William Thien

Communism in The Name of God. On Tax Breaks for Private Education.

Posted on: March 23, 2014

Oh no! Not another communist/socialist redistribution of wealth in the form of a tax break. “Oh yes,” they say, though they may know not what they do. Or do they? Let’s have a look.

This week I entered into a rather heated exchange on the local newspaper’s web site over the issue of tax breaks for Public Education at the K-12 level. Where I reside, there was a discussion about legislation concerning tax breaks for those who send their children to private schools. Like all such programs, tax breaks in this case, this one is nothing other than a redistribution of wealth, a redistribution of wealth indeed for those with children, and at first I wasn’t so skeptical of the idea. Kids are expensive.

But lo and behold, something occurred to me about the idea. Parents already receive a substantial write-off for each and every child they have. Nothing wrong with that really except for the fact that they made the choice themselves and it was nobody’s idea but their own to have the children and nobody else gets the tax break. But that is only an ancillary part of this observation.

OK, so…now that they already get the tax break where I reside, in many areas the parents can also receive a voucher (cash) for sending their children to a private school instead of a public one, something that was fashioned a while back by a former Governor of my state. In fact, if I’m not mistaken the idea was first implemented here where I reside. My state was a sort of laboratory for the idea. It was called “School Choice” I believe, something to that effect. It’s a program that is expanding currently in my state.

So, now not only do you receive a deduction for dependent children, you can also obtain a cash voucher for sending your child to a private school. Hmmmn. Even though I myself am not a parent, I can understand the desire to have more educational choices for your children.

But there is a serious flaw with the entire concept in how it is administered. You are giving the parents a deduction for having the child in the first place, a child that is going to use more educational services, and now you are giving the parents cash as well.

Oh no, but it doesn’t stop there. Now, they want to give parents a tax break for sending their children to private schools on top of all that, or beside it. Maybe they use the vouchers, maybe they don’t.

I can hear somebody singing, “Wooo-hooo, we’re in the money. We’re in the money.” Really?

But whose money is it? I have even had people tell me they time the birth of their children just so that they can take the tax deduction on their income tax that year for their new child. It’s no accident. Children are had just to improve peoples’ tax circumstances, you can be sure. And who can blame them? Like I hear all the time, children are expensive. Tell me about it, I reply. I don’t even have any and I’m paying for them.

The net effect of all this money flowing around, whether it be in the tax code or from wherever is that it artificially drives up the cost of all education because that’s what happens when you put money into any market, it buoys prices. And that is why lobbyists for private education are lobbying our elected officials, to do just what I describe. They want THE MONEY! Thhhhheeeeee Moooooooney, get it? Let’s spell it out in front of the little ones so they don’t hear what we are talking about. The M-O-N-E-Y. Oh yeah, now I get it. It’s about the money, it’s not about religion. Hmn. Maybe they do know what they are doing.

But ultimately, due to the unfair tax code folly that enables all of those tax breaks I’ve described, there is never enough money to pay for the services those people use, use more of because they are having the children and taking the tax breaks. Public education is always scrounging for more money. Private educational institutions shun the needier, special education students and push them back into the public realm, driving the cost for public systems up. I argued those points. All of them. But they don’t care. They are not the conservatives they claim to be.

So not only do private and religious educational institutions often shun the needier students and push them back into public education, which raises the cost of public education, the private institutions are lobbying for more money and getting it, which is also driving up the cost of all education. They say the devil is in the details, but I won’t elaborate on that any more. I think it is rather obvious. Yet, they used to tell us, make us go to war, sacrifice your sons and daughters in wars with “The Godless Communists.” That’s what the war in Vietnam was all about. They used to tell us day in and day out that communism didn’t have a God. What?! Kind of looks like they found one, or many, depending on which type of religious school is taking the cash. Oh yes, now you see that the devil is indeed in the details, don’t you ladies and gentlemen? Yes, I think you do.

So I responded to a number of ignorant people who came out of the tax code darkness whose eyes were filled with ignorance and I did the math. First, we are giving the people a tax break for having the child. Then we are giving them cash to send their child to a private school, and thirdly, we are thinking about giving them a tax break for sending that child to the private school where either they can or can’t use the voucher? It’s insane. It’s criminal. It’s communism.

That is nothing more than tax code nonsense to get people elected and to increase the size of private school enrollment at the same time and it’s all being done on the backs of those with no children and those ineligible for the tax break. It is totally unfair tax policy and foolish to boot as you are giving a tax break to those who are using all of the services in the first place. And you wonder why they keep cutting services?

It is my opinion that offering a tax break for sending your child to a private school is a non-starter (but it passed in the legislature where I reside), a no go in terms of tax ideology for the two primary reasons that those who are using the services should not receive the tax break and it’s one more tax break of three that nobody else is eligible to obtain because it only effects those who have children. It’s totally unfair to those without. It makes tax surrogates, servants indentured permanently by the tax code out of those with no children because the money to cover the cost of those tax breaks comes from those who can’t take the deductions.

Oh, but it doesn’t stop there. Where I reside students also receive a bus ride on the taxpayer to private religious schools, too. Yes, it’s true.

So, not only are we giving the parents several tax breaks, but we are letting that money go to what is often a religious institution, breaking the caveat in the Separation of Church and state clause in The U.S. Constitution. We are paying at substantial taxpayer expense for their ride to break that clause in The U.S. Constitution.

It’s too late to turn back the clock on these matters. The nefarious politician has often ridden into office on just such an issue as taking tax money from some and giving it to others in the form of a tax break, for whatever reason, whether it be the noble one of education or any other. But it’s still wrong.

It’s still communism, it’s just that in the case of private religious schools, it’s something that should have never have happened, because it’s communism in the name of God and they told us communism didn’t have one.

Copyright © William Thien 2014

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