Conservative Hollywood celebrities are an endangered species -- and they're moving one step closer to extinction. Sad to say, but rock-ribbed Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger has grown flabby and flown leftward.
Hasta la vista, baby.
Last week, Schwarzenegger announced that he was submitting nearly 750,000 signatures from California voters for his ballot initiative called the "After School Education and Safety Act." It would make more than $400 million in taxpayer funds available annually to public schools (grades K-9) in California. This is in addition to the $46 billion the state's public education system already receives. And it's on top of the $700 million annual tax hike imposed on cigarettes as a result of liberal Hollywood crusader Rob Reiner's ballot initiative approved in 1998 to pay for early childhood learning programs.
Why the new need to increase government spending on education in the Golden State? Here's The Terminator's explanation:
"Nearly half of all California kids live with a single working parent or two parents who both work. Over 1 million kids under the age of 15 often come home to an empty house. This situation cannot continue. It creates a danger zone between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., a danger zone for our kids, and a danger zone for our communities. Law enforcement studies show that the after-school hours between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. are the peak hours for kids to get into trouble. This is when kids are most likely to drink, take drugs, smoke, commit crimes or become the victims of crime that sometimes ruins their lives or the lives of others."
Schwarzenegger cites "studies" showing that "kids in after-school programs stay in school, get higher grades, improve standardized test scores, dramatically reduce their participation in gangs, reduce their stealing by two-thirds, and reduce violent crimes by half. Police statistics confirm it.
Neighborhoods with after-school programs are safer places for adults as well."
Hey, Arnold: If we want to see you play "Kindergarten Cop," please, just let us rent the movie.
Schwarzenegger's ballot initiative is warmed-over Hillaryism in steroid-laced drag. He trots out the old crime-prevention Trojan horse as a justification for boosting social spending. Sound familiar? This was the essence of the Clinton crime bill eight years ago, which was stuffed with $40 million in federal subsidies for midnight basketball and other after-school programs. A few years later, Hillary Clinton launched her Nanny State crusade for more federally subsidized "quality educational child care." Her slogan: "Fight Crime: Invest in Kids."
If you want to fight youth crime, hire more police, take rotten juveniles out of the classroom and put them in separate reform schools, and punish young crooks with more than a slap on the wrist. As for "investing in kids," shouldn't that be the parents' responsibility? Come on, Arnold, strap on the R-word.
It's one of the most powerful tools in the conservative arsenal.
Much has been said about Schwarzenegger's growing prospects as a potential GOP candidate for California's governorship in 2006. But hear me now, Arnold, and believe me later: The Hillary costume will scare away Republican voters faster than your last box-office bomb. Your fellow California conservative celebrity, Ronald Reagan, said it best: "Government does not solve problems. It subsidizes them."
Schwarzenegger argues that his proposal is "fiscally" conservative because it is funded through "increases in state revenues, not new taxes." Huh? Why not return the government's revenue windfall to its rightful owners -- taxpayers -- and let them decide how to spend it? Why should they be forced to foot the bill for glorified baby-sitting services? And why should teachers be expected to provide them?
Already, the public schools provide students breakfast and lunch, all-day kindergarten, psychological counseling and reproductive services, on-call homework assistance, and summer classes. Public servants pick the kids up, drop them off, and perform just about every other parental task except tucking them in bed at night.
Must we pay for midnight weightlifting, too?