Government Funding Equals Government Control

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A blogger I follow bemoans a budget crisis facing a government school in her state:

Chicago State University ... is about to close because the state's incredibly corrupt and lazy governor is refusing to let Illinois have a budget.

Something is deeply wrong when in a putative democracy a single individual can inflict such a terrible damage on an entire state out of sheer malice.
I agree with the last sentence, but probably not on the cause or the solution. Schools, parks, libraries, and many of the other institutions of civil society that the government has improperly co-opted regularly fall prey to political squabbling over budgets.

I don't wish to pick on this individual, since this is a widespread kind of complaint. (Focusing on personalities in such events is also common.) I think that such complaints stem from the fact that so many Americans have, for so long, forgotten the healthy skepticism of intrusive government possessed by our Founders. Instead, most people fall prey to what I call the "dictator fantasy". That is, on top of missing the theft -- so common as to seem "normal" -- that a favorite government scheme requires, they half-benevolently and half-naïvely imagine only what they would do were they in charge. Perhaps one of the first things one should ask oneself of any government scheme is this: "What would someone I detest and completely disagree with do if he were in power?" Perhaps, if more people did this, they would see the wisdom of keeping the government out of a given sphere, much as religious people did when they decided to keep religion and state separated, rightly fearing state designation as heretics.

Whether Thomas Jefferson said it or not, it is true that, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take away everything that you have." In a capitalist society, it would be relatively easy to continue one's education in the face of one's school closing. (Among other things, a lack government-subsidized competition would allow more schools, privately-run, to exist.) The problem isn't that some state has a [fill in whatever deficiency you want] governor; It's that this state has put so many things under the thumb of its governor.

-- CAV

Updates

Today: Inserted omitted word ("with") in suggested question regarding government schemes. 

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Gus:

I just finished reading the blogger Clarissa you linked to regarding government funding of Illinois colleges and universities. Unfortunately, Clarissa does not know what she is talking about. As a longtime Illinois resident(I would have left long ago if it were not for a chronically ill parent), Governor Rauner is dealing with an entrenched political establishment which has caused Illinois' bankruptcy. What state can boast of having not one but two sitting governors put in prison for corruption?!? Keep in mind this has occurred within the last ten to fifteen years.

There's been so much rent seeking, especially with the government pension plans which has ruined Illinois, a once prosperous state. The Governor is not corrupt or lazy. The reason why there isn't a budget is because the state legislature, controlled by a man named Michael Madigan, wants to maintain the status quo. Madigan has turned Illinois into his own fiefdom.

Chicago State University is one of most incompetently ran universities in the state. They are the only state school with serious budget problems. My mother had the misfortune of taking a couple of courses there with professors who rarely showed up to class; and a Bursars office that held her transcripts hostage because their ineptly maintained records showed she did not pay her tuition bill. She showed them the receipt, to which they still didn't believe her. After raising hell(which no one would want to see, trust me;)), they gave her her transcripts.

I agree that government should get out of funding public schooling from k-12 through the university system. As a substitute teacher, I have painful knowledge of the crappiness of primary education. Clarissa is representative of a lot of Illinois residents when it comes to politics. I call it a massive blind spot due to an inability to think in principles. So they'll vote for the same people who are making our lives miserable. This is a one party democratic state such as California, New York, New Jersey. Governor Rauner is a Republican. He will always be seen as the problem for the Governor already knows this. Hence why he is not budging. I support him 100% because he knows the state's finances are a disaster. I do not plan on raising a family in this state. I want out, and fast.

Bookish Babe

Borrow919 said...

You wrote
"Perhaps one of the first things one should ask oneself of any government scheme is this: "What would someone I detest and completely disagree do if he were in power?" Perhaps, if more people did this, they would see the wisdom of keeping the government out of a given sphere, much as religious people did when they decided to keep religion and state separated, rightly fearing state designation as heretics."

A brilliant observation on your part. Now I think I should conduct a social experiment, asking this question to see what kind of replies I get.

Gus Van Horn said...

BB,

I always appreciate your comments, but it is also good to hear from someone who has much better knowledge than I of what, exactly, is going on there. Thanks for taking the time to discuss the particulars of this situation.

Borrow,

I'm glad you like the idea. If you get any particularly interesting results, please do share them here.

Thnaks,

Gus

Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

Back in the late 1970s a Reverend Edmund Opitz was speaking at a seminar put on by the Foundation for Economic Education. At the time, I was a practicing and devout Xtian and did not cavil at the union of capitalism and Xtianity. However, one statement that he made has outlasted my change of mind and very closely mirrors your point.

"Never advocate political power for your friends that you would fear in the hands of your worst enemy."

c andrew

Gus Van Horn said...

C.,

Thanks for the quote: I like it better than how I put it.

Gus