Saturday, March 05, 2005

I like Robert Reich--he's a smart guy, committed to making government work for lower and middle class folks. So, I clicked the link with anticipation when I saw the headline that promised his new plan for improving schools. But, here's his plan: undo all property tax school-funding systems and replace them with a national "wealth" tax in which we would pool one-tenth of one percent of our assets and allocate them to school districts based on their size and need with the goal of lowering class size and attracting quality teachers everywhere.


Listing the reasons why this will never happen would take longer than explaining the plan itself, starting with the predictable (and maybe appropriate) public recoil over federalizing the public education systems.

This reminds me of Paul O'Neill's "plan" to fix social security and Medicaid by instituting a new system that would guarantee every American a one million dollar annuity at retirement.

These are serious and intelligent men, living in the real world, right? Aren't there enough possibilities for action here on Earth that they could be working on? I can at least imagine that O'Neill may have hoped that, in the haze of social security options no one likes, his bold solution could gain bi-partisan traction in a thinking-outside-the-box kind of way. He would have been wrong, of course, but still.

But what is Reich's excuse? Is this kind of utopian "planning" ever useful? And how? When was the last time we undertook such a fundamental change, no matter how good an idea it may be? Maybe there are examples of this kind of thing being embraced that I am missing. But right now, I would think Marketplace might want their money back for that effort, and I would like my last 5 minutes back...

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