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Another problem with “Vote the Bums out”

A friend of mine teaches in the Camden City NJ school district, and pointed out one interesting factoid: the majority of parents in his district can’t vote in school board elections, either because they are immigrants or because they are felons. That makes it rather hard for them to “vote the parasites out” if they are so inclined. And if you can’t threaten to throw the bums out, the bums don’t have to listen to you.

16 Responses to “Another problem with “Vote the Bums out””

  1. MJS says:

    Don’t worry, pretty soon felons and immigrants will be allowed to vote in local, state, and federal elections as those laws preventing them from doing so have a ‘disparate impact’ on minority groups, and will be probably struck down if Obama gets to appoint another SC justice.

    • Ian Argent says:

      Way to miss the point there. In this case, being unable to vote leaves the parents unable to provide input into the direction of the school board. Believe it or not, this is a Bad Thing – it means they lose one of the basic tools for fighting corruption.

  2. Nathaniel says:

    I’m not sure I see the issue. The person with the most votes still wins, even though the voting pool has shrunk. Thus you actually need to convince fewer people to “throw the bums out” than you would if all immigrants and felons could vote.

    You seem to be assuming that the immigrants and felons would be more receptive to a new candidate than the rest of the population. Why do you think so?

  3. Ian Argent says:

    Well, this post was triggered by talking with my friend the teacher. He noted that there was an ASTOUNDING amount of corruption and nepotism in the Camden school system. (I’m shocked. See my shocked face?) One of the enabling factors he pointed to was that the majority of parents could not affect the policy of the school board because they were unable to vote in the elections. This means that it takes much less largesse spread around to keep the people who *can* vote happy with the status quo. Due to a quirk of NJ constitutional law, the Camden school disctrict is funded mostly by state funds, not local funds, which makes it easir for the corrupt politicians since they’re not spending their own district’s money.

    I would guess that it’s easier to keep a small electorate happy than a large one – so reducing the size of the electorate helps the people already in power. For a graphic example, check out the old british practice of “Rotten boroughts”.

  4. Fiftycal says:

    Why are illegals in school without having their tuition paid? Are the voters only people with kids in school and getting a welfare payment from the state? What a rip.

  5. dustydog says:

    Ian, the only way that makes sense is if the schools are giving preferential treatment to middle class kids and screwing poor kids. Things like extra funding for advanced placement classes at the expense of vocational classes, computer programming instead of shop, cutting buses (because rich and middle class kids have cars), charging for extras (after school clubs, band, field trips).

    That isn’t in the Democrat’s DNA: the liberal elite send their kids to private schools; the middle class democrats are true believers who fight to screw their own kids so that a disadvantaged kid would have an extra advantage.

  6. Ian Argent says:

    @Fiftycal: Hey, did I say illegals? If you’re here illegally, get OUT. If you want to come back, follow proper procedure. I got too many friends who did it the legal way. There’s plenty of people who make it here legally – lets not assume that everyone who’s “not from ’round here” is an illegal.

    @dustydog – Take it from me, there’s few to no “middle-class” kids in Camden City Schools. The corruption isn’t (much) in the classroom so much as where the contracts for services are let out, and who gets the non-teaching jobs. The money gets to the school system, and wanders off into “administration” and “buildings and grounds” and “maintenance services” and “contracting”. Not AP vs Vocation ed so much as paying twice or three times the cost at Home Depot for light bulbs, and 5 guys to put it in. All overseen by City Hall.

  7. Eric says:

    So sounds like a yet another good reason to
    a) become a legal citizen, and
    b) keep your nose clean.

  8. Ian Argent says:

    @Eric: And if it was just that easy, I wouldn’t be worrying about it.

    Becoming a citizen after legally immigrating into the US is a long, arduous, multi-year process (look up some of the posts on the subject at the Armed Canadian’s blog).

    As for keeping your nose clean, if committing a felony wasn’t as easy as stepping out of your house with a knife a half-inch too long, or becoming a casualty of the War on (some) Drugs, or believing your date when she says she’s 18, you might have a point.

    As it is right now, stupidity committed when you’re a young adult mean *never* being able to vote. Period.

  9. Kevin Highland says:

    I love your blog.

    I’ve long shared your stance on returning the rights of citizenship to felons who have completed their sentence. I liked the point that perhaps we should look at recidivism rates to know when we should hand a firearm back to them but I’m still undecided on that.

    While I agree that voting is a privilege/responsibility of citizenship I can see your point regarding affecting local policy by legal immigrants since they are paying taxes to those jurisdictions. I would be concerned about how to police what elections the immigrants get to vote in. I’m from Illinois where the dead people in Chicago vote early & often. I’m sure Chicago would love to expand that to immigrants also.

    Keep up the great blog work.

  10. Alpheus says:

    From Ian Argent: “Being unable to vote leaves the parents unable to provide input into the direction of the school board.”

    When it comes to parental input, having a School Board is a Bad Thing: while voting provides a little bit of influence in elections, it isn’t enough.

    The best way to give parents input would be to get rid of compulsory education altogether.

  11. Ian Argent says:

    Having a School Board is like having a Board of Directors for a private company or a representative legislature – the stakeholders hire agents to represent their interests. I’m not insistent on a school board separate from a Town Council, though.

  12. Alpheus says:

    The difference between a Board of Directors of a private company, and a School Board, however, is that no one is forced to purchase the product from a private company, while children are required by law to go to school.

  13. Ian Argent says:

    The Board, in both cases, consists not (necessarily) of agents of the customers, but of agents of the stakeholders. I a better analogy would be to the board of a mutual insurance agency or of the board of a HOA – the stakeholders are also the customers.

    At any rate, the government is not the sole provider of primary and secondary education – I was schooled at government expense for all of 2 years of my educational career (including college), for example. It’s just that a customer of a private education concern will pay quite a premium to shop elsewhere. The existance of a public school does not deny the existance of private schools.And to the extent that public education is a subsidy, I find I prefer to live in a society where there is a basic level of education guaranteed to all. (Whether we’re getting that basic level of education for all children and whether we are getting an unacceptable level of plotitico-religious indoctrination while we’re at it is a question beyond the scope of this comment).

  14. Alpheus says:

    I’d like to have a basic level of education guaranteed to all, except that there is one problem with that: there’s no such thing as a guarantee!

    Even so, I was astounded at the state of education in the United States before compulsory education. John Taylor Gatto makes a very strong case that families, left to their own devices, provided a far better education than our modern school system provides today.

    Education is a responsibility, ultimately, of the student and his parents. By creating government entities to take on that responsibility, we are putting the rights of ourselves, and of our children, in serious jeopardy.

  15. Ian Argent says:

    In this case, the average doesn’t matter so much as the floor. What I would like to see is something like the college system in the US where public-funded schools can stand alongside privately-funded ones, there are standards (preferably promulgated by neutral agencies such as the current college accreditation boards or an organization such as Underwriters Labs). Students would get vouchers and be able to subsidize them if necessary.

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