hate, part 2

Yesterday, I wrote about the theme of hate in the Republican party and how it somehow became the platform of the party in this past election.

I was waiting for the response that this is not indicative of the feelings of the individual voters. And while that argument did not come, I still feel the need to say that voting for someone who expresses beliefs is a vote for said beliefs.

Even still, I could anticipate the argument that I am reaching. And all would be well, except for the fact that the outward expression of hatred and racism after the reelection of President Obama was delivered to my news stream this morning.

First, there is a lovely map of the racist tweets immediately after the election. I’m linking the map rather than the tweets, but you can find those quite easily in this ZDNet article.

My point yesterday, and I’ll reiterate it here, is that it is perfectly acceptable to argue policy. It is perfectly acceptable to have differing views on the economy, on our military presence around the world, on our educational policies. It is even perfectly acceptable to have greed drive those policies. At this point, greed would be a welcome offense.

For a party that professes moral outrage every other day, it would be a great time to hear some outrage.

Then, there is the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). At the point that college students, our young people, are still buying into racist beliefs of the pre-Civil Rights Movement, we know we have a problem. A huge problem.

This is not just an issue of an older block of white voters — or white Southerners — who are still holding onto antiquated racists beliefs.

Our young people are infected. Infected with a bitter hatred that we should be well past.

During an eight-year presidency, I don’t recall GW Bush hung in effigy. I don’t recall racial slurs being hurled against him. And we’re talking about a man who voluntarily sent thousands upon thousands of our young people to their death in wars he fabricated.

So, I don’t think I’m being unfair. Politics is ugly. It is. But in some ways it’s uglier on one side than it is on the other.

And I bet. I bet that Bush never had to explain to his daughters over dinner why people would call their father a n—– or why they would violently protest against him.

Politics is one thing. Policy is one thing. Protests are one thing.

But hate.

Hate should be unacceptable.

hate is not a platform.

I was raised a Democrat. With that, I was also raised to harbor certain suspicions and wariness toward anything red.

Even more important to me, though, is the fact that I was raised to appreciate, participate in and respect democracy. Part of democracy is having an informed electorate. Part of democracy is allowing everyone the chance to express her voice.

Part of democracy is open discussions of ideas.

And that is where I have the biggest problems with the current Republican party. Deep down, somewhere in that party, there are legitimate opinions on issues. There are legitimate ideas about the economy. About international diplomacy. About education. There are. I believe that because I can’t believe that any American would purposefully and willfully wish to destroy our nation and its people. I may not agree with them, but I certainly respect the right to have them.

The problem is that we saw none of those ideas. None.

What we were treated to was a vitriolic smear campaign fueled by hate.

The entire basis for your party’s platform cannot be

  • hatred for a black President (Google the difference between the electoral map and the slave vs. free state map of the Civil War. You might find there is none.);
  • hatred for women (see Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin–the “rape guys”);
  • hatred for Latinos (see: self-deportation);
  • hatred for gays (the list is too long, but I would say start with DOMA, and yes, I know Clinton signed it);
  • hatred for Muslims (take a look at the treatment of and perceptions of some Middle Eastern leaders, of the term jihad);
  • hatred for the poor (start with the 47% video);
  • hatred for the elderly (read up on Republican MediCare policy)

The one truth that was told during this campaign by Republicans was in reference to the “trickle down” effect. You guys nailed that one. Your hate started at the top and trickled down to reach a huge number of Americans.

And guess what? They all went out to vote.

Hate is simply not sustainable as a political platform. Because, eventually, those you hate will become angry. And as you continue and continue to expand the boundaries of your hatred, you’re handing the “other guy” a built-in electorate.

Eventually, that 47%–or is it 51% now?–is going to get their chance. And that chance came Tuesday.


why do people pick on teachers so much?

Even though I usually try to stay away from stories like this, I knew Jon Stewart wouldn’t make me mad so I watched the clip from his show about how Fox News says teachers are overpaid. The numbers used were $50,000 salary and $38,000 of benefits.

The clips show various Fox findings that teachers work less, get paid too much, etc, etc. Things I’ve always heard from people I know. Oh, you’re so lucky school ends at 3. Oh you’re so lucky you have summers off. Oh you’re so lucky that you get winter and spring breaks. And on and on and on.

A couple of disclaimers before I continue on:

  1. I’ve never made $50,000 teaching. Ever. And I have an M.S.
  2. I don’t currently teach full-time.

So, one day after this incessant yammering on about how “lucky” I am, I took out a calculator. At the time, I was arriving at school at 6:45 in the morning and leaving at 4. I had a 25 minute lunch. So, I worked about 9 hours a day. And to all the people who would tell me they also worked nine hours a day–you also had an hour lunch in there. So, my base weekly hours were 45. Now, let’s add in the usually 6 or so hours that we tacked on to my Fridays to chaperone athletics or dances or whatever. Now, we’re at 51 (and oddly my salary is not increasing in any way). Some weekends, if I powered through everything I would do all of my grading and planning in one shot on either Saturday and Sunday in about 8-10 hours. Most weekends, I split it up into three to four hour increments. So, on a good week we’re talking 60 hours of work a week. And this is actual work–not me sitting at a computer playing on Facebook or calling people on the company line.

So, we multiply that out to the forty-two weeks a year teachers teach and that gives us 2,520 hours.

Now, your cushy little office job that probably pays $30,000 more a year than I will ever make, never has a surly teenager rolling her eyes at you, and never ever requires you take piles of work home with you, is probably 40 hours a week (I’m not even subtracting all the time you waste online). If you have 4 weeks of vacation a year that means you work 1,920 hours a year.

So, now have I not only worked 600 more hours than you in a year, I’m still getting paid less and I have horrid benefits.

So, yea….teachers should learn to sacrifice more.

on unions

I grew up in a union household. I would sooner eat dirt than cross a picket line. The boycott list in my head is way too long to describe.

I’ve been reading some great reflections (Keith Olbermann & Steve Lopez) on why unions are necessary.

And while I have no doubt that my father’s union job is the reason that we always had a home, food and were all educated, the reason I will always support unions is deeper than that.

Part of it is that in my adult life, I have yet to have a union job. And I know that this is the reason I have been afforded zero protection against shoddy health insurance, lack of unemployment insurance, badly calculated withholding on my taxes, slander, and harassment. All the while, I had my father telling me “they can’t do that to you.” But I knew they could. There was no one to tell them not to.

The bigger part, though, is that growing up around my father’s union, I saw that not only do unions look out for the employees they represent, they also look out for the greater good. And I know, to some people, that is another major strike against them. But for me, it’s what we’re all about as humans.

My father is in a union that allowed for cost of living raises to be frozen. For years. In an effort to serve public health, to keep hospitals open, the freezes were agreed to. And yes, there were years where they wanted raises, but after seven years, you couldn’t blame them. And yes, I stood on picket lines with my father for their raises and benefits. But I also stood alongside him during protests that were in support of stopping the closure of major public health institutions.

I know that a lot of people think unions are an evil. That they protect jobs that don’t need protection, that they keep unqualified people in positions they don’t deserve, and that they are greedy and self-serving. And perhaps there are some out there that are like that, but I’ve never supported a movement or a protest that wasn’t designed for the collective good of all of its people–whether they worked for the union or were served by the union.

And I think that’s the deeper problem we’re seeing here. We don’t like collective good. We don’t. We think it’s socialism. But honestly, if it is, so be it.

But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.
-Robert F. Kennedy

My Health Care Opinion #9,722

This one is not going to be a rant against pharmaceuticals. Nor will it be call for compassion. Nor will it be an indictment against the stupidity of the public option.

When I listen to people argue about this, they are usually people who have their own perfectly fine health plans. Their employers provide them. They’ve never seen the inside of a public clinic. They have low co-pays for everything. They may have high premiums, but their health is genuinely in good hands.

I’m an educated person. I work about 50 hours a week in a non-manual job. I take care of my health both by diet and exercise.

Yet, I’m sitting here dialing an 800 number for independent health insurance so I can pay my monthly premium–on my credit card. I know full-well that I cannot afford this coverage. I also know that the first $5,000 of care I’m going to receive is also going to go on that credit card because it won’t be covered until I run through that deductible. So, over the course of my year, I’m going to spend $6,752 out-of-pocket–or on the grace of Visa–to give myself health insurance.

I tried to use my employer-provided health insurance but I ended up in a clinic where the doctor I was assigned to had left for greener pastures, the smell of vomit in the waiting room was so intense that my face turned green, and the 19-year-old technicians told me flatly that if I were to see a doctor I would not be able to have any lab work done or prescriptions written.

Considering that I am now entering my second stint in graduate school and I work pretty damn hard, I just wanted to put this out there. The health insurance problem is not a problem of the “poor” folks on welfare or the unemployed or the host of other categories I hear people making up to justify their desire to maintain the status quo.

On Identity & The Public Option

The problem is not those who think that health care is a privilege. No, they are so far out of my realm of comprehension that I wouldn’t even know what to say to someone who genuinely believed that to be true.

No, the problem lies with people who think health care is a responsibility.

It’s not.

It’s a right.

It is such a basic human right that I sit here cursing with every other word out of the sheer anger that we, as a nation, are so unbelievably selfish that we cannot see that it is not any one of our responsibilities to decide who should receive health care and who should not.

I have made no secret that I was not in favor of the public option. I’m not. I think it was a concession to begin with. However, it should have served as a good first step to a universal system.

Yet again, Democrats in Senate are so unbelievably spineless that they are unable to present to our President a bill that would increase the number of people covered by health care in our world.

I was deeply bothered on Sunday by a line from a play I saw: Can an entire nation lose its identity? It was a heartfelt moment in Palestine, New Mexico, at the culmination of a discourse on the muddling of identity.

We are so twisted in our views of who we are and what we do that we cannot even act for the common good of our own people.

And as I was driving home yesterday, I thought silently that I needed some sort of breakthrough. My frustration with my work is boiling over. The idea that I have 11th grade students who read and write five and six years below their grade level is taking its toll on me. Not because it’s difficult to correct, but because somewhere there has been such profound failure in our values that we leave so many people out in the cold.

We purposefully, literally leave people behind. We leave them to fail. We leave them to die. Without so much as a second glance.

Our identity is so deeply distorted in the cruelty to which we subject our neighbors. And so easily. With a stroke of a pen. With a deferment of funds. We make judgments. And we make condemnations.

A nation that was so filled with hope a year ago at this time seems to me  so badly off course.

And I came home yesterday afternoon and read a story in the Los Angeles Times. As always, it was simply what I needed to hear.

The words came from a man I used to work with: “It’s all about staying committed to the truth that we belong to each other.” It brought to mind the words I hold as a mantra. The words of Bobby Kennedy: “But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.”

It’s the simplest thought of all. And yet so very hard to live up to.

We seem to forget, again and again, that we are each other. We are the ones who are called to be the “better” for our neighbors.

So, yes, an entire nation can forget it’s identity. It can forget its simple foundation. A banding together by some rebel spirits against an oppressive government that was denying freedoms and stripping rights.

And we sit again. At another point in our history where our government is again denying basic rights. We need an answer. An identity. A commonality.

And a simple belief that we are one.

So, I lied…

I’m not a supporter of the public option in this national health care debate. In fact, I think it’s quite stupid.

I had simply hoped, as I said, that it would be a good first step. For some reason though, I fear that if it is passed, if it appears in this country, it will be the last step.

What do I support?

Well, you know that 30% or so that I lose from my paycheck every two weeks? I support taking a part of that, perhaps that part that is currently financing bombs and artillery, and creating a true nationalized, dare I say, socialized health care system.

What I want is for any person in the country (yes, even if they don’t “want” health coverage, weren’t born here, or a host other absurd exceptions) to be able to walk into a hospital, any hospital, and get care.

No, I don’t mind paying for someone who is unemployed to have coverage. I don’t mind paying for a college kid who chooses not to work. I don’t mind paying for a retired person who is living off of social security.

I pay for a lot of things that I do mind, so why not pay for something that I actually support.

And for people who feel that it’s not their responsibility to provide for the health coverage of other people, I feel sorry for you. I feel sorry that you don’t care at all for the 17-year-old kid who lies in intensive care, but whose parents can’t afford health insurance. But, no, no, that’s not who you’re talking about. I know. You’re talking about the people who don’t work and don’t try.

Well, guess what?  It’s not your place to judge, and they’re people, too. And if you think health care is any type of responsibility or privilege, then you and I simply do not agree.

It is the most basic of human rights. Not American rights. Human rights. And, I’m sorry if you can’t bear to part with your $100 shoes or that you feel that it’s your hard-earned money. Well, I work hard, too. And at the end of the day, I would rest a lot easier knowing I was working toward the common good.

So, I’m tired of the debate. I’m tired of talking about this. Public option or not in this bill, it doesn’t matter. It’s still wrong. All it says is that we need to keep working and working and working.

And while I may be tired of listening to inane banter about why people feel this is not their responsibility, I’m not tired of saying that it is. So, it’ll reappear in this blog from time to time, and my senators and congressmen/women will hear about it. Probably forever. They have for the past 14 years. Why would I stop now? I won’t. Not until it’s right.

But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.
-Robert F. Kennedy