Category Archives: News

Kirwan Assessed – A No Nonsense Evaluation

The Kirwan Commission has not delivered on innovative solutions to make Maryland schools a world class system.

The recommendations for pre-K programs, higher pay for teachers, a greater emphasis on trade and career-related programs cannot be considered innovative. There are no recommendations on how the education of our children can be improved by the new forms of technology available both in the private and public sectors. The recommendations appear to apply 20th century thinking for a 21st century society.

Kirwan’s recommendations rely heavily on a huge infusion of funding.

Kirwan’s predecessor, the Thornton Commission, applied the same approach – more and more funding – resulting in enacting a Maintenance of Effort law, a formula based on per pupil funding and not on per pupil results. One of the unfortunate consequences of mandating a funding formula for all of Maryland’s counties is in effect forcing a square peg into a round hole. Counties have different needs, different income bases, different economies and differ greatly in size and student populations. Neither commission mandated goals, results and timelines. Goals were amorphous, lofty and aspirational with no accountability. Where are the results? Has the achievement gap closed or even narrowed? Without specific goals and delineated responsibility, Kirwan’s promises of success ring hollow.

Would Competition Improve our Schools?

If a public charter school fails, we shutter it. If a public (non-charter) school fails, we do not. Is this a recipe for success? History shows that we respond to competition. It stimulates innovation and responds to the desires of the market. Before accepting Kirwan as gospel, we should consider all of the alternatives – public, charter, private and home schooling to mention a few. Why are per pupil costs considerably lower for charter schools than non-charter schools? What other projects in other states have been successful? Do we need Education Savings Accounts that could fund any of the alternatives?

Are Kirwan’s Funding Recommendations Affordable?

Maryland’s taxpayers are already burdened with some of the highest taxes in the nation. Our income taxes alone are the second highest after New York (Tax Foundation). Given that, is the Kirwan price tag of $4 billion a year realistic? Is burdening counties with additional taxes to chase amorphous goals what you consider fair and wise? And let’s not forget that Kirwan is a 10-year plan which will eventually total $40 billion. Current Maryland spending on public schools is among the highest in the nation. How much more do we need to spend to produce negligible results?

Can Larry Hogan Keep Maryland Open for Business?

Maryland Taxpayers Association Board Member Jeff Ferguson weighs in.

Taxes matter. Don’t think so? Take a look at what occurred recently in Connecticut. General Electric announced that it is moving to Massachusetts, mainly because of taxes. Connecticut has been increasing corporate and individual taxes, but Massachusetts reduced some rates.

Massachusetts has shown a willingness to offer incentives to attract companies, but it also knows that it can afford to be a bit higher in taxes than some other states because it provides a skilled workforce and an appealing environment for younger, technology-oriented employees.   Continue reading

The Riot Ideology, Reborn

Fred Siegel
The Riot Ideology, Reborn
Baltimore, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and the new racial politics
Autumn 2015

BRANDEN EASTWOOD/REDUX
The death of Freddie Gray ignited Baltimore’s spring 2015 riots, which pitted police . . .

In the summer of 1966, Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach warned that there would be riots by angry, poor minority residents in “30 or 40” American cities if Congress didn’t pass President Lyndon Johnson’s Model Cities antipoverty legislation. In the late 1960s, New York mayor John Lindsay used the fear of such rioting to expand welfare rolls dramatically at a time when the black male unemployment rate was about 4 percent. And in the 1980s, Washington, D.C., mayor Marion Barry articulated an explicitly racial version of collective  bargaining—a threat that, without ample federal funds, urban activists would unleash wave after wave of racial violence. “I know for a fact,” Barry explained, “that white people get scared of the [Black] Panthers, and they might give money to somebody a little more moderate.”

 

This brand of thinking, which I have called the riot ideology, influenced urban politics for a generation, from the 1960s through the 1980s. Perhaps its model city was Baltimore, which, in 1968, was consumed by race riots so intense that the Baltimore police, 500 Maryland state troopers, and 6,000 National Guardsmen were unable to quell them. The “insurrection” was halted only when nearly 5,000 federal troops requested by Maryland governor Spiro Agnew arrived.

In the years since 1968, Baltimore has proved remarkably adept at procuring state and federal funds and constructed revitalization projects such as the justly famed Camden Yards and a convention center. But Baltimore never really recovered from the riots, and the lawlessness never fully subsided. What began as a grand bargain to avert further racial violence after 1968 descended over the decades into a series of squalid shakedowns. Antipoverty programs that had once promised to repair social and family breakdown became by the 1990s self-justifying and self-perpetuating.

In the wake of the 2014 riots in Ferguson, Missouri, and the 2015 West Baltimore riots, a new riot ideology has taken hold, one similarly intoxicated with violence and willing to excuse it but with a different goal. The first version of the riot ideology assumed that not only cities but also whites could be reformed; the new version assumes that America is inherently racist beyond redemption and that the black inner city needs to segregate itself from the larger society (with the exception of federal welfare funds, which should continue to flow in). This new racial politics is not only coalescing around activists claiming to speak for urban blacks—represented publically by groups like Black Lives Matter—but is also expressed in the writings of best-selling author Ta-Nehisi Coates. And Baltimore is once again center stage.

The West Baltimore rioters of 2015 didn’t call for more LBJ-style antipoverty projects but for less policing. In a “keep off our turf” version of belligerent multiculturalism, the rioters see police as both to blame for black criminality and as an embodiment of bourgeois white values. The old riot ideology referred to mostly white urban police forces as occupying armies; the new version sees even Baltimore’s integrated police force, under the leadership of the city’s black mayor and (until recently) a black police chief, as an occupying army. Withdrawing the police from black neighborhoods is the only acceptable solution.

In his memoir The Beautiful Struggle, Coates described how his father, a former Black Panther and full-time conspiracy theorist, drove his son around West Baltimore “telling me again the story of the black folk’s slide to ruin. He would drive down North Avenue and survey the carry-outs, the wig shops, the liquor stores and note that not one was owned by anyone black.” Whites had “plundered” what belonged to blacks, his father explained, as they had done with once-great African kingdoms. Coates, who lived in fear of black street toughs as a teen, sees the police as a greater threat to black well-being than the drug “crews” and gangs roaming the streets of West Baltimore today. His vision, in part, is to free gang-ridden areas from the malign grip of white standards and aggressive policing. Coates has adopted his father’s view that “our condition, the worst of this country’s condition—poor, diseased, illiterate, crippled dumb—was not just a tumor to be burrowed out but proof that the whole body was a tumor, that America was not a victim of a great rot but the rot itself.” Not even a hurricane of violence, says the new riot ideology, justifies a vigorous police presence in black localities.

For more, please click here.

Iran Deal May Lead to War

By Kenneth R. Timmerman, Urbana | 35 comments

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., came out in favor of the administration’s Iran deal on Sept. 2, making her the 34th Senate Democrat support the deal.

While I disagree with Mikulski’s assessment that the nuclear agreement can be verified, as well as her claim that it is better than any alternative, I give her credit for presenting a reasoned assessment of the deal and her own decision-making process.

Mikulski’s step-by-step examination of what she considered the “key questions” relating to the detail stands in marked contrast to the knee-jerk statement by the man who seeks to replace her in the Senate, Continue reading

Must Reads

Here is a collection of “must read” articles that could impact your wallet NOW!!

Senator Cardin’s proposal for a federal progressive consumption tax includes both a value added tax and an income tax.  The income tax would be cut, not repealed.  Adding another tax is likely to be the “camel’s nose under the tent” for ultimately higher tax rates with both income and consumption tax plans.   At a “revenue neutral consumption rate” of 14.2%, Gross Domestic Product is expected to be a middling 2.6%.  The Tax Foundation has prepared a thorough analysis of the plan, which is linked here: Cardin’s Consumption Tax Boondoggle

MTA comment:  Not mentioned in this good article below about education:  A little known effect of Thornton Plan rules harms rural counties even more.  They must meet the state average of rising education appropriations mostly adopted annually by the larger, richer counties.  These per student funds are some of the nation’s highest.  Rural counties struggle to keep up.  : Maryland’s Regressive Cost of Education Scam

 The value of $100 in MD is only $90.  Washington, DC, is worse at $84.96.  Only three other states are worse, according to the Tax Foundation.  They are California, New Jersey and New York.  Why?  Maryland is among the most regulated, highly taxed states pretty much across-the-board.

Maryland Takes Our Money

Tired of EPA mandates harming jobs for people who need them and making life more costly for people who don’t need the higher costs?    Read  23 Things on Congress’ List to Defund in Interior and EPA!

Generational Poverty and Taxes – How to Fix Baltimore

Very interesting article written by Reihan Salam, a columnist for Slate.

http://mdpolicy.org/research/detail/hot-to-fix-baltimore

 

O’Malley Made a Mess of Maryland

What would an O’Malley presidency look like?  Click here for the article.

Who’s the Real Criminal Here?

Banks have been required to report to the federal government deposits of more $10,000 or more since at least the 1960s.  The amount has never changed.  Tellers inform their business customers of the rule, so many keep their deposits below the $10,000 amount.  The IRS, however, never seems to rest at devising ways to get money.  Too many legitimate businesses have been victims of asset forfeiture over this rule.    Why has the $10,000 figure not risen with inflation?  Has the IRS become the real criminal here? 

Click HERE for full article.

Week of March 9, 2015

MARYLAND TAXPAYERS ASSOCIATION

TAX HELP

 Many small businesses, partnerships, S Corporations and others file taxes through the personal income tax rather than the corporation tax.  These are known as pass through payers.  If they are in the highest graduated tax rate, they pay at a higher rate than Continue reading

Hogan Calls for Redistricting Reform

From the Frederick News Post, February 10th:

Gov. Larry Hogan announced last week that he will establish, by executive order, a bipartisan commission to explore ways to reform Maryland’s disgraceful and undemocratic redistricting process. The goal is to create an independent, bipartisan commission to handle this important task.

For the full article, click here.