Monday, May 28, 2012

The perils of the end of the year.

Notice that the educational end of the blog has been absent of late.  Notice that I’m intentionally avoiding talk of the end of the 2012 school year.  Notice that I’m really looking forward to the end of the year.

The end of the year is a time of reflection for a teacher.  It is a time when we look back and take a look at what worked, what didn’t, and how to make things better for next year.  Only we do it later.  Much later.  Because the end of the school year is also a danger zone.  It’s the half-finished Death Star waiting for you to come on down while the Emperor giggles hysterically about your insignificant rebellion.  If you aren’t careful you’ll end up smashed between the shield of Year’s End and the Star Destroyers of reality; you’ll be pulverized into a bloody mess that will make you question the sanity of why you decided to take a job in which everyone you meet shakes their head while saying “Bless you child, I couldn’t do that job.”  So at this point the main point of school is prioritizing.  With Seniors, that prioritizing means keeping students very engaged, responding promptly to e-mails from freaked out parents, and trying my best to ignore those eye-rolling Seniors that feel like life is rough because they are still in high school.  The latter only represents about 2% of the overall population of my Senior group, but they are also the most attention starved kiddies of the classroom. 

The trap of Year’s End is also the negativity that slams into just about every member of the school staff.  Everything that has gone wrong is someone else’s fault and there are plenty of people to explain it too you.  Our Superintendent is moving on and has taken the brunt of the blame for the ills of our district.  Not a week went by this year when someone was comparing her to some current dictator.  It became ridiculous, as if everything in our classroom has something to do with what the District is doing.  In the end, this is still here:

image

image

The fiscal future is not all that bright, no matter how much we want to blame/complain/avoid our responsibilities.

We are all just-plain-tired and the blame game is really easy to become a part of.  At the end if the year, while students are happily planning for the next step in their lives, teachers are planning to get through the rest of the year and finally get a few moments of rest.  Engagement of the students is absolutely key and ending the year on a high note will make the summer a bit more relaxing.  Avoid negative nancys, finish strong, enjoy summer. 

Soon.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Avengers Assemble!

When I go to the movies I want to be entertained.  The whole point of the theater-going experience is for the viewer to get lost in a story and forget that out in the real world there is war, pestilence, and Tea Partiers.  When I go into a theater I want to lapse under the spell of a film and for the twenty minutes of previews and the two plus hour of the movie, I want an experience.  I prefer epic films to the typical “art house” variety of movie when I go to the cinema.  Why?  I don’t need to see a fantastic story on a massive screen while paying $8 for the matinee.  Seriously Meryl Streep, you are a great actress, but how can I justify paying my hard earned money to watch a movie about Margaret Thatcher’s experience with Alzheimer's? 

“The movie business has worked very assiduously to discourage you and other intelligent, discerning people from the theater, from the movie theater.  They have worked hard to get rid of you, because you don't go then and buy toys and games.”

Ohhhhhhhhh that’s the reason why “intelligent” people don’t go to movies, Meryl?  Funny, let’s take a look again at why people don’t flood the theater and throw down the Benjamins for Iron Lady.

 image  A face that only Occupy Oakland can love.  Guess what sweetheart, people go to the movies for escapism on a grander scale than what we can get on a 42” television screen from Netflix.  We are looking for big movies with big characters and over-arching themes that allow us, the viewers, to put emotional weight behind them.  We want movies with purpose!

NO!  Not that kind of purpose!  We don’t need to be preached to for three hours after we spent $16 on the same 3D glasses I used to wear on the Michael Jackson ride at Disneyland. 

The purpose with the Avengers is to have comic book fun, and when the movie is done right there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  The Avengers is done right.  This is an enjoyable, adventurous comic book film that’s good as a two and a half hour popcorn flick.  It’s summertime boom-boom movie with a good cast, good writing, and a director (Josh Whedon) that realizes he’s making a comic book movie and therefore goes all out to make it comic book fun.  If you are looking for the dark, Batman style comic book films you will have to wait a few weeks.  But if you are looking for a fun film to let you escape for awhile, hit up Avengers.  In fact, hit up Avengers long before you hit up the dog that was The Hunger Games.

What works:

-Robert Downey Jr. clearly has fun with the role of Iron Man and he does a fantastic job with interjecting fun one-liners throughout the movie.  He brings the movie from “ok” to “pretty good” in a manner that makes him a necessity for the series’ success.  This film is also far, far better than Iron Man 2.

-The Hulk is done very well.  Finally.  Bruce Banner takes more screen time than the big, green monster and it does a nice job setting up what the Hulk is supposed to be; always on the verge of destroying everything.  In the end, the comic book version of the Hulk shines through and gives us “smash” and laughs.

-The Black Widow is not weak, boring, or otherwise damselish.  I don’t want to see comic book heroines as weak characters who are overly sensualized, I want to see them own the part of being a kick-ass heroine.  Scarlett Johansson nailed this.

-Did I mention that Whedon does a nice job with the film?  Did I mention that he does a very nice job with the dialogue parts of the movie between the characters?  Did I mention that I have never seen Firefly?

What didn’t work:

-The beginning is a bit bleh.  Loki is a good fit here and is the only thing that keeps you interested in the first ten minutes of the film.  Otherwise, meh.

-I like Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury, only I want to see more Jules Winfield than Mace Windu.  Just because he’s the leader of SHIELD doesn’t mean he needs to become a complete pansy that, even when he rebels against authority, doesn’t seem too convincing.  Allow Jackson some more swagger and it would help.

This movie represents summertime comic book enjoyment.  Raiders of the Lost Art it ain’t, but I had no problem slapping down $8 to watch this film on the big screen with a bucket of popcorn and a big, discerning, and intelligent grin on my face. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ohhhhhhhhh, she is mad. And wrong.

So, here’s the deal.  I make fun of Presidents all the time.  Nixon is obviously the easiest to emulate.  George W. Bush’s constant verbal assault on the English language makes him a prime target.  And oh is it easy to fake Bill Clinton’s accent and make jokes about jogging around the block to McDonald’s, or yell out the occasional “Go Baby!”  I would make fun of Jimmy Carter except that I don’t have sweaters that ugly and it would be just too damn easy.

I also make fun of presidential contenders.  I mean, come on, how can you not laugh at some of the dopes that decide to run for President?  Mike Huckabee?  Jesse Jackson?  Ralph Nader?  Dennis Kucinich?   SARAH PALIN??  ROSS FREAKING PEROT!?!?  Presidential campaigns are breeding grounds for jokes about everything, and probably the main reason that Imus and Bill Maher still exist. 

And yes, I make fun of the current President.  Stand up, look side to side while occasionally raising my eyebrows, get a little gospel in my tone, lose the teleprompter and give a long “uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”, and then talk about Hope and Change, and we got ourselves a gold mine.  Not to mention his chicken legs trying to play basketball, his attempts to sing Al Green, and his overwhelming ability to be owned by his wife.  Yep, being President is funny.

And that’s actually more of a badge of honor than anything.  We live in a country that allows us to take shots at the Commander In Chief without worrying about Castro showing up at our door in a 1954 Oldsmobile with Che and a Soviet rifle.  Which is why I don’t quite get the reaction from the teacher in the video.

“Stop, no, because there is no comparison,” (the teacher) says. Romney, she says, is “running for president. Obama is the president.”

When the student says they’re both “just men,” the teacher continues to argue that Romney, as a candidate for president, is not to be afforded the same respect as the president.

The teacher tells the class Obama is “due the respect that every other president is due.”

“Listen, let me tell you something, you will not disrespect the president of the United States in this classroom,” she says.

. . . Later in the conversation, the teacher tells the class it’s criminal to slander a president.

“Do you realize that people were arrested for saying things bad about Bush?” she says of former President Bush. “Do you realize you are not supposed to slander the president?”

The student responds by saying being arrested for talking badly about the president would violate the right to free speech.

“You would have to say some pretty f’d up crap about him to be arrested,” he says. “They cannot take away your right to have your opinion. … They can’t take that away unless you threaten the president.”

The student is very correct.  In the eyes of the Constitution they are both citizens of the United States and “disrespecting” the president is not slander nor illegal.  In fact, I would have concerns about a Social Studies teacher not modeling Constitutional values in her classroom if this tirade is equal to the teaching. 

Tom Friedman takes mushrooms, mumbles about “da Interwebz.”

 

Flathead Thomas Friedman

I really like Tom Friedman’s books and I really like Tom Friedman’s articles.  In fact, it could be said that I have a slight man-crush on Tom Friedman.  I’m not quite at the phase where I park outside of the New York Times building and follow The World is Flat author home to attempt to see if he has rabbits, but I could be near the point of finding Mark Levin and bitch slapping him for all the mean things he says about Tom Friedman. 

However lately we have taken a step backwards in our relationship.  In the past, Friedman has been very intelligent about how the country needs to pull itself out of the current recession.  Before it was popular to do so, he called the downturn a structural issue that need long term investment, including some serious focus on educating today’s youth.  If you read The World Is Flat, you’ll remember the conversation he had with young teachers and how middle-class American families seemed to have an aversion to too much academia; focusing more on school dances, piano recitals, and winning idiotic Homecoming Spirit Bells (ok, maybe not the last one).  Part of his overall thesis was that structural issues existed within the educational system that needed changing or the United States risked delving into the same mediocrity that was pervasive in Japan in the 1990’s. 

I guess the structural change that Friedman meant was the use of the Internet to teach the uneducated masses in Khan Academy fashion.  In his recent article in the New York Times, Tom Friedman boldly calls the recent attempts for Stanford to post classes online as the new “college education revolution”, except that it really isn’t that bold since Flipping classrooms has been on the edu-reform agenda since, oh I don’t know, two years ago.  But this is different because it’s college, or Stanford, or involves people from China, Russia, and Iran, or some damn thing.  Oh wait a minute, what it really means is that a lot more people are going to have access to college curriculum online for next-to-nothing (except that venture capitalists rarely ask for next-to-nothing), therefore fixing the overwhelming structural employment problem of not enough labor having all the right skills. 

So pack the Net classrooms with enough yahoos and lord knows that a gem might fall through the cracks and decide to go to school at an actual institution.  This is so not ingenious and so doesn’t remedy the problem of a structurally defunct economy.  While Tom Friedman continues to wander in his shroom induced Khan haze, I’d like to maneuver you to this article by University of Chicago economist Raghuram Rajan.  It’s the kind of intelligent analysis that Friedman would be into before he ventured into realm of Silicon Valley elitism.      

“The United States, for its part, can take some comfort in the powerful forces that should help create more productive jobs in the future: better information and communications technology, lower-cost clean energy, and sharply rising demand in emerging markets for higher-value-added goods. But it also needs to take decisive action now so that it can be ready to take advantage of these forces. The United States must improve the capabilities of its work force, preserve an environment for innovation, and regulate finance better so as to prevent excess.”

Sounds like a long term growth plan that demands serious educational reform.  Only Tom Friedman has decided that “reform” just means that the more bodies that you put in front of a computer, the more likely they will finish college knowing little or nothing except how to check Facebook while writing a forum post about organic chemistry, although not really engaging with organic chemistry because the LOL Cats on Facebook are a whole lot more amusing. 

I’m at a loss for words when even Friedman buys into some ridiculous notion that the Internet is the answer for all things education.  We already have kids propped up in front of computers “learning” for the next generation.  It’s called Cyber High.  It’s credit recovery, meaning the students failed to come to school to learn in an academic environment so it is assumed that to doing it over in front of a computer is somehow better.  And these students will learn, of course.  I mean while they post jokes on Twitter and create Meme’s of Sasha Baron Cohen dropping the ashes on Ryan Seacrest, learning will be attempted.  Some how.  And this is the “revolution.  Well, here’s to hoping that Maureen Dowd is on the beach with Tom Friedman, gently stroking his hair during this bad trip, whispering in his ear that everything will be ok when he wakes up. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ho Hum, AP

I used to really stress about the Advanced Placement exam.  I used to be so concerned about passing percentages to the point to where I was considering feeding sheep Ambien at night as some kind of sacrifice to the nocturnal gods.  But no more.  Nope, I’m excited for students to take the AP Exam but also happy that the cram is finished.  I’m not stressed about scores.

That might not be publically popular because of the idiotic notions that AP tests equal excellent schools.  Take the U.S. News and World Report High School Rankings, which do a fantastic job ranking charter schools and affluent high schools near the top of the list.  They have phenomenal passing rates for AP to go along with phenomenal participation rates for AP.  Of course the student populations at those schools are also phenomenal (at least academically) because most of those students aren’t couch surfing, suffering from a lack of motivation, or even a middle-of-the-road-I-just-want-to-graduate kind of kid.  Those lists are bogus and only show that lots of money, small class sizes, choosing your students, and motivated parents, works.  Real surprise there.

And let’s not forget that I don’t require my students to take the Advanced Placement exam so that pretty much makes me a bad person.  In fact some of my best academic students that took my AP classes aren’t taking AP exams at all.  Colleges have accepted them and the tests at some of them are basically meaningless.  Where’s the incentive to stress if there is no benefit to an $87 expense?  I totally get that and I don’t hassle them about it. 

This doesn’t mean I don’t care about student results on the test.  I want them to pass because passing equals less ringing of college registers and less future debt.  I want them to take the test because I want to look at the data to see any correlations in scores on certain student’s tests and on certain sections of the test.  I admit that there are two groups I’m not really concerned about.  First are the students that are going to just jack this test out of the park.  They are so prepared that the APUSH test should fear the students, not the other way around.  The second group are the students that really have no business taking the test.  These are the students that have missed so much class and have put so little effort into the work that they have a better chance of hitting a home run off of Clayton Kershaw than passing this exam.  I can pretty much point out both groups before the test is taken.  The group I’m watching are the middle-grounders.  Those that have really worked at the the class, improved their analytical skills, and have developed competent writing.  These students are my case study.  Those are the students that become my measuring stick.

So I offer up plenty of support, lots of advice (sleep, sleep), and I’m excited that students can get out of a financial hole early on with the passage of these exams.    

Sunday, May 13, 2012

There be safe dragons

Yeah, that could be one of the best trailers for a movie in a long, long time.  Slick cut editing and a great rendition of Immigrant Song; call me hooked.

If you haven’t read Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, spoilers. 

Lisbeth Slander is a bad ass.  I started reading about her by the pool at a Kansas City hotel during AP grading week, with strict instructions from my wife that I give the book at least sixty pages before I throw in the towel.  Well, the second that Slander graced the pages, I was under her gothish, anti-hero spell.  I’m into anti-hero’s; the Man with No Name, Severus Snape, the entire Corleone Family, and Lisbeth Slander has been written as a serious heroine that you sort of detest, can’t ignore, and then root for like mad by the end of the book.  I watched the movie recently and can safely say this about the Americanized version of Dragon Tattoo; it’s the second best Slander.  That’s not to say that Rooney Mara isn’t good as one of the leads, because she does a very nice job.  But Noomi Rapace is more raw and emotionally tattered in the Danish version of the film.  The Americanized version is just a little too safe in terms of Slander’s emotions.

However it is a good movie, much better than the drastically overhyped Hunger Games.  It does a nice job following the general idea of the book and I think Daniel Craig does a very good job as Mikael Fucking Blomkvist.  I think the others are also done well, although I would have rather had an ending that was closer to the book than one that seemed like it just wanted to wrap up the storyline nice and quick.  And I’m still trying to figure out why someone would decide to use a totally bizarre, James Bond style opening to the film. 

Go see it with the understanding that like the book, it isn’t a light film.  But it is a good one and worth the cash.    

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A lawsuit. Of course.

Note to all parents in the world.  Your little darlings can’t do everything.  In fact, chances are that your little darlings can’t do most things very well, although they can some a couple of things pretty good. 

Sound pessimistic?  It hardly is.  There is no shame in trying to do everything.  But let’s face it, only a few people are going to be basketball players, or excellent writers, or wonderful painters, or play first chair in a concert, or conduct a solo, or be the lead actor/actress.  I did a few things very average in high school and was fortunate enough to stick through basketball, growing to love it in the process.  I was cut in a sport during my sophomore year.  I tried out for JV Baseball and didn’t make it past the first cut.  And I was prime baseball material.  My dad was pitched for Hayward High School and had multiple perfect games before getting drafted by the Dodgers, so I was positive that simple genetics were going to at least get me a ball cap.  I pitched in 5th and 6th grade before switching to soccer, eventually fine tuning my baseball skills on the Nintendo in 8th grade.  I then impressed the ladies at Cal-Skate in Chico by hitting pitch after pitch on the fast pitch “slow” mode in the batting cages as a freshman.  I mean I was raking.  Dammit.  Now that I think about it, why the hell was I cut?

I was cut because I sucked.  I looked like the 2012 version of Aubrey Huff at the plate; smacking infield pop flies to second base like it was my goal to wear a hole in his glove.  I was not good.  Period.  But I don’t know what I was thinking.  I could have sued my way onto the team.

I just can’t imagine that the kid of this mother is not cringing big time as a lawsuit plays out regarding John Doe getting cut (as a freshman) from the varsity basketball team.  Constitutional right of competitive sports?  Due process of appeals for cut players?  Are we serious here?  Yep, and the judge really needs to come down hard on the parent by making an example of her.  She needs to pay for the time and money spent on this case and issue an apology to the coach and players for making this idiotic dramedy be the focus of the school year.  This is a lot of what is wrong with societies priorities over the last decade; the necessity for egalitarianism in every single instance, including situations that demand excellence.  Competitive athletics aren’t supposed to be for everyone.  They are supposed to be for a select few that meet the criteria set by the school and coaching staff in regards to representing the team in a competitive arena.  In a varsity basketball case that means twelve, maybe thirteen guys.  If you don’t make it, try something else.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Obama’s gay marriage comment

"It is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."

Plenty of people are applauding President Obama for finally giving a half-assed statement that he kinda supports same-sex marriage if states want to give it a go.  Wow.  That’s one hell of an endorsement.  It’s the kind of endorsement that the CEO of Chevron gives about the helping the environment, or that Michelle Bachmann gives to the National Organization for Women.  How nice that the President had the testicles to finally reinforce the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.  Ok, maybe just one testicle because he sure as hell didn’t throw his full support around something after reminding Robin Roberts that states should make the decision.  Jesus.  What a worm. FYI, this is the same guy that said he was against gay marriage during the 2008 election to save his electoral ass, even through it would have taken pictures of himself and Hillary in bed together to prevent the victory from happening anyway.

Nice to also see that the Republican Party doesn’t exist any more and all we have left are the Conservative Party; filled to the brim with the cast from Pleasantville, born-again members of the former Moral Majority, and the kind of people that didn’t have a problem blacks and whites sitting in different parts of the bus.  I’m still waiting for a real Republican to stand up and say “Why do I really need to give a shit what two members of the same sex do in their own house?  I support the Constitution, fiscal responsibility, and getting rid of the Designated Hitter.”  But it looks like social conservatism might be here in the U.S. for awhile because televangelism still exists on the Internet, and South Africa no longer supports apartheid.

I’m made my issues with gay marriage known years ago.  I’m not interested in segregating parts of society, especially due to religious reasons, so I have not problem with gays getting married.  And we have much bigger issues in society than caring about gays getting married.  Get over it.         

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Hey idiots, this isn’t Oakland

This is the top of the 9th and that is Santiago Casilla pitching for a save at AT&T Park a week ago.  And those idiots in back of the ump are doing The Wave. 

While San Francisco doesn’t have the let’s-boo-Santa Claus mentality of Philadelphia, we on the left coast have plenty in our competitive gas tanks.  I’ve been to many a ball park across this nation and I’ll have to say that San Francisco Giants fans are a good breed.  They aren’t as insane as maybe the Red Sox fans, but a hell of a lot better than most teams.  And Giants fans have a set of rules for attending ball games.  They are rules that are for the health and welfare of God faring, American baseball fans that wish to see a good ballgame because they are sick of the drunken slum that is Candlestick Park, the choke artists at the Shark Tank in San Jose, or the Warriors. 

Rules like you don’t stand while someone is in the batter’s box.  It’s rude, and while you might think your girlfriend is “that pretty” enough to stand, we all think she’s had one too many lip locks on a Giants Dog and is probably hanging with you in an attempt to slump bust her way out of an 0-15 coed softball streak.  Sit down.

Rules like you don’t wear a sticker on your baseball hat.  Real fans have a worn lid.  Losers that think that holographic stickers are swaggerific are the kind of guys that people in the bleachers will beat up after the game near the Willie McCovey statue.  Tear off the sticker or it (and you) will be taken care of.

Rules like YOU NEVER, EVER DO THE WAVE AT A SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS GAME!  It’s verboten.  Fans hate it.  Players hate it.  Kruk and Kuipe hate it.  God hates it!  That’s right, God hates The Wave at AT&T Park.  See all those idiots standing?  What you didn’t see was Matt Cain opening the Ark of the Covenant in the dugout and all those Wave morons melting like the NAZIs.  It was a gruesome sight but sometimes an example has to be made.  And nobody pitied them at all. 

So ixnay on the standing and sitting and enjoy the ball game.  If you want to hop up and down because the baseball sucks, go to Oakland.    

STAR, NEAP, FU

Darren over at “Right on Left Coast” (blogroll) has a post that we can both agree on; testing is a totally pointless pursuit unless there is an actual incentive to do well on it.  Case in point; last year I had a couple of Advanced Placement U.S. History students score a 4 on the AP exam (that’s three essays and much tougher multiple choice), yet score barely proficient on the basic state-mandated standards testing.  So which test should my overall accountability as a teacher be tied to? 

We just ended the STAR tests this last week and I don’t know if our politicians realize that teachers are simply going through the motions when it comes to these pointless exercises.  Wasting weeks of class instruction with testing bubbles that spell out “Thug Life” is clearly not something that best benefits society.  Neither is driving to the house of a student to drag them to a room to take a test that asks about how ugly Leland Stanford  was or how many hookers bedded down with Jerry Farwell.  It’s degrading.  I’m still waiting for the moment when Ukiah School Board members start showing up outside the windows of testing no-shows with a boom box playing “In Your Eyes.”  They’ll lure the young lads outside and butterfly net them into a waiting van to take them to the friendly confines of Ukiah High School.  There the students will calmly flip off every member of the administration while reminding them that the test means more to the school than to the student, and that they should just give them their end-of-testing ice cream sandwich now and move along.    

But it’s over now and the Advanced Placement testing has begun.  You know, testing that has lasting implications if done well.  I’d work hard if I knew my scores could save me thousands of dollars.

Wouldn’t you?

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Do you actually teach Economics, or do you just say you teach Economics?

 

I start every semester of Economics with the statement that the students have been totally shafted by not being taught the most basic theory in their twelve years of education; every choice has a consequence.  That’s why the subject has been given the name “the dismal science”.  People don’t like the idea that they control their own destiny a lot more than they are told, or that they are responsible for their own actions.  However the idea of choice is rarely what’s discussed when Economics takes the stage.  Occupy, the Great Recession, income inequality; all of it becomes politicized to the point that we forget that people make choices and choices have consequences. 

I’ll admit that I hate the mathematical arena of Economics.  The formulas and theorems are the reason I totally avoided the subject in college and instead dealt in the realm of History.  But the results are what got me attracted to the subject in my later years of post-secondary education.  When you looked at historical analysis from an economic perspective the puzzle pieces fall into place much more easily.  Problems become understood, solutions (most half-hearted) present themselves as mere political devices, and the realm of politics makes even more sense.  The same applies to Modern History, the subject of a New York Times debate that asks if we should be teaching Economics differently out of the Great Recession.

“The financial crisis offered a golden opportunity for university economists to question the utility of supposedly scientific models that failed to predict an economic earthquake.”

Mona Chalabi makes that statement from the NYT forum and takes the position that many have stated since this financial meltdown began; why didn’t economists predict this?  The answer is that many economist did predict the oncoming doom but few were willing to really listen.  I remember going to a Federal Reserve workshop in early 2007 were an economist blared warnings about problems within the banking system.  And I don’t know if people remember Alan Greenspan’s “irrational exuberance” but the term was stated many times during the post-9/11 run up that was created by an irrational influx of demand on credit.  The rest of the articles are insisting that things need to be changed in how we teach monetary policy in regards to economics because the “old ways” of free market capitalism have failed to save the world from the perils of selfishness.

There are two things wrong with the collection of articles.

First is the idea that this economic downturn was entirely economic and not political.  With all due deference to Ron Paul and his mission to turn the Federal Reserve into a Depression pariah, more of this Recession is due to fiscal policy that a) ignores economic reasoning, and b) refuses to find reasonable middle ground.  We can go around and around about taxes and cuts until Jamie Moyer pitches a perfect game and it still won’t fix the problem of safety nets that are too big, tax rates that are too small, and a tax code that is too corrupt. 

Second is the realization that people caused this recession because they are constantly not being held responsible for choices they make.  Corporations made bad decisions.  Individuals made bad decisions.  And yet the markets never get a chance reach an equilibrium when people constantly step in and bail out losers.  And no, and I’m an advocate of a completely free market that allows losers to die.  Neither, by-the-way, are most economists.  However right now there are plenty of people that have more incentive to stop paying their mortgage because it will get them a better rate.  Um, how does that work?  How is it that I pay my house payment on time, every month, yet the reward goes to the person that misses payments?  That’s one hell of a perverse incentive. 

The first thing we need to do about teaching Economics is reinforce the idea that Economics is about choice and consequences.  We can teach basic Economics students about Quantitative Easing and Reserve Currency and the entertainment that is European Banking until we are blue in the face, and nothing will change because we constantly miss the point;  you can’t always get what you want.