By Thomas Ultican / Ultican
Lee W. Olson feels enslaved by having to pay taxes — especially those that go to pay for public education.
Taking action to end slavery, he filed three citizen initiatives with the Attorney General of the State of California. His “California Freedom from Slavery Act” initiative would end state and local taxes after 55-years of age. The “California Parental Rights Act of 2018” puts parents in charge of education standards. And the “California Education Tax Relief Act” exempts people with no children in public schools from paying taxes to support public schools.
Perhaps Olson would be better served to find another metaphor than slavery. People from a legacy of slavery might be a little offended by the whining of a well-off white man. However, he is persistent. In 2009, he filed three similar ballot initiatives addressing the same principles, if you can call them that.
Olson must be sincere in his motives; each of these initiative filings includes a $2,000 fee. The Attorney General must “request the preparation of a fiscal impact analysis from the Department of Finance and the Legislative Analyst’s Office” before issuing a circulating title and summary. The state has less than 65 days for this process.
The fee helps defray the cost of the approximately 200 of these proposals the state receives every election cycle. The proponents will get the fee back if they gather enough signatures to put the initiative on the ballot.
Lee’s initiatives have yet to make a ballot.
Curmudgucation Inspired this Story
I read education blogs and one of my daily reads is by Peter Greene of Pennsylvania called Curmudgucation. I met Peter at a National Public Education conference in Chicago. He’s one of those guys that knows everything. Not in a know-it-all kind of way, but because he really has a great breadth of knowledge. His blog is witty, creative and, somehow, he is often one of the first people in the blogosphere to spy a new development.
November 10, Peter wrote a piece he called “CA: A Silly Proposal.” His lead sentence: “It should be said right up front that this measure has little chance of making it all the way to becoming an actual law, and the only big mystery here is why a local news station would bother to cover it at all.” It seems that Peter somehow noticed the story of Lee’so-called “no kids, no taxes for school” initiative on a local Sacramento, California CBS affiliates morning news show.
I became intrigued and soon found that there was a trio of initiatives filed including the one Peter Greene referenced all submitted by:
Now that we have evangelical Christians setting up church in public schools and also running after-school programs — plus corporations are legally identified as people with First Amendment rights — I take kooky ideas seriously.
Who is Lee Olson? How strong is the Committee to End Slavery? Do they have the ability to gather the required 585,407 signatures for each petition in the next six months?
The address appears to be an office for Olson Leland and Edwards, LLC, a real estate investment company. Their promotion at connected investors reads, “Olson Leland & Edwards, LLC is a real estate company with 1 employee(s). This company has been part of Connected Investors since 07/24/2009 – Olson Leland & Edwards, LLC is a real estate company in HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA.” WPnumbers lists Lee Olson as chief executive.
A public records search finds that Lee W. Olson is 72 years old and lives in Westminster, California. A search of real estate data shows that Olson is 75 years old and retired. It also says a 2014 property assessment valued his home a little more than $500,000, which is modest by California standards.
To sum it up, Lee Olson is a retired real estate dealer over 70 years old and lives in Westminster, California. He still has some relationship with Olson Leland and Edwards, LLC and maintains a business address in Huntington Beach, California about 3 miles from his home. Except for the six state initiatives he has filed, there are few other mentions of him in the media. He does own a web domain, lovetrumpseverything.com, but there is nothing on it.
The Committee to End Slavery does not seem to be a functioning body. It has no web presence and there is not a mention of the group in the media that is not tied to Lee Olson’s state ballot initiatives.
Gathering over 700,000 signatures to ensure that 585,407 of them are valid registered voter signatures looks to be out of the realm of possibility. Peter Greene’s observation that why a media outlet would run this story is well founded.
Yet, A Dark Motivation Appears Here
It’s the same motivation that is pushing Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ drive to privatize public education. It’s motivated by a fundamentalist religious belief.
“PROHIBITS GOVERNMENT FROM ENFORCING EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS AND MAKES PARENTS AND GUARDIANS SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR CHILDREN’S EDUCATION. …
“Changes Constitution to prohibit state and local government from requiring parents and guardians to meet educational standards. Gives parents and legal guardians the sole authority and responsibility to educate their children, including the right to determine the venue, curriculum, and methods of education.”
Olson’s web domain name seems related to the Christian oriented love trumps everything key to life or similar evangelical groups. The findings he wrote for this initiative would at one time have been deemed the hateful discourse of a kook. Now they are a serious and dangerous attack on the constitutional guarantee of the separation of church and state.
In the findings for this initiative Olson writes:
“(1) The responsibility for the raising of children lies solely with parents, or legal guardians, in accordance with our Creators command given to parents, not the government, to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
“(2) The government has immorally usurped, at gunpoint, the Creator endowed inviolable right of parents to control the education of their children.
“(3) The government has used its powers of coercion not only to usurp the Creator endowed inviolable parent’s rights but also to promote immoral teachings contrary to the way the Creator has said the child should go.
“(4) The government schools reject abstinence from sexual activity outside the bounds of marriage and teach that fornication is not only okay but it’s expected.
“(5) The government schools teach that homosexual behaviors are morally acceptable and should be praised, contrary to the Creator’s instructions for healthy living, by idolizing and establishing Harvey Milk Day honoring a man known primarily for his homosexual exploits rather than any good done for the public. …
“(6) Government schools have a full court press on to eradicate Judeo-Christian moral principles from any discourse in the lives of California residents.
“(7) Government school promotion of immoral sexual behaviors, especially fornication and homosexuality, …”
How did Christianity become so infused with hate and bigotry? Are these really the views of Jesus of Nazareth? I certainly don’t believe he taught discrimination against gays and lying about sex education.
I heard the points Olson made about sex education at the July 24 San Diego Unified School District board meeting. A new sex education program was being adopted. A relatively large group of people apparently from the same Christian sect started denouncing the sex education curriculum as pornographic and against God’s Law. People in the audience were holding up Bibles and cheering on their speakers. One speaker who identified himself as Mr. Brookes said that this sex education program was against God’s Law and that it promoted deviance and rebellion. He also said that Planned Parenthood is evil and that they support this curriculum.
Olson is not just one crackpot looking for attention. He seems to be part of an American religious movement working to end public education and establish a Christian theocracy.
In Olson’s initiative that could be called “No Tax Money for Government Schools,” he also has a long list of frothy findings. Here are three:
“Parents pursuing alternative education are penalized unfairly by having to not only pay for their children’s education but also by being forced to pay for the education of other children (and university/college students) enrolled in government schools via various government taxes, or other schemes, which extract their financial resources at gunpoint.”
“The Committee to End Slavery fully supports the inviolable right of parents to control the education of their children, including in whatever setting they choose, even the uninformed choice of enrolling in government schools. Our Creator never assigned the right and responsibility of a child’s education to a government entity; the government has usurped that inviolable right and responsibility at gunpoint.”
“The Committee to End Slavery condemns the theft of property (money) from Californian’s, euphemistically called taxation, to pay for government schools. Especially when their primary purpose is to create a dumbed down populace easy to control and prepared only to service the (slave) labor needs of the oligarchy that rules over us.”
It appears there is very little reason involved here and disdain for our government at all levels. This kind of thinking seems like a natural development from Ronald Regan’s nine most terrifying words in the English language: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” I find this kind of hatred of America and its institutions worrisome.
It is About Ending Public Education
Olson’s three initiatives are aimed at the November 2018 ballot and were certified for signature gathering on November 9, 2017. Each initiative was given an ID and a cost estimate.
Lee W. Olson’s initiatives are the work of a crackpot with too much money. However, he is not that far from our present mainstream school reform. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has an agenda that is not all that different from Olson’s. There is a dangerous sectarian attack being waged against both public schools and the constitutional guarantee in the second amendment of a separation of church and state.