Sunday, April 25, 2004

What's wrong with this picture?

The Washington Times reports on Los Angeles' massive schoolbuilding program:
The 10-year, $10 billion project, the biggest school-construction program in the nation, is nothing if not ambitious. The LAUSD plans to build 160 schools between 2002 and 2012, as well as expand and update some of its existing 800 facilities.

And yet when the project is officially completed in eight years, it won't be enough. That $10 billion will buy 162,000 seats, but projections are that, by 2012, the district will need an additional 33,700 seats, Mr. McConnell said.
Hmmm, did Angelenos suddenly become abnormally fecund?
Such is the size of the immigration wave into Los Angeles. With the state growing by about 600,000 people per year, virtually all of it from immigration, the school system can't keep pace with the growth.
The district is also trying to place the schools where the students are. More than 70 percent of the district's students are Hispanic, and more than 50 percent are identified as speakers of limited English.
It's sure nice of the taxpayers to give illegal aliens a good education. But not to worry, the education bureaucrats are on the case!
Instead of blaming immigration as the cause of the building woes, school officials point out that the district hadn't built a real school since 1969. They attribute the inaction to the state's stiff school building codes, as well as the prohibitively high cost of land in Los Angeles.
Puhleeze! If there were no increase in the number of students, no new schools would be needed except for the occasional replacement of older structures.

But if you think that's swell, consider medical services:
Meanwhile, the prognosis for the health care system is increasingly grim. Since 1999, the county has closed six hospitals and nine public clinics owing to financial constraints, said Carol Gunter, director of the Los Angeles County Medical Services Agency.

She cited several reasons, including recent state laws mandating higher nurse-to-patient ratios and requiring hospitals to upgrade their buildings to meet new seismic standards.
Yeah, right.
On top of that, there's the problem of providing for the uninsured who turn up at emergency rooms seeking health care.

The uninsured and underinsured, mainly those on Medi-Cal, account for 30 percent of county residents. For those moving through the trauma system, it's closer to 50 percent. Because federal law requires hospitals to screen and stabilize all patients, "if a patient is uninsured, the hospital eats it," she said.

Private providers are also feeling the squeeze. The health care giant Tenet announced in January that it would sell its 14 Los Angeles-area hospitals and if it doesn't find buyers by December, it will "probably close them," Mrs. Gunter said.

Paying for indigents costs more than $360 million annually, said Tony Bell, chief of staff to Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich.

"There are documented cases of people coming from all over the world for free health care," Mr. Bell said. "The taxpayers foot the bill, and then they're losing their own services."
The benighted American taxpapyer takes it in the neck again.