Idaho's Weekly Journal of Local & National Commentary Week 2815


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by Free Market Duck

Idaho Teachers' union pushes Initiative for  Guaranteed Annual Income by earmarking 1% of sales tax for itself
(April 19, 2006)

Vote “NO” next November on this self-serving Teachers’ Union Initiative or you may soon be subsidizing a Guaranteed Annual Salary for every profession and trade in Idaho.

Boise, ID – Earmarking 1% of the Idaho sales tax for public education is an insane economic action.  What if, for example, the cities of Boise and Meridian become predominantly a Baby Boomer retirement community by 2010 with essentially no school-age children?  The retired Baby Boomers will spend tons of their excess wealth on consumable items, thus bringing in sales tax revenue totally out of proportion for the non-existent children in an empty Boise School District.  The Idaho Education Association (IEA), a powerful lobbyist group for Idaho teachers, will be flush with surplus sales tax money – in addition to its already over-bloated public education budget from property taxes.  Will the IEA, the Teacher’s Union, and pub ed bureaucrats spend the surplus sales tax money?  You bet your sweet derriere they will.

   It is a gross mistake – at an economic and political level – to dedicate a percentage of the Idaho sales tax to any specific government expenditure.  From an economics point of view, it is counter productive for the state to give money to the producers, rather than the consumers, of education.  And politically, it would set a bad precedent for all other groups, private and public, and encourage them to clamor for their “fair share” of robbing the public for a guaranteed future income.  (What?  Did the IEA Teachers’ Union just get back from a seminar in Paris where they took lessons from the socialist French workers who rioted in the streets last month until French President Jacques Chirac caved in to their demands for Guaranteed Government Job Protection Forever?)

   Basic free market economics dictates that all project budgets should be determined from a bottoms-up calculation of real anticipated costs, not from a tops-down showering of a glob of tax money into the hands of spend-happy bureaucrats or special interest groups.  As stated above, in addition to using a bottoms-up calculation vs. a tops-down method, public education tax money should be attached to the consumer, not the producer, of education.

   Even in socialist Europe, the state issues education vouchers to the students and their parents, the consumers, to choose which school, public or private (including parochial since the money belongs to the parents, not the government, and thus is not a mixing of church and state) to spend their vouchers.  While this is not a complete free market, it does create competition among the education producers, including the public education system, and produces a more quality education than in the United States.

   Consumer-side control of spending is also a good check against over-spending by pork barrel governments.  Imagine this:  if sales tax money was routed to a State Public Car Manufacturer (the producer) instead of remaining in the hands of car consumers, we would produce botched up cars that didn’t run and it would cost over $1 million per automobile.  Welcome to America’s public education system. – FM Duck

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