On this cold and rainy Christmas day I am reminded of John Lennon’s reflective ode, beginning, “So this is Christmas. What have you done?” In these most challenging of times, I think that all of us should ask ourselves, “What have we done?” I am a bit down this Christmas because everywhere I look, I see signs of great suffering.Â At Mervynâ€™s I spoke with 15-year veteran employees who will walk away from total dedication to their jobs on December 26th without any severance or future security. Who cannot be disturbed by the sheer amount of our fellow Americans who are one paycheck away from financial disaster and homelessness?Â
Many people, especially those on the right, take pride in being part of a great â€œChristianâ€ country, yet those same people are showing little Christian spirit in their reactions to our economic crisis. What would Jesus do for Christmas? He would likely be with Nick Berardino and the 1,000 plus OCEA employees who stormed the county offices to bring attention to the Scrooge-like mean spirit demonstrated by our supervisors in cutting jobs for Christmas. He would be with Jose Solorio and Lou Correa who are holding the line against further cuts in the state budget.
Indeed while the Dems attempt to compromise and make painful cuts along with proposing raising fees, the Republican plan reflects a Herbert Hoover-like response to human suffering. They have proposed nearly 16 billion dollars in cuts to k-16 education, childrenâ€™s services and health care.Â Education alone would take a 10 billion dollar hit and in the words of California Teachers Association president, David Sanchez, â€œwould create an education recession that will undermine the future of California students for years to come.â€
California already ranks 46th in the nation in education spending per student, and has already cut funding for our classrooms this year by more than $3 billion. Yet the Republicans still refuse to even consider raising new revenues. Instead, the GOP solution is to slash billions more from public education funding. That sends a clear message to students, teachers and parents that public education is not a priority. Sanchez angrily adds, â€œCutting $10 billion more from our schools would be catastrophic for student learning. Itâ€™s the equivalent of cutting nearly 200,000 classroom teachers, or reducing spending by more than $1,500 per student. Teachers know there is a better way.â€
Yes, this Christmas we should ask ourselves and our elected leaders, â€œWhat have you done for the weak and the strong and the rich and the poor?â€Â
â€œSo have a very merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Letâ€™s hope itâ€™s a good one without any fear.â€