WILL MASSACHUSETTS TAKE THE NEXT STEPS OF REFORM ?

1 Speaker DeLeo fightsFullSizeRender (4)

^ If our state is to accomplish any of the reforms now on the table, reformers will need to support the above two leaders in huge sustained numbers. Can we do it ?

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Success breeds its own demise. As the most successul nation of the past 150 years, America now faces the largest panorama of demise.

What do I mean here ? Simply this : to carry out all of our successes we have set up organizations, bureaurcaies of people. These set-ups, having carried out their kission, have continued on, perpetuating their organization, their jobs, their income. They are now blocking the road to future reform.

The energy industry; police unions; teachers’ unions; the criminal justice system and its thousands of corrections officers; an education bureaucracy managed by people drawing outlandishly high salaries; athletes paid hundreds of millions of dollars to do — basically nothing; entire neighborhoods whose residents want nothing about them to change.

Reform means, basically, beginning things anew. It woulc be good if we could erase the blackboard and begin afresh, as those who created America were uniquely able to do. But we cannot.

Nationwide reform looks almost impossible. America is spinning off in 50 different diurections, deconstructing back to the states that pre-existed the Constitution and its unity, plus the states that came after but were set up with the same red uctyive powers as the 13 originals. In these 50 retreats from the future various immovably vested interests are crushing reform, indeed are negating even those reforms already won nationwide.

We in Massachusetts think we stand above that kind of rejection, but we mistake. What is the anti-flourdiation cult if not a rejection of reform ? Yet this return to witchcraft thinking has arisen in two Cape Ann communities.

Boston magazine recently profiled the failure, in Newtin, of an affordable housing project that some loudmoiths objected would devalue their overpriced mansions. Forget that state law calls for affordable housing in every municipality : these rejectors weren’t having it.

the same sort of rejection happens now in many neighborhoods of boston. No “:gentrification” — code word for “no money people of today buying up homes we want to pay yesterday’s price for.”

I suppose we can be thank ful that we haven’t many people here who want to roll back the women’s rights and civil rights reforms of the past 60 years, not many anti vaccine people or climtae change deniers and not many people who want to break unions or abolish the social safety net. Wow, huh ?

Still, we can’t comngratulate ourselves just yet.

Massachusetts needs to transform its schools, diversify its public workforce, eliminate corporate giveaways, reform the MBTA from top to bottom, change the way we deal with addiction — handling it as a health matter, not a criminal thing; enact a living wage — say $ 15 an hour; reform our sentencing laws and imprisonment system, redraw the outrageous costs of higher education, amend our transgender rights law, build an Olympics 2024. We need to do all of these, but the constituencies of No stand loudly and passionately in the way.

As Boston school Superintedent John McDonough wisely but sadly says : “change is difficult.”

So I ask it again : who will do these reforms ? Who will accomplish even one of them ? Can Governor baker and Speaker DeLeo, working now as solidly in sync as any Governor and Speaker I have seen in 30 years, do it ?

The two men cannot do it without a tsunami of support from the voters, support that they can see, hear, feel, touch. the opposition to each reform is already there, occupying the ground to be shifted. They are playing defense on their own turf, always a strong position to be in. The forces of reform will need to outnumber the defenders of things-as-is by at least two to one and do it every minute of every day for probably two entire legislative years. The same thing is true of reform (and reconstruction) at the neighborhood level. I am not holding my breath.

Nonetheless, this is our chance. A hugely popular Governor and a strong-minded Speaker have forged the most effective public policy pairing in decades. We of the reform party must support them as they move forward to pry loose the defenders of ways long since past their sell-by date.

—- Mike Freedberg /Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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