Ohio

by Harry on November 9, 2011

Just wanted to give our Ohio readers a chance to tell us how inordinately pleased they are with themselves. And to tell anyone who doesn’t yet know that, in an exceptionally high turnout, Ohio voters defeated their state government’s union busting legislation by a large majority. Well done everybody. And, from your friends in Wisconsin, thanks. Fantastic.

{ 106 comments }

1

Steve LaBonne 11.09.11 at 2:32 pm

Thanks right back to you. I firmly believe that we might not have been able to accomplish this if the good people of Wisconsin hadn’t shown the way. Many Ohioans will be be rooting for (and contributing to) the Walker recall campaign.

2

FS 11.09.11 at 3:07 pm

It’s unfortunate that they also strongly supported Issue 3.

3

Steve LaBonne 11.09.11 at 3:16 pm

It’s unfortunate that they also strongly supported Issue 3.

Or as I call it, the “Full Employment for Lawyers Amendment”. I was hoping the large No on 2 turnout would swamp it, but people can still be sucked in by plausible-sounding bullshit and inexplicably there was no organized campaign to get the truth out.

(For non-Ohioans, Issue 3 was a teabagger-written state constitutional amendment that purports to nullify the Affordable Care Act in Ohio- which of course it can’t actually do- but which as a side effect will tie almost all state laws affecting health care in knots and assure many years of pointless and wasteful litigation.)

4

christian_h 11.09.11 at 3:21 pm

This is a brilliant result really. Congratulations to all involved.

5

marcel 11.09.11 at 3:32 pm

“And to tell anyone who doesn’t yet know that, in an exceptionally high turnout, Ohio voters defeated their state government’s union busting legislation by a large majority.”

Unusually high turnout, eh? Smells like vote fraud, dontcha think?

6

Marc 11.09.11 at 3:40 pm

There was no effort put into Issue 3 because it was both worded in a deeply confusing way and pointless (it’s clearly unconstitutional.) So I wouldn’t read much into that one at all. Issue 2 was where the action was.

This is good news for the other ballot issues that are going to be decided in 2012 (voting rights, and most likely the redistricting map.)

7

Salient 11.09.11 at 4:25 pm

Also too: Tentative and conditional congratulations, but also wild and enthusiastic applause, to Arizonians for trouncing Russell Pearce.

8

JazzBumpa 11.09.11 at 4:35 pm

As a displaced Ohioan, I (for once) am very proud of my former home state. As Steve pointed out, we all owe a lot to Wisconsin – and to Ed Shultz, who put the spotlight on the Wisc. protests when everyone else was ignoring them.

Mississippi trounced the blastocyst citizenship amendment, too.

I think everything that needed to go down did.

Things might be looking up. Recalling Walker is next.

Cheers!
JzB

9

Jeremy 11.09.11 at 4:53 pm

SB 5 had a provision that would have specifically taken away the right of university faculty to unionize. So its defeat is a real victory for faculty unionization.

10

Margaret 11.09.11 at 5:07 pm

As a Wisconsinite, I am grateful for the thanks of Ohians, displaced and otherwise. But I have been wondering, given the overwhelming success of the Ohio referendum, what might have been the case in Wisconsin if we had had referenda as an option, instead of recalls.

11

someguy 11.09.11 at 5:33 pm

What a horrible horrible result for America. Are Ohio voters going to vote for the taxes to close the pension gap? F no. No chance of that ever happening.

More mindless signalling. We likes Teachers and Police! Yeah Teachers and Police! Double boo taxes!

But hey the pension gap is only 1.26 Trillion dollars and growing. [For the nation as whole.] So BFD.

Disgusting.

12

Steve LaBonne 11.09.11 at 5:45 pm

Sorry to respond to sometroll, but for the record, Ohio’s pension systems (especially mine, PERS) are actually in much better shape than most public pension systems. Not one of the systems has asked for tax dollars. Instead, the boards of all the systems have been recommending, for the past two years, adjustments to contributions and benefits to keep the funds healthy for many years to come (and which require changes to existing law). So what have Kasich and his Klowns done about that? NOTHING. Instead, they’ve whiled away their time with purely political crap like SB5 (plus all sorts of anti-abortion garbage) which has nothing to to with saving the taxpayers of Ohio one thin dime. And instead of engaging in responsible budgeting, they’ve dumped the cost of balancing the state budget on the backs of localities and school districts.

Go crawl back into your hole, lying asshat. The voters of Ohio have proved that they’re too smart to be fooled by the likes of you. Now that they understand what’s what, your buddies will be thrown out on their asses in upcoming election cycles.

13

AcademicLurker 11.09.11 at 6:03 pm

As an Ohioan (for a few more months), I have to say it’s a proud day.

What I’d like to know, though, is when will people realize that Republicans always overreach when they get elected. It’s not as though there are any moderate Republican politicians left anymore. If you vote R, you vote for an extremist agenda every time.

It would be nice if people would finally figure that out. Instead, they repeatedly act shocked when the Republicans they elect trash the place.

14

Harry 11.09.11 at 6:10 pm

If there is any future growth, the union movement, the public sector part of which is the backbone, are the only thing standing in the way of the wealthy continuing to grab the lot. Adjusting pension systems really won’t help with that; indeed it might harm it by making it harder to fool people like someguy. There is such a thing, though, as overplaying your hand, and I am starting to think it is possible they have done that.

15

joel hanes 11.09.11 at 6:12 pm

The voters of Iowa State Senate District 18 quietly prevented the Republicans from completing their domination of the state government by electing the Dem, Mathis, 56 % / 44 %. Only a one-seat majority in the State Senate, and the courage and acumen of Majority Leader Gronstal, have prevented in Iowa the kind of destructive teabaggery that we’ve seen in Wisconsin and Ohio.

16

Steve LaBonne 11.09.11 at 6:15 pm

They ALWAYS overplay their hand. The trouble is, each time they’re in power they do damage that is sometimes almost impossible to repair. We desperately need sane voters to realize once and for all that there is no such thing as a non-extreme, or trustworthy, Republican. If we can win that battle then we’ll have the breathing space to begin the long, hard struggle of taking back the Democratic Party for the people.

17

ScentOfViolets 11.09.11 at 6:18 pm

Sorry to respond to sometroll, but for the record, Ohio’s pension systems (especially mine, PERS) are actually in much better shape than most public pension systems. Not one of the systems has asked for tax dollars.

The other fact that merits response to the troll is that those employees have already paid for those pensions, which is part of their compensation in an officially negotiated contract.

Why they think pointing out to the public that police and teachers shouldn’t get pensions because conservatives have raided the till is good strategy is beyond me.

18

someguy 11.09.11 at 6:19 pm

Steve LaBonne,

http://downloads.pewcenteronthestates.org/The_Trillion_Dollar_Gap_final.pdf

And as the study indicates that number is low. The number was for 2008 and accepted the un-realistic rates of return set by state funds

Yes Ohio is well run in comparision to other woefully managed states. But that isn’t saying much. It is still badly maanaged 87% of pension benefits and 36% of health care and other benefits are funded. And that is in 2008 at calculated ROR of something like 8%.

You seem a little angry. Worried that you might not get your private health care insurance for life? Worried that you will end up in the public health care system you advocate for everyone else?

I guess that is a good sign. Hope springs enternal.

19

Steve LaBonne 11.09.11 at 6:26 pm

Again, the board of OPERS has been recommending for the past two years adjustments that would cost not a single tax dollar and would restore full 30-year funding of both funds (retirement and health). The response of the Republican legislature? [crickets]

Transparent lies are another thing that’s not a good strategy. But some people just can’t help themselves.

20

Blain 11.09.11 at 6:33 pm

Kudos to Ohio!

21

someguy 11.09.11 at 6:42 pm

Look at all the public employees calling the tax payer a silly fool for pointing out 1+ trillion dollar pension gap.

http://downloads.pewcenteronthestates.org/The_Trillion_Dollar_Gap_final.pdf

Promising to grossly over pay Harry, ScentOfViolets, Steve LaBonne, and the rest the nations public employees in the form of unfunded pension benefits will not keep the rich from getting even richer it will only make tax payers like me poorer.

22

Steve LaBonne 11.09.11 at 6:51 pm

Again the troll posts a link to a study that graded Ohio as one of the “solid performers” (see p. 43), as though it supported his lies. It is to laugh.

People who read this blog are not as dumb as you, sometroll. Try Redstate.

23

Henri Vieuxtemps 11.09.11 at 6:51 pm

So, if pension funds are not fully funded at the moment, then everybody must be against collective bargaining? Something seems to be missing there, in the middle.

24

MPAVictoria 11.09.11 at 6:59 pm

“The other fact that merits response to the troll is that those employees have already paid for those pensions, which is part of their compensation in an officially negotiated contract.”

Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner. As a member of a union I took lower pay than my private sector counterparts with equivalent education in exchange for better benefits and more job security. This was the deal.

25

AcademicLurker 11.09.11 at 7:04 pm

those employees have already paid for those pensions, which is part of their compensation in an officially negotiated contract.

I always find it interesting how libertarians, who are supposedly all about the Sanctity of The Contract, love the notion of reneging on pension plans.

26

ScentOfViolets 11.09.11 at 7:14 pm

An amusing fact – this troll’s tribe were the same people who were making disparaging comments about public employees back in 2004, but back then the sneer was that they were lower-paid than their private counterparts because a)they were relative incompetents, and b)they weren’t heroic risk takers, preferring instead a smaller but more reliable income stream – what a bunch of scaredy cats!

Yet now that it looks to a lot of people that these unprepossessing, rather meager creatures played their cards right after all, why, strangely enough, people like someguy just can’t bear to admit that maybe they called this one wrong.

What a weakling.

27

someguy 11.09.11 at 7:24 pm

Again, yes, the study lists Ohio as solid performer. In comparision to other mis managed states. Which is like saying someone weighing 400 pounds is in pretty good shape when compared to 700 pounders.

Again -It is still badly managed 87% of pension benefits and 36% of health care and other benefits are funded. And that is in 2008 at calculated ROR of something like 8%.

‘Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner. As a member of a union I took lower pay than my private sector counterparts with equivalent education in exchange for better benefits and more job security. This was the deal.’

No. The deal is you spend the most on the electoral process

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303339504575566481761790288.html

and in return are given the most rent.

28

Steve LaBonne 11.09.11 at 7:30 pm

Again, yes, the study lists Ohio as solid performer. In comparision to other mis managed states

Another lie. Ohio is in pretty good shape (cops and teachers a bit less so than PERS), period, in absolute not relative terms, and was so recognized by Pew. And once again, the Republicans have simply refused to make such adjustments, at no cost to the taxpayer, as are actually needed. Furthermore, SB5 had nothing at all to do with the soundness of the pension funds and your comments are as off-topic as they are dishonest.

Time to ban this troll.

29

understudy 11.09.11 at 7:37 pm

“I always find it interesting how libertarians, who are supposedly all about the Sanctity of The Contract, love the notion of reneging on pension plans.”

I’m a libertarian, a contract should be between two opposing parties trying to negotiate for their best respective positions. Unfortunately when 18% of the electorate vote (as in my city yesterday), and city employees alone make up more than 1/3 of that total, the contracts for city employees are “negotiated” by a mayor, and approved by a city council, that receive significant donations from the employee unions that work for them. Kinda like how most folks on this board view Haliburton’s defense contracts from 2003. This contract is not binding on me because of the collusion between the two parties negotiating it. Just because you bought a politician to say it is legal doesn’t make it right. Public employee retirement benefits will be going down, not because of hatred of the employees, but because we can’t afford it (at least in my city).

30

Salient 11.09.11 at 7:41 pm

someguy’s doing a pretty good job of exemplifying “Folks that make intimidating and brutal comments that do not rise to the level of overt threat, intentionally as provocative & hurtful as possible.” There are many names for such a person, ‘troll’ doesn’t quite capture the violence of it. In fact, Glen Tomkin’s principle applies: to call someguy a troll defames trolls.

The most brutal line so far was, as it usually is, of the form “You seem a little angry.” This is the verbal equivalent of making “what, you gonna come at me? let’s go” inward-pointing motions after drunkenly lurching into a room and socking a stranger in the face. It’s painfully bothersome that he’s decided to stick around and swing his empty mug around the bar; maybe we should give the fellow his space rather than confront him. *shuffles over ten or fifteen feet* Ok.

Anyhow, yesterday was a thoroughly satisfying day. Between this and AZ and the continuing steady growth of OWS as a well-mobilized information and advocacy network, it’s almost feeling safe to not despair from time to time.

The non-Ohio media coverage was interesting: for example, “Polls show double-digit support for the unions” is impressively ambiguous. I’d mistakenly thought that Ohio’s redistricting was going to be put to a referendum this week, but apparently that’s not until 2012 — and badly in need of around 200,000 signatures. Celebratory Ohioans might find opportunities to mention this to other celebratory Ohioans; it’s a much more technical issue, and it would be nice to appropriate some momentum from Issue 2.

31

js. 11.09.11 at 7:50 pm

Cheers from a Pennsylvanian. Fantastic result really.

someguy: will you go away if I tell you I think you’re speaking God’s truth? Because I do, really.

32

Anderson 11.09.11 at 7:52 pm

This contract is not binding on me because of the collusion between the two parties negotiating it.

Understudy is clearly waiting tables to support his acting career, and not, say, attending a law school. Or else it’s a very strange law school.

Libertarians are just too pure for this world.

33

MPAVictoria 11.09.11 at 8:10 pm

“No. The deal is you spend the most on the electoral process”

Oh yeah. It is big money from unions that is the true poison in the veins of the electoral process. Not anonymous money from corporations and plutocrats.
Moron.

34

someguy 11.09.11 at 8:19 pm

The latest PEW data

http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/uploadedFiles/Pew_pensions_retiree_benefits.pdf

2010 projetction.

Show that Ohio is down to 66% funded for pension benefits and 31% funded for Health Care and other costs. Those are bad numbers.

That 31% means Ohio has the 3rd highest funding rate out of the states that provide private health insurance for life. I don’t think that means Ohio is ok or well managed. I think those are horrible numbers.

Are they better managed than NJ which is 0% funded? Yes. Are they well managed. No. 31% is horrible mismangement.

35

Steve LaBonne 11.09.11 at 8:35 pm

Gee, I wonder what was happening to everybody’s investments in 2009-10? (By the way, the health funds are not mandated by law- only retirement- so there is not the slightest question of bailouts ever happening there.)

And yet again, 1) the taxpayers will not be asked for a penny, and 2) the various pension boards have defined what they need in terms of contribution increases (for the cops and teachers, not PERS whose members generally retire later) and retirement-age changes to get those numbers solidly to 100%- but the legislature has done nothing.

Who pays you to spread lies here, by the way?

36

Henri Vieuxtemps 11.09.11 at 8:43 pm

Nah, he’s genuinely upset about teachers having health care. Clearly, an outrage.

37

kat 11.09.11 at 8:49 pm

I shall find more joy in this victory when and if those public workers understand that the attack on social security is an attack on them even if they are not in the system. I’ll have more joy when the war on the poor is seen as travesty equal to “the war on the middle class”. And I’ll be happy when everyone in our great state understands that our budget shortfalls have everything to do with the recession, the race to the bottom that governors pursue to lure businesses, and the erosion of our manufacturing base and nothing to do with medicaid or state workers’ insurance costs.
Nice defeat for Kasich, though.

38

Harry 11.09.11 at 8:51 pm

Someguy: you know perfectly well that the gains of growth in the past forty years have been concentrated almost entirely among very highly paid private sector workers. You also know that the US “private” health insurance system spends a very high proportion of its income, relative to public systems, on bureaucracy. Of course neither Steve nor I want to be covered by a public health system that covers only those people who the private system selects against; but, yes, I’d be happy to be in a public system that covered everyone, just like almost everyone else in the civilized world. There is wealth aplenty in our society, the question is who gets it.

By the way, I want you naming yourself (real name) in future comments. As Steve and I do. Or I will delete. I am fine with anonymity when people use it to give arguments that they might not otherwise feel free to make. But you make an accusation of bad faith against me, or someone else who uses their own name, and you do it under your actual name.

39

Harry 11.09.11 at 8:57 pm

And, you are to leave a valid email address (your own) when you post comments.

Steve may indeed be angry: nothing to do with your arguments, just that insults under the mask of anonymity make people angry, even though the people who indulge in them are pathetic.

40

someguy 11.09.11 at 8:58 pm

Henri Vieuxtemps ,

No. I am upset because

Steve and company are looking to get private health insurance for life on the taxpayers dime

all while trying to force the rest of the country into a public system.

41

Steve LaBonne 11.09.11 at 9:00 pm

kat, many of us have always gotten those things. From talking to cops I know, I’m cautiously optimistic that some of the traditionally Republican groups are starting to see the light as well, though it’s a shame that it took their own oxen being gored. But in any case this fight has built up a ground game that can be used in the progressive cause more generally. It’s OK to feel good today.

42

SamChevre 11.09.11 at 9:03 pm

A bit off-topic but please indulge me.
Steve,
You’ve mentioned a couple times that the Ohio pension scheme for public employees is entirely employee-contribution-funded (no indirect funding, or backstopping from general revenue). I haven’t been able to find any of that information elsewhere–could you point me to something? (That’s an extremely unusual design for a pension plan, and I have a bit of professional curiosity about pension plans.)

43

Steve LaBonne 11.09.11 at 9:07 pm

You’ve mentioned a couple times that the Ohio pension scheme for public employees is entirely employee-contribution-funded (no indirect funding, or backstopping from general revenue).

I said no such thing. I said that no additional taxpayer funds would be required for “bailouts.” As in all such plans there are “employer” and “employee” contributions but the key point is that BOTH are part of the compensation my employer and I agreed to in exchange for my work, and in Ohio are in fact defined by state law.

44

Henri Vieuxtemps 11.09.11 at 9:11 pm

Steve and company are looking to get private health insurance for life on the taxpayers dime

You’re right, it should be public, and for everybody. That might be a worthy goal to aspire to, and to apply your energy.

45

SamChevre 11.09.11 at 9:17 pm

That didn’t come out correctly.

I wasn’t trying to make a distinction between employee and employer contributions. I’m trying to make a distinction between specified contributions and specified benefits.

Let’s try this again: what you’re saying is that there are up-front, specified amounts that the employee and the government contribute; there’s no mechanism by which the government could need to contribute more money later?

46

Steve LaBonne 11.09.11 at 9:25 pm

Let’s try this again: what you’re saying is that there are up-front, specified amounts that the employee and the government contribute; there’s no mechanism by which the government could need to contribute more money later?

I suppose there might be, for retirement benefits (definitely not for health care); that would be case law, not defined by statute, and I’m not a lawyer and would not care to predict how judges might rule. The important point is that the systems are not asking for that and instead are asking for concessions on the part of their members (somewhat painful ones for the cops and teachers, less so for other employees)- and still the legislature, which must act in order for this to happen, has done nothing.

47

Watson Ladd 11.09.11 at 9:25 pm

So why do public pensions exist? Wouldn’t the employees prefer to get cash and save it, free from the possibility of future generations welching? Or is the tax structure really that biased in favor of pensions?

48

SamChevre 11.09.11 at 9:30 pm

Wouldn’t the employees prefer to get cash and save it

No, not usually. Pensions, when they’re well-designed and well-funded, are a really good idea, as my idea when I’m 35 of how likely I am to live to be older than 80 is very imprecise. I like pensions; they are true insurance mixed with a forced savings plan. (Also, I’m a geek.)

Now, pensions have historically been very popular because they were dramatically underfunded (and so looked cheap.) A lot of the tension in public pensions comes from realizing that fact and trying to figure out how to respond.

49

Steve LaBonne 11.09.11 at 9:30 pm

Watson- No and yes respectively. And it’s cheaper for public employers to provide part of compensation in the form of pension benefits rather than cash. Moreover, contrary to wingnut legend, defined-benefit pensions are actually quite cost-efficient (but of course they don’t work when employers are allowed to welsh on their contributions, i.e. steal from their employees).

50

Steve LaBonne 11.09.11 at 9:48 pm

Oh, Sam- I do think we have a relevant precedent for what would happen if one of the pension systems ever couldn’t pay the promised benefits. A few years ago the Ohio Supreme Court declared the state’s system of funding public education to be so unfair that it violates the state constitution. Guess what the legislature has done since to come into compliance? Bupkis. Guess what the court has done to enforce its decision? Squat. It’s a dead letter. That’s why the pension systems know they have to fix their shortfalls themselves- if only the grandstanding Republicans would let them. It’s infuriating.

51

Bernard Yomtov 11.09.11 at 9:58 pm

Understudy,

I’m a libertarian, a contract should be between two opposing parties trying to negotiate for their best respective positions. Unfortunately when 18% of the electorate vote (as in my city yesterday), and city employees alone make up more than 1/3 of that total,

I suggest you take your complaint up with the 82% who didn’t vote. As I understand it, the repeal was widely expected to be successful, so obviously the 82% didn’t oppose it strongly.

52

Salient 11.09.11 at 10:00 pm

There’s even more than what SC and Steve said in response, Watson — In a sane world, pooling a lot of money together should result in higher rates of return than small individual accounts independent of each other. If you have 5000 workers saving 100 dollars per year each, they’ll get negligible interest. But it’s possible to get decent interest rates for a $500,000 account. More money consolidated, more leverage. The same logic works if you have them save 1000 dollars per year, etc, etc.

Now ok, this goes off the rails and into the gulch immediately if the money is managed irresponsibly or invested in high-risk investments, but using pension intake to buy U.S. government bonds or investing it in FDIC-guaranteed money market savings accounts or a slew of FDIC-guaranteed certificates of deposit seems a priori uncontroversial. Buying bonds should more or less keep up with ordinary inflation, at least.

I guess maybe against the zero lower bound, the added value of pooling all employees’ savings money together is negligible, since bond interest rates are so anemic. Hopefully that’s not the new normal.

53

Sebastian H 11.09.11 at 10:06 pm

“The other fact that merits response to the troll is that those employees have already paid for those pensions, which is part of their compensation in an officially negotiated contract.”

This is only true for various definitions of ‘paid for’. If a pension is underfunded, which nearly all of the public pensions are, that means that they aren’t being properly paid for, or they are being poorly managed, or both. That doesn’t mean that the pensioners have an unlimited moral right to raising taxes as much as they want to cover the lack of earlier funding. The current dynamic appears to be–public service unions employ public choice/capture strategies to have more influence over negotiation than the average taxpayer. They favor paying later to paying now, because later their own taxes won’t be implicated, it will be some other generation’s taxes. The baby boomers favor paying less than their own fair share both in taxes while they are working, and by taking an unsustainable share in retirement when they are not working.

As usual the Baby Boomers found a great way to to screw everyone both coming and going.

Now this isn’t exclusively a union problem at all. The same game was played with the Social Security ‘deal’. The Baby Boomers engineered the ‘deal’ so that when they were in their own peak earning years they would pay lower income taxes, and when they retired they would get higher benefits than anyone else–to be paid for by taxing subsequent generations at a much higher rate when they are in their peak earning years.

The problem is that unless you have a fantastically growing economy, which it appears we can’t count on, these ‘promises’ that the Baby Boomers made to themselves with the money of future generations can’t be paid for without beggaring the future generations.

Which maybe you don’t care about.

Now removing collective bargaining rights is a stupid way to attack the problem, so I’m happy that the Ohio measure didn’t pass. But that don’t confuse that with thinking that the public pension system is going to be hunkey dorey without fucking over future generations who appear to be slated to be getting paid much less than you did while getting taxed at a much higher rate than you did.

54

Steve LaBonne 11.09.11 at 10:14 pm

Which maybe you don’t care about.

Of course not, because it’s a goddamned lie. The truth is that SS taxes were raised, under Greenspan’s grand bargain, well beyond what was needed to pay benefits at the time, with the promise that the extra would be saved for future benefits. Instead conservatives stole the money to pay for unfunded wars and tax cuts for the rich, and want to welsh when the bills come due.

55

Henri Vieuxtemps 11.09.11 at 10:39 pm

So, the whole controversy is about the difference between state employees insurance vs Medicare, both paid by taxes? Seems petty and misguided. Of course it would be better to have one public insurance for everybody. Medicare is also underfunded; a garden variety single-payer health care system would fix it all.

56

cian 11.09.11 at 11:13 pm

More money consolidated, more leverage.

Erm, that’s not really true. I think there are good reasons for public pensions. The admin costs alone in private penions have a tendency whatever might be gained from stocks (and remember kids – the returns since the 80s were unusually high – so don’t count on them), but just because you have a billion dollars doesn’t mean you’ll get abetter rate of interest than somebody with $100,000. And on the whole, the bigger a fund is, the worse the return.

57

Watson Ladd 11.09.11 at 11:18 pm

Steve, taking the money and investing it might screw up the general account but it remains in the Social Security account.

Henri, there is a difference between my taxes paying for things I use and for the pay for other people. The question is why one group of beneficiaries does so well.

cian, index funds and CAPM seem to suggest that the risk of welching is now quite high. This is what made private pensions vanish: when Congress passed laws insuring pensions the costs suddenly rose to the true amount and it because much easier to just have everyone save what the company would be saving anyway. The big benefit: no one can negotiate away what you already got.

58

Alan 11.09.11 at 11:18 pm

Another UW system prof thanks my Ohio friends! I even feel friendlier toward my Buckeye ex!

59

ScentOfViolets 11.09.11 at 11:49 pm

Ironically, pension plans in the private sector have also been systematically underfunded for many years. The difference is that private industries have been more or less successful at shucking their obligations and stiffing their former employees to the point where in many cases investors get all their money back before pensioners ever see one thin dime . . . despite the promises that this would never happen when the rules for pensions were changed back in the 80’s.

Now, that’s a lot harder to do for a state level government, particularly when facing a union as opposed to individual employees with no collective rights. So what happens when they try to pull the same shenanigans? Why, try to paint those union employees as ungrateful parasites and their rather modest compensation packages as bloated payoffs from a patronage political system. Of course.

Iow, the same old, same old where if the law are the facts are against you, pound the table.

60

Lee A. Arnold 11.09.11 at 11:52 pm

It is very interesting, what is going on. It seems as if the engineering of consent by using focus groups for politicians depended crucially upon the control of mass media, and so, the era of the internet is unwinding this a bit faster. Of course, you cannot in a day overcome three decades of Reaganic momentum, or was it inertia, as it always depended upon perpetual motion over a frictionless surface. In the real world, short-term deficits should not be cause for alarm over long-term social spending, governments can save some kinds of costs, unions are one of the very few kinds of effective voice in labor markets, and taxes go right back into the GDP.

61

Salient 11.09.11 at 11:53 pm

just because you have a billion dollars doesn’t mean you’ll get abetter rate of interest than somebody with $100,000. … And on the whole, the bigger a fund is, the worse the return.

oh. I hadn’t really thought about how quickly diminishing returns would converge to effectively zero marginal benefit per extra worker’s contribution. Still, except for very highly compensated employees, still seems like the rate of return each pension-receiving worker experiences ought to be better than what they would get with their tiny parcel all by themselves, at least on average. The latter statement still flummoxes me; I can theoretically grasp that a billion-dollar fund could get the same rate of return as a million-dollar fund, but why would it receive a worse interest rate? I’m trying to envision a mechanism. Is it because buying so many bonds would somehow push available interest rates down instead of up, or would trigger inflation…?

62

Tom M 11.10.11 at 12:20 am

If as and when the various municipalities, counties and states get to the point of deciding their pension and retiree medical costs are unsustainable they will do what private companies too numerous to mention (but if you want to know a few, just visit the PBGC website) have done: file for bankruptcy ala Harrisburg.
Some guy thinks that since he already knows what will happen, anyone who would benefit from any such system should be Citizen enough to repudiate that benefit now and drag all and sundry other beneficiaries, zygotic as well as actually extant, to do the same and if you don’t, well, you are disgusting. So there.
Laws, contracts, all should be abandoned if the alternative is to raise taxes. Ewwwwwww.

63

Marc 11.10.11 at 2:10 am

State employees in Ohio are not in the Social Security system, so we take attacks on our retirement system seriously.

It’s dishonest as hell to complain about pension shortfalls in the aftermath of a market crash, by the way. And the most expensive pensions, by far, are for police and fire – because they retire early given the natures of their jobs.

Oh, and polls of the general public are generally more liberal than election results, not more liberal.

So, other than being wrong about basically everything, the conservatives here are doing just fine.

64

Barry 11.10.11 at 12:05 pm

My belief now is simple:

In the end, they will always want to loot the pension fund, because that’s where the money is. Public, private, it’s always the same. If you let them, they’ll take it.

Similarly, if they can sell you fraudulent securities, they will. They’ll take you money, and use fine print/a shell corp./corporate bankruptcy to defraud you, if the money is right.

We either defend our money, or lose it.

65

James 11.10.11 at 3:51 pm

A deal was made in good faith by the unions to secure the pensions. The deal should be honored. Now the fact that the pension plans are not fully funded will likely force either bankruptcies by the municipalities or result in much higher taxes. Without this type of pain, the system will remain broken. A system in which politicians can promise increasing public union benefits without fear of any political consequences from the taxpayers who are on the hook for the bill; while at the same time stiffing the union by withholding funding from the promised benefits.

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piglet 11.10.11 at 6:29 pm

understudy 29: it’s probably not wise to feed that troll either but is he/she actually making the argument that no public employer can ever negotiate a valid and binding contract and therefore no public employee’s contract must ever be honored?

67

Bernard Yomtov 11.10.11 at 6:38 pm

“The other fact that merits response to the troll is that those employees have already paid for those pensions, which is part of their compensation in an officially negotiated contract.”

This is only true for various definitions of ‘paid for’. If a pension is underfunded, which nearly all of the public pensions are, that means that they aren’t being properly paid for, or they are being poorly managed, or both. That doesn’t mean that the pensioners have an unlimited moral right to raising taxes as much as they want to cover the lack of earlier funding.

All right. Not “paid for” but definitely earned in accordance with the contract. The pensioners have as much moral right to insist on being paid as any other worker does to insist on being paid contract amounts for work performed in accordance with that contract. That the payer will have problems coming up with the money does not affect the right to be paid.

68

Bernard Yomtov 11.10.11 at 6:39 pm

Second paragraph above is also a quote, and is what the third (my comment) responds to.

69

cian 11.10.11 at 7:12 pm

Still, except for very highly compensated employees, still seems like the rate of return each pension-receiving worker experiences ought to be better than what they would get with their tiny parcel all by themselves, at least on average.

This could be true I guess; probably in the current environment at least.

The latter statement still flummoxes me; I can theoretically grasp that a billion-dollar fund could get the same rate of return as a million-dollar fund, but why would it receive a worse interest rate?

I’m not sure about one that invested in bonds. My gut feeling the same probably applies, but I don’t really know.

For stocks its basically because its just harder to trade and invest successfully if you have billions, rather than millions, to invest. Trades move the market, you need to make big trades, etc. Tends to be a law of the market that over a certain size, that the bigger a fund is, the worse it performs.

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Sebastian 11.10.11 at 7:14 pm

Well that is where we get to the public employee union problem. In many of our largest states (and indeed in California and New York where the pension problem is enormous) public employees unions aren’t engaging in normal arm’s length negotiations for contracts. In the teacher’s union example, very small groups can enormously influence the outcome of school board elections (mostly because your average voter doesn’t have the time and resources to deeply figure out what the hell is going on in your average school board election). Most of the time, that means that the teacher’s union also has either outright control of the board, or has enormous influence. So the contract ‘negotiation’ isn’t between the two interested parties. The negotiation gets to mostly ignore the general public, and is conducted between the union and the people the union has the power to single handedly remove from office.

As the ability to collect taxes was for schools was centralized (it used to be at the district level but was removed for various other good reasons), this contributed to a situation where the union wanted had to finance around state restrictions on cash. They did so by electing board members who were willing to make extravagent public pension promises (to be extracted from the future) without making the current payments needed to fund such promises.

This isn’t an argument about getting rid of unions, but it illustrates the public choice problems behind the pension ‘promises’. These weren’t funded promises. These were promises specifically designed to avoid the economic realities.

And the economic realities can’t be avoided forever. Again, I’m not saying that this justifies the anti-union action in Ohio. I’m saying that you’re crazy if you think this does anything good for the way public pensions are going to have to be dealt with.

71

Steve LaBonne 11.10.11 at 7:18 pm

Are corporations and their whores in Congress engaging in arms-length negotiations over all the subsidies and tax goodies they get? That’s a fucking hell of a lot bigger problem than the (semi-mythical) one of teachers’ unions getting friendly board members elected. The ability of those on the right to strain at gnats and swallow camels is remarkable.

72

Henri Vieuxtemps 11.10.11 at 7:37 pm

The top 1% in the US, a couple of million people, own 19 trillion dollars of assets; 400 own more wealth than the bottom half of the entire population. That’s the economic reality you need to be concerned about, not that some teachers might be getting meager $3k/month payments when they retire, regardless of how it’s financed.

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piglet 11.10.11 at 7:49 pm

*To the question of pensions in general.* I find the following numbers about the net worth of senior citizens interesting. According to census data reported here (http://www.newser.com/article/d9qs31qo0/census-shows-net-worth-of-older-americans-is-47-times-that-of-young-adults-widest-gap-ever.html), “Among the older-age [65 and up] households, the share of households worth at least $250,000 rose to 20 percent from 8 percent in 1984”.

This figure isn’t very impressive. You’d think that people who worked all their lives in this “land of opportunity” would have accumulated a bit more than a quarter million (which is about the value of a paid-off home and nothing more). But only 20% reach that category. It is clear from these numbers that only a minority of senior citizens could live off their savings, and almost all of them would soon be wiped out by health expenses if they didn’t have Medicare and Social Security or other kinds of retirement insurance.

How these data are reported and framed, however, is another matter. The headline of that article reads: *”Census shows net worth of older Americans is 47 times that of young adults, widest gap ever”*

It is hardly a coincidence that that kind of statement is thrown into the current debate about inequality and the 1%. It is obviously in the interest of the 1% to frame inequality in generational (or as is often the case educational) terms. And of course that is nonsense. The article states: “The typical U.S. household headed by a person 65 or older has a net worth 47 times greater than a household headed by somebody under 35.” as if there was such a thing as a typical household. Clearly, the “typical” (as in median) senior citizen household is not rich by any means, only a small minority of them is, and quite a few of them are poor. That particular use of statistics is pretty irresponsible.

Of course older people are more likely to be rich than younger ones. More to the point, today’s younger generation is in exceptionally bad economic shape. The article states that *”37 percent of younger-age [under 35] households have a net worth of zero or less, nearly double the share in 1984″*. These numbers speak to the collapse of the middle class, not to any inter-generational conflict as implied in the media.

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SamChevre 11.10.11 at 8:01 pm

I will just note that I find it very interesting, when the question of “if a group of politicians and [someone else] agree that [someone else] will provide [something] to the state, and the state will pay them, are the people of the country morally bound by that deal?” arises on this blog, how different the answer is when it’s “local public employees” than the answer when it’s “people in other countries”.

75

Barry 11.10.11 at 8:49 pm

Could you please translate into English?

76

Sebastian 11.11.11 at 1:01 am

“Are corporations and their whores in Congress engaging in arms-length negotiations over all the subsidies and tax goodies they get? “

You realize that you think this is bad, right? So when you draw the analogy you’re suggesting that the union negotiation with the union controlled board you’re suggesting that it is bad.

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Steve LaBonne 11.11.11 at 4:13 am

You realize that you think this is bad, right?

You realize that I said my example is 1) real, unlkie yours which is basically an urban legend (I’m sure one can find a few actual examples but they’re rare); and 2) orders of magnitude more important?

78

Watson Ladd 11.11.11 at 4:57 am

Steve, in the South Side of Chicago we have math teachers who can’t add. In Detroit 40% of all adults cannot read. Why are those teachers allowed to work? Why on earth do they deserve a paycheck? Fraud charges may be in order for such displays of overblown claims. It seems reasonable that some degree of capture happened.

Furthermore, while states should make binding contracts, is a judge really going to raise taxes on inhabitants who are completely different from those who voted the idiots into office who let the obligations build up unaccounted for? Or will the state be able to stiff pensioners? My bet is the latter will be the outcome: the only question is how much.

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Steve LaBonne 11.11.11 at 5:07 am

Watson, why do you suppose it is that there are teachers on the South Side who can’t add, but not in Winnetka? Really, you should go back to studying the thoughts of Chairman Bob and stop trying to deal with reality, which seems to be beyond you.

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Steve LaBonne 11.11.11 at 5:21 am

Oh, and just to emphasize the complete irrelevance of your comment to what it purported to respond to, when’s the last time the City of Chicago even had an elected school board?

81

Beleck 11.11.11 at 7:46 am

great to see push back against the lies and deception of the Elites in Ohio. one big victory, one little step. a taste of blowback .

that 400 people can control that much money means they control our society. looks like the War on America is beginning to awaken a lot of people. Good news is always welcome. lighting a fire

the least we can do is some throws wrenches into the system, screw it up so it comes crashing down. took almost 40 years to get this bad, will take time to get out.

82

Salient 11.11.11 at 2:45 pm

Steve, in the South Side of Manhattan we have brokers who can’t make their margin calls. In Florida 40% of home sales are foreclosures, due to bankers practicing bad mortgage lending and risk management processes. Why are those bankers allowed to work? Why on earth do they deserve a paycheck? Fraud charges may be in order for such displays of overblown mismanagement. It seems reasonable that some degree of capture happened.

Furthermore, while financial regulation should be binding, is a regulation agency really going to demand accountability from banks who are completely different from the banks who bundled the junk loans into opaque derivatives with due diligence unaccounted for? Or will the banks be able to stiff everyone else? My bet is the latter will be the outcome: the only question is how much.

83

Salient 11.11.11 at 2:47 pm

…that was fun. I mistyped ‘bookie’ for ‘broker’ in the first sentence and had to think for awhile about whether or not to change it.

84

Steve LaBonne 11.11.11 at 2:57 pm

…that was fun. I mistyped ‘bookie’ for ‘broker’ in the first sentence and had to think for awhile about whether or not to change it.

There’s a difference?

85

Sebastian 11.11.11 at 3:49 pm

“Why are those bankers allowed to work? Why on earth do they deserve a paycheck? Fraud charges may be in order for such displays of overblown mismanagement. It seems reasonable that some degree of capture happened.”

Yes you’re absolutely right. They are parallel situations. In neither case should we be comfortable with leaving the people who have been fucking things up for the last two decades in charge without seriously changing the oversight regime. It is seriously weird that you seem to think raising it is a disagreement.

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Salient 11.11.11 at 4:09 pm

It is seriously weird that you seem to think raising it is a disagreement.

A better parallel would be religious schools that disseminate misinformation: wronging people who don’t know any better and shouldn’t be expected to know better.

I say this as a math instructor who’s been accused of ‘not being able to add’ before, because at various times I’m so excited about the hopefully interesting point I’m about to make that I miscarry the 1 or whatever. Of course, the “schools full of math teachers who can’t add” type urban legend is just a pernicious and absurd urban legend.

But I’m with Steve on this. If you want to change the oversight regime to make it more accountable, by requiring school boards to be elected, by requiring school boards to be transparent about their funding allocations, and/or by improving the principal selection process (I’ll be vague there because there’s so many ways of doing that), you will probably have my support and my cooperation. If you just want to bust unions, you will not. (I won’t bother to explain why. We’ve been over it enough already on earlier threads.)

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Steve LaBonne 11.11.11 at 4:34 pm

In neither case should we be comfortable with leaving the people who have been fucking things up for the last two decades in charge without seriously changing the oversight regime.

You mean, get rid of mayoral control in Chicago? I’m all for that.

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cian 11.11.11 at 5:16 pm

Watson: Steve, in the South Side of Chicago we have math teachers who can’t add.

Do you have a verifiable source for this improbable sounding “fact”? Because this sounds completely implausible – not because I think the Chicago schools are particularly good, but because the vast majority of people can add. That would be akin to saying that there are English teachers who are completely illiterate.

Seriously, if that factoid didn’t trigger your bullshit detector, you might want to think about why that is? You badly need to learn some critical thinking skills, Watson. Or join a right wing think tank – one or the other.

89

Jon 11.11.11 at 5:26 pm

Watson @78: Is it a Law of the Internet that nobody questions wild canards so long as they’re made about Detroit? No, Detroit does not have a 40% illiteracy rate.

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Watson Ladd 11.11.11 at 7:04 pm

Jon, thanks for finding that.

cian, I was once in a position to grade tests that they had taken. The level of their ignorance was staggering. Of ten problems with simple expressions, most got only 5 right.This was basic arithmetic: addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. We had made the test for eight graders.

Steve, I think its because people in Winnketta vote and are motivated and able to push for better schools. The non elected nature of the Chicago school board means that its down to lobbying, which teacher unions are better motivated to do.

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Watson Ladd 11.11.11 at 7:06 pm

And for anyone who thinks money has to do with the quality of teachers, I’ve got salary data (granted from a forum) which shows that isn’t the case:
http://www.city-data.com/forum/chicago-suburbs/271551-teacher-salaries.html

92

Walt 11.11.11 at 7:11 pm

That is the least probable story I have ever read on the internet, and I’ve read the parts of the internet that explain how we’re secretly ruled by lizard people.

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Watson Ladd 11.11.11 at 7:20 pm

Salient, you aren’t the problem. The problem is the math teachers who cannot do the material they are supposed to be teaching. Boardwork errors are one thing, failing a test for eight graders quite another.

True, we need to make the school accountable to parents. The best way is to let parents decide where to send their children. Local school districts could work, if it wasn’t for the fact that not all districts are going to be faced with the same degree of parental involvement. Mayoral control could also work, if the mayor of Chicago was actually elected by those who live in Chicago. But if we go to local school districts, then we need to make sure that the school districts get the control that comes with their responsibility.

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cian 11.11.11 at 7:41 pm

We had made the test for eight graders.

You had made the test for eighth graders, but it only covered basic arithmatic. Did this not strike you, as I dunno, a little odd? Eighth graders -> basic arithmatic. Originally you said adding up. Now we have division in the mix, by tommorow I figure it will probably be calculus – this story has some legs. Are you sure it was math teachers? Maybe tweakers from the local park? Walt’s lizard people (Walt its true – look at Mitt Romney and tell me the man’s not a lizard).

And for anyone who thinks money has to do with the quality of teachers

No, I imagine it has to do with the fact that teaching in suburban high schools is easier and more pleasant. Plus, you’re less likely to get fired because your students are too tired/hungry/deprived to do well on the tests. You need to spend more time in the real world Watson – seriously.

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cian 11.11.11 at 7:45 pm

The best way is to let parents decide where to send their children.

No it really isn’t. I don’t say this because I’m opposed to it on ideological grounds, I oppose it on purely empirical grounds. In Britain we’ve had it for over ten years now, and it has been a total f**ing disaster.

Incidentally Watson, as a self-declared Marxist, why do you have such a hard on for Right wing ideas? Public choice theory, school choice, pro free-trade, privatisation of pensions. Tell me, are you familiar with the concept of false-consciousness?

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Salient 11.11.11 at 7:51 pm

Watson for the love of the good in the world there is only so much “why Watson is wrong” I can take in a week, especially when it’s necessary to sustain “why Watson’s claims are absurd” without addressing “how Watson’s claims are offensive.” It’s getting to be like a quarter of the conversations on here are people extraordinarily patiently trying to help you be a little less… I can’t decide if I should say “a little less wrong” or “a little less obtuse.” Maybe a little less of both.

Consider, as a microcosm: [1] You make a wild claim. [2] Commenter (Jon in this latest case) takes the time to hunt down some extraordinarily precisely on-topic and thorough reference material and show you your claim is every bit as much a falsehood as was patently self-evident from the moment we all read it. [3] You… thank him for sharing, and in the very next paragraph make another wild claim. Which someone else would inevitably chase down a refutation of, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s a personal assertion (I take it for granted that, despite personally discovering this astonishing and alarming result, you didn’t bother to alert anyone in a position to report on it or take action on it). I don’t mind personal anecdotes at all, but I think they should be shared only with some internal awareness, preferably explicitly acknowledged, that they might be extremely unrepresentative.

FWIW, you’re effectively accusing a whole lot of people of cheating on the ICTS and/or ETS Praxis test, as these tests examine mathematical literacy. And that’s for non-math teachers, even. Math teachers are held to more stringent numeracy requirements, which you can go look up yourself.

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Mrs Tilton 11.12.11 at 8:51 am

Incidentally Watson, as a self-declared Marxist, why do you have such a hard on for Right wing ideas?

Perhaps Watson is a Marxist of the Living Marxism sort.

It is interesting that s/he does so often work with neoliberal tropes. Often, when I read Watson’s comments, I picture Mickey Kaus in a carefully-chosen Che t-shirt, brandishing a borrowed copy of Capital and reminding himself to say “comrade” every third or fourth sentence.

And Watson, I’m not mocking you, really. I find the phenomenon genuinely interesting. It recalls for me conversations I had hundreds of years ago, back in the usenet days, with an English Marxist who over the course of several years and without ceasing to identify as Marxist evolved into, if not an American right-winger, then at least something like an Anglo version of the Radicali Italiani.

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Walt 11.12.11 at 9:57 am

Dude, say what you will about lizard people, but they know how to divide.

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Watson Ladd 11.13.11 at 1:31 pm

Salient, I’m accusing the tests of not being good enough, that is not including what we expect teachers to teach. I expect that people will know calculus by 12th grade. There is no other way to get everyone to a position where they, not the school they go to, decides where to go. So what we put on the eight-grade test was basic geometry, simplifying algebraic expressions, and quadratic inequalities.

Mrs Tilton, I think a lot of it has to do with the big divide in 1924 over how to advance the revolution. Trotsky and his supporters felt that what was needed was a revolution that like the capitalist one would realize no boundaries, and make it possible to overcome class divisions. The Stalinists decided for worldwide nationalism. In that sense one strand of communism inherited the idea that individuals should be empowered by society to decide how to live, while another felt that society should create an adequate form of life for everyone. The two are not the same.

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Salient 11.13.11 at 2:14 pm

I expect that people will know calculus by 12th grade.

Well, bully for you and your expectations. Every time we hear something more about this mysterious Anecdotal Test That Proves Your Latest Point its character changes, Watson, to the point where it has become clear you’ve been misleading us elsewhere, if not here. Consider, I could demand that you derive summation formulas and then when you slip up announce to the world you’re a math-teacher-assessor who is incapable of adding–there’s some tiny odd kernel of truth to that, but that would be deeply dishonest of me. Here you’ve gone from “math teachers who can’t add” to something like “math teachers who can’t simplify algebraic expressions or quadratic inequalities” and you’ve expended your credibility in the process. Hope it’s worth it to you. I suppose you are as welcome to just wildly make up your own standards in your head as anybody, but when you use those wildly made up standards in order to levy accusations of incompetence against an entire population of teachers, that’s where you cross the line from eccentric to insufferable.

{For those following along back and forth, by now I probably don’t even need to mention that some of the skills Watson is now describing as “eighth grade” are skills that don’t even show up on the (quite thorough and rigorous) Illinois state standards for eighth-grade students (see e.g. here) and aren’t likely to be covered extensively (if at all) in standard courses 8th graders take. Of course, Watson will probably manipulate the ambiguity of his phrase “basic geometry” to reply that he’s merely talking of identifying angle measure or something, but he overplayed his hand specifying “simplify quadratic expressions” so you shouldn’t feel any obligation to pay further attention.}

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ScentOfViolets 11.13.11 at 5:04 pm

I might add since Salient didn’t fit to mention it: as almost everyone here already knows, you don’t “simplify” quadratic expressions. The best you can do is factor them. Now, you might be able to simplify a rational expression, and that rational expression may contain quadratics (or not). But that’s something else entirely. Something that Watson, who “made up this test” didn’t know . . .

102

cian 11.13.11 at 6:33 pm

Original Watson claim: Of ten problems with simple expressions, most got only 5 right.This was basic arithmetic: addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.

New Watson claim about the same mysterious test*: So what we put on the eight-grade test was basic geometry, simplifying algebraic expressions, and quadratic inequalities

I think you’ve blown what little credibility you had Watson.

(*) Which I’m assuming is a figment of your imagination – as I think anybody else reading this will. Well maybe Andrew F will believe you.

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Watson Ladd 11.14.11 at 7:13 pm

cian, the test covered a good deal of math, but 10 of the problems were doing basic arithmetic where basic means simplifying expressions with addition, multiplication, division, and subtraction. Of those 10 problems a significant fraction of teachers failed to get a majority correct. I’m sorry about my mistyping: I don’t have a copy of the test, but I did grade a bunch of them.

The test existed. Your accusations to the contrary are false, despite my admittedly poor descriptions of it.

Salient, the question is about teaching math, not what Illinois thinks math is. We’re veering very far from the path here, but I think it likely that the involvement of educators in the standards bodies is to the detriment of what comes out. I learned math primarily sitting in a room doing problems for 8 hours a weekend. This certainly doesn’t work for everyone. But I think everyone should be able to learn mathematics to that level, and that requires teachers who can support students who are doing significantly more than the standards require.

SoV, I really don’t give a damn about the terminology for elementary operations. I don’t think about it, I just do it. No matter how complicated, one should be able to grind down to a simple form correctly and automatically to do math. And these teachers could not.

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ScentOfViolets 11.14.11 at 11:56 pm

SoV, I really don’t give a damn about the terminology for elementary operations. I don’t think about it, I just do it.

Actually . . . I apologize. It looks as if I misread what you wrote, going from “simplifying algebraic expressions, and quadratic inequalities”, which is fine, to “simplifying quadratic expressions” which is not. Again, my misreading and my apologies.

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Salient 11.15.11 at 12:41 am

We’re veering very far from the path here

It has been a very long time since I actually stopped reading a comment addressed to me while only partway through, but at this point I have my own health to think of. Your original claims were, “in the South Side of Chicago we have math teachers who can’t add. In Detroit 40% of all adults cannot read.” Both claims were transparent BS. Expect no further engagement from me. All the best to you.

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cian 11.15.11 at 10:55 am

Your accusations to the contrary are false, despite my admittedly poor descriptions of it.

Dude, your description kept changing and doesn’t support your original assertion. Even if your latest description is true, which given your credibility at this point seems unlikely, your original claim was bullshit.

I learned math primarily sitting in a room doing problems for 8 hours a weekend. This certainly doesn’t work for everyone.

Well no. But who cares about educational studies when we have dogmatic certainty on our side.

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