Friday, December 22, 2006

Holiday Values

Left I on the News/The Great Society (scroll down to Thursday, December 21, 2006 for the story) --

What a great country the United States is! Why, the Congress has just passed a bill allowing teachers and other education workers to deduct up to a whopping $250 in out-of-pocket classroom expenses from their taxes. And this generous "benefit" extends all the way to...2007.

New values, anyone? Like a country where the government actually pays for things needed in the classroom, rather than forcing (for all intents and purposes) conscientious teachers to pay for them in the first place?

USA Today says that 3 million taxpayers took this deduction in 2005. If all of them spent $250 (many no doubt spent more), that would be $750 million in educational expenses coming out of the pockets of poorly-paid teachers rather than from the government. That's two-and-a-half whole days of spending on the war against Iraq and Afghanistan (not including decades of future payments for medical expenses, by the way).

God bless 'em, I've seen how teachers struggle to support their own families and also devote their energy and off-the-clock-hours to make their classes interesting and provocative. And I'm sure they spend more than $250 out of pocket! But we live in an age of war-mongering, pork-funding, corporation-influenced Republican and Democrtic parties who don't care.

This holiday season, several of our esteemed reps in Washington have come home, no doubt to celebrate and drink mulled wine with Wall Street investment managers - who just "earned" obscene year-end bonuses --
Many of those bonuses will be performance-based, so some of the company's bigwigs are likely to get as much as $100 million.

What someone might buy with a $100 million holiday bonus:

  • You could provide immunizations for more than 40,000 impoverished children for a year ($37.5 million), then throw a birthday party for your daughter and one million of her closest friends ($60 million). You'd still have enough to buy a different color Rolls Royce for each day of the week ($2.5 million).

  • You could feed about 800,000 children for a year ($60 million), recreate the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes and Brad Pitt-Jennifer Aniston weddings four times over ($16 million), buy one of Mel Gibson's private islands ($15 million), and still remain a millionaire nine times over.

  • You could pay Harvard tuition for more than 1,500 students who couldn't afford it ($70.5 million), provide health care to over 1,000 Americans for a year ($7 million), and still have enough to buy a different Brioni designer suit for every single day of the year ($6,000 suits for all 365 days would cost $22 million).

Or they could give a small portion of that bonus to their local schools to fund teachers' extra-curricular expenses. Now that would be an example of Holiday values!

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