Monday, February 3, 2014

Roads And Schools

Of all the non-violent services that government provides, none has been more touted as necessary and great by both the Left and the Right as roads and schools.  Without government, apparently nobody would bother to teach children how to put a condom on a banana properly or get those potholes filled in with gravel.

So often is the case made for government to provide both roads and schools, that it is literally the default position or nearly every pundit and politician out there.  Hell, some politicians and pundits seem to think that because the government builds the roads and schools, that all production belongs to the government.  You know, the whole “you didn’t build that” line.

When it comes to roads, I wonder how much better our roads would be if the government wasn’t involved at all.  Here on the Rim of Insanity, there is always major road construction going on somewhere nearby.  Beyond that, traffic congestion is insane.  Apparently, nobody bothered to build more bridges to get into DC or to cross the state lines into Maryland.

On top of that, the roads that do exist are usually in poor condition.  Potholes, cracks, and other road hazards are everywhere.  And despite the abundance of signs, nobody really seems to pay attention to them.  And of course, the only response to “moving violations” is to simply tax the citizens.

In addition, we have gasoline taxes built into the cost of gasoline which are supposed to be allocated to road maintenance and development.  Except most of the time, that money goes elsewhere, especially with the Federal government’s take.

And then we have local and state governments zoning areas for us to live and work, yet failing to provide adequate roads to get us there.  In many cases, their attitude is that we shouldn’t be living here, despite the fact that the jobs are here.

As for schools, there is nothing more worthless than a United States government school degree.  With manufacturing jobs shrinking in the face of slave labor in China, the United States’ economy is largely dependent on kids going to 12 years of mind-numbing learning followed by 4-10 years of college education.

And what do we teach kids?  We teach them to read and write.  Poorly.  We teach them basic math.  Somewhat.  And then we rob them of critical thinking skills and imagination.  We require them to be able to read and understand Shakespeare, but fail to teach them simple economics or even how to balance a checkbook.  Take note: you may be able to properly quote and understand Hamlet, but if you can’t change a tire or understand the principles of supply and demand, you’re probably going to end up homeless spouting Elizabethan phrases on a soapbox.

I have no problems with Shakespeare.  I personally enjoyed Hamlet.  And I have studied it in depth.  Yet I was perplexed that I had to take 4 years of English class but no economics classes in High School.  Hell, even basic Keynesian stuff would have been more useful.

It’s true, the government builds the schools.  And they do a piss-poor job of managing them.  And their own solution to take more money away from us, either through direct taxation or inflation, and give it to the schools.  Of course, they tend to ignore where the money actually goes.  Yes teachers are underpaid.  But don’t you think that if we made sure that teachers got a majority of that money directly into their salaries, that better quality teachers would enter the market?

I guess politicians never took any economics classes either.

The fact is, nearly every government service is neither efficient nor effective in achieving its goals.  This is largely why I have trouble believing in most conspiracy theories because they would have to carried out by the most incompetent morons this side of life.  The roads are falling apart and the teachers are turning our kids into self-entitled sociopaths.

If it were truly a case between the government providing roads and schools or none at all, I think I’d go with the latter and education my own children and pave my own roads.  At least then I know that someone competent is doing it.