Property Rights and Parents' Rights at Risk: Bill to expand Endangered Species Act nearly gets passed but for two legislative rules and a few courageous senators; meanwhile, parents' role to teach children gets government interference

TRACKSIDE © by John D’Aloia Jr.

December 17, 2002

"How can we give up freedom today" has been a theme of recent TRACKSIDEs, pointing out the freedom-eroding characteristics of zoning laws, of the power of eminent domain, and of the legislative use of "unanimous consent" motions. When we demand that our cities be zoned, or allow The Clerks to steal land cloaked with the power of eminent domain, we are acknowledging that no modicum of virtue is left in society, that our fellow citizens have no common sense and cannot be trusted to observe the Golden Rule, that we want Nanny government to take care of us.

When we let our elected representatives make a mockery of the legislative process by the use of unanimous consent, we are telling them that we are just as happy with self-serving narrow interest groups playing puppet-master, making legislative decisions, as we are with them doing what the Constitution requires them to do. As Benjamin Franklin might have observed, we give up freedom for whatever security The Clerks and The Guardians deign to give us. If we are going to let the puppet-masters have control, why even pay Congressmen?

Radical environmental special interests in Congress and glory-hungry congressmen nearly slipped a bill through the 107th Congress by means of 11th hour use of unanimous consent in both houses. Two standing legislative rules prevented the bill from becoming law without debate or votes: the House version differed from the Senate version, requiring the Senate to concur with the House changes, and a few courageous senators placed a hold on the final product, preventing it from being brought to the floor.

The bill was S.990. Its provisions included an expansion of the Endangered Species Act by establishing a new "species at risk" category, the authority to seize private property and $50 million per year to implement the provision, the authorization of $150 million a year in grants to environmental extremists and animal rights organizations, the authorization of $25 million in foreign aid for land acquisition, and the authorization for $50 million a year for the conservation of shrubland and grassland that might be habitat for a species at risk, a threatened species, or an endangered species. For students of geography, compute how much of the country is shrublands and grasslands. S.990 would have given the ecofascists new rationale to stomp on private property rights in a broad area of the country.

Education is a way for a large and growing government to erode the freedom of citizens. The duty and obligation of parents to educate their children is a basic and fundamental God-given right, superior to any claim on the part of government. When government attempts to deny that right, it is trampling on freedom. In both Illinois and California, the educrats are claiming, in spite of state laws to the contrary, that the state can prevent parents from homeschooling and can force children into government schools, threatening parents with legal charges and the loss of custody of their children.

The educrats are driven by dollars as much as their zeal to get the children under their ideological control. With schools receiving tax dollars based on the number of students enrolled, the educrats have an incentive to do whatever it takes to increase the number of desks being filled. Yes, Kansas, it could happen here.

Speaking of education, the Kansas Department of Education released a summary of spending on the public school system covering the period 1989 to 2001. Verrrry, verrrry interesting in light of the election campaign hype that more money is the only solution for improving the education of our children. In the 1989-90 school year, there were 409,656 full-time equivalent students enrolled.

The total expenditure, local, state, and federal, was $2.031 billion, equating to an expenditure of $4,960 per student. Twelve years later, in the 2001-02 school year, there were 445,376 FTE students and an expenditure of $3.781 billion, equating to $8,490 spent per student.

The student population peaked at 448,609 in the 1997-98 school year and is now decreasing. The percentage increase in spending per student has varied from 2.77% to 9.06% per year. The increase per year for the last four years has been over 5% a year, well above the rate of inflation, and probably well above the wage increases received by the average Kansan.

Education is not filling data banks with ones and zeros, it is a search for the Truth, the formation of mind and soul to discern right from wrong. It can be achieved without The Guardians control; it can be achieved without bankrupting society.

See you Trackside.


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