Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tax Dollars for School Choice

Tax Dollars for School Choice
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
August 30, 2011

John Sherlock of Indianapolis is misguided. Not to pick on Mr. Sherlock, but he sure needs to get a clue about whose money is whose.

In a letter to the editor of the Indianapolis Star on Sunday August 28, Sherlock jumped to the popular misconception that tax dollars are the government’s money to do as it will. “It is totally inappropriate for parents to expect to use taxpayers’ money to fund their children’s education at religiously affiliated schools,” wrote Sherlock.

Just where does Sherlock think the government procured said “taxpayers’ money?” That should be a rhetorical question, but clearly needs answering. As though it should be the question to a Jeopardy! answer in the category of “Stupid Answers,” the TAXPAYERS, Sherlock.

As the adage goes, follow the money. Parents earn money on the job. Part of that money pays the property taxes on their house – tax money used to fund the public schools. Perhaps these parents choose not to subject their children to the failing public schools of Indianapolis. Since the money used to fund the public schools they choose not to use originated with the parents, why not have that money stay with the parents to send their children to the schools of their choice?

In his letter, Sherlock referred to giving money to parents who in turn give it to religious schools as a ruse for what he believes is the government funding of religion. The ruse, Mr. Sherlock, is that the money belongs to the government in the first place.

As for those renters with school-aged children, part of their rent paid to the landlord is used to pay the property taxes on that apartment building. That portion of the property taxes used for public education funding should also be returned to those renters wishing to enroll their children in a religion-based school.

Libertarian thinking would defund all public schools and make parents responsible for financing their children’s education 100 percent. But, for the same reason citizens without children pony up to keep the school doors open, there is a societal benefit to having public schools funded by those who do not have children.

Without public schools, even miserably failing ones, more youths would be roaming the streets uneducated. Ultimately the burden of their support would fall on the shoulders of the taxpayers, funding the unemployment and food stamps of the public school uneducated children.

On second thought, why not privatize the entire public school system, by enlisting corporate sponsorship of the schools, just as they would a sports stadium. This would create a competitive arena, grant the corporations a nice tax write off, and for sponsoring schools, the corporation would endear itself to the local community who would, in turn, buy their products. It’s win-win.

Under a system of privatization, bloated costs could be reduced and expenses would be meted out more efficiently because corporations have stockholders and boards of directors to whom they answer. The corporations would have a vested interest in the success of the students as potential future employees as well – again a win-win.

In order for such a plan to work successfully, the rank and file must dispel themselves of the misguided notion that taxpayers’ dollars belong to the government and not the people earning them.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Clergy, 1st Responders More Important Than Politicians

Clergy, 1st Responders More Important Than Politicians
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
August 24, 2011

In continuing efforts to sanitize and extinguish all legitimate meaning behind the upcoming 10th anniversary of the worst attack perpetrated against the United States on its soil, the so-called powers that be announced there will be no clergy invited to participate in what doubtless will be a solemn event. For this, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg must be castigated for this deplorable decision.

Initially, first responders were denied a role in the memorial events, and now with the absence of clergy, one must wonder if survivors and families of the victims will be welcome or will this simply be a dog and pony show for the politicians and the so-called powers that be.

Ten years ago the NYPD, FDNY and the EMS were not invited either, but they showed up anyway.

This is disgraceful and an affront to the memories of the victims, among them, numerous first responders. The last thing that should be done, but it comes as no surprise, is for such an occasion to be politicized.

This is not for the politicians. It’s already bad enough that politicians have commandeered the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site to ignore and eradicate the names of the victims and to not denote what really happened on September 11, 2001. The so-called powers that be have no conscience, no soul and no guts to tell the facts of that fateful Tuesday morning.

Has the United States become so politically correct, so afraid of its own shadow as to not be able to tell facts without worrying about who might get offended? Apparently so. And it’s just wrong – on so many levels. History must be taught and never forgotten.

The beautiful clear sunny morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 was permeated by the depraved evil of 19 radical Muslim extremists, mostly from Saudi Arabia, a so-called ally to the United States. The havoc and mayhem they perpetrated took the lives of approximately 3,000 innocent people by hijacking four airplanes and intentionally flying them into the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The fourth plane appeared headed toward the US Capitol but the efforts of the terrorists were thwarted by the 40 passengers and crew who managed to prevent the plot from reaching fruition as it crashed into the Shanksville, Penn. field.

Whether events are being held at the site of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon or the field in Shanksville, they should most certainly include clergy and first responders as well as survivors and victims’ families first and foremost. No one else matters during this solemn memorial. Not the politicians, not the voyeurs, not Code Pink or any other potentially disruptive organization with an ax to grind, or even the media for that matter.

Although the media does play an important role in bringing the events into the homes of the world viewership, they should do so from a distance – in an unobtrusive manner. And I say this as a writer who on September 11, 2001 was a working newspaper reporter in Northern Virginia, just miles from the Pentagon. The media should not transcend the news, but instead silently present the news as it unfolds.

What I am presenting here is editorial content, not unbiased, news – the difference too many in the business are not able to properly discern.

There are those who said that clergy were not invited to participate in the upcoming 9-11 events because they did not play a role in the prior years’ activities at the Ground Zero locales. That simply means that for nine years the so-called powers that be were wrong. That wrong should not be compounded with a bigger, more egregious wrong on such a powerful day of memorial when prayer is needed more than ever.

Is there anyone who truly believes the passengers on Flight 93 were not praying prior to crashing into the field in Shanksville, PA? How about the firefighters who went into the buildings in New York City and the Pentagon? Anyone think they didn’t say a prayer before their life threatening endeavors? How about those employees who were absent from, or late to work that sunny Tuesday morning? Anyone think they don’t say an extra dose of prayers to this day?

If not having clergy participate in the memorial activities on the 10th anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks of 9-11 is a means of placating certain atheist groups, we the people should be ashamed. What other possible explanation could there be for not having rabbis, priests, reverends and pastors participating in event that are taking place on what is referred to as “hallowed ground” be so many.

The United States of America was founded on religious freedom. The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion. We are a society created on the basis of Judeo-Christian values. If ever there were events crying out for the participation of clergy it is those that will take place in a couple weeks.

This year September 11 falls on a Sunday. I defy any reader to find a rabbi who won’t deliver a sermon the day before on Saturday or a priest or reverend who won’t deliver sermons that morning about the importance of faith, prayer and the remembrance of the events of September 11, 2001.

Clergy along with the first responders should not just be in attendance at the September 11, 2011 events but they should be front and center. They, combined, held this nation together – in terms of the spiritual and the physical by their presence and their deeds. They are too humble to make such a declaration, but it needs to be made, heeded and honored along with those who gave their lives and their families in what became the inaugural shot fired in the current global war.

May the memories of the victims of September 11, 2001 always be for a Blessing.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. On September 11, 2001 he was working for a local newspaper in Northern Virginia.

Monday, August 1, 2011

People Connect on Their Own

People Connect on Their Own
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
August 1, 2011

Regarding the Indy Star July 29 editorial, “We’re too spread out, disconnected,” it is reminiscent of the days of forced integration, which clearly failed.

People associate with whom they choose for myriad reasons – religion, politics, sports teams and even geography. In the dating world it is called being geographically desirable.

For all the sprawl, it spreads out traffic instead of concentrating it within one place, i.e.: the Beltway; thinning it out, keeping people moving. And urban centers do have advantages – night life, symphonies, sports, restaurants and museums. However, these same metropolises are rife with high crime rates and poorly performing schools.

For all the new homes and neighborhoods being erected, have the builders and real estate companies pony up proffers for the necessary roads, schools and sewage systems needed to make a new community successful and thriving. They will be the entities reaping the profits – to which they are certainly entitled, therefore they can share in the creation of such profit-making ventures and keep government involvement to a minimum.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

[This item appeared in the Indianapolis Star.]