[On Sundays, this blog looks beyond jobs and careers in “Sabbath.”]
The Art of the Impossible
The government will probably shut down next week. Compromises that were once taken for granted in Washington are now impossible. The corporate media tries to blame “both sides,” but the problem lies with the most conservative aspects of the Republican party. This group thinks compromise is getting 100% of what it wants – then it asks for more.
Let’s consider “Obamacare,” the Affordable Care Act. This plan should make Republicans happy. It’s based on a model from the Heritage Foundation, and it later became the model for Republican Governor Mitt Romney’s health care plan in Massachusetts. When President Obama and the Democrats proposed a similar plan, Republicans began to cry “socialism” and “death panels.” Now, rather than try to make changes in the plan, they demand repeal or defunding. No compromise.
In my state of Illinois, the problem isn’t at all Republicans. It’s dysfunctional Democrats. The governor and both houses of the legislature are controlled by the Democrats, and they cannot reach an agreement on how to resolve a huge pension deficit. The governor tried to block the legislators’ pay as an incentive to push them to act. A court said this move was illegal. So, in Illinois, Democrats cannot not even compromise with other Democrats.
Both the Democrats in Illinois and the Tea Party faction in the U.S. House are playing the same game: politics. They want their core voters to feel they are being strong. In the process, they don’t care if the nation or the state suffers. They can only think about the next election. As long as the voters agree to play this game, nothing will change. At the deepest level, we don’t only need better politicians, we need better citizens.
P.S. According to today's Chicago Sun-Times (9-30-2013), the story in Illinois is not as simple as I made it out to be. While there has been infighting among Democrats, they have apparently reached a deal to adjust pensions by $140 billion. Republicans are demanding $10 billion more in cuts that the paper calls unnecessary and insignificant. This is the only mention I have seen of GOP involvement in this problem. Add to the list above -- better journalism.
The protest in Wisconsin has brought a focus back on a topic I’ve written about several times over the last year: the value of teachers. From Kindergarten through graduate school I went to both public and private schools. Most of my teachers were good. They taught during the day. They graded papers and planned lessons on nights and weekends. It’s not an easy job.
So let’s think for a minute about what opponents of teacher unions want: lower pay, fewer benefits, and no union protection. As I say above, teaching is a tough job. Take the good stuff away and who will want to do it? Yes, good teachers don’t just work for the money. But, at some point, even the most dedicated teachers will say that it’s not worth the sacrifice.
The same people who complain about the quality of American educator are doing everything they can to drive good teachers from the classroom. The same people who say we need to compete with China are driving out our country’s most important resource: Educators.
Shame on Governor Scott Walker and his Tea Party supporters. The have an odd way of showing their love for America. Three cheers for the young students who are marching in Madison. They remember what the old and selfish have forgotten. They know how to say, “Thank you.”