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home : opinion

Comrade Dorn wants to raise your taxes 49 percent
The problem with a monopoly is those in charge are never measured against a competitor. And that's the problem with our public schools. It isn't that teachers are bad people. It isn't that they don't have sincere concern for the students they are charged with educating. The problem is that without competition there is no objective measure of the quality of the product they produce.

And so it is that Washington's Superintendent of Public Instruction. Randy Dorn says there is nothing wrong with our schools that more money can't fix. Let's be clear here. It's not just a little more money. It's $7.5 Billion. That represents a 49 percent increase in state expenditures over the 11.4 percent the state legislature already appropriated during the most recent session.

When queried about what changes he would make in education as a result of the new funding Dorn said essentially - none. It seems that Dorn views our system as perfect, but if that's the case why does he need more money? If our educational system is currently functioning perfectly and providing our students with a top quality education why do we need to spend nearly half again as much?

Thursday, April 10, 2014 More...

Letters to the Editor
Thursday, April 10, 2014 More...
Where's the Inflation?
I'll admit it: I'm scared to talk about inflation. It's hard to understand why such a nerdy economic term gets people so riled up... but it does. The last time I mentioned inflation was low, I was enthusiastically ridiculed by all three people that read my writing. However, I will not live in fear. So, I'm just going to come out and say it: Over the last few years, inflation has been almost non-existent. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, PCE (or Personal Consumption Expenditures) has only averaged 1.4% since 2009. PCE is not a perfect measurement, but it's clear to me that inflation is not a problem right now.

Let me follow that up right away by acknowledging something: Yes, all the contortions of the Fed, and the various bailouts and stimulus programs we've seen in recent years are inflationary. In a vacuum, those things would cause rampant inflation. However, the real world isn't a vacuum; it's a vast, complex system - and there are many things working to keep inflation very low.

The most significant thing keeping inflation low is our economy, which is still weak. That weakness translates into low demand, and it is very difficult for prices to rise when demand is low. Another thing keeping inflation at bay is globalization. With so much of our "stuff" made in parts of the world where labor is incredibly cheap, businesses are competing with each other to cut prices. Further, improving technology is lowering prices for all kinds of things.

Thursday, April 10, 2014 More...
Local levies help teachers get pay raises
Executives at Washington's public teachers union (the WEA) announced recently that gaining access to greater pay increases was their primary lobbying goal for 2014, not raising student test scores, closing the achievement gap or improving low graduation rates.

To support their message in Olympia, union executives say they have not received a state-funded cost-of-living-adjustment, or COLA, for six years. Some proponents argue this means teachers have either not received a pay increase or received a cut, because pay has not gone up as much as they think it should have. By citing only one type of pay increase, though, the union gives the impression that teachers haven't received any pay increases.

The good news is that teachers also receive compensation from local school districts, and regular, annual pay increases are built into the state's compensation system. For example, since 2006 average teacher pay has increased by about $9,000, or more than 16 percent, even as many working families have lost jobs or experienced reduced hours.

Total average teacher pay, from state and local sources, is now almost $65,000 a year, plus benefits. A typical benefits package includes health coverage, dental, vision, life insurance, long-term disability, up to 12 days of sick leave, cash for unused leave and a generous public pension. In all, benefits add an average of $19,200 a year in compensation. Also, unions receive public funds to pay the salaries and benefits of their executives, even though labor unions are private entities.

Thursday, April 10, 2014 More...
Letters to the Editor
Thursday, April 3, 2014 More...
Results not reasons
Is education failing in America?

Undeniably -

NPR, in December: "In mathematics, 29 nations ... outperformed America ... up from 23, reports Education Week. In science, 22 education systems scored above America, up from 18. In reading, 19 locales scored higher than US students, a jump from 9. The top overall scores came from Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Macao and Japan, followed by Lichtenstein, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Estonia. American Education Secretary Arne Duncan calls it 'a picture of educational stagnation."

Even Duncan is wrong. The data above show our education system is not 'stagnant' meaning motionless ... no ... it's dropping like a greased anvil.

What to do? Take lessons from the US Army, I say.

That odd sound you hear is sneers from the American education establishment at my suggestion. But consider:

In one year, our Army can train 18-year-old youngsters to become excellent military helicopter pilots in a highly technical and very demanding field that would take American colleges four years to even approach. I know. I was both college student and Army instructor pilot.

Thursday, April 3, 2014 More...
Even Seattle liberals think a $15 minimum wage goes too far
As Seattle officials continue pressing forward with plans to impose a $15 minimum wage, some of the city's liberal business owners and nonprofit organizations are sounding the alarm. Following a narrow victory in Sea-Tac, where a $15 minimum wage measure passed by 77 votes out of some 6,000 cast, labor activists say they plan to push the same measure in communities around the state.

Even some Seattle liberals, however, are having doubts. Recently The Seattle Times has featured three prominently left-leaning business owners who say a $15 minimum wage would hurt their businesses.

Molly Moon Neitzel, owner of a chain of ice cream shops, is active in the progressive Main Street Alliance of Washington, which advocates for mandated paid sick leave, rails against "the wealthiest people and large corporations," and counts Obamacare among its top accomplishments. Neitzel hosted a press conference with Senator Patty Murray and Rep. Susan DelBene pushing a higher federal minimum wage of $10.10 an hour, but she says the $15 wage under consideration in Seattle might go too far.

Neitzel told the Times she pays her ice cream scoopers the state minimum wage of $9.32 an hour and they get a further ten dollars or so an hour in tips. Washington is one of just seven states that does not allow tips to count toward the minimum wage, so her ice cream scoopers are earning around $19 an hour. Increasing that wage to $15 an hour (plus tips) might hurt her company says Neitzel. Of course, she says big corporations like McDonald's would have no problem paying a $15 wage, ignoring that fact that 90% of the nation's 14,000 McDonald's restaurants are owned by independent small business owners operating on slim profit margins.

Thursday, April 3, 2014 More...
Keeping faith in our Constitution
Robin Frazier of Carroll County in Maryland defied a court order last week not to invoke the name of Jesus in an opening prayer at county commissioners' meetings. Frazier said, "If we cease to believe our rights came from God we cease to be America."

The latest battle over freedom of religion was sparked by a lawsuit from local residents who took issue last spring with the board of commissioners' decision to open their public meetings with a prayer.

Decades of church vs. state cases have been decided on the basis that prayer in the public square is a violation of the establishment clause of the Constitution. But Frazier and the commissioners of Carroll County argue they are praying in their capacity as individual Americans and that telling them they can't pray is a violation of their free speech rights.

"I am willing to go to jail," said Frazier. And in violation of a court issued injunction telling the commissioners they could pray only as long as they didn't use the words "Jesus, Lord or savior," Frazier read a prayer by George Washington that used all of those words.

Thursday, April 3, 2014 More...
Keeping faith in our Constitution
Robin Frazier of Carroll County in Maryland defied a court order last week not to invoke the name of Jesus in an opening prayer at county commissioners' meetings. Frazier said, "If we cease to believe our rights came from God we cease to be America."

The latest battle over freedom of religion was sparked by a lawsuit from local residents who took issue last spring with the board of commissioners' decision to open their public meetings with a prayer.

Decades of church vs. state cases have been decided on the basis that prayer in the public square is a violation of the establishment clause of the Constitution. But Frazier and the commissioners of Carroll County argue they are praying in their capacity as individual Americans and that telling them they can't pray is a violation of their free speech rights.

"I am willing to go to jail," said Frazier. And in violation of a court issued injunction telling the commissioners they could pray only as long as they didn't use the words "Jesus, Lord or savior," Frazier read a prayer by George Washington that used all of those words.

Thursday, April 3, 2014 More...
Letters to the Editor
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 More...
Legislative session delivers many successes
It is good to be home in our beautiful 12th District after spending the last 60 days at our state Capitol during the legislative session. Many of those days in Olympia were rainy, by the way. The best part about returning home is both the sunshine and the opportunity to visit with the people I am honored to represent. During my discussions with folks back home, the most frequent question that comes up is, "How did everything go over there in Olympia?"

I'm pleased to report that lawmakers worked together and achieved many successes in a very short amount of time. Here are some examples and highlights:


Wednesday, March 26, 2014 More...
America at a crossroads
"The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite." - Thomas Jefferson

There are hopeful signs that Americans are waking up to the failed promise of our growing government. Approval ratings for President Obama are falling faster than debris from a meteor shower and dissatisfaction with his vaunted health care plan is causing many Democrats to campaign against it.

But it's not just the President who is out of touch and blinded by his own rhetoric. Congress is facing the lowest approval rating in the history of our great country. Republicans and Democrats alike are losing the confidence of the American people.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 More...
Letters to the Editor
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 More...
How Your Representatives voted
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 More...
Obama's war on the family farm
To date, at least, there is no credible, legitimate, apolitical, objective, scientific evidence to support the notion that GMO (genetically modified organism) foods are any more harmful to consumers than any other foods. None. Zip. Nada. So saith the Center For Disease Control, the American Medical Association, the major ag newspaper Capital Press, and many other credentialed authorities waaaaay too numerous to list here.

Yet I get roundly castigated on Facebook by a whole subculture of folk who are furious with me because I won't join them in a conspiracy theory they are utterly devoted to that GMO's are "Franken-foods!" and ag chemical giant Monsanto (which makes GMOs) is out to "destroy the American farmer!" and "take over the world food supply!"

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 More...
Royal Lady says farewell
I would like to extend heartfelt thanks to the Bavarian Village of Leavenworth and its many kind residents who were so supportive of Jay and me throughout my year as the 50th Royal Lady of the Autumn Leaves. What an incredible honor it has been! I am very proud of our town, ALFA and our achievements this year. It took a lot of people working together and sacrificing their time and financial support for us to bring the float to the many cities we visited. It was a lot of fun but exhausting! The many smiling faces who greeted us along the way made it all worthwhile and very rewarding. It was an incredible and life-changing experience.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 More...

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