Monday, September 10, 2012

Fear breeds lies, in pursuit of "moral purity" in U.S.

Some startling facts are emerging about U.S. culture, specifically as it relates to State budgets:
  • according to the Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC on Saturday morning, state budgets for prisons went up 127% since 1987.
  • California spends more on prisons than on higher education.
Add to these deplorable facts, the concept that Arts and Humanities education, at the university level, are atrophying rapidly for two reasons, according to the conversation on NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook about the expansion of digital learning today:
  1. Very few students see job prospects at the end of a four-year degree in humanities
  2. Universities cannot guzzle the kind of revenue from humanities courses and research that they can from the patents and corporate funding agreements in fields like science and math.
Prisons bankrupting state budgets, while collective bargaining rights for state employees are being gutted by state legislators,  in part because of a cultural archetype of right-wing deaf-ears to reforms like legalization of marijuana, in both state and federal capitals, seems like another template being imposed by the neo-cons in their self-righteous pursuit of 'moral purity' and fiscal insanity.
Another application of a similar non-sequitor is their refusal to cut the Pentagon budget which funds more military spending in the U.S. than in all other countries combined and has for decades. Military superiority, at the extreme end of that continuum, based on the need (psychosis?) for national security, while Food Stamps, Medicare, education, and Social Security are gutted seems like another form of the same insanity...gutting the internal organs of a society, including the capacity to breathe and pump blood, while maintaining and exterior "armour" (or more appropriately  mask!) ...
These are two examples of a society whose demonstrated need for learning the humanities has grown to epic proportions.
The business model for higher learning, as the cornerstone of proposals for extending university classrooms to the internet, contradicts all the original funding proposals for a university's purpose, the pursuit of truth through criticial inquiry. Universities were never intended to be arms and legs of rich corporations, serving the profit needs of the shareholders of those corporations. This is a gallopping monster...the profit-driven monster that has invaded the church, the schools, the libraries, the prisons and the hospitals, and threatens to devour the communities that continue to pour their dollars into its furnace.
The three traditional funding sources of universities, first the church, second the state and third the private endowments from foundations have all evaporated, for different reasons. Now, universities are being sacrificed to "control" policies in both national and international arenas, through prisons and the Pentagon.
The U.S. is a country, at least as observed from just north of the 49th parallel in Canada, badly in need of a return to an undergraduate Arts education, in all professions.(That is the whole country, and especially the legislators in all state legislators and in Congress!) No longer is a system of higher learning worthy of the name if it becomes merely a "trades" school providing students with the "skills" to perform a job...whether those skills include the arguing of a case before a jury, the surgical removal of a lung or brain tumour, or the skill of flying a supersonic jet, or balancing a corporation's books.
And the legislators who are steering the ship of state into the shoals of paranoia whether from criminals or terrorists have already lost control of their rudder.
Generating a divide between those who govern and those who need "control" breeds a perception of two kinds of oxygen, water, land and opportunity:
  • one for the privileged and those living inside the gated community
  • one for those living outside the gated community
There is only one main problem with that equation: we all breath the same oxygen, drink the same water, grow our food on the same land and march toward the same gates to opportunity in community athletics, in school teams, in university admission, in workplace jobs, in retirement living centres, and in vacation destinations.
And from what we have noticed lately, the more that people gate themselves in the privileged community (where the air is clearly more rarified, the water more clean, the land less polluted and the opportunity more like fruit hanging from the lowest branches on the trees) the more likely they are to become one of the white-collar criminals whose actions strip the fiscal foundations from the lives of families, communities, cities, states and nations.
In fact it is the legislators who are preening before their own mirrors their amazing talent for pandering to the "moral purity" of their electorates and their corporate puppeteers, while simultaneously robbing those same people of their basic needs, "because there is not enough money" to fund those "frills."
There really is a revolution coming, and the steps of those starting to march can be heard, if we listen carefully to the sounds of the drum-beat of sanity, of inclusion, of "we really ARE all in this together" and the relentless beat that war and prisons and pentagons will not, cannot and never have built either national or personal security to the depth and degree of the social contract.
The liars may have the microphone for a little while, but the evidence of the lies they are attempting to broadcast is becoming noted in so many quarters that the dust will corrode those lies, leaving them in the same "rust-heap" that currently characterizes many factories, across North America.
When we continue to do the same things, while all the while expecting different results...we are incarnating the definition of insanity.

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