Markets über alles

After exposing Obama’s shifting rhetoric, grand statements followed by milquetoast aspirations, Salon‘s Eric Levitz continues:

The point here is less to criticize the Obama administration’s timidity than to illustrate the incredible onus our politics places on education. We have an economy in which 46.5 million Americans live in poverty, the real unemployment rate is above 12 percent, and our 400 wealthiest citizens enjoy as much wealth as the entire bottom half of the population. But a political system designed for gridlock, the grossly disproportionate influence of the rich, and Americans’ ideological aversion to class politics conspire to make it politically inadvisable for a Democratic president to even speak the words “income inequality” before a national audience. Absent the political will to explore redistributive structural reforms, we’re left with “ladders of opportunity,” and a vision of economic salvation through higher test scores.

Levitz asks if America’s obsession with markets threatens the very idea of public, in this case education. The assault on schools, from faux reformers to neglectful politicians, appears to be working. It began with the massive vilification of classroom teachers and their unions. It may very well end with the shuttering of all public schools, leaving education to private firms or none at all. Then only those with money will provide for the intellectual nourishment of their progeny. Children of the Rest of Us will have to find something else to do. Video games? Mayhem?

The good news, in a very sick sort of way: if there are no schools there will be no students to die at the hands of deranged gunmen.

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