I just got this email from my congressman. Well, if you look at the fine print, you’ll notice that it’s actually from his newsletter. The only way to provide your opinion was to sign up for his newsletter. Because he’s using the possibility of Russian interference in our election to sign people up for his newsletter apparently. The email was so spammy that Yahoo asked me if I was sure I wanted to follow the link before taking me to the webpage. I mean, I get that a political crisis like this is a chance to sign people up for your newsletter and all, but what the actual fuck is wrong with this man? Says a lot about the quality of people who are running the country and how seriously they take their jobs.
I’ve blocked out his name simply because I would rather not have my approximate location out on the internet. But he’s a Democrat, for the record. I clicked the link to try and confirm if it was really from him, but all that did was automatically sign me up for the newsletter. We are living in loony-tunes land.
Perhaps you heard about a recent Supreme Court action on employment discrimination law. In a case of clear cut pay discrimination, Goodyear Tire Co. was able to get out of being held responsible for their discrimination against women because the woman who filed the suit did not file the suit within 180 days of the original decision to pay her substantially less than men with the same experience were making for the same job. Of course, since she didn’t find out how much less she was making than the men at the company until she had already been there for 19 years, it would have been impossible to file within the 180 day time frame.
The 5-4 majority in the case said they made their decision not on the basis of what they thought was right, but on their reading of the law as written. Justice Ginsberg read a dissent from the bench calling on congress to fix the law.
Now, one would think that this is a no-brainer. If companies are discriminating against employees on the basis of gender or race or what not, then they are breaking the law and should be held accountable. Since companies don’t generally publish everyone’s salaries, it may well take some time for a person to realize that they are being paid less for the same work and even more time to figure out if this is a pattern. And hopefully, we don’t all walk into the workplace trying to figure out if we were offered an appropriate salary or if we’re being screwed. However, congress couldn’t put together a bill to fix this blazingly obvious problem with the law as it now stands.
F’ing ridiculous. These money grubbing son-of-a-guns don’t give a rat’s behind about the people they are supposed to be representing. They refuse to fix even the most elemental of problems. I’m probably too cynical, but I think this might be the first presidential election of my adult life that I don’t cast a vote in. Personally, I have just lost faith in our government. I can think of literally dozens of examples off the top of my head where everyone from the average joe to the think-tank eggheads have a decent idea of what we ought to be doing – from farm subsidies to ethanol to money for oil companies to health insurance to torture to this sort of stuff. But the good men and women who have been elected to represent us can’t pull their heads out of the money pots someone’s shoved up their behinds long enough to do the right things. It has probably been a decade since congress has done one thing that mattered, much less gotten it right.
What was that old Thomas Jefferson wrote back when – “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.” So, really, how many of us have consented to this crap? If someone could think of a way to actually clean the cesspool that is Washington DC out, I’d be on board.
I sometimes wonder if parents realize how much control they are handing to the government when they enroll their children in government schools. I’m guessing that many parents do not realize that not only are they not choosing what specifically their children are taught, but they do not have the legal right to have their children exempted from lessons which they may find objectionable or immoral. This came to light again last week in Lexington Massachusetts after a 2nd grade teacher used a book called “King & King” to teach children about different types of marriage. (Story here.) The teacher did not inform parents ahead of time that a book depicting marriage between two men would be used (and he is under no legal obligation to do so). When parents objected, the school’s response was predictable: “Lexington Superintendent of Schools Paul Ash said Estabrook has no legal obligation to notify parents about the book. ”We couldn’t run a public school system if every parent who feels some topic is objectionable to them for moral or religious reasons decides their child should be removed . . .’ “
Last year a father at the same school who refused to leave school grounds until he was allowed to have his son opt-out of lessons which included teaching about same sex marriage was arrested for trespassing. We saw a similar demonstration of state power over our children in a case decided in California last fall where parents were found not to have the right to prevent a school from requiring their children to participate in Islamic practice’s including prayers to Allah. (Story here.) This is the power of the state when it comes to educating children – they can choose what to teach them AND the parent has NO right to have their child exempted from lessons and activities which they find objectionable (exceptions for sex ed are allowed in most places).
Right now this is primarily a problem for those with traditional values, but it could just as easily turn against those whose values are in the minority. It’s not hard at all to imagine a situation in a part of the country which is less amiable to the idea of same sex marriage where a lesson may include a statement such as “No society in history has ever recognized marriage other than between a man and woman (or women) because it has long been believed that homosexuality is unnatural and children entrusted to such couples would grow up twisted and unable to participate in the functioning of the society.” Obviously, such a statement (while perhaps factually true) would be offensive to a same sex couple and might even cause real harm to the psyche of a child being raised by a same sex couple. However, parents simply do not have any right to insist that their children not be exposed to something which the state or its officials want them to be exposed to. When a child is enrolled in a government school, it is the state and the state alone which decides what that child is to be taught. What is so crazy about this situation is that we often hear from pro-government school apologists that the public school system is the foundation of a functioning democracy. In fact, a mandatory state run school system which claims sole responsibility for the ideas a child is exposed to while in its care in order to maintain a society which functions according to that state’s vision of proper is a defining characteristic of dictatorial, fascist and other non-representative freedom killing regimes. How is it that so many people have accepted the idea that in a democracy the government should take on such a role? Call me cranky, but it really is the idea that it’s perfectly reasonable that parents hand over their right to educate their own children to the government which bothers me much more than any particular thing which is or isn’t taught in schools. To me giving the state the right to indoctrinate my kids as they see fit, without my input or control, runs contrary to the sort of radical freedoms our nation was founded on.