The campaign to persuade Memphians to vote for a sales tax increase is underway, just as I knew it would be.
Ever since Wharton jumped the gun and already appointed a committee made up of Memphis notables to head this pre-K plan even before it was approved, I knew we’d be inundated with reasons why WE MUST HAVE THIS! The sob stories about why this it is so necessary that the under four crowd be looked after outside the parents’ duties or day care is just beginning.
Today the Commercial Appeal has an op ed at the top of the page by John Moore of the Greater Memphis Chamber. Here we go. From now until the vote November 21st we’re in for more of the same: pressure, coercion, plays on the emotion.
What they won’t tell you is that an investment in pre-K does not produce sure results. A Vanderbilt study concluded that it really is not a determinate in later school success. How could it be? We barely know how bodies develop, much less minds. If you have kids you know that often the kid who is the genius in first grade flames out by high school. Or, the kid who is a mathematical whizz and jumps grades in high school – even with educational attention lavished on him or her – often plateaus in college. We really don’t understand a lot about learning.
So I have to take issue with Moore’s statement that pre-K is the right thing to do “economically.” I also have to take issue that it is right “morally” too. Is it right to allow parents to opt out of care for their children? Aren’t we encouraging parental disengagement? Many of us think that this is exactly what politicians want to do. Substitute the state for mom and dad and the state takes on the duties of religion, too, so as to be the final word in all areas of life.
Moore also says the tax increase will generate $20 million. OK, say it does. Does anyone have faith that it will be administered properly? I don’t. Funds like that seem to end up benefiting friends of politicians rather than the people they were intended for. Sorry, just because there is a 9 member commission to oversee the funds doesn’t dissuade me from this view.
Moore also says the tax increase will mean property taxes will be reduced by 20 cents annually. Now if that isn’t one of the oldest ploys in the book, I don’t know what is. Once a tax, always a tax. It was only a few years ago that the federal government finally took off the tax on phones that was used for the Spanish American war. The wheel tax was a more recent state tax promised to go away. It has gone on way beyond its UPC expiration date.
So, no, I do not believe that property taxes will be lowered one iota. As soon as it’s brought up, someone else will claim a sudden, imperative need to keep it because of some other calamity. Don’t buy into this.
Moore goes on to quote various studies. We all know that studies are manipulated. The proponents also know that few will take the time to study these studies to prove their validity.
Taxpayers need to ask themselves if the continual assault on us for money for education has produced any good results. Uh, no. We as a people are dumber than we’ve ever been. Take a listen some Friday to Glenn Beck’s program when he plays “Moron Trivia.” Last week’s random sampling did not produce any citizens who knew which continent Kenya was in. And these aren’t even the latest exports from our educational production.
We are not following a productive course in throwing money on the education problem. It alone won’t solve it. What it needs is less government involvement and more parental involvement. You can’t pay for someone to care about your kids’ education than you do. It’s a much deeper ailment than lack of money.
The only outcome of this sales tax hike will be more business losses as people don’t have the money to purchase goods. We’re already trying to push Memphians out of the city by penalizing them in every way greedy politicians can come up with. Let’s not add another incentive to leave the city.