Monday, July 18, 2011

Student questions teacher on Haley jobs ploy

Student says to his teacher at the end of the first day of school: "Since the kid who sat in my desk last year made A's on his tests, and since I'm going to make A's on all my tests this year, would you go ahead now and give me an A for the course?"

Teacher replies: "I'm sorry, but this is the first day of school. The grade that was earned by the student who sat in your desk was his grade, not yours. And the only credit you have earned so far is credit for being present in class. I haven't given, and you haven't taken, any tests yet, so how could I possibly award you an A for the course?"

Student: "Governor Nikki Haley said she's created -- er, announced the creation of -- about 10,000 new jobs since she's been in office, though some of them were announced by Governor Mark Sanford's administration before she was inaugurated, and several thousand of them won't actually be created for another few years. See, here's the article.

South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley is boasting about job numbers in speeches and interviews, repeatedly saying she's thrilled about the 10,000 jobs announced since she took office in January. A close look at the number shows that Haley's tally is both overstated and easily misinterpreted.

Thousands of the positions will not arrive in South Carolina for years. Some actually were announced before she took office. Hundreds are the fruit of a deal that Haley tried to derail.

After repeated questioning by The Associated Press, the state changed its jobs total several times before finally lowering it to about 9,000 positions; 4,000 of those are with Wal-Mart.

Teacher: I see. It's just as you described.

Student: So, since the governor could claim credit for other people's work, and for things that haven't actually happened yet, I thought I could do the same. Why can't I?"

Teacher: "Because while politicians may operate in a world of illusion and outright deception, classrooms and schools operate on real facts and figures. Here are some simple principles that will serve you well if you live by them: Apply yourself and do the work that is expected of you. Address and finish the task set before you. Claim credit for only your achievement, and only after you've achieved something."

Student: "Will that help me become governor one day?"

Teacher: "Probably not. The standards for succeeding in politics are quite low and have no real relationship to the standards that are set for ordinary citizens, and that ordinary citizens have set for ourselves, to become respectable, responsible, contributing members of our communities and society."

Student: "Why are the standards different?

Teacher: "They shouldn't be, but our governing documents allow people who win elections to take office. Unscrupulous politicians are masterful at manipulating voters' hopes and fears to win elections, so they can pursue their own agendas once they take office."

Student: "Are all politicians unscrupulous?"

Teacher: "History is full of politicians with scruples. Unfortunately, they don't often win elections. And if they do win an election and govern by their principles, they don't often win re-election."

Student: "Is it more important for the governor to be a good recruiter, or to be involved in federal issues?"

Teacher: "Tell me more about your question."

Student: "The article I showed you says this:

And the head of the state manufacturers association says he's pleased the governor has been aggressively recruiting employers as she promised she would while campaigning.

"Her job is to recruit. So far, we like what we see," said president and CEO Lewis Gossett. "One thing we've heard from companies that she talks with, and our members, and people involved is that she's pretty darn good with negotiations."

Student: So it sounds like business leaders in South Carolina like the job she does for them. But I found another article from last week that says this:

“Being a governor is no longer about leading on state issues,” Haley said. “What I’ve noticed is we have to deal with a lot of federal issues, and that’s OK.”

Student: "So, is the governor supposed to be a recruiter for South Carolina's business community, or is she supposed to get involved in federal issues, as she said?"

Teacher: "Why don't you read about the governor's job description in the state Constitution. You may find the answer there."

Student (after reading his iPhone for a few minutes): "The Constitution doesn't spell out what the governor's job is, except to be the commander-in-chief of the 'organized and unorganized militia,' to make sure our laws are 'faithfully executed,' and to give information to the General Assembly. It doesn't say anything about recruiting businesses or getting involved in federal issues. That's not much of a job, is it?"

Teacher: "But the governor is the chief executive officer of our state."

Student: "So, does she work for us?"

Teacher: "Not necessarily. Since the Constitution doesn't specify what the governor should or must be or do during her term, the Constitution gives her broad latitude to define the job as she wants to."

Student: "Do you get to do that as a teacher?"

Teacher: "No. In fact, the roles and responsibilities of teachers and other school district employees are highly proscribed. Because South Carolina is a right-to-work-for-less state, most people who have jobs in South Carolina can be dismissed by their employers if they do or say anything their employer doesn't like, no matter how trivial, and even if it has nothing to do with the work."

Student: "So, if the governor wants to be a recruiter for business, she can do that?"

Teacher: "That's right."

Student: "And if she wants to get involved in federal politics instead of govern on state issues, she can do that?"

Teacher: "That's right."

Student: "And since South Carolina is a right-to-work-for-less state, if she does something we don't like, we can fire her?"

Teacher: "No. The right-to-work-for-less rules do not apply to the governor. Her job is safe, almost without exception, until the next election. Then, if voters want to replace her, they can."

Student: "That's hardly fair. That means even if she turns out to be a rotten governor, she gets to stay in office until her term is finished. And if she decides to work for business leaders instead of regular working South Carolinians, then we just don't have a governor."

Teacher: "That's exactly what it means."

Student: "I didn't realize how crazy our system of government is in South Carolina."

Teacher: "It's understandable. You were distracted by all the smiling faces and beautiful places."

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