As I attended the Lakota School Board meeting on Monday December 12, 2011 and listened to the pain that the superintendent and board members uttered in their displeasure over H.B. 136 which looks to go to a vote in Columbus early in 2012, the more I realized that every American citizen in the United States should be required to read the book Atlas Shrugged before graduating high school, so they can have a basic understanding of how things work in the world, and how monopolies not only in business, but in government are detrimental to growth both economic and personal. I genuinely felt sorry for these board members and administrators who must watch as their failed perceptions of reality are coming unraveled right in front of their faces. H.B. 136 is the ambitious new bill proposed in March 1st of 2011 by Majority Floor Leader Matt Huffman which extends the school voucher program to parents whose household income is less than $95,000 a year, and will allow them to receive the money from the state to take to the school of their choice. The reason why this is a big deal is because for the first time, the money intended to educate a child will go straight to the child instead of to the school in their district. This is intended to bring about an environment of competition so that all schools can increase their performance and allow parents to choose where they want to send their children to school without having to move from their homes to a new residence in a different district, which is an extreme hardship and prohibitive expense to parents all over Ohio.
The reason I thought of Atlas Shrugged is because the world has unlimited potential not only in education, but energy, finance, health care development, food supply, virtually every conceivable topic, there is a virtual unlimited ceiling to what can be accomplished, and that’s the basic premise behind the classic novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It is in the empires that humans build that hold back and create the limits that imprison emotionally our entire population, and the reason the Lakota School Board was upset over H.B. 136 is because the part of the education empire that they control is being taken out of their hands. I wish I could explain to them that they need to change their focus onto a much broader intellectual perspective and see that it isn’t the limits of finance, or any other research that is holding back our society. Its people like them, which is exhibited wonderfully in the film THRIVE. You can see a preview of that fantastic film here:
Listening to the details of H.B. 136 in Ohio there isn’t much to be upset about if you are a parent. In short if a family of 4 making up to $100,000 a year they will qualify for $2,313 in voucher funds for their child to send them to the school of their choice. A family of 4 who is making up to $61,000 a year would be eligible for a voucher worth $4,626. Families’ in-between would be awarded amounts equitable on a sliding scale somewhere in between those values. That’s a great option for families across the board in Ohio.
However, the Lakota School Board estimated that if everyone in the district who qualified for a scholarship left Lakota for a different school such as Mason, or Fairfield then Lakota stood to lose up to $12 million dollars per year in potential funding which would wreck their funding projections. The superintendent for Lakota suggested that she was against H.B. 136 for the simple reason that she didn’t want to see the taxpayers of Lakota cover the loss in income that would be caused by the passage of that bill.
Who says that the taxpayers are going to cover the loss in any income? Because we’re not going to. Lakota isn’t the only school expected to see operating deficits with the implementation of HB 136. Mentor Schools report they could lose $5.1 million, and Cardon Schools report they could lose $475,000 annually. The trouble with this thinking is that public schools in their education empire have become dependent on state money and have negotiated very large and lucrative contracts with the teachers unions that benefited the employees, not the kids who attend the school. As it is currently designed school funding in Ohio is to the benefit of the labor unions, and not the parents who pay the taxes. The sheer ignorance in suggesting that the tax payers would be required to cover the loss in revenue with a tax increase is absolutely preposterous.
At Lakota after the third levy defeat in just 18 months the tax payers approved a budget during the last election. They told the district in voting no for the proposed tax increase of a 4.75 mill levy that the budget as it stands is all the money the school is going to get, which is $1,140 per $100,000 of property value assessment. That means that the superintendent of Lakota is required to go to the employees of the district and give them their budget limit and it’s up to those employees to figure out how to live within those parameters. The tail does not wag the dog, the dog wags the tail, but in government-run monopolies, it is the tail that controls the dog apparently, which is why they fail in everything they do.
H.B. 136 seeks to take control back from these monopolies for the benefit of kids and parents all over Ohio. It is the burden of the schools and education profession in general to figure out how they can adjust to these changes. It is not for the duty of the government monopolies such as education to use a socialist philosophy to benefit the employees. It is the employees job to fulfill the requirements of those who employee them. Not the job of the employer to make sure the employees are comfortable and happy and eternally contented so they can retire in luxury.
Not so long ago I had a real ball busting president of a company that I worked directly for who was very upset with my management style. He was one of those guys who believed that rule through fear was the way to go. If you ever saw the film Bad Bosses, he was every single character in that movie. Needless to say I did my own thing anyway, in spite of his attempt to mold my management style into his way of thinking. My style is to utilize the talents of people and their natural inclinations to always find new innovations so that more production can be produced constantly getting faster and faster until a dimensioning marginal return is reached in increases in quality rejections. This particular president enjoyed my innovations because they made the company a lot of money, but at a certain point when that marginal return was reached, he being a typical politician and a looter at heart sought to take credit for my innovations as though he had thought of them and he needed my endorsement to allow him to do so. Typically, such an endorsement is the quiet compliance of admission that he was my superior, which he wasn’t. He might have out ranked me in the orientation of the company, but he did not equal me in intellectual capacity and strategy, so there was no reason I would yield my ground to a human inferior. But to his way of thinking the issue was a pecking order type of thing that would move me up the ladder if I just played the game, which I had no interest in.
When fear, intimidation, and manipulation had no effect on me with the intention to force me to yield to his position which was purely ornamental and I failed to get into line where he sought to place me, in sheer frustration he demanded of me in his office, “Mr. Hoffman, you think you are so smart, you think you are such a know-it all, you are so smug. But you don’t know a damn thing about management. How do you know you are a good manager?”
I replied to him, “When I’ve eliminated my job. When efficiencies and production requirements no longer require my day-to-day attention, and it’s time to lose my job, that’s when I know I’ve done a good job.”
He gapped at me for a long minute in fury then became genuinely inquisitive. “Then what will you do for a living?”
I replied, “I’ll write another book. I’ll start another business. Maybe I’ll do some work in films. I’ll think of something.”
The meeting ended quickly after that because the president of the company realized that fear would not work with me and that left him with an empty gun. And many politicians use the same tactics, fear in order to create a power structure and pecking order of socialism where if an employee pays their dues, they will find a healthy wage in the second half of their lives and a great retirement. The superintendent of Lakota was essentially doing the same thing that the president of the company I was referring to had done, and that’s use the fear of tax increases to attempt to maneuver parental support of H.B. 136 to the negative. She was planting a seed that she hoped the newspapers would pick up and carry on to the greater community in an attempt to protect the education empire that she is one of the great benefactors and leaders. So she is one of those who would have fallen in line to the kind of man I was talking about as a president so that at some future time she might be in the power position. And the current superintendent is protecting that empire for those under her that are hoping they too will someday have the chance to sit in her seat.
If the goal is not to protect your job however, and to always improve year after year in a never-ending change of careers openly accepting the adventure of living then you will obtain the ability to see clearly that the world is full of possibilities if people would only have the courage to look beyond their personal comforts to how the world could be.
The empire building that goes on in the oil industry, or the education industry, or the health care industry wish with every essence of their beings to maintain the status quo so that they can aim for a retirement at some point in their futures. Their short-sighted vision is damaging to the future of the human race, and those participants are like bottle caps that hold society into a bottle so not to let out the contents to the larger world outside the bottle. If more people had read Atlas Shrugged earlier in their lives, they might have different static patterns not rooted in socialism and institutions built to protect employees, but instead be committed to the type of innovations shown in the film THRIVE, which is in essence what the novel Atlas Shrugged is all about.
H.B. 136 is one of those bills that will bring to the field of education over time new innovations, cheaper per pupil costs, and much higher education results for our children by putting the money in the hands of the parents and not the empires of education. Yes, H.B. 136 will break up the monopolies of education, but that will only be bad for the employees who will have to make the adjustments to the new way of doing things. It doesn’t mean those employees will be cast into the streets jobless. But it means that they will have to make new adjustments to their lives to stay competitive. They will only suffer if they refuse to accept the changes because if the world was allowed to progress in the manner of the film THRIVE or Atlas Shrugged, then jobs would be created for everyone, the value of money would increase and purchasing power would also go up, and the amount of money that citizens would be required to make to have a good standard of living would decrease, which is to everyone’s benefit. It is the government monopolies and financial empires who stand in the way of human existence; it’s not a lack of resources. But before society can have these wonders the general education of our people must increase 100 fold from what it currently is, which is simply a system rooted in an idea of socialism that is over 150 years old. And that is not acceptable.
We can do much, much better than that.
SEE THE WORLD THROUGH HOFFMAN LENSES: