Saturday, 13 April 2013

When You Need a Hegan-kid

You can lay out the scene.

Teacher has opened up class....fourth grade kids.  Just about anything the teacher says....is considered gospel.

So homework is dispensed one day.  The take-home project?  The project is a written piece where the student describes that he is willing to give up some of his or her Constitutional Rights, to gain a safer or more secure situation in life.  It was part of the teacher's civics class.

Most parents, upon finding something like this....would ask some stupid questions.  So the first parent to stumble across this....in Florida....asked for the intention of the class....the curriculum.    Now this starts to become interesting.  The idea was to get kids to prioritize which rights they were willing put emphasize on, and which they could just toss if necessary.

Where did this come from?  Well...likely from the framers of the Constitution back in the 1770s period, where they put a numerical value on each right, and once you hit 66 on a numerical value....you were maxed out on rights.  If you were looking for such stupidity.....it doesn't exist and none of the framers would have done such a thing unless they'd been in a drunken stupor.

The school board?  Well....they eventually came back this week to explain their logic....that kids needed to broaden their horizons.

I'm only guessing here, but if someone can corner the school board and ask them point-blank questions....it might get interesting   Would they be willing to give up their Constitutional Right to vanilla ice cream?  Would they be willing to give up their Constitutional Right to gaze upon tube-topped women?  Would they be willing to give up their Constitutional Right to red ink pens?  Would they be willing to give up their Constitutional Right to have fries with the burger?  One or two of the board folks might have a laugh at that point.

But let's make this even more interesting.....asking them to list the Bill of Rights.  There's only ten to it.  It ought to be easy to recite.  I'm betting they don't get past five rights.

If this is all about prioritizing things....then lets go one better.  You have three choices: (1) go borrow $80k to get a degree in French literature, (2) charge $50k on your credit card and make $1,000 monthly payments just to stay stable, or (3) stay in your dad's basement for the rest of your life while he gives you $40 a week pocket money and you drink from his private stock of buttermilk and beer.  Which makes more sense?  The right answer?  None of them.

The right answer for the teacher's project?  None of the rights are up to give you a safer world.  And a counter question to the teacher.....how will they protect you from an unsafe world?  I don't think they'd like to answer that.

All you need in today's school world....is one smart-ass kid (from the age I grew up....this Hegan-kid).  The teacher would sit there and pose some stupidity, and the Hegan would just raise his hand and ask if this was true or bogus.  By the time this kid was 14, they should have just handed him a graduation slip and let him out the back door.....he just wasn't in the same league and the teachers were looking more and more like idiots.  Florida is in need of a few Hegans.  I'm pretty sure he would have pulled out his own personal copy of the Constitution and noted for the teacher that these just weren't prioritized.

Sadly, I just can't make this stuff up.

This Rainwater Tax Episode

So here is the episode.  The EPA came out and said it was all terrible in the water run-off that went into the Chesapeake Bay from Maryland.  This was destroying the bay.  So the contraption that was worked out to the total agreement of the EPA (a federal device, remember)....was that Maryland would create a state rainwater tax.

So the way this works.....you own a house, and it has either seepage plus or run-off minus.  You add up the roof, then the driveway, the garage, and the various solid areas.  How much is the tax?  Well....in this case, it works backwards.  The political folks added up what it'd take to make the EPA happy, and roughly $15 billion was the number.  So the ten biggest counties in Maryland are supposed to figure out the square footage, and then deliver a bill for you to pay.

How would you avoid the tax?  Well....you could start by ripping up your driveway and just making it dirt.  Never mind the $12k that you paid for asphalt back fifteen years ago.  You could yank up the concrete patio on the rear of the house.  You could arrange rainwater barrels to catch all the water off your roof (like the Germans do).

Course, Maryland would still have to collect the $15 billion, so they'd have to double-up the tax within a year or two after you make your advantages known.

The other side of the episode?  Well....parking lots for malls, casinos, and office buildings will be the biggest contributor to the $15 billion fund.  So they will all have to insert more costs into their operations.    Cheaper goods in Virginia?  Yes.  Cheaper gas in Virginia?  Yes.  Cheaper tennis shoes at the malls in Virginia?  Yes.

After a while, folks will figure out the cost angle and mostly shop out of state.  The $15 billion tag?  It'll just become more diversified.  Eventually....the paving industry in Maryland will complain that they have little if any business.

All of this....because the EPA was upset about how rainwater rain into the bay.  Living in a civilized world cost a lot.  You might eventually agree that moving to a uncivilized state....like West Virginia....might be a wise financial idea.