Monday, August 28, 2006

In yesterday’s editorial, the NY Times covered three topics all of which involved at least one common theme.

The first topic: “charter schools score worse in reading and math than their public school counterparts.” Not overly surprising, but the most telling tid-bit:
On average, charter schools that were affiliated with public school districts performed just as well as traditional public schools. That may be a disappointment to advocates who expected them to show clear superiority. But the real stunner was the performance of free-standing charter schools, which have no affiliation with public school systems and are often school districts unto themselves. It was this grouping that showed the worst performance.
As long as the charter school was affiliated with a public counterpart it did fine, but off on its own spelled trouble. Wow, talk about nail in the coffin of another right-wing assumption.

Next topic: "In coming weeks, the Internal Revenue Service plans to start siccing private debt collectors on people with up to $25,000 in unpaid income taxes and laying off nearly half of the auditors who examine estate tax returns of the wealthiest taxpayers." Private collectors will be paid with taxpayer money to go after past-due taxes of the less-than-rich, at the same time funding/personnel will be slashed in the area insuring that the rich pay their fair share. The little guy gets hounded while the fat cats get a pass. And the Times mentions private collection is more costly and raises privacy concerns. Recall how wonderful a job Halliburton and the hired soldiers have done in Iraq.

Final topic: our national parks, which are receiving increasingly less funding and thus falling into disrepair. In fact, "the past few years have been among the hardest in the history of the National Park Service, whose first principle -- preservation -- has been attacked by the very people in the Interior Department who are supposed to uphold it."

A common theme among the above three topics? Thomas Frank summed it up in the NY Times a week ago:
What happens when you elevate to high public office people who actually believe these things — who think that “the public interest” is a joke, that “reform” is a canard, and that every regulatory push is either a quest for monopoly by some company or a quest for bribes by some politician? What happens when the machinery of the state falls into the hands of people who laugh at the function for which it was designed?

The obvious answer is an auctioning-off of public policy in a manner we have not seen since the last full-blown antigovernment regime held office, in the 1920’s.
And look at some of the results from such moves: non-public schools worse than public, tax collection swayed against the average person in favor of the wealthy, and the increasing neglect of our national parks.

One of many things that's certain over the last 6+ years: Grover Norquist has been wrong about oh-so-much, in particular his "starve the beast" mantra. Under GOP control, the government has been anything but starved -- bigger than it was under Clinton -- and instead has been made less effective, less efficient, and more rotten to the core.

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