Education Budget Scare Can Be Righted

by Gayle Plato, M. Ed.

Governor Brewer has drawn the line in the sand, veto pen marking right over the agreement, going right to left on the page of the budget presented. While I am impressed with her chutzpah, I am also convinced she’s bluffing. The Honorable Governor Brewer has my respect, but I disagree with the poker game. Any legislator coming back in on Monday, I say this as a conservative, a voter, a small business owner, a mom, a teacher- play hard ball and offer not one more dime. Shut the engine off, close up the windows on this tax vehicle and let the inside just cook in its own juices. Have the guts, like you did all the way through, and let the budget go down undone.

Republican members of the legislature have been met by complaints and leftist rhetoric this entire year. As I wrote a few days ago, social agencies and bratty union leaders did not one thing to work the problem. This budget demise was no mystery, and all constituents have been very clear: NO NEW TAXES.

Either you stand up now or forever regret it, and we see the Californication of our economy.

This is not a game: this town, this state is already redlined and the citizens cannot front the costs of rigged up programs. It’s easy to say education is going to suffer and pretend that all of the children are ‘being left behind’, but that is a lie. Where were all of you who love the kids six months ago?

If every district were to agree to eliminate 200,000-500,000 dollars from its budgets, would we not fix this mess? That amount is approximately five administrators. School administrators conservatively make about 75-100K a year in most school systems. I know some are less, but the point is valid. I propose this, much like Russell Pearce and others were trying to note, ask the districts to cut more. Here is a simple idea in brief:

All School Districts Eliminate Assistant Principals.

Take a portion of those salaries and offer three to five teachers per school, stipends of 5-10K a year as lead teachers. Many educators already hold administrative degrees and certificates; think of it as deputies under sheriffs. I not only know it will work, I also think it will HELP schools with better support for discipline and better on-site staffing of daily needs.

This ONE IDEA could save millions across the state, with very little impact to students. It will tailor quality administrative help at each school. As for the state monies, this is a matter of reworking the way the budget reads. Any statute can be rewritten and reconfigured based on a vote of the body. Do not tell me you cannot change the lines of the budget. You can.

Any teacher in the state can tell you of the thankless job, and overworked reality of most principals. They are managers of small business, out doing public relations, attending endless meetings, and often pulled out of the schools. Principals can be gone more than 50% of the time some weeks. Any parent reading this, have you gone into the school impromptu, only to be told the principal or assistant principal is out of the building? Most principals would rather be in the school working with kids and teachers, helping families see successful students.

This budget demands innovation, not one more moment of rhetoric full of shell games, poker bluffs, and scare tactics. I am easy to find, and I’d willingly present my idea, taking the heat and complaint to  anyone anywhere. It will work and it is not complicated.

This veto situation is a HUGE CON and most of you voting are not teachers. You do not know the inside of the machine.

Have the guts to do this, and then invite all superintendents to a July meeting explaining how to streamline: Superintendents can offer pink slips to the extra staff, hug them and recommend they go back into the classroom, or look for a job in another field.

Please on Monday, members of the voting representation, stand up and JUST SAY NO to spending with a recommendation to districts of an emergency action plan. This is reality; districts are better off cutting administrators rather than teachers or programs with validity.

This is only one piece of a puzzle, but there are more options and we can make this work, cobbling together cuts that will take us through the year. NO, we cannot MAKE districts go forward with specific cuts, but we can mandate general cuts based on district size.  Then, recommendations can be made as to how this would work with suggested cuts of administration.

All agencies must face the reality that there is no extra, no property tax base growth to tap, nor any more individual, sales, nor luxury tax that voters want.  We must change it today-

There is a tide in the affairs of men,

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224

UPDATE 7/5/09- I looked up the administration at the secondary level  for Mesa Public schools, one of the largest districts in AZ. I counted 17 assistant principals for the junior and senior highs.  Assuming that’s about right, averaging 75K a year, cutting just the Mesa Assistant Principals would save $1,250,000. That’s conservative and not taking into account the benefits costs.

What if we also considered recommending all counseling services be contracted out for all schools?  I know this could be done, servicing  the community better, by offering on-site family services in the evenings and on weekends without costing the school.  Once again, save the state millions from the district level on up. What other programs could be subcontracted?

When most schools chose to quit funding a R.N.  in every health center, people were up in arms, but the policies were changed, support staff were trained, and schools adapted to a leaner system of in-school nursing programs. Noting is perfect, but problems can create better alternatives.

We cannot make any school line out positions, but the legislature can mandate cuts along with very detailed recommendations.  One drastic cut accompanied by very clear action planning might bring the line item veto up to par, and help soften the blow for the scared liberals and Governor.   If all social agencies face this reality, we might see BETTER, LEANER services statewide.

AEA Owed Members Solutions Not Storm Reports

by Gayle Plato, M. Ed.

In light of July 1, 2009, new budget time clock, the bickering, the social spending plays and ploys, I look at the clouds building along the Northeast skyline of the Valley.  Arizona monsoon brings the heat, stuffy hot air, and lots of big thundering heads.  Many get scared of the cracking bolts- energy that lights up the night with terror and flash. I look at the clouds, a bit seasoned, and I know: this storm is all flash-point build up of energy with little real power. By the time the storm hits the freeway, it might be a sprinkle, some wind and dust cover.  I tell my son not to worry, rather I see a teachable moment about storms. But that’s the nature of things; parents help children understand that nature, while scary at times, is guided by principles and rules. It all blows by, one way or another.

In the light of day comes the reality. There are rules and guidelines in place for reasons. But, we are all voters of recognition and desire respect.  If spending gets out of control, the society “floods” unnaturally, with our money flowing out via the Community Chest.  All the structures are eroded away; natural function is supplanted by dictated regulation. There is no Pass Go card in this game. Years pass by and the programs grow to the billions of dollars with everyone justifying the system. Sooner or later a tipping point is inevitable. Liquidity dries up. This is a desert after all.

The Arizona Education Association might be one of the most vocal statewide groups regarding our fiscal budget.  They’ve been clapping thunder about the looming budgetary storm for months.  Yet, in light of economic crisis, one could hope to find insight and innovative ideas on how to solve the economic problems from a group of educators. Other than articles discussing President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and how it’s only a temporary support, I found a few opinion pieces.  One article currently featured at their website, written over a year ago, holds words of deep brilliance from John Wright, President:

“Property and income tax assessments are the pathway to a more stable system of taxation that produces consistent revenue. To invest in the future, Arizona should transition to a more forward-thinking tax structure. ” (Published: 03.04.2008, Arizona Daily Star)

Then there are some insightful videos with sarcastic innuendo but light on substance (see AEA page:http://www.arizonaea.org/news.php?page=395).
I don’t know if President Wright could pass the citizen civics test portion some AZ high school students bombed ( see story below on this blog), or whether he’s taken an economics class, but no one can promote taxes for growth, especially on a tax base shrinking at exponential rates.  Does Mr. Wright know that Maricopa County is GROUND ZERO for mortgage default?

All social programming is a big thunder cloud with little rain. The drought just gets pushed out a few months or year here and there. Very few systems can claim ANY success without requiring more money every fiscal year.  By the purest math of that, the programs are NOT cost effective. Only programming that is designed to foster personal responsibility and resiliency can offer any permanent value.  Think mentorship v. panhandling; we all know which one makes fiscal and social sense.  All of us not members of the AEA that is.

Moreover, as the state legislature, governor, and all lobbying groups fought this out, I ask AEA members, and any other social agencies shouting loudly, what ideas did you have that made ANY fiscal sense OTHER than taxing money that does not exist?

I proposed the AEA get serious about thinking outside of the box and analyzing how to rewrite the Arizona Lottery funding; the Goldwater Institute developed in-depth analysis about paying teachers much more while creating a cutting edge standards requirement for those teachers.  Flat-tax, rainy day funds, creative financing, selling district school buildings, sub-contracting programs and administration all have been proposed by MANY groups and citizens. Where is just one unique idea coming out of the AEA?

It’s so easy to clap, stomp, and blow hot air.  John Wright owes it to his members, scared educators literally waiting on chair edges to see if their districts are going to be able to keep them as employees, to explain what actual good the AEA did this last year to help solve the crisis. Other than insipid videos and poorly written op-eds, it’s all been blustery blow with nothing more than drips.

As Time Goes By: Resistance Trumps Extremism

by Gayle Plato
DSW wrote a great post, a pointed starter piece as a catalyst of thought:  he asked of revolution and what IS HAPPENING in our society?  As the right wing extremist gets a face today, and the liberal sanctimony rachets up, I think of the movie Falling Down.  Michael Douglas is a marginalized, conservative soul, donning a brush cut.  He goes wacko and implodes. We watch the spiral down, feeling his small story of a small man. It’s Dostoyevsky’s Notes From The Underground  in the flesh. He’s also a character, not a real person–an amalgamation of cliche and stereotype as all characters are in a good tale.  But what happens when society hands us brazened crazies depicting a cliche, right down to a name that sounds like a fake in a comic strip?  I truly think most movie producers would change  the Holocaust Museum shooter’s description  a bit to sound like less of a stereotype.  But he is a real person as the media tells.

Conspiracy Theory

To conspire is to team up and coordinate before a negative event. From Bilderberg, 9/11 Blamers, Ghosthunters to UFOs, we can find this aspect of angst.  We are geared to look for the message between the lines, to look for shadows in the hall. We were raised to value hidden messages as that’s the core of advertising.  Whether  a lady’s image hidden in an ice cube reflection, or a nano-second flash of programming words, we believe in being manipulated. 

Research and development, engineers of innovation attract Dilbert.  It’s the MBA skim-knowledge, marketing type ‘dude’ that get the girl though isn’t it? Focused on a goal and working toward his objective to beat his rival and get higher quotas by the end of the quarter. Basically, the end justifies the means in marketing.  Lobbyists or non-profiteers; used car salesmen or green energy developers: we are all trained to sell. But what happens when no one is buying it anymore? While you might invoke retooling, the trend in democratic circles is to haze the buyer, and shame the citizen into line.  Obi Wan Kenobi’s got nothing on the liberal marketing gurus.  Make it uncool to do anything unique  or to question the authority of the big head. 

We are seeing martial law on Capitalism and this is a painful sword in the side of the common man. 

Liberals promote agnostics of values.  They think having values are good when putting on show for their kids ( say please honey, or make sure to share your things sweetie), but they do not know for sure if personal values, if having an internal locus of control is healthy.  It take a village to raise a child people! Oh and never miss the opportunity in any crisis either.  Everything is about the group think, opinion polling based numbers to be manipulated.   None of them knows the art of opinion seeking:  to understand a commonality of thought and desire. That requires the ability to question, not just developing any old answer. They do not commit to a decision without a certain percentage of favorables.

Triumph of the Nerds

But the ability to question authority seeds development.  We need to ask why and look for what and how. Nerd thinking led to the technology we embrace, and created the foundation of our capitalist base.  Nerds are ultimately individuals who stand alone, often working overtime in their pjs while revolutionizing the future.  BUt the 21st century nerd gets girls, is a girl, has a family, and makes good money.  The guy who skipped frat parties, took up library tables on friday night, and forgot to eat lunch because he was working, that man changes the way information travels. It’s when nerds start organizing,  meeting other individuals, small businessmen, family people, home schoolers, smart girl politicos, all questioning collectively, and looking with descretionary, scientic methods,  that we get the fear factor of the left.  We become  their prototype conspirators.

Faith-based feeling and thought becomes a pathology in a liberal world.  When faith-supported values, from a collection of individuals, desiring to be left alone and raise their familes in a country of  limited government, that  proves we are not of the cool crowd; we get mocked and belittled.  We deserve swirlies and a beat down after lunch.

But in the last twenty years, the dweebs of individualism, the deeply believing judeo-christians, and the average family guys are finding common ground. Merging and evolving parties of political development mixing intellectual pursuit with faith in a higher power does not compute with the old guard libs.  I submit, the insecure self-appointed cool guy bully types are seeing they are not the majority, but only a loud minority. 

The Left is Behind

Liberal Rapture equals all intellectual property and centralized cliques of community organizing getting taken up to Washington DC.  Think of Janet Napolitano as she was swept up in the Liberal Rapture.  Lots of looking at each other happens as they peer down from on high, judging us, the little people, as they  decide who gets a new hip or cancer treatment.  POTUS’ Czar-o-cratic teams find little flaw with plans on paper and put them into practice. It doesn’t really matter if the social experiment  fails, it’s all about statistical significance anyway, as the fly-over state is irrelevant.

Community Organization

Is the Borg of Libs cracking?  What happens when the Borg is proven to have weaknesses?  Resistance is then NOT futile but cogent and vital.  Shane asked if it’s a revolution, and I say, not exactly: I suspect it’s a freedom-loving resistance.  We become not a Dostoyevsky’s Underground Man ,sniveling alone.  A thoughtful, calm Resistance is an Underground Railroad: a resistance to the evil group-think and control.  We are angry as a group of conservatives, but I think the stages of remorse are evolving into action of principle, non-violence, and faith in the Good.    Do not let the liberal media get you down, selling us on the thought that one extremist, the lone gunman incarnate, is anything but a news cycle hook; marketing by the main stream media chomping at the bit for an excellent 20th century stereotype.  He is the posterboy of the  Leftie Fear Base.  He is the reason Janiene Garafalo, Sean Penn, and George Soros get up in the morning.  This story may never lose it’s cycle on CNN.

The Purpose Driven Life

But Resistence is not Futile as long as it’s Purposeful.  Messages don’t have to be as long as my writing :-), in fact, we can learn from the left.  Use their playbook and remember how well they market.  I said in a recent post elsewhere, that we need a conservative, republican platform written like a mission statement with an index card of highlights that would fit in a pocket.  We cannot have a platform longer than the Constitution it supports.  We need purpose driven values and soulful sound bites of tight talk:  Limited Government, Pinpoint Spending, Representation before any Taxation, Check and Balances  which are Clear and Level, and finally a Contract of Commitment with regular Performance Reviews.

We’ll Always Have Paris…

Finally, I put forth the true example of how resistence is played out in the culture of film.  Rick and Ilsa meet up in Casablanca.  Rick was left with his heart on his sleeve, hurting and confused as to what happened?  Ilsa could not get away from the reality of the war, her husband a Resistance Leader, and the juxtoposition of wanting to ignore the reality but faced with Good v. Evil.  Casablanca is a wonderful metaphor of today’s conservative angst, in love with the past and not  ready to face the world as it is.

But then, Rick lets Ilsa go, the Resistance was in the good, and he could not deny he must let values triumph.  Even though he was dumped and ignored, he still loved Ilsa and the life of ignorance in that short time in Paris.  People were literally being rounded up as they fell in love.  But Ilsa never followed him, and he hid out in small business, hurting over the past.  He hid in Casablanca.

Rick is the conservative businessman, denying the world around him. But he does have values and if for no other reason than that he mirrors Ilsa’s commitment in her love and in her desire for life.  She has moved on, the world cannot be ignored anymore as they did in Paris.  Rick must face the world as Ilsa already has done. With “As Time Goes By” playing, Rick knows he cannot take Ilsa away from her mission and her good fight; love triumphs as the Resistance matters more than a love of something once had. We too must see the world as it is as this time goes by.

*Casablanca means White House and Ronald Reagan was up for the Humphrey Bogart’s role- facts that add to the layers of the metaphor, here in my pj media mind.

Obama v. Merkel and the Power of Gold

by Gayle Plato

As Barack Obama woos the Germans with charm, Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is not amused ( see drudgereport.com linked http://tinyurl.com/p2nr69).  Merkel is also quite skeptical of the financial machinations of the current U.S. Administration. There are stories in main stream media and blogs noting how Merkel is deeply concerned about pending inflation issues and the quantitative easing of the Federal Reserve pumping of money.

The Independent of the United Kingdom wrote of Merkel’s concerns and history: “Germany’s experience of the hyper-inflation of the Weimar Republic makes it highly suspicious of anything that smacks of printing money. Rigid adherence to the principles of sound money have served Germany well in the post-war period, with low inflation and a stable economy.” (http://tinyurl.com/ptfere)

Angela Merkel is openly chastising the FED actions of dollar injection, and of the Central Bank of England’s actions.  Note too that Gordon Brown, current UK Prime Minister is fraught with scandals and may face a vote of no confidence this year. Some speculate his resignation is being pushed. All of Europe leans on one another like cards, ready to hold each other up or topple, taking the shaky economic structure with them.  Is this a beginning of the Euro breaking and is there concern in Europe as to where the actual gold holdings are?

In April, I wrote of the gold COMEX obligations, and the Deutsche Bank linking to odd transfers of gold by the European Central Bank.  Noted financial blogs speculated after much research that Germany was trying to get it’s actual gold back, and needs to prove it exists.  The United States holds some of that actual gold too. Does Mrs. Merkel want it back maybe? Hmm.

 
 The Gold market is relatively small and might be opened to manipulation. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lots of gold and China has openly offered to buy some of that gold.  China will be contributing, loaning, whatever- billions into the IMF and it’s happening as I write. There are traders and those that research and monitor every single commodity and stock.  When they see any anomaly they jump on it.  Cash gold is down 2.4% on the COMEX at this moment, so I do not see any sustained gold buying. If  I do, I will be thinking about what is next. Beware the gold trader analysis too as it’s dripping with lots of conspiracy writers who give Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons a run for the money ( pun intended).  Gold is as elusive as it wants to be; it also rests at the base of money and markets worldwide.

Once again, we see prices rise, unemployment rise, bond markets shakier than a no-doc loan holding cold chihuahua. A house of cards in Phoenix, with upside down mortgages second to none: the only green shoots- weeds in the front: we all await the butterfly effect.   A President Obama and his Czar-o-cratic economic team moves a shell in Europe or Asia, and all might tip the deuce of diamonds yet, only to see the joker standing.

References:
http://seekingalpha.com/article/129128-did-the-ecb-save-comex-from-gold-default
http://www.marketskeptics.com/2009/04/gold-prices-could-surge-on-sustained.html
http://www.ft.com/world
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2009/06/what-obama-told-germanysmerkel-about-mideast-peace.html
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/jeremywarner/jeremywarnermerkelslams-banks-loose-money-stance-1695500.html

Lexie’s Law Aides Least Restrictive Environment

by Gayle Plato

Republican legislators initiated and Governor Brewer signed Lexie’s Law – legislation  that highlights how a marriage of private support, and tax credit to the business sector can inject desperately needed funds into education. 

 Yet many state Democrats are claiming that Lexie’s Law, a tax credit plan for businesses funding scholarships for disabled and some foster children, is hurting state education programs for public special education children (“Republicans’ pandering is hurting those in need,” AZREP Opinions, 5/23/09).

 Special education directors would have to explain to these Senators and other Democrats with misinformation, that district special education departments have students in every community who are public school attendees, placed in private settings.  Those special education cases are often of multiple issues, or unique and rare cases; the public schools directly contract with many private organizations in town.  Simply put, there are plenty of qualifying children with Individual Education Pans (IEPs) already going to private programs on the state and federal dimes.

Under the new initiative, corporations can receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for making donations to organizations that provide scholarships so that children with special needs and foster children can attend private schools. The bill also allows insurance companies—which do not pay state income tax—to receive credits based on the insurance premium taxes they pay.”

(http://www.allianceforschoolchoice.org/MediaCenter/PressReleases/index.cfm?ID=3563&TYPE=1157)

 Lexie’s Law also provides for children often labeled nebulously in categories ranging from Other Health Impaired (OHI) special education, to those children who may not qualify for any funded services.  An Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 Educational Plan, often called just a Section 504 plan, or Accommodation Plan, is a set of needs and guidelines set as plan goals.  Accommodations are done much more informally and without clear funding. One of the most common Section 504 plans is for a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) who needs extra help with direction, limited tasks, and more frequent checks for understanding.  He may not qualify as a special education student, and will not be allotted any modifications of program.  Modifications are covered by federal and state funding, whereas the accommodations aren’t clearly sponsored.    

 What is specifically valuable of the Lexie’s Law legislation, is that it becomes a complimentary provision of the Arizona School Tax Credit program. It helps corporate businesses get money directly to the children in need of special services.  A tax credit to a corporation helps children attend the school of Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), of best determined need, with a direct scholarship. The law also brilliantly mandates that the Arizona Department of Education notify families right away  as to who might have a qualifying child.

 Democrats who laud stimulus spending best learn what a real stimulus can be.  A tax credit is help now from private industry and a benefit offered down the road to the noble organizations that step up and offer to fund good education.

 References: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/2009/05/27/20090527wedlets278.html?&wired

http://www.allianceforschoolchoice.org/MediaCenter/PressReleases/index.cfm?ID=3563&TYPE=1157

http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/49leg/2s/bills/sb1001p.htm

 Information about Section 504 Qualifications- http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html

 Gayle Plato M.Ed., served as an ADA Section 504 Plan Coordinator, and IEP team member at a number of elementary and middle schools in Arizona and Washington.

Inflationary Interest Rate Creep Targets the Valley

by Gayle Plato

You may be bored with my quantitative easing talk and with my economics blogging, but this doesn’t get any more real. We are at Mortgage Implosion Ground Zero in Phoenix: every one of us is either upside down in a property or knows a loved one who is going belly up. Get ready, because the experts are NOT forecasting lots of positives. Do not believe the recovery story pushed out by the Obama Administration just yet. We are seeing the interest-rate hike I noted was coming. I just had hoped we’d have a bit more buy and sell of homes to actual residents and not just investors dropping cash on foreclosures and short sales.  

 On May 27th, the mortgage market was so volatile that banks and mortgage bankers across the nation had a number of price changes which then led to a shut down on the ability to lock loans around 1pm PST. Banks could not keep up with the lightning jumps of interest rates.

There might be a real concern for anyone not locked, or waiting out the refinance process. Short sales are notoriously slow in process, and meanwhile the average guy or gal realizes their rates have jumped. Some individuals in the middle of deals will be wooed to take 3/1 and 5/1 arms, and this too is a risky endeavor. For those of you thinking refinancing the little bit of equity will save you, get ready. Banks are nervous. Truth is, a number of people are going to see rates jump while waiting and then be told they don’t qualify. Banks are going to stall out as they want to wait and see if the rates drop back. What bank wants to lock when there are hyper leapfrog rates?

It’s the desperate fact than many people cannot turn any deal down as the biggest investment they have is dropping like a stone in value. For those of us who live in the outer reaches of the Valley, we also see gas prices are creeping again. It makes us wonder; how do we pay for it all? Many are just giving up.

Look at the major bankers and lenders giving up because they are not getting paid. Advanta just turned off the taps, a major lender to individuals but more aggressively to small businesses. Did you get the letter this week saying hey, ‘use it or lose it with your credit line, oh and we cut it?’ Advanta is liquidating because they are facing huge losses. Advanta is an example of a deflation.  The average guy and small businessman is in deflation.

But then inflation does not first hit the grocery store or the gas station, because this ‘bubble” of supposed growth is  governmental growth. It’s the Fed pumping in cash, buying up all of the trash loans. Remember the US Government owns Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and can absorb the Sham-Wow of toxic debt.  That money then eases in through stocks. Notice stories saying the stock market is better and it has gone up these months. It’s the FED Pump and it’s artificial—QUANTITATIVE EASING.

Know this: since January 20, 2009, the day Barack Obama took office, the 10-year Treasury bond rate jumped from 2.35% to 3. 46%; all interest rates are based off of this number. Therefore, interest rates are up 47% in just over four months. The bonds themselves went down in value. That’s why major mortgage backed bond holders (Asian markets) are asking very sternly, why are you, US Treasury, buying your own debt?

The US Dollar dropped in value during his same period of time 8.6%. So not only did the ten year bond value go down, the US dollar it’s valued in went down. This is a double loss for China and other major bond holders. So the US Government is literally borrowing huge amounts from China but only in short term. All  the long term buy is US buying US. It’s the snake eating its tail once again.

“Rates are all over the map as lenders assess the damage and price cautiously.  Now, it is a mad dash to only focus upon the loans that are locked and have a chance of funding. If the locked loans are not funded quickly and the interest rate complex continues to experience this extreme of volatility, serious losses can occur.”

‘With respect to yesterday (5/27/09) in the mortgage market — yes, it is as bad as you can imagine. No call can be made on the near-term, however, until we see where this settles out over the next week of so. If rates do stay in the mid 5%’s, the mortgage and housing market will encounter a sizable stumble. The following is not speculation. This is what happens when rates surge up in a short period of time”
Other References

Arizona Right to Life Always a Worthy Cause

Received this request from John Jakubczyk of AZRTL- 

 “I would not post this message except that it is serious. The organization needs a quick infusion of funds to handle some annual expenses that are now due. Combine that with a one time capital expense to upgrade our data base software and a drop in regular donations and we have a serious and urgent need for your help.
Please consider sending something ( $25, 50, or 100) to help us continue the important work here in the state. Thanks.”

From the AZRTL site:

A non-sectarian, non-partisan, non-profit, 501(c)4 organization, Arizona Right to Life is committed to articulating and protecting the right to life of all human beings, born and unborn. This is accomplished by educating people on the value of every human life and by promoting and supporting pro-life legislation, public policy and elected officials. Arizona Right to Life is the oldest, largest and strongest pro-life organization in the State of Arizona.
http://www.arizonarighttolife.org/index.cfm/pages/Donate/17

 

     

Focus On the State- Senator Jack Harper

by Gayle Plato

 Senator Jack Harper along with other legislators for Arizona, first crossed my path at the February Tea Party. Along with the always energetic Tom Jenney of the AZ branch of Americans For Prosperity, Senator Harper and other legislators were jumping up on the Tempe Town Lake Wall, like soap box candidates of history past.   

It was hot, the crowd was small and dedicated, and these guys were passionately talking about citizens’ rights and keeping government small.  I was impressed, but I also worried about them falling in the drink!  

Today I’ll begin a Focus on the State  with a look at Jack W. Harper, Republican, conservative, veteran,  experienced small businessman, husband and father. The senator was elected to his third term in the Arizona State Senate in Legislative District Four, winning his elections by an over-whelming majority.  Here are some answers to my questions, in his own words-

 

Q. Tell SA about your district, why you ran, and what you feel your main job is as a State Senator?

A.  I have a diverse district that contacts me about a variety of issues.  Some examples of dominate issues are:

 “Don’t raise my taxes and continue to prevent illegal immigration.”
 “Don’t override my HOA’s CC & R’s with state statutes.”
 “Get rid of the photo radar cameras.”
 “Support the troops and veterans.”
 “Re-assert states rights and pass HCR2024.”
 “Get the US out of the UN and guard against a North American Union.”
 “Defend my Second Amendment Rights!”

The main reason I ran the first election, was to remove a three-term incumbent who passed laws to promote homosexuality and spent public money on illegal alien healthcare.  Now, I believe it is my responsibility to explain my legislative philosophy at election time and vote accordingly throughout the term.

 

Q. The AZ budget still seems fragile at best with this newly balanced agreement. What are your ongoing concerns, and what would you tell your constiuents about the next fiscal year in AZ?

A. The budget negotiations are a moving target.  A couple of members keep adding to their demands and leadership will scrap an agreement if revenue figures come in lower in a month, and the budget would not be balanced.  We have adjusted the Fiscal Year 2009 budget a few times and the FY10 budget will need to be reconciled throughout the year as well.  It’s time to pass what we have.

To constituents, I would say that we are trying to keep a property tax rate from springing higher. 

There are two ways that could happen: 1) If we do not permanently eliminate the state property tax that was cut for three years, it will come back this year; 2) If the Legislature suspends Truth in Taxation (T-n-T).  Your valuation is going down, but if we do not let the Qualifying Tax Rate follow it lower, you will pay higher taxes than usual.  Your property tax might be lower even with suspending T-n-T, but technically this is what school districts do to you as your valuation is rising and the take more of your money on a lower rate. 

If a constituent has a high-maintenance family and has become dependent on state services, I would say that we do not have the money for the same level of services as years past.  Your options are to turn to a local church for compassion or explore moving to a higher-taxing state.  To balance a budget that starts out $3.3 billion in deficit, without raising taxes, we have to cut many programs.  We need to eliminate “Parents of KidsCare”, non-federal funded Arizona Long Term Care, and several other programs that are not mandated by the voters, the constitution, the federal so-called stimulus bill, and things not fully funded by the federal government.

Q. Do you think that it’s worthwhile to consider either overhauling or dropping AHCCCS?

A. Because of Proposition 204 that passed years ago, we have to provide AHCCCS to every person at the federal poverty level or below.  We need the voters to take that mandate off of the legislature to keep 20 % of every Arizonans from getting free healthcare on the other 80 percent. 

Q. What are your top priorities this year as a legislator?

A.  I have three goals this year.  I want to see that Nancy Barto’s bill on abortion passes, that the NRA’s bill that I carry yearly passes to allow restaurant owners to decide if they want to allow a patron to carry a firearm, regardless of having an on-site alcohol consumption license, and to reform judicial selection at the ballot and take the State Bar out of the process.

Q. Do you see yourself running for another office in state at some point in the future?

A.  I was exploring a race for Secretary of State before Governor Napolitano left and Jan Brewer appointed Ken Bennett to the SOS position.  I believe I am going to explore running for the State House of Representatives, now.

Q.  Finally, what else do you want us to know about you and why you felt a need to run for office and do this job? Why be state legislator?

A.  I have been blessed to have the opportunity to restore fiscally and socially conservative values to public policy.  My work is not done though.  The State Legislature has thrown up roadblocks over the years to economic freedom.  It is time to deregulate and allow the average person the opportunity to be a small business owner.

“My Dearest Friend”- Honoring the Service Spouses Back Home

by Gayle Plato

On Memorial Day, I feel a need to remember the spouses and children of servicemen and women. For centuries, women have kept the home, raised families as the world around them bubbled with economic strife and social restlessness. Now, we see husbands and wives, parents and children holding firm and waiting the return of loved ones in service to our country.ABIGAIL ADAMS
25 October 1782

“MY DEAREST FRIEND,
 The family are all retired to rest the busy scenes of the day are over a day which I wished to have devoted in a particular manner to my dearest friend but company falling in prevented it nor could I claim a moment until this silent watch of the night Look is there a dearer name than friend Think of it for me look to the date of this letter and tell me what ure the thoughts which arise in your mind Do you not recollect that eighteen years have run their circuit since we pledged our mutual faith to each other and the hymeneal torch was lighted at the altar of Love Yet yet it burns with unabating fervor Old Ocean has not quenched it nor old Time smothered it in this bosom It cheers me in the lonely hour it comforts me even in the gloom which sometimes possesses my mind.”

  Familiar letters of John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams, during the revolution

I’ve a warmth for Abigail and John Adams.  Throughout the years of separation due to John Adam’s service, and political involvements, this couple wrote to oneanother.  They always seemed so real, with a love grounded in the daily trials.  They wrote about a love based on mutual respect, a love of their kids, and a hope for something bigger than themselves. Wouldn’t we all be so lucky to find a love so honest, full of letters, about faith in each other?

 Abigail usually addressed the letters to her husband as ‘My Dearest Friend’ ” I like that part most of all.   To those holding down the homefront, many blessings and a wish for peace in this combative world-

 

Terminator Toxic Debt Shakes the Faith in FIAT

by Gayle Plato

Bloomberg is reporting that the Treasury announced it will auction off just over 100 billion dollars of two, four, and seven year notes next week. This is in addition to short-term paper totalling $61 billion on the auction block.  Simply put, Secretary Geithner is trying to dump paper to pay the debt. In reference to previous articles written, I noted how the FED, and the Treasury were planning to funnel more money onto the world market: quantitative easing is in play.  But you can’t shovel out toxic manure and call it green fertilizer:

‘“We are at a point where the supply considerations are overwhelming to the dealer community,” said David Ader, head of U.S. government bond strategy at Greenwich, Connecticut-based RBS Greenwich Capital, in an interview on Bloomberg Radio. “The world is having a hard time digesting all this supply.”’

(http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=a6vR4nWTQHBk&refer=us)

While the stories are put out that the economy is stablilizing, the average consumer can just look around at reality. Lay-offs are on the exponential rise, credit is tight and defaults of all kinds (mortgage, commercial, and municipal) continue to increase, government programs are being cut, wages are dropping, and yet prices are going up.  Have you noticed these jumps of late: food, dry goods, and the most obvious- gasoline? Though it’s a holiday weekend and gas always jumps, the price of oil dropped just over a dollar a barrel, yet I noted at the local Circle K station a jump in price from $1.85 to $2.31 a gallon just over the last two weeks.  Are we destined to see $4.00 a gallon again?  Remember last summer?

The current administration’s plan to print more dollars (humming B-52s song Legal Tender) is not working. How is this fiscal plan of running deficits, flooding the market, imposing elaborate restrictions on all aspects of business and production working so far?   Think about GM and Chrysler hustles, Cap and Trade devastation legislation, while incorporating expansive federal programming; think universal healthcare.

To Live and Die in L.A.

As California goes, so does the country. Cali voted for the Terminator and even he cannot stop the bleeding.  Unless Arnold gets in that Terminator, Mr. Peabody Way-Back Machine and changes the future, that blue state will keep bleeding until every last citizen with a few bucks, a functioning blackberry to phone home, and the ability to mark an X on a ballot paints the town RED.  I can think of another John Cameron movie more appropriate as imagery for Cali. It’s the Titanic and California just hit a fiscal iceberg.

Over regulation and deficit spending keep coming up in all budget debate. Now CA either raises taxes or slash and burns the beatnik budget programs. California must dump the bong water green pieces of legislation that choke growth, protecting mice and owls while human beings go wanting.  Also, as DSW noted today in recent post, Governor Schwarzenegger is looking at getting California out of the medical welfare state business.  This is being slammed by the Amnesty, LARASA, Che Guevaras of Liberal programming.  But reality is that illegals rely on much state funding. 

The state of confusion is a simple thing.  According to Governor Schwarzenegger, programing to illegals costs that state upwards of six billion a year. While their budget deficit is more like 42 billion, it still deserves discussion that 12-15% of the deficit will be spent on illegal residents.  That six billion number is also just a direct cost analysis. From criminal activity to housing foreclosures, illegal aliens are hurting the state.

Bueller? Bueller?

Ben Stein’s legendary performance as the Economics teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off all-too-accurately describes most Americans’ working interest and knowlege of economics.  Yet, no other issue is more relevant to one’s day.  How the gasoline is produced, refined, distributed, taxed, and used on any give day effects millions of citizens in a spider webbing of ways.  Gas is just one aspect of daily economic interaction.

Money itself is not really there.  As I’ve written before, the currency is backed by faith-its FIAT, and unless the daily user of money knows how it grows, he cannot create his own victory garden of capital. Are the FED and the TRES promoting stagflation? If the economy seems to be rallying, why is the dollar losing ground?   Are we caught between a deflating market and an aritifically created inflationary status?  Watch interest rates, cost of living, our paper AAA rating decline, and how global economies react. Look to Europe and the United Kingdom especially as an example of over-regulated programming killing the economy; see how citizens are literally uprising.

Finally, look right here in Arizona at the new budget plan.  While no new taxes are in place, is our Governor Brewer going to push for them anyway?  Does the budget as it stands rely on hopefuls of things like impact fees on commercial real estate even though that industry is just starting to default in a freefall?  How does the state collect fees on businesses risking bankruptcy?  Ask yourself the question–Who profits from all of this and follow that money to the truth.  Currency is a promisory note, and right now not many citizens trust any government’s promise.

“Unfortunately for Bernanke and Geithner, the deleveraging process has commenced, and regardless of how many treasuries are issued, and how much additional debt the U.S. incurs, the demand side for credit is just not there, sticking banks with basements full of shrinkwrapped packages of hundred dollar bills, that will sit dusty and unused for years.” (http://zerohedge.blogspot.com/)