I’m not in the habit of reading or watching the daily news. Back when I went to the YMCA on a regular basis, I occasionally found myself watching CNN to take my mind off of whatever my body was doing (exercising, maybe?). But since the rarity of those visits dwindled into a discontinued membership, my awareness of newsworthy events has likewise diminished. Besides an occasional glance through the headlines of the Colorado Springs Gazette, I remain largely ignorant of national and world affairs. Yet from time to time, when feeling particularly guilty of poor citizenship or unusually curious about political…stuff, I will attempt to read the news.
My brief sojourns into the land of cultural literacy typically yield an onslaught of distressing information that leaves me stumbling back to my cave, begging for ignorance. Today’s foray was no different.
I first encountered an article reporting on the current state of our Government Deficit. Full of incomprehensibly large numbers and confusing allegation regarding who’s to blame for our national insolvency, this article could function as a step-by-step guide on how to cause an anxiety attack. This is the part that distressed me the most:
Obama is facing GOP demands to slash billions from government programs as he prepares to unveil his budget for 2012 on Monday. That spending blueprint will contain a five-year freeze on many domestic government programs but GOP House members contend it is far too timid in slashing deficits. They are putting together a proposal for the current 2011 budget year that will trim spending by $32 billion, a downpayment on their pledge to roll total spending back to 2008 levels.
As a public school teacher, and thus a government employee (no, I DON’T want to talk about it), I have experienced the results of freezing funds for domestic government programs: my salary has been frozen ever since I was hired. But why exactly are our congressmen aiming to bring government spending back to 2008 levels? I don’t think America was in the black in 2008. There is more debt than money and who do we owe it to and what are they going to do when we don’t pay them back? Who is going to pay???
After giving up on the fuzzy math, I decided to look for more cheerful headlines. I then stumbled upon this pretty little piece of journalism that explains Obama’s Big Plan for giving everyone in the nation free wi-fi! Apparently, he was up in Marquette, Michigan (in the Upper Peninsula) yesterday, talking about the importance of getting everybody on board the old internet train in order to make America a more competitive nation. Now, I’m all about free internet access: in fact, I have come to view it as a basic human right, along with decent water pressure and automatic ice makers. But something about Obama’s proposition makes me uncomfortable.
Obama wants to make high-speed wireless available to 98 percent of the population within five years, a goal he set out in his State of the Union address.
It’s a lofty aim considering such technology is only now being built in major cities by AT&T, Verizon and others. And it will cost billions of dollars that Republicans now running the House signaled they may be unwilling to spend. But the president cast it as crucial for America’s future prosperity and competitiveness with other nations.
Now how could this possibly be a bad idea? Is it just the thought that any product or service controlled by the government will naturally be worse than the independent alternative? (See 1984 and the USPS for examples). Is it the vague notion that internet access will make us more prosperous and competitive, when in my own life it has led to unprecedented hours of wasted time? Or is it the realization that the government will HAVE to increase their already enormous budget in order to accommodate for this unnecessary service? Deficit anxiety returns!
Fine. I’m done reading about the government. Let’s see what news comes from the education sector, shall we? The only worthwhile notice I can find is this Good Reminder of why I don’t write about work on this blog. I don’t know exactly what this teacher said, but apparently calling your students “lazy whiners” in a public forum is now grounds for expulsion. I suppose natural prudence should be enough to keep one from posting particulars about bosses, students, or clients online, but my heart still goes out to this woman. Who knows how difficult her class has been this year? It’s highly likely that her students ARE lazy whiners, and it’s equally likely that the parents who raised these charming young people are the same ones who will fight to get this teacher fired for telling it like it is. There’s an equally likely possibility that she’s a horrible person who should have been fired a long time ago, I guess. Either way she’s to be pitied.
That’s about all the headlines I can handle today.
Do YOU read the news? If so, what do you usually get out of it? And if not, what’s your excuse?