The Chicago Tribune has published a study that examines the "pay and perks" that presidents of Illinois public colleges and universities receive, aptly calling it a "fantasy world of lavish perks." 

Some factoids:
  • A former University of Illinois at Chicago chancellor received a $450k retention bonus.
  • Trustees of the College of DuPage approved a severance package for its President that will pay $763k to retire in 2015, 3 years early.
  • The former President of Illinois State University received a ~$481k severance package after less than a year on the job.
  • The President of Heartland Community College has a contract that runs until 2023.
  • In addition to the regular state pension conributions, the Elgin Community College President received $30k toward two retirement plans.
  • The  College of DuPage footed the bill for its President's membership to the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, an exclusive hunting and fishing retreat.
  • Lincoln Land Community College provides President Charlotte Warren with memberships at the Sangamo Club and Illini Country Club.
  • Kankakee Community College pays its President's country club membership.
  • The President of Harper College receives a $32k housing allowance.
  • Carl Sandburg College President Lori Sundberg receives a $20k+ car allowance.
  • South Suburban College gave its former President, George Dammer, $27k to purchase a car before he started at the South Holland campus.

In defense of "
pay and perk" practices like these—oftentimes negotiated in secret, closed-door meetings--it is argued that these practices attract—and retain—talented administrators. For example, club memberships provide a place for administrators to schmooz with potential donors and other stakeholders.

Yet such perks, the report notes, contradict public education's mission of providing affordable learning opportunities:

     This [practice] has led to a culture of arrogance and a sense of
     entitlement reflected in many of these executive compensation plans,
     with an apparent disregard for middle-class families whose taxes
     and tuition dollars are funding these exorbitant salaries and excessive
     fringe benefits.

The report provides some additional factoids about Illinois' public universities:
  • The number of full-time administrative staff increased 31.1% between 2004 and 2010.
  • The number of full-time faculty increased 1.8% and the number of students increased 2.3%.
  • In fiscal year 2011, the state's 9 public universities averaged a 45:1 student:administrator ratio. At the University of Illinois the ratio is 30:1.

Any guess who wants to make 2 years of community college a universal "right"?

Any guess who's going to be left holding the bag for this lavish spending?

The really "big" problem is that this scam isn't limited to the Land of Lincoln.


Let the discussion begin...




To read the article in the Chicago Tribune, click on the following link:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/cod/ct-college-of-dupage-legislative-report-20150521-story.html#page=2

 
 
A soon-to-be-released edited book, “The State of the American Mind,” is a “must read,” especially the chapter written by the political economist and Wall Street Journal columnist, Nicholas Eberstadt.

Published by Templeton Press, the volume’s basic theme is that although the United States has accrued unprecedented wealth, young people are enrolling in higher education at rates higher than ever before, and advancements in technology that are far beyond what many people would have ever thought possible, the state of the American mind—the nation’s intellectual prowess—has deteriorated over the past 3 decades. Benjamin Franklin’s “self-made man” has grown dependent upon the state, independence has morphed into self-absorption, and liberty has been curtailed in the effort to promote multiculturalism.

Eberstadt’s contribution, first appearing in National Affairs under the title “American Exceptionalism and the Entitlement State,” focuses upon all of those “means-tested benefits” that the federal government provides to “needy” people. Today, 33%+ of the nation’s population—that’s 190M people—receive benefits from the federal government. That figure excludes Social Security and Medicare payments

A couple of factoids:
  • In the 3 decades spanning 1983 to 2012, the number of people receiving means-tested benefits increased 200%+.
  • For every 100-person increase in national population during those 3 decades, 80 persons were added to the welfare rolls.
  • Within the next two years, 50%+ of the population will be on some form of needs-based assistance.

Eberstadt wonders whatever happened to the key virtues—self-reliance, personal initiative, and generosity—that enabled untold numbers of people in the United States during the 20th century to rise from poverty and build the world’s strongest if not greatest economy. Shortly, these virtues will be replaced by the “essentially unconditional and indefinite guarantees of means-tested public largesse,” Eberstadt observes.

Reminds The Motley Monk of the “promise” of European social democracy, except for that “essentially unconditional and indefinite guarantees” part. Just consider the economic state of the PIGS—Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain—today. And, that’s to say nothing about France!

How different that is from the nation’s past. In his money” quote, Eberstadt observes:

     Because America had no feudal past and no lingering aristocracy,

     poverty was not viewed as the result of an unalterable accident of
     birth but instead as a temporary challenge that could be overcome
     with determination and character—with enterprise, hard work, and
     grit. Rightly or wrongly, Americans viewed themselves as masters
     of their own fate, intensely proud because they were self-reliant. (p. 26)

With the United States no longer one of the “Top 10” of the world’s freest economies, the expansion of government, the increasing number of regulations, and slowdown in competitiveness and job creation—in large part due to Obamacare—portends a very different future. The key virtue will be dependence…dependence upon government largesse.

Will that future be one that looks like Greece?


Let the discussion begin…




To read “American Exceptionalism and the Entitlement State,” click on the following link: http://www.nationalaffairs.com/doclib/20141218_Eberstadt.pdf

To purchase “The State of the American Mind,” click on the following link:
http://www.amazon.com/State-American-Mind-Leading-Anti-Intellectualism/dp/1599474581/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432210111&sr=8-1&keywords=%22the+state+of+the+american+mind%22

 
 
The Food Police are crowing.

For years, they've pressured fast food giants to change their menus...and won. No more transfats.

Still in their scopes: soda.

MomsRising.org—allied with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)—had been pressuring Burger King to improve the nutritional quality of its kids' meals by removing soda from the chain's kids' menu...and won last March. No more soda on the kids' menu.

Savoring victor, the Senior Campaign Director of MomsRising.org's Food Power project, Monifa Bandale, said:

     Parents and families across the country are applauding as one by one,
     restaurants are listening to parents and public health experts  and starting
     to do their part to help keep America’s kids healthy.

     Ensuring that our children can make healthy choices is an important part
     of raising them.  When restaurants offer up sugary drinks as a  default
     choice, it undermines those efforts. While Burger King is now offering
     better default beverages, we need more restaurants to do the same
     because  sugar-sweetened beverages uniquely promote heart disease
     and type 2 diabetes. MomsRising and its members aren’t done yet!

So, Burger King joins Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and Burger King along with Subway, Chipotle, Arby's, and Panera in capitulating to the Food Police. All have agreed to remove soda from their kid's menu...all for the sake of removing processed sugar from their kid's menu.

CSPI Nutrition Policy Director Margo G. Wootan chortled:

     Soda and other sugary drinks promote diabetes, tooth decay, obesity,
     and even heart disease—and have no place on menus meant for little
     kids.  We applaud Burger King for taking this responsible step forward,
     and call upon their franchisees—who operate independently of the
     company—to immediately follow suit.

The issue is processed sugar? Really?

Here's what MomsRising.org has accomplished: 
Burger King has replaced Coke (@ 106 calories/8 ounces) with apple juice (@ 120 calories/8 ounces--"from concentrate with added ingredients") or low-fat chocolate milk (@ 160 calories/8 ounces).

Apparently, the stormy petrels over at MomsRising.com doesn't much care that chocolate milk contains ~2 teaspoons of added sugar (~60 more calories) than unflavored milk.

A "responsible step forward"?

Typical of ideologues...they never allow facts to get in the way of their sacred dogma.


Let the discussion begin...

 
 
The Motley Monk has posted a commentary over at The American Catholic titled "Cardinal Maradiaga and worshipping at the altar of environmentalism..."

In that post, The Motley Monk discusses Honduran Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga's chagrin with those "movements in the United States" he apparently observed during a recent trip to the U.S. In the Cardinal’s view, members of those movements have had the temerity to express their concern about the cozy relationship between Pope Francis and those who worship at the altar of environmentalism over at the United Nations. Those members--including The Motley Monk--fear its potential to influence the Pope’s upcoming encyclical letter concerning the environment.



Check it out...



To access The Motley Monk's post at The American Catholic, click on the following link:
http://the-american-catholic.com/2015/05/19/cardinal-maradiaga-and-worshipping-at-the-altar-of-environmentalism/
 
 
Care of the folks over at TheDailyMeal.com, The Motley Monk learned a little about the history of McIhenny's tabasco sauce.
Here are 5 factoids:

  1. The Salt Is the Secret
    When Edmund McIlhenny and his wife Mary Eliza first settled Avery Island, Louisiana, in 1859, he realized that the foundation of basically the entire island was salt. During the Civil War salt was in seriously short supply, so he made a mint harvesting it and selling it to the Confederates. His entire operation was ransacked by the Union army, but when McIlhenny inspected his land after the war was over, he noticed something growing from the ground: a tabasco pepper. All the salt used in Tabasco is still sourced from the Avery Island salt mine, one of the country’s largest.

  2. McIlhenny’s Son Left the Company for a Historic Cause
    Edmund McIlhenny willed the company to his son John upon his death in 1890, and over the next nine years John expanded and modernized the business. He left the company to his brother Edward in 1899, however, when he decided to run off and join Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. The company is still family-owned to this day.

  3. The Peppers Grown on Avery Island Aren’t Made Into Sauce Anymore
    For years, all the peppers needed to produce the sauce were grown on Avery Island, but there’s no way that supply can keep up with production today. Today the peppers that grow on Avery Island are used almost exclusively to provide seeds to the company’s many growing operations around the world, while a small portion of those peppers are used to make Tabasco Family Reserve Pepper Sauce.

  4. It’s Aged in Barrels Formerly Used by Whiskey Distilleries
    All peppers are hand-picked to ensure ripeness, then they’re mashed, mixed with salt, and aged for up to three years in recycled oak barrels that were previously used to produce whiskey, including Jack Daniels. Before use, the barrel is “de-charred” and cleaned to remove any residual whiskey.

  5. It was Hit Hard by Hurricane Rita
    When Hurricane Rita tore through the area in 2005, Avery Island was hit hard. As a result, the owners built a 17 foot high levee around part of the factory and installed backup generators. 

McIlhenny's tabasco sauce is a staple in The Motley Monk's refrigerator, especially for his "South of the Border" recipes. Check them out!


Let the discussion begin...




To read TheDailyMeal.com, click on the following link:

http://www.thedailymeal.com/eat/5-things-you-didnt-know-about-tabasco-sauce
 
 
Many causal factors were involved in the implosion of the real estate bubble in 2008.

One of those factors--in particular, federal programs that made mortgages available to people who could not afford the downpayment--a "social engineering" programs that, it was promised by community organizers and their minions in Congress, would make housing affordable for low-income citizens. That factor was also a "feel good" program that, once again promised by the community organizers and their minions in Congress, would facilitate the demise of segregation in the housing market.

During the 2008 housing crisis, ~10M million families lost their homes to foreclosure, many of those families having been awarded mortgages for which they were not qualified. Almost all of those families were forced to move. That doesn't include all of the households that never went through foreclosure but moved anyway due to the fact that many of their neighbors did move.

That's "migration" on a massive scale!

A new study suggests this migration--the result of offering mortgages to those who could not afford the down payment--represents the opposite of what was promised:
  • increased segregation across metropolitan America between Blacks and Whites by 19%;
  • increased segregation acoss metropolitan America between Whites and Hispanics by 50%;
  • minorities who lost their homes moved to more distressed neighborhoods;
  • White homeowners who could leave were the first to pull out of neighborhoods hit by foreclosures; and,
  • foreclosure rates during the implosion of the housing bubble were highest in the most integrated neighborhoods.

According to a Washington Post article, the  scale of this foreclosure-caused migration is massive by historical standards:
  • 2.5M people migrated from the Great Plains during the Dust Bowl; and,
  • 6M Blacks moved north during the decades-long Great Migration.

The "take away"? Thanks to the efforts of the community organizers and their minions in Congress, the nation hs become more segregated--undoing recent progress made in racial integrtion--with the least segregated locales being the most undermined.

Should any thinking person be surprised?


Let the discussion begin...





To read the recent study, click on the following link:
http://asr.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/04/20/0003122415581334.abstract

To read the Washington Post article, click on the following link:
"How the Housing Crisis Left Us More Racial Segregated."
 
 
In yet another testament to the poor education that young people are receiving in the nation's public schools, the recenly released "Nation's Report Card" indicates that only 23% of U.S. 8th graders are "proficient" or above in their knowledge of American civics. Pouring a dose of salt on this educational wound, only 33% of U.S. 8th graders know that "the United States government should be classified as a democracy."

Yes, this news is troubling if only because a flourishing demoncracy requires citizens who possess the requisite knowledge, interest, and fortitude to make this form of government work.

Some blame the curriculum because, they claim, it doesn't engage students. For example, a 2010 study found 74% of middle school students dislike social studies class. Why? The emphasis upon textbook reading, rote memorization of facts, and note taking.

Others blame the teachers for not engaging their students. These critics ask: "Since democracy requires participation, why aren't teachers engaging their students by participating actively in civics classes to put the words and concepts found in textbooks into actions?"

When it comes to civics eduation, The Motley Monk doesn't blame either the curriculum or teachers. While reading from textbooks, memorizing important concepts, and taking notes aren't the best way to generate interest in civics, they are important nonetheless. Civics textbooks contain the basic content that needs to be conveyed, knowing that content is important to the nation's future if its citizens are to keep it a republican form of democracy, and note taking requires using three sensory organs--the eyes, ears, and hands--which reinforce what's being read, heard, or thought.

The blame in this matter is to be assigned to parents. When parents aren't interested in civics (for example, they don't watch the news, read newspaper editorials and op-eds), don't discuss and debate important civic matters (for example, at the dinner table), and fail to exercise their franchise (for example, don't discuss important issues facing voters each election cycle or vote), the probability increases that their children will adopt a similar attitude.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that debaters outperform their peers on nearly every measure--grades, test scores, reading level, critical thinking skills, understanding of controversial issues, and enthusiasm for learning--because they have engaged actively with the material. They've heard it, seen it, discussed it (and, ideally have argued both sides of it), and thought penetratingly about it.

For an 8th grader or a high school student, who better to debate with than one's parents?

Sorry, but when it comes to student disengagment with civics, The Motley Monk blames the parents. Image what civics classes would be like if students came prepared to study the material presented by the curriculum, read the textbooks, and took copious notes all the while debating all of that, not because it was required and would be tested but because all of this was debate prep for the dinner table that evening?


Let the discussion begin...




To read the most recent Nation's Report Card, click on the following link:
Nation's Report Card

 
 
No doubt about it, Memorial Church--constructed in 1905--is a beautiful church located on the campus of Stanford University. Take a 360 degree tour of its interior:
Very "churchy," no? Almost high churchy. The church's facade contains a mosaic title "Christ Welcoming the Righeous into the Kingdom of God."
Picture
A real "churchy" church and with quite a "Dean for Religious Life," namely, the Very Reverend Dr. Jane Shaw, an ordained priestess of the Church of England.

As the University's "spiritual leader," Rev. Shaw provides "spiritual, religious, and ethical leadership to the [Stanford University] community," according to a University press release announcing her hiring last year.

Rev. Shaw is many things, as she notes in this video:
Interviewed by The Palo Alto Weekly, Dr. Shaw said:

    I don't think church is to be more churchy. I think the church is about how...
    how you welcome many different kinds of constituencies--certainly not
    convert them. Not even necessarily to do religion all of the time. (italics
    added)

Dr. Shaw sounds almost Francis-esque. The role of religion isn't to convert people or "do" religion" all of the time, only some of the time. Correctly understood that way, proselytism and conversion definitely have no place in church, especially a churchy church.

This churchy church has some spectacular stained glass windows. One set depicts the eight ages of a man's life. The Motley Monk's favorite is the "Age of the Schoolboy" who is creeping unwillingly to school. Isn't that the truth? What guy wouldn't rather be outside and playing ball, biking, golfing, playing tennis, swimming, or doing a whole host of other things than poring over the books?

"You who are young see now your dream" the window behooves young schoolboys of a previously unpoiltically correct era.

Picture
As Dr. Shaw envisions her role as Dean for Religious Life, she must de-church churchy churches and welcome all persons with a non-dogmatic form of spirituality. That is, unless it comes to the Gospel of Climate Change. As Dr. Shaw noted in her interview:

    I think the great crisis of our day is climate change and the environment.
    So I rather hope that more people would take that seriously and begin
    to think and reflect on what they are doing with their own lives and how
    they can gring some pressure to bear to change things.

That, too, may be very Francis-esque. We'll just have to wait to see what he writes in his upcoming encyclical on the environment.

But, it must be asked:
  • Has not the Gospel of Climate Change spawned a dogmatic religion?
  • Are not its adherents bringing their gospel to the ends of the earth in hopes of proselytizing and converting everyone?

Hmmm...something just isn't clicking here.


Let the discussion begin...




To read The Palo Alto Weekly interview, click on the following link:
http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2014/12/21/first-person-a-conversation-with-jane-shaw-dean-of-religious-life-and-professor-of-religious-studies-at-stanford-university
 
 
If the fiscal mess in Detroit is bad, the fiscal mess in Chicago is "very, very bad," as Babu Bhatt observed of Jerry Seinfeld. So bad, in fact, that Moody's has rated Chicago's bonds as "junk."


Image and video hosting by HilariousGIFs.com


That is very, very bad. Even the Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, has observed of the "City that Works," "Chicago is in deep, deep yougurt."

Bloomberg Business offers 5 reasons to explain Chicago's worse-than-precarious fiscal position:
  1. Chicago’s unfunded liability from pension funds is $20B and growing. Every city resident has an obligation of ~$7.4. Morningstar Municipal Credit Research indicated in January 2014 that among the 25 largest U.S. cities and Puerto Rico, Chicago had the highest/capita pension liability.
  2. On May 8, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled the State of Illinois couldn’t cut pension benefits as part of a solution to restructure the state's retirement system. If the state can't cut pension benefits, it's unlikely that Chicago can.
  3. Today's fiscal reality has been developing for 10+ years. How? The city's politicians skipped pension payments, increasing the city's bonded debt by 84%. That has added $1.3k more to the debt obligation of every city resident.
  4. Illinois is the lowest-rated state with unfunded pension obligations that amount to $111B. Last week, Governor Rauner told the City Council the state will not bail out Chicago.
  5. Despite all of this, the Chicago's Mayor, Rahm Emanuel maintains the Illinois Supreme Court’s rejection of a state pension reform law in May 8 doesn’t apply to the city.

The conclusion? Chicago is in a far more precarious fiscal position than was Detroit when it filed for bankruptcy.

That's very, very bad, indeed. Every resident of Chicago owns $7.4k of that debt. Eventually, the bill will come due and the city's residents will take a haircut on the politicians' ponzy scheme called "restructuring the city's debt."


But, it gets worse.

According
to the Heritage Foundation, a child born today starts life with a $41k share of the U.S. debt burden and it is expected to escalate to $142k for that child at age 24.

Picture
Imagine being born in a beautiful city like Chicago and a wonderful nation like the United States with ~48k+ of unfunded debt hanging around your neck.

That's very, very, very bad. And its all the consequence of greedy politicians confiscating the next generation's future to enjoy today what those politicians knew they couldn't afford.


Let the discussion begin...




To read  the Bloomberg Business article, click on the following link:
http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/5-reasons-chicago-is-in-worse-shape-than-detroit/ar-BBjK18f?ocid=se#page=1

To read the Heritage Foundation report, click on the following link:
http://www.heritage.org/federalbudget/

 
 
The Motley Monk has posted a commentary over at The American Catholic titled "Who should be offended?"

In that post, The Motley Monk discusses a Catholic high school in San Mateo, CA, whose leadership had the brought in a speaker to inform the student body about the nature of the horrific violence being perpetrated against people in the Middle East, in general, and Christians and Assyrian Catholics, and ended up apologizing for her presentation.



Check it out...



To access The Motley Monk's post at The American Catholic, click on the following link:
http://the-american-catholic.com/2015/05/13/who-should-be-offended/