I was going to just call it a night here on this Memorial Day weekend, but I couldn’t just put the computer away without noting this bit of insanity:
A deepening budget crisis here has forced schools across the Sooner State to make painful decisions. Class sizes have ballooned, art and foreign-language programs have shrunk or disappeared, and with no money for new textbooks, children go without. Perhaps the most significant consequence: Students in scores of districts are now going to school just four days a week.
The shift not only upends what has long been a fundamental rhythm of life for families and communities. It also runs contrary to the push in many parts of the country to provide more time for learning — and daily reinforcement — as a key way to improve achievement, especially among poor children.
But funding for classrooms has been shrinking for years in this deep-red state as lawmakers have cut taxes, slicing away hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue in what some Oklahomans consider a cautionary tale about the real-life consequences of the small-government approach favored by Republican majorities in Washington and statehouses nationwide.
School districts staring down deep budget holes have turned to shorter weeks in desperation as a way to save a little bit of money and persuade increasingly hard-to-find teachers to take some of the nation’s lowest-paying jobs.
We spend a lot of time on the left speculating and adducing arguments about to what degree conservative voters are motivated by prejudice, economics or other factors.
But when you read stories like this one, or about how rural conservatives in Southern Oregon have cut taxes so low that they can’t even fund their own police force, you have to take a few steps back and wonder. These people aren’t just hurting others, and they’re not just punishing minorities or some faraway urban elites. They’re not just trying to bring the low-skill jobs back.
At a certain point it starts to take on the trappings of a mass ideological cult, little different from the Maoists of the Great Leap Forward or the widest eyed Jacobins of the French Revolution. Many of them are True Believers who will ride the supply-side, anti-government tiger deep into the jungle of no return even if it means the destruction of their communities and the deaths of their loved ones.
In the states where these people hold sway, there’s not much that can even be done to save them. If the people in these communities are willing to destroy themselves for the sake of a warped ideological purity, the rest of us can sometimes only try to shield ourselves from the destruction while welcoming those who wish to escape.