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A Short History of America’s Middle Class – Part 3/3

In 1800, most Americans (94%) worked and lived on farms. After the Civil War, many left the farms to work in factories but the pay was low for men and even lower for women and children (a situation similar to what has been happening in China for the last few decades–this evolutionary transition happened in the US first. Now it is repeating itself in other countries.).

If life was so harsh in the cities and factories, these migrants could have stayed on the farms and I’m sure most would have if life had been better on the farm, but it wasn’t. For a migration of this size to take place means those people were desperate. That many people do not walk away from a good thing to be treated as if they were slaves.

Legally, children as young as age three worked in US factories (this is illegal in China today). A high number of children also worked as prostitutes (also illegal in China today). Many children (and adults) worked 16 hour days. That would not change until 1938 with the Federal regulation of child labor in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

For an example of what life was like in the US for children before 1938, the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission paints a vivid picture:

“From the early 1800s, children were an integral part of the textile industry’s work force. In the Manayunk district of Philadelphia, children as young as seven assisted in the spinning and weaving of cotton and woolen goods. By 1828, nearly half of Manayunk’s one-thousand laboring residents were children under the age of fifteen. In nearby Kensington, children labored as bobbin boys and girls from sunrise to sunset earning one dollar per week. Exhausted at the end of the work day, some slept in doorways and alleys near the mills. Philadelphia’s 1820 census found that 40 percent of the eleven-hundred workers employed in some thirty-nine textile firms were children.

Annie Lowrey of the New York Times on 9-21-2012, reported on a study of Who Makes It Into the Middle Class, and education plays an important role but so does the environment and family a child grows up in.

Lowrey wrote, “Isabel V. Sawhill, Scott Winship and Kerry Searle Grannis tackled the question of why some children make it to the middle class and others do not, studying criteria that tend to be indicative of later economic success and examining how race, gender and family income come into play.”

The study discovered that graduating from high school was not enough.

In fact, a child that graduates with a grade-point average above 2.5 with no criminal conviction and no involvement in a teenage pregnancy had an 81% chance of joining the middle class as an adult. A child that does not meet this criteria only had a 24% chance.

The study found that “Children from disadvantaged families are less likely to be ready for school at age 5, less likely to be competent elementary-school students, less likely to graduate from high school without a criminal record or a child, and so on.”

I find it interesting that the study did not blame public school teachers for this.

Benchmarks for measuring the success of public schools is set by politicians in Washington DC and the capitals of the fifty American states, and teachers have no say in those benchmarks. In addition, public school teachers (all college educated with additional training required before becoming a credentialed teacher) have very little to do with the curriculum they teach or the methods used to measure success or failure of the public schools in the United States.

For example, if the Congress and White House says teachers must jump ten feet and they only jump seven, then they have failed and that is how the media reports it. Nowhere do any of these benchmarks for measuring the success of public schools include parents and the environment a child grows up in. Teachers are told to jump ten feet (with no pole, pogo stick or trampoline to help) with no consideration for the impossible.

The formula for education is simple:

teachers teach + students learn + parents help in every way possible and that equals education.

Teachers cannot replace parents or learn for his or her students. All a teacher can do is teach. If a child goes home and does not study or read, the teacher cannot jump the ten feet that Washington DC demands.  If you still are not convinced, I suggest reading Not Broken.

What is wrong with the US Congress and the White House that they are so blind they cannot see this?

Return to A Short History of America’s Middle Class – Part 2 or start with Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

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What the Numbers say about Creating Jobs in America – Part 2/4

It is a tragedy how fast most Americans forget the root causes of the current financial challenges in America.

Three lawmakers, all Republicans, introduced the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to the U.S. Senate.  During the debate in the House or Representatives, a democrat from Michigan argued that the bill would result in banks becoming “too big to fail” (sound familiar). At first, most democrats were against the bill but eventually, due to compromises, the effort of corporate lobbyists and deal making, many democrats were won over to vote for it.

Keep in mind that the Republicans won a majority position in both houses of Congress in the elections of 1994, and controlled both houses until 2006—except the Senate for most of 2001 and 2002, when the Democrats held the majority in that one House of Congress.

Therefore, in 1999, Republicans were the majority in both houses of congress. When the final Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act passed in the Senate, the vote was 90 to 8 (92%) and in the House 362 to 57 (86.3%)

Even if President Clinton had wanted to veto it, which he didn’t, he wouldn’t have succeeded since a two-thirds majority vote (66%) in both Houses of Congress is required to override a presidential veto. Since the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act arrived at the White House for President Clinton to sign with more than a two-thirds majority vote in favor, there wasn’t much he could have done if he had wanted to.

Then, during the Bush years (2001 – 2009), the United States launched three expensive wars: The Iraq War—based on false claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction—the war in Afghanistan, which was mostly neglected under Bush, and the global war on terrorism.

Due to these wars and the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the national debt exploded.

I’m sort of going off topic with this paragraph, but I saw “Act of Valor,” which is about the Navy Seals and the CIA fighting the global war on terror. I recommend “Act of Valor”. The acting may be a bit stiff but that is not the point. The realism makes this movie worth watching. This is no Rambo or Mission Impossible. “Act of Valor” is closer to the reality and what America’s Navy Seals face as they fight to protect America. Politicians and corporate lobbyists might be corrupt and greedy for power and money, but America’s men and women mostly from the working class serve in the military out of patriotism.

Back on topic—President G. W. Bush, with help from the GOP majority in both Houses of Congress, lowered taxes for the wealthiest Americans (the lowest rate in almost 80 years—the last time the rate was this low was before the Great Depression and experts say this contributed to that economic collapse).

On February 9, 2012, the official debt of the US government had reached $15.4 trillion—an increase of $5.9 trillion since President Obama moved into the White House. While the GOP blames Obama for that debt during an election year, we must not lose focus on how much Obama inherited when he was elected president.

According to the Huffington Post, lowering taxes for the wealthy costs the U.S. Treasure $11.6 million every hour.

Total, the cost of the Bush tax cut for the top 5% of income earners since 2001 is more than one trillion dollars, which is about $100 billion annually. Source: Cost of Tax Cuts.com

Interest from the national debt, which President Obama inherited from Presidents Reagan, H. W. Bush and G. W. Bush is about $400 billion annually. Source: US Debt Clock.org

On top of that $500 billion annually, the wars G. W. Bush started has cost more than $1.3 trillion since 2001—that’s another $130 billion. Source: Cost of War.com

However, the cost was more than just money. According to the Congressional Budget Office, since combat is being financed with borrowed money, the price tag for these wars is not over, and if Bush had not gone to war over false claims of weapons of mass destruction  in Iraq, 4,482 Americans would not have been killed; more than 32,000 would not have been wounded (medical care for these wounded combat veterans will costs hundreds of millions in the decades to come); about 114,000 Iraqi civilians would still be alive and Iraq has cost more than $800 billion so far.

In addition, CalSTRS probably would still be funded close to 100%, as it was in 2001, for future obligations to its 856,360 members, while the 429,600 active members paid about $3 billion dollars into the retirement fund in 2011—money taken from monthly paychecks of working educators.

Continued on March 1, 2012 in What the Numbers say about Creating Jobs in America – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Eager to Learn or Not – Part 3/10

After the NCLB act became law while President G. W. Bush was still in the White House, teachers had to be both teacher, parent and responsible for the student to learn, while most of the nation seemed to believe a modern fable that every child is equal and has a right by law to be happy all the time.

However, the Constitution of the United States, which offers protection for American citizens from the tyranny of government, uses the word “equal” only eight times.

Only once does the word “equal” refer to common citizens when the Constitution says the people have equal protection of the laws.

The other seven times the word “equal” deals with the process of government and has nothing to do with people outside of the federal or state systems.

In fact, studies prove that teachers are teaching while there is plenty of evidence that some students are not learning what is being taught.

If you don’t remember what your teachers taught you about the meaning of the US Constitution (Whose fault is that?), then I suggest you visit the U.S. Constitution online and search for the word “equal” and read each section where the word is used in any of its forms.

If you want to know where “equal” was used differently than the U.S. Constitution, you will have to discover that from the Declaration of Independence, which is not the law of the United States.

Instead, the Declaration of Independence was a document signed by America’s Founding Fathers and sent to the king of England as a notice that thirteen colonies in North America (except Canada) were willing to fight to be free of the British Empire.

Once the thirteen colonies earned their freedom from the British Empire, the Declaration of Independence, became history and has never been (before and after the revolution) the law that guides the US government.

Continued on July 13, 2011 in Eager to Learn or Not – Part 4 or return to Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Putting the Blame where it Belongs — Part 1/6

It is absurd and stupid to blame teachers for students that do not do class work, homework, and study for tests or read books outside class.

Washington D.C. and the president of the United States are demanding that teachers do the impossible.

We must repeal the No Child Left Behind Act and enact into law “No Student and/or Parent Ignored” (NSPI), because that is what we are doing—ignoring the students and parents.

An old friend suggested this idea, and it is how America will resolve its problems with public education.

The reason students do not show gains on the Academic Proficiency Index is NOT because of bad or boring teachers or teacher unions.  It is because most of those students are not doing homework, studying for tests or reading outside of school and many are not reading in school.

Since no one in Washington D.C. and/or the White House has placed blame where it should be, on students and parents, then why should students work?

Students must be held responsible to learn but they are not. Instead, many are encouraged to feel good and have fun and/or are ignored by parents.

After all, thanks to “No Child Left Behind”, parents are not responsible for their child’s education—only teachers have been held responsible. However, teachers cannot follow 150 to 200 students home and make sure they do homework, read and study each day.

A Kaiser Generation M2 – Kids/Youth/Media Survey (January 2010) said, “Total Media Exposure for all 8 to 18 year old’s average amount of time spend with each medium in a typical day was 10:45 hours

That average 10:45 hours was divided up with 4:29 hours spent watching TV; 2:31 hours listening to music; 1:29 hours on the computer; 1:13 hours playing video games; 30 minutes reading print media, and 25 minutes watching a movie.

If this is what the “average” child is doing daily in the US, when are they doing homework, reading or studying?

Continued on May 16, 2011 In Putting the Blame where it Belongs – Part 2, where we shall see my “old” friend’s solution to solve this problem.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

 

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