No matter how COMPASS vote turns out, district will be back for more

To the editor:

COMPASS — Community Owes More, Pay All Salaries to Schools.

On the same day I read about the Mehlville School District’s COMPASS II proposal to pursue a 94-cent tax hike, I also read a National Review article by Jonah Goldberg titled “In a Welfare State, How Much Is ‘Enough’?” It begins: “The flames from Greece’s debt-crisis protests have cast new light on the perils of our own overspending and overborrowing.”

I was not particularly surprised that the facilitators somehow achieved 100 percent agreement by all participants on the necessity of this tax-hike recommendation, for that was their purpose.

What did fascinate me were the comments of Superintendent Terry Noble, who said, “… This is an opportunity to invest, to invest in our most treasured possession. That’s our kids. It’s not about sacrifice as much as it is investment.”

While he is asking me to invest, but not sacrifice, I’m thinking that invest is precisely what I do every time I write a tuition check.

I’m also thinking that it is sacrifice when I write the tax check.

“I’m one of nine siblings raised by parents who grew up in the Great Depression,” Noble continued. “Neither of my parents had an eighth-grade education, but each one of their children got a good education, made it through college and made a success of their life because our parents did sacrifice and invest in our future.”

Now I’m thinking we are on the same page, for I, too, believe that it is the high calling, indeed the obligation, of parents to educate their children and to do the very best that they can to steer their own children toward a brighter future.

“And we learned two things: One, we learned what it means to have a strong work ethic and how far that will get you in life, and No. 2, we learned to devote our lives to try and make the world a better place. And we do that by investing in others and who is better to invest in than our kids? That is what this is all about …,” Noble said.

Oh, so that’s what this is all about — really?

While I commend Mr. Noble, or rather his parents on their decision to sacrifice and invest in his future, I find myself asking, “Is that really what this is all about? Who would stand between Mr. Noble and his decision to sacrifice to invest in his kids?” But, of course, that is not what this is all about. What this committee is asking is for a majority of residents to compel all to sacrifice more and more for someone else’s children.

Indeed, what they are asking for may be a form of “reverse redistribution” from many people of lesser means to support the children of parents of greater means. But that’s democracy, right? In-deed, I suppose it is, which reminds me of what Benjamin Franklin said about democracy: “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”

Goldberg writes that according to USA Today, “paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year,” while government benefits rose to a record high. “In fact,” he continues, “government employment is becoming a method of redistributing wealth. In 2009, the federal payroll grew and the number of federal jobs paying over $100,000 a year doubled.”

Goldberg concludes, “There’s no such thing as enough, as far as they’re concerned. That’s what the Greeks thought.”

The sad truth is that the modern welfare state has become our means of shirking our individual responsibilities and is indeed destructive of the “strong work ethic” Mr. Noble so admires.

One thing is certain, of this I am sure: It doesn’t matter how the vote comes out, they will be back to ask for more.

Matthew J. Chellis


Editor’s note: Mr. Chellis served six years on the Mehlville Board of Education.