Present Students, Future Slaves

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The Slave Ship 1840 William Turner

Every generation for the last 30 years has endorsed neoliberal policies, leaving today’s young people not only without a voice, but also saddled with a set of economic, political and social conditions that have rendered them devalued, marginalized and ultimately disposable. Henry Giroux

Philosopher and political thinker, Sheldon Wollin died this month. His claim that the U.S. government operates, not as a democracy but in what he called “inverted totalitarianism” – “every natural resource and every living being is seen as a commodity and exploited to collapse as the citizenry is lulled and manipulated into surrendering their liberties and their participation in government through excess consumerism and sensationalism” and nowhere is this better exemplified than in our student debt crisis.

The average American student debt upon graduation is $29,400 and this while America’s federal government projects a record $50-billion profit on student loans in 2014! This makes the student loan business the most profitable business in America. (ExxonMobil made $44.9 billion in 2012)

The usury attached to a college education in America supports massive  hierarchy, concentration of power and wealth, and greater inequality. The fact that a higher education is financially out of the reach for the majority, ensures that only an elite will continue to control and lead the future of our country.

While profits soar for the government,  the young people have little time for political engagement or creative experimentation. The debt burden forces graduates to make career decisions based on the bottom line.  They don’t have time to become involved in not-for-profit jobs or peace-promoting activities. This level of debt load creates a disconnect from the social needs of the community. In a market-driven society the only obligation is to be a good consumer. The liberal arts and the investigation of subjects that explore the imagination and how power is created is not supported.

What type of future are we creating? Why is it Germany and other EU countries have completely eliminated college tuition?

In 2013 legislators in Oregon unanimously passed a bill that instructs the state’s Higher Education Coordination Commission to develop a “Pay It Forward, Pay It Back” plan to finance public higher education. Under the plan, students pay nothing while in school, then pay a fixed percentage of their income (3 percent after a 4-year degree) to fund higher education going forward. This is at the very least a step in the right direction.

Rest in Peace, Sheldon Wolin.

Some relevant links:

The Ripple Effects of Rising Student Debt
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/25/business/the-ripple-effects-of-rising-student-debt.html?_r=0

Left Behind
http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/68:left-behind-american-youth-and-the-global-fight-for-democracy
A Crisis of Affordability
http://www.alternet.org/story/134770/a_crisis_of_affordability%3A_how_our_public_colleges_are_turning_into_gated_communities_for_the_wealthy

NY Times Obit: Sheldon Wolin
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/29/us/politics/sheldon-s-wolin-theorist-who-shifted-political-science-back-to-politics-dies-at-93.html?src=me&_r=0&mtrref=undefined&gwh=AE7CE4FE9C9EF8F3A1637C55432A360E&gwt=paA

Learning from the 1%

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GW at a Yale graduation (telegraph.co.uk)

The elite of the world don’t wait for the future to happen. They make it happen. Why don’t we do that?

They don’t hope that the future will better. They don’t rely on others to create the future. They understand how to structure resources, how to make and keep commitments, how to work together and help each other. Why don’t we do that?

The elite take present trends and create what is to come. Most of react to these plans and because they have access to money, the elite have been able to make and maintain interconnections worldwide. The internet is able to connect us worldwide. So what are we waiting for?

Instead of investigating history in order to find out what really happened, most accept the version of history given; not seeing that the elite definition of words like ‘progress’, ‘efficiency’ and ‘democracy’ may not be the same as what we think they are… The elite definition of progress, for example, does not take into consideration the rights and needs of all people, equally. And yet, can we honestly say we are any different? Have we stood up to the reality of ‘progress’ and challenged advanced technological society – in which people themselves have become the raw material for industrialization?

We can learn from the elite managers of public opinion and persuasion – Bernays, Plato, Freud, Kinsey, Rand, Brezenzki and Wells  – these people understood how to steer public opinion to predetermined conclusions (from justifications for war, constant testing in our schools,  surveillance, pornography, the militarization of the police, etc) Why don’t we do the same to steer humanity to conclusions that honor life?

Let’s transform the ‘base metals’ of the elite: their need for standardization and control, their use of ‘experts’ and placebo phrases like ‘democracy’ – and use these same words and tools to redefine a plan of action; a standard of decency for all – a control of the natural world; a world where everyone is an expert on what it means to be human:  to give as we would like to receive.

We have a blueprint. It’s the starting point: Living Income Guaranteed.

 

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