Monthly Archives: March 2017

How We Can Really Make America Great Again

I’m not a politician. I’m a teacher who thought I was a fiscally conservative socially liberal republican until nine years ago when I realized there’s a name for that: democrat. And then I learned I wasn’t really fiscally conservative at all. Keep that in mind while reading.

1. The Walton Factor matters. When I was a little kid I LOVED to watch The Waltons. When they would go to town and all the uppity city folks would look down their noses at Grandpa and Pa and Jim Bob and John Boy and Elizabeth, it always made me so mad. But it usually worked out all right for the Waltons, and those uppity city folks learned a lesson or two.

Democrats need to learn how to be more Walton and less city folk. People need to feel like they can sit down and have a coffee with them and believe they understand the problems with a healthcare law where a huge chunk of their paycheck is going to premiums. They need to hear real solutions and not just that the other side is crazy. They need to be able to tell the difference between a progressive and conservative and understand why that matters. It’s not enough to be upset that the Trump budget cuts Meals on Wheels and PBS. It’s not enough to complain that republican Steve King makes awful racist statements and is encouraged to speak his mind. It’s not enough to say abortion is a tough topic and you can be against it, but outlawing it will never end it. All of those are democratic answers I’ve heard this week.

None of those are enough.

People need to feel like democrats running for office could be their friends or members of their church small groups or their neighbors. An awful lot of the time democrats sound smart and say all the right things, but they feel out of touch with middle class reality. Their speeches are all perfect, their sound bites are spot on, but in real life, they seem apart from the regular people. That has to change.

2. More people need to actually go to the polls. Thank you for showing that, Samantha Bee. Actually I heard this time and again when I worked the phones for Wendy Davis. Since her gubernatorial campaign, that fact hasn’t changed. A lot of people are complaining about the status quo, but they aren’t going to the polls. Some who are protesting current policies aren’t going to the polls. We have a terrible percentage of people who actually go vote. That has to change.

There are certainly more keys to more Dems in office, but these two are essential.

Another fight to save Texas teachers

I’m sick to my stomach at what I see happening in my state government right now. It’s not a surprise: our governor made it clear he wants this outcome, our lieutenant governor is so anti-teacher it makes me cringe to even hear him speak. Half the educators I know voted for these guys because the R beside their names even though they’ve made it clear they’re at war with the public school system and teachers.
When I started teaching, I knew I’d never get rich doing it. God put me on this earth to teach, though. I knew it from my first moment in the classroom.

When I first started teaching, I didn’t really understand how the Teacher Retirememt System worked. I saw the contribution on my pay stubs, but I didn’t really comprehend why TRS existed and how it worked.
Then Enron happened.
Long story short a lot of people lost everything with bad investments in Enron. TRS was invested, but the people who run the pension diversify, so TRS survived and even thrived. After that, I learned a little about how TRS works.
Basically: current teachers pay into TRS. The state contributes a small percentage (a number they’ve decreased). When teachers retire they get a set pension for life or they can take a lump sum.
TRS is one of the top performing pensions in the nation. It’s one of the things Texas teachers know they can depend on.
Now republicans have put forward SB 1751. A bill that if passed will move our guaranteed pensions–and state employee pensions–to the market driven 401k system. A system that has been proven to work great for the wealthy while account managers make major bank on fees AND proven to be totally unsustainable for the regular middle class worker to live comfortably in retirement. 
Most teachers are just part of the regular middle class. I certainly am.
I’ve saved my entire career and even put money in my own retirement plan on top of TRS, but TRS is my lifeline. It has to be. I won’t ever get social security because Texas won’t allow me to draw both even if I work enough quarters outside of the school system to qualify. 
Most teachers I know work more than one job. I know when I retire I will have to work somewhere still, that my retirement alone won’t be enough. BUT it is a guaranteed income. And the 401k system some republicans want to move us to is only a guaranteed income for the banks and money managers in charge. If SB 1751 passes, public employees in Texas are screwed. The whole system only works if we all pay our fair share while working, and right now it works well. SB 1751 is ridiculous.
I do have hope. If people make it clear they do not support SB 1751, if they call their legislators, maybe we can swing the tide against this awful bill. I know my local state rep. is very pro-public education and goes against his party regularly. My local senator on the other hand…I don’t know. She’s never written me back.

Texans, I’m asking you to please call your legislators and tell them you do not support SB1751. It’s an anti-teacher bill and it will hurt us terribly. I’m also begging you to research candidates before the next election. We won’t keep winning these fights to save public schools and public school teachers if we keep voting in anti-public school candidates.

Tired, Can’t Afford to be Sick

I’m kind of tired hearing the words that people need to be responsible for their own healthcare costs from those who don’t pay for healthcare.I’m kind of tired of looking at my husband, a healthy 50+-year-old man who has to pay over $400 a month for a $10k deductible non-ACA insurance policy. Non-ACA because only a handful of docs in our hometown accepted the ACA coverage. But the ACA policy was only a few dollars cheaper anyway.

I’m tired of paying $100 for the “free” annual wellness exams.

I’m tired of hearing health care is a “personal responsibility” not a right as a citizen.

I heard a former republican governor of Utah–Mike Leavitt–say all nations know that when their citizens are paying this much of their income on healthcare, they must make changes or their nation is at risk. I’m tired of politicians ignoring this fact.

I’m tired of hearing about how bad a public healthcare policy that insures more for less is a catastrophe for insurance companies while insurance agency leaders rake in record profits and citizens go broke.

I’m tired of hearing how if people got rid of their iPhones and maybe worked a few extra hours they could pay for their insurance. It just shows how completely disconnected Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is and I hope his constituents remind him of that when they next go to the polls. I just want to scream, dude, if someone’s already working 72 hours a week or more and healthcare is breaking them, how the heck are they supposed to do more and WHY should they be phoneless because you don’t want to help fix the problem?! How about you quit with all the big business tax cuts? Oh wait…how much was the bank bailout again? $700 billion. And you think the problem is Johnny has an iPhone? 

I’m tired of the politicization of something that shouldn’t be political. 

ACA didn’t fix the problems, but thank GOD, it made the attempt. The new republican answer leaves people of poverty in deeper poverty while rewarding the rich once a-freaking-gain.

I’m tired of hearing people who don’t pay for healthcare complain about politics of personal responsibility. 

I’m tired. Thank God I’m not sick because I can’t afford to be sick anymore. And the republican “repeal and replace” will make things even worse.