Yes, that title’s probably a horrible pun, but if you can come up with a more creative pun in the comments section to the case of Serrano v Priest, http://corporate.findlaw.com/law-library/separate-and-unequal-serrano-played-an-important-role-in.html, after reading this blog, I’ll let you name my next blogpost! Technically it’ll be my third upcoming blogpost, since two are already in the works and will come out on Turkey Survival Day. Hopefully. With that intriguing, (or confusing,) commentary made, let me start the blogpost.
Putin’s Pie Offer to the Russians
We’re bred to think that inequality is supremely bad, that’s it’s horrible and must be fought every step of the way. That’s incorrect. Obviously pricks like Madoff should not be treated like kings, but a bit of inequality is a good thing, and inequality doesn’t really matter, if Maslow-style social and civil needs of the citizenry are met. Only when inequality interferes with these needs, does it become a problem. Case in point: have you ever seen someone shout “down with Warren Buffet! Down with Stanley Kroenke! Down with Philip Anschutz!” Nope, even though they’re billionaires and their fortunes are inherently unequal to the rest of us. The reason that doesn’t happen is because they earned their fortunes honestly; they didn’t steal them, or “obtain” said fortunes through “tax minimization schemes”.
To simplify this with an example, let me talk about pies. Imagine a delicious rectangular pie divided into pieces whose area equates to four square inches. Remember, this is a proverbial pie. The bigger the pie, the more four square inch pieces will fit into said pie. The smaller the pie, the less pieces will fit into it. And let’s say that to meet Maslow-style civil and social needs you need 10 pieces, proverbially speaking. If Putin’s Administration provides you with the resources to bake a pie that has 20 pieces, and then he takes 10 pieces away, are you going to be angry at him? Of course not, since your needs are met!
If Putin’s Administration provides you with the resources to bake a pie that has 40 pieces and then he takes 25 pieces away, are you going to be angry at him? Of course not, since not only are your needs met, but you have 5 pieces that you have no idea what to do with, so you save some of them for the next year. Conversely, if Yeltsin’s Administration provides you with the resources to only bake a pie with 10 pieces and then takes just 2 pieces away, you are going to be furious, since your needs are not met.
This simple analogy is why Putin’s policies are successful with the majority of Russians. By granting most Russians the resources to attain their Maslow style civil and social needs, and perhaps even some wants, (13 Gold Medals FTW!) he has an extremely high approval rating. It’s not just about the money; it never is.
I was watching KVN recently and saw Znarok cheered like there’s no tomorrow when he was introduced as a judge. He’s arguably the World’s best hockey coach, but was that worth a standing ovation? Yes, because when our hockey teams win, we gain a massive Spiritual boost. If two people pay for the exact same seat, (in relation to their team,) and one person’s team wins, whereas the other person’s team loses, 99 percent of the time the person whose team won is going to have a bigger blast, even though they both paid the exact same ticket price and saw the exact same game. Money cannot explain Spirituality, so we should stop trying to pretend that it can. It came, it failed and it continues to fail. Money’s important when one takes care of the body, partially important when taking care of the mind and not at all important in relation to the Spirit.
Putin has succeeded in all three categories. He did not do it alone, but he played a major role in providing the conditions that enabled Russians to succeed. That’s why his administration is going to get the full backing of the Russians on dealing with Kiev. That’s why most Russians roll their eyes when Westerners talk about corruption in Russia.
The Serrano Case and the Decline of K-12 Education
IMHO, Neoconservatives usually have bad ideas and utilize bad tools to accomplish said ideas. Neoliberals usually have good ideas, but also utilize bad tools to accomplish said ideas. Since people want the result, not the idea, both end up with disaster. Don’t believe me? Try selling an idea that will utilize improper tools for the project, and see how much it’s worth. My guess? Nothing. Or you could compare Iraq to Libya.
Which brings me to the Serrano Case. Logic dictates that property taxes are supposed to be used for services that increase property values: if a city grows at a reasonable pace, while utilizing services provided by property taxes, then the property values will increase. If a city wants to fund a school, then said school has to return benefits to the city. It’s easier for a school to accomplish that task than you think. Let’s take a sample city, Sampleton, with a population of 10,000, roughly 1,000 of whom are school age kids.
The mere presence of a great school in Sampleton would increase the property values, because people want to live next to a great school. It reduces gang violence and crime rates, thus enabling cities to pay less for the police and provides an atmosphere that leads to a more pleasant interaction between cops, (who are no longer overworked,) and the people of Sampleton. It provides free education. If Sampleton High hires a great politology professor to work with the students, then the students can educate the residents of Sampleton about voting, providing relatively unbiased voting material, practically free of charge. When the best candidates win, the city of Sampleton thrives.
Those are just a few ways that a school benefits a city, so it’s no mystery why a city would want to fund a school, and fund it lavishly. However, this creates a system of inequality, because richer cities are going to be able to pour more funds into schools than poorer cities. An ideal solution would be taking out a bond to assist schools within poor cities, but Neoliberals had another idea: income redistribution.
It was attempted in 1971 with the Serrano Case. This angered quite a few property owners, who now viewed their property taxes as stolen by the state. And since a good chunk of California’s economy is dependent on property owners, California’s property owners have a powerful voice. In 1978 the property owners responded to redistribution by capping property taxes. As a result of the Neoliberal Serrano attempt, school funding plummeted, which hurt the poor schools the most. “Didn’t it hurt the rich schools too?” Nope, because the wealthy responded by donating money to the schools instead. Thus the education system became even more unequal, because the Neoliberals wanted to use the wrong tool for the job and it blew up in their face. This was in the 1970s, but it is a proud pattern with the Neoliberals.
Welcome to NovoRossiya, or is it Ukraine?
One can make the ironic statement about a certain group or two having a learning disability, and he or she would probably be right. The only choice for Ukraine in February 2014, was the Custom’s Union. Ukraine’s economy was destroyed, the country was/is subsisting on borrowed time, so the country needed an influx of cash. The only organization that was able to provide said influx was the Custom’s Union.
People judge their leaders on the improvement of their quality of life under said leadership. While standards of living in Russia improved under Putin, standards of living in the EU deteriorated under Ashton, Juncker, and whomever else is in charge. On top of that, the Russians empathize with the citizenry of Ukraine, because the Russian had to live through the exact same thing in the 1990s. Yanukovich wasn’t some pro-Moscow president; he was an oligarchic wimp who tried to save his country instead of filling his pockets for once in his life, and that’s what led to him being ousted from power by the Maidan crowd. That, and his massive wimp out.
With the CU membership no longer an option for all of Ukraine, the question becomes “what’s going to happen?” Russia’s economy will persevere, Ukraine’s won’t. Who’s going to pay as a result of the explosion of Ukraine’s economy? The austerity-driven EU? The massively-in-debt US? There’s absolutely no solution for Western Ukraine. An attempt was made to integrate it with the EU, and said attempt failed, because the wrong tools were used. The EU/US simply do not have the right financial tools and Russia isn’t in a giving mood. My guess is that NovoRossiya will secede due to economic necessities, Western Ukraine will be dumped on the EU and end up a massive version of EULEX, which in turn could lead to the collapse of the European Union.
“But UCG, didn’t you say that California turned out to be alright?” Yes, California relied on the collegiate system to fix the giant Serrano fuck up, a system with vast financial resources and two decades of experience, a system which simply doesn’t exist in Ukraine. And even then, the save was barely enough to keep it going. California’s collegiate system had $40 billion ready to go when needed, and that was done simply to save the K-12 system in a state with a functioning economy; not an entire country whose economy would be complimented, if it was to be compared with the economy of Greece.
The break up of Ukraine is inevitable. The sooner Ukraine breaks up, the less devastating the collapse will be. Unfortunately, Neoliberals will simply delay the outcome until the ticking time bomb explodes. I wouldn’t recommend that option, but I wouldn’t recommend using a saw to fix an ice rink either. Not even if it was an electric one.