Monday, November 15, 2010

the roar of money

the roar of money overwhelms reasoned voices, hijacking some for its own purposes, simply drowning out the rest.

the recent documentary film about charter schools, 'waiting for superman,' is a great example. just as with the health care industry (and health care reform) previously, the floods of money pouring into education (as a profit-making investment) seize control of the agenda and give an appearance of a groundswell of support for certain policies. it is unfortunate that the filmmaker, a man with an elite private school background, should be suckered into bashing public schools. he magnifies slivers of truth (that a small percentage of charter schools, for example, do an excellent job teaching kids) to create a perception of inevitability and reasonability around his proposed goal of taking the wrecking ball to whole swaths of the public system. and the beneficiaries: investors. the other national systems he praises in the film -- finland, for example -- did not amputate their own system, firing teachers wholesale and opening it up for profit, the measures he advocates. rather, that country strengthened the teaching force, investing in it long term.

but money is impatient; it roars with vibrant energy; lately its feeding ground, financial 'services,' has been reduced; it leaps against the remaining barriers to its wriggling movement. long term does not interest money or its elitist managers.

moneyed interests similarly took over health care reform, either emasculating strong positive measures or enshrining frankly profit-oriented measures. in one respect, GOP criticism was correct, if made in bad faith: the resulting measures do little to bring down costs. but the GOP would never agree to the one thing that would really (as opposed to incrementally, as in limiting lawsuits) bring down costs: establish a national health care system. the GOP is protecting private profits while pretending to protect the public interest. unfortunately, key democratic leaders are in the same ball game. Chuck Schumer is one.

hear the roar of money! from a little distance, through the TV playing in the other room, it almost sounds like democracy, the voice of the people! no. no, we are in a new guilded age, assisted by a pro-money supreme court and a pro-money senate. hear its deafening roar, a turbulence we'll grow accustomed to over decades to come.

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