A Teachable Moment

Former local teacher union pesident Morty Rosenfeld periodically attempts to make sense of the increasingly senseless world of public education.

The Tax Giveaway

I’ve always been struck by the cruel discrepancy between Americans’ stated reverence for children and the way we actually treat them. Throughout my life I’ve listened to pious platitudes from the left and right of the political spectrum about our obligation to care for our nation’s children, at their most extreme including those in utero. This sanctimony has cloaked the grim reality that almost a quarter of America’s children live in poverty and have very limited opportunities for escape. Add to this reality the fact that many of these children bear the additional burden of belonging to a racial minority and concern for the welfare of children is revealed as one of the lies we tell ourselves about our exceptionalism.

Senate passage of the tax giveaway to the rich has reminded me of our indifference to the welfare of our nation’s children. Forgetting for a moment that over 60 percent of the tax reductions will go to the top 1 percent of incomes, this bill has been designed to gradually financially cripple our government’s ability to provide for the neediest among us. For some of its supporters, the goal is to shrink the size of government by starving it. For most, however, the aim is to destroy America’s frayed social safety net to satisfy a deeply held belief that recipients of these programs are not worthy of receiving their benefits. We saw glimpses of the Republican plan during the debate on the Senate tax bill. Take Senator Grassley’s comments, for example, who asked to justify cutting the estate tax for the super rich found himself blurting out that the rich know what to do with the extra money whereas working people will only spend the money “…on booze, women and movies.” Or Senator Hatch’s exchange with Sherrod Brown, in which fatigue having weakened his internal censor, he talked about how liberals have taught many people to expect the government to take care of them and won’t do anything to help themselves.

Beyond doubt, while this giveaway to the rich will have profoundly negative effects on our country for years to come, potentially inflicting permanent damage to our society, its effects will fall disproportionately on neediest children who will have an even lesser chance at a better life than their parents than they have today.

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