One question Iíve been pondering lately, is how politics has gotten so, well, political? Sure, politics struggles constantly under the burden, some might say insurmountable, strangling, catastrophic circumstance that it is practiced primarily by politicians. But, thatís like saying you canít have a zombie movie without zombies. Sure, theyíre ugly, smelly, have disgusting manners, bits of them fall off at the most inopportune times, and they will eat your brain and turn you into one of them given half the chance. But you canít have a zombie movie without them. Politicians, on the other hand, are ugly, underhanded, have disgusting morals,† bits of their convictions disappear at the most opportune (for them) times, and they will eat your brain and turn you into one of them given half the chance. But you canít have politics without them.†
Traditionally, zombies were created by voodoo. In recent zombie movies, however, they have been created by a scientific experiment gone wrong. In other words, we created them ourselves. Instructive in this overblown analogy is that those experiments were conducted in government labs. So, zombies are created by government experiments gone wrong. And, politicians are created by government gone wrong.
We might ask, how did the government get to be the enemy? That makes no more sense in zombie movies than it does in politics. It seems much more logical to me that reality TV or eating a Big Mac every day for 30 days would create a zombie than a government funded experiment. Iíd love to see the earmark in the next budget for ďZombies, Creation of; Three Billion Dollars.Ē Think thatís too much? Remember, this is the came congress that regularly pays out 27K for toilet seats.†
Of course, in the movies, the government isnít actually trying to create zombies. Their creation is an accident, a mistake. Which suggests our government may very well be capable of creating zombies.
In politics, itís possible that the same kind of illogic applies. Just as we shouldnít blame the scientists for the creation of zombies, we shouldnít blame the government for the creation of politicians.††
Just as we ought to ask what kind of science creates zombies, (hint: voodoo science), we ought to ask what kind of government creates politicians who would rather eat each othersí brains than sit down and talk sensibly and try to come up with some solutions to our nationís problems, even if it means -- here it is, the one word in the English language that makes politicians shudder and start thinking (okay, I know these are politicians and thinking politicians may be an oxymoron,) about eating their own brain, compromising.
Compromise requires wrestling with difficult issues. In compromise you assume your opponent, however much you might disagree on particulars, has the same good intentions as you do. Compromise means recognizing where you can be flexible and where you have to stand your ground. In other words, compromise requires brains.†
One example of how totally incapable politicians are of thinking through a problem should suffice. So letís take a look at how some states are trying to solve problems in education. Ohio Senate Bill 5 would get rid of collective bargaining for teachers. The rationale? We have to do something about those ďmillionaire teachers.Ē After all, as one politician insisted, they get off at 2:30 every day.
Apparently, it never occurred to him that because the kids went home at 2:30 didnít mean the teacherís work day stopped then. He never stopped to ask when teachers graded tests and papers, prepared lessons for the following day, completed the prodigious mounds of paperwork politicians require them to complete. Teachers, like most professionals, work well past 5:00, and then take their work home with them. As far as teachers being overpaid, the average teacher salary in Wisconsin is $48,267, while the median income is $51,237.
The real brain twister is that at a time when politicians keep complaining that teachers arenít doing a good enough job, that we need to get rid of bad teachers and replace them with good teachers, these politicians think that way to attract the best and brightest to teaching is to make the job as low paying and unattractive as possible. These politicians apparently think that if they squeeze teachers hard enough, make them miserable enough, the bad ones will leave (and then good ones will stick it out). And then the best and brightest college graduates will give up their dreams of being engineers and bank presidents in order to take on a thankless, underpaid position as a teacher.
These, of course, are the same politicians who defend their own salaries by insisting that the public service sector needs to compete for the best talent with the private sector. It never occurs to them that teaching is one of the most critical public services of all, the education of our children. (I suspect that their children are all going to private schools.) In order to buy their convoluted illogic, it is necessary for voters to have eaten their own brains. Which is precisely what politicians want.