Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Love” rally drew at least 65,000 people to the state of Texas last week. (I write “at least” because that 65,000 number comes from CBS – the same news outlet that suggested a mere 87,000 people showed up on the D.C. mall for Beck’s first rally, “Restoring Honor.” Take it from an eyewitness: That rally drew hundreds of thousands.) Beck suggests the Dallas, Tex., rally marks the start of “The Third Great Awakening” in America. In keeping with that idea, he spoke eloquently Saturday of the need for a national revival.
“We must not become America in name only,” Beck said. “We must always strive to be a great country. We don’t have to spend our inheritance. We can build on it. Invest it. Improve it. Make it bigger and better. That’s your choice. It’s our choice. Our inheritance is America.”
The rally deserves recognition here, though, because it produced what might very well have been the largest private service day in the history of the country. At least 30,000 volunteers contributed to more than 300 service projects in the Dallas area. As American observer Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, “The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.” We might have had anemic economic growth this quarter (just 1.5 percent), but, if Glenn Beck’s Day of Service is any indication, our “democratic society” is still healthy. As I’ve written before, the more we take responsibility for ourselves and each other through the private sector, the less excuse the would-be powerful have to push for public-sector “solutions” to the inherent problems that accompany the human condition.
CAPITALIZING ON INSOLVENCY
In Michigan, two insolvent school districts have parlayed past poor budgeting into an opportunity for innovation and reform. The Muskegon Heights and Highland Park districts “are handing their classroom keys over to charter school operators to save money,” according to The Wall Street Journal. The charter operators will run their schools as nonprofits, receive per-pupil funding from the state, bring some of their own money to the table and contribute local property taxes to help pay down the districts’ debt. Predictably, teachers’ union “taxpayer watchdogs” (the very same folks who, let’s not forget, exercise a monopoly on taxpayer dollars!) are upset – but, at this point, Muskegon Heights and Highland Park schools have nothing to lose, as they rank among the worst in the state.
A TAX TO LIKE?
Maybe. To capitalize on Ohio’s increasing energy production, Ohio Gov. John Kasich has proposed to increase a severance tax on oil and gas (from less than 1 percent of the market value of the oil or gas to 2.7 percent) – but he also proposes that the proceeds go into a fund dedicated to lowering all personal income tax rates dollar for dollar. The Wall Street Journal suggests that the tax would – on present price trends – raise between $459 million and $547 million each year, equivalent to a 5 percent across-the-board tax cut for each of Ohio's nine brackets. Like some Tea Partiers in Ohio, I question whether future administrations would honor Kasich’s intention to plunge funds into income-tax reduction. Nevertheless, it’s a proposal worth considering, especially in light of the fact that Oklahoma currently levies a severance tax of up to 7 percent. Perhaps if our state had not led the nation in spending growth over the past decade, the state legislature might have been able to reduce or eliminate the state income tax, as OCPA has advocated.
Know of a state policy experiment to restore or preserve individual liberty and/or free enterprise that has been successful? Please let me know by e-mailing email@example.com.