The Greedy Goals Behind The GOP’s Plot To Uneducate America

The idea that any American can achieve success with ambition and hard work has been a hallmark of American exceptionalism for decades, but since the Bush-era Great Recession, the so-called American dream has vanished. With Republicans giving corporate tax breaks to companies that outsource millions of American’s jobs and obstructing economic growth, the prospect of a living-wage job, home ownership, adequate healthcare, and a secure retirement have become a pipe-dream for all but the most optimistic Americans. In the not-so-distant past, a college education was a hedge against a life of subsistence existence and even low-income Americans had the opportunity to earn a degree and hope for financial stability in the near and distant future. Those days, like the American Dream, are disappearing and the result is leading to a two-caste system that favors the wealthy as federal scholarships are shrinking in relation to the cost of a college education leaving low-income Americans with limited opportunities for social mobility and a better life than their parents.

The Republican primary has revealed a troubling assault on higher education by Republicans who prefer investing in tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations instead of education, and it “reinforces class stratification” in favor of families in the top 25% of income earners. According to the director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Anthony Carnevale, “The education system is an increasingly powerful mechanism for the intergenerational reproduction of privilege,” and based on recent comments from the leading Republican presidential hopefuls, they promise to continue the trend if they win the White House.

Rick Santorum made a ridiculous claim that colleges and universities are “indoctrination mills” and that President Obama was a snob for suggesting that all Americans deserve an opportunity to earn a college degree. Part of Santorum’s ideology is based on the assumption that professors are liberal proselytizers and that Americans are better served with their information being disseminated by Dark Ages wealthy clergy. Santorum has been super critical of public education that he called “big factories left over from the Industrial Revolution” and has argued to decrease federal and state roles in education. Mr. Santorum advocates homeschooling and he implied that it is better than public education because “it’s the parents responsibility to educate their children.” However, although Santorum is wealthy enough for his wife to stay at home and afford tutors, most Americans do not have that ability. The point is that Santorum does not value equal educational opportunities for all Americans.

Expecting support for education from a man who still asserts that global climate change is a hoax, and that evolution promotes atheism is an exercise in futility, but  one would think that Willard “Mitt” Romney, the acclaimed businessman who knows how to put Americans back to work would have a different opinion about government investing in an educated workforce. Last week, in answer to a high-school senior’s question about what Romney would do about rising higher education costs, Romney said, “It would be popular for me to stand up and say I’m going to give you government money to pay for your college, but I’m not going to promise that,” and suggested the student “go to one that has a little lower price,  and don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on.” In other words; good luck.

Romney failed to talk about federal Pell Grants for families with income low enough to qualify for the federal aid because he supports a House Republican budget that cuts Pell grants by at least 25% or the variety of government loans that assist millions of Americans to earn college degrees. Willard also suggested finding a scholarship or join the military for a free education. Romney, unlike President Obama, did not mention calling on colleges and universities to hold down tuition increases or recommend considering a work-study program, because he is not interested in helping low-income Americans afford a higher education.

There are several reasons Republicans are opposed to higher education for all Americans, and they range from Paul Krugman’s assertion that Republicans prefer tax cuts to education to preserve upper-class prosperity, to the Republican’s anti-tax philosophy. The notion of Republicans pushing for the American political system to be controlled by the wealthiest Americans is certainly true, but there are other factors involved. Globalization has made it possible for corporations outsourcing American jobs to be able to, for example, hire 8,700 engineers in fifteen days in China so they are less dependent on a well-educated work force in America. Corporations located overseas draw on educated labor from all over the world taking advantage of other countries’ investment in education and maximize their wealth by avoiding taxes in America.

The growing educational stratification and lack of access to higher education is in no small part due to Pell Grants failing to keep up with rising college expense. In 1979-80, for example, Pell Grant Awards accounted for 77% of the cost of attending college for those who qualified, but in 2010-11, the figure dropped to 36% meaning fewer opportunities for lower-income Americans to earn a college education. Republicans like the thought of an uneducated populace, but they also like taking the savings from cutting education funding and handing it to the rich and corporations. In Florida, Governor Rick Scott announced a new budget that cuts $1.7 billion from public education and gives $1.6 billion in tax cuts to the rich and corporations. Scott follows other Republican governors in Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and congressional Republicans’ lead in slashing education and social programs to give the savings to the wealthy. Republicans have revealed their priorities are enriching the wealthy at the expense of an educated populace and widening income inequality that is creating a nation of an ultra-wealthy few and a peasant class.

None of the Republican presidential hopefuls have given any signs they will help all Americans have an equal opportunity in education. Thomas B. Edsall makes a good argument that the Republican plan is to perpetuate the reproduction of privilege to favor upper-income students while restricting access to lower-income students, and Krugman implies Republican cuts to Pell Grants is building a caste society. Both are correct, but a bonus for Republicans is an uneducated population that lacks basic knowledge to make informed decisions with sound critical thinking abilities that higher education provides. In that sense, Santorum’s assertion that colleges and universities are indoctrination mills is a more believable excuse to cut education spending on a rudimentary level.

Despite the various rationalizations and explanations for Republicans’ drive to deny equal educational opportunities to Americans, the most plausible is sheer greed. Republicans have shown their tendency to cut any program or agency to give more tax breaks to the wealthy whether it is cutting Pell Grants, Medicare, or food stamps; they will slash any program to give more breaks to the rich and their corporations regardless the devastating effects on the rest of the population. However, no sane, thinking American expects any less from Republicans because they have no more concern for equal opportunity in education than they do for equal rights for women, gays, minorities, or the poor, and if they can keep the population ignorant in the process, then they perpetuate the privilege of the few at the expense of the many, and the many will never know it.

 

Image: amymellon.com

22 Replies to “The Greedy Goals Behind The GOP’s Plot To Uneducate America”

  1. Bottom line is Republicans would not have a base without the sheeples–the “dumbing of America” is a national tragedy. As well as an uninformed populace, we also have replaced democratic process with greed and hatred. Education is our best path forward.

  2. It has struck me that the disenfranchisement of “the little people” is actually their chief objective, and all else takes precedence over it, even greed. Money and knowledge are power, and power, in turn, gives access to money and knowledge; by denying these things to the 99%, they can progressively degrade them into serfdom. Cui bono? Begrudging envy: one does not truly have a thing unless one can deny it to others. If they get away with it, America, as a whole, will degrade into a society of houseless, landless, letterless people, and my guess is that we would not survive as a nation much after that.

  3. What the doofi trying to cut education fail to acknowledge is that education is an INVESTMENT that pays back hugely in much higher payroll taxes over the long run.

    I was a poor kid from a rotten neighborhood, with a dad working as a janitor and barely scraping by. But I studied my a** off and got straight As and earned every scholarship in the book. I also got big student loans to augment the rest. I lived in crappy apartments with way too many roommates, I ate 15 cent mac/cheese just to survive, I held down 2 jobs to pay for room/board and tuition, and I made it….

    But make no mistake, if it hadn’t been for government grants and government loans, I would never have been able to go to college….

    Because of a great education, I got an amazing series of jobs that paid at least 5 times what I would have made if government aid hadn’t gotten me thru college. That is, the government invested tens of thousands of dollars into my brain for 4 years of college, then my brain was able to crank hundreds of thousands, possibly a million or more dollars back into the system thru the decades.

    THAT my friends is a SMART investment on the part of the government!!!! I wish I could find investments that pays back 100s of times what I put in….

    But of course even back then, the Repukelicans, lead by Ronnie Raygun, whacked my student loans to the bone back in my last year of college. Why? Well harrumph, why are these sons-of-janitors going to college and taking jobs from Buffy and Fauntleroy, when these janitor’s kids should be janitors for Buffy and Fauntleroy, right where we need them.

    So I had to just barely graduate with a bachelor’s degree instead of staying an extra 2 years and getting a master’s degree (like my buddies with wealthier dads could stand to do.)

    So Carter made a huge investment in me, and I got a great degree and paid back the investments MANY times over in GREATLY higher taxes. Plus of course I paid all the loans back, with interest, so the investment in me basically washed out anyway.

    But then Ronnie Raygun came in and slashed funding, which prevented me from getting a higher degree and eventually making lots more and dumping much more back into taxes. Goodness knows how much Ronnie cheated the system out of, by being penny wise but dollar idiotic…

    Same with today. Go ahead and cut grants & loans, Mitt and Rick and Newt. It’ll save money up front, dumb down janitor’s kids like me to keep them more available for menial labor, and keep them from competing with Buffy and Fauntleroy in high paying jobs.

    But over time, lack of a GOOD college education leads to MUCH lower salary leads to MUCH less tax revenue.

    Go ahead and save pennies in college costs now. But screw the country out of long term income.

  4. I liked your posting. I would like to add that there is no stamp on me saying that i am PROPERTY OF THE UNITED STATES. Thus since i am not property the government has no legal standing when it tries to regulate what i can or cant do with my body. that applies to men, also. If i wanted to live in a country that was run by men of religion(you noticed i did not call them people of faith) i would move to afganistan. Its time for the american woman to wake up and use our voice Our voice is loud and clear that we are going to take back our govenment and clear the way for democracy and freedom from religion being used by my government.

  5. The one thing that scares those 1% is the fact there are 99% of us. that means that our voice is louder than their money. As long as we are able to keep the internet free we still have a chance to succeed in waking up americans. Censorship is real and is happening on the internet. i am censored all the time, and i am very carefull to not use bad language,but i do advocate the 99% to use their voice. as of today 50 of my comments on various sites have been censored. I am a woman and i am part of the 99% and am tireless in trying to help others wake up and smell the coffee, as the saying goes

  6. [open letter to the south]i really didnt buy to into the notion of the gop actually dumbing down the southern voters but two things have changed my mind.first santorum won miss. and ala. which is not that big of a surprise but want really bothered me was that have the gop voters in them 2 states think obama is a muslim.its no wonder that ala. and miss. are at the bottom of state education rankings.thats why it doesnt behoove the gop to invest in schools down south .its really a shame that people can be fooled into voting against their self-interest.unless your mega rich or a bible toting hipocrite you have no business voting for the gop .it amazes me that people will believe anything fox,hannity,or that blowhard LIMPBALL[rush]tell them.please all you southerners need to wake up i hate to play into the sterotype of the country bumpkin but damn you people are backwards.stop being used and start voting democrat and see the difference .stop being scared of change and start breaking the cycle of ignorance and racism obama isnt goin away .In fact obama has your self interest at heart can you really say the gop has yours.hell no.

  7. Egg-sactly, Dean. Education is an investment in our children that pays huge and measurable dividends to all of us.

    (You had me at Buffy and Fauntleroy.)

  8. “Rick Santorum made a ridiculous claim that colleges and universities are “indoctrination mills””

    They absolutely can be, but only neocons are using them that way. They have used donations to fund the curriculum they want, to do away with tenure, and otherwise make schools toe the conservative line.(cf Florida)

    Likewise, they are doing their best to destroy public K-12 schools in favor of private schools that teach religious mythology. Many of these schools are not making a profit at all–ironic given that “free market” is a major argument used to support privatized education. In fact these well subsidized private schools are offering scholarships to lure poor kids away from the worst public schools and teach them their proper place in the new order.

  9. When you consider the effort they make to try to “save” kids who are in school – and then convince them they need to drop out and “get a real job” (minimum wage hard labor with no benefits)… it becomes even more obvious that they want people NOT to be educated. That happens a LOT on campus, and I’d bet it’s happening around the country.

    Just how low will they go? Well, I’ve heard of girls prostituting themselves to bring in converts and encouraged by their pastor/shepherd to do so. In my case, sex wasn’t involved, but the girl DID get me hooked emotionally on her and in her cell church – and then they sent her on to get another convert for a different cell and kept me on the hook with the promise that maybe someday “God” would put us back together. A couple of months after that promise, I was “encouraged” to go to a local Assemblies of God church and to “get a real job” – starting out as a night clerk in a convenience store. From there it went downhill – and it took 25 years to get back to where I should have been in the beginning. (I might add that when I DID try to find a decent job after I’d dropped out of school, they blocked me from being hired – as I found out three or four years after I’d walked.)

    How bad can it get? YouTube has some videos of the street preachers on my campus (USF). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grFlRBTcJmM
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsGnik8AgDQ
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rRDFjTz7VE

    If you think it’s funny, or want to see more – search “Preacher USF” on YouTube. BTW… a lot of the students were brought up on that stuff. We had problems nearly every semester with students who would disrupt the class when evolution was taught (for instance). They actually support this crap! (And believe me… we’ve heard and seen worse than you’ll see on YouTube.)

    Think about this… on one hand, they’re slashing funding and even tried to destroy my school (I’ve discussed it in past posts). On the other hand, they practice the “flirty fishing”/missionary dating, and then they preach this stuff. It seems like a coordinated attack, and knowing them, I wouldn’t be surprised.

    The preaching – usually counterproductive in getting converts, but it IS a huge distraction and pain-in-the-ass for the students (you can sometimes hear their ranting in the classrooms). Students don’t need distractions OR that type of pain.

    It’s almost a siege, and many of my faculty friends have said that sometimes they feel like the school is a bastion of common sense in a lake of ignorance. We’re being attacked by the politicians, by street preachers, and sometimes even the students (who were raised in those churches) are a threat. If it’s that bad here in central Florida, I just wonder how bad it is elsewhere?

    (BTW… I have to go by those preachers when I want to get a sandwich. I once told one off, and could clearly hear him screaming over a hundred yards away. I also was injured one time by one of their people… but the police did nothing – I’d just tried to squeeze past to go back to the lab after getting my lunch and they didn’t like it.)

  10. In spite of everything many women will flock to the polls to vote republican. And they won’t all be of the so-called christian type.

    Sad to say there just are some women who lack critical skills.

  11. One question. If its the parents responsibility to educate their children, why is the GOP trying so hard to get religion into schools?

    Isnt the kids religion the parents responsibility too?

    Education is competition to the 1%. Its a small club

  12. I wrote this a while back; I have a different take on why these cretins call universities “liberal indoctrination mills” beside the fact that most schools won’t hire narrow-minded cretins to “educate” their children…

    …After the GOP wins, the new “Christian Nationalist Party” will work hard to make sure that “Good Christians” are in the forefront of the new education system for a pure America!

    Currently, fundamentalist churches (especially those that have branches everywhere or, are mega-churches) already have their “infrastructure” in place—they have fundamentalist universities, plus, church buses, schools, used clothes, church stores, tons of literature to distribute, donations to get old junk food to put in “care” packages, etc.

    Currently, the “Good Christian” have already spend millions (of OPM) to build more churches and Christianized schools (to employ Christian teachers) everywhere there is an impoverished towns and rural areas (tax free of course).

    Of course, most impoverished places really need money for a new water system the county can’t afford, or paving for their roads or new bridges that will not keep them separate even further from economic freedom…But, the new “Christian Nationalist Party” will work hard to make sure that only “Good Christians” are “employed” by those non-profit entities funded by the Faith-Based Program” started by Bush who will go around taking care of all those who will live in poverty, dumps that used to be cities, towns that won’t have services because they can’t afford the pricing by the privatized utility companies.

    The new “Christian Nationalist Party will be spreading around the “good news” as a gift….not condoms to prevent disease or more babies these communities can’t feed, but their Christian myth so they can build a “better life” for their impending hereafter…who needs those old industrial age Obama indoctrination mills where you learn ‘stuff!

    The standard formula is, the “Good Christians” all take a church bus to the people living “homeless” and handed them a little ”gift”, but is pretty much like a goody bag from a six year olds birthday party.(animal crackers and koolaid)…in all fairness, they do sometimes deliver used clothing and out-date meds nobody else wants…Upon arrival, they all get out of the bus, preach at the impoverished communities about how they could have a mansion in heaven if they accepted Jesus. Then, they get back on a bus and go to the next run down place to do the same thing. This is what they do in 3rd world countries and it works, right? It can work here too as it’s already been tested!

    If you believe these “Good Christians” are gonna’ HELP people get out of their homeless dump all I can say is, “dream on Klingon”! Nope, as in, never. Getting these people saved is the first priority; not condoms, education or jobs…

    And that, kiddies, is what the Republicans mean when they say we should get rid of all social programs, college elitist/educations is for snobs, and, we should all let the churches take care of those needs…that’s what they are talking about. Bus loads of Michelle Bachmann clones handing out “gifts” and telling you that if you only convert, then you can have what she has; the privilege of being part of her family of the Christian Nationalist Party….unless of course you are one of those grotesque ho-mo-sex-uals, lezz-bee-ans, Wiccans, godless radical feminists, non-believing liberals, secular humanists, “kullard” or “Mooslim extremists!!”

  13. If those “Good Christians” in the bus act anything like the ones running homeless shelters, when the bus leaves the homeless people will discover treasured items that they’d held onto for years were either destroyed or stolen. Some of them would be reduced to catatonia from the blame heaped on them, others would be legally insane because of the attempt to “drive demons out of them”. In fact, based on a couple of shelters that actually got shut down – some of those homeless people would vanish and be later found serving the people on the bus and sleeping on the bare ground under the bus (and eating the crumbs falling from the plates of the well-fed “Good Christians”). Yeah… they were using “thought control” to make slaves out of the people in their shelter. When the cognitive dissonance became too great for a couple of the people and were able to escape the compound – that’s how they got found out.

    You’re right, they have all of the alternative systems already set up. We have one of their ersatz “Universities” here in our county, and the place is known as a hell-hole that (1) teaches and encourages misogyny, (2) teaches the students how to force “JESUS” into everything they can (and how to disrupt and harm those groups they dislike), (3) how to bring creationism into the classroom and the latest “Christian” brainwash therapy (yes, they’ve been known to use brainwashing – not mind control but actual brainwashing) techniques on people seeking help for dealing with things, and (4) NOT teaching evolution or the reality about the world.

    If you believe everything that comes out of the mouth of the preachers and you are absolutely submissive (to the point of allowing them to beat you up on Saturday night if you’re a woman, and supporting the perp while the bastard preaches from the pulpit on Sunday morning), then you get along fine at their “University”. I know people who went there… and used to hang out with their “ministry” students when I was a member of that cult. They’ve gotten a bit more sneaky, but haven’t changed since it started. (BTW… according to my wife, the Southern Baptists started sending their youth there to become SB ministers when it opened. Wonder how the steeplejacking of the Southern Baptists got started?)

    The used clothes, old food, and so on – they do that (and I’ve been in some of the warehouses where the stuff is stockpiled and boxed up), but so do the “run-of-the-mill” homeless shelters and poverty programs. Thank God that people do that, otherwise there would have been entire months where we didn’t eat, and we wouldn’t have clothes to wear! Ditto for the meds… it’s often the only way poor people get the things they need to survive.

  14. …The used clothes, old food, and so on – they do that (and I’ve been in some of the warehouses where the stuff is stockpiled and boxed up), but so do the “run-of-the-mill” homeless shelters and poverty programs. Thank God that people do that, otherwise there would have been entire months where we didn’t eat, and we wouldn’t have clothes to wear! Ditto for the meds… it’s often the only way poor people get the things they need to survive….

    I did give them credit, but, when they do it, there are strings attached. When shelters for all “the other” non-believers(see the last line of my scree) provide, they do it with no strings attached. BIG DIFFERENCE!

  15. Yeah… know it well. In doing research on homelessness, I found two categories (well, three really) that shelters fell under (and this goes for any organization that helps the poor).

    There are the types that you and I are so familiar with, often referred to as “High Demand”, because they require things like religious observance, payment of fees, and so on – there are strings attached and sometimes you don’t hear about them until AFTER you receive the help. Then there are the “low demand” types that do not. The low demand could be further divided into those that work on the assumption that people who are poor are somehow ‘broken’ and need to be fixed, and those who operate based on science and compassion – and don’t play the blame game or “fix them to help them” game.

    I’m not disagreeing with you at all… I’ve not only seen it first hand, but also have encountered it in the research and studies I’ve done. Poverty researchers (with a handful of notable exceptions) know and recognize the high demand vs low demand difference, and high demand IS a big problem.

    (I also encounter a lot of people who think it’s somehow demeaning or degrading to wear “used” clothing or to purchase used/second hand stuff. I find that insulting because they don’t seem to understand how life can really be – and I firmly believe in recycling.)

  16. You know Dean this exactly what I’ve always said,When the boys of the WW11 came home and got educated, then educated thier children,they started to knock the rich kids off their highly placed positions. This is when the Republican’s decided to stop educating any student in the lower class. That ladder of success got to croweded as the climb to the top took place the competion was too much for the rich and privileged. They(the privileged) want this to change.

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