partly: (IMNSHO)
I hate politics. Hate them with a passion that I reserve for very few other things. Politics is all about power and manipulation and propaganda. There's a great quote by Noam Chomsky that I was reminded of this past week: ...propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state (ref). These past ten days in Wisconsin we have been overloaded on propaganda. It's been a state of people with "propaganda bludgeons" trying to beat everyone into submission. Catchy slogans, rousing speeches, banners and placards covered with graphics that not-so-subtly warn of impending doom. All captured in 30-second sound bites that play well in the media.

Everyone has their own side to the story. Everyone has their own spin. Twitter, Facebook, blogs everywhere are full of "proof" that their side is the only right and just side. It all sounds good, but I don't see how it can all be right.

I call my sledgehammer Propaganda )

Instead of running everyone over with propaganda tanks, instead of calling names and playing politics in order to curry favor and power, instead of focusing on one or two pet causes, tell me is what you are propagandizing going to fix the underlying problem? That's what we need. Anything else, to quote Shakespeare, “is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”.
partly: (IMNSHO)
This just breaks my brain: Doctors are signing fake sick forms for those teachers protesting in Madison.

Isn't that both unethical and fraudulent? Doesn't it count as criminal behavior?

You can watch a video of one of the doctors saying what she is doing here and here. Just in case you want more proof, check out the actual notes that were being handed out over here.

People better get in trouble for this.

If you're going to protest, you should have the courage of your convictions to stand up and say where you were and not to defraud the taxpayers who pay your salary. If you're going to lie and take pay under fraudulent pretenses, then you don't deserve to be put in charge of children at all. Criminal behavior should be grounds for dismissal, no?

Plus, I wonder if these doctors can be trusted with writing prescriptions if they are so willing to lie like this? I mean, heck, I could be both sick and in need of some really good drugs, right? Are these doctors willing to stand by their statement that the teachers were sick? They going to swear under oath that they examined the person and that they felt there was medical reasons for this?

Yeah. That's not likely to work. At least I hope not.
partly: (Goodfight)
After a day of very contentious and slightly threatening exchanges with people over the happenings with the government here in Wisconsin, I decided that I should write my State Senator and let him know my feelings about everything. Since he's one of the Senators who are currently hiding out of state, I doubt he will ever see it, but I thought I'd share my opinions anyhow.

I also thought that I'd post them here. Not because I expect that you all out there are dying to know what I think on this, but because I feel what I say has some importance. At least I feel it's well enough thought out for me to put it out for public viewing.

Dear Mr. Holperin )

*~*~*~*~

Now, I know that a great many people don't agree with me. I also know that civil discourse on the matter is not the norm. So, if you can't refrain from name calling or pejorative comments, please just post it to your own journal. If you want to disagree, that's fine. Just be intelligent and civil. I really feel that politics can be a matter of calm discussion. Thank you.
partly: (IMNSHO)
There's a whole hell of a lot of stuff going on in Wisconsin politics right now. The state elected a new governor in the last election and he's making a whole lot of people upset with the new policies that he is proposing and the legislature is (most likely) passing.

The one that has the most people upset is the plan to make Wisconsin a "Right to Work" State and to remove the collective bargaining powers of the public unions.

My views on all of this are extremely personal.

Personal view one:
I worked for the County Government and was a union member until I was laid off just over a year ago. When I was "officially" informed that I was being let go, the union rep was there. Why was she there? I'm not really sure. She didn't do anything for me. Except to tell me that I was completely and totally replaceable and that she would make sure that no union rules were violated when they replaced me. She assured me that all union rules would be followed when they put an existing union person in my position and that "anyone could do my job just as well with just a little training". Nice to know. Really.

At the last union meeting I attended I was told that it wasn't part of the unions scope to help save jobs or provide the county with ways to balance the budget and keep everyone employed. This was stated after someone suggested that maybe the union could offer concessions in order to keep all the employes. This was quickly and soundly shot down. You see, the union's job is to ensure that the wages and benefits that were currently in place would continue for those who were still part of the union. In other words, they didn't care that people were losing there jobs, only that those who remained would be unaffected.

There were two times in this discussion that emotions ran high. The first was when everyone was informed that, because of the layoff and consequentially fewer union members, there would be a raise in union dues. The second was when they were discussing how terrible it was that one of the workers, D, was in limbo because administration was going to eliminate her position -- not her employment, mind, just where she worked in the building. Wasn't it terrible that this poor STILL EMPLOYED person may have to do something different. This was a tragedy.

When they all complained at how hard it would be on all of them when the layoff took place, I may have made the mistake of telling them that I damn well hoped it was. Needless to say, I was less than impressed and am still more than a little bitter about the whole damn thing. The the people in the county government that laid me off and the people in the public who I served when I was working for the 4-H did much more for me, were much more sympathetic and helpful than the union or the union members.

Personal view two:
Right now our current school budget deficit is prompting the school board to cut 10 percent of the MAPS teaching staff -- 35 teachers received layoff notices, entire programs are being cut. The district needs to focus all of its resources on the areas that are measured and tested and used at the guide for federal money in order to keep afloat prompted it to cut most of the technical programs and keep those for college prep, which seems to be the only thing that matters in education these days.

Our school district is one of the poorest in the state. It rivals Milwaukee in the amount of students who qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch. We have been extremely hard hit by the economic downturn. We have ridiculous unemployment -- and a lot of people have dropped off the unemployment rolls already. The problem is our population density isn't high enough to qualify for a lot of Federal and State aid. In addition our low percentage of minority students also removes us for a great deal of funding consideration. Finally, a great many of the new funding sources comes with qualifications that actually make it cost prohibitive to take the money.

Don't get me wrong, we have a damn fine educational system here. We have done extremely well with what little funds we have. We just can't keep it up forever. Especially when faced with the economy and regulatory demands. The only way the board can balance the budget is to cut and, like with the county, when faced with the current contracts and union bargaining, they can't cut pay or benefits, but they can eliminate jobs.

Of course, the teacher's union is just like the union I belonged too. As long as the people who remain employed aren't hurt, they don't care if people get laid off. I'm thinking that for 35 teachers, they may actually prefer taking a pay cut than having no pay at all.

I know I would have.

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