Cooper: Catoosa GOP right -- to a point

Cooper: Catoosa GOP right -- to a point

April 18th, 2017 by Clint Cooper in Opinion Free Press

School buses wouldn't be the only things to disappear if government wasn't involved in education in Catoosa County, as the county Republican Party's non-binding platform suggests.

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.

If we could start all over again — have a "do-over" as it might be termed on the playground — the Catoosa County Republican Party might be on to something.

The county party recently outlined its platform, which includes no government-funded education, no tax incentives for business and no gay marriage.

The salient point of the non-binding platform is there is too much government.

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Catoosa County GOP calls for elimination of public education, ending corporate tax breaks

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Document: Catoosa County GOP platform

Read the complete Catoosa County GOP platform

"Government spending is out of control, everywhere," county party chairman Jeff Holcomb said. "That's the main idea behind this: getting government spending out of the way."

We couldn't agree more. But then there's reality.

Take public education. Although public education in the United States goes back to the 17th century, until the 19th century most schools were private, leaving education only to those families who could afford it.

Not until the end of the 19th century did taxpayer-funded public secondary schools begin to outnumber private ones. And it wasn't until 1918 that every state required students to complete elementary school.

Nearly a century later, we can state unequivocally that too much federal control over education is detrimental and that the closer governmental supervision of education is to the student the better.

But the Catoosa GOP would take all government out of the equation.

"We believe that government control of education should be ended," the platform states.

We're not sure all Catoosa County residents are ready to home-school their children or send them to private academies, but one Republican county official said the declarative education statement may have been more ideological than an actual goal.

Still, no government involvement would mean no buildings, no teachers, no books, no equipment, no lunch assistance and no special education funding, among other things.

That's a lot to shoulder.

We understand, too, the party's concern about tax incentives for certain businesses — about picking winners and losers — and if you could get all counties and municipalities to play by the same rules, you might be able to enforce a prohibition of tax incentives. But if Catoosa decides not to, and other counties continue to do so, the county would have to say goodbye to needed business and the taxes those businesses do pay.

And on gay marriage, we'd leave it to the states or make such arrangements civil matters, but the United States Supreme Court has spoken on the matter. What the Catoosa GOP wants to do about it is moot.

Again, we're with the county party in wanting to make government smaller and keep it out of much of our lives, but we think it's important to pick the right battles before declaring all-out war.

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