Saturday, May 6, 2017

May, 2017, Part 2, Political Class Insanity: NYC Education Insanity, Dangerous VA Insanity, And Elizabeth Warren Insanity

It is the beginning of another month which means it is again time to review the latest political class insanity from Washington and around the world. Political class insanity takes many forms including the wasting of taxpayer wealth, criminal fraud within government programs, inane and stupid political quotes and actions, the inability to create and implement effective and efficient government programs, stupid and ill performing economic policies and strategies, and other forms of insanity that continue to evolve and surprise and shock us.

Today and for all of the insanity posts this month, let’s start off with a welcome piece of honest political dialog. It comes from a State Department spokesperson. Mark Toner, who is about to start the daily State Department press briefing. In a joking matter, he makes the following quote: "Welcome to the State Department. I think we have some interns in the back. Welcome. Good to see you in this exercise in transparency and democracy."

He then burst out laughing at his own quote, indicating he also knew what a joke the Obama administration has been, especially Mr. Toner’s State Department, when it comes to cover ups, lack of transparency, denial of Freedom of Information Act requests, the prosecution of whistleblowers, etc. But at least it was a little refreshing to finally hear some actual honesty out of Washington as we see from the actual clip of the news conference:

With that context of honesty, let’s see what other insanity has been going down:

1) We have often discussed the reality that when politicians dabble in economics and economic theory and strategies they almost always screw it up. Another area the are real good at failing is education. Since the Federal Department of Education was founded several decades ago, the Federal government has likely spent trillions of dollars on education with little success. Our kids constantly lag behind the kids of other countries when it comes to educational attainment when measured on international tests.

And those trillions of dollars don’t include the trillions of dollars state and local governments have spent on education. Consider the sad state of education in New York City today, as documented in a recent National Review article:
  • The High School for Law and Community Service in the Bronx has a college-readiness rate of students leaving high school last year of 6.5%.
  • Brooklyn’s Academy for Young Writers has a college-readiness score of only 12.3%.
  • Brooklyn’s Victory Collegiate High School somehow has gotten its college readiness rating down to 2.7%.
  • The graduation rate of these special schools range from only 76% to 86%.
  • Only 36% of kids in NYC public schools can attain a passing grade in math and only 38% can do the same in English.
  • And for black kids, the math numbers are a pitiful 20% and the English numbers are only 27%.
  • And this pitiful situation is reached even though the city spends a whopping $23,516 a year on education expenses in the city per student.
Given this disgusting and pitiful situation, one would assume that the city politician would be doing everything possible to fix what is already in place and what is so dysfunctional. But that would be Mayor Bill de Blasio’s latest “reform”? He wants to create a Pre-Pre Kindergarten program in public schools. Rather than focus on fixing the existing grades and using limited resources to fix all of the above mentioned failures in the NYC public schools, he wants to take those limited resources and create a new grade for three year olds.

But the insanity get worse. According to the article, he needs $1.1 billion to start and run the operation city wide but has only found $36 million in the budget for the effort. Which raises an interesting question: if you have an extra $36 million laying around without a home, maybe using that money to fix the broken grades and educational processes that you already have in place might be a better use of those funds. 

Plus, we have written many times on how the Federal Head Start program has been a gigantic failure in giving kids a head start in getting educated. Study after study show that Head Start kids are no smarter and no better off when they get to real kindergarten than kids that do not attend Head Start programs. Given that actual history of failure, what makes anyone think that going even younger than Head Start is going to be anything but an expensive baby sitting service? You cannot make up stupidity of this quality.

2) We have often pointed out how useless and dysfunctional the Veterans Administration has been providing quality healthcare for our veterans. Many, many veterans have died while waiting to get to have their health care needs met while VA executives have fudged, changed, and manipulated data to protect their annual bonuses and high salaries. While Obama claimed for eight years that the VA performance was a disgrace and often pledged to fix it, his efforts fell pitifully short.

Another example of his failures was recently documented by an article by John Cooper and Jarrett Stepman writing for the Heritage Foundation on April 19, 2017:
  • According to their reporting, the VA inspector general announced on April 12,2017 that the Washington DC VA Medical Center was putting the 98,000 veterans it serves at “unnecessary risk.
  • And this was the interim report, meaning that things are probably worse than this first cut at the dysfunction.
  • In just over the past two years the facility had 194 patient safety reports regarding “the unavailability of equipment or supplies."
  • Last June, surgical staff used expired equipment during a procedure because of “the lack of an inventory management program.”
  • Eighteen out of 25 sterile storage areas were found to be dirty, leading the inspector general to conclude the center “lacks assurance that sterile supplies maintained their integrity.”
  • More than 27,000 items purchased by the facility, with a value of more than $150 million, have gone unaccounted for. 
  • In a bit of good news, the facility's director, Brian Hawkins, has been relieved of his duties at the medical center.
Unsterile equipment, expired equipment, likely stolen equipment and supplies, unavailable supplies, etc. Even when the political class recognizes a problem, like Obama did many years ago, they still cannot resolve the problem either out of inability or apathy. 

3) Let’s finish today’s insanity with just a plain ridiculous politician's quote. Senator Elizabeth Warren has been a rant lately about a lot of things, most of which are either non-constructive or just plain stupid. Let’s go the stupid route today. Consider a recent tweet from her:

Our military force's diversity is its greatest strength. The Army Secretary must show genuine support for ALL of our men & women in uniform

Yes, having a diverse military force is our greatest strength. It is not the bravery of those that serve. It is not having the latest and best military equipment. It is not having the best training. It is not having the best strategists. It is not about having military satellites to help defend the country. It is because we have men AND women in the armed forces, simple as that. And simple she is, unbelievable. Does she really believe this nonsense?

That will do it for today’s insanity: stupidity and lack of common sense in the NYC mayor’s office, lack of accountability and improvements in the VA, and a Senator who continues to be clueless about reality. More insanity to follow.

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