The race to mediocrity
The paper copy of this week's Isthmus has an interesting (and rather unflattering) profile of John Matthews, the head of Madison's teachers union. While the entire article is interesting (and sadly not available online) I was really struck by this:
The book, Class and Schools, explores the broader social and cultural influences behind the racial and income achievement gaps in public schools. Rothstein documents the disparities between children's out-of-school experiences, based on their family's income and education. Even by age 3, kids from nonprofessional families have a measurable deficit in vocabulary recognition - a pattern that only gets worse as they grow older, affecting public schools from kindergarten on.
Matthews, who holds one of the most important if less visible jobs influencing the quality of Madison's public schools, finds this alarming and significant. "Why don't our policy makers do something about this?" he bellows.
I find his attitude alarming and significant. If something's "wrong", government has to fix it. And, if you do right and you're successful, you may just find that the cure is way worse than the disease.
Imagine that you're a good parent. You sacrifice for your child. You change your lifestyle to not only give your kids things, but also to give them time. Your neighbor, on the other hand, doesn't do this. Your kids are on the fast track to success. But wait - your government comes along and says that not only are they going to take from you in the form of taxes, but your kids are going to have to sit through a curriculum designed to cater to the lowest common denominator.
It doesn't end there. Imagine again that you've scrimped and saved for a down payment on a home. Your neighbor, on the other hand, took advantage of an easy no-down-payment loan and bought their dream house. Now they, and many others like them, can't afford their mortgage payments. As banks start to foreclose, you naturally feel a little sorry for them, but you're also a little happy because you expect that housing prices will start to fall. Not so fast my friend. The government is going to bail out your neighbors. Again, not only are they going to use your tax money to do so, but by doing so, they're going to make it even harder for you to buy a house. Sorry!
And, since it's an election year, you're about to get a "rebate" check. Of course, if you make "too much" you might not get the full amount. Why? Well, the government wants to use some of your money to give a "rebate" check to your neighbor who doesn't even pay taxes.
Besides having some crappy neighbors, you also have a crappy government. Too often our government's, both liberals and "conservatives", idea of fixing something is to make us all equal. Government is like a glacier, turning both mountains and meadows into equally flat land.
If we're all the same, we're all going to be unremarkable. It's like the old horse racing cliché, "If they finish together then they can't all be good." There's no great virtue in being equal. I'd rather have a Secretariat or a Bill Gates than a bunch of $25,000 claimers.
Posted by at March 28, 2008 07:15 AM
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|# March 29th, 2008 7:28 PM Squibbly|
|Like it or not, people are born different: different strengths, and different weaknesses. Its a good thing, so I wish "they" would quit trying to cookie cutter everyone.
Sort of random, but somehow this reminds me of a quote by Rafael Nadal:
"I totally agree that women and men are the same in all areas of life, but my opinion is that, well, if we are the same, then women should have to play best-of-five sets [instead of best-of-three] if they want to earn the same amount of money."
It's like... of course everyone is the same... but not really.
|# April 9th, 2008 5:28 PM mbrlr|
|And you received *no* aid along the way to getting your mortgage? Did you get a student loan to go to college? Take the tax benefits, e.g. money given back to you by the feds, for owning your home? I assume you feel the aid given veterans after WWII that created the middle class consumer economy you seem so fond of was somehow...communist!
If, as has always happened, the rich get rich on the backs of the poor and then take advantage of all sorts of government goodies from the days of the railroads to now, I suppose you view that as somehow aid that's good. If they take advantage of tax breaks and windfalls that drive up your cost of living, why is that somehow worse than helping those who are poor attain middle class status and contribute to the economy whose altar all of y'all bow before?
At least have the grace to get *as* mad at the 1890s-like robber barons amongst us as you seem to be at the folks about to lose their home down the street. I'm sure their being homeless will aid the economy, right?
|# April 9th, 2008 5:42 PM mbrlr|
|BTW, I assume you think the Feds shouldn't have bailed out Bear Sterns recently? O
|# April 9th, 2008 10:08 PM james|
|only mbrlr could come up with logic like "when the government takes your money by force, then gives some of it back to you, you're accepting a government benefit."
|# April 10th, 2008 2:47 PM mbrlr|
|Hello, James. I hope you're doing well.
Actually, the government usually gives back, in various ways, more than it takes. Anyway, I don't believe I said that (the bit in quotes), but thank you for illustrating that the basic response of Goldwater-ites to argument is to attempt diversion and avoid addressing address the issue proper (or mentioning those lovely folks at Bear Sterns we just bailed out). I'm sure the Bear Sterns leadership didn't suffer, but I'm also sure the problems were duly passed on to stockholders as well as the federal government. But they create jobs...well, except in economic downturns, when the management simply bails out with $$$$$$ (although I think I'd rather have Euros at the moment) and leaves their employees and stockholders high and dry. I just have trouble with this near-biblical devotion to industry and why it's deemed okay to help out the megarich, but not okay to help the poor or those struggling to escape poverty. Is Kris at all upset with the Feds about that?
Anyway, the statement you diverted to was, I believe, "Take the tax benefits, e.g. money given back to you by the feds, for owning your home?" At least quote me correctly. BTW, would y'all have been opposed to both the federal and state aid given veterans after WW II? Or the Marshall Plan?
|# April 13th, 2008 10:06 AM BVBigBro|
|The government takes far more than it gives, and we should not have helped Bear Sterns. |
|# April 18th, 2008 2:09 PM mbrlr|
|I see there was no response to the aid to veterans or Post WWII Europe. |