News & Views from 465 California Street


Clint Reilly

It is said that a hardcore drug addict needs to hit “rock bottom” before recovery is possible.

Life must become so hellish and circumstances so dire that they have no choice but to accept reality and begin to change.

For the sake of all Californians, I hope that the state has finally reached its own rock bottom moment.

“Our wallet is empty. Our bank is closed. Our credit is dried up,” Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently told a joint session of the state legislature.

But even with the state tumbling toward fiscal oblivion, Californians continue to look for easy answers. Everyone wants to maintain crucial public services but no one wants to pay for them.

In many respects, the state of California today resembles an addict desperate for a fix. We are addicted to expediency and unrealistic expectations, and to prosperity without sacrifice.

After years of rampant borrowing, budgetary sleights of hand and collective finger crossing, it’s time to pay the piper.

Never mind the piper; we can’t even pay the teacher, the nurse, the policeman or the firefighter. The only way out of our $24 billion predicament, we’re told, is by taking a chainsaw to vital state services.

In short, this isn’t a good time to be in California if you’re young. Or old. Or poor. Or sick.

As the Golden State unravels beneath our feet, we should be doing more than blaming the legislature and the governor. There is plenty of blame to go around.

Instead, every Californian should be rallying for the fundamental structural reforms that this state so desperately needs.

But for this to happen, we need to wake up.
First, we have to decide what kind of society we wish to live in. If we decide that we want our children to be educated, our elderly to live with dignity, our sick cared for and our environment protected, then we must be willing to pay for it.

Whether we like it or not, this will require an honest reassessment of Prop 13, which contributes heavily to our boom-and-bust cycles by increasing the state’s dependence on wildly fluctuating income taxes.

We’ll also have to ask ourselves what the world’s seventh largest economy has in common with Rhode Island and Arkansas, the only two other states that require a super majority legislative vote to pass a budget.

As unappealing as it might be to do something nice for our state politicians, we need to reconsider the distorting effects of term limits on the legislative process as well.

We want our legislators to craft policies with long-term vision, but it’s difficult to take the long view when you’re working a short-term temp job, not to mention when you have no expertise and hardly know your colleagues.

Our initiative process should come under the microscope as well. Before our elected leaders even sit down to discuss the budget, the overwhelming majority of general fund spending is already set in stone thanks to the public initiative process.

Households and companies don’t operate this way because it’s insane. Why should the state of California?

These are just a handful of crucial reforms that we should consider if we are serious about putting the state back on solid ground. There are many more.

It is no longer useful or even rational for conservatives to scream about “big government” and for liberals to wring their hands about “draconian cuts.” Of course, our government could be more efficient. And obviously, service cuts inflict severe pain upon real people.

But unless we put the histrionics aside and agree that far reaching structural reforms are in everyone’s best interest, California will keep sliding backward, our most vulnerable citizens will experience untold misery, and our elected officials will continue to find new and creative ways to disappoint us.

Until we begin to demand more from ourselves, we will continue to receive less.

Comments (19)

  • Hallelujah!

    I always read your column with interest, but this morning I wanted to cheer. I have tried to find a way to volunteer to change the laws regarding a 2/3 majority to pass the state budget while a simple majority of voters can change the constitution so far without success. I have a call into Loni Hancock, my legislator, who I thought was working on it.

    I just shake my head at my fellow Californians who just don’t get it.

    Thanks for your column.

    Eloise H

    Posted by: Eloise H | June 23rd, 2009 at 12:11 pm

  • Much of what you say I can agree with. However, at the end of the day a choice will need to be made about the extent of public services necessary to insure “reasonable risk”. In Walnut Creek (where I live) there is a multimillion dollar firehouse on every other block. The Firefighters Union has screwed us (the taxpayer) and has the balls to suggest that without them, we are helpless morons who cannot figure out how to put out a fire. These firefighters spend 90% of their time shopping at Safeway, playing “house” and waxing their wagons. They have had Californians by the “short hairs” way too long. I would rather take some responsibility for my own safety than to put up with their bullshit. (the other 10% is making “runs” that are typically no big deal) and frankly…they suck at putting out fires. Every single Firefighter can have 90% of his income after 20 years of service while pursing another career. Many “hurt a knee” and take full disability…and then play golf and fart around for the rest of their storied lives…..the whole time being paid from taxpayer dollars….it is a JOKE.

    You will have to be able to apply line item veto to budget proposals to stop this….public services need to be defined, and scrutinized, and funded according to their true merits and the amount of reasonable risk and personal responsibility we all need to take.

    Posted by: Skip | June 23rd, 2009 at 12:12 pm

  • I read your article suggesting Californians make changes necessary to save our state from ruin. One of your suggestions was reassessment of prop 13. Prior to prop thirteen homeowners saw their property taxes increasing with no end in sight.

    Yearly increases were out of control, as was government spending.
    What has gone wrong is our legislature, county, and city governments continue to spend money they do not have. They have mandated pensions at nearly full pay.

    Offering services to illegals that have cost into the billions of dollars. We have been reminded by our politicians that illegals give back more than they take in free services. If we are to believe this I have a bridge in San Francisco I would like to sell.

    Modifying prop thirteen would be a tragedy. With the economy at a post WW11 low this would ad increased property taxes to an already sick housing market.

    The liberal direction our state has taken is not working. Rather than TAX the citizens of our state we should remove spending from our state budget that is wasteful. If our state government fails to trim out the fat from spending our state will go broke. But, our politicians will continue to ask for more money rather than do the necessary. And, in a few years should the taxpayers give the state a bailout they will be back asking again.

    Posted by: Marvin | June 23rd, 2009 at 12:13 pm

  • In enjoy reading your colums. They’re usually very thoughtful and well
    reasoned. However in today’s, you totally failed to recognise why California is in this economic crisis. Its not for lack of “structural reforms”,
    whatever that means. We’re broke because our legislators and the regulators they’ve appointed have driven out the industry and manufacturing, which had paid for all the social services, freeways, parks, schools and Universities we enjoyed. We’ve lost our tax base.

    Posted by: NL | June 23rd, 2009 at 12:15 pm

  • I write to tell you how much I appreciated your column “Busted.”

    I am an over sixty part-time community college history instructor. I have felt for some time that fundamentally “we the people” of California are responsible for the mess we are in. Your column puts this in a clear, concise and rational manner.

    Term limits are an emotionally satisfying fiasco, essentially guaranteeing the systemic inexperience and therefore incompetence of government. Insanely enough, as you must know, there is even a movement by some today, (conservatives I imagine), to make the legislature a “part-time job.”

    Prop 13, which I personally benefit from, was always a mistake, both unfair and fraught with unexpected (or unsuspected) consequences. God knows I don’t WANT to pay more taxes, especially at a time when I may be laid off from my job of twelve years due to the effects of the state budget shortfall on community colleges.

    I don’t WANT to pay more taxes, but I KNOW prop 13 is bad policy and part of the problem.

    Perhaps the whole concept of direct democracy, of state ballot propositions, is fundamentally unsound. (Would we need a proposition to end propositions?) As I’m sure you know, the system of ballot initiatives was originally created by Progressive reformers to bypass corrupt state legislatures, both nationally and here in California. Like many well-intentioned originally good ideas, it has been terribly mis-used.

    So, end term limits, repeal Prop 13, do away with the 2/3 requirement to pass a state budget, possibly limit or do away with the initiative process, raise taxes and cut services.

    Is there anyone anywhere in this state who could win an election based on this platform?

    What do we do Mr. Reilly? Is there a working answer anytime soon for California? Are the people themselves willing and even remotely able to address these issues, and TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE SITUATION?

    I believe that we the people are at fault, we the people hold the ultimate responsibility. Too many us are content, I fear, to condemn the governor and the legislature, and attack all politicians, and do nothing. Many of use don’t have a clue as to the real problems let alone the real solutions.

    Do you believe that the richest, most populous, and most powerful state in the union can survive?

    Again, I appreciated your analysis, the best I’ve seen in quite a while.

    Sincerely, with respect,
    Michael S.

    Posted by: Michael S. | June 23rd, 2009 at 12:17 pm

  • You appear to have a brain. I know this because you appear to be literate; however, it amazes me how you and others like you can’t think beyond your group of elitist. There are many of you and yours always crying about how you want to help the poor and yet you do everything to hurt them. I retired in 2006 and rely on Social Security to survive. You do know all on Social Security will not get an increase in their benefits this year. All who rely on Social Security are poor. I am one of the more fortunate and have two other sources of income that help me from being tossed out of my home – a service connected disability and a small annuity retirement plan. 50% of all Californians fall into the poverty category including me. You haven’t a clue why Prop 13 was initiated in the first place. It was initiated to keep retired people from being tossed out of their homes because of the greed that was escalating property taxes. Hawaii was the first to see their homes evaluated way above inflation. Older retired people were being forced out of their homes because they couldn’t afford to pay the draconian increases. You have no idea how many retired poor people would be forced out of California if Prop 13 was rescinded.

    There is another Social Security program in California – Union Retirement. Most on the Government Dole can retire in California without being tossed out of their homes. Why do you think the Unions retire their employees at 80 to 90% of their wages? I can’t blame the Unions. They are just trying to keep their employees from falling into the poverty bracket that the other 50% of Californians are in. Most Government backed Union Retirements will get an increase in their retirement this year. California is already one of the highest taxed states in America. You are right when you stated “Households and companies don’t operate this way because it’s insane.” Raising taxes on the poor in California who own homes is insane.

    My son and his wife can’t afford to buy a home in the Bay Area where my son was raised. The only home he will get is the home he was raised in after I die assuming I can keep it. If Prop 13 is screwed with he may not even have that. He and his wife together make approximately $120,000 dollars a year. I don’t think you even know who are losing their homes in California because of the current economic problems because of Fanny Mae, Acorn and their Democratic backing. The poor are losing their homes because they were promised something they couldn’t afford by the Democrats. The poor are being foreclosed on. These are the people you and yours are crying about. Houses are still selling way in excess of what they are worth in the Bay Area with the exception of poorer neighborhoods. How did this happen? How did the poor get left out? They got left out because Big Government in California caused high inflation in the housing market. If a Fireman, Policeman and many other government employees can retire at 80 to 90% of their wage then builders of homes can sell their homes at whatever the market will bear and they did. The poor only have a few handouts like welfare, food stamps, etc. Who are running these programs? – Government employees. Why are there so many poor in California? – Because California’s Big Government have way too many programs in California that allow people in California to remain poor. These programs keep the poor poor. Raising Taxes in California isn’t the solution. There is only one solution and that is for California to get rid of Big Government. I pray California goes bankrupt. I pray that the housing market goes back to what it was just 10 years ago. 10 years ago my home was only worth approximately $180,000. It is now estimated to be worth approximately $900,000. Now that’s insane. Inflation, greed and stupidity are what made California what it is today. It didn’t take 10 years to inflate the cost of housing in California. In 1997 my house was only worth $180,000. In 2002 it was valued at $800,000. It is now valued at $900,000. This doesn’t put any money in my pocket but it sure takes a lot of money out of others pockets keeping them poor. The cost of housing in California and high Taxes is what devastated California. The poor in California can’t afford to pay these taxes. The poor in California can’t afford to buy a home.

    Damn it – leave Prop 13 alone.

    R. Barnard

    Posted by: R. Barnard | June 23rd, 2009 at 12:21 pm

  • I read your column on the eminent danger to the State of California and really don’t think many of the citizens of this state believe what will happen. When the State actually has to declare bankruptcy, they will stand with their hands on their heads and moan “why didn’t anyone tell us???”

    Unfortunately in this state, our elected officials have the very bad habit of throwing the very worst out in public when things “get hard”. The context to which I refer is that when the government is short of money instead of looking for ways to “trim” they immediately shout that police and fire services will be slashed! Then, some type of resolution is miraculously found! This happens over and over. It’s akin to the little boy who cried “wolf”. But, now there really is a wolf and no one believes it.

    Under that “wonderful” initiative process a couple of years ago, there was a measure to amend the State Constitution to require a certain amount of money be spent on green energy incentives/installations. I tried to tell friends (while Bill Clinton was making TV appearances promoting this measure!) that if/when the State fell on hard times, if this measure passed, we would still be required to spend money on solar power initiatives while closing schools. I was immediately blown off and told that all the “scare tactics” about cutting schools, police and fire services were just that – scare tactics – no one would ever really cut those! (Those rumors about closing schools are funded by “big oil” to defeat this sterling proposition! If California does not lead the way in alternative energy, who will! We have a responsibility to the future generations!” – These are all things I was told during that campaign by supposedly educated people!)

    So, now we have constitutionally mandated childcare/afterschool program funding for children that may not have schools to go to! But, at least the “green” initiative did not pass so we don’t have to fund that one.

    I have no idea how to proceed in a State which is so divided that nothing can even be placed on the table for discussion. Prop 13 has to go. Politicians need to quit looking to place their names on “soft, fuzzy” legislation and get down to the hard business of running this state. As long as they are termed-out (under law.) they spend more time raising funds for the next political level than actually doing their jobs. How do we stop it? I have written to folks in Sacramento before and always get a reply – usually written by an aide who says “thanks for commenting” – end of discussion – I may as well have thrown the letter in the trash.

    As a citizen, I did try to read the state budget. That was a stupid move! How can we even tell if there is duplication of service? The whole document is unreadable! At some point, a group of people from this state need to sit down and start back at zero. But, I fear we don’t have time now. We are too close to bankruptcy – the 8th largest economy in the world! And it is going to be as bankrupt as a 3rd world country within six months unless someone wakes up, starts working, makes compromises and sacrifices and starts believing in the future rather than the past.

    Please keep up the good work and good luck to you.


    Posted by: Moira | June 23rd, 2009 at 12:24 pm

  • In response to your article of June 23rd, Busted. We both agree that the California government is “Busted” and needs to be fixed. However we do not agree on how it is to be done. I am old enough to remember several of the reasons why we are in the position we are now.

    I do support Prop 13. Why? Because I remember the days of escalating property taxes that were literally driving retired people out of their houses, forcing them to sell and move to rentals or out of state because they could not afford the taxes on a paid for house.

    I support term limits. Why? Because I remember the days when a few legislators were in power and that longevity allowed them to set policy and actually run the legislature, it was their policies and not the peoples that were enacted. This is why I voted for term limits and why I will continue to support them. I believe that
    people should support the community for a limited time. I detest the policy of the legislators of doing everything they can to get reelected and nothing that is responsible for good government.

    I support the initiative process. Why? Because I remember all the slight of hand policies and procedures our Legislators have used to get what they wanted and then cry out for more money just to run the basic functions of the state. ie: support for the highways, schools, firefighters and police.

    I also think that we should spend what we have. Not spend money that we don’t have and hope that future tax increases will fix the problem. I don’t care how good the program is, if we don’t have the money we should not have it.

    Your last sentence, “Until we begin to demand more from ourselves, we will continue to receive less.” Yes we agree. I believe that we should demand more and expect more from ourselves and not the government, be it the California Government or the Government of the United States. We need to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions. This “WE” is all of us, you, me and everyone else.

    Thank You

    Donald C

    Posted by: Donald C. | June 23rd, 2009 at 12:24 pm

  • Thank you for your commentaries in the “Contra Costa Times”. Each one has resonated with me, but today’s commentary, “Busted” was especially right on! California is not a good place to live right now and probably for the next 5 or so years for the young, the middle aged, the old. I am a longtime public sector manager and native San Franciscan who left the Bay Area at the end of 2002 and moved to Seattle to care for an ailing family member. I loved living in the Pacific Northwest; it was so easy. However, I left my family of friends here and moved back to the Bay Area in mid-2007 and as much as I enjoy the perennial blue skies, I miss the stability and political sanity of living in Washington. Structural reform is the only answer for California at this point. Californians need to wake up, and your commentaries are eye-openers to whoever takes the time to read them.

    Thank you,
    Julie P.

    Posted by: Julie P. | June 23rd, 2009 at 12:25 pm

  • I hate to disagree with such a clear-sighted thinker as you, Clint, but I remember why Proposition 13 was necessary. Government, as is its nature, was grabbing for every possible dollar it could. People, particularly the elderly, were being reassessed out of their homes. The public rose up in fury. If it had not been for Prop. 13 with its limit on how much greedy pols manipulated by civil service unions could take with the property tax, there would not have been any brake whatever on public spending. The initiative process came into being because people didn’t like what Sacramento was trying to cram down their throats or take out of their wallets. It has been hijacked by special interests, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong. Like Prop. 13, it is a means by which voters can push back when they don’t like what they see. Even if somehow the legislature becomes more prudent and responsible — and we both know what the odds are for that given the rise of a political class whose first interest is its own — the initiative must be kept in reserve as the democratic way to redress grievances.

    Posted by: Banjo | June 23rd, 2009 at 1:27 pm

  • Unfortunately, some addicts hit rock bottom and still don’t bounce. Underlying issue: the haves vs. the have-nots (private wealth vs. the greatest good for the greatest number) – the elephant in the room which nobody mentions.

    Posted by: LeftB. | June 23rd, 2009 at 2:13 pm

  • Mr. Reilly,

    Finally some straight talk! I haven’t heard as honest an assessment of our current fiasco anywhere. But there it is, a cool-headed argument that examines all sides of the issue and doesn’t pull punches to protect one side or the other.

    As a people, Californians are a bunch of entitled whiners. We get the government (and problems) we deserve, because we’re too lazy or stupid to demand the changes we need. Like you, I pray to god we’re hitting rock bottom this year.

    Thanks for the great read. Nice job.

    L. Trout

    Posted by: Trouter | June 23rd, 2009 at 2:21 pm

  • Love the articles. As a native who is 60 years old, attended school through UCB in this state, and a veteran, the current legislature is ill equipped to deal with our budget issues.

    Over 1000 school districts with a head earning over $200k with over 20
    employees..Reduce it to maximum 300 school districts…

    Fraud and waste throughout including disability program. For example, 30 something year old, on the couch, smoking pot, gets $2200, but he could carry you and I out the door….His wife gets $1600 as his “caregiver”…she “must belong” to the caregiver union at $65 per month, the union is “off limits” to Democrats, possibly Republicans too for all I know…Each of the four kids $1000 per month each…over $7500 per month…AND, he is not a legal citizen….Mexican gangs intimidate doctors I know to sign off on other fraud cases like this…This is a true case, I know it first hand….

    So, I hope the “books are open” and that this “drug addict” has “hit bottom”…but I don’t think so….They are playing with gay marriage bills than dealing with the money issue. $72 billion owed on bonds and growing.

    Keep writing, possibly you will get through to someone.

    Posted by: JFI | June 23rd, 2009 at 4:16 pm

  • Clint:
    I could not agree more with your assessment of our sad state of affairs in Sacramento. Some think we need a state constitutional convention to bring some sanity into our state government. I’d like to believe that our elected representatives have the potential to rise above political posturing and bring real leadership to the table without making it worse through a state convention, but maybe that is the only way.
    Thank you.
    J. Bialik

    Posted by: Jeff Bialik | June 25th, 2009 at 8:21 am

  • There’s no question California is going to lose big time. The question is
    do we lose the users of tax revenues or the creators of tax revenues. In
    the former category are the vulnerable among us and some who just screw with the system; in the latter category are the innovators who start and build companies and those of us who work for them and other workers. The choice is extraordinarily difficult but necessary. Those in the latter category are leaving the state in growing numbers, which shows why “tax the rich” may have reached its limit.

    I believe California has been overly generous to the “vulnerable” to the
    extent that a dependency or entitlement attitude has grown here. California is home to more than 30% of America’s illegals. Though painful, that’s the place to start; reduce the appeal of our state to those needing support from others. There will always be those who have needs, but the State should be supportive, not generous.

    After that, reconsider our environmental “leadership” in terms of what it’s costing us (think oil drilling, agriculture vs. fish, etc.). And then there are the union wages and bureaucrat retirement packages, just plain waste, etc.

    Your closing sentence is spot on: “Until we begin to demand more from ourselves, we will continue to receive less.” It certainly applies to our leadership.

    Charles S

    Posted by: Charles S. | June 25th, 2009 at 4:58 pm

  • There is a glaring omission in your column, “Busted.” According to
    which Ph.D economist you talk to, the illegal and immoral Iraq
    invasion/occupation will cost us, our children, and our grandchildren
    two, three, or four trillion dollars. You want us to tighten our
    belts, adjust Prop 13, etc., if we really care about police services,
    libraries, schools, etc. Not once did you mention that the two insane
    and costly occupations of foreign countries by our government are
    still ongoing. (“Insane” isn’t too strong a word–we’ve created 2
    million refugees in Pakistan in order to have a “war” with 5,000
    loosely federated “Taliban.” We’re recruiting terrorists exponentially
    faster than we’re killing them!) Obama just got another $100 billion
    “supplemental.” So by us tightening our belts to keep community
    services, when we’re already having plenty of money taken out of our
    paychecks, is basically to accommodate these wars. Without knowing it,
    you’re teaching us how to be better feudal serfs!

    Now AFTER we’ve withdrawn from both countries, it would make sense for
    us to tighten our belts like you say. It would be time to rebuild and
    recover from a horrible national mistake. What binds us together is
    greater than what drives us apart.

    Posted by: Jeff | June 25th, 2009 at 4:59 pm

  • Clint, you’re singing my song! There are reasons our founding fathers didn’t establish a direct democracy for our country and opted for a republic instead. If you’re interested, Madison spelled them out in Federalist Paper Number 9. P.T. Barnum was right, you can fool all of the people some of the time. Long enough it,turns out, to get a self serving destructive proposition passed!

    Has our legislature passed a budget on time since prop 13? Perhaps, but more often than not? No. That’s expensive folks! Those late budgets waste a lot of money and you and I are the payers. Worse, one of the largest beneficiaries of prop 13 was PG&E. If you believed it was about retired folks being taxed out of their homes then you’ve been fooled. It was about giving big business a hefty tax break and that’s all it was about!

    I don’t see any virtue in taking away the public’s right to choose their own leaders. Term limits are anti-democratic! But worse our representatives are termed out before they have a chance gain the experience necessary to be effective legislators.

    California needs a constitutional convention! The big three I’ve mentioned are colossal errors that have all but destroyed our state and they need to be corrected.

    Posted by: WASanford | June 27th, 2009 at 6:41 pm

  • At work I have often had to cut the cost of a project. I have found Pareto’s rule to be the only effective guide to cost cutting. Here is the California budget for expenditures. Some $24B needs to cut from this budget. The highest cost items are at the top of the list.

    Budget Item AllocationIn Billions
    K thru 12 Education 41
    Health and Human Services 38
    Higher Education 13
    Business, Transportation & Housing 12
    Corrections and Rehabilitation 10
    Legislative, Judicial, and Executive 6
    General Government 6
    Resources 6
    Environmental Protection 2
    State and Consumer Services 1
    Labor and Workforce Development 0
    Total 135

    By Pareto’s rule, the only way to effectively reduce the budget is to start with the top 20%. 20% of this budget is $27B. By Pareto’s rule, there is little or nothing to be gained by cutting higher education ($13B) or anything below it on the list. The concentration must be on cutting K thru 12 Education and maybe Health and Human Services. (These two items cost about the same and together they make up 60% of the budget! Cutting anywhere else is useless. Completely eliminating the last six items in the budget would not do the job.

    Ok, we’re between a rock and a hard place, because education, health, and human services are important, especially education. According to the popular pundits California is already deficient in education. But still by Pareto’s rule education is the only candidate for cuts. Nothing else matters. Nothing else will help.

    Here’s my take on education: I think that the word that jumps into your mind immediately is “teach”, but that is not the definitive word. The definitive word is “learn”. What the students “learn” is what counts. The word teach represents a particular method of reaching that goal. But learn is all that matters. Teaching is an adjunct. Many people in this world have learned an awful lot without ever being taught!

    For 20 years Intel has followed Moore’s Law. Every two years it has produced computer chips that have twice the computing power, twice the speed, and half the cost of the previous chips. This rule must be applied to education (perhaps with the help of Intel’s chips).

    From here on I present food for thought and ask others to provide insight and solutions:

    Can class size be doubled, quadrupled, or more without loss of learning?
    Can the Internet improve learning at less cost?
    Can tablet PCs replace textbooks?
    Can the Internet replace the physical plant now required for schools?
    Using the Internet and computers, can one outstanding teacher address all the students in the USA or at least a large geographical area?
    Why is it necessary to have so many disparate school districts; can administration costs be combined?
    The classroom environment sucks big time for both struggling students and brilliant students. Is there a better and less costly environment for students, say learn at home or in small neighborhood groups.
    Do we really need to educate everyone?
    Should there be different tracks for the strugglers and the brilliant?
    Student can spend 20% of their lives being educated. How can we speed the process up?

    I often say to myself, “What would a cave man do in this situation?” One thing I know for sure, he wouldn’t be sitting in a classroom. That’s unnatural, at least not until the last 200 years or so.

    We have brought this system on ourselves. Now we must change it.

    Is our way of education even working:

    Why did so many people fall for Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme?
    Why do people fall for internet spam?
    Why haven’t we taught our students to control credit card debt?
    Why didn’t we train our students to recognize the possibility of the current market collapse?
    Why can’t our students perform basic risk assessment?
    Percentages are one of the easiest concepts in math. Why do students have so much trouble with it?

    Posted by: Wayne | July 1st, 2009 at 12:29 am

  • Wayne, like you I’ve often thought we could find a better way to educate our children. There’s no reason California cannot develop its own curriculum and put it online. It could be made downloadable to any e-book or computer.
    The University of California posts its lectures on-line, and so does M.I.T. What’s keeping our Department of Education from doing the same for high school students? We might be able to reduce school attendance to one day a week. Think about it. No more textbooks, no more backpacks, fewer teachers, and less expenditure on school buildings. If it works, we’d save a bundle of money and still educate our children.

    Posted by: WASanford | July 1st, 2009 at 10:28 am

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