Remembering Gerry Rafferty

The news reported this morning that one of my favorite artists has died at the sadly young age of 63.  Many people are focusing on “Stuck in the Middle With You”, but my favorite songs from him are those you find on his City to City album, including, as the Times put it, soulful singing in Stealin’ Time.  Some of the lyrics are perhaps a bit banal, but in my most depressed times, I could easily ignore that problem.  And he rocked our world with Baker Street, reminding us just how sexy the sax is.

Here’s a question, though: when I listen to City to City I hear a sibilance that borders on a slur or a lisp.  Anyone else hear that?

Remembered: Jaime Escalante and the Public Schools of California

CNN reported the death of legendary teacher Jaime Escalante on Tuesday.  Escalante was a mathematics teacher in East Los Angeles.  He was made famous only in part by his wondrous ways with students, but also by the sheer disbelief that the state and district had that any teacher could helped students in that district score well in math.  He was then immortalized in the movie Stand and Deliver, starring Edward James Olmos.

We need more teachers like him, and we need more people to believe that there can be teachers like him.  The so-called “No Child Left Behind” Act, is leaving all children behind, and desperately needs to be reformed.  Perhaps one thing we could do is pay for more teachers’ educations in exchange for several years of service.  Perhaps another thing we can do is fund schools properly.  It’s a particularly serious problem in California, with no easy answer.  Here is a well written article that explains how the local tax base cannot even take matters into their own hands unless they expend a WHOLE LOT. Not that it would help East LA, mind you.  Perhaps this obituary should be for the California public school system.

Please do not applaud

The Three Stooges
The Three Stooges

The market had an “Up” day on Friday, now that Congress and the administration have decided that the crisis is so great that it requires what the Wall Street Journal described on Thursday as the biggest bailout since the 1930s.  We are now seven years and eight months into the Bush administration, and the comparisons to Herbert Hoover seem most apt.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, it was clear that the administration and this president lacked credibility to calm markets simply by words.  Opening up the coffers of future tax payers, however, speaks volumes.

While many will applaud the deal that Congress and the administration have put together to stablize the financial industry we have to ask ourselves how we got here in the first place.  While Democrats must take some blame for cowering in the face of anti-government rhetoric, it was the Republicans who clearly controlled the agenda.  And now we have seen the results.

There are no good ways to manage a bailout- only bad and worse ways.  The good way involves not requiring it in the first place.  Oversight of the markets has clearly been lax, as we discussed in the oil and food market.  Here now is the difference between a Republican and a Libertarian: a Libertarian’s principles dictate that he or she let the financial markets fail.  A Republican wants to be re-elected.

So please, no applause for the government’s move.  Our children will pay the bill for us.