Steyn: How Can the Government Afford Our Teachers?

Last week, on a district schools visit, Vice President Joe Biden spoke to the Fourth Grade at Alexander B. Goode Elementary School in York, Pennsylvania:

“Here in this school, your school, you’ve had a lot of teachers who used to work here, but because there’s no money for them in the city, they’re not working. And so what happens is, when that occurs, each of the teachers that stays have more kids to teach. And they don’t get to spend as much time with you as they did when your classes were smaller. We think the federal government in Washington, D.C., should say to the cities and states, look, we’re going to give you some money so that you can hire back all those people. And the way we’re going to do it, we’re going to ask people who have a lot of money to pay just a little bit more in taxes.”

The school laid off these teachers because “there’s no money for them in the city.” York City School District has a $14 million budget deficit, but as Biden points out, Washington, D.C., plans to “give you some money” to hire these teachers back.

But how can Washington, D.C. afford to pay when they’re just as broke themselves? asks Mark Steyn in the Orange County Register.

“Officially, Washington has to return 15,000,000,000,000 dollars just to get back to having nothing at all. And that 15,000,000,000,000 dollars is a very lowball figure that conveniently ignores another $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities that the government, unlike private businesses, is able to keep off the books.”

But as the vice president points out, we’re going to “ask” people who have “a lot of money” to “pay just a little bit more” in taxes. But Steyn asks where these people with a lot of money are.

Back in March, Kevin Williamson at the National Review pointed out that, in order to balance the budget of the United States, you would have to increase the taxes of people earning more than $250,000 a year by $500,000 a year.

“Not only is there “no money in the city” of York, Pennsylvania, and no money in Washington, D.C., there’s no money anywhere else in America – not for spending on the Obama/Biden scale.”

Five years ago, the district had 440 teachers but 295 administrative and support staff. That works out that for every three teachers we “put back in the classroom,” two administrators are hired to fill in the paperwork to access the federal funds to put teachers back in the classroom.

It’s just about possible to foresee, say, Iceland or Ireland getting its spending under control. But, when a nation of 300 million people presumes to determine grade-school hiring and almost everything else through an ever more centralized bureaucracy, you’re setting yourself up for waste on a scale unknown to history, writes Steyn.