DownsizeDC.org
December 26, 2005
It's time to be wise... about government
By Jim Babka
J. Michael Smith, President of the Home School Legal Defense Association, a Christian homeschooling legal defense fund, has penned a column called, "It's time to be wise." It's a warning to Christian homeschoolers that big government is trying to get its nose in the homeschooling tent, or as Smith puts it, "Public schools at home are a move back to centralization." In more than 40 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, Independent Study Programs and virtual charter schools are in place. Smith explains, "The pitch being made to home-schoolers today is that you can continue to control the education of your child at home while receiving money to cover curriculum, computers, and extracurricular activities. You can confer with a certified teacher and at the end of the day you'll have an 'accredited' diploma." Sounds good right? Well, here's the problem... ...you're about to be caught in a prison of addiction. When you surrender responsibility, you give up your freedom. Smith reminds Christians that their goal is to "train up a child" in the ways of the Lord. He urges them to keep their eyes focused on the goal because, "Private homeschooling has been successful because it is separate {emphasis original} from the government schools -- in other words, decentralized. Public schools at home are a movement back to centralization, with the government being able to impose its control over education because of the money parents receive." Mark these words clearly: Big Government funds always come with strings. ALWAYS. Like drug pushers, they prefer to start by giving you a sample, a taste. They might give you several samples, that is, until you're a junkie. Money can be mainlined. Surrendering responsibility can be euphoric. Don't worry, Big Government has a name for this drug -- one that makes it seem innocuous. And that name is "public." Every time you see the word public -- parks, library, sidewalks, and schools, it means that Big Government has pushed the drug. You've heard it said that, "He who pays the piper calls the tune." Once the prefix "public" is uttered, everyone behaves as if everyone owns the object. That means lawyers, politicians (more lawyers), and judges (lawyers in robes) are sure to follow, as we battle over how those funds are spent. And we come, as supplicants, begging, prattling for our so-called "rights." And it's our own fault. We signed up! (What if Big Government created a program and no one showed up? It's an interesting thought to play with in your mind.) But here's the point that every DC Downsizer (small government advocate) can take away from Smith's reminder to Christian-homeschoolers... The politicians don't campaign to take away your rights, to manage your life, or to tell you what to do like they're your parents. Nope. They come offering "help" or "assistance." It seems innocuous at first. After all, you could use the help. But then, they start making rules. OK, you reason, you can live with the rules; after all, the new regs aren't that onerous, just inconvenient and the funding sure does help. Besides, they need to make sure everyone is using the funds properly. But then, they start making more rules. Well, now you get frustrated. But you can't afford to drop out of the program. For one thing, everyone else has done like you, and most of the private alternatives have gone out of business and those few options that remain are priced way out of your range. So, you suck it up. Your children, now adults, live in an era where even more rules are made. Since they grew up in the system, they can't remember life being any different, and the process continues until the program you signed up for becomes a prison for them. Along the way, they'll lobby the politician to give them (metaphorically-speaking), "air-conditioned" prison-quarters. Any attempt to get the old freedom (and responsibility) back will be ridiculed as "unrealistic" by their supposed political allies, who are looking to "reform." Oh, and to make matters worse, the Big Government Master will come to realize that it can't afford the nearly unlimited demand for its program. Rationing will begin. That means:
  • Some programs will be phased out.
  • Others will be shrunk and they might have to get on a waiting list.
  • Your kids will pay user fees for others that used to be free to you.
  • They'll fundraise for other parts. Hard to resist the grandkids selling candy, magazine subscriptions, and junk you don't need. Sometimes it’s called a government-private sector partnership. That's right, either you'll hustle (or, in this case, your grandkids will) to buy the good graces of the new Big Government Master, or some corporation will step-up to its "civic responsibility." (Civic, is the same drug as Public, but only those with wealth pay for it – we all pay for Public).
By this point a large constituency will be in place that dictates how the program will be run. It will include the direct employees (bureaucrats) and the vendors who provide the services to this vast bureaucracy. The bureaucrats will likely unionize and play a major role in setting policy and picking the board that governs them. No longer will the program be accountable to the people it allegedly serves. Before long your grandkids, now adults themselves, will be saddled with the program. They simply can't imagine life being any different. Still, they will work to make the system better. But at some point the Big Government Master will start ignoring their complaints and the lawyers in robes will tell them that they can do as they damn well please (as just happened in a federal case involving sex education for primary school children). After all, the kids don't belong to the parents. The public pays for their schooling. So when we're talking sidewalks, it's not your feet. And when we're speaking of libraries, it's not your civil liberties. Don't you see? Big Government already paid the piper and you're addicted to the song. No vote was cast. Not a shot was fired. But your fate, and that of your offspring, was sealed as soon as you accepted the Faustian bargain that someone else would take responsibility off of your shoulders. The "time to be wise" is when the Public drug is offered. As they say in the Public schools, "Just say No."
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