Dr. John Garen, the chairman of the Bluegrass Institute’s Board of Scholars, appeared on KET’s ‘Kentucky Tonight’ as part of a panel discussion about the federal budget.
(click on the image below to view the video)
Put yourself in your state legislator’s shoes for a second.
Imagine you are a state senator with the opportunity to enhance your own wealth through legislation by manipulating the state’s public pension benefit to your advantage.
After all, what’s the harm in taking a bit more compensation for the arduous public service you perform?
Would you be able to resist the urge to give yourself a nice retirement bonus?
The fact is, our legislators couldn’t resist it. In 2005, they passed HB 299 which ushered in a series of policies that lined their retirement pockets at the expense of you, the taxpayer.
Now the system is $34 billion in debt, and while legislator pensions aren’t the sole reason for that, it certainly doesn’t seem right that our public servant legislators are raking in the dough while state workers’ pensions are at risk.
So put yourself in your state legislator’s shoes again. What would it take for you to make a stand among your peers to put an end to this abuse? I have to imagine the first step would be hearing from constituents – just like you.
Join the chair of the Bluegrass Institute Board of Scholars, John Garen, Ph. D., tonight LIVE at 8 PM ET on KET for a special edition of Kentucky Tonight, hosted by Bill Goodman.
The topic will be the hotly debated issue of the federal budget and the clearest way out of the fed’s unsustainable spending traps.
Viewers with questions for Professor Garen can call in live at: 1-800-494-7605
And please support the Bluegrass Institute so we can continue promoting free markets, individual liberty and limited — and transparent — government over the airwaves! Please go to www.kentucky1792.com and help support the message of liberty across the commonwealth!
The yo-yo that is the technical legality of the Environmental Protection Agency’s manipulation of the Clean Water Act to crush Appalachia’s energy sector continues to spring up and down as two appellate courts have invalidated previous lower court decisions which ruled that the EPA had overstepped its bounds when it blocked mining permits approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers years prior.
These most recent rulings from U.S. Courts of Appeals in both Cincinnati and Washington, D.C. once again put hundreds of mining jobs at risk and bring to a halt millions of dollars worth of economic activity. It also puts the kibosh on operations at Arch Coal’s Spruce Mine No. 1 in West Virginia, for a total of 2,300 acres worth of economic stagnation.
And according to Tom Fitzgerald, an environmental attorney in Louisville, the damage isn’t likely to stop here. There could be as many as 70 other mining permits soon targeted by the power recently returned to the EPA. Not good.
Now the cases will return to district courts where judges will decide not whether the feds have the power to overturn mining permits in general, but whether they did so “arbitrarily and capriciously” in these specific instances.
Still, though it took more than a year for appeal decisions to be handed down, the legal battle over which entities have jurisdiction over Kentucky’s energy sector is likely to rage on – with the commonwealth itself having a deflatingly small say in the matter. Just why is it that courts in Cincinnati or Washington, D.C., or federal bureaucracies in the mid-Atlantic get to decide how coal is mined, sold, and used in the commonwealth? Wouldn’t commonsense have those most affected by the pros and cons of Kentucky’s energy sector, Kentuckians, be the ones who decide the fate of Kentucky coal – not some far-away federal masters?
Kentuckians should be insulted with how little control we actually do have left, with how much control has been stolen from our hands and from the very land our most valuable resource is mined from.
New ACT report casts SERIOUS doubts
The ACT, Inc.’s “ACT National Curriculum Survey” series just came out with a 2012 edition.
The findings raise serious questions about the validity of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that Kentucky and many other states are now using to shape school curriculum from Kindergarten through high school.
Recent ACT Curriculum Surveys have shown a major disconnect between the opinions of high school teachers and college instructors. In general, K to 12 educators have a much more inflated view of the preparation of their students for college than is actually the case. Sadly, the results in the 2012 report proved no exception.
This very key ACT, Inc. finding certainly raises major questions about the validity of the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS):
• A large gap still exists between how high school teachers perceive the college readiness of high school graduates and how college instructors perceive the readiness of their incoming first-year students. This suggests a continuing lack of curricular alignment between the K–12 and postsecondary education systems that may be hampering the efforts of K–12 to prepare students for life after high school.
The report’s accompanying graph (below) makes the difference in those opinions much clearer and shows little change has occurred between 2009, one year before the CCSS were issued, and 2012, more than two years after the CCSS came out.
Here is the problem for CCSS validity. If high school teachers had a lot of input to the standards, this new ACT survey shows those teachers’ views of what is needed are very seriously out of line with what is actually expected in our colleges.
Thus, how could the CCSS process possibly have created an appropriate set of standards when one of the major participating groups continues to be so poorly informed about what those standards really need to include?
In fact, given the huge differences in opinions on college preparation shown in the graph above, I question how it could be possible for these two groups to reach a consensus on what was necessary for CCSS.
So, the ACT report raises more questions about the behind-closed-door process that was used to develop the CCSS:
• Who really designed them?
• Were all voices recognized in the process?
• Did the CCSS design team really know what was needed?
All of a sudden, it becomes a lot clearer why five members of the Common Core State Standards Validation Committee refused to sign their final report (Compare the list of members on the page before Page 1 to the list of those who signed on Page 4 in the CCSS Validation Committee’s final report). Four of those individuals, Alfino Flores, R. James Milgram, Sandra Stotsky, and Samuel DeWitt are college professors. The fifth person who refused to sign was Dylan William, from the Educational Testing Service, which creates the SAT college entrance test. They represent a significant proportion of the college members of the CCSS Validity Committee.
Were their voices even heard? Apparently, these college voices were not heeded.
While I had not traveled to the Badger State explicitly to observe Asiago delicacies being turned from fusty, amorphous gook into firm, fresh cuisine, the side visit to the cheese-producing facility somehow ended up being the most captivating part of the whole trip.
It was almost as fascinating as watching how political leaders from state to state and even different countries differ so greatly in political courage.
Take, for example, the gap in British bravery demonstrated by Great Britain’s former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who went to her eternal reward on April 15 at age 87, and that of American President Jimmy Carter, who was in office when the Baroness of Kesteven moved into 10 Downing Street.
Their nations faced similar problems: long lines at gasoline pumps, climbing interest rates and a chilling cold war. Yet while Thatcher used her time as an opposition leader during the five years before she became prime minister in 1979 to hammer out practical, free-market remedies, all Carter could do was plan failed hostage-rescue attempts and drone on about America’s “crisis of confidence.”
Carter’s approach resulted in even longer lines, emboldened enemies and soaring inflation.
Thatcher’s legacy was different.
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