Thursday, June 18, 2015

Mandates - The government made me do it

Doug:
I thought a "mandate" was just an experimental date in college?

David:
Rimshot sound effects.

Perhaps we should just end this blog here?

Seriously, one question the Supreme Court never really clarified was whether or not the government can mandate, or force, citizens to purchase goods from private vendors. The Obamacare decision was a more narrowly tailored ruling that the "fines" were, in fact, taxes, and the law was constitutional on that ground the government can tax to coerce you into purchasing health insurance.  But does this open the window towards other "mandates"?

Doug:
Ah, those kinds of mandates. I don't have a problem with the government requiring all of us to buy health care. After all, that is one thing we will all need. If it isn't mandated, wouldn't there be some people that don't buy it, but will still need it? This make sure that there is money to do it. Isn't this a Republican ideal?

David:
Ah, but the government doesn't require you to buy healthcare. The government has mandated we buy health insurance. The government is forcing you to purchase a product from a large corporation, that then pays other large corporations (hospitals). And then the government forced the insurance companies to offer many extras that most people don't want or need. The government eliminated lower-cost catastrophic care that many young people would have found most useful. But they needed young people to fill the coffers of the corporations since they were losing money on Medicaid and Medicare patients. This is a scheme to redistribute money from the young to older Americans. No, that is not a Republican ideal.

Doug:
The trouble I have with the health care system is that it was married with capitalism. I think that there are two places where I don't want capitalism: education and health care. That creates a strange relationship between the public and these corporations.

David:
Capitalism is where the biggest gains will be made in both of those areas. Business-sponsored charter schools have to meet certain goals to be successful. And success equals children learning. If the kids don't do well (choose whatever measuring stick you desire), the school closes, and the kids go to one where they are successful.

Right now, children are languishing in public schools that have no responsibilities to do well. If children fail, the only ones who pay a price are the children. The teachers don't get fired. The superintendents don't get fired. No one gets fired. That isn't to say there are not good teachers, just that there is no reward or punishment for results. That's the government way.

When a dollar can be made, great things and innovations can, and often do, happen.

Doug:
Every dollar made from education or healthcare is a dollar that goes to neither education nor healthcare.

David:
That's a pretty broad statement. Many companies use the money to improve their products or to create new products to make their services better, for both education and healthcare. Teachers make their money from the education system. I'd say they give quite a bit back. Charter schools that are successful (i.e.: educate children better) can put that money into hiring more teachers, serving more children, and expanding their services. That's what a good educational system should do.

But back to mandates. What if the government mandated you send your child to the closest school, which just happens to be a Christian charter school?

Doug:
The government shouldn't make your children go to a religious school of any kind. There is a separation of church and state, and I think that would apply to schools especially.

David:
So, you do agree that there are government mandates that you would consider especially distasteful. Like forcing your child to go to a school that you don't like.

The Indiana Supreme court has already found that Catholic (and other religious-based) charter schools  can be provided with government money for education.  Since charters are voluntary (parental choice), parents can use the money (vouchers) provided to them to enroll their children anywhere.

It seems we both agree that the government should not be able to mandate where your child goes to school, and tax dollars should be made available to parents to make the choices themselves.

Doug:
If the government is going to use my tax dollars to fund an Islamic school, or Christian school, or Atheist School, then yes, I agree that we shouldn't also have to send our children there. But isn't that an argument against such schools? Taxes should be used to benefit the good of all, and having an intelligent electorate is important.

What happens when many people in your surrounding area decides to put their money behind a school that you don't want to go to? I don't see how this is a viable option. So, mandates should be for everyone. If you want to go to a different school than what the mandate offers, then you'll have to pay for that over and above your taxes. That's called a private school, and you are free to send your kids there. We have one kid that went through the public school system, and one that chose a private school (at 6th grade). But taxes aren't paying for her schooling.

David:
How about this: the state just sends you a check to pay for your child's education, or you deduct the cost from your taxes, and you (as the parent) get to send your child to any accredited school. Let the schools compete for students by providing excellent educations. And let failing, poorly run schools just go bankrupt, like a failing, poorly run company. Children with special needs, or other issues (make up whatever scoring system is needed, like single-parent families, or falling below the poverty line, etc.) get extra money to cover their needs.

Then, we are all funding schools that work, not institutions that don't. And one more government mandate goes away,  which is good for everyone.

Doug:
If you had two schools in an area, wouldn't eventually one win out? I see "bundling" ... go to School X and get a discount on your cable bill. Send 3 kids to School Y and get a discount. Soon, it looks like the phone companies, or the banks... there are only a few left, there is no competition, and therefore no pressure to do well. No, I don't think that is sustainable, for schools or healthcare.

David:
Only one school in a district, no competition, and no pressure to do well?  You've just described the public school system. The advent of charters introduces competition, and as long as a school performs well, it will succeed.

Doug:
I do think a reward system would help for both systems. Good teachers and healthcare providers should be well-paid and celebrated. Bad teachers and doctors should lose their jobs. That is what we should get in exchange for our mandates. Maybe that, and a nice dinner and a movie.

David:
Be careful what you wish for. Currently, malpractice lawsuits protect patients from bad doctors.  I don't think you want teachers to be subjected to a malpractice suit if little Johnnie doesn't get an "A" on his next test. I agree that excellent teachers certainly should have a generous reward system in place.

We both can agree that the ultimate goal is to have a well-educated population, and finding innovative ways to provide more kids with a quality education for the future job market is good for everyone. Along with a nice dinner and a movie!

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