The quarter behind the ear magic trick, and bailouts.
I remember the poor-man’s magic trick of pulling a quarter from behind the little kid’s ear. Sometimes the kid would catch on. Most of the time, however, it was wonderment, and of course keeping the quarter.
That’s how I felt a couple days ago when George Bush and the federal financial honchos — Paulson of Treasury and Bernanke of the Fed — suddenly came up with anywhere from half a trillion dollars to multiples of the stuff, to rescue a private financial scheme that had flipped like a dead fish onto the world stage.
Like, where did they come up with that kind of money? According to both George Bush and John McCain, it wasn’t there for a new GI Bill. It wasn’t there for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Nor was it there to fund, part or in whole, a crumbling infrastructure; roads, bridges, levees . . . Nada, nada, nada. Same thing for education: Not there.
I had been feeling sort of Ground Hogish Day: repeating the same film clip over and over and over. Like, back when Bush offered the world his stand up comic routine: looking all over the place for those pesky WMDs. Remember that? How everyone got a good yuk; everyone, that is, except the soldiers and marines and innocent Iraqis who had been blown up, or had parts of themselves blown up. I doubt many of them got the joke. (I bet John McCain still laughs ‘til his gut aches every time he remembers that one.)
I live in Reno. Last week the paper reported on the report that the State of Nevada is 47th for an educated citizenry. Or, to look at it in a brighter light, we’re 4th in dumb! And to top that, due to budget difficulties, our governor is cutting funds for education. This isn’t to pick on Jim Gibbons, though there’s plenty enough lying around to do that.
Rather it’s to put the exclamation point on the issue: So many absolutely essential programs, and not a spare dime available . . .
!!! Unless . . .
Hold on, I think we have W on the phone. “Oh, what’s that? Bail out some insurance company? And all you need is half a tril? Hey! Why didn’t you say so in the first place? No problemo!!!” (You see, President Bush speaks Spanish . . . and mucho dinero, if it’s for the right cause.)
Schools with leaking roofs. Schools in desert or tropical climes with no air-conditioning. Schools with busted bathroom pipes and toilets. Schools with unserviceable science labs. Schools with no genuine counseling services. Schools with SRO classrooms. Schools with decades-old text books. Teachers with paychecks that are decades behind for buying power.
Sorry, times are tough and everyone has to learn to pull their belts a little tighter.