I’m having a problem with being furious.
I live in Wisconsin so I have reason to be furious, every day, all day long, as what used to be our State Legislature with some basic rules of governance and boundaries in procedure morphs into the worst kids’ clubhouse ever. Think Our Gang with not as many IQ points. Every day this cabal of ‘gee whiz let’s pass a new law because we feel like it crew’ is in session, there is another assault to the well-being of the people in our state.
Don’t even get me started with a list. Well, maybe a short one: drastic cuts to the university system, siphoning money from public schools to give to private (read for-profit) voucher schools, adding money to the prison system, already the state’s biggest expenditure, screwing around needlessly with state programs that operate pretty well, and, today, coming closer to passing a 20-week abortion ban. Never mind what leading OB-GYN’s have to say about the ban or that other states have passed bans that were later overturned by the courts. We’ll have none of that in our clubhouse. We’re keeping all the licorice for ourselves and we don’t care what you say!
I can’t stand it.
Local politics aren’t much better. It’s too complicated to explain. Suffice to say that the rich get richer and the poor can’t catch a break. Tonight at a public hearing with several hundred people in attendance, I listened to private developers tell us how great their new basketball arena and entertainment development would be, how it would make the city worth visiting, generate new tax revenue, revitalize the city that every year sinks like a stone on that year’s most popular indicator – jobs? education? entrepreneurship? How it was all so great that land owned by the public should be sold to them for a dollar. Yes, a dollar. We are so grateful for the attention of the extremely wealthy that we give them gifts to make them like us more. Big flat screen TVs and acres of vacant downtown land. If they drive here, we’ll wash their cars. Whatever it takes.
It occurred to me, reading the detailed handout provided at the public hearing, that this was a deal as done as a deal could be. The public hearing was just theater. It wouldn’t matter what people said, pro or con. The developers, they’re already picking out paint colors for their new buildings. They’ve been told by the powers that be not to worry about the pesky public. I feel that while I’m sitting there. I’ve come to audition for a show when all the parts have already been promised.
Anyway, back to being furious. Part of me, a very small part, the part that secretly smokes crack in the alley behind my house, says that the public policy madness in my state and my town is an opportunity for me to develop my skills as a crazy ass old lady who goes to every public hearing, sits in the front row in a pink sweater, and unpacks a suitcase on wheels full of files and cheese crackers. Thinking this, I can believe the assorted assholes in my city and state have only my best interests at stake. Jan needs a hobby in her dotage.
The rest of me, the non-crack-smoking part, is awfully glad I have this blog.