Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sparing Dagon in East Ramapo

It’s usually, you know, just a given in our country that, you know, people who don’t drive still pay taxes for roads, and people who hate the outdoors pay for public parks, and people without kids in the public schools pay for the public schools. Just, that’s the deal. We all know it. And so what happens when people who do not want to pay for the public schools take over the school board? —Ira Glass, This American Life
Do not rejoice when your enemies fall into trouble. Don't be happy when they stumble. For the LORD will be displeased with you and will turn his anger away from them. (Prov 24:17)
The Bible warns me about celebrating when statists get screwed by their own system – the system they consider us immoral for wanting to bow out of. No matter who suffers how much, they don’t seem to learn anything when it happens, which is frustrating, but when someone’s dog keeps you up all night with its barking, it’s hard to feel bad when it bites its owner.
Last Sunday’s episode of National Public Radio’s This American Life was as clear a showcase of the moral bankruptcy of statism as one is likely ever to see. It tells the woeful tale of East Ramapo, New York, a lower-middle-class town where “most of the people … were not Hasids, but most of the children were. Two out of three children in the school district were Hasidic.” The Hasids didn’t want their children in the public schools, and they didn’t want to have to pay for the public schools they weren’t sending their kids to in addition to the yeshivas they were paying for. But they agreed to a truce for a while: “The school board won’t call in the state to check and see if math and reading and history are being properly taught in the yeshivas, like the state mandates, if the Hasids will just stay away from the polls.”
That worked fine until the number of Hasidic children with special needs reached a critical mass: “Hasidic special-ed students, like other special-ed kids, … need expensive therapies and services and education. And the government will pay for those, is required to pay for them. But for that to happen, the district would usually require that the kids go into a public school setting.” And, of course, the whole point of the yeshivas is to keep the Hasidic kids out of the public schools.
East Ramapo refused to go the fascist route of using tax money to pay for special-ed facilities in the yeshivas, so the Hasids ended the truce and over a period of years voted the goys off the school board and Hasids on. The goys were understandably upset, but the Hasids were unimpressed. A letter to the editor in the local paper put it in what seem to me reasonable terms:
Dear fellow taxpayer in the East Ramapo school district, again and again, I read about how upset you are about the members of the school board, how we bloc-voted them in, how we don’t have the interests of the schoolchildren at heart. Well, let’s take a closer look at that.
For many years, you took our tax money, year after year, increase after increase, and you never had any problem with that. But when we finally get together and say, that’s enough, that is a problem.
I have a solution. How about giving all of us the option to bow out of the public school system and keep our money in our pockets? You want our money and our silence. Sorry, you cannot have it all your way.
And, of course, the goys had no intention of giving them the option to bow out.
What’s so immoral about asking to keep your own money and spend it on what you want? If I’m to believe Ira Glass as quoted in the epigraph, it’s immoral because we’ve never done it that way. (Actually, we did do it that way two hundred years ago, but that’s another story.)
So democracy is wonderful until it creates a situation that the democrats don’t like. I remember hearing during the Vietnam “conflict” years that if an election were held at the time, the Communists would win, so we had to keep fighting. As Tom Lehrer put it then,
For might makes right,
And till they’ve seen the light
They’ve got to be protected,
All their rights respected,
Until someone we like can be elected.
If the Vietnamese want to vote in the Communists, don’t they have that right? (As it turned out, of course, the Communists won without an election.) The Iranians voted in Mossadegh; we removed him for the Shah. The Chileans voted in Allende; we removed him for Pinochet. The Palestinians voted in Hamas; we let Israel blow the place to hell. The Ukrainians elected Yanukovych; we putsched in the neo-Nazis. The Hasids get tired of paying taxes for schools they don’t use, and—well, I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but I expect the State of New York and Uncle Sam his very self are rubbing their hands in gleeful anticipation.
The Hasidic school board could have simply defunded the public schools. That’s what I would have done. Dagon was flat on his face (see 1 Sam 5:3), and they could have ground him to powder. But they didn’t. They even raised their own taxes, increasing the school budget by 30% over ten years. But that’s not enough for the democratists.
Every comparable school district in the county grew its budget by an average of 50%. …
The costs the Hasidim and other conservatives say are out of control actually are rising alarmingly fast—pensions, health care, union contracts, cost of living. Those things grow by so much that a 30-some percent budget increase, that isn't growth. That's devastation.
So, while families are losing their jobs, losing their buying power as the Fed devalues the currency, and tightening their budgets, the schools somehow have the right to raise taxes to pay for pensions, health care, and union contracts. And if, as is to be expected, those union salaries are higher than the incomes of those paying the taxes, isn’t that the rich extorting money from the poor? This is moral?
And why are the costs “rising alarmingly fast”? Could there be any relationship between that and the coercion (as opposed to cooperation) inherent in fiat currency, union monopolies, and, of course, tax-funded education?
If the goys in East Ramapo want to pay more for their schools, why don’t they pass the hat? Charge user fees? Ask local businesses whose taxes have gone down to sponsor classes or students? If it works for potato chips and Little League, why not for schools?
My answer is that they don’t want to pay more. They want to force other people to pay for their kids’ education. If that’s the American way, I want no part of America.
And to the degree the Christian church is part of the exploitation of the Hasids—they are, don’t forget, the “Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria” that precedes the “the uttermost parts of the earth” to whom we are to proclaim the good news of Jesus—we are cutting out our own tongues.

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