Budget restrictions are in inevitable consequence of a recession, especially one which itself is the result of irresponsible fiscal management. Subsequently, society and its individuals are forced to endure several significant economic sanctions, which include sizeable reductions in public expenditure and also inflated levels of income and duty tax. While these are an accepted if much maligned aspect of economic recovery, there are serious questions as to how far governments should go to deliver financial stability. This week, the governors of Michigan supported a move to close up to 70 schools in the troubled city of Detroit, with a view to halving the number of educational outlets in the region by the year 2014. This proposal is in addition to the legislation that closed 59 schools throughout 2010, and will mean that the average high school class would include an estimated 60 students by 2012. Regardless of the economic need, the question that needs to be addressed is whether this sacrifice is worth any amount of fiscal saving. The Social Cost of Budgeting This decision is been driven by a desperate need to reduce a vast $327 million school budget deficit, regardless of the cost to the educational well being of US students and parents. This is a government stand point, which states that there are bound to be unfavorable consequences of an economic recovery from a recession, and that the closure of schools is a necessary evil in the pursuit of financial prosperity. The issue with this assertion is that by doing whatever is necessary to secure a short term financial future, there is the potential of damage being done to the long term education of high school children.
While the common consensus of global opinion places the blame for the recent recession at the door of high level banking and investment operatives, its continuing effects are most significant amongst the working classes of society. Even as we continue along the steep and well worn paths of economic recovery, governments are still being forced to make budgetary cuts and modifications to combat the remnants of their financial deficits. In Wisconsin this week, 15 educational facilities were forced to cancel classes in the midst of a staff protest at the state, in reaction to a proposed bill that would impinge their collective bargaining rights and reduce the governments contributions to their benefits. While the protest is perceived as one that is concerned with the financial implications, it is clearly more focused on worker rights and the punishment of staff for federal errors in judgement. A Countrywide Issue This issue is part of a larger picture, in which budgetary restrictions are being replicated and contested in many of the poorer US states. Put simply, the proposed legislation will implore workers to invest more in their individual health care premiums and pension contributions, while removing the burden from government institutions. Also, workers would default on their right to have dues deducted straight from their weekly or monthly salary.
In the aftermath of the tragic shooting of democratic representative Gabrielle Griffiths at a neighborhood meeting yesterday, a sharp and sudden focus was drawn against the increasing extremities of feeling that exist within contemporary US politics. Although an exact motive for the attack that killed and wounded others has yet to be determined, their are rumblings of the accused gunman being extremely hostile towards the current government regime and also especially vocal about his inherent dislike and reasoning. This reaction is extreme and entirely unjustified in a civilized society, but the instance is not isolated in terms of the level of threat and deep rooted animosity toward the existng political government. There have been several occasions in the last 18 months and 2 years where democratic representatives have been subjected to verbal abuse or vandalism, as concerns and issues with economic policies and health care legislation have combined to produce increased levels of frustration and discontentment with government representatives and legislation. A Diversity of Opinion While this particular instance and general type of political protest is repugnant, it is not the only reason for concern in federal circles. At the entirely opposite end of the spectrum, there continues to subsist a growing apathy towards voting and policies in particular geographical and age related demographics, and one which is born of the same levels of disenchantment that fuels acts of violence and anarchy. In a society where two opposed and yet deeply similar and related political issues are pertinent, there are several conclusions and portents that can be drawn.