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?

The Axe Fraud Spreads

As the world hurtles toward its Mad Max future, what are our wonderful corporate capitalist behavior manipulators spending their time researching?

Can you get males to start thinking more about their looks than they currently do?

landfillAs part of this valiant soap-selling endeavor, we are about to witness the expansion of the Unilever corporation’s efforts to foist its shameful Axe line of products on teenage boys with the preposterous promise that smelling of Axe will get you laid.

The Procter & Gamble conglomerate is now taking this pathetic fraud to the next older age group with the new “pheromone-infused” Dial for Men Magnetic Attraction Enhancing Body Wash.

And people wonder how American culture gets so moronified…

As the Democrats Stab Your Back…

truthCanada spends half of what we do per capita on healthcare and they do have some waiting lists, but they’re really not as bad as the right wing portrays them. The waiting lists are a result of their level of spending. Our problem in the US is we spend a lot of money but we have a bad system. In Canada they have a good system but they just don’t spend enough money on it. We have great hospitals and great nurses and well-trained doctors and lots of fancy technology. We have what we need, and yet we still can’t take care of patients because the financing system doesn’t work.

— Steffie Woolhandler, M.D.

The Continuing War on Schooling

Let them eat training!

Among the multiple disasters being perpetuated by Obama is the lack of anything but the status quo ante on education. Like basically everything else, schools are clearly in for more of the same under the reign of the 2008 Marketer of the Year.

But let’s stop to ask about the real reasons our schools are “failing,” shall we?

The consensus answer among our overseers is that educational failure is internal, not external to schools themselves.

For those susceptible to this standard Business Party line, I would not only remind you that, in the USA, we spend more than twice as much money on big business marketing than we do on all forms and levels of education combined, public plus private.

I would also refer you to the recent statement of Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Killiam Klinton, and spokesperson for the far left end of the “serious” politicians. Here’s Mr. Reich’s explanation of the inherent limits of education in this, history’s richest and most powerful empire:

Not all of our young people can or should receive a four-year college degree, but we can do far better for them than we’re doing now. At the least, every young person should have access to a year or two beyond high school, in order to gain a certificate attesting to their expertise in a particular area of technical competence. Technicians who install, upgrade, and service automated and computerized machinery — office technicians, auto technicians, computer technicians, environmental technicians — will be in ever-greater demand.

So, why can’t we all go to real college? Because, as Reich knows but cannot say (for fear of losing his cushy, undeserved elite academic gigs and his insider connections), that would constitute a mortal threat to our overclass, which relies on “matching” our brains and expectations to the structure of employment, entertainment, and politics produced by corporate capitalism’s market-totalitarian logic. Too much knowledge and self-confidence is simply intolerable to that order. It literally couldn’t be handled.

The truth, of course, is that this is nothing like an equal opportunity society, despite the frequent incantations to the contrary. Equality of opportunity requires equality of condition, from zero up to the starting line for grown-up life (which brain biology now shows to be something like age 25). We have nothing of the sort, and Obama is making excuses, not answers, for that.

Schools are merely one symptom, not a cause, of our terrible disease. To the extent they could help cure the disease, they are intentionally barred from doing so.

Marketing and Age Compression

compressAs anybody who spends time around kids knows, the problem of “age compression” continues to worsen in this market-totalitarian society.

Age compression is the result of incessant indoctrination toward perceptions, preferences, and self-presentations that big business marketers call “aspirational.”

Boston-based K-8 teacher Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin reports at the excellent Rethinking Schools website:

“I saw you on My Space!”

“Yesterday after school Trina and Shayla got in a catfight over Brandon!”

“My butt is hot!”

“I got his phone number!”

“She thinks she’s cuter than me.”

These comments may or may not raise an eyebrow in any middle school classroom, but the year they became a common occurrence in my kindergarten and 1st-grade classroom threw me for a loop. It was just a few years ago, and at that time I had been teaching for 18 years.

In case you wonder how well-indoctrinated we are to the demands of our bail-out-taking corporate overclass, consider the weakness of McLaughlin’s conclusion from her own experiences:

Children are complex, and pop culture and media are not the sole cause of their troubles.

OK. Cigarettes aren’t the sole cause of lung cancer, either, are they?

The facts, meanwhile, could hardly be starker. Big businesses not only commonly seek to anchor their sales efforts in aspirations, but, by good capitalist logic, they choose the least attainable aspirations as the anchor points.

As I learned in researching my book, The Consumer Trap, the marketers of Pepsi-Cola have conducted long-running marketing/anthropology research projects to discover how best to boost sales by tying their sugary product (which they know kids “shouldn’t drink”) to psycho-social fantasies. One finding from such studies was that “the twenty-three-year-old image” was the best one to shoot for.

This, of course, makes eminent sense, from the perspective of sales imperatives. Being 23 is not only a fleeting moment of maximum health and exuberance, but is also the pinnacle of the kinds of aspirational “looks” on which capitalist modeling is based. Plus, it’s old enough to drink alcohol. Who wouldn’t want to be 23, already or again?

Of course, as anybody who’s spent a moment critically observing adults also knows, corporate capitalist age compression is certainly not confined to kids. If you wonder why the society acts like a late-teen/young-adult who expects mommy and daddy to swoop by and pay off the overdue credit card, go out and take a peek at all the 50-year-olds dressed and coiffed and talking like high-schoolers.

Money is not a viable basis for human culture, after all, it would seem.

NerObama: Another Clampdown Coming


You grow up and you calm down and You’re working for the clampdown.
So you got someone to boss around. It makes you feel big now…
You start wearing the blue and brown and you’re working for the clampdown.
-The Clash

Elected on a wave of popular disgust with the imperial status quo, Barack Obama is far exceeding all expectations in his diligent ideologies-over-facts stonewalling on behalf of his overclass sponsors.  Never in our history has the gulf between popular majorities and the actions of sitting policy-makers been wider.

And it ain’t gonna get any narrower, barring popular rebellion.  Just yesterday, NerObama announced to the G20 that the rest of the world cannot depend on the United States again being “a voracious consumer market.”

Properly translated, this is a signal that, once the bank-dole dust settles and the car-corp handout gets finalized, there is going to be a redoubled attack on “social spending” and the working class in general.

In other words, this “no more voracious consumer market” stuff is code-talk signifying that NerObie isn’t going to pull a New New Deal out of his hat.

In overclass talk, “consumer” means the non-rich, the commoners, the proles. What NerObama is saying is that he is not going to do anything to boost the American masses’ capacity to buy. Now that the financiers’ great surf-party has crashed on maxed-out credit cards and “equity lines,” stimulating subaltern buying power is off the table.

Obama, who apparently read all those campaign-publicized books about the 1930s in order to huff in the ghost of Herbert Hoover, is making the friend-of-Zbig, Jimmy “MX” Carter, look like FDR.