Let Them Eat Taxes

I’ve devoted part of my mind — as I’ve worked throughout this pre-Christmas weekend — to an attempt to decipher the anagram that must surely lie behind the name Henry Rosemont Jr. He’s one of the three academics with whom li’l’ ol’ carpenter Katz shared the Providence Journal’s editorial pages on Friday, and I’ve found it difficult to believe that a real person would write such a thing as his love letter to “Little Rhody”:

You know, of course, that you are being deserted by some people who believe that you have become too rich for their blood, and ignored by many respectable businesspeople for the same reason. Others complain of your seemingly wanton ways, especially with respect to exchanging money or other goods for your favors. All of this must rightfully cause you anguish. But do not despair, because many people love you dearly, not least those of us who have only come into your embrace recently. …
… In brief, what our property taxes paid for [in Maryland] was a sheriff’s department and a school system staffed with heavily overworked and underpaid teachers. …
… In Lexington[, Massachusetts], the property taxes on an equivalent home there are more than double what we pay in Newport. If anything, our taxes are not high enough. …
Although there are problems in some schools, you pay those to whom you entrust the young very well, with the lowest student-teacher ratio of any other state except Vermont. You acknowledge the bravery and dedication of your firefighters by paying them more than their peers anywhere else in the country, and compensate the police well, too. Perhaps most significant, the manifold services you provide to the old, the sick and the needy rank you ninth in the U.S.; clearly you understand that aiding victims is far more humane and efficient than blaming them for their plight. And you do all of this without taxing necessities of life — food, clothing, shoes, reading material — unlike almost all other states.

It’s like reading a suicidal man’s love letter to a poison. Rather, it’s like reading a wine-drinker’s love letter to the poisoned water that those beneath him are having to drink. How sheltered this man’s life must be to see the world in which he lives so poorly.
Here’s a thought: If the professoriat so loves taxes, let’s have all future deficits funded by taxes on universities. In this case, I might actually support the notion of using taxes to create disincentive: To cover their higher costs, the schools would surely raise prices and decrease aid, which would provide the further service of keeping vulnerable young adults beyond the reach of likes of Mr. Rosemont, who realize that workers, taxpayers, and businesses are leaving the state but still declare that “taxes are not high enough.”
Oughtn’t academics be particularly concerned with discovering that which they are failing to see, rather than issuing flowery paeans to government and social systems that are in the process of proving themselves to be unsustainable failures?

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chalkdust
chalkdust
13 years ago

Justin provides us with a very strange non sequitur.
Because ONE academic writes a letter to the editor suggesting he doesn’t think taxes are too high, Justin generalizes to conclude that “the professoriat so loves taxes” and goes on to propose a tax on universities.
Does that mean that, if some random carpenter tells us all to give away our possessions, that represents the views of all carpenters?
Another tax? I thought more taxes were always a bad idea. Of course, a tax on universities is a tax on students and their parents, not on professors. Why do this?
It’s hard to know what all this means, unless it just represents a generalized hostility to higher education.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

It seems you missed the tongue in my cheek.
That said, I hardly base my opinion of universities on this single example. Not every post requires a lifetime of evidence…

Justin Katz
13 years ago

Oh, and regarding the carpenter whom you likely have in mind: I believe that was an instruction to a specific person who asked what to do while He was present among us. Few are His followers who believe that everybody is called to give away all possessions for the sake of doing so.

Anthony
Anthony
13 years ago

Wow, a Brown University professor saying that taxes aren’t that bad. What a surprise.

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

Idea:
“Broaden” the sales tax to include tuition at private schools and colleges like Brown and Wheeler, where the leftist slime who “support the public scholls” all sent their kids.

Chalkdust
Chalkdust
13 years ago

Justin,
I’m sorry I missed the joke. It’s just that so many absurd things are said here with seeming seriousness. (Such as “All Democrats -or professors- want to raise taxes for the sake of raising taxes”). Frankly, it’s hard to know what to take seriously.
Second, I envy you your lifetime of evidence. Since I lack it, I’d be grateful for any evidence at all supporting the view that all, or most, professors favor higher taxes than we currently have.
Finally, I hadn’t realized that the Christ’s teachings were valid only for certain individuals and only while He was among us. That’s certainly not how I learned it, but I admit that the view’s convenience makes it attractive.

Anthony
Anthony
13 years ago

Question of the Day:
The cost of healthcare and the cost of a four year college degree have both increased at a rate about twice the pace of inflation, so…..
How come academics are calling for heavier government regulation of health care because it has become too expensive, but not for increased government regulation of colleges and universities?
Wouldn’t it also make sense to establish quotas and caps on faculty salaries, endowments, etc.?

Chalkdust
Chalkdust
13 years ago

Mike’s idea: “”Broaden” the sales tax to include tuition at private schools and colleges like Brown and Wheeler, where the leftist slime who “support the public scholls” all sent their kids.”
Mike-do you have any evidence whatsoever that the people who send their kids to Brown and Wheeler are more “leftist” (or, better, Democrat) than the general RI population?
I’d guess it’s just the opposite, but I would not assert such without evidence.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

Look, I’m not going to chase this conversation to absurdity (there, I’ve thrown you another opportunity for a quip) with some anonymous commenter called “chalkdust.” You scored some points; whoopee.
Perhaps I’ll respond more thoroughly when you evince an interest in reading in such a way as to understand.

chalkdust
chalkdust
13 years ago

Justin,
Well, thanks for the bone, but the only obvious “quip” is that, as the “conversation” began absurdly, with unfairly broad claims about academics, it can hardly end otherwise.
I’m happy if you don’t want to pursue it, but I assure you that my objection to your statements does not come from any inability to understand them.

Monique
13 years ago

“Oughtn’t academics be particularly concerned with discovering that which they are failing to see”
Starting with the poor performance of Rhode Island’s public schools.
“Although there are problems in some schools, you pay those to whom you entrust the young very well”
Would that be a euphemism for Rhode Island earning an “F” in the education of our children? Neighboring Massachusetts earned an “A” in that same study. While the Professor correctly notes Rhode Island’s generosity in the area of public education, it is unclear what has been accomplished by it.
By the way, thanks to decades of a Democrat controlled General Assembly, this generosity is decidedly not matched in post-secondary education. It is unfortunate that the Professor did not conduct a slightly more extensive analysis of the spending of state tax dollars before writing this OpEd. He would have been in an excellent position to comment on the appropriateness and legislative priority reflected in Rhode Island’s top of the line spending on social programs and near the bottom spending on higher education.
http://www.uschamber.com/icw/reportcard/default

Anthony
Anthony
13 years ago

Chalkdust,
I believe that Mike’s comments were intended to point out that while Brown faculty members often voice strong support for public schools, a disproportionate number of them send their kids to private schools, thus not having to personally deal with the issues affecting public schools.
Evidence? Look at the enrollment of Brown faculty members’ kids at Hope H.S. and even Classcial H.S. versus the enrollment at Providence prep. schools such Moses Brown, Lincoln, etc. You’ll find FAR fewer at places like Hope, even though it is technically a Brown partner school.
As for the PARENTS of the average kid being sent to Brown or Wheeler, you may very well be correct that they are not more “leftist” than the general RI populaton. But there is plenty of objective evidence showing that both Brown students and faculty members are well to the left of center.
I don’t think this is an “assault” on education. Don’t forget, it wasn’t the Republican governor who proposed the cuts to education last session, it was the Democrats in the General Assembly.
As Monique points out, I think most RI conservatives just want to see a return on the money being spent. There is nothing that would please me more than to spend heavily on education, develop the nation’s best public school system and have our kids enter the RI workforce with well-paying jobs.
But instead, we spend heavily on education, have a mediocre (at best) public school system and our kids then leave the state to find well-paying jobs.

joe
joe
13 years ago

i have a proposal to give heating cost relief to poor people withjout surcharging the average ratepayer as has been suggested by some leftist idiots like julie silvia and henry shelton of the Wiley Center-how about an annual fee on each out of state or foreign student attending any private secondary school or institution of higher learning-why burden these students and their families?because out of state and foreign students put a great deal of pressure on the affordable housing market,thus raising rents to levels that make many working families have to choose between rent and necessary heat-even students in on campus housing should pay the fee because they also cause a huge drain on public services(fire/police/medical)and none of these institutions seem to pay real estate taxes which burdens the local propertyowner even further-this is not a tax,but a user fee,because this state is certainly being used by these students,very few of whom will remain to contribute to the community(who stays behind?matt jerzyk,just who isn’t needed here)-anyhow something to think about,no?

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

Democrat or leftist politicians who “support the public schools” (for the workers/suckers) while attending or having their kids attend privateschools?
Liz Roberts
Whitehouse
Chafee
Paolino
the Lynches
The Caprios
Matty Smith
Joe Deangelis
Murphy
Montalbano
Kevin Mckenna
David Segal
Jennifer Lawless
Matt Jerzyk
and so so mny more. Just get the microfilms for the graduates over the last decades for OLP, Wheeler, Hendricken, Lincoln School, Lasalle, St. ray’s, MSC, Moses Brown, Prout, etc.
a whole lot of moochers and looters who (for the less wealthy) “support the public schools”-and the teachers UNIONS. See the light?

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

I’m curious as to how many relatives of Bob Walsh and Pat “The Finger” Crowley go to public schools.

Chalkdust
Chalkdust
13 years ago

Mike,
First, it’s hardly fair to include people whose parents sent them to private schools. (Segal and Jerzyk, for instance?).
The question is, are the results any different if you look for conservatives at the same status and income levels? I doubt it. If not, what’s the point of singling out “leftist slime” (your words) only? Is it because they claim to support public education? Don’t Republicans also claim this?
For what it’s worth, I do know people who send their children to private schools (because the local public school is bad) and still work very, very hard as volunteers in and for public schools. I don’t think they are hypocrites. In fact, I respect them a great deal. At the same time, I am very concerned that the people who vote on public school funding and contract in the General Assembly aren’t suffering the costs of bad decisions. That doesn’t have anything to do with party.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

The difference is that Republicans support school choice so all students, regardless of how much mommy and daddy put in their trust funds, can go to a good school instead of being stuck in a dump like the Rhode Island public schools. Democrats largely want the underprivileged to stay that way by guaranteeing that they get a sub-par education at these socialist moron-factories.

chalkdust
chalkdust
13 years ago

Greg,
What do you mean by “school choice”? Everyone is already free to choose whether to go to public or private school.
Do you mean vouchers, or some other system by which tax dollars go to fund private education?

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>What do you mean by “school choice”? Everyone is already free to choose whether to go to public or private school.
You’re being cute Chalkdust. You know full well what he meant.
As it is right now “everyone is already free” to choose in the same sense that Henry Ford said you can have any color Model T you wanted, so long as it was black.
>>Do you mean vouchers, or some other system by which tax dollars go to fund private education?
Before they were tax dollars they were our dollars.
The goal should be to achieve the highest possible educational quality across, not insulate a government (socialized) monopoly from performance and accountability.

chalkdust
chalkdust
13 years ago

Tom W,
No, not being cute. We currently can choose public or private schools. RI already has a higher percentage of people exercising the choice to attend privates than most states. There really is choice now, so I think the Model T comment is misplaced.
There are other means than vouchers of giving additional choice within public education as well: intra-district choice, cross-district choice, charter schools, magnet schools, etc.
I’ve seen people equate vouchers with “school choice” in an attempt to make opponents of vouchers appear to be against “school choice”. I’m not buying.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>We currently can choose public or private schools. RI already has a higher percentage of people exercising the choice to attend privates than most states
For those that can afford it.
Moreover, cross-district choice is a red-herring meant to divert attention from actual choice. How may slots are available in Barrington for low income children from Providence? Yeah, I thought so.
Same with magnet and charter schools. Ultimately you’ve got the same government monopoly running the show. Socialism doesn’t work in education any better than it does anywhere else.
“Choice” within the teacher union-dominated mediocre government system isn’t choice at all; anymore than having a “choice” of which Registry of Motor Vehicles office I get to stand in line in.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Have you seen the Wendy’s commercial in the old west where the guy runs into the saloon and yells “They’re robbing the bank and they’re getting away!” and the sheriff jumps up and runs to where the horses are tied up only to find a horse head on a stick, a grocery store, quarter-fed riding horse and a hobby horse? The Catchphrase spoken by the bartender is “What good is choice when there’s nothing good to choose?”
That phrase expresses the current state of ‘school choice’ for those who can’t afford the tuition for private schools in this state.
And we have record numbers of people exercising their choice to send their kids to private schools (those who can afford) because the public schools SUCK.
But I’m assuming with a name like ‘chalkdust’ you already knew that.

chalkdust
chalkdust
13 years ago

Tom W says, “Ultimately you’ve got the same government monopoly running the show. Socialism doesn’t work in education any better than it does anywhere else.”
Public education is socialism? Wow…I must have been out of the room when that lesson was taught. Actually, I think you just don’t believe in representative democracy. You’re entitled to that view and, living in RI I can almost see why one might adopt it. Frankly, however, I think it’s both d anti-American and somewhat kooky.
Your premise is also false. Education is not a government monopoly, since anybody who wants to can opt out and go to a private school. The “freedom is only real freedom if you can afford it” part is something I’d expect to hear from liberals.
I assume Tom W thinks socialism is bad. Since, in his view public education=socialism, I take it he thinks public education is bad and he would like to eliminate it?. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Greg, my child has gone to excellent public schools in RI. I’m sorry the publics in your area are bad. What are you doing to change that? I’d suggest you roll up your sleeves and get to work. I assure you that writing on this blog will not accomplish anything at all.
Merry Christmas, everyone

Monique
13 years ago

“Education is not a government monopoly, since anybody who wants to can opt out and go to a private school.”
You’re kidding, right?? ‘Cause if not, congratulations. You’ve successfully emulated the elitist, completely out of touch attitude with which Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake”. Wait, let me guess. Your advice to a homeless person would be, “You have a choice not to be homeless; just go buy a condo.” Damn, that’s helpful.
And coincidentally, tuition for many if not most private schools is equal to the mortgage payment on a condo. Perhaps that’s chump change for you and your circle of friends; it certainly is not for many thousands of Rhode Islanders who have the right to expect a good education for their children.
“I take it he thinks public education is bad and he would like to eliminate it?.”
No, we’d just like some minimal standards. Did you look at that study? For the large amount of money spent on public education, Rhode Island schools provide a poor education for the children. (Isn’t all of this “for the children”?) Why are you avoiding that point? I’m glad your children got a good education; that study and others make it clear that the experience of your children was the exception, not the rule. With all of the money spent on public education in Rhode Island, that is unacceptable.

chalkdust
chalkdust
13 years ago

Monique, I’d have gone for Anatole France. The famous quote is ” “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread”. The point, which I take to be your point as well, is that formal equality is not real equality. The funny thing, though, is that it’s always liberals who quote either Marie or Anatole. Maybe the liberal/conservative dichotomy is out of date? Anyway, a “monopoly” is the only source of a particular good. Education is simply not a government monopoly in the US. If you think we should have other arrangements, fine. Argue for them. But don’t tell me the education is a government monopoly. If you’re saying that education is an “effective monopoly” because nobody can afford to opt out, that’s not right either. Many, many do. If you’re saying that we should create a system where the ability to opt out does not depend on wealth, fine, but that’s another thing entirely. I’ll tell you that I’m going to have a problem with you using my tax dollars to finance private education, but, again, argue for it-and just don’t say public education is a monopoly. If you’re saying we should destroy public education entirely, that is another thing still. I think that’s what Tom W. is after, but he can correct me if I am wrong. You say, “No, we’d just like some minimal standards” Who is “we”? It’s for sure that’s not what Tom W. was saying. I find it hard to talk sensibly here. Monique may or may not have good points to make, but it gets all mixed up with nonsense like Greg’s “Democrats largely want the underprivileged to stay that way “. Bah. My biggest… Read more »

joe
joe
13 years ago

the “liberal-conservative” dichotomy-a very interesting question-i always thought i was conservative until pieces of crap like richard perle,paul wolfowitz,bill kristol,dick cheney,karl rove,charles krauthammer,etc took on the label-the draft dodging “let’s you and him fight”crowd-but i also despise the jerzyk/segal/steven brown/barbara boxer/sheldon whitehouse gang also-i am getting confused-so i think i am libertarian-and along comes ron paul -some good ideas with a basic nutjob mentality-who is there to support?i like don carcieri because he doesn’t give a tinker’s damn what the leftist establishment in this state thinks-he is the anti-cicilline-cicilline is what happens when all rational thought flees the stage-we may be at a point when none of it matters anymore-the fragile construct will collapse and all the people who supported mass disarmament of the citizenry will feel like they just swallowed a turd

chalkdust
chalkdust
13 years ago

Joe,
Here’s a suggestion. Stop worrying about who to support. Go out and DO something instead. . Attend and speak at a school board meeting. Start a petition in favor of some specific thing you value. Start a group to achieve some goal. Anything. It’s much more satisfying than voting, and a far greater contribution to your community.
If you have a good, sensible, common-sense idea, people will follow, and only a few ideologues will think it matters that it is “liberal” or “conservative” or libertarian or whatever.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

If you’re saying that education is an “effective monopoly” because nobody can afford to opt out, that’s not right either. Many, many do.

No, that’s not quite right. Nobody “opts out.” They still pay for it; they just pay additional private funds for a private school.
It’s as if everybody were forced to buy a used Toyota, but some folks could afford to buy themselves SUVs in addition. The hypothetical plea is: “Everybody’s free to buy whatever car [or education] they want. They just have to pay for our product, first.”
Perhaps it’s not technically a monopoly, but it’s going to have many of the problems of a monopoly.

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

What I favor is complete dismantlement of our Soviet-style public schools and a voucher system which rises each year for COLA’s-and not a penny more. Plus no vouchers for illegals or anchor babies-change the federal law.
“Every kid has a constitutional right to an education”? WRONG. No such animal. It must be right nxt to “the right to kill babies shall not be infringed”.

chalkdust
chalkdust
13 years ago

Mike says, “What I favor is complete dismantlement of our Soviet-style public schools”
Well, there’s one. Why does the phrase “precious bodily fluids” come to mind?

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>Public education is socialism? Wow…I must have been out of the room when that lesson was taught. Actually, I think you just don’t believe in representative democracy. You’re entitled to that view and, living in RI I can almost see why one might adopt it. Frankly, however, I think it’s both d anti-American and somewhat kooky. As a practical matter a government monopoly equals communism, and a government oligopoly equals socialism. Restricting the majority of parents to government run schools because they can’t afford tuition (in addition to the taxes they already pay to support the government run schools) is a de facto oligopoly. Indeed the teachers unions’ organized and vehement opposition to choice (outside of the government system) is classic monopolist behavior, and takes the present circumstance from being a de facto oligopoly to one intentionally perpetuated. >>Your premise is also false. Education is not a government monopoly, since anybody who wants to can opt out and go to a private school. The “freedom is only real freedom if you can afford it” part is something I’d expect to hear from liberals. Except that the “rich / poor” differentiation that might apply in other realms is distinguishable here – there is a taxpayer commitment to pay for K-12 education. The issue is whether parents will be able to apply that subsidy to enroll their children in the school(s) which they feel offer the best educational opportunity for their children, or will they continue to be restricted to the government-run school that exists where they happen to have their residence (and so if unable to assume the additional burden of tuition, change their place of residence in order to effect a change in their child’s school). >>I assume Tom W thinks socialism is bad. Since, in his view public education=socialism,… Read more »

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>I’ll tell you that I’m going to have a problem with you using my tax dollars to finance private education, but, again, argue for it-and just don’t say public education is a monopoly.
Ah, spoken like a true monopolist.
I have a problem with my tax dollars being used to restrict parents and children to government run schools!
(BTW, I must assume that you are philosophically consistent and so are opposed to Pell grants and other government tax dollars being used to finance “private education” at “private colleges.”)
The term “public education” is misleading as it is used to refer to government-run schools. The purpose and goal of “public education” should be the government enabling the best possible educational opportunities for the public, not the government operating schools (which it has demonstrated it is incapable of doing in a consistently high quality, or even middling quality manner).

chalkdust
chalkdust
13 years ago

Tom W:
I assume that, since you did not correct my assumption, your goal is to eliminated government-run public education. I think that puts you well outside the mainstream of even conservative thought. Good luck with that.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>I assume that, since you did not correct my assumption, your goal is to eliminated government-run public education. I think that puts you well outside the mainstream of even conservative thought. Good luck with that.
Chalkdust,
I thought the context of my comments was clear. Let the government schools exist, just as there are government run colleges, but also allow parents the choice of whether to use the taxpayer education subsidy with the educational institution they feel is best, be it “public” or private.

joe
joe
13 years ago

chalkdust-you don’t know me so how can you know what i have or have not done?as far as voting,i didn’t vote for a major party since bob dole ran-i have testified against what i thought was terrible legislation in the ri state senate and the bill was defeated in committee-did my testimony help?i hope so-i also made a presentation concerning voter id at the secretary of state’s open forum which i think was received pretty well,at least by the audience(too bad half the officials on the panel didn’t show up)- am also active in a group which opposes illegal aliens-i would think you might not consider these good causes but i do so i act on my convictions

Booby J
Booby J
13 years ago

We really need to continue Bush/Achorn economics, an economy built on Enron-esque scams i.e. the tech bubble, housing bubble etc. The Republicans had all the power and yet polls show the majority think the economy is terrible and the country is heading in the wrong direction. Meanwhile the gap between the rich and poor keeps growing. Bush/Achorn economics is a game of musical chairs except those on the inside know when the music is going to stop, leaving middle class Americans standing alone.

George
George
13 years ago

Bobby J.
Let me be the first to tell you where to go –> http://www.rifuture.org
… where you will sing in perfect harmony with those whose entire political rebuttal system consists of chanting “Enron, Haliburton, re-defeat Bush, a-yadayada…

Bobby J
Bobby J
13 years ago

George
If you don’t like my post I think that you should gather up all your Achornites and head to Florida. I hear during the summer you can stay outside for up to three minutes without being overcome by heat exhaustion. Remember, RI had the highest disapproval rating for your King George than any other State. We are the bluest of blue and proud of it too.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

“We are the bluest of blue and proud of it too.”
So why is it that the anti-Bush state is faring worse than the nation as a whole — I mean, if the Bush-Achorn approach that you claim the state to reject is so horrible?

Monique
13 years ago

….mmmmm nope. Still not a word from Chalkdust about the poor education our children are getting or the abysmal return we are getting on tax dollars put into the public education system.
So clearly, for you, Chalkdust, continuing to bad and mediocre teachers very well is more important than educating our children. I disagree. Let us know when children pop onto your radar.

Chalkdust
Chalkdust
13 years ago

Monique: “So clearly, for you, Chalkdust, continuing to [?] bad and mediocre teachers very well is more important than educating our children.”
You’ve found me out. I hate children and love unions more than life itself. Happy now?
Sheesh.

chalkdust
chalkdust
13 years ago

Monique…Let me try that again from another angle.
You’ll have to forgive my snide response above, but it was obvious that you were neither asking a question nor making an argument, just attributing to me an absolutely absurd position.
I’m happy to engage in any reasonable discussion, but it was clear you were not trying to have one.

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