“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Monday, August 01, 2005

Light As A Feather

The Amarillo Globe-Republican has finally weighed in on the school finance issue. Or have they?

In Sunday's lead editorial, the aptly-named "ghostly voice" almost can't bring itself to speak about it. Guess the ghost figured that everyone else had, so it had to say something. The ghost, tiptoeing as if in a mine field, allowed that "The House of Representatives has all but cratered over the effort. The Senate said it will start from scratch on a new plan, but next to no one has any confidence it will succeed." They dared not even think about who exactly was responsible or -- geez, Louise, lock up the kids and pull the wagons into a circle -- why!

This is why PTS exists, to speak the plain truth that the AG-R, in deference to its corporate and political masters, will not. The plain truth in this case is that the House, Senate and Governorship are all controlled by the Republican Party. The Republicans are beholden to two groups, the corporate elite who are their donor base, and the right-wing theocrats who form their shock troops at election time. The Greed is Good crowd wanted a straightforward government giveaway, reducing the contributions they make toward schools via the property tax. Meanwhile, the God Hates Fags legions have been thirsting for greater control over the heathen public school system, and saw an opportunity to bring local districts under the control of Austin by placing strings on the state funding they would receive in compensation for reduced property taxes.

And they just might have got away with this regressive two-fer, if it hadn't been for a few inconvenient facts. First, public schools are still way more popular than legislators. Second, the folks who run public schools are still, for the most part, trying to do the best they can for their students, and they had the gumption to speak up. Third, the rise in sales taxes that would have been required to make up for the lost property tax revenues would have given Texas the highest state sales tax rate in the country, too bitter a pill for too many representatives.

What all this demonstrates, and the reason the ghost wouldn't touch the details with a ten-foot pole, is that the ideologies dictated by the Republican political base create a guaranteed recipe for poor governance. The regressives love to quote Thomas Jefferson, who said "... that government is best that governs least." But the current state of affairs is decidedly not what Mr. Jefferson had in mind. Jefferson, whose proudest achievement was the founding of the University of Virginia, a state institution, understood that government was an instrument of the people, not of the elite. While Jefferson was a proponent of limits on government, and of checks and balances among government entities, he also wrote "The only orthodox object of the institution of government is to secure the greatest degree of happiness possible to the general mass of those associated under it." Jefferson would clearly have been appalled at the intrusion of state government into local schools in the manner the regressives advocate. The regressives currently in charge in Austin do not care about the happiness or welfare of the general mass of people, because the general mass of people do not contribute much money or time to political campaigns.

So, what was the ghost's prescription for the legislature's failure? "Call in the Texas Supreme Court to give lawmakers the push they need." Sure. The nine elected Republican Supreme Court justices certainly won't fall prey to the same pressures that doomed the legislature. Well, that's true in at least one respect. The Supreme Court has no authority to raise taxes.

Hey, ghostie--who's your daddy?