A Voice of Reason: Sane Views for a Crazy World

April 3, 2007

Who’s the Problem?

I saw that a few feeds are coming over from some over at Polipundit, about a retort I had about tenure for teachers. I know that many feel this is a problem, and at times it is. Each year about one of ten thousand teachers go through a lenghthy process to remove them from the classroom due to poor teaching skills or other isses, and some of the other issues are scandolous. This has made many angry about tenure – and the idea is that teachers are lazy. I also think the same mentality is being applied to any who work within a collective bargaining unit, union, and the perception is that the sole purpose of unions is somehow “UnAmerican”. I would pose that Unions – in their proper role are one of the “Most American” features we have in our Republic, but that Unions are dying, and this is not a good sign for the vast majority of people.

When a teacher is given tenure, they basically get a job – if they choose and if financial situtations in the district stay well – until they are 65. This is a big decision for administrators and a big perk for those who enter the teaching profession. If you take the average work week of the teacher – I’m not counting time spent at home as that can’t be tallied efficiently – and compare the benefit packages – typically among the best of all workers – they are typically paid rather reasonably. This is true for “any” public sector job. Although the cash value of this and other public sector jobs did not typically compare with similarly educated people in leadership roles in the corporate world – and this is changing due to the dehumanizing practices of major corporations – the retirment and health benefits make teaching a viable alternative – at least for me. I guess I’m like Lloyd Dobler, in that I don’t want to process anything sold/bought, or buy/sell anything processed. Since I already was in the military, that limited my options, so I went back to teaching, from where I had departed to join the armed forces. I like to think I did both – and still do one out of a sense of community service.

Unions are also a hated entity by some in the American political scene. Although I am slanted towareds the GOP, I know fully well the anti-union stance of the party, and the rhetoric that the party employs is only the tip of the iceberg. Some have told me I should vote Democratic because of some of my centrist views towards corporitism and the government’s role in solving some societal problems, but even the DNC has basically forgotten unions – oh they’ll use them and throw them a bone once in awhile to keep them mollified, much as has been done to other groups, but the DNC leadership knows the big bucks are to be gained from the corporations – who ever increasingly shape and define America’s policies. Of course “they” don’t want unions, as it would have a negative impact upon their ability to make profits. There is nothing wrong with making profit, however, the exploitation – yes that is the correct word – of the common laborer by these corporations has reached levels that the “Robber Barons” of the late 19th and early 20th century would close their eyes and wistfully dream had been able to been accomplished by themselves.

Consider Jane Corporate Lackey, a typical worker who has been with a major company for ten years. She has gone through the process of being a laborer and having to work hours with no compensation time if she is sick, no time allowed in the work schedule to go to a parent teacher conference, to take an aging mother to the hospital by use of a benefit day. She, despite having decent background in personell and office management is typically started at about $10 to $15 per hour. This company has no CBU and efforts to form one by employees have typically resulted in termination for competency issues. Yeah, right. Pardon me, if everyone didn’t fall off the watermelon truck.

After a while she is brought into the fold of the company and “made” a full employee, sort of like the mob does. She is now paid a bit more, gets a full week of paid vacation and a few sick/personal days. She typically works for about 45 hours per week, but the company manages to avoid paying much overtime, until the government forced them to do so, but that company “really cares” about their employees; it’s like they are “Family”. I think they must mean The Sopranos.

Now she is expected to cheerfully put in the extra hours to be a team player. After a few years she gets the call, she’s made it, and is now management. She’s been with the company about eight years, and now gets a salary, which is actually less than she would have be making had she worked the job that wasn’t in management. Now, she’s up to thirteen vacation days, and is reminded that this is above the industry standard. Of course, since she is only paid about 50K for working typically sixty hours a week, she can enjoy that vacation at her home, which makes it easier for all. Want to find out why? Because she is expected to work two to four hours per day – non compensated – while on holiday or vacation. She must have internet and cell phone access in case of an emergency. So it really is convenient that the “lucrative” salary doesn’t afford her any opportunity to go anywhere but Applebees for a fine gourmet meal, and maybe catch a movie. I can just hear the upper crust saying, “Have a blast sucker, I’ll call you from my Lear jet”. Now, many of these upper echelon executives do work many hours, maybe even more than the typical sixty per week of Ms. Jane Lackey, however, their compensation is typically 50 to 200 times the amount of average worker. Does the word exploitation come to mind?

I am amazed that the “base” of the GOP, whom I consider to be middle class culturally conservative people, do not see this an issue of morality. You see, friends, explotation of the many by the few is in fact immoral, and to my frame of mind is much more in the face immorality than the sexual practices of two consenting adults. Consider how you live, in an economic framework, as compared to how your parents may have lived, assuming they were middle class. I know that despite my being an evil big part of the problems in society “Tenured teacher”, and I am not at all complaining about my salary, and my spouse being a low level manager – and she is stuck in that slot despite glowing performance ratings – we have not been able to afford a vacation other than a one night honeymoon, and two day trips to Great Adventue with our kids for the ten years we’ve been together. I haven’t gone on vacation anywhere out of the tri-state area for over twenty years, because simply put, I can’t afford it. Yet, we in education, and I’m working on a doctorate, and my wife with ten years in a management slot of a major corporation, who is in reality a “White collar slave”, are the problem, not those who make uncounted millions, and then want to pay the same rate of taxes as my family and the single mom who works at a dead end minimum wage job. Yeah, that’s not the problem.

I’m not exspousing Marxism here, but I would remind all of you of what a true Republican and a Conservative said about the dangers of runaway Corporitism, which is not Capitalism.

“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. ” Abraham Lincoln (Quoted by Theodore Roosevelt in The New Nationalism Speech)

“Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights… Nor should this lead to a war upon the owners of property. Property is the fruit of labor;… property is desirable; is a positive good in the world.”

“Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.” Abraham Lincoln

At many stages in the advance of humanity, this conflict between the men who possess more than they have earned and the men who have earned more than they possess is the central condition of progress. Theodore Roosevelt

The Constitution guarantees protection to property, and we must make that promise good. But it does not give the right of suffrage to any corporation. Theodore Roosevelt

The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man’s making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have themselves called into being. Theodoe Roosevelt

I will stop, but I can say that these two men, knew Who was really the problem. Guess what, it wasn’t nor has NEVER BEEN the citizens of our Republic.

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