Archive for the ‘taxation’ Tag

Fees for Imaginary Textbooks   1 comment

Dear Principal Kelly and School Board,
I recently received a student fees bill.  I’m not sure why I got it now, since we paid $44 on the first day of school. I have a bill of $200 on top of the $44 we already paid.
I’m writing to ask for an explanation of why we pay huge property taxes which fund our schools, plus schools collect state funds, plus schools collect (just a little, I know) federal monies for our schools, and we supposedly have legislated “free public education” in Utah, yet we have large school fees.
Why do we have to pay to use our tax-funded school?
Students must even pay for the privilege of using a locker?
They must pay for many of the individual classes.
The biggest insult is that we are to pay textbook rental fees of $30 per student when there are no textbooks.  It makes no sense to pay for the use of imaginary textbooks.
My child has not had a single textbook authorized for her.  Most of her classes don’t even have textbooks.  I really wish they did, especially in math.  She can, if she begs, check a history book out and borrow it.  But only for that one class.
We have employment.  I am not asking for a waiver.  I am asking for a fair explanation.
I will make one more suggestion:  make the school board an unpaid position.  If I were a board member, I would consider it an honor to serve.
There are many tens of thousands of dollars going out to pay the board, dollars that could be spent on textbooks and lockers for the kids.
Thank you.
Christel Swasey

Free Preschool Would Hurt Utah Families and At-Risk Children   Leave a comment

Dear Utah Leaders,
I am writing to ask you not to promote the government-run preschool bill further.  This preschool issue is keeping me up at night.  Literally.
Why?  I think about the borderline-poor moms –as I have often been– who will say, “Well, preschool is free, so I guess I better put my baby in the preschool and go make money.”  It makes my heart ache.  That is no kindly favor from the government.  That is a temptation that most parents will not choose to resist.
It will push them to leave their children to go to work.
I am praying that you will take the time to listen further to Jonas Himmelstrand http://www.mireja.org/articles.lasso  and to analyze how Sweden went from good, helpful intentions (based on someone’s version of research, as always) –to a point where parents are being disenfranchised from children via the “helpfulness” of the government.
I’ve been reading “A Patriot’s History of the United States.”  Great book.  I read that when the U.S. government decided to give money to single mothers, long ago, to be helpful, guess what happened?  People stopped getting married, of course.  So children went fatherless, literally, because of the “helpfulness” of the government; the temptation for that money was too great for people to resist.  And it mostly impacted black families, who were economically more disadvantaged. It perpetuated the cycle of trouble for black families; fatherlessness led to children growing up troubled and in jail; more single moms, more fatherless kids, more poverty.  No help at all.
I’ve also been in contact with Jonas Himmelstrand.  His writings ring true.  They make sense. They are profoundly different than the studies and reasoning that is bringing Utah legislators to consider adding free government preschool for at-risk children.
I appreciate that the government has good intentions.  But if they are not based on correct principles (limiting the involvement of government, rather than increasing it) the intentions will backfire; it is only a question of how long it takes to backfire.
Putting at-risk babies in government preschools is not a good idea.  Those families need strengthening, but not by being tempted to separate from those with whom they need the strong attachment bonds.
Encourage mothers to stay at home with their children.  Don’t tempt them to go to work and drop off their kids.  Could you use the money to create jobs for moms that they can perform from home, instead?  Could you use the money to pay grandmothers to do the daycare if the moms have to work, at least?  I’m sure there are solutions other than creating Swedish-styled free government preschool.
Christel Swasey
Heber City
–  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –
So, after doing more reading today, I wrote the legislators another letter on the subject:

Dear Legislators,

The following research sharply contradicts the research that has previously been presented in the Legislative Education Interim Committee meeting regarding the wisdom of providing early preschool for at-risk children.

While there is little debate about whether academic performance is enhanced for preschool attendees generally, it is found that behavioral problems, self-control problems, motor skill trouble, aggression, illness, worse parent-child relationships, and other disadvantages arise from early preschool attendance.

We must not assume the proposed Utah preschool bill is good in the short or long term, especially not for at-risk children.

Jonas Himmelstrand of Sweden, who provided me with the research, is an international consultant, speaker and author.  He has consulted for the 2011 EU Child Wellbeing Workshop in Brussels, the 2011 UN World Expert Group Meeting in New York, the Institute of Marriage and Family in Canada, the Hungarian Presidency Conference, the Conferenza Famiglia in Italy, the FamilyPlatform Conference in Lisbon, and the Forum Europeen de Femmes in Brussels.  He is also the chairman of the board of the world’s global home education conference. He suggested that I share this research with you.
In Himmelstrand’s presentation with the UN Expert Group Meeting, arranged by United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs in 2011, he spoke about Assessing Family Policies: Confronting family poverty and social exclusion & Ensuring work family balance.
Himmelstrand finds that Swedish children do not suffer from material poverty but from emotional poverty, attributed to too much separation from parents at too early an age.
His charts on the envisioned outcomes versus the actual outcomes of the Swedish model are astonishing.  The envisioned model planned to increase academic success, to even out social class differences, and to liberate mothers, for example.  The actual model resulted in serious discipline problems in school, national school rating –going from top to average in 30 years– plummeting quality in day care, high rates of sick leave, especially among women; deteriorating psychological health in youth, and deteriorating parental abilities, even in the middle class.
See pages 2 through 4:
He also directed me to the research done by others on this subject:

  Does Prekindergarten Improve School Preparation and Performance?

Katherine A. Magnuson, Christopher J. Ruhm, Jane Waldfogel

NBER Working Paper No. 10452 Issued in April 2004 NBER Program(s):   CHED

Prekindergarten programs are expanding rapidly, but to date, evidence on their effects is quite limited. Using rich data from Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, we estimate the effects of prekindergarten on children’s school readiness. We find that prekindergarten increases reading and mathematics skills at school entry, but also increases behavioral problems and reduces self-control. Furthermore, the effects of prekindergarten on skills largely dissipate by the spring of first grade, although the behavioral effects do not. Finally, effects differ depending on children’s family background and subsequent schooling, with the largest and most lasting academic gains for disadvantaged children and those attending schools with low levels of academic instruction.
http://www.nber.org/papers/w10452  Full text

  Universal Childcare, Maternal Labor Supply, and Family Well-Being

Michael Baker, Jonathan Gruber, Kevin Milligan

NBER Working Paper No. 11832 Issued in December 2005 NBER Program(s):   CHPE

The growing labor force participation of women with small children in both the U.S. and Canada has led to calls for increased public financing for childcare. The optimality of public financing depends on a host of factors, such as the “crowd-out” of existing childcare arrangements, the impact on female labor supply, and the effects on child well-being. The introduction of universal, highly-subsidized childcare in Quebec in the late 1990s provides an opportunity to address these issues. We carefully analyze the impacts of Quebec’s “$5 per day childcare” program on childcare utilization, labor supply, and child (and parent) outcomes in two parent families. We find strong evidence of a shift into new childcare use, although approximately one third of the newly reported use appears to come from women who previously worked and had informal arrangements. The labor supply impact is highly significant, and our measured elasticity of 0.236 is slightly smaller than previous credible estimates. Finally, we uncover striking evidence that children are worse off in a variety of behavioral and health dimensions, ranging from aggression to motor-social skills to illness. Our analysis also suggests that the new childcare program led to more hostile, less consistent parenting, worse parental health, and lower-quality parental relationships.
http://www.nber.org/papers/w11832 – Full text

Finally, Himmelstrand directs us to study the findings of the Canadian Institute of Marriage and Family.

This research includes a psychological explanation of why early formal learning is harmful to children, and offers some public policy advice: http://www.imfcanada.org/issues/nurturing-children-why-early-learning-does-not-help

The Institute says:

There are some elements of public policy being discussed that would help undo the damage of current trends. Family income splitting allows parents to share their income and pay a lower tax burden. More money in parents’ pockets always means more choices. While the federal Conservatives made this a policy plank in the last election, they watered it down by saying they’d only institute family taxation when the books were balanced, possibly in 2015. Ending the preferential treatment of non-parental care by funding families themselves would make a dramatic difference.

For Dr. Neufeld, the capacity for healthy relationships is meant to unfold in the first six years of life. “It’s a very basic agenda,” he says. “By the fifth year of life if everything is continuous and safe then emotional intimacy begins. A child gives his heart to whomever he is attached to and that is an incredibly important part….The first issue is always to establish strong, deep emotional connections with those who are raising you. And that should be our emphasis in society. If we did this, we would send our children to school late, not early.”

 I hope this is helpful to you.
Christel Swasey
Heber City

Should Mothers, or the State, Raise Children?   Leave a comment

I sent this letter today,  because today, in the Utah Legislative Education Committee meeting, they are planning to vote on  “high-quality preschool.”   Hmm.  Does government-provided love turn out better than the parental kind?   My research led me to sign the petition of support for reclaiming educational freedom in Sweden, here.   http://www.rohus.org/eng_petition.html     
 
Dear Senator Osmond,
Yesterday I saw the attached 6-minute video about Swedish families fleeing Sweden.  Swedish government has taken on the role of “real parent,” mandating government schools and forbidding home school under any circumstance, since 2010.
So what?  Why am sending you this link?
  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2YAD49NQ54&feature=player_embedded  (6 min)
Something else in the video caught my attention: the Swedish government wants children as young as 12 months old in day care.

Senator, the idea of paying for all-day preschool here in Utah is a step toward the very same socialism that is destroying Sweden, the country of my mother’s birth. What begins as a good intention shifts into a family-damaging government mandate.  It starts off as “all children deserve” and soon becomes “all children must.”  There goes freedom. There goes parental authority over the child, given to the state.  As the end of the video shows, Swedish mental health and the quality of education on the whole is dropping dramatically, despite so much money being spent on socialized education.

I am asking you not to support the redistribution of wealth in this or any other manner.  It will have the effect of taking children from their mothers.  Government does not have that right.
The first two minutes, especially, of this associated Swedish education-issues video, are also very worthwhile:
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xpjiqx_jonas-himmelstrand-interview-march-4th-2012-sligo-ireland_news (25 min. interview with Swede Jonas Himmelstrand, whose goal is to make public the knowledge about the powerful potential of close relationships built in early childhood; and having mothers, not the state, raise the children)
Christel Swasey
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Here are a few more thoughts on why it’s wrong to take taxpayers’ money to pay for government preschools.  (This has happened in Sweden but it’s right now–today— the topic of the Utah legislative education committee’s discussion.)
1.  It’s a socialist idea.  It will have the same future consequences of other socialist agendas– collective, unmanageable costs/debts, family authority put into submission to big government interventions, and the growth of bureaucracy/taxation without long-term compensating results to show for it.

2. Even if it starts off only for poor or disadvantaged children, it is unlikely to remain so.  The bar of “economically disadvantaged” historically keeps moving until, in the name of equality, it’s free for everyone.  Similarly, part-time will quickly shift to full-time, and voluntary to mandatory.  Socialism and its branches aim to serve all with perfect equality.
3.  We waste tax money on programs that don’t work.  The solution might be to get rid of so much bureaucracy rather than adding more layers of it.  Utah could give both the responsibilities and the tax money back to the people it came from, rather than playing Kings and Peasants with the money and the mandates.
4. Regardless of troubling statistics about dropouts and achievement gaps, it’s a false assumption that more government supervision and more money gambled on new theories are the best solution. ( And what right does the state government have to push this?  –This is not a rhetorical question.)
5. High-quality preschools and government do not go together. The government should get out of the business of preschools, period. It is not appropriate for a U.S. state, that believes in free enterprise and individual responsibility, to meddle with that free enterprise and create socialism just like Sweden’s, or other countries’, by putting itself between taxpayers and private/public preschools.
    6. The state is literally going to tempt the middle class to feign poverty or other at-risk problems to get “free” daycare.  The state is also going to tempt mothers to drop children in the preschool to to to work because, as everybody knows, being a stay at home mom is the hardest job on earth.   And  “voluntary” preschool is a meaningless concept when government creates a dependent people by “helping” way too much and discouraging self-reliance and free enterprise.
   When a parent is working full-time because of free preschool, how will he/she “visit” the child and how meaningful will that “visitation” be?  This is really backwards.  The parent visits her child?  Who is then the main caregiver of that tiny soul?  A state caregiver that sees the child as a paycheck?!  What are we actually in effect promoting or denying?  Think, think!
7. Even if the state contracts with private providers, those providers are, in effect, government agents when the government mandates what will be taught and by whom and for whom; their innovations and self-determination are meaningless when they are governmentally contracted (to common core and other government-mandated programs.)
The whole concept of early intervention is opposed to parental authority over the child.  The state intervenes.  The state is so terrified of seeing a single tragic neglect case that it is willing to take away the responsibility and liberty of all the people. It’s not right.
Ezra Taft Benson said asked “Are we part of the problem or are we part of the solution?”  I ask us that same question.
Ezra Taft Benson called socialism “a philosophy incompatible with man’s liberty... Both communism and socialism have the same effect upon the individual—a loss of personal liberty… Socialism cannot work except through an all-powerful state. The state has to be supreme in everything… We have marched a long way down the soul-destroying road of socialism… If we continue to follow the trend in which we are heading today, two things will inevitably result: first, a loss of our personal freedom, and second, financial bankruptcy. This is the price we pay when we turn away from God and the principles which he has taught and turn to government to do everything for us. It is the formula by which nations become enslaved…
                                                               James Madison opposed the proposal to put Congress in the role of promoting the general welfare according to its whims in these words: 
   “If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every state, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasure; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor. . . . Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for [and it was an issue then], it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America. (Madison)…Many are now advocating that which has become a general practice since the early 1930s: a redistribution of wealth through the federal tax system. That, by definition, is socialism… compulsory benevolence is not charity. Today’s socialists—who call themselves egalitarians—are using the federal government to redistribute wealth in our society, not as a matter of voluntary charity, but as a so-called matter of right…

“The chief weapon used by the federal government to achieve this “equality” is the system of transfer payments. This means that the federal governments collects from one income group and transfer payments to another by the tax system…

“Edmund Burke, the great British political philosopher, warned of the threat of economic equality. He said,

    A perfect equality will indeed be produced—that is to say, equal wretchedness, equal beggary, and on the part of the petitioners, a woeful, helpless, and desperate disappointment. Such is the event of all compulsory equalizations. They pull down what is above; they never raise what is below; and they depress high and low together beneath the level of what was originally the lowest.

   “Are we part of the problem or part of the solution? …We stand for independence, thrift, and abolition of the dole.… Every individual who accepts [OR LEGISLATES] an unearned government gratuity is just as morally culpable as the individual who takes a handout from taxpayers’ money to pay his heat, electricity, or rent. There is no difference in principle between them. You did not come… to become [OR TO LEGISLATE FOR] a welfare recipient. You came here to be a light to the world, a light to society—to save society and to help to save this nation, the Lord’s base of operations in these latter days, to ameliorate man’s social conditions. You are not here to be [OR TO PROMOTE] a parasite or freeloader. The price you pay for “something for nothing” may be more than you can afford. Do not rationalize your acceptance of government gratuities by saying, “I am a contributing taxpayer too.”

Benson’s full speech here:  http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=85

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