Friday, May 9, 2008

The Conservative “What Has Knowledge Ever Built?” Mentality

Who could take issue with this inspiring observation about the benefits of a college education?

"Higher education is no longer just a matter of personal fulfillment. It is a matter of economic survival for our state and our nation. We live now in a 21st Century global economy that’s a knowledge economy. “-- State Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley at the UW-Marathon County convocation.

Republican Tim Haering can, and does, in an editorial that will drive you insane. He is a former policy adviser to former 4 term Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson. On May 8, 2008, Haering wrote the following comment “More College Students no Panacea,” in the Wisconsin State Journal. If you were ever unclear about the conservative attack on education and support of unaccountable school voucher programs, this should explain everything. Haering’s dumfounding logic will make your brain hurt:

“If a Supreme Court justice says we need more college graduates, it must be true. And if she thinks the UW System needs more public funding -- "We need you to share your commitment with your government leaders, so that when budget times come and things are tight, they do not fall prey to the temptation of slicing the higher education budget " -- we ought to get out our checkbooks...We should just jive to the jazz of Juris Doctor and the Ph.D.s.

Still, listening to their impassioned pleas, their sophisticated use of statistics and buzzwords like "knowledge economy,” I feel like I 'm hearing a Jaguar commercial telling us that Wisconsin would have a wealthier economy if everyone owned a XJ sedan -- because statistics show Jaguar drivers have higher incomes.

I hear propaganda. The UW System has a financial interest in growing its enrollment...The problem is that it wants taxpayers to subsidize their growth.

But just as taxpayers would not want to buy everyone a Jaguar, they should not jump at the chance to put more kids through college as a way to boost the economy.
More college graduates won’t make us stars of the "knowledge economy.”

Think about it: What has knowledge alone ever built? Same as science:
Nothing. Technology applied all of science’s knowledge. Today’s knowledge economy is no different. It’s just more buzz about higher technology.

We are still in a technology-driven manufacturing economy. But so much of the technology is computer based, operating on software, we need more trained technicians to build and service the equipment. Do we need college grads to do that?

Don 't get me wrong. College is not a bad thing. Students benefit. But it takes about a 115 IQ to grasp college rigor, and only 30 percent will graduate. College is a great experience, even if you don 't finish. But why should taxpayers support all the incomplete efforts?

College grads earn more money, it’s true. But only because employers have become willing to pay more. There is not some transformational hocus pocus.

College grads don’t all invent Starbucks and stem cell therapies. Almost none will break new ground. Entrepreneurs are the real economic driving force, and more
entrepreneurs are dropouts than graduates.
Only 23 percent have business degrees, an Intuit survey found.

How long will employers remain willing to pay higher wages for college grads? When I read the news, I hear the economy saying to colleges, "I need nurses, you give me political scientists. I need lab technicians, you send me artists. I need engineers, you send me screenwriters. I need scientists; you send me marketers, MBAs and lawyers. When will you send me what I need? " Technical schools have a more important role than universities in today’s technological economy.

The UW must take a step back, focus less on trying to be the Harvard of the Midwest and more on trying to be the kind of smart, affordable school that will make others want to be the UW of the Coast.”

Taking a step back is an understatement. Haering demonstrates for all of us, contempt for knowledge and a preoccupation with spending. Never mind the countries that fund the entire cost of their citizen’s educational needs. That would be the most dreaded form of socialism, while handing society over to a majority of educated elitists.

What I’m about to say may be over the top and reactionary, but here goes anyway; Conservatism is not only a failed political system as exemplified by the Republican administration and Congress between 2001 through 2008, but illogical to the extent that like a disease it’ll rot your brain.

A word of warning: Reading this again may cause uncontrolled shrieking and erratic, possibly violent, uncontrolled mood swings. Pass it on.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the critique. I have never been called a Republican. It felt intriguing, but I deny it. I am a natural conservative, conservative like Nature is conservative, respecting what works until something, by chance, works better. I lack the guts to abandon my independence.

    I just want to remind everyone, especially the UW: Public education instituted to create a competent workforce, not to create an elightened and cultured populace.

    Thanks again.