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Three Stories

I've been meaning to write about this story I noticed over vacation:

"The issue is where the money is going to come from," Weaver said. "And to respond to that, my answer is I don't care. I don't care where the money comes from. Because when this country thinks and decides that something is important, they find the money."

Guess what Weaver is talking about. Go ahead, I'll wait. … … Sounds like an urgent matter of the most severe importance, doesn't it? If you don't care where the money comes from, it must be the top priority. Have you figured it out yet? He's talking about starting salaries for teachers.

Guess what, Weaver? I do care where the money comes from.

Not a single state pays its new instructors an average of $40,000, with the U.S. average hovering close to $30,000 for beginning teachers, according to the American Federation of Teachers, another teachers union.

Weaver, poised to begin his second three-year term as the union's president, said the typical starting salary for teachers should be $40,000.

Weaver's judgement — based upon what, we are not told — is that starting salaries for teachers should be immediately increased by 30%. That's some raise! I don't see the sort of massive teacher shortage that would justify such an increase. Of course, that's a market consideration, and Weaver runs a union, so I may be looking at irrelevant factors here.

Teachers make a lot of money already. On top of their $30,000 starting salary, they get about 10 weeks of vacation. Even with a low-paying summer job, they could make a few thousand extra. Considering the median household income is about $43,500, a teacher with a summer job plus a spouse working full-time for federal minimum wage ($5.15/hr) is a median household! If the spouse makes even $10/hr, the household falls near the 60th percentile. Remember, we're talking about starting salaries. Poor teachers? Cry me a river.

Overall, teachers were paid an average of $46,752 last year, a slight raise that did not keep pace with inflation, the NEA says.

My most recent raise didn't keep pace with inflation, either. So what? Why should wages always keep up with inflation? There's no economic justification for that. Prices, including wages, both rise and fall in real terms.

Notice also that an average teacher (not a starting teacher) by themselves has a high enough income to be in the upper half of all U.S. households.

Here's another interesting quote from a different story:

"Somehow, you'd be able to go wherever you want, whenever you want, and it would be cheap and easy and that sort of thing. It's a vision," Conlin said.

Yeah. Somehow. :)

This story is about the Seattle monorail. Conlin himself is a skeptic about the viability of the monorail. If it's a "vision" thing, I have a better solution: automobiles. Public transportation does not go "wherever you want", it goes to a few designated locations. Public transportation does not go "whenever you want", it goes on a regular schedule. Automobiles take you within walking distance of wherever you want to go, whenever you want to go. That's why automobiles have also been known as "freedom machines".

However, Ben Schiendelman, who also attended the public hearing, said Seattle residents still support the idea of a monorail because they're desperate for something to ease their traffic woes.

I wonder if Seattle has done any significant highway construction in the last decade or so?

If the project does sputter, it would be an ignoble end for an idea that Seattle voters have supported four times in the past decade.

Four times in ten years? My sympathies for the people who voted "no" four times and kept getting overridden. If the monorail were privately funded, this wouldn't be a problem — if you didn't want to pay for it, you wouldn't have to. Another cost of government.

I'm thankful that as an Oregon resident I'm beyond the reach of that particular batch of urban planners. Alas, I have to pay for the MAX light rail system here. Oh, how I wish I could escape…

For inspirational news, see this (hat tip Catallarchy). A restaurant in Indiana is bracing for a lawsuit for defying an ordinance that would "require[] restaurants that allow smoking to have separate rooms with separate heating and cooling systems."

This is a tax on permitting smoking. To comply with the ordinance while still allowing smoking would be very expensive. The cheaper option would be to forbid smoking, which is certainly the goal of those who advocated the ordinance.

No doubt it was pitched in the name of improving public health by providing cleaner air for nonsmokers. An attractive glove wrapped around government's iron fist.

The similarity with Jim Crow laws is striking. Requiring separate bathrooms for whites and blacks, for example, was a tax on serving the black population. Then too, the laws were frequently opposed by business owners but promoted in the name of the public good.

Waitress Katie Fine said that if a day in court arrives, "we are closing down and we are all going to court. Everyone that works here will be there."

Good for you, Katie, and all your co-workers. If the employees show up in court together, and if you can get a jury trial, I feel confident they would nullify the ordinance.

While you're on the march, be sure to un-elect the do-gooders responsible for that ordinance.

Tiny Island