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Bobby's children saddle up

By Owen Paine on Sunday February 14, 2010 01:46 PM

Yes that's our man Reich up there, toying with us like Truman Capote -- Bobby Reich, author of The Work of Nations, a smash hit among pwogs all these many long years ago. Do you recall Reich’s solution to foreign competition? Here's a recent paraphrase:

"...investments in the productivity of Americans...early childhood education for every young child, excellent K-12, fully-funded public higher education, more generous aid for kids from middle-class and poor families to attend college.."
But alas, this once-admired paradigm now seems fit for nothing more than bitter satire. Poor Bobby; his vision has come a cropper. Take this pwoggie whine:
"I possess so many degrees from the most prestigious universities in this country (U. of Chicago, Brown, and I was also an exchange scholar at Harvard), and at this point I can’t get a job in this country to save my life."
It's not all whining by our forward-looking high-ed friends. My Lord, the pwog wing of the professional class seem about ready to rumble in the streets with...corporate America! Among other things, they're fed up with Bobby's pat "more and higher education is the answer", when it clearly isn't.

Yes, for real: the free class, the creative class, the symbol-working class, the merit class! -- gets it, at least in part. And why not? The latest decade produced a new wrinkle in blowback from our limited-liability cross-border four-corners-of-the-earth project. After nearly 40 years of wage-bashing high jinx aimed largely at Joe and Jane Sixpack, they evolved a new feature this past decade, a species of globalization aimed more or less directly at them there professionals themselves. They're now hiring third world brains with market-class professional skills, built cheap and ready to live cheap -- cut-price human capital.

Hence the unspoken, unspeakable, politically incorrect but heartfelt cri in the coeur of every Norteamericano meritoid: "Damn it, hoss...the WOGs are everywhere we wanna be these days." The integument of cosmopol-think has burst asunder; time to look at the dwindlin' pay envelope... just like any old redneck with a union assembly job.

Where I found that opening quote, I also found some considerable crosstalk on this very point. Pwog pwofessionals are abuzz with indignation. Just listen:

"[We're]...caught in the paradigm shift between education as a ticket for entry and a refrain from larger and larger numbers of graduating college seniors who wonder ”Now that I have my degree, where is my career?”"
Have they priced themselves out of the career markets? NO!
"...[we] have been priced out. By companies willing to pay people who went to free universities and live in economies where one can survive on far less than here. "

"For years we have been hammering into everyone’s heads that education is the path to success. This has led thousands of people to take on debt they will never be able to conquer because when they enter the job market with their newly minted degrees there are no jobs available to them."

"Corporate leaders gripe about a shortage of US visas, and of having to find talent overseas, in countries whose labor forces are larger than the US’ entire population. They are forced to find workers who scramble over each other to win business contracts that pay a sum that might buy a week’s groceries in the US."

"The populations of the two most populous countries, India and China, outweigh the US population by eight times. Their workforces outnumber US workers by ten times. Yet, their average GDP per capita is about a tenth of the US’."

Wow! where's the open-borders small world, after all, in this? Yikes! Sounds more like the Klan on the march!

Goes to show ya -- all this Sunday-supplement altruism and fellow-human handwringing turns to white-sheet action quarters once your own ox gets gored.

So the oviousl leftie answer is: time to struggle! Time to form a broad-based job-class united-front movement. Let 50 snare drums rattle, 50 brass bugles blare! Here come da merit class auxiliary, on the class march with horny-handed hoi polloi, for the first time since FDR got a hand job. And they ain't in a dialoguin' mood either. No more "let us sit down in peace with the corporate corsairs and reason together". Nope, that's out with this wild flier crowd:

"Corporations will not be willing to lose their certain short-term gains in order to reap uncertain long-term growth. That is why their interests are not part of this equation."
Okay, it ain't Marx. But it might be movement material.

Comments (13)

Louis Antoine de Saint-Just:

Back in the old days we called "pwogs" "Girondins" and we knew how to take care of them.

Louis Antoine de Saint-Just:

"[We're]...caught in the paradigm shift between education as a ticket for entry and a refrain from larger and larger numbers of graduating college seniors who wonder ”Now that I have my degree, where is my career?”"

Back in my undergrad days, it was always assumed that the liberal arts were make-work programs for white middle-class baby boomers.

Instead of causing trouble, the then young now old demi-intellectuals could just teach English at State U instead. A few years reading Lacan, and the state would own you forever.

By the time we all got to the late 1980s/early 1990s there were no more jobs in academia, or, rather, there were too many liberal arts grads and not enough teaching spots.

So we all just assumed that if you were majoring in English or History, you were just too dumb to major in engineering or economics. When you graduated, you either went to law school or you worked at Starbucks for a few years and eventually ended up teaching high school.

Now the teabaggers and their Republican allies are targetting the high-schools, kind of the "make work" program for Gen X liberal arts grads. Sooner or later, all high-school teachers are going to be women who will have to pass a virginity test, teach out of the Bible and McGuffy's Readers, and not make enough money to leave home before finding a husband.

"I possess so many degrees from the most prestigious universities in this country (U. of Chicago, Brown, and I was also an exchange scholar at Harvard), and at this point I can’t get a job in this country to save my life."

Well, I went to State U, not Harvard, but I've always assumed that once you got to Harvard, there were a whole new set of hoops you had to jump through. You had to make the right friends, find the right "mentors" and have the right attitudes. It's not enough just to graduate.

Michael Hureaux:

Wow, you said a mouthful, Louis Antoine de Saint-Just. Having never been part of that academic world, undergraduate or whatever, I can't relate.

Like many others from my generation who spent twenty years or better after high school attending college in dribs and drabs until I earned an undergraduate degree, I never thought of myself or others I knew on a similar path as "majoring in liberal arts (Language Arts, Humanities) because I was too dumb to major in economics or engineering. As someone who came up working in light industry, I always though people who majored in business (called "economics" by many colleges) or engineering were too dumb to see that they were strengthening the walls of the cultural prison. I remember them being whizzes in math classes, and dumber than posts in classes where they had to analyze or think about human contradiction/frailty. I remember thinking, "what good is logic if you can't deal with the fact that reason is unreasonable a lot of the time?" It surprises me none that so many of these folks become new agers and Buddhist ideologues later in life, after all, if life has no purpose, why not fetishize its purposelessness?

So now everything they've invested in has turned out to be an absolute farce, even moreso than the marxist method which they constantly denigrate. I don't crack up when I hear that the realities of capitalist economy are now catching up with them, but I am unsurprised when they constantly feel threatened by the "fascist" McCain or the "fascist" Reagan or the "fascist" Bush or Palin or whomever. They're just now getting a little tiny taste of what they've always said was "good discipline" or "incentive" for everyone else, and they're finding out that pain and loss and humiliation aren't good as shit as teaching tools.

As Denzel Washington's character, the runaway slave "Trip" in that old film "Glory" says at one point, they're in the real school now. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. My guess is that they'll swing the direction of Mussolini before they'll ever revisit Lenin. What say you?

Al Schumann:

Citoyen Saint-Just, those allies are called Democrats. This may shock you, but the Obama administration is selling a warmed-over version of Bush's Texas "education miracle". The ptichman is the disgraced hack, Arne Duncan, who was and is actually less slick than the wingnuts when it's time to fudge statistics.

Louis Antoine de Saint-Just:

This may shock you, but the Obama administration is selling a warmed-over version of Bush's Texas "education miracle".

Citoyen Schumann.

I have not been shocked since the end of Nivose, Year 207 and King Barack I's gawdy coronation.

What I do see Monsieur is a conflict between the DixieBaggers (Old Dixiecrats) and the I-Like-Ike-Progs (alliance of old northern Democrats and Northern Republicans).

One group wants to keep the public schools since it's a make work program for their constituents. The other wants to eliminate public education because it means white people paying money to educate blacks.

Both groups should be loaded up into tumbrils and sent, not to the guillotine but to the Seine bridges, where some will be canonaded with grape shot, and the others will be given a "Republican Marriage" and thrown into the river.

Aux Armes Citoyens. The Duke of Brunswick is on the road to Paris and Pitt is conspiring against us.

Louis Antoine de Saint-Just:

Citoyen Hureaux.

Citoyen Trotsky has assured me that without a revolutionary working class, the ruling class has no need for a Mussolini or Hitler.

King Louis would have loved the American people. You eat cake with gusto.


poor pwogs... underwater on their human capital investments, watching the PV of their precious degree shrink everyday.

There is a certain symmetry between subprime lending & house pricing on one hand, and the student loans industry & degree pricing on the other. Different demographics, different dream, but they both got suckered by the same grifters. The meritoids are just a little less streetwise, and take a little while longer to figure out that they have taken out an ultra-recourse loan that can't be discharged in bankruptcy in order to buy an overpriced asset at the top of the market.


"Citoyen Trotsky has assured me "
st juice
you just went sour

but does explain your distain for popular fronts
which i whole heartedly support

endless bashing of our pwogies ios self indulgent posturing

self marginalizing crap

btw are you van mingo's ghost

i like your flash and flammery

but please for my sake at least
put leon back in your puppet case

paraphrase him and atribute the meme to
say rosa luxemberg or bakunin if you must
of course neither could cover fascism memes

so use mickey mantle

Louis Antoine de Saint-Just:

so use mickey mantle

Who murdered a claque of rival landed aristocrats and made you King?


Funny you should mention.

All my adult life, almost, I've made my day-job living doing Stupid Computer Tricks, and for quite a long run there it supported me rather well.

No more, alas; and at the dismal downfallen remnant of a once-proud American flagship corporation where I now spend my dull days, the only vaguely European-looking white guys are grizzled long-in-the-tooth sad sacks like myself. Everybody younger than 50 is either from China or India.

This has brought out a side of my nature that I never knew I had. I've always liked Indian food, but now the smell of fenugreek and asafoetida from the communal microwave at lunchtime annoys me. Deeply.

I actually studied Chinese in my academic days, and enjoyed it quite a lot. But now the insistent quarter-tone pitch-bending of Mandarin in the corridors -- like a Muzak channel entirely devoted to the musical saw -- sets my teeth on edge.

I make these confessions by way of phenomenology,not agitation. I'm not saying Something Should Be Done. I don't begrudge my Bengali and Han colleagues their opportunity and I wish them the best. They're not nasty people; on the contrary, they're almost painfully polite. I don't have some crackpot racial theory about how they're really inferior, in spite of every appearance to the contrary. America: come and get it, and much good may it do you, I say and always have said.

But still, the heart has its reasons.

I'm not proud of these antagonistic feelings; indeed, I'm rather ashamed of them.

But shame can be a very enlightening thing. It's taught me, in this case, to be a bit less dismissive and contemptuous of the anti-immigrant sentiment of so many jes-folks Amurricans. Their anxieties and resentments now seem less inexplicable to me.

Conservatism -- in the real, not the cant sense of the word -- is a valuable quality. We like the world we know, for excellent reasons: we've learned how to deal with it, we've learned how to take pleasure in it. We've made an investment in it.

Change, too, has its pleasures. But when we start getting the feeling that there's no room for us anymore, or the terms of the implicit contract are being renegotiated to our disadvantage -- then it's hard not to be pissed off.

I dunno quite how to reconcile these opposites, on the emotional plane. But my reflective side tells me it's a good thing to be proletarianized. Even for an old soft-living former human-capital rentier like myself.


Oh and please, please, can we leave Stalin and Trotsky to molder quietly in their graves?

Louis Antoine de Saint-Just:

Citoyen MJS, I believe you're being too hard on yourself.

If your coworkers were all pretty Latin American and East European girls in their early 20s, I'm pretty sure you'd feel differently about the way immigrants are affecting your life.

On the other hand, if they all looked like John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Rudy Giuliani, I'm sure you'd be ready to kill whitey the very moment Minister Farrakhan gives the word.

For myself, I'm an equal opportunity hater.

Whenever I get stuck behind some African Americans ordering food, my inner Klansman is never too far below the surface. Just make your fucking order already and stop haggling with the teenage server wage slave.

But if I'm being tailgated by a fat, 40 year old white guy in an SUV with a "Freedom Isn't Free" bumper sticker on the window, I've got my black beret, my black sunglasses, in the glove compartment in the event I'm in the mood to give a black power salute.

bob --

There is a certain symmetry between subprime lending & house pricing on one hand, and the student loans industry & degree pricing on the other. Different demographics, different dream, but they both got suckered by the same grifters.

Definite symmetry. And where I live the groups overlap more than you suggest. People buy a lot of loaned money at high interest rates to get into the local U and they do the same to get into the local version of downscale northern Rockies McMansions.

The collapse can't happen fast enough for me. I'm tired of these smug pwogs in their Beemers, Volvos, Audis moving to my town as vultures swooping in on what used to be a very reasonable place to think about buying a house and living here for a while. Maybe I can sell my house to one of them and skip town, with both of us happier in the bargain.

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