Teaching is a Calling


Teaching is a Calling

“If you don’t like the money, you can find another job,” A college administrator once told me.

lotr_09thThere was no concern about the process of de-professionalization of college teaching. There was no concern about an adjunct salary slightly above a fast food worker. There was no concern about the likelihood of having to rely on the charity of food banks and government services when you possess a terminal degree.

Do something that pays more. That’s the answer to any complaint, anywhere in the society, anytime. Such is the prevailing conventional wisdom.

If the free market produces just and perfect results and it must by the nature of its neo-religious believers, than the status and pay that you receive must by the very nature of a competitive society be just and honorable.

It isn’t. It is neither just nor honorable, and it is not based on any known concept of fairness. It is simply a matter of the strong taking from the weak in pursuit of a set of policy objectives.

This process takes its toll on those of who try to work in this profession. I tell my colleagues that just as soon as the students understand our actual salaries and our relative importance to administrators and legislators, they are going to treat us with the same contempt we receive from them. They’re going to wonder that since they paid good money to be taught, why a glorified fast food worker should have any authority to question them as to their understanding of the subject matter. For after all, if your salary is the primary indicator of your value, we’re only worth a fraction of the likely salary of our students while our lack of salary is a clear indicator that our work has little importance and that in a capitalist society, we are over-educated failures.

Why do we hold on in the face of the contempt of the politicians, the beltway media, the “very serious” people and every sort and breed of businessman? Because we care about our students. Because when we teach we feel important and empowered. And that feeling is legitimate because as teachers we are in a real way, the creators of our nation, the shapers of the next generation, and the architects of a democratic society.

It is highly likely that in the times to come, history books will discuss education in the United States in this period as the last candle light before the darkness, the last time in which significant academic freedom existed before college and universities became testing centers based on a purely standardized set of programs dictated by corporate needs.

Read below the thoughts of one teacher as she struggles to teach in a difficult environment. –

http://academeblog.org/2015/11/09/and-this-is-why-i-teach/

I’ve often said that the classroom is my “happy place.”  The one place where I can be present; where I can forget about Wisconsin politics, committee meetings, campus and departmental bureaucracy, and just do what I love.  It’s that time of year where most of us are exhausted.  Where we have students who may just now be realizing they’re failing a class and asking for extra credit.  Where we’re already burnt out and we’ve still got 7 weeks left in the semester.  Where we’re counting the days to finals week because we are all so tired.  I’m in that space, too.  I’ve been there before.  But I am grateful, and always will be, to the students now and in the past who remind me why I teach.  Who remind me how much I love doing my job.  And who have clutched me out of the depths of sadness, especially this semester.

Mother Dies in Jail


095-1Have You Ever Been in Jail?

Read the headline below.

Impoverished Mother Dies In Jail Cell Over Unpaid Fines For Her Kids Missing School

Have you ever been in jail? I have. No, I didn’t do anything. I’ve worked in criminal justice. I was an intern in a U.S. Probation office and I worked with juvenile delinquents. I’ve visited jails. I didn’t mind the little town jails. They seem almost friendly. But the city jails, especially the big cities. They were awful. I always wanted to leave as quickly as humanly possible.

The big city jails are crowded. The clientele varies from next to nothing in terms of offenses (not being able to pay a fine) to people who can’t make bail for major offenses like murder. There are always prostitutes. And they don’t look like the ones on television. They aren’t pretty and they don’t have hearts of gold. They look beat up and worn. They talk nasty and think it’s funny. The atmosphere is oppressive and the facilities limited.

People used to tell me about how they wish they could live the life of the jailed or the inmate of a prison – free medical care, free dental, three squares a day and you don’t have to work – paradise. It takes an incredible absence of knowledge and poor judgment to believe that about one of these places. In one big city jail I visited, the cells housed twenty four prisoners each. That’s 24 beds and two steel toilets out in the open. (The seasoned professional I was with told me to keep my eyes open. Sometimes the inmates throw excrement at you.) There’s a television posted out of reach at the end of the cell. If you’re not in the bed nearest it, it’s a little difficult to see and hear, and if you are at the far end, it’s about the size of a postage stamp. And that was a brand new model installation that was not overcrowded and run down.

They took a mother of seven away from her children and put her in one of these places for non-payment of a fine. She didn’t commit a crime and they put her in there. She owned money and they locked her up – debtor’s prison – you know, those things we abolished in the United States.

She was scared. She was stripped and cavity searched. It’s not in the article but that’s what happened. It’s standard procedure. It should only happen to people who committed crimes. It’s demeaning and humiliating.

They put her in there with real criminals. Being a mother of seven is probably not a good preparation for jail. She had high blood pressure. She was middle aged. She was a law abiding citizen trying hard to raise her children.

She had 55 truancys that she owed thousands of dollars for. That sounds like a lot. But it’s not. The offenses date from 1999. That’s fifteen years. For one child that is an average of three and one half offenses per year. For seven children, that’s an average of one-half a truancy a year. I’m not sensing Al Capone here.

She’s dead. End of story. A county in Pennsylvania has criminalized non-attendance in school and chosen to punish the parents with thousands of dollars of fines. And when they don’t pay, they go to jail.

But the story gets better. You see, if you read the article, it’s obvious the court knew she was on welfare and had no money. She didn’t bring her paperwork showing her lack of income. The court was punishing her for not having proof of what was obvious.

Obviously, that’s justice. Well, in Pennsylvania.

Where’s the business ethics?

This isn’t a business? The city uses the truancy law to impose thousands of dollars of fines which it extracts under fear of imprisonment. Isn’t that policing for profit? More and more cities and counties are using these kinds of fines to generate revenue. It’s deliberate policy. It’s a recent development historically and my understanding is that it is increasing in use across the nation.

If a city or a county uses fines for a revenue stream, justice is not a real consideration. Getting the money is. They’re using the jail to make money.

I appeal to your judgment – are fifty-five truancys over fifteen years worth thousands of dollars of fines? And isn’t it obvious that these fines and the penalties for non-payment are going to fall most heavily on the poor?

Jails and prisons are supposed to be for criminals. They are not supposed to be tools for cash strapped municipalities to balance the budge on the backs of the poor.

When the courts are no longer dealing justice but making money for the government, the central purpose of the criminal justice system is perverted and forgotten. The inmates are people being punished for committing crimes. They are living, breathing revenue streams who must be subject to fines and stacked penalties to squeeze out that last dime.

Justice is the goal we should aim at as a society, as a nation and as individuals. There are other ways to raise money. There have to be.

James Pilant

On the Same Subject.

http://antzinpantz.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/mom-dies-in-jail-for-not-paying-school-fines/

More than 1,600 people have been jailed in Berks County alone – two-thirds of them women – over truancy fines since 2000 …

http://mybraincage.wordpress.com/2014/06/13/mother-dies-in-jail-cell-where-she-was-serving-a-two-day-sentence-for-her-childrens-absence-from-school/

 

DEP, “Don’t Expect Protection”


DEP, “Don’t Expect Protection”

pennsylvania-enviornment_0Fracking’s Toxic Secrets: Lack Of Transparency Over Natural Gas Drilling Endangers Public Health, Advocates Say

Some frustrated residents and anti-fracking activists are finding new names to call the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) — “Don’t Expect Protection,” “Department of Energy Production” — according to Dana Dolney of ShaleTest, a nonprofit that provides free air and water quality testing for low-income residents near natural gas wells.

The department is taking heat for providing what critics see as incomplete water quality test results to property owners who are concerned about pollution from nearby fracking operations. Withholding such information, the critics say, could endanger residents’ health.

“Based on what is happening in the Marcellus Shale, we saw a huge desperate need for this kind of testing,” Dolney said. “We wouldn’t have to do what we do if it wasn’t for the failures of the DEP.”

The DEP and natural gas companies are defending the testing methods, asserting that the contaminants most likely to be associated with fossil fuel extraction are included in what is shared with the DEP and, subsequently, with homeowners.

Still, critics suggest the purported “filtering” of testing data is just one of the ways people are left in the dark about the assortment of heavy metals and other toxic contaminants that may be in their air and water as a result of drilling, hydraulic fracturing and other phases of natural gas production. Recent studies have identified more than 600 chemicals used throughout the process of natural gas production, and often left undisclosed by companies. Additionally, natural but equally hazardous substances can be released from the wells.

Fracking’s Toxic Secrets: Lack Of Transparency Over Natural Gas Drilling Endangers Public Health, Advocates Say

Not telling people the information you don’t want them to have is lying. It’s just easier to justify to yourself. This is what happens when an agency is captured by the industry it is supposed to regulate.

James Pilant

 

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Are Your Children Likely to Make More Money than You?


No. The statistics are clear.  The ability to change class to move upward is very, very limited. Most people on average and most commonly will make about the same money as their parents.

Why are we in this situation? Well, education is no longer a likely venue to higher income. The privileged have access to Ivy League schools and privately educate their children from the nursery to college. Currently we have what is essentially two education systems in the United States, one for the upper class and public education for everyone else. God help anyone self-educated like Abraham Lincoln. People like that aren’t even in the ball game.

What else? Well there’s hiring practices. The upper middle class reassured by such books as “Emotional Intelligence” hire on the basis of comfort. And comfort by and large means hiring your own social class. It diminishes the importance of ability and makes skilled work annoying to others.

Contacts are another critical factor. I’ve heard many people say, “It’s not what you can do, it’s who you know.” I don’t think that knowing the plant manager is that big a deal down in the lower class where I dwell. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about access to Congressmen and Governors. I’m talking about the heads of corporations and the deans of business schools. I’m talking about knowing the players in the financial sector, of knowing where the levers are when it comes to getting loans, jobs and influence. Those are the contacts that make a difference.

Tell me, what’s all A’s at state U, compared to Harvard or Georgetown? What is raw ability when you don’t golf, wear the right clothes or speak the language of the upper class? What is your chance of moving up in the world when maybe you know a state representative and the other guy has a letter from the White House?

We can do better.

Ability should be the measure of success. Social class shouldn’t be a burden borne only by the workers. The cozy club atmosphere of the privileged should be open to all comers.

James Pilant

Here is the article title and a paragraph explaining the numbers behind my claims.

The Rise and Consequences of Inequality in the United States
Alan B. Krueger
Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers
January 12, 2012

More research has been done on intergenerational income mobility. Studies find that your
parent’s income is a good predictor of your subsequent income. Studies that use income data
averaged over longer periods of time for parents and children tend to find higher correlations
between parental and children’s income. A reasonable summary is that the correlation between
parents’ and their children’s income is around 0.50. This is remarkably similar to the correlation
that Sir Francis Galton found between parents’ height and their children’s height over 100 years
ago. This fact helps to put in context what a correlation of 0.50 implies. The chance of a person
who was born to a family in the bottom 10 percent of the income distribution rising to the top 10
percent as an adult is about the same as the chance that a dad who is 5’6” tall having a son who
grows up to be over 6’1” tall. It happens, but not often.

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A Womb with a View?


i_192A Womb with a View?

In Kansas, legislation is under consideration that will require doctors to report all miscarriages to the state health department.

One would think a womb would be more private.

This information could be used as an investigative tool for prosecution of the mother for harming or killing the fetus as in the Mississippi case of Rennie Gibbs. This could mark a new approach to diminishing women’s reproductive rights. Medical problems like miscarriage can be converted from personal medical problems to law enforcement issues. And, of course, once an investigator begins looking at a possible prosecution all the other medical records have to be examined as well.

The marginalization of women has been principally embodied in culture and custom. But now through the magic of legislation, it’s one woman at a time, one reproductive system at a time. In 2013, the idea of invasive ultrasounds ran its course but like all its ilk is only awaiting the right moment to return.

In the past, a woman’s reproductive system was considered a matter of some privacy. Now, it is an arena for manipulating, prosecuting and even mythologizing women. Manipulating by putting women in fear of their conduct during pregnancy, prosecuting by actively seeking charges against women for reproductive “felonies” and mythologizing by making women sacred hosts, carriers of genetic treasure; who must be treated with the utmost respect – and regulated.

It’s second class citizenship writ large. Right now, it’s a slow laborious chipping away at the base of women’s equality. The intent is clear – control. Once patriarchy is the rule, women and their issues will no longer be problems. Equal pay, child care, family leave, voting, reproductive rights, all will disappear into those subjects not covered by the media, not discussed in the restaurants and private clubs of the beltway, and not manipulated for political contributions in the halls of power.

Women’s rights are a continuing struggle. Women will not gain equality in our lifetimes and just holding on to the rights possessed now will be difficult. The current tool to put women in their “place” is fetal personhood. What the next one will be is germinating in the minds of those to whom women’s natural functions are paramount over their status as human beings.

James Pilant

From around the web.

Walsh, S. (2014, March 26). If stillbirth is murder, does miscarriage make pregnant women into criminals?. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/26/stillbirth-murder-miscarriage-pregnant-women-criminals
Seven and a half years ago, a Mississippi teenager named Rennie Gibbs went into premature labor and delivered a stillborn baby girl named Samiya. Initially, experts attributed the baby’s death to the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. But when traces of a cocaine byproduct showed up on the autopsy report, a medical examiner declared the stillbirth a homicide and cited cocaine toxicity as the cause. Shortly afterward, the 16-year-old Gibbs was charged with murder, specifically “depraved heart murder”, a charge that can carry a sentence of up to 20 years to life in prison.

Since her grand-jury indictment in 2007, Gibbs’s team of attorneys has been fighting for the charges to be dropped on both technical and legal grounds. The defense argues that there’s no scientific proof that cocaine use can cause a stillbirth – and that the “depraved heart murder” statute did not apply to unborn children at the time of Samiya’s death. A decision is expected any day now as to whether the Gibbs case will finally proceed to trial or get dismissed. If it does go to trial, and Gibbs is convicted of murder for being 16 and pregnant, then a dangerous precedent may be established that should make anyone with a uterus feel very afraid.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/26/stillbirth-murder-miscarriage-pregnant-women-criminals

From around the web.

Marcotte, A. (2014, March 26). Kansas moves to defund planned parenthood and force doctors to report every miscarriage. Slate, Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/03/26/kansas_moves_to_defund_planned_parenthood_and_force_doctors_to_report_every.html

It’s not just women who are trying to avoid pregnancy who are under attack in Kansas. A bill winding its way through the state’s legislature would require doctors to report all miscarriages to the state health department, no matter how early they occur in a pregnancy. The requirement was tacked on to a bill that was supposed to be about reporting stillbirths, and it is so extreme that even some anti-choice Republicans have balked. It’s clear that this amendment is about conflating early pregnancy loss with post-20 week fetal demise and stillbirth. “The whole point is to further the idea of the fetus as a person. It’s a way of establishing the groundwork for making abortion harder to get, and eventually illegal,” Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute told ThinkProgress. Currently, no state requires doctors to report miscarriages early in pregnancy, because they are a common and usually minor medical issue.

What’s troubling about the bill is that it’s a needless invasion of a woman’s privacy, and it would reinforce the dangerous idea that the mere act of failing to complete a pregnancy is so serious that it requires state intervention. We’ve already seen states making moves to criminalize women for stillbirths, even when the evidence suggests that the woman’s behavior had no impact on the pregnancy’s outcome. We also know that if a woman terminates a pregnancy by taking misoprostol she bought on the Internet, that doesn’t actually look any different from a regular early term miscarriage. Cataloguing every woman who has an early term miscarriage opens the door to investigating women who officials suspect might have deliberately caused those miscarriages. There’s already been one woman prosecuted for inducing an early term miscarriage in just this way, so it’s certainly possible that such a law could result in women having to endure criminal investigations if they dare show up at a hospital miscarrying at eight weeks. Just from your life experience, you know that’s a lot of women.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/03/26/kansas_moves_to_defund_planned_parenthood_and_force_doctors_to_report_every.html

From around the web.

Marcotte, A. (2014, February 24). Virginia lawmaker calls pregnant women “hosts”. Slate, Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/02/24/steve_martin_of_virginia_on_abortion_state_senator_calls_pregnant_women.html
In text citation: (Marcotte, 2014)

Minimum Wage is Pathetically Low


c27aMinimum Wage is Pathetically Low

You can read it below: last years banker’s bonuses were twice the entire income of all those making the minimum wage.

Certainly, this should be considered evidence that the minimum wage is set too low. A good argument can be made that the social utility of what minimum wage earners do is far superior in benefits for our larger society than investment banking and some of the practices of regular banking.

It’s important to think about fairness and just deserts when dealing with this issue. In this country, the game is tilted toward those with influence and power. The minimum wage workers hardly register on either of those scales.

It is for the rest of us to add to their voice, to sometimes be their voice. What isn’t fair for our fellow Americans is a part of our responsibility.

We are not individual atoms floating in some kind of cosmic vacuum. We live, work and thrive with other people and those connections are important and a big part of what we consider civilization.

James Pilant

New report: Bankers’ bonuses more than double full-time minimum wage workers’ pay – Salon.com

The $26.7 billion spent on Wall Street bonuses last year was greater than the entire 2012 income of America’s full-time minimum wage workforce, according to a new report from the progressive Institute for Policy Studies.

Had that $26.7 billion instead gone to increased wages for the country’s 1,085,000 full-time minimum wage workers, writes report author Sarah Anderson, those workers’ wages ($15.1 billion total in 2012) would have more than doubled. Anderson estimates that such a raise for minimum wage workers would have done much more than bank bonuses to spur economic growth: In contrast to a $10.4 billion multiplier effect from the payouts to bankers, she calculates a $32.3 billion multiplier if the cash had gone into the pockets of those now making $7.25.

via New report: Bankers’ bonuses more than double full-time minimum wage workers’ pay – Salon.com.

From around the web.

From the web site, Arindrajit Dube.

http://arindube.com/2014/01/22/the-poverty-of-minimum-wage-facts/

So to take stock, if you consider the Sabia and Burkhauser simulation results  as “facts” you also are claiming that no worker reporting a wage below the old minimum will get a raise, and no one above the new minimum will get a raise. These are not very good assumptions, and they certainly are not facts.

Of course, you don’t have to make these assumptions. You could allow for spillovers. You could allow for wages to rise below the minimum. You could allow for measurement error in reported wages and other sources of income. But then you are not in a world where tabulating survey data gives you simple facts that are beyond reproach. You need to make additional assumptions to make causal claims. And we have not even begun to talk about behavioral effects—be they on labor demand side, or on labor supply side such worker search effort, etc. (And by the way those do not all go in the same direction.)  So you could add a lot more assumptions and continue with the simulation route, or you could use quasi-experimental approach used in almost all of applied micro-economics to empirically estimate the effect of minimum wages on poverty and other outcomes.  Of course, you would want to subject your identifying assumptions to specification checks and falsification tests to ensure you have reliable control groups; and you would account for possibly confounding policies such as state EITCs. And when you do all of that, and some more, you would probably end up with a paper like this one.

So where does this leave us?   As I said in my paper, policies like cash transfers, food stamps, and EITC are better targeted to help the poor, although even there minimum wages are better thought of as complements and not substitutes. More generally, however, motivations behind minimum wage policies go beyond reducing poverty. The popular support for minimum wages is in part fueled by a desire to raise earnings of low and moderate income families more broadly, and by fairness concerns that seek to limit the extent of wage inequality, or employers’ exercise of market power.  And the evidence suggests is that attaining such goals through increasing minimum wages is also consistent with a modest reduction in poverty, and moderate increases in family incomes at the bottom.

Boomers are Doomed. I know.


004dBoomers are Doomed. I know.

Just face it. The nation would probably be better off if the Baby Boomers had stayed in the womb. And yes, I am one of them. We took a nation with a thriving middle class and made it into the current economic nightmare. They should make all of us put an asterisk on our tombstones and a little note at the bottom – Part of a Generation that looked after the individual and forgot humanity.

I look to my students and tell them they are the great hope of this nation. I tell them they bear the responsibility of fixing the failures of my generation.

I’m trying to build a future for this country, one student at a time.

And let me tell you another thing – if there was ever an entitlement generation, it was mine not this one. We went to college when it was virtually free and absorbed a host of government benefits virtually all of which we deny this generation. And if this clearly hypocritical and nation damaging behavior wasn’t enough, we shower disdain and contempt on our young people.

We were always looking to find ourselves, the latest self help books, cultish belief systems, fashionable get rich quick schemes, self interest politics and a fascination with style over substance.

I’ll write about this more later. I’ve too much anger for one post and I want to think about it some more. There are a number of things that were admirable about my generation and it would not be fair to ignore those.

James Pilant

Baby Boomers retirement: Why Boomers are doomed.

“No one wants to talk about just how unprepared the Baby Boomer generation is for the years when they will no longer be able to work,” Oppenheimer’s John Stoltzfus told Business Insider in a recent interview.

Now he’s laying out reasoning. Here’s Stoltzfus’ 11 reasons to be concerned about this aging demographic:

  1. The wholesale demise or dismantling of traditional defined benefit pension programs by corporations looking to cut expenses and liabilities that has occurred in the past 10 to 15 years.
  2. The widespread underuse of 401(k) plans (defined contribution plans) by eligible plan participants as well as those who qualify for but don’t enroll in 401(k) plans at all. We’d note that 401(k) plans often replace traditional pension plans when an employer closes the defined benefit plan but still wants to offer employees a retirement savings plan in the employment benefit menu.
  3. Potential for increasingly later age requirements ahead to get full Social Security benefits as Washington lawmakers work to preserve the program for Boomers and generations that follow.
  4. Reduced cost of living increases likely ahead for those receiving benefits in a pro-austerity environment.
  5. A pronounced and general ignorance by the general public of the importance of asset allocation and long-term planning in allocating money within 401(k) plans.
  6. The tendency for 401(k) participants to select low yielding nonfluctuating choices on 401(k) menus as a result of the tech bubble, the financial crisis of 2008, other past bubbles, along with prominent news items that accentuate the negatives of investing vs. the positives in a landscape of job insecurity.
  7. General lack of discipline and commitment to a personal investment program by many individuals either as a result of job insecurity or personal choice.
  8. Emphasis by too many individuals on DIY programs that focus mostly on fee containment and present the individual with programs heavy on brochures or website generalities and little access to the 1:1 or team capabilities available from experienced market and retirement professionals.
  9. Taking early distributions from 401(k) plans to meet nonemergency needs.
  10. Taking early distributions from 401(k) plans as the result of personal emergencies tied to job loss, health, and other unavoidable issues.
  11. Low interest rates in traditional savings vehicles and in much of fixed income product over the past five years that has compounded the likely problem ahead instead of compounding the money placed in them.

via Baby Boomers retirement: Why Boomers are doomed..

From around the web.

From the web site, Larry Gross Online.

http://larry5154.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/a-baby-boomer-thinking-about-his-kids-and-the-younger-generation/

’m a baby boomer and while I used to associate those two words with being young, I no longer can fool myself. Being a baby boomer now means I’m older.

Being older also means not understanding young people—at least not all the time. I think this is why I found this article on The Huffington Post sort of interesting. It gives five reasons why we, the boomers, don’t understand young people. Of course, there are more than five reasons but it’s a start.

You can click here to read the article, then, when you come back, I’ve got some comments on three of the five reasons why us boomers don’t understand young people. I’ll wait for you.

Fracking Job Numbers in Question


oilderrick1000075461Fracking Job Numbers in Question

Well, how about this? The pro-fracking governor of Pennsylvania says that fracking has created 200,000 jobs but there is an analysis by a state newspaper indicating a number of 30,000 and that the number of these kinds of jobs is falling.

Who’s telling the truth? On one side we have an industry devoted to secrecy and non-disclosure on a scale not seen since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This sides also includes pro-natural gas groups and politicians who have benefitted from generous campaign contributions. On the other we have a state newspaper doing an analysis as part of its news gathering.

I’m going to go with the newspaper. The other guys will profit and advance based on their stance while the best the newspaper can do is get increased circulation. One side has more motive to lie.

What’s more, I have some experience with fracking as an issue. What I have read and seen is that fracking creates a lot of jobs during the initial stages of drilling but then the jobs move on to the next drilling sites and there is little permanent job creation.

Based on my knowledge, since the state has had much of the drilling done, those jobs are moving on while the wells and the problems remain.

I believe that fracking could have been done in an environmentally protective way that took care not to destroy water resources or endanger the stability of the earth’s crust. But since fracking was exempted from a host of environmental laws and has operated in the realm of secrecy, I don’t see them having much reason to act responsibly.

Is it not written: John 3:20: For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

James Pilant

Pennsylvania fracking-related jobs numbers questioned | Al Jazeera America

Facing a daunting re-election year, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has been touting his all-out support for natural gas drilling as a job creator in his state.

But economists and environmentalists are questioning his claim that the industry props up more than 200,000 Pennsylvania jobs. They say that the governor’s administration has greatly inflated the number and that it may be getting lower every day.

A new analysis by The Allentown Morning Call newspaper and published Monday indicates that growth in the industries associated with drilling in the Marcellus Shale — one of the country’s main areas for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — fell by 29 percent from 2010 to 2013. There are now just under 30,000 that can directly be linked to the Marcellus.

Industry supporters say that the decline is a temporary fluctuation and that ancillary jobs created and supported by shale gas development — including ones in trucking, engineering and construction — boost the number to more than 200,000.

But as Corbett continues to support natural gas development in his bid for re-election, those job numbers have come under more scrutiny. Activists and economists say that while there is no doubt natural gas has contributed to the state’s economy, it is likely the practice’s impact has been exaggerated, perhaps for political gain.

via Pennsylvania fracking-related jobs numbers questioned | Al Jazeera America.

From around the web.

From the web site, NCC Ecojustice Web Site.

http://ecojustice.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/fracking-jobs-what/

Supporters of natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale have promised new drilling could create up to 100,000 jobs in Pennsylvania this year, but actual job creation appears to be falling well short.

According to a report last year by Penn State University’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Marcellus Shale drilling directly and indirectly created more than 29,000 jobs in Pennsylvania in 2008 and 48,000 jobs in 2009. The report, commissioned by the Marcellus Shale Gas Committee, predicted drilling operations would create at least 107,000 jobs this year.

Critics say those numbers are not borne out by reality. According to a report released last month by J.M. Barth & Associates, a New York-based research and consulting firm, the number of jobs in the oil and gas extraction industry has remained virtually flat in recent years despite increased investment in the Marcellus Shale.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that Pennsylvania’s mining and logging sector gained 2,500 jobs over the past three years, growing from 20,800 jobs in February 2007 to 23,300 jobs in February 2010.

“There’s a lot of wishful thinking out there,” said Jannette Barth, president of J.M. Barth & Associates. “They’re not [accurate] — or at least, they’re biased. They leave a lot of things out” (Bill Toland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 9). – GN

From the web site, Frackorporation.

http://frackorporation.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/no-frack-class-in-hazleton/

Last month Marcellus Shale Drilling News (i.e. think Rush Limbaugh sans Cigar) broke the news with a screaming headline “Cabot to Teach Hazelton, PA 9th Graders How to Frack“.

On August 30, the Hazleton School Board delayed approval of the proposed course on Natural Gas Drilling until they learned more about it.   The proposed course was presented as being taught by volunteers from Junior Achievement and Cabot Oil & Gas would be paying for the materials.

A bit more drilling into the proposed course turned up a very heavily one-sided course curriculum. Read it for yourself – JA Careers in Energy – Guide for Volunteers and Teachers.

I learned tonight, the Hazleton School Board met last night (9/26/13), and said thanks by no thanks and voted down Cabot’s Fracking Class by a 6-1 vote.

Sources stated the board felt uncomfortable with a corporate designed and financed course.   They were especially uncomfortable with Session #7 which simulates a town meeting with carefully prepared profile cards and positions each “character” was to take.

I’m Proud of the Ukrainians!


Ukraine protests Dec 1 2013_by_Gnatoush_005I’m Proud of the Ukrainians!

I think Paul Steven Stone has some good points here. I am also outraged at the very successful effort by legislatures all over the United States to limit the right to vote. It’s viciously, nakedly undemocratic, and is simply evil both in intent and effect. We all have a basic right as Americans to vote, and that should be something that can’t be taken away.

James Pilant

I Am a Ukrainian | Paul Steven Stone

How can you not stand up and cheer at what we’ve just witnessed in Eastern Europe? To see an entire populace rise up against injustice, autocracy and the armed lackeys of a corrupt police state reminds me of what real courage looks like, especially when it’s bolstered by the adrenaline of outrage and moral authority.

I couldn’t watch this impoverished proletariat fighting so valiantly — and risking so much — for their rights, their country and for the future of their children’s children without thinking about how far we Americans have drifted from our own revolutionary and democratic ideals. So far that we would allow George W. Bush to twice steal the presidency of the United States (see here.) staring impotently with our mouths open, too afraid of the consequences that might come from shouting out the truth and fighting for our rights. Too comfortable, in all likelihood, with our material possessions and modest success to risk any of it by standing up and shouting “Fraud! Thief! Liar!” as we should have done — as we have an obligation to do as legatees of our revolution and its democratic values!

And so we turned over in bed, having taken a sleeping pill to deal with any discomfiting after-effects of watching our country hijacked by these lackeys of disgruntled billionaires.

Yes, we’ve fallen so far from our American ideals that we would allow almost every state legislature controlled by Republicans to institute laws designed to deprive citizens of their voting rights in the name of preventing voting fraud. A fraud admittedly non-existent and clearly invoked as a fig leaf to conceal the pathetic conniving of a fastly-shrinking political minority.

via I Am a Ukrainian | Paul Steven Stone.

From around the web.

From the web site, European Public Affairs.

http://www.europeanpublicaffairs.eu/ukrainian-armageddon/

Branded extremists, radicals, criminals and foreign agents. This is how Ukraine’s bandits in power (or the so-called government) see protesters of Euromaidan. Hundreds of thousands of open-minded and freedom-seeking demonstrators, for whom dignity, human rights and liberty are not just plain words, are apparently terrorists. At least, this is how yesterday’s horrifying developments, claiming at least 20 innocent lives in Kyiv, were justified – as anti-terrorist operations. Clubs, tear gas, flash grenades and Molotov cocktails are again a reality after almost 3 weeks of a standstill in Ukraine’s capital.

 

What began as a protest against Ukrainian President Yanukovych’s decision not to sign an Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, with the EU in late 2013 has spiraled into much bigger demands. Seen as a pro-European uprising in the East, the latest dynamics highlight a much more complicated political scene. Current demonstrations represent a fight for democratic values, rule of law and a change of the country’s corrupt political system. In fact, the EU’s inaction and inability to broker a solution diminishes, to some extent, local support for the European Union. The absence of a decisive Western stance definitely harms the image of a flexible Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU. Coupled with expressions of concern that are not backed by real actions, this only irritates Ukrainians more .

From the web site, Euromaidan PR.

http://euromaidanpr.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/the-fish-stinks-from-the-head-but-it-is-cleaned-from-the-tail-the-ukraine-uprising-analysis-by-dr-ichak-kalderon-adizes/

I have been to Ukraine numerous times. Lectured there. Received honorary doctorates from their Universities. Published books and articles in Ukrainian. Worked with Ukrainian business executives and their managers. But in all my experience working worldwide, I have never heard of or come across such blatant, open, shameless, corruption as I have encountered in Ukraine.

Don’t misunderstand. I know there is a lot of corruption everywhere. Even in the United States. Even in my home city. If you want a license to build a house in Santa Barbara you need a permit, which might take a year or more before it is approved by the bureaucracy. So you hire a “middleman” who used to work at the department of urban planning and who knows the ropes. He is called an expeditor, and for a fee will make sure that your request for a license is granted in less than a year.

To me that is corruption… though everyone considers it a normal way of doing business.

There is corruption of course in every nation-state. You will find it in Israel, in India, in Brazil. Name any country and you will find traces of corruption. But Ukraine is a different story. It represents a paradigm shift in the magnitude and nature of corruption. A sizable jump to a different level of corruption that places it in a league all of its own.

Ukrainian President Ousted


Ukrainian President Ousted

More than seventy people have been killed but the President of the Ukraine has been removed. That’s doesn’t seem very equitable and it is just another beginning in a series of political crises gripping a nation caught between the European Union and a Russia intent on re-establishing some elements of the vanquished Soviet Union.

James Pilant

Khmelnystskys Entry into Kiev
Khmelnystskys Entry into Kiev

Ukrainian parliament votes President Yanukovich out | Al Jazeera America

The Ukrainian parliament voted Saturday to dismiss embattled President Viktor Yanukovich and hold new elections on May 25.

The vote came hours after anti-government protesters seized Yanukovich’s office in the capital city of Kiev. He had insisted earlier in the day that he would not step down, even as his grip on power appeared to be rapidly crumbling. The latest developments followed two days of violence that turned central Kiev into a battle zone and left at least 77 people dead.

The military said it would not get involved in trying to stamp out the uprising, after protesters entered Yanukovich’s office compound in the capital.

The president’s residence outside the capital also appeared to have been abandoned. Local media said protesters had entered the sprawling grounds, but it was unclear whether they were inside the main building. Interfax, a Russian news agency, said some security guards were present.

Thousands of protesters on Kiev’s Independence Square celebrated just after the parliamentary vote was announced on Saturday. The protesters had been skeptical of a European Union-brokered accord under which the embattled leader agreed to give up powers, hold early elections by the end of the year and form a government of national unity.

via Ukrainian parliament votes President Yanukovich out | Al Jazeera America.

From around the web.

From the web site, Euromaidan PR.

http://euromaidanpr.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/dear-europeans/

Following the protests in the EU, I came to the conclusion that almost all of your protests were provoked by the same issue. Money. Europeans have always lack money. For money, they go to the streets; for money, they beat cars; and even a general expression of quiet dissatisfaction is also about money, and things connected with it. Apparently, it is now the main ‘European’ value.

And while people are dying in Ukraine, fighting against injustice itself, fighting for their simple dignity, in Europe dignity has been already forgotten. Not because Europeans don’t have it; they just don’t need it. They don’t use it. Dignity is gone.

So, dear European politicians, why do you think you have the right to teach us something? Thanks to the horror in Ukraine, we finally see what you’re worth.

Different people standing now on Maidan–the intelligentsia, small and medium businesses, the remnants of the Ukrainian middle class, students and villagers–who are impressing me the most. Young and old villagers–they die fighting for what? For justice and freedom. In the 21st century in the middle of Europe. For fucking justice and freedom. And it does not matter anymore who started all this, who is right and who is wrong and whether there is any sense in all what is going on. The Monster uses tanks against people, his troops are shooting girls with Kalashnikov rifles, and those villagers who were never interested in politics, they arrived in a strange city with their pitchforks and shovels to die here for some sort of ephemeral dignity and some theoretical freedom that Europe has long since forgotten. Tell me, are your European burghers able to do something like this?

We are expecting your sanctions for our monsters, but you do not want to do it. After all, your economy is in trouble, and the money of our oligarchs helps you not to die. And you, dear European politicians, you do not care that this money was stolen from Ukrainians, from me personally, as well.