Real Clear Policy: #WasteOfTheDay Week 122 80_wotd_wk_122

June 12, 2023 12:50 PM




Chicago School Principals Average $157K, Unionizing

June 12, 2023


The Chicago Principals & Administrators Association wants to form a union separately of the Chicago Teachers’ Union, even though principals are already well paid, averaging $157,550 in salary, while assistant principals average $126,000 per year.

Chalkbeat Chicago reported the move to unionize, which includes filing a petition and designating school leaders. Approximately 80% of principals and assistant principals signed the petition. This is allowed under a new law the Illinois legislature passed last year giving principals and administrators the ability to unionize.

The already-high pay averages are both substantially higher than other principals and assistant principals in Illinois, which average $116,400 and $100,000, respectively. Median household income in Chicago is $65,781.

This movement is likely to succeed. Mayor Brandon Johnson has already signaled support for this unionization attempt during his campaign, and has created a deputy mayor for labor relations position that will “foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of Chicago” and “assure work-related benefits and rights.”

Meanwhile, students in Chicago Public Schools are suffering. Only about 20% of students can read at grade level, and about 15% can do math at grade level, according to the Illinois Policy Institute. These number are drastically lower than pre-pandemic numbers: down 10% for reading and 20% for math.

Chicago principals and assistant principals should focus their efforts on educating the students that desperately need it, not on power grabs for personal enrichment.


NC Spends $18M of Covid 19 Funds on Racetrack

June 13, 2023


North Wilkesboro Speedway, a NASCAR racetrack in rural North Carolina, received $18 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for a “revitalization” project approved by state lawmakers of both parties, according to National Review.

The outlet reported that Gov. Roy Cooper (D), State House Speaker Tim Moore (R), and State Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R) all supported spending this money to revitalize the racetrack, which recently had its first major NASCAR race in decades, albeit an exhibition race.

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees of major races in the future at North Wilkesboro Speedway, with NASCAR unwilling to commit to future events, due in part to its isolated rural location, its small capacity, and its aging racing track, which hasn’t been repaved since 1981.

While the recent Cup Series all-star race at the track was well received by fans, it didn’t award points like other major races across the country, and the location of this annual event changes each year, so it isn’t guaranteed to return.

The unlikelihood of major races returning to North Wilkesboro Speedway may be why its owners, Speedway Motorsports, haven’t invested in this facility with its own money. Luckily, state legislators were willing to spot them $18 million, which went toward improving water, sewage, and other infrastructure at the track.

ARPA was bloated with overspending. Rather than giving the money back to the federal government, states found creative ways to spend extra funds on anything they could, even abandoned motor speedways that may never see another NASCAR race.



SEC Awards Whistleblower $279M

June 14, 2023


The Securities and Exchange Commission has awarded its largest whistleblower award ever, worth $279 million, to an unidentified person who alerted the SEC to misconduct at a company that was already under investigation, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In keeping with government policy, the whistleblower and the company they blew the whistle on are both unnamed to protect the individual. The SEC credits the whistleblower with “expanding its probe and for providing ongoing assistance through written submissions and interviews” according to the Journal.

Whistleblower awards are typically 10-30% of fines collected from civil enforcement actions resulting from a tip. The previous record for a whistleblower’s payout was $114 million, less than half of the recent award.

The SEC noted that tips from the whistleblower also led to enforcement action by other federal agencies, which increased the award amount, although the SEC didn’t say by how much.

While there is nothing wrong with incentivizing individuals to come forward with information, a $279 million award seems excessive, especially considering the company was already under investigation by the SEC. Merely expanding the scope of an investigation should not make you a multimillionaire.

Since the total fine amount is unclear, its’ impossible to know if this award was closer to 10% or 30% of the total fine amount. If it was closer to 30%, the SEC should explain why the whistleblower couldn’t have been fairly compensated with a smaller award, as the remaining money could go toward further enforcement action.

If it was closer to 10%, then there should be a serious discussion about caps on the total award amount to ensure award are fair and enticing, but not outrageous.



Throwback Thursday: Doctors Allowed to Welch on Student Loans

June 15, 2023


Throwback Thursday! 

In 1982, well-paid doctors were delinquent in $28.1 million worth of student loan repayments – over $88 million in 2023 dollars – while the federal government slacked off on pursuing repayment.

Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, awarded the Public Health Service his Golden Fleece Award for this nonsensical waste of money.

According to Proxmire, the program was intended to incentivize students to attend costly medical school by offering low interest loans to students in different areas of medicine. The loans were for 10 years and were at a subsidized interest rate.

These generous terms yielded positive results, with many graduates earning handsome salaries averaging $80,000 in 1982 — more than $250,000 today.

Unfortunately, many doctors decided to take advantage of lax collection practices and refused to pay back the money they owed on their student loans.

The $28.1 million in delinquent loans represented 11% of borrowers, and the Public Health Service estimated about $5 million of that may be uncollectable, partly because of statutes of limitations.

Some of the delinquent doctors were employed by prestigious medical institutions like Harvard, University of Illinois, and University of California, giving them no excuse for not having the money to pay their loans back.

While efforts began in 1982 toward more stringent enforcement, with new powers given to the government by Debt Collection Act, that is not an excuse for the 20 years of neglect that led to a $28.1 million pile up of outstanding debt.

Much like the debate over student loan forgiveness today, affluent graduates that took advantage of subsidized loans should pay back the money they borrowed, and the government should aggressively pursue collection to ensure it gets its money back.



LA Spends $10K Each for Shade/Light Structures

June 16, 2023


Los Angeles recently unveiled a new prototype of a structure to provide shade and light at city bus stops as part of its gender equity action plan.

Named “La Sombritas,” the four pilot structures cost around $10,000 a piece, and will soon be built across LA.

According to StreetsBlog LA, the structures were designed by nonprofit Kounkuey Design Initiative, and were commissioned in response to women in LA asking for more shade and lighting at bus stops.

In a statement, the organization said, “The participants in our resident advisory committee for the Gender Equity Action Plan expressed a clear need for lighting and shade, this is a way to move the needle on that.”

The very narrow structures are aptly described by Slate as “a Popsicle-shaped metal grate, 24 inches wide, bolted to the top of a bus pole near the edge of the curb.” They feature a meshed metal grate meant to create shade, and also boast a light for nighttime.

Despite their elementary design, LA Mayor Karen Bass lauded the structures, saying, “Improvements like La Sombrita will make our neighborhoods safer, healthier and more livable.”

StreetsBlog noted that while the ideas of providing shade from the hot sun and light at night are good, faster, more frequent bus service should be prioritized to get riders off the sidewalk and onto the bus faster.

Only government could find a way to spend close to $10,000 to affix a piece of sheet of metal on a pole to provide shade and light and tout it as advancing gender equity.

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at

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