Politics should be more than just what sounds good

I just wanted to share a quick personal anecdote. At a recent event, someone asked me if I’d signed a petition that was available asking the state of Michigan to devote its budget surplus this year to education. They asked me as if it was self-evident that this is a petition I would want to sign – and indeed, I’m sure spending more money on education would be a good thing. But I didn’t sign the petition, because I immediately had two additional thoughts.

1. Lack of money is not the main reason America’s public schools are struggling. We’ve roughly tripled per-capita funding over the last few decades, and academic achievement has barely budged at all. I rather doubt that simply throwing more money at our public schools would make much of a difference.

Though I’d be happy for the pay raise.

2. But more money would probably help a bit – but what about all the other state programs in which a little money could help a bit? Deciding to spend the money on education would mean deciding not to spend the money on those other programs. Had the person who suggested I sign this petition made any effort to determine if education was really the best thing the state could do with its surplus? Surely not.

All I’m trying to say here is – we should think carefully about our politics, and not just jump on the bandwagon of every apparently good idea.

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2 thoughts on “Politics should be more than just what sounds good

    1. Ya. Unless it’s regarding something you’ve been thinking about for a while.

      Point #2 is the big one I think – I’m probably channeling Henry Hazlitt here, but we need an American public that is trained to consider the effects of proposed legislation on *all* groups, not just on the intended legislative target. If my anonymous someone above had been presented with a petition asking the state *not* to use the surplus to help hospitals, or *not* to use the surplus to fix roads, they probably wouldn’t have signed it. Yet that is effectively what they just said.

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