This is kind of an older one, but it's still timely and worth discussing. Shadrack McGill is a congressman from Alabama who recently used the Bible to defend paying legislators a lot but teachers nothing:
"[Legislators need] to make enough that he can say no, in regards to temptation. ... Teachers need to make the money that they need to make. There needs to be a balance there. If you double what you're paying education, you know what's going to happen? I've heard the comment many times, 'Well, the quality of education's going to go up.' That's never going to happen, guys....It's a Biblical principle. If you double a teacher's pay scale, you'll attract people who aren't called to teach."
Shadrack's comments bring up more than the oft-repeated, oft-ignored point that Republicans think it's perfectly okay for corporations to pay millions to executives based on the argument that you can't get qualified help for less than that (even if that "qualified help" turns out to be a fraudster on a massive scale who likely ought to be in jail next to Bernie Madoff but instead has Bank of America, and thus you, covering his restitution payments) but think that paying teachers more money doesn't product the same results.
Which is to say: if higher pay is necessary to attract quality people in banking, say, why is it not necessary in teaching?
That's not my main point here. Nor is my main point the implausibility of the Bible having anything to say about teacher pay. I think you'd get more insight into educational funding from Van Halen:
Or .38 Special:
Than from anything in the Bible. Here's some of the things the Bible has to say about teachers.
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
That overall seems not too disparaging of teachers, as well as an ecclesiastical argument against too much homework. Still, nothing about teacher pay.
Republicans seem on the whole to be down on education more than ever -- from Wisconsin Governor Scott ("Patsy") Walker going after the teachers (among other state workers) to Rick Santorum hating college and wanting people not to aspire to be educated, and in preferring legislators to teachers, Shadrack (whose name is thought to be a derivation of a pagan god's moniker but who might actually be named after the chief of the eunuchs) is actually following modern-day conservatism: protect the government's right to intervene in people's lives, and keep people dumb enough to not figure out what you're doing.
That, too, is not my major point. My major point is that the Republican party, on the whole, seems not just to misunderstand what conservatism is and/or to fear education, but the Republican party seems to misunderstand economics.
Forget Ron Paul and his theories that you catch AIDS from paper money; even non-insane Republicans appear to have no basic grasp of economics. Consider the statement "Teachers need the money they need to make."
That's just a tautology, a nonsensical statement. Shadrack went on to further demonstrate his lack of basic economic understanding by saying:
And these teachers that are called to teach, regardless of the pay scale, they would teach. It's just in them to do. It's the ability that God give 'em. And there are also some teachers, it wouldn't matter how much you would pay them, they would still perform to the same capacity.
Unpack that a moment: what Shadrack is saying is that people who are called to do something will do it no matter what you pay them. Which is to say: Shadrack thinks people who love their jobs would do it for free.
Isn't that what he's saying? His basic argument is we don't even need to pay teachers, they'll just go ahead and do it for us.
And anyone else who feels a calling to do their job: Shadrack says pay is irrelevant to you because you love that thing you do so much.
In other words, Shadrack is saying that the free market doesn't work: that if you love something, the cost of that thing is irrelevant. People who love teaching will teach even if the cost to them is homelessness, poverty, starvation: they will die on their knees, wretched bedraggled emaciated corpses clutching a textbook of math problems they tried to demonstrate to their pupils just before passing into the next life. So why bother paying them at all?
That's a startling view of an important job: If you love it, we shouldn't have to pay you to do it. I'm going to use that on my employees. In their reviews, I'm going to ask if they love this job and feel called to do it. If they say yes, I will immediately cut their pay to zero and tell them "see you tomorrow morning, bright and early."
And we should do that with doctors and nurses, too! They must feel a calling. And career politicians! They feel a calling to serve the people, so we should not pay them. Shadrack McGill, refund all money you've ever been paid.
Shadrack McGill's feeling that people shouldn't get paid if they like their jobs isn't, still, my main point about his quote. My main point is this:
Shadrack, Chief of the Eunuchs, goes on in that quote to argue that if you raise the pay for a group of people, you attract people who are no good at the job you're hiring for -- which is not just a repudiation of the free market but also of free will.
Sure, if you pay teachers, say, $1,000,000 per year, there will be people who want to be teachers for no reason other than the high pay, and who will not be good at it. But why is it that Shadrack, and others like him, think we couldn't simply refuse to hire, or fire, those teachers?
Shadrack's basic argument is: once you pay teachers a lot of money, every loser in the world will become a teacher and we will be powerless to stop them.
I don't believe that's how it works in the free market -- public or private education. Teachers get fired all the time. Professors get fired all the time, and they make a good living. Lots of people get fired all the time.
Unearthed, Shadrack's argument goes back to a basic, unspoken, Republican principal, and that principal is: you people cannot be expected to control yourselves.
Republicans don't want to pay teachers a lot because you won't be able to fire teachers. Republicans don't want you to have birth control because you won't be able to stop having sex. Republicans don't want you to go to college because you won't be able to resist the Marxist lecturings of that wild-haired professor. Republicans don't want to let gay people marry because then we'll all want to marry our lamps and goats.
Republicans don't trust you. They think you have the brains of a can of tuna. That philosophy is at the heart of every single Republican policy or program currently on their agenda. (Well, that, and "Help the rich discover a way to actually be able to legally kill the middle class.)
You watch as Republicans talk. Shadrack McGill himself said it was necessary for government to raise legislator's pay because it helped avoid bribery -- too low of pay for legislators and they're prone to taking bribes. Which is: you won't be able to stop yourself from becoming a criminal.
Remember the unemployment debates? Republicans argued that if unemployment is available, people won't go get jobs... because they won't be able to help themselves get up off the couch. Only a push from the Good Ol' Republican Party will actually cause people to get up and apply for an assistant managership at a Denny's.
Every. Single. Republican. Policy. is premised on "you can't stop yourself." And all of their policies are geared at pushing you to do something they want.
The GOP likes to paint Democrats as the party of Big Government. But it's the Republicans who want the government to put up a zillion barbed wire fences between you and your desires, a series of Freedom Fences that will prevent you from having sex, taking bribes, marrying your gay friend, or going to college. Because the Republicans don't believe you can help yourself.