The Agitator #91 - Whose America?
by Oliver_Halle
 The Agitator
October 31, 2013 08:45 AM | 918 views | 3 3 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

The cry on the right stays on track, that we are spending too much money and bankrupting our great country. You can’t leave out the children in this plaint and they don’t. The same folks never lose an opportunity to express their concern that tomorrow’s children will bear the burdens of our spending today, and that it’s all about them. In the next breath, though, they want to cut taxes that fund education. In some counties in America, to include Cobb, seniors are exempted from paying school taxes. Many of the same concerned citizens are among this group, but if you tried to eliminate this tax break to fund the future captains of industry, you would be run out of town.

Students are drowning in debt unless they won the genetic lottery and can get an academic scholarship, or were born into families with financial resources. What this often means is that an otherwise intelligent person may not be able to pursue a post graduate study that could lead to a professional career. This is because of the golden handcuffs of a current job that pays down student loans. Any number of other countries consider the young an investment in that country’s future and put education at the top of their priorities. Not in the land of opportunity, though, the greatest country on earth. As a result we are not producing the engineers, scientists, and other creators in the numbers that are needed to sustain our nation’s record of accomplishments. Many who “got theirs” because of the largess of tax paid educations, to include public schools, don’t blink at cutting this form of government spending. There are the usual objections to all the waste, as though waste and fraud don’t happen in the private sector.

As the congress and senate try to come to agreement on a budget resolution, one thing that is not likely to change is the multiples of spending on the elderly versus the younger generation. Seniors vote and are a very powerful force. I have been at political gatherings where they are vocal about the runaway spending, about the kids being shortchanged, but if asked to sacrifice and pay more for their Medicare or Social Security, you hear all sorts of objections on why that would be unfair. While Obamacare continues to be today’s popular punching bag, you won’t find one person on Medicare who would be willing to give it up to buy insurance in the private sector. Could it be because of preexisting conditions that might exclude them, coupled with the cost of paying premiums that reflect the real costs of the services they get?

There is a lot of room to cut big budget items, but you don’t read much about it. I’ve mentioned getting rid of Medicare Part D, the drug portion that is costlier than Obamcare. Agricultural subsidies, bank loan guarantees that taxpayers fund, and a tax code that favors investors and other wealthy over people who earn their living doing real work, may get passing lip service at best. Same for unneeded defense contracts and obsolete military bases. How often do you hear about multibillion dollar cost overruns and fraud in defense contracts? When you do it’s hardly the lead story or front page news. When was the last time your representative talked about it? It’s become a game where both the contractor and Pentagon point fingers at each other, and the taxpayer hasn’t a clue as to who really is responsible. But since it’s defense money it’s not popular to bring it up in one of the typical canned speeches your rep gives at the local civic club.

To sum this all up no one could do it better than Texas Republican representative Blake Farenthold. He is a man of the people and wants to “reduce the size of government, lower taxes, and increase freedom.” During the government shutdown a disabled veteran told this patriotic American that he was concerned about losing his disability check. Blake responded about freedom not being free and the need to make small sacrifices. I bet readers would be shocked to know that Farenthold never wore the uniform of this country and got a tax subsidized education at the University of Texas-Austin. If this guy and other like-minded types are reelected in 2014, we will get what we asked for. And it won’t resemble the America that many of us once knew.

Comments
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B D Lane
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November 07, 2013
Hey, Oliver.

I think that we could definitely find points of agreement in content from this article when discussing certain things like the hypocrisy of entitlement, e. g. "I'm old and entitled, but *you're* not entitled."

However, I also think that you are speaking here with way too broad brushstrokes. This is, of course, inevitable in a column... but you do reveal some ideological biases that can quickly be addressed.

For example, the fact that there is waste in private industry--and there is--you seem to not understand why people get more worked up about waste in government. The reason is simple. I don't care if someone flushes dollar bills down a toilet as long as he doesn't take those dollar bills from *my* wallet! Government is funded by you and me. That's the difference.

Also, most of a public school's budget goes to salaries and benefits (pre university), but there is definitely waste. Why is it wrong to look at this waste and try to get rid of it? (And I say this with a great deal of empathy for teachers who have actually made very real sacrifices in Georgia via furlough days, salary freezes, and--worst of all--massively increased class sizes, which make it hard to teach well.) Perhaps we could meet somewhere in the middle to look at education budgets? To do the right thing for kids? Like Guido, I don't think that particular problem is caused by money.

Also, there's a pretty compelling argument for how government involvement in higher ed has driven up tuition costs faster than the rate of inflation. Can we look at this as well? Why does it cost so much for post-graduate studies?

These questions could spark some real--and valuable--exchanges to move society to a better place... to find compromise, yes?

BDL
Guido Sarducci
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October 31, 2013
How long do you think we will resemble the country to which you refer, with the uncontrolled spending that is going on?

The idea that the solution to all problems is to throw money at them,(preferably somebody's else's money) is false.

Waste, fraud and corruption are all rampant within the educational system, just as surely as they are in the Medicare system, yet you advocate throwing them more money. How about they begin to spend the money we already give them wisely?

Yes, tax codes afford breaks to investors and business owners, because they are the people responsible for the others being able to work at real jobs. How many jobs have been created by poor people. How many by Joe Sixpack?

Your article, as usual, is well stated and well reasoned. However, the reasoning is, in my opinion, flawed. For that reason, the fact that it is well stated, is irrelevant.

Thank you for remaining civil in your writings and not resorting to the usual name calling and insults contained in the writings of other liberal bloggers.
Serious situation
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October 31, 2013
Pay day in Cobb County !!! Pay checks went down again. Teachers, coaches and administrators are leaving! Down $400 dollars in the last few years!
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