Busing Created the Tea Party

busThe road to hell is paved with good intentions. This fundamentally conservative adage has haunted efforts to break down racial barriers to public education in America. When impatience with the slow pace of school desegregation reached its peak in the seventies, liberal activists began a campaign fraught with unintended consequences.

Forget about taxes or abortion or immigration. Today’s Tea Party anger has its roots in the accidental destruction of public schools and the local communities they supported through the well-intentioned plans of the American left.

Forced busing changed the character of the Civil Rights Movement in ways that would destroy any hope of linking the fates of low income whites and blacks. Campaigns to end segregation of lunch counters or hotels may have offended hardened racists, but the material cost to whites was minimal and the economic importance to oppressed black communities was enormous. Forcibly breaking up community school districts was an entirely different matter, with implications for whites and African-Americans that no one outside those communities anticipated.

School desegregation campaigns begun in the ‘70s were justifiably perceived as punitive and imperial. Punishment fell most harshly on lower-earning, white working families, people who had accumulated the least advantage from centuries of racism. Meanwhile, wealthier white communities escaped from forced desegregation almost entirely untouched.

Schools that had acted as the glue holding white communities together were destroyed. Schools that acted as the glue in black communities were destroyed right along with them. There were no winners, and the losers did not deserve their fate.

When the campaign was finally abandoned our public schools were more racially segregated than they had ever been. To make matters worse, now those schools and the communities around them were also intensely segregated by income as well. The quiet compact that once held white communities together was broken and working whites were left to fend for themselves.

Majority black school districts left behind by white flight have not only been stripped of most of their financial resources, they have been captured by the patronage engines that dominate urban politics. Black students in the nation’s wealthiest cities attend schools that exist for little public purpose beyond promoting the power of a partisan political establishment.

And what happened to lower income whites unable to flee into better schools? Take a close look at mortality rates for whites who came of age during this period and failed to receive an education. By the ‘90s the ‘shadow welfare state’ which for centuries had offered protection to low income whites on the basis of their race had been irrevocably smashed. Middle and lower income whites, especially in the South, have reacted as you might expect, with a desperate rear-guard effort to rebuild white supremacy. If you want to know where we got Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz and Donald Trump and the Tea Party, you need to have ridden a school bus in the ‘80s.


Beaumont is a mid-sized refinery town in the coastal swamps of East Texas. Socially, the area bears more resemblance to Youngstown or Toledo than to Dallas. The only union-dominated corner of a union-hostile state, Beaumont until the ‘80s was relatively liberal, racially-mixed, and industrial-minded.

For all its uniqueness, the town is surrounded by East Texas and that wider geography matters. Its first neighbor to the east is the notorious “sundown town” of Vidor, dominated by the KKK long after the group lost its relevance elsewhere. The town’s character would begin to break down when racial tensions rose. Today, Beaumont is another relic of industrial decay, resegregation, and blue collar malaise. What happened to Beaumont can shed light on the deeply mixed legacy of the late Civil Rights Movement. In the process, it might also serve as a caution to ambitious crusaders willing to compromise basic civil rights to achieve Civil Rights.

Insufficient Progress

Beaumont was never Little Rock. In fact, the overwhelming majority of southern communities were not like Little Rock, or worse yet, Boston. Though no beacon of racial amity, the town showed little interest in preserving Jim Crow. When in 1962 Rev. Edward Brown filed suit to invalidate the main school district’s race-based admissions policies, the district simply gave up. They announced a plan to drop race-based admissions one grade at a time in 1963, then just dropped formal segregation altogether.

Most Southern whites, especially in Texas, wanted no part of the tragic displays of racial hatred they saw playing out across Dixie. By the 70’s, the prevailing attitude of whites in Beaumont to questions of desegregation was exhaustion. Sick of being reviled by high-minded outsiders and being bullied by racial terrorists, they wanted the matter resolved. Many of those communities would encounter a complex obstacle as they sought to disentangle themselves from the legacy of Jim Crow.

Neighborhood public schools are a hallowed American tradition. There is a special strength that comes from multiple generations of involvement in a core set of educational institutions. Schools where many of the teachers and administrators were once students and where mom once wandered the halls not only add richness to an education they create bonds that reinforce a sense of community. Though desperately underfunded and poorly treated, the same community-building dynamic was at work in schools created in and by the black community.

When trying to desegregate a neighborhood school, the trouble is the neighborhood.  Creating ‘open enrollment’ in Beaumont allowed people to attend the school of their choice, but both black and white families tended to choose a school in their own neighborhood. North or south, most American neighborhoods in the ’60s were explicitly segregated. Beaumont was no exception.

Beaumont started out by trying to redraw school boundary lines, but the effort accomplished little in either direction. Whites re-zoned into traditionally black schools either chose different schools or moved. Black families also remained mostly attached to their neighborhood schools. By the late ’60s the Federal government was taking a far more activist approach to the issue and local options were drying up.

In 1974 the 5th Circuit rejected Beaumont’s efforts at voluntary desegregation. Not enough black students were attending the two traditionally white high schools (which were 24% & 14% black, respectively) and no white students were attending the district’s traditionally black school.

It is important to recognize why desegregation was the solution of choice for civil rights activists outside the community. Efforts to achieve equitable funding, resources, and basic respect for black schools were failing almost universally. By breaking down the racial organization of public schools, liberals expected to gain for black students access to the same resources that communities were reserving for whites.

This conclusion was not unreasonable, but there was no practical way to implement such a strategy without systematically dismantling neighborhood schools. Achieving that objective would mean reaching federal power deeper into the personal lives of American families than we had ever done before.

This would be federal power exercised in local communities, not to provide new resources for the poor or expand healthcare, but to break up an institution at the heart of community identity. When the true implications of this strategy are taken into account, it becomes clear that other options, including direct federal financial support for minority schools, might have been a more prudent next step. In the late stages of the Civil Rights Movement, both prudence and patience were running short. Reformers were developing an appetite for retribution.

For the next twenty years Beaumont schools would operate under the supervision of a Federal Judge.  Neighborhood schooling and the system of public education in general would be deeply, perhaps irrevocably, damaged.

We’ve Come to Help You

Those decades of heavy-handed social engineering all over the country would make Republicans out of Democrats, drain cities of white families with school-aged children, and create the suburb as we know it today. They would also fail utterly in their goal, with schools in many places ending up far more segregated than they were when the effort began.

Middle and lower income whites’ children became pawns in this game. They were shipped all over their respective towns to provide a moving racial shield for wealthier white neighborhoods. In response they became more politically activated than ever before and would shift their traditional party loyalties. Lower earning whites developed a sense that the Constitution no longer protected them from government interference in the way they had always expected it should. They learned a deeply emotional lesson about the power of government and the willingness of well-intentioned bureaucrats to screw them over without remorse.

But perhaps the most tragic casualty of this process was its most ironic.  The busing saga devastated black communities.

Collateral Damage

Beaumont’s Charlton Pollard High had a rich history and deep community roots.  What should be a proud tribute to what African Americans were able to achieve against a backdrop of discrimination, abuse and outright violence is now lost. Hardly anyone left in Beaumont could point out the location of the old Charlton-Pollard campus. The name no longer hangs over a school door, a sad legacy of a failed judicial experiment.

The school that would become Charlton Pollard was founded in the 1870’s by freed slaves who recognized the need for schools to serve the black community. With no government help and against tremendous, sometimes violent resistance, they built an institution to provide a critical service. Administration of the school was picked up by the city in 1883 and two formal wooden school buildings were completed in 1900. In 1925 the first brick building was constructed.

Charlton Pollard, underfunded, neglected and poorly served by the white-dominated school board that controlled it remained an anchor in Beaumont’s black community. When the Federal courts took control of the schools in 1975, its destruction began.

Under pressure from the Justice Department, BISD merged Charlton Pollard with the venerable old Beaumont High, mostly white at the time. Beaumont Charlton-Pollard, or B-CP, as it was known, began its short career in ’75 as a liberal political experiment. District officials began looking for whites they could ship to the new forcibly-balanced schools.  They needed people with the weakest political sway and the least ability to pay for private alternatives.

They found them in blue collar white neighborhoods.


A strategy was carefully constructed to protect the few elite schools still available in Beaumont; the ones distant enough from majority-black areas to be insulated from integration. For decades that strategy worked, allowing wealthier white families a valuable escape from desegregation.

By 1981, with whites already fleeing the city en masse the process reached the peak of absurdity. Beaumont’s other more affluent school district, South Park, was forced to make individual students’ school assignments by drawing colored ping pong balls in a lottery. South Park’s lone black school board member, Richard Price, summed up the white-flight problem with the observation, “We don’t have any black flight.  Blacks can’t fly.”

Whites in Beaumont with any means steadily fled, either into the one small, but now booming Catholic school, or into the galaxy of small storefront institutions thrown up hastily by Fundamentalist churches (where the Earth is 6000 years old…). Beaumont’s middle and low-income families waited eagerly each summer for judges to decide which new part of town they would be exploring when school started.

In 1986, Beaumont Charlton Pollard would lose the last vestige of its freedmen’s heritage as the whole campaign began its final phase.  The name was dropped altogether as some of the city’s least successful schools were amalgamated into a new entity on the campus of the old Beaumont High.

Beaumont would shrink for a time to only two high schools. West Brook was constructed out of the wreckage of the more affluent South Park school district. It was tucked away on the farthest reaches of the city’s suburban west-end where it could have the best chance of staying white. Black students and low income whites were concentrated into the suitably industrial-sounding, Central High.  Charlton Pollard was finished off and buried beneath Central High.

The Aftermath

The busing effort in Beaumont is dead now.  It was finally abandoned in the ‘90s. Charlton Pollard still holds reunions, though fewer and fewer in the community remember its rich history.

Central High School, my proud alma mater and distant heir to the Charlton Pollard legacy, is now entirely black. West Brook High, engineered as a shelter for white-collar west-end professionals, remain majority white until just a few years ago. Neighboring suburban high schools like Nederland, Port Neches and Lumberton are overwhelmingly white to this day.

Meanwhile, the neighboring town of Vidor, with its long, overt, legacy of KKK control, was untouched by the whole process. Its schools are still whiter than the milk on your cereal.

The project failed to achieve any of its primary goals. Beaumont public schools today are not only segregated racially, they are crippled politically. As in other large urban districts elsewhere in the country, a pool of struggling students left behind by the political establishment become food for opportunists.

Schools in Beaumont exist primarily to distribute tax money to those who have the political heft to grab it. Recent FBI investigations have targeted millions fleeced from the district by a corrupt administration, but low income families lack the political influence to clean up the district. Robbed of more powerful allies by the demolition of local communities and the flight of the more affluent, families who cannot or will not leave Beaumont do they best they can to get an education for their children against terrible odds.

At a wider level, we now have a whole generation of Southerners who received their education, such as it was, in an atmosphere of complete racial and academic turmoil. The network of neighborhood support that sustained the schools was demolished in both black and white neighborhoods leaving them weaker and less cohesive. Though the quality of the students’ educations undoubtedly varied, we know they learned one certain lesson. You better not come between a liberal and his dream for your improvement. We shouldn’t be surprised at the politics this has inspired.

After the busing era, populism espoused by Bernie Sanders is a non-starter with working whites while populism espoused by the Tea Party and Donald Trump sets the South ablaze. Poor strategic decisions in the late stages of the Civil Rights Movement taught working whites that their best path to protection lay not in economic justice promised by the left, but in white nationalist activism offered by the paranoid fringe right. When they abandoned the Democratic Party they brought that white nationalist fringe into the center of Republican politics.

America’s attempt to right 300 years of oppression in a single, impatient, quasi-imperialist project is a warning to a new generation of liberals – one they will almost certainly disregard. Culture matters. History matters. Rights and justice matter, even when we are talking about the rights of a group that enjoyed many ill-gotten privileges. Injustice in the name of justice is injustice.

Our craving for a clear narrative, a simple story of good guys defeating bad guys, became our own worst impulse in the late stages of desegregation. We faced a complex picture with the interests of many innocent, vulnerable people irrevocably at odds. Sometimes the patient prudence taught by old-fashioned conservatives slows our efforts to achieve social goals. Sometimes it should.

Sometimes the frustrating insistence on process, rights and heritage is a crucial force protecting civil society from disintegration and toxic distrust. Caution has its place, even when the objectives it delays are valuable.

Here in the first quarter of the 21st century we are on the cusp of a major generational transition; a new wave of liberal reform probably larger than any we have experienced in the past. The outcome may be equitable, happy and prosperous if this rising generation retains some respect for community and tradition. Our still-segregated and badly damaged schools have lessons to offer tomorrow’s ambitious reformers.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Civil Rights
220 comments on “Busing Created the Tea Party
  1. EJ says:

    Update for anyone following the story about the Paris attack:

    All the initial attackers successfully got themselves killed before they could be captured and questioned; several have been identified as locals who were radicalised. Naturally, the anti-immigrant lobby are overlooking this small detail.

    However, earlier today a person was arrested in western Germany driving towards Paris in a car containing guns and explosives. The French police are probably going to ask him some very interesting questions.

    Then it will be our turn. Oh yes.

    • vikinghou says:

      A good friend of mine lives on the Boulevard Beaumarchais, close to a lot of the carnage. I called him to make sure he’s OK. He is fine and said it was a wild experience with emergency vehicles rushing by throughout the night. Today, he told me that Paris is eerily quiet. What a horrible tragedy. We are all Parisians.

    • 1mime says:

      Thanks, EJ. Please keep us posted as your news sources will offer a less filtered view. ISIS is the devil incarnate. Their attacks focus on innocent people, who least suspect or expect the atrocities being executed. If their plan is to piss off the entire world while mocking efforts to uncover their identities and strategy, it is going to require an international coordinated focus to hunt them down and destroy them before they mount even bigger atrocities.

      How does a sane person get inside the heads of people who enjoy killing innocents and are willing to die for their sick cause – to think like them so as to anticipate and prevent their evil action?

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      Ultimately, ISIL (no, I will not gratify them by calling them by that other name) will be defeated. They are cowards in the truest sense who, in the face of economic and military powers like those of the US and France, can only ‘fight’ through sneak attacks and slaughtering innocents who never had a chance of defending themselves.

  2. tuttabellamia says:


    • 1mime says:

      Computer problems. On phone and working with IT. Miss me?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Of course. It’s not the same without you. Good luck with your computer problems, and good night.

      • 1mime says:

        Word count’s way down without my posts however (-:
        That’s not necessarily a bad thing every now and then.

      • Griffin says:

        That’s some impressive phone skills. Whenevr i hve 2 typ wit my phon it dosnt read too good ya know?

        In other news I have singlehandedly forever destroyed the high standards of this comments section through the power of “text talk”. Sorry everybody but there’s no going back now.

      • 1mime says:

        Coherence and quality far exceed typng skls, Grfn (-:

  3. Rob Ambrose says:

    So here’s Ben Carson on how to deal with ISIS:

    “In order to make them look like losers, we have to destroy their caliphate,” Carson said. “And you look for the easiest place to do that? It would be in Iraq. And if — outside of Anbar in Iraq, there’s a big energy field. Take that from them. Take all of that land from them. We could do that, I believe, fairly easily, I’ve learned from talking to several generals, and then you move on from there.”

    Like……wtf is this? The unnuanced naivety of a child. If I meet someone whose a neurosurgeon they’re getting a serious benefit of the doubt that they are indeed smart, intelligent, and of high intellect.

    I’m strongly starting to suspect Carson is just stupid. Like, in the literal sense. Hes not a smart person.

    Neurosurgeons all over the world must be cringing that this fool finally destroyed their narrative lol.

    And the GOP should be embarrassed that this person is a Front runner.

    • vikinghou says:

      The sad thing is that a sizable chunk of the GOP electorate doesn’t care. All that seems to matter is that he’s a “good Christian man.” God will tell him what the correct decisions should be when he’s in office.

    • fiftyohm says:

      Neurosurgery is largely a technical skill. Whilst most neurosurgeons are well smarter than the average bear, a specialized skill set in a highly technical field, is still a skill set. What we see in Carson is a clear demonstration of the fact that it is entirely possible to be brilliant in one, narrow field, and be a complete moron in many, (all?), others. Further, Americans have a tendency to ascribe superior intellect to physicians in general. This leads to a host of ills beyond the scope of this post.

      After all, running for president isn’t brain surgery. 😉

    • Crogged says:

      Well, we actually won the battle of Iraq fairly simple-the war, not so much.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Therein lies the rub crogged.

        With overwhelming technology superiority, America should (and probably does) win every battle they’ve fought in the past few decades. Winning the battle is easy.

        The War is much harder. Some would say (with regards to the ME) impossible.

  4. Bobo Amerigo says:

    @Duncan Cairncross (still OT)

    You mean the country was surprised/dismayed/uncomprehending that so many of their representatives had been sexually assaulted?

    Personally, I love it when women get uppity.

    • Tuttabella says:

      Bobo, I like your phrase from the other day — “Voters, they are so secretive.”

      Come to think of it, that would be just like my dad, to vote and not tell anyone. He was a man of few words, always kept to himself, so he probably figured it was nobody’s business.

      In any case, voting is a private act.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Reminds me of this hilarious Dave Chappelle bit about white people voting.

        Warning: some crude sexual humour

      • tuttabellamia says:

        That is funny, Rob. In my late dad’s case, he was Hispanic, and I had never, ever known him to be interested in politics, much less vote, and it was really cool to find a poll tax receipt from 1961 in his papers the other day. He was notorious for spending all his money on bad habits and having nothing left over, so it was a surprise to see he actually set aside money in order to vote.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Funny clip, Rob!

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        That’s a cool heirloom tutta.

        My guess for why politics is often not talked about is it injects unnecessary tension into real life. Talking politics on the internet is one thing. In real life, there’s far too much potential for unwanted conflict.

      • Tuttabella says:

        I agree, Rob. I personally feel that life’s too short to waste time arguing about politics even online, but especially so with loved ones.

        As for voters being secretive, It just proves how much power lies in the vote, versus talking the big talk. It’s the quiet ones you need to worry about!

  5. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    Off topic, but the kids went to bed easily last night, and I had the end of the GOP debate on as I was doing some work last night.

    Ted Cruz’s closing state clanged through my ears as an awful statement, but I seem to be the only person who noticed it since I cannot find a single mention of it online anywhere today.

    After telling of the salty wind through his father’s hair on the ferry leaving Cuba, Cruz said, “What ties Americans together are that we are all the children of those who risked everything for freedom” blah, blah, blah, Reagan, freedom, blah, blah, blah, TedCruz.com.

    I’m pretty sure that most Black folks had to think, “uh, nope, my ancestors weren’t risk taking freedom seekers coming to America”.

    Cruz has speech writers, and this was not an off-the-cuff statement. It was a prepared line. Speech writers are not generally stupid. So, did no one notice this or did folks say, “well, Black people won’t relate to this, but who cares, they aren’t voting for me anyway?”

    I wonder if this is just me looking to be offended, but it jumped out at me as soon as I heard it.

    Maybe I am just an overly sensitive liberal looking to be offended by conservatives.
    Alternatively, maybe there should just be better speech writers who wouldn’t make this mistake.

    • Griffin says:

      Aren’t Cubans fleeing the Castro regime given amnesty on arrival? Shouldn’t he be for amnesty for other immigrants fleeing third world countries if he wants to be consistant?

      • flypusher says:

        No, because stigginit to Castro.

      • johngalt says:

        Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

      • 1mime says:

        One of the sources on “election stats” that I follow is Larry Sabato, political analyst with the U ov VA, Center for Politics. For those who like to “dig deep into the numbers”, Sabato is your man….in the run up to the election. His piece today focuses on delegates and how “timing” of primaries will factor in to the GOP nomination. It is interesting to me from many angles: assessing “momentum” of a particular candidate and how this plays into the larger race for the nomination, if not for the Presidency. There is a lot of really good information here, but I was most interested in the evangelical vote break down. Note that there are only 2472 total delegates who get to cast votes. I focus on momentum because of the huge impact this has on a national level, AND, on moving big donors (like the currently uncommitted Koch brothers who plan to allocate over $750 million dollars to this election cycle). Momentum is a powerful factor.

        ” about two-thirds (64%) of the total delegates in states with contests on or before March 8 will come from states with electorates that may be at least 50% white evangelical.”

        He then gets into the knotty problem of “proportion delegate award” and how this can influence a state’s electoral college impact. How a state awards its electoral delegates poses an interesting scenario for both parties to impact nominations. In its present configuration, Sabato suggests:

        “while at first blush the early weight of these voters might suggest out sized influence on the overall outcome, proportional delegate rules could make it difficult for a non-establishment, socially conservative candidate to win the party’s nomination.”

        Lots of interesting dynamics at work in this the biggest of the elections.


    • flypusher says:

      “Maybe I am just an overly sensitive liberal looking to be offended by conservatives.”

      That happened centuries ago, why are you so stuck in the past???????

      (For sarcasm meter calibration, set to “high”.)

    • 1mime says:

      Fly, Black folks don’t count to most conservatives. Never have. Never will. As Rob noted in an earlier post, Black people don’t vote well either, and, until they start turning out in larger numbers, there is no chance that they will ever count. A lot of it, Black people couldn’t fight; now they can. That is why groups such as BLM and people such as Ta Nehisi Coates and Barack Obama, and Colin Powell matter. That is why U. of Missouri was so important. People have to stand up or scum like Cruz can say anything and get away with it. Because: Cruz’ base thinks exactly like he does.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      This morning I heard the part of his speech that compared IRS code to the bible. Had he been on a debate team being scored by judges, he’d have lost points. Instead, his audience reacted as if he’d stumbled upon wisdom heretofore unknown to them. Yes, the liked it.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        they liked it

      • 1mime says:

        I’m sure the good folks at the IRS were pleased. I’m certain that Cruz’ audience didn’t understand anything he said except “Bible” and “IRS”.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        538 had a great quote on Cruz’s line. It was something like, “Only a tiny portion of the overall IRS tax code applies to me, but during confession, the entire Bible applies.”

        Maybe the length of a document should not be our criterion for effectiveness.

        Alternatively, I guess using Cruz’s criterion, the bible is longer than the Communist Manifesto, so I guess the bible is inferior the inferior document.

    • Crogged says:

      I made it through most of the Republican debates in 2012 and have really struggled with focusing this year. The Republican Party is a church and a church has a service with the same two songs before the first prayer and the announcements. In fairness, the Democratic debates were the same, “tonight the role of inarticulate stammering candidate will be played by Jim Webb.”

      The original immigrants were people and as you clearly point out, weren’t all waiting in line to stand at the bow of the boat to see the horizon. Everybody can get strength from a good myth, but mythologizing real people sometimes leads to inaction in the present.

    • 1mime says:

      Homer, here’s a fun look at the GOP debate from Gail Collins, who always manages to deliver a zinger while making you smile.


  6. Crogged says:

    Going back to busing-how do we pay for this?


    I thought my head was hurting after trying to follow Moslerfans link into the economics ether

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      Wow, Crogged, thank you for this link.

    • 1mime says:

      Crogged, I can’t remember when I enjoyed a sketch like the Musk link. I have shared it with others who have inventive minds. What a life this young man has lived. Wow.

      • 1mime says:

        I am finishing part one of the 4-part Musk sketch. I was struck by the fact that his hiring policy is pretty simple: “Musk has said he has a strict “no assholes” hiring policy, and I could see that at work in these meetings.” How refreshing….everyone insanely smart, and “no assholes”.

        Lifer, maybe as part of your game theory, we could simply sublet Congress to the Musk team (-: At least they would be nice…

  7. 1mime says:

    OT, but you may want to bookmark this site during the campaign for fiscal analysis.


  8. Griffin says:

    Great article covering how Walter Scott is largely responsible for much of the reactionary culture holding back the South. Mark Twain also wrote a great takedown of Scott.


    • Crogged says:

      I now realize I always misunderestimated Mark Twain.

      • 1mime says:

        Crogged, I was an English major, and after lots of required reading, concluded that satire is one of the most difficult and intellectual of all writing forms. Mark Twain had it down so well you couldn’t always tell when he was serious and when he was poking fun. Today he would probably be the editor of “The Onion”.

  9. lomamonster says:

    Before downripple and I both win the Trump Collapse Pool, I have one serious concern – – – Is it possible to catch anything from reading “The Politics Of Crazy”?

    • 1mime says:

      Do you “catch” anything by reading The Politics of Crazy?

      Only if you are a conservative (-: The initial symptom is chills, followed by disorientation, which merges into acceptance that something is wrong with you and that help is needed. At this point, the doctor (Lifer) is called in and pronounces the very old, sick (White) man to be on his last legs. The only thing that will save him is if he follows the doctor’s orders precisely….whereupon Doc Chris gently places a copy of “The Politics of Crazy” by the bedside with an RX to read it from cover to cover. If the patient follows doc’s orders as directed, in the morning he wakens feeling weak but on the road to good health. His full recovery is assured if he continues to follow doc’s plan….

      • BigWilly says:

        That’s ironic from someone who qualifies, quite nicely, as “Nana.”

      • 1mime says:

        Well, it was meant to be irony, BW. Not sure about your “nana” reference.

      • Griffin says:

        Yeah but now imagine that the old man is also completely delusional and the voices in his head are telling him that the Doctor is a quasi-socialist and the only real cure for him is to listen to even more AM radio, and that anything anyone else says is a lie. Suddenly applying the treatment has gotten a lot tougher.

      • 1mime says:

        Ha! And, the patient has become much sicker……….Do we just “let” him die? Or do we intervene?

        Or, do we get a new doctor ? (-;

    • MassDem says:

      It is entirely possible to catch a clue.

      To all of the veterans–thank you for your service, today and every day.

    • dowripple says:

      Sorry about that Loma, you probably guessed 2/29 before I did. I guess my cursory search was as futile as an indictment of a Texas Republican.

      Slightly OT, did anyone see that piece on local Fox news about HERO last night? The comparison to Dallas, where indeed Caitlyn Jenner can use the women’s restroom, was one the city of Houston should have made early and often. For 13 years in Dallas there was not one case of a transgender arrested for harassing (or assaulting) someone in the bathroom, nor was there a statistical increase in bathroom assaults. If one were so inclined, you can actually see the % of rapes went down since 2002, although correlation is not causation.

      Getting the voters to see that now is going to be a lot harder…

      • lomamonster says:

        downripple, it’s just another case of “great minds thinking alike”, eh? But we might actually have to read something!

      • 1mime says:

        Seriously, Dow, you don’t think conservatives are bothered by backing up their fear tactics, do ya?

  10. goplifer says:

    Maybe we should take this opportunity to clarify something. Look across months and years of posts here and you might pick out a theme in all of the policy recommendations. Every single one of them would have the effect of reducing the size and complexity of government.

    They might not reduce what government does. In some cases, they might give us a government that performs functions (gun control, universal health insurance, carbon taxation) that government does not perform today. But they all would have the effect of delivering a more nimble, efficient, trimmed down government with less decision-making power removed to the bureaucracy.

    Hopefully this piece on busing provides some insight on my perspective. It really is possible to accomplish more of our most vital public policy goals without giving up a great deal of our public sovereignty. In my opinion, our best option for doing this, as I described in previous pieces on carbon markets, immigration control, healthcare, the safety net and dozens of other subjects, is to build well-structured markets that price-in our public policy priorities.

    • duncancairncross says:

      Hi Chris
      So your whole position is that we can do better than governments by using markets??

      Unfortunately that suffers from the simple fallacy that the tool that is best for one job is also best for another job

      BUT IT AIN’T

      A screwdriver is good for screwdriving but is a poor hammer

      The most efficient way is to use the best tool for the job – and for a lot of those jobs a central government is simply the most efficient way of doing a good job

      The “market” is really good at some things – basically allocating resources
      In some way it’s like an autopilot – great when its needed BUT not designed to decide where we want to go
      Once we have decided on the direction? – then it’s time for the autopilot

      “with less decision-making power removed to the bureaucracy”

      Again you are inverting the system
      Our “Democratically appointed Leaders” should set the direction – and then ALL of the decisions to make it happen SHOULD be made by trained and experienced experts – you DO NOT want politicians designing sewage plants or running police departments

      IMHO one of the MAJOR problems with the USA is that your politicians make too many of the decisions

      On the various naval shows the captain says steer that way – not move that wheel a wee bit to the left.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        I don’t speak for Lifer of course, but my impression of his views isn’t that markets are some kind of one-size-fits-all solution to every problem that America faces. I think he thinks in much the same way as Teddy Roosevelt, a man he’s called a Republican hero, that there has to be a strong, central government with which to, within reason, control markets and keep the excesses of capitalism from destroying itself.

        Markets, all on their own, can’t provide universal health care for all Americans. It has to be the federal government that sets the rules and conditions that allow for that to happen, which markets can then play a substantial role in.

        Markets can’t provide tax incentives that promote appropriate food redistribution, clean energy, hiring people off of welfare and other such things. It has to be the government which does that, which markets then utilize to meet their own bottom lines and which promote outcomes that are for the betterment of all.

        And markets certainly can’t survive all on their own. One need only look at the American economy in the so-called “Roaring Twenties” to see why.

        With all that said, you’re certainly right in that you need the best proverbial tool with respect to the problem at hand, and essentially, if my understanding is correct, I think Lifer would agree too.

        It’s understandable why you’d think otherwise, particularly given the radical paranoia that sweeps congressional Republicans today in that they think government is akin to an intrinsic evil that can do its ‘job’ best when it doesn’t do anything at all. Politically, all that is is their having taken Reagan’s “government is the problem” schtick and taken it to the most radical extreme for their own benefit, which is mindbogglingly dumb from a multitude of angles.

      • goplifer says:

        Step 1 – Separate the term “market” from it’s association with laissez faire economics.

        Step 2 – Instead, think of markets through the lens of the academic field of game theory.

        In this context when I talk about markets I’m talking about creating a structure of rules that make it possible for individuals or institutions to make more intelligent resource allocation decisions on their own, without requiring central authority to somehow determine the best outcomes for every situation.

        The instrument of markets in this setting is not so much private commerce, but a rule-setting authority.

        One of history’s most successful examples of market forces shaping good public policy is automobile safety. A universal licensing and liability insurance requirement has been a fairly simple rule with enormous consequences.

        When Ralph Nader went on his campaign against GM, he found virtually no support among politicians and bureaucrats. Very quietly though, almost every safety innovation he pressed for was implemented. The pressure came from insurance companies and their lobbying efforts, not from voters. Insurance companies were Nader’s only ally. The point of leverage was that simple rule.

        The same has been true in the fight against drunk driving and the battle to improve drivers safety training. Rules that aligned a powerful commercial interest (insurance companies) with a major public interest (auto safety) have led to steady declines in road deaths even while the numbers of cars and drivers were increasing.

        Government rules that created the right alignment of market interests had a magnifying effect. What might otherwise have required a massively larger bureaucracy and enforcement arm was accomplished far more cheaply and effectively with smart rules aimed at internalizing external costs.

        As the complexity of our culture and economy expands exponentially, our ability to respond to regulatory demands with a Weberian, 20th century bureaucracy of experts will decline. This isn’t about ideology. It’s a math problem.

        Trying to solve this problem with an ever-expanding bureaucracy will lead to mounting costs, economic stagnation, and declining government effectiveness. Trying to solve this problem with blind deregulation will spawn catastrophic economic failures, like the one we experienced in the last decade. For most, though certainly not all of our most pressing problems in this era, our best solutions come from smarter rules that conscript market forces (or just call it game theory if “markets” give your socialist soul the heebies) to perform some of the work for us.

        Think of it as automation for the public sector, because that’s basically what it is. Code that replaces expense, slow, and sometimes not so smart bureaucrats with machine learning.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer, I’m all for “smarter” government. What I have great difficulty accepting is that another market force (insurance) will sufficiently police the private sector change you recommend, absent active government participation. The private sector is a necessary and important part of a functioning society but it is not a substitute for right-sized, effective government….which, I hope, is your goal. It complements, but does not replace. Government is needed in a watchdog function as well as an umbrella for coordinating services. I don’t trust capitalists to put safety before profits. Their track record is abysmal. Furthermore, in listening to the leading Republican candidates, if they would be the stewards of your plan, the outcome would be poor for all but a few. That may be efficient but it is not fair.

        As for our “socialist souls”……..really? Not that I have anything against socialism in the broad sense, but this sounded more negative than I hope you meant it to.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Chris
        I call BS on your example
        It was regulations that improved (massively) the safety of cars – NOT insurance companies – they were perfectly happy to pass all of the costs on to the consumer

        Regulation – smart targeted regulation – is what is needed
        NOT a market that decides that saving $0.1 per car is equal to burning people to death

        What you need is a “Smart Bureaucracy” with the targets set by your elected representatives
        NOT the US system where people elect the “experts” they need to run such a system

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        mime expresses uncertainty about the wisdom of insurance companies acting as market regulators.

        I agree.

        A niece worked for a lawyer who handled insurance cases. After watching how insurance companies wiggle out of justified claims of customers with paid up premiums, she came to the conclusion that insurance companies simply hate their customers.

        Hardly a force for good.

        Insurance companies, with their similar names and overlapping fields of financial interest, are hardly transparent.

        Insurance companies love the current state-by-state regulation rather than nation-wide regulation. Fifty opportunities to influence state legislators — what’s not to love with those odds?

        Lifer, are you proposing nation-wide insurance regulation?

      • Crogged says:

        I believe the author is using the concept of ‘risk’ as opposed to ‘insurance companies’ as entities with your interests at heart.

      • 1mime says:

        Let’s see how big business would respond to having insurance companies or the “risk” model determine regulations, compliance, etc. Nah, they’ve got too sweet a deal….cutting the budgets of the departments in government that try to oversee compliance to the point that staffing is woefully inadequate, thus, lots of “stuff” can go on because the apparatus has been downsized to the point of inadequacy. It’s the same game they play with practically every division of government with the exception of the Pentagon. I guess that’s a “guy” kind of thing so we don’t touch it except to increase it….

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        So crogged, we’re talking new entities?

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Duncan, OT but how about those female MP in NZ?

      • Hi Bobo

        There isn’t much to it,
        What we have is a right wing government in Ozzy going back on old but unlegislated practice about NZ citizens in Ozz
        They have started putting NZ citizens “who committed crimes” – including those who have been in Ozz since childhood into their “camps”
        This also includes a decorated NZ veteran whose only crime was that he was a member of a (legal) motorbike club
        The Labour guy asked Shonky John (Prime Minister) about this and got an earful about Labour supporting Rapists and Child Molesters
        Various female opposition MP’s protested and were shushed because they were “out of order” – which they were – they then left in a huff
        Pretty standard parliamentary system
        The bad thing is that Ozz is moving down the fear of others path – I had thought they were braver than that

      • Griffin says:

        “This isn’t about ideology. It’s a math problem.”

        And this cuts into the great irony of the our era, in which strong ideology appears to have made something of a comeback over “pragmatism” but there is an ever narrowing of plausable economic policies (compared to the industrial era). You can see it in Europe where their center-left and center-right parties have converged to the center on economics and are converging on becoming the same economics wise because there’s so few areas to stray from the concensus. The only real difference is their thoughts on deficit spending and maybe regulation.

        I think the return of strong ideologies is partly out of a realization that in a globalized world where automation is obviously going to start replacing workers has left us with so little room to budge using old lines of thought. In the US we need a political party that:

        A) Promises to compensate everyone who loses their jobs by being replaced by automation. Either through subsidies or job guarentees.
        B) Can put Universal Healtcare in place in the US.
        C) Can replace some price controls (rent control) with direct subsidies for the poor and housing.
        D) Actually regulates banking.
        E) Isn’t terrified of deficit spending during recessions.

        Unfortunately we’re wasting a bunch of time having to deal with a neo-Confederate revolt that takes away from the real issues to focus on nonsense.

      • Crogged says:

        When the author is describing ‘markets’ we limit our thinking to ‘buyers’ and ‘sellers’. Each of whom have their own fears-price too high or price too low. A well functioning market includes a third party-who will take this risk of the price change? How is it priced?

        As with any other business, insurance companies don’t want to lose money (and if you think about it-you don’t want them to lose money). Each state has authority over insurance because of history and because each state is a market itself-there aren’t a lot of earthquakes in Texas (at least our neck of the woods), not many hurricanes in Idaho. Shouldn’t the regulator (we actually do determine the return of insurance companies, to their chagrin I’m sure) be ‘local’? Yes lobbyists etc-regulatory capture etc-just like porn you know it when you see it-then you vote for jerk number two.

        The author remains a Republican because he is both idealistic and prosaic. I remain a Democrat because I’m neither or just because. Or as Steve Jobs said-

        “When you grow up, you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact. And that is: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

      • 1mime says:

        “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. ”

        Would that it were this way. Then, maybe the blue collar worker in KY would elect a governor who will work to take care of his needs, rather than an “outsider”; or the people in KS would throw Sam Brownback out on his butt. Instead, low information voters tend to vote for people who they think are smarter than they are. Why? Because we have done such a good job of keeping people in their “places” that they have totally lost confidence in their ability to build their own things….

        Other than real life, I totally agree with Jobs. People should feel this way.

    • Griffin says:

      You know who else wanted the government to provide services while reducing bureaucracy? Leon Trotsky! Checkmate Chris Luditte.

      Sorry I just wanted to know what it was like to beat the trolls to saying something batshit crazy. It sounds like what you want is a social market economy, which is a very defendable position in a federation as large as the US. You should do more reading on Rhine Capitalism if you haven’t already it holds many similar positions and could be used as a starting point for implementing something similar in the US.

    • 1mime says:

      Lifer, I appreciate this extra effort to explain your personal beliefs more precisely. In reading your posts and your book, The Politics of Crazy, I thought you offered some very good ideas to make government more efficient. In your view, size impedes nimble, smarter government. This can be true and I have no argument in this regard unless downsizing is done simply for the sake of downsizing. Most Republicans approach government downsizing in a purely destructive manner, lacking principled purpose. That’s not good enough.

      As interesting as your ideas are, I wonder why you feel that conservatives are the only political party that is capable of their implementation. If we were both serving in Congress, there is no doubt in my mind that we would find common ground on any number of issues – not all – but the big ones at the right time for the right reason. I believe there are other good people out there just like us who can make government work as it is designed.

      Your childhood experience with busing obviously made a deep impression on you. As poorly handled as de-segregation was, it was done for the right purpose and “had’ to be done. Dealing with the issue of unequal educational opportunity was one of the most significant efforts of our time to address a social wrong. Mistakes were made and many children were hurt and many were helped. Fifty years later, we can all look back at those times with critical eyes. The negative experience many experienced and the shortcomings of the way in which the issue was dealt with are a part of history that can’t be changed, only recalled.

      Maybe the reason you remind me so much of conservative Democrats is because we agree on so many substantive issues. That’s a good thing. Call yourself whatever name you like. You’ve got my permission (-: I’ll keep calling myself a Democrat as well.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        >] “Maybe the reason you remind me so much of conservative Democrats is because we agree on so many substantive issues. That’s a good thing. Call yourself whatever name you like. You’ve got my permission (-: I’ll keep calling myself a Democrat as well.”

        That reminds me of the first Kennedy vs Nixon debate way back in 1960. Nixon said over and over again that he and Kennedy didn’t disagree on the outcomes they wanted, but simply on the ways that they wanted to get there.

        Personally, my impression of him would fall into being a Progressive Republican, though in all fairness I’ve never heard him define himself as such.

        If and when the GOP splinters post-2016, mayhaps there really will be an opportunity to bring more such people out into the open again. Sure would be nice.

    • Pseudoperson Randomian says:

      One of the problems I have with libertarians is that they seem to believe that reducing government size will make it more efficient just because of the reduction in size.

      I have a problem with this. To give an overly simplistic example, let’s say the IRS has to process 500 applications in a day and they have only 5 people assigned to it. Reducing the size by having only two 2 people doesn’t increase efficiency. It makes things worse. More waiting for the end user and more chance for errors. The most appropriate move to increase efficiency might be to increase the staffing to 10. Giving IRS staff the tech and training might help reduce the number of people required but it’s still an investment.

      Point is, government efficiency is a good goal. It usually results in a smaller, more efficient government but not necessarily. The smaller part is simply a positive side effect – not the goal in itself, not should it be.

      Also, one needs to disassociate the *size* of the government from the *wealth* of government. Something else those with a libertarian bent don’t usually do. You could have a government that collects 50% everyone’s income and automatically redistributes equally to everyone. This is a government in control of a vast swath of GDP, but would still be a small, and efficient government.

      Personally, the government, to me, is an inherently socialist institution – in the sense that it collects money from everyone and spends money for everyone’s welfare (to lesser or greater degrees), and this is a necessary counterbalance to a free market that doesn’t always optimize for human values. The free market is exceptionally powerful and efficient when it does and the government generally can’t match that. However, the government needs to cover for the instances when the free market doesn’t optimize for human values, and it would be good if it did so in the most efficient manner possible but this says nothing about the size or wealth of govt

      • johngalt says:

        I think the point is that in present circumstances it takes 5 people to process 500 returns a day. If the tax system were vastly simpler (which would also increase fairness), 5 people and a good computer could process 50,000 applications per day. The current size of the IRS (or any other agency) is a direct result of the complexity of government. Reducing this complexity could make it vastly more efficient (and cheaper) while achieving the same ends. This is a worthwhile goal.

        But there are limits to what really can be accomplished. The Social Security Administration disburses more than $800 billion per year to recipients on just $6 billion a year (and more than half of this is the disability insurance program, which is inherently more labor intensive to run). Can we drop that to $4 billion? Maybe, but this is clearly not a deficit-driver.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree, JG. Downsizing government makes sense in some areas but not all areas, as you pointed out. That’s my fear with Republicans in control of the process….as Grover Norquist has stated: “I want to shrink government so small I can drown it in a bathtub.” That’s the kind of simplistic, one size fits all approach to purportedly more efficient government that is just so wrong-headed, yet this is the conservative position.

        Maybe the challenge should be to increase the time they spend working in DC commensurate with the reduction benefits of downsizing government (-:

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      Lifer – The example I like is the one of cutting a piece of cake and always hearing the teary eyed complaint from one sibling, ” His piece is bigger than mine”. Then setting the rule, one cuts the other chooses. Forgive me if this is in “Politics of Crazy”. I don’t remember.

      Like imposed liability insurance or contract law, the party (parent/government) setting the rules doesn’t get involved until one of the participants complains.

      I’m just not sure if you devise a self correcting system for every situation.

      After considering the above question, is that what our justice system supposed to be about? Settings rules and punishing the rule breakers? Is it a question of carefully applying rules?

      • 1mime says:

        The Justice Department is still government, Unarmed, and, there are many who post here who already doubt its ability to do its job fairly in those areas involving civil liberties and equality. To the extent that electronics can simplify processing, “employees” can be fewer, as JG pointed out. I’ll just put it this way, when you’ve had a problem with a big company, say your internet/phone/TV provider or had a billing screw up…who do you PReFer to handle it? A computer or a live person? Walk into a Home Depot with a problem and try to find a real person to assist….chances are you have to hunt them down.

        I don’t believe Lifer is aiming to reduce staffing to the same levels a Grover Norquist would, and we would trust both his intentions and his decisions. Some of these other yahoos? No way.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Mime – I think you read more into my comment than I intended. My comment was more general, I think. I wasn’t thinking about staffing, per se.

        But we don’t have a government representative with us when we buy gas. But we are protected by some sort of government weights and measurement dept. There isn’t a government employee measuring each gallon of gas to make sure we are not cheated. The same with most warranty situations, i.e. to ensure we get what we pay for. Excepting that lately we are agreeing to arbitration when entering into contracts. Which is a different subject.

        In my state, I know that if I have an auto accident, I’m fairly sure the other person has insurance. My state has a no fault insurance law and requires everyone have liability insurance. Because we can’t drive a car off the lot without insurance and the yearly safety inspection demands proof of insurance. And again, there is no agent of government there to enforce either. Essentially the seller or the inspector enforces the law.

        This was my point.

      • 1mime says:

        Good points all, Unarmed.

      • 1mime says:

        NYT journalist and SCOTUS point person, Linda Greenhouse, offers a look at how judges are impacting America through court activism. It is patently clear to “thinking” people that what conservatives haven’t been able to achieve in Congress, they have achieved through “friendly” appellate and U.S. Supreme Courts. It is of paramount importance that the judicial process be as non-partisan as possible so that ensuing rulings do not subvert the legislative process. This requires that appointments be shared between the two political parties so that the courts do not become “stacked”, but, ideally, are as balanced as possible. By losing control of the Senate, it has become almost impossible for President Obama to secure approval for his nominees to courts (and for ambassadorial positions and department heads). This has resulted in extraordinarily crowded dockets so that cases (and justice) is long and arduous – and, consequently, unfair. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to read this article by Ms. Greenhouse, a very sober and deeply knowledgeable analyst of the judicial process.


    • 1mime says:

      Salon has a very pointed article on small government hypocrisy that debunks the concept as a “principled” position. The author has a legitimate point about the “real” reason most conservatives support downsizing government and how Rand Paul is exposing their hypocrisy. I believe there are few like Lifer who have given as much sincere thought to what smaller government could be without sacrificing social programs and without exacerbating inequality. The article was thoughtful.


    • 1mime says:

      Woodfill – Chris’ favorite person…

      • 1mime says:

        BTW, Lifer, Woodfill is taking his nasty show on the road, per today’s Houston Chronicle. He and the good Lt. Gov. Patrick, are quoted as saying they will use the same tactics to reverse the non-discrimination policy passed in Dallas recently.

        ENOUGH!!! I am sick and tired of these sexually deprived people. Let us hope that the people in Dallas GOAV and tell Woodfill and his ilk where they stand on this issue. Lifer, I don’t know how you could stand working with people like this.. Of course, you couldn’t, and didn’t, but you left them here to keep spreading their lies.

        Why is it that people who practice religious conservatism feel such a moral obligation to impose their views on other people? It’s not enough that they have the right to believe what they want.

        Not that I feel strongly about this!!!! I am just fed up.

        Sorry. This sucks.

      • goplifer says:

        By the way, I’ll just go ahead and write this out loud – I’ve always been pretty convinced that Woodfill is gay. It was my first impression on meeting the guy, then I found out who he was.

        That guy is super-fabulous. Glad to see he has Internet access in that closet.

      • 1mime says:

        I don’t care if Woodfill is gay except for the hypocrisy of his activities to distort the laws purpose by using fear and lies to mobilize the base. And,now, to extend these tactics to Dallas? No way.

      • 1mime says:

        I don’t care if Woodfill is gay except for the hypocrisy of his activities to distort the laws purpose by using fear and lies to mobilize the base. And,now, to extend these tactics to Dallas? No way.

  11. flypusher says:

    Voter’s remorse in Kentucky?


    I have zero sympathy for this guy and anyone like him. To Bevin’s credit, he was very open about his plans if elected. Those plans were not in your best interest, but you voted for him anyway because he wasn’t a career politician. Or because Jesus. Or stigginit. If you survive the next 4 years, perhaps you’ll learn something.

    • 1mime says:

      And, then again, maybe KY voters are like KS voters…..they.just.won’t.get.it.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Totally absurd fly. I feel bad for this guy, but not nearly as bad as I feel forbthe Kentuckians who also need Kynect just as badly but who at least recognized the threat and voted for the other guy. For this dude, this is just some perverse Darwinian wittling process.

      From the article:
      th & Science
      Kentucky’s newly insured worry about their health under next governor
      Resize Text Print Article Comments 2374

      In east Kentucky, the town of Pikeville anchors an Appalachian county with vanishing coal jobs, a plummeting uninsured rate and more than 7,000 people who have gained Medicaid coverage that could end under Gov.-elect Matt Bevin. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
      By Amy Goldstein November 9
      PIKEVILLE, Ky. — Amid the coal fields of eastern Kentucky, a small clinic that is part of the Big Sandy Health Care network furnishes daily proof of this state’s full embrace of the Affordable Care Act.

      It was here that Mindy Fleming handed a wad of tissues to Tiffany Coleman when she arrived, sleepless and frantic, with no health insurance and a daughter suffering a 103-degree fever and mysterious pain. “It will be all right,” Fleming assured her, and it was. An hour later, Coleman had a WellCare card that paid for hospital tests, which found that 4-year-old Alexsis had an unusual bladder problem.

      Such one-by-one life changes are the ground-level stakes ushered in by the election last week of businessman Matt Bevin as Kentucky’s next governor. The second Republican elected to the office in 48 years, he wrapped his campaign around a pledge to dismantle Kynect, the state’s response to the federal health-care law. If he follows through, the Bluegrass State would go from being perhaps the nation’s premier ACA success story to the first to undo the law’s results, razing a state insurance exchange and reversing its considerable expansion of Medicaid.

      [Third ACA enrollment begins with new ads and modest expectations]

      During his first news conference since his unexpected victory, Bevin named abolishing Kynect as a top priority, again contending that the state can’t afford it. He said change would come in “a thoughtful way” and made it clear that he intends for people on Medicaid to pay more for their care — but left other details of his intentions blurry.

      Gary Ryan is checked by Fadi Al Akhrass, an infectious disease specialist at the Pikeville Medical Center. Ryan, 64, was a coal miner for 10 years in Pike County, Ky., who moved to Virginia to find work, then moved home for health insurance. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
      Still, the broad contours of his condemnation of the ACA are creating a quandary here in remote Pike County, where 55 percent of voters supported Bevin even though the county benefits greatly from the health-care changes he plans to rescind.

      Dennis Blackburn has this splintered self-interest. The 56-year-old mechanic hasn’t worked in 18 months, since he lost his job at a tire company that supplies a diminishing number of local coal mines. “The old guy had to go home,” Blackburn says of his layoff.

      “He has a hereditary liver disorder, numbness in his hands and legs, back pain from folding his 6-foot-1-inch frame into 29-inch mine shafts as a young man, plus an abnormal heart rhythm — the likely vestige of having been struck by lightning 15 years ago in his tin-roofed farmhouse.

      Blackburn was making small payments on an MRI he’d gotten at Pikeville Medical Center, the only hospital in a 150-mile radius, when he heard about Big Sandy’s Shelby Valley Clinic. There he met Fleming, who helped him sign up for one of the managed-care Medicaid plans available in Kentucky.”

      Exactly the kind of guy who needs Kynect and, as a rational voter voting for his own self interest, will not vote for the guy who ran on the main platform of taking away his badly needed health care, right?

      Of course not.

      “On Election Day, Blackburn voted for Bevin because he is tired of career politicians”

      Hmmmm. Weird. The incredibly vague and basically non sensical “not a career politician” trumps the very real and concrete issue of his healthcare? Maybe he doesn’t actually care about healthcare?

      Of course he does:

      “Yet when it comes to the state’s expansion of health insurance, “it doesn’t look to me as if he understands,” Blackburn said. “Without this little bit of help these people are giving me, I could probably die. . . . It’s not right to not understand something but want to stamp it out.”

      Lifer, how does this square with your take that if we think voters are voting against their own interests, it must be that we really don’t understand them?

      And this goddamn fool isn’t a one off. This is the typical Southern voter.

      • 1mime says:

        KY Bevin voters – good point, Rob. I feel that putting all voters under the umbrella of voting their “real” interests is simplistic. Undoubtedly, the deeper pull on people who are low information voters can be their ego , which I think is Lifer’s point. With that I agree. How else would you explain it? There is also the implied message that the losing candidate didn’t adequately “sell” himself and his platform. That doesn’t appear to be the case, but it can be true. Obviously, the KY voters bought into the “outsider” pitch despite having a fine alternative to Bevin, which to me, says more about their intelligence than their ego. If they lose their health care or see major changes with a replacement plan, maybe their information levels will become better informed. It’s like raising children. Sometimes the best lessons are from experience – even if there is pain involved.

  12. “You better not come between a liberal and his dream for your improvement.”

    ‘Nuf said. Best remember those words when Barrack, Hillary, Bernie or Martin comes to you with schemes to “fix” climate change, income distribution, healthcare, immigration, education, mass shootings, or any other dang issue you can think of. And while you’re at it, remember one number: -$18,149,377,995,000.

    More government, anyone?

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I understand now why Chris has no interest in becoming a Democrat. It could never work.

      • 1mime says:

        Please explain your comment, Tutta. “Chris has no interest in becoming a Democrat. It would never work.”

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, people often get on Chris’s case about how he should abandon the Republican Party and join the Democrats, and he always says no, that he is with the GOP for life, thus the name “GOP Lifer.”

        I realize now from reading his current blog entry that he has an anti-big-governement streak, perhaps born of the busing fiasco, that will never allow him to be a Democrat, since big government is a philosophy that defines the Democratic Party, whereas he considers the current state of the Republican Party as just a temporary phase that will eventually pass.

      • 1mime says:

        Thanks for responding, Tutta. I have felt that Chris’ reluctant (continued) support of the GOP juxtaposed against his well explained positions seems far more aligned with conservative Democrats than any Republicans I can see on the horizon. I’ve read enough of his posts and his responses to commentators to have a pretty good understanding of what he stands for, and it is quality. His Politics of Crazy offers ideas that are sensible and pragmatic, enveloping the best of the Democratic Party ideas and the remnants of the traditional Republican Party. Undoubtedly, he is in between a rock and a hard place and there is no guarantee that the “change” he’s hoping for in Republican ranks will happen….his “litmus” test on what is needed for substantive progress in the party’s direction is going to require major change within the Republican Party.

        I have great respect for Chris and know he will do whatever he thinks best. People like Chris provide energy, intelligent vision, and a pragmatic road map for all of us who care about a different kind of political structure in our country. Given my personal philosophy of acceptance of the value of a viable two-party system, Chris would be the type of Republican that I would want to work with on the other side of the aisle.

      • CrafttsmanCT says:

        Anyone who thinks just Democrats contribute to Big Government need only to look at the 8-year government growth and deficit creation record of George W Bush. Democrats are committed to a viable safety net, born of compassion and caring. This essential requirement of effective and functioning government does at times require relatively large programs. But if you don’t really want to help the poor and oppressed (as taught in the Bible), as well as the lower middle classes, then you’re also going to be against Big Government. It’s somewhat of a tradeoff. What’s YOUR priority?

      • Tutta, Chris has no problem with big government, just so long as it is his flavor of big government.

      • Sir Magpie De Crow says:

        “Chris has no interest in becoming a Democrat. It would never work.”

        Well right now it is November 11, 2015. The presidential election of 2016 is officially less than a year away.

        The top two candidates for the GOP (that will likely persist into the new year) is a gross cartoonish stereotype of a billionaire (Trump) who once said he wanted Jewish guys counting his money all day long and not someone like… a black professional accountant. He also says that he can deport 11 million illegal drug dealing rapist/murderers in two years.

        The other candidate that is currently leading has said he still believes the pyramids of Egypt were built by the Biblical Joseph to store grain… hieroglyphs and about 200 years of archaeology/scientific study be damned. Plus according to his own inspirational/terrifying biography he once tried to stab one of his friends and thought about hitting his mother with a hammer (Norman Bates-style).

        Whether any of us like it or not (due to the current structure of the Republican Party) these clearly contemptible candidates are viable enough to potentially become the nominee.

        Absurdity, repulsive policy statements and ideological dysfunction (or incoherence) are afflictions that just don’t plague Democrats.

    • Crogged says:

      I guess it sucks to be us (US).

      “As of Q4 2013, total household net worth in the United States is $80.664 trillion”

    • flypusher says:

      We’ll Tracy, when the conservative response is to deny that any of those are serious problems that need addressing, a political vacuum is created and damn straight the liberals will rush to fill it. If you don’t want their solutions your wisest bet is to get so proposing some of your own.

      • 1mime says:

        My thoughts exactly, Fly…..”any” issue TThor? Really?

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Yep. Those are literally the most pressing and important issues that need addressing.

        I’d add upgrade infrastructure too.

        When did the country become so dysfunctional that addressing the most crucial problems facing the country became a negative.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Tracy, you can’t cut into the debt until you cut into the deficit. And that can’t happen overnight. Obama has done fantastic work in reducing the deficit. If the next president continues that, then within a few years, the debt will start going down.

      Kinda funny how the two biggest deficit busting presidents of the past few decades have also been the two Democrats. Weird.

      Also, debt as a total number is meaningless. You need to also consider ability to pay ie debt to GDP.

      If I owe $1 million and make $50 k/year that’s a problem. If I owe the same amount but make $5 million/year, its no big deal.

      The US debt to GDP ratio is currently on the high range of normal, but still within normal, especially when considering many other developed and emerging economies.

      • Crogged says:

        A debt is someone’s credit-to whom is the debt owed? This isn’t a credit card, we owe ourselves.

      • Griffin says:

        I think a lot of the fear comes from Greece “going broke”, and then thinking that could happen to the US. Which ignores that the US can print its own money and is in charge of its monetary supply, and that the US economy is far larger than Greece’s.

      • BigWilly says:

        The US Federal Reserve is not US and it’s not Federal. It’s a cabal of unelected bureaucrats who represent the inside of the innermost circle of wealth. If there’s any benefit to you it’s merely an accident, because the money protects itself in all cases.

      • Crogged says:

        Well, that is certainly one way to look at it. The other is that it is a statutory creation of 1913 and it is staffed by Americans, not conspiracy group de jure.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        BigWilly, I wish there were more people like you. I’d invest my life savings in tinfoil futures and franchise my origami hat making business become a billionaire.

        The Fed presidents are not elected directly. They are however appointed by elected officials, namely the president. It is very much a branch of the US gov’t.

        Where do you people come up with this stuff?

        The vast, vast majority of gov’t employees are not directly elected. John Kerry wasn’t elected to Sec of State. Is the State dept not a part of the US Gov’t either?

      • BigWilly says:

        I don’t think you’re either well informed or honest, RobA.


        Why do you think conservatives and Republicans and largely abandoned a blog titled GOPLifer, and the remaining posters are largely consistent with the “Echo Rooms” back on the Chronicle (before your time Jr.).

      • Crogged says:

        Why did the chicken cross the road-18 BILLION REASONS!

      • Crogged says:

        A fascinating piece of in-historic, insulting, ‘informing’ going on in that link BW, but they also forgot the Pope and the alien disembowling his/her self into the pristine, non-fluoridated waters from whence we came.

      • johngalt says:

        Griffin wrote: “…the US economy is far larger than Greece’s.”

        The economy of Greece is roughly half the size of metro Houston. Why anyone thinks that a boil on the butt of Europe that was run as a military banana republic during my lifetime has anything to do with the U.S. economy is beyond me.

      • moslerfan says:

        BW, the Fed’s chairman, vice, and 5 other members of the Board of Governors are appointed by the President. Commercial member banks are required by law to hold stock (be part owners) of the 12 regional reserve banks. They get 5 votes (that would be a minority). The Fed’s economic objectives, full employment and stable prices, are mandated by public law. Profits from operations are transferred to the Treasury. This is a public-private partnership (like the banking system in general) where the Government is the majority partner at the Fed level and the commercial banks operate under banking regulations at the retail level.

      • moslerfan says:

        Rob, Crogged is on the right track. All “money” implies a promise or obligation. The issuer of money makes an explicit promise of some kind of future benefit to the person who accepts the money. The word “debt” is a perfectly valid characterization of that obligation. All the dollars we collectively hold, and not just the $18T held in the form of Treasury securities (“savings account money” as opposed to “checking account money” [reserves] or “walking around money” [bills and coins]) represent a liability of the United States.

        Whether this liability/debt is a problem depends on the nature of the promise backing it. The U.S. Gov used to promise it would exchange currency for gold. That promise imposed certain constraints on its fiscal operations. The Gov no longer makes that promise. Instead, it only promises that the dollars it issues can be used to pay taxes. That different promise imposes a different set of constraints on fiscal operations. (As it happens, most of us will be required to pay taxes, and will need to acquire dollars for that purpose. Consequently, dollars are widely valued and accepted in the private sector as payment for all kinds of goods and services.)

        The private sector acquires dollars by selling goods and labor to the Federal Government. Taxation, on the other hand, drains dollars from the private sector. Since transactions in the private sector never create dollars, they just move money from sellers pockets to buyers pockets, a deficit (excess of Government spending over taxation) is the only way the private sector can obtain additional dollars to accommodate a growing economy.

        Will these deficits burden our children and grandchildren? Exactly equivalently, will the holding of these additional dollars by the private sector burden our children and grandchildren? No reason to believe that is the case.

      • BigWilly says:

        If you recall Greenspan’s comments about irrational exuberance and look at the crash of 2008 (perfectly timed) I think you can begin to connect the dots.

        Take a listen to Joseph Farrell, he has some very interesting things to say about banking in general.

        I kind of find it hard to believe that dems who hold Jefferson/Jackson dinners every year seem to have totally forgotten Jackson’s policies towards banking (not to mention Jefferson’s vision of small government and self-reliant peon farmers).

        I understand what you’re saying Moslerfan (who’s Mosler?), but I wouldn’t just wave off all of the other information regarding what the deficit and debt actually mean in relation to the US economy.

      • Spare me. Obama hasn’t done jack to cut the deficit. He got hoisted on his own petard when the GOP called his bluff on sequestration, and he’s been trying to wiggle out of it ever since.

      • Griffin says:


        However in the immortal words of Dick Cheney “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter”. And he was kind of right. The US economy can handle deficits, especially if its spent on developing the country and thus increasing our GDP output. In fact a degree of public debt is usually neccessary for most soverign nations to function.


      • Crogged, indeed we do owe ourselves, along with everybody else who holds our nation’s paper. We are also the ones who have benefited from that profligate spending. However, we’ll soon be shuffling off our mortal coils, yet the debt will remain. We are mortgaging our children’s future to buy groceries. As a result we are fencing in our children and grandchildren to a future of constrained possibilities.

        Yes, U.S. households hold $80 trillion in net worth, but bear in mind that the $18 trillion is only “hard” debt, and pales in comparison to the burden of our unfunded liabilities (to the tune of $80 – $200+ trillion, depending on who’s counting). A better comparison is the ratio of debt to GDP, which now exceeds 100% (a value not seen since the end of WWII). Consider you own life, and whether you’d be able to take out an unsecured loan in the amount of your own annual income. If you can find that deal, let me know, and cut me in.

        Of greater near term concern is the cost of debt service. Even at current rates interest is the fastest growing segment of the federal budget, and is expected to nearly double from 6% to 11% of the total federal budget over the next five years. Have you stopped to ponder why the market dips every time the Fed even *mentions* raising rates? The answer to that question should give you considerable pause.

        The path we are on is, to borrow a climate alarmist scare phrase, unsustainable.

      • moslerfan says:

        BW, Mosler is Warren Mosler (moslereconomics.com). Mosler started integrating ideas about how fiat money works in the 1990s, and is a big contributor to what is known as Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). I’ll take a look at your link, thanks.

        Griffin, Dick Cheney did say that Reagan proved deficits don’t matter. I believe he was speaking politically, not economically. Modern money theorists will tell you that deficits absolutely do have consequences, principally to inflation and unemployment.

        Tracy, as discussed above money = debt, as a point of accounting logic. Specifically, private dollars = public debt. No public debt means no government money. (We used to have private money – banknotes – issued by banks, hopefully backed by gold in their vaults. We don’t any more. All US dollars existing were issued by the Federal Government.) As any accountant will tell you, a credit cannot exist without a corresponding liability. Specifically, a dollar credit in private hands cannot exist without a dollar of public debt. Saying that the public debt is unsustainable is exactly equivalent to saying that dollars held by the private sector are unsustainable. That makes no sense.

        Our children and grandchildren will produce so many cars and washing machines and TV sets and cheeseburgers and a bunch of stuff we haven’t conceived of yet. And all of that stuff will be distributed among people living at the time. None of it will be sent back in time to pay off our profligacy. What we need to worry about w/r/t our children is whether we are leaving them with good educations, good health and environment, good infrastructure, and solid social institutions.

        Incidentally, the stock market dips every time the fed considers a rate increase because zero rates were a prime cause of the rise in stocks since 2009. QE soaked up a lot of Treasury bonds and replaced them with bank deposits. At near-zero interest, bonds are unattractive so much of that money went into stocks (and into assets like Manhattan real estate and Old Masters) because that looked like a better alternative. We’re seeing people worry that rising rates will reverse that process.

      • 1mime says:

        Mosler, retired people are getting hit both ways….negligible interest rates on “safe” investments (remember money markets and CDs and bonds?), and stocks for growth generally hold too much risk. I’ll take a little inflation any day if it means this economy will be more balanced.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Mosler, you realize the Zeitgiest doc about the fractional reserve system is not accurate right?

        No, every dollar is not debt. At least not for any practical purposes relevant to what we use it for.

        If I bank all my money I earn and never touch, nobody else is taking it. You can semantics it all you want. That stuff just sounds “smart” but is not.

      • BigWilly says:

        Interesting, I watched a film, Kubrick, called “Barry Lyndon” a few years back. I’ve watched it several times since and will probably watch it again. Anyways, there’s a scene where Lyndon is awarded some Deutsche Marks that are tied directly to the Prince’s Treasury for a gallant act.

        There were no history of finance classes at my old skool. I’m picking it up as I go. Thanks for the info I’ll check out Mosler in a bit more detail.

      • moslerfan says:

        Mime, I hear you on the topic of retirees being squeezed by low interest rates. Higher rates would help them (and the economy in general a bit by pumping interest payments into the private sector). But interest rates are a pretty blunt instrument; I’d rather see this problem targeted more precisely through increased Social Security benefits.

      • moslerfan says:

        Rob, you’re right, nobody is taking the money in your bank account. It’s a credit on your balance sheet, a liability on the Government’s balance sheet. The Government’s obligation represented by that liability means that it has to accept that money as payment of taxes, if any. And you might not owe taxes, but somebody will, and that means they will willingly exchange food or other valuable stuff that you might want for your money.

        It’s true that this conception of money is somewhat nonintuitive at first. But the alternative, that money is “kinda like gold, only made out of paper…or something” Is just untenable.

      • johngalt says:

        “Have you stopped to ponder why the market dips every time the Fed even *mentions* raising rates? The answer to that question should give you considerable pause.” – Tracy

        Yes, I have. The “market” loves cheap money. The oh-so-responsible private financial sector can indulge in orgies of debt-fueled speculation. This becomes less feasible when interests rates rise and they sell off everything to pay off their debts. At the same time, rising interest rates attract money into the U.S., drawn by higher returns. This strengthens the dollar and makes emerging market debt (usually dollar-denominated) less attractive. These investors sell Peruvian and Nigerian debt and – yep, you guessed it – buy T-bills, driving their price down, reducing returns on existing debt holders. U.S. exporters are hurt by the strong dollar and financial firms (who in simpler times would benefit from higher rates), make less off their speculative trading.

        The whole thing gives me pause, but not for the same reasons as you.

      • Crogged says:

        Thank you Mosler-everything can’t be explained by anyone-but eventually we found out why the sun moved in the sky.


      • Creigh says:

        OK, Big Willy, I listened to Joseph Farrell as long as I could. Amid the conspiracy theorizing, he does seem to understand the difference between state money, which we have been talking about here, and so-called bank money, which we have not really discussed. He correctly sees that bank money is really credit, a form of money in some senses but not the same as state money. And I think he senses that the difference is that state money creates public debt, whereas bank credit creates private debt. And it is private debt that motivates the bubbles and crashes that we saw in 1929 and 2009 and that folks like TThor should actually worry about. A great place to start understanding this is Irving Fisher’s 1933 paper on Debt-Deflation Theory of Great Depressions (https://Fraser.stlouisfed.org/docs/meltzer/fisde33.pdf)

    • Griffin says:

      I’m just thankful that only Democrats have created that debt, and that the Reagan and Bush adinistrations weren’t responsible for a good chunk of it. In fact recent Democratic administrations have better track records with deficits than Republicans do.


      However I’m going to defend Reagan here and say that he did the last succesful “large scale” Keynesian economic program in US history, even if he did so inadvertantly.

      • BigWilly says:

        You can’t get to Supply Side unless you go through Keynes. Unfortunately what we are currently practicing isn’t Keynesian and it isn’t Laffer. You do understand that Keynes was an aristocrat and any form of economics that didn’t keep an aristocrat in power wasn’t worth practicing.

      • 1mime says:

        (-: (-: (-: That was a great rejoiner, Griffin! Shame on you for pointing out the truth like that. That’s NOT nice! (even if it’s true….however, there are those for whom the truth is, well, selective.)

    • johngalt says:

      Debt is bad. It’s really, really bad. And big scary numbers, like $18,149,377,995,000 are, well, big and scary. Put the two together and it’s armageddon.

      Of course, $5,807,463,412,200.06 is a pretty scary number too. This is the amount of the debt in Bush’s first year in office, about the time he passed a massive tax cut. Seems to me that if conservative hatred of debt was so strong, then the prudent thing to have done would be to pay this down, but I don’t recall too many voices on that side of the aisle suggesting that. Then it would also have seemed prudent to attempt to pay for our Middle East adventuring, but I don’t recall any tax increases to “support our troops.”

      So it seems to me that conservatives really, really, hate debt, except when they’re the ones running it up.

      • 1mime says:

        Oh, I am so loving this. Just listened to our very own Representative Kevin Brady being interviewed on NPR. You will not be surprised that he shares TThor’s view of things, and when queried about whether the ACA was now settled, “Of course not”, he responded! “We owe it to all the nurses and doctors and patients who are (and I paraphrase here as I was driving) bearing the burden of this plan..)

        Sort of made me want to pull over to the side of the road and make a phone call….Unfortunately, that’s when interview time ran out. I would have loved to ask him why the Republicans didn’t develop a health care plan during the two terms of G.W. Bush, or why they haven’t offered a replacement plan as they have loudly stated they would. I am certain we will hear more from Rep. Brady on this and other subjects….especially since he was selected by the new House Speaker whose conservative views are (in his words) “like his”….Gives a girl something to look forward to.

      • BigWilly says:

        Please note that we are currently having a very public debate between the establishment and the TEA Party about that right now. The GOP establishment is the same guys that sat next the dem establishment at the elite east coast schools, worked at the same law firms and banking concerns on Wall Street, and probably even attended the same churches.

        The TEA Party follows through and you spontaneously defecate in your panties while the establishment shakes its head and wrings its hands in despair.

      • johngalt says:

        The Tea Party follows through like a 4-year old child told No – by throwing a temper tantrum that his incompetent parents deal with by bribing him, rewarding his poor behavior (and therefore ensuring that it will be repeated).

    • 1mime says:

      And, your solution to the “issues” you cited, TThor? Or, do you not believe they “are” problems?

      • 1mime, I don’t claim to have the solutions to the aforementioned problems; I offer only the classic Burkean observation that oft times the cure is worse than the ill. First, do no harm.

      • 1mime says:

        What doesn’t change, Tracy, is the existence of the problems. Someone has to solve them, some how. That’s where it gets tough.

      • johngalt says:

        Weak beer, Tracy. You have no solutions to the problems, you’re not even sure that they are problems, but you are pretty sure that any attempt to solve the problems is bad.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      First of all, you’re talking Lifer’s words out of context to suit your own perspective; hardly the tactic of one who has a sound argument all on his own, wouldn’t you agree?

      Secondly, are we really going to go into this back-and-forth about the national debt again? Keep in mind that it was under Bill Clinton, a Democrat, that we went from deficit to surplus and we would be well on our way to virtually eliminating the national debt by now had George W. Bush and his Republicans not come in and wrecked the whole damn thing (and that’s putting it charitably, mind you).

      So, please, save your talking points for people who haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about.

  13. MassDem says:

    Hi everybody. Long time no see.

    While I would agree that forced integration of public schools via busing was a failed policy, I would like to point out that this was not the only reason for the degradation of urban schools, maybe not even the most important reason.

    I grew up in a suburban town outside of Hartford CT. During my parent’s generation, Hartford was a wealthy, predominantly white city with excellent public schools. However, when housing discrimination was outlawed in the 1960s, large numbers of non-white families seeking economic opportunity moved to Hartford. White residents left the city for the suburbs in droves. This trend was exacerbated by urban renewal projects. In Hartford, an older working-class neighborhood was replaced with a business district (similar to what happened with Boston’s West End), so those residents left the city. Federal money was also used to build highways so people could commute from their suburban homes to their jobs in the city. By the early 1970s, when school desegration was mandated in some Northeastern cities, busing would not have made a dime’s worth of difference in Hartford, as the population was segregated along city/suburb lines. Hartford was not unique in its experience; Detroit was also segregated across city/suburb lines and attempted to integrate its schools by busing between its urban and suburban districts. However, the 1974 Milliken v. Bradley Supreme Court decision expressly prohibited busing across district lines, setting up the pattern of economically disadvantaged urban districts with predominantly minority student populations and wealthier suburban districts with predominantly white student populations which persists to this day.

    Sadly, Hartford’s schools went downhill during the 1960s and 70s and still struggle. A 1996 CT Supreme Court decision (Scheff v. O’Neill) addressed the continuing disparities in educational opportunity for children in primarily black/Latino districts versus those in primarily white districts. Remedies include allowing Hartford students to attend suburban schools (similar to Boston’s Metco program) and increasing the number of racially integrated magnet schools. These efforts have met with mixed results; while slightly under half of Hartford’s students attend integrated schools, the remaining students have been left behind in segregated schools. The program is expensive, and it has not been applied to other segregated districts in the state, such as Bridgeport. So there is a long way to go.


    On another note, there are signs in Boston that the trend of white flight to the suburbs has begun to reverse as white middle-class families move back to the city. While schools within the district are unfortunately still segregated, there seems to be energy among parents to improve schools in the district as a whole. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.


    Sorry this post is so long.

    • 1mime says:

      Hi there, MassDem! You won’t hear a word of criticism for long posts from this commentator!

      The reversal from burbs back into the city is repeating itself everywhere; however, what I am seeing in Houston is most of these White families choosing to move into the city are placing their children in private schools. Their move is not re-invigorating public education. Further, an additional problem is happening. As the inner city becomes more attractive to White (mostly affluent) families, tear downs of entire neighborhoods are happening with the result that long-time, poor and minority (mostly) people are being forced out. What a conundrum!

      • johngalt says:

        This is not the case in my neighborhood (Braes Heights/Ayrshire). The neighborhood banded together to clean up a couple of eyesore apartment complexes about 15 years ago (this was before I moved there, so I take no credit). They tore these down and turned them into open space (recreation fields, mostly), but sold some of the land to the YMCA, which has a great facility there. They made a specific commitment to send their kids to the elementary school (Twain), which was eventually rebuilt, as was the adjacent Pershing middle school. Twain is a fantastic school because of these efforts and commitment, and my kids directly benefit from it. Five years ago, it had 650 students, this year more than 1,000. Pershing is not quite there yet, but has improved a lot.

        The neighborhood is quite ethnically/racially diverse, but not very socioeconomically diverse, though there are a few apartment complexes left. Whether that is a problem is an open question.

        It is true that you won’t find many River Oaks kids at Lamar HS, but a lot of affluent people are willing to send their kids to quality public schools.

      • Tuttabella says:

        I grew up in the Heights and still live there, so I’ve witnessed the “gentrification,” and I notice that most of wealthier Whites moving to my neighborhood are young and don’t even have kids, and once they start having kids, they move out to the suburbs.

      • 1mime says:

        The key word in your wonderful story, JG, is “socio-economically” diverse. And, that is a huge factor in both logical support for the school(s) and the financial and educational means to assist in other important ways. I am not stating that success stories aren’t there, they are, and they need to be held up and replicated. An inner city analysis will find few examples such as you offer and more examples where white, affluent families choose private education. Because they can. Charter schools have the potential to make a difference but are rife with problems….supervision, accountability, sustained quality, accessibility, and on. They also have the same benefit private schools do: they have entrance criteria and exit control.

        You might be interested in Hillary Clinton’s comments on charter schools as a solution for families and children.


        I love all the contributions to this post topic as it is an area of great personal interest and involvement. I am the first to admit that I do not have the solution but this I do know: if America doesn’t adequately (that’s a whole other subject) educate its children, its future economic potential will never be reached….and we could talk on that subject all day, but, I won’t (-:

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I attended public school until 6th grade and after that I attended Catholic schools. My Catholic high school was particularly diverse ethnically.

        I think more minority families should consider Catholic schools for their kids. Most of these schools have financial aid programs in place, and some have “family plans,” in which additional kids from the family attend at a nominal rate of tuition, to encourage entire families to attend.

  14. Rob Ambrose says:

    Meanwhile, in Canada, the new PM with his Treasury Chairman (and the Treasury Chairman’s husband and beautiful children).


    Really off topic, I know. Just proud of my native land, and pointing out that the rest of the world is moving forward. America risks being left behind.

    • flypusher says:

      Hey Rob, just saw this little article:


      I’ll admit, I had no idea that Canada was competing with the US in the anti-science derp division. Glad to see a start to reversing it. Now if we could just get all the ignorant people off the Congressional Science and Tech committees here!

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Yes it was. And the reason for that (surprise, surprise) is 10 years of a Harper government, a conservative that would be right at home down in the US.

        Why is it that these ideologues all hate science, knowledge and reason, regardless of whatever country they’re in?

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Nice find Fly. From the article:

        “Our government values science and will treat scientists with respect. That is why government scientists and experts will be able to speak freely about their work to the media and the public,” he said in a statement. “We are working to make government science fully available to the public and will ensure that scientific analyses are considered in decision making.”

        That’s pretty refreshing.

      • 1mime says:

        I don’t know if you noted the reference to Trudeau reinstating the mandatory census (Harper had implemented a “voluntary” one.) Are you aware that Republicans right now are attempting to eliminate the ten year census? They have already defunded other census efforts that were departmental and dealt with specific areas of the economy.

        Obviously, if census data is mandatory, and all people are included, you (the GOP) cannot control results……..Need I say more?

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Yeah that was a pretty big deal in Canada when he did it.

        Often times you can clearly see the motivation behind right wing policies (“voter fraud” policies are am attempt to prevent minorities voting, harsher punishments for crack cocaine are significantly worse then powder in order to punish blacks disproportionately etc).

        I can’t figure out the conservative issue with a long form census. What is it they don’t want to know? Their continuously declining demograohics maybe?

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Rob, I think you’re right.

        The whole census cancellation thing sounds another attempt to control voting or access to voting or simply confuse the voting process.

        If you don’t know how many eligible voters exist in a geographic area, how would you plan if you were a city or a county? Don’t you have to have an idea how many votes it takes to win an election? Or cause a run-off? Have enough voting stations?

    • 1mime says:

      Meanwhile, in America, the HERO ordinance in Houston goes down big….voting is very light…the xenophobes, however, as usual were there. The religious right is in full swing and candidates like Cruz and Trump are on fire. (not “that” fire…that’s coming at their demise)

      One can only hope that this is the climax of a society that has to boil over before it settles. What else is there? I continue to ask: Can anyone here imagine what an America led by a President Cruz will be like?

  15. Rob Ambrose says:

    OT but this story is incredible (not in the good way). New details are unfolding rapidly and this stinks to high heaven.



    – “Cops” wernt actually cops, but in fact moonlighting as city marshals, which typically drive around and issue summons. The chief marshal is a school bus driver who recently bought several old police cars and unilaterally decided it was within his offices jurisdiction to drive around and patrol the city.

    – both Marshalls have a pretty long rap sheet, Stafford is currently facing four unresolved civil compplaints complaints, and also was charged with rape in 2011. Stafford was on unpaid admin leave from the local policE dept.

    – Greenhouse went to high school with Fews (the childs father) fiance. In recent months, Greenhouse had been facebooking Fews fiance and driving by their shared home. Few contacted this power mad cop and told him next time he drives by his house, hes going to hurt him.

    – Fews hands were up and out of the car as they approached

    So, these city Marshalls acting way outside their jurisdiction chase down a person that one of them knows, who had issues with recently, and whose fiance the cop has a thing for, and he ends up dead.

    This is starting to seem like they decided to murder him as they were chasing him down. It also brings up the EXTREMELY unsettling thought that in America, a man sees a cop with whom he has a personal issue with, fears for his life, drives away fearing the cop will summarily execute him and then, is proven correct.

    That’s a pretty chilling use of government power. There’s a feel of roving gov’t death squads acting with perceived impunity.

    Don’t tell me.about a “bad apple”. This is rotten to the core. These two officers seem to act in a way that they were VERY confident they could literally execute this man and get away with it. Which of course begs the question, why would they feel that way?

    Body cameras are proving more effective and useful then even their staunchest defenders in just a few months of widespread use. They need to be in every cop in America, yesterday. For citizens protection, as well as police.

    • flypusher says:

      “So, these city Marshalls acting way outside their jurisdiction chase down a person that one of them knows, who had issues with recently, and whose fiance the cop has a thing for, and he ends up dead.

      This is starting to seem like they decided to murder him as they were chasing him down. It also brings up the EXTREMELY unsettling thought that in America, a man sees a cop with whom he has a personal issue with, fears for his life, drives away fearing the cop will summarily execute him and then, is proven correct.”

      How stupid do you have to be to do your personal grudge driven murdering while on duty with a body cam?

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Fly, that’s what’s so insidious. Neither if them had one.

        I don’t know if they took it off or if they were never issued one. In any case, the only reason they were caught is because one of the real cops that showed up during the chase had one.

        Since body cams are so new and these guys are from a different department (city Marshalls, not cops) its likely it didn’t even cross their minds.

        This is supported by the tried and true formula of the initial report of “fearing for their lives” walked way, way back once they realized they were filmed.

        At least they were charged quickly. When there’s incontrovertible video evidence that unjusitifed, charges should be brought immediately. Too bad Tamir Rice wasn’t white.

      • 1mime says:

        Too bad Tamir Rice is dead.

      • 1mime says:

        How stupid do you have to be? REEELY stupid, and really bad people. What I worry about is how body cameras will be used. Florida did a very deep study on body cameras for law enforcement (sorry can’t recall where I read this some time back). These cameras can be manually turned off…..just like dash mounted cameras can’t record action occurring outside its fixed range of visual recording. The article pointed out that most law enforcement officers don’t want to wear them. Gee, wonder why? Good law enforcement officers have nothing to fear, in fact, body cameras can validate their activity. There is going to be a lot of case law established around body cameras use in law enforcement.

        President Obama committed in 2014 to fund body cameras for law enforcement. Turns out he was right about something for a change.


  16. Anse says:

    I think the problem is not so much that white parents are afraid to send their kids to schools that a lot of black or Hispanic kids; it’s probably the neighborhood where the school is located that matters more. There are a ton of good, positive young people in every community. I imagine it’s just very hard for a school to keep a community’s troubles from seeping through the schoolhouse door and affecting the campus atmosphere. I have friends who taught at Sharpstown for several years, and they talked about how so many of their kids were really very bright and quite driven to succeed. But the neighborhood was just horrible. Drive-bys, armed robbery, gangs, you name it. One friend had two kids killed in a single year and it finally drove her to seek employment elsewhere, not because she was afraid for her own safety but because the emotional strain of seeing young people die or having loved ones locked up was just overbearing.

    It’s hard to make this case but I really think the only solution to breaking the cycle of poverty and all the hardships and dangers associated with it is to take the kids out of those communities and send them to boarding schools in areas that are safer, where they can get round-the-clock instruction and care from adults who can provide that. I’m sure many of the kids would hate being separated from their parents or that one adult that they have a true familial connection with, but what else can be done? You can’t take school seriously if your dad just got sent to prison or your brother was shot by a rival gang member. You’ve got problems that white middle class kids can barely imagine.

    A boarding school would be expensive but probably not very much more expensive than a prison. The way out of this is not going to be cheap and the situation we have is only tolerable for those living in comfort securely separated from the malaise.

    • 1mime says:

      Anse….send kids out of their neighborhoods to boarding schools…

      Or, “fix” the neighborhoods. There are any number of ways to at least try to do this. In our school district, we set up magnet programs in minority school areas…a school within a school. But, we made it multi-grade and very attractive academically, to get the numbers of kids and reassure parents that their children would be safe and receive a better quality of education than the home district where they were zoned. Participation was vetted by ability – the students had to qualify based upon discrete criteria relating to the magnet program – and, most important, it was voluntary. The idea was to reinvigorate a minority school, facilitate integration on a voluntary basis, and build trust in all. It was not perfect but it did work for those who tried it. Of course, we lost many families who simply opted out of public education all together. There was nothing we could do about that other than offer the best public education possible as a competitive option for families.

      • 1mime says:

        Really, not just “fix” the neighborhoods – that is necessary but what we really need to do as a country is “fix” families. That is much, much harder but far more lasting.

      • Anse says:

        I don’t think you can really fix the neighborhoods in any deep and lasting way without trying to help the people who live in them. And while I do believe poverty can and must be addressed through schemes of redistribution and other programs, there is also a psychological profile unique to certain classes of perpetually impoverished individuals that goes beyond racial distinctions or whatever. You get people who know nothing but poverty, you have to set them aright before they reach adulthood.

      • 1mime says:

        Anse, I amended my comment below the original stating that first you fix the family. Poverty knows no racial or gender delineations. It dominates every aspect of those within it. And, absolutely, we cannot just “fix” the neighborhood without “fixing” the families. It is so complex and simple short sentences really don’t do justice to the depth and breadth of the problem. I completely agree with you.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Long term poverty
        Generations spent in the poverty trap

        Is that really what happened?

        It is certainly what our right wing politicians talk about

        I’m not sure about the USA but the UK and NZ had full employment until the 1970’s,
        The NZ Minister in charge of employment claimed that he knew the names of all of the families that had been on the dole for more than a year

        What is that 40 years? – one generation? – ago we had everybody except those who were not able or too old/young or looking after a family – in work

        We can go back there – all it takes is to reverse the idea that
        “industry is more efficient with a pool of unemployed to keep costs down”

        Once there are jobs available that pay a reasonable wage the benefits system can be used for those who are simply not able to work

        We don’t need to “Fix the family” – the old family structure is now becoming obsolete
        We do need to get more resources to those who have been shafted by the neoliberal nonsense

      • 1mime says:

        Good liberal that I am, Duncan, “family” is a very broad term when I use it (-:

  17. johngalt says:

    Chris, I get your points here and there is no shortage of evidence that school desegregation was not successful, but it is too easy to read into your post that we would have been better off allowing segregation to continue because, in this fantasy, both separate communities would have been more vested in their schools which would have then been more successful. Whether you meant this or not, there isn’t much basis in reality for this optimism.

    The problems in schools reflects the problems in their neighborhoods. Segregated neighborhoods breed segregated schools. Integrated neighborhoods breed the opposite. My son told us tonight that the current fundraiser his elementary school is holding has received pledges from 16 countries. Yes, countries. He’s got classmates from a dozen countries in his 22-student class. This is one of the best elementary schools in HISD. Focus the energy on the communities and the schools will follow.

    (How you do this, eh, that’s hard work.)

  18. Martin says:

    You are too academic in your analysis. I am sure busing had an impact, especially in select local communities, but it is only one among many other smaller factors and it did not create the Tea Party as such. The Tea Party movement was created for two very simple reasons: a) Globalization causes wages to stagnate or decline and increases competition for jobs with non-whites or foreign countries benefiting most, and b) FOX News and Roger Ailes created a propaganda machine that legitimized and significantly amplified the sentiment of anger.

    Sure, you can ask what came first, the Tea Party sentiment or FOX News. But as you read the Book ‘The loudest voice in the room, how the brilliant bombastic Roger Ailes built Fox News and divided a country’, the conclusion seems obvious that Fox was created intentionally to radicalize the base. A book btw you should add to your list of worth reading.

    • goplifer says:

      Ailes had been trying since the Nixon years to build that kind of monster. It took time for the fields to ripen. Eventually he succeeded.

      Busing changed the calculus in the relationship between ordinary people and their government, turning the old New Deal arrangement on its head. The federal government was no longer just a distant source of resources and government jobs. A federal bureaucrat you’d never met could yank your child out of their neighborhood and their school and you felt utterly powerless to do anything about it.

      That had a massive political impact that took years to ripen. That’s why those people who were Democrats in the 70’s spout off about “socialism” today. Ailes was just the reaper.

  19. Ryan Ashfyre says:

    Hrm… that’s certainly quite the quagmire that we’ve got to fix, isn’t it? Feels like it’s best to get back to fundamentals and focus on incremental changes, given the obvious fracturing of trust that’s occurred over the years:

    First of all, in order to restore some measure of cooperation between federal officials and those at the local level, a series of small scale school construction projects tied in with broader educational reform could be worth taking a look at. In order to reduce class size and also to free our teachers of some of the burdensome bureaucracy, like the kind that’s come with increasing focus on standardized testing, this effort could kill quite a few birds with one stone.

    Secondly, ultimately the efforts towards desegregation mean to change the hearts and minds of people. No legislative effort can do that, no matter how thorough or well-intentioned. If people don’t come around to it on their own, it’s all for nothing.

    Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for that. You’ve just gotta keep pounding away at it day after day, month after month, decade after decade. There has to be a sustained effort on the part of all parties to foster a closer community, helping to build the bonds between people that will eventually foster the kind of grassroots momentum that can build a lasting sense of community and kinship in our children and their schools.

    Thirdly, we need time; time for the minorities in this country to gain strength and political power far beyond what they currently have. Fortunately, we’re at a turning point in American history where such a revolution is just around the corner.

    I don’t know specifically where that revolution is headed, but I do believe that the currently lingering fears of those who lived in a world where white privilege reigned near supreme will stymie us to a logjam of any true progress in where we want to go. With enough time and demographic change, I think there will eventually be opportunities for us all to come together in a good faith manner to chart a path forward.

  20. duncancairncross says:

    We have a partial solution to the problem of schools in poor areas (NZ)

    All schools are given a “decile rating” – based on the wealth of the parents

    The lower the decile rating (poorer) the more additional funding the school gets

    When I came here from the UK (2001) you had to select your house in order to get your kids to the best school (in the UK)
    The difference between a good school and a poor school was enormous

    Here (NZ) the difference is actually quite small
    There is still too much variation in achievement related to the wealth of the parent but the effect of the actual school is much much less

    It’s not rocket science – you need to give MORE funds to schools in poor areas NOT LESS

    • 1mime says:

      I totally agree, Duncan, and I can tell you it just doesn’t happen in the U.S. Resources can be measured in many ways – most tend to want to provide more money. Adequate funding is critical for childen who come from poor backgrounds, but the real solution are teachers and administrators who care deeply and are committed to make a difference in the lives of these children. A great movie entitled, “Freedom Writers” (Hillary Swank) is based upon such a situation. If you can find it to view, you will have a much better understanding of America’s inner city schools.

      NZ is sure sounding like a great place to live….

    • johngalt says:

      Duncan, this might sound patronizing and I don’t mean it to be, but it might be a mistake to think that one could easily extrapolate school policies from a country with two major ethnicities and a population rather less than that of metropolitan Houston (in which, if a recent local news report is to be believed, sees 147 languages spoken at home) to a whole country. We already devote substantially higher resources to schools in poorer areas and already allow (in many districts) students to transfer to academically superior schools. The problems are deeper than this.

      • duncancairncross says:

        I’m not at all sure that the population is relevant – the bigger population means more resources are available

        As far as diversity is concerned I think you will find that the USA is much less diverse than NZ
        The USA has about 13% of the population that was born elsewhere
        NZ has over 25% of the population born overseas

        We have a different mix of peoples but it is a very diverse mix!

        As far as the “We already devote substantially higher resources to schools in poorer areas”
        I’m not at all convinced – from here it looks like the opposite

    • goplifer says:

      That’s kind of brilliant. Question though – our school funding comes almost entirely from property taxes. That structure makes it difficult to split resources between rich and poor areas. Where does the funding for NZ schools originate?

      • 1mime says:

        As I appreciate it, the re-distribution of property taxes from more wealthy counties to poorer ones, is the basis for the ongoing lawsuit here in TX. Having many years invested in trying to improve the “quality” of public education, I can tell you flatly that more money is not the solution even though more money is helpful. I continue to maintain that those areas in which schools serve poor families (and, yes, it is “families” they serve, not just students) need a far broader array of assistance to compensate for the socio-economic fundamentals lacked by students. It is so very complex which is why money alone will not solve the problem any more than welfare will solve poverty. America is at a crossroads in social awareness. Our children are merely reflections of the broader problem which boils down to how we care for those with less and help the integrate (in the broad sense of the word) into a world that is foreign to their childhood environment.

      • 1mime says:

        Our school funding does not come entirely from property taxes. Sales taxes are also employed at the local level, which , of course are regressive and hurt the poor, but one could also argue that at least this is one tax that they may get some benefit from. I posted an NPR study above that speaks to public education funding K-12, for those who are interested.

      • duncancairncross says:

        There is the rub!
        School funding here is from central government – the exchequer – NOT property taxes

    • Crogged says:

      I was bussed, in the late 60’s/early 70’s, in Louisiana. Whatever the separation-the schools were not equal and even a sixth grader could see it.

      What if the school, and the teachers at the school, were far more autonomous now? We still seem to be a top down structure in education-people not teaching making rules regarding situations they haven’t been in for years. Our sprawling school districts encompass various student populations-but the rules for the individual schools come from the district office. And the rules, oy vey, kids get in much more trouble for violating cell phone policy than for criminal behavior. Why? Because someone not in a classroom for years just knows, they remember, how it was when they taught.

      We could decide we would raise the standards for becoming a teacher, raise the pay and trust the people in the school building with the advanced degrees to teach our kids.

      Which would solve 10 percent of this problem of educating children from less than ideal circumstances.

      New Zealand, Finland,England and most of the other developed industrialized societies do have a far greater welfare state. We could do that-ramp up the supply of sociology majors and create enormous government structures to ‘support’ the poor-or treat them the same way. Just give them the money directly. If you don’t have an equitable society, you will not have equitable schools.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      Purely as a source of funding, that certainly sounds like a good idea, but I feel like that option might open the door for a certain sense of stigma between those at the higher decile schools and those at the very bottom.

      How often are the funding levels adjusted and what’s the intermediary period in which those affected schools have the time to adjust?

      Also, if my reading is correct, decile ratings only apply to compulsory education in NZ and not to higher education like colleges and universities. When applying, do the decile ratings make any sort of impact whatsoever in whether or nor those students are admitted?

      Finally, and my last question sort of ties in with something that Lifer mentioned. Where does the funding come from? Ideally, at least here in the US, I would think we should have something of a mix of funding coming from both property taxes and additional funding from the US government so no one could say that any one source was being squeezed or trying to gain a monopoly so as to exert undue influence.

      Also, with that source of funding, IMO, should come a modest requirement of community service, left up to the school and the local community to decide exactly how, in order to try and foster cooperative relationships and work ethic amongst the students.

      • 1mime says:

        The federal government contributes approximately 7-10% of funding for public education, (pre-K to 12th grade); states and local communities average 93% of funding, through a combination of property and sales tax revenue. Most people assume the federal government contributes much more.

        From a PBS study on this issue: “According to the most recent Funding Gap report by the non-profit group The Education Trust, many states still provide the least amount of funding to school districts serving students with the greatest needs.

        In 1999, for example, Illinois’ funding gap was the second-largest in the nation. By 2005, the Illinois gap was still the second-largest, and had gotten worse. Illinois is joined by Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin at the top of the list of states in which the funding gap between high- and low-poverty districts grew between 1999 and 2005.”


        Wealthier, more educated citizens are more likely and more “able” to support bond issues for new construction, remodeling, and other infrastructure needs. Poor districts don’t have a tax base that allows this. Absent any sincere, deep commitment to serve the poor areas, their school facilities, equipment and materials of instruction funds are significantly less than the wealthier areas.

        Lifer speaks often of the horrendous school taxes the taxpayers in the Chicago metropolitan area pay. Where is the money going? This is the real question. Are the children benefiting? Then, there is the issue of fairness – why should funds be generated from the wealthy to help the poor? Are you seeing a pattern to our national income divide? Needs justify more money, but those who earn it want their taxes to support their schools. How do poor areas compete? Or, survive? This is both a financial dilemma and a moral and societal one, and worthy of a Lifer post that I am certain will fairly and clearly demonstrate the issues and challenges.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        With respect to poor areas, that is a genuine problem, but I think the government can play a role in trying to assuage those concerns.

        For example, let’s say that the government gave out a long-term loan to certain schools in poor areas, areas whose property taxes were strained already, in order to both ease that burden and help those schools. It comes with several caveats though:

        1.) The money isn’t given all at once, but spread out over the course of several years. Every year or so, there’s a meeting of local representatives with a third party representing the government to determine if there’s notable improvement in the schools.

        Now, as I’ve said in a previous comment, I don’t believe in quotas, but there should be a reasonable standard by which to determine progress, perhaps something like the relative growth across all those schools receiving loans in the general area. If a school’s falling behind, then a review board – ideally, of local, qualified parents and officials – should be appointed to determine if the funds are being allocated appropriately, and if not then new leadership and perhaps even new teachers should be brought on to try and change that.

        If a school is actually exceeding the relative growth of its peers, then consideration should be given to either reducing the yearly amount – with appropriate consideration to the time so that the school’s functions wouldn’t be adversely affected – or requiring that the remaining funds be reallocated in an appropriate way.

        2.) Naturally, the question arises as to how, exactly, to go about repaying those loans. Well, of course, the loans wouldn’t go out to the school itself, but the city or town or perhaps even the state in which the schools resided.

        First of all, perhaps there could be a period of a few years in which there were only interest-only payments on the loan, to help give some breathing room. Companies do it all the time, albeit on a much smaller scale in many respects, but it’s the same essential thing here.

        Personally, I’d like to see something on the scale of small public works projects, suited to the schools and the students that they have, in the areas that they live. They’re poor areas obviously, so there should be plenty of opportunities to find. Have them work in a community endorsed way and help to pay back some of the loan by making their home stronger and by developing the scope of their talents in a way that isn’t just limited to the classroom.

        All that said, and admittedly it’s still a pretty vague idea with a whole lot of specifics left out, I think it’s a decent starting point. There are ways to help strengthen these schools if we keep at it and think it through.

      • 1mime says:

        Ryan, that’s creative thinking but the problem is that inner city schools (and most depressed neighborhoods), experience tremendous volatility and movement of their student body. It makes it very difficult to assign standardized measurement of attainment when there is a continuous rotation of students. I believe we need to revitalize vocational education making it relevant and interesting to students. Those who are incapable of attaining a nursing degree might be a great nurse’s aide; or a welder, or a mechanic…It is critical to put the best teachers in the most difficult school situations if nothing else as mentors to the regular staff. Small class sizes and good equipment (including technology) is important. I don’t know that money could be “lent” with any real expectation of payment as the ability of the district is so limited economically. There has to be supervision but achievement will need to be measured differently until such time as the school more broadly can perform on parity with other peer schools.

        It’s a complicated problem. I know I keep saying that but it is true. More people like you can make a difference if they would just get involved.

  21. Stephen says:

    Your post jogged my memory. My dad grew up in Sanford Florida. Until the mid sixties anyone who was anyone was a Klan member in Central Florida. This included Police Chiefs, Sheriffs and those holding political office.My dad detested the Klan and called it worst than being a communist. High denunciation for him. Seems this distaste goes back to my great grandfather who was a Confederate War Veteran who called the Klan lawlessness. The area has had some pretty violent racial incidents in it’s past.

    Desegregation of schools started in High School for me, the late sixties. We had a few Back students and some Black teachers. I don’t remember the trauma you write about . By the time my kids started school less than ten years later integration was a done deal. My grandson’s best friend is his cousin who is half White and half Black. Not denying what you experience but it was not universal. My wife is from Georgia and her tale mirrors what you wrote about. Some places like where I grew up gradually integrated with minimal social disruption.

    One of the things about conservatism is that you believe in gradual incremental change. And you place value on intangibles like cultures where you cannot put a price on. The thing Southern Aristocracy fear is Working Whites and Blacks discovering they have more in common with each other than the Aristocracy and start working together. Education of our children is a good place to start that realization. If you want to start to repair the damage the GOP has inflicted on itself in regards to minorities this is a place you can reach out effectively. Problem is too many GOP politicians gained power from division between groups. The demographic wind is soon going to blow away this as an effective strategy. Long range you build power by addition and coalition building.

    • 1mime says:

      Wonderful comment, Stephen. You add so much to the blog with your personal stories. I keep plugging this book, “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, for any who think racial atrocities are still not quietly occurring to our poor in the deep south, most of whom are Black. As disruptive as desegregation was for all the children who were a part of it, be glad you were White if you were there. The Black children bore the brunt of this process. That is fact.

  22. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    I’ve pondered options for education reform for a few decades, and I’m certainly hoping people a lot smarter than me are working on this because I am not coming up with great solutions (at least none that don’t involve a ton of money and as a refreshing change of pace, trying to spend that money wisely).

    I have a sister who teaches at a Christian school and friends who teach in the public schools in the suburbs or at a KIPP school in Boston. All of them recognize the problems but precious few solutions are readily or easily available.

    I would note that as of 2013, the majority of students in public school in the US are officially poor. It is also worth noting that Whites now make up less than 50% of public school students.

    Given that political power and purse strings tend to tend to be held by White folks who are decidedly not poor, what are the chances that the current power structure in the US is going to care a whole lot about fixing public schools?

    • 1mime says:

      Allow me to respond that White folks track record on addressing problems involving Black people is very poor. The only way out for Black people and other minorities – in the long run – is through an education that enables them to find a satisfying, sufficiently paid job. I don’t care whether it is vocational, public, private or what have you, education is key. As you noted, Homer, public schools are now majority minority in many areas and that raises lots of red flags. Many people don’t care about minorities, don’t want to compete with them for college entrance or jobs. As much progress as has been made in many areas (Can you imagine a situation like Missouri U. happening just two years ago?) – I believe we are at least two generations removed from racial equality.

    • 1mime says:

      About as much as that they will support auto sign up when obtaining drivers’ licenses…”But there is a group focused on making that happen….most likely won’t get any help from the same current U.S. power structure that doesn’t care about fixing public schools. Gotta keep trying though.


  23. flypusher says:

    White person here who was going to public school in Tx during those times. My experience was quite different from yours, Chris, and I suspect it had to do with location. For grades 2-12 I was attending school in a small town in Central Tx. There were only 2 high schools there back then, one for the city kids, and one for the kids out in the rural sections of the county. I went to the city school, which was the more diverse; from memory I’d say it was about 60% White, 30-35% Hispanic, 5-10% Black. Obviously no busing with just 2 schools and the smaller population. In the years since the population has grown a lot, and there are more high schools serving the county, but my old high school is still there with all the good community aspects you wrote about; my old classmates who stayed in the area have their children attending now. Perhaps this is one of the advantages of being small.

  24. Tom says:

    I wasn’t around for the busing, but this article reads as though it blames white resistance to desegregation on liberals who were trying to make it happen.

    More to the point, those of us who grew up after busing ended and resegregation ensued (i.e. the 1990s and later) grew up in a bubble. Schools were no longer de jure segregated, but if you go to a school that’s 80-90% white and you’re taking honors/AP classes and aren’t involved in sports (but more specifically football or basketball), you can basically exist in a bubble that’s nearly all white.

    I don’t really buy that whites in the South were not committed to keeping schools segregated. Maybe not in Texas — but go further east and you’ll find “segregation academies” that popped up literally overnight when the schools desegregated, and many of them still exist today. And I don’t think for a second that whites do not look at the racial composition of a school when they’re determining if it’s a “good school” or not.

    • goplifer says:

      I’m not absolving anyone. Just pointing out that an approach based on coercion failed pretty miserably. Maybe there were alternatives.

      • Tom says:

        Well, if you want to get into the root issues of housing discrimination… cities did not end up with segregated housing by accident.

        Even today this still happens; blatant housing discrimination is mostly a thing of the past, but more subtle efforts to keep the “wrong” people out of the neighborhood — zoning restrictions against apartments, apartments refusing to accept housing vouchers — still largely exists.

        There’s little these days that a community can (legally) do to keep out a black family with two parents and a six-figure income, but all sorts of tricks to keep out the poor.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I’m not saying its the case in this specific issue. But more often then not, in these types of things throughout American history, “coercion” is the only thing that works (I.e. slavery, Jim Crow, the CRA)

  25. Bobo Amerigo says:

    bullied by racial terrorists

    What does that mean? Who was a racial terrorist?

    • goplifer says:

      ***Who was a racial terrorist?***

      My Dad’s best friend when I was a kid. He’s the only KKK member that I ever knew that I knew, if you catch my drift. Most people didn’t talk about it, but he was noisy. Mom didn’t like him one bit.

      He was a big jovial guy who regularly wore bib overalls with no shirt. Worked at one of the refineries and often hung out at the scrap yard where Dad worked. He had a giant Confederate flag hanging in his garage.

      I have to say that even as a young kid that flag gave me the heebies. We all knew what it meant and it wasn’t good.

      Apart from him, several of the neighboring towns were run by the Klan more or less openly when I was young. There were rumors of other groups, meaner and nastier looming around as well. I think some of these eventually gelled into the Posse Comitatus, the Sovereign Citizens, the Minutemen Project and various other little gangs and militias. There was a pretty concerted effort made to ensure that the whites felt as nervous as the blacks about potential violence in support of segregation.

  26. Kebe says:

    “There is a special strength that comes from multiple generations of involvement in a core set of educational institutions. Schools where many of the teachers and administrators were once students and where mom once wandered the halls not only add richness to an education they create bonds that reinforce a sense of community.”

    I think you romanticize it a little too much. Having been a non-townie in 10/12 years of public schooling, that bond can be as exclusionary as any purely economic barrier.

    Still, that sense of community being forcibly shattered better-explains modern neoconservatism than anything else I’ve read, including your Southern private-school-desegregation arguments. I often wondered how a white guy from Texas can be relatively racially sensitive, and now I see why: someone took something that worked and f*cked it up, badly.

  27. Mike Kirby says:

    Your posts are like a breath of fresh air, man. Your clear efforts to look at facts without letting knee-jerk partisanship distort your view makes your commentary among the most valuable I read on a regular basis. Scratch that—not among the most valuable—among the ONLY valuable, because it’s so damn rare nowadays that people can see the value in being more than a cheerleader for one team or the other. Bestides being perceptive, I think you make a remarkable effort to exclude confirmation bias, and really get to the heart of issues, unafraid to either criticize or praise anything that deserves it, regardless of political label or affiliation. I recommend you to both my liberal and conservative friends as an example of how you can look at current events pragmatically, without letting partisanship get in the way, and learn from the best and worst of both parties. Thanks, and keep it up, I’ll be reading you.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      This is a good blog. There’s several major issues I disagree strongly with Lifer’s take, but he always explains himself well and his positions are thoughtful and reasonable.

      Most of the posters are the same as well. Stick around.

  28. Griffin says:

    Great article but two editing mistakes.

    “Though no beacon of racial amity, Beaumont showed little interest in preserving Jim Crow. Though no beacon of racial amity, the town showed little interest in preserving Jim Crow.”

    I’m assuming you wanted to go with one of these (I personally think the second sounds better).

    “This was conclusion was not unreasonable…”

    If only Martin Luther King had not died when he did because he wanted to reorient the Civil Rights Movement to representing both minority civil rights and economic justice that he believed would unite the lower-class whites and blacks together, using what was essentially social democratic populism.

    Alas the late Civil Right Movement was run by Northern white liberals who, while understandably frustrated with the South, were out for some blood, similar to the Radical Republicans after the Civil War (though the Radical Republicans views were understandable as well, and in retrospect they were right more often than not. But it only takes one screw-up to have massive consequences). Also oddly enough many liberals such as LBJ started to get annoyed when MLK pushed him to go further with economic reform, you would think they’d be on board with it unless they thought they couldn’t push the envelope any further after the Great Society.

    • goplifer says:

      Without crowd-sourcing this place would be a mess. Thanks.

    • flypusher says:

      “If only Martin Luther King had not died when he did because he wanted to reorient the Civil Rights Movement to representing both minority civil rights and economic justice that he believed would unite the lower-class whites and blacks together, using what was essentially social democratic populism.”

      Which can make you wonder if that was the reason why he was assassinated. Poor Blacks and Whites as a united political bloc would make the establishment very nervous.

      • Griffin says:

        In some ways it’s been established they were scared of him. The FBI attempted to blackmail him and J. Edgar Hoover hated him and tried to have him connected to communists, and establishment politicians would also try to red-bait King every now and then.

        However I don’t think they were directly responsible for the assasination. James Earl Ray was a wingnut Dixiecrat (one of those is redundent) who voraciously supported George Wallace’s third party ticket and wanted to flee to Rhodesia after the assasination because it was run by a white supremacist government.

      • flypusher says:

        Did Ray act alone? Probably no way to know, with him dead and so much time passed. King’s assassination seems to me to have something major in common with Lincoln’s; I think in both cases history would have unfolded for the better if those murders had not happened.

  29. briandrush says:

    Another great article, Chris. It is a very good illustration of why a society needs conservatives, in the dictionary meaning of that word: defenders of tradition, and skeptics about proposed change. I consider myself a progressive and make no bones about it (and I observe that a lot of your regular commenters also fall into that category). From a progressive’s point of view, the value of conservatives is to keep us from doing stupid things for good reasons (such as forced busing). It’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the goal to solve a problem, especially when the problem is one that causes massive, horrid injustice like segregation. But there’s no substitute for clear-headed thinking and consideration of possible consequences, and the first approach that comes to mind is not the best one, more often than not.

    One of the reasons why the current predicament of the Republican Party is so dangerous is that it gives “conservatism” a bad name that real conservatives don’t deserve. You”re right that we’re on the edge of a period of progressive reform, but right now that reform is being blocked at the national level by obstructive Confederates in Congress (although it’s still happening at the state level in many states). Once that logjam is broken, we run the risk of rushing headlong into actions that might not be good ideas out of pure pent-up frustration. This is not a good place for us to be.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      True enough. An unintended consequence of the flight of the Dixiecrats from the Democrats to the Republicans could be said to be the unifying of the Democratic Party, although not in a preferred way. Without a conservative wing to rein them in, Democrats could well go overboard when they regain majorities in both the House and the Senate.

      I tend to think of a prominent example being President Kennedy trying to pass Medicare when he was first elected, but being stymied by conservative Democrats because of the cost. That’s not to say I oppose Medicare, but the counterbalance that was offered, I believe, helped to strengthen the overall outcome.

      Ideally, one could hope that the Democratic Party could make some inroads in the South and elect lawmakers to help fill that void, but that sure doesn’t look very likely right now.

      • 1mime says:

        Democrats have to expand the age range of its candidate pool. There are too many “old” (in the sense of age alone) Democrats. We need the ideas, energy and sheer numbers from our Xers and Millennials. We have to grow this party from the bottom up. And we need to have started yesterday.

      • Creigh says:

        Democrats could “go overboard” without a conservative wing, but the real problem for any political party – right or left – that becomes too entrenched and insular is laziness and corruption, both intellectually and morally.

    • Mike Kirby says:

      All-around insightful comment. Yes. What he said, about being a no-bones-about-it progressive, but understanding that true conservative viewpoints are a useful and beneficial part of the dialogue. And also about the problem with the current GOP. It’s not real conservatism any more, it’s neoconservatism. In my book, conservatism is a respectable set of values and opinions, whether you agree with them or not (and I definitely don’t always.) Neoconservatives on the other hand are, excuse me, but, just whores. They follow the money, they espouse conservative values when it furthers gains for them, and abandon conservative values just as quickly when that’s expedient.

      And I agree. We’re going to have to be really careful, when the logjam breaks the recoil could be destructively fierce. We are not in an age that’s conducive to cool heads prevailing, at all.

    • n1cholas says:


      Conservatives are extremely useful in preventing excesses by liberals who want too much, too fast.

      What sucks is that the current Republican party isn’t conservative, but reactionary. Anything and everything proposed by a liberal will literally cause the end of America, and freedom. Even if the liberal is a Democrat who’d be a conservative in any other western country.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      “Another great article, Chris. It is a very good illustration of why a society needs conservatives, in the dictionary meaning of that word: defenders of tradition, and skeptics about proposed change”

      Yup. Extremism on any side is disastrous. I’m a Liberal, and yet I’m just as worried about the state of the current right wing as anyone. Because they are marginalizing themselves so much that eventually the left could hold all the levers of power. And that’s not a good thing. The system works best with balance and compromise on both sides.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Even if that does turn out to be the case, there’s reason for optimism. As Lifer has so often noted, it may simply be an inevitability that the Republican Party has to fall as far as it possibly can before it’s either reorganized or splinted as the Whigs did during the mid-1800s, which may necessitate the birth of an entirely new party, one that can speak to the appeal of markets without the burden of a radical fringe to drag it down.

        If that’s what needs to happen, then I say let it. Surely there are millions of well-reasoned, intelligent Americans just waiting for such an occurrence.

  30. CrafttsmanCT says:

    As usual, a well-written and reasoned analysis by Chris. Nevertheless, it is a dificult challenge to determine how to handle and remedy an unconstitutional reality, as officially determined by the Supreme Court, such as racial segregation. The motives behind busing were admirable. Should a remedy be couched in pragmatic steps to somewhat placate those who will not like it? Probably would require a crystal ball. As Gandhi said, ” In matters of conscience, the will of the majority has no place.”

    • goplifer says:

      How should that situation have been handled? Honestly, I’m not sure I know. It was a very difficult situation.

      What I can tell you is that the solution that was applied to us came entirely from the outside (the Justice Department and the 5th Circuit), from people who knew nothing at all about our community and had no idea what collateral damage their solutions would unleash. I can also say with the utmost confidence that their efforts were as complete a failure as our invasion of Iraq. Almost nothing these folks intended became a reality on the ground, and when they’d run out of energy, what was left was a trainwreck. It remains so today and it’s hard to imagine a way forward.

      In hindsight, with some minimal awareness of the importance of community in people’s lives, it seems like it might have been wise to try to address some of the problems in school funding instead of surrendering on that front and charging ahead with forced busing. I don’t mean to suggest that equitable funding would have been easy to achieve, but it is easier to force money to move around than to force children to move around.

      I also suspect that by the late 70’s, a lot of the people who had moved into a position to make these kinds of judgments were starting to be moved as much by a sort of triumphal resentment as by sober policy reasoning. There was an unmistakable air of humiliation in the way we were treated. And of course, the only people subjected to it were the ones who couldn’t afford some form of escape. That was unjust and ineffective.

      • 1mime says:

        There was no easy solution to this problem, Lifer. Things had gone too far and gotten too bad. Black leaders realized that White community leaders had no intention of (1) making Black children’s education equal even if separate, and (2) that they (Black leaders) lacked the ability and resources to fight education inequality on their own. It was just a matter of time before the courts would become involved. Unfortunately, the courts didn’t have expertise in this huge social undertaking, even as they had to accept responsibility for managing the process of integration across the South. To combat anger, violence and comply with Brown v. Board of Education, the federal courts imposed a top down process that didn’t make anyone happy, but at least White children had more options. White families moved to private and parochial schools which began a boon in that regard. Black children bore the brunt of busing as they didn’t have the resources to avoid being caught in a situation where no one wanted them.

        The courts should have worked with local communities from the beginning, involving both races in developing a solution that would have been equitable and achieved the fundamental purpose of the segregation order. Equal funding as an alternative may have been acceptable initially to those Black leaders who cared about the children and not politics. To my knowledge, this option was never offered in our community. Busing ensued and public education began its decline. Twenty-five years after our parish was ordered to desegregate, the courts allowed our school board to establish a bi-racial council for the purpose of re-visiting the terms of the order. I was privileged to serve on the council and I can say with conviction, that had this model been the first step instead of the last step, there would have been better results. Black children had nothing to lose as they had nothing to begin with. White families had resources and they utilized them. To leave.

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