It is the privatization of education which will make it truly available to all. All but the most abject stragglers must be allowed to learn the ways of the world through the free market. It is in the students interest to learn what they will, the parents interest to give their children an education that suits their needs, not the governments’.There is no greater burden on the development of a just and equal society than government schooling. The poor are subject to schools which are made for the poor, and to breed further development of the lower class. The rich are sustained in schooling which allows them to remain in their positions of power and wealth whether they deserve it by merit or merely seek to squander their inheritances. There is no objectivity in a system which treats each child the same regardless of their sex, disability status, class status, origin, creed, or race. This is the system where children drop out, never pursue their dreams, and never realize their full potential. There is no joy or happiness in a government run schooling system. There is no feeling of discovery, of wonder, or of enlightenment. K-12 education in the U.S. today is a childcare system, not an educational one. It is where parents send their kids while they go to work and they come home and ask not what incredible things did you learn, what new ideas were you exposed to today, but a dull, how was it? How did you get along with your fellow students? How did they treat you? The question parents have been asking for decades is how were you taught today? Not what were you taught. This should be the true question asked in schools what did you learn. What schools of thought do your teachers adhere to? Are they a modernist? A Platonist? A realist? A revisionist? A neoliberal? Why do you think they think that way? and finally, what do you think? A child should always be asked his opinion, given a chance to speak his mind not only about the subject matter, but also about the manner of teaching and the method. This is true freedom in education.
Just a one cannot objectively learn for the sake of learning, think for the sake of thinking, work for the sake of working, it is nearly impossible to sustain a lifestyle where one only lives for the sake of living. But then what greater purpose should one live for? Well, there are an infinite number of possibilities. You could work to create a better world for the poor, fulfilling an inner altruistic desire. You could learn how to speak a foreign language, in order to advance your goal of living in a new country, for instance. You could think about a new invention that may or may not work, or strategize on how to build a business quickly or for the long term. Thinking is one of those things where often the mind wanders, bringing obtrusive thoughts or repressed memories into the forefront of the mind. Often times it is difficult to sustain thought on topics you know little about, or to follow a line of thinking without second guessing yourself and your prior beliefs about a topic. There is one thing thought that is above reproach on any level, and that is thinking for the sake of thinking. It leads nowhere, and is in one work redundant, and another work it is evil. Just as having a conversation that leads to nothing but small talk endlessly wastes both persons’ time, a thought that is whimsical for the sake of being whimsical could be spent on something more valuable to the mind. This is not merely a means of exercising the minds’ rational capacity, but of checking that the apparatus of thought is not in any way damaged. It is clear that when thought has devolved into that of a madman that thinking relinquishes its grip on the actions of the body and that emotions take hold. In this sense emotions take control and it is if the ship is sailing under full sail without a rudder or any way to control the sails. They are completely at the mercy of the wind, storms, and currents.
Now the saying ‘I live simply because I am alive,’ is equally abhorrent. If you were to exist in a box with no means of escape, food given to you, and no outside contact, you would be living because you were alive. The thing that all humans aspire to live to and by is their ideals of the future. Because we have this sense of time that the universe has given to us and which advances in a predictable, orderly fashion, we can plan our lives around this line that never ends, only advances, and advances further. I live for what tomorrow might bring, and so in that way, I live for today. The future begins now, barreling down on us with no end in sight. To set in place today, the stones which might tomorrow become a great tower, dedicated to life as we know it on earth and all that one has achieved in his life time that is the mark of the human, and a great one at that.
When thinking about interfirm competition for workers, It is important to examine the capital which each worker has available to him in order to perform a certain job or activity. Let’s say for example that all a worker needs is a computer, and with some technical training he or she will be able to work on a database remotely, managing the structure of file storage in the database. Now let’s say for example that for another job, in addition to the computer, the worker also needs to have the ability to move to a new location, far away, say New York City, or San Francisco. This is an additional burden on the worker, not just because of the cost of moving, but the ‘opportunity cost’ of the people, places, and things that he cares for that he may have to leave behind.
This is the nature of the job market today, it presupposes the ownership of certain types of capital. This has vast impacts and makes it prohibitively expensive for individuals of the lower class to move upwards within the class system. Take for example, a young capitalist, living with his parents in Connecticut, USA. He receives an offer for a job in New York City, but the move will cost him, and will bump up the costs on his entire family. It will also take some time before he starts to make money, causing some sort of ‘transition cost’ between his current work and the line of work which he plans to go into. These costs cause him to remain in his current state of affairs and also cost the City of New York a valuable asset in his field.
In some cases these transition costs can make it virtually impossible for new workers to gain entrance in to their chosen field, say after they graduate college, or even before. This I believe is due to the system of occupational licensing. There are certain standards one must meed in order to become something as simple as a hairdresser in the United States, this moves up the cost (once again we will use cost, as in the sense of something like a transition cost) of entering that profession. This also increases the cost of entering professions that are related to the profession of hairdresser (of which there are admittedly few).
The best example of this is a Professorship at a decent school. This ‘elite’ job is prohibitively difficult to attain for the sole purpose of education. The costs of any job related to being a professor are also incredibly high. For example a teaching assistant. Usually a Ph.D. student, teaching assistants must first have gotten high marks through college, pass a standardized test such as the GRE (for U.S. schools) and gain admittance into a school which offers Ph.D. graduate assistantships. The opportunity costs alone are sky high for this job. I think I have made my point here and I will move to another related job of a university professor. The administrative assistant. Let us say for example that a university department hires administrative assistants from within their students, and that this job pays the minimum wage. Students are going through college making the minimum wage which is not nearly enough to support themselves, especially not at, maybe, 15 hours per week. And these student workers have more education than over half the population, and are in fact located in a center for learning which refuses to accept that they actually know what they are doing.
In the next part of this series I will discuss privatizing education, and how this can work to eliminate these class mobility barriers which we have seen in this article.
There are two dominant classes in the United States today. There is the elite, career holding class made up of suburban parents, professionals, and wealthy urbanites. And there is the ‘underclass,’ a class not necessarily characterized by their lower income (they can make just as much if not more than some in the upper, yet still middle, class), but by the nature and status of the jobs which they can hold. These jobs held by the lower class, which is lower only by social status, not by education or knowledge or understanding, are by nature somewhat like a revolving door. The jobs come and go, some elites may call this the gig economy, and you often think of jobs like Uber or Lyft driving or meal delivery, or package delivery for the likes of UPS or FedEx. This is the characterization of the lower class, and it relegates their income to being sporadic and unreliable. The wealthy upper class cannot make this distinction between working for a company like Uber, or working a manual labor job serving the suburban elites in an occupation like landscape construction, or even just regular landscaping. Because there is virtually no distinction, the line blurs and becomes incomprehensible. When referring to the gig economy, this does not mean the fact that upbeat drivers have to wait 10-15 minutes between the rides that are coming in off their smartphone apps. No, it means the fact that the person driving for Uber, Lyft, or landscaping, does not intend to hold the job for a long period of time or the nature of the job does not enable him to.
“It is almost as if we have relegated humans to a system of interchangeable parts.“
These are rotating service jobs in which human labor is thought to be disposable, and it is. A farm owner can simply hire another, different farm hand to replace one which he is not happy with, or train a new tractor driver in a short amount of time because of the low skill nature of the job. In essence, the companies that these workers work for are providing a service to the clients (transportation, landscape services such as mowing, or production of food), and the workers are providing a service to their employers. It is almost as if we have relegated humans to a system of interchangeable parts. So, the question is, is this good or bad for the economy, and if it is bad, what can we do about it. I take the view that this is not an ideal world, and so I will try to recommend a policy change. First we must take a deeper exploration into the root of the problem. In the next part of this series on the class struggle in the United States, I will explore the nature of competition within companies for this ‘gig economy’ driven labor, and the nature of competition between companies for clients. The nature of competition within companies for clients is particularly important because of the idea that every man is his own boss and advocate. We will explore these ideas in more depth tomorrow.