The question was...
I was flipping through channels yesterday while cleaning up the kitchen and stumbled across a rebroadcast of the Republican debate from the night before -- it wasn't long before I flipped channels some more, but this caught my attention for a few minutes.
The question was originally asked by Ronald Reagan: "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" It's a very good question, one I've pondered in various configurations recently, though I was just as annoyed as John McCain with its context in this debate.
The question came to mind again last night when I was driving past our middle school -- which formerly housed the high school and administration offices -- on my way home after class. Cars were streaming out from a packed parking lot. There'd been a special meeting called to discuss budget-cutting measures, mainly the sale of two buildings -- an elementary school and the administration building (a historic building, formerly the post office) -- and the elimination or phasing out of the French, orchestra and gymnastics programs.
The threat of potential mass transfer of students to other districts was too much and the programs will stay, though gymnastics has been given only a temporary reprieve. The buildings will be sold, a number of teacher, support and administration positions will be lost or left unfilled, teacher salaries will be "modified," and kids will be shuffled a bit as schools are "reconfigured."
Incidentally, the elementary school that's closing is the one in my neighborhood, the one my kids attended -- walked (or were walked) to and from. Kids in my neighborhood will now have to ride a bus.
No. My answer to the question is "NO." It leads, of course, to so many other questions: Is my quality of life better? Is my standard of living better? Will my children ever be able to buy a house? Was this the grand plan? What's not working? How can it be fixed? Can it be fixed? What's it going to take?
WHO is it going to take? THAT is the question.
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You shall now be returned to your regularly scheduled knitting blog in which our heroine is thinking that perhaps the third time IS the charm and it's time to throw her hat into the Project Spectrum ring. It's elementary...
Oh yes...join PS!
No one in the champaign (on either side) has really discussed the real issue in any detail.
Posted by: margene | 01 February 2008 at 11:11 AM
Well stated, very well indeed.
Posted by: Beth S. | 01 February 2008 at 11:23 AM
No! I'm not sure I know anyone who is. Project Spectrum? Yes!
There, I voted, I want my sticker.
Posted by: Carol | 01 February 2008 at 11:38 AM
Beautifully said, Vicki. Our whole country is worse off than it was 4 years ago.
Posted by: Carole | 01 February 2008 at 11:46 AM
Sadly, although I have really strong feelings on the topic, I gave up caring about it all. I try to just make the people and spaces around me better than they were yesterday. Maybe that little bit will help - right now, it only helps me and the people around me. Who knows - but I've given up on the rest of them.
Posted by: deb | 01 February 2008 at 12:36 PM
First: You make my day!
Second: Very, very well said. I'm a disgruntled independent and increasingly, I feel like there's no place for me in the politics of this country. But I do know you're right--we're much worse off, all of us, than we were four years ago--and I don't want to just sit back and watch it happen. Sigh.
Posted by: Amy | 01 February 2008 at 03:28 PM
I thought the same thing today as I bought gas and groceries -- and I'm educated and have a good job. What about the millions and millions of our fellow citizens who cannot make ends meet.
Posted by: Kathy | 01 February 2008 at 04:15 PM
Hmmm. I think I am better off. My life is richer, more full, I guess. Four years ago I didn't have my baby girl and I was wrestling with a year-old nightmare of a son. So yeah, my life is better now.
Posted by: Jen | 01 February 2008 at 05:35 PM
It's a moral question. Our country is NOT better off. Overseas, people wonder about how Americans can squander our children's future. It's very disturbing.
Posted by: Celia | 01 February 2008 at 07:59 PM
why not think about voting for the democratic ticket then?
Posted by: patryce | 01 February 2008 at 10:24 PM
I love your thoughts on this. I do think that people look too close to home when pondering this question. My life is better, personally, than it was 4 years ago BUT the world has gone to hell in a handbasket around me. So, no, my life is not better now than 4 or 8 years ago.
Posted by: Tanya | 09 February 2008 at 07:27 AM