Saturday, Aug 30, 2014

Our America: A nation of tax consumers

Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 07:29 PM

If you are a tax consumer on food stamps or Earned Income Tax Credit, or welfare, or a high school dropout, you won't be reading this – even if this were a column in the N.Y. Times. (If you are job hunting, you could be.) The most typical source of analyses of current events for tax consumers is usually snippets of political talking points on mainstream TV.

But you don't read. In fact the Department of Labor reports that America's young people – the President's most ardent supporters – average 7 minutes per weekend day reading. (Reading what? Street signs? Text messages?)

Meet the well-informed 18 year old voter.

Now a switch to a totally nonpartisan comment: internet usage and social media. Twitter is now growing at the rate of 11 accounts per second. The average Twitter time is 23 minutes a day and exploding. According to Pew Research, the average 18 – 24 year old sends or receives 109.5 text messages a day, 99 percent of them are on social media.

Put it this way: The President of the Kaiser Family Foundation says "The amount of time young people spend with media has grown to where it's even more than a full-time work week."

Does anyone read serious commentary? How do people stay informed?

And school-aged kids report getting lower grades. Kaiser also writes that "Black and Hispanic children consume more than 4.5 more hours of media daily" than whites.

Two thirds of the under-30 vote, 95 percent of the Black vote, and an historic number of Latinos – 73 percent – voted for President Obama in this election cycle. A 2012 progress report from the Schott Foundation says that only 58 percent of male Latinos and 52 percent of Blacks graduate from high school in 4 years compared with 78 percent of white non-Latinos. Are they informed citizens, or being manipulated?

Whites are nothing to brag about. Slovenia and Portugal score 96 percent graduation rates. (In fact the top ten OECD countries (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) all score in the nineties.

We have become a nation of underachievers.

Welcome to the new America as it drifts even further left. We are rapidly becoming a nation of the poorly educated and unskilled; which realistically does need a parental nanny state to look after them. I won't bore the reader with the litany of latest OECD education statistics, but suffice it to say, we now rank 25th out of 30 OECD counties just in mathematics, with an average score of 474 well below the OECD average (Even Poland did better). The other metrics are equally as dismal.

I have argued we need a vastly improved education system if we ever hope to stop this drift toward socialism (in particular for the lower socioeconomic groups in Democratic strongholds in the large cities where the teachers unions rule). This will take years. No matter what the politics are in any country, political leaders know they need economic growth to survive in this global economy – not taxes. This requires a highly skilled workforce – which in this new millennium translates into an educational system with a strong STEM curriculum (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

The problem is twofold: dysfunctional families which foster government dependency; and a school system which is a monopoly being run primarily by trade unions. While the Obama administration owes its reelection to the union voter turnout, Democratic leaders at the state and local levels know serious educational reform is necessary – to include vouchers and/or school-based management. Successful graduates are more likely to be successful parents and tax payers – not tax consumers. This cycle of failure has to be addressed.

The Democratic hopeful for candidate for president in the 2008 election who – believe it or not – polled ahead of Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2007 was John Edwards. (We quickly forget). He was so right when he said there are "two Americas" – but for all the wrong reasons. Read his "two Americas" speech – vintage Democratic talking points with applause lines, about the "people who are set for life"…and "people who live paycheck to paycheck" – the weary class warfare stuff – not a word to encourage kids to get an education so they can get beyond living paycheck to paycheck; just bashing Americans who made the right choices to get ahead.

The Census Bureau tells us that Hispanics, Blacks and Asians and other minorities account for 50.4 percent of children born in the U.S. And Texas with the second highest number of Electoral College votes, now has a population of 50.3 percent Hispanic and Blacks, so by 2020 demographers believe that even Texas will be reliably Democratic. In fact the U.S. Hispanic population grew by 43 percent in the past decade.

If this administration prefers an open border policy, they owe these kids an education – a path to self-sufficiency and independence from government support. (Unfortunately, middle-class taxpaying Republicans and the filthy rich will pay for this). California is a good example. Although illegal immigrants paid a hefty $2.4 billion in California taxes in 2010, the state spent $10.5 billion on education, health care and incarceration of illegal immigrants.

An educated young person with marketable skills –white, Black, Latino, or Asian is well on the way to becoming a taxpayer – rather than a tax consumer.

John Reiniers, a regular columnist for Hernando Today, lives in Spring Hill.

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