lev·y / [lev-ee] 1. an imposing or collecting, as of a tax, by authority or force.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

November 2008 Levies on the Ballot

There will be several local levies on the ballot on Tuesday, November 4.

  • Fire department levies in six townships,
  • Mid-East Career and Technology Center levy,
  • West Muskingum Local School District levy, and
  • Zanesville City School District levy.

If you were free to choose where your hard-earned money goes, would you give to these causes willingly, and would you give as much as they are demanding? If you would be willing to donate your money to these groups, why don’t you give it? Why must you require a levy to give it? A levy simply demands that you give the money upon pain of fine, prison, and/or property confiscation? Must the threat of government force coerce us to give to causes that are important to us, or may we act charitable with our money?

If you would give willingly to these causes, would you force your neighbor to give upon pain of fine, prison, and/or property confiscation? That is, after all, what the levy is all about – not collecting funds from those who would give willingly, but collecting funds from those who would not give willingly to the cause for which the money is levied if they had the free choice. When you vote for a levy, you are using the coercive power of the state to force your neighbor to give to a cause to which he would not give willingly. Yes – that would include your neighbor who just lost his job. Yes – that would include your neighbor who just checked his wife into the hospital with terminal cancer and is struggling to pay for it. Yes – that would include your neighbor whose husband just left her with three kids. Yes – that would include your neighbor who sacrifices to send their children to private school. Would you threaten them with fine and prison if they don’t cough up the wealth that these levies would demand from them? Where is our compassion and sense of decency, that we would sacrifice the liberty of our friends and neighbors and use the power of the state to coerce money from others?

Ohioans are having hard times. The unemployment lines are growing. Only the bureaucrats think we can afford a few more taxes. The parasites think that they need your money more than you do. They must exploit your apathy to squeeze your money from you. Or, they must exploit your guilt (after all, these levies are “for the children!”). Please be liberated from the guilt-trip by sending a check to the school of your choice. If you want to support Mid-East Career and Tech Center, then sign up for a few classes during the weekends. You don’t have to vote for a levy to help educate the next generation. It may be that the best way for money to be spent on educating youth is if it is spent by parents. Isn’t that a grand idea? Let parents spend their own money on their own children. Be free, and let others be free. Vote NO on levies.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Dr. Patrick Johnston's letter to Ohio Governor Ted Strickland re: public education

July 7, 2008

To Governor Ted Strickland
Ohio Statehouse
Columbus, Ohio

Dear Governor,

Last week you made a call to the state to give fresh ideas for the improvement of education in the state of Ohio. Several years ago I founded the Alliance to Reform Education funding, which website is www.StopSchoolLevies.org, and which had the mission to improve the cost efficiency and moral and intellectual quality of education by promoting competition in education and parental control in the cost and curriculum of their own child’s education.

I think the time is ripe for such an approach in education. This will be a very courageous approach for you, but I believe very politically profitable. In short, there are no losers with our plan. First, the present dire predicament: as you are well aware,

First, from a financial perspective, we are spending more money on public education with a worsening outcome of poor educational achievement compared to private-educated counterparts. In Zanesville, where I practice medicine, the cost of public education is over $9,500 annually – more than a year of tuition at OSU! Private education in Zanesville, by comparison, is half the cost. Privatizing education would introduce competition into the equation, and dramatically reduce the cost and dramatically improve the quality. No educators would get paid more than free parents thought they were worth. Bloated, inefficient systems would have to slim down and improve quality to compete on a level playing field.

Second, we must address the intellectual deficiencies in the present system. We spend more per capita than any other industrialized nation, and we rank last or next to last in intellectual achievement. With the best teachers in the world, why is this? I believe that it is the policies of the educational bureaucracy are partly to blame. I have spoken to many teachers who complain that they are being forced to teach tests instead of educating them as they were trained to do. Teachers are constrained by policies that are harmful to their ability to keep discipline in class, enforce homework requirements, and teach students what they need to know to be proficient. Parental choice would eliminate the foolish policies of the educational bureaucracy that are harming our children’s potential, such as the policy of passing students to the next grade in spite of failing the previous grade.

Let us also address the moral dilemma of public education. Many people, such as my family, oppose many things that are being taught by the government-controlled educational system. We, and many others, home-educate our children or send them to private schools for this reason. Yet we still bear the financial burden of the government educational bureaucracy. Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” The educational bureaucracy does not share our morals, nor the morals of most Ohioans with regard to the teaching of origins, prayer in school, Bible reading in school, and a sex education curriculum that justifies sinful behavior and encourages the distribution of condoms and oral contraceptives, etc.

Teaching intelligent design, prayer in school, and condemning sexual behavior as most Ohio parents would prefer would be the democratic alternative, but it is difficult with the prevalent notion that the “separation of church and state” only allows humanistic and/or atheistic approaches to these moral dilemmas. This would be completely remedied by a separation of school and state. If parents want to pay for a humanistic/atheistic education for their children, where they are taught that time and random chance are sufficient causes for all of life, where they are given condoms and taught that homosexuality and fornication are acceptable forms of expression, then they alone would bear the financial burden for it. Privatizing education is the best way to deal with this moral dilemma while respecting parental rights to manage the education of their own children and taxpayer rights to be good stewards of their own wealth. Competition makes for better burgers, better beauticians, better bowling alleys – it’ll make for a better education, morally and intellectually, for Ohio’s children as well. Monopolies only benefit the powerful; competition benefits the consumer (the taxpayers and the children).

The best argument against a separation of school and state is that the poorest among us would not be adequately educated. First, more parents could afford private education than we realize; recall that the cost of public education in the state of Ohio is approximately double the cost of private education. Eighty percent of home-educators, who outperform their public-school counterparts on standardized tests, spend less than $599 annually. However, some poorer families clearly benefit more from government-financed education than they would benefit from dramatically reduced taxation that would result from privatizing education; our plan responds to this dilemma by removing the state from the equation and letting local businesses and free Ohioans invest into local education by giving scholarships to local students whose parents cannot afford to educate their children. Those scholarships would go to the school of the benefactors’ or business’ choice in lieu of relief of the property taxation that is so draining on their profits. It is highly unlikely that Zanesville businesses would continue to give $9,500 annually per Zanesville student per year when they too often get an illiterate workforce as a result, when private education is less than half the cost and produces a better outcome. The portion of private property taxes that go toward the government-controlled educational system would be completely eliminated, which would be an incredible boost, as you can imagine, to our weak economy. The cost of private education would continue to come down over the next several years as more and more educators abandoned the state-controlled bureaucracy to compete in the private sector for the opportunity to educate the community’s children.

Please contact me if you would like to talk further about our plan to privatize education, or visit our website www.StopSchoolLevies.org, or the website of the Alliance for the Separation of School & State.

Respectfully submitted,

Patrick Johnston, D.O.