Should We Give a National Tax Cut For Teachers?

The paragraphs below are clearly the best ones found in the Sunday newspaper.  The various arguments about the pros and cons over the needed stimulus package designed to start moving the national economy is a topic that will not be answered anytime soon, not even after Congress passes a bill, and Barack Obama signs  it into law.  There will be ongoing discussions for months about the role of the stimulus package.  Included in this debate are some large ideas about the future needs of the nation, and this article makes one of those bold ideas come to life. 

One of the top needs facing the nation is a requirement for a new burst of educational training, and additional teachers to undertake this task.  And it all should be done for some big new ideas.

You see, even before the current financial crisis, we were already in a deep competitive hole — a long period in which too many people were making money from money, or money from flipping houses or hamburgers, and too few people were making money by making new stuff, with hard-earned science, math, biology and engineering skills.

The financial crisis just made the hole deeper, which is why our stimulus needs to be both big and smart, both financially and educationally stimulating. It needs to be able to produce not only more shovel-ready jobs and shovel-ready workers, but more Google-ready jobs and Windows-ready and knowledge-ready workers.

If we spend $1 trillion on a stimulus and just get better highways and bridges — and not a new Google, Apple, Intel or Microsoft — your kids will thank you for making it so much easier for them to commute to the unemployment office or mediocre jobs.

Barack Obama gets it, but I’m not sure Congress does. “Yes,” Mr. Obama said on Thursday, “we’ll put people to work repairing crumbling roads, bridges and schools by eliminating the backlog of well-planned, worthy and needed infrastructure projects. But we’ll also do more to retrofit America for a global economy.” Sure that means more smart grids and broadband highways, he added, but it also “means investing in the science, research and technology that will lead to new medical breakthroughs, new discoveries and entire new industries.”

But clean-tech projects like intelligent grids and broadband take a long time to implement. Can we stimulate both our economy and our people in time? Maybe rather than just giving everyone a quick $1,500 to hit the mall to buy flat-screen TVs imported from China, or creating those all-important green-collar jobs for low-skilled workers — to put people to work installing solar panels and insulating homes — we should also give everyone who is academically eligible and willing a quick $5,000 to go back to school. Universities today are the biggest employers in many Congressional districts, and they’re all having to downsize.

My wife teaches public school in Montgomery County, Md., where more and more teachers can’t afford to buy homes near the schools where they teach, and now have long, dirty commutes from distant suburbs. One of the smartest stimulus moves we could make would be to eliminate federal income taxes on all public schoolteachers so more talented people would choose these careers. I’d also double the salaries of all highly qualified math and science teachers, staple green cards to the diplomas of foreign students who graduate from any U.S. university in math or science — instead of subsidizing their educations and then sending them home — and offer full scholarships to needy students who want to go to a public university or community college for the next four years.

J.F.K. took us to the moon. Let B.H.O. take America back to school.

But that will take time. There’s simply no shortcut for a stimulus that stimulates minds not just salaries. “You can bail out a bank; you can’t bail out a generation,” says the great American inventor, Dean Kamen, who has designed everything from the Segway to artificial limbs. “You can print money, but you can’t print knowledge. It takes 12 years.”

Sure, we’ll waste some money doing that. That will happen with bridges, too. But a bridge is just a bridge. Once it’s up, it stops stimulating. A student who normally would not be interested in science but gets stimulated by a better teacher or more exposure to a lab, or a scientist who gets the funding for new research, is potentially the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. They create good jobs for years. Perhaps more bridges can bail us out of a depression, but only more Bills and Steves can bail us into prosperity.

Minnesota Voters Want Senator Al Franken In Washington

Richard Nixon knew when to fold his cards in 1960, and Norm Coleman should do the same.  The voters in Minnesota have spoken.   (But then Richard Nixon had a future to worry about, whereas Norm Coleman has little place to go but back to local government, and I suspect many do not want him there either.)

Do you favor or oppose Norm Coleman’s legal challenge to Al Franken’s victory?
FAVOR: 34%
OPPOSE: 47%
NOT SURE: 19%

So why do Minnesotans want to move on? Probably because by an overwhelming margin they think the recount process was fair:

Which statement best reflects your point of view? The recount process has been…
…fair to both Norm Coleman and Al Franken: 63%
…mostly unfair to Norm Coleman: 17%
…mostly unfair to Al Franken: 12%
NOT SURE: 8%

VIDEO: Prince Harry And His Racist Remarks

This is creating quite a sensation, as it should.  At a time when Brits are fighting the ‘war on terror’ in Muslim nations, the words from Prince Harry are really quite remarkable.

Prince Harry’s racist remark about a Pakistani member of his army platoon has prompted widespread criticism.

The prince issued an apology after the News of the World published a video diary in which he calls one of his then Sandhurst colleagues a “Paki”.

An Army spokesperson said it took the allegations “very seriously” and were investigating.

Cabinet minister John Denham said it was “offensive” and the Ramadhan Foundation called the prince a “thug”.

Politicians and Muslim groups are among those to have condemned the prince’s remarks.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said the words would have caused “considerable offence”, while Tory leader David Cameron said it was “a completely unacceptable thing to say”.

Mohammed Shafiq, director of Muslim youth organisation the Ramadhan Foundation said: “I am deeply shocked and saddened at Prince Harry’s racism. It has no justification.

“Prince Harry as a public figure must ensure that he promotes equality and tolerance and this rant whether today or three years ago is sickening and he should be thoroughly ashamed of himself.”

Graham Smith from Republic, the campaign for an elected head of state said: “Harry Wales has not only demonstrated how he is unfit to be a possible future Head of State, he has shown he isn’t even fit to be a leader in the armed forces.”

“It is high time Harry was stripped of his title and privileges and withdrew from public life.”

President Bush Strives To Build Historical Reputation

Great paragraphs, but we know what President Bush’s historical reputation will be.

The final days of any administration are laden with wistful moments and political spin. But historians say this is especially true of Mr. Bush, who is leaving office with approval ratings so low that his former political strategist, Karl Rove, recently appeared before a liberal audience in New York City to debate the proposition that “Bush 43 is the worst president in the last 50 years.” (Mr. Rove said Mr. Bush would most likely not have invaded Iraq had he known that there were no unconventional weapons there.)

“They’re working hard to build their historical reputations,” said the presidential historian Robert Dallek,  “Generally, presidents don’t spend the last days and weeks in office defending their record. They produce a memoir, they write a volume.

“To spend your waking hours on a defense of yourself speaks volumes about how, in a sense, defeated they’ve been.”