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Friday, March 18, 2011

Maybe there is some hope.

Appropo the previous post lamenting the fact that people had better wake up and start smelling the roses comes this letter from a Tea Party husband to her schoolteacher wife.

I'm sorry.

I am a conservative husband, belong to the Tea Party and I voted for John Kasich. I have been married to a Cleveland teacher for almost 14 years and my vote let her down.

I apologize:

For letting people tease you about having the summer off and not asking them to thank you for the tough days ahead that begin in early August. I know for a fact you work more hours in those 10 months than many people do in 12. All those hours are earned.

For complaining that my Sunday is limited with you because you must work.

For making you think you have to ask permission to buy a student socks, gloves and hats.

For not understanding that you walk through a metal detector for work.

For leaving dirty dishes in the sink [when you awoke] for your 4 a.m. work session. I should know you have to prepare.

For thinking you took advantage of the taxpayers. Our governor continues to live off the taxpayer dole, not you.

For counting the time and money you spend to buy school supplies.

For not saying "thank you" enough for making the world and me better.

I love you.

One of the right wing knocks against schoolteachers who seem to be the villains du jour in America is that they are paid more than workers in the private sector and also get the sort of benefit packages even a CEO would envy. A schoolteacher must have a college degree and many have advanced degrees as well. When schoolteachers' salaries are compared to to workers in the private sector with similar education levels the story changes and teachers earn comparatively less than their counterparts with the same education in the private sector.

As Mark Twain said, "There are lies, damned lies and statistics".

The trade-off for teachers and prospective teachers is relatively lower salaries but health benefits and the security of a pension when they retire. While public pensions (and others as well) are hurting and underfunded, it's not because of the greed of teachers and other public employees or the fact that their benefits are too generous but because public employee pensions alone lost almost a trillion dollars in the economic downturn. In some states such as New Jersey pensions are also underfunded because politicians such s former Republican governor Christie Todd Whitman chose to exempt cities and other government bodies from funding their penion liabilities to pay for tax cuts. Now public employees are being punished for Wall Street's profligacy and tax policies of their politicians.

In fits and starts, a sleeping giant, the average American is waking up and they have a lot more votes than the elites who are the beneficiaries of recent government policies.

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