Of Lambs and Lions
… and Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing — Oh My!
So, this past Labor Day weekend we had the honor and privilege of helping the eldest of our two children move into her first college dorm room, at the university of her childhood dreams. Our first rodeo as they say, it was a proud day for us all, and heart wrenching too. Only six miles, and but a mere fifteen minutes down the road from our home — twenty minutes in heavy traffic — we missed her nonetheless, already.
Okay, one down, one to go. Now what? Oh… wait! That’s right… We still have to figure out how we’re going to pay for it all. For one however, I’m hardly convinced the anticipated benefit — little more than an ethereal promise of a brighter tomorrow — will ultimately outweigh the cost of a “private” university diploma. Don’t get me wrong. Of course much will depend on our daughter herself; her choices going forward and certainly ours while raising her lo these past eighteen years; to say nothing of her experience at the university itself. An Honor Student with a sound if overdeveloped moral compass, for her part — whether because of or despite our choices while raising her — our daughter has proven her commitment to excellence so, on that count confidence is high. Still, fresh on the heels of one of the worst financial crises in American history — and a debt crisis of global proportion at that — with student loans recently topping $1 trillion to surpass auto-loans, credit-card and home equity debt — becoming the largest aggregate U.S. household debt second only to home mortgages — I just hope that in net effect our continued support for her choice of university doesn’t prove a fateful, tacit support of her selling herself into debt slavery, just another cog in the corporate machinery. I can’t shake the refrain from the old folk classic “Sixteen Tons” — Tennessee Ernie Ford’s big baritone voice ringing over and over again in my head.
“You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store…”
— Merle Travis
Though essential to the formation of a civil society, it is little by accident that education — inherently antithetical to the interest of tyrants — is increasingly become the sole purview of the wealthy as they and their unwitting proxy shove us headlong toward the privatization of our nation’s education system. The most ardent and influential proponents of the modern education reform movement — cloaking their efforts in the flimsy guise of progressive social reform — billionaires and leviathan corporations are reacting on primal instinct to perceived market opportunity. Sensing an irresistible and guaranteed source of profit in the 500 billion tax dollars allocated for education in local, state and federal coffers, and with it, an unparalleled opportunity to utterly marginalize the sphere of public interest and influence — conclusively — once and for all, these sub-human beasts exploit any opportunity to establish in the masses of human kind, a docile, obedient and permanent underclass through the defunding and subsequent dismantling of, not just our public education system, but public institutions and the nation as a whole, thereby perfecting the totality of their tyranny.
Knowledge is Power
Knowledge is power — in case you missed it the first time — and today, under the direction of self-serving billionaire shareholders, corporations — declared non-human persons — are actively waging war for control of it. Whether by limiting public ( human ) access to it where practicable, or distorting critical truths where it is not, they are lock-step in a relentless march toward the culmination of ultimate dominion over human affairs.
Knowledge is power, and education ( key to controlling it ) is under siege.
It comes from an order of men [those who live by profit], whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.
Of course, a poorly educated populace is always easier to deceive and oppress.
- Top three states by number of billionaires
- Tied with New York at #2 — behind California — for the most fortune 500 companies
- Lowest high school graduation rate in the nation
- 30th among states by percent of population holding a college degree
- Lowest voter turnout of all but three states in the union
- Under suit from the U.S. Attorney General’s office for voter suppression
- Top third of states listed by financial dependence upon the federal government
It comes as no surprise to find Texas affairs of state awash with corporate influence and pro-business free-market rhetoric. Following from the establishment of new social studies textbook standards for the state’s public school system, the conservative dominated State Board of Education [SBOE] and it’s extremest members are literally rewriting history. Crafting a shockingly narrow, conservative, and christian ideological world view, to be imposed upon the nearly 5 million school children in their charge, the Texas SBOE deliberately stripped all mention of the name Thomas Jefferson from a world history unit on Influential Political Thinkers of the 18th Century ( purportedly owing to his well documented views on the separation of church and state ) replacing him instead with theologians St.Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin.
And therein lie the sheep — or what’s left of them anyway
Corporations, mythical non-human persons — the wolves in this parable — being non-human, couldn’t care less about religious matters, and yet the new standards are nonetheless thick with their scent, stealthily suppressing, or otherwise distorting historically inconvenient truths like the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; capitalistic tragedies like slavery, the massacres and forced migrations of indigenous American peoples, or Teddy Roosevelt’s Trust Busting legacy; promoting the idea of American Exceptionalism instead, at the exclusion of facts or events which might otherwise diminish it; encouraging a broad contextual emphasis on “pro-business” political figures like Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, and Phyllis Schlafly at the exclusion of key democratic figures like Jefferson and Theodore, and Franklin D. Roosevelt; requiring that the U.S. be referred to as a “constitutional republic” rather than a “democratic” one, while replacing any mention of the word “capitalism” with the more benevolent sounding “free enterprise” instead.
Lets face it — capitalism does have a negative connotation.
When they start distancing themselves from the language of their own propaganda we may begin to see it for what it really is; treachery, and naked greed. There — mixing our metaphors — is the smoking gun of their tyranny. Exceedingly well funded through shadowy corporate organizations with philanthropic sounding names like Citizens United or the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC for short — you can be certain that the pack is well organized, patient, and circling for the kill.
Closer to Home, and Too Close for Comfort
The second largest purchaser of textbooks in the nation, so profound is the influence of Texas over the textbook industry that, in a 25-5 bipartisan vote, California — the nation’s largest purchaser of textbooks — passed legislation prohibiting its school board from allowing Texas based curriculum to distort the textbooks it purchases for its own children. Unfortunately, not all states have been quite so forward thinking. Colorado, for example, ranked 8th among states for overall educational attainment, is apparently in need of dumbing down. Despite weeks of student, teacher and parent protest, just last night, right here in Colorado in the ironically named Jefferson County — the state’s second largest school district, where I myself attended K-12 — the pro-business school board majority passed a partisan and wildly unpopular proposal aimed at making the curriculum and tests for AP U.S. History — for which high school students might otherwise earn college credit — more patriotic, extolling the virtues of the “Free Enterprise System,” claiming that the current test — designed by the college board, to promote critical thinking — focuses too much on the negative aspects of American history and therefor promotes civil disobedience. Not surprisingly, significant portions of the original proposal put forth by the board majority, reads word-for-word with much of the Texas SBOE standards. Though they made a feeble attempt to soften the incendiary language of the original proposal, it stinks of tyranny all the same.
So naturally, our greatest hope for our children at the onset of their foray into the American Higher Education System and beyond, is that they may find themselves dutifully, obediently employed in “good jobs” — what Thomas Jefferson would have called “wage slavery” — and why not? The wolves are more than happy to lend us the money.
Finances schminances . . . Don’t worry about it, just sign right here. . .