In honor of "tax day," I share with you the following proclamation; my buddy John is a thief!
Don’t get me wrong, he’s a nice enough guy. He keeps his place looking good, has five great kids, and is willing to lend a hand when you need one. But during this time of year, he transitions from being a stand up guy to criminal.
He's not your typical smash and grab burglar or a professional pick-pocket. He's much slicker than that. He is what I call an "educational shoplifter." He takes the services of the public schools and doesn't fully pay for them.
Yes, John is a thief! Now, before you go speed-dialing 911, you should know that John isn’t all bad and has done a lot of good in this world. He served his country honorably for two decades as a helicopter pilot in the military. He is a good neighbor, keeps his yard nice, and is willing to lend you a hand when you need it. All in all, on the scale of goodness, John is a 10—that is, except for the fact that he’s a thief.
Folks, I am not saying that he belongs on the wall of the post office or an episode of Dateline, but let’s just say he’s closer to John Dillinger than John the Baptist.
Follow my logic:
- He has five children that attend the public schools
- Our state pays his kids school approximately $7,000 per annum to educate each child
- With five children, the state spends up to 35,000 per year on his children
- By the time all of his children graduate, we will have spent $420,000 on their education
- He pays approximately $2,500 per year in property taxes
- He would have to live in his house 168 years to pay the state back for what it spent
How is that not shoplifting? Follow me for a minute… If I were to walk into Target, pick a piece of clothing out that costs $24.95, slap down $12.35, and walk out with the item while indignantly accusing them of waste and fraud, wouldn’t they call the police? Wouldn’t I be tried and convicted for shoplifting? After all, I took and used a product without paying the full price for it.
John is right. Everybody wants something for nothing, especially when it comes to education. We live in a world where people want great schools, while paying low taxes. We want high quality teachers to perform for low salaries. We want a state of the art education to be taught in outdated facilities. We want 21st century knowledge with 20th century textbooks and technology. In other words, we expect things that we are unwilling to pay for. That is by definition “educational shoplifting.”
America loves a deal. We want to feel like we got the most while paying the least and that is no different with our taxes. As a country, we have come to expect more from our schools than we are willing to pay for. But schools are not commodities and students are not a product. Teaching and learning is a process that can not be placed on a shelf and slapped with a sign that says 50% OFF SALE! Or, MAKE ME AN OFFER!
You can't return an education. You can't call customer support or go to the Genuis Bar to fix it when it's broken. We can't outsource it to Malaysia to cut costs. We have one shot with each child to get it right. One opportunity to make this "purchase" for a child. We have to get it right, every time, for every child. Education is a shared responsibility that must be fully borne by all, for the good of all, and not something that should be negotiated.
During this time of year, John never misses a chance to bemoan government waste and how they are wasting HIS hard earned money. He says we live in a "welfare state," where everybody expects something for nothing. Honestly, I couldn't agree more, which is why I told him to stop being such a crook and freeloader and start paying up!
As I said, my neighbor is an educational shoplifter and shouldn’t be trusted, but don't take my word for it, I have two kids, therefor I am one too.
Happy Tax Day!