Even on this idyllic island off the coast of Rhode Island, I keep one eye on politics back home.
Particularly pension politics.
Yesterday, Friday, the TRS board lowered the estimate of investment returns from %7.5 to 7%. It is not much more than an actuarial number unconnected to what the investments do or do not earn, but will affect the amount the state pays into the state public employee pensions funds by about $500 million.
The Trib and the Governor will scream. But the state carries a pension liability of over $111 billion. So an extra $500 million? C’mon. And the state wouldn’t even have to pay that if it weren’t for the huge pension liability that it carries in the first place.
Do not expect the state legislature, Democrats, Republicans or the Governor – especially the Governor – to address basic fundamental revenue issues.
On the other hand.
I have been watching my 13-year old granddaughter take on the ukulele.
I have been reminded again about the fundamental basis for how people learn.
I was with her a few weeks ago when she showed me her new instrument. She knew I played. Her’s was a pretty uke with engravings in the wood. She had taught herself a few chords by looking it up on her cell phone.
On our way to Block Island we picked up her and her family in Brooklyn. When we got to the island she realized she had left her new uke at home.
Fortunately I had my my Lanakai tenor uke.
Over the past week I have watched her (without any interference by me) go from making up her own songs with the chords she knew, to going online and learning to play songs by reading the chords.
If you asked me 40 years ago when I began teaching elementary Art if I knew anything about school budgets, insurance, contracts, bargaining or pensions I would laugh.
Some of it I had to learn because of my responsibility to others. Some of it I was interested in learning.
It was primarily self-taught.
It may turn out that my granddaughter will take some lessons.
But the drive to learn is always present.
Everyone is learning all the time.
Even if it’s not on the test.