At one point in the United States, there were two political parties that each served as a balancing force to the other. There was a time when both parties were much further to the left of the political spectrum than they presently are. There have been many times when the two parties were starkly different from one another. That time is no more. Sure, there are some topical issues that they debate to keep the public interested, but those issues are usually related in some way to different biblical viewpoints. For example, we protest (and rightly so) the Supreme Court in the ongoing debate over gay marriage, but miss the provision in H.R. 933 that gives bio-tech companies like Monsanto immunity from prosecution for the sale or distribution of any illegal genetically modified food sources.
The rider to H.R. 933 (section 735), was snuck into the bill and the International Business Times reported on their website the following:
Many members of Congress were apparently unaware that the “Monsanto Protection Act” even existed within the bill they were voting on. HR 933 was a spending bill aimed at averting a government shutdown and ensuring that the federal government would continue to be able to pay its bills. But the Center for Food Safety maintains that many Democrats in Congress were not even aware that the provision was in the legislation:
“In this hidden backroom deal, Sen. [Barbara] Mikulski turned her back on consumer, environmental and farmer protection in favor of corporate welfare for biotech companies such as Monsanto,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement. “This abuse of power is not the kind of leadership the public has come to expect from Sen. Mikulski or the Democrat Majority in the Senate.”
It is well known that members of congress often do not read the bills that they vote upon….but why? Is it a sort of “plausible deniability”? What are these people elected for?
The start reality that we are facing is that there is now little difference between our political parties. Both serve the interests of the corporate elite and most of them are, in fact, part of that elite. They are wealthy and they serve their own needs. They are smooth-talking, power hungry, and more than anything else, they are greedy.
Our political parties, corporate pawns, are ruling over a country that is entering a free fall. The catering to the banks and corporate giants at the expense of the citizens is the cause of this fall. We witnessing the crumbling of the infrastructure of our country. We are seeing corporate dominance of our food and water supplies, our money, our media, and not to mention the terrible state of public education. They have the people fighting over gay marriage, abortion, and other biblical issues, while they assume control and ultimate power over all of the facets of society. They control the food. They control the money. They control the media. They control public education. Essentially, they control everything and the real kicker is that WE ELECT THEM!
The elite rule society primarily through the presence of fear. We are a fear mongering nation. We sell “national security” to a sleeping public that is more concerned about the latest adventures of the Kardashians than U.S. foreign policy in the middle east or Korea. They create this idea that the U.S. is threatened by these countries and then, as we have seen with the Patriot Act and the development of the Department of Homeland Security, quietly take away the freedoms that Americans once held.
Divide and conquer is alive and working well for the governing plutocracy. Until we start holding them accountable for the jobs that they are being paid to do, this will free fall will continue. We need to ask ourselves what we hold sacred. Do your elected officials share your view?
This is an excellent and very informative interview with Henry A. Giroux called The Violence of Neoliberlism and the Attack on Higher Education. Of particular interest is the ideology of neoliberalism as Giroux defines it: “As an ideology, it construes profit-making as the essence of democracy, consuming as the only operable form of citizenship, and an irrational belief in the market to solve all problems and serve as a model for structuring all social relations.”
So how much will the almighty dollar be worth once we have consumed all of the earth’s natural resources and left developing countries in ruins while ours crumbles from the inside?
The Violence of Neoliberalism and the Attack on Higher Education
Posted on Mar 27, 2013
By C.J. Polychroniou, Truthout
This interview first appeared at Truthout.
In his speech titled “Youth and the Politics of Disposability in Dark Times,” Dr. Henry A. Giroux argued that with the rise of market fundamentalism and the ensuing economic and financial meltdown, youth are facing a crisis unlike that of any other generation. Young people, especially low income and poor minority youth, are no longer seen as a social investment but are increasingly interpreted as a social problem and burden.
Chronis Polychroniou: How do you define neoliberalism?
Henry Giroux: Neoliberalism, or what can be called the latest stage of predatory capitalism, is part of a broader project of restoring class power and consolidating the rapid concentration of capital. It is a political, economic and political project that constitutes an ideology, mode of governance, policy and form of public pedagogy.
As an ideology, it construes profit-making as the essence of democracy, consuming as the only operable form of citizenship, and an irrational belief in the market to solve all problems and serve as a model for structuring all social relations.
As a mode of governance, it produces identities, subjects, and ways of life free of government regulations, driven by a survival of the fittest ethic, grounded in the idea of the free, possessive individual, and committed to the right of ruling groups and institutions to accrue wealth removed from matters of ethics and social costs.
As a policy and political project, neoliberalism is wedded to the privatization of public services, selling off of state functions, deregulation of finance and labor, elimination of the welfare state and unions, liberalization of trade in goods and capital investment, and the marketization and commodification of society.
As a form of public pedagogy and cultural politics, neoliberalism casts all dimensions of life in terms of market rationality. One consequence is that neoliberalism legitimates a culture of cruelty and harsh competitiveness and wages a war against public values and those public spheres that contest the rule and ideology of capital. It saps the democratic foundation of solidarity, degrades collaboration, and tears up all forms of social obligation.
Polychroniou: You claim neoliberalism is the most dangerous ideology of our times. In what ways?
Giroux: Neoliberalism creates a political landscape that destroys the social state, social protections, and democracy itself. As a theater of cruelty, it produces massive inequality in wealth and income, puts political power in the hands of ruling financial elites, destroys all vestiges of the social contract, and increasingly views those marginalized by race, class, disability and age as redundant and disposable. It facilitates the dismantling of democracy and the rise of the punishing state by criminalizing social problems and ruling through a crime-control complex. It also removes economics and markets from the discourse of social obligations and social costs.
The results are all around us, ranging from ecological devastation and widespread economic impoverishment to the increasing incarceration of large segments of the population marginalized by race and class. The language of possessive individualism now replaces the notion of the public good and all forms of solidarity not aligned with market values. Under neoliberalism the social is pathologized. As public considerations and issues collapse into the morally vacant pit of private visions and narrow self-interests, the bridges between private and public life are dismantled, making it almost impossible to determine how private troubles are connected to broader public issues. Long-term investments are now replaced by short-term profits while compassion and concern for others are viewed as a weakness.
Neoliberalism drains the pubic treasury while feeding the profits of the rich and the voracious military-industrial complex. In the end, it abolishes institutions meant to eliminate human suffering, protect the environment, ensure the right of unions, and provide social provisions. It has no vision of the good society or the public good and it has no mechanisms for addressing society’s major economic, political, and social problems.
Polychroniou: What is, for you, the role and the mission of the university?
Giroux: Higher education must be understood as a democratic public sphere – a space in which education enables students to develop a keen sense of prophetic justice, claim their moral and political agency, utilize critical analytical skills, and cultivate an ethical sensibility through which they learn to respect the rights of others. Higher education has a responsibility not only to search for the truth regardless of where it may lead, but also to educate students to make authority and power politically and morally accountable while at the same time sustaining a democratic, formative public culture. Higher education may be one of the few public spheres left where knowledge, values and learning offer a glimpse of the promise of education for nurturing public values, critical hope and a substantive democracy. Democracy places civic demands upon its citizens, and such demands point to the necessity of an education that is broad-based, critical, and supportive of meaningful civic values, participation in self-governance, and democratic leadership. Only through such a formative and critical educational culture can students learn how to become individual and social agents, rather than merely disengaged spectators, able both to think otherwise and to act upon civic commitments that demand a reordering of basic power arrangements fundamental to promoting the common good and producing a meaningful democracy.
Polychroniou: For years now, you have been saying that higher education is under attack by market fundamentalism – and you are, of course, absolutely right. Why are governments all over the world keen on turning public universities into training facilities for corporations?
Giroux: In the United States and in many other countries, many of the problems in higher education can be linked to low funding, the domination of universities by market mechanisms, the rise of for-profit colleges, the intrusion of the national security state, and the lack of faculty self-governance, all of which not only contradicts the culture and democratic value of higher education but also makes a mockery of the very meaning and mission of the university as a democratic public sphere. Decreased financial support for higher education stands in sharp contrast to increased support for tax benefits for the rich, big banks, military budgets, and mega corporations.
Rather than enlarge the moral imagination and critical capacities of students, too many universities are now wedded to producing would-be hedge fund managers, depoliticized students, and creating modes of education that promote a “technically trained docility.” Strapped for money and increasingly defined in the language of corporate culture, many universities are now driven principally by vocational, military and economic considerations while increasingly removing academic knowledge production from democratic values and projects. The ideal of the university as a place to think, to engage in thoughtful consideration, promote dialogue and learn how to hold power accountable is viewed as a threat to neoliberal modes of governance. At the same time, higher education is viewed by the apostles of market fundamentalism as a space for producing profits, educating a docile labor force, and a powerful institution for indoctrinating students into accepting the obedience demanded by the corporate order.
Henry A. Giroux currently holds the Global TV Network Chair Professorship at McMaster University in the English and Cultural Studies Department. His most recent books include: Twilight of the Social: Resurgent Publics in the Age of Disposability (Paradigm Publishers, 2012); Education and the Crisis of Public Values (Peter Lang, 2011); Youth in a Suspect Society (Palgrave, 2009); Politics After Hope: Obama and the Crisis of Youth, Race, and Democracy (Paradigm, 2010); Hearts of Darkness: Torturing Children in the War on Terror (Paradigm, 2010); The Mouse that Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence (co-authored with Grace Pollock, Rowman and Littlefield, 2010); Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism (Peter Lang, 2011), and Henry Giroux on Critical Pedagogy (Continuum, 2011). Giroux is also a member of Truthout’s Board of Directors and a founder of our Public Intellectual Project. His web site is www.henryagiroux.com.
An interesting and disturbing article I found on Alternet.org today….
Five Ugly Extremes of Inequality in America– The Contrasts Will Drop Your Chin to the Floor
The first step is to learn the facts, and then to get angry and to ask ourselves, as progressives and caring human beings, what we can do about the relentless transfer of wealth to a small group of well-positioned Americans.
1. $2.13 per hour vs. $3,000,000.00 per hour
Each of the Koch brothers saw his investments grow by $6 billion  in one  year, which is three million dollars per hour based on a 40-hour ‘work’ week. They used some of the money to try to kill renewable energy standards around the country.
Their income portrays them, in a society measured by economic status, as a million times more valuable than the restaurant server  who cheers up our lunch hours while hoping to make enough in tips to pay the bills.
A comparison of top and bottom salaries within large corporations is much less severe, but a lot more common. For CEOs and minimum-wage workers, the difference  is $5,000.00 per hour vs. $7.25 per hour.
2. A single top income could buy housing for every homeless person in the U.S.
On a winter day in 2012 over 633,000 people were homeless  in the United States. Based on an annual single room occupancy (SRO) cost  of $558 per month, any ONE of the ten richest Americans  would have enough with his 2012 income to pay for a room for every homeless person in the U.S. for the entire year . These ten rich men together made more than our entire housing budget .
3. The poorest 47% of Americans have no wealth
At the other extreme, the 400 wealthiest Americans  own as much wealth as 80 million families – 62% of America . The reason, once again, is the stock market. Since 1980 the American GDP has approximatelydoubled . Inflation-adjusted wages have gone down . But the stock market has increased by over ten times , and the richest quintile of Americans owns 93%  of it.
4. The U.S. is nearly the most wealth-unequal country in the entire world
Out of 141 countries, the U.S. has the 4th-highest degree of wealth inequality  in the world, trailing only Russia, Ukraine, and Lebanon.
Yet the financial industry keeps creating new wealth for its millionaires. According to the authors of theGlobal Wealth Report , the world’s wealth has doubled in ten years, from $113 trillion to $223 trillion, and is expected to reach $330 trillion by 2017.
5. A can of soup for a black or Hispanic woman, a mansion and yacht for the businessman
Minority families once had substantial equity in their homes, but after Wall Street caused the housing crash, median wealth  fell 66% for Hispanic households and 53% for black households. Now the average single black or Hispanic woman has about $100 in net worth .
What to do?
End the capital gains giveaway , which benefits the wealthy almost exclusively.
Institute a Financial Speculation Tax , both to raise needed funds from a currently untaxed subsidy on stock purchases, and to reduce the risk of the irresponsible trading that nearly brought down the economy.
Perhaps above all, we progressives have to choose one strategy and pursue it in a cohesive, unrelenting attack on greed. Only this will heal the ugly gash of inequality that has split our country in two.
This sums it up quite well…
This must be a lot of fun to play!
Gotta love Community Chest!!!
I still haven’t figured out how somebody can truly be “undecided” in this election. This cartoon sums it up well…
Everyone (okay anybody not supporting Romney) who watched the 2nd presidential debate loved the question addressed to Romney about how he is different than G.W. Bush. While Mittens danced around the question and tried to distance himself, he failed miserably. He has, in fact, one very big thing in common with Bush….Glenn Hubbard. Hubbard was a chief architect in the Bush tax cuts as well as a major proponent of the derivatives market that crushed our economy. Well, this guy is Romney’s economic go-to guy. Robert Scheer at Truthdig has a great article about him…..
Meet Romney’s Economic Hit Man
Posted on Oct 18, 2012
By Robert Scheer
Mark the name of R. Glenn Hubbard, the man who will make your life miserable if Mitt Romney is elected president. Unless, that is, you happen to be one of the swindlers who has profited mightily from the nation’s economic pain.
Hubbard is the ideological hit man instrumental in justifying the mortgage derivatives bubble that caused the Great Recession during the George W. Bush years. He now serves as Romney’s key economic adviser and is the front-runner to be the next Treasury secretary should the Republican win.
“Romney’s Go-To Economist” read the headline on a New York Times profile of the dean of Columbia University’s Business School, which notes that “During a stint as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for President George W. Bush, from 2001 to 2003, Mr. Hubbard was known as the principal architect of the Bush tax cuts.” In that capacity, and after returning to Columbia, Hubbard was also the chief cheerleader for a runaway derivatives market that spiraled out of control and left the Great Recession in its wake.
While pocketing millions in fees from the financial industry that he was ostensibly studying as a neutral academic, Hubbard was an enthusiastic backer of the virtues of a burgeoning unregulated capital market that sold toxic derivatives to the world. In a landmark paper that he co-wrote in November 2004 with William C. Dudley, at the time the chief U.S. economist at Goldman Sachs, it was asserted, “The capital markets have helped facilitate a major transformation of the U.S. mortgage financing system over the past 25 years. … The result has been a dramatic decline in the cyclical volatility of housing activity.” Continue reading…
This guy is as crooked as they come. Watch Charles Ferguson own him in his documentary Inside Job.
This guy is bad news…
The American Dream, as defined by Dictionary.com, is “The ideals of freedom, equality, and opportunity traditionally held to be available to every American”. The American Dream is really just that, a dream. For most, it is unattainable, often because of reasons such as race, health, or the misfortune of being born into poverty. Are the “opportunities” truly there for “every” American? I think most of us would agree that that is not the case. We live in a country that is divided down many ideological lines. We are deeply divided by race, gender, religion, and looming over all of these issues, income inequality and taxation.
How did we get to the point of realizing that the dream is only a dream? Many haven’t yet reached that point, but multitudes understand all too well. Apathy plays a big part. I have written about our consumer culture and how it has dumbed and numbed us to the realities of our society. The consumer culture has cultivated the minds of the people to believe that corporations are not only people, but are our friends, that they are there to serve us and nurture our well-being. As this particular mindset grew, the U.S. government, with their infinite wisdom, decided that the corporations do, indeed, know what is best, so they very systematically let go of reins. In deregulating the banking industry, they very effectively created a means of funding the corporate state while imposing very little risk upon that state. After all, that is what the people are for, a corporate safety net.
The idea of the American Dream is absurd. We are part of the lies, the myths, the fictional story of America. We are blind to the truth of what is real. We have bought into American imperialism and have, through mostly apathetic means, allowed our government to engage in terrorism. We don’t like to call it that unless it happen to us, but we really do live in a terrorist state. In an interview on September 20, 2001, Noam Chomsky was asked whether the war on terrorism was winnable. Chomsky responded:
If we want to consider this question seriously, we should recognize that in much of the world the U.S. is regarded as a leading terrorist state, and with good reason. We might bear in mind, for example, that in 1986 the U.S. was condemned by the World Court for “unlawful use of force” (international terrorism) and then vetoed a Security Council resolution calling on all states (meaning the U.S.) to adhere to international law. Only one of countless examples.
So as we condemn other countries who harbor terrorist regimes we look at ourselves as the savior to the world. We will eradicate the world of all the ‘evil-doers’ and do it all under the guise of “national security”. We have the Department of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act to keep us safe. Just keep that iPod plugged in and your credit card in use, we will keep you safe.
As the disparity in income widens and as more corporations pay fewer and fewer taxes, the cavernous divide between the 1% and the rest of us grows. To protect their interests, we having a frighteningly fast growing police state that is swift, brutal, and increasingly in conflict with protesters. The main stream media, wholly controlled by the corporate state, reports little of this opposition. They would rather you focus on your next purchase, or to take an even bigger step into fantasy, focus your attention on the glamorous excesses of the elite.
The elite do not like disobedience. They prefer a docile and complacent population that simply stays in line and follows the rules handed down to them. Noam Chomsky, from his book, 9-1-1, Was There An Alternative?, states,
Of course, there will be those who demand silent obedience. We expect that from the ultra-right, and anyone with a little familiarity with history will expect it from some left intellectuals as well, perhaps in an even more virulent form. But it is important not to be intimidated by hysterical ranting and lies and to keep as closely as one can to the course of truth and honesty and concern for the human consequences of what one does, or fails to do.
The rise of civil disobedience is not comforting to the ruling class. This is evidenced by the tremendous growth in the police state. The corporate class is dying and they are trying desperately to take all of us down with them. We simply cannot allow that to happen. We need to be awake, aware, and vigilant. Henry David Thoreau said it the very best,
If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go; perchance it will wear smooth — certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.
Why have we so easily relinquished control of our society to the corporate elite? Are we so caught up in ourselves, in our so-called “individualism”, in our sense of entitlement, in the busy-ness of our lives that we haven’t been able to see the systemic destruction of our society? Are we so caught up in who will “survive” on Survivor or be the “lucky” person remaining in some quasi-reality show that typifies the moral decay of our culture? Are we more concerned with with who will win the World Series, Super Bowl, or Stanley Cup, than we are who wins the presidency or who assumes control in the House or Senate, or what Justices preside in our Supreme Court? Are we so caught up in maintaining our daily schedules that we can’t see what is happening to our world? It is happening right before our eyes…
We have been deceived, and it has been a masterful deception indeed. Through globalization, the elite have effectively and efficiently changed us from a country of manufacturing to a country of consuming. We make very little in this country anymore and it has had a very adverse impact on how we view our roles and responsibilities in a democratic society.
We have taken an approach that we want to think and feel is individualism. Individualism, in this context, is “a social theory favoring freedom of action for individuals over collective or state control”(New Oxford Dictionary). We use this idea or theory to justify our own apathy. We use it to show our busy-ness. We use it to show our status. We take the look of being ultra-organized while, in reality, we are not thinking critically or questioning anything. We are working on the next item on our to-do list.
We live under the guise of “freedom”. We think we are free to do whatever we want because we live in the United States of America, the self-proclaimed shining example of liberty and freedom. The country where anything is possible and you can live “the dream”. We are living a lie when we think we are free. We live in a society that is wholly governed by the corporate elite. Chris Hedges notes from Empire of Illusion:
Corporations are ubiquitous parts of our lives, and those that own and run them want them to remain that way. We eat corporate food. We buy corporate clothes. We drive in corporate cars. We buy our fuel from corporations. We borrow from, invest our retirement savings with, and take out college loans with corporations and corporate banks. We are entertained, informed, and bombarded with advertisements by corporations. Many of us work for corporations. There are few aspects of life left that have not been taken over by corporations, from mail delivery to public utilities to our for-profit health-care system. These corporations have no loyalty to the country or workers. Our impoverishment feeds their profits. And profits, for corporations, are all that count.
Look around you. Look at all of your “things”. Where did they come from? As a society of consumer, we have put ourselves squarely in the hands of the ruling class. Our obedience and steadfast quest for the next best, newest, biggest, even better “thing” displays our loyalty to the corporation. They love our obedience. They feed our hunger for image and quench our thirst for status. They thrive on our insatiable desire for more. We can’t help ourselves, we are addicts to what they supply, and they know that. That is what makes the idea of “freedom” as it applies to the U.S. a truly ridiculous and far-fetched dream.
We are fooled when we believe the lies of the elite telling us about threats to our freedom from foreign entities. The U.S. spends more on their military than the next 26 countries in the world combined, and is allies with all but one of those countries (source – here). Are we really that scared of some foreign country taking our freedom away? Yet, we put our young men and women out there to fight a lie. In reality, they are out there fighting for our corporations at the expense of their own lives and the countless innocent civilians living in Iraq, Afghanistan, and likely soon to be Iran.
The deregulation of the banking industry was the beginning of the end. We have opened our treasury up to the criminals and they are looting like there is no tomorrow. They have no clue as to how to manage the money they are looting as evidenced by the 2008 financial meltdown that we, as taxpayers, had to pay the price for. Socialism bailing out capitalism seems so ironic in a country that so fervently defends capitalism.
So how do get get out of this mess? How do we change the direction of our country? How do we take back control of the treasury, the military, the government. We start by holding those responsible for criminal activity accountable for their actions. How do we do that? We have to aggressively defend our first amendment and we need the press to lead this quest. The press must hold our elected officials accountable for their actions. They must resist being part of the “club”. They need to expose the elite for who they are, liars, thieves, and murderers. Noam Chomsky wrote,
The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.
The elite have effectively achieved this and we need to demand that our press ask the exposing questions. If we hold our elected officials responsible, the rest will begin to fall in place. This is not an impossible hole to get out of, but it also isn’t going to be easy. Money corrupts and it has completely corrupted our country. It is time to stop consuming, become self-sustainable, and break our allegiance to the corporate state.
People never give up their liberties but under some delusion. – Edmund Burke