The IEA Continues to Hold Schools Hostage With a Heavy Hammer

Teachers in Lake Forest School Districts 115 and 67 are members of  the IEA.  This is true for teachers in most school districts across the  state of Illinois.

LFHS teachers are faced with a dilemma, particularly since, as I recently learned,the initial vote to strike by the teachers was an open vote.

Teachers  who are not in favor of striking hesitate going public with that view, as  they fear retaliation from the strong and powerful union.  Only three  teachers dared to do so at LFHS.

Just what does the IEA represent as a franchise of the NEA?   Both  are liberal organizations which support the Democrat Party and the Obama administration’s agenda, although not necessarily their members, and  certainly not for the benefit of the students.

Following is the IEA Legislative Platform for  2012-2013 approved by the IEA Representative Assembly on March l7,  2012.  It is a 40-page diatribe outlining, in no uncertain terms,  what the IEA stands for and supports.

Quickly scanning through the 40 pages I found the following nuggets to share:  www.ieanea.org/media/2012/08/2012-2013-Legislative-Platform.pdf <http://www.ieanea.org/media/2012/08/2012-2013-Legislative-Platform.pdf>

51:    The Association shall work to prevent the hiring of any replacement personnel during a strike.

140: The Association supports the “green  schools” concept in school construction , etc., and promotes solar  energy and other renewable energy sources and Earth Day.

166:  The Association shall achieve the efficient purchase of comprehensive health care insurance benefits for our members,while simultaneously increasing salary levels.

185:  The Association supports tenure at all educational levels.

485:   The Association opposes tuition tax credits for students who attend  private or parochial schools and all voucher plans, both of which erode  the states’ support of public education.

847: The Association opposes legislation that would mandate education employees to report alleged immigration violations.

875: The Association opposes home schooling because such programs lack state oversight.

As  stated earlier on, IEA members automatically belong to the NEA, as does a  percentage of their dues, which has its own liberal agenda in the vein of the one enacted by the IEA as a NEA franchise.

There isn’t a snowballs chance that Governor Quinn will ever challenge the IEA and its union  clout in a meaningful way as did Governor Walker of Wisconsin, as unions represent the “bread and butter” of the Democrat Party here in  Illinois.

But will District  115 have what it takes to defy the IEA, as the IEA and the local union are in cahoots to wrangle an agreement from LF District 115 that is perceived to be too rich by many at a time of belt-tightening and a down economy for private sector workers, even in the upscale communities of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff?

If so, this could start a positive effect if other school districts who are struggling to keep teacher salaries in check are emboldened to do the  same.

Part 2:  Beware of the  Obama Administration’s Common Core State Standards Initiative, approved by IL, and adopted by local schools

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*Noted on the Illinois Policy website on Tuesday, August 28, was that The Heartland Institute was hosting an event featuring Sheila A. Weinberg and “The Financial State of the States” on Wednesday, August 29, at 11:30 a.m.

‘The Financial State of the States’ as a  must read publication

ThornerBy Nancy Thorner –

While enjoying dinner at The Heartland Institute’s 28th Anniversary Benefit Dinner on Thursday, August 9, in the Grand Ball Room at Navy Pier, seated next to me were two women whose impressive work over a period of a few years produced the following publication: “The Financial STATE OF THE STATES.”

They were Sheila A. Weinberg, CPA, Founder & CEO, and Donna Rook, Vice President, State Data Lab, who work together at the  “Institute for Truth in Accounting” located in Northbrook, Illinois.    truthinaccounting.org

During our conversation a copy of “The Financial STATE OF THE STATES (Second Edition) was shared with me.

As the title suggest, every state in the union is evaluated to determine its financial condition.  IFTA researchers used a thorough, detailed approach comparing all of a state’s bills, including those related to retirement systems, to all of a state’s assets available to pay these liabilities.

Spotlighted are the 5 top “Sunshine States” where a Taxpayer’s Surplus exists:  1) Alaska, 2) Wyoming, 3) North Dakota, 4) Utah, and 5) Nebraska.

Contrasted are the bottom 5 “Sinkhole States” where a Taxpayer’s Burden exists:   46) Kentucky, 47) Illinois, 48) Hawaii, 49) New Jersey, and 50) Connecticut.  In Illinois each taxpayer would have to send the state a check for $31,600 to cover the state’s bills.

Conclusions reached in The Financial STATE OF STATES include:

1.  Faulty Budgeting and Accounting Principles Are the Primary Cause of States’ Financial Woes/Problems.

2.  Balanced Budgets Result in Bills in Excess of Assets Totaling Almost $1.2 Trillion.

The following graphs are included:

  • Worst 25 States, Each Taxpayer’s Burden
  • Top 25 States, Each Taxpayer’s Burden (Surplus)
  • The Financial State of the States
  • Accumulated Bills
  • Schedule of Retirement Liabilities Not Clearly Disclosed
  • Timeliness of Financial Report Release

Truth in Accounting has developed a budgeting system called “Full Accrual Calculations and Techniques” to bring truth and greater transparency to the state budget processes.

As a registered not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization, the Institute relies on contributions.

For more information about the Institute and how you can receive your copy of  “The Financial STATE OF STATES,” go to <http://www.facebook.com/truthinaccunting>   http://truthinaccounting.org/

Truth in Accounting also has a Facebook page and can be followed on twitter at Twitter.com/truthin.

“The Financial STATE OF THE STATES” (Second Edition) is a must have publication for anyone interested in the lack of truth and transparency, as it shows how states deals with their budgets and why most states have dug financial holes of debt for current and future taxpayers.

If the public were informed about the financial conditions of their levels of government truthfully, they — and their elected officials — would make better decisions.

Astronauts reminisce and look to nation’s aeronautic future

LovellBy Nancy Thorner –

Everyone 35 years or older will surely remember Neil Armstrong as the first person to set foot on the moon on July 10,1969.  Most likely they will also remember where they were on that monumental day when they watched with pride as America conquered space travel to become the first nation with the know-how to reach the moon.  It was an accomplishment that this nation owned at the time.

In short order Neil Armstrong became a household name and a great hero of the 20th century.  Armstrong’s statement uttered at the time he set foot on the moon has been carved in stone and is now quoted across the world, “That’s one small step for man: one giant leap for mankind.”

Hopefully Armstrong’s quoted phase is still being taught to school children, for his outstanding achievement and the dedication, fortitude and training necessary to accomplish his heroic feat must be passed on to future generations who must continue to strive to break new frontiers where man has never traveled before.

This spirit has always been with the American people.  It accounts for the many  achievements and advancements made since our nation was founded and which define the American people and this nation as unique.  May this spirit continue to spur Americans onward to accomplish even greater things.

This is especially important, as with the landing of the space shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida on July 20, 2011, the 30-year NASA space shuttle program came to an end.

With my home in Lake Bluff, the celebrity status of another former astronaut, James Lovell, Jr., is especially well know in the surrounding area and along the Northshore.  The Village of Lake Bluff is directly north of Lake Forest.  A good place to dine is at Lovells, a full service restaurant in the heart of Lake Forest, which James Lovell and his family opened up in 1999. On display are items that relate to Lovell’s astronaut days.

It was therefore only natural when attending Heartland’s 7th International Conference on Climate Change from May 21 to 23 of this year in Chicago, that I would approach former employees of NASA featured in one of many panel discussions to inquire if any of them were acquainted with Lake Forest’s James Lovell, Jr.

I hit the jack pot, for among them was former NASA astronaut Walter Cunningham. Walter Cunningham not only knew James Lovell, but he had trained with Lovell for many years.  Walter Cunningham was of Apollo 7 fame.   His Apollo 7 mission took place on October 11, 1968.  James Lovell’s Apollo 8 mission followed in close proximity to Cunningham’s Apollo 8 mission on December 27, 1968.

Inquiring of Cunningham why Lovell wasn’t participating with Cunningham and the other three NASA employees in their on-going letter writing campaign (They are asking NASA Administrator, Charles Bolden, Jr., to end spreading information with outlandish global warming conclusions.), Cunningham replied: “Jim is likely involved in other things, and he’s also getting old.”

Perhaps Lake Forest’s celebrity and former NASA astronaut, Jim Lovell, Jr., needs a nudge to become involved himself in the efforts of his fellow NASA compatriots to confront the exaggerations, opportunism, and myths about global warming that are all too pervasively altering the shape of our lives?

Jim Lovell, Jr., however, didn’t need a nudge to reminisce about his friend, Neil Armstrong.

Following the death of Neil Armstrong this past Saturday in Cincinnati, Ohio, at 82, Daniel I. Dorfman, a reporter for PATCH,  interviewed James Lovell, Jr. and posted the following article on PATCH Lake Forest on Sunday, August 26.

 

Lovell Reflects on Death of Friend Neil Armstrong

“When Neil Armstrong became first person to walk on moon, Lake Forest resident was his backup. They were friends for 50 years.

Some of the most profound thoughts on the death of Neil Armstrong at 82 Saturday, the first person to set foot on the moon, came from his colleague and friend of 50 years, James Lovell of Lake
Forest.

“He is the epitome of what America stands for,” Lovell said Saturday of Armstrong, as people offered accolades from The White House, NASA, Armstrong’s alma mater of Purdue and elsewhere.

Lovell was home in Lake Forest when he got the word his close friend of 50 years and the man known worldwide for being the first to step foot on the moon in July, 1969, had died.

Lovell had seen Armstrong only about a month and a half ago at Armstrong’s home in Ohio where they had lunch together.  It was the final meeting of the two men whose friendship had formed in the 1960s as they were part of the second group of American Astronauts in the Gemini program, the predecessor to Project Apollo, which was charged with a moon landing.  Lovell was in fact, Armstrong’s backup on Apollo 11, that most famous of all space missions. “I always kidded him that I was trying to break his legs so I could fly the flight but he was too healthy,” Lovell joked on Saturday.

 

Moon Landing Was Complete American Teamwork

Trying to assess Armstrong’s legacy starts with the ten words he spoke over 43 years ago as Armstrong stepped off the ladder of his space ship onto the moon’s surface and is now part of American lexicon, but Lovell looks back at his old friend another way.

“His legacy is an example if we want to accomplish a project as the American people that we must work together as a team with good leadership and be able to do that. The Apollo program is an example of what you can do if you have the will and given the authority to do something.

“It was hundreds of companies working together to accomplish a single goal. We could do that today with some of the major projects that we always seem to have controversy about and never get anyplace.”

Lovell was also asked to try and rank Armstrong’s place in U.S. history.

“What else happened in the 20th Century?” Lovell asked. “We’ve had several wars of course. We had a lot of technical achievements but landing on the moon is an accomplishment of what you can accomplish if you put your mind it.”

 

Armstrong Was There For Lovell Family in Time of Nee

As for his aborted moon mission of Apollo 13, Lovell said a picture that remains in his study is that of Armstrong watching the splashdown of the astronauts with the Lovell family.

“He was very supportive,” Lovell recalled of the aftermath of the mission that nearly ended in catastrophe.

Lovell and Armstrong subsequently sat down and discussed what happened and eventually discovered the cause of the accident.

After both men left the space program, Armstrong was rarely seen in public, forgoing what likely would have been millions of dollars in marketing opportunities, instead choosing to avoid the limelight.

“He was kind of quiet, but when he spoke, people listened,” Lovell said. “He always felt that his going to the moon was nothing unusual and that anyone of us could do that and he was just doing his job. He didn’t want to exploit his being the first on the moon. He just wanted to be part of the team that helped get him to the moon and get the other people to the moon.”

In recent years, both men were concerned about the NASA budget as the Space Shuttle program came to an end. “He was saddened that we seem to be taking a different direction in our space activities,” Lovell said.

Friday, August 24, 2012

ThornerBy Nancy Thorner –
What made the two operas Conlon selected to produce at  Ravinia 2012 so special?

I would be amiss not to share the knowledge imparted by Conlon at his two pre-preformance lectures, with the hope that at least a few of you might betempted to try opera between now and the summer of  2013 when the Ravinia Festival once again offers opera on its agenda.

While “The Magic Flute” was the last great opera Mozart wrote before his passing in 1791, “Idomeneo” was Mozart’s first major opera written when only 26 years of age.

“Idomeneo” differs from “The Magic Flute” in that “Idomenio” was written in the Italian language, while “The Magic Flute” is in German.  As a young man Mozart traveled to Italy, learned the Italian language and then returned home to Austria to write Italian opera better than a native born Italian opera composer.

Written in the style of an Italian opera, “Idomenio” employs what is known as recitative, where the dialogue or narration is sung instead of spoken in a free vocal style.

As a German opera “The Magic Flute” qualifies as a “singspiel” (literally meaning “song-play”), where the dialogue is spoken instead of sung.    app1.kuhf.org/articles/22680-Singspiel.html

Conlon, however, eliminated the singspiel from Ravinia’s production of “The Magic Flute.”  Instead actor John De Lancie served as the narrator with his witty and very-up-to-date narrative which enabled the singers to concentrate fully on their singing.


Mozart’s “Idomeneo” as a political statement?

Just as every story has a plot, the same is true for every.opera.  In opera the plot is conveyed through a series of arias (expressive melodies), through which singers portray the characters called for in the story line.

Idomeneo represented Mozart’s first commission to produce a specific work.  Richard Strauss, who much admired Mozart’s music, called “Idomeneo” a “youthful burst of youthful energy.”

The opera contains incredibly beautiful music and vocal ensembles, which was a revolutionary idea introduced by Mozart.  Here to fore it was the norm for singers not to have to share the limelight with another singer on stage.

To James Conlon’s regret, “Idomeneo” is not performed very often because of the difficulty of assembly a cast of singers all in one place capable of singing the complex vocal parts written by Mozart.

The story line of  “Idomeneo” has to do with love vs. duty or loyalty to ones country (or God), as is depicted in the story of Issac and Abraham in the Old Testament of the Bible.  The  main character in “Idomeneo” is faced with the same quandary of love vs. duty with own his son as Abraham faced with Issac, but the plot of “Idomeneo” centers on the Trojan War.

I was somewhat offended when the king’s son was portrayed by an attractive woman. To see on stage a woman expressing deep love and affection toward another woman who presumably he would marry did not set well with me.  Mozart did use women to portray men in his operas, but they remained as women and portrayed men only when the plot called for a gender disguise.

Was the choice of a woman to assume the role of a male character in “Idomeneo” a political statement on the part of Ravinia?, especially when informed that Mozart wrote the part to be sung by either a soprano and a tenor.


The Magic Flute as a fairy tale with ties to Freemasonry?

Turning to “The Magic Flute,” there is a fairy tale aspect to it.  An integral part of the story involves a magic flute and bells.  Possessing either enables those to whom they are given to stay out of trouble.

There are those who believe that beneath the surface of the fairy tale aspect of “The Magic Flute” lies veiled references to masonic rituals and symbols.

Founded in the late 18th century as the moral alternative to the Roman Catholic Church, freemasonry was very popular with the intellectually elite during the early 1780’s, during which time Mozart joined a lodge.  biblocality.com/forums/showthread.php?2080-Mozart-was-a-Free-Mason

Others are of the opinion that “The Magic Flute” was advocating for the inclusion of women in Masonic lodges, referring to “The Magic Flute” as the first openly feminist opera because of the way Mozart elevated women in its plot.
 

Looking ahead to 2014

Although the summer season is drawing to a close, likewise are Ravinia Festival offerings, don’t miss an opportunity to attend a Ravinia concert if up in the area of northern Illinois for an end-of-the-summer outing.   www.ravinia./org/Calendar.aspx

Regarding opera at Ravinia, two years is not a long time to wait until opera once again makes its appearance at Ravnia Park.  The absence of opera next summer and the anticipation of its return in the summer of  2014, will make its bi-yearly appearance at Ravinia an even greater musical treat and one that is well worth waiting for.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thorner

Summer to me means that Ravinia Festival time is here again, where music under the stars becomes available from June through the beginning of September in Highland Park, IL, about 30 miles due north of Chicago, and a short drive from my home in Lake Bluff.

During the Ravinia season the Union Pacific North Line offers service from Chicago to Kenosha, stopping at the entrance of Ravinia Park to drop off concert-goers, with service returning back to Chicago after each performance.

Summer to me means that Ravinia Festival time is here again, where music under the stars becomes available from June through the beginning of September in Highland Park, IL, about 30 miles due north of Chicago, and a short drive from my home in Lake Bluff.

During the Ravinia season the Union Pacific North Line offers service from Chicago to Kenosha, stopping at the entrance of Ravinia Park to drop off concert-goers, with service returning back to Chicago after each performance.

For decades the Ravinia Festival has been a source of gainful employment for high school and college age students who at the same time can enjoy all of Ravinia’s musical offerings at the same time.  Not unlike in past years, Ravinia 2012 finds young people employed as ushers, parking attendants, and as hostesses and servers in restaurant settings.  Most likely they are also serving in other positions behind the scenes, unseen by the public.

Welz Kauffman is currently President and CEO of of the Ravinia Festival and began his tenure in 2000. www.ravinia.org/WelzKauffman.aspx

Ravinia can also boast of its very generous private support from numerous Illinois businesses and corporations which under write and sponsor every Ravinia concert, which enables Ravinia to thrive as the premium music festival it is without government support with it propensity to dictate how funding is to be used.  Like many arts organization, ticket sales fall far short of the revenue needed to operate Ravinia Park.

Besides being the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Ravinia offers something for everyone.  Tony Bennett was the featured artist on Friday August 17.  At age 85, Bennett was able to wow a capacity crowd that filled every inch of Ravinia Park with  vocal renditions that displayed a voice that is as ageless as his music.  highlandpark.patch.com/articles/tony-bennett-wows-at-24th-ravinia-performance

Opera an early feature of the Ravinia Festival

Illinois’s Ravinia Park has the distinction of being the oldest outdoor music festival in the United States.  During the 1920’s, the iconic arch over the festival’s main entrance read “Ravinia Opera.”  During Ravinia’s 1912 season, five weeks of nothing but “grand opera” was offered for a total of 35 performances of 13 different operas.

Friends in Lake Bluff, who both lived until 100 years of age, often spoke fondly to me of having attended opera when little girls traveling by train on excursions to Ravinia Park with their Sunday School class.

Imagine today’s reaction if nothing but opera were featured at Ravinia Park!  Opera for many individuals is a musical entity that is roundly dismissed as not to their liking without even giving it a chance to be part of their musical experiences.

Perhaps the most common reason for the rejection of opera is that it has never been explained in terms that would allow whose who dismiss opera to experience opera in a way that would speak directly to them.  But there is also the language barrier.

Opera is sung in many different languages, which reflects the language selected by the composer at the time the opera was written.

In years past the story line was difficult to follow.  Even knowing the plot didn’t bring about a complete understanding of all that was happening on the stage.  Now days captions in English are featured above the stage, coinciding with the words being sung by the performers, so there is no longer a guessing game about the drama unfolding on the stage

Ravinia’s Music Director revives opera presentations

Thanks to James Conlon, Music Director of the Chicago Symphony’s summer residency, and Music Director since 2006 of the Los Angeles Opera Company, Ravinia opera has been revived during his eight-year tenure as the Ravinia Festival’s music director.

Similar to the musical, “Brigadoon”, although the mysterious Scottish village appears for only day every hundred years, every two years James Conlon turns Ravinia’s Martin Theater into an opera house, complete with English captions to be viewed above the stage.

Two Mozart opera were selected to be featured by Conlon during the current 2012 Ravinia season.  Mozart’s first and his last opera:  “Idomeneo” and “The Magic Flute”, respectively.  Performances took place on Aug. 16 and 17 in the Martin Theater, with matinee performances on August 19 and 20.

Who hasn’t heard the name of “Mozart” (Born Jan. 27, 1756 – Died Dec. 5, 1791), even if classical music appears stale and foreign to their ears?     www.biography.com/people/wolfgang-mozart-9417115

Those old enough to remember will recall the 1967 film, “Elvira Madigan,” where Mozart’s Piano Concerto provided the sound track. rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19671222/REVIEWS/712220301/1023

Mozart, as child prodigy, died young at age 36.  Even so, what Mozart was able to compose in his short lifetime is amazing and almost beyond comprehension.

Mozart’s composed works include Symphonies; Concertos; Piano music; Chamber music; Serenades, divertimenti and other instrumental works; Sacred music; Church sonatas; Organ music; Operas; and Concert arias, songs and canons.  Most of Mozart’s  major works were composed between 1781 to 1791 when Mozart was 26 to 36 years of age, at which time death prematurely ended the genius that was Mozart.   en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List-of-compositions_by_Wolfgang_Amadeus_Mozart

The Enlightenment in Europe shapes Mozart and our nation’s Founding Fathers

Much of Mozart’s music life and music were shaped by The Enlightenment which was at the time spreading throughout much of Europe, bringing the principles of reason and equality into public consciousness, and replacing the dim of the Middle Ages.   Suddenly the lights began to come on in men’s minds and humankind moved forward.

These same principles of reason and equality found their way across the Atlantic Ocean to establish the basis by which our Founding Fathers conceived this nation’s “Declaration of Independence,” with its assertions that “all men are created equal” and “endowed with certain unalienable rights.”   www.npr.org/programs/specials/milestones/990602.motm.enlightenment.html

James Conlon’s enthusiasm and love of opera was evidenced by the way he brought Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” and “Idomeneo” to life to all who elected to attend his hour-long pre-concert lectures, which ended just in time for Conlon to dash back to Martin Theater to prepare to conduct members of the CSO in the evening’s featured Mozart opera presentation.

Colon related how he likes nothing better than to introduce opera to those who have never before attended an opera performance.  And he did have the chance to do so.  It is Conlon’s practice to have a pre-concert lecture before every opera performance he conducts as music director of the Los Angeles Opera.

A Rudderless Ship Breeds Pension Reform Failure

ThornerBy Nancy Thorner –

There was much speculation and hype by Chicagoland media in the lead up to Friday, August 17, for this was the day Governor Quinn called Illinois lawmakers back to Springfield for a special legislative session under the guise of striking an agreement to overhaul Illinois’ five retirement system.

Not surprisingly, lawmakers failed to come up with a measure to rein in public employee pension costs.

The House, however, did find time to expel Chicago Democrat Derrick Smith (10th Representative District), by a vote of 100-6, for federal bribery charges.  Even so, Rep. Smith could be sworn into office again in January if re-elected by his 10th Representative District. Furthermore, Smith can’t be expelled a second time around unless he is indicted on a different charge.

Telling is that any potential reforms discussed since the early spring have all been watered-down to
nothing.

In fact, one measure introduced might have been more appropriate for an April Fool’s Day prank. Senate Bill 3168 would have forced members of the General Assembly pension system to choose between keeping their 3% compounded interest cost-of-living increases or hanging onto their state subsidized retiree health care. Target date, summer of 2013. The bill would also have eliminated pensions for any new members of the system.

Herein lies the joke aspect of the pension reform proposed by members of the General Assembly under Senate Bill 3168: In so far as the governor’s budget office has projected a savings of less than $50 million from the bill, it represents only one tenth of one percent of the state’s overall retirement debt. This is an amount too minuscule to even attempt to call a start!

The estimated pension debt is often listed as $83 billion. Ted Dabrowski, Vice President of Policy at the Illinois Policy Institute, has done the math and has concluded that Illinois legislators must actually address a total shortfall of $203 Billion.

Following is the full list the states’ reported unfunded amounts that legislators need to address to protect retirees, taxpayer and the state’s crumbling finances:

$83 billion in state pension liabilities;
$54 billion in unfunded state retiree health care costs;
$15 billion in pension obligation bonds; and
$50 billion in unfunded liabilities at the local government level.”

Governor Quinn, not unlike President Obama, prefers to put the blame on Republicans rather than on his own failed leadership and failed policies.

Although there is enough blame to go around — Democrats want to avoid angering their union base while Republicans seek to capitalize on the inaction — Democrats and Republican alike put the blame on what is called a “catastrophic failure” of leadership by Governor Quinn.

For months Governor Quinn has called on lawmakers to pass a comprehensive plan to put in place to put in place pension changes for workers across the board, but was Quinn really serious?

According to Democrat Jack Franks (Woodstock, 63rd District), in an interview heard on the Nick and Jack Saturday afternoon talk radio show on WLS-890AM the day after the special session to pass pension reform produced zilch, Quinn called the special session without any definite plans.  A deal was almost had in May, but because Quinn has changed his position so many times, Franks no longer knows where Quinn stands.

With apologies to his dad, Rep. Franks spoke of part-time public employees who pay little into their pension systems, but yet receive pensions north of $100,000 in retirement.  Franks related how his dad was one of them.

Ted Dabrowski poses this question in his article, “Illinois Pension Math”:  If Democrat-controlled Rhode Island with the second-worst funded pension system in the nation (Illinois is last) could pass a series of reforms to cut the state’s unfunded liabilities by almost 50%, why aren’t Illinois legislators able to grasp the severity of their own state’s math by enacting similar legislation?

Illinois legislators, knowing that pensions cannot be sustained, but unable to do anything about it, continue to receive little help from Governor Quinn due to his lack of leadership.  For like a rudderless ship, disaster and catastrophic financial failure looms for state and local government unless there is a dramatic reform on the structure, incentives and accountability within the five government retirement systems.

Not to do so represents a dereliction of duty to the people of Illinois by both Gov. Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly.

Enough with the bamboozle tactics of phony reform!  Real reform is called for as Illinois is facing a financial Armageddon.

 

 

The President has offered a few tidbits to encourage hiring, but nothing more substantial than a handful of hay to entice a horse back into the stable.

He has offered, for example, a one-time tax credit for hiring a new employee or a veteran. It costs a lot of money to hire, train and retain a new employee – at least twice his annual salary. A businessman has to look ahead at least three years to see if he can make a profit from that investment. All we see in the next three years under the current administration are more taxes, more regulation, and more beatings.

Obamaunion

Then are your broken promises, Mr. President?  While you and your willing Democrat cohorts continue to criticize and malign Mitt Romney over his association with Bain Capital, let’s contrast what Romney did for just one of the many companies he was able to save — Staples — in contrast to the thousands of jobs that were lost due to your foolish “Pie in the Sky” investment schemes to “Save the Planet” by pushing impractical Green Energy, projects financed by tax payers monies, such as the failed CA solar panel company, Solyndra.

Throughout Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign he promised to create 5 million “green” jobs to both mitigate employment and boost the clean energy sector.

During the fall of 2008 Obama said:  “We’ll invest $15 billion a year over the next decade in renewable energy, creating five million new green jobs that pay well, can’t be outsourced and help end our dependence on foreign oil.” 

The bankruptcy of Solyndra, which was just one of many failing green energy companies, took with it $535 million in taxpayer-funded guarantees, while more than 1,000 people lost their jobs. Even while Solyndra was failing, the Obama administration considered giving the failed company another $469 million.   

Then there is Mascoma Corporation, an underachieving green bio-fuel company in New Hampshire, propped up by tax payers monies even though the company warned the federal government its 2008 filing with the SEC that it had to experience in the bio-fuel market. This may be why in three years from 2008 to 2011, despite promises to create 70 jobs, only thee jobs were created at Mascoma Corporation. Is $40 million spent to create three jobs at $13.3 million per job a good jobs record for you, Mr. President.

And what is even more incredulous, in December of 2011 Mascoma Corporation secured an additional $80 million form the Department of Energy.  

In order to make these “green” projects seem more attractive, the Administration has taken steps to increase the cost of conventional energy. Licenses to drill for oil on public land have been denied, up to 20% of the coal fired electrical generation capacity is in danger of being shut down, and the extraction of natural gas is under attack as being environmentally unfriendly. Thus, the President is hurting the economy from both ends of the energy market.

We turn next to Mitt Romney. The following post at Godfather Politics on August 9, 2012, discredits the false accusation that Romney’s association with Bain Capitol destroyed American companies and jobs, Obama Lies – It’s Okay. Romney Tells Truth — It’s not Okay.  

“When you look at the facts, Romney was responsible for very few outsourced jobs and in fact was instrumental in saving American companies and creating hundreds of jobs.  Romney was instrumental in saving Staples from financial ruin and turned the company around which in turn created hundreds of new jobs.

Romney used private investors through Bain Capital to save companies and jobs, while Obama used and lost tax payers monies and jobs through his push to promote his green energy agenda. 

What about Obama’s track record on outsourcing jobs overseas?  You will find that billions of bailout dollars went to  jobs and companies overseas resulting in the outsourcing of American jobs to foregin countries.  Panetta’s Department of Defense awarded a $345 million contract for a light attack aircraft to a company in Brazil, rather than award the contract to a Kansas-based company that could have provided a better aircraft and put Americans to work building it.   

More outsourcing to Brazil came with a decision made by President Obama to purchase more oil from Brazil, even as the Obama administration has imposed a virtual moratorium on domestic drilling.  The U.S. Export-Import Bank has invested more than $1 billion with Brazil’s state-owned oil Company, Pterobras, to finance exploration.   

What about Columbia, South America?  That nation is also benefiting from Obama’s largess to other countries with money and American jobs.  We can’t drill for offshore oil in the U.S., but we can give $84 billion to Brazil so they can build a refinery.  A new refinery hasn’t been built in the U.S. since 1976.    

With approval from the Obama administration, a start-up electric car company in California — Fisker — established in September 2007 in Irvine, CA, was certified for a $529 million loan in September 2009 from the DOE, after the company’s founder claimed the car couldn’t find a manufacture in the U.S.  The company subsequently went overseas to partner with Valmet Automotive in Finland to produce its first model, a flashy Fisker Karma sports car, along with 500 jobs. 

To make matter even worse, when Consumer Reports bought the Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid in 2012 at its full cost of $107,000 with fewer than 200 miles on its odometer, during preliminary testing procedures the car stopped working altogether and had to be hauled away by the dealer on a flat bed truck.  

The irony of promoting all-electric vehicles is that they place an increased burden on the electric power system, already under attack from other directions. The President would replace gasoline powered vehicles with all-electric vehicles effectively powered by coal.

There was also a broken promise by Obama on the NASA space program.  When then-presidential candidate Barack Obhama came to the heart of the nation’s space program in Brevard County, Florida, he promised that he’d protect space-industry jobs in the face of NASA budget cuts under President Bush.  

With the demise of the proud Space Shuttle Program with the landing of space shuttle Atlantis at Cape Canaveral on July  20, 2011, besides the loss of job, businesses have been affected and good technical jobs lost.  While this nation and its people have always been adventurous from sea to space, this nation has lost its edge as a world power.  

July of 2011 marked the end of work for 7,000 people at the Kennedy Space Center in Brevard County, Florida, terminating a thirty-year shuttle program.  

Not exactly a broken promise but the type of infrastructure project that Obama supposedly favors, was Obama’s veto of the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to Texas, and with it the potential for perhaps 20,000 jobs immediately and many more in future years.  China must be wondering “how the crazy Americans could repudiate such a huge supply of nearby energy should Canada instead decide to build a pipeline to the Pacific for Asian export with eventual shipment by tanker to China.  

Really, is Obama’s green energy push going anywhere (Already noted in the wasted heavy investment in Solyndra and general public disinterest in electric cars in that relatively few are being sold)?  Wouldn’t it be much better for our nation to have more trade in oil with Canada than to other nations, including unfriendly ones?

There is no downside to completing the Keystone XL pipeline project of 1,700 miles.  Environmental studies have indicated that the pipeline would not impact the environment.  There are jobs waiting, but President Obama is wedded to environmental groups and individuals who exhibit clout and influence as an important and financially powerful interest group for the Democratic Party. 

Then there is Obama’s “War on Coal.”  On the campaign trail, Barack Obama said that he would make sure the coal industry isn’t a casualty of legislation to slow climate change.  He vowed to promote the construction of new power plants that produce electricity by burning coal with lower carbon dioxide emissions than conventional plants.  

Boone County is the gateway to the coal fields in West Virginia.  For every one person in the field it takes six additional to support the industry.  In Boone County alone 1,000 coal miners were laid off last month as the EPA continues to shut down mines. Unemployment in Boone County has gone from 4% to 12%. 

Even U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) supported James Inhofe’s (R-Oklahoma) resolution to stop using new, expensive rules for coal-fired power plants, voting in favor of a Congressional resolution that would have stopped the EPA from implementing the Utility MACT rule.   \

Senator Manchin had this to say on the floor of the Senate on June 20, 2012:

“The people of West Virginia are tired of the EPA’s outreach, and I will do everything in my power to rein in the EPA — and any agency that oversteps its authority.  The fact is, this rule will have devastating effects of our families, jobs, and economy, and doesn’t come close to striking a balance between the economy and the environment.  Looking ahead, we need to come together across party lines to work of a solution that will truly address this problem. 

There are 600 coal plants in the U.S.  Coal to America is like oil is to Saudi Arabia.  Obama’s EPA has gone totally over the top.  Overall 20,000 jobs have been lost in W.V. affecting hotels, restaurants, and even the cost of electricity.

In 2008, President Obama said he measures progress by how many people can find a job. Today, the unemployment rate is still over eight percent and nearly twenty-three million Americans are unemployed, underemployed, or have stopped looking for work (The unemployed and those who have stopped looking for work are not counted in the monthly jobs reports.).  

On June 1, 2012, President Obama said, in a speech at Honeywell International in Minnesota: “Our businesses have created almost 4.3 million new jobs over the last 27 months.”  While 4.3 million jobs sounds good, it’s still about 4.6 million below where it was in January 2008, the high point of private sector employment before the recession.

The monthly jobs claims by Obama are not even enough to keep up with population growth.  Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics had this to say:  

“The economy added 163,000 jobs n July, the biggest increase since February.  From April through June, employers have created a lackluster 73,000 jobs a month, not enough to keep up with a rising population.”

The 163,000 job uptick in July becomes a net gain of only 47,000 jobs once the population gain is accounted for.   What we need to keep up with population growth is the creation of 125K – 150K jobs per month.  

Don’t allow President to buffalo you into thinking that his policies are producing positive jobs results. When you’re in a race and falling further behind, nobody cares if you are running in the right direction.

President Obama is very good at smooth talking positive job creation to the American people, but he has not walked the walk.  It is disgraceful that Obama is being aided by a willing mainstream news media that idolizes President Obama, accepting lock, stock and barrel all of Obama’s faulty jobs claims while it viciously attacks Romney to save Obama’s skin.

___________

Part 1:  Dismal August Jobs report nothing to crow about –  Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold

Part 2:  Who is really holding back the economy?   Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold

Part 2 – Who is really holding back the economy?

Obamacloseup

By Nancy Thorner and Edward Ingold –

President Obama criticizes Congress, and especially the Republicans, for holding back the economy by refusing to pass his second stimulus package, otherwise known as the “Jobs Bill.”

The President claims that the stimulus is working, but not enough has been spent. The fact is we are falling further behind, and the President’s ideas are not working because they can’t work. More money in that direction will put us further in the hole.   

The House of Representatives have passed 32 bills related to jobs creation over the past two years years which Harry Reid refuses to even debate in the Senate. It is a given that in the months before the election Republicans will be painted as do-nothing obstructionists and not wanting to lower the unemployment rate though blocking the Democrats’ jobs bill.

Since 2007, when the economy began to falter, Congress passed what amounts to three stimulus bills, a bipartisan $158 billion package of tax cuts signed by President George W. Bush in early 2008, a $787 billion bill pushed by President Obama when he took office 2009 in the wake of the financial system’s collapse, and a tax cut and unemployment fund extension agreement reached by President Obama and Congressional Republicans in 2010 and extended to cover 2012.    

The Democrats lament that we just haven’t spent enough to help the economy. Economist and New York Times columist Paul Krugman and former President Bill Clinton have both argued that the 2009 stimulus package was too small. Tom Firey of the libertarian Cato Institute, however, estimates that the U.S. has dumped at least $2.5 trillion of fiscal stimulus into the economy since 2008. 

Most of us remember TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) which was passed with bipartisan support two year ago to stabilize the nation’s financial institutions for the purpose of staving off a second Great Depression.

So far the government has gotten back about $300 billion of the $414 billion it has paid out to banks. Some banks in paying back TARP are even using other government money to do so! The most recent cost estimate for TARP is a loss of $60 billion for taxpayers.  

Now let’s examine the partisan $787 billion stimulus bill (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) which President Obama pushed in 2009, which was supposed to stimulate the economy and produce jobs, but did neither.   
 
An official website has been set up by the government that provides easy access to data related to Recovery Act spending and allows for the reporting of potential fraud, waste, and abuse.  

The manner in which the 2009 stimulus was spent by recipients who received contracts, grants, loans, recovery entitlement distributions and tax benefits offers a window into why $787 didn’t have a positive effect on jobs or the economy. Presently our rate of growth is a measly 1.5% over three years, compared to the 2.5% required to maintain the status quo, and 6% needed to catch up with the losses sustained since 2008.   

According to The Center for Fiscal Accountability (Americans for Tax Reform) the $787 billion stimulus package marked a return to the failed policies of the past, the resurrection of Keynesian policies. The stimulus package is indeed a redistributionist package in that it takes money from one group of people through tax hikes in order to give it to another through government spending.     

Most of the $787 billion given out so far in stimulous money was handed to the states to meet current obligations and to repair roads. Some was granted to industry, notably General Motors and Chrysler, and some to promote “Green Energy.” In short, the bulk of the money was spent to preserve public sector jobs and largely unsustainable benefit packages to public employees. Since 2008, more than 250,000 Federal employees have been added to the payroll.

But do public sector jobs really help the economy?  In one sense, they do, by providing a vital service that only government can provide. Those jobholders have to live and eat just like the rest of us. But in a broader sense, public sector jobs are maintained by redistribution of wealth, from those who create wealth to those who consume it. Democrats are not particularly concerned with this, because since the 1930’s they have been devoted to promoting public sector jobs and spending. 

The government, in their view, provides the basis on which private enterprise depends. It is no coincidence that unions continue to thrive mainly among public sector employees, and that their union dues go mainly toward electing public officials who are sympathetic to their demands. If we should have a “Stimulus 2”, we will get the same results – nothing.  Often heard, as in this situation, doing the same thing time and again, expecting different results, is a form of insanity.

The President likes to brag that he saved GM from bankruptcy, and thousands of middle class jobs in the process. Actually, GM did go bankrupt, but in a rather curious manner. When GM’s bondholders would not agree to forgive the debt owed them, the company was allowed to transfer all of their valuable assets to a dummy corporation, shielding these assets from liquidation. In that way, GM could declare bankruptcy with few declared assets, forcing bondholders to accept $0.10 on the dollar, instead of the $0.30 to $0.40 on the dollar they could expect from a real bankruptcy.

If you or I were to do that, that transfer would be ruled invalid through fraud, and we could go to jail for the attempt. Who were the bondholders stiffed? Directly and indirectly most of GM stocks and bonds, considered “blue chip” for decades, were held by retirement accounts, including the teachers, public employees and unions the Democrats are keen to protect.

Would bankruptcy have liquidated GM, along with thousands of jobs? Not really. Large companies, faced by a slowdown in business, seek bankruptcy so that they can continue operations. The airlines are a good example. Most of the time, relatively few employees are discharged. Downsizing happens more often with consolidation than through bankruptcy. Rather than discharge debts, stiffing their creditors, bankruptcy gives the airlines get more time to pay them back, and pay back they do. More important, bankruptcy forces renegotiation of union contracts and unsustainable benefit packages. 

At the same time, union work rules are suspended or renegotiated, with great benefit to the company, but little effect on wages. In short, President Obama saved the unions, and left GM saddled with the same obligations that drove them to bankruptcy in the first place. Small surprise that the UAW is among the most ardent supporter of Democratic candidates. When you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can count on support from Paul. The UAW is one of President Obama’s most ardent, and generous, supporters.

Tax relief has worked in the past, why not now? The President reluctantly did agreed to continue the so-called “Bush Tax Cut” of 2001 and 2003 so favored by Republicans. Set to expire in 2010, in December of 2010 Obama reached a deal with Republicans that extended the tax cuts at all income levels until after the November election.  

They are now set to expire on Jan. 1, 2013. It has been a battle royale between Republican and Democrats over tax cuts since 2006. Republicans continue to push to make them permanent. Democrats are seeking to end those favoring upper-income households. “Tax cuts for the rich” has now become a slogan for Democrats to advance what they think is a winning issue — class warfare.  

The Democrats seem unable to let the term “spending cuts” to cross their lips, and are afraid to utter the only alternative, “more taxes.” What we hear is “deficit reduction,” as though that comes about by spreading pixie dust. It is likely that the tax cut battle will play a significant role in the November election.   

Much of the media and all of the Democrats seem to forget this simple fact about the Bush tax cuts.  They were passed in response to a recession occurring as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney entered office. After the initial 2001 tax cut, the annual growth rate went from 0.3% in 2001 to 2.5% in 2002.  by 2004, GDP growth was the highest in 20 years. After the 2003 tax cuts, the unemployment rate fell to the lowest level since World War II.  

The positive effect of the Bush era tax cuts were blunted, in part, when along came massive new regulations in Sarbanes-Oxley and the incursion into government by Fannie and Freddie. When entering  the  private lending markets, Fannie and Freddie forced private lenders to launch even riskier ventures to stay profitable. Many private lenders eventually collapsed, taking the economy south with them. 

In a display of dishonesty and deception, the President publicly praises private enterprise while working diligently behind the scene to crush free enterprise under a barrage of rules, regulations and the threat of more taxes in the future. If you stick your head up to succeed (or complain), you get whacked, like moles in those games at Chucky Cheese. Where is the Keystone pipeline? New oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico (far south, off the shores of Brazil)?  Why is “fracking”, a technology used for two decades, now subject to such close scrutiny?  Why are we shutting down over 20% of our electricity production over the next two years (coal is bad?), at the same time promoting electric vehicles? (In a very real sense, electric vehicles run on coal, not an extension cord.)

The President said to businesses that “You didn’t build that.” While he meant businesses didn’t build the roads, bridges and schools, he is wrong nonetheless. These public services were created in response to needs of businesses and people, who paid for these things through taxes on the wealth they created. Before modern roads, there were cars, and the industries that built cars and forged the steel they were made of. People who bought those cars simply got tired of getting stuck in mud, and put their resources together to fix the problem. 

More important, the “You didn’t build that” statement betrays how the President holds private enterprise in contempt. He confuses opportunity with success. Yes, Mr. President, there are a lot of smart people, fewer now than when you took office, but not enough people who have the intelligence, determination and wherewith all to succeed. There is hope for the future, but not if President Obama gets his way.

Republicans are not stalling because they wish him to fail, they draw the line because his plans cannot succeed. If private enterprise is allowed to succeed, the economy will recover. There will be money for roads, bridges and schools. There will be money for public employees too, and useful work for them to perform. There will be jobs for the middle class, instead of the meager dole promised by the President. Business is the engine that will power the recovery, the way it always has. If something works, we should do it again and again, not wish for “Change.

Part 1:  Dismal August Jobs report nothing to crow about  –  Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold

 

Health_careBy Nancy Thorner and Jane Keill –

Let us go back to our first article of this series on Obamacare, ‘In the Beginning’, and remind ourselves how Obamacare came into being.

In 2007, the Democrats took over both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. For the next two years, under the reign of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), they proceeded to ram through almost every piece of legislation the liberal Democrat Party has ever wanted to pass. They did so without consulting the Republicans in Congress, without asking for input from the Republicans and without the support of the Republicans. And, after Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009, they continued to pass almost all the legislation they wanted.

On Christmas Eve, 2009, late at night, without a single Republican vote, the US Senate passed The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), known to most of us as “Obamacare”. The US House of Representatives passed the bill on March 21, 2010 without a single Republican vote. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on March 23, 2010 with no Republicans present. At 2000+ pages, it was one of the largest bills ever passed in American legislative history and it was done by the Democrats, behind closed, locked doors, without any publication of details to the American people and without being read by the voting Democrat legislators.

On June 28, 2012, the US Supreme Court handed down its decision on Obamacare, upholding the constitutionality of the healthcare law. The key provision of the law requires that all individuals in the United States must purchase health insurance.

For some people, this was an historical decision, satisfying their desire and need for a national health program and better health care. For others, it was a disastrous decision which they believe will result in both financial devastation for the country as well as less and poorer health care for the nation.

The rallying cry for the Republican Party, in response, has been that if the Affordable Care Act was upheld, they would ‘Repeal and Replace’ it. “With what?” comes the response.

Over the years, there have been many ideas and suggestions from many people from different sides of the issue. Those various options have never been aired by the media and almost no one is aware of them. Some of the provisions of a replacement law would take only a few changes in already existing laws and probably wouldn’t take much more than 200 pages to enact the legislation as opposed to Obamacare’s 2000+ pages.

Some replacement suggestions have come from the House GOP Solutions Group Health Care Plan to increase ‘Affordability, Accessibility, and Availability’. And, yes, unlike Obamacare, Republicans do have a commonsense Health Care Reform to lower costs and increase access and quality at a price our country can afford. Roy Blunt, a doctor himself, is in charge of the House Solutions Group.

Doc 4 Patient Care, an organization of physicians dedicated to the preservation of the doctor-patient relationship, formed as an alternative to the AMA, likewise offers an 8-point prescription for health care reform in the United States. Their plan would be a good place to start, for physicians must deal every day with concern about the health and well-being of their patients and additionally for the health and well-being of our nation, both physically and financially.

Since 80% of the American people are still satisfied with the health care coverage they have and like their physicians, too, it would be nice if they could keep it (like President Obama promised they could). For those reported 30,000,000 Americans who are uninsured, the alternative options would solve almost all of their issues. We have said before, and will repeat it – there is no reason to force a national healthcare program onto 313,000,000 Americans when there are only 30,000,000 people who are truly in need of medical insurance.

Additionally, there are other provisions that would help solve the high cost of medical care and still provide good quality health treatments; however, until a replacement bill is actually put together and submitted for consideration, it would be impossible to determine the cost savings it might entail. The argument stands, however, that we know that Obamacare will cost billions more than originally projected. Alternative options were never considered, so we’ve never had the opportunity to evaluate and rate them.

From multiple sources over the years, here are the most commonly suggested changes in our current health care programs that could take the place of Obamacare:

1. In the state of Illinois, as well as many others, you cannot buy a health insurance policy offered by a carrier in another state. Changing this to allow insurance purchases across state lines would allow people to buy the coverage they want and need for the best price they can get. Competition is created; premiums go down.   

2. All people should be able to buy their own health insurance (like they buy car and home owner’s insurance) and they would carry it with them from one employer to another. Each person has their own portable health insurance, therefore, no more pre-existing issues.

3. Eliminate the special tax allowances for large companies that provide health insurance for their employees. If everyone has their own personal insurance, whether they are self-employed or work for a large corporation, there is no need for tax exemptions or exceptions.

4. Reinstate Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts so people could set aside pre-tax dollars for future health costs. When people are ‘saving’ for their own health care, they’re much more aware of how much they are spending and the savings accounts are there when they need the medical care.

5. Create association accounts and pooled groups for specialized group insurance coverage for small businesses. Those who employ less than 50 employees would be able to provide reasonably priced health coverage for their staff. They can also more easily find coverage for pre-existing conditions where needed.

6. Institute Malpractice Insurance/Tort Reform so that penalties for negligence are limited. Unlimited awards would still be allowed, of course, to provide continuing medical care for the injured party – for a lifetime, if necessary – but the punitive aspect of malpractice suits would be capped. (Texas is an excellent example: In 2003, Texas approved a state constitutional amendment limiting noneconomic/punitive damages in medical liability cases to $250,000 for physicians. Five years later, the cap was credited for slashing liability insurance premiums, boosting the ranks of doctors in the state, and improving medical access to patients. 

7. Gradually raise the Medicare eligibility age to 70. This has been done with Social Security benefits and it has worked well. As American life expectancy expands, there is no reason that Medicare benefits by age cannot also expand.

8. ‘Means test’ Medicare payments. There is no reason to pay Medicare benefits to Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, George Soros, Oprah Winfrey, etc.. When someone becomes eligible for Medicare coverage, their income status should be evaluated and those who meet certain financial criteria should not receive benefits.

9. Provide block grants to the 50 states and allow them to administer their health dollars best suited to their own residents. There could be a huge savings in the cost of the Federal government by reducing HHS and all its departments and administrative costs by giving their allocated money back to the 50 states to use as they see fit.

10. Create separate high-risk insurance pools called High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) in each state that would provide catastrophic coverage for those young, healthy adults who don’t want to carry full healthcare packages, but would pay a high deductible ($5,000) for coverage in case of emergency or accidental care.

11. Eliminate Federal mandates that cost millions and don’t apply to many of the people who will want health coverage. Why should a 70-year-old female retired secretary pay for the contraception pills, Viagra, in-vitro fertilization and prostate tests for younger women and older men? Why should young adults pay for the colonoscopies for those of us who are 50+ years-old? If you don’t need this type of health care, why should you have to pay for it? Mandates like these add tremendously to the costs of health care. Insurance companies can create a personal policy that fits your specific needs and price it accordingly.

12. Provide transparency for health costs so that patients and families can see what their care will cost them before they enter the hospital, go into surgery or see the doctor. Then, they can plan for the expenses they are expecting. 

We can all agree that the health care system in the US is broken and needs fixing. No one has ever suggested that we just go back to the way things have been these last 20 years, although the liberal media chant this mantra on a regular basis.

The following editorial on Wednesday, August 8, 2012, Obamacare’s free lunch: National health care premises are too good to be true, explains the negativity over Obamacare by those Americans who can see through baseless promises to its countless mandates which will call forth an impending health care system failure in the years ahead through its implementation:

“America simply can’t afford Obamacare. According to a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, the new entitlement will grow an explosive 6 percent annually from 2017 to 2022, impose a slew of new taxes which will ripple through the economy, and will still leave 29 million people without health insurance. In other words, it even fails on its own terms, which ostensibly is to provide health coverage for everybody. .

The scary fact is the bureaucrats with the green eye shades haven’t realistically added up all the indirect but real costs of Obamacare such as the burden on consumers and the impact of higher taxes on economic growth and employment. It’s a mistake to throw more money into a national-health scheme that will leave almost 30 million Americans without insurance and many more with worse access to care.”

Ultimately, Obamacare was never about health care. With all of its taxes and multiple departments and panels created, the concept of a national health care program is more about control than medical treatment. Obamacare has always been about managing and directing the lives of the American people and putting that control under the purview of a few people – the President, the Congress, the Secretary of HHS and the IRS. Even with those positions changing during the election cycles, the amount of power focused in the hands of these few people would be enormous. And, once instituted, it will never be withdrawn.

This gives a clear choice in the election this November. Mitt Romney has pledged that his first job if he takes office will be the repeal of ObamaCare. President Obama and his administration have pledged the full implementation of ObamaCare. You can’t get a much clearer choice than that. We will have one chance to make the difference. November 6, 2012.

Other Illinois Review posts in this series:

 

I read with interest the article by Lake Forest Patch editor, Steve Sadin, “LFHS Teachers’ Pay Rival Neighbors”, on Monday, August 15.

Will Lake Forest teachers really follow through with their declared impasse, daring to strike as early as Sept. 10 if a favorable agreement can’t be reached with the District 115 Board of Education? Don’t they realize how good they have it as teachers at Lake Forest High School?

Are citizens of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff being conditioned to believe that Lake Forest High School teachers are poor indigent, downtrodden, living in old leaky tents teachers and staff, with no money, hitching rides to and from the schools, wearing rags from the garbage cans, nary a crumb to eat, not paid even minimum wage they say, besieged by nasty rich lakeside citizens who will not pay them a decent wage?

Far from it! As pointed out by Steve Sadin in this morning’s PATCH article, the most recent data issued by the Illinois State Board of Education website (ISBE) indicates that Lake Forest High School teachers are already the highest paid on the North Shore, edging out Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools by $421 a year. The average annual teacher salary at LFHS is $106,457. Educators at Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools earn an average of $106.036 per year. New Trier Township High Schools comes in at $103,670; Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South High Schools at $100,401; and Stevenson High School at $97,531.

An impasse has been reached because District 115 Board wisely refused to meet the demands of a proposal presented by the Lake Forest Education Association on July 19, which calls for a three-year contract with an average annual increase in compensation (salary and benefits) of 6.7 percent. The board offered a compensation package of 3.6 percent, which is very generous particularly given the not-so-stellar economy. And it was not unreasonable of the board to further request that teachers pay some of their family health care premiums.

Whatever happened to what now seems like an old fashioned idea for those choosing the teaching profession: That teaching is a noble profession; that salaries would never be on the same par as those earned in business; but that the desire to impart knowledge to those who will become future leaders and responsible citizens was most important.

At LFHF it seems that teachers have voted to convey the idea that money gained through the threat of a strike is more important than staying on the job and doing what they were hired to do.

In a published LF Patch article on Friday, August 11, “LFHS Teachers Declare Impasse, Strike Possible,” Richard Moore, Lake Forest Education Association teachers’ union President, had this to say: “I’m teacher. I just want to teach. I left the business world because I want to help raise the next generation.”

Moore also insisted that the contract must be “fair and equitable.”

Perhaps Richard Moore should have stayed in the business world? He did make a respectable base salary of $105.344 during the 2011-2012 school year. This doesn’t include all the other perks Richard might have received, including healthcare, which his base salary does not reflect.

Not bad considering all the days off throughout the school year, including winter and spring breaks, a Christmas break, and at least eight weeks of vacation time during the summer! Such time off is not available in the business world!

For many local residents teacher salaries have gotten to be over generous at LFHS, with pensions now reaching the level of what teachers earn in their final year of teaching within ten years after they retire..

Competition now seems to rule in salary negotiations. Just as schools compete with one another to have winning sports teams, schools are now competing to offer the highest salaries through teacher union negotiations. Teacher unions will strongly suggest that teachers will go elsewhere if their pay is not equal or better than those offered in a neighboring school district.

It is not that I don’t value teachers and all that they do, but as public employees paid for by taxpayers, LFHS teachers must surely realize that it is unreasonable to be demanding higher salaries and benefits than some of the taxpayers who are supporting the high price tag associated with operating LFHS through the payment of their already considerable property taxes.

When is enough, enough for Lake Forest and Lake Bluff taxpayers?

It will ultimately be up to the District #115 Board to decide what is fair and equitable. So far board members have been looking out for taxpayers. May they have the fortitude to continue to do so, which will call for continued support, input and encouragement from concerned residents.