Half Past the Month: ‘Saving’ the Governor

May 13, 2015

For the use of the membership only (608 words)

“Ultimately the question Pence needs to answer: Is he willing to do what it takes to push himself to be bolder, to be more inclusive, to build bridges with people who have different worldviews, to show passion for the state and for the people he serves?” — Tim Swarens, editorial page editor of the Indianapolis Star

WITH AN INDIANAPOLIS STAR columnist openly advising him on how to save his career, the governor is in a miserable place indeed.

Do we need a word picture of just how miserable? He is standing in black high-top Chucks listening to a pot-bellied Red Auerbach demonstrate the Rick Perry method of shooting underhand free throws.

For if the governor has made mistakes, he at least knows now that American politics is shifting. He understands — perhaps better than anyone in Indiana — that the past may not be prologue. The editors of the Star, locked in a 1970s dream world, are oblivious to all that.

At a time when the polls are measuring utter disgust with expanding, ever-more-intrusive government, the state’s largest newspaper thinks it has its finger on the governor’s problem: He’s “too timid,” the Star’s Tim Swarens criticizes; he isn’t expanding and intruding enough.

Thank goodness the governor is planning a trade mission (wink-wink) to China and will be well beyond the Star’s circulation area. Otherwise, in his doldrums he might be tempted to take up Swarens’ recommendation to make his number-one priority a truly aggressive, Hegelian preschool program.

“The bottom line is that all families want what is best for their children,” Swarens approvingly quotes one of his experts, “and what is in the best interests of their children is also in the best interest of our city’s economic and social well-being.”

Well yes, and a good thing, or would we have to change what we think is best for our children? No, for what parents freely choose as “best” is one thing, and what Swarens formulates as a last-resort, subsidized, government-heavy daycare system is another.

The Star’s Matt Tulley is not put off by such reactionary talk. He has declared Mayor Greg Ballard’s preschool plan a success in Indianapolis. How does he know that already, with the start date months away? Let our Tom Huston, with tongue in cheek, explain:

“I am amazed that thousands of families have applied for free babysitting services from the city of Indianapolis. No wonder Tully declares the program a resounding success before the first child is dropped off at the daycare door. If Ballard offered free housing and a Mustang in every garage he would have another successful program to his credit.”

Tully mistakes as a social-engineering triumph that more than 5,000 low-income families have applied to someone called the Indianapolis Deputy of Education for scholarships to take care of their children. It in fact would be a triumph if this deputy, whose office you can presume is near the deputy charged with fixing our potholes, could be trusted with such a delicate task as jump-starting our children’s lives.

There is a stack of discouraging research collected by our foundation on this point, but let’s leave it at this:

A properly high-minded, politically correct, government-designed preschool is more likely to insist that its charges use wooden spoons (because “most of the world uses wooden spoons”) than instill that which makes preschool valuable, i.e., the self-discipline and attendant social skills that allow our children to grow into valued, independent and happy members of society.

For no matter how much we wring our hands and wrench our hearts, mothers and fathers (or their freely and carefully chosen surrogates) teach 3- and 4-year-olds what they need to know about life — or not. And if the governor is taking advice on how to “save his career,” he should take that simple observation and run with it, not with the empty promise of another silly government program.

— Craig Ladwig

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