Thursday, January 26, 2012
Monday, January 23, 2012
Can Bashar turn Syria's economy around in time to save the country from an internal coup? The history of Syria's nationhood sets the odds against his success. Will he return to the reforms of his first year in office? Crackdowns on journalists, teachers, and activists since the early 2000s make that openness seem a distant dream...[Bashar's] choices over the next few years could mean the difference between war and lasting peace in the Middle East.Hardly prescient, given the realities in Syria. My outside reader on the book was Joshua Landis, co-director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, and his blog remains the best site I know for finding out what's really going on in that benighted country. His inside contacts, friends and in-laws alike, give an angle on the news that you just won't get on CNN, and he has links to many other useful sources. If you want to know about Syria, start there.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Hidden in the governor's speech was a great boon for counties—the removal of preschool special ed costs over time and their return to the school districts. What one hand giveth, the other taketh away, of course, because those preschool special ed costs can really add up. If you have, say, just eight little two- and three-year olds with extremely special needs, and they have to head off to Racker Center or Binghamton to have those needs met, that can cost $30K a pop, and suddenly a little district whose 1 percent tax levy = $48,000 has an unexpected and unfunded annual expense of $240,000, or a 5 percent increase in the tax levy.
Again, this is a change that will hit small schools hardest.
Schools have done their massive calculations required to determine what their "2 percent cap" really looks like (it is never really 2 percent), and the range seems likely to be great. However, none of the districts around here has a cap as high as 5 percent.
The biggest difficulty will be explaining any of this to the general population, not because the general population isn't capable of understanding it, but because it's all so odd and counterintuitive. "Hey, the governor gave you 4 percent, and your tax cap is only 2 percent! You should be able to make things work without any cuts at all!" "Hey, the governor said 2 percent, but your levy is coming in at 3.47 percent! Why should I approve your budget?" I see no way that the governor doesn't come out of this smelling like a rose, while the districts continue to wallow in despair. It's brilliant, actually.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Monday, January 16, 2012
There is no deficit in human resources; the deficit is in human will. The well-off and the secure have too often become indifferent and oblivious to the poverty and deprivation in their midst. The poor in our countries have been shut out of our minds, and driven from the mainstream of our societies, because we have allowed them to become invisible.—Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1964
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Mr. Romney’s image of a country where workers have nothing but admiration for benevolent, job-creating capitalists (and no one is so impolite as to mention jobs destroyed) bears very little relationship to reality. But his suggestion that it is un-American to talk about rising populist resentment is self-serving and hypocritical.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Monday, January 9, 2012
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Maybe it's easy to make freedom an issue of "property rights" when you have never been the property.