(Chuck Muth) – In a Las Vegas Sun roundtable interview published yesterday, Paul Enos, the trucking industry’s representative in Carson City, noted that Washington, DC, public schools get over $14,000 per child per school year and yet their public schools suck even worse than Clark County’s.
So the obvious answer, said Enos, was various school reforms, including “Internet- or Web-based schools.” To which University Regent Mike Wixom, purportedly a Republican, replied: “I need to stop you there, especially with respect to Internet education. It costs more per student to provide an Internet course than it does to provide a brick-and-mortar course. They’re very expensive.”
I have my kids signed up to take four Internet courses in 3rd and 4th grades: English, math, science and history. Total cost per course per month per student: $5. That comes to a total of $20 per month per student, or $180 per student per grade year. Meanwhile, the brick-and-mortar schools in Nevada are receiving around $7,000 per student per grade year.
If Mike Wixom thinks the Internet courses are “very expensive,” he must be using public school math.
In that same roundtable discussion, Wixom also said, “What troubles me is there’s this whole underlying notion that government is bad.” Steve Hill, head of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and purportedly a free-market business conservative, seconded that emotion. “One of the things that I hope conversations like this can do is get rid of the idea that government is bad,” Hill said.
In a separate, unrelated interview called “The American Revolution” conducted more than 225 years ago, Founding Father, George Washington, disagreed with both Wixom and Hill. “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force,” the nation’s first president said. “Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”
In other words: bad.
Fellow Founding Father Thomas Paine agreed. “Society in every state is a blessing,” said Paine, “but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.”
In other words: bad.
So who ya gonna believe: Wixom and Hill….or Washington and Paine?
But when it comes to Wixom, it actually gets even worse. You see, this steward of Nevada’s system of “higher” education didn’t just object to the notion that government is bad; he also leveled a false accusation against true conservatives and libertarians which almost rises to the level of slander.
Wixom not only has his tights in a twist over this quintessentially American notion that government ain’t sugar and spice and everything nice, but he’s also troubled by “this whole underlying notion that…we should do away with government.”
Well, that’s just a lie. NO ONE in this discussion about Nevada’s budget woes is calling for the elimination of government. That’s just a cheap leftist smear tactic one would expect from, say, a teachers union boss, not a responsible elected official. There’s no suggestion whatsoever now, back in 1776, or anytime in our future to “do away with government”
The debate is and always has been on what the proper role of government should be. As for myself, Washington, Paine, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, we think government’s role should be extremely limited, acknowledging that some government is a necessary evil in an orderly society.
So the question isn’t whether or not we’re going to maintain and fund a certain level of government, but where the line is drawn. As Jefferson best put it, “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare but only those specifically enumerated.” Or as Madison explained, “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”
I wonder what Jefferson and Madison would have thought about government, rather than churches and private community organizations, providing diapers to senior citizens?
Regent Mike Wixom ought to stop sliming the Founding Fathers and limited-government conservatives and instead engage in an honest and principled debate over exactly what the legitimate role of government should be. And maybe, just maybe, there should be more “History of the United States” courses and fewer “History of the Beatles” courses at UNLV.