Saturday, November 10, 2012

In Our Own Best Interest

Listening to the radio show “Left, Right and Center,” I found out that the two richest counties in California, Marin County and Silicon Valley, both voted in favor of Proposition 30, a proposition designed to raise revenues for California's failing schools. The strategy was to increase sales tax and also increase the taxes on high-income earners— ie, rich people. Amidst the other good news of Tuesday's election was that the proposition passed.

Back in the late '70's, there was another proposition— 13— where Californians voted to reduce property tax, much of which went to education and libraries and health clinics and other humane ventures. Within a decade or so, California plummeted from number 1 in education to number 48, right up there with Mississippi. Music programs were slashed and cut to close to zero and still in San Francisco, there is no general music in the elementary schools unless a parent group funds it. So Proposition 30 is the first step in a long time designed to overturn the damage. 

The radio host was commenting on how interesting it was that not only did the proposition pass, but that the two richest counties voted in favor of it. And that’s when the Right Wing representative, a reasonable enough guy on the surface, commented, “I’d like to go to those counties to find out how these people were convinced to vote against their own best interest.”

And that’s why I will never be a Republican. Because the whole thinking seems to be  based on “I got mine and ain’t no one gonna take it from me.” And that fantasy extends to thinking that everyone who is well-to-do is so by their own initiative and hard work, completely discounting the incredible privilege of white skin, parents who pay for SAT tutors, favors from the good-ole-boys club and all those folks who were born on third base and think they hit a triple. But more important than that is the perception that these rich folks were voting against their own interest, i.e. their chance to buy an extra summer home and a new yacht.

Kudos to those Marin County and Silicon Valley folks who understand that it is in their own best interest to educate well the children of the next generation. Not just their own, but all of them. The tired old “looking out for number one” philosophy is completely against the current of what’s needed. The recent election is forcing Republicans to look at their policy of excluding women or Latinos or blacks for the wrong reason—their own political survival— instead of the right one—these are worthy people who have much to contribute and certainly deserve what the Constitution promises. As long as they’re not in charge, I can afford to feel sorry for GOP— they are missing so much richness and they must secretly suffer from their hearts being two sizes too small. It’s when they get into positions of power and foist their cynical viewpoint on the rest of us that my blood starts boiling. But if current trends continue, that might not be for a long, long time.

Meanwhile, let’s train the next generation to understand what’s truly in their best interest— a system that shows children we care and trains them in great schools publicly funded. For that kind of education, we’ll need some more money for schools. And now in California we’ll have it! The beginning of a cycle that feeds on itself to rise up the spiral and get out of the gutter. May it be so!

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