Teacher pay raises now a possibility – but nobody cares…

First of all, this observer does not think that the current teacher pay rates here in the state of Oklahoma are all that out of balance with other states.  There is no great struggle to keep teachers here; remember, that while our salaries as a number may be lower than other states, it is cheaper to live here and thus we find that teacher salaries are more or less appropriate.

But everyone else seems quite decided that notwithstanding the above, teachers ought to be paid more in Oklahoma.  Never mind that the budget is already in a precarious position (though not as much as they would have us think a few months ago) and that our local economies are already bowing under the burden of inordinately high sales taxes.  No, never mind all that.  Teachers must be paid more, apparently, all “for the children” or something.

Very well.  Conveniently, we have just found $140 million dollars in the crevices of the state budget.  A substantial sum which might be better off in the rainy day fund, but if it will prevent a tax hike down the road, let’s put it towards teacher pay raises.  Only problem?  Well, there are several problems, but the most obvious is that the interested parties aren’t all that interested in this proposal.

Apparently if it does not require the implementation of a new tax, nobody cares.  Boren has called this proposal a “band-aid” solution (as if all government solutions aren’t) and naturally opposes it.  He is concerned that four day weeks in schools will continue, that textbook funds and programs that improve graduation and reading rates will be cut.  But if this plan goes forward, the $140 million to teachers, it renders Boren’s state question useless; which is the last thing that Boren and his cronies in higher education wants.

For it is obvious that the real purpose of the state question is to further line the pockets of higher education, with only a pittance given to public education.  Oh, sure, it’s proclaimed as the solution to the teacher crisis, and so long as it is seen in such a way, it will pass.  But in effect, if our concern really is public education, the real band aid proposal is Boren’s.

Of course, he is partly right.  This is a band aid solution too.  In effect, it’s like finding another twenty dollar bill in your wallet that you forgot you had and giving it to someone as a birthday gift.  Is it tacky?  Definitely.  But hey, it’s money, so how bad can it be?  The problem is an extra twenty dollar bill may not be there when the next birthday rolls around.

There is no telling what our state’s tax receipts will look like next year, and if the new pay rate can be continued without a drastic raise in taxes.  I wish instead that this would be considered a “bonus” to teachers in the state, instead of a permanent raise.

But either way, I think the tax hike is inevitable.  “For the children,” you know.







Why Pandering to “Bern Victims” will lead nowhere…

With the inglorious backing out of Bernie Sanders (so much for taking it to the convention) it would make some sense, on the surface, to try and pick up some support from the so called “Bern Victims” for the Libertarian cause.  But only on the surface: actually there seems to be an enormous divide between Sanders and Johnson politically, one that cannot be bridged unless Johnson does some serious pandering.  This, however, would seriously undermine the integrity of libertarian principles.  And, no matter how much he panders, it will not at all be well received by the disenfranchised Sanders supporters.

We must remember that Bernie Sanders supporters felt the way they did because they find themselves, politically, on the ultra-left.  This explains their disdain for Hillary; they see her as the embodiment of the corrupt right wing.  Which, for those who find themselves on the right wing, can be a hard concept to swallow: Hillary Clinton a member of the right wing?

We can argue back and forth on if it really is so; but the point here is that is how she is perceived on the far left.

During the nomination process, I was convinced that Gary Johnson tended too far left, and that might turn to the detriment of the party and the platform.  But to those on the far left, he is ultra-right wing, simply because he supports the free market.  Truly, politics is just a matter of perspective.

For Bernie Sanders supporters, it is not enough to believe in social liberalism.  No, one must oppose the free market and  how it operates, because they see free markets as a conspiracy that only makes the wealthy wealthier and oppresses the poor, and all evidence to the contrary is ignored.  Any candidate that supports a pure free market, or even partly so, will not make any meaningful headway on this part of the political spectrum.

Being a libertarian is more than just being for weed legalization and being for the legalization of gay marriage.  No, it relies mostly as a philosophy on faith in the free market to better the condition of mankind.  While I try to avoid saying, well, if you don’t believe in such-and-such, you must not be a libertarian (as some obnoxiously do) it seems to me that some sort of faith in the free market is a cornerstone of the entire philosophy.

So unless Johnson wants to repudiate the free market (which would be an entirely disgusting thing for any libertarian to do) we cannot hope for a significant wave of support from Bern victims.  And perhaps that is for the best.  Not that we won’t accept their votes in November, but I cannot see how they will exactly fit in with the libertarian movement as a whole.

So if Hillary won’t get their support, and Gary Johnson won’t, who will?

Well, I can imagine a lot of them will stay home.  But there is another independent candidate who is very popular among this crowd, one who makes Hillary sound like a Republican: Jill Stein, green party candidate.  What does her rhetoric look like?  Always some variation on “dismantling” the “oligarchy” of the billionaire class, the evil of fracking, and so on.  Bernie Sanders intensified.

Of course, the green party is not on the ballot in all fifty states, as the libertarian party is.  Meaningful opposition to the establishment is always a hard thing to scrape together, and especially so when the opposition vote is split.  Not that I would never discourage someone from voting on principle; this is nothing more than an observation.  So the question remains: can the American people scrape together some form of meaningful message against the continuance of the two party system?

After all, the libertarian victory in this election will not come in the form of majorities.  It will come in the form of exceeding the 2.5% threshold to fight another day, later down the road when we, as an organization, are a little more prepared.


Is there a “war on cops”?

I am not convinced of it.  The incidents seen here lately, namely Dallas and Baton Rouge, so far as can be ascertained, are only the results of the disillusions of a few imbalanced individuals.  But there is an “anti police sentiment,” and it’s easy to see why.  Say what you will about it, but just as you would say that there are only a “few bad apples” in law enforcement, so also there are merely a “few bad apples” in the anti-police movement.  This is the cause of the incidents, and not the movement as a whole.

It is possible to oppose the system of law enforcement without targeting or antagonizing individual members.  It is not proper to despise cops solely because they are cops; it is more proper to oppose the system and the laws which lead to such friction as we have seen this year.  Just as racism relies upon blanket generalizations, the hatred of individual cops must also rely on blanket generalizations, which we should be moving past in our time.

I hesitate to refer to the opposition to expanded police power only by the name Black Lives Matter – for the opposition reaches far beyond that.  Though there is no question that Black lives do matter, but I prefer not to be a part of the organization.  Is this unreasonable?  I still oppose the expansion of police power not only because of incidents seen this year but because law enforcement is nothing but the force behind a corrupt government and a perverted law.  I oppose expansion of police power because I oppose government using it’s power to discourage or punish anything but violent crimes.  I cannot understand how, those on the right who claim to be so skeptical of large governments, can venerate the very force of that government without any question.

When we look at what the police force has become, we understand very quickly why there is the rise of an “anti-police sentiment.”  Of course they serve and protect – it would be, again, a generalization to say that they don’t.  It is what they also do: it begins with the system of revenue collection.  Drive too fast, get an expensive ticket – then you begin to fear seeing a police car in your rear view mirror.  You get a twinge of nervousness when a cop ends up behind you: one unintentional mistake could cost you a lot of money.  In the name of what?  Public safety?  No, nothing more than revenue collection on the backs of the innocent.

This is not all.  It is the punishment of non-violent, unoffensive crimes.  Sell music outside of a 7-11?  Well, certainly annoying but not in any way a violent crime.  A broken taillight?  Not at all a violent crime, and certainly one not worthy of a man’s death.  You might say in response to that, well, he may have been reaching for his gun –  unlikely, but does it really matter?  Why did the cop pull him over in the first place?  To punish a nonviolent crime.

So why is there an anti-police sentiment?  I think it’s very easy to see.

But I realize, and what the whole of the anti-police movements have to realize, is that we should not at all antagonize or protest against cops as individuals or even as a group.  They do not suddenly cease to be human beings when they put on a blue uniform.  Rather, we should protest the system of laws which allows or encourages such abuse of authority and perversions of justice such as we have seen.  For continued antagonism of the police forces will only precipitate the very thing we oppose: expansion of the powers of police.

People are beginning to realize that the law has exceeded it’s proper purpose, and has begun to run contrary to it.  But instead of protesting the root cause of that, they are merely protesting the most obvious manifestation: police power.  The “anti-police” sentiment, while understandable, seems to be misplaced.

Police Power and the Law

What can be said of the past few days that would be in any way sufficient?

It is useless to take sides; each side is not wrong, but they are not completely right either.  Each side in this matter is rooted in contradiction; to this observer, it is better to stay away completely.

The people that normally say that only the “police and military” ought to have guns are the ones so skeptical of police power.

The people that normally say they are skeptical of a powerful government are so supportive of police, which is nothing more than the enforcement arm of a government.

We can either keep this in mind and recognize the good and bad points of each side, or we can take hard-line stances which will only further perpetuate the problem.  So let’s avoid that!  However I think it is a good opportunity to think a little bit about the institutions we take for granted.

What is the purpose of a police force?  To enforce the law.  Without some mechanism of enforcement, the law would loose all legitimacy.  But it is already loosing legitimacy when it is so complex and selectively enforced, at the whims of the officers that have little more understanding of the law than the average citizens.

Nobody has anything ill to say of firemen; they stay in fire stations and only go out when called for.  They don’t go around looking for fires, nor do they attempt to start them.  The stigma against police has developed because they do that very thing: they go around looking for fires or end up starting them, inconveniencing or hurting innocent people in the process.

The law must be simple and easily enforced.  It must only attempt to punish violent and harmful crimes; when it attempts to punish ‘crimes’ that are inherently non-violent, such is where the root of the problem begins.