Sunday, March 4, 2007


Many years ago my father got very, very upset about an action the federal government proposed to inaugurate. I had some trouble understanding his irritation. Those were the days when I was a devout liberal and actually believed in the goodness of politicians. On the other hand, many of them were truly caring about the people. People like Proxmire of Wisconsin, Dirksen of Illinois. "What," I asked, "is bothering you so much? What's got your ire up?" "Damn Congress," he stated. "Do you know what they want to do now?" Dad was a confirmed conservative Republican in those days. That translated into "the less government, the better." Visions of an added tax on businesses (he owned a small typesetting firm) swam into my head. "Uh, no. What now?" As a liberal, I felt that the gov needed to do more for the people. "Those (expletive) fools want to supply free milk to our schools!" He was very upset. My world was in a turmoil. What, I thought is wrong with giving free milk to kids who can't afford to buy it? I had bitten. He told me tersely and succintly. "Don't you see what is going to happen? If we allow the federal government to start this, they will take over our schools and we won't be able to control the curriculum nor the actual running of them. Some (expletive) unnamed bureaucrat sitting behind a desk in far off Washington, will be telling us what we should be teaching our kids and who we should let teach them. We'll lose all control over the entire school system." It didn't make sense to me. After all, a half pint of milk a day for poor kids and we'd loose control of our entire school system? What, I wondered made him think anything like that? "Dad," I asked innocently (I was gone, hook, line, sinker, fishing rod) "how can you say that? There are kids whose families can't afford it. It won't cost that much." "It is not the cost. After all, our state will probably supply all that milk (we lived in Wisconsin) It is what will going to happen to our children. Mark my words." Darn it, he was going to land me, too. " That doesn't make sense, Dad. How can a little carton of milk give the feds any control?" "I," he pointed out unarguably, "have lived under more Congresses and Presidents than you have. Take my word for it. The fed government will soon expand that program into supplying money here and there and in critical areas for the schools. Once they've made our schools dependent on tax money, then they will tell us what to teach, how to teach it and when to teach it. The Federal Government is not the friend of the taxpayer. Never believe they are." It has been a number of years since I remembered that conversation. It came to mind while I was talking to a former superintendent of schools. I told him about it. CH, as he preferred to be called, thought for a moment. "Your Dad," he remarked, "would have found an ally in me. Nowadays, neither you, nor I, nor any school board has real control over anything serious in schools. I had to constantly force teachers to follow the Federal "Guidelines" if we were going to get any money from them. It was better when the people could control what schools taught and how students would behave. At least," he pointed out, "we didn't have any Columbines." Ain't it something? The old guys knew what might happen.

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