Monday, September 22, 2008

I'll say it again

Jealous boyfriend kills
the cat he thinks she loves
more than him.

I’ll say it once more. It’s not complicated. Many have been saying it in one form or another for many years. Some things are too important to be left to the market. The dangers of unfettered capitalism have been known and pointed out over and over again by a wide variety of philosophers, economists, and others. Karl Polanyi said it quite a while ago in a general and succinct way: land, labor, and money are not true commodities. Land, because it is just another word for the environment, labor, because it”s just another word for human behavior, and money, because it is a purely artificial creation. Thus the Brafia has been promoting the so-called “free market” for years and now its terrible shortcomings have come home to roost. Let’s face it, things like energy, water, air, finances, and medical care, when left to the hands of private enterprise serve only the interest of greedy capitalists, not the interests of the people at large. For a long time now in the U.S. the very mention of socialism has caused heart palpitations and panic among those who were gaming the system so systematically. So now, the financial markets collapsing, we are being offered socialism for the wealthy. Having looted and plundered at will for so long the very scoundrels that brought about this horrendous failure now want the innocent taxpayers to pay for their mistakes. They are not offering to return any of their illicit gains and, indeed, want to put someone in charge of some potentially one trillion dollars with no oversight of any kind. I guess they think that like the Patriot Act they can panic us into falling for this ridiculous scam. The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Turn over all control of money to us with no questions asked. Trust us. They really do believe we are all complete and utter fools (sometimes I think they are right). It appears this tactic might not work for them this time, but nothing is definite as yet.

I am becoming absolutely convinced that either the polls are screwy or a good half of the American public is insane. This Sarah Palin thing is a mystery to me. She is apparently drawing large crowds and generating a great deal of enthusiasm for the Brafia. Why, I cannot fathom. She is a completely unqualified candidate for VP, a know-nothing with little experience and political beliefs somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun, unsettled scandals in the frontier state she heads, and religious beliefs so far-fetched they make the mind reel, but large numbers of people seem to find her a rock star. I guess that must be what the right-wingers believe themselves. This is beyond frightening, it’s downright terrifying.

I think that Sarah Palin, like George W. Bush and many other know-nothings in powerful government positions, represent precisely what happens in a culture that succumbs over time to an insidious anti-intellectualism, where learning and knowledge are no longer regarded as values worth promoting. Indeed, people like Bush actually gloat over their ignorance, they lack curiosity and adopt religious beliefs that no matter how silly allow them to think they know all they ever need to know. The world is created 6000 years ago, Moses parted the sea, an ark was built that contained two of all the creatures on earth, the bible is literally true, and so on. Our schools have been starved for years, thus producing poorly paid teachers who teach children who are basically uninterested in learning and just spend their time mostly in busywork and boredom. Huge numbers drop out before even finishing High School and, in fact, it is possible to complete sixteen and more years of school and still know so little you can barely find your own state on a map. There is no value placed on education here. It is no wonder we are rapidly falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to science, technology, and the humanities. I say this not as merely a disgruntled academician, but as one who fears for the future of my country. This lack of a love of learning, and the active denigration of those who are educated, “pointy-headed intellectuals,” carries with it the seed of our own destruction. Even now, people like Barack Obama, who are highly educated and accomplished persons, are denigrated by being labeled “elitists,” and worse. Stereotypes of the “absent-minded professor,” and “ivory towerists,” and such are commonplace in the U.S. and are not helpful. Professors are thought to be essentially helpless in the face of practical problems, and no matter how knowledgeable they might be, their views are regarded as no better than anyone else’s. A good and healthy democracy can only flourish with a well-educated and informed populace. How far we have strayed from this ideal is shocking in the extreme. We are now continually “dumbed down” in our schools and even moreso by our television industry. To turn this around is going to be extremely difficult, especially if we do not start now.

It is only the ignorant who despise education.
Publilius Syrus

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Speaking of education, I would be inclined to think the only education most Americans get about the candidates, is what floats around the Internet. I find that very worrisome since our country needs a complete over haul in everything that matters. I gave my son the book Obama wrote called the Audacity Of Hope, and half way through it, he exclaimed. I didn't realize he was so well educated. I do hope we get some relief in this election. Sometimes I get exasperated by the women in this country. They would vote for Palin just because she's a woman. She is so unqualified to be VP. I know this will infuriate a few people out there, but I don't consider giving birth to a defective fetus, a very intelligent decision.