Thursday, September 5, 2013

Verdict is in: Wyo Area teachers should return to work

Please read the Wyoming Area teachers web site before making impulsive remarks. It is:    Sue Henry posted this picture on her facebook page. Apparently Wyoming Area teachers were picketing in front of the School Board President’s floral shop.

Nora Hottenstein had the best line: “Maybe we should picket teacher's homes when our students fail to learn...”

There were a number of comments: The teachers were called “greedy pigs,” “scumbags,” and “greedy monsters.” These comments are ridiculous.

 I taught for at a Prep School for three years and at Lehigh University for two. “Scumbags” and “greedy pigs” are not words I would use for my associates. They were serious and hardworking.

This being said… the “time and place” of this strike is grossly mistimed and dissonant with our current economic climate. Few people will sympathize with:
A)  A 52,000 average salary and good health care
B)   Summers off
C)   The “cream of the crop” student population (along w/Dallas, Lehman, and Crestwood)

CORRUPTION    It is important to compare their salaries with others in our area. Unfortunately some of the top earners capitalize on vice and corruption. Examples:
1)    Corrupt city officials who take bribes in return for contracts.
2)    Corrupt private companies that play the other side of the coin. They get the contracts.
3)    Legal bribes – Campaign money used to buy influence.
4)    Judicial “legal bribes” – Do you realize that many Judges took thousands from attorneys who will practice in front of them? At $160,000 per year… Judges are happy to take this money to run ads and extend their careers forever.
5)    Heroin dealers, strippers, and prostitutes who earn cash and live rent free in Sherman Hills (the place that is never inspected... hmmm…).
6)    Gambling and booze (Mohegan Sun and many bars in area whom are protected from competition through limited liquor licenses).

CORRECTIONS    Another massive industry is “Corrections.” We must make a lot of mistakes because the “Corrections” people are everywhere. I include here law enforcement. There are county corrections officers and prison guards at Chase. There are wardens, sheriffs and deputies. There are city police and state police. There are Magistrate and Constables. There is the FBI and the County detectives. There are probation officers and case managers. There is the DA, the Public Defender, and the many Judges.

What does it say about who we are, what we value, and the environment we live in when one of our biggest industries is putting people in cages. Yes – much is necessary. But to what extent? The money we spend per prisoner is outrageous. A suggestion I have would be inserting a programmable GPS chip into nonviolent offenders so as to restrict their movements. An alarm is triggered when they are out of compliance. A step up from the ankle bracelet.

As an economics major I know that the single most important factor propelling an economy forward are “VALUE ADDED” activities and businesses. Consider Bill Gates and Windows. His product made every office in America more productive. He added value. At one point in time here coal added value to people because they could warm their homes at a reasonable price. Credit cards have made payments easier and added value in this way.

WE HAVE NO ADDED VALUE. There are very few industries here that make lives appreciably better. We do have the CARE industry. There is value here in that people are being healed so they can become productive again. But much of those gains are washed away by time spent on prolonging lives. Hospice Care is an example (note: I am a big fan as my dad went through it.)

If the world were fair, teachers would make more than those who earn money in “sketchy” ways. Unfortunately we have to compare them to other income earners who earn their money fairly. $52,239 per year for Wyoming Area teachers is the equivalent of $70,000 over 12 months. This is $35 per hour. This would be higher than nurses and restaurant managers and more than many police. I respect the work teachers do – but I can't nake an argument that they should be paid more than the other mentioned. 

Luzerne County is an economic dead zone. Just ask a job seeker. How many old ladies have you seen in McDonald’s that you wished to your self were retired?

Given all these factors, I believe the Wyoming Area teachers should return to work. They make a pro rata salary of $70,000 and work in an area with almost zero crime. I read on their site that their kids do well. Very misleading. You also get many kids from stable two parent homes. Do you think you’d have the same results at GAR?

Lastly, in what may be one of the worst public relations moves I have seen… screaming out that there would be a “parent tax” (cost of day care during strike) because of a strike the teachers started is truly imbecilic. This will gain you no sympathy points and will backfire completely.