Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why Todd Mertz is voting for President Obama

Teachers, Unions…
On average, private school educators make $22,500 less than public school teachers. Governor Mitt Romney and Representative Paul Ryan want to privatize education. In countries known to have the best education (i.e., Finland, Canada, Scotland), teachers are paid much more than here; they are unionized and treated as professionals. Can you imagine the pool of candidates our schools would get if we decreased wages and benefits? Would we be able to attract the best and brightest to the profession? According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's annual report released two weeks ago:

"Despite the considerable amount of money channeled into education here, teaching jobs in the United States are not as well paid as they are abroad, at least when you consider the other opportunities available to teachers in each country. In most rich countries, teachers earn less, on average, than other workers who have college degrees. However, the gap is much wider in the United States than in most of the developed world. The average primary-school teacher in the United States earns about 67 percent of the average college-educated worker in the United States, and the average high school teacher earns 72% of an average college-educated worker in the United States" (Does It Pay to be a Teacher?).
Romney and Ryan want to privatize education, de-unionize and strip teachers of their rights.

While speaking at his campaign rally in Ames, Iowa on Friday, Romney said, "Training programs will be shaped by the states where people live, and schools will put the interests of our kids, their parents, and their teachers above the interests of the teachers’ unions." You don't have to guess what he would plan on doing to teachers' unions if elected. By the way, that was the second jab at teachers' union in that particular speech.

Just ask my cousin if education in her district in Idaho improved or not. A few years ago when teachers' union rights were stripped in Idaho, where my cousin moved to teach English, class sizes soared, resulting in students having to rotate sitting on the floor because there weren't enough desks. Her good friend was having a miscarriage during class one day and her administrator wouldn't let her go to the hospital because there wasn't a substitute teacher available; thus, she had her miscarriage in her classroom.

Additionally, support for students with special needs were cut and left to fend for themselves. Each teacher's prep period was revoked and replaced with an additional class to teach. They were not paid for their course overload. This left each teacher only 82 minutes of prep time for the entire week. Substitute teachers, when and if available, are now volunteers from the community in her district with no background in education. Many teachers at her school quit in the middle of the year, something very rare in the field. My cousin said it was a miracle that she made it to the end of the school year before she resigned. She moved out of the state--back to Illinois where union rights haven't been stripped as they have been in Idaho, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and many other states by Republican legislatures.

So, why are Romney and Ryan attacking unions and supporting Walker? It’s simple: unions tend to vote for the democratic candidate. If they can bust the remaining unions in the country, they may get that small margin they need to eventually control the presidency, the House and the Senate.

And what is Romney's plan for education? According to the Center for American Progress Action Fund, "Governor Mitt Romney has been running for president for six years, and he still doesn’t have a detailed education plan. He rarely talks about education on the stump and, when he does, he rails against federal spending rather than discussing ways to improve struggling schools or the lives of disadvantaged students. Governor Romney’s pick of Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) to be his running mate solidified that his stance on education matches his economic vision: cut programs for the disadvantaged in order to pay for benefits to the wealthy. Governor Romney’s main education idea is to turn federal money for disadvantaged students into vouchers that could be spent in private schools" (Romney's Paltry Education Plan).

Don't get me wrong, Obama has his own flaws in education policy (i.e., support for charter schools, voucher programs, Race to the Top...). However, Romney and Ryan want to strip teachers of their bargaining rights and the right to a fair contract. Teachers lose; kids lose.

Police Officers
Romney doesn't support police officers… Romney refers to Walker's attack on public jobs and says: "He [Obama] wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more firemen, more policemen, and more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people" (
The Real Message behind Mitt Romney’s Anti-Police and Firefighters ‘Gaffe’).  

According to the article, "...if you run a Google search on police layoffs, the results make clear who is being hurt most by Republican opposition to the President’s plans to help states keep policemen on the job. The cities of Camden and Newark, New Jersey, have seen steep rises in crime following deep cuts to their police forces, including a 28% spike in homicides in Camden in 2011. The City of Paterson, New Jersey saw an explosion of gun violence when it shed 20% of its police force. These are not places where Mitt Romney ever hopes to pick up votes."

Social Security and Medicare
My wife and I don't pay the 6.2% of each paycheck into Social Security like most private sector employees (12.4% if you are self-employed), but I would be skeptical about Romney and Ryan's true agenda with Social Security and Medicare… According to 2012 Candidate Comparison, "Governor Romney believes that Social Security must be reformed in order to remain fiscally solvent for the long-term." Reform: I think my wife and I know that word well when it comes to our TRS pension in Illinois. If lawmakers get their way with pension "reform," it means a significant decrease in benefits, a steep increase in contributions, and perhaps working an extra twelve years to age 67, despite the fact that public employees did NOT cause the pension and revenue problems in this state.

Even Romney's biggest allies, supporters, and contributors have given him hell lately about his vague economic plan. I bet I know why--he is going to cut Medicare and Social Security when/if he wins. If there is one article you should read, it is the one in the link below. It is written by Robert Reich, professor of public policy and former Secretary of Labor. Some notable quotations about Ryan and Romney include "More than any other politician today, Paul Ryan exemplifies the social Darwinism at the core of today's Republican Party: Reward the rich, penalize the poor; let everyone else fend for themselves. Dog eats dog…

"The Ryan plan would also turn Medicare into vouchers whose value won't possibly keep up with rising health-care costs -- thereby shifting those costs on to seniors. At the same time, Ryan would provide a substantial tax cut to the very rich -- who are already taking home an almost unprecedented share of the nation's total income. Today's 400 richest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million of us put together… And although Romney has carefully avoided specifics in his own economic plan, he has said he's ‘very supportive’ of Ryan's budget plan… Romney wants to permanently extend the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy, reduce corporate income taxes, and eliminate the estate tax. These tax reductions would increase the incomes of people earning more than $1 million a year by an average of $295,874 annually, according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. Oh, did I say that Romney and Ryan also want to repeal President Obama's healthcare law, thereby leaving 50 million Americans without health insurance?"  (The Ryan Choice). 

Even Warren Buffet told congress: "My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about 'shared sacrifice'… Our leaders have asked for ‘shared sacrifice’… But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched. While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks…"

I will be voting for Obama; I will be voting for Obama so class sizes do not double. Imagine the short window of one-on-one student/teacher time with a class size of 40? According to CNN, "Mitt Romney, who is spending [time] promoting a plan for America's public school system, spent [one] morning defending his stance that smaller class sizes don't necessarily equate with better learning in schools" (Romney defends class size stance to teachers).

I will be voting for Obama to keep our bargaining rights as teachers…; I will be voting for Obama to keep police officers patrolling our streets, and I will be voting for Obama to keep Social Security and Medicare from being gutted by Romney and Ryan who care very little about the middle class…

--Todd Mertz
For Another Point of View: Why Chris Hedges is Voting Green
Would anyone like to tell us "Why you are voting for Governor Romney?"

To lighten the tone, Avengers Director Joss Whedon Endorses Mitt Romney in Spoof Political Ad: http://www.eonline.com/news/357969/joss-whedon-endorses-mitt-romney-in-spoof-political-ad-watch-the-video

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