Category Archives: Tentherism

Patriots’ Dream

Bill Moyers: “Our Politicians Are Money Launderers in the Trafficking of Power and Policy”

If you haven’t seen this heartfelt speech until now, it might be because it was hacked shortly after it went up on Thursday. The culprit probably wasn’t an Arlo Guthrie critic, so my guess is someone feeling protective of a broad group of plutocrats. Anyway, take the time while it’s still up to read this well-respected, time-tested gentleman’s assessment of what has happened to our country, and the lyrics he looked to for inspiration.

He speaks passionately about America’s plutocracy, “where political power is derived from the wealthy and controlled by the wealthy to protect their wealth.”

Moyers and many others believe it was a plan that got its big kick-off from Lewis Powell, Jr.’s confidential memorandum, Attack of American Free Enterprise System. A copy of it is in an earlier post remembering the manifesto’s fortieth anniversary. It’s surprisingly short for all the damage it’s done, whether or not Powell realized its horrific potential.

Another interesting, infamous memo, sent only to its wealthiest customers, was from Citigroup in 2005. In The Plutonomy Symposium Rising Tides Lifting Yachts, global strategist Ajay Kapur came up with the term “Plutonomy” describing our massive income and wealth inequality. He discusses the advantages for the wealthy almost gayly, advising patrons that “… these wealth waves involve great complexity exploited best by the rich and educated of the time.” The arrogance in the two-part memo is deafening:

This imbalance in inequality expresses itself in the standard scary “global imbalances”. We worry less.

Also, in part 2, on March 5, 2006, some of the no-nos for their beloved “Plutonomy” are shared. Though it wasn’t intended for the 99% to see, it’s interesting how their risk list stacks up today.

Our whole plutonomy thesis is based on the idea that the rich will keep getting richer. This thesis is not without its risks. For example, a policy error leading to asset deflation, would likely damage plutonomy. Furthermore, the rising wealth gap between the rich and poor will probably at some point lead to a political backlash. Whilst the rich are getting a greater share of the wealth, and the poor a lesser share, political enfranchisement remains as was — one person, one vote (in the plutonomies). At some point it is likely that labor will fight back against the rising profit share of the rich and there will be a political backlash against the rising wealth of the rich. This could be felt through higher taxation on the rich (or indirectly though higher corporate taxes/regulation) or through trying to protect indigenous [home-grow] laborers, in a push-back on globalization — either anti-immigration, or protectionism. We don’t see this happening yet, though there are signs of rising political tensions. However we are keeping a close eye on developments.

Copies of the Citigroup memo disappear quickly from the internet, but I found them for now. (Part One, Part Two) If those are taken down, there are excerpts in The Wall Street Journal and Daily Kos.

And then, of course, the lovely lyrics and song by Arlo Guthrie ~ Patriots’ Dream


For Our Teacher Friends, Students, and Those Who Care about Education in America

A strategy of the policy-makers in favor of high stakes testing is to pit victim against victim, so that resistance appears as a punishment by the hands of those in our own communities. Make no mistake – this is intentional and it is vicious … and it is working. ~ United Opt Out

To update recent posts about the destruction of public education (here), yesterday I was delighted to see Stan Karp’s video and article, Challenging Corporate School Reform and 10 Hopeful Signs of Resistance. I was encouraged by the spreading national efforts by teachers, parents and academics who are working to save our American public school system. He offers background information, administration complicity, privatization schemes, and changes clearly imposed from curricula formulated by the private business sector.

Citing proposals that punish children and malign educators “currently being promoted by reams of foundation reports, well-funded think tanks, a proliferation of Astroturf political groups and canned legislation from the rightwing American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC)”, he further exposes the ill-framed neoliberal plan to decentralize, destabilize, re-segregate and privatize our public schools to enrich and empower corporations to dominate and control education across America.

Alongside these efforts to change the way schools and classrooms function, a larger social/political goal is reflected in the attacks on collective bargaining rights, union rights, and the permanent crisis of school funding across the country. These policies replace with a market-based system that will do for schooling what the market has done for health care, housing, and the labor market, produce fabulous profits and give opportunities for a few and unequal outcomes and access for the many.

Stan Karp is an author and the director of the Secondary Reform Project for New Jersey’s Education Law Center. He taught English and Journalism for 30 years, and has written widely on school reform for Education Week, Educational Leadership, and other publications, as well as co-editing several books. His esteemed opinion in this article is linked with local and national organizations who are showing that with solidarity and the exposure of misinformation and pertinent data, we can push back the corporate education “reform” movement.

One such link is for United Opt Out, an organization understanding of the intimidation tactics used by those who wish to silence teachers and prevent collective resistance. “For those educators who wish to support our efforts but are concerned over being identified with the United Opt Out movement we extend our support by advocating for actions in many other forms.”

Their mission “is to use various methods of opting out as a means to end punitive high stakes testing in public education before the right to a meaningful and EQUITABLE public education is dismantled by policies that benefit textbook companies, testing companies, and private corporations more than the communities that submit to these abusive and unconstitutional demands.”

They also endorse Occupy Wall Street with ACTION, and will occupy the Department of Education in DC from March 30th to April 2nd, equipped with a list of independent demands! Please join in their effort to make big changes in education for all Americans.

Our Demands for Public Education

We, administrators of United Opt Out National (, wish to collaborate with the Occupy Wall Street Movement and offer our vision for CORPORATE-FREE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

We believe that QUALITY PUBLIC EDUCATION is a democratic right for all persons. It is through vibrant and fully funded school communities that all children have the opportunity to develop and grow into happy, successful, free, and active citizens. High stakes testing functions in opposition to QUALITY PUBLIC EDUCATION, as it is used to punish children, to malign educators, and to provide financial gain for testing corporations and their political sponsors.


ALL high stakes testing and punitive policies that label schools, punish students, and close public community schools

ALL high stakes testing that ties teacher evaluations, pay, and job security to high stakes test results

Corporate interventions in public education and education policy

The use of public education funds to enact school “choice” measures influenced and supported by the corporate agenda

Economically and racially segregated school communities

“Model” legislation that provides special rules to charter schools that are forced upon public schools

Corporate run for-profit charter schools that divert public funds away from public schools

Mandates requiring teachers to use corporate approved, scripted programs that sublimate and negate authentic
meaningful learning experiences imparted by varied and rich curricula


Libraries and librarians to all schools and communities

Teaching force educated through accredited college teacher education programs only

School buildings in ALL neighborhoods that meet health codes including clean drinking water, heat and air conditioning

Developmentally appropriate, problem-based, literacy-rich, play-based and student-centered learning, with the
return of nap, play, and snack time for kindergarteners

Smaller student-to-teacher ratio (25 or fewer to one)

Wrap around services for schools that offset the effects of poverty and social inequality, including but not limited to:
school staff such as nurses and health providers, social workers, community organizers, family counselors; free
quality community daycare and preschool programs, healthy food availability, safe and healthy housing options,
community social facilities, and after school programs to enhance learning and provide safe recreational spaces for
all  students

Fully funded arts and athletics programs

Recess and adequate time allotted for lunch

New national funding formulas that ensures EQUITY in funding to ALL public schools regardless of zip code

Requirement that a significant percentage of textbook or testing company PROFITS go BACK TO public education

Requirement that all DOE positions are filled with qualified and experienced educators

Requirement that Superintendents and school administrators have exceptional, extended teaching and
school-based experience

A friend just sent this gutsy Tourette’s Du Jour article from November. Killing Public Education names names and tell tales out of school. Thanks, Polly.

The Alliance for Progressive Values supports public education, our teachers, their right to collective bargaining, and the Occupy movement. Please use this information to help strengthen our schools by forwarding it to teachers, educators and friends. Thank you!

Update: Tentherism and the Guardian on the chopping block

To update a previous post on the privatization of the public school system, here, it’s good to watch the video and read Ian Millhiser’s Center for American Progress white paper that offers today a devastating but confirming view of the fear many have of the changes being planned for our country under the corporatist, neoliberal leadership controlling our government. Education – the guardian of all freedom, our public school system and all federal education programs, are on the “chopping block”:

    Social Security and Medicare
    Medicaid, SCHIP, and other health care programs
    All federal education programs
    All federal antipoverty programs
    Federal disaster relief
    Federal food safety inspections and other food safety programs
    Child labor laws, the minimum wage, overtime, and other labor protections
    Federal civil rights laws

However sad, it’s a good paper and deserves sharing and much discussion. Changes are taking place relatively quickly now. Diminishing transparency, outright secrecy, and our mass media’s refusal to report on critical issues, upcoming hearings and alternative ideas to the ones being considered by our lawmakers, will all play effectively into to the changes that threaten “the very union itself”. This Thinkprogress piece has some good links in it:

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) routinely grills education secretaries at congressional hearings, insisting that the Constitution does not authorize any federal involvement in education. Similarly, Rep. Foxx insists that “we should not be funding education” because she insists doing so violates the Tenth Amendment. And Sen. Coburn does not “even think [education] is a role for the federal government.”
What If the Tea Party Wins?
They Have a Plan for the Constitution, and It Isn’t Pretty

From the white paper:


America has long endured the occasional politician eager to repeal the entire 20thCentury, but, as President Dwight Eisenhower observed nearly 60 years ago, “Their numbers [were] negligible and they are stupid.”

Sadly, this is no longer the case. Tenthers increasingly dominate conservative politics and their numbers are growing. If this movement succeeds in replacing our founding document with their entirely fabricated constitution, virtually every American will suffer the consequences. Seniors will lose their Social Security and Medicare. Millions of students could lose their ability to pay for college. And workers throughout the country will lose their right to organize, to earn a minimum wage, and to be free from discrimination. Worse, because the Tea Party believes their policy preferences are mandated by the Constitution, they would do far more than simply repeal nearly a century of essential laws. Once something is declared unconstitutional, it is beyond the reach of elected officials—and beyond the voters’ ability to revive simply by tossing unwise lawmakers out of office. For this reason, the Tea Party’s agenda is not simply one of the most radical in generations, it is also the most authoritarian. They do not simply want to eliminate decades of progress; they want to steal away “We The People’s” ability to bring it back.

This video can’t say it all, but gives a good impression of what we’re up against:


Education kills fear – Fear kills education

Illustration by Otto

The liability of truth

Reading between the lines in David Sirota’s article Ten Years Later, It’s Time to ‘Broaden the Context’, there’s an inherent human weakness being exploited today and limiting the flow of information to our students. When teachers and administrators fear harassment or job loss without the protection of collective action, coupled with the need to survive the long-run of a depressed economy, it compromises our American educational values. When they fear teaching “taboo truths” – whether they involve foreign policy, fossil fuels, or the benefits of marijuana – the result is biased information and ignorance. Who profits from that?

In the public school system, where our government still has a hand in enforcing the breadth of knowledge and the open mind of truthfulness, there is no place for the willful omission of critical information just because it’s unpopular, uncomfortable or inconvenient. Teachers should be willing and able to present all sorts of valuable information without fear.

Allowing the fear of parental ire in this case to influence the information covered in a public school is nothing less than cowardly political and religious pandering that feeds into a trend we should mistrust, even abhor. If we don’t offer comprehensive education about a tragedy like 9/11, how can we even consider that our children are being adequately prepared to participate in the discussions, decisions and creative solutions that will help shape their futures, our nation and the world.

This sort of information filtering is a symptom of a larger problem facing education. “School choice” is being hawked by neoliberals and the religious right as a way to improve our school system through privatizing. I think it’s a corporate profit driven plan that has less to do with improving schools than personalizing curriculum to appease parents. That’s the hook. But in the long run, choosing to have corporations market education to our children will result in nothing less than losing control over what our “young consumers” are being taught. As corporations tap into the trillion dollars of taxpayer money spent annually on primary education, we will see it destroyed.

The real school choice

Home schooling and a variety of private schools provide legal options for parents who wish to personalize or expand the knowledge base, self-teach, or handicap their children with a censored, more narrow view of our world and its people’s experiences. Opting out of the public school system is their right, but it includes opting out of the financial support provided to those who choose public education. We all pay into public education for a good reason: we all benefit by an educated public.


It is the same “saber-rattling ideologues who want 9/11 to serve only as a no-questions-asked rationale for more war and bigotry,” who are striving to privatize and alter the basic structure and regulation of America’s public schools. It’s a dangerous and insidious trend already clearly dominating in other areas where corporatist neoliberals have influenced the destruction of traditional American values. The monopolization and control of our mass media sources, the privatization of our prison system, our lack of environmental, energy, pharmaceutical and food safety regulations are all examples. Most recently, their efforts have been to suppress our right to vote, an absolutely sinister attack on the heart of democracy.

Our public school system, in all its stages of imperfection, is integral to the health of our society. Under the control of federal, state and local governments, the people’s laws and standards for education, including a healthy separation of church and state, will be enforced.

Neoliberal ideology, which pushes for less government intervention and more deregulation and privatization, is a challenge to democracy and the ethics and values of the American people like none we have known.

In a neoliberal world, for example, … It may be the case that run-off from my factory kills the fish in your stream; but rather than asking the government to stop my polluting activity (which would involve the loss of jobs and the diminishing of the number of market transactions), why don’t you and I sit down and figure out if more wealth is created by my factory’s operations than is lost as a consequence of their effects? … “The question to be decided is: is the value of the fish lost greater or less than the value of the product which the contamination of the stream makes possible?” If the answer is more value would be lost if my factory were closed, then the principle of the maximization of wealth and efficiency directs us to a negotiated solution: you allow my factory to continue to pollute your stream and I will compensate you or underwrite the costs of your moving the stream elsewhere on your property, provided of course that the price I pay for the right to pollute is not greater than the value produced by my being permitted to continue.

Notice that “value” in this example (which is an extremely simplified stand-in for infinitely more complex transactions) is an economic, not an ethical word, or, rather, that in the neoliberal universe, ethics reduces to calculations of wealth and productivity. ~ New York Times, Neoliberalism and Higher Education

A scenario for privatized education

We don’t need a crystal ball to realize that the control of information provided to our children in a privatized, voucher, “parental choice” system could result in – not better education, but pockets or bubbles of ideology among the citizenry, factions of bias, neighborhoods of closed minds battling each other in the all too familiar fashion of ineffectual gridlock – with no faction quite strong enough to match the power of those in control, those who are promoting this sort of “school choice” and its opportunity to divide the people. Splitting into “balkanised communities whose inhabitants find other Americans to be culturally incomprehensible” is already a big part of our problem.

At some point, I think we should foresee that mergers would take place to drive out competition and innovation, and to drive up the cost for consumers.

Schools of thought – privatized thought, with a corporate profit-oriented, need-to-know based curriculum without science, language and fine arts, for example, could eventually replace what we consider common knowledge taught to all students. Privately standardized information might prepare children for a desired end, but not necessarily one of their parents’ choice. When “ethics reduces to calculations of wealth and productivity,” an unreckonable entity with “personhood” corporate rights could be guiding their lives instead.

And the freedom to learn the truth would be long gone, along with those of us who knew it as the foundation for all freedom.

If that sounds like just so much drama, don’t forget (1) that corporate personhood is not new to education – its earliest judicial precedent, set in 1790 by the Supreme Court of Virginia in favor of the College of William and Mary, was (ironically) for Thomas Jefferson to change the school’s theology curriculum to one rooted in science, language and fine arts; (2) or that in corporate affairs, government interference has always been controversial at best; (3) and that today, since the Citizens United decision, we are contending with neoliberalism and corporate personhood as an uncontrolled force clearly set on undermining the will of the people for corporate profits.

People power

Corporate profit-based solutions of the neoliberal persuasion are not the creative solutions we need in order to solve our problems. But if no one else can be heard over their shouting, that’s what we’ll get. The media are not much help with sharing better ideas, and internet news and searches are now filtered, bubbled and based on previous searches. But the ideas are out there and the people should be the ones who vet them. We can improve the school system without turning it over to private corporate control.

The old Cedar Falls post office now houses the Cedar Falls high school. (photo Matthew Putney)

This idea, for example, was recently noted and disseminated online with positive results. Why not consider converting more of the “New Deal” Post Office buildings that we already own all over the country into neighborhood schools. (“The USPS has announced that it will be closing as many as 2,000 of its 32,000 post offices and auctioning off the buildings.”) That could reduce class sizes, employ more teachers and serve as a temporary jobs program for a variety of professionals. It would also serve to help save historic buildings and possibly help subsidize the Post Office workers’ pensions which are due to default at the end of this month. It’s more complicated than that, but why not take a closer look at it?

Political pressure to diminish the power of the people and enrich corporations is suffocating America. It stifles innovation and removes our collective voice from the processes of government. Destroying the foundations of a nation only to rebuild it in “one’s” own image, is a noticeable neoliberal pattern and a strategy clearly employed by our military and its corporate contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, curses, like young chicken, always come home to roost.

What our children learn will determine the future of America, and in that respect, there’s just nothing more important. They should have access to schools and teachers unhindered by political ideology and religious indoctrination, and who are proud to teach the truth even as it challenges power. They should be enriched and empowered with a full understanding of government procedure and taught to realize their responsibility as citizens for its success or failure.

Again: “… in the neoliberal universe, ethics reduces to calculations of wealth and productivity.”

(Post updated here.)