Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Shock doctrine: Lingle proposes to destroy schools, UH, government, while rich party on
by Larry Geller
Governor Linda Lingle has threatened draconian measures against state workers while refusing to restore taxes on upper income earners. Sharing the burden apparently means sparing her buddies any pain.
What a good Republican she is. A Republican’s Republican, in fact. Why now, why is this the time to impose up to 37.5 day furloughs on public workers (which will certainly impact the services they provide to us) at a time when the federal government is planning to stimulate job creation? Their lost wages will ripple through the economy and delay recovery.
It’s called, by Naomi Klein, “disaster capitalism.” In a video talk she gave, she explained:
Economic crises have played that role, of sort of softening the ground, for the imposition of shock therapy.
After Katrina, the Heritage Foundation was able to propose their 32 free market solutions for New Orleans, she explained, including the lowering of labor standards and vouchers for schools. Without the disaster it would have been difficult to push any of those through.
Linda Lingle has tried to destroy the schools before, proposing to break up the Board of Education into a number of “baby boards” (my description) which would be easier for her to control. She supported her candidates to the BOE and made appointments, all of which failed. It seems that parents want good public schools, not to destroy the system. Remember also her recent attempt to take teacher drug testing costs out of the education budget (as though textbooks are not more important!).
Similarly, she made crony appointments to the UH Regents. It’s hard to imagine the university weathering 37.5 days of faculty loss without major consequences and revenue loss.
But we have an economic crisis. So now is her chance. Just as the radical right was ready and only needed the opportunity of the Katrina disaster to remake New Orleans, Lingle has been ready for some time to destroy the schools and public worker unions. The economic crisis has given her an opportunity.
If there is so much fat in government, why has it not been trimmed earlier? Because there likely isn’t so much fat. Quite the opposite. Backlogs, overtime and delays indicate that across-the-board furloughs will only make things worse.
There will have to be a way to find the money to keep the state going. Some solutions may seem harsh and some may be damaging. Nothing says surviving the recession will be easy or pleasant.
It’s unlikely, though, that Lingle will find much support for completely sparing Kahala while making Waianae, Kalihi and Makiki bear all the burden (with apologies to Neighbor Islanders).