Hildegarde

Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Wednesday

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Well, it’s Wednesday.  And since Wednesday is the only day of this week when I really need to have gotten some sleep the night before, I did not, of course, get much in the way of sleep tonight.   I got so little, in fact, that I’m pretty much walking into walls.

Beyond that, there are some things.

First, I seem to be practically the only person on earth who has not decided that the damage from the tsunami in Japan means that we shouldn’t have nuclear power plants. 

I tend to think about nuclear power plants the way other people think about flying on airplanes–yes, when they have an accident, they do a lot of damage and you’ll probably die.  But they very rarely have accidents. 

They also provide a really necessary and useful service, so if I’m playing the odds, the likelihood is that I’m going to fly.

Consider the really pressing need to free up as much of this country’s energy supply from Middle Eastern oil, I’ll take the nuclear reactors.  Paris has something like 40 of them ringing the city, and I doubt that they’re going to stop because of the tsunami.

Next is that I really wish I understood what just went on in Wisconsin.  I know this is supposed to be simple, a complete no brainer, but it really isn’t to me.

The little town where I live has a paper that comes out once a week, and last week’s edition–this thing comes out on Thursday–was full of letters from people talking about “the haves” and “the have nots,” and identifying “the haves” as “government workers.” 

I know the people in this town, and I know the people who wrote those letters.  They don’t have lots of money.  They don’t own big businesses, and only two of them have ever owned any kind of business. 

I don’t tend to accept arguments that go, “well, they’re just so stupid they’ve been duped by the Republicans and they’re acting against their own best interests.”   In almost every case where I’ve heard this argument made, it’s turned out to be wrong.

So I end up sitting here wondering what this is actually about.   This is especially the case because there isn’t a chance in hell that Connecticut will go the way of Wisconsin on union issues.

I don’t much like my present governor.  He was, for me, screamingly on the wrong side of Kelo.   And he’s made it perfectly clear that he’ll raise taxes as much as necessary to maintain the present level of services and state worker pay scales. 

Maybe this is just another case where it seems to me that people are just not paying attention.

In the meantime, the big thing people are not paying attention to just goes on and on, and I don’t see it stopping.

Back in the Fifties, when each little town made its own decisions about its own schools, nearly everybody was willing to support those schools to the death.    Then came Brown vs. Board of Education, which was a necessary thing–but instead of it being a one-time exceptional decision meant to rectify an exceptional wrong (the legacy of slavery), it became a template for everything.

Now our public schools are controlled by state boards of education, national professional associations, and court decisions–and more and more people hate and resent them by the day.

I’d think there was a connection, but apparently nobody agrees with me.

I really am remarkably screwed up here.  I should probably go find more caffeine.

Let’s just say that today, I not only don’t think we can solve our problems with reason.

I don’t think we can solve our problems at all.

Written by janeh

March 16th, 2011 at 7:19 am

Posted in Uncategorized

7 Responses to 'Wednesday'

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  1. About Japan and panic:

    http://www.kalzumeus.com/2011/03/13/some-perspective-on-the-japan-earthquake/

    Someone told me yesterday of the news reports of drifting radioactivity and the way this disaster took out so many people that it would take generations for Japan to recover. I said it was terribly tragic that thousands had died, and no doubt their friends and relatives would take a long time to recover, but the country as a whole…what was the population of Japan? (neither of us knew; but we knew it was in the millions – 127,560,000, I looked it up).

    When we, due to geography, has a school board per town, some towns supported them more than others, and some people in all towns resented anything that took kids of a useful age away from work at home. What you’re seeing isn’t the invariable result of consolidating school boards.

    Finally, define ‘resolve’. If you mean, get a perfect solution, no, you can’t do it with reason or any other way.

    If you mean get something practical and workable set up, yes, you can, even if it doesn’t look like it sometimes. But you need something irrational as well – whatever that quality is that makes some people able to sell solutions to different groups. Salesmanship? Leadership?

    OK, maybe there’s a bit of an act of faith in that last paragraph, which is by definition not entirely logical, but I prefer the optimistic approach.

    Cheryl

    16 Mar 11 at 9:21 am

  2. YAWN! Jane isn’t the only one who had a bad night’s sleep.

    I completely agree with her about nuclear power. I get so tired of “Do you want a nuclear plant next door to you?” My answer is that I don’t want a power plant next to my house but given a choice between nuclear and coal fired, I’d much rather have nuclear.

    Changing topics, when I was young my father(who worked on a GM assembly line) used to say that government employees had low pay but a guarantee of lifetime employment and a good pension in retirement,
    The low pay is no longer true.

    I suspect that taxpayers who know they are likely to have to change employers and are subject to layoffs and don’t have generous pensions are now seeing government employees as a privileged class.

    jd

    16 Mar 11 at 2:03 pm

  3. jd, I agree with half of your post. Government employees still have low pay compared to the private sector, but they have better benefits and little concern about losing their jobs.

    The pensions are a big deal, I’ll admit, but I have a co-worker who took a $12,000/year pay cut to work as an FDA auditor for three years. She did it to get the experience, but after three years she jumped again.

    I’ve seen the same in my field – I was looking at some government jobs online recently and people who do what I do and work for the government make about 65% of what I do.

    MaryF

    16 Mar 11 at 2:43 pm

  4. Mary,

    I can’t speak for the US but, in Australia, teachers, public hospital nurses, police, and firefighters are all state employees with lifetime jobs and good pensions.

    All of them have unions and not a year passes when at least one union is yelling MORE PAY! MORE PAY!

    When one is living in a town with 10% unemployment and a factory which just closed and put 200 people out of work, such demands from people with lifetime tenure become very annoying.

    jd

    16 Mar 11 at 3:51 pm

  5. Agree on nukes. I think it was Jerry Pournelle who observed that if we’d put the cost of the Iraq venture into building nuclear power plants and some of the saner alternatives, we’d be telling the Arabs they could drink their oil. Yes, if your plants are subjected to a major earthquake AND a tidal wave, it’s going to be a bad day–but an hour just outside the containment field at its worst, was the same radiation exposure as five cross-country air flights. There is no absolutely safe energy source, and reduced or expensive energy gets pretty fatal too. Check out how many people die over inadequate heating or cooling. For that matter, how many people die of shoveling snow rather than using powered snow-blowers? Far more than seem likely to die of the Japanese reactor troubles–but they’ll make no headlines.

    Schools: I agree with the diagnosis, but not the prognosis. The broader the cultural range covered by a single school authority, the more trouble you’re going to get, and some of the authority is now national. But these are problems which CAN be solved, by reason and goodwill. What we have is a leadership and a decision-making system which can’t solve them. I don’t expect that to last. I may not like the next leadership, but I don’t think they’ll be as prone to dithering as we have been over the past 40-50 years.

    I can’t remember the name, but there was a serious real estate magnate who bought up Beiruit properties at the absolute height of the Lebanese Civil War. He said if you waited until you could see the solution, the price would already have started to go up. He did quite well.

    I think we’re nearer the end of our present difficulties than we are to the beginning. But keep in mind there will be other difficulties later.

    robert_piepenbrink

    16 Mar 11 at 3:57 pm

  6. I vaguely recall reading that coal fired power plants release more radioactivity then nuclear ones!

    Google came up with this link.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste

    jd

    16 Mar 11 at 5:43 pm

  7. Absent a detailed, critical and thoroughly balanced assessment of all the relevant issues, something that rarely if ever happens in the MSM, the default assumption must be that whatever line the media are pushing is at best only partly true and, at worst, a blatant lie. I believe this to be true in respect of virtually all MSM reporting on environmental issues

    Mique

    16 Mar 11 at 10:00 pm

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