Las Vegas Sun

October 25, 2014

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

Business plan not suitable for education

Regarding the Las Vegas Sun’s story Thursday on its website, “Higher ed contemplates fallout of financial exigency”:

There seem to be some fundamental misconceptions about the roles of government, education and business held by some in this state and elsewhere that need to be clarified. Government is, as stated in the Gettysburg Address, “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” The primary role of our democratically elected government is to serve the people’s interest and create/encourage the conditions for commerce to flourish. Businesses have, as their primary aim, the maximization of profit for their shareholders rather than the good of the customers they serve — that’s the role of government.

Thus, government has established regulatory bodies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency (among others) with the aim of protecting U.S. citizens from potential threats to their livelihood.

Though many view education as a business, it is in reality far more important as the guarantor of our nation’s democracy, which requires an educated citizenry to properly function and also as a creative engine (via research) to foment the innovation and expansion of our economy.

When treated merely as a business, educational excellence will suffer as the view that degrees are paid for instead of earned will be prevalent and creative efforts will be thwarted by an obsession with the short-term “bottom line” instead of recognizing that supporting research is more often than not a long-term investment in our country’s future.

It’s high time for our leaders to recognize that education is far too important for our nation’s future to treat as a for-profit business.

The writer is a physics professor at UNLV.

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  1. Michael:

    What I have been harping on is affordability for students and taxpayers. This bring cost increases in line with the rest of the economy, otherwise there is nothing left. Think of the old compound interest problem--the difference between 3 and 5 percent return over the period of a couple decade. Look what has happened to health care.

  2. The writer correctly points out that education and research are vital, but fails to recognize that they must also be financially efficient.

    Taxpayer money is spent on many things, including education. Instead of always resisting any reduction in taxpayer funding and always demanding even more, the people working in education need to look within education for ways to be more financailly efficient.

    They must also be part of a solution in which they advocate for spending less in some other area if they want more spending in education, instead of just asking for more spending for 'their' area.

    I'm a taxpayer and a college graduate so I know the value of a good education but I also know that taxes cannot be raised on a continuing basis.

    Michael

  3. As I have been harping in this forum, if you want an educated citizenry - contributing members of society - to lead us when we become feeble, to make this world a better place for EVERYONE, you are looking at them - everyday! Our future is now - the children.

    We must invest on them now - all of them. Those who fall between the cracks are already beyond anyone's reach. And, their numbers are increasing every day we lollygag due to mediocrity in leadership.

    You can talk business and ROI, but while you're talking about it, they will climb your gated communities, scale your concrete walls, and find holes in your electronic firewalls. And, they will go after what you have.

    Are we going to be building steel gates and high walls and impenetrable firewalls forever? They will continue to scale them.

    Have we lost our humanity to greed? How much can a coffin hold?

  4. Nancy--

    You describe education as an investment. How many state/local resources should be devoted to it?

  5. I am not ready to concede that No Child Left Behind is a failure or corrupt. It forced schools to adopt standards. The standards are open to debate, but the lack of any standard is not somewhere I want to go. Been there and done that.

    In CCSD we are throwing $7k a year at the problem and after 12 years we have a 50 percent graduation rate and too many of those who do graduate lack the basic skills needed to function in the real world. These institutions are no better than warehouses for many students. Keep the kids amused and push them through.

    In the 21st century its about training and retraining through out life. The basic reading, writing and math skills make this possible. If we spend 10k per student, will there be any appreciable improvement to justify the investment? When we talk invest me, we are talking return on investment as well.

    As far as I can see the local community colleges are successful in undoing the mess in a short amount of time and at a reasonable cost. I would pour money in there first until the K-12 warehousing of human capital problem is solved.

    When you look at UNR and UNLV--there is the problem of costs. Which programs do we invest in and which should be discontinued?

  6. Turrialba,
    Is it actually $7,000, I assume you mean per student, a year? What are the figures and how do they compare nationally? How are other states doing that spend more? Statistically are the results significant?

  7. Sorry Mark, yes, the estimate is about $7k per student and was incorrect. Nevada spent about $8,200 in 2008. The national average is about $10. per student. http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp...

    http://www2.census.gov/govs/school/08f33...
    page 14 has a bar chart showing the numbers.

    For the current 2010-2011 school year CCSD reports expenditures of $7,800 per student.
    http://ccsd.net/news/publications/pdf/CC...

    Numbers bounce all over the place depending on the year.

  8. Turrialba:

    Nevada has one of the lowest tax rates in the nation. We are a state rich in natural resources (particularly precious metals) which (over 150 years ago), created an economic boom for California but which today create an economic boom for globalist/foreign corporations and the wealthy "elite" who control them. We need to develop a more fair tax structure that not only taxes the plebians but also the corporations that derive income from this state. Otherwise, we risk becoming like Africa where the diamond market (e.g.) was controlled by Cecil Rhodes and subsequent generations of "masters," and profits were (and continue to be) largely spirited away from the continent. A few sheqels were redirected toward greedy and amoral war lords to maintain the "divide and conquer" strategy (and thus maintaining the status quo - recent films such as "Blood Diamonds" deal with this theme) just as lobbyists do in this country today to buy off politicians. We honestly need a fundamental political change in Nevada and the rest of this nation.

  9. Michael:

    Does Nevada offer reasonable educational opportunities for its citizens?

    If not, what opportunities should be added/subtracted?

    My job as a taxpayer to ensure that adequate and reasonable opportunities exist for those willing and able to take advantage of them. It is up to the students and their parents to take advantage of the opportunities. I can only open the door for the student. It isn't my job to see that he/she walks through it.

    I think once you look at this question, maybe we can talk about taxes to see what is necessary and doable to offer the opportunities.

  10. anchorbine:

    Just about every newspaper in the country does this including the Review Journal.

  11. I am asking for sanity in the way we run things. I am asking for leadership. I am asking for leaders who are not beholden to anyone but the ones they are supposed to serve. In my previous post, here are the three things we need to think about - instead of arguing and calling each other names:

    1. Let's find a way to make the family whole again so that the children are cared for as they should be.
    2. Teachers are the only ones left that children can look up to. So we need to 'tighten up' the qualifications before they are hired. For those who are already teaching, principals need to stop lollygagging and fire those who are not up to par.
    3. We need to remove politics in education. Leaders need to lead and not be beholden to some political agendas. There are too many administrators who have nothing to do with educating children, requiring paperwork and fancy equipment and tools to justify their positions.

    To all of you who keep using fancy words (and sometines really nasty words) and fancy ideas (and sometimes really nasty ideas), start using your time and effort to think along the lines 1, 2, and 3. If you have something to contribute, by all means do so. If you are simply spouting your frustrations because your life is miserable, keep your opinions to yourselves. There!

  12. Thank you to Dr. Pravica for writing this letter. The so-called "business model" for education is a new trend advocated by the American right-wing ("new" in that it's only been around about 50 years as an idea, now being pushed on all of us as a public policy by the G.O.P. and their conservative think-tanks). This model ignores entirely any concept of community responsibility for our young people, the demonstrable economic benefits to a society over the long-term, and the cultural and social values of public education essential to the preservation of democracy.

    About costs: last time I calculated what it would "cost" in dollars and cents for a student to pay entirely for a university education in Nevada, tuition would rise to about $25,000-$28,000 per year; and this would not pay the whole cost, either, as the state would still need to put in at least 20% (roughly) of what it does now to provide essential infrastructure to be able to keep the doors open. What would this do? Our university system would become a very expensive, very elitist institution that educates mainly the rich (if we could improve its reputation enough to attract rich students); and opportunities would be lost for thousands of good, hard-working young people who wish to improve their lives but now would not be able to afford higher education.

    What about considering the other direction? The same one that the late Governor Kenny Guinn -- a good, centrist, rational Republican politician ever open to discussion and compromise -- envisioned and advocated with the "millennium scholarship" program? Why should we not establish a state fund of, say, $400 million, that would vastly reduce costs for students who can make the grades and prove they deserve funding? In other words: provide a "free" education for students who truly can succeed? This would be about 2 cents on the dollar of our total state budget, yes" but aren't our young people worth that 2 cents? Wouldn't this then make Nevada a far more desirable place for significant new businesses and industries?

    At the same time, we could reorganize and restructure K-12 to consider a two-track system more generally, along the lines of the German model: Vocational Technical training in the trades; and College Preparation. And we'd also add a third track: Remedial Education, aimed at doing what we can do for the high percentage of drop-outs before they drop out. What would such a system look like? How much would it cost to achieve this? Would this work?

  13. Joe:

    I agree that there is entirely too much emphasis on the test part. As usual in this country, we swing from one extreme to another. New York State has offered the regents tests for decades. It can work. If you set a standard, a kid will work to make it.

    When you see the average kid leaving school without any ability to construct a sentence or having read nothing but textbooks for 12 years, something is wrong. Limit the use of multiple choice tests and make the kids write their way through it. Start early and keep pounding through each and every grade.

  14. The No Child Left Behind Law is asinine. Does anyone in his right mind really think that the schools will be able to pass 100% of its students? NCLB requires that by the year 2013-2014, schools should pass 100% - that is ALL STUDENTS in K-12! Never mind that we have over 100 languages we deal with everyday, and more coming every year. Never mind that we have crack babies coming to schools. Never mind that we have children having children and do not know what they heck they are doing. Never mind that we have children whose parents are incarcerated and they move from one foster home and from one school to another many times in a school year.

    The NCLB only made it possible for those publishing companies who know somebody in the system to get even richer. They tout their "academic programs" as "research-based" like magic salves to cure the school's ailing AYP. And, the schools buy them, spending millions of dollars and pushing it on us teachers. We barely master the old programs when new ones are pushed on us with directives of "fidelity of implementation." Now, we have to gather data every week, and heaven help us if our data do not improve each week. All we do is test, test, test. Adding insult to injury, we were given a token raise and now are taking it back and cutting our salaries to boot. OK! Can we do anything about it? Of course not. We do not have a voice. We have mufflers!

    And here is the community's contribution: WE DO NOT WANT TO GIVE YOU ANYTHING BECAUSE YOU ARE OVERPAID AND YOU ARE NOT DOING WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING! Well, ladies and gentlemen, keep your money. I do not want it, but I am asking you to care about what is going on in society.

    The teachers are the least of your problems. We simply do what we are told. Why don't you look at those who are running this Punch-and-Judy show?

  15. Professor Unger:

    Good morning. Applying your numbers of $25,000 per year per student to a student body of a hypothetical university would equal $625 million. Thrown in the overhead and infrastructure, you wind up with about $750 million or $30,000 per student per year.

    The $400 million is about 2% of the biennium budget of about $20 billion (the general fund is only a portion of this and I assume that you are taking total expenditures). Am I following thus far? This is $200 million per year?

    Plugging all of this together, we wind up with $8,000 per student if everyone gets a scholarship. This leaves $22,000 per student.

    Where does this come from? Does your proposal supplant state funding or is it in addition to it?

  16. What do you propose Nancy instead of no child left behind?

  17. To Turrialba: sorry for being unclear... $400 million would not take care of ALL students... about 1/3, going for those in need who do qualify and demonstrate potential. This would reduce costs not eliminate them entirey... And it's just an idea expanding on Gov. Guinn's vision.

    About costs: your 30K per year is about right, these days -- that is the actual "cost"; and Nevada wouldn't be alone in this cost... New Hampshire has an almost entirely tuition-funded state university at U. of New Hampshire: students pay about $25,000 (last time I checked, it's probably more now). What's happened there is that UNH has become a "second choice" school to the Ivy Leagues, mainly a rich-kids' college -- not much diversity to the student body, and, wow, so many middle-class students and their parents go so deep in hock to pay this (that percentage of middle-class students who attend). It's a good university, but I'd hate to see that model here, and don't think it would benefit at all the hard-working, older students we get at UNLV...

    My argument is that the state should pay more, for all the good economic and values reasons we have been discussiong. But don't do it through the NSHE system. Do it by inducements and rewards directly to the most worthy students.

    And of course, that brings up how to pay for this. We must do a gut check in this state on taxes, as we're doing now.

  18. Turri:

    One more time:
    1. Make the family whole again. Let's put our heads together and think about that. I, with a Cheshire cat grin, proposed having children as a privilege - with stiff licensing requirements. That would be akin to Hiel Nancy! So. Let's think of something more practical: Begin parenting classes in middle schools? Require those who get government assistance take parenting classes periodically? Require all parents to take parenting classes before we issue them driver's license?
    2. Before we accept applicants to the teaching program, let's look at our requirements first. If you do not have the stomach to be a teacher, you don't qualify. The 'stomach' requires taking insults, feeling like a failure but keeping at it and improving oneself, does not think money is important, work long hours, care about the future, missionary zeal, intelligence, patience, creativity, tenacity, and the like.
    3. Principals do their jobs! Leaders need to be leaders! Stress on accountability. Fire those administrators whose teachers are mediocre and did not do anything about it.

    Help Turri. You're smart. Instead of us posturing about this and that and money this, money that, let's look at what we have and do something about it. There are thousand of laws, NCLB, is one of them, that were not given much thought before it was adopted. I also believe that money is not the only answer. We need more accountability to add value to what we have.

  19. P.S.: I agree with A Sad Teacher about beginning with the family unit, addressing the deep, underlying social problems that afflict our community, and truly, this is the real reason our schools are failing (and not only here but nationally)...

    The problem: the larger economic stresses force even two-parent households to do less than they should to raise their kids -- two parents putting in overtime at low-wage jobs such that (and this is sad, but true) about half of Nevada families don't even have the time to sit down to a meal together more than twice a week, much less monitor homework (or help). My thoughts: more spending (even locally) on community centers, structured activities, tutoring services, big brother and sister programs... But that's in a more ideal world in which citizens recognize the benefits for the whole of paying higher taxes.

  20. Dr. Unger:

    I realize what I am proposing is idealistic. However, it does not mean that because it is difficult that we should not do it. We keep doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result. This is insanity (and stupid). MAYBE IT IS TIME WE TRY SOMETHING ELSE.

    "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
    Margaret Mead
    US anthropologist (1901 - 1978)

    The community really needs to be more involved. Indifference is widespread. Society has become selfish and greed is like cancer that has metastasized. We reward greed. We admire wealth and material things. Our leaders are chin-deep in it. And, we have forgotten what is really important - THE CHILDREN - THE FUTURE.

  21. A Sad Teacher: I agree, I agree, I agree... And I try to do my part (have run high impact, grant-funded literacy programs in high schools, have sat at the table arguing myself hoarse with CCSD curricular folks, have raised funding for various kinds of volunteers...). Problem is: do this long enough, hard enough, and we burn out. There are not enough reinforcements at the volunteer level, and when the private funding for all of the above goes away, the only solution is to push raising taxes (or so it seems to me...)

    Nicholas Kristoff has a great column in today's NYTimes: how teachers need to be paid more, not less, to solve a part of our education problem. Great statistics to back up his argument; and fine comparisons with other industrialized nations that are succeeding.

    Thank you for your posts, and your good heart --

  22. Roseanrose:
    Please, please understand the post. PLEASE. Your understanding of the issue is very shallow. YOU CANNOT TEACH A CHILD UNLESS YOU TAKE CARE OF THE CHILD'S MULTIPLE ISSUES FIRST. IT WILL NOT GO IN! Come to my classroom and I will pay you double of what those Scandinavian immigrants you are talking about make. I will give you a child whose mother was using crack all the time she was pregnant with him. Let's see if you can do better than what we are doing. Or easier, the one who does not even speak English. ONE CHILD, not 20, not 30, just one. That is all. Let's see what you can do.

  23. I'm not sure, what the public school system can do for the crack baby, except to offer opportunities outside the normal classroom environment.

    As for the non-English speaker, ESL for 2 years and the kid goes into regular class.

    There is a limit to the problems the school system can solve. Remember there is the plain old run of the mill average kid. We can't forget him/her.

  24. Sorry Turri:

    Yes. I haven't forgotten about them. The what you call run-of-the mill kids make our day. They are what make us think this jobs is worthwhile despite what our ignorant society thinks. The smart ones are like a gust of warm air on a cold winter night. The really difficult and challenging ones are the icing on the cake when we get them to learn!

    Honestly? You can't pay me enough to do this job, but I worry about what my own children and what my granchild's future would be like. I want to have a little bit of influence on what that future can be. To me, children are like raindrops. Droplets make a puddle. As each droplet falls, that puddle will become bigger and bigger and will encompass streams, lakes, and rivers and one day will meld into one big push for change. The power of a teacher is in each droplet. That is why I teach.

    And, that is why I am sticking my neck out.

  25. Nancy--you have not represented yourself honestly. You are a happy warrior and not a sad teacher.

  26. Turri:
    If you worked in schools, you will see what makes a teacher sad - children disenfranchised from the very start with neglect and abuse by parents, by their caretakers, and by society. Children are the poorest segment of our society and the most abused because they are defenseless.

    -----------------------

    Shannon K:

    Here's a high flying five!

    -----------------------

    To all those who are for children,let us put our heads together and come up with a better plan and stop the clowns from running the show. If you have the resources, please, let's begin. Anyone out there?

  27. Nancy:

    No way I could ever be a teacher.

  28. Minden_avenger:

    As we must look at EVERYTHING (as you say) during a recession from which may NEVER recover, why don't we look at the billions of dollars in BONUSES paid to Wall Street hacks all the while the taxpayer was forced to cover their losses before picking on education. You may not consider that an educated person is worth much but the fact is that our society has its' priorities backwards in celebrating and paying people who can kick a ball some dozens of yards far more than a dedicated teacher will earn in a lifetime. Think about it.

  29. Dear Prof. Unger:

    I am honored by your response to my letter and am grateful for the very logical and necessary posts that you have been making on this forum.

    Best regards,
    Michael

  30. Turrialba:

    Briefly in response to your question about how we can improve education in Nevada:

    1. Keep academic advising center open (it will be shut down with the budget cuts). This helps incoming students immensely.

    2. Give support and incentives to Nevada's best teachers. Recognize that, in the case of universities, a balance between research, service, and teaching must be emphasized, encouraged, and achieved.

    3. Don't cut philosophy - that is the core essence of a true education. Downsize it perhaps but don't cut it out.

    4. Encourage scientific literacy amongst our general populace by offering non-mathematically oriented courses for the general public and for our students.

    5. Compensate the university for students who are required to take remedial courses.

    I could go on and on but I have to go for now. We can discuss this further if you are interested.

  31. Or, a 15-year singing Oh baby, baby, baby a hundred or so times and people buy the records without any qualms, making him earn millions! The same people who HEE HAW about money spent on schools.

    I have a doctorate degree and they begrudge me my few thousand salary A YEAR with student loans to pay for as long as I live! Geez.

  32. Micheal:

    I agree with the philosophy department.

    As for the remedial courses. This is one area of education UNLV should not be in.

    Basically, the community college is where this should happen. If I understand some of the number the community college can do it for about one-half the cost of a university. I think the state should require entrance exams to those seeking admission or to matriculate to UNR and UNLV. Those who can't cut it, should look elsewhere to get themselves up to speed.

  33. Less stress today.

  34. I couldn't help but notice points 3 and 4 in Mr. Pravica's comment above. Personally, I would have made them 1 and 2.

    From my own experience I will state without hesitation that the three most important courses I have ever taken have been Logic, Philosophy and Public Speaking. I have used what I learned from them every day of my life.

    High school students get some exposure to these subjects, but not nearly enough. Even geometry, which is intended to teach critical thinking, is not presented (usually) with that being the goal. I would suggest that rather than require geometry, that a class in formal logic be offered to those students who are frightened by what they consider to be "higher math."

  35. Pravica,

    Nevada's tax collection per capita is 24th in the nation. http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/...

    Our education and research spending on higher education per pupil is 15th..

    How much more do you want? http://www.deltacostproject.org/analyses...

  36. Turri, Mark, Pravica,

    Nevada's K-12 education spending was $9,000 in 2008 http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d10/t... (daily average attendance)

    $8,300 in fall enrollment http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d10/t...

    both are adjusted to 2009 dollar values. Neither include expenditures for debt repayment or capital costs.

    That said, most experts agree the relationship between spending and student achievement grows weaker and weaker every year and in many cases no longer exists...

  37. Fellow Americans:

    Following the events in Wisconsin pertaining to education, I noticed a very similar-type organization behind the scenes entitled: "Wisconsin Policy Research Institute" (http://www.wpri.org/) which was very instrumental in aiding the Governor's effort to destroy collective bargaining there. As the Nevada Research and Policy Institute (http://www.npri.org/) has been mentioned quite frequently on this forum, it would appear that both organizations are cut from the same cloth in the national effort to destroy quality education for non "elites." Given the pathetic and desperate efforts that we have read from NPRI "professionals" on this forum and elsewhere, this reminds me of an organization, the "Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine" which was a pseudo-intellectual front to deny global warming (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?tit... ).
    With "experts" who don't even understand proper statistics making wild claims about the uselessness of higher education, it appears that Nevada has been infected with similar pseudo-intellectual efforts to ruin this state. All Nevadans should educate themselves on the efforts of these privately-run "think tanks" to rescind their future and freedom.

  38. Pravica,

    Has it ever occurred to you that the route to profit includes satisfying the needs of the customer?

    Think about this for a moment.

    How many types of cars can you buy? How many colors? Engine choices? Seat coverings? Wheels?

    The car companies compete for your business by providing what you want and are able to provide cars for a minority of people and a majority of people at the same time.

    Government can't do that. At best it can serve the needs of 51 percent and disappoint the rest. Why else do you think these political discussions are so heated?

  39. Gibbons:

    Welcome back! I was eagerly awaiting your comments which as usual, I am totally unconvinced by.

    http://www.lasvegasvegas.com/content/nev...

    http://www.etax2011.com/archive/Lowest%2....

    BTW, I'm still waiting for an explanation on how "regression analysis" is used in your "studies."

  40. Funny thing, I've been waiting for you to actually prove your claims....

    The Tax Foundation study actually does in fact rank our Tax Collection per capita about 25th 9I cited the liberal Brookings Institution instead of the conservative Tax Foundation).

    That said what you're referencing is taxes collected from residents. The Tax Foundation methodology excludes taxes on visitors and businesses.

    Since you're referencing low taxes on residents to mean low tax collection (these are two seperate things) I wanted to point out that overall tax collection in Nevada had been quite high.

  41. Gibbons:

    Was Bhopal about satisfying the customer? What about high fructose corn syrup? What about E coli-tainted foods (spinach, chicken, beef, etc.) mad cow beef - just as good as non- mad cow beef from a business leader's perspective as long as the customer doesn't know. What about British Petroleum? What about Chinese dry wall and melamine-tainted milk/pet food? What about faux medicines manufactured in China? What about dangerous SUVs which 99% of Americans don't need. Businesses create their markets by, more often than not, creating hype over substance, propaganda over truth about their products. Often, when no one is looking, they will pull the classic "bait and switch" tactics to make their profits at the expense and safety of the public. Upton Sinclair wrote a classic novel entilted, "The Jungle" about these corporate abuses. It is the government that must police these wild "laws of the jungle"/profit-at-all cost entities for the public interest. Who else will?

  42. See here: http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/...

    Both the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution are left-of-center think tanks.

    The statistic you're looking for to make your point is not how low the taxes are on residents but how much taxes are collected PER resident (that tells us how much the government actually collects for the people it serves).

  43. Gibbons:

    Nevada has no income taxes. We need to get corporations to be more patriotic to their "customers" and the citizens of this great state and contribute their fair share. End of story!

  44. high fructose corny syrup exists because of 1) government subsidies and 2) the U.S. taxes imported raw sugar at 120 percent....

    E Coli outbreaks are rare but we had 3 agencies regulating and checking food even before the last outbreak. You guys always want more regulation everytime there is a problem.

    We had over 100 financial regulatory bodies by the market crashed in 2008....yup you guys wanted more regulatory powers...

    That said for every example you give where there was a problem there are a thousand more companies working hard to satisfy customer needs.

  45. Pravica,

    That is silly. First of all, if your end goal is just a corporate tax or more taxes we have a different story all together.

    Second, the corporate tax is highly volatile.

    Third, corporations are just middlemen for tax collection. They pass taxes off to 1) consumers with higher prices 2) workers with fewer job opportunities or lower wages before they pass them off to 3) shareholders

    Corporate taxes, in other words, are just indirect taxes on the people - its the government taking advantage of people who don't know better.

    Finally, "fair share" is an entirely meaningless term.

  46. an interesting aside Pravica, several states don't allow collective bargaining for government workers - Wisconsin isn't the first. Second it seems to slow down rapid unsustainable government spending but still doesn't slow it down to the point of making the spending growth sustainable in the long run. That is, ending collective bargaining isn't the end game the left (or right) makes it out to be.

  47. Gibbons:

    You are the silly one. I can't debate ignorance and immaturity. You are arguing for the "trickle down" theory of economics which is entirely bogus and never worked but was just a guise for the rich to get richer. Corporations that derive income from Nevada need to pay their fair share - why is that meaningless? Just because you are the "expert" and say so? This is the problem with America. No one - especially not those who can afford to pay for propagandists to trumpet their "cause" - wants to pay their fair share. Globalist corporations are not patriotic to this nation and are expecting the ever-shrinking middle class to cover not only their losses but also expecting ordinary Americans to shoulder the tax burden to pay for ridiculous and expensive wars in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq while our nation's infrastructure is crumbling.

  48. Pravica, don't call people ignorant and immature if you're going to throw around "trickle down economics" not know what it actually means or even realize I said nothing about trickle down economics. In other words, actually comprehend what I'm saying and debate the points I'm making, not reconstruct my points so you can argue with a straw man.

  49. Gibbons:

    Why do the excessively wealthy (many of whom - not all of course - who have garnered/stolen their wealth from the backs of hardworking citizens) have the right to pay for lobbyists and for the election of (i.e. "buying of") politicians in this country but ordinary citizens don't have the right to collectively bargain? I alert you to the following story:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/arch...

  50. The term fair share is meaningless. Who determines what is "fair"? Who gets to define fair?

    Why do you think corporations take? Did they put a gun to someone's head? What if the people voluntarily part with the money in exchange for a good or service? That isn't taking.

    Government takes. You take. You demand. Should we have you pay the fair share? After all you're a bigger beneficiary of government spending that I am.

    I think as a scientist you should appreciate sticking to objective measures not subjective nonsense like "fair share"

  51. Do you think an entity which is attached to another entity which controls a monopoly on violence and for which the customers it serves have no other choice but to pay for the provision of its services have, itself, a monopoly to bargain for additional wages and benefits that said customers have no right to negotiate, no right to know the details, and no right to choose another service provider if the prices get to high?

    Its about government collective bargaining not private sector collective bargaining. Government workers shouldn't have collective bargaining rights because of the unfair advantages it gives government workers over the citizens who by law (and by force) must pay without equal representation in the negotiations).

  52. Gibbons:

    You are throwing around the immature and silly words. I am just responding to them in kind. You honestly don't debate very well. You like to criticize and insult anyone who doesn't share your point of view but don't enjoy it when you are criticized - that is immature. If you want to dish it out, you had better be prepared to take it.
    That said, I'm not necessarily a fan of collective bargaining but I am totally against the corporate control that is exerted in Washington and elsewhere via lobbyists and political contributions. That has to change for our nation's future success. This is a democracy - not a corporate oligarchy. Our best, most productive, and most patriotic citizens are not necessarily the wealthiest. In the past and today, corporations abused their employees that forced strikes, and the formation of unions to combat the "profit-at-all-costs" mentality that destroyed many lives. The problem with our society is that there is no balance between the rights of individuals (the pursuit of happiness and freedom) and the power of corporations as the checks and balances are falling like dominoes and this is beginning to cause class warfare. Every true, compassionate, and good-hearted American understands the meaning of "fair" - it is ingrained in us by our Creator or by our evolution - however you wish to view it. I feel sorry for you that you don't seem to understand this. When a corporation understands that it is in the best interest of its' customers and employees to have them educated, they will contribute their fair share of taxes without complaints and without trying to buy off local "elected" officials to alter the tax laws to skirt their responsibility to the communities they serve and profit from.

  53. Gibbons:

    Yes, I am a scientist and understand and routinely visit the objective, cold cruel world of Nature via my experiments where Her secrets are not given up willingly. However, I am not a robot. I am a human being who cares about my fellow human beings, is fascinated by the Universe in all its' glory, and realize that without education, we go back to the Dark Ages where witches, dragons, and the Bubonic Plague routinely persecuted and visited our ancestors and to the status of a desperate and impoverished Third World nation with a very small number of fabulously wealthy "elites" and the vast majority of impoverished plebians. I realize that education is freedom and ignorance is slavery. Yet it seems that 1984, where the opposite would pass as "Newspeak," is creeping up on us in 2011. I want my students to be free thinkers and to ask questions and challenge "conventional" wisdom. It is these questions that will drive the next generation of discoveries that you or I are unable to predict. Better to be a little bit "subjective" and compassionate than to be overly "objective" and fascist.

  54. I spoke too soon. Sorry everyone.

  55. Patrick--I have told you repeatedly not to send emails to me. Period.

    Say it on this site or not at all.

  56. Drs. Pravica, Unger, Lamy, Turrialba, et al.

    Please do not even respond to immature and silly comments. It is a waste of space. We need to use this forum to find solutions to the problems at hand. It is hard to duel with someone who does not have the same weapons as you have. Let us just ignore him. We really cannot change anyone's thinking when his frame of references are on the other side of the spectrum. It's futile.

  57. Patrick you have zero credibility on education issues.

    Go away and leave us good citizens alone so we can have a grown up discussion about these issues.

  58. Thank you Professor Pravica for knocking down Patrick's propaganda. I say this as a completely non religious person but amen to telling Patrick to go away Turrialba. Do you think there is a strong correlation between what we as a society spend on education and how well we all do?

  59. @anchorbine

    LOL. This conservative is also tired of reading the nonsensical gibbo rants day after day. No doubt you will receive an email rant from the Gibbons.

  60. Dear Fellow Americans:

    I have clearly hit a "nerve" with NPRI extremists and like-minded anti-intellectual/anti-education individuals as the propaganda battle against my viewpoints has gone beyond this forum. To demonstrate the techniques of these individuals who must "get their way" at all costs, there is some extremist blogger "Chuck Muth" who as Mr. Gibbons did, published some vicious attacks on me in his blog. In the blog post, titled: "Prof. 'Pravda' Pravica Strikes Again," in response to my letter, he racistly mocks my last name intimating that I am a Communist instead of a true American patriot who cares about my fellow Americans - this is clearly unAmerican. He calls me a "ignoramus" and anyone who agrees with me "an ignoramus squared." For one who condemned me for "hyperbole" earlier in response to my Review Journal letter two Sunday's ago, Muth is a hypocrite! Chuck Muth mentions my alleged salary which is way off base. Nine months of my salary derives from the State of Nevada-the rest came from Department of Defense and Department of Energy Federal grants. Physics is extremely critical to much of our national security, wellbeing, and economy (not that scientifically-illiterate people such as Mr. Gibbons and Mr. Muth would know) and our high pressure center is world-reknown so much so that Los Alamos donated over 2 million dollars of equipment to my lab. Though I don't make as much as a Los Alamos scientist, nevertheless, my research is considered important as well as my training of students for future careers in these facilities. But for propagandists such as Muth, we'll absorb that extra income (as well as per diem reimbursement for expenses derived from my many business trips) and any benefits and pretend that it all comes from Nevada!
    This morning, I received a weird message from someone posting on Gibbons' facebook page decrying my salary illustrating yet again that when they can't win the argument with facts, the extremists such as Mr. Gibbons must resort to more vicious, barbaric and libelous means. But, far from being intimidated, I'm ready for more! Truth will always ultimately be victorious over lies and propaganda and this issue is far too critical to ignore.
    The lessons learned are clear: When the extremists can't get what they want and just don't know how to debate you, they try to scare those who demolish their ridiculous and immature arguments and publicly attack them just as was done during the McCarthy era. Call them "ignoramus's" even if they have a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard. Who needs Ph.D.'s? Insult those who don't agree with them and intimidate true debate to prevent the coalescence of shared points of view (divide and conquer). And of course, do everything behind their back similarly to what the communists and the Nazis did so well. Folks, this happened in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia and we should never tolerate this behavior in this country lest we lose it to creeping totalitarianism.

  61. Professor Pravica:

    Don't let the dirt get you down by their name calling.

    T.

  62. Maybe we should modify our educational system to accommodate the "Khan Academy" model? The Department of Education might not like it because it actually works. The teachers may like it because it would make their jobs easier and they could handle more students in each class. It's the way of the future. Nevada parents and private industry should get a head start now instead of waiting for the Government to do something. So far they have only succeeded in "dumbing" us down. Kids can't even count change these days.

  63. Muth and Gibbons won't tell you their salaries -- nor who pays them. Neither will they tell you who fronts expenses for their right-wing screeds: the neo-fascistic "think tanks" and "PAC"s that do the bidding of big business interests at the expense of the ordinary citizen (and taxpayer).

    Dr. Pravica: still, all you have to do to answer these dangerous idiots is to quote their ideology right back at them -- i.e.: it's a "free market" and it pays what the market bears.

    Also: that you bring in five times your Nevada state salary in grants that are of direct benefit to the university and its students, and to the knowledge base in your field.

    So many of us do: they tried this tactic on me as well -- an old R-J gimmick to gin up ignorant public opinion against education by quoting salaries. Then so often, they cite the wrong amount as they portray qualified, top-ranked professors as drags on the state budget.

    Though Humanities cannot compete with the Sciences for grants, for 2001-2006, count three of us working for the old IIML who brought in 700K per year in private donations and 80K in grants; now the Black Mountain Institute that has partnered with the program I co-founded (and the old IIML) continues to bring in aproximately 500K per year due to Dr. Harter's fund-raising talents and very dedicated work.

    Few understand this, and the Gibbons' and Muths' of the world will never admit the truth: that a good professor works not only for the classroom and the lab but contributes multiple times his or her state salary for the prestige and financial well-being of the university and for the citizens of our state.

    Keep going, Dr. Pravica. You are a voice of clarity and reason during this difficult debate!

  64. Professors Unger and Pravica:

    We still have fiscal constraints of today and the long-term cost issues. Higher education still faces the issue of cost containment. This is certainly a long-term issue. If UNLV were provided $47.5 million for next biennium wouldn't it be back for more in 2013 and probably more than cost increases observed in the general economy?

    We are here in Nevada in 2011. More money will not forthcoming in the near term given the current economy and the culture of this state. This is the here and now.

    Given the existing constraints coupled with the modest at best prospects for long-term growth, doesn't something have give?

  65. Michael Pravica, well said and nicely written.

    As to speaking with the liberal minions about logic, good luck, you'd have a much more intellectual conversation speaking to a nail in the wall than attempting to effectively communicate anything logical or substantive with the liberal mindless minions who post here. You're wasting valuable time trying to educate a mindless liberal troll who can't comprehend the simplest task in life; we call this thinking with your own brain and not relying on other peoples thoughts to makes up one's own mind.

  66. The fiscal constraints can be solved -- what it takes is changing what you call "the culture of our state." The "no new taxes" mantra must also butt up aginst the reality: the Nonpartisan Tax Foundation has found that every year for the past three decades Nevada ranks among the lowest combined state-and-local tax rates in the nation (ranging from 47-49). According to "The Sun", a majority of our fellow citizens would rather see a tax increase than the complete decimation of education and state services.

    The solution: don't "sunset" the 2009 fix; and either add a 1% tax to services, or raise the "fix" -- this could provide 80% of the budget deficit "hole". This would be far better than the immoral choices: leaving hundreds of vulnerable children at risk because of cuts in family services; leaving mentally ill people out raving in our streets because of cuts in mental health services; and decimating what took a generation to build at UNR and UNLV.

    As for costs: in higher education, our universities can contain them; already, costs have been cut radically. Give higher education the last biennium's budget, cut the salaries 5% as planned, and let's not raise tuition on our students.

  67. Professors a couple of observtions:

    First, I am not surprised by Professor Unger and Professor Pravica's comments. They wouldn't be worth a damn if they were not advocating their cause. Cuts would be easy if this were the case. Instead we have some very hard choices. Choices are good.

    Second, Professor Unger notes the 5% salary reductions under consideration at the UNLV. This is certainly help on the costs side. Can these be sustained over time?

    The answer is propably not. The costs higher education have exceeded those in the general economy for almost every year over the past 50 years (there are a few notable exceptions during the mid-1970s). This is a systemic problem. The solutions described above don't drive at the core of the long-term problem.

    http://www.commonfund.org/CommonfundInst...

    Third, it lead to the question of if costs have increased at a pace which exceeds consumer prices, have the benefits also increased at a similar pace? Do the marginal benefits of higher education (however you account for them) exceed the marginal costs of education? Does each dollar added to the budget bring something equal to the one dollar back to society? This is a very subjective problem.

    Fourth, do any of the above apply to Nevada? If we don't value something, does it mean it doesn't have value. Joe maybe alluding to this in his comment immediately above.

    Fifth, the problems discussed above relate to a fundamental question of how we organize our society. Plato was concerned with this question in the 5th century BC Athens during a period of crisis. It is still relevant today, even for those of us who only see the shadows in the metaphoric cave. We still can try.

  68. Costs: I know what it's like to cut costs. As Chair of English during the first rounds of state cuts 2007-2009, I cut the budget of the largest department on the UNLV campus from 5.5 million to 4.75 million: 4 lay-offs of non-tenured Faculty-in-Residence (real cost: 32 classes per year); 2 retirement or transfer positions left un-replaced (real cost: partial integrity of one degree track and sacrifice of one sub-field of literature taught for decades now no longer taught); 8 Part-Time Instructors (real cost: 24 classes per year); reduced paper costs (copy machine) from 60k to 40k by going digital as much as possible (real cost: less effective communications); and other costs -- travel, phone, the little extras that improve morale like modest holiday celebrations at lunch for the staff; all cut, cut, cut" When faced with a department repair estimated to cost 10K in that aging, badly designed building (re-writing, partial wall re-construction, asbestos abatement, a nightmare)" well, let's just say an angel magically appeared in the middle of the night and drilled a hole in the wall, strung $30 worth of patch cable, and the problem got "fixed" (in violation of codes)" Still, what else to do for a broke department? Plus, out of my own pocket, as there was no longer any budget for it, I personally paid the dinner checks for prestigious visiting writers and scholars so selected students and faculty could benefit from this up-close time with them (a custom in our field, great for the students, and a first-rate university cannot just invite a Pulitzer Prize winner or a Nobel Laureate and say "dinner on your own""): my personal out-of-pocket expenses for just for this topped 5K per year. By the end of 2009: class schedule so streamlined at 90% capacity (achieving 100% is impossible) that some students (a few) could not register required courses( also a "cost"); graduate student offices still like a slum, not accessible to a fine, worthy student in a wheelchair (also a "cost";) and, far worse: a sense that any vision of building for better quality, continually improving for the future, has been lost to Nevada's "no new taxes" parsimony. And educators don't do what we do for the money, we do it for the gratification of contributing to humanity and the world, of building something of value that lasts beyond our own lives, and, more basically, the satisfaction of being a positive influence on the lives of our students, of passing on our knowledge and what we know about acquiring knowledge to them, as a legacy.

    Costs? We've already cut costs. But the real "costs" cannot be measured in dollars and cents. The true costs of what we have already sacrificed can't be measured. And, personally, I'd rather go take a job as a deckhand on a fishing boat (as I used to do) than ever have to cut a cost again.

  69. Professor Unger:

    This is why the high education system must be rebuilt from the ground up. The model now in place is unraveling. The state needs to pick certain areas and concentrate resources in those areas to insure that these areas are the best they can be. This means fewer programs and students.

    It isn't going to be pretty, but the higher education has to work within its means. If the $47.5 million is restored, what next?

  70. Joe:

    You nailed it on the head. Education should be affordable and accessible. The cost problem is pricing everyone out, the student, the taxpayer, and this is not good.

    This is everyone's problem. The model needs fixing.

  71. Hi Joe,
    We are in essence fighting over coyote bones in terms of funding and taxation. Meanwhile the 400 wealthiest individuals laugh at all the poor and middle class people who vote for conservatives:

    http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/stat...

  72. To Professor Unger, Joe, Tim, and Turrialba:

    Thank you for your positive comments. Sorry for the delayed response. Unlike Chuck Muth and Patrick R. Gibbons, I have a real job that I love very much and with which I was quite occupied this past week and unable to respond until now. Writing a research paper on aluminum nitride, collaborating with a philosophy professor on another research paper, and performing infrared synchrotron experiments on Long Island were merely a small portion of my "to do" list this past week. Though Mr. Muth thinks that writing in support of education and in support of improving Nevada is extracurricular and self-serving, in fact, I am expected to serve my community by communicating science and the joys as well as benefits of intellectual scholarship. It's part of my job description: community service. In the University and in communities that support and respect scholars, we are viewed as local leaders. Experts to turn to when needing advice (e.g. on the BP Gulf oil spill) and individuals who *profess* their knowledge and expertise to the larger community (from which they derive support) in the philosophy that an educated and informed populace makes a better society and democracy.