Thursday, March 29, 2012

Trifecta Part Deux

Lagging (gnawing?) thoughts, because there’s no such thing as a horse that’s too dead to beat:


“What belongs to you, you tend to take care of; what belongs to no one or everyone tends to fall into disrepair.”

(see Footnote 1)

“Sound policy requires that we consider long-run effects and all people, not simply short-run effects and a few people.”

(see Footnote 2)

Another point or two from the special meeting Tuesday night.  A number of people, both elected and otherwise, mentioned the pressing capital needs of the School Department, in addition to ‘municipal needs.’  Which clearly sets up an interesting dilemma for all involved.

It was said that Jordan Acres (currently closed), Hawthorne, Coffin, and BJS are all in need of major work, and that the latter is over-crowded, we think.  We swear we sensed a slight whiff of ‘time to build more new schools’ in the air, but we are known for our overactive olfactory imagination.   On the other hand, our perfect little town seems to be suffering a Brass Plaque Syndrome (BPS) epidemic.  What’s that old proverb about pride?

We believe it was also stated that the high school is ‘at capacity.’  It must be from the thousands of people that have flooded into town to replace the military population.  Nobody would try to mislead us, would they?

Which leads to another question regarding the School Board:

  • Can you recall the School Board ever holding a public meeting to demonstrate proactive stewardship and oversight of School Department facilities?  Including making sure that snow is removed from flat roofs on a timely basis?  Note: wringing of hands over the latest proposal from the administration does not qualify as proactive stewardship or oversight.

Sounds like a food fight of sorts could be brewing.  “The children,” or the police?  “The children,” or town staff? 

Unless you believe in the train fairy.

You know who that is, don’t you?  It’s the secret friend that will bring carloads of money to town on that Amtrak train.  The same secret friend that’s paying to make it happen, and will pay to keep the train running since it can’t pay it’s own way.

Don’t worry, be happy.

One last item for your edification.  If you don’t think this year’s budget theatrics will set new records in dramatic staging and screen-plays, you might trip on over to this site, which, if you weren’t paying attention, you might think belongs to the School Department.  It even has nice looking school bus graphics. 

Well, it doesn’t belong to the officials in the School Department, though you can’t tell who is running it.  We have it from an authoritative source, however, that it’s operated by a member of the Bowdoin Faculty, which gives it a nice ‘grass-roots’ character.

They’ve kindly posted one of the School Department’s recent briefings on K-8 budget considerations, which you can find here.

You don’t have to be a PowerPoint Warrior to fully appreciate the contents and what they reveal.  We could go on for hours about this, but you really don’t want us to do that.

We did send them that budget data we laboriously compiled a few weeks ago, but apparently the webmaster hasn’t found the time to post it for ‘the parents.’  You know how it is when you’ve got four class periods a week to teach, and have to have 4 hours of office time as well.  It can really cramp your blogging time.

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1)  This essentially illuminates the magic of private property. It explains so much about the failure of socialized economies the world over.

In the old Soviet empire, governments proclaimed the superiority of central planning and state ownership. They wanted to abolish or at least minimize private property because they thought that private ownership was selfish and counterproductive. With the government in charge, they argued, resources would be utilized for the benefit of everybody.

What was once the farmer’s food became "the people’s food," and the people went hungry. What was once the entrepreneur’s factory became "the people’s factory," and the people made do with goods so shoddy there was no market for them beyond the borders.

We now know that the old Soviet empire produced one economic basket case after another, and one ecological nightmare after another. That’s the lesson of every experiment with socialism: While socialists are fond of explaining that you have to break some eggs to make an omelette, they never make any omelettes. They only break eggs.

If you think you’re so good at taking care of property, go live in someone else’s house, or drive their car, for a month. I guarantee you neither their house nor their car will look the same as yours after the same period of time.

If you want to take the scarce resources of society and trash them, all you have to do is take them away from the people who created or earned them and hand them over to some central authority to manage. In one fell swoop, you can ruin everything. Sadly, governments at all levels are promulgating laws all the time that have the effect of eroding private property rights and socializing property through "salami" tactics — one slice at a time.

2)  It may be true, as British economist John Maynard Keynes once declared, that "in the long run, we’re all dead." But that shouldn’t be a license to enact policies that make a few people feel good now at the cost of hurting many people tomorrow.

I can think of many such policies. When Lyndon Johnson cranked up the Great Society in the 1960s, the thought was that some people would benefit from a welfare check. We now know that over the long haul, the federal entitlement to welfare encouraged idleness, broke up families, produced intergenerational dependency and hopelessness, cost taxpayers a fortune and yielded harmful cultural pathologies that may take generations to undo. Likewise, policies of deficit spending and government growth — while enriching a few at the start — have eaten at the vitals of the nation’s economy and moral fiber for decades.

This principle is actually a call to be thorough in our thinking. It says that we shouldn’t be superficial in our judgments. If a thief goes from bank to bank, stealing all the cash he can get his hands on, and then spends it all at the local shopping mall, you wouldn’t be thorough in your thinking if all you did was survey the store owners to conclude that this guy stimulated the economy.

We should remember that today is the tomorrow that yesterday’s poor policymakers told us we could ignore. If we want to be responsible adults, we can’t behave like infants whose concern is overwhelmingly focused on self and on the here-and-now.

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