Columns » John Brummett

Soviets and the Fed



State Sen. Jim Holt of Springdale, the state Republican Party’s horrible mistake of a nominee for lieutenant governor, proclaimed the other day that early childhood development programs run by the government represent Soviet-styled socialism.

He needs to take that up with the lily-livered leftists who work as economists for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. That’s part of what we call the Fed, which is only America’s central bank in charge of a little thing known as our monetary policy. Joe McCarthy warned us about this.

Since 2003, the Fed’s regional branch in Minnesota’s largest city has been conducting and touting studies purporting to show that pre-kindergarten programs for kids ages 3 and 4 represent the smartest investment government can make. One study specifically asserted that pre-K was a much sounder investment of public funds than subsidies for ballparks, which are rampant from New York to, maybe soon, Springdale.

Here’s a quote from a three-year-old report of Minneapolis’ Fed branch: “The quality of life for a child and the contributions the child makes to society as an adult can be traced back to the first few years of life. From birth until about 5 years old a child undergoes tremendous growth and change. If this period of life includes support for growth in cognition, language, motor skills, adaptive skills and social-emotional functioning, this child is more likely to succeed in school and later contribute to society. However, without support during these early years, a child is more likely to drop out of school, receive welfare benefits and commit crime.”

Art Rolnick, the Minneapolis bank’s senior vice president for research, told a conference of 200 businessmen that his analysis found a 16 percent real rate of return on our initial investment in early childhood development. He compared that to long-term stock market investments that usually render gains in the 7 percent range. He said that 4 percent of that rate of return on pre-K directly benefits the child in the form of a better job. The other 12 percent is realized by all of us, he said, in the form of reduced crime and a lessened need for special services for the poor and disadvantaged.

To Jim Holt, who wants us to put him a heartbeat from the Governor’s Mansion, nothing less than America’s central bank touts socialism over the consummate icon of American capitalism we call the stock market.

You might not know that the Arkansas Legislature is approximately as socialistic as the Fed. Our lawmakers have committed to a $100 million investment in early childhood programs and funded $60 million so far. It’s not mandatory, though. Our state Supreme Court has said that while we may and should offer pre-K programs and target them to impoverished areas where poor and uneducated children bearing children out of wedlock remains an epidemic, we can’t mandate attendance.

That’s logical. After all, we don’t even mandate attendance to public schools. Jim Holt knows that, since he doesn’t send any of his youngsters -- eight at last count -- to school. He surely doesn’t want them to fall under the evil influences of those socialistic invaders masquerading as public schools and the Federal Reserve.

A postscript: Holt also says that a minimum wage represents Soviet-styled socialism. Research shows that those dirty reds in New Zealand were first to impose such a dastardly thing, in 1918, which, Holt might remind us, came one year after the Bolshevik Revolution. The professed idea was to provide that a man working for a living could be assured of the ability to support his family of four in “frugal comfort.” Soon this red menace spread by dreaded domino effect to other Soviet bloc countries such as Australia, Great Britain and, by the late 1930s, the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Thank goodness we in America don’t take it too seriously anymore. We’ve kept our minimum wage the same while raising congressional pay by more than $30,000 a year.

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