There is an ongoing debate regarding the providers, costs, and basic rights to healthcare and retirement in the United States. Companies are either passing more of the cost of healthcare to its workers, reducing hours so they don’t have to pay for healthcare, or eliminate healthcare entirely. Saving for retirement is now almost exclusively the responsibility of each individual, who has to deduct a significant portion of a paycheck to a 401(k) that will essentially be gambled with on Wall Street. Despite the continued reduction in private sector healthcare and retirement benefits, there are many companies and individuals in favor of further reduction and even the elimination of these benefits. What I find to be particularly troubling is many of these people also believe the government should not offer healthcare and retirement programs. If it shouldn’t be the private sector’s responsibility to provide these benefits, and having the government provide them is some kind of “socialist agenda”, then how are individuals supposed to pay for healthcare and plan for retirement?
Recent American history has seen our public school teachers being increasingly attacked and vilified. Teachers are viewed as being overpaid union cronies who only work six hours a day and get to take summers off to lounge around and vegetate until the next school year begins. If a child is getting poor grades, it is the teacher’s fault; if a child has bad behavior, it’s because the teacher isn’t nurturing the child in the special way he/she requires. If a class has underachieving standardized test scores, it’s because the teacher hasn’t adequately prepared the students. More and more, the “blame” for anything that is considered undesirable is being shifted to teachers, and the support network that comes from parents and the community is seemingly shrinking. As a result, teachers probably have a more difficult job today than they did just ten or twenty years ago.