Cutting Through The Crap

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Eyes Of Texas


Time to update my recent post about the Texas experiment. One of my readers thought that pointing out the problems was "divisive." Wonder what he'll think of this.

Looked upon as the excelsior embodiment of all that is teabagging, Texas is touted as one of the most business-friendly environments in all the land. Low taxes, few regulations... which is pretty much where it ends, evidently.

Texas. Merely mentioning the state’s name evokes a vision of wide-open spaces, rugged independence and, most importantly, unrivaled economic prowess.

The Lone Star State has carefully nurtured its national reputation as an economic leader. In fact, the official website of three-term Gov. Rick Perry includes a brag page; reading the national headlines listed there could lead even the most cynical Texan to blush with pride.

It looks like Texas’ longtime model of cutting spending and never raising taxes works exceptionally well, so it’s not surprising that many states are following Texas’ lead. But it’s less obvious that the state’s fiscal policies and widely admired approach to balancing its budget have created a devastating legacy. According to officials at Austin-based Texans Care for Children, a multi-issue, nonpartisan policy organization, Texas children are falling behind the rest of the country in nearly every aspect of child well-being.


The article, which refers to Texas' children as "canaries in the coal mine," is sobering for anyone willing to think beyond his or her own pocketbook and beyond the next few years.
“The perception of Texas across the country is often that we have remained economically strong, while choosing to under-invest in social services,” says Eileen Garcia, CEO of Texans Care for Children. “The lesson of the Texas experiment is that neglecting our people is not a viable way of balancing the budget. We have been a state of haves and have nots that threatens to become a state of merely have nots. Texans shoulder the burden of local taxes due to an anemic state budget, while also having the added burden that community supports and safety nets that families turn to when times are tough just aren’t there. We face a $27 billion shortfall and some of the worst social outcomes of any state in the nation.”...
....For years, services that benefit Texas’ most vulnerable citizens have been the repeated target of state budget cuts. Study after study has warned about the perils of inadequately providing for the future of Texas children. The latest, “A Report on the Bottom Line: Conditions for Children and the Texas of Tomorrow,” was released today by Garcia’s organization...

...“A sick, uneducated, unskilled work force does not propel a state forward,” Garcia writes in the report’s preface. “The devastating forecasts depict a Texas that few of us would want to visit, let alone call home.”


This is exactly why the teabaggers and the current congressional Rs are so frightening. If enacted nationally, their policies will, in the name of so-called fiscal responsibility, rob us of the future about which they claim to be so concerned. Michele Bachmann suggests ours might be the last American generation to experience liberty. (Her reasoning, if that's an applicable word to anything she says, is less than clear.) So she, and the teabaggers who think she's meow (all meow, no cat) and the rest of the Rs who want them some of that hot water, propose the very programs that will ensure there is no future.

I'm not the first to note that you get what you pay for. Not paying for education and other basic needs gets not-educated and unhealthy incapable people with no roads to ride on. To teabaggers, for whom education is evidently unimportant or, at least, on whom it didn't take, this may not seem like a problem. To our future (you know, that time when we'll still need to do stuff), it's damn serious.

...................................................................

To look through another window into the future of Texas, regarding education, read this. I'd say it explicitly confirms what I've said many times: 1) we are deliberately destroying our future, and 2) it seems like a direct attempt to dumb us down in order to produce a culture of sheephood, uninterested in and unable to question what they're being told. Governor Rick Perry:
Well, there is a lot of fat to cut from our public schools, especially those in our biggest urban areas like Houston and Dallas. I am concerned that some the highly diverse Magnet public schools in this city are becoming hotbeds for liberalism. Do we really need free school bus service, Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Asian-Pacific Heritage Month, ESL, special needs and enrichment programs like music, art or math Olympiad? I think we should get back to the basics of the three Rs, reading writing and arithmetic. I mean when is the last time a 6th grade science fair project yielded a cure for a disease?

The audience chuckled.


The ayes of Texas are upon us all.
___________________________________

Oops. Okay, caught by the long arm of Poe's law: The last paragraph is parody and, because it's not much different from what we hear from Texas, I fell for it. I did, as usual, try to find the source for the original statement, and when I couldn't, I should have figured... But there are, in the article, several other links to primary sources which are accurate. Oh well. The net effect is the same, as the meat of my post shows.

7 comments:

Frank Drackman said...

Your improving Sid,
only 4 uses of the "T" Word, and the first one not till your 3rd Sentence.
Usually takes my Dad 4 or 5 sentences till he drops that N-word-that-rhymes-with-a-Winnie-the-Pooh-character.
Hey, Obama(Peace be upon Him) says it on the Books on Tape Version of "(Wet) Dreams of my Father, which I know you haven't read, or even if you have, you probably couldn't remember.
And I'm with ya on Texas, too Many Mexicans.
I mean, NO STATE INCOME TAX!!! how could you stand the guilt of not giving any of your hard earned money to the State?
And they make you have TWO license plates on your car, just another example of Government Inefficiency like wasting 4,000 Volts in the Electric Chair when Household 120 AC works just as well.
And besides, if you have to have a front license plate, where do you put your Confederate Flag one?
But don't worry, if Texas sucks as much as I think it does, everyone will move to a really progressive State like Michigan. Or your State, which actually gained a Congressional State, even if your College Football sucks almost as much as American Soccer.

Frank

Pieter B said...

I mean when is the last time a 6th grade science fair project yielded a cure for a disease?

There's not enough facepalm in the world.

On Bill Maher tonight there was a Georgia congresscritter who didn't "believe in" evolution or global warming, and opined that scientists should get out of politics and back into their labs. He even threw out the old lie about "everybody" predicting an imminent Ice Age back in the '70s.

Why does the GOP hate science so much?

Sid Schwab said...

I used to think it was amazing that science is political, ie, if you meet someone who doesn't believe in global warming, he's a Republican; one who thinks the earth is 6000 years old, a Republican.

Now I'm no longer amazed: it's all of a piece. First, the Rs figured out that the hyper-religious were their perfect fodder; and, second, if you're the sort of person who still believes in Reaganomics, you must reject all evidence. Rs don't want people to be able to evaluate data, to understand the scientific process. They want true believers. The less they know, the better it is for them.

Sid Schwab said...

Pieter B, in an email to me, suggested that maybe the final paragraph is from a parody, and looking into it I think he's right. Hard to tell, most often, when the parody is of Texas. Anyhow, I added a statement at the end of this post.

Anonymous said...

Great topic, Dr. Sid.

I quickly skimmed the 76 page .pdf, and it certainly shows a negative trend. Interestingly, the articles you quoted cite that it's mostly minority students, blacks & hispanics, who are underperforming/suffering.

Your main point seems to be that Texas is a model we don't want to follow because they spend less on education and, intuitively, they get subpar results.

A counter-point is the obscenely high spending on education in Washington D.C. and it's counterintuitively low yield results (see articles below).

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/04/AR2008040402921.html

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/jun/25/per-pupil-spending-in-dc/

http://stossel.blogs.foxbusiness.com/2010/02/19/correction-on-dc-school-spending/

Your argument for increased taxes and spending on education is valid, but I don't think it is the major/only issue that needs to be addressed.

1. Competition: (private vs public schools OR school choice)

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1670063,00.html

2. Teachers unions unintentionally promoting low quality teachers:

http://newyorkpost.com/p/news/local/joel_easier_to_ax_killer_than_teacher_qEu1o5d8AVDrQiqshS4B7M

3. Corruption:

The amount of corruption in the school purchasing process is too lengthy to adequately address here. Why would candidates pay for billboards to get elected to "unpaid" school board positions? This article below highlights how they are "renumerated", but doesn't even scratch the surface of how wasteful their spending is. Once again, a public government entity proves wasteful. The article lists almost every medium-large school district as being investigated by the FBI. Raise taxes to pay for "education"? Uh, no.

http://www.timesleader.com/news/hottopics/fedschools


I appreciate how important education is to our future as a country and would be willing to set aside any fiscally conservative opinions if I thought it would really be of benefit. Unfortunately, throwing more money into the current education system as it is is not a policy that I'm willing to support for reasons mentioned above.

Regards,
PrecordialThump

p.s.

Since when do school superintendents command million dollar retirement packages? Schools are not a free market with supply vs demand and profits, so how are these salary packages arrived at? You should have been a school executive, Dr. Sid; no late night emergencies, June-August off, and a cushy pension on the tax payers dime.

http://www.newamerica.net/publications/articles/2006/america_s_million_dollar_superintendents_4526

http://www.indystar.com/article/20110128/LOCAL1804/101280341/Wayne-superintendent-s-1M-retirement-package-creates-storm

Sid Schwab said...

It's one thing to consider costs of education, and where reasonable reductions could be made. But what's happening all over the country, as cities and states are nearing bankruptcy, in large measure because of tax cuts and unwillingness to pay more, is the laying off of teachers, increasing class sizes, eliminating such programs as college prep, head start, tutoring.

It's easy, as you have done, to say we're spending too much money and therefore to justify, as you have done, not spending more. But the net effect is simply to give up on addressing the falling quality nation-wide. Teabaggerism, as far as I can see, is just an excuse for selfishness. No one wants to pay taxes. Some, though, recognize the need if our country is to survive.

And it's not just education, as I've said many times: it's roads, bridges, power plants, sewers, electric grids...

It may be possible to balance a budget with spending cuts only, along with lower taxes. But is it possible to do so and have a country that works? I say no, you say yes. Turns out, it looks like we'll have an answer in our lifetimes. Texas is a harbinger. So is Nassau county (stay tuned.)

Anonymous said...

The Dallas magnet system was created out of the massive lawsuit to end segregation in the public schools. If they obliterate those, I'm predicting we will see more lawsuits to address the inequality issue. So, in the end, how much money will they actually save?
-EP