If You’re Truly Believe in Liberty, Should You Send Your Children to Public School ?

Scott on Frog_Colorado

The educational establishment is one of the major drivers behind the frequency with which government comes and asks for more of our earnings and the increasing number of laws and regulations which erode our freedoms.

We all know that increases in educational performance cannot be attributed to just increases in educational spending.  The data shows that we’ve reached the point of decreasing returns in the U.S. when it comes to education such that for every additional dollar spent on education, we are seeing decreases in performance in many geographic areas.  We all know where the good schools are–in the affluent neighborhoods where other factors in addition to money make a difference in students’ lives (like intact families, college-educated parents, etc.).

No one likes to say no to the “old” or to “children.”  So, our first problem is voters feel warm and fuzzy about voting for spending increases for the so-called” educational benefit of our children despite even plummeting performance.

Second–aside from educators–who always claim that they’ve squeezed every penny out of the budget this year–parents wiht children in the schools can’t say no to more school spending (literally, that was the quote in my local newspaper from our superintendent when asked about his $600k increase in the budget).

A parent is a voter.  No parent with children in the school wants to vote against a nicer school, more teachers, etc . A for-profit company would not keep dumping money into an entity that performs so poorly.  So, my question is, why do U.S. conservatives keep propping up a failing educational system ?

If we truly want to preserve our liberty and not keep giving government more and more of our tax dollars and our freedom, shouldn’t we pull our children out of this failing system ?  What are conservatives afraid of ?  Is the reliance on the public school at all cost the necessary evil to perpetuate the two-income family (mom and dad working outside the home).  I’m sure this will anger many but it seems logical to me.

Elizabeth Warren’s September Smackdown in The Wall Street Journal

Fat Sam

Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren, who is a new member to the Obama team,  received a tongue-lashing in the Wall Street Journal on September 30th.  She is also the acclaimed author of “The Two Income Trap” which delivers a message which is critical to restoring the power of families in America.

I am sympathetic to author and Law Professor Zywicki’s criticisms of Warren as we come from the same libertarian George Mason cloth.  And, I do understand that he is mostly attacking her questionable data analysis.  I agree with him that this is troubling and the Senate should have had the opportunity to address these issues with Warren before Obama appointed her to lead an extremely powerful new agency named the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which as Zywicki says has the power to

regulate or ban almost every consumer credit product in the country, yet it is beyond Congress’s power of the purse because its budget is guaranteed as a percentage of the Fed’s annual revenues.

She does avoid a discussion about the need for lowering taxes despite her presentation of Tax Foundation data showing that taxes increased significantly during the relevant time period.  Instead, in the second half of the book which is committed to her policy solutions, she discusses remedies like bank regulation, the institution of usury laws, etc which should be completely ignored.

Taxes have been eroding family wealth for a good period of time and not just for the so-called middle class.  A Univ of Chicago Law Prof recently drove this point home when he posted his family’s finances on his blog to show that he is hardly making it despite a combined two-parent income of over $250k.  Liberals immediately jumped all over him as an elite snob who can’t possibly relate to his poorer compatriots.  However, he was making a powerful point that The American Dream is becoming The American Nightmare.

We are clearly not as well off as we should be with student loans, credit card balances and mortgages consuming the typical young family.  If you assume the Chicago Professor and his presumable Ivy League wife had student loans from Ivys, that alone may be enough to break the bank for them.  So-called richer white collar people in America with jobs are typically just broke at a higher level than their poorer brethren with more expensive student loans, houses, cars and clothes.

It is really only those who own their own businesses that are “wealthy” but even that dream is being eroded with financial regulation, the federal health care bill and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.  For a family of four making $150k, for example, your tax bill will be going up by $4510 (see The Tax Foundation calculator to find your own burden).  Who has an extra $4510 laying under their mattress during The Great Recession ?  Shouldn’t that $4,510 be put into a savings account instead of Uncle Sam’s account ?

Despite her wreckless policy solutions and the data landmines she has laid, Elizabeth Warren does deserve a huge pat on the back for making an obvious point which most people continue to ignore: the two-parent working household does not work.  I hope social conservatives are not blinded by her liberal public policy solutions and chumminess with Obama and his liberal friends.  Instead, I hope conservatives will keep in mind that there is an opportunity for bipartisanship as she identifies a problem that is at the heart of the social conservative agenda:  the family.

Two Income Trap and 50-Percent Money


Spot-on book by Elizabeth Warren and her daughter about why families aren’t making it on two incomes.  If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably aware of some of the reasons, some of which lead to the nonsensical result of earning less than your outlays.  Failure to accurately account for taxes, a second car and gas, work clothing, etc. could have a working mom earning McDonalds wages after everything is netted out.

My husband, who is a tax policy economist, recently figured out that everything we earn for the rest of the year is 50% money.  What does that mean ?  Well, we’re in the child tax credit phaseout and have reached the level of income where our marginal rate is now 50% such that we keep 50% of everything we earn for the rest of the year and send the other 50% to our friends in Washington.  I’m no great economist but I did learn about the trade off between labor and leisure and this recent nugget has me thinking pina coladas.  Since we don’t have 9 to 5 jobs but instead are business owners who have to drum up our own business, I am feeling quite tired and think I’ll take a nap and tell Washington to shove it…..they’re not getting my 50% money.