Now There Is Really Nobody to Vote For

Can you guess who said this recently?

We are putting colleges on notice — you can’t keep — you can’t assume that you’ll just jack up tuition every single year. If you can’t stop tuition from going up, then the funding you get from taxpayers each year will go down. We should push colleges to do better. We should hold them accountable if they don’t.

And this (the same person):

We call this — one of the things that we’re doing at the Consumer Finance Protection Board that I just set up with Richard Cordray — (applause) — is to make sure that young people understand the financing of colleges. He calls it, “Know Before You Owe.” (Laughter.) Know before you owe. So we want to push more information out so consumers can make good choices, so you as consumers of higher education understand what it is that you’re getting.

And the following (still the same guy):

 We’re successful because we have an outstanding military — that costs money.

To resume:

– college students are consumers, which makes imposing the business model on academia a must;

– colleges must be forced into even more cuts, which makes the further erosion of the concept of tenure inevitable. One over-extended adjunct can do the teaching of 3 profs. As for research, who the hell needs it anyways? So, adjuncts in, professors out;

– the money that is squeezed out from public universities should be pored into the military because there is always a dinky little war that needs to be waged somewhere to keep Pentagon happy. And private contractors, too. Yippee.

I know that you are all aware that these are excerpts from a recent speech by President Obama. And that’s the most progressive option we get.

OK, so how am I supposed to indoctrinate my students when I’m very disappointed with all of the candidates there are? I have to teach tomorrow, people, so we need to come up with something. I can’t let a whole day of classes go without some nice indoctrination.

41 thoughts on “Now There Is Really Nobody to Vote For”

  1. The damage done by republicans in govt but grave.

    The removing banking regulations opened the bank
    doors to (massive) fraud bringing an banking crisis
    on its heels the expected western banking collapse.

    While in govt George believed he was spoken to by
    God // God declared he was to lead a holy drusade
    against muslims // the result hundreds of thousands
    killed // death suffering destruction as yet be untold.
    In terms of money / such dire folly costing $trillions.

    Thus a bankrupt nation / as a nation in moral decay.

    The sad fact republicans did not win the election that
    put them in govt // t’was a win gained by voting fraud
    as aided by a corrupt supreme court ruling /// which
    wrongly awarded republicans as the election winners.

    The situation is not good / it t’will take time in putting
    right the grave situation that brought by republicans
    then a govt of extreme right wing religious as military
    beliefs / ideas / in attaining world military domination.

    On a brighter note // at present times the outlook is
    good for ones spiritual development in that we have
    Prem Rawat whom in having dedicated his life as a
    aid to all humanity / in their development of spiritual
    understanding / spiritual experience of the true self.

    On pc search put (words of peace) on site there a
    selection of videos in which Prem Rawat explaining
    meditation /of one via meditation turning the senses
    inwards / in bringing a unfolding of the spiritual self.

    Not ideas. Not beliefs. Not a heaven as somewhere
    beyond the clouds /but one in having very practical
    spiritual experience // which in bringing a clarity of
    understanding / answering the questions life brings.

    The material situation not that bright // yet it be the
    spiritual aspect of one’s needs is at present Good.

    Such the way of life one door closes another opens
    The loss of the material /bringing ones spiritual gain.

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    1. Ugh ugh ugh Obama. Ugh ugh ugh.

      “is this an inventive way of spamming or am I too suspicious”

      Repost if u belief in are country if u don’t u no u r 2 skrd 2 stand up 4 ur rites.

      “I can’t let a whole day of classes go without some nice indoctrination.”

      A fun class project is learning how to make molotov cocktails to hurl at the bourgeoisie. This is just about all I did in my theory seminar [shh the prof made us read Marx].

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  2. I know you hate the guy, but I side with the Ron Paul crowd on this issue.

    1. Kill the Department of Education.
    2. Remove federal oversight of eduction funding/subsidies/student loans.
    3. If you keep the income tax, provide a tax credit or income adjustment for education.

    There are many other solutions, but the “American” approach does not include federal government participation. That doesn’t mean that the individual states can’t prioritize on education and cooperate to provide a good education nationwide, it just means that Obama’s “State of the Union” speech should never have discussed education.

    The point I can’t emphasize enough that it’s not that education isn’t important, it’s that the involvement of the federal government does damage to the process of educating students – no matter their age. As I suspect you know, centralized management of a nation tends to support corruption, waste, and fraud. There’s just too much to manage for any human being (or group of human beings) to get the process right. So the human foible is to appoint cronies, rely on what is “known” to be “true” and above dispute, and keep things as they are without questioning the process. And every one of those things is destructive to the inquisitive process which is learning. The solution is to bring the education process back to the people participating in teaching and learning, and away from distant management.

    In other words, let the students and the teachers sort it out between them.

    This election cycle, we have no real choice. I, too, have complaints about every candidate, including Ron Paul. Like most Americans, I choose the least of all available evils. This time around, like last time around, I may be voting a third party – even if I “waste” my vote.

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    1. I trust the federal government incomparably more than I trust the state governments.

      In a country like the US, a weaker federal government will soon translate into the complete erosion of national identity. The US national identity is extremely weak as it is, as the endless wars and the hysterical flag-waving demonstrate. Weaken it further, there will be no country at all.

      Removing the uniform secondary education parameters will destroy the US within one generation. And when I say “destroy”, I don’t mean metaphorically. I mean that it will fall apart. The cultural, linguistic, racial, educational, etc. differences are too huge. There needs to be something to offer some sense of cohesion.

      Is this really not clear to people like Ron Paul?

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      1. The flaw in your argument is that it’s not consistent with this country’s history or rise to power. I certainly agree that it’s taken Federal intervention to correct injusticies and plain-old stupidity – we even had a civil war to settle one dispute. Uniform secondary education parameters haven’t managed to accomplish anything in this country. And despite the many flaws of Texas’ public primary and secondary education system, it has VERY clear standards at the state level that far exceed that of the state in which I now live. And most of those standartds are a hold-ver from reform insituted in the mid-80’s by the first Republican governor in MANY years and Mr. Ross Perot, then a local (Texas) hero.

        The difference in Texas – and it’s worth discussing – is that the people of that state made a very clear decision in the ’80’s to reform the system to favor academic performance and success over the typical failures of US public schools: “graduating” unqualified students, overemphasizing sports and underemphasizing phystical education, and drifting into political adjustments to curricula. That state has certainly slid the wrong way since the 80’s when all this reform happened, but that decline hasn’t been arrested by the federal government, nor do I expect it to be improved by any federal action. [In the interest of disclosure, I graduated high school from Texas, then graduated a high-profile private university in Illinois. My Texas education could have been better, but I’ve seen much worse from other states.]

        Much of this country’s power is generated from it’s regional diversity – not “cultural” diversity in the current sense of the word, but in the variety of adaptations to varying conditions and demands that are found in a geographically and politically diverse nation. We do better partially because we have a huge range of diffrerent peoples upon which we can depend for unusual skills and backgrounds, languages, and ways of thinking. We have applied these diverse people to many economic and military challenges over the couple centuries the country’s been well established.

        There’s also an aspect of this that is relevant to the “freedom” for which this nation is known. Ultimately, it is very difficult to maintain a unified community if “outsiders” constantly assert authority over local rules and mores. That’s not to say that there aren’t certain “moral imperatives” that over-rule such nonsense as racial discrimination in law, but affirmative action can be applied to riduculous extremes: marriage, for instance. A strong federal government IS a good thing, but when it pushes into private matters – and education of adults (18+) certainly qualifies – then it’s interfering in the lives of citizens who have a reasonable expectation that they may seek edification wherever they can find it.

        i could go on forever, but the thrust of the argument is that the federal government may intervene to assert the freedom of its citizens, but once it begins to require certain actions of its citizens, then we all become slaves to the “state” – no matter if the slavemaster is Republican or Democrat.

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        1. I’m not into American exceptionalism. national identity works in “this country” just like it does in every other country. You seem to want to persuade yourself that the US is so exceptional and different from everybody else that the rules of nation-building do not apply. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but yes, they do.

          “A strong federal government IS a good thing, but when it pushes into private matters – and education of adults (18+) certainly qualifies ”

          – What does this even mean? How does the existence of a state university like mine equal “pushing into private matters”? Do you think we drag people to our classrooms by force, or something?

          “then it’s interfering in the lives of citizens who have a reasonable expectation that they may seek edification wherever they can find it”

          – Who suggested that people should not “seek edification wherever they can find it”? Who are you arguing with?

          “affirmative action can be applied to riduculous extremes: marriage, for instance”

          – This is all too cryptic for me to respond.

          “There’s also an aspect of this that is relevant to the “freedom” for which this nation is known”

          – Known to whom???? Freedom from what??? You are confusing internal nationalistic propaganda with outside perceptions.

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      2. “The flaw in your argument is that it’s not consistent with this country’s history or rise to power.”

        Ironic-est statement I’ve read today. I learned about how the Articles of Confederation didn’t work so well in my Texas high school, didn’t you? Or is the Texas education system just falling to pieces? I guess that’s the case, since you blame the feds for not stepping in to help, when (a) that just proves that Texas can’t hold things together on its own and (b) Texas is in fact billions in debt to the federal government from the last decade alone.

        “the federal government may intervene to assert the freedom of its citizens, but once it begins to require certain actions of its citizens”

        Replace “federal” with “state” and you’ve described your hallowed Texas perfectly [along with roughly half the nation]. Loyalty oaths, policing of sexual and reproductive health, the TEA debacle two years ago. I agree that the government should not intrude on citizens’ private lives but could all you Paul supporters quit acting like total state sovereignty is going to make it happen? Or that “private lives” as Paul slings the term is strictly with respect to economic practice and smoking dope? This is politics, not making a wish on a leprechaun’s rainbow for everyone to be white, male, straight, and Christian.

        Wait. Never mind. That might be politics after all.

        “affirmative action can be applied to riduculous extremes: marriage, for instance”

        Now I know this ain’t some mealy-mouthed dig at same-sex marriage. Am I right, jack?

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        1. ““affirmative action can be applied to riduculous extremes: marriage, for instance”

          Now I know this ain’t some mealy-mouthed dig at same-sex marriage. Am I right, jack?”

          – Oh, that’s what it was?? Jeez, I can’t believe we have one of those around here.

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  3. What constitutes a “successful” college? I know the SUNY system rewards the largest portions of its money to its schools with lower reputations, and the smallest portions to those with better reputations. But reputation doesn’t make a college any more “successful” than the next.

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    1. That’s the problem. I fear that we will start measuring a school’s success by how much profit it manages to make or, even worse, how many students it graduates within four years. The results will, of course, be very damaging to the quality of education.

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  4. We already do – graduation rates and rates of external funding are really important for program continuation, place in state funding formula, etc. How many student credit hours were produced, how many dollars were brought in in grant money are the questions asked when it comes down to it.

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    1. I know! But do we really want to go even further down that road? The President says yes, but I just can’t agree. We run the risk of turning into diploma mills at the end of this sad journey.

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      1. We run the risk of turning into diploma mills at the end of this sad journey.

        So true. But, what I wrote above is still critical. We can greatly reduce costs if we reduce the number of administrators. I do not think there is any other way that is not a terrible threat to educational quality.

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        1. “. We can greatly reduce costs if we reduce the number of administrators. I do not think there is any other way that is not a terrible threat to educational quality.”

          – I most whole-heartedly agree. Administrators and college athletics, too. The multi-million fees to football coaches should go. Let’s build science labs and theaters, instead!

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  5. Absolutely. I have never understood why colleges have sports teams. With very rare exceptions like Penn State football, sports are a drain on school finances. It is true that a small number of students attend college on athletic scholarships and succeed academically (Rev. Jesse Jackson, of example) but the money saved by eliminating sports would help many more.

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  6. We may have gone too far down this road already, but still it’s got to be resisted. We hire administrators rather than tenure track faculty, and cover courses with adjuncts. We teach students that they are “consumers.” Etc. But this is what Obama, on the advice of Arne Duncan i suppose, is for.

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  7. tteclod :
    …And despite the many flaws of Texas’ public primary and secondary education system, it has VERY clear standards at the state level that far exceed that of the state in which I now live.…

    The role of Texas in K-12 education consists mainly in strong-arming the textbook publishing industry, and the other states’ dealings with that industry.

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    1. Well, not sure if the standards tteclod was referring to are textbook standards, but that’s certainly what Texas is known for. Interesting excerpt from a recent post by the blogger known as Rad Geek:

      Inquiry textbooks mostly fizzled out without making any great impact on the educational landscape or the textbook industry, because the big, fat, dogmatic textbook with delusions of omniscience is not just an accidental outcome of the bureaucratic process. Why is the process the way that it is? Well, there are a lot of reasons; but the most likely one you are to hear is standards, which in this context is of course another way of saying control — control over what students have learned by the end of the course, control over how students are encouraged to think, and control over the possibility of confrontation and controversy, either within the classroom, or by parents or pressure groups outside of the classroom.

      But read the whole thing. It’s a hoot!

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      1. n8chz, that’s a great link. If that was the only response I’d generated, I’d have been thrilled and honored. My favorite textbook is Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.” I don’t agree with all his conclusions, but he was no fool.

        What happened back in the ’80’s, among things like the consolidated textbook power, was a re-emphasis on “normalized” curricula. One might argue that the pendulum has swung too far the other direction, but (at risk of over-extending an analogy) the weight was VERY high up the arc swing the other direction when Texas started down the road it now travels. Back then, Texas high scool students weren’t graduating; kids would become football stars, but coudn’t get university athletic scholarships or even low-skilled jobs. One key change to the system was a link between performance in the classroom and participation in extra-curricular activities. If you failed a class, you weren’t on the football team any longer. The initial adoption of the changes improved school performance; by all accounts, it probably time for reform in that state again.

        Along with this “A’s to play” approach came standardization of the statewide curriculum. Nobody likes this notion nowadays, but at the time things were so out of hand that the state universities were unable to differentiate between students based on course curriculum. Imagine that for a moment: you’re looking at a group of college applicants at your desk in the univeristy admissions office, and you can’t make heads or tails of whether one student took an “easy A” course or the most difficult offering of mathematics available.

        So the state enacted laws and established statewide standards to get some of this under control. When a high school transcript included “pre-calculus” as a completed course with a standard grade, a college admissions officer could reasonably expect a certain level of competence in the student. the universities became a lot less dependent on “standardized test scores” and were able to rely more on “standardized classes.” While not perfect, it was a huge improvement over where Texas got started circa ’85.

        A short discussion of this stuff with details may be found here:
        http://www.window.state.tx.us/tpr/btm/btmed/ed01.html

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  8. Mitchell Freeman sez UC gets singled out unfairly as a top-heavy organization. Education advocates have been pointing out for years that tuition is low in states that subsidize higher education and high in ones that don’t. If some institutions ask more than the going rate, I’d look to the state legislature for the explanation.

    An old anarchist slogan you’ve doubless all heard, but that seems apropos: If voting could change anything they’d have made it illegal.

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  9. When discussing politics in the classroom, as I have to do a great deal since I teach public choice, I always emphasize that it is very unwise to pay attention to what any politician says. For the nature of the beast is to tell the audience what it thinks they want to hear. The real way to evaluate politicians is to check out their voting records, not their speeches. For the voting record tells us exactly what constituency they are working for, and with. As always,reliance on hard evidence is the best way to avoid any notion of indoctrination.

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  10. bloggerclarissa :
    ““affirmative action can be applied to riduculous extremes: marriage, for instance”
    Now I know this ain’t some mealy-mouthed dig at same-sex marriage. Am I right, jack?”
    – Oh, that’s what it was?? Jeez, I can’t believe we have one of those around here.

    That’s an interesting interpretation, so I suppose I didn’t make myself very clear.

    I was suggesting that a government that polices personal choices for any reason is just as likely to assert that one’s individual choice of a marriage partner isn’t appropriate and require one to marry according to government dictate – or deny one’s choice to marry outside the legally enforced norm. That accusation can swing both ways, so to speak, but I was thinking about skin-color based preference when I wrote that sentence. “Racial” laws regarding marriage is where codified marriage law got started, after all. It’s scary to think how far this approach to “righting past injustice” could go if one considers the affirmative action approach.

    I would be pleased to address many more of ya’ll’s comments, but this isn’t the right medium. I’m happy to discuss further via email. I believe a lot of the confusion is based on my attempt to address complex issues too concisely.

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    1. “That accusation can swing both ways, so to speak, but I was thinking about skin-color based preference when I wrote that sentence. “Racial” laws regarding marriage is where codified marriage law got started, after all. It’s scary to think how far this approach to “righting past injustice” could go if one considers the affirmative action approach.”

      – I must be dense or something. How can affirmative action influence marriage laws? People will be forced to enter interracial marriages?

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      1. Yes, affirmative action may be applied to marriage law. Codification of marriage law in the USA brought contracts that were previously private or, when no contract was executed, common law, into the jurisdiction of the states, and eventually, into the jurisdiction of the US federal government. If the state can argue an interest in interracial marriage, then legal theories in vogue today support the government’s authority to enforce that interest in opposition to personal liberty. No, I don’t think this will happen (soon?), but the legal argument is pretty straightforward: government needs interracial marriage therefore government may enforce interracial marriage.

        Returning to your original post, the fundamental concept here is coercion versus voluntary participation. Coercion is inimical to liberty. The foundation of coercive government authority is taxation (or, broadly speaking, encumberance) upon which means governments depend for the ability to apply any force. Economic might translates into other powers, such as those Obama wants to apply against US colleges and universities.

        You suggested earlier that students are not forced to attend university, but this isn’t strictly true. Every state requires many professions, including mine, be licensed; such licenses are not usually granted unless one obtains a university degree. I could not lawfully do the work I do unless I had attended a university accredited by an organization recognized by the various 50 US states and numerous territories. Granted, I could choose to enter some other profession or remain an unskilled laborer, but that supports my argument still more, doesn’t it?

        I’m not so ambitious as to expect that you will come around to my way of thinking regarding the place of government, but I do hope that you will recognize that your inital complaint about Obama’s speech is predicated on his authority to do anything about college and university education. He has the authority, therefore his opinion matters. If you really want to quit worrying about these guys, the solution is to remove from them the authority to interfere with your instruction of students. You are clearly a thoughtful person and likely a good instructor, expert, and so on. Students will come to you to learn, and benefactors will support your work, directly or otherwise. I recommend you remove the middle-man.

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        1. Benefactors? The only synonym I can think of are sugar daddies and, somehow, the idea of having “benefactors” in the close personal vicinity of myself makes me queasy.

          I’d much rather have a hired manager (which is what a president is) than a “benefactor” influence my job.

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      2. Two things. Two and a half. Ish.

        One, it’s not government per se that needs interracial marriage. State policing of consensual human relationships is detrimental to individual and social health, and the law has been altered to recognize this with respect to race, and hopefully soon with respect to sexuality. It’s pretty disingenuous, btw, to claim that repeal is better than amendment in this case. What are you suggesting be repealed? Marital law itself?

        Two, you can claim to be taking out the middleman and reinventing the unicorn by cutting out the feds till the cows come home, but what you’re really proposing is that sovereign states unable to balance their own budgets or even come to consensus on what education should be given their citizens [cough cough Texas] have unchecked power over their socioeconomic infrastructures. Do you not see the ideological apolocalypse looming on the horizon? Give the Southern states free reign? Are you fucking insane?

        Yeah, we need reform, of education, of health care, of the economy, of the entire national infrastructure. Gutting the feds and carving everything up into fifty squabbling sovereign entities is not that reform. It’s lazy, reactionary, dangerous Gordian knot bullshit.

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      3. Of course the federal government working toward a cost-benefit-based education system is unlikely to work out as well, in case it looks like I’m on Obama’s side with this. I’m just also able to realize that “wipe it all out” is completely untenable.

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  11. I will say that colleges and universities compete for students in expensive ways. Is it necessary to have expensive pro-level sports teams and sports facilities? Is it necessary that old serviceable dormitories be torn down because the bulk of rooms are doubles, and new expensive dorms with single suites be built? I approve of expenses incurred by updating lecture rooms, teaching laboratories, libraries, public areas, and dormitories to modern computing standards. I approve spending to maintain multi-use student meeting areas (AKA “student unions”) and basic sports / fitness facilities akin to a YMCA. The frou-frou and the excess administrators need to go.

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    1. “I approve spending to maintain multi-use student meeting areas (AKA “student unions”) and basic sports / fitness facilities akin to a YMCA. The frou-frou and the excess administrators need to go.”

      – Yes! Absolutely!

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