Archive for April 7, 2012
Today’s guest post is by Larry Hodgden of Tipton. Larry is a retired Viet Nam era veteran of the USAF. He and his wife of 40 years, Sharon, have three children and seven grandchildren who keep him very busy. Family, education, church and politics have been a lifelong passion.
As this legislative session nears the end so does this column. Not withstanding some comments about “extreme partisan negativity”, this column has presented many positive alternative approaches and attempted to inform the public about some serious flaws in proposed legislation. If you have been following this column you know our position on K-12 Education, property tax reform, on-line education, voter ID and many other issues so I won’t spend time and news space recapping them. There are other issues which are a serious threat to all of us.
How many of you, like myself, knew nothing about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) before this column? You’ll hear nothing about it from Republicans because it is a national legislative initiative with 2,000 state Republican legislators signed on to introduce copycat legislation in states with Republican majorities in the legislature. Financed by the billionaire Koch brothers and other wealthy interests, they have originated legislation such as the “Stand your ground” law passed by the Florida legislature in 2005 and signed by Jeb Bush. With the recent shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida, we find that police are hesitant to file charges and prosecutors would rather not take on the difficult task of prosecuting cases related to this law. Now we find the Iowa House Republicans have introduced and passed this same bill (HF2215).
Do we really want our legislators adopting these ideas formulated in other states by people with extreme political views? Are our legislators unable to think for themselves and in the best interest of Iowans? You will remember that recently the House Democrats walked out of the session because of Republican attempts to ram this particular bill through without proper consideration. The Republican House passed this bill but luckily the Senate Democrats stood in their way or this would now be the law in Iowa. The Republican legislator who introduced this has promised to introduce it again next year, fortunately there will be an election before then so we have the opportunity to oppose this and other bad ideas.
There should be a rule that the legislature can not waste one minute on frivolous bills like this until they have completed work on the budget, on K-12 and higher education funding, on infrastructure and on veteran’s affairs. There’s a bill in the House that has merit and that is the “Jobs impact” bill which requires a study of the impact of regulations, etc. Let’s extend that to legislation and require the public release of the impact and affect on Iowan’s of every piece of legislation introduced.
Fortunately very little damage has resulted from this year’s session, thanks in part to a divided Legislature and to major opposition by both parties to Governor Branstad’s proposals for Education and property tax reform. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Jeff Kaufmann on 10 year’s service to Cedar County. While we agree on little politically, I respect his commitment and dedication to the political process and his service to the citizens of Cedar County.
Hey! We are the kids in Mr. Hovick’s Improv Group at West Liberty High School. We’re going to have another show and we want you to come! Monday night April 16th at the West Liberty High School Auditorium at 7:30. Admission is free, but it would be a bargain at twice that price!
The guy that writes this blog laughed his rear off last time. Said it is great to see us kids doing this. And you have no idea what is coming next!
Back to our regular Blogger.
Geez – When those kids want to take over there is no stopping them.
And I hope that is true in the future. But one huge obstacle that is already standing in their way is the cost of college. Once much of the cost of college was underwritten by the state and federal governments. And there were excellent and good common sense reasons for doing that. An educated populace will be much more productive, will be better paid and less likely to end up in prison or on welfare. There were benefits for the individual, yes, but there were also large benefits for society as a whole.
But with the onset of the Reagan revolution, concerns about society as a whole faded. We no longer look beyond what any move, any program can do for our immediate bottom line. We now only look to see not what a proposal can do for the long haul, but what the immediate payoff is. This has been true for a long time in corporate business in America. In many cases such short-sightedness has cost American corporations dearly. One need only look at how Toyota with their long range planning was able to overtake General Motors as the world’s #1 automaker.
American students collectively now have over $1 Trillion in debt for their education. For students that plan on going into school in a couple of years they may well be looking at anywhere from $20,000 on up of debt. And it makes no difference whether the post-secondary education is at a traditional four year school or one of the newer technical schools. And of course as everyone knows, the jobs that used to be waiting for graduates are no longer there. Even areas that used to have high hiring rates now are not necessarily hired right away. Skills such as engineering now go begging for work.
The prospect of such debt may keep many kids out of school altogether or may make some change in major fields of study to get through college faster and cheaper. But the effects of the high cost of education is not borne just by the students. Society as a whole will feel the pain over the long haul.
Paying off these debts means that down payments for houses will not be saved, new cars will not be bought, families will not grow, and many many other purchases that used to drive the economy will be delayed or may never happen due to the debt taken on by students. Imagine a couple marrying with both carrying a $25,000 debt and both are trained as teachers. Starting salaries in Iowa for teachers are generally around $30,000 per year. By the time taxes and health insurance are taken out, there is little left just to live on, let alone pay off huge education debt.
Another unmentioned consequence of such debt is that fewer young people will become the entrepreneurs that will start the companies that will create the jobs that will drive the economy. Instead, with a huge debt to repay, many will opt for the security of a job that can pay off their education debt. Besides, who would loan a young entrepreneur start-up money when the guy is already deep in debt.
America is one of the few first world countries that doesn’t highly subsidize education. In many of these countries higher education is free or very low cost. Somehow once upon a time we could afford to offer higher education for free or for low cost. How did we do it? Well for one thing, the Pentagon budget wasn’t out of control. And taxes were higher for those who had benefited by our system. Sure they payed more, but the money that they payed benefited the whole society. Now corporations and the rich use that money to hire lobbyists and buy politicians who will give them even more tax breaks. The money does not circulate, and it does not create jobs.
Money that once circulated and created jobs now stops at the bank accounts of the rich and the corporation. Instead of creating jobs, the money sits in offshore accounts where it is hidden from the government. Just ask Mitt Romney. He has money that could be creating jobs sitting in the Cayman Islands, in Switzerland and other tax havens. Mitt wants to be our president so he can create even more benefits for the rich. And even more headaches for future generations.