Tuesday, September 22, 2009

NYC Charter Schools Like Silicon Valley?

Here is an excerpt from today's Wall Street Journal (22Sep2009), in an article titled "Charter Schools Pass Key Test in Study":

"We want to make New York City the Silicon Valley of charter schools," says schools Chancellor Joel Klein, who supports lifting statewide caps. "This study shows that when districts aren't antagonistic to charter schools, and instead welcome them, the results are very powerful."

Like Silicon Valley? With 12% unemployment? Massive traffic problems? Unaffordable housing?
I suppose Klein meant "innnovation" -- that he wants the charter schools to be innovative. It is a strange simile, though. Perhaps Klein could set his aspirations higher.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Second Great Depression - Government Bailout

Just like the stock market crash of 1929 ushered in the Great Depression, so has the real estate crash of the Fall of 2008 ushered in the Great Depression II.

I was thinking that in Great Depression I, the US Government did NOT bailout any banks or other businesses. Instead, the US Government created work projects to put people back to work and into a spending mood.

This time, in Great Depression II, the government IS bailing out banks and other businesses. The US Government is giving banks and businesses money, and propping them up. BUT, the US Government is NOT doing anything for people. There are no programs to put people back to work.

Did the US Government change from 1929 to 2009? Did it change from a democracy for the people into a government of big businesses? Are our elected officials merely "corporatists"?

Manda Bala (Send a Bullet) to the Wall Street Journal

Antonio Regalado wrote an article for today's (9/9/2009) Wall Street Journal, titled "On Sao Paulo's Mean Streets, the Rich Roll in Armored Splendor". The article is all about the high tech industry of adding armor to cars. This doubles the price of the car, but keeps the wealthy clientele safer than a non-armored car. About 30,000 cars in Brazil are armored and about 120 companies provide armoring services. One of the featured young ladies in the article has a pink VW beetle that is armored.

This is not the story. Antonio Regalado, and/or his editors, have blown it big time. The real story is that Sao Paulo is a very densely populated city with 11 million people, and a huge gap between rich and poor. It is more effective and easier in Sao Paulo to kidnap a wealthy person, cut off their ear as proof that you have them, and send the ear with a demand letter to their family. You can get $20,000 - $50,000 this way. This is more profitable and gets better results than robbing a bank.

Why have the poor and destitute taken this path? To truly understand the dynamics of life in Sao Paulo, one should see the documentary film, "Manda Bala (send a bullet)".

To write a story for the Wall Street Journal describing armored cars in Sao Paulo as a new status symbol is completely irresponsible. It does not address the terrible fear of possible kidnapping by the wealthy. It does not address the political system in Brazil that fails to address the desperate poverty of the majority of Brazilian people.

This is the real story.