Thursday, May 21, 2015
On the home front...
Opposition is growing to Arne Duncan's "data based" approach to "saving" American education by obsessively testing schoolchildren and using their scores to "evaluate" teachers and schools. Hooray for all those parents choosing to "opt out" of the testcapades for their kids. The children of poverty who are supposed to be the chief beneficiaries of the testing regimen will continue to score poorly, no matter how many "failing" schools are closed and no matter how many "incompetent" teachers are fired. The most important key to educational achievement is the security and predictability of a middle-class lifestyle, a lifestyle denied to more and more children as more and more Americans are pushed out of what used to be the American middle class.
More Americans can enjoy "middle-class" lives when more Americans are able to live comfortably on their earnings. Right now, our low-wage workers — even those lucky enough to have steady, full-time jobs — have to depend on food stamps and Medicaid just to scrape by. Too many are only one or two unpaid sick days away from financial catastrophe, and they know it. They and their children need and deserve real security. Raising the minimum wage to $15/hr is not enough to restore the American middle class, but at least it's a step in the right direction.
As I've said before, raising the minimum wage will not lead to lay-offs, because employers know they maximize profits by employing the smallest work force needed to get the job done. If forced to pay their workers more, employers must either accept lower profits or raise the prices of their products. The affluent will scarcely notice any price increases, and better paid workers will have more money to spend. Only the most poorly conceived and managed businesses will fail.
To the extent it exists in the USofA, democracy doesn't work very well. People struggling to earn a living, or to claw their way to the next level of economic success, don't have a lot of time to peruse the "important issues" that are supposed to determine the outcomes of elections. Candidates win elections when they have the financing and skills to promulgate sufficiently convincing lies, or to distract our attention from political decisions that actually might have an impact on our lives.
The classic Clinton approach, "polling over principle," is endemic in our current system. We expect political candidates to say the things we want to hear. What they actually do once in office is unlikely to have more than cosmetic resemblance to what they say in order to win.