Shh! You know what? There’s been this project in the works for a long time. It was ambitious as hell. The idea was to take everything we as a society had hammered out that made us prosperous as a people, and chip away at it until it was gone, until everything we held in common for the common good was hoovered into the private treasuries of a small number of people. Obviously that’s not the kind of thing you’re going to talk people into. They’re much better off with their Social Security, their Medicare, their free educational system, their relatively petite police forces, their clean water and safe food, their pensions and benefits. Lord knows all of those things could be made even better, certainly starting with our crazy-expensive system of health care through private insurance, but still your average American wasn’t interested in losing what we already had just to feed the insatiable greed of a few.
Starts With Devo
So the project didn’t really get off the ground for the first few decades, but finally got rolling under Ronald Reagan. There’d been a worldwide energy crisis that provided him and his backers an opportunity. A good crisis should never go to waste. He recast the labor unions that supported the middle class as thieves and heavies, and suggested that we could do much better as individuals if we weren’t carrying all that dead weight. And he helped create a new financial sector we could gamble in, using some of the money that used to go to our pensions. We could all hit the big-time, because we’re so smart. And he read us new bedtime stories: how the government stood in the way of prosperity, and couldn’t do anything efficiently. And how the new financial sector and corporations that sucked up all our old pension money would grow ever stronger and create ever more jobs once they were free of oversight and regulation. The Engine of Growth would lift all boats.
That was such a compelling con job that people didn’t even notice that the corporations in all their efficiency bought each other out and killed or sold off solid industries and went overseas where slave labor was more abundant and environmental restrictions less onerous, leaving entire American towns in the dust. Or that mergers created billionaires at the expense of our living wages. We didn’t notice we were losing ground every day. The idea that we individuals were so smart we could get rich on our own–an idea repackaged as “freedom”–was too seductive to abandon, even as we slid down the economic ladder, even as many of us tumbled into homelessness and poverty.
They took our public wealth from us. They privatized our public prisons and rigged the justice system to ensure there would be plenty of incarcerated bodies to profit off of–even to the extent of extracting unpaid labor from them; even to the extent of harvesting migrant children to detain at the cost of $750 per day, per child–our money, streaming straight into the pockets of private prison contractors.
They take our vital water utilities for profit. They run our wars for profit. They create our wars for profit.
It’s been a hell of a successful fire sale of the commons, but there is nervousness now amongst the moneyed elites: their peculiar, stammering cartoon character of a figurehead is losing his shine, especially during a crisis that shows exactly what government of the people and for the people should be doing. But their project isn’t done yet. They still haven’t bought up all our public schools. Time’s a-wastin’.
And that is how we must frame the latest edict from our Secretary of Education, a filthy-rich woman who has never been in a public school, never been an educator, whose family profits from privatization, and who was given the Cabinet job vowing to dismantle the system of free education in this country. She wants all the kids back in the classroom. (Who doesn’t?) She declares it safe, or safe enough. And she says if schools decide on their own not to reopen, they should not receive federal funds. And those funds should instead be given to the parents as vouchers. So they can send their children to private schools, preferably Christian.
Betsy Devos. She’s just one more poisoned arrow in their quiver, aimed at the heart of us.
It’s the libertarian edict. Never let a good crisis go to waste. You can always make money off it. Always.
I totally agree with every word you wrote.
I hope it will someday come to light exactly who the greedy s.o.b.'s who ended up with that $750 in their pockets per day per child are,and you can be sure not a one of them will pay one cent of income tax on the money they ended up with from innocent children being in cages. Anything for a profit, including human lives.
We sure do know the companies. GEO Group. Core Civic. Southwest Key. BCFS. Oh, also Bethany Christian Services (tied to the Devos family) is in the business of kidnapping migrant children and fostering them for profit.
That's it in a nutshell, Murr. This should be a letter to the editor in every newspaper in the U.S. Maybe it will bring a few more minds around to reality. Probably just a pipe dream, though, to think any minds will be changed.
But we old hippies like pipe dreams, don't we?
I think that one of the reasons that education isn't being funded as it should is that the Grand Poobahs profit by keeping the populace ignorant and stupid. That way, people do not "follow the money", but believe whatever bullshit those in power tell them. So they believe that they are not actually poor people… or middle class. No, they are actually rich people who are just one lottery ticket away from coming into their fortune. I've always maintained that the lottery is really a tax on the mathematically challenged. No one is taught how to do simple math, let alone told about probability.
I'm not an expert on what schools need, but I do fully support the idea of public education.
I think that your and I were the beneficiaries of some of the best public education that was ever available. I'm no expert either, but having seen how good it can be always makes me wonder why all public schools aren't like what we experienced.
If only I could remember everything we learned!
I remember diagramming sentences as a child. I am an orderly person, so I understood it, but I didn't get why it was so important. Now I do. I also understand why it's important to understand the meanings of prefixes and suffixes, as well as to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, without using a calculator. I've been in stores when the computers have gone down, and the kids behind the registers didn't know how to make change. If our infrastructure goes down (and NOT in a fun way!), what are we going to do? And, eventually, it WILL go down.
And then there is the factor that people do not know how to do things for themselves anymore, even simple things cooking a meal, doing yard work, or making coffee. Never mind growing and canning a food crop or finding wildflowers that treat illnesses. One thing that this whole lockdown has taught me is that we are on our own. Paul and I had to take care of medical issues on our own, as our dentist and doctors weren't available. Thank the fucking powers-that-be that I am a foodie with excellent cooking skills, because we neither starved nor suffered fast food in THAT department. Neither did we suffer from a lack of grooming, as I can trim hair and color it myself. The only thing that bothered me was the lack of a social network. I don't do social media. I am an introvert (which is NOT the same thing as being shy, people. So many make that mistake.), so there weren't many people to interact with.
I guess that the gist of what I am saying is that we need to learn these things — and practice them — again. Our world will not get better — or easier — for us.
I think you're right–but I also recognize that the kids are way smarter about a lot of things than we'll ever be. And they'll come on board off the grid if they have to!
You are excellent in your succinct review of these hellish last years.
It's been a con job.
You've outdone yourself today. Excellent and should be shared with as many people as possible. Tragic – but true.
Why, go ahead!
I'm doing it! Love your sense of dry humor. Thanks.
And yes, this posting is one of the best, ever! I echo the thought that it should be run in every newspaper in the country.
Right, right on. But now I'm really really depressed.
Most of that has happened here too and probably in many other countries, but at least we still have our Medicare for everyone.
I think it's really terrible what they are doing to your schools, with so much of your country suffering with Covid why should children be forced to go back to school? The threat of removing free education has me gobsmacked. Schools are open here, but attendance is optional while Covid is still a threat.
There's no money in public education. Stay tuned for the theft of the postal service and Social Security.
You baby boomers destroyed your own children's future, and then laughed about it and blamed it on them. Do you realize that you are going to end up in a retirement home where you are going to get treated like total trash, and abused? Your children won't be able to help you, even if they wanted to. Karma's a bitch, you boomer scum.
At least the boomer scum has the balls to put a name to our opinions.
I really want this to be required reading in social studies and economics textbooks.
Also, I despise libertarians.
Named it in one, Murr, as usual. We notice that supporters of this con job are uneducated white males,see above ANonyMouse – not known for their large hearts & understanding of others (w.some exceptions). So, Obama was right about educating the whole population – only way to go to elevate our society. It's not elitism to be a thinking, caring people, based on learning history, having our eyes open, thinking for ourselves.
Ever notice, the erosion of Medicare payback rates? No wonder docs are going in droves to specialize rather than provide comprehensive, let alone preventative, care. So even the few perks left are getting less each day, now. Time for major societal surgery, folks.
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