Apparently I Have Strong Thoughts About the Teacher Strike in WV

Much like Twitler, I sometimes see things on the intertrons that infuriate me:

I then went on a lengthy rant, but I will clean it up for you. First, the New Yorker article, which really wasn’t horrible compared to so many other pieces you see in the national media, so I suppose I am grading on a curve (Side note- I am consciously avoiding any piece that tries to discuss the Conor Lamb special election, because like I said before, I’m five miles from the district, and I can’t take another “on the ground” report from someone flown in from NY or DC who gets EVERYTHING wrong again). I mean, it’s ok, but it quickly goes off the rails:

On February 22nd, schoolteachers in each of West Virginia’s fifty-five counties did not show up for work. With no one to teach class, and no substitutes to call on, every school in the state closed. The lead-up to the strike happened so quickly that, as it began, its aims were a little elusive. “I can’t tell you the number of people who have said, ‘I can’t tell you how we got here—I blinked, and here we are,’ ” Stephen Wotring, the superintendent of schools in Preston County, said on Tuesday afternoon.

The teachers spoke about two kinds of issues, overlapping but distinct. Their primary grievance was that they made, by national standards, very little money, and that the governor had partly reneged on a promise to increase their pay. The other issue was more complex. West Virginia has so many vacant teaching positions that, in many schools, grades had been combined for efficiency, and teachers were teaching subjects for which they were not certified or trained. A bill had been proposed in the state legislature to lower teacher-certification standards in order to more easily fill the vacant jobs, but, to the current teachers, this bill was evidence that politicians in the state were not genuinely interested in improving the schools. On this matter, the rhetoric was especially sharp. Hand in hand with the grievance over compensation was a sense that the Appalachian middle class was in crisis.

Oh bloody hell. If you polled every single one of the 20,000 teachers and 13,000 service personnel striking why they are on the picket line, NOT FUCKING ONE OF THEM would tell you they are concerned about the crisis of the Appalachian middle class. They’d tell you they are tired of getting paid shit and more importantly, are tired of being paid shit while part of their compensation, their health insurance, is being underfunded and they are getting hosed. Yes, the salaries are important. But even more important is PEIA. We don’t need to write the screenplay for Matewan 2 with all this romanticized bullshit and abstract concepts about the decline of the middle class, this is about workers signing a contract and then getting screwed by their employer.

Here is a primer if you care, and this is from 2016, and the issues have only gotten worse:

The West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) Finance Board approved a cut of more than $50 million to benefits for state and public school employees and retirees December 8. Effective July 1, 2017, the reduction slashes health insurance for some 200,000 public workers, their families, and retirees.

It is the latest in a series of devastating attacks on benefits for one of the lowest-paid public sector workforces in the country. A huge segment of the working class of the state will be directly affected by the cut. Teachers, highway workers, emergency responders, university staff, and many others receive health coverage via the PEIA.

Having exhausted its reserve funds under the impact of years of underfunding by the state legislature, coupled with rising health care costs, PEIA was forced to begin cutting benefits due to a state-mandated 80/20 employer-employee funding mechanism of premiums. In 2014, the agency cynically held a series of contentious meetings that allowed public employees to choose how they wanted more than $40 million in health care benefit cuts imposed during the 2015-16 plan year.

***

Over 20 percent of the budget has been slashed in the past few years, with more cuts to come under the incoming administration of the Democratic governor-elect, billionaire coal baron Jim Justice, and a solidly Republican legislature.

The state has underfunded the PEIA for years, while health care costs have continued to soar by 6 to 7 percent annually. PEIA Executive Director Ted Cheatham said the agency would require $50-60 million each year simply to keep up—thus, each year, the insurance program would need cuts of that amount to stay afloat.

The core problem is that teachers signed contracts that promised certain benefits (PEIA) in LIEU of pay- meaning a good faith negotiation resulted in them accepting to work for less pay, but to receive the health benefits. The part above I bolded is critical- the state has then criminally underfunded PEIA for years, causing the fund to increase employee contributions, raise premiums, raise co-pays, and cut benefits. All of this while not providing teachers raises. So their paychecks are not keeping up with inflation and are the lowest in the nation, all while more money is coming out of their paychecks to pay for the benefits they took in LIEU of pay. So even if they get the 5% salary increase Justice promised, they will probably see no net gain in income because their “benefit” is costing them more money, and there is no guarantee they will even see the 5% because Senate Republicans aren’t budging.

It is also EXTREMELY misleading and borderline criminal negligence to keep citing the average pay of 45k for teachers. That includes administrators and what not. I’d think journalists would have heard the terms mean, median, and mode before. There are teachers who have a decade of experience and master’s degrees who make 40k, and the NY Times had a grteat piece yesterday that interviewed the kind of crisis these folks are in:

We spoke on Wednesday night with Katie Endicott, 31, a high school English teacher from Gilbert, W.Va., about why she and many other teachers are not yet prepared to return to school. The interview has been edited and condensed.

They told us that essentially if you weren’t a single person, if you had a family plan, your health insurance was going to rise substantially. As a West Virginia teacher — and I’ve been teaching 10 years — I only clear right under $1,300 every two weeks, and they’re wanting to take $300 more away for me. But they tell me it’s O.K., because we’re going to give you a 1 percent pay raise. That equals out to 88 cents every two days.

Got it? The teachers are keeping up their end of the contract, showing up to work, doing their jobs, all for much lower pay than anywhere else in the country, but it is the state who is not keeping up their end of the bargain. There’s always money for tax cuts for the wealthy and energy industries, but PEIA just falls through the cracks. Additionally, Katie laid out why the teachers were briefly excited about the 5% pay increase that Justice floated last Wednesday, but then realized they were going to appoint a toothless commission for PEIA which would come back and say they have no solution, and then just take more out of the teachers salaries to “pay” for their benefit.

Again, this is not the fault of Obamacare, or the teachers, or anything other than the state failing to have the right priorities and failing to live up to their contractual obligations. Which brings us to the service employees, of which there are about 13,000 of who are also on the picket line but aren’t mentioned as frequently.

We’re talking about the janitors, the cafeteria workers, the maintenance folks, the secretaries, etc, These folks make FAR less than the teachers. Think 20-23k a year, PLUS PEIA. Again, the PEIA is crucial. For some of these people, they work more for the benefits than the pay- maybe they work because their husband works in a non-union mine and makes a decent salary but has no benefits. Maybe they drive the bus, taking the 15k they pay and run the family farm which ekes out a little bit more cash, but the healthcare benefits are key. Maybe their spouse is a worker pulling down 20k a year at Walmart but with shit benefits, and they make 24 a year as a custodian, and together they can eke out a living, but the PEIA is the key to keeping this family above water.

Again, I can’t state this enough- discussing this walkout without mentioning PEIA is like discussing World War II and forgetting about Hitler and the Germans. It’s the key to everything.

Back to the original article- which stresses the certification requirement change as a key. The correct way to look at it is as the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s just one more in a list of abuses on top of the main issues, and it was the flashpoint. It’s when they finally had enough, but PEIA is the big issue. The low salaries and repeated abuse from the legislature (villainizing teachers, changing cert. requirements, attacks on common core, etc.) are just a bonus.

And when you ask me what kind of abuse, you don’t have to have great google fu to look up the various insults and indignities WV teachers have to deal with- they’re myriad. From crapping on them about test scores- how do you compare a teacher’s class scores to other places in the country when in many classes, the first time the kid has ever held a pencil is in that teacher’s class, so no, therir reading skills aren’t up to the same fucking standard as kids in the tony suburbs of metropolitan America. Or the Republicans seizing on common core and setting their idiot followers on teachers for that.

Or more subtle stuff, like repeating over and over again that teachers in WV make 45k a year. No, they don’t. That’s the average, and it’s inflated by administrator/superintendent/principal salaries. There’s a reason they keep doing that, btw. They’re weaponizing it for use by other West Virginians who don’t make 45k a year to call the teachers greedy. You see it in the comments sections of every WV newspaper- “I don’t make 45k a year, why are they being so greedy? I don’t have health insurance, why are they mad they have to pay for it?”- while not realizing they went to school for six years, have student loan debt, signed a contract for that health insurance, etc. It’s the same old ploy- get the proles fighting over scraps while you feast on steak.

My favorite recent insult was the Go365 that actually was mentioned in the New Yorker article, by way of the NY Times piece:

They implemented Go365, which is an app that I’m supposed to download on my phone, to track my steps, to earn points through this app. If I don’t earn enough points, and if I choose not to use the app, then I’m penalized $500 at the end of the year. People felt that was very invasive, to have to download that app and to be forced into turning over sensitive information.

Whoever came up with the idea for Go365 is a special kind of asshole, but here is what it was. And I don’t want to step on Dave Anderson’s turf, but I will give you a brief explainer. For decades now, as health insurance costs increase, corporations and organizations have been implementing wellness initiatives to try to encourage workers to engage in healthier lifestyles, which will lower health costs for the company, and in return there is usually a small reward- a small reduction in worker contribution, etc.

A quick and dirty example would be anti-tobacco programs. Sign a document stating you don’t smoke, or join a tobacco cessation program, and we’ll take X dollars off your contribution. Things like that. There are other more benign things that you all have heard of and probably participated in- starting office walking groups, etc.

Go365 was like that, in the sense that it tried encourage employees to engage in healthier behaviors, but whilw normal wellness initiatives are all carrot, this was a gigantic stick up your ass and if you didn’t do it, they were going to charge you 500 bucks more a year. And it was invasive- biometric screenings, tracking your fitbit, etc. Apparently they tried to soften it a touch by letting you earn points for crap like free movie tickets, etc. Regardless, how little respect do you have to have for your employees that you would fail to keep your word, underfund their insurance for a decade, and then to make up for it implement this?

At any rate, this is getting long, but the important thing to keep in mind is that this is about salary and health benefits, but if you talk to most teachers, they will tell you PEIA a major concern. Yes, dignity and respect does play a role, but this is about money.

64 replies
  1. 1

    I am consciously avoiding any piece that tries to discuss the Conor Lamb special election, because like I said before, I’m five miles from the district, and I can’t take another “on the ground” report from someone flown in from NY or DC who gets EVERYTHING wrong again).

    I would love to read your take on the Conor Lamb special election. Also, your take on the n+1th article on WWC of Appalachia, where n approaches infinity.

  2. 2
    rikyrah says:

    Thanks for this, Cole.
    I support strikes on GP.
    And , being the child of an educator, I know that they don’t go on strike unless necessary.

  3. 3
    Mike in NC says:

    PEIA Executive Director Ted Cheatham

    Aptly named, of course.

  4. 4
    NotMax says:

    In the future, teachers will be able to put their guns in hock to pay for health care.

  5. 5
    Baud says:

    Good post.

  6. 6
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Baka Amerikahito) 🗳 🌷 says:

    On top of all of this, the Supreme Court is probably going to gut public unions soon.

    First order of business when Dems get control of the federal government starting in 2020 or whenever, is to kick out Gorsuck.

  7. 7
    debbie says:

    It’s maddening how easily workers get fucked over. Every god damn time.

  8. 8
    Starfish says:

    Can fitbits be tied to Roombas to game the system? Dave is always talking about perverse incentives.

  9. 9
    Calouste says:

    I’d think journalists would have heard the terms mean, median, and mode before

    Journalists are people who are too bad at math to even do a business degree.

  10. 10
    Baud says:

    @Starfish:

    If they’re going to punish us for not walking, walking time should be compensable time.

  11. 11
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    That was a great tweetstream, John. The first good explanation I’ve seen. Glad to retweet it.

  12. 12
    Another Scott says:

    Well done. Send it to the Editors at the New Yorker and FTFNYT. Shame them in to publishing it.

    We know how to fix these issues. We vote out the Republicans and vote in sensible people. We have to fight them every single day to make the future we want for ourselves and those who follow us.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  13. 13
    Baud says:

    @Another Scott: Sadly, the current governor is a coal guy who ran as a Dem.

  14. 14
    NotMax says:

    @Baud

    Just attach the damn thing to a hamster wheel. Of course, requires a hamster in order to be effective.

  15. 15

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Baka Amerikahito) 🗳 🌷:

    First order of business when Dems get control of the federal government starting in 2020 or whenever, is to kick out Gorsuck.

    First orders of business might be ending world wars three through five, but he’s up there (though I’d prefer straight-up court packing to impeachment).

  16. 16
    Workers Union at UNC says:

    Thanks for this, Cole. I was hoping to hear from you about the strike.

    I’m currently putting together a “reading list” thread for my union’s twitter account about the WV strike as well as a brief history about labor activism in WV. I’m not too familiar with the history, so any suggestions for articles, websites, etc. would be greatly appreciated. If you’re inclined to help, post your suggestions in comments or DM on twitter at @workersunionunc

    Thanks in advance!

  17. 17
    Washburn says:

    Just sent a small contribution to the teachers’ Go Fund Me Page and a large contribution to Ojeda’s campaign.

    The labor movement in West Virginia was once the strongest in America. I think it can be again.

  18. 18
    Another Scott says:

    @Baud: Yeah, too many politicians are like that.

    The voters there need to vote him out, also too.

    Of course, it’s not going to be easy. But we know what needs to be done, and how to do it.

    Appalachia was a liberal stronghold in the early 1960s and in the 1990s. It can be again.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  19. 19
    Eljai says:

    I read your tweetstorm earlier and I was hoping you’d front page it. I really appreciate your insight. It’s heartbreaking to me that we treat teachers so badly in this country. Despite the fetus fetishists, republicans sure do hate kids.

  20. 20
    trollhattan says:

    @Starfish:
    Discovered when I’m on an escalator if I swing my arm my Garmin wrist thingie gives me credit for a flight of stairs. Unfortunately I take an escalator a few times a year so it’s not a big opportunity for free exercise. But a Roomba or even better, a dog would rack up the miles. “We notice you spend a lot of time in the yard, keep up the good work!” Miles along the fenceline.

  21. 21

    @Baud: Heh, wait until teachers get the concept of “Billable Hours”.

  22. 22
    NotMax says:

    @ Goku (aka Baka Amerikahito)

    The Gorsuch ship has sailed. Altering the rules of the Senate to require hearings on nominations to begin within a reasonable time (say, 90 days) and a vote after passage out of committee to be held within another specified time frame (say, no more than 180 days from receipt of the nomination) would be a more tenable suggestion.

  23. 23

    @Major Major Major Major: Court-packing is also easier, simple majorities*.

    *Of course assuming Mr. Phil A. Buster is out of the Senate.

  24. 24
    Ruviana says:

    How much does a fitbit cost? Does the app require it? So if they’re requiring you to download the app they’re in essence requiring you to get a fitbit as well? When you have the 48th lowest teacher’s salary in the U.S.? Good job!

  25. 25
    Just One More Canuck says:

    A teacher at my daughter’s school in suburban Toronto makes a starting salary of between $45 and $52 K (depending on qualifications) – after 10 years, the range is $76 to $95K

  26. 26
    Jager says:

    @NotMax: With what the WVA teachers and support staff earn and the level of contributions they make they can’t afford a hamster or a wheel, much less bags of hamster food.

  27. 27

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: Gorsuch is also not the only person there who shouldn’t be there—thomas, yes, and all the W appointees are also from a stolen election. Much easier to put on a few more than deal with all that.

  28. 28
    Libraryguy says:

    @debbie: Workers get fucked over and the entire Republican plan is to get them at each others’ throats. They all have to go.

  29. 29
    Baud says:

    @Another Scott:

    Appalachia was a liberal stronghold in the early 1960s and in the 1990s. It can be again.

    They used to be pretty Dem. I don’t think they were all that liberal.

  30. 30
    Corner Stone says:

    @Just One More Canuck:

    in suburban Toronto

    Try buying a house anywhere near Toronto on that pay scale.

  31. 31
    Another Scott says:

    @Washburn: Thanks for the pointer to Ojeda. He’s a very conservative fellow, and voted for Trump, but he’s doing the right thing with the teachers.

    Thanks for the pointer to the WV Teachers Strike Fund, also too.

    Donated.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  32. 32
    NotMax says:

    @Jager

    Group together. Can probably fit 6 or so of the devices on one wheel.

    @Just One More Canuck

    Is that Canadian dollars? Multiple by 3/4 to get a rough approximation of the salaries in U.S. dollars.

  33. 33
    Mary G says:

    I saw somewhere that the teachers also got together and packed food for students to take home before the strike, because some of them don’t get enough to eat and depend on the school lunch to keep going.

  34. 34
    Yutsano says:

    @NotMax: Just because I was curious I looked it up and man the Canadian dollar is still getting hammered.

  35. 35
    Another Scott says:

    @Baud: Ok, you may be right. I may have read too much into the evidence I skimmed, and I don’t have time to try to support my statement. Withdrawn, for now.

    Thanks. :-)

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  36. 36

    Condescending headline from WaPo both-siderist Dan Balz

    Women and young voters will decide the 2018 elections. If they actually vote.

    Have you noticed in these Punditubbie stories one demographic group is never to blame for anything, nor do they have any agency. Its the group that Dan fucking Balz belongs to.

  37. 37
    Just One More Canuck says:

    @Corner Stone: Some of the older teachers at her school actually live in the neighbourhood – it’s only been relatively recently that prices have gone insane around here (I couldn’t afford to buy in my neighbourhood now – we’ve been here 15 years). The younger teachers in her school live further out where house prices are cheaper.

    @NotMax: The average employment income in Toronto is about $55,000, so teachers do quite well here (plus benefits and a very good pension plan)

  38. 38
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Baka Amerikahito) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @schrodingers_cat:
    They evidently have been voting in special elections, along with other groups fed up with Trump and the equally terrible GOP.

    Dan Balls should quit journalism forever.

  39. 39
    Baud says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    I don’t know what women turn out was in 2016, but the youth turn out was down.

  40. 40
  41. 41
    jl says:

    Thanks for a great rant/explainer on the strike. A little light on the cussing for a full service blog, but that’s OK.

    Edit: why does WV put up with corrupt slimeball after slimeball running their state government? Justice is a particularly cynical and noxious example, but really not that far out of line with a long and slimy line of infamous predecessors.

  42. 42
    chris says:

    @Yutsano: January 2016 the CDN dollar hit 0.68, I blame Obama.// 0.78 is not so bad and will probably get better as the winning continues.

  43. 43
    Baud says:

    @chris: Remember that the US dollar has been falling too.

  44. 44

    Agreed GO365 is POS.

    Almost all employee wellness programs are either scams, ineffective or health screening programs instead of actual health improvement programs.

  45. 45

    @Baud: I believe so. The youth vote was depressed compared to the times when President Obama was on the ballot.
    Dan Balz and his ilk never write in such a condescending and hectoring tone about older male voters like themselves do they?
    For example, I don’t anticipate ever seeing a headline like this by anyone in the both sidery media.

    Will men continue to vote Republican and keep the inept President’s party in charge of the legislative branch?

  46. 46
  47. 47
    chris says:

    @Baud:

    US dollar has been falling

    Since the world’s bestest ever inauguration for some reason. MAGA!

  48. 48

    When I think that you were once a hardcore Republican, it still kind of floors me.

  49. 49
    azlib says:

    Typical Republican strategy:

    1) Give taxcuts to wealthy
    2) Underfund pension/healthcare/education programs
    3) Crisis ensues
    3) Say there is no money to pay for necessary programs
    4) Rinse and repeat

  50. 50
    stinger says:

    I really think this post should be sent to the major WV newspapers as an opinion page article. Waking up the national MSM would be nice, but more urgently, other West Virginians need to understand why the teachers are striking.

    Very well done, Mr. Cole.

  51. 51
    Joeg says:

    Only place teachers should be armed is on the picket line.

    Great piece John. Thanks!

  52. 52
    Washburn says:

    @Another Scott:

    Yeah, Ojeda is imperfect. But he’s either right at the edge or beyond of what can win in WV. I’d like to see him run for Senate in a few years. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/03/02/richard-ojeda-west-virginia-blue-army-one-217217

  53. 53
    lynn says:

    The teachers in Oklahoma are about to go on strile.

    http://ktul.com/news/local/okl.....ide-strike

  54. 54
    efgoldman says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Baka Amerikahito) 🗳 🌷:

    First order of business when Dems get control of the federal government starting in 2020 or whenever, is to kick out Gorsuck.

    Stop it. Ain’t gonna’ happen. As fantastical as your and Tanguphule’s guerilla war fantasies.
    If there is obvious impeachable conduct, they will impeach him. But somebody better have the video.

  55. 55
    efgoldman says:

    @Baud:

    I don’t think they were all that liberal.

    They were just as racist, but pro union

    @jl:

    Thanks for a great rant/explainer on the strike.

    I am very old and very cynical; I know that the coal barons have been stealing the state blind, deaf and dumb for decades, and the politicians (of both parties) have been equally as bad.
    I also think the teachers deserve AT LEAST to be made whole in the health and pension funds AND to get at least a 5% raise.
    That being said, Cole and any other Mountaineers, where the fuck are they going to get the money?.
    Am I wrong that WV’s tax base just sucks? Don’t they have a huge unemployment rate, and a huge drug problem that’s costing everyone in the state, one way or another? Is there a major, hidden cache of funds deep in the closed mines, if only the politicians had the guts to go get it?
    Seriously

  56. 56
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Baka Amerikahito) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @efgoldman:
    They could get it from the feds or perhaps rejoin Virginia. Seriously, W. Virginia needs to focus more on their tourism industry.

  57. 57
    Lee Hartmann says:

    “I’d think journalists would have heard the terms mean, median, and mode before. ”

    Objection, your Honor. Assumes facts not in evidence.

  58. 58
    Betsy says:

    Righteous rant, Cole, on so many points. I read this whole post with interest as it sums up so much of what is going wrong in our country. WV just worse and ahead of the curve than most, but this is all of a sameness – public treasuries looted, tax cuts for the rich, underfunding of basic governments functions and obligations, poor-mouthing by the state legsilators when it’s time to pony up. I only hope we in other states have the huevos to emulate the good teachers’ (etc.) example.

    Oh yes and out-of-state reporters and observers getting it wrong and underestimating the power of the movement, and its national significance, because it didn’t happen in New York

  59. 59
    ohthatguy says:

    i teach, and there is a stuffed bear sitting on my desk. If you need to use the toilet or something, you pick up the bear and go. this causes slightly fewer interruptions, and only one student is gone at a time. So if i put the band on the bear, he’ll walk around all day.
    I would also let students wear the band during PE for extra credit. Sure, that seems unethical, but so does the entire idea.
    I teach abroad, and schools that don’t deliver what they promise lose teachers all the time, sometimes overnight. We tend to think we have a duty to our children, but at some point we need to stop allowing ourselves to be victimized by dishonest employers.

  60. 60

    Back in the late seventies I worked as a high school teacher for seven years. Broke and near a nervous breakdown at the end of that time, I was turned on to the emerging field of computers and programming by a good friend. I quit teaching, went back to school for a year and crammed a two year associates degree in programming into one year, and started all over. And now after 35 years in programming, have never once regretted the career change, as the money was good, and we are comfortable and well off in retirement. But you know, I could have given so much during those years as a teacher, and would have gladly invested my life in the investment society makes in its children. But there is the rub, as John’s brilliant post so clearly points out. Teachers are screwed over economically, every day, in every way. John’s post should be on the front page of the NYTimes. Or better yet, the Washington Post, which lately has shown signs of again becoming a source of actual journalism and reporting, while the NYTimes? Meh. Not so much.

  61. 61
    WV Blondie says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Baka Amerikahito) 🗳 🌷: Agreed about the tourism! I live in Jefferson County – the tip of the thumb, closest to DC. We have, among other attractions, Harpers Ferry National Park (John Brown, etc.), horse racing and casino, rafting/tubing on the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, the oldest incorporated town in West Virginia (Shepherdstown, which is just a gem for shopping and dining), numerous homes on the Historic Register, etc., etc., etc. The Jefferson County Development Authority estimates tourism is a $1 billion industry here!

    Yet … most residents commute to MD/VA/DC for work (I’ve heard estimates as high as 70%). We have seven commuter trains/day that go to DC, run by the Maryland Transit Authority; that’s the main way that folks can get higher paying jobs and still live in WV, by commuting elsewhere. And the WV legislature is about to KILL the commuter trains! Maryland covers the bulk of the cost, and our legislature – which promised several years ago to kick in $3 million/year – has reneged on it for four or five years straight. So MTA has announced that unless WV begins to contribute, in June the trains will stop running into WV.

    Talk about stupid! Greedy! Shortsighted! Our local state legislators have been begging their compatriots to address this. But we’re 5 to 6 hours from the state capital, and they just don’t give a shit.

  62. 62
    Miss Bianca says:

    @efgoldman: efg, I suppose they are going to have to…gasp…raise taxes!

  63. 63

    And yet people think that the press we have is critical for democracy.

    If you are close to the actual news, you learn that the press is this wrong about everything. That’s fine. The problem is that the press is wrong about everything and criticizing them is considered step one toward totalitarianism.

    Journalists have always been parasites. Democracy works much better when our expectations for them are low. The First Amendment works not because of any conscious action by reporters, but by the collective effect of their individual awfulness.

  64. 64

    […] State Senate voted down a 5% pay increase for teachers, teachers vowed to continue striking. Read John Cole at Balloon Juice about PEIA and its importance. Erik Loomis at LGM has a short piece about West […]

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