Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Daddy needs a new[er] car.

In the land of the decrepit hulks of dead cars, the man with the 11 year old Honda Civic with body damage and no A/C is king.

Somebody give Don a running sedan. He tends toward Chevy/GMC, but Gawd help him, he'd probably take something French or Yugoslavian, or even British, if it'd reliably get him from Point A to Point B.

I hasten to point out that Don and his wife are both hard-working, experienced schoolteachers with graduate educations and no addictions to expensive habits, but they aren't paid enough to keep a roof over their heads (and pianos) and keep their daily drivers rolling.

In entertainment news, I hear (against my will; I've got to listen to NPR more), that some idjit who goes by the questionable moniker of "K-Fed" is suing his slutty wife for a quarter million dollars a year alimony and child support. Because she's got it.

What in the hell is wrong with our priorities?

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15 Comments:

At Thursday, September 06, 2007 8:57:00 PM, Blogger Don Gwinn said...

Aw, now, Matt, I'm working on that. Yesterday was just a bad day, that's all. A REALLY bad day.

We have a fairly new, reliable, semi-commodious minivan with all kinds of safety gizmos for Melissa and the kids, and that has served us well, but I've always tended toward vehicles that need the occasional push for my own daily drivers.

That Buick has served nobly; it almost made it to 250,000 miles. There's a carburetor rebuild kit behind the truck seat, but since I wasn't driving it every week . . . well, priorities. You know how it is.

The Camaro is about to get a major shadetree overhaul to get it going right, and then I'll decide whether to sell it. Probably sell all three and use the proceeds to buy a small pickup or something. We'll see.

I have an issue with these "priorities" comparisons people make. I know you mean only the best, but here's the thing: now that you've established that I deserve to make twice as much money as I do (I agree, by the way) where do we get the money to do it? My job, like yours, is funded by tax money. I don't directly produce revenue.

Britney Spears got rich because her image directly produced revenue. She could tell her record company that they had to pay her so many millions because, if they didn't, she would sign with someone else. She could tell Pepsi that she needed an additional half a million to be in their Super Bowl commercial because, whether she said it or not, she could go to Coke and create just as much revenue for them.

The simple fact is that some jobs generate more revenue in more direct fashion than others. That's not unfair, that's just reality.

Another important truth I don't hear spoken often is that, yes, I make a relatively low wage for my education level. And some guy who can throw a fastball is making $10 million a year and pouting because so many guys make more than he does. But comparing me to him denies a basic truth--the baseball player who makes millions is part of a tiny elite with sickeningly fast rates of turnover. There are people in the education game who make a LOT of money--not MLB money, but enough so they really don't need to work if they don't want to. Those people are consultants coming up with the ideas that sell a million expensive books, for example--because their ideas are influential to millions of people. If I wrote such a book, I'd have my critical mass money, but I haven't done that.

What people forget is that for every big obnoxious star like Britney Spears or Payton Manning, there are thousands of small-timers eking out a living (or not) somewhere doing the same things the stars do. The stars are rich because they're the elite at what they do. People will pay to see that, but they won't pay yo watch a teacher spin through another day, and neither would I. The only way thus far discovered to make what I do entertaining to an audience is to hire actors on a set to fake it.

Besides, as lousy as this week has been, when "K-Fed" gets aw dat money, do you suppose he'll be a happier man than I am, on average?

 
At Thursday, September 06, 2007 11:04:00 PM, Anonymous Kilgor said...

It's a shame that this dialogue is buried in the comments section. If only most people understood things like that, instead of just constantly bitching.

 
At Friday, September 07, 2007 5:47:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

Don, the teacher is one of my basic exceptions to my stance on curbing the cost of public servant pay. I actually believe that we should use the market for teachers:

-Double teachers' salaries.
-Set the testing and qualification standards higher.
-Skim the cream off the newer crop that applies.
-Reap the benefit down a relatively short road, with students learning effectively, and being far, far more productive.


The KFed comparison was specious, I know; it's not apples and oranges; it's apples and donuts. (Mmmm... donuts...) It just happened to be mentioned over the garbage radio I was listening to whilest I typed that post, and I threw up my hands for a second in disgust that some peoples' monthly alimony payments should approach a yearly salary take-home for others who are far more worthy.

Schools in Texas use local school boards to set pay, and sometimes have bond elections to raise money for projects (usually facilities, but theoretically hiring, too) at a local level. As such, it's pretty democratic on a local level how money is spent. I don't always like it, as with teacher pay.

Teachers traditionally make at or just under the average working man's average pay. We, as a voting populace, can decide that we want more-- that we want to raise the bar and pay for it. Don, this isn't just a "give money to Don" whine. It's a "pay the damn teachers and get even more back" whine. How many teachers in your position just say "screw it," and go into the private sector because they can't afford to maintain their family on the pay they get, while they are utterly qualifed to make good money?

To y'all home-schoolers out there-- God bless you. But I respect the teaching profession enough to believe that a gifted professional teacher can manage to teach better than I can. (Heh. Trying to teach division to my beloved 9 year old whiney brat last night proved that.)

And hey-- Don? I know that you're a Man Among Men, but why not get two minivans that run good, with no pushing? ;)

Gotta run to qualifications.

 
At Friday, September 07, 2007 7:06:00 AM, Blogger Don Gwinn said...

I don't know what the next vehicle will be at this point. I have to thin the herd first. I'm not opposed to another van, but Melissa seems to think that's a bad idea.

If I could find a reasonable wagon, I'd go that way, too. The only things I'm not really looking at are full-size pickups and SUVs. They're too expensive for what you get.

I put a receiver hitch on the minivan and got a medium-size flat trailer, so I can haul just about anything a small pickup can haul, but it takes more planning than it would with the pickup.

 
At Friday, September 07, 2007 11:19:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

That's the route we're looking at taking. I love having a working pickup, but just can't justify the expense of operation and the fact that, day to day, I need a passenger vehicle far worse.

 
At Friday, September 07, 2007 11:25:00 AM, Blogger Squeaky Wheel said...

It really does say something about our "tribe mentality" as a nation (and as a species, really) that professional athletes get paid exponentially more than educators.

Everyone wants a team to root for, and that's understandable - it's a basic human function to choose the side that you feel is strongest, because it reflects well on you. But without education, we don't have any progress elsewhere, and our quality of life goes down.

There's a balance there somewhere. It'd be nice if we could find it.

 
At Friday, September 07, 2007 11:49:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

Perhaps, Squeaky Wheel, we should redirect our attentions toward rooting for our nation, rather than multinational teams?

 
At Friday, September 07, 2007 12:14:00 PM, Blogger Squeaky Wheel said...

I agree, but that's a really gray area for a lot of people right now, which is why sports are so popular. It's easy to know the rules of football and pick a winner, but picking the way you feel your country should be run or represented requires too much thought for some people, so they shy away from it. We need straight-talkers and less ambiguity to encourage people to take an active interest in that sort of thing again.

 
At Friday, September 07, 2007 12:22:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

To those who followed a link here, see Don's stoic response on his blog

 
At Friday, September 07, 2007 4:12:00 PM, Anonymous Gregg said...

"Teachers traditionally make at or just under the average working man's average pay. We, as a voting populace, can decide that we want more-- that we want to raise the bar and pay for it. Don, this isn't just a "give money to Don" whine. It's a "pay the damn teachers and get even more back" whine. How many teachers in your position just say "screw it," and go into the private sector because they can't afford to maintain their family on the pay they get, while they are utterly qualifed to make good money? "

Well, I think that they ought to go into the private sector. Private schools to be specific.

OTOH, I think that the current public school system should get tossed on the trash heap. People will work and pay for things that they feel have value.

I prefer to have a say in what gets taught to my children, as well as how it is taught. Of course, I also have an objection to paying for the education of other peoples children. Education is a personal or familial responsibility, not a societal one.

 
At Friday, September 07, 2007 5:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At Friday, September 07, 2007 11:25:00 AM, Squeaky Wheel said...
It really does say something about our "tribe mentality" as a nation (and as a species, really) that professional athletes get paid exponentially more than educators.


Not at all. What it really does say is that professional athletics and popular entertainment are both activities with
- directly measurable outcomes, and
- no artificial safety net at the bottom obscuring or destroying the function of a free market by keeping poor performers in the game at similar compensation to high performers.

 
At Saturday, September 08, 2007 2:53:00 PM, Anonymous Blackwing1 said...

I must beg to differ with the anonymous commenter who said that the sports version of entertainment works without "destroying the function of a free market".

I know of no other industry that receives it's factory completely free of charge from public funds. There are many instances of states or communities offering tax BREAKS for opening a new factory (look at the competition for new automobile manufacturing locations), but taxing the public to pay for sports venues completely destroys any pretence of a "free market" in the sports/entertainment field.

Here in Minnesnowta we (the taxpayers) are going to fund, to the tune of almost a $1,000,000,000 (yes, that's BILLION-with-a-BEE dollars), a new sports palace for a baseball team. The last estimate I saw on a fully-completed stadium (WITH roof...they're going to build it without one first...in Minnesnowta, no less) is around 750 million. They've exercised the power of emminent domain to condemn some of the land, and have purchased at an exhorbitant price the rest. The Twinkies themselves will cough up a minor percentage of this cost.

Can anyone claim with a straight face that this has ZERO effect on the salary levels that a team can afford to pay?

The concept of being forced to pay for someone else's entertainment facility is enraging, to say the least. And before some twit starts chanting about how "it pays for itself through increased revenues" or some other nonsense, go look at the Cato Institute's study of the economics of publically funded stadiums. NOT ONE has made a "profit" for the taxpayers who were forced to build entertainment pleasure-domes for multi-millionaire sports stars.

Simultaneously, the state is fighting to fund the new 35W Mississippi River bridge crossing...which looks to cost something like a half-a-billion (depending on whose numbers you look at). A project which is genuine infrastructure, which can and will be used by anyone...as opposed to a new stadium, built for the profit of a select few, for the use of sports fans only.

It is ethically and morally wrong.

 
At Saturday, September 08, 2007 5:36:00 PM, Blogger Don Gwinn said...

I'll buy that for a dollar, as long as we keep in mind that the school district I work for is also funded by tax dollars.

If you don't extend my analogy beyond the player vs. teacher comparison, it's pretty robust. That's all it was intended to describe, after all.

 
At Saturday, September 08, 2007 9:45:00 PM, Blogger minuteman said...

Blackwing1,
And after you spend a Billllyon dollars for a new baseball stadium, only a billlyonaire can afford to go to a game. It's a serious strain on the budget to take the kids to see a baseball game.
I'm a noob here and don't want to step on any toes but I have to ask,
Don, are you a member of a teacher's union? I have nothing but respect for public school teachers. At the same time, I have little but contempt for the public school system. My local school system (Houston) brags about their improving pass rate...

56%!
It's been a while, but I'm pretty sure that ain't a passing grade.

Bad days. I've been there. One lovely Sunday I took the kids to work to "help" me get ready for a presentation on Monday. They helped put together the binders while my wife went shopping. LSS my wife got lost and we had to walk home.

 
At Tuesday, September 11, 2007 5:59:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

"I have nothing but respect for public school teachers. At the same time, I have little but contempt for the public school system."

Well said.

 

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