Lessons in Govt: Incentives, Road-Kill, & Cigars

Two recent items from the WSJ worth your time. First note the incentives at play in govt. schools. When you do poorly, you are rewarded with more money, this model is more than a little warped, it’s exactly 180° off from sane. In a market setting, the better performing schools would be rewarded while the bad ones would wither and die. That’s called progress.

[note that the second column mentions my fav. cigars]

I’ll say it again, describing a public school as “one of the better-performing” ones is akin to saying that one has one of the least-aggressive cancers. Yes, it’s better, but still nothing to write home ab0ut.

Judges for Higher Taxes – WSJ.com: “The New Jersey Supreme Court passes an appropriations bill. … Who needs an excuse to raise taxes when a state Supreme Court will tip the scales? That’s the story in New Jersey, where the justices recently inserted themselves into state fiscal policy, much to taxpayer dismay. By a 3-2 vote, the state high court ordered the state to spend an additional $500 million for 31 schools in some of the state’s worst districts. … Abbott funding has cost the state some $1 billion each year to create parity between Abbott districts and others. State spending on Abbott districts has nearly doubled as a percentage of the state budget, to 15.5% last year from 8.9% in 1985. The money hasn’t improved the schools in Newark and elsewhere, but the rulings have helped to drive state taxes ever higher. The latest ruling has given new life to the so-called millionaire’s tax, which would add a new tax rate of 10.75% (from 8.97%) on some 15,000 state taxpayers. Mr. Christie vetoed the tax increase last year and promises to do so again, but Democrats are talking override. Proponents say the tax would raise $500 million, and what do you know, that’s exactly the amount required for the schools. … There’s a reason that the Founders referred to the judiciary as the most dangerous branch of government.

James Bovard: My Summer Job Road to Perdition – WSJ.com: “What did I learn as a young man laboring for the Virginia Highway Department? How to work slowly to slipshod standards. … With government work, time routinely acquired a negative value—something to be killed. … The government has always been radically incompetent at imparting job skills or good work habits. Unfortunately, as long as politicians can profit from handing out jobs and paychecks, the waste and character damage will continue.”