March 13, 2020

Collective shock and Naomi Klein — again

I wrote about Naomi Klein and her book The Shock Doctrine for the first time twelve years ago, relating it to Hurricane Katrina. That was the natural disaster that was bound to trigger corporate takeovers, in that case, public education.

The quote I put into that post is equally relevant today:
That is how the shock doctrine works: the original disaster ... puts the entire population into a state of collective shock. ... Shocked societies often give up things they would otherwise fiercely protect. (p.17)
In the corpocratic state we live in today, a natural disaster like this unique virus has already given us:

        1. Chaotic social behavior, including fear of travel, famine, congregating, and personal space
        2. Extraordinary, sometimes inexplicably far-reaching governmental directives (e.g., shut-downs)
        3. Huge financial reactions (the crash)
        4. Severe cuts to individual livelihoods and businesses
        5. Political maneuvering and strategies to capitalize on the instability

In other words, a perfectly shocked society that is ripe for giving up things it would otherwise fiercely protect.

Trump has always wanted to shut the borders to certain kinds of people, and the virus is perfect for going in that direction. He also called for a big tax cut a couple of weeks ago.  According to an MPN report, the Bank Policy Institute recommended “that the Federal Reserve lower capital requirements to zero. This would mean banks could lend an unlimited amount without having any assets or wealth to back it up.” That’s fun.

Marie Solis, reporting in VICE, also makes the connection to theory of disaster capitalism:
History is a chronicle of “shocks”—the shocks of wars, natural disasters, and economic crises—and their aftermath. This aftermath is characterized by “disaster capitalism,” calculated, free-market “solutions” to crises that exploit and exacerbate existing inequalities. ...

Trump has proposed a $700 billion stimulus package that would include cuts to payroll taxes (which would devastate Social Security) and provide assistance to industries that will lose business as a result of the pandemic. “They’re not doing this because they think it’s the most effective way to alleviate suffering during a pandemic—they have these ideas lying around that they now see an opportunity to implement,” Klein said.
She either quotes or paraphrases Klein when she also says: “This combination of forces has delivered a maximum shock. It’s going to be exploited to bail out industries that are at the heart of most extreme crises that we face, like the climate crisis: the airline industry, the gas and oil industry, the cruise industry—they want to prop all of this up.”

And I believe the super-corporate Democratic machine is also enjoying the chaos, offering Biden up to the electorate to keep the entire upper strata of the country financially very happy and selling the lower 99% the idea that it’s much safer to keep the status quo (= Obama years) than try for real reforms that might actually help people.

More and more links are cropping up about Klein’s shock doctrine theory.

Inequality: “The 2008 financial collapse would vividly illustrate the dynamics Klein so powerfully described. The Wall Street giants whose reckless and even criminal behavior ushered in that crisis ended up, after the dust settled, even bigger and more powerful than before the crisis began.”

Daily Kos: “And this COVID-19 crisis is yet another example of how the government bails out the rich, while everyone else suffers.”

Related post in EdNotes, quoting Farhad Manjoo in the Times: "... this is America, and forgetting working people is just what we do."

Hopefully the country will get a grip and realize that the proverbial rug is ready to be pulled out from underneath them in so many regressive socio-economic ways.

March 1, 2020

Bernie: "We believe in ED-U-CA-TION."

A short post this time to mention that the Sanders platform is more than just tuition-free higher education and student debt forgiveness.

At a rally in Columbia, SC, two days ago, Sanders made these points, starting around 11:50.
We believe that all of our kids — and this is a national issue ... regardless of the income of their families, deserve a high-quality public education.

We’re going to triple funding for Title I schools.

I don’t know about triple, but Title I schools need a ton of services they just aren’t getting, from special ed services, to school nurses and health positions, social workers, food, meaningful before-and after-school programs, equipment and supplies, you name it.
In America, teachers should be focussed on teaching ... and that is why we’re going to fight to make sure all teachers in America receive at least $60,000 a year in salary. 
Other than after-school or mentoring programs, they shouldn’t need to take on additional non-related jobs, like the teacher he spoke to in South Carolina who drives an Uber and waitresses on the side.

(I have to interject here that I’m not crazy about filling positions with under-qualified post-grads and giving them the same salary as certified teachers. There was too much of that going on when I retired in 2011 and maybe still is. I mean, six weeks summer training after getting a BA? That’s just unjustifiable. We aren’t paying for babysitters, we’re paying for skilled workers. Apprentice teachers — interns, or whatever you want to call them — should get one salary, certified teachers should get another. Salaries shouldn’t be equal if the training isn’t equal, much less the experience.

The Education platform is on his website with a lot more details: read it here.  It also lists:
  • Combat racial discrimination and school segregation (though I don’t know how you can stop school segregation AND have local schools without rebuilding cities)
  • End the unaccountable profit-motive of charter schools (Yeah!  Actually, his platform specifically states he’d like to ban for-profit charter schools and have a moratorium on public funds for charter school expansion).  “WE DO NOT NEED TWO SCHOOL SYSTEMS.”
  • Expand collective bargaining rights
  • Better fund special education
  • Protect the rights of students from harassment, discrimination, and violence
  • Rebuild, modernize, and green our nation’s schools.
I love, love, love this platform, which reads like a What’s Wrong with Public Education in the Year 2020, and I can’t think why advocating these things isn’t just a no-brainer for anyone running for public office.

Medicare for All and the Sanders stance on public education is nothing less than a win-win for the entire country.