Tag Archives: money

The Hunger Games

22 Nov

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As I was reading one of the blogs that I follow, I came across a statistic that claimed that over half our public school students here in the United States qualify for free and reduced lunches because they are poor.

And I thought to myself, is that possible? The wealthiest, most powerful country in the world sends one half of its public school students to school hungry? And so I did some research on my own and discovered that in this school year, most public school students are racial minorities, and more than half come from low-income backgrounds, living in or near poverty…and that’s according to the latest federal data!

The Southern Education Foundation found that on average 51 percent of students across the country were low-income, with more than half of the students in 21 states qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches. In fact More than 31 million children participated in the National School Lunch program in 2012, with the majority qualifying for free lunches.

More than 16 million children or 22% of all children under the age of 18 in the United States are living in poverty! And most go to school hungry and what are we doing for them? We are testing them! To try and find out why their scores in math, science and language aren’t competitive with the children of Finland or with other children living in the developed world…when we are the last out of 35 developed countries in our child poverty rate. (and not last in a good way, but rather as in the worst)

But the truth of the matter is our students already are competitive! And in most cases our students score better then children in the rest of the world…when you read the data correctly and notice that comparing all of the students in Finland where the child poverty rate is 4% to all of the children in the United States, where the child poverty rate is 22%…just isn’t fair.

When you remove our poor, hungry and tired students’ scores from the comparison, and only compare students of like socioeconomic backgrounds… and nourishment… our students out perform Finland! But if you want to compare all of America’s students to the students living in countries with poverty levels similar to our own then you need to compare us to countries like Romania, Latvia or Bulgaria, because, believe it or not, those are the countries that we most resemble!

And guess what? When it comes to the Hunger Games…our students score better than those countries too!

So we don’t need to test our children more! We need to feed them more! We need to provide them with better housing, better clothing, better opportunities, better living conditions. What we lack here in the United States and what we don’t provide to 22% of our children is EQUALITY! and that’s what sets us apart from comparing ourselves to places like Finland and Sweden and France. They are countries of equality. We are a country of INequality.

We are firing administrators. Laying off school teachers. Slashing budgets. Cutting salaries. Closing schools, eliminating programs and cutting supplies all in what we say is an effort to provoke, prod, motivate, hound, badger, goad, inspire and frighten our schools into “doing better”, “scoring better”, and “catching up to”, the Asians and Europeans when what our children and our schools really need is to be lifted out of poverty, relieved of hunger and properly housed.

But instead poverty, our country’s greatest problem, is the one problem that is always most ignored. Case in point: In the findings of a previous report from the foundation, the number of America’s low-income students in the last decade has grown at a rate three to four times greater than the increase of per-student spending in most of the country. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in October found that 30 of 47 states analyzed were spending less per student this year…than they did before the recession! And while America’s measured wealth has grown by 30 trillion dollars in the past 6 years!

And in fact the number of public school students from low-income backgrounds, has steadily grown from less than 32 percent in 1989, to over 50% today. So regardless of how you and your family live in today’s America, the reality is that in the year 2015, America’s children are mostly poor…hungry…tired…homeless…or soon to be all of the above. How’s that for a multiple choice questionnaire?

And testing them six ways to Sunday is a sad, sick, misdirected strategy that won’t solve the problem, make it any less true nor make it go away.

 

 

 

Who’s Struggling Now?

28 Sep
American citizens (along with other international students) can now attend all German universities…for free! And that’s because the last German state to charge university tuition has eliminated those fees! Wow! How do they do it? College for free? And for foreigners too? Didn’t we go to war with this country… and win… 70 years ago? Shouldn’t we be charging them money to go to our universities? And so much so that school is free for all of us Americans? You know, like that wall Donald trump wants to build and make the Mexicans pay for.
So what gives? Why is Germany being so nice to us and how can they afford it? Apparently most German statesmen and stateswomen believe that tuition fees are unjust and that they discourage young people, who do not have a traditional academic family background, from taking up study. Gee, In the Unites States that’s the whole point of higher education isn’t it?… To separate the haves from their money while also separating them from the have-nots, who don’t have any money to be separated from in the first place.
The Germans also believe that It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard that is free of charge. For goodness sake where did they get these ideas? In the U.S. the core task of politics is to raise the interest rate on student loans while making sure that those loans are exempt from bankruptcy filings guaranteeing that America’s young students will be in debt to financial institutions for all time…and so far to the tune of over 1 trillion dollars!
And get this! Even before Germany abolished college tuition for all students, typical semester fees were around $630 and German students could also count on discounts for food, clothing, events, and inexpensive or even free transportation to and from school…Come to think of it we used to do that here in the states too, back in the 70s. I remember that because I was there! But then we got wise and realized that marketing to students, teenagers and even little kids is tremendously lucrative, especially when they have to borrow all of their money from adults! It was like taking candy from babies! or, er, well, selling candy to babies! And today we are all proud to say that the average student loan debt in the U.S. is now almost 30 thousand dollars…with a bullet!
Silly Germans! What are they thinking? Have they gone socialist on us…in just 70 years? We sure didn’t indoctrinate those folks very well did we? They never learned anything about free enterprise and unfettered capitalism! Now they are just giving valuable educations… to their children…for free?! And they want to include our children as well!!
Ach, du lieber! Mein Kampf! When they ask your children what language they’d like to study in high School, make sure you tell them to say, German! Duh, I mean Deutsch! And forget that college savings plan. Just start booking those tickets now! This is America, remember?! By next year a ticket from here to Germany will probably cost $100,000!!! One way!

For the Love of Reagan

22 Sep

When Jeb Bush was asked which woman from American history should appear on the new ten dollar bill he answered, “Margaret Thatcher.” He said that was because she worked so well with president Ronald Reagan who is considered by most Republicans to have been the greatest president who ever lived.

So great apparently is Jeb Bush’s love for the former president that he can’t even think of one woman from the United States’ glorious historic past…or present… who could possibly represent the United States on its 10 dollar bill…not one! All he can think of is an English woman who supported and mirrored President Reagan’s policies while she was the Prime Minister of Great Britain!  Mr. Bush added that it probably would be illegal and not allowed, but Margaret Thatcher would be his choice for the tenner.

Wow! That’s quite a bro-mance wouldn’t you say? They say that some people see stars in their eyes when they’re in love but…I guess if your a woman who is an American citizen then there’s probably not much that you can do to attract the good governor’s attention… for he’s got eyes for someone else…probably not even if you vote for him!

What’s Wrong With Everything…Still?

4 Jul

I wrote this post 2 years ago and it seems to me that…Here’s what’s wrong with everything…still.

Banks can borrow money from the federal government at less than 1% interest. 0.75% to be exact.

Can you? Nope. You can borrow it from the banks at about 5 times that rate, if you’re lucky, wealthy or not a student looking to get an education.

Banks already have your money and pay you less than 1% interest to do whatever they want with it…including putting it in places that it doesn’t belong…and then losing it!

As if that should even be possible. And banks only have to keep 3% of our money on hand in case we ask for some of it back.

And why do banks who have our money to play with… basically for free… need to borrow money from the feds anyway?

How much does the bank charge you to: write a check? Make a withdrawal at an ATM? Take out a home loan? Take out a student loan? Take out an equity loan? Pay interest on credit cards? Close an account? Receive a paper statement? Use a human teller??? …and all at a place that has your money to begin with?

This is not how it used to be and Can anyone explain why this is how it is now… and how these policies will lead to a better future for you or your children or your communities? (I am assuming you don’t own a bank)

I…continue to… welcome all thoughts, insights and explanations.

Live to Eat

22 Apr

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Sun Trust bank has revealed that many Americans can’t save money these days because…they eat it! Not literally of course…it’s just that they spend it all at restaurants in exchange for eating food.
The poll found that as many as 44% of American households that earn 75,000 dollars or more a year, describe their households as “living paycheck to paycheck”  because they dine out too much.

And A full 71% of Millennials with the same household income, say that entertainment and dining out expenses devour most of their extra income, making it almost impossible for them to save money for that possible future “rainy day” or other important living expenses that one might encounter in the future, such as weddings, vacations, children etc…

The bank commissioned the study to try to find out why folks and families aren’t saving more money. Similar studies on spending habits have uncovered that Americans now even spend more at restaurants than grocery stores. In January alone the country spent 50.4 billion dollars…eating and entertaining themselves at restaurants! Together, at home and in those restaurants, Americans spend over 100 billion dollars each month on food. That’s over 1 trillion dollars spent on food each year in the USA!

Yow! That’s a lot of eats! And wouldn’t you know it, that as of 2013 there were also 108 million American dieters, making 4-5 dieting attempts per year and spending close to 70 billion dollars on dieting and weight loss! That’s a whole lot of money spent on attempted weight loss after eating and gaining weight…when you figure that you could have just not eaten the food in the first place. Imagine the savings then?! I’m sure that Sun Trust Bank can…but we Americans would rather bight our tongues and eat them… rather than save money…or at least that’s sure how it seems.

But get this! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, when it comes to consumer food purchases, Americans spend the least on food consumed at home compared with just about every other country in the world…and our spending on food — proportional to our income — has actually declined since 1960!  In fact, the average share of per capita income spent on food fell from 17.5 percent in 1960 to 9.9 percent in 2013.

So we, the richest citizens in the richest country in the world, could really be rich…if we’d just stop eating all of the profits…at bars and restaurants!

However, even in America, the less you make, the bigger your food spending will be relative to your income. For example: In 2013, people in the lowest income bracket spent an average of 3,655 dollars annually on food, which was 36 percent of their total income, while people in the highest income bracket, spent about 11,000 dollars annually on food, which was only about 8 percent of their earnings. So rich folks can spend 3 times as much on food as poor folks do but at 4 times the savings…so to speak. Go figure!

Which begs my final thought on the matter. Why do all of the wealthiest Americans get so bent out of shape about providing food stamps for the poorest and hungriest Americans, When it’s already 4 times more costly for the poor in America to eat, as a percentage of their income? Especially when eating seems to be our country’s national past time, with over-eating a close second?!…and besides, if we all really needed more money for ourselves, then, rather than taking food stamps out of hungry parent’s and children’s mouths…we could just as simply stop putting extra food…AKA our extra cash…in ours!

Let’s face it, rich Americans have more food to eat than anyone else in the world, and also love to show off about how fancy and extravagant they can be about eating it…But give a hungry guy a food stamp and watch him try to buy steak or lobster or even a cold soda so he can get in on the national orgy and enjoy a little fancy eating too, and we all want to burn him at the stake!

And if you just saw that as a barbecue metaphor…I rest my case.

Double Identity!

14 Apr

Well, it has finally happened! I apparently am suffering from an identity crisis…and all because my bank has just informed me that I can’t withdraw any money from the drive-up or teller window unless I show them 2 forms of identification! Who do they think I am anyway?… Do I know?

They take my money just fine without so much as a how-do-ya-do…but when I ask for some…just some… of it back? They can’t tell me, from Bonnie and Clyde! The Teller was very nice, and I know it’s not her fault nor her policy, and she gave me my money (this time) with only my driver’s license as ID…(you know, the one that I could only get when I proved who I was by showing 7 points of Identification to the State of New Jersey) oh, AND MY FACE! Did I mention I had my face with me? My face??? The same one I’ve been wearing for 60 years… this May!

She said, “I can give you your money this time because we know who you are. But next time you’ll need to have 2 forms of identification. I guess It’s because of all of the bank fraud and fake IDs going around these day.”

Really? How is it possible that people are defrauding their own banks, where they do their banking,  with fake IDs…IN PERSON?!?! Did I mention that I was wearing my face at the time? And did you notice that her sentence had “We know who you are” in it? That’s probably because I have been going to that bank for 30 years, looking like I always have looked…except a little older each time…with the same ID and the same bank account and the same FACE! And…did I mention…THEY KNOW WHO I AM!

It is now easier to go buy a gun, with one ID (or none?) return to the teller window, and then just hold up the bank and get my money that way, than it is to ask for it politely with 1 ID and a bank check and a signature. And I’d probably get away with it too because when the police showed up the teller would be like, “Gee officer, I don’t know who the man was. All I saw was his gun and 1 form of ID! He could have been anybody… I guess?”

I just hope I don’t live to see the day when I show up to the bank with my bag of IDs, personal attorney and birth certificate and hear the words. “Money? What money?”

It’s Priceless

8 Apr

Duke 68, Wisconsin 63: 2015 NCAA Basketball Championship final score

$1.1 million: Duke university president salary

$525,000: U. of Wisconsin System president salary

$9,682,032: Duke U. basketball coach earnings

$2,946,000: Wisconsin U. basketball coach earnings

$1.67 million: amount earned per conference per team in the field of 64

$27 million: Duke basketball revenue

$800 million: annual NCAA tournament Net in licensing deals

$9 billion: Amount bet by fans on the basketball tournament

Priceless: What student/athletes earn yearly and for participating in the NCAA basketball tournament

No seriously… priceless… as in 0, zip, zilch, Nada, nothing. And for the fans in the stands…

$27,711.00: Average UW-Madison student loan debt

$21,884.00: Average Duke U. student loan debt

Here in the USA we love to be entertained, and we love our entertainers.

Education and our students?… Not so much…

Oh yeah, and by the way, The NCAA is a tax-exempt, non-profit association…their chairman earns 1.7 million dollars per year and they just signed a 10.8 billion dollar, fourteen-year, contract with CBS and Turner Broadcasting just to televise college games.

Also Priceless: 501 (c)(3) charitable status…at least it can’t hurt.

What a Pip!

4 Apr

Charles Dickens desk chair

The desk of the late, great Charles Dickens, author of Great Expectations and many other famous English novels, has been found! And purchased for £780,000! That’s 1,156, 591.US dollars…and 80 cents.

The desk where I write is probably worth closer to the 80 cents than any other part of that monetary amount…but more than likely it will end up in a landfill somewhere or as kindling for some local fireplace because, alas, I have not written anything famous…except for that last word.

Dickens’ desk however, and accompanying chair (my apologies to the chair…for which truly has the greatest claim to fame? The desk upon which the paper sat or the chair upon which the author sat?) were purchased by England’s National Heritage Memorial Fund and the furniture will go on display at the Charles ­Dickens Museum, one of the author’s former homes in London, where he lived for two years.

More than 1,200 items and places have been preserved by the fund, which exists to safeguard England’s heritage. My desk should at least be famous to some of the members of my family. It’s where I have spent many a moment in my life… when I wasn’t paying any attention to them, that is, so perhaps infamous, would be a better word.

Still…we humans have a strange penchant for wanting to preserve that which we think or feel has some special meaning… for all time. Especially if it is old. The older the better it seems. And the older, the more venerable or holy the object or place becomes. Although sometimes what we think as valuable becomes less so, if even valuable at all, after we die. Then the value of said object or place is up to whoever gets to possess it after you.

In the case of Charles Dickens’ desk, what was once just a desk, where once upon a time a man sat and wrote, is now a million dollar work of art. Whereas my desk?…well, somewhere in the future, someone might be cursing the man who somehow managed to get such a giant monstrosity through such a little door…while they search the rest of the house for the old man’s axe.

But still…a million dollars for a desk!?!!!

Ah well, Somewhere the ghost of Charles Dickens is penning a new novel about poor, hungry, disenfranchised and homeless souls searching for a place to sleep and a crust of bread to eat while somewhere nearby in a large country estate, well-to-do official sorts, sit and discuss over hot tea and crackers how to spend over 1 million dollars on one single museum piece in order to..as the newspaper article so aptly put it, “save the nation’s best heritage in memory of those who gave their lives for the UK.”

Goodnight sweet desk: And £780,000 sing thee to thy rest!…You’ve now got it better than most.

Deja Vu All Over Again, Again?

17 Mar

Well it’s Spring!…again…almost… and here on the east coast Spring has apparently been lionized for the entire month of March, so baseball season won’t begin until April this year… But no matter what the weatherman says baseball and opening day shall always spring eternal… although this year the season might not end until Thanksgiving!

Anyway, speaking of America’s favorite pastime, I have been a New York Yankee fan long enough to remember their 1965 collapse into mediocrity after a 1964 season that saw them finish one game away from the World Championship…for in 1965 as the great Yogi Berra might have phrased it, “The Yankees suddenly got old, early out there.”

And now 50 years later the Yankees stand on the precipice of continuing that trend again…but with a continued twist.

With their aging heroes continuing to age and with the return of our favorite exiled anti-hero, AKA Alex Rodriguez, the NY Yankees still owe their players over 200 million dollars in annual salary…and all for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in the last 2 years. That’s a lot of money spent for mediocrity but nothing says America quite like spending a lot of money for nothing…and then passing the buck onto the American taxpayer. For the Aging New York Yankees play in the house that “tax exempt financing” built.

Yankee Stadium is the most expensive baseball stadium ever constructed and although the Yankees paid for it (sort of)…They get to use their taxes to pay off their debt…which would be like you getting to use your property taxes to pay off your mortgage… (sounds too good to be true doesn’t it?)…but it is.

So, will joy return to Mudville this year? Along with Alex Rodriguez? All I can say is “Stay tuned!” Because when they fell from grace back in 1965 the Yankees had to wait 10 years until free agency was invented before they could put themselves back together again. But as a Yankee fan rooting for a team that still has access to free agency and with seemingly unlimited resources, in a city that can’t seem to wait to continue picking up the tab, I can only hope that it’s finally time for the next “new” thing…

A-Rod the Cyborg! After all, he’s not some cheap 6 million dollar man…he’s our 20 million dollar man!

Hopefully he used last year’s suspension from baseball for his steroid use, to have himself not only detoxed… but rebuilt! With the finest metal alloys and computer programming that the Yankees and NY taxpayers could buy. So let’s play ball and pray for sunshine…warm weather…and no rain…and definitely no lightning!

And no crazy new rules outlawing cyborgs! …Well, I can dream can’t I?

It’s Academic

25 Feb

In the history of the world there have been many great and prosperous civilizations and they have all failed. And usually at the time of the failing some few folks had all of the money and most other folks had none. They were either Kings or Queens or Popes or Emperors or Czars or Caesars or Pharaohs or whatever and they always invoked the divine right of the gods as the reason for concentrating all of that wealth in the hands of one man or one small circle of family and friends. Eventually the disenfranchised, poor populace grows disinterested and disaffected and the empire succumbs to a force of outsiders who invade and plunder. While the wealthy few run away or hide or are murdered or all 3! Then the new conquerors share in the plunder and even rejoice while sharing, and then the cycle begins anew as the new leaders emerge and invariably begin indulging in their own grandeur until…

Fortunately we no longer have empires such as those in the world today but we still have world leaders who rule with concentrated power and wealth. In the United States however, our president is not among the wealthiest men in the nation and we have no all powerful despot who rules with an iron hand under the divine rights of either religion or lineage but we still have concentrated wealth in the hands of a few and those few are now the business and corporate leaders of the world. Where we once had popes and kings we now have CEOs and corporations (The latter which ironically enough have recently been declared to be persons by our Supreme Court composed of actually real people!) and they have quite a large amount of wealth at their disposal which is growing while the wealth of the common population is shrinking. This is the historical recipe for national disaster. No matter how vast and distant the empire may reach, when the interior rots the empire always withers and dies.

Our public schools represent that interior. They are the nucleus which fuels the fire of freedom and free enterprise. We have built our greatness from the inside out and we look to replenish our strengths and our greatness through the rebirth and reaffirmation of our ideals in our children. In our best of times, We have spread our influence through the free trade and free movement of our citizens and by setting an example of economic wealth that can be earned and shared and experienced by all and not concentrated within a few.

Our public schools must be fortified and not abandoned. They must be embraced and enhanced and empowered in terms of anticipating and responding to technological, social, political, economic, and competitive change. Healthy cultures must always be willing to rethink their most basic assumptions about themselves in order to improve and grow and repair their societies and we must be willing to accept that what our schools need now more than ever is not a cut in spending but rather a renewed effort to spend more on the future and the future generations who will lead us.

Today’s students are willing to work hard but what makes us think that they are going to be willing to work hard for low wages that would suffice a life in China or India or some other-where where they don’t live? America’s corporate leaders and great men of wealth need to stop hoarding and start spreading the wealth. They can begin by first embracing the public schools of this country with largess and generosity and then by raising wages across the middle and poorer classes of society so that the term “working poor” is eradicated from our vocabulary.

Today’s students of the 21st century in America are beginning to notice that it is getting harder and harder to bring the American dream, a dream of studying hard then working hard, and then achieving affluence, into focus and for most of our poorest students that dream is nothing more than a taunting apparition of their hopelessness: a happy meal that they will never be able to afford

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