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)