t matter whether they had an R or a D behind their name – nobody was willing to ruin a good thing. As long as real estate was popular, values were driven up so high they were astronomical. Eventually they could only go one way. Something rising that rapidly will always, without fail, suddenly stop and plummet.

It’s damned easy now to look back and see what was wrong with it. I dare ask how many of these screaming liberals also bought into that scheme only to see the value of their property drop like a rock after cashing out the inflated value of their homes and ending up owing nearly twice what the property was really worth. Everybody was to blame, but not one person has acknowledged the fact that a Republican pointed out the pending doom and a Democrat (Barney Frank) shot him down by waving off the warning as baseless.

S&P, Moody’s and Fitch were not tasked with determining the risk of their investment. Their role was to examine what was on the books of those companies, how much business they were doing, and give them a rating based on the risk of issuing credit to those companies. When there was a hell of a lot of money in it, it was impossible to expect them to downgrade those companies because, at the time, there was little to no risk in issuing that credit.

The federal government, on the other hand, doesn’t have enough money to back themselves up. They are spending too much money and are refusing to cut back – in fact, they’ve only spent more than any of us could have imagined. Democrats want to crucify Bush for the bank bailout, and I disagreed with it, too; we were going to feel the pain of that crash one way or another. They are conveniently forgetting their role in the disaster and are using smoke and mirrors to deflect the blame on everyone but them. They are covering up the fact that by refusing to do something early, they left Bush with few options on how to fix the problem. And now that they are in a position of power, they are holding the economy hostage and blaming the Tea Party with accusations of terroristic hostage-taking.

Unfortunately, no liberal will come close to seeing these realities even if they do read this. Why? Because unless Hollywood can make a realistic movie about economics and make it look sexy, they just won’t be interested enough to educate themselves. So we end up with a generation being fed by Matt Damon and Sean Penn how to stop caring about their own achievement and care more about their feelings – and the rest of the world prepares to eat them alive. It’s more important to stick up for a feel-good ideal and throw money at something than it is to fix it and teach the people involved to make something of themselves that doesn’t include daydreaming of being a movie star and not needing a real education.

Casey the Hero

I frequently see friends of my 14-year-old stepsister using words like “fagget” (yes, they spell it that way), “gay”, “homo”, and other gay slurs to describe people they don’t like. That is no different than it was when I was a kid. I was called all of those things – beginning in third grade at Walter Jackson elementary school. I’ll never forget the first time I was called the F-word and how my teacher did absolutely nothing about it. From there it was all downhill. I was cornered, smacked around, beaten up, tossed into lockers, dropped from elevated walkways and stairwells…you name it, I took it. It wasn’t just at school, either. Nathan Hutchison lived down the street from me AND went to church with me. He once beat me until I was covered in bleeding welts. Danny Sugasti first went to school with me then started going to my church because his girlfriend went there. “Faggot” was his favorite name for me. Theresa Baylott cornered me in the locker room more than once to beat me up – and she rode the bus with me, too. Her favorite thing to do was call me “big girrrrrl” in the most annoying, nasal voice she could muster from across whatever space she saw me from. I had bigger boobs than most every white girl in school, so she made fun of me for it. Ginger Bailey had science with me; she’d make a face and go, “ewwwww!” when I walked into the room. Eugene Klimczak also called me a faggot – he also called me dyke, queer, and a host of other gay slurs that I didn’t understand in jr. high school. He, too, cornered me and beat me up on more than one occasion.

I never fought back because I was deathly afraid of what my parents would do if I were caught fighting. The idea of self-defense didn’t even cross my mind, even though back then teachers did discern between fighting and self-defense. My parents were against any form of violence. It was made well known in our home that if any of us were suspended for fighting, we’d be in a hell of a lot of trouble. I never fought back because I was more afraid of the fallout at home. Both issues made my life a misery that a select few share with each other once they reach adulthood.

Recently I saw a video that has gone viral: young Casey Heynes, a 10th-year student in Australia, fighting back against a younger boy who was bullying him. Here’s Casey talking about the incident, along with the clip in question:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sKA5LTRECIw&oref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fembed%2FsKA5LTRECIw&has_verified=1]

Seeing Casey pick that kid up and slam him back to the ground to stop the abuse took me back to the days when I was being treated that way, outnumbered and surrounded, wishing I had a way out – and imagining myself doing exactly what he did.

Amazingly, Ritchard Gale – the bully – claims that Casey started it all:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4ODGW72woQ&feature=related]

I have no illusions that Ritchard will actually read this, but if he does, he’s going to get his first lesson in reality. People can tell when you’re lying your ass off, buddy.

First of all, in the original clip, it is obvious who started it. Casey had no friends with him. In fact, he was surrounded by Ritchard’s friends, one of whom filmed it with a cell phone. Ritchard’s friends were spurring the incident on and laughing. And when Casey finally put a stop to it, one of Ritchard’s bigger friends stepped up and threatened Casey. Casey, unlike Ritchard, walked away once it was over. Those aren’t the actions of an instigator. Consider, too, that Ritchard was taunting Casey by dancing around him. That is what a bully does.

Remember the first kid I mentioned – Nathan Hutchison? His mother thought his shit didn’t stink. She believed everything that came out of his mouth. He would bully my brother and I and turn around and tell his mother that WE were picking on HIM. The day he severely beat me (he did so with an industrial-strength blueprint mailing tube), he claimed to my mother that I’d “nailed” him in the chin (which I hadn’t done). HIS mother believed him and told me to my face that I deserved what he’d done. The only problem was all of the other neighborhood kids who tried to tell her he was lying. She still believed him. Were I to meet him today, I would likely do exactly what he claimed I did back in 1991 – nail him. Today, though, I’d hit him hard enough to shatter his jaw.

Ritchard Gale’s father may not accept it, but his kid is a bully. Claiming that Casey abused him first is exactly what bullies do when they’re caught…they try to lay the blame on their victim for starting it, thus taking the full weight of the trouble off of them. I can only hope that school administrators see it that way. And if Casey ever has to defend himself again, I hope he shows the same courage that he did that day.

I’m in my thirties now and I will forever wish I had when I was his age. I’m now quite well-versed in Shaolin gongfu and Krav Maga and wouldn’t tolerate being abused. I’m just eighteen years too late.

The problem with America’s education system: Excuses.

One reason the U.S. military is the most powerful fighting force on the planet, is that leaders don’t tolerate excuses. You do the job, and you do it right, or you will be reprimanded, counseled, and instructed to not make the same mistake again. The Marines call it a “Page 11.”

The same mentality works in the NFL. Good coaches like Bill Belichick, for example, don’t accept excuses. He wants the job done right, or you hear about it – in terms that cannot be repeated here. But that leadership, combined with high expectations, has resulted in numerous playoff appearances, four Superbowl spots, and three championships (Damn you, Giants!). And when players sit out, waiting for a better contract, they end up on other teams (Deion Branch to Seattle, Asante Samuel to Philadelphia, etc.).

This level of accountability is missing from America’s education system, and it is one of the major obstacles to success. In the private sector, employees are expected to perform their tasks satisfactorily, or they will be written up. Verbal warning, written, final, termination: Taken with an appropriate amount of coaching, these are four easy steps to a better employee, or a new one. It’s really that simple, just not in academia.

As an example, this past Sunday the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s higher education reporter Richard Lake wrote an article titled: “Workload has picked up, faculty at UNLV say.” In it, Lake reports that the faculty at UNLV is working harder than they were two years ago according to statistics from the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE). But even Lake notes that gauging the faculty’s actual workload is difficult due to the many different functions they serve.

Greg Brown, the president of UNLV’s chapter of the Nevada Faculty Alliance said, “The workload has increased substantially,” in large part because, as Lake reported, “the university has 10 percent fewer full-time faculty than it did in 2006 and virtually the same number of students.” But it does not have the same number of programs and classes, which is why I’m happy Mr. Brown teaches history and not math.

Prior to returning to school at an older age, I would have believed this nonsense, as I’m sure many people who read the article do. But having first-hand knowledge of how higher education has changed since I was in college the first time, I find these claims to be ridiculous.

First, many of the classes at UNLV consist of a PowerPoint presentation, which is read to the class, and later posted online for download. In a class like this, 39 students may as well be 339 students, since the presentation does not change. Furthermore, in these classes, professors typically learn very few students’ names, and rarely deviate from the lesson plan. So where is the increased workload? Grading quizzes?

Quizzes are conducted primarily in two ways: In-class or online. Many professors utilize UNLV’s WebCampus system to administer quizzes, as they are automatically graded by the system. Other professors have in-class quizzes which are done on a ScanTron – a sheet with bubbles, which can either be purchased from the university bookstore or picked up “for free” courtesy of student government (actually paid for by student fees). ScanTrons are also automatically graded, so where is the increased workload? Scanning 339 quizzes may take longer than 39 quizzes, but nowhere near as much time as actually hand-grading quizzes in the past.

So it must be papers. Clearly there is increased workload in correcting 339 papers versus 39, right? Even I can agree with that. But what the article doesn’t point out is that most tenured professors have graduate assistants that help in grading papers and other assignments. And what about classes that assign very few papers, if any? (None of my classes this semester have assigned papers)

The article also points out that some professors don’t necessarily have to teach 3 classes per semester, as many other activities count toward this “requirement.” Waivers are given to 255 of 712 full-time professors at UNLV, to perform other functions toward their 3-class workload. Some professors focus on research, others serve as a department chair, some supervise internships, and one in particular hosts a radio show.

This article also does not discuss part-time instructors or adjuncts. Some part-time instructors teach three classes and make less than $50,000/year with no job security. Their tenured counterparts make six-figure salaries to teach one class, conduct some research – which may or may not be published or bring money into the university, and host a radio show – with the ultimate job security. That seems upside-down to me.

Richard Lake’s article includes comments from one professor, Pushkin Kachroo, who taught four classes last semester and still had time to supervise graduate student research and serve as the director of UNLV’s Transportation Research Center. His salary is $116,000, while Dina Titus makes $107,855 for teaching one class, restarting her research, and hosting a radio show.

Explain that.

How about supervising internships? I did an internship last fall. I met with the professor supervising the internships for that department, and he told me I would be required to write a 10-page paper on the actual work I was doing, plus a 5-page book report on a relevant book of my choosing, with his approval. Aside from two reminder emails for required updates, I did not interact with this professor again. I hand-delivered my assignments to an administrator in the department, and had to look up my grade in UNLV’s WebCampus system. I got an “A,” but so did the other 3 students that did the same internship. So, did he actually read the papers? Or just verify that the work was done?

In a traditional class, a professor might assign 3-4 papers throughout the semester, with a class of 40 students. That’s up to 160 papers. The professor who supervised my internship would have to be supervising 80 internships per semester, just to reach a portion of the workload of teaching a traditional class with several writing assignments. Does anyone really think he supervises 80 internships per semester, every semester?

Ultimately, these are all excuses not to teach students.

UNLV’s provost Michael Bowers may believe that other activities should count as classes, such as “counseling a doctoral student,” or “reading a dissertation, making edits on it, [and] helping the student revise it,” but this is absurd. Apparently the days of professors helping students because they want to are gone.

If a professor can get credit for teaching a 3-credit course by hosting a radio show, why do I not receive the same credit for hosting MY radio show? (SHAMELESS PLUG: Zombie Nation Radio airs live every Thursday at 5pm on www.vegasallnetradio.com, podcasts available at www.facebook.com/zombienationradio)

Instead, we are told that having former congresswoman Dina Titus at UNLV is beneficial because of the experience she brings. I could agree with that if she was actually teaching students. Instead, she is only teaching 39 students in an ELECTIVE – Women in Politics – a 400-level course that only certain students can even qualify for. Her other two class requirements are made up for by her radio show, and “restarting her research” – which is a futile effort, given that she will be leaving at the end of the year to run for office again.

Meanwhile, students wait to graduate because some classes aren’t offered this semester “due to budget cuts.”

And did I mention that UNLV’s 4-year graduation rate is 11%? (6-year: 36%; 8-year: 48%).

Excuses.

There are far too many excuses, and not enough accountability. Everyone is self-interested, and not focused on what matters: EDUCATION.

Maybe, if there is no 2011 NFL season, we should hire Bill Belichick to oversee an audit of Nevada’s System of Higher Education. At least then, taxpayers and students would be taken seriously, and we wouldn’t have to listen to the politically-driven hogwash.

Do Democrats Hate Poor People?

All too often, the issues facing our country are discussed in purely political terms with partisan ideology at the center. This guarantees that opinions will be formed purely on emotion, and not the facts. If the issue is illegal immigration, Republicans hate Mexicans. If it’s education, Republicans hate children. If it’s welfare reform, Republicans hate poor people.

So on that note, let’s examine how Democrats fare under the same level of scrutiny, shall we?

 

Hating Mexicans

In America, we have immigration laws – like them or not. They are in place for a reason, mainly to ensure that we know who is coming here, and that we can accommodate the increase in local, state, and federal services their presence requires. Currently, we let roughly 1 million immigrants into America legally, almost 2,800 per day. Think about it: 2,800 people per day that need jobs, housing, food, education for themselves or their children, drivers licenses, social security cards, and many other necessities. Now add to that another 1 million who come in illegally, or overstay their visas. These are people we don’t know. They could be anyone from a hard-working farmer to an Al Qaeda terrorist – and anyone who tells you differently is wrong. If we don’t know who they are, then we don’t know how they aren’t. Now, while some people will say it’s racist to single out Mexicans in the illegal immigration discussion, let me explain why that is by showing you the country of origin of those living in the U.S. illegally, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

#1 – Mexico: 62%

#2 – El Salvador: 5%

#3 – Guatemala: 4%

#4 – Honduras: 3%

That’s quite a drop-off from #1 to #2, isn’t it? Also bear in mind that these 4 countries equate to 74% of our illegal immigration problem, and they all enter the U.S. through our border with Mexico. So it’s not racist to talk about our southern border, it’s REALITY.

So, don’t like the laws? Change them. But until then, the government’s job is to enforce them. And that’s what Republicans want. They want a secure border. They want legal immigration. They want those here illegally to be deported when caught, according to the law.

Now we can argue immigration reform all day, and I’m one Republican who thinks it is impossible to deport the 15-20 million people here illegally. However, until we actually pass immigration reform and discover a way to handle all of these issues, we have no choice but to enforce the laws.

But what about Democrats? Do they hate Mexicans too?

Many liberal Democrats argue against raiding businesses that hire illegals. Why? Because they will be deported, and working for $3 per hour in unsafe conditions is still better than Mexico.

Really?

If that’s the case, isn’t the problem Mexico? And if everyone with the motivation to work hard leaves Mexico, who will be left to fix it, other than the drug cartels?

So these liberals would rather have illegal immigrants working in unsafe conditions, unable to report accidents, earning slave wages – simply so they don’t have to return to their home country?

Appalling.

Slavery was wrong in the 19th century, and it’s wrong today. But you don’t hear anyone saying that liberals hate Mexicans, do you?

 

Hating Children

Education is a hot button issue that is frequently distorted into an ideological war of emotions, when in fact there is nothing emotional about it. Schools exist to educate. Period. And on that measure, they are failing.

Since 1970, our education system has flat-lined on achievement in reading and math. Despite that, we’ve increased funding exponentially with zero results. Zero. Absolutely no movement of the needle. So the answer is more money?

“Since 1971, educational spending in the United states has more than doubled, from $4,300 per student to more than $9,000 per student, adjusted for inflation.” – “Waiting for ‘Superman’”

So if money is the answer, why has money not been the answer? And does wanting the correct answer constitute hating children? Of course not. Does putting your own selfish agenda ahead of the success of our children, and our nation, constitute hating children? Judge for yourself.

Many of the obstacles to fixing our education system reside with those controlling it: Teachers’ unions.

Do not confuse teachers’ unions with other unions, or you will fall into the same trap of thinking with emotions. Unions were created to help workers negotiate for better pay and working conditions, against giants of industry who were profit-driven. Education is a non-profit endeavor, paid for by tax payers, and therefore there is no evil CEO to demonize.

There are many things that will help toward improving our education system, including the use of technology to lower the cost of educating our children as a whole, rewarding the best teachers while coaching or removing the underperformers, adequately preparing middle school children for high school, and high school children for college, and making school districts accountable to parents and tax payers.

Unfortunately, teachers’ unions do not want technology to lower the cost of education our children, because it will result in a need for less teachers – even though our school districts are wildly under-staffed as it is.

Teachers’ unions also do not want teachers to be treated differently, in any way. So rewarding great teachers, and firing bad ones, is completely off the table.

Furthermore, these unions resent standardized tests, as they do not believe the performance of students has any bearing on how qualified a teacher is. After all, they can’t make the kids learn.

In fact, according to “Waiting for ‘Superman’,” the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers (the two most organized unions) spent $55 million on federal campaigns over the past 20 years, and 90% of it went to Democrats. So, if teachers’ unions are in the way of improving education, and they donate almost entirely to Democrats, do Democrats hate children?

Let’s pretend you own your own business. Would you want to keep your good employees, and get rid of the bad ones? Would you want to reward your best people with incentives to perform well? Would you expect a return on your investment? Well none of that applies to education, mainly because of teachers’ unions.

Apparently, if you support school choice, merit pay for teachers, and accountability to parents and taxpayers, you hate children. But if you want to give those controlling our education system more money, after a 40-year track record of failure, well… you’re a kid’s best friend. (Read: nightmare)

 

Hating Poor People

Almost a full 50% of Americans pay no income tax. Now just to clarify, most do pay it in their paychecks, but they get it all back on their tax returns. And while they do contribute to Medicare and Social Security like all Americans do, this 50% of Americans are far more likely to need Medicare and Social Security than those who do pay income tax.

With that said, the answer to everything these days seems to be: “Tax the rich – or you hate poor people.” I guess it is perfectly okay to hate rich people. After all, rich people are the ones hiring the rest of us. But it’s not all rich people that are evil blood-sucking greed-mongers. What about actors? Hollywood is gluttonously wealthy, yet you don’t hear liberals screaming for them to hang, do you? Nobody blames the ills of society on Johnny Depp and Ben Stiller, do they? Yet from June 2009 – June 2010, they were the two highest paid actors in Hollywood, earning $75 million and $53 million respectively.

“But it’s different,” they’ll say, because people pay to go see Johnny Depp and Ben Stiller, which justifies their huge salaries. Of course that argument doesn’t seem to work for the rich guy who created Wal-Mart, an outlet in which millions of Americans pay to buy things – justifying his huge salary.

You see, it’s all about emotion. The guy who runs the business must be exploiting workers, while Johnny Depp makes people smile. Of course if Wal-Mart went out of business tomorrow, we’d see how many people would be smiling when all of their employees were out of a job, and the public could no longer buy a pair of jeans for $8 or an entertainment center for $69.

If you wanted to raise taxes on soda and bottled water, would that be good for poor people whose grocery bills would go up? Well, that’s what Democrats in New York and Nevada want to do.

Does it help or hurt poor people when gas is $4/gallon? Wouldn’t drilling for oil inside the U.S. help bring those prices down? Many Democrats are against drilling in America, even though they love beating up Republicans for going to war for oil in the Middle East. If we had more drilling here, Democrats would have one less thing to blame on Republicans – so obviously that’s out of the question.

 

Conclusion

There are many things to dislike in our country, and even some things to hate. There are a lot of things to love about American too, but most people take those for granted.

To think that Republicans hate Mexicans, children, and poor people, simply because of their political views is just plain ignorant.

I don’t think Democrats hate Mexicans, children, and poor people either. But they do hate Republicans – and that’s really what all their bitching is about.

How Do You Spell “Union”?

G-R-E-E-D.

Just a week ago, Mark wrote quite eloquently on the subject of the public worker strikes in Wisconsin:

Today, most labor unions are very similar to the “evil corporations” they so frequently rail against. They claim big business doesn’t care about its workers, only profit. But are unions any different? They need members to pay dues, or they cease to exist. Clearly they are also profit-driven. They believe industry has too much influence compared with the working class. But unions have far more influence than their numbers would suggest, given that only 8% of Americans are in unions. And what do many of these labor organizations do with the hard-earned dollars they take from their members in the form of dues? They give them to politicians running for office – almost exclusively in the Democratic Party – whether their members support them or not.

The bill being bandied about in Wisconsin, AB-11, would end collective bargaining rights for state employees (excluding public safety workers), require that state employees pay more than the paisley 5% they’ve been paying for health insurance and the ridiculous 2% they’ve been paying for their pensions, and would cut medical services to the poor and uninsured. During all the brouhaha going on at the state capitol, this woman was filmed to make a statement:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2hgu_2NWpo&feature=player_embedded]

Don’t worry, dear damsel! Obamacare will save you!

First of all, we all need to understand something: corporations can simply go out of business if a union or special group continues to push for what they cannot afford. Government bodies – local, state or federal – cannot go out of business. They are unfortunately necessary to survival in our country. While corporations will do nearly everything to save face all the way to the bankruptcy line, governments that need to save money start cutting things from the budget. What does that mean? It means that in governments such as those in Europe, which have multitudes of entitlement programs to include socialized healthcare systems, they simply start cutting out things they can’t afford. It usually starts with healthcare; what Sarah Palin dubbed “death panels” are bureaucratic panels that convene to determine what they can change and how they can shuffle things in an effort to cut costs. Since healthcare workers are already paid peanuts, they start with services. Are you too old to benefit from a transplant or chemotherapy? Sorry, the state can’t afford it, especially since you probably won’t go back to work when you recover, anyway. We’d rather spend that money on a teenager who will benefit us more. Is your prognosis too grim? Sorry, we’re not going to pay for any treatment at all because you’ll die anyway and it would be a waste. Do you have a minor illness? Well, you’ll wait a while to be seen, we only have doctors available during certain hours and they have to triage their patients. Once you have pneumonia give us a call.

How does this not make sense to people? We already have entitlements for welfare, unemployment, healthcare for the uninsured and all kinds of grants for college, the arts, and home buying. Our tax dollars are stretching thinner and thinner with every passing year, yet here we have left-wing moonbats still demanding that the government give us what they literally cannot afford. If we keep going down this road, we will one day find ourselves watching the US dollar collapse and the Democrats will still try to blame the right wing.

Greed is not solely a label for the wealthy. Every human being is greedy to some degree…it’s in our very nature to want to look out for number one. Even the Founding Fathers tried to remind us long ago that our rights end when they infringe on the rights of another – that means that when we demand we be recognized for the right to have what we want at the expense of the government and the government can’t afford it, the rights of the majority who ARE paying for it trump yours.

Unions vs. America: The Final Battle?

The events taking place in Wisconsin regarding collective bargaining agreements, there’s no better time to address the relationship between unions and businesses. When labor unions began in the late 19th Century, they were desperately needed to represent the interest of workers in America against the exploitative nature of industry. Over the years, these organizations helped institute minimum wage laws, child labor laws, 8-hour work days, vacation time, sick time, and more. These were well-intentioned measures, and most Americans are happy they exist today. But making sure workers have basic rights is not what labor unions are about today. They are about profit, greed, and political influence.

Today, most labor unions are very similar to the “evil corporations” they so frequently rail against. They claim big business doesn’t care about its workers, only profit. But are unions any different? They need members to pay dues, or they cease to exist. Clearly they are also profit-driven. They believe industry has too much influence compared with the working class. But unions have far more influence than their numbers would suggest, given that only 8% of Americans are in unions. And what do many of these labor organizations do with the hard-earned dollars they take from their members in the form of dues? They give them to politicians running for office – almost exclusively in the Democratic Party – whether their members support them or not.

The issue with unions today is a simple math problem. For years, unions have negotiated pretty good contracts for their workers. These contracts typically result in higher pay, better benefits, and more perks than non-union employees receive. As years go by, these contracts are renegotiated over and over again, raising wages and increasing benefits and perks each time. Then, when we have an economic crisis like the Great Recession (2008 – present), companies can no longer afford the expensive contracts they negotiated when profits were good. As the costs of these labor contracts rise, profits must rise along with them – or something needs to give. Either the union agrees to make concessions, or the business goes bankrupt.

This face-off is happening all over the country, including in Wisconsin. During the economic crisis, some unions have agreed to work with businesses to arrive at a mutually-agreeable solution to the problem of expensive contracts and low profits. But that is not always the case. Unions were willing to do very little in the case of Ford, GM and Chrysler, so the companies had no choice but to declare bankruptcy in order to restructure their organization and renegotiate labor contracts. Who are the labor unions helping if their own greed causes businesses to fail? It’s clearly not the workers, who end up out on their collective-bargaining asses when their company closes its doors.

We see this problem everywhere in America, and frankly it is out of control.

In government, collective bargaining agreements are paid by tax dollars. When federal, state and local government experiences drops in revenue due to high unemployment and a slow economy, unions like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) are unwilling to give up a dime. Governments are then forced to fix their budget issues while suffering under the strains of paying these high-priced contracts – which would never have been agreed to under the present conditions.

In business, the unions’ unwillingness to cooperate often results in businesses going bankrupt or closing altogether. This may be good for the individual unions who get to show off their “power,” but it’s bad for their members who have no jobs, and bad for America. If businesses go away, so do our hopes of putting Americans back to work. Industry should not be allowed to exploit workers, but unions should not be allowed to exploit industry either.

In education, unions may be the largest contributor to our failures. Without declaring financial exigency (think bankruptcy), universities cannot renegotiate their contracts with tenured professors. In K-12 education, unions demand more and more money be spent on education, yet they ensure that very little ever makes it into the classroom. Nevada is the perfect example of the problem with education, since it has the lowest graduation rates in the nation. The Clark County School District (CCSD), which covers Las Vegas and surrounding areas, is the 5th largest school district in the country. Only 11% of its operating budget makes it into the classroom, yet unions and education officials are screaming bloody murder over impending budget cuts. The University of Nevada – Las Vegas (UNLV), where I am currently a student, has $647 million in total operating funds for this year. Under budget cuts proposed by newly-elected Republican Governor Brian Sandoval, UNLV will see a cut of $47.5 million (or 7%). Unions and education officials, as well as Democrats in the state legislature, are twisting the numbers and telling Nevadans that the cut is 29%.

Americans won’t put up with this nonsense much longer.

They see what is happening in Wisconsin, and realizing that this is a battle between greedy unions and over-taxed taxpayers. They see teachers shutting down schools so they can protest, instead of educating their children by DOING THEIR JOB! Fire these teachers for abandoning their positions, and replace them with unemployed Wisconsinites who put education above greed.

Americans are starting to see the damage unions can do when they put greed ahead of their original purpose – protecting the basic rights of employees.

This is not an issue unions can win, unless they are willing to work with businesses and governments to achieve mutually-agreeable solutions. Bankrupting businesses and governments through unreasonable demands during this economic crisis won’t earn them any support from hard-working American taxpayers.

We will learn as these battles unfold exactly how much power unions will be allowed to have in America, and how the outcomes will affect their power in the future. We will also see how this will affect the Democratic Party, with which labor organizations are closely aligned.

With unemployment at 10% nationwide, there are plenty of Americans ready and willing to take the jobs of ANYONE who strikes. Perhaps it is time to call their bluff.

Facts are stubborn things

Democrats have long relied on emotions to garner support from the masses, as evidenced by the myriad of bills passed with names like “Affordable Health Care for America Act,” which doesn’t make health care (or health insurance) more affordable, but does impose hundreds of taxes and fees, and allows for the government takeover of student loans and other provisions which have nothing to do with health care.

This tactic is currently going on in the state of Nevada as newly-elected Republican Governor Brian Sandoval attempts to fix a looming budget crisis. At his State of the State address in January, Gov. Sandoval announced he would be reducing the amount of funding to high education with a “less than 7% cut” from the state’s general fund. He went on to say that counting stimulus dollars from 2009-10, the net result would be a 17.66% decrease in funding for higher education.

Immediately the Democrats went to work! Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, who gave the Democrats’ response to Sandoval’s address, said the cuts to higher education would “feel like a 36% cut.” Oceguera’s math skills are just another glaring example of the poor education system in Nevada, but nevertheless, this hyperbole should not be allowed to continue.

On Thursday, January 27th, UNLV President Neal Smatresk appeared on “Face to Face” with Jon Ralston – a local political show in Nevada. Smatresk said, “Our current budget is $172 million. It would go down to $125 million. That’s a huge reduction by any measure.”

Smatresk is right! That’s a decrease of $47 million, or 27.3%!

But what is UNLV’s budget? Is it $172 million as Smatresk says?

According to the Nevada Policy Research Institute, UNLV’s total operating funds for fiscal year 2011 (which we are currently in) is $642,517,830. That’s not exactly $127 million, now is it?

In fact, a $47 million cut from $642.5 million is around 7% — not 27%, and not 36%.

Many, including the Young Democrats at UNLV, are now saying that Gov. Sandoval is cutting 29.1% from higher education in Nevada. This number is achieved if you consider the roughly $557 million higher education received from the state’s general fund in the 2009-10 biennium, compared with the $395 million it will receive in 2013.

But, if you consider that the state’s general fund only accounts for 30% of the entire Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) budget, all of these arguments fall completely flat on their face.

The total operating funds for the NSHE in FY2011 is $1,744,202,381. A cut of $162 million is roughly 9% – not 29.1%, not 27%, and not 36%.

In fact, a reduction of $162 million from the NSHE budget will still leave the system with 3.6% more money than it had in 2007, just before the economic crisis began.

Not too shabby.

So, why all the hyperbole and doomsday proclamations? Here’s your answer.

When Smatresk claimed, in his “Face to Face” interview, that UNLV had already faced $49.6 million in budget cuts over the past four years, he neglected to mention that UNLV’s total operating budget from FY2007 – FY2011 actually INCREASED 10%!

Poor guy.

The argument is now being made that tuition may need to be increased 73% to make up for these “unprecedented” cuts. That’s remarkable, because from FY2000-FY2010, tuition at UNLV went up 74%! Student fees over the same time period went up 770.8%!

The NSHE, as well as education officials like UNLV President Smatresk, have an obligation to be cheerleaders for higher education. I get that. And obviously their priority is the education of students, right?

Over the past decade, the number of administrators-per-student at UNLV has gone up 90%, while the number of instructors-per-student has gone down 6.6%. How exactly does that help educate students?

Since 2000, UNLV’s total spending has increased 140%, and per-pupil spending from 2003-2010 has increased over 18% (adjusted for inflation). Has education at UNLV improved 140%? Have the graduation rates improved 18%? The answer to both is: No.

The 4-year graduation rate at UNLV is a dismal 11%. The 8-year “Van Wilder Plan” graduation rate stands at an embarrassingly low 48%. That means more than HALF of UNLV’s 24,000 students will NEVER graduate, and we’re supposed to believe money is the problem?

So while Nevada’s Republican Governor tries to save the state hardest hit by the housing market crash and ensuing economic disaster, Democrats are once again politicizing an issue that shouldn’t be political.

Most people, Republican, Democrat or otherwise, care about education, even if we disagree on methods and policy. But twisting numbers to fit an agenda does nothing to help solve the problem. In fact, placing the blame on Gov. Sandoval prevents any focus from being put on how UNLV and the NSHE spend the money they already have.

Surely the NSHE can find a way to cut 9% out of its $1.7 billion total budget. Sure it may suck to have to renegotiate the contracts of high-paid tenured professors and non-educators, but that’s life. Maybe UNLV can’t buy the old Carl’s Jr. building for a cool million. Perhaps the brand-new 40,000-seat domed stadium will have to wait. These guys get paid the big bucks to make tough decisions. UNLV head honcho Smatresk makes $25k/year less than President Obama – and I don’t hear Obama complaining about how stressful his days are.

Ultimately, the budget cuts are a matter of simple math. The cuts are $162 million, and the total NSHE budget is $1.7 billion. Do the math. Its 9%.

$1.7 billion – $162 million = a 9% cut.

9%.

Not 17%, not 22%, not 29%, not 36%.

9%.

Neal Smatresk: “I estimate we lose a third to up to half of our whole programs if that cut actually goes through.”

9%.

Point that out, and you’re called a liar – or worse. They can spin it all they want, but it is still 9%.

Meanwhile, Nevada leads the nation in bankruptcies, foreclosures, and unemployment, and has the worst graduation rates in the nation.

The 200,000 unemployed Nevadans saw their income decrease by 100%.

The NSHE will see a 9% cut.

It’s 9%.