I just opened my email inbox and saw a subject that caught my eye... "I am not a special interest
"... and the attached email made me
It was all about a schoolteacher who was in jeopardy of losing her job. She was lobbying for some bill that gave Federal money to her local school
system to cover budget shortfalls, and was complaining because some had called the bill a 'special interest' bill. She emphasized at one point "I
am not a special interest - I am a teacher".
There is a thread in this email, and a conspiracy. The thread you are reading now; the conspiracy is this:
Yes, you are a special interest!
Now I have no problem with this bill in particular. IMHO teachers are some of the most under-paid and under-appreciated people in the public sector.
They deserve their jobs much more than CEOs who have failed deserve their bonuses. That's not the point, and if you think it is you have missed the
entire point of this thread.
A special interest is an interest which is special, i.e. not general. A highway serves everyone (or at least the vast majority) by allowing easier
travel and transport of goods. A park serves everyone by providing a place to enjoy oneself and experience nature (or a facsimile thereof) for those
who are unable to see the real deal. A library brings knowledge and information to everyone around it. These are general interests, as they provide a
benefit for everyone.
In opposition, a special interest is an interest which provides benefits primarily for a special group or class of the citizenry. In this case, a bill
aimed at funding a school system which is experiencing a budget shortfall. The school itself is a general interest, as it provides education for the
surrounding public, but keeping on more teachers than it could otherwise afford to do is a special interest aimed at one 'special' group: the
In one way or another, we are all at some time a special interest. Unemploment extensions are special interest. Minimum wage laws are special
interest. Most tax breaks are special interest (those which cover the majority of the citizenry, such as 'earned income' notwithstanding). These are
all special interest considerations, and yet, here we have someone trying to explain that she is not a special interest because she has a job
Folks, we are in the midst of a economic downward spiral into oblivion here. Some have already experienced the horror; others are watching it approach
them; some have been fortunate enough to escape it thus far. That's the way it works. We are all interconnected economically. Your neighbor losing
his job might not affect you the way it does him, but it does affect you! The economy is a massive web of interconnected monetary pipelines, and just
as you cannot affect one part of nature without affecting the whole of it, so any effect experienced by one sector of the economy will have ripples
throughout the entire economy.
There is the illogic in this argument: what is more important to this woman, her job/income/livelihood? Or another entry in an accounting book that
handles sums so great she cannot fathom them? Obviously her job is more important to her. But then again, if her job is to take precedence over the
Federal budget, then her job loss becomes a public problem. No one, not even the Federal government, can spend forever without paying. There is an end
to this gravy train, and that end means the devaluation of our money internationally (imagine bread at $500 a loaf, gas at $2000 a gallon). Now
imagine what would happen if all the products we depend on were made overseas. It's happening now; this is no longer a 'what-if' scenario. Your TV,
your computer, the chips inside them, your appliances, your car, the trucks that bring in the food you eat, all are manufactured by foreign interests.
So when the vaue of that almighty dollar collapses, the prices for these things go through the roof.
If the economy were sound, then special interest would not be a problem. A bill sending emergency funds that are available
to a local school
system would be a wonderful thing: it would promote learning and education among our youth, protect jobs (maintaining an economic base), and it would
ease the worry among the general populace and allow teachers to concentrate on teaching. But the money is not available; it does not exist. What is
being sent is borrowed money which has to be repaid. The teacher will not repay it; the local economy cannot repay it as they cannot maintain their
stature as it is. We, every one of us, will have to repay it, or we, every one of us, will default on the loan.
Consider this analog: if my neighbor gets sick and his insurance is running out, if he is struggling through a hard time making his bills and keeping
food on his table, will I hep him out? Most people would say 'YES!' without thinking. However, it is not realy a yes. Sure, if I am doing OK I will
help him out, bring him groceries, loan (or give) him money for his bills. But what happens if I am deeply in debt? What happens when I can barely
make my payments? In that situation, $1000 given as a gift without any idea of how it would be repaid would be a terrible move on my part! It would
place me in the same position he is in now, or perhaps worse, as my home could be repossessed or I could find myself unable to feed my family as
He is a special interest, a need that benefits only a few (or in this case one family). That doesn't mean that he is not in need, nor that he
shouldn't be helped... it means that his need must be weighed against the amount of help that is available and the number of people that the availabe
help could assist. It would be a crime against humanity to give one family all the available help while allowing an entire region to suffer.
This term 'special interest' has been bandied about in political circles to give it such a negative connotation that it has become a badge of shame.
And as a badge of shame, it is being abandoned by those who truly are special interests as some sort of derogatory term. In the process, we have lost
track of what we should be doing. We should be helping as many of those unfortunate people as we can, beginning with the programs that help the most
for least, and moving through the ranks until we can hopefully help everyone. But reality places a limit on how far we can move; when the money runs
out, we have to be able to say 'sorry, there is no more we can do'. The value to society has to be weighed against the cost.
The cost of failure due to this is that eventually, the well will run dry; the money will run out. When that day comes, we will all wake up to realize
that we have nothing left.
And on that day, 'Wendy C.' will have nothing left either. Our failure will will encompass both her... and us.
[edit on 8/11/2010 by TheRedneck]