The Liberal Mindset
Michael Wigley of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota writing for the Red Star Tribune this week makes some interesting points in respect to a column by Lori Sturdevant recently published by the Strib.
Sturdevant unwittingly defines a fundamental liberal problem in her first paragraph:
"Reform of big, Byzantine public systems is cyclical work. It generally takes years of hand-wringing, analyzing and politicking to build a head of steam for noticeable change."
That should be a comforting thought to parents, especially in Minneapolis and St. Paul, sending their first-grader off to the big, Byzantine public school system. While legislators and bureaucrats are hand-wringing, analyzing and politicking, children are not learning to read or write or do arithmetic, but perhaps by the time the children are in the sixth grade ...
I'm not sure if anyone can be comforted by sending their kids off to a Byzantine public school system. I don't know how complex/intricate the public school systems are, but Wigley is right in that many kids are not being taught the basics (reading/writing/arithmetic). There are numerous failures in a system that is allowed to produce people that are not able to make change at a cash register without having a "deer in headlights" look on there face when you hand them when you hand them $5.52 for a for a $4.42 charge. (I have encountered this type of scenario numerous times when dealing with cashiers.)
It worries me that schools are resorting to computer technology for kids to use and perform their homework on rather than teaching them to use inherent cognitive processes. How are kids supposed to learn to spell correctly and use proper grammar when all they have to do is click spell check on a software program?
DFLer Mindy Greiling of Roseville wants to simply tweak the funding formula and add a billion dollars a year to the budget. In other words, the problem is not that children are not being educated; the problem is that the system is being challenged and needs to be supported better.
Or more accurately, the system doesn't have enough money, which is the constant cry, despite school districts providing lavish compensation deals to administrators. Remember the Apple Valley superintendent that was paid off to the tune of a half million dollars a few years back? Is there any sane person who would consider that a good use of taxpayer money? Or how about the Minneapolis case where the contract was broken by a administrator who wanted to go to Atlanta because the money was better? She broke her contract over taxpayer money! These are the poster child examples of the liberal cry of "It's for the children!" every time they call for new and bigger taxes to fund the schools.
Wigley then has this quote from Sturdevant:
"We'd love it from the feds ... . But when public work needs money, Minnesotans are acculturated to look first to state government."
Wigley correctly points out that regardless of the level of government, the money always comes from the taxpayers: that would be you and me and everyone else. Wigley also points out that the more layers of government involved, the greater the amount of bureaucracy and the less the money will actually buy. This is true whether we are talking education (public schools), welfare, social security, or nationalizing health care. The more layers of that is government involved, the less you get and the lower your return on your dollar, and the greater the amount of government waste there will be.
This is way the State and Federal governments should get out of the practice of providing certain social services, most especially the public schools, which should be controlled and funded specifically by the communities that they serve, as well as welfare programs (which would be best served if handled at the county level rather than involving higher levels of government). There are those who will cry out that some schools, especially those in poorer districts, will be shortchanged. Maybe, but there should be ways to handle that at the local level without involving higher levels of government that will introduce a lot of bureaucratic red tape and wasting taxpayer dollars by paying for more bureaucrats. One needs to remember that school districts normally cover more than a couple of schools, especially when we're talking mid to large sized cities.
Wigley then asks a question:
The second implication of Sturdevant's comment, and perhaps the more frightening, is that she sees Minnesotans as a people who when faced with a problem "look first to state government" for a solution. Have Minnesotans become so domesticated by years of liberal hand-feeding that we are neither outraged nor embarrassed by the characterization of us as waiting placidly in the corner by our dish for a helping from the government gravy train?
The answer, unfortunately, but not surprisingly, is yes; most people, and not just Minnesotans, have grown accustomed to looking to government, and the bigger the better, to solve their problems. Didn't Reagan say that "Government isn't the solution to your problems, but is the problem" or something to that effect? The fact that many Americans have been domesticated into believing that the only way to improve our education system is through big government and bigger taxes tells us exactly how big of a problem conservatives will be facing in coming years. It's scary to realize that so many people believe that the way to solving America's problems is through top-down big (expensive) government, rather than relying on local government where most social services are concerned (like schools and welfare). One way leads to a welfare nanny state, the other leads to responsible local government.
One thing that people need to remember is that its far more difficult to justify tax increases to the people that will have to pay them if the elected officials have to look them in the eye every meeting. This is something I have been learning while serving on my town board; we don't have the power to levy a tax, only recommend and justify the money needed to run the township. That's local control and responsible government. That's what the founding Fathers envisioned for America: That the powers granted to government should be granted to the level of government that is most closely aligned with the people (local, state, and Federal), and no higher than is absolutely necessary.
Liberalism (or Progressivism as they now want to call it) can only lead us down one path and that is to the welfare state, wasting our money and bilking working Americans out of their hard earned money, while continuing to fail to educate our children the basic tools they need to succeed in life.