The California Federation of Teachers has pulled a controversial class warfare “educational” video for children from YouTube and its own website after encountering stiff criticism from Fox News and the conservative blogosphere. (The video can still be viewed here or at bottom of article.)
The wildly inaccurate video — narrated by the openly socialistic Hollywood actor Ed Asner — purported to show children in an animated fairy tale how the current recession happened, blaming it on the top one percent for their piles of money falling on the poor people's houses. (There's a great rebuttal by Lee Doren over at the Daily Caller here.) Ed Asner is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. The video also shows the rich urinating on poor people, a scene that drew the most ire from critics of the video.
The video's explanation of the economic crash is as comical as it is false:
Meanwhile, the rich people's money piled higher and higher. But after a while, it was piled too high. One day the money fell down with a big crash, down right on the houses of millions of ordinary people. It broke their houses.
The video then claims that the “one percent” caused the economic crisis and have recently paid virtually no taxes, even though the Heritage Foundation has proven that “the top 10 percent of income earners paid 71 percent of all federal income taxes in 2009 though they earned 43 percent of all income.” The California Federation of Teachers video nevertheless claims:
The people looked around, and saw too many students in their classrooms. They saw the roads filling with holes. They saw that when they needed help, it took longer to arrive. People began to say that rich people have too much money now. And maybe our problems have something to do with the one percent not paying their fair share of taxes.... It was rich people who crashed the money onto their houses and jobs. It was the one percent who got politicians to cut their taxes, until there wasn't enough for schools, safe streets, libraries, health care and parks.
The video claims that the rich did not care that public schools have been defunded, since the “one percent” sent their children to expensive private schools. But the video is inaccurate: Public school expenditures have skyrocketed, and have outpaced average per-pupil private school spending. While there has long been some very expensive private schools, Catholic Schools and private Christian schools regularly spend less per student than public schools, have higher average class sizes, and nevertheless better academic results than government schools.
The video also falsely charges that the “one percent” hypnotized the working classes with lies that they could one day be rich:
When ordinary people wondered why rich people needed so much money, the one percent said “Don't worry. This is good for you too, because it will trickle down from us to you. Someday, you'll be rich, and the rules we made for us will be your rules too.”
The implication in this part of the video is false as well, since studies have demonstrated that Americans tend to be poorer earlier in their lives and richer as they age. And in an inversion to the theme of the video, it's the social welfare spending in programs such as Social Security that has prevented the majority of Americans from retiring as millionaires. The average Social Security recipient would retire with several million dollars in the bank had he been allowed to invest his payroll tax into a private account (even taking account for Medicare, disability, and survivors' insurance).
Combined Social Security and Medicare taxes now account for 13.3 percent of the working class families' incomes (and 15.3 percent again if the nation goes off the fiscal cliff), far more than it did 30 or 40 years ago. The self-employed pay the full cost directly, while those working for others have their employers pay half of the tax.
The California Federation of Teachers video — inaccurate as it was — did provide a genuine public insight. It demonstrated that much of America's government schools are in the grip of socialist propagandists who care less for accuracy than for an ideological agenda that coincides with a bigger paycheck from the people they allegedly serve. But the fact that they pulled the video from the web demonstrates that they can still be pressured to do the right thing occasionally.
Thomas R. Eddlem is a history and economics teacher in a Catholic high school.
Correction: This article as originally published inaccurately attributed the video to the California Teachers Association. The author regrets the error.
Update: The California Federation of Teachers has reposted the video on YouTube.