"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Ownership Society on Renters' Wages

The successful creation of the Norquistian neocon dystopia turns on the ability to convert every social need and civic concern into a consumer commodity or a market opportunity. Look no further than the on-going efforts to privatize Social Security, education, health care, and even parts of the U. S. military. Witness King George with some of his reluctant vassals at Wendy's yesterday, talking up the thrill of choosing a health insurance plan on Wendy's wages. Here is how he took on critics of his health savings accounts:
"It's kind of basically saying, if you're not making a lot of money you can't make decisions for yourself. That's kind of a Washington attitude, isn't it -- we'll decide for you, you can't figure it out yourself. I think a lot of folks here at Wendy's would argue that point of view is just simply backwards and not true."
This kind of phony populism, as E. J. Dionne calls it this morning in the Post, ignores the fact that the Norquist solution to be imposed at the federal-corporate level will essentially guarantee two types of health coverage--the Walmart policy and the Neiman-Marcus policy. Of course, there will be the best coverage for those who don't need a policy. Guess which one the Wendy's audience will be looking to buy?

The same phony choice is being touted by the Bushes and other school voucher and corporate welfare advocates who base their reasoning on the same phony populism: Rich parents choose their school, they say, so why shouldn't poor parents?

With this story today in the LA Times showing private school tuition across the country moving into the $20,000-$30,000 range , who really believes that a $5,000 voucher is going to come close to offering choice to those who cannot afford to keep their kids in sneakers? As Kozol said drily several years back, when conservatives decide to give 20 to 25 thousand dollars a year for every inner city kid to go to to a school like Exeter or Andover, that is when I will become a Republican.

In the meantime, what is on the Norquist education agenda takes us back to where this post started, for the varieties of schools envisioned by corporate socialists such as Whittle will likely resemble the choices that the poor have now when they choose to dine at either MacDonald's, Burger King, or, of course, Wendy's.

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