Friday, May 05, 2006

Delaware crazier than usual these past weeks

Alarm clock radios, news stations, and snooze bars can combine to subliminally implant many of the morning's top news stories into the subconcious of a slow riser. The following Delaware news stories and opinions finally bubbled up to consciousness today.

No money to pay teachers: The Christina School district suddenly doesn't have enough money to pay its teachers. They are short $4 million and their union leaders are exhorting the teachers to stay on the job even though they may not be paid. Working without pay is very noble, but I wouldn't blame a single teacher who decides to skip work if work decides to skip paying them.

Bailing out a school district: Members of the State legislature are considering bailing out the school district with state funds. Somewhere, someone's parent is saying, "How will you ever learn to use money wisely if I keep having to bail you out?" All of these potential abuses of governmental authority, from school district incompetence to heavy handed help make it difficult for a small government advocate to get their head around solution to the problem that they can stand behind.

Shell-game with funds: Christina is also embroiled in controversy about a bait and switch they pulled on the voters, the auditor called it a "shell-game". They used money from a referendum intended to build a new school instead to renovate an existing building, which is different than promised. They are 2/3 of the way through that $22 million and now there is no hope of completing the project under budget. I think there is equally no hope for them to ever get another referendum passed given these revelations about their money handling problems. Should we expect criminal charges soon?

Spiked heroin kills: There have been several tragic deaths (14 people in two weeks!) due to a bad batch of heroin circulating in Wilmington and the surrounding area. The tragedy of these cases certainly points to a need for education to prevent people from ever getting involved in such a dangerous drug and finding a way to help with those already addicted. The heroin is laced with fentanyl, an anesthetic that is supposed to make people feel a better high, but is killing them instead.

Lowering gas tax in Delaware wrong idea at wrong time: High gas prices are spawning a number of crazy ideas across the country. The single potential good aspect of this, market pressure to conserve or switch to more efficient energy use and especially automobiles, doesn't seem to be happening. Recent news reveals that driving miles are not decreasing as might be expected. The Delaware State legislature is entering the fray with a proposal to cut the state gas tax for the summer. The cost is $50 million. They claim that there is room to do this because Delaware has a small surplus (even after they blow it on Christina school districts problems?). Cutting the tax would relieve the very market forces (high prices with a little governmental extra) that might drive consumers to alternate energy sources. Why not take the energy to help constituents with high energy prices and incentivize conservation, alternate energy sources, public transit, or high efficiency vehicles to produce a lasting effect on reducing demand, instead of short, ineffective relief.

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