Letter to the Editor: Counter opinion on poverty, education, politics

Stock image, St. George News

COUNTER-OPINION to St. George News Columnist Ed Kociela’s Nov. 18 column, “On the EDge: You ain’t seen nothin’ yet” – I can’t help but wonder if this partisan pile of junk op-ed was written just for the vanity of having a piece published. It begins with equating family values to wealth, then equates student ability with money spent, and before long, rambles on about how the evil GOP, at the federal level, will now make everything worse. It begins, appropriately so for stgeorgeutah.com, focused on southern UT, then spends the full final half complaining about federal level election results, while offering no local solutions to the original problem he’s complaining about.

With the first issue, family values, I’d like to know how being poor is a negative family value? Only the most vein and materialistic of people buy the argument that “he who has the most toys wins.” I know a young family here, raising two daughters in extreme poverty. The two daughters are well fed, healthy, adequately clothed, kind and respectful. They don’t have video games, internet access, or cell phones, and yet, they’re happy. By the writer’s logic, this family’s values are drastically sub-par compared to the Kardashian bunch. Does UT having the lowest divorce rate in the nation reflect on our family values any?

Yes, Utah is at the bottom of the pile on educational spending. But are we at the bottom on educational performance? Nope. Bottom ten on performance? Nope! We’re not number 1 either, or even top 25. But the fact that we’re not bottom 10 is a reflection in itself that money isn’t necessarily the answer to the perceived problem.

I say that our lower educational rankings are a perceived problem because I disagree with the notion that our kids here have the same educational needs as kids in the mega-cities of the northeastern US or Pacific coast. That is precisely the comparison made in the rankings by standardized testing. But, the reality is, a lot of our kids here will grow up working in mines, on farms, and in energy production. That is not the same reality kids in New York City or Los Angeles face.

And that is reality. Every kid is different. Their needs when they grow up will be different. This is why I’m neither pro- or anti-common core. I’m anti lumping all kids into one box, expecting them to all learn the same things the same way to meet the same needs when they grow up.

I am in full agreement that the economy is still “in the dumpster.” It is. Yet, Utah enjoys the 2nd lowest unemployment rate in the nation, and is number 1 in job satisfaction. We also rank 3rd in household income growth, and achieved that while also ranking number 1 in lowest median hours worked per week.

I don’t even know where to start addressing your partisan political ramblings. I’m not a Republican. I’m also not a Democrat. I’m a Libertarian, and personally, hate both major parties equally.

Republicans shut down the government? No, political disagreement between the parties did. There’s no love from Boehner and McConnell to Obama, but there’s absolutely no love from the White House to them either. They’re all equally to blame for the perpetual barrage of negativity and divisiveness we’ve experienced the past several years. And you’re no better than any of them, trying to do the same thing locally.

I could go on, but unlike you, Ed, I’ll stick to the original topics of family values and education. I’m a transplant here. I grew up in TN and have spent time in every state but AK. I’ve been in UT almost nine years, and southern UT a little over two years. There’s a culture and community here unlike anywhere else I’ve seen. It is of no surprise to me that UT ranks number 1 in voluntarism. And I should probably note that my opinion comes despite not being LDS, and all of my neighbors and friends knowing I will not convert. That’s not just family values, but community values.

I’m not sure why you’re so eager to be negative about our state spending less to achieve more, but obviously you are. Or, it’s just your scape goat to complain about the election results. But, as I said before, each kid is an individual who learns in different ways, and will take different paths when they grow up. We need to address that local fact locally by making sure our kids are prepared for the path they will take. I barely graduated high school, mostly due to horrid English grades, yet I still learned and am enjoying a decent income as a fiction author. I’m able to own a home, and even own a rental home. I’m far from rich, but hopefully my ten year anniversary next week says a little something about my family values.

Federal politicians are going to do what they do best. Bicker over what is the best way for them to try an exert control over our lives. That’s what they do. That does not dictate what we make of life. Our own choices do that. I chose to live in a place that values community, and understand that family values aren’t achieved through materialistic wealth. I don’t regret that choice. I hope you can find the value in our community, despite your political convictions. I have.

Submitted by William Cooper, Beryl

Bio submitted by Cooper: William Cooper is a Veteran of the U.S. Navy, turned farmer and author. After running his own businesses for several years, medical issues stemming from his time in uniform forced him into an early semi-retirement. Now 100 percent service-connected disabled, he spends his time running a small farm and home-schooling his children with his wife. His first novel, Crashed: The Death of the Dollar, was published April 9th, 2014.

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or contributors and are published “as is.” The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them; they do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News.

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Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.

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  • Big Guy November 28, 2014 at 7:28 am

    Liberals believe the answer to any social or economic problem is more government spending. Conservatives look for results. Mr. Cooper references Utah’s low education spending per pupil. Nonetheless, UT ranks 17th in the nation in average SAT scores. http://bystatemap.com/31/sat-scores/ Only nine states administer the ACT to all graduating seniors, giving them lower scores than states where only college-bound students take the test. Of these nine, including Colorado, Illinois, Michigan and North Carolina, Utah ranks first. http://www.act.org/newsroom/data/2013/states.html Go figure: liberal spending or conservative results? Take your pick. Facts are stubborn things.

    • Billy Cooper November 28, 2014 at 9:21 am

      Precisely my point in referencing it. Good links.

    • koolaid November 28, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      Isnt that just what the conservative Republicans in Utah voted for? More government and more taxes and more socialism?

    • The Rest Of The Story November 28, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      “Liberals believe the answer to any social or economic problem is more government spending. Conservatives look for results.”

      What color is the sky on your planet?

      Liberals believe that government spending should not be automatically excluded simply because of a “big government is bad” political ideology, and that when government spending is necessary, revenue should be increased to pay for it. Liberals look for results too, which is why they fund programs appropriately and if you look through history you’ll see that programs funded properly do perform to (or exceed) their expected outcomes.

      What happens all to often is that Democrats have created successful programs and funded them adequately through raising revenue (ie: “taxation”–that nasty word that conservatives hate–because conservatives tend to want something for nothing–another reason why they hire “illegals” for slave wages and hate to pay even citizens fair wages and hate unions that allow laborers to capitalize their asset of labor and demand a fair price for it–the principle of a truly “free market economy”–alas, I digress…), while Republicans have just gone ahead and done the same amount of spending (or more) without raising revenues accordingly (so that they can scapegoat the Democrats as the evil taxers). This causes what would have been successful programs to be underfunded. Then the Republicans point fingers at Democrats claiming that their programs are “failures”.

      • Koolaid November 28, 2014 at 7:15 pm

        Look at St George for instance. Definitely not liberal or capitalist or individuality, but instead the finest example of Socialism and government control. Referring to your comment about illegals, I would wager most of the hiring of illegals in the St George area is done by individuals who consider themselves conservative Republicans and who regularly attend church.

      • Big Guy November 28, 2014 at 7:18 pm

        You’ve got a point there. Successful Democrat programs like the $800 billion stimulus bill in 2009 that kept unemployment below 8% (not) and Obamacare that even Senator Schumer (D-NY) now says was the wrong program at the wrong time and is supported by only 36% of Americans per Gallup. Amazing how those pesky Republicans sabotaged both those programs even though they were the minority party in Congress and both programs have been fully funded since. Maybe you’re referring to Republicans’ refusal to extend unemployment benefits beyond 99 weeks. I guess Republicans were just lucky that unemployment started dropping significantly after that. The list of underachieving Democrat programs goes on and on…but all they need is more money.

      • BIG GUY November 29, 2014 at 5:20 am

        A few more Democrat “successes” of the last six years come to mind. Obama’s fully-funded “green jobs” program that was to give us 5 million new “green jobs” (not) and instead gave taxpayers the $535 million Solyndra bankruptcy. Yes, there are some of these government-funded companies still afloat, but only because government gives them enormous tax breaks. Without the tax breaks (i.e. taxpayer funding), most would go belly up in a few months. Democrat-championed student loan programs have succeeded in pushing over $1 trillion through student bank accounts and on to universities whose tuition and fee increases (along with faculty and staff salaries) have exceeded even health care costs over the last decade. (Gee, I wonder why.) A great Democrat success: students deeply in debt while university fat cats dine on government money. And the list goes on…and on. Can you name a Democrat program that is supported by the American people and that Republicans have underfunded in the past six years? Do Republicans keep getting elected by sabotaging popular Democrat programs? As Obama famously told Sen. McConnell, “elections have consequences,” and it’s the “color of the sky on your planet” that is out of touch with the American people.

        • Student November 29, 2014 at 9:41 am

          Democrat house votes to cut student loan interest rate: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/perfi/college/2007-01-17-house-student-loans_x.htm

          • Big Guy November 29, 2014 at 11:04 am

            As the Watergate scandal’s “Deep Throat” told reporters Woodward and Bernstein, “follow the money.” For student loans, the money trail goes from taxpayers to the Federal government to students to colleges. (Another Democrat “success:” they squeezed private lenders out of the market leaving taxpayers on the hook.) Depending on how the political winds are blowing, either taxpayers or students are left with the tab. Lower student loan rates mean higher Federal taxes/deficits for taxpayers. And in either case, college professors and administrators end up with the money. Unsurprisingly, the ratio of administrators to professors has been climbing dramatically for the last two decades. Costs have climbed far faster than inflation in only two major sectors of the economy for the last two decades: health care and education. Both receive the lion’s share of their funding from the Feds. Do you suppose there’s a correlation?

      • Koolaid November 30, 2014 at 8:37 am

        Who can forget that $700 billion dollars of taxpayer money Bush gave to bankers for bailout money with the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008? The first thing many of them did with that money was their bonuses. $700 billion to bankers following the trillion dollar war to fund contractors sunk our economy and nation. Some call him Dubya, but most call him dumb—

  • Notagain November 28, 2014 at 8:42 am

    I wish folks like Bill Cooper were in every other driveway in our community. That’s not to say everyone should think the same, but just hearing sound logic sometimes makes you reevaluate where you own head is at or is being lead.

    • The Rest Of The Story November 28, 2014 at 1:22 pm

      Thank the gods folks like Bill Cooper aren’t in every other driveway. And that his ilk is becoming more the minority, rather than the majority, because the younger generation has access to accurate information in spite of Rupert Murdoch’s plan to destroy democracy.

  • McMurphy November 28, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Determining where Utah stands among other states in educational achievement is complicated and difficult depending on what factors are included in determining achievement — ACT scores, high school graduation rates, math and reading proficiency in 4th and 8th grades, etc. I agree funding per pupil should be a very minor factor if used at all. Output — results — is much more important than input.
    However, my opinion on the data Mr. Cooper used: Not being in the bottom 10 states is nothing to be proud of or should be acceptable. Why should Utah not strive to be in at least the top 25 states? I disagree that lower education rankings are a perceived problem. I believe they are a real problem. Are our youth going into mining, farming or energy production because they want to, or because they are not educationally prepared to do other things ?? By the way, not all jobs in those three examples are merely labor. Degrees in engineering and agriculture are useful and desirable also.

  • Herd November 28, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Utah is the place where a woman’s worth is determined by the size of her breast augmentation and guys by the size of their trucks

    • PROTECT THE SHEEP November 28, 2014 at 6:09 pm

      thats a fact

    • An actual Independent November 30, 2014 at 6:38 am

      The major point being that BOTH sides have adopted a “my way or the highway” attitude……..and that nothing of value gets done because we can’t take the chance that the other guys might share in the credit. And the revisionist history is ridiculous. Both sides claiming everything good that ever happened is because of their party, and everything bad because of the other party. The reality is that hundreds of millions of Americans go about their business everyday, and THAT’s what drives it all. Politicians mostly find ways to take credit or place blame for it.

      • An actual Independent November 30, 2014 at 6:39 am

        That was not intended to be a reply to Herd. Just a comment on the whole article.

  • Victor November 28, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    I agree with Mr Cooper and hope the St George News will ask him to replace Mr Kociela as an opinion writer. I was so happy when Mr Kociela left the Spectrum and so disappointed when he started writing for St George News. Thanks Mr Cooper for a well written article!

    • Koolaid November 28, 2014 at 7:16 pm

      Replace his with another communist Republican?

    • Notagain November 28, 2014 at 8:26 pm

      I disagree with you on this one Victor.
      Although Mr. Kociela opinions pieces usually come straight out of the far left’s approved propaganda files, he does do a fine job for us St George News readers. In helping us recognizing that a lot of folks think they look and smell just grand, not realizing the dog poo they been eating is running down their chin. The Editor of St George News know exactly what she’s doing.

    • Ron November 28, 2014 at 9:07 pm

      Can’t stand reading any opinion that doesn’t support what you already believe? Why not let them both have their say? We’re all adults here. Well, maybe not all…

  • MmmBacon November 28, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    I loved this article. Facts are always hard to argue with.

  • Dolly November 28, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    Thank you Mr Cooper for your well written article. It’s a nice change to read an opinion piece with a reasonable point of view.

  • beacon November 30, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Poverty doesn’t make bad people with poor values; it does put pressure on people that those of us with adequate resources may never experience. As for education, I think it is sad that the writer perhaps thinks our local education should produce only kids who might work in mines, on farms or in energy production because that’s what most of them do currently. What if those kids want to move to places that expect more out of them but their education doesn’t hold up to that expectation? Oh, that’s right, parents and grandparents want the kids to stay here with them. Seems pretty selfish. We live in one of the fastest growing areas in Utah and the nation and yet have some of the lowest wages. Yes, our unemployment is low, but that doesn’t mean those workers are earning a decent wage. Is that what people want for their kids? Would the workers who are supporting the construction industry be doing something else had they been better educated? I’m not sure how the author thinks “…our kids are prepared for the path they will take” if they’re being shortchanged educationally. I read recently about a discussion concerning the number of courses high school students should take: 4 or 5? I still have my high school report cards. I took 6 classes. Are we dumbing things down too much? It’s not a matter of “having the most toys.” It’s a matter of having the best education to make that choice and not relegating our citizens to less than they can be.

  • bishpoul November 30, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    We need to stop the abuse of authority of the Washington County Assessors’ office.
    We are paying deeply for Bad Government. Don’t let them steal form us.

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