Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bad water and the end of public education - intentions getting clearer

What we will learn about the role and responsibility of government (since we have obviously forgotten our civics lessons) becomes clearer under the Walker/Fitzgerald brothers regime. They reject government's role in protecting us from bad, bacteria-laden water, and they reject government's role in guaranteeing the right to a free public education. And that's just today's news.

They also hope we are stupid enough to fall for the fake rationales for doing this real agenda - things like local rights or 'choice' as the mantra for what actually amounts to gutting government and replacing its role with the 'private sector' (translation: for-profit businesses with no accountability to you and me).

Privatization is the real agenda. Transferring our public wealth to corporations is the real agenda.

One example in today's paper: our anti-government government, the Repubs in control of our legislature, oppose state government regulations that require communities to disinfect their drinking water. There are fewer responsibilities more essential to government than protection of public health (my grandfather died here early last century of typhoid fever because of sewage seepage into drinking water pipes, so ask me how my family feels about government fixing this problem).

The argument that government should not impose on local communities' 'choice' in this matter is bogus, a fake argument to cover over the real intentions.  Let's state them one more time: to reduce or destroy the role of government in setting rules and regulations to protect the public, the common good, and the good of the commons.

Did you vote for that?  Did you stay home and not vote at all?

This agenda is not just a Walker/Fitzgerald brothers agenda. They are tools, instruments, of the agenda being set by extreme rightist corporate interests that have taken control of the Repub party nationally. I am not making this up, as you know. We have written here plenty, with links and all, about Karl Rove's GPS Crossroads funded by a handful of billionaires, about the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth, and Tea Party. These are major funders that make or break the careers of Repub politicians. Walker is at their service, as are the governors of Ohio, Michigan, Maine, New Jersey, Florida, etc. This is a national agenda being played out brilliantly at the state level.

Part of the scary nature of the power they have in controlling state governments now is the power they have, following the census, for redistricting, for resetting the electoral map. Watch this, friends, because this is where we will see more of the consolidation of their power taking shape in coming days.

And you thought we were fighting over school 'choice' and parental control of kids' education?

My segue to the other prominent issue of the week - the fight over school vouchers. I think we are missing the forest for the trees. While folks get engaged one more time in the emotional battle over how taxpayer dollars should be used for public education (like using them to subsidize religious schools), how wide the choice parameters should be, etc., I think these are all distractions from the battle that really needs to be engaged - resisting the agenda of the regime and its backers to end public education and privatize it. And that would mean the abandonment of the right to free education, it would mean ultimately the end of educational rights for poor communities all around the country.

Remember, the real agenda here is to diminish or disappear as much as possible the public sector.

Who wants this? Why rightist billionaires, that's who - and not just the ubiquitous Koch brothers. Try the DeVos family

Vouchers have always been a staple of the right-wing agenda. Like previous efforts, this most recent push for vouchers is led by a network of conservative think tanks, PACs, Religious Right groups and wealthy conservative donors. But "school choice," as they euphemistically paint vouchers, is merely a means to an end. Their ultimate goal is the total elimination of our public education system.

That, my friends, is the real agenda. However you feel about the voucher program, arguing it on its merits in terms of parental choice or as a means to create some competitive incentives for the public school system, these old arguments are missing the point - because that is not the point of the regime and its financial backers.

Feel used? Right.

Our government is being given away. Some people like that idea, the right has been so successful (since Reagan) at demonizing government. It has worked for a large segment of the population. Now we find what government actually does for us by what is being taken from us; we find out that at least government has accountability to us as taxpayers and voters and advocates, but the private sector does not.

Reagan once famously said that government can't solve our problems because government is the problem. That's cute, a great sound bite. It's also ignorant of what government really is. Government is often part of the problem - but when that is the case, it's a problem that can be fixed by public engagement in the process of government, at the voting booth, in the offices of legislators, in street protests, in advocacy campaigns, in running for election. When these rich people and their minions get control of the public sector and our money, where will we go to protest? Where will we line up to lodge our complaints, and who of these people will care?

This state regime right now is moving so fast in so many directions all at once for a reason - it makes it far harder to resist them, and thanks to low voter turnout and a whole lot of deception about their true intentions, we managed to elect a government that can ram through whatever they want. And they are ramming at high speed because the opposition to their true intentions is growing and could be manifested in a change in the State Senate majority come summer.

We are getting our civics lesson the hard way. We are going to find out what government can and ought to mean in our lives by what is taken from us in the way of our rights and our common interests in quality of life and a future for our kids. That is a sad way to learn.

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