Liberty, Fraternity, Pre-School?

povkids Big business marketing makes education its natural twin topic. That’s partly because BBM receives twice the budget of all U.S. schools combined, and also because, as the #1 devourer of the mental energies of the citizenry, it is also the #1 enemy of teachers.

Nonetheless, education is itself a major false answer to the massively harmful core purpose and product of corporate capitalism: the radical maldistribution of wealth and power.

Consider the latest findings about how that maldistribution affects human lives. According to today’s New York Times:

Nearly two decades ago, a landmark study found that by age 3, the children of wealthier professionals have heard words millions more times than those of less educated parents, giving them a distinct advantage in school and suggesting the need for increased investment in prekindergarten programs. Now a follow-up study has found a language gap as early as 18 months, heightening the policy debate.

Of course, the obvious answer to this structural unfairness is the radical redistribution of economic power.

Ah, but efficient and obvious solutions are forbidden in this market totalitarian society, aren’t they?

12 Replies to “Liberty, Fraternity, Pre-School?”

  1. Michael, this speaks directly to a recent fit of rage of mine, which concluded with me losing two friends – an above average learned and earning liberal suburban couple.

    I was baffled and enraged (did I say enraged? rage) by their smug insistence that “education is the answer” (to the problems of the poor in particular and society in general). Of course, if education was actually doing its job, one would think that the smugly educated would not fail to understand that this idle argument serves no purpose other than to justify their own comfortable position. You see, if only the poor got some education like we did, they would be just as successful…

    It doesn’t take rocket scientist to understand that the opportunities for mobility have virtually nothing to do with education. If everybody got magically educated overnight, would that have any effect on the availability of good jobs that the soccer moms hope their gilded darlings will one day occupy?

    Little kids who do not believe that the education is the answer to their problems deserve the best grades and admission to the best colleges – they are far more astute observers of social reality than the run of the mill smug asshole. 🙁

  2. You have to read this:

    It is a grotesque illustration of the cluelesness and the failure of pinning the problems of the poor on the lack of education, rather than on systemic factors.

    Basically this startup guy got some publicity with his project to teach the homeless how to code (so then they too, can have good jobs). The project quickly comes to an abrupt end, when his protege is arrested for loitering and his laptop is confiscated. Hilarity ensues. The best/worst part? The white savior whines: “I just don’t understand.”.

  3. Excellent reprotage, as usual, from Marla on the front lines. If education is any kind of “answer,” why has the nubmer of degree and money expended risen high exponentially (10 to the third) since 1980 while every social problem has also risen in lockstep?
    Martin Luther King may have been a “socialist” in word, but, remember, so was David Horowitz in 1969, so was every other college professor, so were the rockstars and the drug addicts – King was killed before he could turn into the dulled apostate that he would have become, assuredly, as an anti-rock religious pontificator.

  4. Quite so, Marla. One simple way of putting things is that this society has never acknowledged that equality is a fundamental prerequisite of democracy. I still think a great many people, maybe even most, agree with that, but the issue is quite literally un-raisable, due to TPTB, in the USA. Hitler and Stalin would be purple with envy.

    As for MLK, it’s always a mistake to underestimate the power of this system, but he certainly showed no signs of which I’m aware of selling out after 1965. Quite the contrary. He was shot for a real reason, IMHO. There was a decent chance he was non-corruptible and going to press the issue of class. And he was a movement representative, unlike almost anybody else you can name in recent history.

  5. Nobody sold out in 1965 – but then where are they now? Steinem in the sack with Kissinger, John Kerry now the voice of the imperial military, Chavez’s legacy in tatters, the New Left now the new Right, hipster ad fascists the successor of the Yippies – and King’s name on every urban war zone battlefield in the US where the movement goes up in neo-neo-slavery flames. The SCLC is now the voice of anti-gay Southern religiosity – how would King have not become the male C. Deloros Tucker?

  6. It often gets even worse than just tacitly endorsing the inequalities – i’ve seen several recent studies – approvingly quoted both in the media and in social situations showing that the poor have much worse decision making and cognitive abilities, their mental ‘bandwidth’ being taxed/crowded by poverty-induced stress. Fair enough.
    I wonder though – who and why would want to do such studies? Isn’t the fact that it is more difficult to think straight something that my grandma could tell me?

    Oh, the poor poor – they’re so poor, they can’t even think straight. Let me do the deciding for them then! I know best how to allocate social resources, because I’m not the one starving, ya know?

  7. As to King, I trust the security state’s analysis of the situation: by having him murdered along with peerage-refusing Lennon and silver-certificate-granting Kennedy, they indicated that they felt King was a real threat.

  8. Personally speaking, I put quite high value on the new wave of class psychology research. It certainly is a way of telling us what we ought to know already, as you say, Marla. But the evidence of the impacts is quite interesting in itself, I think, and proving these points is, too, IMHO. Being poor stunts human development and health. Big wealth both attracts and creates sociopathic assholes. Now we can explain the process with some precision.

  9. Michael, I would agree that in general it is valuable, but there can be huge difference in its impacts depending on how it is framed. Consider the last Charles Murray book (“Coming apart…”) which dealt with class allright, except it provides nothing more than the centuries old rationalization of how the poor are poor because of their own characterological and cultural deficiencies.

    Other than that, it is practically scandalous that just talking about class is almost risque and cutting edge. I don’t remember who was the sociologist who quipped that “oh well, it turns out there is only one independent variable in sociology, and it is ‘class'”, but he clearly spoke too soon. What class>

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