a service of NPRI


July 21, 2005 
Vol. 1, No. 22
 

 

Education
In thrall to John Dewey's ghost

The basic problem with Nevada's colleges of education is that their core teacher-training agenda is—speaking candidly—essentially bogus.

To be sure, this problem is not the Silver State’s alone. For decades, American ed-schools have trotted out Progressivist dogmas, presenting them as genuine teacher development. Indeed, as education historian Diane Ravitch and others have shown, it was this agenda that, historically, was behind the rise of American colleges of education.

The preeminent fountainhead of these faux theories of education was John Dewey, who lusted throughout his long life to make American schooling an instrument of state socialism. Though a self-proclaimed apostate from the German philosophy that initially infatuated him, Dewey remained a committed Hegelian in many ways—with a commensurate soft spot for Marxist and other German authoritarianisms.

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Politics
Should felons vote?

By Edward Feser
City Journal

Forty-eight states 
currently restrict the right of felons to vote. Most states forbid current inmates to vote, others extend such bans to parolees, and still others disenfranchise felons for life. A movement to overturn these restrictions gained swift momentum during the 2004 presidential campaign, and pending legal and legislative measures promise to keep the issue in the headlines in the months to come. It hasn’t escaped notice that the felon vote would prove a windfall for the Democrats; when they do get to vote, convicts and ex-cons tend to pull the lever for the Left. Had ex-felons been able to vote in Florida in 2000—the state permanently strips all felons of voting rights—Al Gore almost certainly would have won the presidential election.

Murderers, rapists, and thieves might seem to be an odd constituency for a party that prides itself on its touchy-feely concern for women and victims. But desperate times call for desperate measures. After three national electoral defeats in a row, the Democrats need to enlarge their base. If that means reaching out to lock in the pedophile and home-invader vote, so be it. Even newly moderate Democrat Hillary Clinton has recently endorsed voting rights for ex-cons. This is inclusiveness with a vengeance.

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Values
Heralds of a brighter black future

By Heather Mac Donald
City Journal

When Bill Cosby, in a speech to the NAACP last May, let fly a merciless condemnation of black illegitimacy, educational apathy, and the idea that white racism causes black social problems, political commentators dropped their jaws.

They remained stunned when he vented similar frustration to audiences across the country over the next six months. Sure, “civil rights” advocates have been known, on rare occasions, to criticize self-defeating black behavior, but convention requires that after briefly denouncing, say, black-on-black crime (as if black-on-white crime would be okay), the “leader” should turn his attention to the racial injustice that allegedly causes such crime and harp on that for the next year or so.

This Cosby refused to do. “It’s not what [the white man] is doing to you; it’s what you’re not doing,” he thundered in Detroit.

The reaction of black audiences was just as unexpected. Rather than take offense, they waited hours in line, in blistering heat and freezing cold, to hear Cosby deliver his impassioned plea for bourgeois behavior.

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Nevada law
Nevada A.G. v. Nevada A.G.

Are decades of Nevada Tax Commission decisions legally at risk?

By Steven Miller
BusinessNevada

Recent actions of the Nevada Attorney General’s Office in a double-taxation case are bringing the integrity of the office into question, a growing number of tax experts are suggesting.

The controversy arose after the Nevada Tax Commission at a May 9 meeting approved a $40-million-plus tax refund for Southern California Edison. SCE operates the Mojave Station power plant near Laughlin and fuels it with coal mined in Arizona.

Because the State of Nevada was levying not only a minerals tax but also a use tax on the coal, the company in 2002 appealed to the commission, challenging the double taxation under Article 10, Section 5 of the Nevada Constitution. That section not only directs lawmakers to “provide by law for a tax upon the net proceeds of all minerals, including oil, gas and other hydrocarbons, extracted in this state,” but it also explicitly bars any other tax upon a mineral so taxed.

However, on July 7 the Office of Attorney General Brian Sandoval filed suit against the tax commission, asking a court to nullify the May 9 tax-refund decision on the grounds that the commission had violated the state open-meeting law by deliberating and voting in a closed meeting.

Tax commission members expressed consternation, saying that for at least the last 10 years, the Attorney General’s office had counseled them to hold closed meetings under state law NRS 360.247, which says a taxpayer’s appeal proceedings may be “closed to the public if the taxpayer requests that it be closed.”

“I am, frankly, shocked that these issues have arisen as they have,” said Tax Commissioner John E. Marvel, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I question whether there is good faith or not on the part of the attorney general’s office.”

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Government corruption
Councilmen convicted in
San Diego corruption trial
were part of union effort

Labor Reform News

In the largest corruption scandal to hit San Diego in 30 years, a federal jury Tuesday convicted two Democrat city council-members – including the acting mayor – of numerous charges in what has come to be known as the “Cheetahgate” scandal.

The council-members – Michael Zucchet and Ralph Inzunza – were strongly supported by organized labor as part of the AFL-CIO’s campaign to take control of the San Diego City Council, which until 2001 was controlled by Republicans. In the 2000 election, Democrats won a majority on the council, and in 2004 labor-backed candidate Donna Frye narrowly lost in a write-in campaign that garnered national attention from a weeks-long recount reminiscent of the 2000 Bush-Gore recount in Florida .

Zucchet won in 2002 with strong backing from organized labor. He formerly worked for the local professional firefighters union and was widely seen as “labor’s candidate” in a coastal council district.

Labor’s determined drive to take over San Diego city government now stands on the verge of collapse with the convictions of Zucchet and Inzunza, combined with the possible loss of Democrat Donna Frye in the upcoming special election for San Diego mayor. The election is July 26 with a runoff on November 8. Frye is not expected to reach the 50%+1 threshold on July 26, and has so far proven incapable of reaching a level of support higher than the low 40’s.


AFL-CIO crackup
Dissident unions may
boycott AFL-CIO convention

Threatening to bolt unless demands met

By Steven Greenhouse
The New York Times

Leaders of several dissident unions warned yesterday that they might shun next week's A.F.L.-C.I.O. convention in Chicago unless the labor federation's president, John J. Sweeney, agreed to some of their demands.

The possibility that those unions -- the service employees, Teamsters, food and commercial workers and Unite Here -- would boycott the convention signals that the four might carry out their threat to quit the federation, labor leaders said.

These threats represent the biggest rift in the labor movement in decades and come as Mr. Sweeney has sought to stage a triumphant convention celebrating his expected re-election as well as the 50th anniversary of the American Federation of Labor's merger with the Congress of Industrial Organizations. The dissident unions, which include about one-third of the federation's members, are unhappy that Mr. Sweeney seems certain to win a new four-year term at the convention.

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Travel
Nevada ACLU challenges new airport security gizmo

By Valerie Miller
LVBusinessPress

A Southern Nevada civil libertarian is troubled by recently installed machinery at McCarran International Airport that checks passengers for traces of explosives.

The two devices by British company Smiths Detection & Protection Systems were installed in February, making McCarran one of 14 model U.S. airports to test them.

Travelers are sent to the machinery if they meet certain criteria, said Clark County Aviation Department Director Randy Walker. But Walker and top law enforcement officials have declined to discuss those criteria, raising civil liberties concerns.

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Immigration
Once here illegally, the Laras savor kids' success

Mexican family tale suggests
strides made by migrants

by Miriam Jordan
The Wall Street Journal

LOS ANGELES -- In the late 1960s, Mexican peasant Hector Lara successfully crossed the U.S. border on his third try and arrived here as a penniless illegal immigrant. Mr. Lara worked long hours at a variety of jobs -- from manufacturing to yard work -- to support the wife and four children who later joined him from Mexico's Jalisco state. Like millions of immigrants before and since, the Lara family took its place on the bottom rung of the U.S. economy.

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Nevada growth
Soaring cost of materials
boosts construction prices

By Alana Roberts
InBusinessLV

Construction industry insiders say increased labor costs are a major part of the rising cost of construction—but not as significant as the skyrocketing cost of materials.

“Where the escalating has really come about is because the escalation of materials cost due to, again, supply and demand,” Steve Holloway, executive vice president of the Associated General Contractors Las Vegas Chapter.

“You’ve got China opening up and other parts of the Third World opening up; there’s a huge demand for materials. It’s going on everywhere; it’s national in scope.”

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