Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Demand Economy, or Lack Thereof

Supply side economics. Austerity. Cutting our way to prosperity. The perpetual application of the Laffer Curve.

All bullshit.

But you knew that already, right?

Corporate America may finally be catching up to this novel idea. One that was so novel that it dates back at least as far as Henry Ford.

The money quote, if you find this article too long to read:

Freeze says that revenue presents a more accurate picture of Corporate America's health. "You can play with the earnings numbers and have them skewed," he says. "But you can't mess with the revenue numbers - they are what they are. If people are not coming in droves to buy your products, your revenue's going to miss even if your earnings beat projections."

Demand based economies. How do they work again?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cleaning the Santorum from Our Schools

Since this seems to be a bit of a hot button issue in the Detroit area, let's have an adult discussion about what it's like when a right wing sugar daddy decides he's going to use his kids to shotgun one of modern society's most delusional speakers/politicians into a local high school.

First, it's important to ask, what are the core issues here? The first issue is that no district, regardless of the speaker, whether it's the valedictorian speech, the speech of district officials or the speech of the featured speaker at a graduation ceremony, allows that speaker to speak in front of the group of students without that speech being vetted. At a minimum, administrations do this to create plausible deniability in the event the speaker deviates from their script and does something offensive. (Do a quick Google search on Bradlee Dean to see how it works out for districts when they don't do this). Santorum wanted to do so without providing the district a speech and, within that context, I would have cancelled his appearance also. You do not have the right to walk in off the street and scream fire, shout obscinities, or tell students they're going to hell if they have pre-marital sex in a crowded school unvetted. Neither does Rick Santorum. This is why speeches from outside participants or at formal ceremonies are vetted to begin with.

88 years ago, people flocked in droves to Dayton, TN to see the Scopes trial. The majority of that audience were adamantly opposed to the teaching of evolution, but they actively embraced the idea that they should engage in semi-respectful intellectual discourse with those they disagreed. They actively sought out ideas in opposition to their own. We are four generations removed from that time, and we live firmly in an era of obsessive confirmation bias. Any district, it would seem to me, would need to acknowledge this fact and treat a controversial speaker such as Santorum accordingly, by issuing opt in/opt out forms.

Because it's a pre-requisite for sustaining their belief system, the Republican true believers crying foul once again exhibit short memories. 3.5 years ago, the "liberal" President made a speech available to schools nationwide, the prepared remarks for which were made available a week in advance. Let's take a look at their reactions to this,shall we?:

A strong educational system, in an ideal world, would present a disparate set of views that challenged their students to consider the points being made. An accommodating school district that strives to be inclusive would find a corresponding speaker, Keith Ellison, an elected Muslim liberal who is originally from Detroit comes to mind, to offer a counterweight of ideas, and plan out both, well in advance of an event like this.

Would I let my child see Santorum speak? A responsible parent probably would. Even if he's the intellectual equivalent of the mangled cars they put on the school lawn during MADD awareness week. Every bit of exposure helps to help a child grow intellectually.

But this has not been handled well by anyone.

Santorum doesn't know that you can't make a speech in front of a school district without it being vetted.

The district should know better than to think it can present a person on one side of the political spectrum in this day and age without offering an alternative point of view, and should have planned accordingly before approving the speech, if for no other reason than to mitigate some pretty significant blowback from parents.

The district should know better than to think it can compel students in this day and age to view a speech from a politically charged speaker on one side of the spectrum without offering an opt-in choice for their students.

Everyone has handled this poorly except for the people fronting Santorum's appearance fee (and why is he charging $18k for an appearance in front of a high school when the travel expenses for the trip can't run more than $2k), who thrive on this type of publicity.