Tag Archives: Education

Democrats vote against tax cut for parents of homeschooled and disabled children

Ted and Heidi Cruz have a plan to simplify the tax code
Ted and Heidi Cruz have a plan to cut taxes for parents

I blogged recently about an amendment to the tax bill that Ted Cruz had put in to help parents with the costs of educating their children. It was a good amendment, and the Democrats even let some of it remain in the final version of the bill. But they voted against the tax cuts for parents who homeschool their children, or who have children with disabilities.

Here’s an article from Town Hall to explain what happened.

Excerpt:

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), one of the Senate’s most outspoken advocates for school choice, introduced an addition to the tax bill called the Student Opportunity Amendment. The amendment would expand 529 college savings plans to also include K-12 education, allowing parents and grandparents to use these tax-advantaged plans to save up to $10,000 per child per year for private schools, religious schools, or even homeschooling.

This represented a significant change in policy that would benefit more than 50 million children. The Senate voted in favor of the amendment, 50-50, with the Vice President breaking the tie.

However, Democrats weren’t about to let a beneficial piece of legislation pass without a fight. Party leaders ran to the Senate Parliamentarian to complain that the entire amendment ran afoul of the Byrd rule — another one of those arcane Senate rules that no one understands. But while the Parliamentarian disagreed with the Democrats’ argument about the majority of the provisions in the amendment, she unfortunately found their argument compelling when applied to homeschooling and struck the language from the bill.

In response, Senator Cruz rushed to the floor and pushed a Motion to Waive the Parliamentarian’s changes, which solely affected the homeschooling provision. This motion would require a 60-vote majority to succeed.

As Senator Cruz explained in a passionate speech on the Senate floor, one of the provisions that was to be eliminated from the amendment was particularly important — it would allow parents with a child with disabilities to use a 529 plan to pay for educational therapy, which can often be prohibitively expensive.

How could the Democrats vote against that?

“We’ve got right now a motion to waive this mean-spirited, vindictive point of order that discriminates against homeschoolers and carves out kids with disabilities,” Cruz charged. He argued that the vote “ought to be 100 to nothing.”

Nevertheless, not a single Democrat voted for Senator Cruz’s motion. Not one. The Democrats knowingly and proudly discriminated against homeschooled kids and kids with disabilities, in many cases destroying their access to quality education. Even by the Democrats’ woefully low standards, it was a shameful display.

I found the video of the 13-minute speech – the part about the schools starts at 6 minutes in:

The whole thing is worth watching, just to understand what a tax cut really is, and to accept that Democrats don’t want you to have the money you earn. They want the money you earn – they want to spend it. They want to spend it buying the votes of people who don’t agree with your values, and who don’t respect how hard you worked in order to earn that money.

Let me tell you what this means to me. When I was young, I realized that getting married and having kids would require me to work an extra twenty years. Instead of retiring at 45, I would have to work until I was 65. I thought and thought about this, and I realized that the only reason to do this extra work would be if I could have several children  and raise them to be effective and influential Christians. So, I went to work getting multiple degrees in computer science and then working to earn and save money for this plan.

And this is what I learned while learning about politics along the way. There is one political party, the party of Ted Cruz, that wants me to keep my own money, and to educate my children as I see fit. They want me to marry, and they want me to have children, and they want me to lead my family the way that I see fit. After all, these conservatives say, he is the own earning the money. He should keep what he earns, and he should spend it how he needs to to achieve his goals. He shouldn’t be forced to pay into any education system that works against his values and against his worldview. That’s what Ted Cruz was trying to help me with with his amendment.

But there is another political party which believes in big government. They want to confiscate what I earn to create a system of government-run schools. And in those government-run schools, the children will not be taught anything useful for getting a job, getting married, having children, etc. They will be taught how to have premarital sex, how to stop global warming with socialism, how to have an atheistic worldview, how to blame capitalism for the failure of socialist policies, and how to embrace gay rights and radical feminism. If I tell those Democrats that I don’t want to send my schools there, they tell me that I have to pay for those schools, and there will be no tax cuts for me to homeschool my kids. Democrats are fascists – they want the government to be everything, and the family to be nothing.

I don’t know if the Democrats really realize the message they are sending to the last good men. The men who don’t drink, don’t take drugs, who are chaste, and who do want to marry and have children. But I am watching what happens in the world of politics, and I am getting the message. They don’t want me to pass on my values to my kids, they want their public school allies to pass progressive values on to my kids. And when Ted Cruz tries to do something to stop them, they shut him down. I hope more people realize how the government sees my priorities. They want to take what I earn, but they don’t let me have the freedom to lead a family. This is why men are not interested in marriage and children like they used to be. We don’t like the idea of being robbed by the government tax collectors and then being replaced by government educators.

Men on strike: the social changes that caused men to opt out of marriage

Painting: "Courtship", by Edmund Blair Leighton (1888)
Painting: “Courtship”, by Edmund Blair Leighton (1888)

I read and enjoyed Dr. Helen Smith’s book “Men on Strike” last year. The book explains a few of the developments that have led to men underperforming in school and in the workplace, and opting out of marriage and fatherhood.

Dr. Helen comes to this problem as a secular libertarian, not as a Christian conservative.

A review of Dr. Helen’s book appeared in Salvo magazine. The review is written by Terrell Clemmons, who has the best Christian worldview of any woman I know – I frequently rely on her advice.

Terrell writes:

While the feminist movement may originally have been about equal respect for both sexes, what it has morphed into, she argues, is female privilege. From rape laws that empower women but not the men they may falsely accuse, to divorce laws tilted in favor of the wife, to the feminization of the U.S. education system, men have become the sex under the gun, while women enjoy the status of a protected class.

But unlike their mothers or grandmothers, men today are not taking to the streets burning their undergarments and shrieking demands (thank God). They’re doing just the opposite, which is far worse. They’re going on strike. The strike zones are manifold:

Higher Education.In addition to the enrollment imbalance, which is approaching a 60/40 ratio of women to men, college has become, in the words of one professor, “a hostile working environment [in which] males increasingly feel emasculated.” Smith quotes a student named John, who had this to say about his college experience: “I had already been cautious around women, having grown up with Tawana Brawley in my backyard and daily stories of sexual harassment; I played it safe and passive every time. But it doesn’t matter. The only way not to lose is to not play. So I’m out.”

Work,including community involvement. With higher female graduation rates and salaries, men today are falling behind their fathers economically and professionally. Consequently, their efforts to prove themselves worthy mates through hard work and higher earnings don’t win female attention the way they used to. Discouraged, too many retreat to a man cave, and inertia sets in from there.

Marriage.Marriage rates are down, and honest men opting out will tell you why. Smith cites a Rutgers University study of single heterosexual men which turned up the top reasons they hadn’t married. They can get sex and the companionship of cohabitation without marriage more easily than in times past, and they don’t want to open themselves up to the risk of divorce and financial loss. It really isn’t that complicated a decision. In fact, it’s often not an actual decision at all. It just happens.

The simplest explanation for the difficulties that boys face in an education system that is dominated by women (teachers and administrators) is discrimination. And in the workplace, the government requires employers to report on male and female head counts, and promote women who are not qualified. I have seen receptionists with tattoos and no college degrees promoted to six-figure manager jobs in companies where I worked.

There is one more which to me was the most surprising one in the book – paternity fraud, and the laws that support paternity fraud:

Take the following cases of nonconsensual insemination: Nathaniel from California, age 15, had sex with 34-year-old Ricci, which, due to his age, was legally considered nonconsensual. Emile from Louisiana was visiting his parents in the hospital when a nurse offered him oral sex, if he wore a condom, which she conveniently offered to dispose of for him afterward. S. F. from Alabama passed out drunk at the home of a female friend and awoke undressed the following morning. In all three cases, including the one involving the minor, a woman got sperm and, nine months later, a child, and the man got ordered by a court of law to pay support for eighteen years.

Less devious, but similarly amiss, are those cases in which a man, having been betrayed by his wife or girlfriend, was nevertheless held financially responsible for a child genetically proven to be another man’s offspring. While not as sensational as sperm-jacking, it is another form of paternity extortion.

In each of those cases, the man was found liable to pay child support – including the case of the 15-year-old boy, who was forced to pay child support to his statutory rapist when he turned 18. This is how the court system works, and more and more men are understanding the risks.

I often encounter “pro-marriage” people while gathering stories for the blog. These pro-marriage people come in two varieties.

On the one end of the spectrum are people like Terrell Clemmons and Jennifer Roback Morse, who understand marriage, but who also understand the social changes that have made marriage unattractive for men. Both Clemmons and Morse have a background in STEM fields, so they are able to understand incentives and tradeoffs. They understand that society has to rollback the changes to education, divorce laws, etc. if they expect men to be interested in marriage again. They understand that men are not just accessories of women, but instead have their own desires, feelings and reasons for marrying.

On the other end of the spectrum are feminist men, who are not able to understand the changing incentives that face men in a world that has evolved under the influence of radical feminism. It is just simpler (less thinking) for these men to accept the radical feminism as a given, and then urge men to “man up”. I think a much better idea would be for the “man up” crowd to realize how marriage has changed, and how the schools and the workplace have changed, then make all of these things more attractive to men. It doesn’t do any good to try to “dare” men into jumping off a cliff. Men aren’t stupid, and they do what is in their own best interests. If the man-up crowd wants younger men to marry, then they need to change the incentives offered to men. And that means changing women first.

Is what Ted Cruz does in the Senate relevant to you?

Ted and Heidi Cruz have a plan to simplify the tax code
Ted and Heidi Cruz have a plan to for tax reform

Sometimes, I talk to rank and file Christians and see what they are interested in. Sometimes, they are interested in parenting, sports, movies and the same sort of stuff that non-Christians are interested in. Sometimes, they are interested in Bible study and theology, and maybe even philosophy of religion. But only rarely are they interested in apologetics and public policy. However, public policy is very important to Christians, because it affects how we work, how much we earn after taxes, and how much freedom we have to spend our money as we see fit. If you have Kingdom of God goals for your life as a Christian that are different from the ordinary minimal life goals of a non-Christian, then public policy is very important to you.

With that said, education has to be one of the most important areas that Christians are concerned about. Not only do we not want our children to be taught lies, but we also want them to be taught marketable skills that will allow them to have an influence as a Christian. If public schools are not doing a good job at both tasks, then we need to get the money we were forced to pay in taxes for them back, so we can make better choices about education.

The Washington Examiner reports on what conservative Texas senator Ted Cruz has done lately that will be interesting to Christians who are thoughtful about how their children are educated.

Excerpt:

Parents would get new federal tax breaks for sending their children to private or religious schools or teaching them at home if the final Republican tax overhaul bill becomes law.

For that, they can thank Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who offered the original amendment to extend 529 college savings plans to grade school and high school, including costs for homeschooling.

Cruz’s amendment was the only one, setting aside manager’s amendments, to be added on either chamber’s floor. It passed as Republicans moved their bill through the Senate in the closing hours of Dec. 1. Cruz got an assist from Vice President Mike Pence, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the amendment after Republicans Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine balked at the measure.

The amendment, which would allow $10,000 per child to be distributed from tax-privileged 529 savings plans each year, was included in Friday’s joint House-Senate conference bill. It would represent a tax cut of about $500 billion over 10 years, according to Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation.

With the Cruz amendment’s inclusion, passage of the bill would represent a major advancement for school choice at the federal level.

The House version of the legislation contained a similar measure. It also included a noteworthy provision that would have permitted parents to open 529 accounts for unborn children. That language, which pro-abortion rights supporters had decried as an attempt to restrict abortion through the tax code, didn’t make it into the final bill.

One of the things that disappoints me about Donald Trump is that he does so little to persuade others to adopt conservative positions. Instead of being reasonable and using evidence, he is more likely to take to Twitter to get into a third-grade-level mocking match with people who disagree with him. It is true that he has done some conservative things, like reducing regulations, nominating great judges, and so on. But a great communicator creates consensus by being persuasive. You might not be able to persuade the radical leftists, but you have to be able to persuade at least some of the moderates. Ted Cruz has a much better record of being persuasive on policy issues than Donald Trump. And that’s probably because Ted Cruz has experience debating in college, and made it through Harvard University law school as an open conservative. He was considered brilliant by his progressive law professors, even though they didn’t agree with him.

We’re better off – from a public policy point of view – when we elect people who know how to be persuasive on public policy issues. Clowning around is entertaining, but it doesn’t get the wall built, and it doesn’t get Obamacare repealed. You have to be a better debater to get those kinds of things done.

Millennial snowflakes want socialism, but most of them cannot even define it

Millennials love socialism and communism
Millennials love socialism and communism

I like to make fun of millennials on this blog, because in my interactions with them, I find that they have great confidence and self-esteem in their own opinions, even though they have seldom done any study of the issues they’re confident about.

Campus Reform has a good example of millennial ignorance:

More than four-in-ten U.S. millennials would prefer to live under socialism than capitalism, according to a new survey by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

When given the choice to pick a preferred system of government, 44 percent of millennials responded that they would rather live in a socialist country while another seven percent opted for a communist state. Capitalism, on the other hand, was preferred by 42 percent of millennial respondents, with the remaining 14 percent split evenly between fascism and communism.

According to the study, pro-socialist sentiment is much higher among millennials when compared to the rest of the country, noting that 59 percent of Americans say they would rather reside in a capitalist country, with only 35 percent of respondents signaling a preference for a socialist state.

Millennials were also about twice as likely as the general population to say they would prefer living in a fascist or communist country, with about seven percent choosing each option.

“The percentage of Millennials who would prefer socialism to capitalism is a full ten points higher than that of the general population,” the foundation observed in its report. “It seems that the majority of America’s largest generation would prefer to live in a socialist or communist society than in a free enterprise system that respects the rule of law, private property, and limited government.”

The survey also found that millennials, along with most other Americans, “either don’t know the definition of communism or misidentify it.”

[…]Consistent with the other findings, the survey also revealed that millennials are least opposed to communist ideology when compared to other age groups.

Let’s just take one example of this millennial ignorance.

The Daily Signal posted an article about a survey from last year on millennial attitudes towards communism.

Look at this:

The survey also revealed a general lack of historical knowledge, especially among young adults. According to the report, one-third (32 percent) of millennials believed that more people were killed under George W. Bush than under Joseph Stalin.

Bush killed more people than Stalin? First of all, Bush’s war was to liberate Iraq from radical Islam. You can see what happened when we pulled our forces out under Obama. Raped Yazidi sex-slaves, for one thing. Stalin killed people who disagreed with him – like the Ukrainian farmers I blogged about before. The number of war deaths in Iraq numbers in the tens of thousands, and most of those casualties are enemy casualties. I like dead terrorists, so that’s not a liability for me. The number of deaths under Stalin is somewhere around 40 million, most of those were innocent people.

Here are the brilliant millennials saying what they’ve been taught to say so that people will be impressed:

They’re just idiots. I wouldn’t trust them to spit on the pavement.

There is some hope, though, that when millennials start paying taxes they flip their voting to free enterprise policies.

The Charlotte Observer explains:

There is some evidence that this generation’s views on activist government will stick. However, there is more reason to expect that support for their Scandinavian version of socialism may wither as they age, make more money and pay more in taxes.

The expanded social welfare state Sanders thinks the United States should adopt requires everyday people to pay considerably more in taxes. Yet millennials become averse to social welfare spending if they foot the bill. As they reach the threshold of earning $40,000 to $60,000 a year, the majority of millennials come to oppose income redistribution.

Millennials wouldn’t be the first generation to flip-flop. In the 1980s, 52 percent of baby boomers supported bigger government, and so did Generation Xers (53 percent) in the 1990s. Yet, both baby boomers and Gen Xers grew more skeptical of government over time and by about the same magnitude. Today, only 25 percent of boomers and 37 percent of Gen Xers continue to favor larger government.

Yeah, growing up has a way of making people into Republicans. That might be an argument for getting kids out of school and into work sooner, so that they grow up faster, and have grown-up beliefs about economics and taxation. I don’t even consider someone to be a grown-up until they’ve worked 5 years in the private sector. I’m really not sure why millennials think that their opinions are correct given that lack of life experience at grown-up tasks. Going to school and working in the public sector or not-for-profit sector are not grown-up tasks.

Survey of scientific literature finds that children need their mom for first 3 years

Child grabs for his mom, who is leaving for work
Child grabs for his mom, who is leaving for work

Recently, an article published in the Wall Street Journal reported on research survey done why a far-left Democrat psychotherapist based in far-left New York City. Surprisingly, her book caused an uproar among the author’s left-wing allies. How come?

Excerpt:

Motherhood used to be as American as apple pie. Nowadays it can be as antagonistic as American politics. Ask Erica Komisar.

Ms. Komisar, 53, is a Jewish psychoanalyst who lives and practices on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. If that biographical thumbnail leads you to stereotype her as a political liberal, you’re right. But she tells me she has become “a bit of a pariah” on the left because of the book she published this year, “Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters.”

[…]The premise of Ms. Komisar’s book—backed by research in psychology, neuroscience and epigenetics—is that “mothers are biologically necessary for babies,” and not only for the obvious reasons of pregnancy and birth. “Babies are much more neurologically fragile than we’ve ever understood,” Ms. Komisar says. She cites the view of one neuroscientist, Nim Tottenham of Columbia University, “that babies are born without a central nervous system” and “mothers are the central nervous system to babies,” especially for the first nine months after birth.

What does that mean? “Every time a mother comforts a baby in distress, she’s actually regulating that baby’s emotions from the outside in. After three years, the baby internalizes that ability to regulate their emotions, but not until then.” For that reason, mothers “need to be there as much as possible, both physically and emotionally, for children in the first 1,000 days.”

What’s interesting about this is how the left responds to the science. You might have heard that the left is very fond of science, but veterans of debates about God’s existence know that people on the left tend to be hostile to science that goes against their view: the Big Bang cosmology, cosmic fine-tuning, biological information, irreducible complexity, molecular machines, habitability, etc. And early childhood education is no exception.

More:

Christian radio stations “interviewed me and loved me,” she says. She went on “Fox & Friends,” and “the host was like, your book is the best thing since the invention of the refrigerator.” But “I couldn’t get on NPR,” and “I was rejected wholesale—particularly in New York—by the liberal press.” She did appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” but seconds before the camera went live, she says, the interviewer told her: “I don’t believe in the premise of your book at all. I don’t like your book.”

[…]Ms. Komisar tells of hosting a charity gathering for millennials at her apartment. One young woman “asked me what my book was about. I told her, and she got so angry. She almost had fire coming out of her eyes, she was so angry at my message. She said, ‘You are going to set women back 50 years.’ I said, ‘Gosh, I wouldn’t want to do that.’ ”

[…]The needs of children get lost in all this—and Ms. Komisar hears repeatedly that the hostility to her message is born of guilt. When she was shopping for a literary agent, she tells me, “a number of the agents said, ‘No, we couldn’t touch that. That would make women feel guilty.’ ” Another time she was rejected for a speaking gig at a health conference. She quotes the head of the host institution as telling her: “You are going to make women feel badly. How dare you?”

[…]“The thing I dislike the most is day care,” she says. “It’s really not appropriate for children under the age of 3,” because it is “overstimulating” given their neurological undevelopment. She cites the “Strange Situation experiments,” devised in 1969 by developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth, a pioneer of attachment theory: “A mother and the baby are on the floor playing. The mother gets up and leaves the baby in the room alone. The baby has a separation-anxiety response. A stranger walks in; the baby has a stressed reaction to the stranger.”

[…]Researchers sample the infant’s saliva and test it for cortisol, a hormone associated with stress (and inversely correlated with oxytocin). In a series of such experiments in which Ms. Komisar herself participated, “the levels were so high in the babies that the anticipation was that it would . . . in the end, cause disorders and problems.” In a more recent variant of the experiment, scientists use functional magnetic resonance imaging to look directly at the brain of an infant reacting to photos of the mother and of a stranger.

I spoke to a millennial co-worker in my office who is very proud of his strong feminist views. His wife just had a baby, and they stuck the baby in daycare after 3 months so that she could go back to work. I did speak to him about what the research says (daycare and public school studies are a hobby of mine!), but I try to only disagree with him on one thing at a time, and right now, we’re disagreeing about cohabitation and marital stability. It’s amazing how confident millennials are about taking positions on things like daycare, cohabitation, public schools, etc. without ever having consulted the relevant peer-reviewed science.

Let’s look at one of the studies, to see some evidence.

Brain scans of 3-year old children: normal vs neglected
Brain scans of 3-year old children: normal vs neglected

The UK Telegraph reported on a recent study that measured the brain development of 3-year-old children.

Excerpt:

Take a careful look at the image of two brains on this page. The picture is of the brains of two three-year-old children. It’s obvious that the brain on the left is much bigger than the one on the right. The image on the left also has fewer spots, and far fewer dark “fuzzy” areas.

To neurologists who study the brain, and who have worked out how to interpret the images, the difference between these two brains is both remarkable and shocking. The brain on the right lacks some of the most fundamental areas present in the image on the left. Those deficits make it impossible for that child to develop capacities that the child on the left will have: the child on the right will grow into an adult who is less intelligent, less able to empathise with others, more likely to become addicted to drugs and involved in violent crime than the child on the left. The child on the right is much more likely to be unemployed and to be dependent on welfare, and to develop mental and other serious health problems.

[…]The primary cause of the extraordinary difference between the brains of these two three-year-old children is the way they were treated by their mothers. The child with the much more fully developed brain was cherished by its mother, who was constantly and fully responsive to her baby.

The child with the shrivelled brain was neglected and abused. That difference in treatment explains why one child’s brain develops fully, and the other’s does not.

[…]Professor Allan Schore, of UCLA, who has surveyed the scientific literature and has made significant contributions to it, stresses that the growth of brain cells is a “consequence of an infant’s interaction with the main caregiver [usually the mother]”.

The growth of the baby’s brain “literally requires positive interaction between mother and infant. The development of cerebral circuits depends on it.”

Prof Schore points out that if a baby is not treated properly in the first two years of life, the genes for various aspects of brain function, including intelligence, cannot operate, and may not even come into existence. Nature and nurture cannot be disentangled: the genes a baby has will be profoundly affected by the way it is treated.

I always like to consult the findings of science to find out the right way to achieve a goal. This puts off some prospective mates, who want to avoid planning and preparation so they can ride a roller-coaster of emotions and just do whatever they want to be happy in the moment. But in every other area of life, I’ve found that doing things the right way always involves studying and planning, then careful execution of a plan. Nobody passes an exam by going clubbing when they should be studying. Going clubbing is more fun “in the moment”, but studying always gets better results.

In this case, it’s very clear that keeping a mother at home for the first three years of each child would require some earning and saving by me, since men are the principal providers. And I expect that women who are looking for husbands to raise their children with will look for men who have made preparations to give the young children what they need. Not everything a man does is about looks and fun – there are real requirements here. It’s very important for young people to prepare for marriage and raising children by working backward from what the science says about children’s needs.

The more you read about the science, the less wiggle-room there is for feelings. Doing the right thing (saving money for a stay-at-home mom) is hard because it feels bad. But when you inform yourself with science, it makes it easier to override your bad feelings, because you know you’re doing the right thing to achieve a result. If you can’t bring yourself to prepare now to do things right later, then you should read more science, and that might make it easier to do the right thing.