Paul Jacob

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” Or so goes the old saying, its wisdom completely unappreciated by the folks producing MSNBC’s “Lean Forward” spots, featuring various network stars spouting lame political talking points into the camera.

Go figure — in place of paid advertisements from real customers, the network’s propaganda vignettes air quite frequently.

Months ago, in my Common Sense e-letter, I took issue with Tulane University Professor Melissa Harris-Perry — who hosts an eponymous MSNBC weekend show — for declaring, in one promotional ad, that “we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.”

After President Barack Obama told us that we didn’t build our businesses, we then heard from Professor Harris-Perry that our kids aren’t really ours, either.

Not so fast, though. Perry certainly doesn’t want the work of rearing our children; she was merely pitching higher taxes so government could get bigger and do more, specifically in this case, spend more money on education. (Not that she doesn’t “welcome the debate” about replacing Mommy and Daddy with Big Brother.)

“We have never invested as much in public education as we should have,” she argues in the ad, “because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children: Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children. So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents . . . and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everybody’s responsibility, and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments.”

Yeah, better investments. Like Solyndra. Or . . . the K-12 public education system for which, since 1970, the federal government has increased per-pupil spending — er, investments — by roughly 190 percent, only to flat-line test scores in math, science and reading.

“When the flood of vitriolic responses to the ad began, my first reaction was relief,” responded Harris-Perry on her blog. “I had spent the entire day grading papers and was relieved that since these children were not my responsibility, I could simply mail the students’ papers to their moms and dads to grade!”


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.