Get on the acronym bus with Tom this week and learn what HYPOCRITE really stands for in crazyland

H is for How did we get here? How did Arizona, a state once known for its frontier spirit and forward-looking people, turn into the laughingstock of America? How did we get to a point where minority kids in Mississippi breathe a sigh of relief and say, "At least we don't live in Arizona!" And how did we get to a point where lawmakers openly and proudly shirk their responsibilities and every crackpot idea, instead of getting laughed out of town, somehow becomes adopted and serves as a base for the next year's even-crackpot-ier idea?

Y is for Your money. That's what they're spending to help send their kids (and their friends' kids) to private schools. After the initial burst of revulsion at the passage of a "vouchers-for-everyone!" bill by the State Senate, I calmed down (if only just a bit). We are all aware that voucher programs don't work—not here, not in Wisconsin, not anywhere. Lying about it and/or trying to convince oneself that maybe the next time will be different doesn't really change the facts.

Much more important is the realization that only a handful of people are actually going to use those vouchers. Some, quite disgustingly, will be homeschoolers who will come to look upon their offspring as meal tickets with taxpayer money just falling from the sky. However, most of the money will probably go to people who are already well-off enough to send their kids to private schools.

Think about it this way: A $5,000 voucher isn't going to get a poor kid into a private school that costs 10 or 15 grand. All that will happen is that current private-school parents will use the money as a scholarship, or maybe the school will just increase the tuition by $5,000 to increase their profits and make the school even more exclusive without costing their current clientele a penny. Nothing like a (taxpayer-funded) 33 percent bump in your tuition to help keep the Clampetts away.

P is for the Pockets of lobbyists in which many of the legislators reside. When it comes to the gun lobby (which apparently wants guns in schools, churches, and hospital delivery rooms), most legislators are like that little ball of lint down in the bottom of the pocket of those pants that are only worn when everything else is in the dirty-clothes hamper. That's understandable. For decades, the NRA has been scaring the crap out of people with empty or only partially filled scrotums.

What's weird is that Arizona's Republican legislators appear to be equally afraid of (or maybe enamored with) charter schools and private schools. How else to explain two decades of charter school excesses with little to show for it, education-wise, and perhaps hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars unaccounted for due to an intentional lack of government oversight?

O is for Oversight. What is that, exactly? Oh, it's what the Goldwater Institute wants to do to police unions, but that's okay because we've been told that unions are evil. But the Goldwater folks don't want it for charter schools, which grow fat off public funds, but don't have to account for where the money goes. The feeble attempts to differentiate between the way the spending of public funds is scrutinized in some cases and shielded from the public in others don't just ring false; they scream false.

C is for the state Constitution, which many Republicans treat as a mere suggestion when it comes to doing their sworn duty. All those years of not funding education properly, somebody in the state Legislature should have gone to jail. They still should. There's no statute of limitations on greedy or stupid.

R is for Really?! You go running into the streets, screaming that the Socialists are coming and then you turn around and want to give parents $5,000 per kid to spend (or not) on "education?" That doesn't set off alarm bells in your pinheads? May God have mercy on your sucked-dry souls.

I is for "In it for themselves." See "Y."

T is for the Thousands and thousands of good, dedicated, hard-working teachers who have been driven out of their profession and/or the state of Arizona by a Legislature that hates public schools, hates teachers, and therefore REALLY hates public-school teachers.

E is for Education ... for everybody and not just the select few. I really, really don't understand. People spend lots of time and money to get elected and then they don't want to do their damn jobs. State legislators basically have two responsibilities. They need to make our state livable, meaning maintaining an infrastructure and providing for public safety. And they need to educate our young people. Two jobs—they suck at the former and refuse to do the latter.

Put it all together and you have HYPOCRITE, which describes just about every Republican in the Legislature. They cry and bleat and shout from the rooftops about how their very raison d'etre is to cut taxes (blissfully ignoring what a quarter-century of rabid and indiscriminate tax-cutting has done to our once-sturdy-but-now-gutted state). But present them with an opportunity to further enrich their already-rich buddies while driving another nail into the coffin of public education at the same time, and all that tax-cutting jibber-jabber goes away.

I'd rather deal with an admitted crook than with a smiling hypocrite.

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