Sunday, September 07, 2003

Rights and Reason: Whose Money is It?

The union representing D.C. teachers is up-in-arms after the school board rescinded a 9% pay raise due to budget constraints. Local politicians are falling over each other to defend the union, a major source of political support in the nation's capital. One of the more telling statements of union support came from Adrian Fenty, a member of D.C.'s city council, who suggested the city should abandon efforts to provide private school vouchers to parents (a policy backed by Congress) in favor of reinstating the teachers' raises:
"At a time when the city struggles tremendously to give its public school teachers the pay raises they deserve, I cannot understand why the mayor wants to divert public money to private schools."
What Fenty is saying, essentially, is that the money belongs to the teachers. But "public" money is by definition funds taken from citizens through forcible taxation. The proposed voucher plan would put the disposal of some of those funds in the hands of parents to decide what school is best for their children. Fenty and the union, however, view the confiscated tax dollars as their property, to be disposed of despite the wishes of parents or what's best for their children.

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