Education - Capitalist Style
Written in response to a challenge for privatized education and protection:
Public schools would be replaced by private institutions driven by profit. In order to meet the demands of capitalism, the only admitted students would be those who can pay. Obviously the quality of education would be directly tied to the amount one could pay, as the most expensive schools could afford to recruit and pay the very best teachers. Currently, the average costs for K-12 grade is roughly $8500 spent per student per year. Let’s assume that through capitalism greater efficiencies are realized and the cost drops by 30% (this is very generous). This would equal about $5900 per student. Let’s say since education is now privatized we now spend half on property taxes (savings of $800 on a $300,000 home in AZ). This would equal a net cost of $4900 for one student, $10,800 for two students, and $16,700 for three students.
Obviously households would have to be in the upper middle income bracket to afford the average education premiums, and for the best education, they would need to be an upper income household bracket. With half of the American households making less than $50k a year, paying little to no taxes, this incremental cost would solicit very tough choices. You could send you child to a below average school, at a lower cost, with poor quality teachers, shorter hours, and little to no resources. Or you could elect to forgo substantial costs like healthcare for your family which will then be reflected in emergency room costs skyrocketing (not to mention a poorer quality of life). You could also choose to educate from home, if there is a non-working parent willing to make the sacrifice. In any of these scenarios there is a guaranteed certainty that crime will spike given the lack of education and time spend in a productive environment.
Ultimately privatized education will drive increases in poverty, widening social class divides, and the absorption of the middle class. Even more unfortunate you will not see children from broken homes in Arkansas, become Rhode Scholars, and Presidents of the US. There is a reason that every advanced industrialized nation offers education in a socialized, not capitalistic, manner. Even for-profit institutions like The University of Phoenix rely almost exclusively on government subsidized student loans to generate 80% of their revenue (think about that for a second, your tax dollars are going right to the pockets of UOP shareholders).
Now, there is also the subject of vouchers which mixes government capital with private institutions. However, based on our current conversations about governmental spending, I am guessing government funded vouchers are not the ideal scenario.
There would be similar consequences for privatized protection. Imagine getting charged $200 every time you called 911. If you couldn’t afford the premium then calling 911 for help wouldn’t even be an option. Police wouldn’t even respond if you did not have a payment form on file, and those in danger would weigh whether or not the calling risk is worth the cost. Sounds like potential anarchy to me.
Wake Up Middle Class!
With Obama’s plan to let the Bush Tax cuts expire in 2010, there has been an onslaught of media attention concerning his budgetary decisions. Phrases like “socialism”, “re-distribution of wealth”, and “tax hikes” are being associated with President Obama’s fiscal policies to discredit his approach. Obama has been open and direct concerning who his tax policies are targeting. The interesting part of the situation? There has never been such an uproar from the middle class fighting for the benefits of the wealthy.
Now to be clear I have little issue with the wealthy, or their personal incomes. Athletes, actors, stock brokers, and executives are all paid based on market conditions. I do believe that the wealthy are the largest benefactors of governmental regulation. We live in a mixed market economy, not a free market. The government regulates trade, blocks monopolies, and protects intellectual property. Almost all of the bailout money went to save the shareholders of large corporations and free up credit markets which have the largest impact on the wealthy.
The richest Americans have been the largest recipients of tax cuts over the past 30 years. Starting with Jimmy Carter’s administration, the highest tax rates have been cut in half to present day levels (70% to 35%). The wealthy have also seen the largest jump in income. From 1992 to 2004 upper class income rose from 111,000 to 154,000 (+39%). Over the same time period median wages only increased from 39,000 to 43,000 (+10%). So, over the past 30 years the wealthy have seen their taxes decrease by 50%, and their incomes increase by 39%. (Inflation adjusted for all above examples)
What many Americans do not realize is the vast redistribution of wealth over this period. Whenever tax rates are cut disproportionately, tax burden shifts among classes. Regarding the 2002 and 2003 tax cuts, families making $60,000 saw their tax payments drop by $1,000. In contrast, the wealthiest 1% saw their annual tax bill drop by $58,000. This resulted in a dramatic swing in tax burden to the middle and lower classes and redistributed wealth to the upper class.
President Obama’s plan is to close the gap on the federal deficit by allowing the Bush tax cuts of 2002 and 2003 to expire. This would increase the tax bracket of the wealthiest (single taxpayer making more then $357,000) from 35% currently, to 39%.*** This would return some of the tax burden back to the wealthy, and redistribute the wealth back to the middle class. Before the middle class rejects Obama's policies, they should remember upper class Americans never asked for the Bush tax cuts, and certainly didn't need them.
***Now, before you drop your jaw regarding these figures remember this is a bracket, and tax brackets can be misleading. A family of four with household income of $365,000 claiming $100,000 in deductions actually pays about 17% in income tax. In comparison, an average family of four with income of 150,000 and deductions of $30,000 falls into a 25% bracket, but only pays about 12% in tax. An average family of four with income of 70,000 and no deductions falls into a 15% bracket, but only pays about 5% in tax.
What’s up (or down) with the gas prices?
Could our two oil executives who are running America actually have some impact on gas prices? Recent polls seem to suggest this idea, with the majority of American believing that the recent uncharacteristic dip in gas prices is the basis for some conspiracy theory. And why not? Gas is down a dollar a gallon in most neighborhoods to the delight of all Republican candidates.
However, the reality that gas is impacted by the commodities market is not easily understood. Investors buy future commodities much like they do other investments. They buy on speculation that the prices will rise, and sell to realize a profit. One of the reasons Southwest Airlines has continued to realize profits, is largely dependent on how they have managed their oil portfolio. Many investors bought oil at a high price speculating that another hurricane might damage the oil supply from the Gulf of Mexico (where 25% of our oil supply comes from). With no real hurricane activity coupled with the ending of summer travel months, demand has decreased and negative speculation has brought skyrocketing gas prices back to earth.
Will these prices last? Most likely no. When demand rises, and the commodity markets begin to return confidence to investors, gas prices will again increase. For the time being, Christmas has come early for Republicans, and they are playing the Santa role bringing the gift of gasoline to America.
CNN Money Article
Economics Paper from 2004
Perhaps one of my passions (and an intragal part of politics and policy making) is economics. This paper was written three months before the 2004 election.
(First two paragraphs of the article)
Perhaps one of the most partisan debates today is the economics of monetary and fiscal policy. Many administrations in the past have implemented their own beliefs in regards to this subject. In studying various administrations of both parties, I have come to various conclusions:
- The Federal Reserve and the chairman have a greater power of controlling the economy then the president.
- Economic policy is a misguided reason to side with any candidate.
- Each president in the last 100 years has sided with variations of two economic theories, Keynesism and Supply Side.
- National debt and deficits need to be maintained with judgment as both can enable detrimental effects in regards to our money supply.
Download full text here