Tag Archives: Taxation is Theft

Will paying teachers more money improve student performance?

Public school teachers in Oklahoma, Kentucky, West Virginia and Arizona are striking this spring, affecting hundreds of thousands of students. The teachers say that spending more money on education will help children learn more. There’s an excellent article by Joy Pullmann in The Federalist that looks at whether increasing spending raises student performance. (H/T Vanessa)

Oklahoma teachers want a $10,000 raise, and Arizona teachers want a 20% increase in base pay. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t get anything near that for my annual raise.

Educational bureacracy

Will raising taxes on taxpayers in order to spend more on education improve student performance? Joy says we can look at the past in order to understand whether spending more money gets results.

She writes:

Research has also long and conclusively shown that school spending hikes usually don’t go to teachers, they go to administrators and other bloat outside classrooms. So the kids are just unions’ human shields on their way to raid the kids’ public bank accounts — again.

[…]As the Cato Institute’s Neal McCluskey has shown, U.S. public K-12 spending has skyrocketed over the past 50 years with no improvement in academic outcomes. Other researchers repeatedly find increasing spending doesn’t help students. That’s because, as noted above, schools typically don’t send more money to classrooms, they use it to increase bureaucracy and nonacademic programming.

Got that? When taxpayers throw money at public schools, the teachers don’t see very much of that money. It gets put into education administrators and indoctrinators – people whose sole job is to make sure that the children accept secular left values.

Check out this graph of education spending compared to test scores:

Federal spending has increased astronomically, but test scores are flat
Federal spending has increased astronomically, but test scores are flat

Spending more doesn’t produce the results that parents are looking for, for their children. Parents want children to learn what they need to find work and become financially independent. But teachers, adminsitrators, etc. have a very different goal: making little secular leftists. And that’s what they use increased funding for that. Numbers don’t lie.

Another way that public schools waste money is by promising massive gold-plated public sector pensions to teachers – pensions that no private sector  taxpayer would ever get themselves. And they use any increase in their budgets to pay the pensions of teachers who are retired, and not helping students to learn.

Teacher pensions

I saw a really nice map of the United States over at Daily Signal, with all the outstanding pensions liabilities, and the amount ranges from about $7600 in Tennessee (the best state in the union) to tens of thousands in the big blue socialist states.

Unfunded pension liabilities for public sector workers
Unfunded pension liabilities for public sector workers

Joy explains:

States promised such outsized retirement benefits to the last generation of public-school teachers that they’re paying off this promise with current revenues. A national average of $6,800 per year per teacher pays former teachers’ pensions that state and local governments failed to save up for while those teachers were working. That’s money that could have instead boosted current teachers’ salaries. The problem is only going to get worse as more baby boomers retire and legislatures continue to hide their heads in the sand.

It’s not just that states and districts failed to save up for pensions they knew would come due, it’s that they offered literally the cushiest pensions available to teachers, notes a 2016 study: “as a group, [teachers] have by far the highest retirement costs, even compared with other public-sector employees. While the average civilian employee receives $1.78 for retirement benefits per hour of work, public school teachers receive $6.22 per hour in retirement compensation.”

Like I said, I don’t have a pension funded by taxpayers. I’m having to saving for my own retirement, as well of the retirement of these wealthy government workers. Public sector benefits are paid by taxpayers in the private (free market) sector. We are the ones wh have to make products and services that consumers are actually willing to pay for in a free market. Unlike teachers, I can’t go on strike if I feel I’m not paid enough. If I go on strike, I’ll be fired. But they go on strike, holding children hostage to get more money. With no guarantee of improved student performance.

Joy also notes that teachers are actually vastly overpaid already, based on what their marketable skills:

[…][R]esearch finds teachers are overpaid by an average of 50 percent relative to their skills and mental abilities. The overage comes almost exclusively from their fat benefit packages.

The reason they complain about pay is because the majority of their pay is going into extravagant health care, paid time off, pension, paid training, etc. benefits. When you add back all those benefits, they’re being overpaid compared to an equivalent private sector worker.

Regulations

Another factor that lowers student performance is that the fact that teachers are highly regulated. Instead of spending their time teaching students, they are forced to waste time doing other non-teaching tasks.

Joy explains:

Education regulations are almost always decided by non-teachers, and the effects are about what you would guess from that fact. Rather than benefiting students, these regulations typically require or justify ever-expanding employment for the very bureaucrat types who come up with them. I’m talking about things like teacher licensing mandates, which researchers have long found do not improve teacher quality and traffic in disproven education fads (but do provide easy-access cash cows for state departments of education and teacher colleges since teachers are required to keep buying their products to maintain certification); ever-increasing testing and data-entry mandates; centralized curriculum mandates like Common Core; centralized teacher evaluation and ratings systems; and the massive data entry required to document things like student behavior problems and special education services.

More money being wasted that doesn’t help students to learn more at all.

So what’s the solution?

The solution is to allow parents to choose who provides their children with an education, instead of having the money automatically taxed and spent by a massive secular left education bureaucracy. If teachers have their money in their hands, they will spend it where they can get the best quality for the best price – just like they do in every other area of their lives. That might be scary for teachers, administrators and indoctrinators, but in a free market, the parents should not be obligated to pay for something they don’t want. We should be concerned about the children first and foremost.

Should big government socialists take over the free enterprise system?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has some ideas about proper economic policy
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has some ideas about proper economic policy

Why did so many people vote for communist regimes in the last hundred years? Communist leaders – who had no demonstrated achievements in economic policy – simply promised voters all sorts of free stuff, e.g. – a guaranteed job, free health care, paid retirement, etc. When the expected benefits didn’t appear, the communist leaders blamed others for their failures, and naturally, those others had to die.

Think that couldn’t happen here? Well, a lot of leading Democrats sure sound like communist leaders. Promising to confiscate legally-owned firearms. Promising to abolish private health insurance. Promising to nationalize private retirement accounts. And promising to replace our current energy industry with a new government-controlled green energy industry.

Let’s look at that last one: the new government-controlled energy industry.

The Federalist reports on the Green New Deal plan.

A number of Democratic Party presidential hopefuls — including Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Julián Castro, and Beto O’Rourke, for starters — have already endorsed or expressed support for the “Green New Deal” (GND). Today, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Edward J. Markey dropped details about her plan.

[…]While some of the specifics need to be ironed out, the plan’s authors assure that this “massive transformation of our society” needs some “clear goals and a timeline.” The timeline is ten years. Here are some of the goals:

  • Ban affordable energy. GND calls for the elimination of all fossil fuel energy production, the lifeblood of American industry and life, which includes not only all oil but also natural gas — one of the cheapest sources of American energy, and one of the reasons the United States has been able to lead the world in carbon-emissions reduction.

  • Eliminate nuclear energy. The GND also calls for eliminating all nuclear power, one of the only productive and somewhat affordable “clean” energy sources available to us, in 11 years. This move would purge around 20 percent of American energy production so you can rely on intermittent wind for your energy needs.

  • Eliminate 99 percent of cars. The authors state that the GND would like to replace every “combustion-engine vehicle” — trucks, airplanes, boats, and 99 percent of cars — within ten years. Charging stations for electric vehicles will be built “everywhere,” though how power plants will provide the energy needed to charge them is a mystery.

  • Gut and rebuild every building in America. Markey and Cortez want to “retrofit every building in America” with “state of the art energy efficiency.” I repeat, “every building in America.” That includes every home, factory, and apartment building, which will all need, for starters, to have their entire working heating and cooling systems ripped out and replaced with…well, with whatever technology Democrats are going invent in their committee hearings, I guess.

  • Eliminate air travel. GND calls for building out “highspeed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.”

  • A government-guaranteed job. The bill promises the United States government will provide every single American with a job that includes a “family-sustaining wage, family and medical leave, vacations, and a pension.” You can imagine that those left in the private sector would be funding these through some unspecified “massive” taxation.

  • Free education for life. GND promises free college or trade schools for every American.

  • A salubrious diet. The GND promises the government will provide “healthy food” to every American.

  • A house. The GND promises that the government will provide, “safe, affordable, adequate housing” for every American citizen.

  • Free money. The GND aims to provide, and I am not making this up, “economic security” for all who are “unable or unwilling” to work.

  • Ban meat. Ocasio-Cortez admits that we can’t get zero emissions in 10 years “because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.” The only way to get rid of farting cows is to get rid of beef.

Have any of these ideas been tried in any states? Trains seem to run over budget when they are built, and they fail to turn a profit afterwards. But most of these have not been tried anywhere, so how are we supposed to know how much they will cost to implement, and whether they will actually work?

Now, you might be wondering where the dancing bartender will get all the money for these plans. After all, the cost of the Green New Deal has been figured at $49 trillion over the first 10 years. (And that’s in addition to the government takeover of healthcare “Medicare for All”, which costs $32 trillion over 10 years). She’s going to have to take it from someone… maybe from the top earners?

Just one problem with that:

The plan itself seems to insinuate that billionaires can pay for the whole thing. Of course, best case scenario, it is estimated that instituting a top marginal tax rate of 70 percent would raise a little more than $700 billion over that decade.

Are you beginning to see where the 100 million murders by government came from? When a plan fails to work as promised, what will the communist leaders do? Will they say that communism has failed, and step down from power? Or will they find people to blame for their failures, in order to stay in power? Historically speaking, it’s always been the latter. You can even see how it happens today, in places like North Korea and Venezuela.

From "The Black Book of Communism", (Harvard University Press: 1997)
From “The Black Book of Communism”, (Harvard University Press: 1997)

The Road to Serfdom

I want to recommend to everyone a famous book about how socialism leads to mass murder by government. The book is written by Nobel prize winner F. A. Hayek. This is one of my favorite books on economics. The full PDF of the book is available for download on archive.org.

The audio version is available FOR FREE on YouTube:

Outline:

  • 00:17 Foreword
  • 37:58 Preface
  • 41:51 Preface 1976
  • 50:09 Introduction
  • 1:08:46 Ch1 The Abandoned Road
  • 1:37:31 Ch2 The Great Utopia
  • 1:54:46 Ch3 Individualism and Collectivism
  • 2:18:32 Ch4 The Inevitability of Planning
  • 2:45:52 Ch5 Planning and Democracy
  • 3:20:06 Ch6 Planning and the Rule of Law
  • 3:54:33 Ch7 Economic Control and Totalitarianism
  • 4:23:01 Ch8 Who, Whom
  • 5:00:49 Ch9 Security and Freedom
  • 5:31:27 Ch10 Why the Worst Get On Top
  • 6:11:01 Ch11 The End of Truth
  • 6:38:41 Ch12 The Socialist Roots of Nazism
  • 7:09:40 Ch13 The Totalitarians in Our Midst
  • 7:54:43 Ch14 Material Conditions and Ideal Ends
  • 8:33:17 Ch15 The Prospects of International Order
  • 9:14:55 Ch16 Conclusion

All you need is 8.5 hours to listen to it. You won’t regret it, I promise. I have listened to the audiobook at least a dozen times. If that’s too long, there is a condensed version of the book.

They Hayek Center talks about condensed version of the book:

Max Eastman and the editors of Reader’s Digest wrote the condensed version of Friedrich Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom” (pdf), which was read by millions of Americans at home and by servicemen all of the world when it was published in April of 1945.  It was the Reader’s Digest condensed version which turned Hayek’s little book into an American sensation — and Hayek into a public celebrity. The Reader’s Digest had a circulation at the time of more the 5 million copies, and the little journal was provided to each American serviceman, at home and abroad.

[…]An additional 600,000 copies of the condensed version were later printed and distributed through the Book of the Month club and by non-profit civic groups.

Can you imagine what it would have been like to live at a time where everyone clearly understood the danger of letting government administrators centrally plan an economy? But the new generation of young Americans have lost that knowledge, and they are voting for the people who will lead them down the road to serfdom.