Raw Meat, Teachers and Supply-Side Economics
Here’s the same disclaimer I always provide when I say something like this – This is not a political argument and I don’t care about your politics. Take them to some other site. I can support what I say here (except for things that are clearly my opinion) as a verifiable fact and I have no opinion at all on specific politicians and no public opinion on any particular political philosophy. So there. (disclaimer #1)
There are almost no real (i.e scholarly, peer-reviewed, respected) supply-side economists left. In fact, if I hadn’t painted myself into a corner by putting that disclaimer in the previous paragraph, I would be comfortable saying that there are none. I believe that the reason for this is that their theories don’t work from an academic perspective. That and the fact that they have also been debunked over and over and over again throughout the course of several generations from a literal perspective.
Supply-side economics, cold fusion and that sixteen foot bong I tried to make one summer belong in the same category – good ideas when you’re stoned and bullshitting with your buddies…or hosting a cable news channel…but generally ineffective in practice nonetheless. I only told you this because I wanted you to know that I know exactly how full of shit I am as I make this supply-side argument about teachers. (disclaimer #2)
I am fully prepared for the teacher contingent to descend upon me with great force and furious anger after I say this, but I really think it needs to be said. Before I do, let me say that I love teachers. Some of my best friends are teachers (maybe not after this)…there’s even a small percentage of my best friends that are black teachers. So I obviously can’t be a racist because some of my best friends are black. I also can’t be a pedagogist (probably not the most accurate word, but it’s the best I could do other than “teacher-hater”) because some of my best friends are teachers (disclaimer #3). And since I have best friends who are black teachers, I am getting mainlined to heaven…I am pretty sure I won’t even have to stop at St. Peter – I’ll just get whisked to the front of the line like the Make a Wish kids at Disney World.
Having said that, teachers are one of the groups that annoy the shit out of me on facebook and google+ and in my email box on a regular basis. There is a veritable stock ticker of pro-teacher quotes running through my life:
- If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job. ~Donald D. Quinn
- Modern cynics and skeptics… see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing. ~John F. Kennedy
- A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others. ~Author Unknown
Okay, we get it…you are selfless and dedicated to your craft, you work hundreds of hours unpaid every year, you buy school supplies with your own money, you are woefully underpaid, you are forced to endure politicians who hate you and apathetic parents who expect you to raise their kids. Despite all the hardships, you somehow soldier on because you are selfless heroes and teaching is your passion. You are so selfless and dedicated that you would starve to death while teaching for free – you love being an educator that much. I promise, I really, really get it…because you won’t shut up about it.
Just for a simple comparison, let’s look at coal miners. Now, maybe it’s because I don’t live in a coal-rich territory, or maybe it’s because I am not friends with enough coal miners on facebook – but coal miners have been getting screwed for over a century. Miserably low pay or getting paid in company store credit rather than money, child labor, hearing loss, black lung and extremely painful death that might manifest itself in a hundred different ways has always been part of a coal miner’s life. Despite this, other than a relatively small public outcry after 25 miners died in the 2010 Massey Energy mine explosion, I have not seen one single piece of propaganda telling me that I should thank a coal miner for making my life what it is today – and frankly, the technological advances that American society have seen over the past 100 years were made possible in large part because science had access to cheap energy. I understand that there are no scientists without teachers – but Joe the Coal Miner did way more to advance my knowledge and available skill sets than Larry Ireland (my high school government teacher) ever did.
Again I promise, I really am especially grateful for every teacher’s contribution to society and I genuinely believe that they are underpaid and deserve much more than they get (disclaimer #4) – but to quote Mr. Pink – “It would seem to me that waitresses [or teachers in this case] are one of the many groups the government fucks in the ass on a regular basis. Look, if you ask me to sign something that says the government shouldn’t do that, I’ll sign it, put it to a vote, I’ll vote for it, but what I won’t do is play ball.”
Seriously, what do you want me to do? Why are you quoting some guy I have never heard of named Louis A. Berman at me? How should I interpret this stuff? Do you want me to pay more property taxes in the hope that it trickles down to the teachers (don’t forget that we’ve established that the supply-side thing doesn’t work)? Do you want me to donate money to the teacher’s unions? Do you want me to write to a governor in a state that I am not registered to vote in and call him a dick? I seriously want to know. Maybe I should email you and tell you that I appreciate you more often? Maybe this one of these “awareness” things? Okay, I am aware already.
The truth is that teachers are paid a living wage. Most teachers would, in fact, quit teaching and find work in another industry before they starved or defaulted on their mortgages. Nearly all of them would do something else before they starved to death trying to get my kid to understand the difference between effect and affect. I believe that they deserve a lot more and I believe that our values as a society are misaligned (disclaimer #5). I simply can’t control the fact that some jagoff will pay thousands every year to watch Tom Brady throw a football while there is no television channel to watch great teachers teach. There is no such channel because watching great teachers teach does not sell beer. So there you go. Teachers are heroes that are abused by American society, but they are annoying self-aggrandizing heroes and I wish they would knock it off.
The truth is, just like in Higglytown, this world is lousy with heroes – defined here as people who have dedicated their lives to get as proficient as they can at something in order to advance society (at least as a secondary or tertiary goal). I honestly believe that I am capable of teaching my children what they need to know in order to succeed in this world. I also believe that I know how to build my own retaining wall or cook my own steak to the proper temperature. Despite this, I prefer the way that the system currently works – I want a professional teacher to teach my children because they are better at it than me. I want a licensed and insured contractor to build my retaining wall for the same reason…and if I am going to spend a substantial chunk of change on a steak, I want it cooked by a professional who has total control over every possible variable that might present itself while preparing said steak. That’s right folks…I did all that yammering about teachers and coal miners and supply-side economists so I could tell you about steak…tomorrow. In the meantime, feel free to take as many swings at my nuts as you feel are appropriate.