Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lack of People's Trust in Government is Totally Justified


Today the Greeks are voting. (Based on exit polls, it looks like a dead heat.)

The Greek people don't trust their government, no matter who is in elected office. And today's vote won't change any of that.

Maybe the Greek people should also try looking in the mirror. Over a long period of time, the Greek people have done all this to themselves, albeit with an "assist" from their elected officials, of course.

Spain, Italy and others have similar "trust" issues with their governments as well. And accountability issues, too.

Of course, China, Russia, Egypt, Iran and many other nations have problems with their governments, but with one huge diffreence ---- citizens in those countries are not free to change things on their own.

Here at Home

We in the U.S. have our own issues with a lack of trust in our politicians and government. See yesterday's post on "Unaffordable Entitlements" as well as today's on "Whom do We the People Trust ...."

American workers today are paying for both the oldsters and youngsters who aren't employed, for whatever reason. Today's workers are getting hit from both ends, and will be in the future as well, but U.S. politicians are seemingly afraid to do anything about it. They're too busy being popular and "buying" votes. (As an example, we'll cover some more wasteful OPM spending involving public schools in this post.)

In the U.S. we're not nearly as far along the path to financial ruin as are Greece, Spain, Italy and others. And, unlike the Chinese and Russians, we're obviously free to change what needs to be changed if we will recognize the need and accept the responsibility to do so. In other words, there's still plenty of time to get things right in America.

Accordingly, I'm still very optimistic about our U. S. future prospects. As Winston Churchill put it, "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing... after they have exhausted all other possibilities." Well, now that we've arrived at the point of "exhausted possibilities," it's time to do the right thing.

In my view, in the end all this strife and fiscal irresponsibility will prove to have been worth all the trouble. Because We the People will accept responsibility and finally do what's necessary for our nation's future prosperity and security. {To repeat, the U.S. case is not at all like the European situation.  In that regard, the U.S. is a single nation with shared values rather than merely a piece of geography with a common currency. But we'll deal with that at a later time.}

Another Example of Wasteful Spending in U.S. Public Schools

My friend Sid sent along an article about President Obama's recent proposal to require all young people to stay in school until at least age 18 (Obama proposal to raise dropout age falls flat). One thing that stands out to me is there is no guesstimate contained therein as to how much that would cost the taxpayers or how much the proposal would improve educational output.

Apparently cost isn't even a consideration, as is the case with so much government knows best OPM spending. Spend, spend, and spend some more, and don't worry about the financial impact seems to be the government's preferred way.

What would I do about the age 18 dropout recommendation? Well, I'd vote for age 15. That way those who can't or won't do the work in school wouldn't interfere with those who do want to do the work.

And age 15 instead of age 18 would be a better deal for taxpayers, too. Why do we waste good money and time on those who continue to demonstrate a lack of effort to achieve meaningful progress in school? By the time they're 15, they've already had the "privilege" of taxpayer funding for 10 years. How long does the experiment have to last? And how much money do we have to waste proving that we're a "caring" society?

Having more kids get a solid education is always a good thing, of course. Adults, too.

That said, President Obama's dropout proposal fails to address the basic question of why kids withdraw from school in the first place. Perhaps more important, it ignores the impact on the rest of the kids in school who do want to be there and get a solid education.  And it totally ignores the cost to taxpayers of doing something which is likely a useless act.

In other words, if a student's educational opportunity will be reduced by requiring others to be there who would otherwise opt not to be there, that's not fair to the real student. And if taxpayers have already paid for that otherwise dropout to be in school from age 5 until 17, how good of a job did the government do in spending all that money all those years? So why do we have a pay for another year when there is an abundance of evidence that the prospective dropout doesn't want to be there?

And that's only one very small example of why we don't trust government to do the MOM thing with our hard earned money. Because they don't even try to spend it wisely or well.

Pennsylvania Republicans and Vouchers

Want another example? Keystone State Kop-Out on Education says this about Pennsylvania's failure to even vote on school vouchers:

"The recent Wisconsin recall election showed that even voters in blue states are willing to reward leaders who take on entrenched government unions. Have Pennsylvania Republicans missed the memo?

The question is raised by Pennsylvania's continued failure to enact school vouchers, even as Harrisburg has been run for two years by Republicans who campaigned on school choice. Gov. Tom Corbett has talked the talk, calling education "the civil rights issue of the 21st century," blasting a system in which "some students are consigned to failure because of their ZIP codes," and identifying vouchers as his top educational priority. But with legislators' summer break approaching on June 30 (and elections dominating the calendar after that), vouchers are already off the table. Apparently the fury of teachers unions would be too much for the Keystone State to bear.

Last October, Pennsylvania's Senate passed a bipartisan voucher bill to throw an immediate lifeline to low-income students in the worst 5% of schools, with roughly 550,000 low-income kids becoming eligible within three years. Eight months later, Speaker Sam Smith and Majority Leader Mike Turzai—both Republicans who claim to support choice—haven't brought the bill up for a vote in the House.

While it sits idle, Pennsylvania public schools still have a 20% dropout rate, including 50% of blacks and Hispanics and 50% of all kids in Philadelphia. Half of 11th-graders aren't proficient in reading and math. And money's not the issue: Spending soared nearly 70% between 2000 and 2010 (to $25.8 billion from $15.3 billion), with the system gaining a net 33,000 employees despite losing 27,000 students.

Compare this dysfunction to the state's Catholic schools, which report an overall graduation rate of 98%, including 93% in Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference says there are almost 64,000 seats available in Catholic schools statewide. But without vouchers they'll remain empty—leaving students stuck in failure factories and the Catholic school system strapped for cash.

"Without vouchers, we simply can't continue to bear the heavy cost of operating schools that are financially unsustainable, despite the great service they provide to the wider community," wrote Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput in May. That's why the church sponsored "Voucher Sunday" on May 20, deploying students, parents and teachers to promote school choice at more than 1,000 Masses across the state. "


The Pennsylvania government's OPM spending spree on public schools starts as somebody's MOM. If the money were treated as MOM, Pennsylvania kids and their parents could select a different school than their assigned public school and receive a better educational experience at a lower cost to taxpayers. But government won't allow that to happen.

Why? Because of the way government works and the outsized influence of teachers unions on politics. And In Pennsylvania it's not just the Democratic party but Republicans who are squeamish about tackling the status quo, too.

So the government knows best public sector officials don't give individuals a choice with respect to where their kids attend school. Even if it saves the taxpayers money.

But the President recommends making kids stay in the more expensive and poor quality government schools' until at least age 18.

It's not about the kids and their education. It's about the unions and their campaign contributions.

Summing Up

The above is simply another example of why people all over the world are right not to put their trust in government officials to do the right thing.

We the People must reclaim the power to decide for ourselves what to do about educating our children, how our money will be spent, and many other related matters as well.

This simple subsidiarity principle should apply everywhere and in all things.

Finally, my reasonably optimistic view is that individual freedom is finally on the march, and that march will prove to be a powerful force for good in the years to come.

It's time.

As President Clinton said, "The era of big government is over." And as President Reagan also remarked, "Government is not a solution to our problem, it's the problem."

One presidential comment from a Democrat and one from a Republican. How right they were. And still are!

Now let's get on with taking back our country and assuring its future.

Thanks. Bob.

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