Jim Austin's Vermonter at Large
Jim Austin
Jim Austin
is a freelance writer from Putney, Vermont.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 05.18.06


Harder than Chinese Algebra

PUTNEY, VT | I am sitting here holding my nose for two reasons. The first is that I'm drinking yesterday's coffee and it tastes like roadkill squeezins. The second concerns a piece in Vermont's Brattleboro Reformer, front page.

The article tells us that the local high school board has passed a motion brought by students to join the Worker Rights Consortium. The WRC is a sweatshop reform group. If you join the WRC, your school will not buy band or sports uniforms from companies employing unfair labor practices, especially child labor.

The motion to affiliate passed after receiving unanimous support from the community by a vote of 9 - 3.

So what is making me gag on my squeezins? It's that three stunned fistulas voted against the idea.

"Why" is my question.

Only one board member who voted against freeing children from laboring in sweatshops was quoted. Mike Hebert, a former Republican candidate for state senator, said that the issue was a political one. He unbelievably stated:

"What if the students came before the board and asked us to affiliate with a right to life group?"

So discouraging businesses from employing children and having women fired because they are pregnant is a political issue. What's the other side of this "debate?"

What political organization would run under the banner:

"Let them sew soccer balls, not play with them.".

Is this Republican jackass voting his tiny, wizened heart or is he just toeing the party line? Is he vying for the coveted "I'm Your GOP Bitch" award presented to the Republican toady who most obviously sacrifices his last shred of humanity in the name of thwarting a liberal thought?

I suspect that Hebert is probably a life-long Republican isolated in liberal Vermont and his brain is so pickled with hatred for liberals that he votes against an idea solely because a liberal may have had it first.

Remember how Clinton used to chap the butts of all the Republicans when he stole all of their good ideas? Newt or some other amphibian would pose a pretty darn good idea and Bubba would make it his own in no time. My point is, why not jump on the bandwagon when someone comes up with a great idea?

This local tempest is a microcosm of our national political situation. Republicans in this country had every chance to dump George Bush after he screwed up his first term. They did it to his daddy. But no, something changed in the psyche of the feral Republicans. They no longer listen to ideas, analyze performances, or even try to anticipate consequences.

They didn't look at Bush and see what a colossal ass he was and how he was driving this country into a swamp that will take decades to crawl out of. I was positive he would lose in 2004. He had an unparalleled record of stupidity, lying and alienating all of our allies and still Republicans staggered out to the polls like a scene from "Night of the Living Dead" and voted for him agaain. Clearly they would have voted for a convicted pedophile as long as he was a card-carrying Republican.

This is such a good lesson for Brattleboro High School students. They had to fight tooth and nail to bring this to a vote. They dotted their is and crossed their t's and had a cause that was seemingly impossible to oppose. When it came to a vote, Mike Hebert and two of his stooges, who are charged with helping facilitate the students' paths to adulthood, voted against them. The lesson here students, if I may, is that there are always going to be some vicious, unthinking, selfish bastards in life and you must be prepared for them.

Republicans have steered America off its moral course and now, like the surface of a stagnant pond, the scum has risen to the top. They lied us into a war, they showed no compassion for Katrina victims, and they are frantically using their final (I hope) days in power to prolong tax cuts for the wealthy until 2010.

The motivation of the Republican majority is harder than Chinese algebra for a logical person to understand. These students are learning that sad fact early.