Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cranky Bear Returns for Another Jeremiad on the Politics of Higher Ed

[Editor's note:  I have had quite the busy week, and just haven't had the time to write anything.  When this happens and I get desperate, I reprint one of my more acerbic friend Cranky Bear's missives.  Be forewarned: he's much less elegant and refined than I am.]

Hello folks, Cranky Bear here with a bourbon and coke in his hand and righteous indignation in his heart.  With all of the campaign hoopla, most citizens seem to have been distracted from the actual policies and decisions being made by our Congress critters.  As many of you may know, the so-called Buffet Rule, which I call the "common sense idea that billionaires should pay taxes at the same rate as the people who work for them" got nixed by Republicans in the Senate.  As aggravating as that is, you probably aren't too shocked about it.

On the surface, it seems like a pretty typical example of the GOP doing everything in their power to protect the wealthy at all costs.  However, put in context of other decisions, it shows their desire to give the American public a Texas-sized rogering with the white-hot poker of plutocratic capitalism.  During the same week when Republicans refused to make the fat cats pay their fair share, they have been poised to allow the interest rate on subsidized student loans to go up.  This at a time when student loan debt has surpassed a trillion dollars, even more than is owed on the nation's credit cards.  Apparently the billionaires swimming in money ought to be coddled, while the young workforce, already much unemployed and underemployed, ought to be squeezed by the banks until their pips squeak.  It's a load of unmitigated horse shit, but the Democrats are fucking busy hiding behind the couch to avoid charges of "class warfare" to connect these things together.

They do this in spite of the fact that conservatives still keep providing them with free ammunition on the issue.  In fact, Representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, the chair of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education, has recently broadcast her contempt for students with large loan bills, apparently never considering that her education in the 1960s at UNC cost a little over a thousand dollars a year.  College was so cheap that she didn't have to take out any loans.  It's gotten a lot more expensive since then because the state and federal governments have simply stopped funding public higher education, and have cynically pushed student loans forward into the breach.  Effectively, politicians have gutted universities while keeping them on life support via long-term debt displaced onto younger Americans.  Now, when the people THEY victimized complain about it, they get all huffy about personal responsibility, even when they were able to pay for their tuition each year with a summer job.

But will anyone with any power than little ole Cranky Bear call anyone out on this shit?  We are the midst of a horrific generational warfare that is destroying the life prospects of millions so that politically-connected oligarchs can buy an extra Leer jet instead of subsidizing the universities that are essential to create the workforce that they rely on to make their money.  These assholes have been outsourcing labor for decades, now they are outsourcing public education, too.  And yet when any number of states in this country have budget troubles, higher ed is one of the first things on the chopping block.  The hole just keeps getting deeper.

Many students now can't find places in community colleges and public universities due to the catastrophic lack of funds, and are turning to for-profit universities.  Quite a few of these institutions use their ill-gotten wealth to lobby to government for protection and lax oversight.  And where do their less than affluent students get the money to go to for-profit college?  From federally-financed student loans, of course.  The government is basically subsidizing fly-by-night shysters to bilk many of this nation's citizens, give them a second-rate education, and put them into deep debt all so a bunch of parasitic investors can make a buck.

I don't mean go all conspiracy theory on your asses, but I'll be goddamned if there aren't some dots here just begging for connection.  The whole fucking shell game is rigged to allow billionaires to make big money off of their investments in for-profit schools and in the interest paid on the loans necessary to attend those schools, after which those very ill gotten gains are taxed at a lower rate.

I guess this is all about enabling the "job creators," but guess what, we're the fucking job creators.  When I go to the store and buy (another) bottle of whiskey, that creates jobs,  When I have enough money to afford to buy a house, that creates jobs.  Folks, we are the fucking job creators, but it's awfully goddamned hard to create jobs when a huge chunk of your paycheck goes to paying off student loans.  Instead we have a vampire squid elite that is trying to suck out as much money from the public as they can, whatever means necessary.  We are dealing with a many-tentacled beast that doesn't give a flying fuck about quality education, public institutions, or a healthy standard of living for the majority.  It just wants the fucking money, and that's all it wants.  This grotesque beast that feeds on pure greed seems to have neutralized any and all institutions in public life, including our once august universities.  The biggest campaign issue this year ought to be what to do about it.  One of the party's is too busy sucking its cock to be critical, and the other one is full of a bunch of fucking cowards.

Higher ed and student loan interest rates are just one part of the problem.  I tell you this, if no one on the ballot bothers to make a fucking stand on this issue, Cranky Bear will just stay in his compound on election day this year, because a vote would be meaningless.  

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