Oneonta School Budget Vote
May 15 was the big day for the Oneonta School budget vote, with important votes across New York state. The Oneonta School Board debate, sponsored by the League of Women Voters has now been broadcast three times, and is available on webstream at the League of Women Voters website.
On May 12, the Oneonta Daily Star published a letter of support for Sue Kurkowski, highlighting her work at the state, district, and local levels: “When the city of Oneonta was putting together its Comprehensive Plan, I witnessed Kurkowski’s uncanny ability to bring people from opposite sides of the table to common ground” (from local businessman Vince Foti).
The ability to find common ground will be all the more important as we continue to confront state aid cuts and tax-cap legislation. One of the things that makes Oneonta a place worth supporting is the degree to which we all still do live together. In a new book called What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, Michael Sandel describes what has happened in much of the U.S.:
The disappearance of the class-mixing experience once found at the ballpark represents a loss not only for those looking up but also for those looking down.
Something similar has been happening throughout our society. At a time of rising inequality, the marketization of everything means that people of affluence and people of modest means lead increasingly separate lives. We live and work and shop and play in different places. Our children go to different schools. You might call it the skyboxification of American life. It’s not good for democracy, nor is it a satisfying way to live.
Democracy does not require perfect equality, but it does require that citizens share in a common life. What matters is that people of different backgrounds and social positions encounter one another, and bump up against one another, in the course of everyday life. For this is how we learn to negotiate and abide our differences, and how we come to care for the common good.
And so, in the end, the question of markets is really a question about how we want to live together. Do we want a society where everything is up for sale? Or are there certain moral and civic goods that markets do not honor and money cannot buy? (2012:203)
As the U.S. is increasingly marked by “skyboxification,” Oneonta is a place to share in a common life and a common good. It’s worth defending. It’s worth voting on May 15.