In this new ‘Gelded Age’ of public commons emasculation and the rise of the new neo-enclosure movement, all the same wretched ideologies of the old Gilded Age are apparent.
Reconstruction was decimated within years under the Gilded Age robber barons and the capitalist, racist system and what was born was Jim Crow and labor leasing lasting until the 1950’s!;
Educational inequality was etched into the very fabric of social institutions with the robber barons starting schools and naming them after themselves, (Cornell, Stanford, and more) while the working class received a factory style education designed to prepare them ideologically for their oppression as adults as well as providing basic skills so that bookkeeping and time and motion studies could be created and used to increase production by the new masters;
A rancid and narcistic ruling class of robber barons emerged along with all the privileges accorded such ‘men’. These barons of industrialism not only created the material conditions for industrial development and the relations of production, but they then tried to recast themselves as philanthropists. Carnegie, for example gave a great deal to the libraries. they named everything they could after themselves. But this was stolen swag from workers;
The 20th century enclosure movement was speeded up in earnest with more and more public lands being transfered to elites through the Homestead Act, railroad giveaways and theft from Native Americans, to name a few;
The ruling class used their ‘newsrooms’ at the time to let everyone know that in America anyone could get rich like they did and thus individualism of the most rank kind was transmitted like a disease through every outlet of the ruling culture;
A hatred for both unions and taxes was part and parcel of the Gilded Age robber barons of the industrial past and they made no bones about it;
Social Darwinism arose to excuse hierarchical living and became an arsenal for racism and sexism as well as other forms of degradation and oppressiono.
The new ‘Gelded’ Age is very similar.
Educational inequality is now embraced firmly and is the ‘reform’ movement for the one percent. They understand, as did their predecessors, that an educated population is a threat to profits and power so now the corridors of power are sealed through admission and cost and the new ‘literacy’ is instrumentalism tied to computer literacy for the new Walmart jobs that will appear in the military surveillance Banana Republic;
Reconstruction, which was virtually obliterated by white elites and their surrogates, has now translated into attacks on civil rights and the gains of the civil rights movement with the new Jim Crow replacing the old — mass incarceration and containment;
A new rancid and wretched ruling class of socio-paths have now emerged with the audacity to call themselves philanthropists. They work assiduously with both their money and tremendous egos to re-engineer the fabric of economic and social life for Americans, but also throughout the globe.
Like their counterparts of old, they are venerated as great men with all the answers, the shot-callers. They too have stolen their riches from the working classes throughout the world aided by neo-liberal governments, trade treaties, favorable tax policies, wage theft and the like. These new Sultans of Swag also tell us that we would not survive without them;
The ruling class now not only has its own propaganda channel on cable TV, FOX, they own six of the major companies that deciminate ‘newspeak’ throughout the US leaving many if not most American not only unaware as to what is happening in the world, but more importantly they are left believing that the ‘elites’, the one percent actually have their interests in mind and thus they identify both with the culture of the ruling class, but also with the interests of the ruling class which are contrary to their own. This is one troubling difference and why the Internet must be universally accessible with no toll booths are censorship, but this will be a fight.
The following is from the ‘Exiled’, a new site on the internet and it goes right to the heart of these young, millionaire or billionaire, white men that have made a fortune out of good ideas, sure, but more out of luck and privilege, along with timing. Rather than admit that history or the lucky sperm club or being at the right place at the right time, or their sex, race or the work of others helped them become fabulously rich, they work as ideological propagandists to push ‘free market capitalism’ as if there ever was such a thing. In so doing so they are now the new purveyors of an even more insipid individualism.
Here is a recent piece on the author of Freakonomics, itself nothing more than pop economics that advances nothing but the profits of its owner, Steven Levitt. Levitt, like Reed Hastings of NetFlix, or Face Book titan Zuckerberg and many such men and some women, have all embraced libertarianism trying to argue that they did what they did “all be themselves.”
Steven Levitt, University of Chicago economist, gained nationwide fame and prestige after co-authoring Freakonomics, a pop economics book based partly on Levitt’s original economic research. Published in 2005, Freakonomics became an instant #1 bestseller and spawned an entire Freakonomics media franchise that included a branded Freakonomics blog (hosted on the New York Times website until 2011), a regular segment on the National Public Radio program Marketplace, a Freakonomics movie and, alas, a Freakonomics business consulting company (now called the Greatest Good).
In 2006, Time magazine solidified Levitt’s “thought leader” status by naming him one of “100 People Who Shape Our World.”* But despite Levitt’s high profile, very little has been written about his academic and ideological background. Generally Levitt is assumed to be a harmless, quirky pop economist for trivia nerds. But is that really the case?
As Steven Levitt’s S.H.A.M.E. Profile demonstrates, Levitt is a dyed-in-the-wool Chicago School neoliberal who believes in the sanctity of “the market” and a small government whose function is restricted mostly to protecting property rights. He has used “objective” economic research and mainstream credibility as cover, while attacking teachers’ unions, advocating for the privatization of prison labor, spreading crude climate denialism and promoting rank “free market” ideology that sees human labor as a resource to be extracted for maximum profit. Levitt has also developed a nasty habit of misrepresenting the research of other scientists in order to reach predefined ideological conclusions, and has failed to disclose financial conflicts of interest.
But perhaps the most disturbing thing about Levitt is his enduring interest in researching and “proving” the effectiveness of authoritarian and, some would say, borderline eugenicist policies. Aside from doing studies on the positive effects that incarceration has on society (we benefit to the tune of $15,000 per inmate per year if inmates are packed into overcrowded conditions), he published a paper that argued that an increase in abortion rates among black women in the 1970s was the main reason for a drop in crime in the 1990s. The methodology and data of his research were discredited by other economists, but Levitt stuck to his original conclusion linking race and crime: fewer African-American children correlates to less crime. Levitt’s explanation wasn’t just wrong, it was extremely sinister, reinforcing a racist stereotype of the worst kind with a seemingly modern “scientific” explanation.
Eugenics theory: alive and well in Freakonomics, the movie.
There’s one aspect of Steven Levitt’s career the profile did not have the space to delve into too deeply: Levitt’s ties to Arne Duncan, President Obama’s Education Secretary and the former head of Chicago’s public schools system.
In Freakonomics, Levitt presents Duncan as a do-gooder and a reformer whose “allegiance was with the children, not with the teachers and their unions.” One thing was true: Duncan did not like unions.
A notorious anti-union activist and crusader for school privatization, Duncan has been credited with doing more than anyone else to help bring the privatized neoliberal nightmare to Chicago’s impoverished and mostly nonwhite public schools. ”Under Duncan, Chicago took the lead in creating public schools run as military academies, vastly expanded draconian student expulsions, instituted sweeping surveillance practices, advocated a growing police presence in the schools, arbitrarily shut down entire schools and fired entire school staffs,” according to a great 2008 TruthOut report.
And Steven Levitt was right there along with Duncan. Working hand in hand with Duncan, Levitt devised a statistical method that allowed Duncan to catch and fire unionized public school teachers who supposedly cheated on standardized tests. Firing and terrorizing public school teachers—this was clearly a point of pride for Levitt. He took personal credit for sacking at least a dozen teachers, gloating in his book Freakonomics that, as a result of his method, “Chicago Public School system began to fire its cheating teachers. The evidence was only strong enough to get rid of a dozen of them, but the many other cheaters had been duly warned.”
You hear that cheatin’ teachers? There’s a new neoliberal sheriff in town and his name is Steven Levitt!
Retired public school teachers protest against Duncan in Cupertino, California
Levitt was extremely impressed with Arne Duncan’s assault on Chicago’s public education—so much so that he published a post on his New York Times Freakonomics blog titled ”Nobody Better Than Arne Duncan“ when he heard Obama was tapping Duncan for secretary of education in 2008: “I’ve interacted with Arne a few times, and in a variety of settings. I always walk away dazzled. He is smart as hell and his commitment to the kids is remarkable. If you wanted to start from scratch and build a public servant, Arne would be the end product.”