October 30, 2008

Plan B for the middle class?

It's official: New York State has declared me a card-carrying, check-rebate-worthy member of the middle class, handing out what is called a "2008 Middle Class STAR rebate check." My rebate is based on various factors, and it is billed as a rebate "in addition to the amount of relief [ital mine] I receive under NYS's existing School Tax Relief Program (STAR).

I have mixed emotions regarding the "relief" I receive. On the one hand, I do not, nor do any of my friends, colleagues, or relatives, have any children in the New York City Public School System. On the other hand, our schools suck; they need all the funding they can get. These kids will need to work; someone has to pay into Social Security.

It is Halloween Eve, a night during which I do think of children. I think of why I will not be one of those apartment dwellers who opens her door to the building's trick-or-treaters. The last time I did, the children ran in a pack, grabbing for candy as if they hadn't seen food since their last Federally subsidized school lunch.

They barely said "trick or treat"; none stayed long enough for me to admire their costumes; and none said thank you. No one in this building, this bastion of the middle class, has a school lunch subsidized by anyone other than a parent. A parent who, as far as I can see, appears not to have taught his/her kids any manners.

(This may not be the first Halloween I have ranted about the neighbors' children.) But if these children are our future, my late poet-friend's book title remains apropos: Be Properly Scared.

I do remember watching my cousins' children in Maine, seeing the inability of a sixth grade teacher to catch a major grammar error in the first sentence of one child's essay. In Massachusetts, my assigned role is to distinguish between less and fewer, to tackle proper use of prepositions and verb tenses, as well as assert the importance of asking "may I," not "can I."

Granted, I am one of the few remaining grammar Nazis, but I maintain that it is much easier to communicate when everyone can speak the same language, and can create subjects that match their predicates. I am not sure about the future, in the land of what can kindly be called the short-attention-span.

Life is not a video game, contrary to what computers and game boys may try to teach. For one thing, you can't always shoot the bad guy; sometimes, it's simply not an option, and besides, the bad guy is difficult to identify. For another, practice will not get you to Carnegie Hall. Practice will screw up the joints in your fingers to the point that when you are old enough to buy a drink, you will lack the ability to hold the glass.

Where I'm coming from today is my gut feeling that Plan A for the middle class, that economic merry-go-round we all thought would never stop, has thrown all its riders to the ground. It's not working. We need to go to Plan B -- but first, we need to figure out what it is.

No matte what happens next Tuesday (and I've been ready to cast my vote for at least a month), I don't think Plan B will materialize at any time soon. Government simply isn't cut out to work that way.

As my friend winding up 30 years at the FBI says, "we bring you yesterday's technology tomorrow." I assume that means that government does do Windows, but it probably doesn't do VISTA, much less anything to do with a Mac.

Obviously, at this moment, I don't think the proverbial glass is half full. I'm not sure I think it is even half empty. It seems more likely that as we wait for Plan B (the one in which politicians and finance people admit the economy has tanked, not that the economic outlook has been reduced, or diminished, or whatever euphemism they choose), that the glass is cracked.

All I can do is hope someone has some Crazy-Glue in his or her back pocket. Cause that's what we need to hold a Plan B together. Otherwise, well, let's not go to otherwise just now. Tomorrow is, after all, another day.

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Blogger the only daughter said...

As a kid, apartment buildings were our biggest boons. And we were always the kindest to our own apartment dwelling neighbors.

A lifetime in apartments later, I am immensely happy that 1. the kids in my building are few and thankfully on Halloween night far. 2. the neighborhood kids have plenty of houses (and businesses) to harass without trying to bust down our double entry (locked) doors.

Indeed, waiting with baited breath for the tomorrows in our future.

5:58 PM  

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