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We are the Problem… and We are the Solution

July 11, 2018

Earlier this week Diane Ravitch wrote a post decrying the way the GOP controlled statehouses have slashed taxes for businesses and the wealthy and subsequently eviscerated funding for public education and the safety nets that help those in need. She concluded her post with this:

If we lived in a rational world everyone would agree that we learned an important lesson. Draconian tax cuts benefit the wealthy and do not produce economic growth. They require government to starve essential services. Unfortunately we do not live in a rational world.

Teachers and parents are angry. Will their anger suffice to throw the bums out?

Here’s a conundrum I struggle with: if we rely on ANGER to throw the bums out, we’re feeding into the irrationality and polarization that got us where we are today… yet if we have to wait for those whose self-interests are being compromised to wake up to reality we’ll have no safety nets, an environment that is completely destroyed, and a truly dysfunctional government.

I believe we are reaping the whirlwind of President Reagan’s aphorism that “government is the problem.” Those who are voting against their self-interest are doing so because they believe that paying taxes to the government feeds an oppressive “Deep State” that confiscates their hard earned money and gives it to undeserving welfare recipients and bureaucrats who dream up regulations that thwart economic growth. I think those of us who seek more funds for public education need to restore the public’s faith in government by avoiding “us vs. them” arguments…. which is tough when we are led by a political party that is intent on destroying the government that can solve problems we face.

Public education advocates could help get us out of the mess we’re in by educating voters that in a democracy WE are the government and by emphasizing that democracy depends on deliberation, the thoughtful consideration of ideas. Democracy is slow and inefficient but it is far better than any other form of government…. and like clean air and water, social security and Medicare, we’ll miss it when it’s gone.

Categories: Uncategorized
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