Act 72

Pennsylvanian legislators have developed a plan for reducing school taxes. The alternate
source of revenue would be slot machine profits. In order to take part in this program,
called Act 72, school districts must opt in and lose some property tax revenue.
The deadline for opting in is May 30. For
various reasons, many districts are giving Act 72 a pass
. I don’t blame them.

It’s a pretty moronic idea. Instead of relying on community support, in the form
of property taxes paid by those living within district limits, Governor Rendell
wants state schools to rely on what amounts to a stupidity tax. What a swell idea.
Let’s ride on the backs of people willing to foolishly piss away their hard-earned
money on one-armed bandits. Whata fantastic way to fund education.

It’s a self-defeating venture. Either we’d teach kids to see gambling as the losing
proposition it is, thereby losing future slots slaves, or we’d leave them in ignorance
of the dangers of gambling in the hopes that they’ll squander the fruits of their
state-funded education to feed the system.

Sadly, it is often the case that the people who can least afford to gamble are the
ones who are more likely to do so. Not only does Act 72 not ease the burden on people
in poor districts, it helps the government to take advantage of them. Here’s the
situation in a nutshell.

  • There are great funding disparities between school districts in the state.
  • Poor districts are funded by proprty taxes in poor neighborhoods and rish districts
    are funded by property taxes in rich neighborhoods.
  • There is a poor success rate for people trying to escape poverty through education.
    There is a high drop-out rate and a tendency for those who fall through the system’s
    cracks today to be the tax-payers in the same district later.
  • Raising property taxes in poor districts would be like trying to draw blood from
    a stone.
  • It would be political suicide to suggest that richer districts help out poorer
  • Pennsylvania’s solution? Take from the poor what they foolishly are willing to
    part with voluntarily – gambling money.
  • The result? The rich continue to fund and reelect those in power and keep their
    money from touching the unwashed masses while the poor make themselves poorer
    and shoulder more of the educational funding burden.

There is a much better way to fund public education. Put all school taxes into an
account for the whole state. Distribute funds from that account according to need,
not affluence or influence. Unfortunately, no legislator is likely to be bold enough
suggest such a change. Assuming he’d ever get elected, he’d never get reelected.
The affluent want their money helping their kids only. Try to change that and you’ll
be a political pariah. I pray that some day someone in government decides that helping
people better themselves is more important than retaining power.

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

6 thoughts on “Act 72

  1. Jerry Nora

    Actually the state-wide system of distributing property tax was used in Michigan. That precedent, and the continued unrest over property taxes (such as the lovely 3 mill levy in Wilkinsburg) may help spur people to do the right thing.

  2. EmilyE

    I agree.

    Ohio has similar problems with school funding. The Canton City School District, which has 11,000 students, has had to cut $15 million from its budget in the past four years. $15 million! And the reason they had to cut so much is because, although Canton voters approved a massive emergency levy (9.5 mill, if I recall correctly), the property values in Canton are going down. A larger and larger percent of the homes’ values are being taken in taxes to support the schools — but the net amount keeps decreasing because the homes are worth less and less.

    It stinks.

    Four times, the Supreme Court of Ohio has ruled that funding schools primarily on the basis of local property taxes is unconstitutional. Four times, it has ordered legislators to fix the problem. And four times, the state legislature has ignored the issue — and the Supreme Court has refused to hold them in contempt of court.

    I voted for one judge who was running for Ohio Supreme Court justice this year just because he said he’d hold the entire state legislature in contempt of court if the case came before him again! Some Ohioans are trying to get a referendum on the ballot in November to reform school funding. I doubt it will happen, but we (like Pa.) need something to be done, and soon.

  3. Pingback: Ales Rarus - $600 Million Slot Revenue: Jackpot or Ripoff?

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