Sunday, February 26, 2012

Virginia--the new Wisconsin

In the state of Virginia it is hard to keep track of all the ways our state representatives are trying to affect my life.  Big government seems to be all up in my grill.

My biggest complaint is with my own Senator, Jill Holtzman Vogel, who has unfortunately just been re-elected.  Last year she made it a point to render abortion clinics obsolete with legislation she sponsored, and which passed, to raise building requirements on clinics.

This year she has returned with legislation requiring pre-abortion ultrasounds -- legislation that has made national headlines.  You would have to have been out of the country to miss the commentary on this step into Neanderthal Land.

Vogel has consistently employed Orwellian language to promote her legislation stating it "increases safety" and allows women to have "more information" for their own good.  Thanks Jill, but I'm a big girl now and can watch out for myself.

In further business, Virginia legislators are considering bills to remove continuing contracts for teachers (who are primarily women), reduce pensions for Virginia employees (who are largely teachers, who are largely women), and to recommend zero pay increases for Virginia teachers.

Not all state employees will be denied pay raises. The House is proposing increases for College and University employees, Constitutional officers, state employees, and Members of the General Assembly--but not teachers.  The Senate is putting forth recommendations for increases for College and University employees, and state employees--not teachers. Care to guess what the gender makeup is of the groups listed?

Just think--if all these pass I can look forward to more work, less pay, and no job security.  What a deal.  I'm sure there are legions of 22 year olds standing in line for a low-paying career with little security and a pension that guarantees an impoverished old-age.   Our students are sure to benefit from the kind of teacher this scenario will attract.

Who is surprised that this Republican-dominated state house has moved swiftly on these bills?

Not me.

Follow the path of states who have flipped their governance to Republicans (Wisconsin, Indiana, Florida, Oklahoma, Ohio...) and the pattern is clear.  The legislatures merely turn to their McLegislation provider ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and pull from a menu of legislative initiatives.  There are thousands of them, all similarly worded but with Orwellian titles ("Teacher Choice Compensation Act,"  "Student Right to Learn Act," "Protection of Minors and Students Rights Act").  The list is long so the practice of flooding the committees with safe-sounding horrors keeps lobbyists running circles in a mad game of whack-a-mole.  One of the multiple measures is sure to slip through the chaos.

The dismantling of public education--by attacking and discrediting unions--is a chief goal so that education can be privatized for profit.  If you want to know how well this might work out visit Chile--where the system has long been in place thanks to our involvement in Chile's revolution and where Milton Friedman's plan to bring the wonders of the free-market to our own democracy-supporting free public schooling system was widely adopted.

But wait, there's more.

ALEC proposes legislation in any area of government that would clear the way to corporate dominance: worker and consumer rights, voting rights, social programs, environmental regulation, prisons, guns, health---all individual rights are challenged under names which swear allegiance to God and Country.

Lucky me, both my representatives in the Virginia Legislature are dues paying members of ALEC--House Representative Beverly Sherwood and Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel.  

Help me vote them and their cronies OUT.

Check out the list.  Is your representative pulling from the menu?