Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.
Example #1,000,000,015 showing why government spending doesn’t solve problems.
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Perhaps there is a skosh of hyperbole in the today’s title, but not much. When one looks at the failures of public primary and secondary education in the United States, the average American wants the government “to do something about it!” Perhaps… no, not “perhaps”… the problem is that the “government” has done “too much” about it already.
[Sources: Courtney A. Collins, Reading, Writing, and Regulations: A Survey of the Expanding Federal Role in Elementary and Secondary Education Policy, and Gregory Ferenstein, Why it's never mattered that American schools "lag" behind other countries]
Americans are bombarded with the “fact” that students in America’s primary and secondary schools lag behind other countries. I asked a simple question. When was the last time American schools led all the other nations of the world. The answer was surprising.
“The United States has never ranked at the top of international education tests, since we began comparing countries in 1964, yet has been the dominant economic and innovative force in the world the entire time. Despite this fact, a popular annual education report has once again stoked fears of America’s impending economic mediocrity with fresh stats on how far the U.S. ‘lags’ behind the world in college attainment, pre-school enrollment, and high school graduation.” (From: Ferenstein)
Without drawing a conclusion about the validity of American’s concern about our primary and secondary educational systems, one thing is certain. Demagoguing test results is a favored pastime for politicians. Why is that, ask you? Because, answer I, it provides the excuse to spend, spend, spend.
[From:Collins] “Federal intervention in elementary and secondary education has exploded over the last 50 years, according to a new report for the Mercatus Center (see link above).
“The federal government had little involvement in elementary and secondary education in the United States until 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Originally intended to provide federal funding to schools with high populations of students from low-income families, the ESEA has ballooned into a law more than 20 times its original size, writes Collins. Federal education funding for elementary and secondary education was $6.7 billion in 1964 (in 2013 dollars). By 1966, it was more than $14 billion. In 2010, it was $80 billion.
“As new federal programs have been created over the last half-century, new federal requirements have been imposed on schools:
- The ESEA was amended in 1966 with Title VI, which covered the education of handicapped children. It provided money to states that promised to create plans to expand programs for children with disabilities.
- In 1968, the law was amended to include the Bilingual Education Act, which provided states with funds to create new programs to serve students who were not native English speakers.
- In 1974, the ESEA was expanded to include grants for a number of additional programs, including new funds to teach the metric system in U.S. schools and categorical programs for gifted children, career education and the arts.
- In 1978, these categorical programs multiplied, adding new projects related to youth employment, health education, women’s educational equity and book distribution programs. The ESEA also established new offices, including the Office of Environmental Education and the National Council on Ethnic Heritage Studies.
“The Department of Education also grew during this time, issuing new regulations from year to year. The total number of regulatory constraints (regulations issued by the Department of Education including the words “may not,” “shall,” or “required,” and the like) in 1980 was 2,000. By 2010, it had reached 10,800. All of these requirements, writes Collins, represent the replacement of state and local control with federal educational mandates.”
When one looks at the international test scores, the statistics do sound rather dismal:
- The U.S. ranks 14th in higher education attainment at 42% of 25-34 with a degree, 20 points behind the leader, South Korea.
- The U.S. ranks 26th in early childhood education (69%)
- The U.S. is the 6th worst in terms of high school graduation, with 23% failing to attain a diploma
“However, the report implies that education translates into gainful market skills, an assumption not found in the research. For instance, while Chinese students, on average, have twice the number of instructional hours as Americans, both countries have identical scores on tests of scientific reasoning…In a massive review of research, the Department of Education’s research arm, the Institute for Education Sciences, could not find any evidence that college preparation actually prepared students for college.” (Ferenstein)
So what has all this regulation and massive federal spending accomplished? The answer is either, (a) not much, or (b), it has actually had a deleterious effect. You choose after the following information. Students’ scores in math and reading from 1971 to 2012 have hardly changed. “While 9- and 13-year-old students have performed slightly better during that time, 17-year-olds have performed worse in math and shown no change in reading.” (Collins)
Reread the last paragraph and realize that we are 10.800 regulations and hundreds of billions of dollars down the line since ESEA was passed into law! Study the graph below until rage overtakes you and you decide to stop this insanity with your next vote. This is the kind of nonsense that can only occur in a huge and uncontrollable government – like ours!
I will admit that it is easier to see what doesn’t work than to figure out what does. Here is my answer. Big government = Bad government. Make our government smaller – a lot smaller!