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Iowa Day 3 (Caucus Night)

Preparation

This was the big day we were all working towards.  I started the morning diligently calling potential stump speakers on our rp2012 lists who I didn’t get to the night before.  After a couple hours of calling people from the laptop in my hotel room, I went over to the campaign office in Coralville to see what work still needed to be done.  There I met Sherry, one of our out-of-state volunteers from Kentucky, who asked me if I wanted to take a precinct they had just found out about in Iowa City the week before. Originally I was planning to fill in as a precinct captain for a location on Jun’s list, but I figured I’d take this one since it was closer and we knew for sure it had no precinct captain. My assignment was for the precinct of Union Township, which encompassed some farmland on the edge of Iowa City. Last caucus they had 33 people show up and this time they were expecting close to 50.  I happily accepted my assignment and was then given a brief training overview about what my responsibilities. I was also given a bag of materials I would need to bring that night such as campaign literature and stickers, voter registration forms, and a vote tally sheet to be used to report to the campaign.

I must be in an alternate reality

After my assignment, I had a quick bite to eat for lunch and then ran back to my hotel to help conduct a caucus training session with our out-of-state volunteers coming in from Illinois that day. There were about 14 people at the meeting, and I essentially passed on the information that I had just learned that morning. Everyone was very eager and excited to participate in the Iowa cuacus and help Ron Paul in any capacity they could.  After I was done talking, Jun Dam arrived with the caucus packages and was able to dole out precinct assignments to the new volunteers.  There were several people who offered to take precincts over in Des Moines despite it being another two hours west because they knew that’s where Ron Paul was going to be throwing his after party and they didn’t want to miss it.  Thus when our meeting ended, those volunteers had to book it in order to make it to their caucuses at a decent time.  I proceeded back up to my hotel room to change into my suit so I’d look all professional and legit.

The Caucus

Tonight was the big night I had prepared for the last couple weeks and I was psyched.  I decided to head over to my precinct location a little early to check things out and mentally prepare.  After fifteen minutes of driving I found myself on a little dirt road out in the middle of nowhere and started questioning the accuracy of my phone’s GPS directions.  It seemed like the only thing in the area were scattered farm houses, but eventually I noticed a little church on top of the hill and the address validated it was the right spot.  Also beside the entrance of the parking lot was a Rick Santorum sign and besides the church doors I noticed another one.  It appeared the Santorum Surge had even reached out to these parts.  I immediately placed my Ron Paul yard signs on opposite sides of the entrances to offset the evilness.

After marking my territory, I decided to wait around a bit until I started seeing the first people trickle in and then I made my entrance.  I proceeded to the main room of the church where the registration table was setup and was greeted by the temporary chair woman, Barbara, as well as her secretary.  I let them know I was a volunteer on behalf of Ron Paul’s campaign and graciously offered to help them in any way I could.  They also asked me if I was from the area, and I came clean and told them that that I was an out-of-stater.  Since it was such a small precinct, I figured there was really no way I could hide the fact I was an outsider so it would be best to be honest.  They were glad to have me as a guest and asked me if I wanted to observe the vote tallies and greet people at the door.  Besides my speech, both of these tasks were exactly in my mission plans for the night, so I was glad Barbara brought it up so I didn’t have to impose.  Feeling like a welcome guest, I then went back to my car and grabbed my bag full of materials and placed the super-brochures, copies of Ron Paul’s Plan to Restore America, slim-jims, and stickers on the table next to the cookies and coffee in the lobby.  I was hoping to be the only one with campaign literature, but soon thereafter I noticed Santorum’s literature popping around my stuff, including some more signs inside the lobby!  I could have busted out my 2×6′ Ron Paul banner from the car to outdo the Santorum supporters, but I figured my time would be better spent talking to people to get a feel for their politics.

As one would expect, the two youngest voters there revealed themselves as Ron Paul supporters and they happily accepted my stickers to wear as a badge of honor.  One of the supporters, Carson, was a nice young man in his mid twenties who was an independent re-registering as a Republican to participate in the caucus.  Coincidentally, he had lived briefly in Lompoc a while back, so this was quite the surprise.  Up until the caucus started, I was able to talk to a good majority of other voters, but had a hard time figuring who they were supporting (unless they had an shirt on saying their candidate’s name on it, which a number of them did). Even though I had arrived an hour and a half early, the time before the start of the caucus flew by and before I knew it they were starting their meeting.  There ended up being 41 total voters who arrived at the caucus, and unfortunately I was only able to identify two Ron Paul supporters.  I had a feeling this might be a rough crowd for my message.

The very beginning of the caucus started with a pledge of the allegiance, and then it went right into the presidential preference poll.  The chair woman said that each candidate could have one person speak up to five minutes on their behalf, which included time for questions.  With the exception of Newt Gingrich, every candidate had someone stand up and speak for them, even Michelle Bachmann (the church’s pastor vouched for her, even though he lived outside the precinct and was just acting as a caucus observer; despite that, no one still voted for her).  When it came to Ron Paul’s turn, I graciously offered to speak on his behalf and no one else seemed to object.  I proceeded to the front of the church and gave my rehearsed two-minute speech without any kinks or stumbles.  I was actually more nervous practicing it than actually giving it, and once I was up in front commanding everyone’s attention, I began to feel somewhat relaxed.  I made sure to keep good eye contact with the crowd and by the end I built up enough confidence that I was eagerly ready to handle any questions they would throw at me.  Ironically, the only question I was given came from the mother of a young woman who was one of the two Ron Paul supporters I identified, and she asked me to clarify Ron Paul’s foreign policy.  I gave a frank answer, stating that Ron Paul believes we are over-extending ourselves around the world militarily, and that our nation’s biggest threat is from our crushing debt.  After the lady’s question, another person raised his hand in the crowd and asked if he could say some words on Ron’s behalf.  I was a bit thrown off because I hadn’t identified or figured him to be a supporter, but unfortunately the chairwoman couldn’t allow him speak to since the rules only called for one speaker per candidate (I felt a little bad for taking his chance, but afterwards when I talked to him I found out he supported both Ron Paul and Rick Santorum so I think it was probably a good thing I spoke for Ron Paul).  Since there were no more questions, they proceeded to the next speaker for Mitt Romney.  After he was finished, I was happy to see Carson ask the man to clarify how exactly Mitt Romney plans to fix the economy, which I thought was a great question myself.  I have never seen any concrete plans from Mitt which explains how he’d cut spending or incentivise business.  The speaker gave a pretty weak explanation stating that because Mitt Romney was a CEO of a couple companies and knows business, he would know how to fix the economy (which never really answered the question).

After everyone spoke for the candidates, then came the moment of truth when all the voting slips were passed out.  I walked back to the lobby to grab my tally sheet, and was met by Barbara and her secretary after they had collected everyone’s votes.  Once the counting began, it became pretty clear that Santorum and Romney were the clear favorites.  I still had hope that Paul could have a respectable finish and garner more than two votes (from my identified supporters).  Halfway through the counting I was vindicated as Ron Paul staged a late surge.  The more times I ticked Paul on my tally sheet, the more I had hope that my message hadn’t fallen on deaf ears.  At the end, the final count was 16 for Santorum, 13 for Romney, 9 for Paul, 2 for Perry, and 1 for Gingrich.  Later on I would find that these results were mirrored those from the overall state.  Given that I had only identified two Ron Paul supporters at the beginning, I was pretty satisfied with Paul’s finish at 22% of the overall vote despite the demographics.  Thus, my trip to the caucus might have had an effect on the undecided voters.

Another great victory from the night was that out of the two delegate spots the precinct was allocated, Carson was elected to one of spots and would be attending the county convention in the spring.  In addition, he also got elected to the county central committee, so that was great to see a young Ron Paul supporter willing to get active and carry the message of liberty.  After the election of delegates and committee members, came the party platform voting and this was an very interesting exercise in democracy.  All sorts of different people ended up submitting planks, which were then argued about and ultimately voted on.  For the most part, the ideas were generally conservative and smart, including support for a balanced budget amendment, term limits, and a sunset clause on regulations.  All of the planks that passed a majority vote would go on to represent the precinct in the county convention in the spring and have the potential to go all the way up to the state level.  Caucuses like this, where a neighborhood takes part in direct democracy, makes me feel like this was what politics used to be like in America back in the days of our Founding Fathers.  Sadly, most states like mine in California now have impersonal primaries, which I feel disenfranchises people more than empowers them.

Concluding the Night

When the caucus had ended, I thanked Barbara once again for her hospitality and I also congratulated Carson for his nominations.  Then I cleaned up my literature and pulled out my signs, and left without any trace.  As I drove back to the campaign office, I couldn’t help but listen to CNN on my rental car’s Sirius/XM radio for live coverage of the results.  It sounded like there was a three way race between Santorum, Romney, and Paul and they were neck to neck.  Once I arrived to the office, I turned in my results to the county coordinator, Randy, and shared my experience.  Most of the other volunteers and precinct captains had already made their way back to report and it seemed like most people’s experiences were somewhat similar to mine.  However, compared to other counties, ours did better than average for Ron Paul and he was in the lead for a good while as the counts were coming in.  Sadly, he was eventually overtaken by Romney by a close margin.  Once all the tally sheets were turned in, we went next door for a celebration party at the Tailgate Bar and Grill with all the volunteers and to watch the final results.  I will be honest and say that there was a general feeling of disappointment in the air as we saw Ron Paul slip further away from the top two lead and settle into third.  However, I could also sense the hope and camaraderie among fellow patriots who had worked and given so much to the cause.  Despite not placing first, Ron Paul did earn a projected 7 delegates (the same as Romney and Santorum), and our local supporters also won many delegate and committee seats in their precincts.  Since the presidential preference poll at the caucuses are non-binding, our organizational efforts to get people elected as delegates was the true victory that night and it will likely go unnoticed until the spring convention.

To conclude, the Santorum Surge was definitely a shocker, but at the same time it also made sense.  Rick campaigned the old fashioned way, by driving around in a pickup truck to every county in Iowa.  He had the most face time with the voters of Iowa than any other  candidate and was the favorite among the social conservative Huckabee supporters from 2008.  However, as Ron Paul stated in his speech the night of the caucus, there are three tickets out of Iowa.  Ron won one of the tickets, and is one of two candidates who can mount a national campaign.  Essentially, Santorum is not going anywhere after Iowa due to his sole focus on the state and his lack of funding.  He is a candidate who is running primarily on social issues, and this will not gain him any traction in New Hampshire which votes next week.  On the flip-side, exit polls from the Iowa caucus showed that Paul won over 41% of the Independent vote and a huge majority of the youth vote.  Thus, he has crossover appeal to voters in all states, and this is one of the reasons Obama was elected in 2008.

I will end by saying that overall I had a great experience in Iowa and it’s something I won’t forget.  I was honored to meet so many other supporters from around the country fighting for what they believed in and doing anything in their power to get Ron Paul elected.    One of these days when liberty finally triumphs over tyranny, I will be proud to say that I was there in Iowa doing my part to fight with the other “winter soldiers.”  Remember the words of Sammuel Adams, “It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”

Watching Ron Paul's speech at the after party

Eagerly waiting the results at the Tailgate Bar and Grill. Notice the huge Hawkeye flag in the background. This image is all over Iowa.

Iowa Day 2

All the news today seemed to be about the Santorum surge lately and it seems like a great anomaly to me.  There is no way he will be able to run much of a campaign beyond Iowa due to his lack of money, even if he comes in second or third place in the caucus.  However, Jun and many others in the Paul campaign rightly see this as a potential threat thanks to many Huckabee supporters who are well organized now carrying the Santorum banner.  Thus, a negative robo-call campaign against Santorum was quickly organized to run today and tomorrow in an attempt to deflate his sudden rise in the Iowa polls.

This morning I met two young men and their mom who were other supporters staying at my hotel who had driven up from Kentucky the night before.  Together we headed to the Johnson County campaign office to get brought up to speed about what needed to be done.  However, to get our blood flowing, one of the county coordinators decided it would be great to have a sign bomb down at the intersection and didn’t want to stop until we got 15 honks.  Thus, about 10 volunteers took Ron Paul banners and signs out to the streets in 22 degree weather with a wind chill making it feel like 4 degrees according to my AccuWeather.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if it weren’t for the wind, and after about 20-30 minutes we all couldn’t feel our faces and our fingers started to feel that icy pain that’s a precursor to frostbite.  There’s nothing like suffering for a cause!

Beautiful Iowa scenery heading down 80 east

Entering Davenport

Once we defrosted in the campaign office, I took off with Jun to drive an hour east to Davenport and help do some outreach at the Ron Paul / Rand Paul wistle-stop tour at 1 PM.  It ended up being a great turnout, with about 200 people showing up to the event including dozens of reporters and a CNN news van.  After Ron and Rand spoke, we helped coral all the locals who were planning on caucusing tomorrow into a training session organized by the Story County Ron Paul coordinators.  If all the counties across Iowa are as organized as Story County, Ron Paul is going to have an easy wins hands down but I don’t think we can assume anything.

After a quick bite to eat for lunch, Jun and I met up at the campaign office in Davenport to print some phone-banking lists and then went over to The Lodge hotel in Bettendorf.  Here we met up with Zachariah, the coordinator for Illinois volunteers, as well as many other out of state volunteers staying at he hotel.  By utilizing the multitude of volunteers, we were able to split up the list of likely stump speakers from our rp2012 database and follow up with them with calls to make sure they were ready for the caucus tomorrow.  Almost everyone who I talked to on my phone list was super prepared and positive about participating in the caucus and this gave me a lot of hope.  It was amazing to see how enthusiastic all the out of state volunteers were about supporting Ron Paul, and I think they are going to make a big difference tomorrow.

Standing room only at the Ron Paul whistle-stop

Davenport campaign office

Iowa Day 1

After a relatively smooth flight into Des Moines, I got my rental car and drove 2 hours east to the Clarion Highlander Hotel in Iowa City.  I didn’t get in until about 8 PM, and once I unpacked my stuff I gave my rp2012.org contact, Jun, a call to see if there was anything still going on at the campaign office in Coralville which was just 10 minutes away.  To my surprise, there were many people still at the office so he told me to come on over to get caught up.

Ron Paul's Johnson County campaign office

When I arrived, I finally got to meet some people face-to-face who I had only talked to on the phone or seen online.  The Johnson County coordinator was inside busily working, as well as a girl from the Revolution PAC and a number of other volunteers from various grassroots organizations.  Jun showed me a county map of Iowa that noted how many precinct vacancies each one had and which ones we were concentrating on in the eastern part of the state.  These were in no way concrete numbers, but we estimated there were about 70 precinct vacancies that needed captains (out of 1784 precincts total), so this wasn’t too shabby.  Thus, our next goal is to to fill those precincts with vacancies as well as find backups captains for many others with our stream of volunteers.  I took off a little after 11 and the office still had several people working diligently.

When I woke up next morning to grab some breakfast at my hotel, I couldn’t help but notice the TV commercials playing.  Within the span of my meal, I saw a Newt Gingrich commercial, followed by ones for Rick Perry and then Ron Paul.  The media bombardment was in full effect 48 hours prior to the first caucus!  After eating breakfast, I took a look outside and noticed a small dusting of snow had fallen over night.  Also, another Ron Paul patriot had pulled up next to my car at the hotel!  In addition to helping Jun do some volunteer organizing, I might also do some outreach at Ron Paul’s and Rand Paul’s Whiste-Stop Tour up in Cedar Rapids.  Exciting times await!

Ron Paul reifnorcements!

2012, the Year of Ron Paul and my trip to Iowa

Today is the final day of 2011 and I am preparing for my trip out to the most important state of the 2012 election, Iowa.  This will be my fist time visiting the state, and it will be in the dead of winter.  But I am packing plenty of warm clothes, campaign materials, and my personal conviction that I must do anything possible for liberty and to get Ron Paul the victory in the Hawkeye State.  Tomorrow, on New Years Day 2012, I will be flying into Des Moines and then embarking on a mission to Iowa City, approximately 2 hours east.  There I will be meeting up with many other rp0212.org grassroots activists for Ron Paul who are traveling from outside of the state to help the campaign in any capacity they can.  [On a side note, I became a firm believer in the rp2012.org grassroots system after we helped mobilize over 1,500 Ron Paul supporters for the Ames Straw Poll back in August, bringing Dr. Paul a statistical first place victory along with Michelle Bachmann.   By using our advanced phone-banking software to target independents and young voters, I was able to personally get over 150 people to attend the Straw Poll and I felt like I was definitely more effective than if I were working with the official campaign.]

On Monday, I’ll be meeting up with some activists at the campaign headquarters in Iowa City, and we’ll be tasked with contacting all the county coordinators across Iowa to find out which precincts still have vacancies for captains.  Once we find out which holes need to be filled, we will then use our stream of hundreds of volunteers to fill in the gaps.  As a precinct captain, your primary task is to bring as many Ron Paul supporters to the caucus as possible and deliver a stump speech on Dr. Paul’s behalf on the night of the caucus.  I already have my stump speech prepared, so I will be eagerly ready to win some caucuses for Ron Paul on the night of January 3rd.  In addition, I am going to volunteer to watch the vote and will take a picture of the results and send them into an independent source.  There has been a lot of concerns of potential vote tampering by the establishment as a way to discredit Ron Paul’s victory, and I plan to do my part to keep it as open and honest as possible.

More updates to come as my days in Iowa progress.

My Stump Speech for the Iowa Caucus

I’m going to be flying out of California into Des Moines, Iowa on New Years day to help Ron Paul’s campaign leading up to the nation’s first caucus on January 3rd.  I’m among several other rp2012.org grassroots activists who are traveling into Iowa to help fill in any holes in counties that need precinct captains.  Although I can’t technically vote in the Iowa caucus, I can deliver a stump speech on Ron Paul’s behalf.  Here’s the speech I have written up.  It’s supposed to be 2 minutes long.  Let me know what you think, as it’s a work in progress.  Keep in mind, this is geared towards Iowan Republicans who are quite conservative.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen.  I’m here tonight to encourage you to vote for one of our last honest statesmen and the Champion of the Constitution,  Dr. Ron Paul.  Dr. Paul is unlike any other candidate today because he is consistent, principled, and incorruptible.  He is truly a man of the people, fighting to restore our freedoms and prosperity.  Tonight, you have a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Our country is on the brink of economic collapse.  The dollar is on life support.  Your freedoms are being eroded by overly intrusive government.  Fortunately, you have the choice to turn this all around.  You can choose between career politicians representing the status quo, or you can choose to vote for Ron Paul who represents liberty and real change.  The other candidates will tinker with the details of the tax code and offer modest spending cuts.  Ron Paul’s Plan to Restore America will cut $1 trillion in spending his first year in office and balance our budget in three years.

Voting for Ron Paul means not only voting for a person, but a philosophy.  This is a philosophy based on the concept: that which governs least, governs best.  If you believe in personal responsibility, running your life as you see fit, spending your money how you want to spend it, and not telling others how to live, Ron Paul is your candidate.

Ron Paul is a strict adherent to the Constitution, and will never vote for a law that violates it.  Instead of having Government legislate morality, Ron Paul is a firm believer in strong family values.  He has been married for 54 years, and has five children and eighteen grandchildren.  As a former OBGYN, Dr. Paul helped deliver over 4,000 babies and is staunchly pro-life.  As a veteran, Ron Paul believes in a strong national defense and has received more donations from active military than all other candidates combined, including Obama.  He will fight to strengthen our borders at home and won’t waste a penny on nation building or on foreign welfare.  Ron Paul will restore our civil liberties, and prevent any government intrusions on the Bill of Rights such as warrantless searches or restricting your right to bear arms.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are living in truly unique times.  But we are at a crossroads.  We can choose to go down the path that leads to our ruination.  Or we can choose to elect a serious candidate, Ron Paul, who can restore America now.

Will Ron Paul Ever Get Respected by the Mainstream Media?

For those of you who have already caught on, this is nothing new.  For those of you who haven’t, I’ll once again show the blatant disregard the mainstream media gives to Ron Paul’s candidacy for president.  This is one of the reasons why the grassroots are so fired up and will stop at nothing to promote Ron Paul any way we can.  We can’t count on the mainstream media to do their job or give Paul a fair shake.  I can bet you that no other candidates besides Paul has supporters organizing grassroots events out here in California such as tables, rallies, canvassing, and sign waving every week.  No other candidates inspire people like Paul does, and if you don’t believe me, check out the hero’s welcome given to Paul at the California Republican Party convention last weekend.  Thus, when I see the mainstream media still treating Ron Paul as a fringe candidate deserving no time, I have to call them out.

A recent example of this was the Fox News debate last week in Florida.  According to recent national polls, Ron Paul has climbed to a solid third place behind Perry and Romney.  One would assume that Ron Paul would get debate time commensurate to his polling strength.  Once again, this wasn’t the case, nor was it even close.  Here was the break down, thanks to HuntingtonNews.net:

Total Talk Time
Romney 12:09
Perry 11:10
Huntsman 07:41
Santorum 07:06
Cain 06:23
Bachmann 06:13
Gingrich 05:44
Ron Paul 04:33
Johnson 04:10
Total 1:05:09
% of Total Talk Time
Romney 18.65%
Perry 17.14%
Huntsman 11.79%
Santorum 10.90%
Cain 9.80%
Bachmann 9.54%
Gingrich 8.80%
Ron Paul 6.98%
Johnson 6.40%

By the numbers one would expect Hunstman or Santorum to be in a solid third place in the national polls, but their numbers are closer to Johnson’s who is around 1%.  In a two hour debate, the lone two libertarian voices, Paul and Johnson, only got four questions a piece and were relegated to the lower tier of attention.  One would think that in order to foster an honest debate, the libertarian perspective would be given more time because it’s uniquely different than all the other neo-conservatives on stage.  But sadly Fox was more interested in having the attention on the two plastic men, Perry and Romney, who bickered about who was more of a flip-flopper.  Those of us in the freedom movement really see no difference between the two and know they both represent the status quo.

To make matters worse, after the debate Fox News engaged in more shenanigans.  Once again they hosted a poll on their website asking viewers who won the debate, and Ron Paul ended up getting 40% of the votes and winning in a landslide.  Next day they pulled their poll, as is typical, but to add injury to insult they ended up posting an article claiming that Mitt Romney won the debate.  This is nothing new and has been going on since 2007 when Ron Paul ran for president.  Those of us in the movement, this is yet another example of why we need to keep working harder to spread the message.  For everyone else, this is why you shouldn’t trust the mainstream media.  If you care at all about truth and honesty, please get your news for alternative sources.

Mainstream Media Blackout of Ron Paul Exposed!

After statistically tying Michelle Bachman in the Ames Straw Poll last weekend (being 152 votes away from first, which was about 0.9% of the overall votes), Ron Paul has been completely shut out in the mainstream media when discussing the “top tier candidates” in the GOP.  Instead, all the news was about Michelle Bachman “stunning” victory in Iowa and Rick Perry entering the race as an instant front runner (after having done virtually no campaigning thus far).  However, after the bias became so obvious and apparent, certain media hosts are starting to call it out.  Here are a number of clips and articles from the past few days that detail the disgraceful nature of the mainstream media regarding Ron Paul (the Jon Stewart clip is my favorite):

 

 

 

Articles:

Ron Paul Remains Media Poison (Politico)

Ron Paul Shines in Iowa; Major Media Cheats Him (The Hill)

Ron Paul Deserves More Respect (AntiWar)

Schooling Matt Damon

Last week a Reason.tv video went viral when a reporter gave Matt Damon the “absurd” suggestion that job insecurity makes people work harder.  Matt Damon gives the rebuttal that teachers aren’t motivated by financial incentive to teach, but are basically saints who just want to teach children.  You can see the short clip here:

According to Matt Damon, because teachers have to work long hours and receive shitty pay, they must due it for the love of teaching.  Thus, a worker at Taco Bell who works long hours and receives minimum wage must do it because he loves making tacos.  Okay, perhaps comparing a teacher to a low skilled worker’s need to work isn’t exactly fair.  Let’s take the notion that teachers receive poor wages.  Perhaps at one time this was true, but due to the teachers unions being in bed with liberal politicians and voting themselves greater benefits each year, this isn’t exactly the case anymore.  Conservatives will be the first to attack this claim, and one can hop on any website such as the Heritage Foundation to find charts showing how public sector teachers jobs are starting to earn wages comparable to average private sector jobs.  Then when you factor in benefits such as summer and holiday vacations, as well as health and retirement benefits then this can tip the scale in favor of the teacher.

But let’s take the biggest fallacy of his argument, that teachers are not motivated by financial incentives.  If history has taught us anything, it’s that one of the things driving human nature is self interest.  The communists tried to remove this incentive, and you all know how that went.  Sure, there are a lot of teachers out there who love to teach, are good at what they do, and care about a child’s education.  But by claiming that financial motives play no rule at all in a teacher’s job is completely absurd and without reason.  Being able to provide a house over one’s head and food on the table is typically the biggest motivating factor of why anyone works, and the fear and insecurity of possibly living on the street is a pretty strong motivating factor that makes people do the jobs that they do (thus the Taco Bell worker, or janitors, or garbage collectors, ect.).  Matt Damon can claim that actors and teachers are above all of this, but this is completely elitist in thinking and removed from reality.  Liberals like Damon need to come down from their high horses and not be afraid to admit that people are self interested.  In fact, there is nothing wrong with this notion, and as Adam Smith famously claimed in his theory of capitalism is that when people act based on self interest, it helps not only themselves directly, but also the community as a whole indirectly.  Thus, it’s not only the most practical and successful economic system, but also the most compassionate and compatible with human nature.

And as one final jab to Damon, he tries to sound all smart by saying this line of thinking is “intrinsically paternalistic.”  Honestly, I don’t even think he knows what he means by this and is just saying it to confuse the reporter and everyone around him.  But if you think about what he said, isn’t the federal government and the Department of Education “intrinsically paternalistic?”  It’s basically setup as a central planning authority with a hierarch on top, ie President Obama.  Thus, proponents of a free market who argue for the abolition of the Department of Education and a more decentralized control of education are arguing for a system that is completely not paternalistic.

The Debt Ceiling Charade

Last week Congress passed a debt ceiling deal that allows the US to borrow even more money.  This bill increases the debt ceiling limit by $400 billion and gives the president the option to raise it again by $500 billion in the next several months.  Additionally, a $1.2 trillion debt ceiling increase will be available after a “super committee” figures out a way to make that many cuts between Thanksgiving and Christmas of this year.  In the end, it seemed like no groups on the left or right really liked this deal, and only felt like they needed to pass it in order to meet the August 2nd deadline enacted by Obama so he could get back to campaigning for his re-election.  Many members of the House also wanted were eager to be done with it so they could go on vacation.  Sadly, a majority of Americans who wanted no debt ceiling increase were screwed, as well as those who wanted a balanced budget.

To put things into perspective, our debt is now 100% of our GDP, which is roughly $16 trillion.  In addition, this deal does nothing to cut our budget or annual debt immediately, but makes vague promises to cut in the future.  It was a completely gutless move by our Congress to ignore the problem now and postpone the tough decisions until the future.  In other words, it was politics as usual.  Despite the deal, S&P still downgraded America’s sovereign debt rating from AAA to AA+, another gutless move that came completely after the fact, just like their rating of mortgage backed securities during the housing crisis.  The markets are still scared by the uncertainty that Washington is causing, and this was reflected by the 500 point stock market drop last Thursday.

Despite the debt ceiling charade going on in Washington, the real concern for American citizens should be inflation and the Fed.  Conveniently, the Fed’s been without scrutiny during this whole debate, despite some disturbing information that was released by an audit sponsored by Bernie Sanders’ financial bill last year.  While the Democrats and Republicans fight over what amounts to straws, the audit revealed that the Fed has loaned out $16 trillion dollars to domestic and foreign banks the past three years.  This amount of money printed is equal to our national debt from the founding of our country up to the present day.  All of this was done without Congressional approval or oversight, at the expense of the American taxpayer whose currency is being devalued as a result.  While the mainstream media gawks at the numbers proposed in the debt ceiling bill and the Democrats claim the tea party proposals are “satan sandwiches,” the Fed is printing money like it’s going out of style and no one is giving a damn about it.  The fact that we might have defaulted on our payments shouldn’t worry people.  What should worry people is the mountain of paper dollar bills being printed, which will ultimately make it harder to afford basic necessities.  We can’t claim we have avoided a default crisis when we’re about to enter a dollar crisis of epic proportions.  Once no one is willing to finance our debt and our interests payment shoot up past the $1 trillion per year mark, then a true crisis will be at hand instead of this phony debt ceiling crisis.  At that point we’ll only have a few options left on the table, cut spending drastically or continue to print until we inflate our debts away.  Based on this current debacle, I think we all know what the answer will be.  Crank the printing presses!

Wisconsin School District Improves Immediately after Union Reforms

The unions and Democrats have called Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker the anti-Christ. They have claimed that his recent collective bargaining reforms would destroy public education. Lo and behold, these threats are turning out to be a lot of hot air blown out by groups of thugs vying for relevancy and not wanting to release their parasitic stranglehold over taxpayers. According to a recent article by Bryon York of the Washington Examiner, many school districts in Wisconsin are seeing benefits from Walker’s reforms.  In fact, one school district in particular has seen immediate improvements despite all the predictions of gloom and doom.

Kaukauna School District was struggling and facing a deficit of $400,000, but a day after Walker’s law was signed the school officials began putting new policies into effect that are projected to turn the district’s budget deficit into a $1.5 million surplus.  Teachers and staff are now required to pay 12.6% of their health coverage (compared to 10% before), and contribute 5.8% of their salary to pensions (compared to 0% before).  These changes alone will save the school district an estimated $1.2 million a year.

In addition,the district can now negotiate with any health insurance coverage group instead of just a group called WEA Trust (a company created by the teacher’s union).  This year, WEA Trust told the school district that they were going to have to increase their premiums significantly, so the district decided it was time to shop around for better prices.  Because of the district’s threat of dropping their coverage, WEA Trust immediately changed their position so that they’d match the lowest bid.  These new terms will save the district substantial amounts of money on health coverage.

Teachers will also be asked to work 40 hours a week at school instead of 37.5 hours a week.  Additionally, pay increases and benefits will transition to a merit based system, which will save the district money and allow them to hire more teachers.  “These changes mean that the district can  reduce the size of its classes — from 31 students to 26 students in high school and from 26 students to 23 students in elementary school. In addition, there will be more teacher time for one-on-one sessions with troubled students.”

Overall, these changes will improve the classroom experience for all students while at the same time saving taxpayer’s money and putting the school’s budget back in the black.  The fight over collective bargaining reform has been ugly in Wisconsin, but once people notice the improvements it will bring this next school year, the more Governor Walker’s decision will be justified.  Freedom works when given the chance, and in Kaukauna district’s case it is working wonders.  Hopefully many other states like California will realize it is time to embrace collective bargaining reform and pass Right to Work laws.

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