A day that started off wonderfully, in a class with some remarkable sixth graders, ended with news of yet another pay cut in disguise for Wisconsin state employees. In honor of our civic-minded state legislators, I therefore offer my newest post category — “Preposterous Ideas” — and simultaneously introduce the term “general strike” to my blog, which has heretofore not hosted that particular term.
But this isn’t about a general strike, which isn’t at all preposterous. No, it’s about potatoes, which are indeed.
Let me back up a little bit, because I want to put in a few good words for the sixth-grade classes of Tiffany Reindl and Kim Boden at Jefferson Elementary School in Stevens Point. Ms. Reindl teaches my son’s class, and I had the honor of spending Monday and Wednesday mornings visiting with both groups to talk about journalism (see bottom of this previous post).
It was a true delight. The students were engaged, curious, funny and way too active. There wasn’t nearly enough time to answer all their questions and field all their comments.
Tonight, I looked over 21 of their hypothetical obituaries (about dying stars or long-gone astronomers) for their space-themed newspaper, commenting as much as I could on Google Drive documents shared by Ms. Reindl.
I finished around 8:30 or so, and she later sent an e-mail thanking me. Gee, a couple of public teachers working at night? Who would have thought that?
Anyway, these were pretty darned good obituaries, and it’s a testament to the quality of Stevens Point teachers. I told Ms. Reindl how impressed I was after observing her interactions with students — encouraging, warm, and still firm and demanding, among other attributes. It’s clear why these kids work so hard to achieve success.
But then I logged on to Facebook and saw a post about the newest benefit cuts for Wisconsin state employees.
Gee, fearless leaders. How many more good turns can you do for the folks in Wisconsin? I mean, besides the previous benefit cuts, the $300 million cut to the UW System even though 64 percent of citizens oppose it, an utter absence of raises for the rank-and-file, the massive K-12 education cuts even though 78 percent of the state’s citizens oppose them?
Not to mention cutting potatoes out of the diets of the poor. Hard to believe we allowed that in the first place. Now that was preposterous.
My first thought on the brilliant benefit cuts was, “If these geniuses keep that up, they’ll make people revisit the idea of general strike, because we all know that ‘s what the unruly masses eventually do despite the obvious moral superiority of their leaders.”
I’m definitely not proposing a general strike, mind you. As noted earlier, that’s not really a preposterous idea, although it has ended up in preposterous responses, such as the private planes (free enterprise, yeah!) dropping homemade bombs on American miners at Blair Mountain, or Rockefeller-funded goons killing men, women and children in Ludlow, Colorado.
No, it’s much better just to accept the wisdom of our state’s leaders. They must be smarter than the rest of us; after all, they’ve figured out how to keep living well while cutting everyone else’s take-home pay, slowing down our economy, and still winning votes. We should be doing everything we can to help them balance our budget.
I suggest we all take our pay in potatoes. Wisconsin grows a lot of them (we’re No. 3!), and our welfare class obviously isn’t going to be able to eat them. We could make a real contribution, we state employees who are not yet impoverished but also not in the raise-, bonus- or perk-receiving class (the governor, his friends and aides, the legislature, and WEDC, which apparently stands for We’ll Eradicate Democracy’s Commerce).
My only question is this: if we need to start saving our burlap bags for collecting our pay, where will our next set of work clothes come from?