Two days ago Minnesota held Primary Elections. I was outside letting Ragnar snuffle around instead of doing the business he was supposed to be doing, and my neighbor walked by. I've talked about her before, and to be fair we mostly get along. But Tuesday she received a real response from me, because her self-absorbed stupid was just amazing.
She started the conversation by complaining that our property taxes will go up again because my city had "yet another stupid school levy pass".
Ok, I was confused at the bitter snarky tone. "Why is that a problem? Good schools mean good neighborhoods which mean good housing prices and upkeep." I honestly think she expected me, a single woman with no kids, to actually agree with her. Instead I continued, "I don't have kids but I WANT good schools, so I'm happy to pay the levies...a good school system makes the whole city better to live in."
Selfish to the core, she immediately changed tactics, because ultimately her fussing is purely based on "I don't have kids in school, why should I have to pay" which I find to be an underlying formula based on self-absorbed myopia among many MAGA folks: "I don't have/do x, so I shouldn't have to pay for y." Yeah. I'll get to that idiot argument in a minute. Her argument changed to "well it all goes into teacher pensions anyway, none of the kids see any of that money."
OH MY FUCKING GODDESS, YOU SELFISH IDIOT.
I didn't say it out loud. I so wanted to. Instead I said, calmly, "So...teachers already don't get paid enough for what they're doing, and you begrudge them a decent pension after they spend decades putting their own money toward underfunded school supplies and work ridiculous numbers of hours for ridiculously low pay to educate the people who will eventually run the nursing home you end up in? I disagree."
She flounced (as well as a 70 year old cranky old bat can flounce, anyway) with the following parting shot: "Nobody paid for MY pension and I never made enough money. Why should I pay for them?" Can you hear the nasty combination of whine and bitterness in her tone? I did. Ugh. Then she slammed the door, thus endeth her proclamation.
So, as amusing and idiotic as she is, the whole conversation disturbs the crap out of me, particularly in this current political climate and with an a-hole like Betsy Davros at the helm of national education directives. Let's remember what the difference is between SOCIALISM and SOCIETY is, shall we, because there seems to be some serious confusion regarding freedom, socialism, education, and the benefits/responsibilities of living in a society by a whole fuckload of selfish asshats since the idiot cheeto came to power.
- If you drive on roads, YOU BENEFIT FROM SOCIETY.
- If you get city water/sewer service to your house, YOU BENEFIT FROM SOCIETY.
- If your public education is decent, your neighborhood is more desirable.
- If your neighborhood is more desirable, your housing prices rise (including the value of your own property, which is essentially an investment of many folks' personal wealth) and those who buy into the neighborhood tend to take care of their property, and YOU BENEFIT FROM SOCIETY.
- If your home is on fire and you call the fire department, YOU BENEFIT FROM SOCIETY.
- If you have need to call 911 for cops or paramedics, YOU BENEFIT FROM SOCIETY.
- Just for the record - SOCIALISM is defined as follows: a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.
Services society has agreed to pay for so we can use them and share the cost, like roads or fire departments, are not socialism. They are the result of participating in a community, which has zero difference from community-assisted barn raising or volunteering to trade harvest help a hundred years ago. I'm convinced that some of these folks who think in a selfish and short sighted way about education, health services, etc. must have had a seriously sub-par education. All the more reason to improve our schools.
Here's the thing - education is one of the essential areas where anyone not in the 1% of wealth can be kept under control by that same 1%. If you are uneducated (by choice or by lack of resource availability) you are easy to keep down because you're too busy trying to survive on low wages, bad benefits (or none, including health insurance), and all the downstream ramifications. Education is a basic stepping stone to an fairer and more equal society where the majority of folks have at least a SHOT at that elusive "something better" this country is founded on.
An uneducated populace allows propaganda and fear to rule their lives, and we get shit like the Inquisition. WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT ANOTHER INQUISITION?
The tricky part of society's services that offer a CHANCE at more equality is that nothing is guaranteed. Just because the opportunity is there doesn't mean everyone takes it, and if we're all honest luck does have some say in success, but the simple availability of basic education is one of the services differentiating a successful functioning society and serfdom.
The kicker, the lesson so many seem to forget after 9th grade civics, is if you are going to benefit from society you are also responsible to it. If you participate in life, you are responsible for making the environment in which you live the way it is (good or bad). I think people who recognize this responsibility make some effort to make things better, because bitching and complaining is a downward spiral. It doesn't have to be a grand gesture or a full time job: it can be as simple as recognizing that only shitty selfish assholes take without ever giving back and bitch about things like taxes for the roads they use, the emergency services they might need, the medicare they inevitably complained about paying into but then use at retirement (like my neighbor), or the free education that benefits all of us (even those who can't afford private school) just by being available.
It can be as simple as voting: exercising the right and responsibility to participate in decisions that affect your environment.
I want the environment I live in to be full of educated people who make decisions based on something more substantial than propaganda. I think those who do the teaching need to be excellently educated themselves, and compensated well for their particular skill set (good teachers are a combination of motivator, multi-subject expert, public speaker, counselor, cat-wrangler, and magician...I decidedly do NOT have that particular set of skills).
So yeah, I'm good with a school levy that provides better education and better educators with well funded programs. AND pensions. Bring on the smart populace.