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Brockton, MA: Pink slips for 430 teachers

  • If there's any question about the reasons for these massive cuts in education, read John Marion's report against the backdrop of Barack Obama's military budget for 2010 of nearly $1 Trillion. The monetary cost of the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq this year will add $200-$250 million to the $1 trillion already spent on the wars in these two countries. If that isn't enough to explain why the education of children is being sacrificed by the United States government, one only has to refer to the taxpayer bailouts of the banks and corporations. - Les Blough, Editor, Axis of Logic
  • Budget Woes Hit Nation's Schools Hard and Harder

John Marion, Axis of Logic

Heather Bastio, 16, carries a sign in support of striking teachers in Aliso Viejo, Calif. The majority of the district's teachers struck after the school board slashed their pay 10.1 percent last month (June, 2009). (Orange County Register)

Brockton Public Schools last Thursday (July 29) sent out pink slips to 430 teachers, more than a third of the school system’s 1,200 teaching staff. The drastic move is the result of a budget gap of $9.7 million for next year and is closely tied to projected cuts in local aid provided by the state of Massachusetts.

In a letter posted on the district’s website, School Superintendent Matthew Malone described the move as “one of the darkest days our school system has ever seen.” The school district has approximately15,000 K-12 students in 20 schools.

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Related:

Budget Woes Hit Nation's Schools Hard and Harder, Rita Giordano and Edward Colimore, Philadelphia Enquirer, in Axis of Logic
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan warned Congress of a "catastrophe unfolding across this country" in the form of stripped-down state budgets that imperil 100,000 to 300,000 education jobs.

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Top 5 Social Security Myths

We've put together a list of the top five myths about Social Security, along with the real story.

Nita Chaudhary, MoveOn.org Political Action

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Connie Choiuinard

Social Security is under attack and we need to fight back against the lies.

Have you heard that Social Security is going bankrupt? Driving up the deficit? In crisis? Well none of that is true. These are all myths that opponents of Social Security have been spreading to scare people into accepting benefit cuts this fall. But the myths are taking hold—so we have to fight back with the facts. So we've put together a list of the top five myths about Social Security, along with the real story.

Can you check out the list and then share it with your friends, family, and coworkers? Share the list by clicking here. If you're on Facebook, share it by clicking here. If you're on Twitter, tweet it here.

Top 5 Social Security Myths

Myth #1: Social Security is going broke. Reality: There is no Social Security crisis.  By 2023, Social Security will have a $4.6 trillion surplus (yes, trillion with a 'T').  It can pay out all scheduled benefits for the next quarter-century with no changes whatsoever.1 After 2037, it'll still be able to pay out 75% of scheduled benefits—and again, that's without any changes. The program started preparing for the Baby Boomers' retirement decades ago.2  Anyone who insists Social Security is broke probably wants to break it themselves.

Myth #2: We have to raise the retirement age because people are living longer. Reality: This is a red-herring to trick you into agreeing to benefit cuts. Retirees are living about the same amount of time as they were in the 1930s. The reason average life expectancy is higher is mostly because many fewer people die as children than they did 70 years ago.3 What's more, what gains there have been are distributed very unevenly—since 1972, life expectancy increased by 6.5 years for workers in the top half of the income brackets, but by less than 2 years for those in the bottom half.4 But those intent on cutting Social Security love this argument because raising the retirement age is the same as an across-the-board benefit cut. 

Myth #3: Benefit cuts are the only way to fix Social Security.  Reality: Social Security doesn't need to be fixed. But if we want to strengthen it, here's a better way: Make the rich pay their fair share.  If the very rich paid taxes on all of their income, Social Security would be sustainable for decades to come.5 Right now, high earners only pay Social Security taxes on the first $106,000 of their income.6  But conservatives insist benefit cuts are the only way because they want to protect the super-rich from paying their fair share.

Myth #4: The Social Security Trust Fund has been raided and is full of IOUs Reality: Not even close to true. The Social Security Trust Fund isn't full of IOUs, it's full of U.S. Treasury Bonds. And those bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.7 The reason Social Security holds only treasury bonds is the same reason many Americans do: The federal government has never missed a single interest payment on its debts. President Bush wanted to put Social Security funds in the stock market—which would have been disastrous—but luckily, he failed. So the trillions of dollars in the Social Security Trust Fund, which are separate from the regular budget, are as safe as can be.

Myth #5: Social Security adds to the deficit Reality: It's not just wrong—it's impossible!  By law, Social Security's funds are separate from the budget, and it must pay its own way. That means that Social Security can't add one penny to the deficit.8 Defeating these myths is the first step to stopping Social Security cuts.  Can you share this list now? Thanks for all you do. –Nita, Duncan, Daniel, Kat, and the rest of the team

Sources:

1."To Deficit Hawks: We the People Know Best on Social Security," New Deal 2.0, June 14, 2010 

2. "The Straight Facts on Social Security," Economic Opportunity Institute, September 2009

3. "Social Security and the Age of Retirement," Center for Economic and Policy Research, June 2010

4. "More on raising the retirement age," Washington Post, July 8, 2010

5. "Social Security is sustainable," Economic and Policy Institute, May 27, 2010

6. "Maximum wage contribution and the amount for a credit in 2010," Social Security Administration, April 23, 2010

7. "Trust Fund FAQs," Social Security Administration, February 18, 2010

8."To Deficit Hawks: We the People Know Best on Social Security," New Deal 2.0, June 14, 2010

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Tax the rich more. (They can take it.)

Dayton's campaign cry is really quite reasonable when you look at how state taxes have changed over the years.

Richard R. Miller, StarTribune | MN

Raise taxes on the rich. Is it a slogan from the past, a job-killing blunder, a plan destined for failure? The more former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton has persisted with this theme in his campaign for governor, the more I've wanted to learn why.

Last week (July 25-31)  I read Dayton's tax plan, which led me to the Minnesota Department of Revenue's website and a document called the "Minnesota Tax Incidence Study." That study analyzes how much Minnesotans in various income groups pay in state and local taxes as a percentage of their total incomes. The study includes income, property, sales, gas, excise, liquor, cigarette, insurance and other taxes, and shows which groups are paying the bill for the state and local government services we get.

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America Detached from War

Bush’s Pilotless Dream, Smoking Drones, and Other Strange Tales from the Crypt

Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch

Admittedly, before George W. Bush had his fever dream, the U.S. had already put its first unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drone surveillance planes in the skies over Kosovo in the late 1990s.  By November 2001, it had armed them with missiles and was flying them over Afghanistan.
In November 2002, a Predator drone would loose a Hellfire missile on a car in Yemen, a country with which we weren’t at war.  Six suspected al-Qaeda members, including a suspect in the bombing of the destroyer the USS Cole would be turned into twisted metal and ash -- the first “targeted killings” of the American robotic era.

Just two months earlier, in September 2002, as the Bush administration was “introducing” its campaign to sell an invasion of Iraq to Congress and the American people, CIA Director George Tenet and Vice President Dick Cheney “trooped up to Capitol Hill” to brief four top Senate and House leaders on a hair-raising threat to the country.  A “smoking gun” had been uncovered.

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Trickle Down Economics doesn't work says Alan Blinder. Here’s what does.

  • Redirecting money from the expiring Bush tax cuts to unemployment benefits would be a net job creator and give the economy a much-needed boost.
  • Long-term Economic Pain

Posted by rmontero, AlterNet

Top Economist Alan Blinder wrote this article last week supporting letting the Bush tax cuts on the rich expire.

The Basic idea behind it is that an unemployed person or a lower income person will spend any extra money he gets right away (he doesn’t have a choice) and thus stimulate the economy, whereas a rich person will save it and thus not stimulate the economy.

One thing that’s left out in almost all discussions is class. Most of the rich people that received the Bush tax cuts will make most of their money through investments and controlling businesses for a profit, most of the poor make their money on their labor. Any sound businessman knows the way you make a profit is to spend the least amount of money while profiting the most, any of the money you give to businessmen will be used to make them more money. That money won’t trickle down, hiring won’t increase simply because those doing the hiring have more money, hiring will only increase if those doing the hiring must hire more in order to make more profit, which will only happen when demand increases.

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Long-Term Economic Pain, Bob Herbert, New York Times | NY

  • Simply stated, more and more families are facing utter economic devastation: completely out of money, with their jobs, savings and retirement funds gone, and nowhere to turn for the next dollar.
  • Reich and Krugman Agree: The Government Needs to Forget About the Deficit and Fix Unemployment
  • Krugman: US "Depressed Economy" Could Last 5 Years

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Lady Gaga: Pop Star for a Country and an Empire in Decline

We have made monsters out of others in order to kill them without fear. Gaga makes herself a monster to try to show us ourselves.

Sarah Jaffe,  AlterNet

"If there are zeitgeist moments for products, movie stars, and even politicians, then such moments can exist for weaponry as well. The robotic drone is the Lady Gaga of this Pentagon moment."

So wrote Tom Engelhardt, in an essay titled "America Detached from War," and he couldn't have picked a more perfect metaphor. Gaga is sexy, ubiquitous, and oh so of-the-moment. She exists on a line between monstrous and beautiful, making us ask questions about progress, about agency, about control, about men and women, about Americans and the world. She is both a perfect embodiment of American cultural dominance and subverting what that means at every turn.

Gaga-analysis could fill a library at this point. It is impossible to ignore her. She demands in a voice somewhere between a howl and a snarl at the Grammys "I wanna be a star!" and she makes philosophers (like Nancy Bauer, in a New York Times piece) as well as pop critics talk about her.

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Arizona's D-Day

  • The Reform Immigration for American campaign reports that "there are twenty two copycats [laws] waiting to see which way the wind blows on states' ability to preempt federal immigration law."
  • Arizona to appeal judge's immigration law ruling that put most of measure on hold


The Progress Report

Ninety days after it was signed into law, Arizona's new immigration law -- SB-1070 -- is set to take effect tomorrow (July 29). U.S. Ninth District Judge Susan Bolton is currently considering some of the seven lawsuits brought against the law along with a request by federal government that she approve a federal injunction of the law. Last night, Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) announced that she expects a ruling within 24 hours. Much is at stake. As one law professor pointed out, if the law is struck down, it will take the "wind out of the sails" of local efforts to pass immigration laws. If it isn't, Bolton's decision will "unleash more copycat legislation." Both sides are bracing themselves for implementation. National and local organizations are preparing a state-wide demonstration that will kick off today with a vigil in several cities. Demonstrators are set to descend on the Arizona state capital without their papers and "dare law enforcement in Phoenix, Arizona, to put SB-1070 to the test." The U.S. attorney for Arizona is encouraging those who believe their civil rights have been violated to contact the FBI. Meanwhile, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is "setting aside space" in his tent city for more undocumented immigrants as local law enforcement gears up to enforce SB-1070. And while most Americans support Arizona's immigration law, they also think its looming implementation tomorrow will "increase discrimination against Hispanics while not necessarily making a dent in the [immigration] problem."

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Arizona to appeal judge's immigration law ruling that put most of measure on hold, Bob Christie,  Associated Press, in StarTribune | MN
Arizona is preparing to ask an appeals court to lift a judge's ruling that put most of the state's immigration law on hold in a key first-round victory for the federal government in a fight that may go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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