I cannot imagine why this wasn't obvious from the beginning.
Solve school budget woes by outsourcing
Parents’ disposable income will soar with tax savings
I made a mathematical error a couple of weeks ago about how much the tax levy would cost the average district tax payer. I’d misheard the number through the jeering crowd at the September School Board meeting. Some friends with better hearing pointed me to the printed documents and, rather than $15 a month for a $200,000 house, the actual number comes closer to $9 a month. For a median priced house in the district, the cost would be even lower.
Still, for the loudest complainers who heard the correct figure, even the lower rate was too much. I realized these people must be in rough shape financially or that, maybe, they’re just frugal. I looked at the 2007 American Communities Survey census-update to find out.
Admittedly, unemployment here is up from 5 percent in 2007 to 12.2 percent in September. If people are unemployed and paying a big mortgage, then $9 a month can be a lot of money, but what about the 87.8 percent who aren't unemployed? How are they doing? It turns out they’re doing pretty well.
About 72 percent of the housing in the district is owner-occupied. The average household of an owner-occupied unit is 2.6 people so, assuming 2 parents, that’s actually less than one child per household. Moreover 45 percent of these people have two cars and 20 percent have three. The median household value in 2007 was about $192,000 which means the average tax paying citizen in the district has a monthly mortgage of around $1,100, assuming a 30-year fixed mortgage at 5.6 percent with 20 percent down and about $2,600 a year in property taxes.
Those booing the rate increase, then, pay on average $1,100 a month in mortgage costs. Since about 65 percent of them have two or more cars and can afford $1,100 a month on their mortgages, an extra $9 looks pretty affordable.
So maybe they aren’t broke, maybe they’re just frugal and let’s face it, kids are expensive. In fact, the cost of raising a child in the U.S. rolls in – like a tsunami – at around $230,000 over 18 years.
But there’s good news. I’ve figured out how to save them even more money on the costs of raising their kids: outsourcing. Why not outsource raising our children to China? Why shouldn’t we apply the principles of free trade to child rearing? Let the market prevail! Ship them off for 12 years to be raised and educated in China.
I wasn’t able to get absolute figures from China or India but as a percentage of GDP, China spends 2.2 percent to the United State’s 4.8 percent (in 2003 data) so let’s be conservative and assume it’d cost about half as much to raise a child in China. That will leave parents not only with $115,000 in personal savings, but saves them money in lowered tax rates at both the state and national levels. Plus that extra $9 a month to spend on whatever they want. Think of the cost savings and the economies of scale – and think of what they can do with all that extra money.
Other advantages aren’t immediately obvious. Parents won't be bothered with the financial or psychological burden of raising their children, which will significantly lower stress levels and, with the introduction of these new child-rearing efficiencies, buoy the economy. People could finally afford all the toys they’ve been putting off buying for themselves, like that 52-inch TV, a fourth car, or maybe another snowmobile, and all the Starbuck’s mochas they want. They’ll be free to divert any of their income to satisfying personal wants instead of covering the cost of being responsible for their children.
Sure, the kids will be missed, but there’s Skype and Facebook – parents will still be able to see their kids, over the Internet, anytime they like. The kids will also learn Chinese and be better at math than other American kids, like Chinese kids are now.
Best of all, these outsourced kids won’t have to endure the psychological trauma of being raised by parents who think that $9 a month is more important than they are.
While we were are it, maybe China would cut us a deal for outsourcing Jackson’s police department, too.
More seriously, there are alternatives. I see in the Daily News today that St. Joe's Hospital said their physicians are moving over to Slinger because West Bend's school facilities are hampering their recruitment -- something predicted last year when the Bleed the Schools cadres managed to disable part of the referendum. Nice going guys.
So, what to do? Support West Bend Schools, that's what. There's a new website with the details. Happily enough, it's called Support West Bend Schools.