Wednesday, July 25, 2007
In some states, educators are now paid based upon their ability and tenure. Promotions and higher pay result when teachers ensure that their students are excelling in the classroom. Instituting a minimum wage would, in essence, do little to ensure that quality teachers are rewarded and recruited. In fact, Bill Richardson's proposal would result in students receiving a poorer education. Some teachers would receive significantly higher compensation from the government regardless of how their students perform on standardized tests or other educational benchmarks. The average teacher's salary is already higher than the minimum wage proposed by Richardson. According to USA Today, the average teacher earns over forty-six thousand dollars per year. In other words, the youngest, least experienced, and worst quality teachers will be disproportionately benefited as a result of such legislation. A guaranteed wage would also stifle the drive to work harder and develop new teaching techniques which will benefit students. A minimum teaching wage lowers the incentives for educators to increase their own knowledge and skills. If a teacher is confronted with a choice between thirty-five thousand dollars a year with no master's degree or forty-five thousand dollars a year with one, it would obviously pay for the teacher to pursue a master's degree. When that choice is between forty thousand dollars a year without a master's degree or forty-five thousand dollars a year with one, the impetus for improving one's skills declines significantly (since there is less reward). Simply put, the quality of teaching will decline precipitously after the introduction of a minimum wage for teachers.
In the free market, increasing the minimum wage significantly would result in greater unemployment, since businesses would take fewer risks in hiring new employees because they must pay them an artificially high wage. In addition, any employee whose productivity does not compensate his employer for the wage he earns will be fired. With our education system, however, the results will be quite different. Since teachers receive their compensation directly from the taxpayer, four possibilities emerge. The first, and most likely result, is that more students will be placed in each classroom to lessen the burden on the taxpayer. Rather than having thirty students in a class, forty may be placed in a single classroom to offset the increased wages given to teachers. Teachers will get more money as a result, but the quality of education will undoubtedly decrease as students receive less personal attention from a teacher. However, this will be a viable solution for school districts if the budget remains static after a minimum wage for teachers is implemented. This also would allow the same number of teachers to remain employed.
The second possibility is an increase in taxes. Keeping classroom size and quality identical under this new policy would require a significant tax increase. As a result, millions of dollars will be taken from the taxpayers and redirected to public school teachers. If educational quality was improved dramatically, these added taxes might be worthwhile. However, as we are continuing to see, educational quality actually decreases with Richardson's proposal. Though such a tax increase is a distinct possibility, the third or fourth possibilities are more likely to occur.
A teacher's minimum wage might also cause capital to be substituted where it would otherwise be less efficient to do so. For instance, computers may be given to every student in order to facilitate learning, even though it would be more efficient for teachers to merely teach. If this occurs, our resources paid into the system as taxpayers will be used less efficiently. What happens when resources are not used most efficiently? The economy as a whole suffers and the standard of living is decreased.
Finally, the most skilled and experienced educators will likely receive a pay decrease as a result of the new minimum wage. In order to offset the pay increases for those who are currently making less than minimum wage without increasing taxes, class size, or substituting capital, the best teachers will fall victim to wage reductions. These same teachers might now look to private schools or other employment opportunities rather than endure a pay cut (or, at the very least, stagnant wages). Even if current class sizes are maintained and the taxpayer is placated, the educational quality of our public schools will be drastically harmed as the best teachers leave the public schools in droves. Ultimately, while New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson's idea may seem like the panacea our education system desperately needs, his proposal will only move our school systems further down the road of quality deterioration.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
The prime reason that every person in the
Second, “file swapping” is indeed illegal in and of itself. In 1997, the No Electronic Theft Act (NETA) was passed which makes it a federal felony to file swap, even through peer-to-peer networks. Furthermore, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is an additional law through which music pirates can be held to account.
Third, though some individuals claim that the government’s and music industry’s non-enforcement of these legal provisions is tacit assent to download, this is logically incorrect. Most Americans (including myself) drive over the speed limit. In fact, in a majority of cases were a police officer is visible, the officer is actually driving faster than I am. Merely because law enforcement agents do not adequately enforce the speed limit does not give me (or anyone else) liberty to go whatever speed we want and disregard the law by traveling 100 mph. Our society simply does not work that way. In the same way, even if the government or the music industry is not adequately enforcing the law, this does not in any way give us an excuse to flout the law.
Fourth, whether you agree with intellectual property rights (IP) or not is irrelevant. If you are against upholding IP you can work to change the existing laws. However, just because we as American may not agree with a certain law does not give us an excuse to radically disregard it. If I do not agree with our country’s laws regarding murder, I am not free to kill someone.
Now that we have established the more than questionable legality of downloading copyrighted material from sources such as Kazaa, Grokster, or Limewire, let us look at several other points which are applicable to this discussion. In addition to the legal reasons against illegally downloading copyrighted material, there are also economic concerns. The following is an example from usinfo.state.gov:
“A good example is
Though some artists may have no problems with downloading music illegally, empirical evidence suggests that the majority of musicians and music companies are working hard to mount a defense against the problems of music piracy. Music piracy also works to stifle creativity. When there is no incentive for invention, our economy will suffer. Once again from usinfo.state.gov:
“Many new musical voices, new authors, and new stories on film around the world have never been made available, simply because the incentives were not there for these artists to take a risk. They have known that whatever they produce will be immediately pirated -- stolen -- and they will not be provided the means to develop their talent.”
Rampant piracy will have the effect of discouraging innovation and the development of new talent. In actuality, “file swapping” works counter-intuitively. The same people who download the music will be harmed by the decrease in music available for sale. After all, why would artists and studios continue to produce if there music is readily available to the public for free?
Most importantly, however, we must also see what the Bible has to say on this issue. I believe I can say most assuredly that we are not given any example in the Bible regarding “file swapping”. However, we are given many passages which shed light on this issue.
First, the Bible mandates that we submit to those in authority over us. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” (Romans 13: 1-2) God has called us to subject ourselves to the laws and rulers of our government. To disobey this decree is a direct violation of God’s command. The only time this earthly law should be disobeyed is when it contravenes God’s law. I am unconvinced that laws against “file swapping” violate God’s law.
Second, we are not to use our Christian liberty as an excuse for illegal (or even unethical) actions. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with welldoing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As fee, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” (1 Peter 2: 13-14) Even though Christ has taken the penalty of our sin, He has called us to obey not only his law but the law of the land.
And third, we also need to exemplify Christ-like behavior. When non-Christians look at our lives they should see a stark contrast between the world and us. Obeying not only God’s law but also the laws of this country is a shining example to others of the difference that Christ makes in the lives of those who follow him.
“File swapping” is more than just downloading music to listen to: it is a legal, economic, and moral dilemma. I hope that I have helped to bring clarity to this debate and challenged many longstanding assumptions to music piracy. Please post comments to let me know what you think.Levi W. Swank
Monday, February 5, 2007
Sunday, February 4, 2007
At the Davos economic summit this past week, former Presidential candidate and U.S. Senator John Kerry announced that
First, President Bush was not the first politician to reject the
As for fighting AIDS, "Mr. Kerry's criticisms are hauntingly similar to al Qaeda's own talking points." The Bush administration has devoted three times the capital to fighting AIDS overseas than the
John Kerry still hasn't learned his lesson from the 2004 Presidential campaign. Some political analysts have suggested that the Bush campaign's characterization of John Kerry as a "flip flopper" was merely political rhetoric. Events since Kerry's failed Presidential bid reveal the truth behind this characterization.
Levi W. Swank
Monday, January 22, 2007
Alan M. Dershowitz is an author, attorney, and Harvard Law professor who is disgusted by former President Carter's new book. Ironically enough, Dershowitz is also a liberal. Dershowitz claims that Carter has been "bought, paid for and delivered by Arab money". Dershowitz cites the fact that the Carter Center has received over $10 million dollars "directly from the king of Saudi Arabia. (World Magazine)" In addition, Carter has accepted money and an award from an anti-semitic Arab thinktank based in Dubai, leading to a conjecture that Carter himself is an anti-semite.
Dershowitz isn't the only individual upset by Carter's book. In fact, 14 members of the Carter Foundation recently resigned claiming that Carter's book was not written by the Jimmy Carter they came to respect and support. One of these members, who had been with the organization for over 23 years, resigned because Carter's book is "replete with factual errors [and] copied materials not cited." Furthermore, former Mideast envoy Dennis Ross who served under Presidents Carter, Bush, and Clinton claims that Carter used some maps he created and twisted their meaning.
Sadly, President Carter's newest literary masterpiece is more akin to fiction than fact. Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid may cause Jimmy Carter to lose any shred of legitimacy he has left as a world leader and peace activist.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Dodd and Biden will have to overcome the exact same hurdles Senator Kerry unsuccessfully jumped. According to Time Magazine, Biden (who has spent over half of his life in the Senate) is "Very much a creature of
Needless to say, both of these men must overcome the stigma of being