The Washington Post editors, apparently bent on making it too easy for me today, have their chests out over the $10 billion that was spent as a part of the EduJobs bill.
So urgent was the supposed need for Congress to forestall a catastrophic loss of teacher jobs that the House was called back from its summer recess and money looted from the food stamp program. That money is now flowing to the states, but since, for many, the crisis was less dramatic than had been described, local school districts are now looking for creative ways to use the money.
Oh? The "crisis was less dramatic than had been described?" Do tell! And could you maybe be a little sneering in your self-absorbed certainty?
Congress, egged on by its Democratic leaders and the Obama administration, approved $10 billion in new education spending, ostensibly to save hundreds of thousands of imperiled teacher jobs. With schools in session, it's even clearer now than it was then that the numbers were exaggerated and that the measure was in no small part intended to motivate the powerful teachers unions for this fall's midterm elections.
Right! We were told that the money was "ostensibly to save hundreds of thousands of imperiled teacher jobs," but it was really a soaky cash sop to a traditional political coalition. This is the "crisis" that "was much less dramatic than had been described."
So, what to do? Could we maybe loosen up some scrilla to give deserving teachers compensatory raises? No, say the editors! That would be crazy, because it "would be foolish to use these one-time funds for a pay raise that will be baked into all future budgets." So, what, then? The editors suggest that everyone follow in the footsteps of Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and just sit on the money and save it for a rainy day?
Speaking of! Let's check the weather today, shall we?
State and local governments laid off nearly 58,000 teachers in September, the government announced on Friday. The layoffs happened even though some have said the $26 billion bill passed by Congress in August was nothing but a sop for teacher unions.
Progressive economists said Friday that the layoffs would have been much worse without the aid, $10 billion of which was expressly allotted to prevent teacher layoffs.
"What the payroll numbers show is unambiguous: teachers were cut. A lot of them," said Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the progressive Economic Policy Institute. "States should have gotten more fiscal relief to keep this from happening. The job loss was 58,000 jobs in state and local education in September. These are teachers and other education workers who would have been expected to come back after the summer -- or start new jobs -- with the new school year."
Let me repeat! This news was reported on the very same day that the editors of the Washington Post very confidently pooh-poohed the very idea that a teacher lay-off crisis would ever manifest itself. Nice work, boys! You guys have really got your finger on the goddamned pulse.
But let's not "leave it there," because merely pointing out the Post editors' stultifying, comedic ignorance would stop well short of the fun we can have by further explicating the toxic value system that is at work here. Let's note that today, the Washington Post is calling EduJobs a "boondoggle" that "waste taxpayer dollars" on "programs that can't be sustained or policies that don't work" which, translated, means stuff that benefits teachers' unions, who are the devil of the day in the Gospel of the Media Bourgeoisie.
Meanwhile, let's flashback to March of 2009. Back then, the same editors in the same space described the Financial Products division of AIG in these terms: a "monument to corporate greed and irresponsibility," who acted with "recklessness" and exacted a "staggering cost" to taxpayers, for whom the very idea that they might receive gigantic bonuses was "disgusting." So, what was to be done with them?
If fairness and justice were the only considerations, we would join the chorus urging the Obama administration to eliminate the bonuses. Alas, AIG Financial Products still retains tremendous potential to damage the world economy. The firm's remaining $1.6 trillion derivatives portfolio is like one of those delicate, world-destroying time bombs that James Bond used to have to disarm in the movies; the difference here is that the only people who appear to be knowledgeable enough to dismantle the bomb are the ones who built it. Or as the firm's management put it in a recent document, its books "contain a number of complex . . . transactions that are difficult to understand and manage. This is one reason replacing key traders and risk managers would not be practical on a large scale." Translation: Give them the bonuses, or they'll walk out and let Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner try to figure out this mess.
Of course, it may be lost on the editors -- because from time to time they do appear to be very stupid about these matters -- but when they say, "GIVE THEM THE BONUSES," it should be noted that those bonuses came from taxpayers, in the form of bailouts and handouts from the Federal Reserve.
So, to sum up! $10 billion to educators to try to forestall an actual crisis that exists whether the editors of the Washington Post want to believe it or not? A MONSTROUS BOONDOGGLE. Hundreds of billions of dollars worth of handed-over bonuses to the people who destroyed the economy? A WONDERFULLY PRUDENT THING TO DO, BECAUSE WHO WILL HELP TIM GEITHNER?
It's a real pity that the notion that one can only "attract the top talent" with lavish taxpayer-funded bonuses only works in certain fields of endeavor, where they build "monuments to corporate greed" and "world-destroying time bombs."