For some perspective, we've compiled data on the average wages of elementary-school, middle-school, and high school teachers in more than 300 metropolitan areas. As you'll see, most teachers make more than $45,320, the average yearly wage for all occupations tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet the range of what they earn varies widely: Elementary-school teachers in Jefferson City, Missouri, earn an average of $37,090; their colleagues in Long Island, New York, earn an average of $90,560.
Click on a city on the map below for more information on teachers' average wages within its greater metropolitan area. Note: Earnings do not include benefits.
Platforms' planks come and go: For instance, accusing Democrats of "work[ing] unceasingly to achieve their goal of national socialism" (1952), increasing federal arts funding (1976), or calling for biodegradable plastics (1992). But some core themes remain the same. For a quick look at how Republican platforms have changed in the past seven decades, I examined some of the party platforms kept on file with the University of California-Santa Barbara's American Presidency Project. A few things that stood out:
Platforms are getting longer: The 1948 GOP platform clocked in at a tidy 2,739 words. By 2004, it had bloated to more than 41,000 words. This year's is a little slimmer, but it's hardly a quick read.
Heroes and foes come and go: George W. Bush has received more love (relative to the length of party platforms) than even Ronald Reagan, yet he went from being mentioned 250 times in 2000 to being mentioned 3 times in passing this year. Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter have been popular bogeymen. Barack Obama, however, is mentioned only 9 times this year, usually in the phrase "Obamacare." Reagan is also mentioned 9 times this year.
Complaning about taxes never grows old: The Republican party seems more tax-obsessed than ever, yet unfair taxation has been a constant theme in its platforms for decades. Debt and God also get regular mentions. Communism, once a top international and domestic concern, is all but forgotten.
Richard Aoki at a 1968 Black Panthers rallyCalifornia WatchThe Center for Investigative Reporting has a fascinating new story about Richard Aoki, a '60s Berkeley activist who joined the Black Panthers, helped arm the militant group, and became known as a fierce radical—all while working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This revelation has upended the reputation of the man Panthers cofounder Bobby Seale praised as "a Japanese radical cat." It also adds another chapter to the FBI's long history of using undercover informants to surveil extremists, both real and imagined.
An FBI agent first recruited Aoki in the late 1950s and asked him to gather information on various leftist groups. "The activities that he got involved in was because of us using him as an informant," his original FBI handler told reporter Seth Rosenfeld. Aoki went on to report on the Communist Party, the Socialist Workers Party, the Young Socialist Alliance, and the Vietnam Day Committee before joining the Black Panthers in 1967.
He became the organization's most prominent nonblack member and was named "Field Marshall at large." Yet as informant "T-2," Aoki was secretly reporting on its activities. His career as an FBI asset is recorded in documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests. Rosenfeld told me that the documents do not mention whether the Feds asked Aoki to join the Panthers.
Aoki also helped arm the Panthers. None of Rosenfeld's FBI reports mention that Aoki gave weapons to the group, so it's not clear if he did so with the agency's knowlege or blessing. In his memoir, Seale recalled that he and fellow Panther Huey Newton had prodded Aoki to give them guns from his personal collection: "We told him that if he was a real revolutionary he better go on and give them up to us because we needed them now to begin educating the people to wage a revolutionary struggle. So he gave us an M-1 and a 9mm." Either way, Aoki later took credit for contributing to "the military slant to the organization's public image"—an image that, Rosenfeld writes, eventually "contributed to fatal confrontations between the Panthers and the police."
"I grew up on Ayn Rand," Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) recounted in a speech before the Atlas Society in 2005. The future vice presidential nominee went on to explain how the author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead inspired him to enter public service, adding that her books were "required reading" for his Congressional staff and interns. "There is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism than through Ayn Rand's writings and works," he concluded.
Though Ryan has since tried to distance himself from Rand, his youthful devotion to the founder of Objectivism is not uncommon. Celebrities, a former Federal Reserve chairman, tech entrepreneurs, and tea partiers have claimed her as an inspiration, citing her unapologetic advocacy of selfishness, the pursuit of wealth, and unfettered capitalism. Rand's writings and ideas are arguably more influential now than ever.
Here are some longreads about Rand's personal history, her philosophy, her fans and foes, and her impact. For more longform stories from the pages of Mother Jones, check out our longreads archive.
"Possessed" | Thomas Mallon | The New Yorker | November 2009
If anything can be said about Rand, it's that she evokes strong reactions from readers. Reviewing two recent biographies of Rand, Mallon explores the cultish devotion she inspired, starting with the acolytes who began following her in the 1950s.
The young libertarians beginning to gather at Rand's feet in her Murray Hill apartment called themselves, with less irony than they believed, the Collective. Among them was Alan Greenspan, whom Rand nicknamed the Undertaker. By most accounts, the future Federal Reserve chairman behaved with less slavish subordination than the other self-professed individualists, who regarded Rand, according to Burns, "as a genius without compare." The philosopher's most famous directive was "Check your premises," but those in her orbit never dared question hers. They adopted Rand's tastes in everything from furniture to music (Rachmaninoff, good; Brahms, bad), and tightened themselves into a circle that came to be governed by loyalty tests and living-room show trials.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Mitt Romney's new running mate, has been hailed as the closest thing to a libertarian on the Republican ticket since Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). "Ryan is going to be very attractive to the broad libertarian voters," the Cato Institute's David Boaz told Buzzfeed. But aside from his Ayn Rand-reading, entitlement-busting ways, just how libertarian is Ryan?
Thankfully, MoJo's Josh Harkinson made this handy Venn diagram showing the various flavors of American libertarianism, from cranky Ron Paulism to traditional free-market and social liberalism. Sticking Ryan on the diagram shows that while he has a lot in common with small-government, antitax libertarians, he has a lot in common with mainstream conservatives. He has supported extending the Patriot Act, voted to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and voted for the bank bailout—all big no-nos for old-school libertarians.
Ryan is hardly the purists' pick, but as Reason noted before Romney tapped him, "For advocates of limited government, Ryan remains one of the most important allies in Congress."