Archive for November, 2007

Federalist Number 21

Other Defects of the Present Confederation
For the Independent Journal.
Alexander Hamilton

To the People of the State of New York:

HAVING in the three last numbers taken a summary review of the principal circumstances and events which have depicted the genius and fate of other confederate governments, I shall now proceed in the enumeration of the most important of those defects which have hitherto disappointed our hopes from the system established among ourselves. To form a safe and satisfactory judgment of the proper remedy, it is absolutely necessary that we should be well acquainted with the extent and malignity of the disease.

The next most palpable defect of the subsisting Confederation, is the total want of a SANCTION to its laws. The United States, as now composed, have no powers to exact obedience, or punish disobedience to their resolutions, either by pecuniary mulcts, by a suspension or divestiture of privileges, or by any other constitutional mode. There is no express delegation of authority to them to use force against delinquent members; and if such a right should be ascribed to the federal head, as resulting from the nature of the social compact between the States, it must be by inference and construction, in the face of that part of the second article, by which it is declared, “that each State shall retain every power, jurisdiction, and right, not EXPRESSLY delegated to the United States in Congress assembled.” There is, doubtless, a striking absurdity in supposing that a right of this kind does not exist, but we are reduced to the dilemma either of embracing that supposition, preposterous as it may seem, or of contravening or explaining away a provision, which has been of late a repeated theme of the eulogies of those who oppose the new Constitution; and the want of which, in that plan, has been the subject of much plausible animadversion, and severe criticism. If we are unwilling to impair the force of this applauded provision, we shall be obliged to conclude, that the United States afford the extraordinary spectacle of a government destitute even of the shadow of constitutional power to enforce the execution of its own laws. It will appear, from the specimens which have been cited, that the American Confederacy, in this particular, stands discriminated from every other institution of a similar kind, and exhibits a new and unexampled phenomenon in the political world.

The want of a mutual guaranty of the State governments is another capital imperfection in the federal plan. There is nothing of this kind declared in the articles that compose it; and to imply a tacit guaranty from considerations of utility, would be a still more flagrant departure from the clause which has been mentioned, than to imply a tacit power of coercion from the like considerations. The want of a guaranty, though it might in its consequences endanger the Union, does not so immediately attack its existence as the want of a constitutional sanction to its laws.

Without a guaranty the assistance to be derived from the Union in repelling those domestic dangers which may sometimes threaten the existence of the State constitutions, must be renounced. Usurpation may rear its crest in each State, and trample upon the liberties of the people, while the national government could legally do nothing more than behold its encroachments with indignation and regret. A successful faction may erect a tyranny on the ruins of order and law, while no succor could constitutionally be afforded by the Union to the friends and supporters of the government. The tempestuous situation from which Massachusetts has scarcely emerged, evinces that dangers of this kind are not merely speculative. Who can determine what might have been the issue of her late convulsions, if the malcontents had been headed by a Caesar or by a Cromwell? Who can predict what effect a despotism, established in Massachusetts, would have upon the liberties of New Hampshire or Rhode Island, of Connecticut or New York?

The inordinate pride of State importance has suggested to some minds an objection to the principle of a guaranty in the federal government, as involving an officious interference in the domestic concerns of the members. A scruple of this kind would deprive us of one of the principal advantages to be expected from union, and can only flow from a misapprehension of the nature of the provision itself. It could be no impediment to reforms of the State constitution by a majority of the people in a legal and peaceable mode. This right would remain undiminished. The guaranty could only operate against changes to be effected by violence. Towards the preventions of calamities of this kind, too many checks cannot be provided. The peace of society and the stability of government depend absolutely on the efficacy of the precautions adopted on this head. Where the whole power of the government is in the hands of the people, there is the less pretense for the use of violent remedies in partial or occasional distempers of the State. The natural cure for an ill-administration, in a popular or representative constitution, is a change of men. A guaranty by the national authority would be as much levelled against the usurpations of rulers as against the ferments and outrages of faction and sedition in the community.

The principle of regulating the contributions of the States to the common treasury by QUOTAS is another fundamental error in the Confederation. Its repugnancy to an adequate supply of the national exigencies has been already pointed out, and has sufficiently appeared from the trial which has been made of it. I speak of it now solely with a view to equality among the States. Those who have been accustomed to contemplate the circumstances which produce and constitute national wealth, must be satisfied that there is no common standard or barometer by which the degrees of it can be ascertained. Neither the value of lands, nor the numbers of the people, which have been successively proposed as the rule of State contributions, has any pretension to being a just representative. If we compare the wealth of the United Netherlands with that of Russia or Germany, or even of France, and if we at the same time compare the total value of the lands and the aggregate population of that contracted district with the total value of the lands and the aggregate population of the immense regions of either of the three last-mentioned countries, we shall at once discover that there is no comparison between the proportion of either of these two objects and that of the relative wealth of those nations. If the like parallel were to be run between several of the American States, it would furnish a like result. Let Virginia be contrasted with North Carolina, Pennsylvania with Connecticut, or Maryland with New Jersey, and we shall be convinced that the respective abilities of those States, in relation to revenue, bear little or no analogy to their comparative stock in lands or to their comparative population. The position may be equally illustrated by a similar process between the counties of the same State. No man who is acquainted with the State of New York will doubt that the active wealth of King’s County bears a much greater proportion to that of Montgomery than it would appear to be if we should take either the total value of the lands or the total number of the people as a criterion!

The wealth of nations depends upon an infinite variety of causes. Situation, soil, climate, the nature of the productions, the nature of the government, the genius of the citizens, the degree of information they possess, the state of commerce, of arts, of industry, these circumstances and many more, too complex, minute, or adventitious to admit of a particular specification, occasion differences hardly conceivable in the relative opulence and riches of different countries. The consequence clearly is that there can be no common measure of national wealth, and, of course, no general or stationary rule by which the ability of a state to pay taxes can be determined. The attempt, therefore, to regulate the contributions of the members of a confederacy by any such rule, cannot fail to be productive of glaring inequality and extreme oppression.

This inequality would of itself be sufficient in America to work the eventual destruction of the Union, if any mode of enforcing a compliance with its requisitions could be devised. The suffering States would not long consent to remain associated upon a principle which distributes the public burdens with so unequal a hand, and which was calculated to impoverish and oppress the citizens of some States, while those of others would scarcely be conscious of the small proportion of the weight they were required to sustain. This, however, is an evil inseparable from the principle of quotas and requisitions.

There is no method of steering clear of this inconvenience, but by authorizing the national government to raise its own revenues in its own way. Imposts, excises, and, in general, all duties upon articles of consumption, may be compared to a fluid, which will, in time, find its level with the means of paying them. The amount to be contributed by each citizen will in a degree be at his own option, and can be regulated by an attention to his resources. The rich may be extravagant, the poor can be frugal; and private oppression may always be avoided by a judicious selection of objects proper for such impositions. If inequalities should arise in some States from duties on particular objects, these will, in all probability, be counterbalanced by proportional inequalities in other States, from the duties on other objects. In the course of time and things, an equilibrium, as far as it is attainable in so complicated a subject, will be established everywhere. Or, if inequalities should still exist, they would neither be so great in their degree, so uniform in their operation, nor so odious in their appearance, as those which would necessarily spring from quotas, upon any scale that can possibly be devised.

It is a signal advantage of taxes on articles of consumption, that they contain in their own nature a security against excess. They prescribe their own limit; which cannot be exceeded without defeating the end proposed, that is, an extension of the revenue. When applied to this object, the saying is as just as it is witty, that, “in political arithmetic, two and two do not always make four .” If duties are too high, they lessen the consumption; the collection is eluded; and the product to the treasury is not so great as when they are confined within proper and moderate bounds. This forms a complete barrier against any material oppression of the citizens by taxes of this class, and is itself a natural limitation of the power of imposing them.

Impositions of this kind usually fall under the denomination of indirect taxes, and must for a long time constitute the chief part of the revenue raised in this country. Those of the direct kind, which principally relate to land and buildings, may admit of a rule of apportionment. Either the value of land, or the number of the people, may serve as a standard. The state of agriculture and the populousness of a country have been considered as nearly connected with each other. And, as a rule, for the purpose intended, numbers, in the view of simplicity and certainty, are entitled to a preference. In every country it is a herculean task to obtain a valuation of the land; in a country imperfectly settled and progressive in improvement, the difficulties are increased almost to impracticability. The expense of an accurate valuation is, in all situations, a formidable objection. In a branch of taxation where no limits to the discretion of the government are to be found in the nature of things, the establishment of a fixed rule, not incompatible with the end, may be attended with fewer inconveniences than to leave that discretion altogether at large.

PUBLIUS.

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While You’re At It

This idea came to me in the form of an email that has apparently been circulating. When you send out Christmas cards this month, be sure to send one to the ACLU. Make sure that it is clearly Christian, but not intentionally offensive (don’t write anything that is mean-spirited). Here is the address provided in the email, I did a whois search on aclu.org and it appears to be legit.

ACLU
125 Broad Street,
18th Floor,
New York, NY 10004

It’s like my dad likes to say “Kill ’em with kindness.”

Alaska Airlines Descriminates Against Heterosexuals

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air have announced a new program that will charge heterosexuals 10 percent extra for their air travel to specific locations during the Christmas season.

The company actually offers the 10 percent as a discount but only if the purchaser obtains the ticket through a “gay” page of the company’s website, a location not typically patronized by families seeking travel arrangements, according to an Idaho activist who was distressed by the offering.

Bryan Fischer, of the Idaho Values Alliance, told WND the company boasts of its “nondiscrimination” policies, but, “here they are blatantly discriminating against heterosexuals in their pricing structure.”

Imagine if they were to charge MORE on their gay travel page! The outrage would be deafening!! This is one of the many reason I despise leftists/liberals, they preach tolerance and non-discrimination, but only when that discrimination is directed at their own. They are the first to practice discrimination against those who differ with them. Yeah, it’s called Hypocrisy!!

And yeah, giving special treatment to certain people is discrimination. It discriminates against everyone outside that special group.

I never understand why companies go out of their way to take sides on things that they really should be neutral on. If 2% of the population is gay, and 10% are born-again Christians likely to boycott you for your pro-gay stance, wouldn’t it be better policy to have a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that avoids upsetting either group?

Hearing from God

The following is an educated opinion, not a theological proof.

There is a lot of frustrating teaching going around in the modern Evangelical church today. One that bothers me a lot is this idea that contains some or all of the following ideas:

  • God has a detailed and perfect plan for our lives, which involves every aspect of our lives, down to the most minute detail
  • We must find out what that plan is and carry it out in order to reach our full potential as Christians
  • The Bible, while inerrant and infallible, is also incomplete. It doesn’t offer everything we need to live our lives. We must learn to hear the voice of God in order to fill in the gaps.
  • We, as fallible and fallen men, cannot understand the Bible as written, and must learn to hear the voice of God so that He can tell us what it says.

From January 2006 until just a few weeks ago, I ran a forum here at έχω ζωη, which was made up solely of personal friends of mine. I finally closed it down due to frequent fighting over theological issues, many of which involved the ideas listed above.

While the Bible does teach that God has a plan, and that He is in complete control and is carrying that plan out, there is nothing in it that says that that plan is so intricate as to involve the minutia of our lives. There are two “Wills” of God that the Bible teaches: His Sovereign Will and His Providential Will. The Great overall plan is His Sovereign Will. His Providential Will is born out in the oft-cited passage in Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to {His} purpose.” No matter what we do, He, in His providence, works things out as He sees fit.

I have a real problem with this idea that I must seek out “God’s will for my life” because it really minimizes the power of God. It implies that if I don’t find out His will, and then properly carry it out, His whole order fails. I respond to it by saying that maybe God does have a plan for my life (beyond saving me and using my testimony to save others), but if He does, He is mighty enough to carry it out without my knowledge. I am not powerful enough to derail Him or His plan. I have a duty to abide by the teaching provided in the Scriptures, but beyond that I have freedom.

This idea that I must learn to discern His voice drives me crazy as well. We had a discussion about it on the forums a few months ago, and the guy most at odds with me offered only John 10:4 as evidence for the view that we do, in fact, need to learn to discern God’s voice. It says: “When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.”.

Now, this is the point where I like to point out that I learned very quickly when I started having theological discussions with others to examine the context of every verse offered to me as proof that my debate opponent is correct. Too often, the verses are used in ways that do not fit the context. Read, at a minimum, the entire chapter that the verse is contained within (many times the last half of the previous chapter or the first half of the next chapter is necessary when the verse given falls close to the beginning or the end of a chapter.)

John 10:4 is the only verse that has been offered to suggest that we need to learn to discern the voice of God. using this verse in this debate quickly raises problems though. First of all, Jesus states that His sheep know his voice, not that they gradually, over the course of time, learn to discern His voice as opposed to the voice of an angel (conveniently presenting himself as an angel of light). It has been my experience that those who put this doctrine into practice in their own lives frequently get things wrong. Now the Bible is crystal clear that God doesn’t get it wrong. If a spirit tells you something that turns out to be wrong, it most certainly wasn’t the Holy Spirit that was speaking to you. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that at this point you have proven yourself a false prophet, even if unto your own self. If God breaks from the norm and decides to speak to you on an issue, He will make certain there is no question who is doing the speaking, see any of the Old Testament prophets for explanation – most, when confronted with the Glory of God, were crushed by their own unworthiness, as opposed to those in the contemporary church presenting themselves as “prophets” who normally wear it as a badge of honor.

The second problem with reading John 10:4 in that way is that it is clearly figurative speech. This is why I am adamant about reading context. My friend was quite upset with me when I insisted that it is figurative, but he had no serious refutation to my claim that it is figurative in light of verse 6: “This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.”

This “voice of God”/”God’s plan” theology is usually taught in fear. People who subscribe to it tend to be afraid of not living up to God’s standard. I hate to break it to them, but that’s the core of the Gospel; we can’t live up to God’s standard. It’s exactly why we need a Savior. Aside from that, it denies the sufficiency of Scripture. This is one I really don’t understand how a Christian can believe. All it takes is one Christian who gets by just fine with the Scriptures to show that it is sufficient, and there have been too many to count over the last 2,000 years. It’s also a strong sign of Spiritual laziness. Along with the idea that we can’t really know what scripture says (a core tenet of the “Emergent/Emerging” church, though also held by some traditional Evangelicals), the followers of this teaching use it as an excuse to not take the time to really learn what the Scriptures say. Really, if the Holy spirit is just filling you in on what you need to know (as they believe), why bother studying Scripture, commentaries, Greek and Hebrew dictionaries, systematic theology books, or anything else that takes real effort.

We’re only accountable to the level of revelation that we have. The up-side is that if the scriptures are insufficient in any area (which I don’t believe), then we aren’t accountable to that insufficiency. The down-side is that we have much more revelation than any believers that came along before the completion of the canon of Scripture. They seemed to get by just fine (those who actually submitted to what they had), I think we’ll do just fine if we do the same with what we have.

Over the course of the 21 months that the forum was up and humming, I had a lot of fun engaging in theological discussions. It made me much sharper than I otherwise would have been. Just looking up verses offered to me was quite a rewarding experience because it gave me the opportunity to put often well-known verses into their proper context, which is so often not done these days. Most Christians would be surprised at how many of the verses they are so familiar with are used incorrectly. I couldn’t do it any more though. Even among personal friends, people get pretty angry when they are shown that they are wrong, and when you use the context of their verses to do so, it makes them even angrier. I couldn’t take the fights any longer, and got to the point where it was embarrassing for outsiders to see what we discussed. Though if I were reasonably certain that the people involved could carry on civilized discussions of a theological matter and not devolve into fighting and flame-wars, I would seriously consider starting up a new forum again, as it can be very rewarding. Of course, it would help to not be personal friends with the other forum members because personal friends are very difficult to ban.

Happy Thanksgiving

Ok, I’m three days late on this, but I just saw/found this:

Switzerland to Provide Uranium to Iran?

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Iran is considering looking to a neutral country, such as Switzerland, to develop nuclear fuel for them. Is this how they wish to give up on a tradition that goes back over 500 years? This strikes me as a way for Iran to seek Uranium through white-market means rather than the usual black-market channels. What is there to prevent them from further refining the uranium once they have it for use in a nuclear bomb?

Seems like Switzerland is losing its senses. They would be far better off telling Iran they would rather not get involved.

Federalist Number 20

The Same Subject Continued
(The Insufficiency fo the Present Confederation to Preserve the Union)

From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, December 11, 1787.

Alexander Hamilton and James Madison

To the People of the State of New York:

THE United Netherlands are a confederacy of republics, or rather of aristocracies of a very remarkable texture, yet confirming all the lessons derived from those which we have already reviewed.

The union is composed of seven coequal and sovereign states, and each state or province is a composition of equal and independent cities. In all important cases, not only the provinces but the cities must be unanimous.

The sovereignty of the Union is represented by the States-General, consisting usually of about fifty deputies appointed by the provinces. They hold their seats, some for life, some for six, three, and one years; from two provinces they continue in appointment during pleasure.

The States-General have authority to enter into treaties and alliances; to make war and peace; to raise armies and equip fleets; to ascertain quotas and demand contributions. In all these cases, however, unanimity and the sanction of their constituents are requisite. They have authority to appoint and receive ambassadors; to execute treaties and alliances already formed; to provide for the collection of duties on imports and exports; to regulate the mint, with a saving to the provincial rights; to govern as sovereigns the dependent territories. The provinces are restrained, unless with the general consent, from entering into foreign treaties; from establishing imposts injurious to others, or charging their neighbors with higher duties than their own subjects. A council of state, a chamber of accounts, with five colleges of admiralty, aid and fortify the federal administration.

The executive magistrate of the union is the stadtholder, who is now an hereditary prince. His principal weight and influence in the republic are derived from this independent title; from his great patrimonial estates; from his family connections with some of the chief potentates of Europe; and, more than all, perhaps, from his being stadtholder in the several provinces, as well as for the union; in which provincial quality he has the appointment of town magistrates under certain regulations, executes provincial decrees, presides when he pleases in the provincial tribunals, and has throughout the power of pardon.

As stadtholder of the union, he has, however, considerable prerogatives.

In his political capacity he has authority to settle disputes between the provinces, when other methods fail; to assist at the deliberations of the States-General, and at their particular conferences; to give audiences to foreign ambassadors, and to keep agents for his particular affairs at foreign courts.

In his military capacity he commands the federal troops, provides for garrisons, and in general regulates military affairs; disposes of all appointments, from colonels to ensigns, and of the governments and posts of fortified towns.

In his marine capacity he is admiral-general, and superintends and directs every thing relative to naval forces and other naval affairs; presides in the admiralties in person or by proxy; appoints lieutenant-admirals and other officers; and establishes councils of war, whose sentences are not executed till he approves them.

His revenue, exclusive of his private income, amounts to three hundred thousand florins. The standing army which he commands consists of about forty thousand men.

Such is the nature of the celebrated Belgic confederacy, as delineated on parchment. What are the characters which practice has stamped upon it? Imbecility in the government; discord among the provinces; foreign influence and indignities; a precarious existence in peace, and peculiar calamities from war.

It was long ago remarked by Grotius, that nothing but the hatred of his countrymen to the house of Austria kept them from being ruined by the vices of their constitution.

The union of Utrecht, says another respectable writer, reposes an authority in the States-General, seemingly sufficient to secure harmony, but the jealousy in each province renders the practice very different from the theory.

The same instrument, says another, obliges each province to levy certain contributions; but this article never could, and probably never will, be executed; because the inland provinces, who have little commerce, cannot pay an equal quota.

In matters of contribution, it is the practice to waive the articles of the constitution. The danger of delay obliges the consenting provinces to furnish their quotas, without waiting for the others; and then to obtain reimbursement from the others, by deputations, which are frequent, or otherwise, as they can. The great wealth and influence of the province of Holland enable her to effect both these purposes.

It has more than once happened, that the deficiencies had to be ultimately collected at the point of the bayonet; a thing practicable, though dreadful, in a confedracy where one of the members exceeds in force all the rest, and where several of them are too small to meditate resistance; but utterly impracticable in one composed of members, several of which are equal to each other in strength and resources, and equal singly to a vigorous and persevering defense.

Foreign ministers, says Sir William Temple, who was himself a foreign minister, elude matters taken ad referendum, by tampering with the provinces and cities. In 1726, the treaty of Hanover was delayed by these means a whole year. Instances of a like nature are numerous and notorious.

In critical emergencies, the States-General are often compelled to overleap their constitutional bounds. In 1688, they concluded a treaty of themselves at the risk of their heads. The treaty of Westphalia, in 1648, by which their independence was formerly and finally recognized, was concluded without the consent of Zealand. Even as recently as the last treaty of peace with Great Britain, the constitutional principle of unanimity was departed from. A weak constitution must necessarily terminate in dissolution, for want of proper powers, or the usurpation of powers requisite for the public safety. Whether the usurpation, when once begun, will stop at the salutary point, or go forward to the dangerous extreme, must depend on the contingencies of the moment. Tyranny has perhaps oftener grown out of the assumptions of power, called for, on pressing exigencies, by a defective constitution, than out of the full exercise of the largest constitutional authorities.

Notwithstanding the calamities produced by the stadtholdership, it has been supposed that without his influence in the individual provinces, the causes of anarchy manifest in the confederacy would long ago have dissolved it. “Under such a government,” says the Abbe Mably, “the Union could never have subsisted, if the provinces had not a spring within themselves, capable of quickening their tardiness, and compelling them to the same way of thinking. This spring is the stadtholder.” It is remarked by Sir William Temple, “that in the intermissions of the stadtholdership, Holland, by her riches and her authority, which drew the others into a sort of dependence, supplied the place.”

These are not the only circumstances which have controlled the tendency to anarchy and dissolution. The surrounding powers impose an absolute necessity of union to a certain degree, at the same time that they nourish by their intrigues the constitutional vices which keep the republic in some degree always at their mercy.

The true patriots have long bewailed the fatal tendency of these vices, and have made no less than four regular experiments by EXTRAORDINARY ASSEMBLIES, convened for the special purpose, to apply a remedy. As many times has their laudable zeal found it impossible to UNITE THE PUBLIC COUNCILS in reforming the known, the acknowledged, the fatal evils of the existing constitution. Let us pause, my fellow-citizens, for one moment, over this melancholy and monitory lesson of history; and with the tear that drops for the calamities brought on mankind by their adverse opinions and selfish passions, let our gratitude mingle an ejaculation to Heaven, for the propitious concord which has distinguished the consultations for our political happiness.

A design was also conceived of establishing a general tax to be administered by the federal authority. This also had its adversaries and failed.

This unhappy people seem to be now suffering from popular convulsions, from dissensions among the states, and from the actual invasion of foreign arms, the crisis of their distiny. All nations have their eyes fixed on the awful spectacle. The first wish prompted by humanity is, that this severe trial may issue in such a revolution of their government as will establish their union, and render it the parent of tranquillity, freedom and happiness: The next, that the asylum under which, we trust, the enjoyment of these blessings will speedily be secured in this country, may receive and console them for the catastrophe of their own.

I make no apology for having dwelt so long on the contemplation of these federal precedents. Experience is the oracle of truth; and where its responses are unequivocal, they ought to be conclusive and sacred. The important truth, which it unequivocally pronounces in the present case, is that a sovereignty over sovereigns, a government over governments, a legislation for communities, as contradistinguished from individuals, as it is a solecism in theory, so in practice it is subversive of the order and ends of civil polity, by substituting VIOLENCE in place of LAW, or the destructive COERCION of the SWORD in place of the mild and salutary COERCION of the MAGISTRACY.

PUBLIUS.

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Ron Paul Donation Surge

Last Monday, Ron Paul got more donations in one day than any other Republican in history. There is a move to do the same today. Be a part of it by donating to the Ron Paul Campaign today here. The goal is to get 10,000 people to donate $100 each, for a total of $1 Million today alone.

Government School Greed

On Tuesday, here in the People’s Republic of Minnesota, 99 school districts asked their residents to allow them to raise their property taxes in order to increase their budgets. This is even after the current and previous Governors have worked hard for “property tax relief.”

I did a little investigating to see what the financial situation is in the school district in which I reside. Fortunately, their levy referendum failed, so I don’t have to feel too bad about doing this a few days too late. According to the districts own publicly available financial report, on page 42, they claim a total district wide expenditure of $200,203,156 for the 2007-2008 school year. On page 140, they claim a total of 15,528 students for the same school year. That brings total, per pupil expenditures to $12, 893.04 district-wide.

On page 59, the district claims student-teacher ratios as follows:

  • 28.7-31.7 for elementary schools
  • 22.2 for middle schools
  • 25.7 for high schools

Taking the smallest of those, the middle schools, that comes to a total expenditure per classroom, per year of $286,225.49!! Again, that’s per classroom, and that’s the smallest number. If you take the largest average classroom in the district, the high end of the elementary schools, it comes to $408,709.37. Outrageous!!!

Where does all that money go? One can only imagine. The district claims in it’s pro-levy propaganda to only spend 4% on administration ($11,449.02 – $16,348.37 per classroom.) On page 141, they attempt to break down the expenditures per student (pupil).However, it should be noted that they only claim $10,553.55 per student – again, where they get this number is anyone’s guess, as the numbers I already outlined give you a $2339.49 per student discrepancy (off to a good start on showing where the money goes, aren’t we?) Anyway, they claim that for every student, 43% of the budget goes to “regular instruction”. I can only surmise that that means his teacher’s salary and benefits, as well as his share of the salaries and benefits of non-regular teachers, like Phy. Ed., music, and art teachers. Considering this only applies to the elementary level, because middle and high schools shuffle kids among regular instructors only, we’ll assume that for the most part we’re only talking about the teachers that a particular student sees on a daily basis, one per elementary kid and one per subject for the rest. That means that the average kid in the elementary schools is costing between $159,113.01 and $175,745.03 just in salaries for teachers for (their words) “regular instruction”.

Let’s look at the middle school level. The average class is costing $123,076.96!! This is the lowest number we’re going to come up with folks. Now, logically, since we are talking about “regular instruction”, that would imply that that is the average teacher’s salary and benefits. Now, you may be saying “hey, the average middle school kid sees 6 teachers in a day.” Yeah, but the average teacher then has 6 classes in a day, so the averages still work out. Is that what teachers make these days? If so, I need to go back to school and get a Masters in Education, because if I can make that much money in a school district in a first-ring suburb of a major metropolitan area, I can only imagine what the teachers in more affluent suburbs make. And they get summers off, as well as two weeks over Christmas, a week in the spring, every government (bank) holiday, and several more days set aside for “workshops” (which they strangely can’t find time to do in the summer). It sounds like a really good gig!!

Back to the subject, we accounted for 43% for salaries and benefits, and 4% for administration, what about the other 53%? They claim 10% (sticking with the lowest cost classroom – the middle school classroom) or $28,622.46 for “pupil support”, whatever that means; 5% or $14,311.23 for “instructional support” (again, whatever that means), and 5% or 14,311.23 for “district support”. We’re up to 73%, and we still haven’t gotten any clear indication where the money is going, other than a ton of money going to pay for the teacher. Every one of these expenditure categories they list should raise red flags, but none more than “Special education.” What does that mean? Am I to believe that out of every average class, $54,382.84 (19%) goes to kids with developmental disabilities? I can only imagine. What’s the percentage of the population that has such disabilities? If it’s 19%, then I am really out of touch with society, because that seems really high to me, as I have a hard time believing that 1 in 5 people need special attention in order to learn.

If I have confused you, I’m not surprised. I’m confused as well. All I could see is that there is an awful lot of money already being poured into my local school district. I have no reason that I live in a school district that is in any way out of the ordinary. In fact, the per-pupil expenditures in the neighboring Hopkins school district is $17,071.91, which is $4,178.87 more!!

I’m glad my property taxes will stay the same, at least for now. The only imaginable reason why they would need more money is because they have no wish to rectify the vast amounts of waste that they already have.

Also, in addition to the levy question, they were asking us to vote for school board members. There were 4 people running, trying to fill 3 seats. If I had known the odds of getting in were so good, I would have run myself and brought some accountability to the school board. In two years, the other three seats will be up, maybe I’ll run then.