In this first week of Spring 2011 I have watched political theater from the U.S. Congress and the Minnesota Legislature with dismay. Urgent public business is on their plates - poverty, unemployment, senseless weapons violence, global climate degradation, and three overseas war efforts, in Washington, D.C. In St. Paul we have
borrowed money from the public schools and other dedicated funds to "balance the books," but still are in the hole more than five billion dollars. The triumphant Minnesota Republican Party is churning out budget messages that slash programs and priorities that bi-partisan state governments have built up for the last four decades.
One searches for an explanation - why has our democracy apparently gone nuts?
Listening to the set speeches and talking points of a Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader McConnell, a Tea Party Spokeswoman, or in St. Paul, to Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, one hears rhetoric of alarm at an expanding government that is threatening our freedoms. Spending is out of control! Rampant fraud, waste, and abuse! Reform now! It's about public employee pensions, the K-12 education system, local government, higher education, and on and on...
Who is making this up?
Since Governor Reagan of California became President, we have had drummed into us that "Guvmit" is The Problem. It follows that Bigger Government is a terrible problem, so we must reduce it's size.
Since the early 1980's we also have "watched" as the income disparity in America has become huge. Ordinary folks have not benefited from gains in productivity, but a narrow upper class, that runs our institutions, has benefited mightily. By spreading this nutty speech, that defies logic, science, reality, and common sense, these favored few keep THEIR taxes small and shed responsibility for anyone else.
Let's examine a few of the "facts" they would have us accept.
We are "Broke." That is true only if no one expects our representatives to ask for a fair contribution from everyone, based on what they can afford. Governor Dayton has proposed adding an additional tier onto the Minnesota Income Tax that will gather several billion dollars to address the huge deficit left to him by former Governor Tim Pawlenty.
We need to "Reform" the way we teach High School. Use electronic technology, distance learning, new media. Leave no child behind. I suggest these speakers visit some nearby high school media centers and shop classes. Count the number of students in the classes. Talk to their teacher neighbors. Our Superintendent, School Board Members, and Teachers in my district need that withheld share of state financial support to do their jobs effectively. They are coping, but they also need more parental involvement and community support - Not Reform.
I must conclude that there is a concentrated effort, run by a handful of corporate masters, to poison the waters of public service in order to maintain their control and to continue to siphon off a lion's share of the profits of a captured free enterprise system.