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Thursday, December 15, 2005

"Just a Job"

Sometimes I read things on right-leaning Wisconsin blogs that give me an ugly insight into the minds of some conservatives. The Poorman has famously noted this phenomenon, the idea that "even the tiniest example of wingnuttery is a near-perfect replica of the whole edifice, substantively consonant in every particular but scale." I got such a glimpse today.

Wisconsin GOPerative Brian Fraley has been subbing this week for Owen over to the Boots and Sabers blog. Tipped off by Xoff, Fraley was riffing on a story about how the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is getting ready to shaft its unionized workers. Towards the end of his misguided rant today, he wrote this about active union member Graeme Zielinski:
Could it be that as the cold winds of December wash across his once fresh face, he has come to the harsh reality that his labor of love is in fact, just a job?
There's an in-joke there about over-writing, but the part that jumped out at me was "just a job." Just a job.

While deriding the "socialist" tendencies of the union, Fraley manages, perhaps inadvertantly, to reveal the conservative view of work: Whatever it is that you're doing to earn a paycheck, you're just a cog in the capitalist machinery that dominates the economy. It's just a job. You're just a tool.

Some of us--like me, and like Graeme Zielinski, I bet--do what we do for some reason other than a paycheck. For me, teaching is not just a job. If I ever start thinking of it as just a way to pay the mortgage or put food on my family, I'll quit. That's why I'm so passionate in my blogging about teaching and education--I have a completely different perspective on work than others. For example, my school district's high schools are in flux, in a process that believe is neither fair nor particularly promising, and I have been outspoken against it. This is why, when I read criticisms of public schools or teachers, I respond, sometimes with too much passion.

There's an old saying, popularized, I believe, by conservatives, that goes, "America, love it or leave it." Sometimes I feel that people kind of say the same thing about me: If I don't like what's happening at my school, in my district, in public schools across the country, I should just quit and find something else to do. Thing is, there's a third option besides love it or leave it. There's change it.

But if it's just a job, there's no impetus to change it. You can change your just a job to some other just a job. When you think about labor from a capital perspective, those are the kind of workers you want--those with no impetus to change anything. And, who knows, maybe that's how Fraley approches his job--but I doubt it. And if Fraley doesn't think his job is just a job, why is he snarking on Zielinski for having some passion for his profession?

Oh, I forgot. Hypocrisy is also one of the conservative values you can see replicated in even the smallest examples of wingnuttery.

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