My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


How To End The Helicopter State, Step 1 

The process of ending the "Helicopter State" is similar to the sort of thing that should be done in schools to put an end to helicopter parenting. Of course, in the schools they can never implement these things because the public schools work for the parents (there's another topic we'll need to jump in on at some point) and should never be in the position to tell the parents how to raise their children.

Do you like that? I actually said that with a straight face. . .

As I alluded to earlier, helicopter parenting is not due to any failure of love or caring; indeed, it could be said that helicopter parenting is due to an over-abundance of love, combined with a dearth of judgment. The helicopter parent does not understand nature, or is unable to subborn their instincts to the inexorable logic of nature. The sad and inescapable truth of nature is that mistakes have consequences, that bad choices bring pain, and the failure imparts its own lessons and wisdom. And some parents refuse to let their children deal with that.

The only way to end the cycle of helicoptering is to somehow separate the parent from the action of the school, or of life. WERE the schools able to do so, the only option would be impose consequences on the child within the confines of the school day, understanding that no such consequences could be imposed beyond the day, because the child would be beyond the control of the student. Schools have gone to the length of having children and parents sign behavior contracts that spell out the consequences, but the schools realize that those are only effective within the confines of the school day.

Let me make one thing clear here: I am NOT advocating for schools to superimpose their will over that of the parents. That would never be a good idea. I am merely suggesting that, in the absence of the actual ability to rescue a child from a helicoptering parent, schools would--hypothetically--have to take extraordinary steps such as what I suggest.

And I think that's the larger point in respect to the Helicopter State. The only way to cut the state out of the equation is to cut off its access. The question is, how do you accomplish that? How do you take the state out of our lives? The monolith does not want to be moved out, it WILL NOT be ignored. So what is the answer?

We are starting to see the answer. Texas has recently passed new standards for textbooks that do not conform to the standards of plitical correctness; and Arizona has notably passed a law that gives it the power to enforce federal law where the feds have failed. Local action taken in defiance or disregard for what the State expects; local action to reassert the proper role of the local body politic with respect to the people and the State.

Make no mistake: this comes with a price. As Arizona will soon learn, the will of the Political class in Washington will assert itself. Federal Civil Rights complaints will soon be the norm in Arizona; I have every expectation that Texas will be swamped by lawsuits alleging discrimination and any thing else that can be thrown up against the wall.

And what will be the ultimate threat? The withholding of federal money. For example, roughly 7 percent of any school district's budget comes from the federal government; highway money is a huge incentive for states to comply with federal regulation; and it's very hard to sy how many projects, pork or otherwise, are accomplished in every district around the country based solely on the federal dole. How do you think your state's budget picture would look without federal highway or federal education money, not to mention small pork projects here and there.

Of course, every dollar has a demand: No Child Left Behind pumped $10 billion into education budgets, but it imposed a testing regime and a set of consequences. My argument here is that states and school districts would be MUCH better off without federal education dollars--not because we don't need the money, but because it gets the State out of what is explicitly a local issue.

The first step to eliminating the helicopter state is to say "no" to helipcopter money. It would be painful; it will cause states and municipalities to scramble to meet budgets.

But it would start to put responsibility for our lives back in our hands, close to home, where it belongs.

Of course, for that to happen, every single local election must matter; every single candidate that you vote for must be committed to ending the madness; every empty council seat and commission position must be filled. Because the State will fill whatever voids you leave them, and then they will take back control.

Do you honestly believe that Representative Markey/Perlmutter/Salazar/Sen Bennett think you should have that responsibility? How hard do you think they will work to assert the right of the State to take over your life?

Try this for an experiment: ask him/her if he/she would support a continuation of the Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act if it was stripped of all mandates and reporting requirements. They'll answer that that would lack accountability; what he's really afraid of is giving you back some of your tax dollars without the ability for the federal government to control it. Go ahead and try it, just for fun.

This is a radical suggestion--I know that. But I do not believe that it would seem that radical to John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, or Thomas Paine. They loved liberty enough to pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred Honor--I'm only talking about 7% of an education budget and chunk of highway money.

This is the beginning of crunch time, when we all need to put up or shut up. It is all well and good to talk about ending the expansion of the State, but when that contraction means a reduction in services, how do we respond?

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