July 31, 2007
George Carlin nails it.
8 years ago
I used to love Carlin, but he's gotten into some sort of zone where he's reflecting opinions of folks who have little or no education and make up plots to explain why they don't get ahead. Corporations do support education. They do want workers who are mere automatons. His theories may reflect the world as it was in the Henry Ford era, but I bet even Henry didn't want folks so uneducated that they would be likely to be unable to understand their jobs. And jobs have increased in complexity exponentially over the last century or so. Corporations have a real stake in giving schools the wherewithall to provide them with even the lowest level workers who can read and understand instructions and other documents, who can do at least a certain level of math, and who have learned enough logic to avoid making stupid mistakes. The folks I know who can do little to none of that are the ones who can't get or keep a decent job, but that reflects more on them than on the "evil" businesses. The failures come at a cost to businesses, which they'd rather avoid. Companies also want workers who can be promoted - a person who has training specific to the company and shows promise saves the cost of helping an outside hire catch up. Corporations show their concern for educated future employees from funding chairs in universities and giving grants for research, down to providing supplies, including computers, to grammer schools,and to paying high level employees to tutor kids in areas where education isn't so hot. So, tell me, what did he nail?
Oops, put a "not" before "want workers" in the encond sentence up there.
What Carlin nailed is not disputed in your response: 1) Corporations and the rich (owners) call the shots on education and all other aspects of our "freedom". 2) The purpose of education is not to produce free thinkers, but rather good workers. These are mutually exclusive, because a free-thinker will inevitably call into question the motivations and actions of the "owners".
It's not all about corporations, although I could write a thesis about their unchecked powers and tax free status. It's also about the concentration of ownership of property in a small percentage of the public, the super wealthy. I read an article today in "The Week" magazine about how in the US 1% of the population owns 33% of property, in the UK 1% owns 25%. That much wealth in such a small percentage of the voting population allows them to purchase and control far more political power and a media voice than perhaps 50% of the (lower class) voters giving them much greater concentrated power than their numbers, and what a true "democracy" would allow. That gives them the power to push through laws and tax schemes that favor themselves and their lifestyles, leaving the middle class to actually pay far higher taxes per dollar earned. Admittedly, many people of the lower class willingly give up their power for "bread and circuses" (or today McDonald's and Fox News) but the recent wealth increase of the super rich under Bush and Blair does cause concern for the even the most casual observer.
Sorry path, depends on which end of the corporation you happen to be. I've worked at the shit jobs enough, and you'll never convince me that corporations are benevolent entities seeking only good for the common man. Some of the biggest corporations here in Idaho have screwed over their 'peon' labor royally. In one "nameless" company, 72% of the workforce is part-time, temp, or contract hire. You MUST work no less than a 38 hour week--including two weekends a month and revolving shifts, guaranteeing that your sleep cycle will be screwed-- but you're not entitled to benefits because you're not full time. The pay's not a CENT over minimum wage, because where else are you going to go? No benefits, not raises--I know one gal thats worked for SIX years, and is still making the same wage she made the day she was hired. She's stuck there, because she only has a HS education, and can't afford to get more at this point because she's the sole support of two kids. She's living for the day her second child is in school full time. She might begin to better herself, assuming the economy doesn't go to shit before then. Obviously the cost of living is going up faster than her wage. Micron pretty much bought Boise State University--we now sarcastically call it Micron U. The arts department has been gutted, and they turn out a ton of engineering and business majors. Unfortunately, these educated workers are still cogs. During the last layoff, they let go the engineering husband of a friend who's worked there for 17 years, has numerous awards, never taken a sick day, and is now getting close to retirement. Oddly enough, this happened to a lot of the higher paid, older engineers in his situation. I understand that the words "class action suit" were mentioned, and there have been some quiet re-hirings. The friend's husband won't be going back. It's a case of screw me once, shame on you, screw me twice--I won't get screwed again. Other, younger full-time people were laid off and have been offered a "new position" doing the same job as part-timers for less money. Sure they want people educated--just enough to do the job, not enough to "rise above their station." I hung on at a corporate job, with plenty of attaboys, 2 cents an hour raises, and promises that a higher position would be mine when the time came, and then, whoops, they hired a fella from outside. They did it twice, and then I told 'em to shove it. Fortunately, I was in a position to do that. Another friend has been hearing that same tune for YEARS. She says her total "attaboy" and incentive raise for almost ten years of work comes out to a little under two dollars. Two cents an hour doesn't add up that fast. She does get a turkey for Christmas, and a ham at Easter, though. The year they tried to take away the Christmas turkey, they wound up giving a New Years port roast to quell the riot. Yeah, convince me corporations aren't evil.
What does he nail? 1. Big corporate money holds the real power in the U.S., not the government or "the People." 2. The People's critical thinking ability is lacking, at least in part because of an inadequate education system. 3. The powerful don't want the situation to change -- things are working out fine for them just the way they are. 4. Because the powerful have undo influence over public policy due to the whorishness required to be a politician, the powerful have an undo influence over education. 5. If you want an education system that teaches people how to think independently, letting the powerful set the curriculum isn't the way to do it.
Higher education, making it to university used to be synonymous with becoming political, questioning the status-quo and 'rebelling', if only until entering the marketplace or becoming part of a family unit. Now, at least in my perception, most capitalist societies promote just training for finding your place in said marketplace, the sooner the better. Move product, don't question your place.
POT roast, dammit!
Here's some stuff that might help explain where Carlin's line of thinking comes from:
10 Things You Should Know About Corporate Corruption on Campus
The selling of the academy
An educator's reflection on the crisis in education and democracy
Gangs of America
Who will tell the People?
I like your response path. You've never been hungry have you?
Don't say nasty things to my Path or there'll be trouble.
The UCE -- the United Corporations of the Earth
Mmmm, port roast.
In the US, you can get a good education and learn critical thinking in college. You will then graduate in so much debt that you have to be a quiet little worker bee to try to pay back the loans you had to take out.
Well, I'm depressed now. And I haven't even had my coffee yet. Thanks, Monkeyfilter. :(
Corporations Evil. Communism Evil. Dictatorship Evil. It seems to me that
people ain't no good,
(Warning, Pop-ups Evil) Everybody is just competing, it's what we do. No different to life anywhere.
I should point out that the majority of us are products of that education and that we do seem to enjoy political debate and be capable of critical thinking.
Yes path, but we are the exceptions, not the rule. Take a day trip to any summer county or state fair. Not to stereotype too much, but the majority of attendees are dim, corpulent consumers. And it isn't limited to middle America. I just did some video interviews of people on Venice Beach here in Los Angeles. As we reviewed the material for editing, we were amazed at how the people couldn't even put together coherent sentences. Pathetic really. And I'm not saying it is the corporations or the power elite's fault exclusively. People are active participants in their stupidity. They prefer ignorance to participation. After all, Bush was, if not elected the first time, was voted back into office and then supported by the majority of the American public. Carlin is right in at least one thing. The majority of humans are sheep.
What squid said.
Get it? GET IT?!
Everybody is just competing, it's what we do. No different to life anywhere.
I may be a romantic or an idealist or whatever, but from where I sit it looks like humans are different in their self-knowledge, and in their ability to manage their ingrained impulses. E.g. due to legal, moral, and social strictures, most of us manage to restrain any murderous impulses we have. So this kind of thinking seems depressingly defeatist to me, an unjust, illogical justification for the status quo.
So, not having youtubic access to Mr. Carlin's wisdom, can someone explain exactly which corporations are setting the curriculum in public schools, and how they achieve this? Also, a logical explanation of how controlling the schools fits in with their other goal of short and medium-term shareholder return would be nice.
last week. That depressed me too.
Rocket (and everyone else) -- my pleasure. Please read my treatise
A Profit Without Honors: Against the Business Model of Education
. Path (and others) -- the real schism that Carlin points to (as others have) is between
. The modern American education system encourages the latter, and despises the former. Between NCLB, state benchmarks, letter-graded schools, and the nationwide hysteria about standards, the average classroom teacher literally does
have time to get the kids to think. The goal is simply to get them to regurgitate factoids and/or standard patterns of data processing. I agree with Mr. C 100%, and I see it every day in my classroom. The really sad bit is that the kids become inured to this mode of brain-crunching, and in fact balk at anyone or anything which attempts to push them into actual critical thought. (It's a generalization of course; I have many students who do think critically and show impressive creativity and originality.) That we are products of this education system may be true, but whatever critical thinking powers I've obtained have been the result of: (A) My parents pushing me; (B) My own individual yearning for nonconformist thought; and (C) My four incredible years in that most un-standard institution of higher learning,
New College of Florida
Not sure how much this relates, rocket, but I did read in Fast Food Nation that certain large cola corps, in exchange for having their vending machines in schools, provide textbooks which, if I remember correctly, can be somewhat skewed. They are accepted, though, because education is underfunded enough that the books are needed.
Look, I've never argued that corporations are angelic, but I do think that their contributions to education include a certain amount of altruism. They make a long-term invvestment - not just in producing workers, but in the betterment of life in the future for the country as a whole. Most of the high school and younger college students I know are planning to go into some public service - teaching, nursing, law enforcement, and the like. I don't know if this is a nationwide trend, but it could mean that businesses will not benefit from their investments by having a large labor force trained to their specifications to choose from in a few years. And, Argh: I'd put this in an email, but the address in your profile doesn't seem to be current. Yes, I have been hungry. I was also one of those women who raised a child solo, worked long hours and went to night school. I have worked at menial jobs for little pay and have been though some very difficult times. I hope the clears up your confusion about me.
More for rocket, in multiple parts: In general, there's the fact that the corporate worldview is foisted on American children as the only worthwhile worldview: - that property rights are a natural law - that the positive nature of unfettered free trade is unassailable - that you are only as good as the brands you wear and use - that your democracy is pure and good and gives all citizens a meaningful voice is their country's future - that other systems of government, thought, and society are inferior to ours - that those who espouse other systems of government, thought, and society deserve ridicule rather than a full critical hearing Not difficult to see how not having people rock the boat by questioning the system is of value to shareholder return. More specifically, there are plenty of examples of corporate influence on schooling in the U.S. According to
: At the K-12 level, the reliance on standardized testing, and the trend towards "teaching to the test" that so many teachers decry, is at least in part a result of corporate influence on education. Publishing conglomerates make millions of dollars each year creating and administering these test, and it behooves them to lobby for continued and/or increased use of standardized testing. Other corporations influence students via on-campus advertising:
Schools are offered free televisions in exchange for compelling students to watch a brief current-events program larded with commercials, a project known as Channel One. (The advertisers seem to be getting their money’s worth: researchers have found that Channel One viewers, as contrasted with a comparison group of students, not only thought more highly of products advertised on the program but were more likely to agree with statements such as “money is everything,” “a nice car is more important than school,” “designer labels make a difference,” and “I want what I see advertised.”)
Meanwhile, other corporations are trying to extend product placement into school curricula, as in 'a large, colorful brochure aimed at educators that touts several free lessons helpfully supplied by Procter & Gamble. One kit helps fifth graders learn about personal hygiene by way of Old Spice after-shave and Secret deodorant, while another promises a seventh-grade lesson on the “ten steps to self-esteem,” complete with teacher’s guide, video, and samples of Clearasil.' And then there's this:
The Committee for Economic Development, consisting of executives from about 250 large companies, demands that school curricula be linked more closely to employers’ skill requirements; it calls for “performance-driven education,” incentives, and a traditional “core disciplinary knowledge” version of instruction. Ditto for the Business Roundtable, which describes schooling as "competing in the education Olympics." Besides endorsing narrow and very specific academic standards, punishment for schools that fall behind, and more testing, it approvingly cites the example of taking time in high school to familiarize students with personnel evaluations. The National Association of Manufacturers, meanwhile, insists on more testing as well as “a national system of skills standards designed by industry.” And the Business Task Force on Student Standards says that “workplace performance requirements of industry and commerce must be integrated into subject-matter standards and learning environments.”
Moving on, there's the School-to-Work program, which, according to
, constitutes a "corporate raid of public education":
Unusual new partner-ships are cropping up. High school English teachers lunch at Boeing Aircraft plants. Microsoft employees tutor at local schools. Math teachers go as interns to construction sites. Sixth graders learn how to be little capitalists by playing a stock market game and seniors are encouraged to interview CEOs for an explanation of ethics and integrity. These partner-ships are brokered by corporate America and the public education reform movement, School-to-Work (STW). Chrysler Corporation human resources and government affairs executive, Al Pope announce at the March, 1996 conference of the National Coalition for Advanced Manufacturers, "Our goal is to change the way schooling is done." Public education has opened its doors to the goals of the corporations. ...School administrators in charge of STW insist they do not want to dumbing-down academics. They simply want humanities, history, higher math, science to be taught in an applied work related way that suggests the "real world." According to one STW administrator, teaching a Shakespearean play is not discouraged, but students "could focus on the occupations of people in Shakespeare's day."
At the college and university level, there are lots and lots and lots of examples of corporate influence on policy, research focus, and curricula. Consider just the University of California, as discussed
Fund raising by chancellors, deans and professors has influenced course work, redirected research and brought the corporate presence into everyday academia. For instance: -- At the University of California at Berkeley, where nearby Bank of America branches were once targets of violent student protests, a $2 million donation resulted in the dean of the Haas School of Business being officially titled the "BankAmerica dean." -- Undergraduates at the University of California at San Diego recently spent class time designing a cell phone antenna for corporate donor Nokia. -- At the University of California at Los Angeles, a $5 million donation last year resulted in an auditorium named for modernist composer Arnold Schoenberg being renamed to honor Dreamworks records executive Mo Ostin and his wife, Evelyn. Public outcry forced reversal of the action. The money raised by hundreds of university administrators, faculty members and professional fund-raisers can have an effect on what gets taught. Certain courses and entire degree programs would not exist without private money. A minor in Jewish studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz, for instance, was created with more than $2 million in donations. Private industry, foundations and wealthy individuals subsidize research and faculty positions. Many schools and departments have forged formal, sometimes controversial relationships with companies. Novartis, a pharmaceutical company, was given two of five seats on a research committee at UC Berkeley after donating $25 million.
Rocket, did you learn much about the long and storied history of the American labor movement in high school social studies class? Did you get more than utter propaganda about communism? Ever wonder why not?
And path, nobody's saying that corporations don't do any good. It's just that they do have this influence, and it has a real effect on how we're educated, and it does seem to be an example of the powerful effecting policy that perpetuates their power, and to not look at and acknowledge this is to bury your head in the sand.
Put more bluntly: You may trust corporations, but they don't give a shit about you either way other than as a potential benefit to their bottom line. (Not the people who work in the corporations -- the corporations themselves. We've all heard decent-sounded execs talk about how hard it was to lay off those 12,000 people, all heard the real anguish in their voices. Most of us subsume our moral compass to the corporate imperative to grow the bottom line.) It may well be that your trust is ill-advised. I'll shut up now.
r88, one of his main points was that legislators, who have influence over school surricula and standards, are overly influenced by corporate interests.
BTW, those who argue that corporations are merely exercising their free market prerogative need to remember that this is far from a real free market. It's weighted to help corporations. Corporations have all the rights of an individual yet are taxed at a far lower rate, sometimes not at all, and have lobbyists that essentially bribe our "lawmakers" into favoring them with their legislation. Who's your congressman gonna listen to, General Motors who donates mega $$$ to their re-election campaigns or the average Joe?
(Tho' a shout-out to those who did your research for you would've been nice, absalom.)
He's got a "via" at the end there HW.
Sorry, brother. If it makes you feel better, that's why I linked to the discussion thread and not just MoFi frontpage. Pretty sure individual name dropping on the front page would be, at best, sneered at and , at worst, be a distraction from a topic I think we both feel is very important.
of the research
People don't think critically because The Man won't let them? I'm inclined to think that people don't think critically because they can't be bothered. Carlin seems to be congratulating himself for having these clever, iconoclastic opinions, and his audience lets him know that they're clever too by applauding. I found it a little embarrassing.
The truth is often embarrassing
Fair 'nuff, absalom.
(Really, I was looking out for scartol. Also, I have this bridge I'm selling, in Brooklyn...)
Excellent thread! Lots of good info from HWingo. While I tend to agree with Stan, I'd have to add that critical thinking requires not just effort, but skills which need to be taught and generally aren't in American public schools. Corporations were less of a presence when I was going to school, but curriculum even then was geared more towards preparing kids to get along in the workforce than to think for themselves. Joe Lunchpail might be more inclined to question authority if only he knew where to start.
I gave up critical thinking in favour of better toys. Life is much simpler and happier, now that I have money for alcohol.
"We've all heard decent-sounded execs talk about how hard it was to lay off those 12,000 people, all heard the real anguish in their voices." Yes, and the anguish was real, believe it or not. I've been in a spot where I had to decide whom to lay off and whom to keep, and it was one of the hardest things I ever did, but keeping a business alive means saving the most vital workers. If the business fails, none of the other workers will have a job, so you sacrifice some to save the rest. (Or, would you rather everyone lost their jobs?) Some years later, I lost my job, but expected it and could understand why. I had moved up to a spot where I could provide support on a high level, but the company still wasn't making money. My job was a luxury for them, and they needed to cut costs. I was making over $100K a year, and they could hire two or three folks in place of me. It's ten years later, and the company is succesful, so the layoffs they did ten years ago worked. I have no regrets. And, basaically, I don't think anyone but me has responsibilty for my wellbeing.
Aw, thanks, HW. Alas, I should have pasted my thingy inline, since we all know how often people read lengthy things linked in threads.. And on another matter: "The whole reason we have elected officials is so we don't
to think all the time." -
Most of the high school and younger college students I know are planning to go into some public service - teaching, nursing, law enforcement
Public service workers are the corporate workers of the future. Talk to any nurse--the hospitals are now run with more concern for the bottom line than for the health of the patients. I worked in medical transcription, and during the time I was attached to the hospital I saw several incidences of the medical transcriptionists and the nurses screwed to benefit a corporation consisting of 12 different hospitals in an "alliance." Nurses work 12 hour shifts, rotate day and night shifts on a bi-weekly schedule, are hired as contract workers, get fewer benefits because they're not full-time.... Law enforcement and teaching--well, we now have privatized prisons and contract schools--guess where this is going. Corporate business as usual. Mr. BlueHorse works civil service for DoD--along with the corporate outsourcing, the new model for civil service is going to be taken from the "corporate workplace." And he's damn glad he's getting out soon! The new revisions for retirement and insurance have screwed incoming civil service personnel badly. He's grandfathered in his plan because he did serious research on the provisions of the new, and those people that converted are furious.
Or, would you rather everyone lost their jobs?
You make it sound like it's an either-or choice: Either the company lays off the 12,000 people, or it fails. Often that's not the way it works. Often layoffs are a result of demand for a higher stock price by shareholders -- typically including upper management, and not including people who live from paycheck to paycheck -- who know that investors typically reward layoffs by buying the stock after the "downsizing" plan is announced. In other words, the layoffs are driven by greed. Indeed, there are studies that show that in the longer term, companies with depressed stock prices that lay off masses of employees do worse than companies that don't. I've had to lay people off, too, path. It is hard. I meant what I said about anguish. In my case, the layoffs came because, at the urging of venture capitalists, the company I was working for, which had a nice little business and was well on its way to profitability, decided to "scale" its business and try to achieve "hockey stick" growth. In other words, the equityholders got greedy. And when it didn't pan out, two thirds of the people who worked for the company lost their jobs, including people with new babies. Here's two weeks' severance -- best of luck to you! Good for you, path, for being responsible for yourself. I just think we can do better, and be a little bit responsible for everyone around us. And I think you're kidding yourself by trusting that corporations have our best interests at heart, whether we're their market or their employees.
And to return to the topic of this thread, we ALL have a responsibility to how we educate our children. And allowing corporations undue influence over how we do so is abrogating that responsibility. So I'd argue.
I have concluded that people have responsibility for the wellbeing of others, whether they like it or not. It comes down to cause & effect.
Yet to meet anyone from any country (including Uganda) who has spent any time at all in USA who has NOT remarked on the paucity of real education and real information available to the 'general population' there. I have to say that i was pretty horrified by how 'brainwashed' people are in the USA. George Carlin is one of the few who is able to get away with saying what is obvious.
He's a comedian, he's 'safe!'
put in in one, and he's right. We
"have a responsibility for the wellbeing of others"
- anything less is destructive. Those who are, perhaps, more gifted are
responsible to others of their kind. Talent and intellect does not make you a better human being, it's what you do with those abilities that really matters.
"Cause and effect"
- Yes, very much so!
I have concluded that people have responsibility for the wellbeing of others, whether they like it or not. It comes down to cause & effect.
Yeah, guys - let's stop slavishly worshipping CORPORATE POWER and just be nice to every one instead. If we don't change our lives soon we'll be struck down by the mighty forces of "karma". Oh no - lookout! Karma is coming to get me in my fabulous penthouse apartment! Wait everyone now karma is rampaging down Wall Street squashing rich, well-dressed business people beneath its giant, furry paws! Help, I'm so afraid of karma that I just peed blood in the gold-plated swimming pool in the back of my super-strech limo! HA HA HA HA HA! Man, you commies crack me up.
Er, who mention Karma? And what's "commie" about questioning power? You don't crack me up.
what's "commie" about questioning power?
Wow - you're right! Maybe I was crazy or something. And
was the only one who mentioned karma! Thanks for your help clearing that up, squidranch. Now I see that my comment doesn't actually critize your deeply held views at all.
B U N N Y B U N N Y B U N N Y B U N N Y B U N N Y B U N N Y B U N N Y B U N N Y B U N N Y B U N N Y B U N N Y B U N N Y ! ! ! ! ! !
Are you saying that this is cuter than squid and I having a miniscule tiff? Our miniscule tiff has big dewy eyes and warm, soft fur too, you disgusting bunny-fondlers.
I dunno - maybe you could throw bunnies at each other or something.
You telling comment has next to nothing to do with my beliefs, but more to do with your own.
Squid...I would have thought you'd been around long enough not to take a quidcomment seriously.
I think maybe squid's saying that it's really easy and self-satisfying to just laugh at people's deeply held beliefs rather than offer something of substance yourself. But hey, ever notice how much you guys share? Q-U-I-D ... S-Q-U-I-D? Think about it.
Love ya, quid, but your approach is bound to fall flat now and again. Really, though, what's your take on all this?
Sorry for the serial comments, but I want to make sure I'm not stirring up a shitstorm. Quid, like most, I think you're very, very funny. You're also obviously very smart, and obviously very thoughtful. But you gotta realize that you're inviting resentment with some of your comments -- even this one, which can be interpreted at least a couple of ways (and loses power for it, IMO). Just sayin'.
I do think that quid is often funny. However, this comment wasn't particularly humorous, but more like a put down. It's kind of like when someone says something overly biting and then explains it away with "it's just a joke". Everyone has a right to post as they wish, including me commenting on quid's post about us "commies". I welcome real dialogs. But it's more than a bit cheeky to come in at the end and piss in the pool, even if it's to get a laugh.
Let me just remind everybody that the original FPP was to a
routine. This is not such a serious topic that joke comments should be forbidden. Anyone who's been here more than a couple of months should recognize quid's style and most of all his intent when he makes comments like this. In most cases I suspect his personal opinion is the exact opposite of what he says in his comical rants. That's part of what makes them funny. IMO anyone whose "deeply held beliefs" are offended by any comment in this thread - whether quid's jokes or path's more serious comments - needs to step away from the keyboard for a while.
Alright, enough with the taking quidkid comments literally, already! Sheesh, you people! Here - grains of salt for everybody. And bunnies.
In most cases I suspect his personal opinion is the exact opposite of what he says in his comical rants.
Well, yeah, but it's not exactly clear whether that's the case here. Thus the reaction. An aside: Are we monkeys getting too meta? I 4 1 am done with this tangent.
You know who takes things too seriously? Commies. And Nazis. Think about it.
Shhhhh. Don't upset the bunny.
It's kind of like when someone says something overly biting and then explains it away with "it's just a joke"
Fair enough, squidranch. And I suppose mentioning my gold-plated swimming pool was a bit much - I assume your swimming pool is only plated with nickel, or perhaps zinc.
Mine's plated with piss.
Mine's actually plated with marxium and communite. They're illegal in the U.S., I hear.
I coated mine with fine Cuban cigars. And Fidel.
Yes, but you are a giant squid who rips apart the bodies of socialist leaders and paints the walls of your marine sanctum an intense red with their leftist internal fluids.
Better than that aquamarine and coral scheme she had going before. Ugh! It was like a Howard Johnson's in there.
I pay good money for leftist internal fluids. I have a jar of Trotsky's bile & a demijohn of Chairman Mao's lymph. Looking to swap some for Che Guevara piss.
, isn't she, folks?