Failure

            A conversation with some organized opponents of fracking revealed the latest strategy. Since the momentum can’t be overturned, maybe destabilization will work. If they can’t collapse the entire table, maybe just making it tippy will be enough to generate unbearable dysfunction. The opposition was a bit chagrinned when it was pointed out that this is the same strategy employed by the pro-life folks.

 

            Recently John Boehner embraced the president’s deferral of provisions of the new “mandatory” health care law that apply to “small business”. “Why not for everyone?” the speaker asked. Also in the local news affecting those in central Ohio, Governor Kasich signed into law the new budget which included amendments and riders dealing with abortion procedure and Planned Parenthood. These were not aimed at providing economic compensation or financing alternatives but rather at denying them as well as any access or expedient performance. Today’s Newark Advocate (7-14-13) carried an AP story out of Cleveland under the page heading “Business Briefs”. It was entitled Lawmaker Wants Tax Break for Home Schooling. Some context to keep perspective: the Ohio Constitution mandates that the state provide (fund) an education for all children. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled this was not the case (was not being done); that the state was in violation of the constitution. This was addressed by various spending plans over the ensuing years (also deemed inadequate). Ultimately an “unsettling” stasis was achieved by rearranging the composition of said same court. The door was opened and what followed were legislative provisions to fund private schools, charter schools, vouchers for “choice” of where and what kind of education would be provided to fulfill the state’s public mandate, etc. This latest legislative initiative by Ostrander State Senator Kris Jordan employs the same tippy strategy used by the anti-fracking and pro-choice folks. A little more will be taken away, just enough to destabilize.  What did not appear in the story or my contextual synopsis is the regulations, requirements and demands already placed on public schools – whether in terms of auditing, testing, meeting the needs of whatever walks or is wheeled through the school house doors as well as teacher accreditation, supervision and oversight. Teacher evaluation includes supervised class time. Are home schooling “teachers” required to submit to that? That this story appeared under “Business Briefs” was indeed a serendipitous and fortuitous tautology. Recent legislation has done ditto for business and business related involvements – Jobs Ohio self-auditing and exception to the state’s sunshine laws, business exceptions in taxations and regulations and who monitors and verifies compliance (especially with regard to energy generating industries). The US Supreme Courts striking down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act appears to make this national trend de rigueur for local governing entities. Many point to the Citizen’s United ruling as creating this trend, or ALEC, or this nation’s incredible income disparity which makes possible such government by the elite few, or religious fundamentalism, etc. All create sensational speculation on a simplistic and mechanistic cause, not on an active and informed democratically self-governing populace. What is clear is that our current legislative attempts at self-governance are increasingly focused on failing, “keeping from” failing or “making” fail. The American philosopher of democracy, Ralph Waldo Emerson, considered idealism a condition for moral thinking or action, not an end whose accomplishment is justified by any means, tactic or strategy but an inspiration, motivation or impulse for activity that renders a democratically achieved beneficial outcome. For Emerson, idealism required imagination, the ability to imagine the good. Our current political obsession to only act so as not to fail, or the deliberate omission of action in order to precipitate failure, is rather unimaginative. It reveals character that has little or nothing to do with the creation or promotion of a beneficial outcome democratically achieved.   

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