At the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one, I always tend to think about the past, present, and future. This year is no different. I am sitting here thinking how politicians always manage to pull the American people apart. They wait until the last possible minute to pull some rabbit out of a proverbial hat that we are supposed to buy as some kind of miracle of sorts. I don’t really buy the drama that is going on in Washington D.C. because they so easily passed two bills recently that didn’t get much notice. The first was FISA and the second was a pay raise for themselves.
Warrantless wiretapping of American citizens is good for another five years. Just think about that. http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2012/12/fisa-passes-warrantless-wiretapping-will-live/60403/
Just when you are lead to believe that the Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on anything, you discover that they both believe in stepping on the constitution to catch the bad people, whoever they may be. We can live safer knowing that they got General Patraeus out of office through the search of his email correspondence. Now I frankly don’t care about Patraeus as he is of no real concern to me. However, the fact that my email could be investigated or even my website, well, that is another matter. I believe in free speech and I certainly believe in utilizing the World Wide Web for learning and sharing ideas. I don’t believe the government should be able to search any of my documents because I may use some word that they have put on a terror list of commonly used words by terrorists.
About the pay raise, you can see it is not seemingly huge but when compared to most American worker’s pay it is humongous. http://www.wtvy.com/home/headlines/President-OKs-Pay-Raise-for-Congress-185310012.html
Therefore, here at the end of the year there is drama going on in Washington D.C. Both parties attend the same parties and social circles. Many even marry each other. Politicians also seem to live cozy with the press. If you work in politics, it is only a matter of time before you are on the political shows or in some cases become the show. The story that they don’t get along just doesn’t work with me because they get along when they want to. I remember when Senator Teddy Kennedy died. When Senator Orrin Hatch spoke about his relationship with Kennedy the veil of contention was lifted. When Teddy asks Orrin, “How did I do?” You must think about the theater that was created by both parties when dealing with legislative issues. At that time, I realized that all of the fighting by the politicians is some kind of weird Kabuki Theater. The drama is created for the American people. We are expected to think they are fighting for us but the reality is they fight for themselves and the moneyed interests. We have been expected to “share the pain” of their decisions but in reality the poor and middle class bears the burden of all that happens in politics.
This past year has been frustrating, especially for teachers like I. Here in Michigan we have painfully watched as politicians systematically took away many of our hard earned benefits through legislative action. We have to pay more into our insurance package. Years ago, the insurance was one of the most sought after benefit for teachers. Now, it is built in with plans that make teachers be more of a gambler than most teachers would like to be. There is a built in cap, which means if you want a better package, it is no longer negotiable. Our retirement package has been changed and we are expected to pay more for that change. Our union dues can no longer be taken out of our paychecks. Our union has to work harder to collect those dues. Teacher evaluations in our state are now tied to our students’ test scores. Within the next couple of years, it will be around 50% of our evaluations. In addition, as an art teacher, my evaluation is tied to reading and math scores. It seems we are all reading teachers these days. Recently, Governor Snyder signed into law “right to work” legislation. He did this as a favor to all of us dissatisfied teachers of course. Please note the “snark” in my voice. Here in Sturgis we took a 0% pay raise to go along with all of the other things that happened this year. We were happy because at least we have our jobs. This is the kind of year it has been, a contentious one, leaving many people confused and worried about the future.
I have always been an optimist. I look to the future thinking positive thoughts. However, I have learned that it is difficult to be in charge of your own fate these days. It doesn’t matter how good of a teacher you really are. What matters is how the numbers look on a database. Things that are not measured like creativity, relationships, emotions, devotion, time, and caring won’t show up on that database that determines my ability as a teacher. I will live with that. I look to this New Year still hoping that the politicians will wake up and see all the damage they create when they make decisions for the American people that really are insane and stupid. I cannot help it as I am ever the optimist. This next year has me thinking that Governor Snyder probably has a plan for me and it probably isn’t what I want. At the federal level, they have a plan for all of us as well and it probably isn’t what we want. I will hold out and keep on voting, trying to remove the blight I see that are the politicians that continually serve the rich and connected. However, it is discouraging to see what happens to people when they become politicians!