Public servants for profit

A fundamental breakdown of our society is happening right before our eyes, threatening to crumble the very fabric of our being to nothing but lint in the bottom of the dryer, dried up and waiting to catch fire the next time you try to dry a sweater. It’s hard to tell, all the way up here nestled safely in the Green Mountains, that our society is falling — I mean, really, who has the time to worry about such things in between Beirut, longboarding and hemp-braiding? The breakdown in society I speak of is the privatization of our public services. No, I’m not talking about the street sweeper and the plow driver — although those services are, too, quickly becoming privatized — but our essential public services like firemen, police, ambulances and teachers. As someone who is in the teaching profession myself, I know a lot of educators do not do the job for money, but when teachers have been working under old, expired contracts, imposed by school board officials — who have probably never set foot in a classroom — money does become the weakest link. However, even with all the shortcomings public service life will have, we can’t turn a blind eye to those who have volunteered — yes, they’ve chosen these professions — to serve and protect us. In South Fulton, Tenn., the Cranick family did not pay their $75 annual fee to the firefighters association. When their home caught fire, Paulette Cranick called the fire department for help. En route, the fire department realized the Cranick family indeed did not pay the association fee and upon arrival subsequently watched the Cranick family home burn to the ground while “making sure the fire did not spread to homes which had paid the fee.” A 68-year-old retired cafeteria worker and South Shore resident of Chicago repeatedly called police to inform them she was constantly bullied by two youths in the neighborhood who would set fire to her property and smash her windows. On one such day, when the youths were throwing bricks at her and her windows, she called police only to be told her case was not a hazardous priority and she would have to wait. When one of the bricks struck her through a window and hit her in the chest, she grabbed her gun and shot one of the boys. Both of the youth have been charged with aggravated assault of a senior, while the woman remains uncharged — an incident which could’ve been avoided had the police prioritized better. Now, with news of police negligence here in Burlington and on campus, as well as police mismanagement across the country and on college campuses, I can’t help but wonder: When will it all end? Will public service ever become truly public once again? Or are we doomed by our capitalistic ways to help only those high-priority, fee-paying patrons of society? My guess is as the strings unravel, the only ones who are safe are those who refuse to let the ties which bind us break, and those public servants for profit will become the lint at the bottom of the dryer, forgotten and waiting to catch fire.