Amazing news is being reported below the fold on page 43 of your friendly newspaper.  Can anyone help me understand the following?

1.  The Ford Foundation has just made a $100,000,000 (that one hundred million dollars) grant “to transform secondary education in the nation’s most disadvantaged schools.”  And to whom does the grant go?  A big chunk of it will go to the American Federation of Teachers Innovation Fund.  That’s right.  It will go to a teachers union.  If you want to see just how enthusiastic they are about this free money, watch the video at the AFT Innovation page.  Just the expressions on the faces of the Union Leaders will convince you that this is a group who’s enthusiasm will carry the day.  AFT President Randi Weingarten gets my vote as most charismatic speaker of the year.  Wow.

2.  G.M. has announced it will start paying back government bailout money at a pace of $1 Billion a month (plus $200 Million a month to Canada).  That announcement is hard to understand when G.M. continues to report large losses.  Do I sense a case of paying of your credit card debt with new credit cards?  Rather than work to cut costs, G.M. has decided to work harder to raise revenues.  To do that they are spending in advertising and promotion in the hope of getting sales back to pre Recession levels.  Doesn’t that sound like what governments do – raise taxes instead of cutting costs?  I almost forgot – G.M. is government.  There is an interesting article at SeekingAlpha that explains some of the confusing logic (or lack thereof) of G.M.’s Board.

3.  U.S. and Chinese officials are negotiating to allow (cash rich) Chinese banks to more easily buy interests in U.S. Banks.  I have no idea if this is a good or a bad idea.  I guess it is the logical extension of  TARP.  TARP took government money (taxpayer money) to prop up U.S. banks.  That money was financed by selling Treasury notes to the Chinese (among others).  Now, if we allow Chinese Banks to buy equity in small to medium sized US banks,  the banks get the money directly from the Chinese without losing much of it in U.S. government black holes.  Cutting out the middle man is almost always more efficient.

4.  A teacher in Elgin, Illinois has removed the chairs from her classroom and replaced them with exercise balls.  She claims students sitting on the balls (instead of chairs) pay attention better and are more focussed on their work.  Watch for the next big grant from the Ford Foundation to be for exercise balls.

5. I can’t even paraphrase this one, taken from James Taranto’s Best of the Web.  It is just too good as written:

• “The argument against unions–that they unduly burden employers with unreasonable demands–is one that corporate America makes in good times and bad. . . . The real issue is whether enhanced unionizing would worsen the recession, and there is no evidence that it would. There is a strong argument that the slack labor market of a recession actually makes unions all the more important.”–editorial, New York Times, Dec. 29, 2008

• “The New York Times News Service will lay off at least 25 editorial employees next year and will move the editing of the service to a Florida newspaper owned by The New York Times Company. . . . The plan for the news service calls for The Gainesville Sun, whose newsroom is not unionized and has lower salaries, to take over editing and page design.”–news story, New York Times, Nov. 13, 2009

Makes me think of the definition of CHUTZPAH sent to me by a friend yesterday:

A little old lady sold pretzels on a street corner  for 25 cents each.. Every day a young man would leave his  office building at lunch time, and as he passed the pretzel  stand, he would leave her a quarter, but never take a  pretzel.


And this went on for more then 3 years.

The two of  them never spoke.

One day, as the young man passed the old  lady’s stand and left his quarter as usual, the pretzel lady spoke to him.

Without blinking an eye she said:

“They’re 35 cents now!”

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