Most of the time, when I read stuff slithering out of the Mackinac Center’s propaganda arm Michigan Capitol Confidential, I just shrug it off with a Reaganesque, “there they go again”. But every once in a while their effluvium is so nonsensical that it makes me read and reread it again to make sure that it isn’t something coming from The Onion. One of their posts yesterday, titled “Michigan Now Spending More on Teacher Retiree Liabilities Than Prisons”, is in that category.
The thrust of the post, and I’m not kidding here, is that it is simply outrageous that, in Michigan, we’re spending more on teachers than on prisons.
The state of Michigan will spend more money in 2015 on trying to catch up on underfunding for the public school employees pension liabilities and retirement health care than it will spend on the Michigan Department of Corrections.
Michigan is planning on spending $1.937 billion to catch up on underfunding for the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System and another $880 million to catch up on public school employee retiree health care costs.
The state’s 2015 budget for corrections is $2.040 billion.
Corporatists like the Mackinac Center – groups that have the destruction of unions as one of their top priorities – like to call retirement pensions and the healthcare of teachers “liabilities”. The rest of us call them things like “earned benefits”. They aren’t a “liability” in any sense other than for accountants, profit statements, and annual reports. They are part of the compensation package – a contract, of a sort – that we provide to some of the most valued members of society in order to attract high quality educators to teach the next generation of citizens.
Calling them “liabilities” is, of course, intentional. It makes teachers look like parasites, demanding more than their share of the pie at the expense of everyone else. Only in the minds of corporatist types are teachers seen in this light. The rest of us know the important, the essential, role that teachers fill in any advanced society.
The kicker here, and it’s extremely illuminating, is that the good folks at the Mackinac Center value building and maintaining prisons far more than they value our teachers. When you consider that kids who don’t get a good education are far more likely to end up in prison – the so-called “school-to-prison pipeline – it’s clear how sick, twisted, and obscene this worldview is.
In this piece, the Mackinac Center’s perverse position is revealed for the sickening, twisted obscenity that it is.
UPDATE: In addition to trolling the comments on this post, the “professionals” at the Mackinac Center put up a blog post this morning accusing me of “failing Accounting 101” and used this image to illustrate it:
Apparently these “professionals” missed the sentence, “They aren’t a ‘liability’ in any sense other than for accountants, profit statements, and annual reports” in this piece.
[CC Facepalm image credit: Cesar Astudillo | Flickr]