Friday, October 21, 2016

Why would anyone want to cut spending on public education? Low information voters.

Part of the experience of social media is memes, pictures with some sort of message laid on top of the image. It's a powerful way to convey a message. The other day, I came across this one:

If this is true, then why do we feel less free now than say, 50, 40 or even 20 years ago? According to this chart and this chart, college enrollment and graduation has been steadily increasing over the last 50 years from about 3-5% to more than 30% of adult Americans. So we should be more free, right? There is one thing that makes people less free and that's debt. Student debt is now well over $1 trillion for all Americans who took out loans to go to college. Check out the eye-popping charts at MotherJones on college financing trends over the last few decades. Here's the one that got my attention:

Guess who owes what to whom? Seems like wealthy families have no interest in saddling their kids with student debt, but hey, it's cool if other kids are paying down debts instead of buying houses. The wealthy kids are collecting payments for college debts by proxy from the poor kids. Then there is Bernie Sanders:

Bernie Sanders and a fair number of other economists have taken note of a huge business in student loans, and most if not all student loans are backed by the federal government. Private lenders service the loans and make sure they are paid back. That debt service is where the money is. Just think of all the fees and penalties those loans must generate.

What is important here is that neoliberals have created a disincentive for education. There is even a controversy about whether the financial benefits of going to college outweigh the expense of doing so. Kids who went to college still have trouble finding good jobs after the Great Recession. Still, if your parents are wealthy and connected, you got a job right out of college, right?

Now we are faced with two very unpopular candidates for president. Both of them represent tyranny to one group or another. Neither of them truly represents the American people because they are Democrats or Republican and 43% of the voters are registered independents.

Two other candidates and political parties were shut out of the debates, and thus, the election: Jill Stein and Gary Johnson. Johnson is with the Libertarian Party, and if you know anything about libertarians, they want to privatize everything down to the point where government does the bare minimum of services for the people. In their view, the federal government should do nothing but run the military and let private enterprise do the rest. Jill Stein is the opposite of Johnson. The two people who got on stage for three measly debates are pretending to be "center-right" or "centrist". There is no liberal option to choose from in the debates.

How did we get to the point where, historically speaking, two of the most unpopular presidents got on the debate stage and the alternatives were left out of it? We failed to educate the population and the mainstream media took advantage of it and ran off with the election. If you don't believe me, check out this article from a royally pissed off millennial. I gather from the article she's not voting for Trump or Clinton. She is also very informed about the issues, so don't tell me she's a low information voter.

An educated and free people will have little tolerance for the games played during this election. There would have been numerous prosecutions as a result of the fraud played in the primaries with an educated and informed electorate. Hillary would have been prosecuted for her email games. Trump wouldn't have made it through the first debate and he would have been exposed much earlier for the way he handles business. 200 mechanics liens on his properties? Pleeeease.

I watched the last debate and could understand what Hillary was saying, but could not believe a word that came out of her mouth. I watched Donald talk and every time he interjected "lie" while Hillary was talking, I could only think, "entertainer". I could only find myself further convinced that I will vote for Jill Stein. That's all the debate could do for me.

The only people who want to cut funding for education that I could find are wealthy conservatives who can afford to send their kids to that private school on the other side of town that has all the right connections, but that hardly anyone knows about. They're all over charter schools, too. Who cares about corruption in charter schools when you can use charter schools to suppress teacher salaries?

These are our kids, people! You go cheap on education and you get people like Trump and Clinton for president. You get people who don't know civics. You get people who don't know where Iraq is on a globe. You get people who can't get a job, buy a house or take care of their own kids without living in your basement. You get a nation of people who won't be able to compete against low wage third nations, much less Scandinavian kids who get high quality education for free.

Oh, yeah, those Scandinavians. With their education, they have the brains to show up and vote. Check out this survey of voter participation from Pew Research. Look who is at the top of the list. The top 20 are European countries and most of them have free or low cost education (the US placed 27th on that list). Some of those countries on the top of the list offer that same free education benefit to anyone in the world who comes to live there. They don't treat education like a commodity. They treat it like a utility. You know, like infrastructure. We used to do that. John F. Kennedy grew up in a country that treated education like a utility for everyone to use.

Here's a quote that I think really expresses the need for public education:
“Public education does not exist for the benefit of students or the benefit of their parents. It exists for the benefit of the social order.
We have discovered as a species that it is useful to have an educated population. You do not need to be a student or have a child who is a student to benefit from public education. Every second of every day of your life, you benefit from public education.
So let me explain why I like to pay taxes for schools, even though I don't personally have a kid in school: It's because I don't like living in a country with a bunch of stupid people.”

― John Green
Yet, there are people with a great deal of influence in public policy that want to cut funding for public education to cut costs and privatize it. Why? Because they need people to work for them who are willing to work for less to compete with the rest of the world. To pump the price of their stock. To fatten their bottom line. To buy their products on time so that they never get out of debt.

High quality, free education like they have in Scandinavia is what we could have here. But that would mean greater participation of the people in the political process. That doesn't work well with oligarchy. That doesn't work well with income inequality. That doesn't work well for the two dominant political parties running the United States.

It would seem that Clinton caved on the point of free education and she is promoting free education for everyone making less than $125,000 a year. The Washington Post says she wants to bring back Reagan-styled tax cuts to help pay for it? How neoliberal of her. She caved because she knows that her nomination will depress the vote in November. She knows that Congress will remain essentially the same next year as a result of depressed voter turnout. She knows that if Congress stays the same, she can be a neoliberal and say that she'll take what she can get from Congress rather than leading the country to greatness again. Just like Bill Clinton and his "Third Way" politics.

Can you see why millennials loved Bernie Sanders? Can you see why so many Sanders supporters will not vote for Clinton? This is why I'm voting for Jill Stein. The Green Party platform supports free public education. That same platform supports raising a tax base to support free public education for all.

The Green Party is working for the middle class, Something that elite Democrats have forgotten how to do. Remember the Berniecrats? They work for the middle class and there are still 327 Berniecrats on the ballot to vote for. To get free public education (or any other change for the greater good), we must have greater voter participation. Clinton and Trump are counting on low voter turnout to win. Let's disappoint them.

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