Streams of denial and free babysitting

For a typical statistical analysis showing that whatever gains pre-K enrollees are presumed to demonstrate while in class, they've evaporated by grades 1 or 2; you need look no farther than the reports of the California Family Council, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, or before-and-after studies from the states of Georgia or Michigan.

A March 2003 article published in the Education Reporter is very negative; it verges on the snarky. In the article summary, the editors write that "These programs do have a purpose: they are a source of free babysitting for low-income families." I might add that they're a means to educational staff-expansion and positive budget votes aided by new staffers voting their own paychecks.

To complete the trio, I offer the regulatory expansion of the Carter administration of the 1970s, and strengthened by the Clinton administration in the 1990s, which for the first time required private banks to offer mortgages to subprime borrowers. It was called the Community Reinvestment Act; it was supposed to end red-lining (a do-not-lend to marginal applicants order dating from the New Deal's Federal Housing Administration found in the maps and instructions of its Home Owners' Loan Corporation).

Now, we're supposed to believe that the subprime failure was caused by insufficient regulation and only more regulation will remedy it. For example: a governmental fix for an excessive-credit bubble consisting of turning loose several trillions in additional credit. Not billions, any more, but trillions.

If trillions aren't enough, Mark Steyn writes in National Review, he has asked senator-designate-for-month Caroline Kennedy, "What's the name for the avalanche of dough that comes after a trillion?" She replied "cotillions" - speaking from Kennedy experience, no doubt.

There are local rivulets of denial as well: consider, for example, the rejection of the official engineering analysis findings of inspection-approval at installations ranging from IP's paper plant to Vermont Yankee's nuclear plant. In such cases, activists have said, in effect, "We don't care what the facts are, we're shut'em down anyway." Thus, the river of denial continues to flow from a multitude of headwaters to a multitude of mouths.

You might extend the analogy by observing that the current is strongest along the left bank of the River Politik.

Former Vermonter Martin Harris lives in Tennessee.

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