Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Siphoning public money for privatized schools analogous to Putin's siphoning IMF money for a 40% gas hike in Ukraine.

Money, the currency of business transactions, is or has already, morphed into the most potent weapon in political conflict.
"What took you so long to make such an astounding observation?" you say.
Well, there are signs beginning in the United States, for example, that the public school system is now on the auction block. Private corporations are vying for students through slick marketing campaigns that endorse charter schools, voucher schools and even on-line home schooling schemes.
There is already a reported gap between the range of students with access to public schools and to charter schools, with the later accepting only those students without learning disabilities. Since marketing drives the American economy, why would those siphoning public funds for their private corporation profit want to contaminate the process by including students who require more individual attention (labour and wages intensive) and who are more likely to produce less favourable results in terms of graduation rates.
Additionally, with the private corporation-run schools, (and Florida is allegedly the state whose schools have been almost taken-over by the private sector, where former Governor Jeb Bush leads the foray on behalf of the privatization of schools) the curriculum is naturally leaning to the "right" while covering the required basic skills on the math, science, technology and testing fronts. So there is  a serious danger to the institution of the public school, that historic institution that some  would argue is the cornerstone of democracy because it is open to all, and exposes all to every sector of the society, in a working relationship that cannot be duplicated in a race to the bottom line, the inevitable goal of all corporations. And also, the capacity to restrict public accountability of the way the dollars (most of them public dollars) are spent, because private corporations are not subject to public auditing requirements as public schools are, means that those corporations can hire "teachers" with fewer qualifications, without union support, and subject them to working conditions that no self-respecting professional teacher would accept in the public education system.
So we can see the confluence of negative influences coming to a perfect storm, in the future viability of the public school system, in the U.S., thereby assuring the political and religious "right" that they will produce future voter-clones for the Republican Party. And, those votes will have been indirectly purchased with  public dollars siphoned from the public treasury and poured into the private corporations that run the schools and design and deliver the curriculum.
And of course, that curriculum will  omit teaching the benefits of the many historically successful and valid public programs in literacy, head start, food stamps, and after-school programs, not to mention the obvious advantage of preserving and growing the melting-pot component of a culture that accepts and values children and families from all backgrounds. So, in effect, these corporations are, with impunity, cutting the resource base of the public schools so that eventually, they will have bought control of the education system in the U.S. while also garnering substantial profits for their shareholders.
In the United States, literally everything is for sale!
And in the geopolitical arena, we now watch Putin raise the price of natural gas going to the Ukraine by some 40%, pleading that Ukraine owes a debt for previous gas, but really targeting that money that was just allocated to Ukraine by the International Monetary Fund, thereby siphoning off dollars committed by IMF members in good faith to Ukraine, in order to line the pockets of the Russian cleptocracy that has already demonstrated its capacity to get rich under the Putin-economics.
"Monkey see, monkey do" is a trite phrase that easily and accurately describes the parallel.
Citizens United, the court case that permitted the Supreme Court in the United States to unleash a mountain of private cash into the political process, merely took a little longer and was a little more complicated than the Putin freeing the gates of the profits of natural resource sales to his inner circle.
There might be some who will be offended by the comparison of the United States with the prevailing pattern in the new Russia, but there are obvious and dangerous parallels.
And what is missing from both systems, although slightly more masked in North America is the participation and influence of an informed, activist and independent electorate.
What we are watching in  both arenas, and in many other venues with different characters and different circumstances, is the death of democracy. It is a mere shadow of what it once was, and what it could become again. The people in power, in both "faux democracies" and in blatant dictatorships, demonstrate disdain for the public needs, the public aspirations and the public good while they serve their own personal self-aggrandizement.
And we are increasingly see that model emulated in the private and professional lives of too many of our citizens, whose public interest is overshadowed by their pursuit of their own private interests.
What used to be called the "public good", something that most could and would agree was essential to the free and open operation of a democracy, is atrophying in the face of an over-wheening amount of cash in the hands of very few, being deployed in the service of the needs of those corporations controlled and owned by those few hands.
And taking back the economy and the governance that sustains this choking of the public institutions, including the libraries, the hospitals, the schools and even the security and military operations (now largely under contract in the U.S. to private contractors who are not accountable for their use of public funds) will be a long and arduous process for which we are not generating a cadre of committed workers, most of them preferring the quick-buck in the most lucrative sectors of the private economy.
And, of course, the restriction of access to the voting booth through newly imposed requirements on voters, (in the name of public security and the prevention of phoney and unproven voter fraud) is just another flank in the all-out militaristic campaign to take control from the ordinary people and put it squarely and permanently in the hands of the new plutocracy...everywhere.
It is not only revolting to watch this melodrama unfold; it makes some of us very angry that we are nearly impotent to stop the cultural and political tsunami of the rich into every corner of our lives, and the lives of our children and grandchildren.

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