My Blog List

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Begging For Dollars

I'll bet you didn't know that you are participating in a lottery.  You probably also didn't know that you're paying for the prize pool, as well.
New York, Florida and Pennsylvania are among the 16 first-round finalists in the federal grant competition known as Race to the Top, in which states compete for a share of $4 billion in school improvement funds, the federal Department of Education said Thursday.
We've got these states, begging for treats like trained seals at the amusement park.  And just like the amusement park, you and I are paying for those treats through a part of one of the stimulus plans.  Sadly, because of the wording of the Sixteenth Amendment, we won't necessarily get any benefits for those payments.
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
The highlighted section means that they don't have to spend the money in the states in proportion to the amount they took.

Now, if the federal government was actually restrained by the Constitution, that might not be an issue.  There would be little, if any, money that was laundered through the Treasury that went directly to any state for any purpose.

It would be spent only on Constitutionally mandated functions, such as the military, or promoting and protecting commerce, or running the federal court system.  I have yet to be able to find the article or amendment in the Constitution that authorizes the federal government to dabble in education.

In fact, it seems as though the Tenth Amendment pretty much prohibits such things.  If a state chooses to fund public education, that is their right to do so - so long as they can afford the cost.

Yet, here we are.  Four billion of our tax dollars (which we don't have) are going to be awarded to a handful of states.  Goodness - how did we get to this point?

I probably shouldn't have characterized this as a lottery.  That implies random chance - all entries have an equal probability of winning.  What we have here is a popularity contest.  The decision on which states are deemed worthy of the treats rests in the hands of one, single man.
According to those nonbinding federal guidelines, Florida and New York could win $350 million to $700 million. Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania could win $200 million to $400 million. Indiana, Massachusetts and Tennessee could win $150 million to $250 million.

In addition, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, and South Carolina might win $60 million to 75 million, and Delaware, the District of Columbia and Rhode Island might win $20 million to $75 million

But since those rules are nonbinding, the secretary of education, Arne Duncan, has the power to apportion winnings any way he wishes.
Hmm.  There's that pesky 'apportion' word again.  Click here (PDF) to see Section 14006(b) granting him unilateral power to decide how our money is spent.

So the Secretary has the ability to pick and choose who will be apportioned bigger (or any) treats.  Does anyone else see the opportunity for influence peddling and corruption? 

I do.  When you hand someone a checkbook with $4 billion waiting to be spent - and no inconvenient rules or structure for how that money is going to be allocated - you're begging for corruption.

Accept The Challenge

Being upset with how our federal government runs, or how it doles out our money, will do nothing.  The fact is, the government is broken, and will likely be that way for the remaining lifespan of anyone reading this post.

What options do we have to limit the negative impact of our system on our individual lives?

You can vote in candidates that say they will stop all spending that is contrary to the Constitution.  Good luck with that.  I'll be doing this, but I don't think it will do anything.  Call me jaded.  It seems like when people go to Washington, their ethics and principles and promises get sucked out of their soul.

You can quietly continue paying, "your fair share" of taxes - as determined by the people spending your money.  The risk of that is you'll go broke!

You can flat-out stop paying taxes.  Just be forewarned that you will go to jail.  Guaranteed.  Still, it might be an option for some.

Or, you can reduce your exposure to taxation.  Work jobs "under the table".  Buy as many goods and services as you can on places like Craigslist.  Barter your skills and goods for things you need.  Grow much of your own food.  Hunt, fish, trap game (although you will pay a license fee for the privalege of doing so).

Again, be forewarned:  If you do many of these things, you'll be breaking the law, and the penalties can be harsh. 

It's all about choices, which all come down to money.  Do you Californians (or people from Illinois, Massachusetts, ...) want to continue paying for the schooling of kids in Alaska or Hawaii?  Or do you want to risk ending up in jail, unable to earn or pay for anything?

None of the choices are really good ones.  They all contain an element of unacceptable risk, in my opinion.  But choices will be made, either by you or for you.  The choice is yours.

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MikeH. said...

The most powerful word in any language is "NO"!!! Convince several million people to stop paying taxes. That would be the second most powerful act for citizens to force the attention of government.


Chief Instructor said...

Mike, It is going to be interesting here in CA over the next few months.

We're flat broke. People who have come to depend on government handouts are starting to feel the pinch.

The students that were protesting over tuition hikes are just the first salvo in what looks to be a long, drawn out fight.

I fully support them protesting. But not WHY they're protesting. Their anger should be directed at the politicians that have dug us this hole.

With an almost unanimous voice, they're pissed because they will no longer get their free or discounted education. From someone who paid his own way by working while attending college, I have little sympathy for their "plight".

The "education is a right" blather seriously ticks me off.

But they've all been raised to believe this. Like I noted, they are just the first to protest because the gravy train has stopped running, but I guarantee you, they won't be the last.