Who believes that government can never be the core problem?

Looking at the speech where Sen. Barack Obama discussed the idea of merit pay (from yesterday), it’s not hard to figure out that, while he may truly be interested in fighting for merit pay in schools, he’s not interested in reform if it doesn’t conform to rhetoric.

The ideal of a public education has always been at the heart of the American promise. It’s why we are committed to fixing and improving our public schools instead of abandoning them and passing out vouchers. Because in America, it’s the promise of a good education for all that makes it possible for any child to transcend the barriers of race or class or background and achieve their God-given potential.

Everything wrong with Sen. Obama’s candidacy is wrapped up in one paragraph. Vouchers – public financing without public provision – equates to nothing more than “abandoning” our schools, and presumably our children. I’ll try to contain my enthusiasm.

Exhibit A:

There’s no better example of this neglect than the law that has become one of the emptiest slogans in the history of politics – No Child Left Behind.

But don’t come up with this law called No Child Left Behind and then leave the money behind. …

He’s right that No Child Left Behind is a flaming turd. Worse, it’s a federal flaming turd, when the federal government has no legitimate authority to insert itself into public education. But if he thinks that it’s a flaming turd only because it doesn’t have enough money backing it, even if the extra money goes to better pay¹ for quality teachers, he’s either an opportunist or a moron.

Let’s assume he becomes president and fixes the unfixable No Child Left behind by throwing more money at it, even if it’s only to offer merit pay to teachers. Is it a cheap shot, or merely pointing out the obvious, to suggest that if those children “transcend the barriers of race or class or background and achieve their God-given potential”, Sen. Obama will be more than happy to have government take a considerable portion of the fruits of that achievement? You know, to level the playing field.

When liberals progressives talk about equality, they never mean equality of opportunity. Never. It’s always equality of outcome. Sen. Obama wouldn’t be advocating single-payer health care with huge tax increases if he didn’t advocate equality of outcome.

To be fair, I’m sure he’s being honest when he says he wants children to reach their potential. (Why the need to include “God-given”, if not to appear religious?) But that leaves him, at best, as inconsistent and unprincipled. I want consistent principles in a president.

Link to Sen. Obama’s speech courtesy of Ruth Marcus’ column in today’s Washington Post.

¹ I guess the assumption isn’t that bad teachers shouldn’t make less than they currently make. They’re paid correctly. We need more money to pay the good teachers. Wouldn’t a voucher system or other privatizing plan achieve the same thing, if that’s the right problem with teacher pay? What if it’s not the right problem with teacher pay?