607: Independence and Subsidies

 

AntGrasshopper

It used to be that Americans were independent and took care of their own.

Why is it now the responsibility of other citizens/taxpayers if I fail to adequately plan, provide for, and save for my own retirement (what used to be called my ‘declining years’)? When did that personal failure become a subsidized ‘right’?

Was it when the US government established the Social Security program in an effort to ameliorate the fallout from those grasshoppers who foolishly played and spent their lives away, while the ants prudently saved and stockpiled against an uncertain future?

Now that social security is firmly entrenched (even if the last generations of lawmakers have plundered the fund to help offset their own grasshopper profligate spending) Americans save even less than they ever did – and our performance as a nation never was too good on that score in the first place.

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Yeah, I’d LOVE to have spent my productive years engaged in pursuing my own interests (financially supporting or not) instead of reporting to work – but having proved myself stupid enough to be willing to work, I don’t qualify for any benefits for sitting on my fat behind.

The idea is that people work to support themselves. Each one responsible for him/herself – unless you have turned over your financial future to someone else who agrees to be responsible for both themselves AND you (this is what many women believe marriage is for – absolving them from all responsibility). If you put your care into the hands of another person and they fail to make adequate provisions for themselves and for you in the event something happens to them, well, they failed you.

My first husband did that – he let more than a half million life insurance policy lapse a few months before he unexpectedly died. Thank God I was already a working wife, and didn’t have all my eggs in his little basket, so I had something else to fall back on besides Uncle Sam. Plus, in the past, families cared for each other. When a family member became disabled or elderly and needed care, they were cared for within the family unit – not handed off for the government (really, other citizens/taxpayers) to care for.

It isn’t the fault of the citizens that you failed to provide for yourself – it isn’t even the fault of the citizens that you are disabled, and need assistance. Neither is it their fault if accident or illness befalls you that you didn’t plan for. Yup – it’s a tough break when that happens. Thankfully, assistance is available for those who are unable (legitimately unable, not having simply purchased their disability from an unethical physician) to provide for themselves, but it still isn’t the fault of others that they are disabled, such that others are then required to pay their way.

THAT is what used to be called charity, before charity became a dirty word, and it used to be the province of faith-based people who took up the slack and provided that assistance locally. They knew their neighbors, and they knew who really needed the help, and who needed the harsh life lessons earned by making very poor decisions.

You know, like the grasshopper.

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603: Work, and more work

I go to work every day, even when I am ill, because it is harder to do all the preparation work beforehand than it’s worth it to be out sick, especially when I am actually sick. I have stopped going to the doctor and dentist on school holidays, though. Usually, if school is out, the doctors and dentists are also closed, anyway, and occasionally I NEED a day off when I actually am not sick – that is worth doing the prep work for.

Lately, I have been finishing my straight eight, and donning working clothes to put in another shift remodeling our newest purchase: a new-to-us, but not new house. We have gutted the kitchen in preparation for the installation of new cabinets, counter tops, trim, and appliances, and have installed the new flooring and painted. The new ceiling and lighting fixtures, and the floor molding, go in after the cabinets are installed.

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Lately, we have been on our knees…not praying exactly, unless you count praying that this piece of flooring will install properly in line with the others already laid. It is a good time for reflection on the vicissitudes of life, when you are on your knees, praying or not. I heard once that being on your knees is the most powerful position you can assume – and I assume they were thinking of prayer. I do tend towards a less than pristine mindset, and being on your knees is good for lots of various things, including prayer. Nonetheless.

I think the next few days I will work on painting. I can do that standing up. I’ve been on my knees dealing with those stubborn flooring planks a little too much lately.

596: Competition for the Labor Market

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It has suddenly occurred to me that employers who are seeking employees are in competition with the Federal Government for those workers.

The employers have to be attractive enough with both the work AND the wages to offset the other option offered by the Federal Government: being able to sit on your butt pretty much 24/7, take benefits, and procreate for a living.

And it appears that the employers are losing the battle.

586: OOPS…

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I am ashamed that I have not cheered you on as I should have done when you were awarded an honor (and I was not).

I admit, my first thought was how will this work, when you are, and I am not? How will it fit, and how will we fit with it?

I did not demonstrate to you (like I think I should have) that I was proud of you for being wanted, at least not as much as I think it deserved, because I was thinking about me, us, and how it all would work out.

I apologize, and please know that I am cheering for you. Congratulations! You deserve it!

568: Effort

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As another school year winds to a close, I am forcibly reminded that many, many, many people have a ridiculous sense of entitlement. I posted in my classroom a few weeks ago (for exactly this time) the statement “Don’t be upset over the RESULTS you did not get from the EFFORT you did not invest.”

As a teacher, I provide students with multiple learning opportunities: assignments. I count (grade) most of them. Our school uses a continuous average grading system, which means we do not set in stone your grade as a student each reporting term. So, your final grade is not determined by the averages of your first, second, third, and fourth grading term results, but instead, the overall average at the end of the year.  This allows students who do poorly to bring up their averages and earn credit for the year.

It also means students who have done moderately to marginally well all year can fail the entire year (even posting a passing average for the first three quarters) by slacking off at the end – which is RICHLY coming to pass. It is amazing how seven or eight zeros at the tail end can drop a close to failing year-long average right over the cliff.

I have warned students in every class that if their averages are in the low 70’s, that they are in danger of failing the course for the entire year, and they are, as usual, ignoring me. Problem is, time is short for completing work, and I am not grading anything turned in late now at full credit, PLUS, I am not accepting work from FIRST,  SECOND, and THIRD TERMS at this late date. Seriously?? You even bothered to ask?

I watched you sit and do nothing for days and weeks, while I chivvied you and reminded you and redirected you countless times, and NOW you get concerned about course credit and passing averages? NOW you want me to provide you with “extra credit” work? Nope.

In twenty-six years of teaching, I have NEVER, EVER, not even ONCE, had a child fail a class I taught with low grades on work they submitted. Not once. Every single child (and I work mostly with high schoolers) who fails has done so on ZEROS: work they just chose not to complete and submit for scoring.

I can work with a student who shows me some effort, even if it is not up to standard. As an employer, I want someone to work every day at the tasks I have set for them to do. As a teacher, I want exactly the same thing. I can help you if you are working. You can ask questions, and we can fix your work on the spot to provide you with better scores. You can get feedback on where this work could be improved.

I do not “give” grades: you earn them and I post them. I can credit someone who is working, even when they do not possess the native ability to do it at A or B quality work. THAT is not required. It is wonderful and appreciated and celebrated, but so is the determined effort to get the work done and submitted on time when assigned. I cannot post credit for something that is not submitted.

And the time of reckoning is at hand.

 

561: It’s only a book

Book-Person

It’s only a book that tempts me

to ignore the dishes in the sink, the laundry in the basket, the litterbox,

the papers waiting to be graded.

It’s only a book that tempts me

to stay up and read the last half (when it’s already midnight)

and I have to go to work tomorrow.

It’s only a book, and when I read it, I hear nothing, am aware of nothing else in the universe, including

alarm clocks, phone calls, microwave timer buzzers, the purring cat in my lap who

prickles my leg as she makes bread against my thigh.

It’s only a book that calls me

into another’s life, another world, another reality, another experience of someone else’s imagination.

It’s only a book. I’m hooked.

550: Overwhelmed and undervalued

Teacher receiving an apple from student

The first year at a new job is generally more difficult than the succeeding years. You have the routine of the machine that is this particular organization (different one to the other) down to some manageable extent after the first year, and you somewhat know in advance what they are likely to dump into your already-busy lap, and know somewhat when they are likely to do it.

The reports that they wait (often) until the day they are due to tell you about (and sometimes the day after they are due) to tell you about. The routine processes that you need to know to perform your job on a daily basis, which they did not tell you in advance of performing that job, and left you to discover unpleasantly and then struggle to figure out on your own, or go crawling to someone who does know, confessing your ignorance and begging for a mini-lesson to get you up to speed.

The five different professional development courses, all running concurrently, that take up your 50 miserly minutes of precious planning time that you have each day – assuming there is not a parent conference scheduled, or an after-work meeting that you are required to attend, or an out-of-town meeting you are required to attend on what was supposed to be the time you have left over after work to actually live your life – assuming you actually have any such thing.

The planning you need to do so as not to appear a drooling, blithering idiot in the daily performance of your job (at least in the eyes of those observing, and YES, Virginia, they ARE observing).

All those things that were unwelcome surprises during the first year are familiar minor annoyances the second year, not panic-attack-times like they were that first hectic, far-too-busy, overloaded first year. The second year, you can look back on the chaos of the first and smile a little, knowing that you made it with your sanity largely (at least to casual observers) intact. So the second year is better. Somewhat.

None of that helps a whole lot while you are in the mentally and emotionally tense, gut-wrenching, hyper-ventilating maelstrom of the first year. *sigh*