It’s been a short workweek, but a hell of a lot has happened.
SCOTUS, maggots, and more SCOTUS! Happy 4th, everyone!
This Week in PM Blogging:
Religious liberty now means having your boss’s beliefs shoved down your throat, thanks to the Supreme Court. But those religious values only apply when you’re talking about providing basic health coverage for women.
Think the SCOTUS decision on Hobby Lobby is separate from the Harris v. Quinn ruling? Think again. As a country, we’re heading toward a scary cliff of corporate personhood. And if we go over the edge, McDonalds might soon claim to be a conscientious objector.
It wasn’t the drug smuggling. It wasn’t the unannounced menu changes. It wasn’t even the sexual contact between prisoners and employees. It was the creepy crawlies that had Gov. Snyder finally commenting on the horrendous job Aramark has been doing feeding our state’s prisoners.
The Second Coming of Snyder?
Recent polling shows Republican Gov. Snyder and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer is a statistical dead-heat. I’m not going to discuss the record/beliefs/message of Schauer or why people support him or don’t, but I have a feeling I know why folks are souring on our “One Tough Nerd” governor.
Our governor ran as a business-savvy guru, but he has proven to be the complete opposite. Remember that massive expansion of charter and cyber schools? It turns out that was a crap investment for $1 billion. And remember when he cut 370 jobs to privatize state prison food services at a cool $145 million? That also turned out to be lacking on a quality ROI. When it comes to worthwhile investments with public tax dollars, Gov. Snyder has failed.
I think voters are starting to see we made a mistake back in 2010 by electing the supposedly moderate nerd into office.
Over the last three years, Snyder:
-Signed Right to Work into law
-Gave corporations a $1.8 billion tax giveaway
-Cut $1 billion from neighborhood schools
-Taxed senior pensions
-Raised taxes on middle class families
-Cut the Earned Income Tax Credit by 70 percent
-Actively fought same sex marriage and adoption
-Attacked women’s health care access
-Privatized prison food services (see above)
-Spent $41 million on furniture, which benefited his cousin
-Implemented democracy-busting emergency managers
-Circumvented democracy (minimum wage, wolves)
-Failed to fix the roads
-Cut higher education funding by 15 percent
I’m sure this list will only grow before November. Gov. Snyder has a habit of consistently having the wrong priorities for Michigan.
The Arc of Justice
Anniversaries give us time to reflect, to see how far we’ve come. Today is the 50th anniversary of President Johnson’s signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the first of a series of major laws he was to sign over the next year or so outlawing racial and other forms of discrimination.
I submit that our reflection on that event should eschew romanticizing and simplifying the event or what led up to it. Even as we honor well-known and obscure peaceful warriors of the civil rights movement, we should use the anniversary and its social and political context to reflect on our current challenges.
A century after the official end of slavery, the descendants of slaves had struggled to the point where they’d convinced a southern born US President to begin the process of making us all truly equal before the law.
It’s clear to us in hindsight that these moves toward a more humane society were the right thing to do. It was not clear to so many at the time. The opposition to ending segregation was fierce in 1964 and was not quelled with the stroke of a pen. The signing itself was almost a decade after the landmark Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education declaring “separate but equal” unconstitutional. In the interim, countless peaceful protesters and organizers were beaten, arrested and harassed. Many died. Decades of hard, unglamorous, on the ground, door-to-door work had preceded that, which is good to remember in this age of hyperlinks, bubble-gum news cycles and ever more disembodied communications.
How will people view us decades from now? As we look back on a seminal moment in our forming “a more perfect union” can we ask ourselves what forms of bigotry are we living with now that won’t be tolerated by future generations?
While it was great that millions of white people arrived at the place where they could help elect an African American President, Obama’s two terms in office didn’t end racial discrimination to say nothing of bigotry. If Hillary Clinton or another woman ascends to the presidency in 2016, it will be a sign that sexism and misogyny are on the wane, but it won’t mean we will be able to close all the domestic violence shelters.
Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that a “closely held” corporation’s “religious beliefs” could allow it to discriminate against women by not including birth control as part of employee healthcare. It also ruled to cripple unions by allowing those who benefit from negotiated contracts not to pay the costs of those negotiations.
Those recent Supreme Court rulings against women’s rights and workers’ rights remind me of Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court ruling that upheld segregation which was overturned decades later by the aforementioned Brown v Board of Education decision. I hope it doesn’t take us decades to recognize and restore the rights of women and workers. Fifty years later, we still need to draw inspiration and hope from those who struggled in the streets and at lunch counters until they finally prevailed.