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Tuesday, February 8, 2011


“The 'private sector' of the economy is, in fact, the voluntary sector; and the 'public sector' is, in fact, the coercive sector." — Henry Hazlitt

In perusing the news today I noticed several reports I wanted to blog about. I will not write any long dissertation on each subject, just a few comments to get you thinking.

Biden pushes high-speed rail plan at 30th St. Station

Newsworks Reports; “Vice President Joe Biden visited Philadelphia today to announce a $53 billion high-speed rail plan.

Standing in Philadelphia's historic 30th Street Station, Vice President Biden made the pitch that it pays to spend money on a modern rail system.

"When you talk about the investments we're making in rail, they pale in comparison to the investments you'd have to make to runways or highways - interstate highways," said Biden.  "That's before you factor in the environmental benefit of keeping millions of cars off the road.  Or the cost of delays caused by already existing increased congestion in the air and on the highways."

Since track improvements raised top speeds between Harrisburg and Philadelphia to 110 mph a few years ago, ridership on that corridor has gone up almost 60 percent.  Biden said more passengers now travel from Harrisburg to Philadelphia - and then on to New York City and Washington D.C. - by rail than by plane.

Biden said the rail plan will create jobs, grow the economy and protect the environment.  "An Amtrak train between Philadelphia and New York carries up to 500 passengers," he said.  "If those folks drove instead, they'd have to use 1,900 gallons of gasoline to get to their destination.  The train gets them there with half the energy cost and one fifth of the environmental damage."

As the first step in the six-year plan, the President's Budget for the coming fiscal year would dedicate $8 billion to expanding high-speed passenger rail service.

Biden joked about how he frequently traveled by train when he was a Senator.

"As I told the Secretary behind the curtain, I apologize I'm like Pavlov's dog: if I hear the announcement 'Southbound to Wilmington,' I may leave."

I have written about this issue at least three times so I won’t go into all the reason why I believe this is a big boondoggle. Biden likes to ride the train, so what.

Why do they keep pushing this choo-choo train nonsense? Who is behind this waste of money? There must be some large special interest groups like Siemens, GE, ABB and the foreign steel makes that have Biden in their pocket. If we have $53 billion to throw away on this high speed rail nonsense then why not give the American taxpayer a $53 billion dollar tax cut.

Google Executive Sparks Protesters in Cairo

Fox News reports; “American firms with contracts overseas may be rethinking how their representatives conduct business after Egyptian authorities released a Google executive credited with launching massive protests in Cairo.

"There's no question that there are a whole bunch of corporate security officers and corporate risk officers that, after what happened with Google today, are thinking about the policies of their expatriates on the ground in a whole host of countries, and saying, 'We need to think very carefully about this,'" Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, a political risk research and consulting firm based in New York, told Fox News.

Wael Ghonim, the 30-year-old Google Inc. marketing manager who was a key organizer of the online campaign that sparked the first protests in Egypt on Jan. 25, joined anti-government protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Tuesday, a day after declaring during a televised interview that he and other protesters are not "traitors."

"We will not abandon our demand, and that is the departure of the regime," Ghonim told thousands of demonstrators.

After 12 days in detention, from which he was released Monday, the Egyptian-born Ghonim dubbed the demonstrations a "revolution of the youth of the Internet."

Tack this on to the fact that the wealthiest man in Egypt, Naguib Sawiris a telecom mogul, has been backing the Cairo protestors, but now he wants them to back off. He is fearful that if the demonstrations continue the resulting chaos will open the door for the Muslim Brotherhood. It his belief that should this occur it would be very bad for Egypt and many of the wealthiest Egyptians would leave. It seems like the adults are being to speak out, but it may be too late. It was for the Germans in 1933.

Catholic Schools Doing More With Less

Fox News reports; “Earlier this month, President Obama challenged high schools across the county to compete against each other in the second annual "Race to the Top” educational success program for the chance to have him give the commencement address at their graduation. Not included in the contest, though, are the more than 2 million students in America’s Catholic schools.

If they could participate, the nation’s parochial schools would be fearsome competitors.

A 2009 comparison between public and Catholic school SAT scores show that public school students had an overall average of 496 points on the critical reading portion of the test while Catholic school students scored 533 points on the same portion. Catholic school students outscored their public school counterparts by an average of 23 points.

What makes the numbers more impressive is that Catholic high schools spend more than $2,000 less per pupil than public schools.

Explanations for the differences in achievement vary.

Students who attended Catholic schools say they were more disciplined and the approach to academics was more regimented. Bridget Ledford, who is a science major at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., says she doesn't think she would have gotten the grades she got in high school if she had attended a public school.”

The report continues; “Another advantage that Catholic schools enjoy is flexibility.

Very few parochial school teachers are members of the powerful education unions at the center of so many of the fights to reform the public education system.

"When unions get involved in having contracts in schools, they tend to control everything from the operations, to who gets hired... and even the curriculum for that matter," Jeanne Allen who heads the Center for Education Reform told FOX News.

Education experts say the absence of teachers’ unions means Catholic schools can address problems related to curriculum or even class size immediately instead of getting permission from union leaders or renegotiating contacts. Ristau explains that teachers and principals in Catholic schools can address these issues by simply sitting around a table instead of waiting for "five committees downtown" to reach a decision.”

“Despite the economic woes of the past couple of years, the cost of Catholic schools has not diminished. The average cost of tuition per pupil in a catholic elementary school is $3,383 while secondary education costs $8,182. Parents who choose to send their children to Catholic school still pay for a public school education with their state and local taxes. In 2010, the public education system spent approximately $10,614 per pupil.”

Wow, who would have believed it? Those dumb Micks with their religious education, rules and service to God and their church. The teachers don’t even belong to a union —how awful. An what about the dumb parents paying their property taxes to pay for the public schools and then paying again to provide their children with a quality and moral education — and they can’t even ride the local school bus.

I have travelled to many counties in this world and I don’t think any nation thinks so little of their education system as to turn it over to a monopoly run by the government and unions. We need many tools in our education tool box. We need school vouchers, charter schools, home schooling, less unions and bureaucracy in the schools and a lot more parent involvement if we want to keep up the rest of the world.

2 U.S. High School Students Fatally Shot in Mexico

Fox News reports; “Three teenage boys were shot to death in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez over the weekend, at least two of them U.S. citizens and high school students in Texas, authorities said.

The boys were killed at 4:22 p.m. Saturday while looking at cars in a dealership in the city across the border from El Paso, Texas, Chihuahua prosecutors' spokesman Arturo Sandoval said. One was found inside a white Jeep Cherokee and the other two in the courtyard.

There were no leads on suspects or a motive, Sandoval said. Two managers were also in the dealership during the attack. One refused to give a statement, while the statement from the other manager was not released because of the pending investigation, Sandoval added. At least 60 bullet casings were found at the scene.

One of the boys, Carlos Mario Gonzalez Bermudez, 16, was a sophomore at Cathedral High School in El Paso, said Nick Gonzalez, the Roman Catholic brother who is the principal. Another victim, Juan Carlos Echeverri, 15, had been a freshman at the private all-boys Catholic school last year, but left to study in Ciudad Juarez, Gonzalez said.”

This is intolerable. We are in a war with Mexico and no one seems to care. Why not take Biden’s $53 billion and use it to secure our southern border. Carnival Cruise line is now bypassing Mazatlan as a port of call due the violence perpetrated by the drug cartels. A woman crew member of Royal Caribbean’s "Allure of the Sea" was found murdered in Cozumel yesterday. Cozumel is supposed to be one of the safest ports of call in Mexico, but things are beginning to change. We need to boycott Mexico. Perhaps they will get the message. Their citizens come illegally and we treat them like they belong here. Our citizens go to Mexico to be robbed, raped and murdered.

Church Approves 'Confession' App for iPhone

Reuters reports; “An iPhone app aimed at helping Catholics through confession and encouraging lapsed followers back to the faith has been sanctioned by the Catholic Church in the United States.

"Confession: A Roman Catholic app" is thought to be the first to be approved by a church authority. It walks Catholics through the sacrament and contains what the company behind the program describes as a "personalized examination of conscience for each user."

"Our desire is to invite Catholics to engage in their faith through digital technology," said Patrick Leinen of the three-man company Little iApps, based in South Bend, Indiana.

"Taking to heart Pope Benedict XVI's message from last years' World Communications Address, our goal with this project is to offer a digital application that is truly 'new media at the service of the word."

Pope Benedict XVI's World Communications Address on January 24 emphasized the importance of a Christian presence in the digital world.”

What’s next communion by mail or the last rites by fax? Yes, this is a digital age, but some things can go too far.

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