Class Wars

If people spend other people’s money on other people, they are not careful about the amount of money they spend, nor are they careful about what they spend it on. That is government.

“Evidence of Absence,” Donald Rumsfeld, Harpers, May 2011

I am always behind on my reading– unemployment, if nothing else, may fix that– and this morning I found this example of one of what Rumsfeld calls his  intellectual “snowflakes.” As Rumsfeld writes elsewhere in the same piece, “Before the thugs, go the liars.” Even if we disagree about how the money is spent, an ethical democratic government spends, by definition, our money on ourselves. The thuggery that follows this Rumsfeldian lie continues.

It always begins with de-funding: the more you cut back financial support for government services, the worst things work, and the worst things work the more you can claim that government doesn’t work well. The logical end of this process is dismantling, which is what is apparently being attempted at the University of Northern Iowa (“Cuts Ahead“).  This would represent a new, more profound stage in the class war facilitated by our ongoing economic problems.

It’s one thing to wonder how far the cuts will go, or to see how financial shortfalls are used to line the pockets of administrators and to undermine faculty and staff salaries.  That seems to be standard operating procedure. It’s another thing altogether to think that the ongoing fight against university labor and labor rights might go so far as to begin shutting down whole chunks of public universities.  Yet that is exactly what seems to be on the horizon.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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