History tells us that patterns repeat themselves over and over again. Dress things up as we will with cultural and technological advances, we seem habituated to doing the same dumb things over and over.
Take, for example, our historical views on learning, and what we are seeing all over the country with school funding.
Everybody’s budgets are straining. So, seemingly one and all, legislators and governors all over the map decide it makes the most sense to cut education funding to save the economy. That’s rather like curing a bleeding foot by amputating the leg. But that’s another column.
Learning is a good thing. Pretty much everybody agrees that knowing stuff is terrific, and gives one power that one would not otherwise have.
The power of knowledge has been one of the things that have kept those at the top always a little queasy about whom to give access to it.
Throughout much of our history, the honchos have done an admirable job of limiting the amount of education the people who provide or allow them their own power and livelihood could attain.
For example, since we are in the beginning of commemorating the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, it is useful to remember that it was against the law in the slave states to teach African-Americans how to read and write. Serious penalties were heaped upon anybody who did not obey.
Playing the devil’s advocate for a moment, it is easy to understand the motivations of the Planter Class. If you are busy subjugating a people, the last thing you want is to have them able to read history, or the thoughts of the philosophers who helped launch the Revolution of the previous century that freed their masters from the rule of the British king.
In 1536, biblical scholar William Tyndale was strangled and burned at the stake because he dared translate parts of the bible into English and distribute his work through the new technology of the printing press.
No big deal? Both the English and Catholic churches relied on having strict control over The Word of God, or rather, telling that portion of the population who could not read what it was God wanted them to do. As it turns out, what God really wanted the population to do was to obey and enrich the heads of the churches.
The last thing the churches wanted was a population that thought for themselves. God forbid, they might say.
Fast forward to right now. We have the widest gap between the haves and have-nots in our history. Our elected officials are creatures of the corporate world, of the very pirates who caused the collapse of the economy in 2008. We are engaged, in varying degrees of seriousness, in three wars, where members of the least-powerful economic classes are risking life and limb at the behest of the people in charge, who are mostly from higher up on the socioeconomic ladder.
And “they” want to cut the amount of money we spend on education.
I’m just say’in…
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