Going to School for the Man

Higher education has little to do with such nonsense as creating fully educated and developed human beings who can assert themselves. In the U.S., as in most places, education is just another big business subsidy.

Basically, the biggest businesses collectively own the economy. The more high-tech businesses need an educated workforce, while other businesses can rely on less-educated workers. The U.S. government, which serves these interests, must fit the population to their needs.

Supposedly to reduce the national deficit, the Bush administration hopes to cut spending on programs for working Americans by about $40 billion while voluntarily cutting its own income by almost twice as much, $70 billion, a benefit in additional savings for Americans who make over $300,000 per year. This deficit-reduction plan will increase the deficit and add to the current $8,166,923,206,416.26 national debt, which, we will be told, will require further cuts in social spending.

Of the potential spending cuts, $12.7 billion will come from student aid, the first cutback in entitlement spending in almost a decade, raising and fixing interest rates on Stafford and PLUS loans, even if commercial rates are lower. According to the Wall Street Journal, this switch to fixed rates "would cost students and their parents thousands of dollars over the life of the loan," and comes even though public-university costs have risen 54 percent over the past decade, A graduating student with the average debt load of about $20,000 would pay $2,000 more for Stafford loans while his or her parents would pay $3,000 more for PLUS loans.

One of the only increases in student aid would not be based on financial need and would go to students eligible for Pell grants. Juniors and seniors would be eligible only if they have a physical or life sciences, computer science, mathematics, technology, engineering major, or one in a foreign language deemed critical to national security.

Coincidentally, perhaps, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a business federation advocating for what it calls the free market and representing three million businesses, warned last week that:

*China graduates more than eight times as many engineers as the United States.

*India graduates five times as many.

*Less than one-third of America’s 4th and 8th grade students are proficient in math.

The chamber has "started an initiative with a goal of doubling the number of science, technology, engineering and math graduates by 2015" ?” exactly the same subjects for which Republicans have increased student aid.

The chamber will even go so far as to "conduct independent professional research to identify and rank student performance by state, or even by county, with the idea that businesses would find this information useful in determining where to locate."

As usual, when popular, anti-free-market (socialist) policies or programs, like a publicly funded education, increase business competitiveness and profits, businesses tend to abandon their free-market ideals. While continuing to praise free enterprise and the free market these businesses are also taking advantage of socialism.