Monday, March 23, 2015

Blind Search

Do you remember the old joke about the guy who was observed by another combing the ground under the corner street light?  “What are you looking for?”  “I dropped my wallet up the street, and I’m searching for it,” replied the searcher.  “If you dropped it up the street, why are you looking here on the corner?”  “Because it’s dark down there and it’s lighter here.”

Our Legislature, as well as Congress, has spent billions of our tax dollars searching for something yet to be defined.  This is similar to the time of the Crusades when a great deal of effort was devoted to looking for the Holy Grail.  Even though there was great effort to find it, no one knew what it looked like.  Our Congress and Legislature are off on a similar quest before anyone has defined what quality education or securing the border look like.

Almost every politician who comments on it refers to the great need to secure our border before we do anything else.  To my knowledge, not a single politician has yet to tell us how we will know when the border is secure.  The Communists built a great wall separating East Berlin from West Berlin staffed by armed guards who would shoot to kill. And yet, it did not completely secure that border.  Our Lt. Governor’s budget for securing the border appears to be about 800 million dollars.  To me it seems foolish to spend that much money on something not yet defined when there are so many other needs of the state.  

It seems even worse when a good chunk of those tax dollars are being spent sending our state guardsmen to the border, most of whom don’t want to be there, and there is great debate about whether or not they are effective.  It has been pointed out more than once that state guard troops cannot even arrest anyone.  I, along with others, strongly suspect sending our state guard to the border has more to do with burnishing Rick Perry’s image as tough on immigration than it has to do with anything else.  Even the law enforcement officers along the border claim it is pretty much a waste and that the money could better be spent shoring up the local law enforcement or even increasing the number of Department of Public Safety troopers on the border.  

If we are to seek a secure border, it seems to me the politicians owe us taxpayers a definition of what is meant by a secure border.  Does it mean no illegal aliens can cross?  Only a few?  Half as many as have been crossing the border?  If securing the border were defined, at least we could make an informed judgment about whether or not our tax money is being well spent, and when we needed to increase it or decrease it.

Border security is not the only fruitless blind search being undertaken by Texas politicians.  How about the phrase “quality education”?  Everybody is for it. Nobody seems to know what it looks like.  I think the truth is that too many of our elected officials really do not want to engage in the exercise of trying to determine what quality education is.  There are too many, particularly in our Legislature, who still cling to the faint hope that some sort of gimmick or trick could deliver to us a constitutional and adequate public education in our state.  It also seems clear too many of our legislators fear that included in quality education would be adequate pay for teachers, less dependence on testing, and not diverting tax funds from public education to private schools.

Unfortunately, instead of sitting down and mapping out the road to quality education, many of our legislators want to engage in lectures about how it is the fault of parents, how we need merit pay for teachers, how we need better discipline, and how we need school choice.  These same folks appear to ignore the fact our public schools have had more and more responsibility heaped upon them with more and more students coming into the system and less and less financing made available for them.  

Perhaps what we really need is for those of us who vote to spend more time in defining good representatives of the people.

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