Nothing makes me happier than to wake up in the morning and see another incoherent letter to the editor attacking me and the work of the Rio Grande Foundation. The latest such blast appeared on Tuesday of this week in the Albuquerque Journal and is copied below:
Free market not about roadblocks
FREE MARKET principles — a registered Republican trademark.
As a businessman and author, I am a real believer in the free market, but I have to put up with the constant barrage of “astroturf” groups proclaiming they are believers in the free market. Poppycock!
You believe in the values and talking points of the current Republican coalition. Grover Norquist is head of the no-tax-pledge group. I saw his head explode on TV when asked about marriage equality. He and his group are bigots. They have to be, they are Republicans.
The head of the Rio Grande Foundation (Paul J. Gessing) recently opines in the executive’s desk column (“Economic growth best cure for income inequality,” Feb. 17) and his first priority was to declare for school choice. School choice is code for guaranteeing people that their religious school, private school, or charter school continues to drain the public coffers.
New Mexico charters schools — technically public schools — continue to cost more than regular public education and don’t take people with disabilities! This is not free market principles; it is supporting the vested interests of people that currently have money. It is the ideology of Proposition 13, the 1978 initiative that makes California have the highest income tax rate in American. Certainly not a free market principle.
Free market principles provide avenues for economic activity, not strengthening the current roadblocks. Said “astroturf” groups complain bitterly about the tax subsidies in alternative energy but won’t say out loud that a practicing physician cannot receive a tax credit for investing in solar energy; only available for gas/oil investments. A New Mexico cabinet secretary brags about the new copper rule and how it will help Grant County, my former home. The copper rule just requires that future taxpayers pay for the polluted water that is left decades after the mining company has spent the profits. Free market principles indeed!
Where do I start in deconstructing such loony garbage. For starters, Grover Norquist who I know personally and believe to be a brilliant guy, is on the board of GOP Proud, a pro-gay rights Republican organization. Hardly an anti-gay bigot as the author claims all Republicans to be.
But how about the Rio Grande Foundation and our dastardly work on behalf of school choice. Yes, we believe strongly that parents and students should make decisions about where to get an education, and, that if education is funded by tax dollars (not a given in our view) that the customers should be given a choice whether that be traditional, private, charter, religious, or home schooling. The woefully-misinformed letter-writer is demonstrably wrong when he claims that charters cost more than regular public education and that they don’t take students with disabilities.
School choice would improve our state’s and our nation’s educational attainment, but more importantly, it would restore some semblance of individual freedom and even a “free market” in education.
Letter writers like this one are the reason that I love the following Mark Twain quote so much: “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”