Thursday, February 16, 2012

You've Got (Social) Issues (Thursday LINKS)

A while back I wrote a post lamenting the death of the same sex marriage bill.  I noted how it was a missed opportunity to put Maryland amongst the first in the Country to pass such legislation.  I went on to say that we were letting a significant portion of the population down.

Friend of the blog, Ox posted (to paraphrase): "I'm glad this is over so we can get back to the economic issues that are affecting the lives of millions of Marylanders...Tom sucks."

He was right (not on the last part).

Same-sex marriage is important.  It should pass.  But it, along with so many other social issues, constitute a smoke-screen and one that I hope you don't buy into.  Politicians enjoy the opportunity to see themselves as liberators and defenders.  They don't like to see themselves as taxers and spenders (which they all are regardless of party stripe).  Social issues allow our elected leaders to put on the mantle of liberators and defenders.  Look at their newsletters, Facebook posts, and Twitter feeds.  They aren't talking about bond bills and capital projects.  They're talking about "marriage equality", "protecting your wallet", and...well...Bible verses that somehow endorse what they are about to do.  It makes state government seem like the crucible of freedom, if not the final battle between good and evil itself.

There have been a good number of articles recently about how the blue collar workforce is essentially using its political power against itself in supporting the Tea Party and other conservative initiatives.  Whether or not that's true, there is no reason to fault their logic.  This is not about the practical issue of how bills will be paid!  This is about LIBERTY!  FREEDOM!  BALD EAGLES! And for the Dems it is about EQUALITY!  FAIRNESS!  That bad ass O logo!

I guess it is too much to ask folks to look beyond these issues.  My Facebook wall, and presumably yours, is filled with all of the liberator and defender claptrap that can only be expected to increase over the next 9 months.  Somehow it is allowing regular citizens to ignore the fact that our taxes are about to go up, gas taxes are regressive, the vast majority of our National Debt was collected under Republican administrations, the Teacher Pension shift is a shift in sovereignty, and our roads are taking a silent tax on all of our cars year in and year out.

But...ok...I was following you.  But what does all of that have to do with bald eagles?  FREEDOM!


The ONLY potentially good move made by the Baltimore Orioles during the off-season, signing of South Korean Kim Seong-min, has been denied by Major League Baseball.  Next thing you know they're going to retroactively cancel out the O's contract with Brian Roberts. ...  I said the Next Thing You Know...

Maryland counties came out in force against Gov. O'Malley's proposal to shift teacher pensions back to the counties.  I noted above that this would be a "shift in sovereignty."  What I mean by that is noting that the counties are limited by statute in terms of revenue.  Increasing their liabilities will not just be a financial burden, it will significantly curtail what they can do for their citizens, whether that means environmental initiatives, nonprofit funding, schools, or public safety.  The folks that really should be testifying are the teachers.  "Splitting the baby" in this context means two things: Cutting the Education Budget and Pension Reform.

Baltimore City is looking to close one of its high schools and curtail grade levels at others in an effort to restructure failing programs.  These are brave moves, but unfortunately it looks like City School reform is little more than "brave moves."  There has been little to show for all of the revolutionary efforts that have been made to bring City Schools up to par with those across the State.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: Lisa looks behind the recent "reading class" kerfuffle at "Common Core", which is being implemented across the State of Maryland.  Common Core represents a "Disciplinary Literacy" approach to reading in which reading is increased within the context of their "content classes."  I've been told that this is being implemented in middle schools because studies have shown that growth in reading does not show marked improvement after 5th grade if skills are taught in isolation from content.  This makes a lot of sense.  Reading comprehension, a core focus of advanced reading in middle schools, can only be accomplished when there is a purpose in comprehension.  Content classes would seem to provide that purpose.  So don't worry.  Your children will not forget how to read in 6th grade.

That's all for today.  Have a great Thursday doing what you love!