From Volume 38, Issue 10 of EIR Online, Published Mar. 11, 2011

U.S. Economic/Financial News

Florida Teachers Take to the Streets as Obama Visits State

March 5 (EIRNS)—Florida has seen ever-greater numbers of teachers taking to the streets all throughout the state last week—often with their students—culminating on March 4, when President Obama, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan met in Miami to push so-called educational "reforms," targeting teachers and minority students, which are being forced through in Florida by Gov. Rick Scott (E). Scott wants to cut $3 billion from education, and end teacher seniority, among other disastrous changes.

On March 4, Miama-Dade County teachers converged from 18 separate protests, to Miami Central Senior High School where Obama was speaking with the other two evildoers.

At the same time, teachers were protesting boisterously in four locations in Pinellas County; the sign-in sheet for one of those rallies alone showed 400 participants. Three protests were being held in Pasco County. An estimated 350 demonstrated at nine sites in Collier County. About 75 demonstrated in Polk County. Teachers had demonstrated in Nassau County on March 3. And, so on throughout the state.

Demonstrations have been called around the state on March 8, in "Wake the State Day." Then, the legislature is expected to vote next on March 9, and protesters will converge on the state capitol in Tallahassee.

Hedge Funds Richer, Thanks to Frank-Dodd

March 2 (EIRNS)—The Financial Times reports on March 2, that hedge funds have made huge profits, thanks to the Frank-Dodd "financial reform" bill. By preventing proprietary trading for banks, it left a vacuum to be filled by hedge funds. Thus, in the second half of 2010, the top ten hedge funds made $28 billion for clients, more than $2 billion more than the combined profits of Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Barclays, and HSBC.

On top of the all-time winners is George Soros's Quantum Endowment fund, with $35 billion since its creation in 1973. John Paulson's fund is close behind with $32.2 billion. In the second half of 2010, Paulson made gains of $5.8 billion (ironically, these figures are published by Edmund de Rothschild's LCH Investments).

Houston Budget Will Put 2,300 City Workers Out of Work

March 4 (EIRNS)—Houston Mayor Annise Parker has announced 5% across-the-board cuts in police, fire, and court jobs, with layoffs of up to 2,300 city employees. Parks, libraries, and other city departments will have their budgets cut by 27%. Harris County has already announced significant cuts, of $138 million, amounting to an across-the-board cut of 10%.

The Houston Independent School District (HISD) also announced cutbacks last night, with 25 "magnet schools"—which have special curricula—set to lose their special status. In all, 55 of the 113 magnet programs will be cut, included special programs in math, science, music, art, and language.

At a hearing last night, 300 parents attended, with one parent, whose son is in the science magnet program, telling the HISD Board, "Cut my kid's magnet program, I'm going to protest. Math and science, you shouldn't cut. I will fight." The Board's proposal would save money, in part, through ending transportation services which take children to magnet programs outside of their neighborhood schools.

Trumka Defends Teachers, Says Unions didn't Crash the Economy

March 4 (EIRNS)—In an op-ed in the March 4 Wall Street Journal, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka takes on what he calls "a group of radical GOP governors" who are demanding cuts in wages and pensions for public employees, and taking away their collective bargaining rights for public workers. These governors claim that public workers are budget-busting parasites, but, Trumka stresses, "It wasn't teachers or firefighters or nurses who crashed the stock market and caused the recession that led to millions of layoffs and foreclosures. It was the so-called engine of our economy—Wall Street—which has suffered no consequences after nearly destroying the global financial system in 2008."

In a PBS interview March 3, Trumka attacked the myth that public employee unions caused the state budget crises. "The five states in the United States that prohibit collective bargaining by public employees, they have a cumulative debt of $222 billion. Collective bargaining didn't cause that. Look, this isn't about public employees. This was caused by the crisis and the recession that we have. We have 15 million people out of work. Put them back to work, they pay taxes, the economy starts to hum, and all of us start to do that, live better."

And he explained what's at stake if collective bargaining is destroyed, starting with teachers: "You know what they bargain for? They bargain for smaller class size. You know what police bargain for? They bargain for equipment that will save their lives out on the street. They want to take that away from them. Now, a police officer knows what they need. A firefighter knows what they need. And a teacher bargaining for a smaller class size is trying to bargain for all of us."

All rights reserved © 2011 EIRNS