(To avoid any confusion, I feel compelled to state up front that this is an expression of anger at a general state of mind and the Swiftian “modest proposal” laid out below does not reflect my actual thoughts.)
Education funding is an easy problem to solve.
I know, we always hear what a complicated issue it is in South Dakota and other states.
But it’s not.
I recently had a man make an impassioned argument to me about how it is not his responsibility to fund K-12 education. He doesn’t have kids, and the education of other people’s children is not his concern. It does not benefit him. If other people want to fund education, let them do it, he stated. Just don’t come asking for his tax money.
OK, let’s not ask taxpayers for money to fund education.
Maybe you don’t have kids. Maybe your kids are already through the education system. Maybe you just hate a teacher you had while in school.
It doesn’t matter.
Let’s solve this: No more taxes for school funding.
Many South Dakotans will get their wish of less government-led extraction of the money they worked so hard to earn.
I know some of you will have a problem with this conceit.
You’ll make pleas about how the United States was founded on the ideal of equal opportunity for all, and public education is a fundamental building block to that end. You might talk about how lack of education will lead to higher crime rates, lack of preparedness for the world of work, depression — any number of personal and societal ills.
But first hear me out.
In order to gain on one end, South Dakotans will have to sacrifice on the other.
The trade-off would be that, because we will have made a public pact that children are no longer a communal concern, we will collectively agree that no additional kids will be allowed in our state. Instead of economic austerity, we’ll have youth austerity. We will get rid of the obstetric units in our hospitals. School windows will shutter. Welfare mothers and fathers will eventually disappear.
If our personal prosperity is more important to us than the well-being of our youth and community as a whole, let’s see how far an agreement to focus on that gets us.
Because school funding is a problem that plagues us year after year with no end in sight, why don’t we just agree it isn’t that much of a problem and make it disappear?
If we agree that we are no longer a community, then we will be free to focus on ourselves.
Isn’t that what we really want?