Hey, it’s just money; or is it?

By Nathan Barton

What is the problem? No, it is not just the idea that the answer to all government-recognized ills is to “throw money at it.” That is a symptom of the disease. Three recent stories in Freedom Net Daily let us see this:

The Independent Institute writes about $13 billion being spent each year for supplies for “public education.” Vicki Alger writes in part: “One fed up grandparent and former public school superintendent successfully sued an Idaho district for charging fees for regular classes and requiring parents and guardians to purchase specific brands of school supplies — basics the district is supposed to be providing. Yet what most teachers and parents don’t realize is just how much funding public school districts already get for supplies. For perspective, American public elementary and secondary education spending now totals more than $625 billion, according to the U.S Department of Education. (By the way, that’s nearly $130 billion more than the entire Department of Defense budget.) Of that amount, public schools spend nearly $43 billion on supplies. Once we remove all the supplies spending associated with administration, overhead and maintenance, transportation, food service, instructional staff, student support, and ‘other’ support services, we’re left with over $13 billion in supplies spending associated exclusively with instruction. (For state-level supplies spending, see the article.) This amount works out to around $267 for each of the roughly 50 million elementary and secondary school students.”

(Notice that she doesn’t add higher-level (college/university) education costs to this.)

Heartland Institute (another quasi-libertarian organization) asks, “If teachers’ unions are so great, why aren’t our schools?” There, Teresa Mull in part says, “America’s academic achievement, or lack thereof, is dismal. Our kids aren’t learning, and teachers[‘] unions are mostly to blame. They waste countless time, money, and resources and attract and maintain the lousiest, most corrupt, and sometimes dangerous employees.” Tom Knapp correctly points out, “No, unions are not “mostly to blame” for poor education. Government involvement is almost ENTIRELY to blame for that.” But government DOES work THRU unions, which would not exist (in the way they do) if not for government and its education mess.

Neither of these stories or reports go to the root of the problem. Or rather, roots. Because we want “easy fixes” and because we are often blinded by what has been traditionally done.

First let us consider the very concept of “free education.” NOTHING in life is free: someone pays for everything, even if it is “free” to the recipient. But even the person receiving the “free” gift (whether it is education or something else) pays for it. In the case of “free public education” it is time, liberty, and the incredible web of lies fed to the children that those children pay, just as their parents and everyone else in their communities (and across the Fifty States) pay in property and income and other taxes. It is “free money” to the unions and the bureaucrats (even the retired school administrator in the second article).

But that ignores the fact that ANY money spent on government-run, tax-funded “education” is wasted. Not just the waste from fraud or collusion or corruption. ALL of it is wasted. Which leads us to the second root.

The second source of trouble is of course (as Tom points out) government. Unions, like many other things, are just tools of government. Government uses them to control education and therefore the people who are government’s prey. No amount of accountability for billions of dollars of school supplies, or limits on the powers of union, will provide a decent education for children because government does not want a decent education. It wants to indoctrinate and make the vast majority of students into good subjects, worker-cogs. (Of course, we can make a good argument that unions are little more than governments or branches of government themselves; usually mandated and with power over not just their members but much else.) Once upon a time, government controlled the masses because there was no education – the lower classes, even the “middle class” were kept ignorant and prevented in many ways from obtaining the knowledge and skills needed to be free. But now, government does not deny education – it controls it. And it considers using stolen money to control that education to be well-spent. And putting up with unions, or even letting unions be part of the control.

Which brings me to the third article in FND, by Walter E. Williams. Appearing in Town Hall, Dr. Williams tells us “We’re all to blame.” He writes in part: “The largest threat to our prosperity is government spending that far exceeds the authority enumerated in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. Federal spending in 2017 will top $4 trillion. Social Security, at $1 trillion, will take up most of it. Medicare ($582 billion) and Medicaid ($404 billion) are the next-largest expenditures. Other federal social spending includes food stamps, unemployment compensation, child nutrition, child tax credits, supplemental security income and student loans, all of which total roughly $550 billion. Social spending by Congress consumes about two-thirds of the federal budget. Where do you think Congress gets the resources for such spending? It’s not the tooth fairy or Santa Claus. The only way Congress can give one American a dollar is to use threats, intimidation and coercion to confiscate that dollar from another American.”

Mama’s Note: Not to mention the 21+trillion dollar “debt” which can never be paid. A business has to operate in the black for a while to actually pay off their loans. The non-voluntary government simply increases the amount they “borrow,” and we all pay the interest on it.

Although he doesn’t explicitly address education in this extract, it is clear from the other articles that “education” is a big spender of stolen (tax) money. Regardless of how that money is collected, it is stolen.

So “Education” is both the excuse for, and the reason for hundreds of billions in government taxation and spending. It is, of course, “social spending” but so huge that it can be treated as a third leg (together with “Defense” spending and “social spending).

Of course, both Social and military spending are also excuses and reasons. These, like education, are controlling people and therefore society. In particular, military spending cites external (and increasingly internal) threats for its necessity (just like “for the children” and “for the poor” are excuses). So they justify massive government AND give that massive government the power it needs to rule and ruin our lives. (Someone points out that the military spending -as both Alger and Williams discussed – is third fiddle to social and educational spending. However, if you add (as is appropriate) policing and incarceration spending and other regulatory enforcement to the military budget, you find it is indeed a third leg.

The point: it is not enough to cut spending, or to cut taxes. But neither is it enough to cut (reduce) government. Rather, we must eliminate all of it. And eliminate ALL three legs of the statist stool – social, educational, and use of force – we must take these away from government and place them back into private, individual, hands.

About tpolnathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (christian), Pahasapan, Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer.
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7 Responses to Hey, it’s just money; or is it?

  1. BB-Idaho says:

    Kind of surprising. My wife was in education and always bringing pencils, crayons and even
    mittens and hats. She has been retired for 12 years, still volunteers and is still bringing supplies to the classroom. In my old age, I think that teachers care more and do more for kids than their
    own parents in many cases…but we don’t dare point at the real problem.

    Like

  2. Unclezip says:

    The local schools in the Socialist Republic of Oregon require students bring ten time as much supplies as they need at the beginning of the year, which are then confiscated and added to the “community pool”. My solution: A pencil box with sharpener, #2 pencil, and a spiral bound notebook. The rest would come when it was needed by my child. When told that was not enough, I replied “I already paid my property taxes.”.

    Like

    • MamaLiberty says:

      Compared to the communist indoctrination, all of the PC crap, and so forth, the “supplies” thing would take a distant lower priority for me. My two youngest grandchildren are now subject to this horror of slave indoctrination, and the three older ones are living proof that the government indoctrination “schools” are very successful at their primary purpose. They don’t understand what liberty is, and don’t want to know. Breaks my heart, but there it is.

      Like

    • tpolnathan says:

      You raise a very good point. If you can’t get your children out of the “public” schools and either homeschool or in a (suitable) private school, you need to be very firm and careful in resisting what the faculty and administration want to do. (Keep in mind, virtually EVERY teacher there is the product of at least seventeen years of government indoctrination.)
      A second thing to note is that these teachers (and their bosses) are subtly implementing and teaching basics of socialism (from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs) by forcing sharing and getting their children to learn to group-think: the community is more important than the individual, in their eyes.
      There are children whose families cannot afford as much as the teachers believe that they need to have. But forcing “sharing” is wrong – evil. Especially when there are alternatives. One is (as my parents told me from their years in teaching) is for the teacher to provide; especially given inflated and unjustified teacher salaries today, that still seems an option. (I am sure I’ll hear a lot of screams about that, but I stand by that.) Especially with on-line companies and brick-and-mortar (OfficeMax, Office Depot, etc.) willing to both sell and donate huge amounts of school supplies for the asking. Second is to ask for – ask for and not demand! – donations, not just from parents but from organizations in the community (Lions, Rotary, Recycling Centers, etc.). Of course, the third source is to use the supply budget for what it is SUPPOSED to do – provide supplies for education and NOT for overhead. Especially given that administration is (or should be) largely electronic these days. I bet you could go into a typical Oregon school office and see the cornucopia of supplies in that closet, while the classroom teachers are constantly scrounging. I have seen it in schools in TX, NM, CO, KS, SD, and MT.

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      • Mike says:

        So much of what has been stated is so correct. I used to be a teacher.
        Supplies: yes, plenty but oftentimes abused – even by students. Whenever I put out clean white paper, it would be gone within a few days. Whenever I put out half-sheets of brown recycled paper, it would last for at least a quarter of the school year.

        Teacher “education” – I waited until my 30’s to go to college. Too old to be indoctrinated, but the pressure was sure there. Unreal. Even young students (very early 20’s) complained about “those parents” and “low pay” for teachers. I was dumbfounded.
        The classes specifically designed to “teach how to teach” were the most vacuous. Warning to parents: Don’t listen to teachers about how to raise your children!

        Teacher Unions – Arizona. Not a big thing here, BUT… not always something to focus on. My first year, I had a student that could not multiply 3 x 3.
        Special Ed teacher: She is performing at the same level where she tests, therefore, no extra help is needed. She has to perform 3 grade levels below her testing to qualify.
        In other words, special ed. is for those who don’t try, not for those who need it.
        Other students were not even close to where they should be, but a gross misinterpretation of “No Child Left Behind” (or maybe not) got them passed along. Soon, high school kids couldn’t perform within elementary standards. But it’s the teacher’s fault if they can’t pass.

        Discipline – Brat who has been a brat for 15 years – but don’t send him to the office. If you do, that means you are weak on classroom management. Bad evaluation for you, and if he doesn’t pass algebra without being able to even do simple addition without the aid of a calculator, well… you must be a poor teacher. After all, he’s passed every other year. Endless and cruel cycle. But fear not: they “need” more money during voting time “for the children” dontcha know.

        For those inclined to vote for more money for schools, I would encourage you to go to the district office. Look at the building, the art/decorations, the quality of computers, and the number of people working there. They have more than enough already.
        Teacher pay? I made over $50,000/year. That’s a hefty sum for having every excuse in the world for another “break” or day off. Sure, they talk about having to continue their “education” buy what profession doesn’t?

        I’m so glad I left that mess.

        Like

      • MamaLiberty says:

        I’m glad you left it too. I left professional nursing for many of the same reasons. I taught nursing at a community college in the 1980s, and the politics were impossible to deal with even then.

        Like

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