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Live from DNC: Bill Keeps It Short

Did they have snipers on him or something? Plus: Some thoughts on Biden's speech, and poverty.

by
Charlie Martin

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August 27, 2008 - 9:30 am
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8/27 9:15 pm PST

When he’s on a script, you have to say Biden tells a helluva speech.  The bit where he lowered his voice to talk about the poor poor people who needed the government to help them was really effective.

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Continuing my thoughts for a bit.  As I was saying, it really strikes me, when I listen to these speeches, that a lot of what we’re being promised is about what the government is going to do for us.  None of what they want to do for us is undesirable, and I’ve always thought that the “left” makes a really basic mistake (for whatever reason) in assuming that the “right” doesn’t think these things are desirable.  It’s not true.  Free health care for everyone?  Yeah, I’d love it.  Everyone gets to go to college?  Fine idea.  Hell, I like teaching, it would be more chances to teach.

But then… how?  There’s an ad running for AARP’s health care initiative, in which a family talks about how they went bankrupt, paying even just the differential between their mother’s insurance coverage, and the cost of her care for a brain tumor.  I don’t doubt that’s true.  Maybe it would be better to have a governmental single-payer system like the UK?  Well, maybe — except the treatment they give for a brain tumor in the UK is steroids and information on how to compose a will.  The AARP family have their wife and mother, and they’re broke; in Britain they wouldn’t be broke, just bereft.

But oh, we wouldn’t do it that way.  Okay, fine: tell me how you would do it, and what makes that different from all the other tries?

They want to save people from poverty, and I agree that would be wonderful, but how?  As PJ O’Rourke pointed out, it doesn’t appear to be anti-poverty programs; if we just took the amount of money spent to save people from poverty, divided it up among all the people below the poverty line, and sent them a check, they’d have so much money they’d no longer be in poverty.

So why is there still poverty?

They want everyone to have a good education, and I think that’s a fine idea, but how?  Giving them more money doesn’t do it.  As I pointed out with my CORS project piece, places like New York City already have enough money per student; it’s no that they need more money to pay teachers, because they could pay teachers $200,000 a year and still have money left over on the current budgets. Why can’t we pay the teachers enough?  And why is it that it seems the more money per student, the poorer the results?

So why aren’t the schools better?

These are really rhetorical questions.  We know why there’s still poverty: it’s because for every dollar a poor person gets, the intervening layers of government spend close to two dollars.  The New York City schools can’t pay teachers enough because somewhere, somehow, of the $338,000 they pay for a 24-student class, nearly $300,000 is absorbed before they pay the teacher’s salary.

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