Thursday, August 25, 2005

Bus Blues Reprise

This is a re-post from 2003. My sentiment is entirely the same today.

Great gravy, has school resumed already? I've had to stop in traffic, seeing the yellow busses with the railroad crossing-quality warning signals flashing ahead, letting kids on and off.

Every year, I get to thinking about the costs of busing kids to school. This is absolutely not a complaint about desegregation busing. This is a complaint about busing kids at all.

With all of the charges of childhood obesity and poor physical condition, the bus looks like yet another enabler of that condition. Let the kids discover that they have legs, and that those things below the waist do a remarkable job of propelling from A-to-B.

With all of the budgetary shortfalls school administrators endlessly wail about, consider how many more books, computer labs, athletic items, and heck, roof repairs, could be had, if not for the expenditures related to busses:

The bus itself
Fuel for the bus
Maintenance for the bus

A bus barn
Property on which the bus barn sits
Security for these facilities

The salary of the bus driver
Benefits for the bus driver
Matching taxes- social security, workers comp., etc, for the driver
Ditto these three for the maintenance staff
Ditto these three for security

Insurance on the bus itself
On the bus barn
On the property on which the bus barn sits
On the bus driver
On the maintenance staff
On the security

I think of all of the fuel wasted in traffic as cars sit while mommies fuss one last time before the kid gets on the bus. I think of it in terms of lost money and gained pollution. I think of the time lost. I think of the lost opportunity for a nice, brisk, one-mile daily walk in the morning. I think of property released for other uses, generating tax revenues in so many ways. I think of new books, repaired roofs, new tubas, and new athletic gear. Get rid of the busses!

Certainly, the savings would be enough to put one copy Atlas Shrugged in every teacher's lounge, and a copy of The Road to Serfdom on the School Board President's desk.

4 comments:

debbie said...

Now hold on a minute Mike. You're sitting there with your butt in the seat of your car, and complaining about waiting for the buses that the lazy kids are riding in? Why aren't you walking? Or if it's too far to walk, why aren't you biking? ;)

Really, why pick on busing when the real issue is that government spends money on educating kids in the first place? That's what we need to get folks thinking about.

And one of the best things I think all libertarian minded folks can take action on is to do everything they can to keep their kids out of government schools.

Mike Kole said...

I love driving! It gets me from a-to-b quickly! :-)

There is such an entitlement mindset in this country that to show people the endpoint argument is akin to a declaration of war.

Show that the the person who lives paycheck-to-paycheck and has four kids in elementary and middle school, and what conclusion can he draw other than that you want him to go straight to the poor house, or that you hate his children and want them kept ignorant? (I've had this discussion many times.) If private school is $10k/student, our endpoint policy creates an immediate cost to him of $40,000/year. He'll curse the Libertarian Party and be certain to vote against us until his dying day.

By showing the waste in the system, he can begin to understand and agree with places to cut out lock, stock, and barrell. If he can be made to understand cutting out a component service like busing and see that his kids do okay, he may begin to be reachable on the endpoint argument that he should provide for the education of his children, too. This incremental policy costs him nothing. His children continue to be educated, and the propoerty tax bill might even go down. He can gladly vote for Libertarians, and ask his friends to do the same.

As an interesting side note, consider this: While I will most likely home-school my infant daughter myself when the time comes, something about withdrawing from the 'take' side of the transaction illustrates something. It is an assertion that the correct role for the consciencious libertarian is only to participate on the 'payer' side. The money is still being taken from us, without a doubt. Is it really our right place only to pay?

debbie said...

Mike, you said so much in your reply to my comments that I think I need to use my old "message board" way of responding. I hope it's not too unwieldy and long for a blog post. Here goes:

Mike wrote:
There is such an entitlement mindset in this country that to show people the endpoint argument is akin to a declaration of war.

Debbie:
No, it's simply to help educate so people understand the ultimate goal. And it's not as if us mentioning it means it's going to even happen. The point is to help folks understand the principle.

Mike:
Show that the the person who lives paycheck-to-paycheck and has four kids in elementary and middle school, and what conclusion can he draw other than that you want him to go straight to the poor house, or that you hate his children and want them kept ignorant? (I've had this discussion many times.)

Debbie:
You must be thinking of presenting the ideas in a way that I'm not. In a discussion along this manner, I would show folks how they could be in charge of their own children's education. And of course if they aren't sending their money to the government schools, they can keep it and spend it in ways they see fit for their own children.

Mike:
If private school is $10k/student, our endpoint policy creates an immediate cost to him of $40,000/year. He'll curse the Libertarian Party and be certain to vote against us until his dying day.

Debbie:
This is exactly why education of the ideas is so important. Why in the world would we make folks think that no government-funded education means they have to pay $10,000 a year per child? That's just silly because even the government isn't spending that much, at least not yet. ;)

Mike:
By showing the waste in the system, he can begin to understand and agree with places to cut out lock, stock, and barrell. If he can be made to understand cutting out a component service like busing and see that his kids do okay, he may begin to be reachable on the endpoint argument that he should provide for the education of his children, too.

Debbie:
Ah, but when are you going to tell him the endpoint argument? Why hide it? Especially when it all fits into the basic principles.

Mike:
This incremental policy costs him nothing. His children continue to be educated, and the propoerty tax bill might even go down. He can gladly vote for Libertarians, and ask his friends to do the same.

Debbie:
You just complained about the entitlement mindset, so of course this idea is going to cost him something, it's going to mean he has to transport his kids to school when now he doesn't have to bother with that.

Mike:
As an interesting side note, consider this: While I will most likely home-school my infant daughter myself when the time comes, something about withdrawing from the 'take' side of the transaction illustrates something.

Debbie:
I'm so glad to hear that! This is just one of the many discussions to have with someone about education, especially with the cost factor, because homeschooling can be done very, very cheaply. Plus the freedom to educate as you see fit is very, very open in Indiana. We have one of THE best laws in that regard.

Mike:
It is an assertion that the correct role for the consciencious libertarian is only to participate on the 'payer' side. The money is still being taken from us, without a doubt. Is it really our right place only to pay?

Debbie:
The point is, do you want to set yourself up as a leader and show people you mean what you say? That you can indeed survive without government educating your children for you? Do you have the character, integrity and honor to try your best to live your own lives in the manner you are saying is best for freedom? It sounds like you are one of those people if you are considering homeschooling your child, good for you. And your argument about the payer only side doesn't say much to the folks who never have children. They would have to assume that you aren't thinking much about them, who's only place must be to pay because they are certainly not going to get any personal benefit from forced government funding of education for their own non existent kids.

I hope this reads easily enough.

Mike Kole said...

Of course the endpoint must be enunciated. However, it cannot be stated as the only option, or the 'this is what we begin to do tomorrow' option. I have observed so many libertarians bring this argument to average people who just recoil in horror, and then get along to saying things like, "if you Libertarians ever take office, the city will be in flames within a week."

Unfortunately, until you have begun to change the average person's mind a little, you cannot begin to bring him to what looks to him like a very radical position.

Actually, in the Central Indiana area, most school districts spend around $11,000 per student, and more than that where I live in Fishers.

From the Ind. Dept. of Ed. http://www.doe.state.in.us/reed/newsr/2004/01-January/countme010704.html

"In the 2000-01 school year, Indiana spent $8,163 per student, ranking Indiana 12th in the nation in this regard. The national average during the same period was $7,376 per student."

It's gone *way* up since 2001, unfortunately.