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Thursday, July 8, 2010

We've fallen, and we can't get up!



I do not have an appropriate picture to describe the feelings of the country right now. All I can say is we are all in some way caught in the maelstorm, buried under  debris. 

In my little town, our board of education has been working for months to reconcile our dwindling resources to the needs of our students and staff this coming school year.  Oregon has seen major budget cuts in all its government functions.  Schools are financed yearly by the state based on current revenue from taxes, fees, income from timber sales, and grants and revenues from the federal government. With the recession, all these revenues have been reduced drastically.

So, roads are not being repaired--this is the flag season here, when roads and bridges would be upgraded after a long season of rain and storm damage. All services have been reduced; and schools are cutting their spending budgets in ways unthinkable. Picture a school year of less than 175 days, many services reduced or eliminated, class sizes bigger than ever, field trips eliminated, training eliminated, and athletics and vocational education classes cut to a minimum.

The stimulus bill last year saved a few teaching positions for the remainder of that year, and allowed some needed renovations to our heating, lighting, roofing and gym facilities.  Our state has no special allocations for capital improvements. Buildings here take quite a beating each winter and repairs eat up any extra money we can put aside.

What will take to move these big boulders off our back?
What will change the attitude of lawmakers and citizens, attitude that is not cooperative and supportive of the needs of ordinary citizens?

Anger will not help.
Blame will not help.
Crying will not help.


We need to work together. A crowd can lift the boulders and clear the debris if it works cooperatively.

40 comments:

CambridgeLady said...

When people get together and pool resources, manpower and money they can achieve anything. If a lot of people get together you need someone to organise, to govern. At this point many panic and cry "socialism!" A little bit of cooperation can go a long way and create community, restore society ......

I hope things improve for Oregon. We felt budgets for schools, roads etc already seemed stretched when we left in 2006.....

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I like the way you think - and write. Compromise and cohesion need to come back to community. We are having the same issues over here - I was furloughed 17 days last school year. We will see what this school year brings.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I fear our country has forgotten how to work together. We have, in my opinion, a brilliant new president who has been willing to hear new ideas and embrace change, but there are those far more committed to seeing him fail than they are willing to try anything to help the situation, or to heal the country. I despair, quite often.

Monkey Man said...

oregon is not alone with these issues but we do have to act together for resolution. do we go back to wpa from the 30's to fix the roads? so much to consider, but decisions have to be made to make it work.

Enchanted Oak said...

California also is in deep crisis. If only we could eliminate the special interest spending, the well-padded bureaucracy, the tremendous legislative division that keeps us from prioritizing and working together to strengthen our state government. Our schools, our in-home support services for the ill, our ailing infrastructure, and so on, all have suffered high losses, while the bureaucrats keep their comfortable positions and cut services everywhere. I like what Cambridge Lady said. We can achieve great things if we pull together.

Brian Miller said...

i am glad you are a voice of reason...we face similar challenges as the school year quickly approaches but it seems the roads are more important here as they are repaving every one of them it seems. i think it will only be throught he coming together of pockets of peope that we make our way out of the debris...

jinksy said...

Cooperation is certainly the key...

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Great post. This is happening all over the country.

Eva Gallant said...

Education is more important than ever. I don't know what the answer is!

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

When people join hands they can do anything...

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

This is a thoroughly disturbing subject and one with which I grapple. I have no solution to offer of what it takes to bring people of opposing views together. It seems the country is at an impasse.

Reasons said...

I have just watched a news story about the exact same issues here. Roads so bad after a very snowy winter...schools, hospitals, all facing cuts. I think people will and must pull together but I worry for those who just get crushed under the debris before they can be rescued.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

We could do with a bit of your spirit of cooperation in Sicily!

Ann Best said...

So we vote in a new president. But he can't do everything. People have got to wake up and take responsibility. Communities working together. Not depending on government to bail them out. It IS a fearful situation right now. But we can't let fear and despair overcome us.

potsoc said...

For years now our goverments, in the U.S. and Canada, have demagogically reduced taxes to assuage the public opinion, oblivious to the old saying "no money, no candy".
People were clamoring that they were too heavily taxed (they still do). They got what they wanted.
Now they want the same levels of services they had before tax cuts. We have created a square wheel and we are astonished that it does not roll.
The bureaucracy is the scapegoat for all that is not well but the civil servants, the teachers, the nurses, the polimen and the firemen, etc, can do only what they can with the money they get...and that money comes from the people and the business concerns it can not be simply printed and distributed.

Marguerite said...

Our school budgets have been drastically cut, too, and they are proposing to raise our taxes to cover it. It is all very unsettling!

Ocean Girl said...

As it is now, America has to get up, before the rest of the world could get back up.

Diana said...

These are such challenging times...we're all feeling the pinch...school budgets are hurting badley in our area, and we have some of the highest school taxes in the nation.

But I agree, if we work together, we can overcome all of this. Fear NOT!

Robyn said...

Well said.

I hope the crowd forms soon.

xx robyn

RNSANE said...

Rosaria, we are in the same mess, of course, in the Bay area. San Francisco is hopeless, I think. I'm now into my 17th month of not working. I actually did try to find employment - as I am really not even able to meet my financial obligations - and have not had any success. It is so demoralizng.

Jingle said...

sorry for what's happening!
prayers.

Jingle said...

http://itistimetothinkformyself.blogspot.com/2010/07/jingles-july-follower-awards-happy-4th.html

Happy Friday!
pick 2 to 5 to enjoy or share with your friends.

Cloudia said...

EXACTLY! Same here.



We take too much interest in being right!


Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

Terra said...

I share your frustration and your hope. Americans are can do people and we can work together to get through this rough patch. I think every state and community is in the same leaky financial boat.

NitWit1 said...

Your description of your state is a microcasm of my little town. As an city official I am confronted every day by citizenry demanding street repair, etc.etc. They tire of my answer...no money, yet when we suggest a solution which touches their pocketbook, they wail and cry foul.

There is, and has been for a generation or two, too much ME and not enough WE.

becky at abbeystyle said...

Pamela Terry and Edward said it first...in far better words than I could dream up. We're surrounded by the voices of "NO!" and for what? To see an open-minded president brought down? What a waste of a good man.

Sarah Laurence said...

That is just the right photo, thinking of these times full of washed up debris. Maine is having similar issues, but we've always been a poor state so the contrast is not so big.

Gaby said...

I believe we know what has to be done; but I, like many others, are afraid of the sacrifices that are called for. We all enjoyed the "pretend times" that are behind us when we accepted a pittance of a tax rebate and shouted, "Hallelujah, times are good! The piper must always be paid.
However, the idea that school funds will be cut really scares me because the education of our children is our only guarantee that we all have a future.

She Writes said...

UGh! Hard times in Oregon, and all over.

Saretta said...

Wow, I didn't realise the difficult economy was impacting daily life quite so much. I am a bit detached living so far away. Thanks for the vivid picture you paint of the situation.

Maggie May said...

This is similar to what is going on here but it can vary from county to county.
Very depressing cuts are about to happen and they will affect everyone. It seems to be World wide.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Vagabonde said...

I think the American people decide the way they wish to spend their money. For over 7 years they have been paying for wars and over 731 US bases in other people’s countries, so social works have not much money allocated to them. I just read a report that among all the industrialized country the US has the larger difference between the rich and the poor and I don’t think it will change. In Europe they may pay more for taxes but they get a lot in return – free and better healthcare, free and better education, more vacation, better public transportation like fast trains, longer life span and higher income. If you mention this here, they are totally against it, they rather vote against their interest, they keep saying no more taxes, well taxes are what pay for school and other services. So, this is the result and with the Tea Party getting stronger, I don’t think it will change very soon. Education is the future of this country but the US is slipping – out of 36 countries the US came 18 or 20 I think (came 26 in math.) For example 93% of kids in South Korea graduate from high school – it’s a lot better than here.

Rob-bear said...

So sorry for your situation.

With potsoc, I worry that we're doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons, on both sides of the Canada-US border. Great short-term strategy for politicians; disastrous in the long term for the people.

And yes, we can work together. Be we are rapidly forgetting how. And as we learned at the G20 here in Canada, even large-scale co-operation can be beaten down by the police.

Rachel Cotterill said...

I hope things improve soon. Infrastructure repairs are the kind of thing that needs to be done as soon as possible, otherwise the damage is just compounded.

sheri said...

how i pray that you'll see the improvements needed, and soon!! my youngest sister lives in white city, oregon and she's been talking to me about the same woes as you have for a few years now. there has to be a way to get the schools up and running to speed again!!

Snowbrush said...

The county-owned skating rink across from my house just quadrupled its fees to pay for repairs. Naturally, it will now close. Governments operate in mysterious ways and seldom for the public good, or so do I see it. Maybe if I could look back upon those times when I turned to the government (any government), and it was responsive.

lakeviewer said...

Most people distrust government, for many reasons. Most of us do not know how the various layers work. We see the end result and we panic. Most of us fail to get involved, to stay involved and to remain informed about laws, budgets, and regulations until they affect us directly.
That is the rub.
If we got involved at the local level, attending all those open sessions where the public can ask questions and get answers, we'd have a fairly good idea of needs to be done, and what it would cost.

Most of us get involved when we are too fed up to listen, to weigh the consequences, to understand both sides of an issue.

At the point when we get involved we want to get our point across and hell to anyone who intercepts.

So, my solution is to stay abreast of issues; attend local meetings, read their agenda ahead of time, and submit your questions for consideration when something is of interest to you.

Soon, you too will know what needs to be done, and will work hard to see it done!

p.s. don't get involved just because you want something done for you and yours. Get involved because something needs to be done for the common good. This is the spirit of cooperation we need to uphold: The Common Good before the private good.

ds said...

That is so true. In my state, funding for schools has been decimated, and public libraries stood to lose nearly 3/4 of their budgets, which would have eliminated interlibrary loans and many other services. But a huge grass-roots campaign restored most of the money. Which proves that if enough people stand up and fight for what is right, change can happen!
I just don't understand the rationale behind slashing education first, when so many dollars are diverted to less essential items--like stadiums(inner cynic threatening to break loose; will stop now).

A Cuban In London said...

I'm sorry to hear of what's happening in your neck of the woods. I agree that people ought to pull together, but that gives also the government an easy cop-out. No, local and regional governments have a duty of care towards their populations. You should not be in this predicament. It's highly irresponsible. I do hope the situation changes but whatever your community does, you must hold the culprits to account.

Greetings from London.

Tessa said...

I remember how people pulled together after a devastating hurricane in the Caribbean when we lived on St Thomas in the US Virgin Island. When we finally managed to stumble out of the rubble of our houses into the light, it was as though a nuclear winter had struck. Nothing. nobody. A deadly silence. It was astonishing - and humbling - how grace and friendship and an abundance of love rebuilt that tiny island. Community spirit can indeed prevail and restore society.

And on that note, thank you so much for your visit to my blog last week. In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It then bursts into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be deeply thankful for those people who rekindle our inner spirit. And I am – so very thankful for the gentle and generous words you wrote for me on my ‘Stormy Weather’ post. Friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine – and almost always because of friends. I’d love to send you a linocut I made to thank you and to celebrate the very special friendships we are able to create around the world via this amazing blogosphere.