A friend dropped by to see me yesterday, to show me a letter he had received from his employer. The particular epistle was more than a bit disturbing -- to him and me -- and gave us yet another reminder that elections have consequences.
Y'all remember that early one December night, a few years ago, Congress was held hostage and its members were coerced into passing into law the Federal Affordable Care Act -- better known as ObamaCare.
You might have actually followed the gee-ing and haw-ing and ying-ing and yang-ing that preceded the historic vote. Surely you remember Nancy Pelosi -- at that time the speaker of the House of Representatives -- speaking those now infamous words, "We have to pass this bill so we can find out what is in it."
Well, we passed it and now we are finding out what is in it. We'd have more fun, I believe, finding out what's inside Stretch Armstrong. (Listen to Mark Wills singing "1970-Something." You'll get it.)
You know, we are not allowed to criticize the president. If we do it is because we are ignorant, uncaring, Neanderthals and/or racist. Take your pick. ObamaCare was passed so everyone in America could have affordable health care and if you aren't in favor of everyone having health care you are just a rich, white bigot. We all know that.
Well, let's take a look at my friend's letter and we'll talk about some of the consequences of the previously referenced Affordable Care Act.
My friend, you see, is a substitute teacher, for the time being -- which is something, by the way, that I wouldn't be for all the tea in China or American dollars in China. Substituting is a tough gig. Ask anyone who has ever done it. I did a lot of it when I was studying education. It was bad then. It is worse now, and the good ones are in short supply.
Teachers seem to miss a lot more school these days than they used to. Times have changed and a lot of teachers need those mental health days. I'm not being facetious -- they really need them. We have more teacher training during the school year, too. There are many days when upward of 20 teachers are out in a given school. Somebody has to supervise the classrooms left empty when the teacher isn't there. That person is called a sub and the really effective ones are getting to be scarcer than hen's teeth.
My friend is a good one and can be counted on to stand in the gap five days a week, if need be. At least he could be counted on five days a week back before ObamaCare. The letter that upset him so much read, in part, "Beginning with the first week of the 2013-14 school year, substitute teachers will be permitted to work no more than three days per week. This change is being made to prevent significant financial impact on the school district related to the Federal Affordable (Health) Care Act."
There ya go. Thatta boy, Barack. Apparently if a sub works more than three days a week he or she will be considered a full-time employee and the school system would have to provide them with health benefits. Our school funds are so low now that we couldn't buy chalk -- if we still used chalk. Obviously we can't provide substitute teachers with health care.
More lunacy caused by the federal government. If someone is out for a long term disability -- like the surgery that caused me to miss six weeks a couple of years ago, or maternity leave (they have it for fathers now, you know) -- that someone can't have a full-time sub take their place. They'll have to have two subs. One will work two days a week, the other three. Yeah, that's really best for the students, isn't it?
Please keep in mind. None of this is the fault of the local school system. It is the result of a flawed law that wasn't fully vetted before it was implemented as the law of the land.
Now we are in a lose-lose situation. The substitute teachers -- if they choose to continue to be substitute teachers -- will lose 40 percent of their already low income. We will also need 40 percent more competent substitute teachers. We don't have enough to fill the need right now.
And don't think the school system is the only entity hit by this part of the law. Businesses all over -- big and small -- will be laying off workers and cutting full-time jobs to add part-time jobs. They will have to do this or they won't be able to afford to stay in business.
But we can't repeal ObamaCare. No, no, no. We would be taking a step backward -- back to a time when the United States of America was the greatest nation in the history of the world. No, we can't do that. Not when the president of the United States promised to fundamentally change America.
Well, he's kept that promise. Yes he did. I'm glad I won't have to be looking for a substitute for my classroom this year.
Darrell Huckaby is a local author. Email him at darrellhuckaby.net. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.