30 June 2004
Republican blue jays and their education entitlement
By Craig J. Cantoni
June 30, 2004
It is said that Social Security and Medicare are the third-rail of politics. If you dare mess with the entitlements, AARP will electrocute you on the third rail and then tell grandma and grandpa to drive the train back and forth over your body for fun.
But there is another entitlement that is even more entrenched than Social Security and Medicare. If you have the temerity to even suggest that it is an entitlement, its beneficiaries will torture you before throwing you on the third rail.
What entitlement am I referring to? Public education.
And who are the people most likely to become hysterical when their government-granted ”right” is questioned? Republican women. I know, because I have been on the receiving end of their temper tantrums.
For example, in a recent Arizona Republic column, I said that local parents in a predominately Republican, upper-income part of town were like greedy pigs at the public teat for squealing about the local school district denying their request to build an unnecessary high school in their housing development at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.
Given my history of being a leader in equal rights for women and being married to a professional woman who is a rational thinker, I don’t like to say this, but the sorry fact is that women responded to my article with emotional outbursts, while men responded with reasoned arguments. Sadly, this has been the case whenever I’ve written about public education.
For example, one mom sent a nastygram and said, ”My children deserve a high school in their neighborhood, and I think you’re a jerk for trying to stop it.” Another said, ”We are not loaded and want our child to attend public school, not as a privilege but as a right.” She went on to say that she ”won’t walk away from making sure that all of our kids have a right to a free and appropriate education!!!”
Neither women offered a logical argument for spending taxpayer money on an unnecessary high school. They simply squawked as mindlessly as mother blue jays looking for more bugs for baby blue jay.
Dads, on the other hand, were open to having an intelligent debate about the facts of the matter, about whether public education is still providing a public good and about different funding mechanisms. One wrote, ”Vouchers would allow rich and poor students to attend the school of their choice instead of being told by the school board what school they can attend.”
If he knows what’s good for him, the dad won’t say that in front of mother blue jay. Squawk! Peck, peck!
In previous articles, I have raised a fairness issue of parochial parents having to pay double for education, once in public school taxes and once in private tuition, in order to exercise their right of religious freedom. I suggested that a fairer system would be for them to receive a tax credit equal to what they pay in public school taxes for each of the 12 years that their children are in private school. Since the average household in my home state of Arizona pays approximately $190,000 in public ed taxes over the adult lives of the heads of the household, the credit would be about $45,000, thus leaving a balance of $145,000 for public schools.
Squawk, squawk, squawk. For suggesting that private school parents keep $45,000 of their own money while letting public school parents take $145,000 of it, I was attacked by flocks of screeching blue jays, as if I were a cat trying to get into their nest and eat their offspring for lunch. One squawked, ”You’re mean-spirited and selfish!” Another peeped sorrowfully about her lot in life: ”You don’t care that I have bills to pay and have to drive a minivan instead of a nice SUV.” Still another made a birdbrained remark that no one forces parochial school parents to send their kids to private school, apparently not realizing that they are forced to pay public school taxes, although their kids don’t attend public school.
Over the years, I have learned how to stop the mommy blue jays from pecking at me. I say, ”Okay, your arguments are so compelling and intelligent, that I’ll drop the tax credit idea if you send a thank-you card to me or another private school parent for giving you tens of thousands of dollars.” It’s like asking Medicare recipients to please send a thank-you card to my son or other another kid for picking up the multi-trillion-dollar tab for their medicine and medical care that will be imposed on future generations by our benevolent and munificent government.
I never hear from the blue jays again. My request doesn’t change their entitlement mentality, but at least it stops their mindless squawking.
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Mr. Cantoni is an author, columnist and founder of Honest Americans Against Legal Theft (HAALT). He can be reached at email@example.com
Filed under: Craig-Cantoni