MONDAY MORNING MEMORANDUM

EL CAZADOR

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MONDAY MORNING MEMORANDUM
By Assemblyman Ray Haynes
August 16, 2004

Planning For Failure

No one has ever accused any politician of being too modest in his or her approach to the problems of society. When the ruling class sees a problem, there is always one of its members fast to propose a solution, usually a government program funded with your money, with broadly overstated goals and early prognostications of a quick and complete success in conquering the problem.

The politician then usually hands the problem off to a bureaucrat, whose job usually depends on making sure that the problem is never solved. In other words, this bureaucrat has a job, and a reason for living, as long as the problem exists. Once the problem is solved, the bureaucrat loses his or her job. As a result, no government program (of which I am aware) has ever ended. We have been fighting a war on poverty since 1966. There are more poor people in this country today than when we started.

Given that grand tradition in government, it is no wonder that several years ago, the state commenced an effort to revamp our schools. Everyone knows they are failing, so let's get together and draw up a plan to reform them-let's give them a blueprint for success. Hence-the Master Plan for Education was born.

A grandiose name-to be sure. Lots of effort and money went in to drawing up this Master Plan. Lots of study went into the details of the plan. Legislators, bureaucrats, experts, moms and dads everywhere studied the plan. It was unveiled to an adoring public last year. More hearings on its details were held. Now the Legislature is convening a last minute conference committee to implement some of its provisions.

Except that the parts they want to implement are its worst, and most expensive parts. The Master Plan called for available universal pre-school. The reason? Available universal pre-school will help children get ready for school earlier. The plan called for this pre-school to be available to everyone, regardless of income, for free. Well-we have had pre-school for the disadvantaged since the mid "60's (called Head Start), and $44 billion later, there has been no appreciable increase in the academic performance of those in the Head Start program, over those never enrolled. Since this universal preschool will probably cost the state $50 billion over the next several years, you would think we might look at whether or not it would actually be effective. Naaah-let's just implement the program and spend the money.

In addition, they want free, universal childcare, run by the state, regardless of income. Right now, we have thousands of private providers of childcare. These providers would all become government run institutions with public union employees, the theory being that the state is doing such a good job right now in our government run schools and other government run agencies, like Unemployment and DMV, that we want government-run childcare too.

When asked where the money would come from for all the facilities necessary for the pre-school and childcare, not to mention the teachers and employees, the chair of the legislative committee responded-"I don't know, it is up to the Governor to figure out how to pay for it." Right-the last Governor who tried to keep up with the spendthrift legislature is now doing Yahoo! Commercials.

It is the same old story. A grandiose plan, with someone else's money, that pays off the special interests (like public employee unions), and utterly fails in its essential purpose, insuring that the program will last forever. Only the mind of a politician could conceive of such a thing, and only a bureaucrat could run it. It won't change until those in charge of the Legislature change. We can only hope.
 

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