Thursday, June 21, 2012

Buy One Senator, Get One Free

IF YOU'RE LIBERALLY-INCLINED and don't usually read the Wall Street Journal, you probably didn't see the editorial, Money and the 'Appearance of Corruption'which ran June 14.

If you're a liberal--or even a living, breathing, thinking American--you might be worried about the toxic effect of the odious 2010 U. S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. You might be concerned about the torrents of money now unleashed and flooding our political system, tens of millions offered up to politicians by individuals like Sheldon Adelson or the Koch brothers, Charles and David. You might fear that tens of millions, donated by giant corporations, will inevitably warp the democratic system.

You might be concerned, as an earlier U. S. Supreme Court decision put it, about the "appearance of corruption." 

Ha, ha, don't fret. No way. Don't be ridiculous, thinking Americans! Remember what mom used to say:  "Money can't buy happiness--or politicians."

That's the position taken by Paul Sherman in an editorial defense of the U. S. Supreme Court in the Citizens United case. While many observers might tell you this was the Supreme Court's worst decision in a decade (actually the worst decision of the staunchly conservative, five-vote, John Roberts-led wing), Sherman, an attorney at the aptly named "Institute of Justice," a conservative group which litigates campaign-finance cases across the nation, begs to disagree. He begins by noting that the State of Montana is challenging the ruling based on laws passed at the turn of the 20th century and designed to deal with a rash of cases of political corruption. (What! Money can't buy politicians!! You people in Montana, in 1916, you must have been fooled by the lamestream media into thinking it could!)

Sherman called Montana's position untenable and in the deepest recesses of a conservative soul prayed that the U. S. Supreme Court would "double down on Citizens United and reject, once and for all, the flawed justification underlying much of America's failed experiment with campaign-finance law--the so-called appearance of corruption standard."

That standard, set in 1976, in Buckley v. Valeo, held that Congress and the states could pass laws to address "corruption and the appearance of corruption." Sherman called that decision misguided and dangerous:
The "corruption" half of that ruling is uncontroversial--few seriously dispute the validity of laws proscribing conduct like offering or accepting bribes. But the power to regulate the "appearance of corruption" has proven dangerously open-ended, leading inexorably to greater government control of political speech.

Sherman offered no examples of this chilling government control; and given the skill with which both the Tea Party on the right and Occupy Wall Street on the left have stirred political discussion in recent times (and rightfully so), his worries seemed clearly misplaced. Sherman took note of the original justification for the appearance-of-corruption standard (that "a deregulated system of campaign finance would lead to public cynicism and distrust of our democratic process") but then made it clear he was having no part of such lame judicial reasoning.

In fact, the opposite was true.

Sherman is an advocate of untrammeled freedoms. This nauseating sense we might get when we hear that huge corporations and insanely rich individuals can now pour tens of millions into political campaigns, effectively drowning out the opinions of others...why, don't be silly. There's no need to fear any appearance-of-corruption: 
That argument ignores that a healthy distrust of government is vital to ensuring that government stays within its constitutionally limited role. Campaign-finance proponents want to grant government the power to restrict political activity for the purposes of managing its own PR. The result of doing so is that government still has the same amount of power to abuse, but fewer people will notice or be concerned. That is a great way to promote big government but a lousy way to promote trustworthy government.

Yeah. Trustworthy government! That's the ticket! And thank god for guardians of our precious freedoms, stalwarts like Paul Sherman. Thank god for the unbiased positions of the Wall Street Journal when it comes to Big Business influence in government. Thank god, Sherman has reminded us that our campaign-finance laws, under Buckley v. Valeo, have created a mess that another WSJ editorial described as a "half-dead monster."

Sherman notes--one editorialist for the conservative paper agreeing with another--that the awful monster "keeps shambling forward, wreaking havoc on the First Amendment." You read that, and you almost want to shout, "Save us, save us, big corporations and insanely rich individuals!"

"Dump huge piles of money on the monster and kill it!"


THE EDITORS OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, now reduced to servants of Rupert Murdoch and his vast corporate empire, and writers like Mr. Sherman, would have you imagine that this is a clarion call in the name of liberty!

In fact, Sherman's piece is a pile of steaming horse manure, dressed up in conservative logic in a vain attempt to make road apples, as we used to call them, look like fresh-baked apple pie.

Really, what do we have to look forward to if the decision in Citizens United stands, or worse ends up extended? Even Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who leads all individual contributors in this election cycle, with $35 million donated (we must stop Mitt Romney, he's unfit! not conservative enough! vote for Newt; no, wait, Newt can't win; we must elect Mitt Romney! he's actually a great American and I have the money to prove it!) has said he doesn't necessarily agree with the Supreme Court decision but as long as it's legal he's going to spend as much as $100 million to defeat President Obama.

So where does it all end?

Consider a story in today's New York Times, about Swiss bank UBS and its efforts to curtail activities by Robert Wolf, one its own top New York executives, a leading fund-raiser for Mr. Obama? Why does a Swiss banking institution care about a U. S. presidential election? It might have to do with the fact the federal government forced UBS in 2009 to pay a $780 million fine and divulge the names of 4,450 super-rich Americans  who were hiding tens of billions in secret accounts to avoid paying income taxes. You know. The kind of Big Business heroes you can trust to donate unlimited sums of money to politicians. Probably loyal readers of the Wall Street Journal and staunch conservatives who love America more than liberals do, who just don't want to give America any money to meet its needs--stupid stuff, like national defense, health care for seniors and disabled children, roads, bridges, you know, stuff like that.

In fact, conservatives seem to believe they're the only ones with a healthy distrust of government. But every liberal who can remember back to Watergate, to cite but one example, has his or her own healthy distrust of government.

It's just that liberals have an even healthier distrust of government when they think it's going to be taken over, lock, stock and barrel, and run entirely by Big Business interests.

Sherman doesn't dare touch that topic with an editorial ten-foot pole. But most Americans see the obvious danger. If one individual or one corporation can donate unlimited sums, how do we stop them from buying up politicians wholesale? Washington, D. C. is already swarming with lobbyists, like teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert. It's not like Big Business can't already make its voice heard.

What happens next, if the wishes of the editors of the Wall Street Journal come true? Do big drug companies start pouring tens of millions into campaigns for the U. S. House of Representatives? Does Pfizer adopt a dozen Republican lawmakers, maybe a Democrat or two, and avoid unpleasant situations like the one the company faced in 2009:  coughing up $2.3 billion to settle civil and criminal complaints for the illegal marketing of Bextra, a pain-killing drug? Do these bought-and-paid-for legislators push for more of a "pro-business" stance at the Food and Drug Administration? Maybe they vote to curtail federal protections for whistle-blowers, too, since whistle-blowers at Pfizer exposed the company to begin.

Or maybe a few bought-and-paid-for members of the U. S. Senate lean on the FDA to go easy in its investigations of the harmful side effects of all-metal hip joint replacements, now failing at alarming rates, often shedding steel flakes into surrounding tissue. You know:  a lot of conservative politicians already believe tort reform, making it harder to sue for medical malpractice, is the real key to "health care reform."

And, aw, shucks, so what if grandma's hip replacement is causing her excruciating pain!

If the Supreme Court stands by or expands its Citizens United decision the possibilities are endless. (Mr. Sherman might even turn to a few news items in the Wall Street Journal if he'd like to see examples!) What! You say ING Bank has been fined $619 million for laundering money for Cuba and Iran, in violation of U. S. sanctions? Time for ING to buy, no, donate to the campaigns, of two or four or six U. S. senators and put them to work fighting Dodd-Frank regulations. Huh? You say Big Sugar, as the Journal itself labels corporate agri-business interests, want to protect billions in farm subsidies? Let them donate $5 million to the reelection campaign of three members of the House of Representatives for Louisiana and get the right kind of men and women into office, you know, fans of sugar. Watch Wal-Mart spread around $50 million to politicians in all kinds of local races in ten different states; because what do we know first and foremost about Wal-Mart? That all Wal-Mart executives care about in the end is expanding freedom! And all Wal-Mart asks is that the politicians they purchase help pass laws to make it harder to organize unions. The politicians get elected and if Wal-Mart likes their work, refinanced, and re-elected. Wal-Mart clerks still earn $11 per hour and still sometimes qualify for food stamps.

And see what happens now when UBS forks over $10 million during the 2012 presidential race. Watch Mitt Romney take a stand against increased federal regulatory power! Watch Mitt opine that President Obama doesn't understand how to run a business! Watch Wall Street bankers, in their enthusiasm for the First Amendment, dump hundreds of millions into Republican coffers! Watch the banking industry prove, as it did in 2008, that only businessmen and businesswomen know how to run a business! Watch the politicians sit idly by; squint a little, and if you look at it just right, it makes a UBS donation seem like a wise investment.

Especially if they can avoid a few hefty fines next time around.

You might say, "This has the appearance of corruption to me." But you would be stupid and probably a socialist and the editors at the Wall Street Journal would insist you were secretly a foe of all human freedom, anti-American at heart, as well, and say that you hated god and your mom and that apple pie, too.

TRUST PAUL SHERMAN on this one. After all, he's a lawyer.

Money can't buy happiness or politicians.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Governor Scott Walker and Big Business Buddies to Save U. S. Education

Teachers' unions are killing the U. S. economy.
GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER LIVES to fight another day. He has survived his recall election. Now he can go about the job of saving Wisconsin. He has handed greedy public sector unions a stinging defeat, then another, defeating them against all odds and rescuing the taxpayers of his state. Governor Walker is like David with his sling (but wearing a Cheesehead hat), slaying Goliath.

He has brought down the mighty teachers' union.

Okay: true. 

The governor did have tens of millions of dollars worth of stones, thanks to campaign contributions from Big Business types like David and Charles Koch.

That doesn't change the story. Just watch Fox News. Walker is a hero! He is like Governor Chris Christie. Only thinner. 

The forces of evil, those dirty union members behind the recall, have been defeated. Wisconsinites can sleep again at night, knowing the kindergarten teacher and the high school physics instructor can't ever rip them off again. Teachers have no more bargaining rights. Taxes will go down! Count on it. Millionaires are saved! 

Pay and benefits for middle class Americans will also go down. But, say, did we mention taxes will go down? 

Test scores will go up. Really. Bank on it! Wisconsin's economy will boom. No more teachers' unions standing in the way. And with luck, and a Romney win in November, we introduce this approach on a national scale.

Remember 2008, when the teachers crashed the economy and got that big bailout from the Bush adminstration? Well, okay, maybe that was somebody else; but the point is the same. Never again will unions bring down the U. S. economy.

A NEW ERA IS DAWNING, from sea to shining sea, as voters realize (after watching $45 million worth of pro-Walker advertisements) that only a marriage of Big Business and conservative politicians can save the nation. The door to a fantastic future is opening. Unions are dying. Now we privatize U. S. education.

We turn schools over to billionaires and millionaires who know how to profit. We put Big Business types in charge, those who can bring business efficiency to schools. Teachers will have to shape up or ship out and children can only gain. Okay, maybe we outsource secretarial positions to call centers in India. Alright, maybe we hire illegal immigrants to perform janitorial services. Hey! That's what free enterprise is all about.

Saving taxpayers money.

With Big Business methods you can look forward to Big Business morality. And when has Big Business ever not been about helping kids? Okay, sure, there was that 19th century when business leaders fought against enactment of laws to ban child labor. Okay, sure, business leaders today want to help your son our daughter save money for college by freezing the minimum wage and cutting funds for low-cost student loans. Quit quibbling. We are saving America here and if a few middle class Americans get run over in the process, that's the price of success, and the cost of lower taxes for the Koch brothers. We are putting faith in Joe the Average Billionaire because, let's face facts, who cares more about about helping every child in America, and helping every American worker, unless that child or that worker needs health care, than the people who (did I already mention this) know how to profit?

Privatizing U. S. education is going to be great. It will be like:

Ken Lay and Jeffrey, no, poor choice. Um. Schools will show rising standardized test results, year after year, like when Bernie, no, that's not right. The school nurse will save taxpayer money by turning away students who come to her office with preexisting conditions...
Still not quite right. Okay: Your school superintendent will have the business acumen of Jamie Dimon, CEO of J. P. Morgan. He will let your district business manager put up buildings, athletic fields and school buses as collateral for risky loans. No. Scratch that. You don't want to lose $2 billion do you?

Oh yeah, have we mentioned greedy teachers lately?

Well, now that you've smashed the unions, you can tell those middle class teachers to take a hike if they want a raise on their $50,000 salaries. You can pay your superintendent who is really the key to all success, $133.7 million dollars for one year.

That's what Home Depot does. That's how much Bob Nardelli earns running the company; and while you're at it your district can start buying everything it can in China. This means parents of students might lose jobs; but it doesn't matter because the savings you make buying foreign goods will allow you to pay Bob Nardelli and he's the key. 

When a newspaper reporter asks if Mr. Nardelli deserves it, a spokesman for your district can reply, "Mr. Nardelli works harder than other people."

"Really?" the reporter may respond. "Harder than 2,674 teachers, earning $50,000 each, combined?"

Your spokesman must be ready to respond (and be sure not to laugh): "Yes. Mr. Nardelli puts in a lot of late nights and weekends."

Still not convinced that Big Business, with the help of conservative politicians, can save all the children? Maybe a real example might help. 

How about K-12, Inc. an online school operation, which owns the Ohio Virtual Academy? The company spends $6,108 per pupil vs. $10,660 at traditional brick and mortar schools (partly because K-12 pays teachers half what the regular public schools do). This savings for taxpayers! Have we mentioned huge savings for taxpayers lately? Talk about efficiency. Ohio Virtual Academy has one building and 7,277 pupils and a student-teacher ratio of 55.5-1 vs. a statewide average of 16.1-1. Assigning each teacher three-and-a-half times as many students and paying them less allows K-12, Inc. to make tidy profits, and...give taxpayers a fantastic deal. What? The dropout rate is 14.9% yearly, compared to a statewide average of 4.3%, according to the website Local School

Don't sweat it. Governor Walker can explain how it will all work. Or Governor Christie, unless his mouth is stuffed with donuts. Or Governor John Kasich here in Ohio. K-12, Inc. is in the education business because the company wants to help children. They would probably run their school for free if they could help children. But, no, Big Business leaders at K-12 can't help it if they are so talented that they make a ton of money running the Agora Cyber Charter School in Pennsylvania. True: One-third of students at Agora fail to graduate on time. Also true: hundreds withdraw every year, within months of enrollment. True, again: some Agora high school teachers are responsible for overseeing 250 students.

What the heck. Big Business heroes are crushing evil unions. Big Business heroes are going to save U. S. education.

Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch has bought into the education business, because who cares more about children than an Australian billionaire, paying $360 million for an education company called Wireless Generation, a technology operation with close ties to the New York City Schools. And who used to run the New York City Schools?  

Joel I. Klein, a gentleman who never taught a day in his life.

Now Klein works for Murdoch, heading up his education operations. How much does he earn for his expertise? A cool $4.5 million per year. After all, if you want to help the kids, you need to have the best legal advice, and Klein's real value has always been in the field of corporate law, another bastion of altruism if there ever was one. Sadly, Klein has been unable to focus on improving U. S. education lately.

He's been devoting most of his efforts to cleaning up Murdoch's long list of legal difficulties in Great Britain, including widespread phone-hacking, bribery of politicians and police, perjury, and all kinds of other sleazy antics. Maybe Klein will suggest to Murdoch that they name their first on-line charter school Milly Dowler Virtual Academy, in honor of the 13-year-old girl English girl who was abducted on her way home after classes one day, and who then had her cell phone account hacked by Murdoch's reporters while she was still missing, so that News Corporation could try to get scoop rival papers.

I mean, if you can't trust lawyers like Klein and businessmen like Murdoch to save America's kids, who can you trust?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Who Knew? Rupert Murdoch is a Flaming Liberal

Lt. Colonel Wesley Brown, the first black graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy (Class of 1949) died last month. Even many Fox News affiliates took note of his story.

A handful of black students had enrolled at the Academy before, but quit in the face of intense race-based hatred and hazing. Brown, a member of the entering class of 1945, barely made it. Most white cadets refused to sit next to him in the cafeteria or classroom. He was barred from joining the choir and admitted to a biographer years later that not a day went by during his stay at Annapolis that he didn't think about quitting. But with the World War II just ended, attitudes about discrimination were changing. It was hard to argue that Hitler was a monster if a brand of racism virtually indistinguishable from Nazi ideology was going to continue to thrive in this country. Luckily, a few cadets (including Jimmy Carter) encouraged Brown to “hang in there” and he did and went on to make a career of the Navy.

More about Brown in a moment; but for now it’s interesting to consider his story in light of recent polls that show 40% of Americans identify themselves as “conservative,” outnumbering liberals 2-1. Here in Cincinnati it can feel like it’s closer to 10-1.

Many of my friends tell me they’re conservative. I tell them I’m liberal. What’s odd is that they sometimes tell me I’m not.

I say I am and say I can prove it. They say I’m not and walk away feeling a little too smug in their beliefs. They don’t believe in global warming nor in evolution. They don’t gasp when Donald Trump and Michele Bachmann put themselves forward as serious contenders for the Republican presidential nomination. They don’t notice that Sarah Palin is an intellectual lightweight or that Glenn Beck often sounds nutty. They believe in the Bible, though, and really, really, really believe in the Founding Fathers and don’t think there has been a good political idea hatched out of anyone’s head since 1787.

The Brown story makes you wonder if Americans still understand what labels like “liberal” and “conservative” mean. A “conservative” has always been someone who wants to keep society as it is. A liberal has always been a person who wants to see society change and improve. Both views have their strengths. Yet, for two decades, the loudest voices on the far-right, people like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter and the crew at Fox News, have done everything they could to turn the word “liberal” into a pejorative.

It might help all good Americans, then, liberal and conservative, to consider a few examples and explain how liberals really think and we’ll circle back to Brown before we finish.

Recently, the University of Michigan Law School and the Northwestern University School of Law compiled a database of all individuals wrongly convicted of serious crimes in this country and later exonerated, starting in 1989. Records show that more than 2,000 men and women have been unjustly convicted of very serious crimes, including rape and murder. Many have been freed only as a result of improvements in the use of DNA evidence, which has often conclusively established their innocence.

The database, however, looked at only 873 individuals (not surprisingly, half were black), for whom the best records existed. Collectively, they spent 10,000 years in prison for crimes they did not commit.

One hundred and one innocent people were facing death sentences.

If you’re a liberal you consider this a travesty. You believe courts must do a better job of insuring that innocent people are not sent to prison. You might also oppose the death penalty, though not all liberals do.

Last September, when Rick Perry defended the 234 executions carried out in Texas during his time as governor, and said he wasn’t worried about mistakes, because his state had such a fine justice system, you had a sinking feeling. You knew, for instance, that the State of Illinois admitted it condemned at least 13 innocent men to death in years following the decision by the United States Supreme Court to reinstitute the penalty in 1977.

Go back farther and you can see plenty of reasons to be “liberal.” Do you believe a defendant on trial for murder should have legal counsel if he cannot afford it? You’re a liberal if you do because the Founding Fathers never thought to address that issue and the U. S. Supreme Court had to determine that the answer was “yes” in a series of decisions in the 1930s and 40s.

What about a defendant on trial for armed robbery? Should that individual have a lawyer if he can’t afford one? Or should he defend himself, try to stay out of jail for five or six years, relying only on his own native wit? He might be innocent, after all. If you say “he deserves a lawyer,” click your ruby slippers together and repeat three times, “There's no place so perfect for conservatives as the past” and be transported back to 1963. Up until then defendants on trial in non-capital felony cases had no lawyers unless they could pay for them.

If you think that’s wrong and claim you’re conservative, it’s time to come out of the closet.

You, madam or sir, are a flaming liberal!

What about the whole matter of Brown and the idea that all Americans deserve equal treatment? Should Wesley Brown have been allowed to enroll at the U. S. Naval Academy in the first place? Should Herman Cain be allowed to run for higher office? Should Colin Powell be a general? Should black and white soldiers fighting today in Afghanistan serve in integrated military units? They couldn’t until President Harry Truman took a liberal stance and ordered U. S. armed forces to eliminate the color line in 1948. At the time, Strom Thurmond, U. S. senator from South Carolina, and a red, white and blue conservative till the day he died in 2003, called the new policy “un-American.”

He was opposed to race-mixing and warned: “There’s not enough troops in the Army to break down segregation and admit the Negro into our homes, our eating places, our swimming pools and our theaters.” Good old Strom Thurmond! Served 48 years in the Senate. Ran in 1948 as the Dixiecrat candidate for president on an anti-integration platform. Switched to the Republican Party sixteen years later because Barry Goldwater, the conservative candidate for president, opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

A conservative, good and true, was Senator Thurmond.

Keep blacks out of the swimming pools, the schools (including Annapolis), and, for sure, voting booths. Not necessarily your bedroom though. In 2003 after seventy-eight years of secrets and silence, it was revealed that Strom Thurmond had fathered a child by his family’s black teenage maid in 1925. Down South they call that miscegenation.

And Thurmond was against it.

You’d think our political opponents on the right might see the irony and be a bit more humble. “Conservatism,” after all, has often meant standing directly in the path of human advancement. In 1521 it meant believing it was acceptable to burn church critics at the stake. In 1611, when the King James Bible was published, you supported King James when he claimed to rule by divine right. In 1692, in Salem, Massachusetts, conservatives called it justice to hang men and women for witchcraft, and no defense lawyers required. In 1775 you considered George Washington and all those who would later become the Founding Fathers traitors. In 1861 you stood with the slave owners. In 1920 you predicted disaster if women voted and said it would lead to increases in the divorce rate.

In 1967, like Senator Thurmond, you opposed interracial marriage. So you knew it was a dark day in American history when a few “activist” judges on the United States Supreme Court stepped in that summer and voted 9-0 in favor of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple from Virginia. The court ruled that if two people loved each other they could marry. (Police officers had invaded the Loving’s home at night, had apprehended the criminals in their own bed, with a wedding certificate from another state affixed to the bedroom wall). For decades the laws of the State of Virginia had held that a racially mixed marriage was a felony (again: no lawyer needed at trial if you couldn’t pay for one yourself), and conservatives heartily approved, just as they imagined the Founding Fathers must have intended. So: you’re a true conservative if you believe the government should be able to tell people who they can and cannot marry. And you’re a liberal if you believe marriage between races is acceptable.

Rupert Murdoch, owner of the most conservative TV network on the face of the planet? Why that curmudgeon is a liberal! Divorced twice. Old white fellow. Married to a woman of Chinese extraction.

Conservatives used to call that miscegenation.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Donald Trump, Next U. S. Secretary of Education?

TODAY, I AM GOING TO EXPLAIN how Big Business and billionaires can end the "education crisis" facing America.

Unfortunately, most people who see that phrase, "end the 'education crisis' facing America," will lose interest before finishing the sentence and switch to YouTube to hunt up clips of Jolene Van Vugt setting the land speed record on a motorized toilet.

While you're checking out Vugt's stunning accomplishment you might also watch Secretary of Education Arne Duncan drone on about the achievement gap in U. S. education. But you're not actually crazy. Duncan has a measly 184 views. No. Do what most  people do. Check out the video of Charlie Schmidt's piano-playing cat, which has 24,189,976.

Of course, if you're interested in what's happening in the public schools, there's one place you can still go for "fair and balanced" coverage. That's right, you can watch Fox News. And if you do your head is already brimful of ideas:

1. You know teachers' unions are shot through with greed and corruption and that their reason for existence is to protect tenured child molesters.

2. You are convinced that unions make campaign donations to politicians who worship the Devil.

3. You realize that if Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin loses his recall election, June 5, then union thugs are coming to your home next and they are going to eat your baby.

4. On a positive note, you can see that the only way we can save our schools, our children, our piano-playing cats, and our inalienable right to ride motorized toilets, is to break teachers' unions and turn the public schools over to for-profit corporations.

5. You believe government isn't a solution. Government is a problem. In fact, government is like herpes.

6. And last, but not least, billionaires are your heroes, because you admire their altruism; and you understand that business efficiencies brought into U. S. public education can only mean lower taxes and soaring profits.

6a. No, wait, we meant:  soaring test scores.

6b. In fact, you hope that when Mitt Romney sits in the Oval Office he will select Donald Trump as his U. S. Secretary of Education!

Of course, since you probably don't follow education news closely, you might not know that Rupert Murdoch, the Australian billionaire and owner and guiding spirit of Fox News, paid $360 million in November, 2010 to buy a company called Wireless Generation and get in on the education technology business. And you've probably never given much thought to what might happen when people like Trump and Murdoch see dollar signs dancing in front of, no...we mean happy American children.

So let's look at a few examples to see how the Golden Age of For-Profit Public Education might play out:

SCHOOL BUS SERVICE:  Low-budget bus companies take over and slash costs (hugh savings for taxpayers! huge profits for low-budget bus companies!) by dispensing with time-consuming safety inspections, ignoring rules limiting hours employees can drive, and skipping background checks for drivers. Okay, kids! Meet Ophadell Williams, your new driver! Sure, Ophadell was once jailed for manslaughter. Sure, his driving privileges have been suspended on multiple occasions. Mr. Williams works cheap and this is business. So fasten your seat belts, because your bus is going to be careening off the road when Ophadell falls asleep at the wheel!

GYM CLASS REQUIREMENT:  Parents might worry that their children are getting flabby. But the for-profit gym teacher has a solution. He asks mom and dad to watch a short educational film about the benefits to their child of wearing Skecher toning sneakers. The film features Dr. Steven Gauteau, chiropractor, touting a six-week clinical trial he conducted, which showed that if a child would wear these toning sneakers he or she would lose weight, see an increase in muscle strength, and have slimmer legs and better buttocks! But the doctor will not bother to mention that his wife is an executive who works for...Skechers. No problem. The shoe companies will rake in the dough, earning $1.1 billion in 2010 sales of toning sneakers, and the $40 million Skechers will pay in fines later, for making unsubstantiated health-benefit claims, will be a small cost to pay for doing business. And your son or daughter will still have those cool sneakers!

GOOD SCHOOL NUTRITION: Meddling bureaucrats with the Department of Agriculture will try to impose new rules and require more fresh fruits and vegetables on the school lunch menu. But student interests come first when Big Business controls education. Del Monte Foods will save all those chubby fourth graders, putting lobbyists to work in Washington, D. C., to ensure that pizza remains classed as a vegetable. (After all, a slice of pizza is covered in tomato sauce!) Tea Party types will be shown on Fox News, passing out bumper stickers that read, "You'll have to pry my cold dead hands off my pepperoni pizza."

FOR-PROFIT SCHOOLS: We have seen the future of for-profit education! At the college level, it's ITT Tech and Phoenix University! These for-profit colleges make money hand over fist, which we all know is the founding principle of U. S. public education. Since 2008, such institutions have actively recruited students, including returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, who have guaranteed G. I. Bill tuition benefits, even though many of the students they recruit are totally unprepared for college-level study. No problem for Big Business saviors:  Students at for-profit colleges have used G. I. Bill benefits and relied on more than $125 billion in federal grants and loans to pay almost all their tuition expenses (because government is always a problem) and many have flunked out or graduated with worthless degrees (because business is always a solution). Wait? What? And then those students have defaulted on 15% of all loans.

START YOUR OWN CHARTER SCHOOL:  Profits are waiting at the elementary and secondary levels, as well. Just found a charter school! Collect payments from state government. Then cook the books and pad your own bank account. It's the Carl W. Shye Jr. method! Shye, treasurer for four Ohio charter schools, has been charged with embezzling $523,000 from school operations! Or go bankrupt, as did Lorain Art Academy, another Ohio charter. Yep. Make the state take back it's students, but say you no longer have the money already paid to your institution to educate those students. Feel the power of Big Business to save U. S. education! Operate with the same dedication to children as Michigan-based National Heritage Academies. Lease an old Catholic school in Brooklyn for $264,000 yearly. Then charge a New York State-supported charter school $2.76 million to use the same building.

STANDARDIZED TESTING: The states pay testing companies hundreds of billions to design, market and grade standardized tests. Classroom teachers will tell you the tests aren't working. But if that were true Big Business couldn't keep selling more testing, and, you know, helping America's children. So, all you billionaires, rely on your allies in right-wing political circles, and your proxies at Fox News, to keep portraying teachers as lazy union members! Sure, the test-preparation company, Princeton Review, now faces a federal suit, accused of submitting millions of dollars in false claims, for providing tutoring services to underprivileged school children in New York City! Sure, sure, one former supervisor is accused of forging student signatures, falsifying sign-in sheets and providing false certifications, including one billing which showed that 74 students attended a class held on New Year's Day in 2008, class was actually held. That's  okay. Free markets always work the way God intended.

FINALLY, SCHOOL NURSING: Children with severe emotional problems are way more expensive to educate. Yet they insist on coming to school! Time to apply good business principles and sedate them. Presto! No more behavior issues! And tidy profits for drug companies! So what if hundreds of thousands of young children, two-thirds of them twelve or younger, are treated with Risperdel. Who cares if 1,200 kids suffered serious health problems after using the drug? If thirty-one died, including a 9-year-old who suffered a stroke a few days after beginning treatment? You're bringing business efficiency to the school house!

Meanwhile, doctors are increasingly prescribing Zyprexa, Seroquel, Abilify and Geodon to treat children. But government agencies are whining. (As always, government is the problem!) Studies show that use of these drugs has increased fivefold in twenty years. Well, that's great! Drug companies help kids and simultaneously make billions in profits! In fact, according to an article in the New York Times, “The growing use of the medicines has been driven partly by the sudden popularity of pediatric bipolar disorder.”

Well, okay. Thank god for the work of Dr. Joseph Biederman, a child psychiatrist at Harvard, and leading advocate of that diagnosis. If you can’t trust an expert like Biederman to tell you when your child needs powerful medication, who can you trust? What? You say an investigation by Congress reveals that the doctor failed to report to Harvard that he earned $1.4 million in outside income from... the drug manufacturers?

You say Biederman and the drug companies were not entirely forth-coming in testimony before Congress? That as early as 2002, one internal report noted that more study of medicines prescribed for children was necessary?  That without more data, government watchdogs might rightly question the use of these powerful medications, “especially those like neuroleptics, which expose children to potentially serious adverse events?”

You say “adverse events” is Big Business-speak for “death?”

Don't worry. When it comes to America's public schools, Mr. Murdoch and all the other billionaires just want to help.

P. S.: I CAN ALWAYS ADD EXAMPLES to show how business efficiencies, business morals, and business motivations can save us.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS: Your favorite high school realizes good athletic teams mean good publicity. The football coach starts recruiting, paying players from other schools under the table. The star linebacker gets hurt and his status for the big game is doubtful. Follow the National Hockey League, where Derek Boogard, who played for several teams, received more than 100 perscriptions for pain-killers from team doctors, even though he had a history of addiction. (Boogard died of an accidental overdose at age 28.)

GAMBLING DOLLARS GO TO SCHOOLS: We all know altruistic casino owners like to pay taxes to support schools. It's called doing your civic duty! So, let's say you want to move into a new state, say New York, and say you want the governor's support for a constitutional amendment to to legalize casino gambling because you love helping the children, and let's say you donate $2 million to the governor's campaign organization. You won't care about that money because you'll be raking in huge, I mean, you'll be helping raise test scores.