Sally Kohn’s Deep Thoughts
In Fox’s Opinion section today, Sally Kohn penned an article entitled “Government Helps You-Whether You Like It Or Not.”
The title alone is proof positive that the occasional liberal viewpoint appears on Fox News. A quick read of the article confirms what most RedStaters probably surmised before getting through the first paragraph-that the author has trotted out the same tired, inaccurate slop that attempts to equate “government” with “government overreach.”
From her introduction:
When I hear conservative critics of government getting in the way of business, I always think about a trucking executive I know who shared the same complaints — until I pointed out that he made his fortunate running rigs across the government highway system.
Now, according to the Constitution, the Federal Government is actually responsible for creating roads. Part of Congress’s enumerated power is the creation of Post Offices and Post Roads. Of course, the federal highway system we have in place today would be considered overkill if it were merely designed for the movement of mail. Nevertheless, there is a constitutional basis for federal involvement in road-building. But Sally Kohn’s point was that the shipping executive’s complaints about government overreach were invalid because he made his living (or “fortune”, as Kohn called it) utilizing public roads. I fail to see how creating roads, an actual function of government, is an activity that gets in the way of business. Roads are a great way to encourage commerce, so I doubt the shipping executive included roads in his complaints. Unfortunately, Sally Kohn neglects to mention any of the shipping executives specific complaints, possibly because those complaints are much more difficult to attack. It’s much easier to simply toss up a straw man in an orange vest leaning on a shovel somewhere along interstate 95.
Kohn’s bio says that she is the Chief Education Officer of a “grassroots think tank”, which might be why she decided to use the fact that 90 percent of American children attend public schools. For generosity’s sake, let’s assume that she was thinking deep, very important thoughts when she trotted out public schools as an example of the myriad ways government benefits our lives. These deep, very important thoughts she was thinking must have had nothing to do with schools; most likely she was contemplating string theory as a way to unify Quantum Theory and Relativity, or perhaps musing on the many obstacles one faces when trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents. Whatever she was thinking, she didn’t pause to contemplate the dismal state of American public schools, or the fact that, as with many government-citizen interactions, the citizens have very little choice in the matter. Public schools are funded primarily with property taxes, which people have to pay whether or not they have children in the local school system. For the most part, parents have very little choice over which public school their children attend, and attempts to give parents choices are often met with outright hostility. Compulsory education, limited school choice, and teachers who can’t be fired without the Finger of God piercing the heavens and nudging them out the door all combine to create horrible educational outcomes for those “served” by public schools.
For example, the 2008 and NECAP results in Rhode Island show that 68 percent of Rhode Island students were proficient in reading, while 53 percent were proficient in math. I couldn’t find more recent data readily available, but if there is some drastic change, I never read about it. If you happen to be in that 68 or 53 percent, good for you! You’re the proud recipient of government help! Sally Kohn has a special place in her heart for you. I can only guess what Sally Kohn thinks about the unacceptable amount of kids who weren’t proficient, because she was thinking deep and important thoughts about other things, while those kids are forced to attend the same schools that “help” them with our tax money. I imagine that Sally Kohn’s rebuttal would include large amounts of stammering, peppered with phrases like “inadequate funding” and “uncontrollable socioeconomic factors”.
Refusing to rest on her laurels, Kohn goes on to point out that 89 percent of Americans receive their water from public utilities. I’m in the 11 percent who do not, but from what I understand, most people receive a bill each month for the water that the government so generously provided for them. Sally Kohn was still in the middle of thinking her deep thoughts, because she failed to mention that most of these public utilities are locally run, and that most conservatives really don’t have any problem at all with locally-run public utilities providing water and power. For that matter, fire and police departments are also under local control, and most people are fine with that as well. When one is busy thinkin’ tryin’ to be another Lincoln, such oversight is excusable.
Do you own a home and benefit from favorable mortgage interest deductions? At least 60% of Americans who do also don’t think they get government help.
Since when is keeping your own money “government help”? Helping themselves to less of my hard-earned cash is nice, but it hardly constitutes action on their part. In a strange way, Sally Kohn is actually agreeing with conservatives, though I doubt it’s what she intended to do. Yes, keeping Uncle Sam’s sticky fingers out of my wallet is quite helpful, but wasn’t it my money to begin with? Should I thank the schoolyard bully who agrees to take only half of my lunch money in exchange for not drowning me in the toilet? Sally Kohn seems to think so.
Even 44% of Social Security recipients, 39% of Medicare recipients, and a whopping 27% of welfare recipients — the mother of all government social programs that conservatives love to hate — don’t believe they are beneficiaries of government social spending.
Actually, I think Social Security and Medicare are the Conjoined Twin Mothers of all social programs. Neither of these programs give people any choice. If you can fog a mirror, you’re in, and good luck trying to get by without a Social Security Number, or even better, decide that having a Social Security Number is too big a risk to your privacy, and opt out. If Sally Kohn could bring her staggering intellect back from the cognitive gymnasium that her Think Tank must be, she might see that these programs will soon be paying out much, much more money than they are taking in, and in fact will one day consume the entire federal budget. That doesn’t sound particularly helpful.
After all of this deep thinking, it’s remarkable that Sally Kohn has anything left in the tank. But she calls up all her reserve dendrites and axons and aligns her synapses just right, and produces this:
Chances are your kids will not become one of the 400 very, very wealthy millionaires and billionaires in America but one of the 307,000,000 of the rest of us who serve them. If that’s your idea of success, then by all means support conservative anti-government rhetoric that denies your children the government stepping stools on which big business and the rich so heavily depended.
I had a look at my pay stub, just to see which millionaires and billionaires were forcibly removing money from it. I was hoping to perhaps see a monthly deduction for Red Sox season tickets, or perhaps a Playstation 3 entitlement program, but apparently that one was voted down in the Senate. I looked closely, but on my check, the only people who have decided that they are more qualified than I am to spend my money were the ones Sally Kohn says are “helping” me. Their idea of “help” is taking money that I earned and giving it to other people.
With the leftovers, I get to choose which products and services best suit my needs. This is where the millionaires and billionaires come in. Their companies compete with each other to offer me the best goods and services at the lowest prices. Contrast the amazing improvement in quality, versatility and price of the home computer with the quality of a Rhode Island public school education, and consider, why on earth anyone would want the kind of “help” Sally Kohn’s government miracle workers are busy providing.
When Sally Kohn writes about government “stools” I don’t think the word means what she thinks it means.