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  • My daughters and several of their friends are students at a local beauty college. They are usually working jobs in fast food industry to try to support themselves. Minimum wage positions for temporary support until they graduate. Pretty normal, right?

    Still, there is an unspoken policy in that segment of the working population that seems to work against them. Since almost all minimum wage workers are also part time employees (thanks to the policies in place by the Obama administration that require anyone over 30 hours a week to receive benefits), the “policy” I refer to is one of designed attrition. There is no longer an attempt to encourage employees to advance in the company, but rather an attitude that these individuals are a “dime a dozen” commodity which can be replaced with little or no effort, and are therefore disposable.

    I have heard from at least three of my daughter's friends and one of my daughters that while it is company policy to allow students leeway due to their schedules, many of the shift managers, (usually not much older than the workers) use the same tactic. Once they discover that the employee is fully committed to the school before the job, they simply cut that person's hours down to bare minimum, just enough to force them to quit to look for another job.

    If that employee leaves voluntarily, they are off the hook. No unemployment benefits need be paid. And they are free to hire the next aspiring student and repeat the same pattern.

    The student, unable to support themselves, has to take time away from schooling to find another job. So, many students and would-be graduates eventually drop out to work, or borrow money from short term lenders, for many a step into a life of debt and servitude.

    How many times do you think that happens to a person before they begin to lose faith in their ability to find a decent job after they graduate? How many times do you get kicked to the curb before you succumb to despair and give up?

    Of course, we can always go back to the old adages to excuse this. “Cream rises to the top – This is how we separate the men from the boys”, etc. etc.. I know one individual who worked up to four part time jobs at the same time to support herself and their children while attending school and is now a successful professional who takes great pride in her achievements. And she should. Hard work is just that, hard, and ought to be spoken of with admiration.

    But not everyone is that ambitious.

    Some folks are happy being ditch diggers, fast food workers, hairdressers and lawn maintenance technicians. Some folks have less ambition than others. And those folks make up the majority of people, and without them the rest of the population would be working a lot harder than they are now. Think for a moment what it would be like if you had to dig your own sewer line, cook every meal no matter how tight your schedule, cut and style your own hair, or care for your own lawn.

    It just strikes me as strange in a society where we claim to embrace the value of the individual that we concurrently stack the deck against them. You would think we would find a way to ensure every individual has the opportunity to succeed and the encouragement to do so.

    Instead, we have created a welfare state that actually encourages individuals to remain dependent on the government instead of improving their lives. We use that “pool” of people as political “chips” to distract the public from the real events that have now nearly destroyed the economy of the United States; the removal of educational funding from the tax base in order to fund the private agendas of politicians while making the gambling industry millions.

    I can remember a time when gambling was illegal in most places. You could go to the horse track and gamble, or go to Las Vegas or Atlantic City or certain places in Europe to gamble, but the average person saw gambling as a vice, something to be avoided.

    In 2012, Casino Gambling in the United States made a net profit of $37.3 billion dollars. Additionally, the combined states lotteries made $4.93 billion dollars after payouts. Now, since some of those casinos are state run, and legislation in every state with legalized gambling requires a percentage of those profits to be used for education, our schools should be some of the best in the world.

    Our public schools across this nation are constantly consolidating, cutting jobs, and eliminating programs to provide the students with the minimally acceptable levels of education possible. We no longer focus on the quality or quantity of education, but on the minimum score requirements guides. The lack of flexibility of these requirements coupled with the declining budgets result in few teachers with larger classes with far less diversity in materials.

    This means fine arts and the humanities are often discarded in favor of sports and basic skills, and we continue to “dumb down” the requirements for graduation in order to graduate children who are clearly not educated. We have had actual cases where a school district was successfully sued by a student who could not functionally read upon graduating high school. Our public schools have become nothing more than gristmills, starving our children of the beauties and possibilities of life and feeding them on the despair of conformity and servitude.

    If you have never learned that the act of writing a sentence can be a revelation of art and beauty, how can you possibly appreciate the works of Shakespeare, Milton, Aristotle, or Spinoza, just to name a few. How can you open your mind to the possibilities of life if you know nothing but poverty, fear, and routine?

    You see, I never said the less ambitious were less appreciative of beauty. To the contrary, I have known cab drivers, office workers and even waiters in cafes who could chat effortlessly about the differences between a Degas and a Rembrandt, or discuss Aristotle's arguments with perfect accuracy. An advanced education does not necessarily create an overwhelming drive to gain vast amounts of money. But I digress.

    Folks, long story short, the money that could be helping our children is being used for other things, and our children suffer more than we can possibly know. Without a proper and complete education, a person cannot reach their potential. And in a nation this wealthy with such vast diversity in resources, there is no excuse to deny our children a proper and complete education.

    There is only one way to change this. We have to start taking an active role in seeking out honest men and women to serve our communities. We have to start paying attention to people we place in office and trust with our tax dollars.

    We can either choose to pay attention and get involved with our neighbors and our representatives, or we can condemn our children to lives of mediocrity and indentured servitude.

    Not much of a choice, is it?

    I hope you are having a blessed day.

    Fred
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