Wednesday, July 04, 2012


●●By smf for 4LAKidsNews

“We carried you in our arms on Independence Day

And now you'd throw us all aside and put us all away.”

               - Tears of Rage - Bob Dylan + Richard Manuel

Wednesday, July 4, 2012 :: Last night, sleepless, I was doing my old guy insomniac catching-up-on-the-reading-– finishing Robert Reich’s long-form essay and indictment of the right: Beyond Outrage, What has gone wrong with our economy and our democracy – and how to fix them on my Kindle.

Kindles are a most interesting and self-promoting tool – not just because you can carry around a library of all you mean to/meant to/and maybe will eventually read should you live so long (Madame Bovary, everything by Dostoyevsky and John Milton and the entire LAUSD budget document -- but also for the insidious marketing genius of the thing – constantly trying to sell you the entire Amazon collection: “Readers who read this also purchased….”

Because I’m cheap and penniless I generally resist …but I am attracted to shiny, sparkly things. Amazon relentlessly – drug-dealer-like-– offers me the first couple of chapters of what other readers purchased - for free – free is good – so I have a superficial knowledge of the first 10% of great deal of the NY Times best seller list.

Reich is outraged by America’s disinvestment in public education, down on corporatization and privatization, a fan of “the public good” and not fooled that public-private partnerships and philanthropic forces for reform are really billionaires with agendas. Not much to argue with there – though Reich seems tempted by needs based vouchers. (The US Dept of Commerce – of which Reich was secretary in the Clinton administration – holds that charter schools are private schools spending public money – not unlike defense contractors.

He says “Race to the Top” – the Obama/Duncan education policy – is No Child Left Behind on steroids.

REICH: Meanwhile, the nation has been cutting school budgets to shreds, even though the size of America’s school-age population keeps growing. By 2015, an additional two million kids are expected to show up in our schools. Yet so far this year, twenty-three states have reduced education spending, on top of cuts in 2011 and 2010. According to a survey of city finance officers released by the National League of Cities, half of all American cities face cuts in state aid for education.

California has reduced kindergarten through twelfth grade aid to local school districts by billions of dollars and is cutting a variety of programs, including adult literacy instruction and help for high-needs students.

Readers who read the Reich piece also purchased Education and Capitalism: Struggles for learning and liberation – which takes Reich’s liberalism (like most liberals he avoids the “L” word calls this Progressivism, allowing the neo-cons and ditto-heads and Fox News to frame+name) to the Marxist extreme.

My college-age exposure to Marx was in a philosophic way - a nineteenth century platform in space/time from which to observe the intersection of History + Economics + Politics – like watching the Pasadena Rose Bowl fireworks from Suicide Bridge. Before Marx there The Greeks and Machiavelli and Kant and Adam Smith and Darwin; after him there was Freud and Einstein and Keynes and Garvilo Prncip and the twentieth century.

Yet, as Reich describes, the current Tea Party/Venture Capitalist/Billionaire Philanthropist Reformers-with-an-® are retro Social Darwinists (greed is good/survival of the fittest) like the Belle Epoch Robber Baron capitalists of 100+ years ago.  Maybe Marx is the hammer that pounds them back into the onwardly direction?

So I download the free sample and then the whole wretched mess – a collection of neo-Marxist essays on the evils of the neo-Social Darwinists- and Amazon suggests (readers also bought) Democracy and Education: an introduction to the philosophy of education by John Dewey.  This is in the public domain,  it’s Free.  free is still good – and downloaded in a flash. Money and tress saved, all upside.

Dewey is a deliberate and deliberative philosopher, applying his first-half-of-the-twentieth-century philosophy to education; Economics and History are subject matter, not fulcrums of thought. He comes down from the ivory tower of academe and actually thinks about raising and nurturing and educating children in the classroom.

I scan and take notes and my coffee grows cold.

Seuss himself would be proud: “Oh, The Things That You’ll Learn!”

The cat tires of my lap and my company, cats have no patience with insomnia. The radio is droning in the background with BBC cricket scores (These astound me – Basketball is high scoring, but innings in cricket go 378 for 17! – ¿WWT?)

The Beeb segues to an interview with Albert Laffer – the father of the Laffer Curve and economic guru of Reaganomics – whose trickle down theories of tax cuts and downsized government brought us where we are today - and is the antithesis of everything Reich and Krugman and Bernanke and even Volker are trying to with the economy. All the blame for the collapse everyone else assigns to Greenspan I give to Laffer  (Greenspan was in thrall with Ayn Rand, from that alone we should’ve been warned!)


All of ths free association starts to tie togeher: Laffer in his interview is, like Reagan, avuncular and wrong – but Ron was far better actor than anyone gives him credit for. Laffer dismisses reality for his own theoretical musing: If we cut taxes even more everything will turn out well because the wealth amassed by the 1% will enrich the 99% …all evidence of the past thirty years notwitstanding.

Laffer uses the ‘What do you want to believe?’/ Big Lie technique; stating+repeating that “Everyone knows that….” and “It is obvious that…” - when exactly the opposite is painfully true.

All we need in the U.S. is a universal flat tax of 11.8% on income and value added – and it’s a whole new wonderful tomorrow!

Trust him ….and have some tea with that!

The trickling has been up. The rich have gotten richer. The poor have gotten poorer. The middle class is fast disappearing. Investment in public education is dwindling – but the investors in its privatization are prospering. Marx said there would be days like this – and Reich has warned us about idiots like Laffer.

And John Dewey tells us: “Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.”  and also  “Experience has shown that when children have a chance at physical activities which bring their natural impulses into play, going to school is a joy, management is less of a burden, and learning is easier.”

Democracy and Education: an introduction to the philosophy of education (John Dewey)
- Highlight on Page 156 | Loc. 3295-96  | Added on Wednesday, July 04, 2012, 12:00 AM

I’ll take my economics from Billie Holiday and the scriptures: “Them that's got shall get, Them that's not shall lose, So the Bible said and it still is news”

Be safe out there – and not so insane that shows.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

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