School Choice Funding Trap: Thoughts on Why Legislation Involving Monetary Benefits Is Dangerous

School Choice Funding Trap: Thoughts on Why Legislation Involving Monetary Benefits Is Dangerous

Published June 21, 2023

Thoughts on why legislation involving monetary benefits is dangerous.

Three mistakes include (1) accepting monetary benefit from the government, (2) developing a dependence upon receiving government funding to desired resources, materials, replace lost income, etc., (3) increasing the tax burden of everyone not receiving this benefit or using the services, i.e. taking government dole, giving up on demanding, understanding, appreciating and defending true freedom, rights and responsibilities., (4) abdicating the responsibility of taking the full responsibility for the children created by taking money from someone or something else.

School choice bills ALL have funding attached to them, either through direct payments or tax credits.  Obviously, direct government payments will have some government “strings,” i.e., control, requirements, reporting, some infringement on total autonomy and freedom of choice for participants.  This is also true with “indirect” monetary benefits that essentially put money into someone’s pocket.

A tax credit will have the same impact and restrictions on choices as a direct government payment.  This is true because a tax credit is only a hidden government payment.  The allure of school choice legislation is the financial benefit to participants (which also opens a whole range of opportunities to direct funds to various social, racial, or disadvantaged applicants, which is blatantly discriminatory against those who do not fall into these categories, but who often may have as much legitimate need for financial help as those in identifiable socio-economic groups).  This monetary temptation allows people to be deceived into supporting something they don’t understand adequately and are blind to the consequences.

A tax credit is definitely a “financial” benefit, whether it is direct payment or monies that do not have to be sent to the government and may be deducted from a tax liability.  If there is, for selected school choice applicants, little or no tax liability, it is possible the “tax credit” could really be an outright monetary gift, depending on how legislation is written or the wording is interpreted.

“Financial” is defined as “relating to or involving money.”  Therefore it is impossible not to recognize two things.  One, school choice bills provide a financial benefit for recipients.  Two, that means recipients are essentially getting money or a benefit that is monetary—semantics show the same results.  It is a fact that the government will never give money to anyone, in any form, without stipulating how it is to be spent.  This, of course, ignores the reality of rampant fraud, misuse of any financial benefit, and other schemes and dishonesty that will occur with any kind of government financial boon.  However, that is almost irrelevant to the essential reality that school choice bills provide funding for activities or materials that the recipients do not have to then fund themselves.  And these activities and expenditures will be inventoried, tracked and determined by the provider of the funding since the government has that power when it dispenses financial benefits IN ANY FORM.

One great danger in setting this kind of expectation is that recipients will become dependent on the financial, i.e., monetary, benefit they receive.  This is totally unconnected to the reality of educational freedom, true “school choice,” or rights of parents to make completely autonomous decisions for educating and rearing their children.  This gives the government a great power to withhold the financial benefit if any guidelines, restrictions, or other rules the government chooses are not followed.  These can include curricula, teaching methodology, programs, materials, subjects, resources, etc.

The very fact that how these funds must be spent, i.e., generally a list of acceptable purchases, shows how little discretion and freedom recipients really have.

Also, any tax credit is a deficit to tax revenues that must be raised.  Obviously, if someone does not have to pay the “fair” (used liberally, since most taxes and especially income taxing are inherently unfair) share of tax that could be anticipated would be raised for the government spending, someone else must pick up the deficit.  This places an additional burden on those who either do not choose “school choice” or do not need it because they are single, childless, or no longer have children attending school.   This makes those who cannot apply for and receive this benefit financially liable for something they cannot enjoy.  Educational choice is not a necessity; it is a luxury.  No one, besides those who enjoy their luxuries, should have to pay for others to have what they do not earn or pay for.  It is unethical, unless we (as we do) live in a society without ethics.

It should be acknowledged that these are not really “school choice” bills at all.  They are really designed as monetary “solutions” to a distortion of a right or freedom that is being curtailed.  This enables people to ignore the roots of the problem, which is excessive government control, compulsory attendance laws, lack of parental responsibility, sacrifice, or acceptance of their need to care for the children they create, and social and cultural engineering the is really leading such legislation to be more social and cultural engineering.  So “school choice” is a euphemism for giving money to special groups with controls and sucking in the ignorant, naive and dumbed down populace and legislators who don’t understand what they are doing.  Sad.

An illustration.  Let’s say someone’s relative, child, whomever, etc. needs a car or other necessity like a refrigerator or medical device, etc., and that someone decides to give him a significant gift.  Then the recipient decides that this “gift” is an unexpected windfall, so instead of buying a car, the recipient takes the family to DisneyWorld.  This might be rather disturbing to the giver, but there is nothing that can be done once the money changes hands.  The government is not so tolerant.  The government will have “safeguards” to be sure funds are not “misused.”

One of the saddest parts of this whole debacle is the reality that most modern people do not understand freedom, rights, and responsibilities in a meaningful way.  The indoctrination of our society has been stunningly effective.  This whole idea of “tax credits” as a safe way to “help” parents have choice in the education of their children has been consistently debunked for decades.  However, with the impact of decades of intellectual indoctrination and dumbing down, the modern populace more and more accepts what a well-educated mind and moral character would instinctively reject as an infringement on rights, responsibilities, and freedoms.

Another sadness is that people now overwhelmingly turn to the government to provide what they want, without seeking alternatives, making sacrifices, working together locally and within families and communities to develop options where needed that do NOT require government intervention in any way.  We have so clearly lost all sense of freedom, rights, and their attendant responsibilities.  And we have replaced these with the “pleasure” of letting the nanny state provide more and more of our luxuries, desires and wants than every before.  And at whose expense?  This will, eventually, all run out and inevitably lead to violent discontent from many people and places.

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