Schwager: Wait, is that my ox?

Clare Schwager

As repressive Middle Eastern regimes fall by the wayside, Communist China increases its standing in the world economy and the U.S. emerges from a multi-year recession, many Americans are left wondering just what is going on here. It seems like there’s never been a time so rife with change for our world. But where does America stand in all this?

Not so long ago, our nation clamored with cries for change and new leadership. Our current president spouted promises of hope and change and the ever-ready phrase “Yes we can!” We do need change in this day and age. Our world is shifting and America needs to keep up. But, here we are in 2011 and many citizens are wondering where those promises have taken us.

As the issues in Wisconsin escalate and angry unions shake massive fists at Gov. Scott Walker’s attempts to limit their power, the nation is getting front row seats to a classic example of the old adage, “It all depends on whose ox is being gored.”

Two years ago, these same labor unions were shelling out money to get a guy with a mind for change in the White House. Now the tables have turned. The public sector union leaders will stop at nothing to prevent change. Oh sure, they’re all for change in theory, but not when it comes to their own affairs. Heck no, leave those union oxen alone. And don’t even think about touching Social Security.

But enough about Wisconsin. In Iowa we’ve turned back attempts to consolidate counties, even though the original reason for having 99 counties was so all the state’s citizens could travel to the county seat and back in one day. Using that logic, now that we no longer rely on horse and buggy for travel, we could get by with something like four counties.

County consolidation would combine multiple low-population counties into a regional government. In countywide consolidation, a county absorbs the power of all cities within its border. The goal of both is to decrease spending and increase efficiency of services by eliminating unnecessary governments.” But people are unwilling or afraid to change.

Every small school district will fight tooth and nail to stay open. Even though consolidation would probably provide better education and a tax break for the majority, we are left with a multitude of tiny school districts struggling to stay afloat. Yes, change can be difficult, but whose interests ought we to cater to? When all is said and done, providing the best education possible for the children should be our chief concern.

Change was an easy thing to promise in 2008. After all, the people’s wish for change was reflected in the election results, was it not?

But when it comes down to it, I’m not seeing all that much change. Where are those people now, the ones calling for something new, something different? They’re busy protesting that very sentiment.

There are plenty of things we could be working on changing right now, regardless of party alignment. I realize I’ve digressed a bit here from the whole ox analogy, but you get the picture: It all depends on whose ox is getting gored.

Sure, Americans want change. We need it, if we want to keep up with the rest of the world. But we’re not going to get anywhere if we sit around pointing fingers elsewhere and refusing to address our own problems.

We can hope all we want, but the real world requires action. Can America manage to pull itself up by the bootstraps and forge a new path through the hazy and uncertain future? Three words: “Yes we can!”

In theory anyway.