Mark Uncapher

SEIU Protest

Being a Republican and a conservative in Montgomery County often requires a healthy sense of humor.

Here is an example:

This past Thursday protestors from SEIU Local 500 representing school bus drivers descended on Montgomery County’s Republican Party headquarters complaining about Romney’s comment that:

“When a young person makes the honor roll, I know it took a bus to get to school, but I don’t give a bus driver credit for the honor roll.”

Our county school bus drivers’ union was offended by this. Seriously, you cannot make this stuff up.
See: SEIU Website

I do not minimize the responsibility or professionalism of Montgomery County’s school bus drivers. However their trying to claim credit for  individual students making the honor roll is simply silly. They frankly should be embarrassed for trying to make this argument. However SEIU does not embarrass easily.

Apparently SEIU thinks that when I was a Montgomery County Public School System parent, I should have told my kids that they were not really responsible for making the Honor Roll, being on a winning team or top ranked extra-curricular activity. Instead they should have been told to give the credit to their school bus drivers. Try that on teenagers and I guarantee a generation of Republicans.

Ever since Obama’s infamous “You didn’t build it” comment, we have had a national debate over individual vs. collective responsibility. This debate reveals the deep divide in values between collectivists, such as SEIU, and those who value individual autonomy and personal achievement.

Listen next week to the speeches from the Democratic Convention in Charlotte and you will hear the same theme repeated. If you are a member of specific groups, then that single identity should trump all other considerations in determining how you vote.

Much of this national “You Didn’t Build it” discussion revolves around a classic circular chicken and egg debate. Did the roads make the economy possible, or did the economy pay for the roads? In Maryland the motor fuel tax is 41.9 cents a gallon and a significant proportion of the proceeds are used to support the minority who rely on mass transit. So, when you fill up at the pump here, not only did you pay to “build it,” you also subsidized someone else’s ride to work too.

But breaking through this circular discussion, let me offer the SEIU bus drivers a test. If they want to take credit for kids making the honor roll, are they also will to accept responsibility for failing schools?

Some Montgomery County high school clusters produce some of the best prepared graduates in the country. Some do not. If the drivers want credit for the good schools, will they also accept accountability for those high schools that produce median SAT scores that are in the bottom half of the country? Are the bus drivers for the Walt Whitman, Walter Johnson and Churchill clusters that much better than those for Kennedy, Einstein and Wheaton? Probably not.

Willingness to accept accountability for failure is the best test for who really deserves credit for “Building it.”

A business owner assumes the risk of failure. They are held accountable for paying back a business loan. They and their investors lose when a business closes, and a high percentage of new businesses do fail. Yet without their risk taking millions of jobs would not exist.

So here is the test for determining who really “Built it.” If you were willing to be accountable for what happens if something does not succeed, you deserve full credit when does. However if you will not take responsible for failure, you do not deserve to claim success.

It is the student, not the bus driver, who gets an F instead of an A, if she fails to study.

Mark Uncapher

About Mark Uncapher

Mark Uncapher has been Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party since 2008. The party represents over 125,000 registered voters, Professionally he is a telecommunications lawyer and previously served as a Counsel to a Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He and his wife Robin are both graduates of George Washington University and have lived in Bethesda since 1995.


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