Making A Federal Case Out Of It

In case you missed it, last week was the first “federal anti-bullying summit.”

According to statistics quoted at the summit, in 2007 one out of three middle school and high school students reported being bullied at some point.  Does anyone really think that percentage is greater than it was in, say, 1970?  Speaking as an overweight, pimply, glasses-wearing junior high school student of that era, I can assure you from bitter personal experience that bullying was alive and well in the America of decades gone by.  Watch A Christmas Story or Back To The Future if you don’t believe me.

So, what has changed?  Just the fact that the federal government now seems to be involved in everything.  And listen to what Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, had to say about the federal response to bullying, according to the article linked above:  “Duncan promised new coordination among federal agencies, better data to understand the problem and solutions, and more federal funding, especially for those schools with the greatest needs.”

So, we will try to “solve” local bullying problems by getting federal agencies more involved, doing some national-level numbers crunching, and throwing more federal bucks at the schools that apparently are the most inept at dealing with their specific bullying problems.  Does anyone else find this ridiculous, as well as pointless?

Have our local school boards and school administrators really become so feeble and pathetic that they have to look to Washington, D.C. to figure out how to deal with the playground bully?  Ralphie didn’t need the feds to tell him how to deal with Scut Farkas, and Marty managed to take care of Biff without seeking federal funding.  Wouldn’t we all be better off if our local institutions and school principals actually did their jobs and the federal government focused on issues that are truly national in scope and importance?

On The Taxpayers’ Dime

The AP has a story about President Obama’s themes for the upcoming midterm elections.  They are pretty familiar already — don’t give the keys back to the Republicans, who are just obstructionists — but that is not what I find interesting about the article.

No, the significant statement comes about two-thirds of the way down, after the reporter describes the fundraisers the President will attend on a three-day tour.  The sentence states:  “By pairing official events each day with political ones, the White House can bill taxpayers for most of the cost of the trip, a tradition that predates Obama and one he plans to continue aggressively.”

This is just another example of how politicians of both parties routinely use the federal treasury as their own piggy bank.  I don’t have any objection to politicians campaigning; that would be like objecting to the sun rising in the morning.  But is it too much to ask that Presidents who want to go on the campaign trail to tout their policies do so on their own dime, and not dip into the federal till and increase our budget problems to pay for their self-promotion?  If it saves the public fisc a few million dollars in travel costs, I think we can do without yet another presidential visit to a “clean energy” business or automotive parts factory that was ginned up merely to provide cover for taxpayer funding of a purely political campaign trip.