You walk into Target, and there is a perky, young thing holding a fabric-lined basket that matches her red shirt, greeting you with, "Would you like to make a donation to our organization today? Your contribution will allow us to buy some much needed supplies like toilet paper, light bulbs and hangers for our displays. Otherwise, we employees have to buy these things ourselves. Every little bit helps, so whatever you can give is sincerely appreciated...(wink)"
You think to yourself, "What?! Doesn't management supply those basic necessities for this place through the money they collect with sales? What a cheap place, asking me for a donation over and above what I already give them when I buy stuff! Where is all their money going? I'm outta here..."
I know what you're saying...What an unrealistic, 'way out there' scenario, Mary...where are you going with this?
Okay, now picture your local public school. If you have kids in public school, you don't have to imagine where I'm going. How much have you given to your kids' classroom, and the school PTO/PTA to allow the students (your kid) to have basic tools for their job (aka learning)? Pencils, Erasers, Glue, Paper, Markers, Tissues, Hand Sanitizer, Paper Towels...Buying junk during fundraisers for the purchase of a shade structure over the playground so the kids don't burn themselves on the metal while playing when school starts at the beginning of August and it's still 100 degrees...
Why do we think it's unrealistic and ridiculous for Target to ask for donations for basic supplies to keep the place running, but we just go along with our Public Schools doing so? I know this is a complicated issue, with teachers salaries traditionally being poverty level, but even though the education of our kids doesn't make one a millionaire, thanks to the Teacher's Union, it aint poverty, baby! The lowest starting salary for an elementary school teacher is in North Dakota at $24,872/yr, and the highest is in Connecticut at $39,259/yr.* Since the Federal Poverty Level for a family of 4 is $22,350**, if that teacher in North Dakota is a single parent of three children just starting out in the teaching profession, I would feel for them, but if they have a spouse with another income, I'd feel better.
Since most of the households who send their kids to the local private school (and many who do not) pay taxes to support said school, I can't imagine that the teacher salaries are the problem. (I haven't addressed the benefits, like medical and retirement, however, which far outweigh current salaries in the school budget). I applaud anyone who can get full medical benefits for themselves and their families...I wish I had them, and don't begrudge anyone who does. I take issue with the retirement benefits, however.
Now, before my teacher friends on Facebook "unfriend" me and banish my kid to the back of the room with a dunce cap, hear me out, please.
In order to be a teacher one MUST belong to the Teacher's Union. Therein lies the problem, I think. Since I'm not a teacher, and don't belong to the union, I can't speak with any certainty or intelligence on the actual day to day goings-on of the organization. I can only say that I don't think a union should be involved in any government agency or job. A union is not a fair institution in a company where the employees can actually vote on who their boss is...why would anyone need protection from someone he/she actually chose as a boss, and can then fire a few years?!
I don't have the answers to the question, "So what do we do to change this?" I can only start by removing all unions from public service positions, and giving full salaries to all government employees (including politicians) ONLY while they actually have the job, and not one day later. Take the current retirement benefits program and use it to increase current salaries, so employees can invest in their own retirement programs. This way, they can actually build their own wealth and leave something to their families if they so desire, rather than, when they die, allowing their retirement money to simply go to some other government retiree.
The political climate is hopefully changing faster than global warming, but real change will require the realization that we are all part of a community, and some of us cannot benefit greatly by the suffering of others without major consequences - hint...has anyone's lifestyle changed since 2007? We have already proven that the current system doesn't work, so this is a call to action for the 'powers that be' to actually study "line by line" to find the inequities, and give us, the people paying for them, a chance to fix them. Sure, a few people will scream when their undeserved riches are take away, but since when has this been a country 'of the few...for the few...by the few'?
Wait...I guess it is right now...
If you have a better idea on how to institute Federal and State change, please share. At least one person is listening, and that's a start.
---Mary Kathryn Johnson 2011
10. It's Fun!
9. You create something, even though it looks like an alien mass of Legos.
8. It gives you time away from your husband and his belching as long as you are doing it in a room with no TV.
7. You don't have to cook or clean anything.
6. You don't have to pay a babysitter almost more than the Psychologist.
5. You bond with your kids in their world.
4. You don't have to fill up the car with gas to get there.
3. Following those 30 page manuals takes total concentration, and if crying is therapy, you will get more than you need.
2. Working with your hands to build something is like meditation, and you can do it while lying down on the couch in your own home.
1. Using your imagination takes you out of your own head, which is really where the problem started!
Now, since you probably bought some of those Legos as a Christmas or Hanukkah present, you have a perfect excuse to de-stress from the Holiday hassle without spending any extra money. For goodness sake, if you still feel you need therapy, send me the money, and we can schedule weekly chats that are sure to make you laugh and cry...Oh, that's number zero...Some of the lego creations your kids can create will surely make you laugh! (consider that one a free gift)
(disclaimer ~ The author in no way claims to be a Psychologist or any other kind of therapist, unless you are directly related to the author. In that case she is completely qualified to talk you through any childhood trauma you wish to discuss, as she is a licensed ________ family therapist.)
It is very hard to resist buying everything you see for your baby's first holiday! Once your little bundle turns 5 and your house is bursting with legos or doll clothes, and never played with toys, you no longer have that urge to 'pick up just one more thing' - that's what Grandparents are for. Those very same Grandparents are probably the ones who continued the toy gluttony that got you into this mess, literally! Raising the Grandparents takes the same skill set as raising your munchkin - patience and consistency. My In-Laws are of the mindset that if they don't buy everything my boys want, my boys won't love them.
At least that is what it seems?! Luckily, I had a glimpse of my toy-related future when my first born was about a year old. Sitting up and interacting with his environment was the signal for Grandma and Grandpa to buy every supposedly fun toy on the market! That Christmas when my son was 16 months old was the worst of my life! Really! He had a meltdown after the third present. Then dad had a meltdown, then it was my turn. After our nap, we put away the rest of the unopened presents for another day. We actually dolled them out, one a month until there were no more. The more difficult task was dealing with the culprits in this caper - the Grandparents.
We laid down the law that they could give only TWO presents per holiday - including birthdays. The first holiday we got, "We forgot!" The second holiday we got, "We couldn't resist, look how much he loves them!" Then I got nasty. I told the smothering, aged children that if they did not keep to the two present limit, they would not be allowed to give any more presents for the next two years, and if they still tried to give presents, I would confiscate them and burn them no matter how much my soon-to-be spoiled brat son cried! That finally hit home, because they know me too well, and they kept to the limit. That is until Little Brother came along.
Needless to say, I have had to be vigilant at my post every holiday for the past 13 years - yes my oldest just turned 13, and those pesky, wannabe rebellious teenagers I call In-Laws have given me my best preparation for Middle School.
MIDDLE SCHOOL?! How the hell did I get here again?!
How do you handle the holiday gluttony?
(This is a repost from 2009, and I'm still monitoring those rebellious Grandparents!)
---Mary Kathryn Johnson 2011
Serving as a Federal or State Politician is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serving their term(s), then going home and back to work. Do you know of any Politician who has actually worked at a job for more than 5 years?
I think the following should happen immediately:
1. No Federal or State Politician will receive any pension or tenure for his/her time in any political office. A Politician collects a salary while in office, and no pay from the American people when out of office.
2. Every Politician (Past, Present and Future) participates in Social Security. All funds in any political retirement fund move to Social Security immediately, and the accounts are then canceled.
3. Every Politician has the right to purchase his/her own retirement plan just like every other American Citizen.
4. No Political body can ever vote themselves any pay raise. The position held will receive a pay raise each year that is equal to 3%.
5. The only Health Care provided to any Politician is that which is also available to any other American Citizen.
6. Every Politician must abide by every law that is also imposed upon every other American Citizen.
7. Any contract made with any Politician during his/her time in office will be void as of 1/1/12, and no contract can be entered into during a Politician's time in office.
If you agree or disagree, please let me know. If you agree, please tell me how we can make these things happen immediately . . . not twenty years from now.
Next we can tackle the Unions in the Public Sector.