Weekly Link Digest, Part Deux
Vulgar Liberalism Watch.
Robot Economist at Freedom Democrats quoted a soccer momish advocate of free grad school education, on the grounds that the job market is so competitive a bachelor's just doesn't cut it. In response, I wrote:
The only solution to income polarization... is more income polarization. The main effect of subsidized college education was to dumb down college education to the previous level of high school education, while making a batchelor's degree obligatory for jobs that previously required a high school diploma. If graduate education is similarly subsidized, we'll see grad schools eagerly dumbing down standards to attract the money, and pretty soon everybody in America will have to have an M.A. to do any job that pays better than dishwasher. Subsidized higher education has simply made technical manpower cheaper to business, and encouraged it to adopt capital-intensive, skill-intensive production models that create technological unemployment for the uneducated. Given that subsidized education is one of the main reasons for the two-tier economy, advocating even more subsidized education in the belief that it will reduce income disparity is rather, well, shitheaded.
Chris Dillow at Stumbling and Mumbling has a similar (if more polite) reaction to Deepak Lal's pollyannish prescription of "more school" as the solution to technological unemployment.
Meanwhile, via Logan Ferree at Freedom Democrats, free higher education is also the centerpiece of Uber-Soccer Mom Hillary's middle class agenda.
If all this gives you nightmares of a monster with "the body of Leviathan and the head of a social worker," a good antidote would be Joel Schlosberg's post on a documentary about the free school movement. And if that's not enough, iceberg (at lettuce have peas) quotes John Taylor Gatto:
Alexander Inglis's 1918 book, Principles of Secondary Education, ... breaks down the purpose - the actual purpose - of modern schooling into six basic functions...:
1) The adjustive or adaptive function. Schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority. This, of course, precludes critical judgment completely. It also pretty much destroys the idea that useful or interesting material should be taught, because you can't test for reflexive obedience until you know whether you can make kids learn, and do, foolish and boring things.
2) The integrating function.... People who conform are predictable, and this is of great use to those who wish to harness and manipulate a large labor force.
3) The diagnostic and directive function. School is meant to determine each student's proper social role. This is done by logging evidence mathematically and anecdotally on cumulative records....
4) The differentiating function. Once their social role has been "diagnosed," children are to be sorted by role and trained only so far as their destination in the social machine merits....
6) The propaedeutic function. The societal system implied by these rules will require an elite group of caretakers. To that end, a small fraction of the kids will quietly be taught how to manage this continuing project, how to watch over and control a population deliberately dumbed down and declawed in order that government might proceed unchallenged and corporations might never want for obedient labor.
At Info All, Paul Knatz writes on servile education:
Kleptocracies don’t want citizens learning from experience on their own, and the kleptocracy’s solution is a state-run school system: learn what the state-appointed teacher says when the state-appointed teacher says it....
...[T]he individual most severely punished may be the one who learned something before the teacher gave the command.
And (via Ender's Review) as a final raspberry to the publik skools, Retta Fontana writes:
The main purpose... of government schools is to train young people to tolerate boredom, repeat other people’s answers to rote questions, spy on their parents, absorb “groupthink,” follow orders and most of all, to become good citizens and, through peer pressure, to conform.
Via Indie Castle, Bill Kauffman (in a review of Jeff Taylor's Where Did the Party Go?) contrasts W.J. Bryan to H.H. Humphrey:
Restating the Jeffersonian motto "Equal rights for all; special privileges for none," he denounced "ship-subsidy grabbers," "trust magnates," and "the privilege-hunting and favor-seeking class." (Predictably, his campaigns were chronically underfunded.) It might seem odd that Taylor calls a candidate who advocated nationalization of the railroads a believer in "a laissez-faire economy," but Bryan himself professed it: "The safety of our farmers and our laborers is not in special legislation, but in equal and just laws that bear alike on every man. The great masses of our people are interested, not in getting their hands into other people's pockets, but in keeping the hands of other people out of their pockets."...
Humphrey, twisting the Jeffersonian slogan, desired "special privileges for all," cracks Taylor. An "exponent of paternalistic statism," he never met a welfare progam he didn't vote for no matter if the beneficary was Lockheed, Boeing, or a single mother. He stated confidently that "big corporations are a source of strength and economic vitality."
Brad Spangler points to evidence that corporate campaign money is shifting toward the Democrats. That suggests to me a possible shift back toward corporate liberalism among the Power Elite--perhaps because the dominant crisis tendency in state capitalism has shifted from the under-accumulation crisis of the '70s, back toward the default mode of over-production crisis.
At The Superfluous Man, John Markley comments on the "great irony"
that "anti-corporate" liberals and leftists are usually the most vocal advocates of the very interventionist state that makes the manipulation and exploitation that Richman describes possible. They probably do more than anyone else to provide the necessary ideological support for the state powers that the rich and powerful use for their own ends.
He mentions the liberal rush to defend Kelo. And, I'd add, liberals also fought challenges to federal preemption of state medpot laws on Tenth Amendment grounds because--you guessed it--such preemption depends on the same creative reading of the Commerce Clause as the rest of the regulatory state. If John Ashcroft can't kick down your door for smoking a joint, the Four Horsemen might come back to the Supreme Court.
Markley observes, in the same vein,
It is an amusing (or depressing, depending on my mood) irony that many liberal/"vital center" types who talk about how statism protects us from the depredations and exploitation of big business are the same people who consider the national government highway system a glorious achievement that proves that demonstrates the state's wisdom and benevolence. The people who rage against huge corporate chains are largely the same people who cheer for the many of the government programs that make the huge chains so powerful in the first place.
And Joshua Holmes takes on the latest vulgar liberals to suggest the Bush Administration represents a "free market libertarian" coup:
Ooh, you liberals are so smart. You caught us! That’s right, we sneaked a full-throated, red-blooded libertarian into the White House while you guys were laughing it up about his language blunders. And now he’s implementing the libertarian agenda: tax cuts for the rich and pork for the rich!
Despite the fact that Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and Bush the Younger have all presided over massive increases in federal spending, proposed and signed legislation expanding the welfare, warfare, and regulatory state, and played the Great Game in various regions of the world, the real problem is that they’re all closet libertarians.
Fiscal Crisis of the State.
Roads and bridges built by U.S. taxpayers are starting to be sold off, and so far foreign-owned companies are doing the buying....
Washington is not likely to produce more money to build roads. The federal highway fund — which will have a balance of about $16 billion by the end of 2006 — will run out in 2009 or 2010, according to White House and congressional estimates.
Meanwhile, at Independent Country, James Wilson speculates on the direction the economy might have taken without corporate welfare for railroads, trucks, and airlines.
Health Care: Seller's Market
For a competitive market to work optimally, information on the competing choices and their prices has to be freely available--a condition the cartelized health system is designed to prevent. At Info All, Paul Knatz discusses absence of such information in health care:
The good Samaritan finds a homeless guy run over in the road. He takes him to the hospital. They put the guy in IC, keep him a month. Who gets the bill? Was there a menu? Was the guy conscious when the choices were made?
The hospital knows perfectly well that some patients won’t be able to pay. So they jack up all the prices. Get it where they can, when they can, pass the rest to the public. What? Do you think the hospital owner should be at risk?
But the kleptocracy is rigged so that enormous pressure will be put on the out patient to pay -- for what he never ordered, never knew the price. The guy is in hock till he pays, permanently screwed if he doesn’t.