Thursday, April 07, 2011

jumping on the crazy train

Seriously, people, I could cry. Or start banging my head against the wall. Or maybe a little of both. Because what started two months ago as a massive protest movement against extreme legislation by Wisconsin Republicans has turned into a legal shitstorm and a supreme court election that has given me a 3-day headache so bad we're about to run out of Advil.

What's got me so frustrated aren't the details of the situation here, maddening and confusing as they all are. My problem here is that the discussion has the reasonable citizens of this state arguing for and defending the fundamental purpose of government. If you are a true believer in the democratic process - flawed as it may be - you probably share my view that we ARE the government. And what is government's role but to protect its own people? Our public institutions - our schools, libraries, parks, public institutions of higher education, access to healthcare for the poor, you name it - are under threat because a few people with a lot of power and without a whole lot of sense refuse to acknowledge the importance of these public institutions and organizations to the very fabric and well-being of our society as a whole.

Gutting public education benefits no one and promotes ignorance. Crippling municipalities by slashing their funding for things like mandated recycling programs and public transportation does NOT give them "flexibility" but forces them to eliminate basic services that people depend on. Severely limiting the rights of workers to collectively negotiate their own work conditions is degrading and demoralizing. It also pisses off a whole lot of people. I could go on here, but my point is that instead of engaging in civilized discourse about how our public systems should be run, we've degenerated into a ideological fight over whether the government should actually be responsible for the well-being of its own citizens.

This is, I think, at the heart of the potential federal shutdown looming before us as well. I'm not going to go on about corporate power controlling people in government because, well, it's there and it's a big problem and I don't have anything new to say about it...except that there just seems to be so little balance remaining on the side of citizenry. I truly fear for the future. I truly fear for what lies in store for my children when they are grown up and on their own. What world will they face? What sort of a country will they live in?

I'm not saying that if JoAnne Kloppenburg (whose name I can finally spell correctly, sheesh) ends up in the Wisconsin Supreme Court that the world will be saved somehow, or even Wisconsin. It's just that for a whole day I had hope that the actions (re: votes) of us ordinary citizens would make a difference and get us going back in the right direction.

5 comments:

Strangeite said...

Take a deep breath and step back for a minute. I don't disagree that everything you mentioned is important and worth fighting for. But perhaps it would be refreshing to look at things from a slightly bigger perspective.

In 1960, the chances that woman would see one of her children die before the age of 5 was 85%. Today it is 10%.

Deaths during childbirth were 526,000 in 1980. In 2008 they were 343,000.

Global poverty has been slashed in half since 1990.

In 1984 there were 24 wars waging on the planet. In 2008 there were 5.

There are serious problems in the world, but we are making progress. The world is a better place than it was when our parents were children and I truly believe our children will live in a better one than now.

Strangeite said...

I should also add, that I have always believed that the biggest difference between conservatives and progressives is...

Conservatives are always worried about change because the world could end up worse. Progressives embrace change because the world could be better.

Pam said...

Hi Susan, I'm finally catching up on your blog! I just want to say that to me it seems like what is happening in Wisconsin is really, really important to the rest of the world and it must be really hard to be in the middle of all of it, but it is really important and there are a lot of people hoping that the power of the people that has been so strong in WI is going to make a difference for people, inspire people all over. I was really encouraged by this news story: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/04/07/964188/-UPDATE:-84-Vote-against-Citizens-United!-Same-votes-nationwide-will-help-Dems-win-in-2012-
Thinking of you. *hug* - Pam

Pam said...

sorry for the incoherent run-on sentence there...

dholz said...

The difference between the two views of the role of government have been at the center of our national debate since shortly after Washington left office. Should the government provide the basic conditions for physical security or provide the complete care of its citizens? More like the '50s view of a family, like a father whose job is to provide the finances for the family or a mother whose job is to wrap her apron around the children and keep them from all harm? Neither is complete, of course, but does provide the framework for meaningful discussion and decisions. Just like a family, both aspects are needed at times and at other times one must predominate. When my family needs additional resources, the direction must be to provide them. When resources are adequate and more care is needed, the direction must be to provide the care. The real trick is figuring out what to do in the in-between times. 5 years ago we were in an in-between time. Today we're not. 5 years from now we may be again, or not.