Thursday, February 9, 2012

How Common is Your Good?

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the AFL-CIO's educational (strong) arm, announced the group's endorsement of the Obama-Biden ticket in 2012.  In case it matters to you, she makes $350,000 per year as a union boss.
Declaring that President Obama is the only candidate who will fight to preserve and expand the middle class, close the inequality gap and ensure everyone has a "fair shot" at success, the AFT announced its endorsement of President Obama and Vice President Biden for re-election on Feb. 7.
This selfless administrator's devotion to the middle class, earnings equality and a fair shot, which used to be called equal opportunity until the pretense of devotion to fair process was dropped altogether in favor of redistribution, is on full display in the movie "Waiting for Superman."  For an introduction to the nobility of her cause, see my post "Arguing with Success" of 8/9/11.

It wasn't her boilerplate, reality-inverting rhetoric that caught my attention, however.  Rather, it was a local radio interview with a spokesman from the Detroit AFT announcing the endorsement.

To the interviewer's suggestion that rank-and-file members were exercising their independent judgment more now than in the past, he argued that these people were being self-serving and had lost sight of the common good.

One doesn't hear that term much outside of Catholic circles, and it indicated to me that the Left has people mining the Church's social doctrine for useful sound bites.  The Catholic concept refers to the good of the entire person--spiritual as well as material--and of every person.

Just last October, the Vatican's Peace and Justice Commission released a document on financial reform purporting to be grounded in the concept.  The Catholic Left was evidently paying rapt attention.

The AFT speaker's argument proceded to demonstrate just how easy the concept of the common good is to abuse and how difficult it is to get right.  He invoked it with gusto but with too much invested in specific political outcomes to do so credibly.

Paraphrasing, he said that: AFT members who differ from leadership's position are acting solely in their own self-interest; they have lost sight of the common good, which requires that every union member stick together; the common good is the interest of all AFT brethren, not just that of the selfish individual; concretely, the common good of the AFT was, among other things, relief from standards, which forced them to teach to the test rather than be educators; and, finally, while President Obama hadn't been perfect, he'd been pretty good for teachers (unions) and every member should vote for him.

View this promotional clip of Randi Weingarten defending the status quo in publlic education.  Then decide whether you trust her to determine the demands of the common good.

It didn't occur to the speaker that the common good of the teachers' union is just the selfish good of one interest group in a pluralistic society.  By what moral authority does it claim the fealty of membership: that collective selfishness takes precedence over the individual's self-identified interest, which perhaps contemplates a broader public than the union; that despite whatever an educator thinks about the bigger picture, or even standards, the teacher's union knows what's good for him better than he does?

The individual members who differ from leadership likely have a firmer grasp on the common good's requirements--the entire good of the person, and of every person in the polity, not just the union--than Randi Weingarten or her overpaid minions.  For one thing, her militantly secularist union lops off man's spiritual nature--at least any recognizably Christian aspect of it, as opposed to Wiccan or new age--whereas the individual teacher can evaluate for himself whether leadership's prejudices are good for students and society.

The speaker chastised dissenters from AFT pronouncements for selfishness, when it is far more likely that dissenters see beyond their own self-interests to those of children who suffer in subpar school systems and those of the public that pays an ever-increasing tab for the union's gluttony.  They may even recognize how harmful the AFT's secular humanist obsessions are to the moral fiber of society.

They might merely think it unconscionable that differently minded citizens should be forced to pay for the indoctrination of children in beliefs antithetical to their own.  Maybe dissenters just don't want to see America go broke feeding an insatiable union, or don't like being told how to vote, which is nobody's business but theirs.

Granted, united we stand, divided we fall.  But by what right are these teachers to be chastised for uniting with the preyed-upon public rather than the predatory union?

With whom to unite for the common good of the nation whose vibrancy the union depends upon?  How common is your good?  Those are the questions.

America cannot thrive with myopic interest groups draining it of vitality.  The AFT is just another  union that has long outlived any claim it might once have had to pursuing justice for the common man, the forgotten man, Noman, if you will.

Without the AFT, not only would society preserve resources by finding different, better and cheaper routes to meeting its obligation to educate the young, it could avoid the brainwashing of children in the glories of Statism, anomie, dependence, and national decline.

Presently, our tax dollars overpay union teachers to deconstruct American exceptionalism.  Why?   For whom?  The middle class, the downtrodden?

The AFT presumes to speak for them.  But, it doesn't stand with them.  It preys on them for its own subsistence.

The money wasted on public education--exorbitant salaries, lavish benefits and easy conditions--would be better spent by sending a check to parents for their children's educations and leaving it to their discretion.  That, rather than a one-size-fits-all model that meets the approval of self-serving ideologues hiding behind the supposed common good, would have the double benefit of serving the ideals of American independence and applying market forces to the out-of-control cost of education.

Each family pursuing its vision of what its children need to get by in the world would be a powerful stimulus to the common good in a pluralistic nation.  So would disbanding the AFT and defeating every candidate it endorses.

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