I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Why The Rich Need To Scapegoat Teachers

Every once in a while, the corporate media goes too far and gives away the game:
So this is apparently a real thing from the Wall Street Journal.

The Onion couldn't top this. Whether it's the sad faces of all these put-upon dejected rich people, or the elderly minority couple who is depressed despite not paying extra taxes (or was that the point?), or the distressed single Asian lady making $230,000 who might not be able to buy that extra designer pantsuit this year, or the "single mother" making $260,000 whose kids presumably have a deadbeat, indigent dad just like any other poor family, or that struggling family of six making $650,000 including $180,000 of pure passive income and wondering how to make ends meet, mockery is almost superfluous. The thing mocks itself. That $650,000 family in particular is bizarre to the point of incredulity: those people could literally stop working entirely, live extremely well on $180,000 while doing nothing but watching television all day and staying home with their kids, and leave their high-salary jobs with their oh-so-onerous tax requirements to people who actually appreciate them.
David Atkins gets it exactly right when he says that this is a media problem. They actually think this is a legitimate and relevant point of view for a majority of Americans. That we are all worried that we might have to get by with $180K in our golden years: "Dear lord, if I retire and I have to play on a public course, I don't know what I'll do..."

Since this is mostly an education blog, let me add this: the average teacher salary in America for 2011 was $56,069. It is, however, apparently well-worth the time and attention of the media to debate and debate and debate and debate whether or not teachers are overpaid. This is would be the same media that thinks it's important to spell out the horrible fate of those making $650K having to pay $21K more in taxes.

And we wonder why teachers are demoralized these days.

But even aside from this: the self-pity of the 1% can only be enabled with the assistance of a scapegoat. Someone has to take the blame for the vast inequity and chronic poverty of this country. But it can't be the wealthy; why, look at them! They're just as besieged as everyone else! They feel your pain, because they're living it too!

Clearly, the problem isn't that one-third of working families may not have enough money to meet basic needs, or that "the top 1 percent earned 93 percent of all new income while the bottom 99 percent shared the remaining 7 percent. "* No, the problem is... uh... let's see....

Oh, yeah, it's the teachers! Because if everyone went to college, we'd all be making college wages! Even if lots of college-educated people are underemployed right now...

This is transparently stupid, but the media elites are running with it: if we had better teachers, the economy would fire right up, and all of this unseemly talk about getting the wealthy to pay more in taxes could just disappear.

It never occurs to these people that we actually need truck drivers and brick layers and home health care aides and sales clerks and shelf stockers and construction workers and waiters and millions of other people to do tough but necessary jobs. And that these people deserve living wages and health care and good schools for their kids and a retirement with dignity. And that making every child "college or career ready" won't do a thing to make their lives better.

We need living wage legislation, single payer health care, true progressive taxation, a huge investment in public infrastructure to create jobs, cheap college for those who are qualified, high-quality affordable child care, a full employment policy, expansion of union membership and a bunch of other stuff people way smarter than me can add to this list. We have more than enough money to do all this and to keep incentives for a thriving, well-regulated capitalist system. We've done it before as a country and we could do it again.

We have a choice: fix this, or keep blaming teachers for problems they didn't create and can't fix. What's it gonna be, folks?

* Can we all have a senator like Bernie Sanders? Please?

ADDING: Today, the Business Roundtable urged Congress to raise the retirement age to 70. Hey, I'd do it - if I could have one of their lazy-ass, cushy, way-overpaid, no-consequences-for-failure executive jobs! Would they be as enthusiastic for this plan if they had to clean toilets every day into their late 60s?

It speaks volumes that the views of these greedy narcissists are taken seriously by our media.


Michael Fiorillo said...

These greedy narcissists aren't just taken seriously by the media: they own it.

cmooretech said...

Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor.
Thomas Jefferson

giuseppe said...

Those people are making fabulous incomes and they have those pained expressions on their faces???!? Most ordinary Americans would be thrilled to be making such incomes and who cares about the extra taxes. They are still rich.

czarejs said...

+1 on this post JJ.

gfb9+2/3 said...

That single parent with two kids is more likely to be making $26,000 a year, not $260,000.