Remember when Edwards insisted that Louisiana needed to keep, if not all, at least part of a sales tax increase to prevent emergent budget deficits? Instead, federal tax law changes made that retained increase superfluous and prompted a historic run of overtaxation.
So, he, his administration, and his allies searched for new justifications behind the tax increase that will hang around the people’s neck and the resultant over-funding government for the next five-and-a-half years. Several versions have come out since: the overflow can replenish the Budget Stabilization Fund and pensions funds, it can go towards capital outlay, and/or it would provide a buffer in case of a national economic downturn (to match the one already underway during Edwards’ term).
Recently, we heard a new one from the man himself, and one historically that has acted as the last refuge of scoundrels: it’s for the children! Yes, whenever government wants to keep its hand in your pocket, if not dig more deeply into your wallet, it holds up our progeny as the alleged beneficiaries that makes any and all spending not just all right, but morally imperative.
Edwards told assembled media reporters at the year’s final news conference of the necessity of keeping the tax increase, in order to shovel it to education at all levels. Note the bait-and-switch: big spenders sold the increase as a way to keep the state from going down the tubes if it didn’t keep up current spending levels. Now Edwards disingenuously touts it as a means to make new commitments.
Note also that Edwards wants to take it from the people and give it education with no questions asked. He demands no accountability from the worst elementary and secondary education system in the country, offering a reward with no strings attached instead of tying it to measures such as improved teacher quality and performance and school quality. He won’t use it as part of a strategy to reshape a bloated higher education system that subsidizes too many institutions chasing too few students (which would require reshaping higher education’s chosen strategy in the first place). Ultimately, his attitude harms children and young adults because it does a worse job of educating the former and makes the latter pay more for less.
If the original sky-is-falling rationale represents version 1.0 of the tale, we’re now up to version 2.3. Shifting explanations don’t obscure the basic fact: these people want more of your money because they want to spend more on a political agenda designed to empower special interests than empowering people by letting them keep more of what they earn.