Sunday, November 02, 2008

Taxation is collective theft

In Ohio, residents vote on operating levies for their local government schools. Levy supporters, taking their cue from the school board and school employees, cry that the local school system is in desperate need of additional tax revenue. Yet these very same folks never willingly make additional tax payments out of the goodness of their own hearts. Why not? If I believe that my children need something, I do not submit that need to a vote. No, I act.

If these folks recognize the supposed need, why do they wait until after the passage of their levy before giving? Yes, why indeed?

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jim, you don't have to worry. Once Kilroy and Obama are elected and raise the federal income/dividend/capital gain/estate/social security/wealth taxes high enough, there will be no chance for school levys to pass. People who would otherwise be supportive will be seeing tax rates skyrocket and even rich folk have limits.

Paul said...

Jim:

I don't have any particular argument with your position on this. I think our country could do with a lot less taxation and a lot more charity.

What if a movement emerged where people began giving - voluntarily - substantial portions of their wealth to taking care of the poor and the sick? US tax code allows us to take deductions for this, so in a sense, giving to charity takes away from the government. If we took back all those duties we have abdicated to the government, it seems like whole federal departments could shrink, or even cease to exist.

The truth is that - with few exceptions - we talk big but don't follow through. You and I could both share our homes with another family or two. We could share our dinner tables with a family or two. You could teach not just your kids, but also tutor other kids who might be struggling in subjects in which you have expertise. So could I.

The wise young ruler thought he had it all figured out. The Jesus told him to sell everything and follow Him. The rich man walked away sadly because he knew Jesus had called his bluff.

We have become a nation of whiners. We feel we deserve all the good, and the government (or someone else) is to blame for the bad.

Jesus is calling our bluff as well.

PL

Jim Fedako said...

Paul,

I think that a lot of what we call compassion (in the terms of using government to forward compassion) is anything but. An example:

A few individuals have come through my church seeking assistance. In all cases, folks have done what they could to help (pay water bills, watch children, buy food, provide support, etc.). But in a few instances, those seeking assistance soon revealed their true intent. They weren’t looking for help; they wanted others to pay for their lifestyle – for their things.

So, in the end, those few were rightly cut off from personal and church funding.

Is it compassionate to give where there is no need? Is it compassionate to fund activities that are nonpositive (not so much negative, but not positive)?

So, yes, those few go wanting. But their wants are not needs.

Consider the host of government laws and regulations that limit the ability of those in need from helping themselves (I’m thinking of minimum wage laws). In order to help some chosen political pressure group, we force many into lives of dependency.

My father was raised in the coal regions of eastern PA. He lived in an ethic enclave where government was considered something to be feared. When the do-gooders came to the homes in the area, they were chased to the property lines by women holding brooms. Yes, my father’s family, and all the families in the area, had hard lives. But contrast that with the current cycle of dependence in those same regions. Where folks used to work hard and provide, they sit and wait for the next government check to arrive. This situation is neither godly nor an improvement.

Our duties to our fellow man were not abdicated, they were abrogated. The reality is that we cannot take back those duties under the current system. Government simply subsumes the penumbra (just love using that word – government expands into gray areas) in all aspects of life. Consider smoking and how it was to be limited to long flights. Yet smoking is now banned in condos in California.

Read some of the nonsense from those looking to bring full-blown socialism to this country. In the end, government needs to raise children from cradle to grave.

That said, I do believe that most churches help those seeking assistance. I think that you would be hard-pressed to provide examples where that is not true.

Regardless, you create a logical fallacy when you imply that we – acting as individuals – will not help those less fortunate, yet we – voting as individuals – will help those less fortunate. How does voting the difference?

Luther said...

I agree with both you & Paul. I find your clarity refreshing and Paul's admonition to action inspiring. In the end I need to reflect God's Word in my life so that my children, and those around me, find my testimony a salt that makes them long for living water.

Keep running the race!

Paul said...

I think you like to argue so much that you can't tell when someone is on your side.

All I'm saying is that we need to be doing more to put our actions and our money where our mouths are. That's what Jesus told the rich young ruler.

Don't worry about what the government does or doesn't do. If you truly don't like what the government requires, choose to not obey and accept the punishment. This kind of act of civil disobediance is modeled by Jesus and the apostles. Few of us are willing to pay the price they did though.

A more contemporary model might be Ghandi, who led the India people to the sea to make salt even though the Crown forbade it (because the Crown collected taxes on the sale of salt). He led the movement knowing it could (and did) lead to imprisonment.

Again, few of us are so brave.

All I'm saying is that we individually choose the level of bravery to bring to this battle for justice. Some just write about it. That's okay, there's a need for thinking and writing. Some get a little more involved, but not to the point of any real sacrifice. Some run for office, but few have the money to do so without prostituting themselves to big contributors.

But some give all, just as Jesus asked of the rich young ruler. In my experience, it's the ones with the least material wealth, but the greatest spiritual wealth who do so.

PL

Jim Fedako said...

Paul,

I agree with your concluding remarks.

My initial response to you included my knowledge of your support for the Hilliard levy, as well as your justification for doing so. The issue to you remains: If you are willing to pay additional taxes since, as you say, your schools need them, why wait for voter approval? How does passage at the poll change anything. That is the point of the post. And it is separate from discussions of good Christian stewardship -- though I thoroughly enjoy those discussions.

G.S. Wilhelm said...

Jim,

Ohio has it made. At least they put it to the voters. Here in Pennsylvania the "elected School Board" is empowered to raise the real estate tax rates without asking the voters.

Once the board is elected it is taken as a given that they express the will of the electorate.

The schools are not therefore called to justify any expenditures. What a joke this is. I have been in contact with my local rep but he is clueless...

I have not given up on change but talk about an uphill climb.

G.S. Wilhelm

Jim Fedako said...

G.S. Wilhelm --

I respectfully disagree. As long as the majority willingly funds any increase, my dissenting vote is nothing.

G.S. Wilhelm said...

Right "As long as the majority willingly funds any increase, my dissenting vote is nothing"

I'm not talking about a decenting vote I'm talking about a change in the law that permits an millage increase on the taxpayer without his consent beyon a vote (2) years earlier for a board member.

Thats what makes it an up hill climb. One vote in the sea of voters on this issue in the present political situation is as you say "nothing"

G.S. Wilhelm

Jim Fedako said...

Godd luck!

Jim Fedako said...

Hey, If Massachusetts can end it income tax (we will know tomorrow), then anything is possible.

G.S. Wilhelm said...

That is encouraging.

The toughest part is finding a crack in the door.

G.S. Wilhelm

G.S. Wilhelm said...

Jim,

Have you read Naomi Wolfs book, "Give Me Liberty". I read the first two chapter at borders tonight.... i"m intrigued.

Heard her interview on Th L.R. podcast.

G.S. Wilhelm

Jim Fedako said...

Heard the interview, watched some YouTube clips, but have never read teh book. I think Lew really influenced her views.

G.S. Wilhelm said...

Jim,

I recall that you are a homeschooling dad

Me too. Six altogether, (2) are out of High school and in college, (Hillsdale and Grove City)

G. S. Wilhelm

Jim Fedako said...

Excellent!

Jim Fedako said...

Of course, I don't really homeschool ... my wife does. And all the glory should go to her.

G.S. Wilhelm said...

yes,

I think you could tell that Lew was excited to have an intelligent person to talk with.

I hope his influnce and the classical liberal movement has it's effect on her... she is a very good writer.

G.S. Wilhelm

G.S. Wilhelm said...

Yes indeed.

If you could get to heaven on work my wife would be a shoe-in what with the load of teaching and putting up with me!

G.S. Wilhelm

Jim Fedako said...

Something tells me that the latter was the harder of the two ;-) LOL

Paul said...

Maybe you could characterize my support of the levy as a 'first do no harm' strategy. The cuts our school board threatens to make if the levy doesn't pass were selected for political impact - punishment if you will - and are NOT in the best interest of our school district. So my position is that we have two connected obligations in this election: a) pass the levy and pay the ransom they demand; and, b) elect new leadership next November when we have a chance to seat a majority. I intend to be one of the candidates, and am currently working with a set of like-minded folks to build that slate and a campaign.

Hopefully you've read enough of my blog to know that if I could wave a magic wand, I would eliminate the public funding of schools, and switch to a mode more akin to food stamps. Maybe we'll get there. This kid Moyer who is running for State Board of Ed for Franklin Cty is a Libertarian by the way...

PL

Jim Fedako said...

Paul,

Not to be picky (you know that's not my style), but ...

Food stamps are publically funded.

"The cuts our school board threatens to make if the levy doesn't pass were selected for political impact - punishment if you will - and are NOT in the best interest of our school district." They always are for political impact. Always.

Don't you see the evil? Government is threatening its constituents. Private enterprises never do that.

How about simply funding schools in the free market?

Anonymous said...

Two unrelated comments on this thread:

There are countless people who contribute beyond their taxes to support our schools and their programs. All the fundraisers that people complain about are volunteers raising money for items that the district won't fund but are desired by the students and parents.

Private enterprise constantly threatens its customers with price increases or product shortages. The more monopolistic the enterprise the threatening they can be. In the long term, market forces can straighten out enterprises and the ballot box (as Paul suggests) can straighten out an overbearing government.

Jim Fedako said...

11:23 --

Time to put down your books on Marx. Show me one instance of a businesses threatening their customers with "either you pay more or we will hit you where it hurts." One instance is enough.

While you are at it, show me one instance where a business was able to charge a monopoly price. One instance is enough.

I'm waiting.

Anonymous said...

Jim, while private enterprise is a wonderful thing and capitalism works for the most part, I think it is pretty clear that, from time to time, there is collusion in the private sector as well as monopolistic pricing. One example could be the pricing that takes place in the airline industry when a community is served by a single airline. There has been considerable research done on price fixing in the insurance industry. There is "theft" in the public sector, but the private sector is not always so pure...not an indictment of the private sector, but it ain't lily white either.

Jim Fedako said...

Absent government interventions, there would be no such theft. Your example is not a free market.

In making my statement, I am assuming that there is some sort of government intervention (FAA, local city airport authoriry, etc.)keeping the other airlines out of that city.

Regardless, you still have not proven that a monopoly price was ever charged. Noting increased prices is not proof of a monopoly price (it is really much more complicated than "Hey, Politician, I'm paying more than I want to pay. Fix it."

And, if you think adding laws and regulations to stop your so-called monopoly won't itself a create monopoly (based on political influence), you've missed a lot of history.

The term monopoly is the camel's nose of government intervention.

I suggest reading Rothbard and Mises over on Mises.org. Most of the books are free as PDF downloads.

The private sector can only thieve for a very short time, then the consumer changes the game. The public sector can thieve at will (note the feds and the FED), for decades it not longer.

Paul said...

Indeed, food stamps are funded by tax dollars.

I think it is all but impossible to think of a scenario where our country has no taxes whatsoever. There is a certain amount of 'common good' implicit in the formation of a nation, and if you choose to be a 'member' of this particular nation, then I think you should accept that there are 'membership fees.' It's no different than the fees one might agree to pay by living in a condo development example. You don't have to pay the fees, but you can't live there if you don't.

I don't think there's any Biblical mandate against taxes either. We all know the 'pay unto Caesar' instruction from Jesus. But if you go all the way back to the books of law, God proscribes the collection of what you could call taxes to pay the Levites. This was so the priests could do their work without having to toil in the fields or have other employment.

As is the case with many things, it's a matter of degree. Over time our government has expanded the notion of common good to absurdity. Maybe that's the way it always goes in government.

Things need to change - that's for sure. The question is the degree, and the pace.

PL

Jim Fedako said...

Paul,

You never explained why your "food stamp" approach is anything different from the current system. Keep in mind that one of the reasons healthcare is so expensive is that it is a system based (mostly) on third-party payers. Make government the third party and you know that it will be a mess.

Regarding the Levites, I will assume that you give to your church in order to offset its operations.

"Common good" is the most perverted word in our political lexicon. Common good now refers to anything I want, but want you to pay for.

Membership dues to a nation. Please.

You play semantics when you advocate for Caesar and then force others to render. Show me where Jesus said that we are to vote as Caesar -- where we are to take up the sword of Caesar and strike down those who do not want to fund all sorts of nonsense.

I wish you would either be hot or cold on this issue. Take a definitive stand.

From what I gather, you have always supported Hilliard tax increases -- sure you questioned the expense, but that is just a ruse to justify the vote you believe is a moral imperative (I heartily disagree, but you are the topic here).

So be hot on your issue (and we will disagree), but do not try to pretend that you favor any system other than the current one.

Anonymous said...

Here are some examples of monopolies in American history:

IBM whose downfall was not pricing but a strategic mistake of licensing their operating system to Microsoft, who some claim have become a modern day monopoly.

Railroads in the 1800's were a monopoly in local areas who could charge farmers whatever they wanted to transport crops to market.

Here are two examples.

Jim Fedako said...

WRONG.

Don't simply employ off-the-top-of-my-head responses, it doesn't help your cause.

IBM was never a monopoly. Sure they had a large share of the market, but that is not a monopoly. Again, you have to show a monopoly price.

Railroads?!? Are you even serious. The railroad could only charge that which the farmers were willing to pay. Again, show me evidence of a monopoly price.

By the way, most small towns have the very same "monopoly" you note above -- one restaurant, gas station, etc. But they are not the issue. Why? The monopoly crowd has its own agenda.

Anonymous said...

Now I understand your opposition to public education. Facing reality is impossible for you and a reasonable amount of knowledge provides that ammunition needed to see the errors in your beliefs.

In any economic text or discussion of history both the railroads and IBM are considered monopolies during their heyday. To deny that goes against the bulk of economic and historical knowledge.

But then Jim is right and the rest of the world is wrong.

Jim Fedako said...

10:57 --

You must have grown up believing the nonsense in your classroom that said opinion counts more than fact.

A monopoly is a technical term in the field of economics. The definition is independent of how government or the courts define the term.

There is a big difference between reciting a court decision that a company was a monopoly and actually proving it yourself -- or having it proven by someone else. Good luck.

If you go by the government definition, businesses that charge a lower price are predators looking to monopolize, those that charge the same price are an oligopoly in collusion, and those that charge a higher price are receiving a monopoly profit. Throw a big net and you can drag any business through the courts.

How else could anyone claim that WalMart is a local monopoly when competition abounds. With government, right is defined by the dollar sign.

When you use the word "any" in your comment about textbooks and discussions, you really mean "all." Recalling something you read in high school does not mean that "all" folk believes the same. There is little in economics that has unanimity -- think Obama's economic program. Or, better yet, go turn the pages of a public school economics textbook. You know, the ones selected by union members. The same books that state unions raised the wages of all workers in the 1900's.

"To deny that goes against the bulk of economic and historical knowledge." That's a big statement, but it is also wrong. By making it, you show your ignorance and general lack of anything more than superficial knowledge.

Let me suggest you read any of the books available over at Mises.org as free downloads. Some real knowledge and you might start making sense.

Paul said...

Jim:

So much to talk about:

First, both IBM and the railroads were found to be monopolies in the eyes of the US government. In the case of IBM, they were found to have engaged in activities to drive competitors out of the market by announcing their own products, threatening to deny support for competitive products (known as 'plug-compatibles'), and then once the would-be competitor collapsed under a lack of orders, not bothering to bring out the product after all. Ampex took them on and won.

In a like manner, the railroads which expanded to the West financed by government-backed loans, not only had sanctioned monopolies, they took it farther by using their choice over right-of-way routing to build alliances with large ranchers to place railheads and spurs to benefit some ranchers and drive others to ruin (see Ambrose: Nothing in the World Like It). A ranch like the mythical Ponderosa flurished because Ben Cartwright had a railroad buddy who made it easy for him to get his cattle to market, while forcing other ranchers to drive the cattle perhaps hundreds of miles (losing much body weight and therefore value).

It was because of this that the Interstate Commerce Commission was developed, to guarantee equal access to this critical transportation system.

The language of the ICC laws and regulations were later used in the formation of the Federal Communications Commission, when AT&T took on some of the behaviors of the railroads. This is the reason telephone companies are called 'common carriers' by the way.

Second issue: Food stamps are different from the current mode of school funding because not everyone gets food stamps. Most people pay 100% of their food costs, and are free to buy their food products anywhere they want. Those who need assistance get food stamps that we all help fund through taxes. If we did school the same way - with families paying tuition rather than taxes - I argue that it would cause a radical shift in the responsiveness of schools to their customers because parents would become better consumers. It works at the post-secondary level, why not primary and secondary as well.

For those kids without the means to pay tuition, there would be a public assistance program akin to food stamps.

And yes, taxes are exactly like condo membership fees. The governance process sets the fees, and you have to pay them even if you vote against them. Your choice is whether or not to live there. You don't have to live in a condo, and you don't have to live in America.

You can continue to scream and bang your head against the wall if you want to. Or you can try to really change things. Why did you resign from the school board anyway? Were you unproductive in trying to create change your way, and just decided you withdraw into your own private school 'system' rather lead the process to help others improve the system we share?

PL

Paul said...

By the way, it's not illegal to be a monopoly, but the method a company uses to become one can be anti-competitive, as was the case with IBM. Wal*Mart is not a monopoly - at least not yet. They are free, even encouraged, to use their substaintial economic power to gain purchasing and logistics efficiencies, for example, to enable them to sell products at a lower price yet make an level of profit acceptable to their shareholders.

In fact, I have a hard time coming up with things they could do which are truly anti-competitive that wouldn't also be illegal under a variety of other laws (e.g. bribery of public officials).

After all, Wal*Mart never put a small merchant out of business. It was the former customers of that merchant who chose to take their business to Wal*Mart who put the small merchant out of business. It reminds me of the guy who owned Northland Mall complaining that Easton/Polaris was going to put him out of business. He kinda forgot that when he build Northland, it put Northern Lights and Graceland in the crapper...

Economics has the notion of a 'natural monopoly' - a service vital to the public good but which requires such an expensive infrastructure that no one would be likely to make the investment unless assured that there would be no competition. The telephone network was once felt to be one of these, hence the protection AT&T enjoyed over the years. Technology changed the situation, so the industry was (kinda) de-regulated, and now we have many competitive 'phone companies' in the US

Unfortunately most folks feel schools fall into that category of 'natural monopoly' as well - as though there would be no schools at all unless the government ran them. I don't believe that, any more than there would be no farmers or grocery stores unless the government owned the food production industry.

It's radical thinking, but I'm encouraged that both Presidential candidates indicated some support of charter schools and vouchers. We'll see how far it really gets now that Obama has been elected, with substantial support of the NEA.

Meanwhile, our grassroot group will keep with the fight to make change happen a little at a time. The first step is just getting the public to give a crap.

By the way, I think it's extremely ironic that the verification word directly below this text box was "HEASTOMP"...

PL

Jim Fedako said...

Paul,

First, both IBM and the railroads were found to be monopolies in the eyes of the US government.

As if the Oracle of DC spoke.

Look, this really gets tiring. As long as government is the moral force guiding your life, your supposed ends will never be met.

The government – through the fed – just created billions in credit (or what they term credit) out of thin air. But credit is not a notation on the fed’s balance sheet. Regardless of what your moral authorities claim, credit is the byproduct of savings. So the fed did not create credit, despite its claims.

Note: If at this point you say that they created credit because that is what they said they did, there is no point for you to continue reading – you are a lost cause.

Our government has been fighting wars for decades – war on terror, drugs, poverty, obesity, etc. But those are not wars in a technical sense.


My point: just because government states that an action is proof of a monopoly, that doesn’t mean it is so. I don’t expect you to understand that concept, or accept it if you finally understand, since the concept is an anathema to your internal position – your worldview. Have you never read 1984 for goodness sake?

To prove a monopoly, you have to show a monopoly price – that is a price arrived at by the withdrawal of supply which leads to an increased profit (a price that exceeds the “competitive” market price). To do so, you have to show that no alternatives exist and that an economic profit, separate from an accounting profit, exists because the demand curve is inelastic relative to the cost of production (by the way, this is an impossible task – so give it a shot). Otherwise, just about every activity is a monopoly (ponder that for a bit). No wait; in your world government can decide what a monopoly is as government can define anything (only activities that offend the political body are monopolies, of course).

The government can create a monopoly railroad system (though not all railroads were government funded or controlled during that period).But the issue which you noted was not the government monopoly; it was the belief that some folks have a right to what other folks have (their issue would have existed even if the railroads were privately funded). This is true whether the thing envied is a railhead or personal income. That is why some small businesses go after Wal-Mart even though Wal-Mart is acting in the manner which those very same businesses act. So the issue becomes political might. Sometimes the local guy wins, sometimes its Wal-Mart.

Change hurts, and all aspects of life are not guaranteed. That is why wagon makers hated the automobile industry. Regardless, the respective court rulings do not prove monopoly, either way. But please do not use fiction to prove your point.

“It was because of this that the Interstate Commerce Commission was developed, to guarantee equal access to this critical transportation system.”

Isn’t it ironic that folks like you claim that corporations hijack government for their own purposes while seeing the affects of the hijacking as proof of a moral outcome? Hmmm.

Your food stamp argument is inane. It really is. You claim that you want to remove public funding from education and you then propose public funding (a rose by any other name …) as your solution. The end will not be a few folks on edu-stamps. Think things through. Read a little beyond what you are spoon-fed.

You know why I resigned (conflict with my employment), but you raise the question to make a point. Why?

To your question: Yes, I was ineffective, especially if you consider effectiveness to mean something lasting beyond my service. As I have mentioned ad nauseum, every committee, concept or policy that I ushered through was upended after I left. They all work counter to their original purpose. That is the system.

And I was ineffective if you weigh my decisions in the balance. Yes I fought for what I believed in (and won more than lost), but my goals were not the goals of every constituent. Did I hold some political power? Yes. Did I serve everyone? No way. Government never does. Was the delivery of education improved in my district during my service? Not in my view. But I’m certain that it will during your service (that’s sarcasm).

Go ahead and run. Tilt your windmill. You are the archetypical Progressive, believing that you can right the world if given enough power. But keep in mind that when you sit in the seat, you run the show if and only if two other board members agree. And, should you gain the majority, the show is run by you and your cohorts, for you and your cohorts, and not for your beloved we (you are not an omniscient and omnipotent being who can understand and provide for everyone).

That said: Given your equivocations on supporting tax increases, your desire to spend other folks’ money on issues you support (what you call the public good), and your internal view that government bureaucracies define an issue or concept, you will be eaten alive by the rest of the board and the administration. As the current saying goes: you will be owned. Pride before the fall.

Paul said...

Okay, let's try it your way.

You're an idiot, and you're completely mistaken about my motivations, my reasoning, and my plan of action.

But hey, it's your blog.

Jim Fedako said...

Paul,

At least I moving up in the world. You called me worse before.

I can never quite figure out what you mean by, "my motivations, my reasoning, and my plan of action." Maybe its because you have admitted the same to yourself.

Paul, you think that you have things figured out. You are the enlightened one. You will guide change to its appropriate resting place. I know where you are coming from, I've been there before myself.

Supposedly, the first step to recovery is admitting your reality. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Man, this is some fun reading. I almost skipped this thread because there were too many comments and I wanted to get to bed.

Paul - Don't worry about what Jim says. He has a great vocabulary but is just frustrated because he can't figure out how to feel good about being part of a community. He wants to live in a nice neighborhood but then feels bitter when he has to pay his dues. He could move to a place with near zero taxes but then what would he have to complain about? He could have never moved here in the first place...I'm sure he was smart enough to know we have taxes in Ohio.

Jim - I find it funny that you mock someone for trying to make a difference. Basically telling them to quit. But then you just keep this blog rolling even though the district test scores improve and the levies pass. Jim, let me give you some of your own advice. You don't make a difference. Quit. People see you as what you are, an economic extremist who does a nice dog and pony show of turning good news into bad. Yes, you're fun to read but hey, shouldn't you just quit? I mean, yes, I'll miss your writing but between The Onion and The Drudge Report I think I'll make it.

Oh, and as for me, I'll keep supporting my kid's schools. I know my house value would drop like a rock if the school system started to tank and cut programs. So, I'll pay the taxes and share the rewards with my community. I know it is corny, but school taxes ARE an investment in everyone's future.

Jim Fedako said...

11:19 --

Corny?!? Nonsensical. But, corny?!? Come on, there are many thesauruses free online.

This reminds my of my bike racing days in Switzerland when the sheeple -- er, I mean sheep -- would turn out to graze late into the night. Do you also have a little bell attached to your collar? I wouldn't want you to wander too far at night.

Paul is not making a difference, nor will he make a difference. He had the opportunity to take a stand but he folded in the breeze. Give him a seat on the board and he'll melt like Jello in a microwave.

Funny, Paul claims he will change Hilliard schools. I assume that you have an ideological twin there who must think that Paul is mad. "Improve the system?!? Come on, it's working great. And, just think, if we added a few more mills we would have higher property values and better schools."

Ah, the Olentangy-Hilliard Yellow Brick Road.

note: And keep this in the QT -- Paul's supposed plan is to educate folks on how schools work. That mean he is after misguided folks like you. So he is not really on your side. Or, at least that's what he says ... when he's not saying the opposite.

Paul said...

Not sure why I keep taking your bait. I suppose it's because some of the things you say are so absurd that they simply demand a response.

I'm not sure what you advocate. Is it no government whatsoever? Pure anarchy?

What is a country if it has no government? Is there any model of human society which is absent a governing structure of some kind?

I once had a conversation with a guy where we mused what it would be like if your federal tax return included a page that allowed each taxpayer to designate which federal programs got your tax money. Which federal departments would cease to exist (the IRS!)? Which ones would receive such an abundance of support that we could cut tax rates significantly yet still fund these programs adequately? Would there be enough support for the programs that were cut that private groups would step up and fund them anyway? Who knows, maybe it could be the first steps into the transition of a minimalist, nearly invisible government - something more like what I think you champion. I don't think this would be a bad thing.

But we have a government, and the people have let it get bloated and out of control, to the point that we've become slaves to it (at least until May 11th or whenever Tax Freedom Day is these days). There are many of us - including you and me - who would like the government to be much smaller.

The first step is to get the people to give a damn. That's all I'm trying to do in Hilliard relative to the school district. We may be in the beginning of a positive inflection in the give-a-damn curve, but we'll see how long the honeymoon lasts. We saw how long the 'universal patriotism' lasted after 9/11. Boom market for US Flag makers in 2001. Not so much today.

So I don't know that at the core philosophical level, you and I are that different. But we're very different in our approach to change. I guess my social genes drive me to seek change through respectful dialog and steady pressure. You seem to want to be the screaming madman who might speak truth and is impatient for change, but so annoys his audience that the effort is hampered rather than advanced.

Seems to me that, with rare exception, Jesus modeled an approach of respectful yet relentless purpose.

Anyway, this is I'm sure annoyingly long-winded to you. So I leave it with just that one simple question - how much government is the right amount, in your opinion?

Jim Fedako said...

Paul,

"Bait?" Whatever.

"I suppose it's because some of the things you say are so absurd that they simply demand a response."

What things? Where's your supposed response?

So, it's me taking the bait.

How much government is the right amount? At the federal level, let's go straight back to the limits set by the Constitution for starters -- a limit that respects property and person. At the local level, a similar limitation is also the starting point.

Under all circumstances, less government is better. My utopia -- the endpoint so to speak -- of my philosophical continuum is no government. That said: the endpoint of my diet is 20 pounds, but I'll take anything.

Supposedly, government exists to tame the animal spirits of man. Yet this fact is true: government killed close to 200 million in the 20th Century alone. Let that sink in for a bit.

"You seem to want to be the screaming madman who might speak truth and is impatient for change, but so annoys his audience that the effort is hampered rather than advanced."

You would be fun to mug. I assume that you would empty your pockets while attempting to educate your muggers on the esoteric nonsense that is government funding of education.

Don't you realize that almost every Ohioan knows how public schools are funded. Sure, they don't know all the nuances, but they do know that public schools are funded (for the most part) by local and state dollars.

If that is your sole reason for running, you are wasting your time. Folks already understand that.

"Seems to me that, with rare exception, Jesus modeled an approach of respectful yet relentless purpose."

How do you go from this statement to trying to play local politics? There is nothing respectful about taking someone else's money.

You will see that when you sit on the board and face residents who might lose their homes due to your board-approved tax increase. You can be as gentle as you like, but you will not be emulating Jesus as you state, "Sorry about your luck, but it is for the public good. Er, I mean the public absent you."

The difference between you and me is this: While you may not like my tone at times, I can no longer sit opposite such folks and feel that I am doing good. That takes a truly hardened heart. Maybe you can still do it, but not me.

Or, maybe you have neither experienced such a meeting nor thought through the result of advocating your tax levy. I'll repost a Mises.org article of mine to let you know what you are doing to others.

Here's a moral dilemma: You are held captive in a room with 10 children. Your captives state that if you shoot and kill one of the children, the rest can go free. What is the moral response?

To Augustine, the moral response is to say that you will not participate. The actions of the captors are their's alone. They will have to face the consequences before God.

I don't believe that your levy response of "first do no harm" is the godly response. All taxes harm. You simply acted to harm the less fortunate in the name of the public good. If you can sleep with that on your conscience, you are a harder man than I.

Anonymous said...

This is for Paul. I don't know how Jim carries on with this. You are beyond aggravating. You claim the schools are a common good. You are so wrong. They are a common evil. All who enter them have entered into an evil bureaucracy. And it's nothing new. How much evil should children endure just to be "taught" to read, write and figure? I use quotes with taught because most who learn there, teach themselves. Those people employed there are high-paid baby-sitters. I've been out of school for over 40 years. School nearly destroyed my love of learning. I have educated myself since being in school. Schools actually un-educate. They dumb down. They test to make sure they've dumbed down. If you're so dim that you don't have a clue what's really going on with government education, yet hold yourself up as a benefit to taxpayers, then it's just tragic. I don't benefit one bit from your "dialogue". You have nothing to offer. You just aggravate.

Paul said...

Okay - we're getting somewhere. Your preference is no government whatsoever. I prefer a little government - just enough for national defense and a system of justice. It's probably also helpful to have a standard 'coin of the realm' to facilitate trade.

But neither of us really get to start with a clean sheet of paper and build a new country. The best we can do is strive to change the system we've got.

Given your position on taxation and government, why do you choose to live in a large metro area in a large state where the level of government interference and taxation is on the high end of the scale?

I've been in all fifty states - half on a motorcycle - and know first hand that there a plenty of places in America to live 'off the grid.' We went through one such area on a back road in northwestern New Mexico: every few miles there would be a shack or a trailer back way back in the field - no utilities whatsoever. They weren't crazy isolated - they could get into Taos in an hour or so - but they otherwise enjoyed an existence free of just about any contact with big government, big business or big anything else except sky. But instead you choose to live in a cookie-cutter, middle-class, taxes-to-the-hilt suburban residential development. How do you reconcile those?

Yep, I'd be easy to mug because I have no possessions worth more than my life or anyone's life for that matter. It would be a mistake to believe that I wouldn't defend the safety of my family with my life however.

Let's up the ante on your moral dilemma: An armed burglar breaks into your home at night and you catch him with all three of your kids gathered together in one room. He tells you that he will leave peacefully, but will take one of your kids with him as a hostage, promising to release the child later after making his escape. He tells you to pick which one he should take, even though you know the child will likely be killed. Which one of your kids do you pick?

Allow me to let you off the hook on this one (unless you really want to freak out your kids) - such questions might help in identifying mental illness (because no sane person would even try to answer), but they are otherwise useless. You will either actually experience one of these situations or not. Most won't, so we'll never know if their words and actions match.

That seems to be the case here as well - you words and your actual life choices seem to be in conflict. You have made compromises to your principles for reasons only you fully understand. I have no criticism of that - most of us compromise our principles to some degree.

So I'm willing to start with this flawed state of existence and see if we can transform to something better. That would include nearly no government and nearly no taxes. In the meantime, we must work with the situation we have.

Paul said...

Whoa partner. I am not an advocate for the public schools. In fact my fundamental position is that schools should be entirely privatized and parents should have to pay tuition if they want their kids to go to school. However, I also believe there has to be a mechanism for addressing the truth that there are kids born into poverty who deserve a chance, and for whom aid should be given.

If we can achieve that with an entirely voluntary structure, I'm all for it. Otherwise, yes, taxation is a reasonable choice for raising this aid - in much the same way as we fund food stamps.

All I'm saying is that we have what we have, whether you're talking about government, schools or taxes. So you have a few choices:

1. Run around screaming for revolution and anarchy, and pretty much get nowhere. Revolution rarely leads to liberty - the USA has been one of the exceptions I think (this is the category in which I put Jim);

2. Sit on your butt, complain and do nothing (this was me until about two years ago);

3. Get in the game and try to enact change from the inside (where I hope I am now).

Which of those are you (who seem not to have enough conviction for your position to sign your real name)?

PL

Jim Fedako said...

Paul,

"Okay - we're getting somewhere."

No we are not. We never do. You cannot or will not answer questions.

"Yep, I'd be easy to mug because I have no possessions worth more than my life or anyone's life for that matter."

But it does not follow that you can take from Edith -- you are acting as the mugger -- simply because you may not value something. She values her heat. And, if you would like, I can introduce you to her. Maybe you can mug yourself and help pay her heating bill this winter.

"I am not an advocate for the public schools."

Sure you are. That's why you supported your levy. For you, public education is a public good.

"3. Get in the game and try to enact change from the inside (where I hope I am now)."

Let me know when you enact change. It takes a strong personality. Someone with conviction. Olentangy has such a board member, but, honestly, I don't see you in that role.

Face it: Your "social personality" will place in the role as the board peacemaker, aka, administrative chump. You will sleep well since your peace efforts are "educating" residents. Hey, if it works for you.

In the meantime, I will watch to see all the positive change your committee enacts. Of course, you can spin and make any change positive. But, in the end, your changes will be only those changes supported by -- and later co-opted by -- the administration.

Jim Fedako said...

Paul,

And, by the way, you supposed moral dilemma is anything but. I dom't expect you to understand that.

Anonymous said...

Why does the question never get asked: Just what is required to educate a child? If teaching a child to read and write and understand Math is educating then why does the job not get done? Why are more and more millions required each year to do what used to take very little money and actually doesn't require money at all? Why has a monstrous bureaucracy been created, which makes jobs for hundreds of thousands of government workers and yet we are told every single year that children are not being educated? If government schools aren't "educating" then why are we also being taxed for all the hundreds of other courses, classes, abominations that are part of government schools? I already know the answer. Schools aren't meant to educate in the real sense of the word. They are meant to do just what they do. They pretend to educate so that they can manipulate. They are an enormous "welfare" system for all those employed in them and the armies of charlatans who supply the materials used in them. They are baby-sitters for every family's children, whether both parents work or not. They train each generation in group-think. Children are trained to be consumers there. All are made alike in the schools. The idea of DIVERSITY is a sick joke in this culture. The You Tube video I watched this week, showing a public school teacher brow-beating her students regarding Obama was certainly shocking but the woman stated that she didn't brow-beat, even while doing it in front of the camera. The brainwashed can't even see what's right in front of their eyes. The brainwashing and dumbing down by the government "school" system has been a complete success.