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Let me explain why I like to pay taxes for schools even though I don't personally have a kid in school: I don't like living in a country with a bunch of stupid people.

Let me explain why I like to pay taxes for schools even though I don’t personally have a kid in school:

I don’t like living in a country with a bunch of stupid people.

Comments

  1. schism says

    But the country is full of stupid people regardless. Can I sue for misappropriation of funds?

  2. redwood says

    Agree with schism@1–can I get a refund on my taxes, say a dollar for every Republican vote?

  3. Becca Stareyes says

    I’d quibble that it should be ignorant, not stupid*. Anyone who is discouraged from certain lines of reasoning, not provided with correct information (or taught how to find information and judge whether it is reliable or not), and so on will make stupid decisions, even if sie is not a stupid person. Sadly, stupid decisions are the same, regardless if the person making them is intelligent and/or learned in other contexts.

    (Whether public schools teach these things is another question, but making sure every child has access** to a good school is a necessary prerequisite.)

    * Though I guess that gets into what intelligent/stupid means, and how much of that is learned skills.
    ** Real access, not ‘well, there are need-based scholarships (that are vastly oversubscribed) to private schools’.

  4. René says

    I protest the term ‘stupid’. People who are stoopid can’t be blamed for it. Call them UNEDUCATED, the ones that aren’t stoopid.

    BTW, if there ever was an original sin, it would be being European. Having driven out (persecuting!!) all the stoopid religionists to across the pond, and all that.

    Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

  5. unclefrogy says

    I like the add and I agree with the sentiment. I do not mind paying taxes generally In fact I would be grateful if I owed more if it was because I was making more money.
    The only thing I have any problem with would be the way the money is spent .
    If the result of the spending as it is today is too many stupid people ( I prefer to call them ignorant but stupid is commonly used) I would say that it was more likely the result of not spending enough on education rather then too much. How does it make any sense to expect schools to do more than they do now with less money?
    uncle frogy

  6. nora says

    I usually go with “willfully ignorant” rather than stupid. But that’s a bit harder to fit on a sign.

  7. consciousness razor says

    Lots of well-educated stupid people out there. And if you’re supposed to translate “stupid people” into “uneducated people,” it’s just vacuous.

  8. Alverant says

    I do like his Crash Course youtube channel about history and literature (those were two … well four separate series) and he points out what sort of questions the topic provokes.

  9. Louis says

    Slogan = a bit crap.

    Message behind poorly articulated slogan that well educated folks are a general societal asset = good and factual. Yay!

    That was easy. Are there others?

    Louis

  10. Anthony K says

    Goddamned social engineering Stalinists: The Market™ will decide for you whether or not you want to live in a country full of stupid people. Taxes are sins.*

    *Except when they pay for the police. Everybody should pitch in their flat tax share to protect my stuff. And no, dummies, it’s not ‘coercion’ if it’s violence done to Other people by the state on behalf of my stuff.

  11. Muz says

    The whole radical neo-liberal “Taxation is theft!” “End Coercion!” thing is one of the more poisonous and insidious things of our age.
    Even has people seemingly supporting companies and wealthy individuals avoiding taxation on the grounds that , not only would they do the same thing in the position of those others, but that tax is a moral wrong we endure.
    The subtle promotion of this view is the corruption of the social contract and probably the undermining of western democracy in the end, if you ask me.

  12. Adam Acuo says

    Good one! I hope that you’re also making donations to universities and high schools as well – there’s an awful lot of stupid people out there and you get more bang for the buck from direct contributions than you do through taxes – what with the teacher’s unions, multiple levels of meaningless administrators and general government shenanigans.

    The whole neo-fascist ‘taxes make us better off!’ ‘I can’t believe that our victim’s refuse to sanction our benevolence!’ is THE most poisonous and insidious thing of our age.

  13. Infophile says

    @16 Adam Acuo: Please define fascist. And then please explain why taxation falls under that label.

    And while you’re at it, go and look up “tragedy of the commons” and “free rider problem.” Something tells me that’ll be a good education for you.

  14. Anthony K says

    The whole neo-fascist ‘taxes make us better off!’ ‘I can’t believe that our victim’s refuse to sanction our benevolence!’ is THE most poisonous and insidious thing of our age.

    Thankfully, Pete Thiel’s got an island in the making where you’ll be free to put your hypothesis to the test.

    Go, Galt, go!

  15. Anthony K says

    @16 Adam Acuo: Please define fascist. And then please explain why taxation falls under that label.

    Aw fuck: haven’t you learned that the only thing that gives a libertarian meaning is forcing others to listen to him wax poetic for hours on end?

    Don’t Adam. I will personally drive you to the ocean if it means I never, ever, ever, have to encounter you again.

  16. Anthony K says

    Adam, doesn’t this sound wonderful? It’s calling to you! Go, Galt, go!

    You have nothing to lose but your shackles. Leave us to our terrible fascism. Please. Bring your friends. All of them.

  17. unclefrogy says

    what does this mean? whole neo-fascist ‘taxes make us better off!’ ‘I can’t believe that our victim’s refuse to sanction our benevolence!’ is THE most poisonous and insidious thing of our age.
    uncle frogy

  18. Anthony K says

    what does this mean? whole neo-fascist ‘taxes make us better off!’ ‘I can’t believe that our victim’s refuse to sanction our benevolence!’ is THE most poisonous and insidious thing of our age.
    uncle frogy

    Adam doesn’t have time to lecture you all on the superiority of his reasoning; he’s got a boat to catch.

  19. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I fully agree with the OP message.

    I hate it when I hear other senior citizens complaining about having to pay school taxes now that they no longer have school-aged children. Never mind they attended public schools, and so did their kids. They don’t realize they are really saying that they won’t help to pay to educate their grandchildren. Usually the complaint is about educating the “undeserving”, the immigrants their grandparents were at one time. They would rather take a Caribbean cruise.

  20. consciousness razor says

    Good one! I hope that you’re also making donations to universities and high schools as well – there’s an awful lot of stupid people out there and you get more bang for the buck from direct contributions than you do through taxes – what with the teacher’s unions, multiple levels of meaningless administrators and general government shenanigans.

    Everyone has a right to an education. The society as whole is responsible for ensuring that right to everyone. And donations are not going to meet that need. That’s why pretending we could and should rely on donations is unrealistic and irresponsible.

    There’s no need to even address your vague bullshit about unions, administrators and shenanigans. But I will note that’s some seriously vague bullshit.

    The whole neo-fascist ‘taxes make us better off!’ ‘I can’t believe that our victim’s refuse to sanction our benevolence!’ is THE most poisonous and insidious thing of our age.

    What victims? People paying taxes, to support their own society? Simply laughable.

  21. says

    Adam @16:

    The whole neo-fascist ‘taxes make us better off!’ ‘I can’t believe that our victim’s refuse to sanction our benevolence!’ is THE most poisonous and insidious thing of our age.

    Are you a libertarian or one of those “I’m not a libertarian, I just agree with many of their ideas”-people (a meaningless distinction of course)?

    Without taxes, where does the money come from for infrastructure (bridges, airports, dams, roads, and more)?
    Without taxes, where does the money come from for the social safety nets that keep millions of people from starving (I’m sure you’re aware that charities are unable to meet these needs)?
    Without taxes, where does your retirement money come from?
    Without taxes, who funds humanitarian efforts?
    Without taxes, where does the money come from to rebuild after natural disasters?

    Let me make the understatement of the day:
    You fail to understand the myriad ways you benefit from government taxation.

    I suggest examining these benefits before whining about not wanting to pay taxes.

  22. opposablethumbs says

    If they’re so independent, they don’t need UK fire or rescue services, much less UK hospitals.

    Leeches indeed.

  23. Muz says

    Geez, I am occasionally guilty of throwing around words without really knowing what they mean, but fascism ought to be pretty straightforward by now.

    Yes, participatory democracy is fascist. Of course it is.

  24. Anthony K says

    I hadn’t heard of Sealand before.

    I had a friend from my poli sci days who wanted an ambassadorship from Sealand so that he could open an embassy for the sole purpose of operating a boozecan out of it. Myself, I find I’m perfectly capable of ruining my liver within the confines of our existing liquor laws.

  25. woozy says

    I’m going to come to the defense of the use of the word “stupid”. Yes, uneducated does not necessitate stupidity nor does education guarantee intelligence. But ignorance breeds and encourages stupidity and education exposes, discourages and drives it away. There are ignorant potentially smart people who allow themselves to be stupid and that’s tragic.

  26. Anthony K says

    If they’re so independent, they don’t need UK fire or rescue services, much less UK hospitals.

    Leeches indeed.

    When libertarians use the word to refer to themselves or their doctrines, the in- prefix takes on the prepositional meaning (“in, on”), rather than the negative (“un”), so it effectively means the same thing as dependent. See inflammable vs. flammable.

  27. anuran says

    Courtesy of Oliver Wendell Holmes:

    It is true, as indicated in the last cited case, that every exaction of money for an act is a discouragement to the extent of the payment required, but that which in its immediacy is a discouragement may be part of an encouragement when seen in its organic connection with the whole. Taxes are what we pay for civilized society, including the chance to insure.

  28. says

    The full Open Letter (from one of the Crash Course World History episodes, I believe) is even better, although this meme picks up the real money quote:

    Dear public education, when you were introduced in Japan you were very unpopular because you were funded by a new property tax. In fact, you were so unpopular that at least 2000 schools were destroyed by rioters primarily through arson. And even though public education has proved extremely successful, lots of people still complain about having to pay taxes for it. So let me explain something: public education does not exist for the benefit of students or for the benefit of their parents. It exists for the benefit of the social order. We have discovered as a species that it is useful to have an educated population. You do not need to be a student or have a child who is a student to benefit from public education. Every second of every day of your life you benefit from public education. So let me explain why I like to pay taxes for schools even though I don’t personally have a kid in school. It’s because I don’t like living in a country with a bunch of stupid people. Best wishes, John Green

  29. twas brillig (stevem) says

    I, too, would often make the distinction between “stupid” and “ignorant”. This case, however, is quite different. Education serves multiple purposes, only one of which is to make the students less ignorant. And even then, it gives each student all the information the students are capable of. “Stupid” is commonly used, as in this case, to summarize both types of brains: smart+ignorant, & non-smart. Without education, everyone falls into this “stupid” category (with or without a non-smart brain).
    >>Libertarians: education is investment with a very high return of productivity. The educated will produce so much more than the uneducated. Taxes (for education) are just investing in the future, we’re all going into the future, the future needs educated members.
    >>Liberals: Educations second function is to sort out all the needy and give them all the help they deserve to function with the lack of smarts their brains possess.
    >>Conservatives: Education will make it possible for everyone to challenge you to the top tiers of income, depriving you of all your hard-earned profits… oops. never-mind

    back to discussion instead of pretend-schilling: I actually do think that education makes everyone better, even educating the few loonies that misuse their education. I’d still rather have them doing _something_ with that organ of neurons in their heads than wallowing in ignorance from lack of education. It is the best thing our taxes can be spent on [in addition to hospitals, etc] I, too, don’t want to live in a society of stupid [slang] people. Neurologically stupid people are still better to be around when they’re educated than when they aren’t.

  30. Louis says

    I’ve always wanted to invade Sealand and take it over…

    …of course it would be a brief, military style takeover of as little brutality as was necessary, followed by a Surrealist Dictatorship That Would Last A Thousand Wardrobes!

    The Dadaist Thursdaysw would be a blast.

    Louis

  31. serena says

    My favorite John Green quote: “The underlying ideal of the self-made individual who heroically on their own builds a successful career in music or business or writing or whatever is just deeply flawed and as long as we believe it we will collaborate too little and judge others too often.” ~ John Green

  32. says

    Nerd

    I hate it when I hear other senior citizens complaining about having to pay school taxes now that they no longer have school-aged children.

    Not to mention that senior citizens especially rely on services provided by other people.
    It’s completely irrelevant whether somebody has kids in school or is childfree. Do they want to receive their medical care from people who can’t read, FFS?

  33. gAytheist says

    There’s also the economic article, just in case you run across someone who doesn’t mind living with stupid people. One of the biggest things that increases your property values of your house or condo is how close you are to good schools. Vote for school bonds – it will increase the value of your property.

  34. Lofty says

    Nerd

    I hate it when I hear other senior citizens complaining about having to pay school taxes now that they no longer have school-aged children.

    They want to have lower pay scales for their employees/carers, better for them if the staff don’t know any better.
    You don’t need an idjication to mow lawns.

  35. says

    In before some Randroid shrieks “taxes are fascism!” or some-such sagacity.

    Oh, I see one of them has already arrived. Confound it all, PZ – why can’t you operate on Australian Central Standard Time? You and your other side of the planet. Bah!

  36. mikeyb says

    I think we should replace public schools with a simple 2 year Bible education and as a graduation gift, give each kid their choice of a gun that they can carry around anywhere. Who needs public education when the billionaire job creators need their tax breaks, and people only need enough education to work and Walmart or fill out orders at Amazon warehouses anyway. Perhaps we can start in Georgia and Kansas and work our way outward.

  37. says

    I agree with the fact that education benefits everyone and is worth paying taxes for, and I realize that many teachers are working hard, doing a fine job and even paying for school supplies out of pocket on poverty wages, but it’s hard to defend to people in a shitty school district, where all the money goes to sports and to raises (in a time of economic crisis) for teachers who are making well above the median salary. My school district pushed for a levy, wailing about the fate of the children’s education, during the height of the economic crisis no less, and then took the money they got and spent it all on the football team, leaving the cut educational programs cut–it’s no wonder they now struggle to get any more levies passed at this point. Boo hoo, look at pictures of sad little Sally, she’s sad because the school won’t be able to teach science or history or afford books, etc–and then take that money and give it instead to little Billy so he can play ball, leaving sad little Sally in the dirt. It was a dirty trick, and it backfired.

    Can we please put sports somewhere other than schools and stop wasting education funds on football?

    And can we please not, during a severe recession, give raises to the actually well-paid teachers who are making well above the median salary (as they are in my school district) when the people are struggling to survive and don’t have the money to pay higher taxes to fund those raises? It’s hard enough to defend giving more money to a school that prioritizes athletics over education. No, I don’t begrudge teachers a fair pay, or even a good pay. Teachers are worth paying for, and we shouldn’t expect them to work for free, especially when their student loans are no less than ours. But teachers who are already being paid well shouldn’t be getting continuous raises during a severe recession, when those raises will be funded by people who, quite frankly, do not have the extra to put into it. It’s hard to convince someone who is struggling to survive and to not have their house and everything they own taken away from them that they have to somehow scrape together an extra $500 bucks a year or more that they don’t have to give a higher wage to someone who is comfortably employed and well paid already.

    Which is another way my school district has made a lot of enemies.

    Just a little reciprocity is what I’m asking, at least from the teachers who make plenty of money. I’m willing to pay you some more, when we have it. But when we don’t, when we’re suffering through a recession/depression and you’re lucky enough to have a nice teaching job that pays well, could you lay off the raises for a bit and let us recover? We’ll love you all the more for it.

    I want to pay for education, and I think many other people do too. But most of all, I want that money to go to education and not to fucking sports, and especially not to sports instead of education, which is where many schools seem to be stuck. I think we need to strip sports from the schools and put them out as a separate institution, either privately funded (as in invested in by local businesses–the kids get to play ball, the business gets publicity and goodwill in the community) or as a separate community program, and get back to using educational systems for education, and not treat it as an athlete-producing program with an optional side-interest or side-effect of learning.

  38. mildlymagnificent says

    Oh, I see one of them has already arrived. Confound it all, PZ – why can’t you operate on Australian Central Standard Time? You and your other side of the planet. Bah!

    One more vote here.

  39. eoleen says

    I agree: STUPID is not the same as UNEDUCATED.

    STUPID occurs when, no matter how EDUCATED you are, you can’t put two and two together properly: getting three or seventeen or minus four. In other words, no matter how “SMART” you are, you can’t put simple facts together and come to a real-world decision.
    .
    For example:
    .
    You don’t want to pay taxes: yet you have a heart condition and may need an ambulance some day soon to take you to the nearest hospital, which, in New York City, may very well be a Fire Department Ambulance, dispatched by the 911 operator, and which arrives accompanied by several husky firemen to provide the muscle to get obese patients out of their room and down the stairs (4 flights of them, maybe) and into the ambulance which takes you to…. lets suggest Bellevue Hospital Center, on the East side of Manhattan, and which happens to be the OLDEST PUBLIC HOSPITAL in the United States, being founded in 1736.
    .
    I wrote the above run-on sentence because it is, as best I can remember, pretty much what I said to a man with not one, not two, but THREE Doctorates, and who was complaining about the need to pay taxes on his $250,000 yearly income.
    .
    Or that is what he said: I strongly suspect that he understated the amount and had a goodly income “on the side” and “off the books”.
    .
    This miserable excuse for a “man” lived in a four-story, magnificently maintained co-op apartment building – with a retrofitted elevator that could barely hold two people squeezed together – thus the need to perhaps carry his sorry ass down the stairs.
    .
    It was/is “an historic landmark”, and, as a result, had/has a nice tax abatement: i.e. – it didn’t pay the real estate and water and sewer taxes that otherwise would be due.
    .
    The area was/is guarded by a police precinct on the block around the corner: he complained about the traffic into and out of the precinct house, and the police cars which took up and still take up parking spaces, yet he complained bitterly about the lack of action by the police when his car was “defaced” – someone spilled an ice-cream cone on his shinny hood.
    .
    The incident occurred on a hot summer Saturday evening, with the concomitant load of noisy drunks, and he had the nerve to report this crime and expect the police to respond.
    .
    This man can only be described as STUPID
    .
    And yes, he did die of a heart attack: only it was on the subway train during rush hour: the train was held a station while firemen carried his corpse up two flights of stairs to the street, where the ambulance carried his remains to the hospital, with police clearing the way.
    .
    Please note that every service mentioned above is provided by the public purse.

  40. birgerjohansson says

    I would suggest the phrase “I don’t want to live in a country where people are too ignorant to…(insert example)”

    Possible example: “know what to do when I get a heart attack”
    “know what to do when people yell “fire!”
    “know children should not play with electric outlests”
    “know why it is a bad idea not to clean their hands after using the toilet”
    “know you must not give chocolate to horses”
    “know what to do when they see someone drowning”
    .
    Yes, I put the chocolate thing above above the drowning thing. I like horses.

  41. Alexander says

    I think that passing this test, or some expanded variation thereof, with a 100% score should be required for graduation.

    OK, maybe we can skip question 5, because his ‘answer key’ starts with the disclaimer that “there’s no right or wrong answer here”, but anybody we want to call educated should be able to answer the first four questions correctly *every time*.

  42. Marc Abian says

    I think that passing this test, or some expanded variation thereof, with a 100% score should be required for graduation.

    OK, maybe we can skip question 5, because his ‘answer key’ starts with the disclaimer that “there’s no right or wrong answer here”, but anybody we want to call educated should be able to answer the first four questions correctly *every time*.

    I don’t think that little test is a good proxy for proper rational thinking people have to apply to political choices. And besides, even after reading the answers I still don’t know what the hell the last one is about.