In this age of budget woes and bailouts, it may surprise some to hear that governments are paying workers to do nothing. Yet that is exactly what is happening in New York City, where hundreds of school teachers accused of misconduct — sometimes the sexual variety — are receiving upwards of $70,000 annually to wile away time in "temporary reassingment centers," with taxpayers footing the bill to the tune of $65 million a year. Karen Matthews of the Associated Press reports:
When Germany invaded Poland in WWII, the Polish Jews that the Germans did not immediately kill were jammed in ghettos, there to await their execution by the Nazi SS. Though the ghettos were closely guarded to prevent the escape of Jews, some Jews risked facing an immediate date with a firing squad and escaped. For the escapees, sanctuary of a sort often lay just a short distance from the ghettos — in the forests of Poland.
On our first day in school, most of us stood beside our desk, put our little hand over our heart, and repeated (with varying degrees of accuracy) the words we know as the Pledge of Allegiance. As with anything we repeat daily and mostly from rote, we lose focus of the individual words and the deeper meaning behind them.
For more than two centuries, freedom has been the catchword of Western Civilization. What began as an abstraction from the pens of Locke, Sidney, Montesquieu, Beccaria, and others has become, in the more than 230 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed and published to the world, an all-embracing pretext for political activity. Where rulers once justified their activities on the basis of discredited doctrines like the divine right of kings and the absolute and indivisible sovereignty said to inhere in the person of a monarch, governments of nearly every stripe today proclaim the sanctity of freedom.
A well-used copy of Consumer Reports dated March 2009 caught my eye in the doctor’s reception area. The cover story: “Great old appliances.” Owners stood beside their still-operational refrigerators (1926), toasters (1936), mixers (1938), waffle irons (1939), dryers (1954), vacuum cleaners (1955), sewing machines (1957), blenders (1959) and dishwashers (1960). Even 40-somethings refused to ditch their “finds,” relegating more modern versions, bestowed by children or grandchildren, to the basement, unopened.