Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saturday Stuff Again

Beyond the patently doctrinaire position that unions are intrinsically bad, I have no idea why Republicans are going after not only Teachers Unions, but even the basic perks of the profession. In NC it's one of many planks in the Legislature's coffin--the one they're hard at work building for what once was a reasonable way of life in a southern state. Tenure has got to go. Currently the Legislature and our Republican governor are trying to "bargain" (i.e. pronounce) with teachers who are apparently leaving the state in droves--more pay they say, but no more tenure. It's become a national theme, and made worse because for some reason Obama's first press secretary, Robert Gibbs, has joined some group attacking the concept. Last night Neil Cavuto said at one point "we've got to rein these teachers in," referring to tenure. Later, interviewing an articulate real teacher who is also in one of the national Teachers Unions, he proceeded to harangue and diminish her, never letting her finish a sentence and eventually closing with some dippy remark that amounted to, "well, it was nice having such a perky lady as you on the show." Her basic point, which only got out between his ceaseless interruptions: "we want due process." This is essentially what tenure amounts to.

Apparently it's too much for people who's model of employee/employer relationship is that of Ronald Reagan: "I paid for this microphone." In NC you can get hired for no reason, and fired for no reason either. Over a long long time teachers have worked to improve such a dismal situation, and for good reason. Teachers have to talk about real things, and sometimes parents and school boards don't want that to happen. If teachers have tenure it is at least more difficult to remove the, as it were, squeaky wheels. But public schools are part of what once was viewed as the public good. These days the Republican view is that there is no such thing.

Instead, at every turn Republicans state and nationwide are toiling to replace government programs and institutions with some privatized semblance which, they claim against all evidence to the contrary, will yield even a more perfect common good. This myth serves the true but masked agenda--lower and lower taxes on the people who pay for the candidates, who are then further and further free to make more and more minimally taxed money. A teacher with tenure might at least point this state of affairs out to her civics students. If she was a good enough teacher to get the point across to those kids not already so closed-minded as to reject her out of hand and report her to the thought police I mean. Our current state head of finance, Art Pope--a right-wing oligarch who deserves to be on the list with the Koch brothers, though since he's made his money on dime stores catering mostly to poor people, and not energy, he can't be quite in their wealth league--told the public yesterday that they'd have to choose between teacher's assistants in the early grades, or paying for Medicaid. What he didn't say was that the granite foundation on which Republican governance is now resting is, No Raising Taxes, Ever.

This has been the generational trick that the Reaganites have played on America. The public has been convinced that taxes are bad, and that failures of government due to lack of funding are only proof that government is incapable. The great circle continues to advance. At the top, the rich get much much richer, all the while complaining of their shrinking tax burden. Someone has responded to the no tax crowd with a apt rejoinder: "Taxes pay for civilization." The shrieking billionaires mostly drown out this obvious common sense, and Fox runs more hours of pornographic violence, errrm, "ultimate" fighting. The Rude Pundit should do a post on that cultural phenomenon, on which Ms Colter remains strangely silent whilst inveigling against futbol.

Here's a tiny story in yesterday's paper.

Washington -- The government wants to dramatically reduce the allowable height of potentially thousands of buildings near airports around the country--a proposal that is drawing fire from real estate developers and members of Congress who say it will hurt property values.

The Federal Aviation Administration proposal, supported by airports and airlines, is driven by encroaching development that limits safe flight paths for planes that might lose power in an engine during takeoff.

Well why should these federal agencies have the last word anyways? Surely the calculus of the Invisible Hand will show that in a world where there are a few more plane crashes, the extra money made by developers will still create a greater good. Just run it through the John Stuart Mill formula, or ask Mr. Romney. It works out to a percentage of 47/53, more or less.

And rein those unruly teachers in.

Update: Lance Mannion has noticed the same thing viz this attack on teachers. Here's his post:

Here's a small piece of Mannion's point, but you should read the whole piece:

This is part and parcel with their general belief that people’s only reason for existing is to create wealth and in that endeavor everybody, except them, is interchangeable and disposable. But it fits with a more general contempt for teachers as not very smart or ambitious types who take on the job for the summers off, the over-indulgent benefits, and the guarantee that no matter how incompetent they are they won’t be fired. Maybe the best of them go into it because they’re sentimentalists who “love kids” and believe “the children are our future” but that’s a sign they aren’t really serious grownups.

“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach,” right?

To which somebody has rejoined:

“Those who can, teach. Those who can’t, tell teachers how to do their jobs.”

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