I've been in and around Boston all week, and we just spent a day in Salem, Massachusetts, seeing the House of Seven Gables and listening to stories about the witch hysteria that caused the state-sanctioned murders of 20 people back in 1692. This was largely due to the hysterical ravings of a few people who may or may not have known better.
But it's human nature to pick scapegoats and blame all the troubles of the universe on them. After 9/11, of course we were angry. We put unprecedented faith in our President, unelected galoot George W. Bush, and he repaid us by investing extraordinary powers in himself. Thus, the government can now listen to us order pizza and keep records of our favorite toppings, to be used against us should it ever become necessary. And hopey-changey Barack Obama supported more of the same.
GW let his good buds do whatever they liked. Then he let us bail them out. He took the disaster in New Orleans and let them supplant the school system with charters. Barack Obama let his Education Secretary say Katrina was the best thing that ever happened to the school system, and I've yet to hear a reprimand, let along a contradiction.
Now, due to the economic meltdown that was the legacy of GW Bush, we need someone to blame. Is it GW himself? The hopey-changey successor who continued his policies? Is it the banks who benefited from our largess in making good their bad debts?
Of course not. That's so six months ago. While the editorial writers haven't specifically called for unionized teachers to be hanged, their comments seem to suggest we deserve worse. I doubt they'll call to burn us at the stake. That's a European tradition, and I don't think they want us to focus too much on Europe. Once we do that, we might notice Canada too.
Look to places like that, and you'll see better options for working people. Elsewhere people belong to real unions. The unions demand better conditions for their members, and they strike when they don't get them. People don't work 200-hour weeks in Europe. Health care is for everyone, and no one pays $3,000 to visit an emergency room. Retired working people can expect lives of dignity rather than scrounging.
Here, of course, that's vilified. They call it "socialism" and spit on the ground. With billionaires like Bill Gates setting the agenda, Americans don't demand European-style rights. Instead, they demand teachers give up the few remaining perks of their profession. Amazingly, in America, even union leaders participate, perhaps thinking they're protecting the dues money that pays for their parties and possessions. Such thinking is counter-productive, and not only they, not only we, but all our children will pay for it.
It took about a quarter century before Salem repented of the witch hunt mentality for which it's remembered even now. What will it take for us in America to come to our senses?
Views expressed herein are solely those of the author or authors, and do not reflect views of my employers, the United Federation of Teachers, the MORE Caucus or any other union caucus.
Stories herein containing unnamed or invented characters are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.