This is the problem with the media lending so much credibility to the tea party and airing ad nauseam all the nutty things they say. It DEMANDS that any teabagger worth their bag has to ratchet up the craziness to get noticed. And David Harmer wants to be noticed. It wasn't enough to come out against bailouts (even when he's personally benefited from them), that's small potatoes. That's why David Harmer has done the Randians one better and advocated for the abolishment of public schools:
David Harmer, a tea party favorite who is running as a Republican for the U.S. House of Representatives in California's 11th district, is not just in favor of getting rid of the Department of Education. (Something the Maine GOP incorporated into their platform this year.)
No, Harmer wants to eliminate public schools entirely, and turn the clock back two hundred years, to a time when educational opportunities for the poor, African-Americans, women, the disabled, and other groups, were either limited or non-existent.
::facepalm:: Lord save us all. I knew that the Republicans preferred a dumbed-down electorate, the better to voter against their interests, but this is ridiculous. In his 2000 San Francisco Chronicle op-ed, Harmer said this:
Six years ago, I wrote "School Choice," a book making the case for a voucher system. Vouchers give parents consumer power, the financial ability to choose from among competing providers of schooling. Back then, the only voucher system in operation was in Milwaukee, Wis., and the teachers' unions were trying to strangle it.
Since then, the Milwaukee program has been greatly expanded, and numerous voucher programs elsewhere -- both publicly and privately funded -- have proven wildly popular, with demand far exceeding supply. These programs are restricted to the lowest-income students or those trapped in the worst schools. Given the opportunity to put their children into better schools, even disadvantaged parents jump at the chance.
So long as the state Constitution mandates free public schools, a voucher system (or refundable tuition tax credit) is the best we can do. To attain quantum leaps in educational quality and opportunity, however, we need to separate school and state entirely. Government should exit the business of running and funding schools.
This is no utopian ideal; it's the way things worked through the first century of American nationhood, when literacy levels among all classes, at least outside the South, matched or exceeded those prevailing now, and when public discourse and even tabloid content was pitched at what today would be considered a college-level audience.
Of course, with his six-figure severance package, the notion of privatizing schools is but a piddly amount. For those Americans whose household income falls on the poor side of the bell curve? Well, suckers, you just didn't work hard enough and your kids aren't deserving of a decent education. Henry Rollins in Vanity Fair:
With the elimination of public schools, change would come rapidly to America. It would push the country further and faster down a path we’ve been drifting along for at least a few decades. The destination: a two-tiered system of those who are mobile and free and those who are scrambling or otherwise enslaved. Anything else would be wretched socialism, dripping with Darwinian and Jeffersonian sentiments, I guess.
That being the case, you might want to take a real hard look on which side of that line in the sand you find yourself standing. When your country has the greatest annual military budget, the largest prison population, and the most costly and inefficient healthcare delivery system in the world, it’s obvious what its priorities are. Some people fear that there will be less conflict, a decrease of incarcerated citizens, and an increase of healthy ones. And if there’s one thing that’s been proven to counteract conflict, criminal behavior, and poor health, it’s education. If you butter your bread with bullets, convict maintenance, and meds, I can understand your objection to a society full of of healthy, law-abiding, inquiring minds with the power to clog up your blood-splattered revenue streams.
Education is an ultimate equalizer and, for some, should not be spread too liberally, lest too many citizens start demanding more of their government and media. By that I mean annoyances like transparency and accountability. You know, those First Amendment grumblings, the onerous grind of democracy. Ugh.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Republican platform writ large.