Tag Archives: Too Big To Fail

International tests show US children lagging despite record spending on education

Jay Richards tweeted this article from the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Since 1998, the Program for International Student Assessment, or Pisa, has ranked 15-year-old kids around the world on common reading, math and science tests. The U.S. brings up the middle—again—among 65 education systems that make up fourth-fifths of the global economy. The triennial Pisa report also shows—again—that East Asian countries like Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea produce the best outcomes.

U.S. performance hasn’t budged in a decade. For 2012, U.S. students placed 26th in mathematics, a bit below the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development average, and 17th in reading and 21st in science, close to the average. The U.S. slipped in all categories compared to international competitors, plunging from 11th in reading as recently as 2009.

American teenagers seem especially weak in core academic subjects with high cognitive demands, such as translating concepts into solutions for real-world problems. A quarter never become proficient in math. In Shanghai and Korea, the comparable figure is 10% or fewer. Some 7% of U.S. students reached the top two scientific performance levels, compared with 17% in Finland and an amazing 27% in Shanghai. Is it tiger moms or tiger schools, or maybe both?

The U.S. is way out front in one measure: per-student spending. Only Austria, Luxembourg, Norway and Switzerland spend more. Despite laying out $115,000 per head, the U.S. did no better than the Slovak Republic, which spends $53,000.

Perhaps most depressingly, the data show no statistically significant U.S. achievement improvement over time. None. In an era when it pays to be thankful for small mercies, at least we’re not getting worse, but America’s relative standing is falling as other countries improve.

[…]Massachusetts has been running public schools since 1635 and today is home to some of the best performers in the nation. The state entered Pisa as if it was its own country—but students of the same age in Shanghai performed as if they had two more years of math instruction than those in the Bay State.

[…]Pisa also adds another count to the bill of indictment for the Democrats who block reform to serve their teachers union patrons. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called the report “a picture of educational stagnation,” but liberals are major impediments to more accountability, merit-based compensation and school-choice competition. The Justice Department has even gone so far as to sue Louisiana to block its modest voucher program, which is a moral crime against the students consigned to failing schools.

There are a few areas of economics that I think that Christians really ought to understand, and education is one of them. We definitely need to be concerned about policies that make it harder for poor, minority students to get ahead. We keep throwing money at the unionized public school system, and we get no results. We need to think about making education more like online shopping. What makes online shopping great is choice and competition. If schools were allowed to compete with one another, then the customer would be assured of getting more quality for less money. The public school system is a monopoly, and it serves the teachers and the education bureaucrats – not the children.

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Have the Democrats finally stopped spending money on bailouts?

The AP reports that bailout spending is ongoing, despite Treasury Department claims that bailouts are over. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

The Treasury Department says its bank bailouts are over, but the spending continues.

In a Sept. 22 speech, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the bailouts “are completely behind us.”

That’s not quite correct. In the final six months in which it could spend money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, Treasury set aside $243 million for new contracts for law firms, accountants and money managers to help run what’s left of the bailouts – on top of the $529 million already spent on work by staff, private companies and other agencies. Many of the contracts last until 2019, and there’s nothing to stop the government from hiring even more help if it’s needed to chase down the remaining bailout money.

Treasury’s authority to spend more from the $700 billion fund expired on Oct. 3. The law requires officials to recoup as much as possible of the $185 billion still in the hands of shaky private companies. After all collections are made, the government expects to be out about $51 billion, mostly from housing programs.

Rising voter anger ahead of next week’s elections has made Obama administration officials reluctant to speak candidly about the ongoing cost of managing TARP. Politicians who voted for the TARP law now face tough re-election fights. By downplaying their efforts, officials sidestep criticism of bailouts that helped Wall Street without easing lending or keeping many people in their homes.

A government watchdog said this week that public statements by Treasury officials around the Oct. 3 deadline appeared designed to create a mistaken sense that TARP is over.

“The idea that TARP is dead is just not accurate,” said Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general overseeing the program, in an interview. “People can write its obituary, people can declare that it’s been put out of its misery, but there’s still close to $180 billion of TARP money outstanding, and $82 billion obligated to be spent.”

ECM also sent me this article from the Heritage Foundation which explains how to cut $343 billion from the federal budget without breaking a sweat.

 

New York Times admits that GM repaid its bailout loans with TARP loan money

Story here in the radically-leftist New York Times. (H/T Hot Air)

Excerpt:

AS we inch closer to a clearer understanding of the products and practices that unleashed the credit crisis of 2008, it’s becoming apparent that those seeking the whole truth are still outnumbered by those aiming to obscure it. This is the case not only on Wall Street but also in Washington.

Truth seekers the nation over, therefore, are indebted to Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, who in recent days uncovered what he called a government-enabled “TARP money shuffle.” It relates to General Motors, which on April 21 paid the balance of its $6.7 billion loan under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

G.M. trumpeted its escape from the program as evidence that it had turned the corner in its operations. “G.M. is able to repay the taxpayers in full, with interest, ahead of schedule, because more customers are buying vehicles like the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse,” boasted Edward E. Whitacre Jr., its chief executive.

G.M. also crowed about its loan repayment in a national television ad and the United States Treasury also marked the moment with a press release: “We are encouraged that G.M. has repaid its debt well ahead of schedule and confident that the company is on a strong path to viability,” said Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary.

Taxpayers are naturally eager for news about bailout repayments. But what neither G.M. nor the Treasury disclosed was that the company simply used other funds held by the Treasury to pay off its original loan.

This is what you get when you appoint a tax-cheat to be the Treasury Secretary.

Here’s what we need to understand about government bailouts. There should never be any such thing as a government bailout. GM and these other bailed-out companies made bad decisions that put them at a competitive disadvantage with respect to their competitors. The Obama administration bailed out these failing companies with money from other hard-working individuals and successful companies, including small businesses. The Obama administration did this for political gain with its favored special interest groups, e.g. – unionized labor,  wall street bankers and GSE executives. Those are the groups that got Obama elected, and he paid them back with “bailouts”. Government has no right to get involved with bailing out their buddies with my money and your money.

I remember when people use to complain about profit margins of 8% in some big corporations when Bush was President. But at least they earned that money by selling things that people needed and freely chose to buy. They did operate on a government-backed expense account. Sometimes I wonder whether all of these problems are caused because we elect spoiled-brat, silver-spoon liberals who spent their entire lives getting into trouble and then begging their parents, (and grandparents, in Obama’s case), for bailout money. Maybe they are just making policy based on their experiences in making irresponsible choices and then being bailed out by their parents?