Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Brownback Watch

I realize I've been neglecting Brownback Watch between NaNoWriMo (which is awesome, even though I am seven thousand words behind...maybe only five thousand behind by the end of the night), scholars' bowl, and, oh, my job.  But the devil never sleeps, and the nefarious deeds of our state's CEO never cease.

Currently, he's plotting to privatize Medicaid, because not enough people were making profits of the back of Kansas' poorest and most in need of health care.  Managed care for them!  If you don't already feel horror at this, then I don't suppose there's anything much to add.  Made my stomach curdle for sure.

Also, we had a school finance meeting; like one of our higher-ups (who, despite being an employer of sorts, is also pretty great) said, there really isn't anything we do that isn't good for kids.  So any cuts we have to make are going to be bad for kids.  And with a proposal to cut the income tax completely, and limits to how much we can raise property taxes, we are looking at serious cuts to kids' education.  The state also didn't even come up with the pittance they promised us this year.  Talk about financial responsibility!  I mean, you can hate on us overpaid public school teachers all you want, but the more of us they have to cut, the more extra-curriculars you have to cut, the more caring adults and educational opportunities you cut out of young people's lives:  you are stiffing the young of their presents and their futures.   Greed and recession are not their fault.  Don't cripple them for life.

The inspiring Scott Crow came to visit this fine town in Kansas this weekend, promoting his new book; he is an enthralling speaker and full of great stories and wisdom.  I tend to avoid the inspirational, but he really was!  I'll get his book later this month, with my shipment from PM Press; look forward to another review of a revolutionary memoir.  Anyway, one thing he said stuck with me in light of the school finance meeting:  even if we got nationalized health care--which would be a great humanitarian effort--we would still need to open up community health centers.  My first impression was, why?  Wouldn't nationalized health care allow us to move our energy to other things?  But then I realized:  what the hierarchical government gives, the hierarchical government can take away.  The hierarchical government gave us the promise of education for all.  Alas, without a culture that reveres education, skill sharing, knowledge in general, that promise cannot be fulfilled.  Now the promise is being revoked, with its unfulfilled status offered as justification.

ARRRGGGG.  I could write all day about this.  And all night.  But I have a pep talk, a novel, a devotional, and an algebra test to write tonight.  So we'll have to live the ritual blog-lashing of education reformers for another day, not quite as beautiful nor as horrific as this one.

Take me down, to where the worlds collide

Where to begin.   It's a crazy world to live in this week, and a crazy world in which to be a teacher, and a crazy world in which to be an anarchist.

You probably have heard by now:  Occupy Wall Street--the big kahuna--the occupation in New York City--got evicted last night.  While it doesn't sound like the police brutality there was quite as bad as what has been happening in California, the protesters were still manhandled.  I'm actually kinda astonished at how little information has gotten out--all the media sources that I've been looking at (NYT, Common Dreams, my lefty blog roll, Slog out of Seattle) have roughly the same story, with only bits and pieces coming out around the edges.  The real story is probably on YouTube, which I haven't checked yet.  I'm watching a livestream from Berkeley right now, and there a stream says that NYPD are keeping press away from the occupation there; people are reoccupying as I write.  Several early sources said that the OWS library was the most famous and most mourned casualty of the raid, with tales of destroying the 5000 curated books, who absorbed sound waves from Jonathon Letham and other prominent writers who read around them; as well as excited chatter from really good protesting conversation; as well as, well, they are BOOKS, fucking damn it.  DON'T DESTROY BOOKS.  I mean, really super plus don't destroy people, but next to people...

Other sources now are saying that the collection was not severely injured, and maybe the protesters can pick it up from city storage.  Not sure what the truth with that is.  In any case, there were at least 200 arrests of peaceful protesters last night, demonstrating again that our rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression  are illusory at best as far as the law is concerned. 

Weird stuff is going on in California.  I wish I had been following it closely enough to comment more intelligently, but from what I hear several members of the English faculty and many students at UC Berkeley suffered quite a bit of police brutality.  A friend of mine at UCLA reported a large march there resulted in the arrest of several activists who were then jailed, with ridiculous bail.

Losing the permanent Occupy Lawrence camp a few weeks ago was sad, frustrating, but expected.  Losing Liberty Park is hard--but also, it seems like we're ready to take the fight to a new level.  Now that we recognize that the movement is literally about repossessing public spaces for public good, we have to recognize the bellicose element here.  War:  strategic land games.  I don't want to be at war with the police.  I don't want us the people to have to arm our spirits against the state--but we have no choice.  (I said arm our **spirits** not our camps.  I do not endorse any kind of physical violence that is not in defense of self or one who is defenseless, ever.)  We must recognize we have become persona non grata in our own countries, written out of decision making by money and power.  

The eviction can be, will be, should be a galvanizing event.  Even this anarchist who prays daily for the turning of the world was skeptical about the Occupy movement, with its ill defined objectives, until this morning when NPR woke me up with the news of Liberty Park's eviction, and I recognized how much hope OWS gives me every single day that it is in existence.  I may not be camping (I may be too much of a wimp, or too calculating, or both, to get arrested, to engage in much civil disobedience), but my spirit knows that OWS is working for me in a way that the government and the corporations never have.  

We are two days away from two months into the revolution.  As Flogging Molly says,

So take me down to where the worlds collide
I need to be here 'till I'm satisfied
There'll come a day when all of us will show
We all feel free!
Although we crash it we will burn
Let the revolution
The revolution begin