Friday, March 6, 2009

The TARP/Stimulus Debacle Writ Small

After engaging in this tête-à-tête last week concerning the former Consortium for Adequate School Funding in Georgia’s hastily withdrawn lawsuit (scroll down to the comments), it occurred to me that the group’s argument is, in essence, a state-level version of the national one over the various pork and bailout packages recently rammed through Congress by the progressive left.

The collective response of the Feds to our current “crisis” has been to double down on the insane ideas, which originated with those same Feds, that touched off this economic conflagration: more easy credit for those who manifestly cannot afford their mortgages, artificially propping up house prices (that should be allowed to fall), bailing out failed businesses left and right (rather than let them go into bankruptcy and emerge as stronger companies as they should), and generally spending money like there is no tomorrow. In other words, keep doing the same things that got us into this mess to begin with, only more so.

As an aside, to my thinking all of this been done for political ends, not economic ones, and done so courtesy of my tax dollars (not to mention borrowing and/or printing more dollars – neither of which are sustainable strategies in the long run) and none of it has worked worth a damn.

At the local and state levels, the venue-shopping CASFG, currently in the process of reinventing itself as the Georgia School Funding Association in an attempt to sidestep that recent opinion from the Attorney General’s office, is making much the same argument (at least in a conceptual sense). What we’ve been doing for years, namely increasing local and state (and federal) spending on education, has resulted in no demonstrable increase in student achievement (the Clarke County School District serves as a perfect example of this failed approach). So, naturally, the proper course of action is to do more of the same – especially if we can do it with other peoples’ money.

For the umpteenth time, I resent the heck out of my 20 mills in Clarke County Board of Education property taxes (not including those tens of millions of dollars in bonded indebtedness) going to fund a group whose constituent school systems charge their own citizens an average of 14.482 mills (and as little as 3.663 mills), the intent of which is to litigate the state into giving its members even more of my tax money.

One last thing – the CASFG web site used to include a list of its constituent school systems. If such a list is currently available on the site, I could not find it. I strongly suspect that it was taken down because folks like me used that list to run the numbers on the millage rates and per pupil expenditures of the Consortium’s members, finding that the entire thing amounts to nothing more than a money-grubbing shell game.

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