Sunday, October 24, 2010

Political Rant

How many more days until the election?  I can't wait until it's over because I'm sick of the stupid commercials on TV and I'm REALLY sick of hearing about the issues that seem to be particular to this election, like teacher quality, and who is middle income and will they be taxed more under Obama if he gets his way (which, btw, he never in a million years will), and the devastating effects of "Obamacare" and how awful it is to put a limit on how much insurance agencies can totally screw you over.  Yeah, that's what I'm sick of.  I don't usually spout my political opinions on this blog because, you know, opinions are like assholes:  nobody wants to see yours and sometimes they leak scary things.

Let's take these issues one at a time.  First of all, the people who make more than $250,000 dollars a year whining that they ARE middle income and it's NOT FAIR that they might get the Bush tax cuts rolled back and have to pay a little more.  Wah...WAHHHHH!  (sorry)  Middle income would seem to mean the people who make the average income in the country.  So we can safely assume that the lower third of income earners are low income, the middle third is middle income and the upper third is upper income.  Simple enough, right?  But Marketplace Money on NPR devoted an entire show to the question, "Are people who make $250,000 wealthy?"  They spent an hour on this question and never gave a definitive answer.  People who make that much money a year are in the top two percent of earners in the U.S.  They are upper income.  There's no debating it.  They are probably really smart and clever and industrious, but they didn't get to be that successful by themselves.  They benefited from living in a society where everyone contributes and you don't get to stop contributing just because you make that much money.  Taxes in this country are regressive and the Obama administration is trying to make it more fair. 

 This is what happens in a bad economy when a middle-income person gets paid in cash for a job well done.  He immediately tells his coworker, "Get the camera and my big hat while I fan out these hundreds."

A few weeks ago I heard a story on This American Life.  The show's theme was crybabies and one of the stories was about people who work on Wallstreet whining about how they are making record profits and bonuses after the bailout and how they don't owe anything to the government (i.e. the rest of us) because they are smart and they don't think just because they are smart they should be taxed or regulated more.  Seriously, it was infuriating. 

The next thing, and probably the thing that bothers me the most is the constant discussions about teacher quality and how our educational system is "broken" and what can we do to get these deadwood teachers out because if they have tenure you can never get rid of them!  The general consensus seems to be that the teacher's union is protecting bad teachers like the Catholic Church protects child molesters.  It is all so much bullshit.  First of all, education costs a lot of money.  Parents insist that their children learn things that they will use in the world, like technology skills.  If you want your kids to be able to use a computer and software, then you have to pay to put computers in the schools.  Enough computers, and up-to-date computers, and software and that shit costs a lot.  Stop crying about it!  You are also going to have to pay enough teachers so that your precious little angel isn't in a class with 33 other kids.  You think teaching a class of 34 third graders is easy?  On your kid's next birthday party, invite them all over to your house and try to get them to all listen to the directions for pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and see how easy it is.  

Second of all, in states that have a strong teacher's union, students are doing much better on standardized tests.  The states with no teachers's union are the lowest education states in the country.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Teachers need a voice and some protection against administrators that are more motivated by politics than educating students, and parents who will do crazy things to a teacher who won't let Little-Johnny-Shithead do whatever the hell he wants.

Thirdly, once a teacher gets tenure it doesn't mean that the teacher can sit back and make students wash his car and rub his feet all day and he'll never get fired.  All tenure means is that in order to fire that teacher, the administration has to follow a set of procedures that includes documentation and observation.  If your administrator is too lazy to do that with a teacher you think is bad, you need to get rid of the administrator first.  And good luck with that!  Before a teacher gets tenure he/she can be fired for no reason at all.  All tenure means is that there has to be a reason and evidence to back up the reason to fire the teacher. 

My final rant is about the health care issue.  Do you really want to live in a country that turns people who are sick away from hospitals because they don't have enough money to pay for care?  Really?  Do you really want to live in a country where having a baby in a hospital can bankrupt a family?  Doesn't it make you a little queasy to go to the grocery store and see homemade posters for fundraisers for people with cancer that can't afford the treatment they need that always seems to be considered "experimental" by their incredibly profitable health insurance company?  Wouldn't it be nice if you had cancer to just go to the hospital and get treatment and not have to worry about making your whole family homeless because of it?  Every other modern industrialized country in the world gives their citizens health care.  We should too. 

Okay, that's it.  I'm sorry if anything I said made you mad.  If it did, yell at me in the comments.  I welcome it.  I love a good debate.  (and I love brownies)


  1. Brilliant. And here's something I don't think most people understand. The higher tax rate just taxes the income OVER $250,000not the entire income. If you earn $275,000, only the excess $25,000 gets taxed at the highest rate. Also, want to get madder? You should see the super-lavish brand new Wellmark (BC/BS) headquarters here in Des Moines.

  2. Sorry, but I agree with everything you said. Debate that!

  3. This is your blog, you rant all you want (that's what it's here for afterall). No apologies and yay for funny hats!

  4. Girly, I totally agree with it all. Well, I am a little unsure about the tenure thing because no other job has that kind of security despite poor performance, but other than that, I agree. (And I have a teacher for a sister!)

    If parents really want their kids to learn, though, they should do it themselves. Seriously. The library is free and open most of the day and night. People should take their kids there and teach them what the schools cannot.

  5. Dana McKibbage WaldbilligOctober 25, 2010 at 7:08 AM

    My new boss (whom I love and adore BTW, so this comment refers ONLY to his ranting about taxes...) was ranting the other day about having to pay higher taxes than poorer people (ie: ME, although he was kind enough not to say that out loud) because he most certainly makes more than $250,000. I just stared at him, tried not to laugh while he was ranting, then calmly said "I'll trade ya." He often refers to his family as "middle-class", and it's kind of frustrating. He TRULY considers himself middle-class. How is that even possible? And I only like female brownies.

  6. With respect, I have to disagree that " other job has that kind of security despite poor performance." I've had the opportunity to observe, first-hand, what it's like to work for the federal government (I was on active duty in the military for a number of years and my duties brought me in close contact with a lot of GS employees). I would say their degree of safety makes the concept of tenure laughable as a defense for poor performance.
    Aside from that, I agree with most of what you say, although I don't fully support the implication of a causal relationship between strong teacher's unions and quality education. I don't think measuring quality based upon performance on standardized tests is sufficient to support the argument since the "standard" in their title applies more to the way they're developed and scored than the audience to - or manner in which - they are administered. On all other points regarding the state of our public education system, I do agree with you: Americans (and particularly their politicians at election time) love to bemoan the sad state of our schools...then refuse to fund them, staff them or equip them properly.
    Now I have to go get my kid so I can start deprogramming him after this week's "Say No to Drugs" pseudocampaign. I think they're wearing funny shoe laces to combat the drug trade this week.
    How about a post about "Red Ribbon Week"?

  7. Where did Tom get all that money and what's with the goofy hat?!


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