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Volume 3 Number 3                                   21 March 2011
Basic Ideas

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting about what to have for lunch.
Freedom is a well armed lamb contesting the vote.
Benjamin Franklin

SC House Passes Budget
    On 21 March 2011 the SC House passed the 2011-12 budget and sent the bill (H3700) to the Senate. The complete bill can be viewed here. State appropriations total $5.356 billion, a 6% increase over 2010-11's $5.060 billion. The total budget is $21.7 billion, down slightly from 2011's $21.8 billion. The total budget includes $8.5 billion in Federal Government revenue and $7.9 billion in other revenue.
Current Policy (Full Size click here)
Mulvaney on the National Debt
    On 24 March 2011 Congressman Mick Mulvaney, member of the House Budget Committee,  gave a presentation on the national debt and current US budgetary policy at USCL's Stevens Auditorium. The situation is nothing short of alarming. The US has been spending in excess of its revenues for close to fifty years and borrowing to make up the difference. 2010 Federal revenue is $2,162 billion and expenses are $3,456 billion, or 160% of revenue. Total Federal debt is $13,529 billion, or 6.3 times total annual revenue. (Reference). It should be mentioned that this figure for the national debt probably does not include the $2,700 billion ($2.7 trillion) plus interest owed to the Social Security system. See the article "What's the Problem with Social Security" to the right.
    The chart shown above is a projection by the Congressional Budget Office of the size of the national debt under current law and policies. This is unsustainable even in the short term and with the current national debt about equal to the Gross National Product, the size of the national debt is a severe limitation on the growth of the economy underlying that national debt.

Obama Policy on  Contract Bidding
    Congressman Mulvaney announced at the 24 March meeting that he had discovered this week that the Obama administration had instituted a policy that only unionized businesses could bid on government contracts such as the construction contracts at Shaw Air Force Base. Since South Carolina is a right to work state, this policy excludes South Carolina businesses from bidding on these contracts and costs the taxpayer money, since materials and labor must be transported from out of state. Mr. Mulvaney will be looking into this situation when he returns to Washington  this week.    

J.R. Wilt
From the Editor
      This newsletter is published as events warrant. Subscribers receive an email when updates are published. The email is very brief and contains a link to the new edition.  If you have news, pictures. links or comments  please let me know.  Note that the link on the Resources page now includes a way to check out the voting records of members of the SC legislature.
    To subscribe, click here.

    J.R. Wilt, Editor and Publisher


SC Senate Passes Transparency
    On 16 March 2011 the SC Senate passed the second reading of  H3004 with a minor technical change that the House has already agreed to accept. The amendment that would have required an amendment to the state constitution was deleted; as passed the bill will become law on signing by the Governor. The final Senate vote was 34 - 7. Opposing the bill were Senators Campsen, Grooms, Hutto, Malloy, McConnell, Reese and Verdin. The bill has been returned to the House for concurrance on a minor technical amendment.
    The bill will require a recorded vote on the second and third reading of any measure destined to become law or affect state finances and section by section on the budget. Governor Haley has been fighting for this law since she was in the House, and is expected to sign it promptly when it reaches her desk.

What's the Problem with Education?
    In a word, the problem with American education is too much quantity and not enough quality. The current educational system is called the factory model. The students are regarded as uniform raw material which goes in one end of the school factory.  The students are taken through the factory step by uniform step, and are supposed to emerge from the end of the factory as finished adults. Students are not uniform, and the different stages of education affect each of them differently, thus the factory model does not produce a uniform, adult ready product, as has been shown repeatedly over the last 160 years.
    What we have been doing is to add more stages to the educational manufacturing process. We call these high school, college, junior college, graduate school, postdoc programs, etc. The myth supporting the system is that if only we put students through another stage of educational manufacturing, they will all be ready to be productive adults. As we do this we push the age at which students become productive adults further and further back. In the early nineteenth century students were effectively adults at the age of sexual maturity, about 15. and were expected to spend a few years settling down as adults, then marry and take a responsible place in society.
    Early public education required eight years and graduated students at about age 14. Around 1890 the system was judged wanting and a second stage was added, called high school. This pushed the age of transition from student to adult back to about 18, with the age of marriage and assumption of a place in society more like 21. Many social problems arose from this pushing the age of marriage back so far from the age of sexual maturity; these were largely swept under the rug.
    More recently it is common to regard college as a necessary prelude to the transition from student to adult. This has the effect of pushing the age of transition from student to adult back again to about 22, and has resulted in a lot of social problems, which have again been swept under the rug.
    The cost of education under the factory model is proportional to the length of time students spend in school, and has increased as the minimum years spent in school has increased.
    It is time to admit that the factory model does not work. We now have educational standards for each level of education. Rather than requiring students to spend a fixed amount of time at each level, students should be free to move through the standards at their own rate. When mastery of one set of standards has been achieved, students should be free to move on.
    In the current system, however, there is a time requirement and no mastery requirement. Students in the current system are required to spend a fixed time mastering the material and all students are expected to learn the material within this time. This is silly. Some students learn faster and others slower. Changing the reqiuirement from time to mastery will result in some students graduating from high school at 12 years of age and earning PhDs at 18 at substantially lower cost than under the current system.
    A second problem with the system is that the State of South Carolina spends about $11,000 per pupil on K-12 education, but the local school districts spend only about $6000 per pupil in the district. Thus nearly half of the money spent on K-12 education is siphoned off at the state level. The districts each have a large administration, and siphon off close to 50% of what is left. Thus of the K-12 educational spending in South Carolina, about 50% is spent on state level administration, 25% is spent on district level administration and 25% is spent actually educating students. More than half of this money is soent requiring students who have already mastered the material for their grade level to sit unproductively waiting for their slower classmates to catch up.
    SCRG points out that private school tuition in South Carolina averages around $4500 - $5000 per year, so the state actually could save money by sending kids to priovate schools. This assumes, of course, that the state would actually reduce its expenditure on education if the student population were smaller. a more likely scenario is that the state would find something else to spend the money on, allowing the per pupil expenditure to increase.


Governor Nikki Haley
Governor Haley in Rock Hill 14 March
    Governor Nikki Haley held a Town Hall meeting in Rock Hill on 14 March to a very receptive audience. She presented the status of her legislative agenda (below) and answered a lot of questions from the audience. Although school choice is not on her current legislative agenda, she indicated that she would be working with General Zais, the Superintendent of Education, over the summer and would sign any school choice bill that came to her desk.
What's the Problem with Social Security?
    The major problem with Social Security is that the Federal Government regards the FICA (Social Security), Medicare, FUT (Federal Unemployment Tax) and Federal Income Tax Withholding on every paycheck stub as revenue and not as prepayments of future obligations. These programs are all sold to the American people as taxes dedicated to a specific uses, with surpluses invested against future deficits.The Federal Government does not treat these programs in this way; current surpluses from these programs are simply spent on other programs. The Social Security Trust Funds do not exist; the Federal Government spent them long ago. A private insurance company that performed in this manner would find everyone involved headed to prison for fraud, but the Federal Government holds itself to a lower standard; what is fraud in the private sector is expected behavior for the Federal Government. Read more here and here.
    The fundamental difficulty of the Social Security System is that the benefits promised to current and future retirees were based in the idea that the Social Security Trust funds would exist when in fact they do not. The Social Security system is thus unfunded by the amount of the current Trust Fund, or $2.7 trillion plus interest as of December 2010. On the basis that promises by the US Government to its own citizens should have equal weight with those made to foreign nationals and other governments, this figure plus interest should be added to the national debt, currently $13.5 trillion.

Michele Bachmann to Speak in Bluffton 16 April

    Congresswoman Michele Bachmann will speak in Bluffton at the OldTown Dispensary on Saturday 16 April 2011 from 2 to 6 PM. SC Senator Tom Davis will share the podium. An afternoon of music, food, entertainment and Voter Registration is planned. Poster  Map  
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