Sunday, September 06, 2009

We Don't Need No Education...

It doesn’t happen often but… Keith missed the point.

On his Friday Countdown with Keith Olbermann broadcast, during a discussion with Jonathan Alter, Alter seemed bemused, and Keith was even amused, by the Republican attitude toward President Obama’s speech to schoolchildren next Tuesday.

Some on the right wing are advocating keeping kids home from school that day, which led to this segment:

The conversation becomes most compelling at about the 4:00 minute mark, when Jonathan Alter brings up the “Obama effect: teachers report that African American children actually do better when told that the President wants them to do their homework!

Alter asks, “WHY would they want to undermine that, WHY would they want more children growing up, dropping out of school, causing problems for themselves and for society?”

Well OF COURSE the Republicans, or more specifically, the ideological wing responsible for the debacle of the last eight years, don’t want an educated population. They could not have gotten away with half of what they did if a vast majority of Americans were taught to think critically and behave in a socially responsible manner by schools with the proper resources to do so.

What the Republicans want is a nation of sheep, struggling through their daily lives with little energy to spare, and what energy they do have should be devoted to:


Religion, which does not teach critical thinking, rather, encourages magical thinking, which in turn makes people more vulnerable to the fear-mongering that the right wing uses to control thought and control votes.

Keith points out that the Republican attitude is self-defeating, since children of Democrats will stay in school, become educated, get better jobs.

This may be, but the result is not self-defeating for the Republicans, who are powered by corporate interests like the ones that led to last year’s financial meltdown and ensuing recession, corporate interests that were largely bailed out or led gently through bankruptcy protection, while ordinary citizens lost their jobs and homes.

Why did so many ordinary citizens allow themselves to depend so heavily on credit and sink so deeply into debt? Because without massive consumer spending the economy would (and almost did) collapse. Frugality and saving have long gone out of style, replaced by rampant consumerism. Without an EDUCATION in personal finance, people are truly at the mercy of their government-dictated culture.

The Republican goal seems to be to have a small educated leadership elite with the larger general population – and the votes contained therein – receptive to whatever message they choose to transmit.

This is not new. History is full of examples of government by ruling classes with their own agendas, part of which is to keep the majority in their place, providing the lifeblood of the regime in the form of cheap or free labour, taxes, and in the era of democracy, votes.

Furthermore, it’s not by accident that the right wing brands Democrats as “elitist”. The message is, success and education are not cool. It’s also part of the strategy of projecting Republican shortcomings onto the other side, thus, Democrats cannot “keep the country safe” whereas all Republicans did was engage in wars that killed more Americans than the attacks of 9-11, fail to protect the citizens of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and leave the country with vulnerable infrastructure and education and health care systems that don’t work for far too many.

So when the Republicans undermine the education system it’s neither a casual mistake nor a self-defeating move. It’s intentional and it’s dangerous for not only the US but for Western Society as a whole.