July 8th 2009 - Wednesday

school-bus-imagesQuote: "Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one." Malcolm Forbes

Hour One - Dan Gainor -  Is the capital gains school program good school policy or is it "government bribery?"
Also...Could legalizing Marijuana cure California's budget problems?
Hour Two - Matt Taibbi www.rollingstone.com Topic: Has Goldman Sachs taken over the economy of the United States and used it to screw us?
Hour Three - "Everything You Know is Wrong" Jeff Sharlet www.jeffsharlet.com Topic: Is there a secret society of Christian crazies and is Mark Sanford a member?


Mark (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

Listening to the guy from the Cato Institute yesterday reminds one why it is difficult to reason with a right-winger; they reduce every argument to whatever lowest common denominator is handy, which has the unfortunate effect of making “sense” to people who prefer not to do their own thinking. The basic “argument” is the law of the jungle, the pursuit of self-interest in an environment with only minimal controls. Doesn’t everyone like that? Unfortunately, the human mind is as complex as it is roguish, and left to its own devices chaos is the natural result without certain restraints, like government and civilization. The price to keep him or her safe from him or herself involves taxation, but in addition to safety people expect conveniences like roads, bridges and damns which they obviously cannot provide without a major pooling of resources. It is interesting to note that there was a time when 12 percent of the federal budget was devoted to infrastructure; now it is less than 3 percent. The stimulus package, which many people believe is top-heavy in infrastructure funding, barely increases that percentage at a time when much of the country’s infrastructure—especially its aging damns— is on the verge of catastrophic collapse. But as always, people have to die in large numbers before politicians have the will to over-rule their corporate handlers. This is why we can’t leave the “thinking” to the Cato Institute or others of their ilk.

Thom mentioned something about the theory concerning an environmental condition called Gaia, which amused me insofar as the author’s theory that people will start migrating northwards due to global warming; this might be the initial reaction, but those in more southern climes would be smarter to stay put and wait it out. While an actual Ice Age may depend more on the Earth’s tilt and change in orbit, the addition of massive amounts of fresh water will cause changes in ocean currents, and eventually cooler temperatures.

Thom also posited yesterday his theory concerning population control. It should be noted that in all life, the number of off-spring is generally high because few young survive to adulthood. This is true in all human cultures until relatively recently; advanced medicine and comfortable living—not “advances” in social mores—have allowed for the decrease in the need to bear many children, as well allowing an increase in personal narcissism. Women in third world countries have more children for the same reasons that most life does—because life expectancies are low and infant mortality is high, although increased access to medical care and drugs has started to change that equation.

In regard to paying students to "succeed," maybe just changing the atmosphere will help. Why do boys in this country, especially African-American, have decreasing high school graduation and college entry rates in relation to girls? Because boys are viewed as threatening, and girls are thus given special support? I wonder if Thom is of the same opinion as a Seattle Times editorial—that we should be somewhat concerned about this, but we shouldn’t do anything to remedy it if means it will “hurt” girls, whatever that means.

Trevor Seitz (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

I have been thinking about how SCOTUS is dealing with Corporate people... they are creating rules that set up a "Seperate but equal" standing regarding Corporate people and Human People.

The Supreme Court is creating what the rest of the country is trying to stop, and has been trying to stop for generations...

DRichards (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

Goldman Sachs Admits Its Software Can "Manipulate Markets in Unfair Ways”

Goldman Sachs says that its program trading software can be used to manipulate markets:

The bank has raised the possibility that there is a danger that somebody who knew how to use this program could use it to manipulate markets in unfair ways.

Given that Goldman obviously knows how to use its own program - which it paid many millions for - isn't that a virtual admission that Goldman has been manipulating markets?




Richard Adlof (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

Although Mary Jane and rope may help . . . What will save California's ecomony is returning the progressive tax system put in place by the Progressive Republicans in the early 1900s and doffing the sales tax war against the poor and middle class.

lore (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

The problem is that vouchers are 3 parts. 1 part student, 1 part teacher, 1 part school. 2 parts go with student. 1 part gets 'lost'. So vouchers are a way to cut funding for public education.
I paid my son for grades because 'school' was his 'job'. I paid him for goals and assists when he played hockey. I told him misspelling showed young on internet which made him spell better and read dictionaries.
Sometimes, bribery is the best way to encourage good action.
I told him to be good for nothing. I told him to follow the golden rule. I totally understood that it was a matter of working with who he is, not making him what I wanted.
I love him! And let him know! That is the best thing you can do for a child.

Richard Adlof (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

A big part of the issue with ‘pay to learn’ is that the school system is still not teaching "money". Kids grow up into adults that money is traded for stuff BUT have ZERO knowledge how to use it as a tool. This prepares kids to be stop-gap wage slaves chasing pieces of little green paper; not masters of their destinies.

Quark (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

Interesting things happening re: health-care reform in today's news.

1) V.P. Biden just announced agreement with a number of major hospitals in the U.S. in which the hospitals will cut $155 billion from their bills to Medicare and Medicade over 10 years.

2) Pres. Obama told Max Baucus not to worry about getting any Republicans to sign on to any healthcare reform legislation (!)

Thom, this legislative "soup" gets thicker and thicker. I think you're onto something. There seems to be a lot of misdirection by Obama and his administration so they can get their real agenda passed (I hope.) I just keep thinking about Obama's mother, dying of cancer, without health insurance. That HAS to be a searing life lesson and motivation for Obama to get a real public option.

brian a. hayes (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

what happen to the tricle down theory? it looks like it didn't work. can we finaly put reagan to rest.

Kai Wen (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

If a public option will kill the private insurance industry, then wont adequately funding the public schools kill the private school industry, because it will be superfluous? It is the same argument. I think the conservatives are contradicting themselves.

B Roll (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

Yesterday, Tuesday, June 9, 2009, Thom asserted that Earth is a living organism. He was restating the Gaia theory of British scientist James Lovelock, Ph.D. who claims that the Earth and its biosphere make up a single living organism. (Note: Lovelock’s Ph.D is in medicine, not biology, but he’s a very bright guy and is capable of being knowledgeable in various fields.)

It’s interesting that at one point in the program Thom gave his optimistic opinion that humanity is going to successfully emerge from our current crises but talked about Lovelock’s projection that the majority of humanity will perish due to the destabilization of Earth’s climate. I have to wonder who Thom believes, James Lovelock or Thom Hartman.

One thing Thom didn’t mention is that Lovelock is a big advocate of nuclear power. In fact, he declared that the only hope for avoiding the devastation of global warming is to turn to nuclear power. He’s a member of Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy.

But getting back to Lovelock’s Gaia theory, well received in environmental and spiritual circles, it hasn’t faired as well in the scientific community, although it has gained some support in the four decades since Lovelock proposed it. But it is far from being the accepted or dominant theory on the nature of this planet. However, the Gaia theory has stimulated conversation about Earth as an interconnected system.

As for me, call me old fashioned, but I take the view (who cares what view I take) that living organisms have certain characteristics. This isn’t my view; this is what the science of biology says. Earth doesn’t have all the characteristics of a living organism as defined by biology.

One of the characteristics of a living organism that Earth seems to lack is “reproduction”, meaning the reproduction of nearly identical living organisms. Earth has blown out the birthday candles some 5 billion times by now and hasn’t produced an offspring. This is truly heartbreaking to her parents, who so wanted a grandchild.

Another characteristic is movement. Earth definitely moves. But it moves in the same manner as the other planets. It orbits around the Sun because the mass of the Sun curves the space that Earth exists in and moves through. Are all the planets living organisms, and since other celestial objects (e.g., stars, meteors, asteroids, galaxies) move according the same laws of nature, are they living organisms too?

Part of the Gaia theory is that Earth and its biosphere form a self-regulating system. I guess that’s a matter of perspective. If you were a dinosaur, Earth didn’t regulate itself very well. In fact, it’s estimated that from the first appearance of living organisms on this planet, some 95% of all living species have gone extinct. These extinctions are largely due to climatic changes that, from the point of view of the critters that went extinct, were the failure of the Earth to maintain a stable self-regulating environment. Don’t forget, the dinosaurs roamed the Earth for around 165 million years, and unlike humans, they weren’t really responsible for the climatic changes that did them in.

In my opinion, Earth is an inanimate space object on which the conditions for life to exist developed. The kind of life that existed at various times in Earth’s history depended on a variety of conditions on the planet at any particular time. Those conditions include the living organisms that had evolved already. When those conditions change, existing forms of living organisms die out and new forms have the opportunity to exploit the new environment.

I wouldn’t call a rock that had a bush growing out of it and some insects living on it a living organism. I feel the same about a planet that supports various forms of life.

I think that a good part of the appeal that the Gaia theory for Thom is spiritual. The Gaia theory makes a scientific argument for a belief that Thom is probably prone to hold whether the Gaia theory existed or not.

For the record, while I am doubtful about the Gaia theory, I fear that Lovelock may very well be right about challenges the human race is facing. We are facing many crises. We are facing economic, political and environmental challenges on a worldwide scale. In each of these areas, there are powerful interests that see it in their short-term interests to maintain the status quo and oppose remedies. They’re more concerned with their short-term interests than they are about the future of humanity and other species on this flying rock.

Dana Howard (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

Thom, I agree with you on almost everything and I've learned quite a bit from you but you are wrong, wrong, wrong on paying children to learn. As you pointed out yourself while arguing against yourself- children will only learn up to the test that, if they score well enough, will give them a goody. It destroys initiative, it is contrary to critical thinking, and teaches children that learning isn't worth it without a bribe. Imagine if you've paid a child to get good grades and then you stop paying them.
You mentioned that paying children to get good grades was working in a school or district, and perhaps it has- but what does that mean? Are they critical thinkers? Have they been fostered with a love of learning? Will they continue to study and explore on their own without a reward?
I would strongly encourage you to read a book by Alfie Kohn called Punished By Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes. Perhaps even have him on as a guest.

Richard Adlof (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

Pay teachers, fire-fighters and cops ONE BUCK more than the median income of the area that they serve!!!!!! AND subsidize their living in the communities they serve.

lore (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

my sister used to teach. subs got extra pay for inner city schools - hazard pay was the joke. that and the 'special' schools to handle difficult students got higher pay.
public schools have a hard time dropping any type of 'difficult' students. private schools can deny them access. parochial schools often limit students too. Different playing field.

Kai Wen (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

How can stations refuse to carry those marijuana ads? Before the last election, progressive stations said they hated carrying ads for prop 8, but they could not legally refuse.

Quark (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

'Sorry - 2 cx from last post: Medicaid (sp) and Harry Reid (not Obama) talked to Baucus re: not having to get Republican support for healthcare legislation.

Trevor Seitz (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

the problem with the trickle down theory is that the rich keep buying more buckets so there will never be an over flow

Richard Adlof (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

Going back to Mary Jane and Rope . . . What would help California's ecomony is forcing folk who build buildings to make them solar powered AND reuse water to service lawns . . . And Building & Safety should require that remodelers do the same. Imagine if our communities, were the energy solution . . .

Mark (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

I should point out to Thom that police, especially where their guilds can hold cities hostage, make rather considerably more than teachers. A few years ago there was a minor scandal in these parts when it was discovered that many Seattle police officers and King County deputies were making over a $100,000--some even $200,000--a year. Much of this pay came from lax rules regarding access to overtime.

Quark (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

When Jesse "The Body" Ventura was our MN governor, he attempted to decouple education funding from property taxes. He wanted it to be tied to the state income tax, instead. I thought that was one of the most enlightened and progressive things he did. I could never understand funding education any other way.

Pawlenty immediately nullified any movement in that direction when he got in office after Ventura left.

DRichards (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

Trickle down works. Don't You feel like you have been trickled on?

TFF (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

I use a point system where I teach. I also disclose in advance how many points I will or will not grant in as itemized fashion as possible. In this way, I tell them to 'grade their own papers in advance.' I must say - the whole system is much more efficient and I see dramatic increases as they catch on. My mentor taught me this. His very first question to me in fact, was 'Do you ever do anything without expecting something in return?' And me in my thick skin said in earnest - No.

It does work. Perhaps as a transition and testing period, we could use points and or plastic money - better yet- our own local currency!

Quark (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

Why can't kids think of education as their "jobs" and be remunerated for them?

moonbat666 (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

Most children have no idea what it means to study. Doing assigned homework is not study. The child will probably get passing grades but the child that actually reads and comprehends the material will be ready for advanced education. No TV and absolutely no video games should be allowed untill study is complete. Kids might be paid for chores, keeping their rooms picked up is not something that counts. To pay a child for good grades is total BS. Parents that pay for grades are to lazy to engage and spend a small amount of time in their responsibility in basic child development.

brian a. hayes (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

we need to teach are youth in the school system the inportants to be an engaged citizen regarding politics. to create a true democracy the people must keep a constant surviellance on poltics, and that the peoples will is always reflected in politics we need to have social morality in the system. we need to teach them that they need to d have intelect culture and moral sense. that they are respondsable in sociey to fight against false ideas. that they must be self- apointed political guardians that they must elect leaders with these same qualities. wouldn't it be great to have ceos of corperations with social morals this is what i learned from my mentor dr. daisaku ikeda.

brian a. hayes (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

the youth must learn within their career they choose that they have great respondsability to society.

Mark (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

I'd like to point to a caller in regard to the quality of public schools, that new schools--with the infrastructure to support up-to-date learning tools--were most often built in suburbs or neighborhoods where whites fled, while minorities and the low-income remained in old, and aging, schools in the cities. Although the amount of money per student may be comparable, this doesn't take into account how much of that money is used for maintenance of old, decaying buildings, to say nothing of the kind of learning atmosphere they provide.

ProgressiveMews (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

"Taibbi: NYSE ends transparency to protect Goldman Sachs"


Once Sachs was exposed, the New york Stock Exchange covered their ass!

Quark (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago


When I attempted to home school my son (for a number of critical reasons), I spent a great deal of time working with him to try to help him learn. (I always had been very involved in his education and was an active and almost daily volunteer at his school and in his classroom.) His difficulties needed far more that parent involvement. Had I the ability, I would have enrolled my son in the ADD-aware Hunter School that Thom and Louise started. Unfortunately, that was long before such help was available.

Yes, parent involvement is very important, but it's too easy to use it as an all-encompassing rhetorical panacea for problems with education.

TFF (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

help did anyone get the site name for that marijuana commercial? rats- did not get to write it down and googling it has been in vain in the amount of time I have

Richard Adlof (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago


Thank you for the Matt Taibbi interview.


Thank your work and speaking about it. The discussion about Goldman-Sachs was interesting and informative.

B Roll (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

Kai Wen

I don't think you're right about radio and TV stations unable to refuse carrying political ads. But first, I want to point out that whatever rules may apply to during electoral campaigns might not apply at other times.

Here's a brief explanation of the rules that was published online as guidance to radio stations.


All candidates for federal offices are entitled to reasonable access on commercial broadcast stations. That is, commercial radio stations must sell time within certain limits to candidates for president, vice president and the U.S. Congress. Candidates for state and local office have no similar right to reasonable access and stations can refuse to sell time for such races. If, however, a station sells ads to one candidate for a particular office, the equal opportunities rule requires that the station, on request, sell ads to all other qualified candidates for that office. Individuals other than candidates or their committees are generally not entitled to access. Stations are free to accept or reject issue ads as they see fit.

I'd also question your faith in "progressive stations". Most of the hosts might have hated having ads supporting Prop 8 aired on their stations, but management might be more interested in the $$$ and the supporters of Prop 8 seemed to have a lot more than its opponents.

I won't go into a lot of detail, but my local station has made several moves that indicate that progressive radio is just another format to them. It used to be a sports talk station, now it's progressive talk station.

Like I said, I won't go into a lot of detail, but I could write a short book about it.

ProgressiveMews (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago


It was controlmarijuana.org - which redirects to :


TFF (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

THX! got it! and apprecitate!

moonbat666 (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

Quark- There will always be special needs children. I certainly am aware of this, but it's pretty obvious that most children are distracted by too many things. With some parental involvement their children would have a much greater chance to learn. I commend you and wish you the very best.

brian a. hayes (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

i feel that teachers musthave total respect for the student and have the strenght to show them by their actions. teachers must realize their great respondsability they have.

DRichards (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

I don't know if it is true or not, but I remember reading (somewhere) that the reason that marijuana was/is illegal is because it was a black man's drug (originally in the 30's). It kind of makes since when you look at the jail time for "crack" cocaine versus the more expensive cocaine.

mathboy (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

Kids don't mind playing video games for points, which have no intrinsic value. Imagine instead of actually giving kids small amounts of money for grades in school, giving them an imaginary income for grades and translating that into how easily they could buy necessities (home, car, etc.) and how much they'd have left over to buy luxuries--such as video games, music etc. Treat each semester as a new play of the game.

brian a. hayes (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

should goldman sach be censured by congress for the raising of gas prices?

ProgressiveMews (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago


It's my understanding that it was made illegal was because hemp was going to overrun the paper companies, and if I remember correctly it was Dupont that was one of the companies which lobbied HARD to make it illegal in order to eliminate their competition.

Boris31 (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

RE: a secret society of Christian crazies ???
well...if there isn't it sure feels like it.

loretta (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

There are many human needs that could be used to incentivize good grades in school. Money is good as long as it is given in conjunction with tickets to art museums, movies, gift certificate to bookstores, gift certificates to extra curricular programs like martial arts, skateboarding classes--basically the incentives don't necessarily have to be money. Instead, the incentives could be created after actually getting to know the kid and figuring out what would most benefit them-- what their dreams and hopes and favorite things in life are and creating gift certificates to work for that reach into those particular interests.

The incentive program could be very creative and do tons of great things while subtly encouraging even more learning. You could incentivize with classes on making your own solar-powered skateboard, or backpack, or ipod for example.
Gift certificates to music stores might be wonderful or for getting a guitar. Perhaps a kid really wants a guitar. SO why not set up a point system with a guitar as a goal.

Or each school could have a store where tokens could be used that have only really cool learning products and extra curricular equipment that enriches their lives.

You could have classes where kids learn to make their own healthy snacks to bring to school and share with friends.

(I have pretty notecards for sale and would love to sell you some!)


links to Dem Senators not yet on board for a public option.

Kai Wen (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

Couldn't we do a kind of voucher system, where a voucher is allocated for every child, and then the child's parents could decide whether they want to pay the voucher to a private school, or use it to pay the child directly for getting good grades? Each semester, the child would get 100% for all A's and a percentage determined by gpa for lower grades. After a couple of generations, we would know which system works better, without having to argue about it. It is called science. You propose a theory and then test it to see if it is correct.

B Roll (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago


I'm sure that if you look at the history of marijuana in this country you'll find a variety of forces involved in making it illegal for a variety of reasons. Many of those reasons were financial. ProgressiveMews is right in naming Dupont as playing a major role. Andrew Mellon and the Mellon Bank played a big roll as did William Randolph Hearst. They all had financial motivations.

It's probably the case that public and political support for criminalizing marijuana and hemp was whipped up as a cover for the financial motivations of the economic elites.

B Roll (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

You can't attribute the problems of our educational system to one cause. Therefore, there isn't one cure. That tends to be true for most, maybe all, major social problems. Our whole society needs a makeover.

Quark (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago


Thanks for your kind words.

I'm not saying that parental involvement is NOT important, but I do believe, with Thom, that so much of what's wrong today can be attributed to the falling standard of living that the middle class has experienced for the last 30 years. That affects SO many things, including the ability of parents to have the time to be as involved as they should be (for one example.)

brian a. hayes (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

to me the greatest christian minister was dr. king. why beause he was a man of action for social justice.

lore (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

when my son was in 5th grade or 6th, (he was in special program for bright kids and classes were actually doubled up but 2 teachers also) they had a project where they had 2 countries, 2 monetary systems, passports, and they had to make up a business to earn money. they had to learn exchange rates, etc. they had a blast! what a learning opportunity!

B Roll (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

Barack Obama wants to keep control of the post election movement that was to a large extent responsible for his election. If the Obama campaign got your email address during the campaign, you know how often you receive emails from the Obama machine.

I just checked my email to see how many emails I've received this month. I've received three emails from them this month, including one that came in during the show.

Quark (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

brian a. hayes,

You might be on to something. Goldman Sachs should not only be censured by congress, it should be the subject of a major investigation by congress.

I say to myself, "Yea, that'll happen..."

Campaign finance reform NOW!

JohnnyO (not verified) 14 years 50 weeks ago

Paying children for good grades can be called "The Pimp My Grades Program" The Democratic Party would then come up with an anocrym something like "PIMPGRA" ?

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