Landschlacht, Switzerland, 9 January 2017
Today is my first day back to work as a teacher and this, of course, involves planning.
Planning involves going through my wee little library here at home in search of interesting material to share with my students in the hopes that as they learn they might also be entertained, informed and inspired.
Above: The Long Room, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
Not always easy, but never dull.
I ran across an editorial from The Hartford Courant by Denis Horgan, reprinted by the International Herald Tribune and incorporated in an English textbook, On the Record: Mastering Reading and Language Skills with the Newspaper, by Robert Hughes.
Horgan´s comments, with a wee bit of adaptation to today´s issues, still seem relevant.
“Maybe it´s my weary old peepers, but I never seem to see things.
They cut the gasoline tax and I don´t see the price go down.
Instead the price goes up.
No matter what happens the price goes up.
No matter what happens the price never goes down.
It drives up the price.
It drives up the price.
They raise the price to pay for the change.
When there is an international crisis, they run up the price of oil in anxiety.
When the crisis goes away, the price stays up.
When we are in an oil glut, the price goes up instead of down.
Everywhere, big companies lay off half the work force, wrecking the lives of thousands of employees, and I don´t see where anyone´s better off for it except for a few bosses.
Above: “The Strike”, Robert Koehler (1886)
Not the customers.
Not the public.
Surely not those laid off nor those left behind.
They say I should see that the stockholders are better off, but what I see is that they get a quarter or 50 cents more in dividends, a small increase in stock price.
And for that people´s lives are destroyed, service is gutted, products and reputations are diminished.
So someone can make pennies and executives can make millions.
Fortunately, there is at least a Hereafter where that will be redressed.
The Cold War is over and I don´t see where the peace dividend is.
Above: Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin, 27 October 1961
We pumped trillions into defense where there was someone to defend against, but I don´t see where there´s a need to pump trillions more into gigantic submarines and monster bombers with no known purpose anymore.
We could have hoped that some of the savings might show up in helping neglected corners of the society, but I don´t see it.
They cut the taxes of the wealthy, telling us that´s good for us all, and I don´t see where that helps anyone but the wealthy.
They say that we will all benefit when the rich get around to trickling it down to us later, but I never see that happening.
We forever await the grace of the privileged without ever much getting it.
Meantime, we can see quite clearly that there is less for support efforts for those who need them.
Companies cut services while making bloated profits, and no one sees any of that coming back to the sap customer paying new fees and higher prices and getting poorer products and less support than ever before.
I don´t see that those efficiencies very often benefit the people paying the bill.
Employee rolls are skinnied up and replaced with part-timers and tempy and others on the cheap – but when was the last time the savings showed up on the price tag?
I don´t see it happening very often.
We are told we will save money by not helping those who need help, and people actually will be better off for being poorer, but I don´t see either happening.
Do you have more money in your pocket because they whittled the welfare funds?
Maybe when we finally get it we´ll spend it on cheaper gas.
Do you see all those jobs that don´t exist being filled by people who were straight-arming away jobs in favor of keeping the peanuts they get from the dole?
Neither do I.
What I think I see is a mood where people of no wealth become people of no value and, thereafter, are invisible.
To thundering self-praise, they tell us they´ve balanced the national budget which will make things better while, at the same time, spreading such tax advantages and college aid and various bits of boodle as to turn this into the Promised Land.
But maybe the promises are so seldom kept that you will pardon the squint as I keep on the lookout for the thing to happen.
From the left and from the right costly pledges of change fly only to produce more of the same, helping mostly and only those already with advantage and authority.
They tell us we will see it get better.
Maybe I need new glasses.” (Denis Horgan, “Something Wrong with My Eyes”, Hartford Courant)
I too look at the world of today and I too question whether or not there´s something wrong with my eyes.
There probably is.