Monday, February 21, 2011

The Difference Between Democrats and Republicans

I was chatting a bit with some friends this morning and was struck by a great revelation: the true difference between Democrats and Republicans. We were talking about the availability of office supplies at work. One person asked if, where I work, supplies are kept under lock and key and you have to ask for them, or if there's a cabinet full of supplies and we can help ourselves to what we need.

I explained that in the mailroom there are cabinets with the usual supplies teachers need (dry board erasers, markers, tablets, pens, clips, etc). But not so with copy paper. Copy paper is kept under lock and key and when the copy machine runs out of paper, you have to ask the department secretary to add paper to the machine. When you use the copy machine, you also have to key in your individual code for the machine to work, so the college always knows how much paper you're using.

I said I was fine with this. We have what are called "SMART Classrooms," meaning you connect your laptop (note it is MY laptop and not provided by the college, though there are some limited number of laptops computer-less adjuncts fight over) to a projector and the class can see what you have onscreen. (It's sort of a fancy overhead projector for the old-school readers here.) The college also has Web Access, which means each class has an online website that students can access. I post assignments, copies of what I used to use as handouts, and other class information there.

The college has cracked down on paper use because of the draconian budget cuts during these tough times, and honestly? Copy paper is expensive. Cutting back on unnecessary copying is logical. If the students can just find handouts on Web Access, then you don't need to put a paper copy in their hands. The students themselves can just print out whatever they want a hard copy of.

I'm fine with all of this. BUT. The thing is, this logic assumes that every last student has a computer and printer. It's not always safe to assume that, because some of these kids are from low income families. Now, I used to tell the class at large that they can always go to our Writing Center to print out anything they need if they don't have a computer and printer at home, but now even the Writing Center has come under fire for "overusing paper." Now students are limited to printing copies of their essays only. So they can't print things like essay assignment sheets (which contain the prompt for a particular essay and instructions for doing the assignment).

For me, this is a problem, so that's when I'll break down and use the copy machine. I put a hard copy of essay assignments in every student's hand.

So far, so good, but what if the copy machine isn't working, or I've used up my "quota" of paper for a semester? And the answer to this crystallized for me the difference between liberals and conservatives.

Democratic view: This would wind up being unfair to the poor kids. They aren’t able to print out things like essay assignment sheets and refer back to the assignment. They have to work from memory. This gives the kids with a computer and printer (i.e., the richer kids) an advantage. We have to do something to level the playing field and get a copy of the assignment into each student's hand.

Republican view: That’s the way the cookie crumbles. If they’re at that much of a disadvantage, they can just get a third job and save up money to buy a computer and printer. I sure as heck am not responsible for their problem. I work hard enough as it is, and I have my own problems making the payment on my new BMW. You don't see anybody bending over backwards for me.

Now, this is a true story. The punch line is considered to be humor. Still, there's a lot of truth in it.


Anonymous said...

You end one paragraph with "the difference between liberals and conservatives." then go on to talk about Democratic & Republican views in the next two paragraphs.

But what about Conservative Democrats (there are a lot in Oklahoma, for example) and Liberal Republicans? (We really have so many people still in the middle that Liberal Democrat and Conservative Republican isn't yet accurate.)

Joyce said...

Wow, now this old post is a blast from the past! Can't believe it came up in a search. :)

But of course you're right. Truth is, a lot of Republicans I know really don't like the far right Tea Party/evangelical swing the GOP is making, and I'd probably fit more in the fiscally conservative but socially liberal category. Last election, in disgust, I just voted Independent. My protest was over the lack of candidates I could truly support. I do think most Americans are getting tired of voting for "the lesser of two evils."

Well, we can hope that one day, we can have two parties that actually DO represent the gamut better, or at least third parties that can truly be viable candidates. Right now it's grim.