Friday, February 25, 2011

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid

Our country's awash in nonsense. Here is America, grabbing torches and pitchforks, united against evil teachers. How dare they spend decades working for less than similarly educated individuals? How dare they actually use the job security they got in exchange for giving up all that money to keep their jobs? Who the hell do these teachers think they are?

In Providence, they're simply firing all their teachers, no ifs, ands, or buts.  We all know that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the guy who answers to the billionaire Koch Brothers (and demonstrates its literal truth in a prank call) is off maintaining he needs to close a budget, and therefore needs to kill collective bargaining for teachers and nurses. The fact that they're ready to give in on all economic issues does not persuade him otherwise.

Closer to home, some poll says 85% of New Yorkers oppose LIFO. The fact that there is no objective system to replace it did not enter into that poll. People just assumed there was, and that was good enough not only for the people giving the poll, but for its unquestioning participants.  Yet once again, the bills coming up to address that situation deal only with New York City teachers. How on earth can a Suffolk County state senator seriously introduce a bill that affects only teachers outside of his district? Only in America.

Mayor Bloomberg has laid down the gauntlet. Let him fire teachers, and let him select which teachers to fire. That's it. Let principals give U-ratings, for any reason or no reason, and you're gone.  Screw the contract, and screw people who've spent decades teaching. If you're principal is crazy, or a Leadership Academy automaton,  too bad for you. When Walmart comes to the city, maybe you can become an "associate" and wear one of those cool polyester vests made by someone in China making 18 cents an hour.

Bloomberg has been threatening layoffs for three years running. Were he to get rid of LIFO, you better believe they won't be mere words. You will see senior teachers dumped to the curb. No more pesky chapter leaders. You'd be crazy to take that job (unless you just took it to get a period off, go to conventions, and not actually do anything). Oppose the principal, get a U, and get fitted for that polyester vest. Contract, shmontract. They can and will do whatever the hell they want, because you can bet there will be layoffs each and every year, whether or not they're warranted.

The most incredible thing is the Fox News-fueled phenomenon of the watchful American, making sure that no one whatsoever has decent working conditions. I've been saying this for some time, but I think Diane Ravitch said it particularly well in her column the other day:

"As for pension and health-care envy, it is a sad thing when working Americans complain that someone else has benefits, instead of agreeing that everyone should have coverage for their health and old age. It reminds me of an old Soviet joke where a peasant says, "My neighbor has a cow and I have none, I want his cow to die." We should not join in this race to the bottom."

It's amazing that people don't realize the futility, the stupidity of such actions. It's like we're all out in the streets of Egypt demanding an even more repressive dictator.

There's a hysteria against taxes--they are evil. We pay too much, goes the myth. Never mind that paying more taxes could improve our quality of life, as Europeans and Canadians know. Never mind that such changes could end up making us more productive, stimulating our economy, and actually bringing up salaries. And never mind that all these various crises could be averted by rolling back tax cuts on the rich. President Obama caved and continued the idiotic Bush tax cuts. Governor Cuomo refused to continue a tax on those making over 200K a year.  The results are cuts to education and health care for the poor. Our priorities are insane.

There is hope. I leave you with the clear and simple voice of Cynthia Nixon, speaking truth to absurdity. I only hope someone is listening.

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