The big news today was the administration’s escalating insistence that our public schools must reopen on schedule for the fall. Today, on “Fox News Sunday,” Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told Chris Wallace (who is one of the Fox News Channel’s actual reporters), “We know that children contract and have the virus at far lower incidence than any other part of the population, and we know that other countries around the world have reopened their schools and have done so successfully and safely."
All of this sounds right, except the "leave governing to us smarter rich elites" part. The motivation seems starker than that. It's clear the current Republican leaders could care less about running the government. What matters is unrestrained control over the nation's private and public assets. Unlike the 1930s, today's elites, their mega-corporations and private equity and criminal networks are not tied to physical locations or nations or colonies. They live in an international world that barely intersects with ordinary mortals (or with the realities of a fragile planet).
In the US, the 1% is systematically sucking the aquifers of US assets dry. Since the 1980s, they have successfully siphoned off worker pay, swallowed most pension obligations, sucked away middle class assets by requiring us to go into debt for education and health and housing, and have been hugely successful in diverting taxes into their private coffers.
In the emerging post-capitalist (?) automated world, corporations no longer need a massive population of expensive American laborers nor an expensive educated population of American managers and technical specialists. They also don't need US consumers as much -- We are saturated with "stuff" while the emerging middle classes of China and India will be buying goods big time for decades to come.
It seems that the underlying motive is to be rid of the burden of the US population and the US government all together. The removal of assets and expertise from our governments and our people is deliberately disenfranchising, impoverishing, and now actively "downsizing" our population. Government structures that Republican support (police, prisons, military, courts, propoganda media, eminent domain) are those that insulate the few winners from the many losers. Despite my cynicism, the US still has enormous resources and human potential and I pray that you are right that a large majority will be looking for a New Deal approach to government and resource stewardship ASAP.
Professor Richardson: Your analysis of the Hoover Administration’s failure to address the economic crisis occurring during their term in office, and Biden’s proposal which, as you say, “…echoed the dynamic of the 1932 election…” was one of the most uplifting things I’ve read in a long time.
This provides a pretty clear template for how to go from an estimated 200,000+ COVID-19 deaths to 1,000,000+ in the US.
Send children back to school in a society with crazy high new infection rates and without an ability to mass test and mass contact trace.
The children, who will often be asymptomatic, will quickly infect each other en masse. Older people often show symptoms and start isolating and stop spreading the disease, but most children won't do this.
First the teachers will start getting sick and many of the more elderly will drop dead.
Simultaneously the children will mass infect their parents and grandparents, and many of them will then die. Our hospital capacity won't come close to being able to handle it, so mortality rates will increase.
Of course the wealthy will be able to home school and isolate. The poor and minorities will be affected the worst.
And on top of all of this, use the pandemic as an excuse turn our already failing public school system into something that is even far, far worse.
May angels and ministers of grace defend us.
Chris Wallace to DeVos: “Under what authority are you and the president going to unilaterally cut off funding, funding that's been approved from Congress and most of the money goes to disadvantaged students or students with disabilities?"
Wallace asks the correct question, and this goes to the crux of something I really do not understand. Trump does not have the authority to do this, nor does DeVos. Same as with so many things Trump and his people do (the border wall, immigration, on and on). They have no authority, but they take such actions, and these actions go into place, and there are no consequences. Nothing but moaning and wringing of hands.
I'm a long way from my Junior High civics classes, but I just don't recall that any president has the sort of power which Trump utilizes (and which Obama utilized before him, albeit mostly for good reasons) via all these executive decisions.
Why is there never any accountability, any action to stop such orders? Are the Dems complicit or just powerless?
You really nailed it today! As a newly retired professor who taught Social Welfare history and policy, it’s heartening to read your spot on assessment of Trump and his minions’ motives in a historical context. As you indicate, the key here is that Trump is following the ideology set in motion by true old school Republicans since the 1950s to return to pre-New Deal governance. Ideally, according to the GOP leadership (Not said publicly), the super wealthy should control the vast populace because their wealth “proves” that they are smart and deserve to dominate. They believe that they should get all societal benefits and opportunities without having to pay for anything that doesn’t ultimately help them. Social Darwinism to them is right and good. It’s amazing that they have convinced workers and Evangelicals to become Republicans when it’s the party that wants to dominate and exploit them. People should read Steve Bannon’s writings to get the real picture. Bannon helped catapult Trump into office to fulfill this GOP dream, but Trump has become a liability. Thank you for your hard work. Everyone should read this Letter from an American. Kudos!
"Water is unstoppable, because it yields to everything" is (in my mind) one of the most important lessons from the Tao Te Ching. In this case, I think there are a variety of workarounds available to school districts, should challenges to DeVos' [arbitrary] rules come up short. First and foremost, if indeed we expect large numbers of infections to result from in-person instruction, then we would normally be setting up distance learning measures to accommodate those who must be quarantined. But could you, for example, provide those distance learning tools right from the start, and impose an infinitely strict quarantine criterion for everyone? I mean, at the beginning of the school year, clearly you would want everyone to self-quarantine for two weeks after the summer break. And in fact, if there are any cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection within a 100 mile radius, you might (wink, wink) want to impose another two week quarantine, and another, etc.
If they're going to play stupid games, we should be able to beat them at those stupid games.
Most of my extended family are arch-conservative evangelicals from Alabama, supporting both Trump and Roy Moore, the twice-removed judge. They come from John Birch Society roots; my uncle formed his own medical association when he decided that the American Medical Association was too liberal. And I recall that my elderly aunt (now passed on) once said, in all seriousness, that Dewey and the public education system was the "beginning of the end" of American society. She seemed to wholeheartedly believe that private education is the only education that should exist in America; anything else is "socialism" and (subtext) the unjustified spending of white people's money on non-white people. I hear that same sentiment echoed in DeVos and the rest of the Trump claque.
And when speaking of the "philosophies" of Secretary DeVos, remembering who her brother is makes her actions all the more chilling...
I think, Dr. Richardson, that you err in consistently attributing a philosophy, although misguided, to the wealthy and their Republican minions. Simple unlimited greed is the real explanation; the rest is window-dressing. That's why it's a zombie philosophy and economic theory (h/t Paul Krugman) - it only has to sound plausible, which it apparently does to enough people. It doesn't have to actually apply to reality, which it clearly does not.
I am currently reading "Dark Money" by Jane Mayer and it absolutely confirms everything Dr. RIchardson has said about the wealthy elites doing everything in their power to gain control and abolish all government oversight and social programs such as environmental regulations, personal income and corporate taxes, government healthcare, social security, campaign finance laws, public education, etc. etc. Since the 1980's, they have funded think tanks, academic programs, hired lobbyists and financed legal groups to push their agenda. They hated FDR's New Deal and Johnson's social programs and it is their plan to abolish them. The two-term presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama set them back, which is why, I think, the Trump Administration is working so aggressively to roll back as many regulations as they can now. This is one time I hope history repeats itself and Trump (Herbert Hoover) loses in a landslide. The people must get educated and informed to the surreptitious ideology of the Republican Party and get out and VOTE for democracy in November.
Free and reduced lunches is a key safety net program for families in need. School superintendents may elect to open schools just to keep their charges fed. And the need has expanded with such great amounts of unemployment. Oregon has an alternative. The state has a centralized food bank, of which I am a volunteer. The Oregon Food Bank began creating sack lunches with enough food for dinner (although not a complete dinner). This is supplement and replace free and reduced lunches. The City of Portland Parks Bureau partnered with the Food Bank this summer to hand out 6,000 food sack a day along with art supplies for children. All of this is donor based. My message is that we on not need to be cowed by threats from this administration to cut off federal funds for no reopening schools and keeping our children safe. We can create alternatives and work together to meet a social need. It's local leadership (not necessarily elected officials) and use of social media to create a positive environment and practical solutions to get things moving that benefit our community.
Trump and DeVos are willing to sacrifice children to further their selfish political goals. How convenient to be able to use low data numbers to allow tens of thousands of kids to die or have their health permanently damaged, as long as it serves their economic (translation: re-election) goals.
They are finding that Covid19 is effecting children very differently than adults. Their little immune systems go into overdrive and they develop MIS-C. I don't think having tens of thousands of our little kids suffering organ failure and worse is worth Trump's goal of being re-elected.
One of the most telling photos I saw of Betsy DeVos yesterday posed her in front of bookcases with no books on them. Not a good look for the Secretary of Education.
Perhaps we should call all the homeless camps that are going to inevitably arise “Trump towns”. That will be his lasting named legacy. (Assuming he’s hasn’t completely destroyed America before then)
Your assessment of DeVos's motives are spot on, I suspect. I was struck by the same thought as soon as I heard her words. Keep shining a bright light on these 'hiding in plain sight' reveals.
I saw DeVos interviewed by Dana Bash, who tried to hold her feet to the fire. Ol’ Betsy was a one-note interviewee—repeated herself and dodged direct questions. i swear the Trump Administration wants as many people as possible to die from this virus, and his congressional lackeys don’t seem to care either. I would have never thought this possible.