IHE comment

It seems like social stratification goes hand-in-hand with the development of complex large economies in peacetime. The USA is astoundingly rich, but historically it seems to take political upheavals to spread the wealth across the classes. In the absence of such upheavals (examples: revolutions, world wars, economic depressions), the rich keep getting (incrementally) richer and the poor get (incrementally) poorer, and the work of Raj Chetty and Thomas Piketty says as much. In the US, we do have a system in which these kinds of problems can be addressed; examples are Tedddy Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

However, it takes either a transformative figure or a mass movement of people, and often both. In such a context, I agree that it's patently ridiculous to talk about "finding efficiencies." To me that sounds like "Let's not make our lives/careers and those of our students so miserable!" In an unequal society, more education will just make the educated make less money. The French Revolution came about because the King Louis XVI went bankrupt, but also because commoners, 98% of the population, were systematically shut out from lucrative career tracks. At the time people wanted to maintain the *ancient regime* badly, but the system was so backward and inefficient that it simply couldn't be maintained. I agree that there is a political time bomb on the way but I pray it can come about sans upheaval.

And: PowerPoint should be BANNED.




No profanes - sacred
Comment on IHE -- DJT

I like this essay much, Prof. Spivey. DJT had a simple emotional appeal: "We're losing. Why? We should be winning. Make America great again." Essentially no public intellectuals liked him or voted for him, but he went and listened to and had rallies with people who have felt dispossessed in the last few decades -- and for good reason, because it's evident to me that the neoliberal project is a bipartisan project. (Except for community college, how much of the average college student's tuition is covered by government contributions?) That his policies will exacerbate the problems was less germane than the fact that frustrated people were being recognized. Indeed I just saw a headline that life expectancy is dropping in the US. Something is wrong when honest people can't make a decent living sans connections and years of education. The election had two reviled candidates and many people decided to vote for the wild card who might "shake things up," as one gentleman told me a couple weeks before election day, even though the Democrat in the race proved DJT's unfitness. That people voted for someone who appears to be a narcissist-sociopath instead of the status quo (i.e. a third Obama term) speaks volumes.



An analogy may provide insight here. The French Revolution occurred not only because the clergy and the aristocrats paid little or no taxes and the bourgeoisie were heavily taxed, but also because ambitious men sans connections were systematically blocked from careers in the church or government. In a country with over 20 million people, only a few thousand were eligible to enter these careers. To me, that sounds much like the complaints everyday people have about "the elites" in government, media, even academia. (In academia, who among us has not complained about the academic administrators lining their pockets while we teachers get fleeced and our profession casualized?) Yet, those people get to vote. We have a system where we have a potential bloodless coup d'état every two or four years. Prof. Spivey didn't put it this way, but his essay makes me reflect that we get the government we want and the government we deserve.




No profanes - sacred
Open Letter to Education Ventures, NY NY



Dear University Ventures guys,

I hope your team fails miserably. Education is a public, civic good and it is apparent that your company and its ilk merely seek to extract value from the education industry, from pre-K to graduate school. Your own biographies speak for themselves, with top-flight credentials from the Ivy League and so on. Instead of finding creative ways to lower the quality of our current education system, your team could raise the quality of all education -- to mimic the way that you all were educated, and not in some cheap "online" coursework or union-busting "charter school" way. All students deserve an expert teacher (in K-12) or a scholar in their field (post-secondary) who is fairly compensated with job protections. Working conditions are student-learning conditions.

I am anxious to hear how University Ventures Fund of New York, New York will contribute to our education system. I am waiting patiently for the University Ventures response.



No profanes - sacred

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