Thursday, July 17, 2008

This Bud's For You

Are you mad as hell that Anheuser-Busch was sold to foreigners?

Are you determined never to drink a Bud again? OK, Anheuser-Busch makes about forty brands of beer including Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Select, Michelob, Michelob Light, Michelob Ultra, Busch, Busch Light, Busch Ice, Natural Light, Natural Ice and others. Don’t drink any of them.

Ok, switch to Miller. Well, Miller is owned by SABMiller which is a South African company. Miller makes all of the following brands so mark them off your list: Miller High Life, Miller Lite, Miller Genuine Draft, Olde English 800, Milwaukee’s Best, Mickey's, Icehouse, Hamm's, Red Dog, SouthPaw Light, and Leinenkugel's.

Ok, you say, I will drink Coors, good old Colorado Kool-Aid. Sorry, Coors is owned by the Molson Coors Brewing Company, a Canadian company.

OK, Pabst Blue Ribbon? Sorry, they are also owned by SABMiller.

Schlitz? That is another SABMiller company.

Rolling Rock? I like Rolling Rock. When I don’t drink Corona, unless Pabst is cheaper, I drink Rolling Rock. Rolling Rock, brewed in Latrobe Pennsylvania by Rolling Rock Brewery, was American before InBev bought it, then Anheuser-Busch bought it from InBev, and now InBev has bought Anheuser-Busch. So, Rolling Rock is now a foreign owned beer, again; I think.

Don’t despair. If you really want to drink American there are lots of American beers. The largest of the American brands is Samuel Adams, and there are many smaller American breweries and there are many local brewpubs across America.

But, why do you care if the parent company of your favorite beer is a foreign owned? I don’t. I am concerned about the falling value of the dollar which makes some of these acquisitions possible. But, I am just as concerned that falling dollar makes oil and other foreign good expensive, as I am that it makes American goods and companies a bargain for foreigners. I am also concerned about our tax policy that over taxes American businesses and puts them at a competitive disadvantage with foreign companies. But, I do not despair when an American icon falls into foreign hands.

Some years ago, many American’s were outraged when Rockefeller Center was purchased by a Japanese company. I think since then however, it is back in American hands. But, as far as I can tell, it did not affect me one way or the other.

Mercedes purchased Chrysler about ten years ago, and to listen to some pundits you would have thought America’s days were numbered. We are still here.

I see consolidations, changes in ownerships, and greater world wide economic integrations as the normal evolution of capitalism and see it as a positive development. It is a natural development that capital and labor will cross national borders and that the world will get smaller. Worldwide investment and trade is lifting people out of poverty and making the world a safer place. I suspect that Wal-Mart has lifted more people out of poverty than all the economic aid ever handed out. I suspect that China is less of a doctrinaire Communist state, partly due to Wal-Mart.

I have this theory: If prior to Peal Harbor, Japan would have had the same level of investment in Hawaii as they have today, Japan would have never attacked Pearl Harbor.

So, let us not despair about multi-national corporations owning your favorite beer. If it really bothers you, maybe you can invest some money in a mutual fund that invests in foreign companies including InBev. That way, you can be part owner of your favorite beer.

Let us all join hand: Red, Yellow, Black, and White; Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Jew. Let us lift a bottle and toast the multi-national corporation, capitalism, free trade and the withering away of the nation state: “This Buds for you.”

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Budweiser Sold to Belgian Company

And I Don't Care.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

The New Yorker Cover, Obama and Michelle

OK people, lighten up. Does someone have to spell it out for you? This is satire. Does someone need to put across the top of the page, "THIS IS SATIRE"? Notice the American flag in the fireplace? See the picture of Osama Bin Laden over the fireplace of the oval office? This is funny. This is clever.

The New Yorker is generally a liberal publication. Who reads that magazine? Not Joe Six-pack. I know some of you enlightened liberals or saying, "I get it, but I'm afraid the rednecks in Tennessee, won't." Well , you are elitist assholes. OK, there are some rednecks who want get it. As about as many as there are brothers who will say, "Why they dis'en my man Obama?" I know, I know, maybe we need to keep the discourse on a sixth grade level.

I can't believe Obama called the piece "tasteless and offensive," and that John McCain agreed with him. It is "tasteless and offensive" but most humor is tasteless and offensive. That is what makes it funny. For those of you who don't get it, the cover is ridiculing the rumors that say Obama is a Muslim terrorist and similar stuff. I thought it was clever.

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Poor kids' teachers earn less in Metro

By JAIME SARRIO, Staff Writer, The Tennessean

Some of Nashville's hardest-to-educate students are taught by the district's least-experienced, lowest-paid teachers, an inequity education leaders have struggled for years to address.

A Tennessean analysis of teacher salaries and experience levels shows a clear pattern: The district's top earners with the most experience and education are more likely to work in schools with fewer poor and minority students.

Nashville's not alone. For years, urban districts around the country have been experimenting with hiring bonuses and performance incentives to try to level the playing field. Some cities, including Chattanooga, have made marked gains.

Metro Nashville has been slower to address the issue, said state officials, partly because of a historically tense relationship with the teachers union. Now the district faces state intervention because of consistently low standardized test scores for poor, black and foreign-language-speaking students. (link)


Teachers Unions Stand in the Way of Educational Improvement

Nashville it a great city in which to live. We have a diverse economy, great parks system, and numerous universities and colleges. We have grown rapidly, but for the most part responsibly. We are big enough to have almost anything one would want but still small enough to feel like one unified city. We have a mild climate and are centrally located in a beautiful part of the country. Our downtown is booming and the city has a vibrancy and energy about it. The music scene and arts community give Nashville its own distinctive flavor. What Nashville does not have is good public education, not that it is uniformly bad. We have some schools that are excellent but we also have some absolutely terrible schools. Our school system is considered a failing system and will be taken over by the state.

The above article looks at an aspect of the problems with Metro schools. It is very well written with lots of examination of data and figures. The writer does a good job of explaining the complexity of the problem. The title sums up the story: The worse performing schools have the lowest salaried teachers. If you have an interest in the Nashville schools and missed this story, I urge you to click the above link. If you are not connected to Nashville, you may want to read it anyway, because more than likely the same situation, maybe to a lesser degree, exists in your community.

The following except from the story is very telling:

“Until this year, Metro could not offer bonus incentives for teachers in high-poverty schools because it violated the rules of the teacher contract, and the district and union couldn't agree how to do it. Now, a state law that takes effect this school year requires every district to offer incentives, and Metro will pay $4,000 to teachers willing to teach hard-to-staff subjects like math
and special education in a high-need school.”

No doubt there are various reason why poor students perform poorly. Poor students may not have had parents who read to them. They may not have good role models. They may not have parents who encouraged, disciplined, and motivated them. They may not have books and computers in the home. Everything is not equal. That being given, however, does not mean we should further handicap poor students by giving them the least experienced and lowest paid teachers.

The MNEA (Metro Nashville Education Association), like teachers' unions across America, has fought every meaningful education reform, every opportunity they had to do so. Incentive pay is common in the private sector; shift workers get shift differential pay. Jobs in high demand, demand higher salaries. Yet, the teachers unions have fought incentive pay at every opportunity. Teachers in math and science need to be paid more than teachers of literature. It is a harder course of study, and the private sector competition is higher for people with those skills.

The new bonus incentive plan mentioned above is a step in the right direction but does not go nearly far enough. Any teacher teaching in a high-needs school should earn more than a teacher teaching in the middle class suburbs. In my view, those teachers serving in majority black, inner city schools should get combat pay. There should be a special designation and specialized training and considerably higher pay for teachers who will devote themselves to serving the students that no one wants to serve.

It is time for the teachers' unions to stop being the obstacle to improvements in education, and it is time to bring the logic of economic incentives to the field of education.

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