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Friday, March 09, 2012

Paul Krugman: Ignorance Is Strength

Why are Republicans turning against higher education"?

Ignorance Is Strength, Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: One way in which Americans have always been exceptional has been in our support for education. ... But now one of our two major political parties has taken a hard right turn against education, or at least against education that working Americans can afford. ... And this comes at a time when American education is already in deep trouble.
About that hostility: Mr. Santorum made headlines by declaring that President Obama wants to expand college enrollment because colleges are “indoctrination mills” that destroy religious faith. But Mr. Romney’s response to a high school senior worried about college costs is arguably even more significant...
Here’s what the candidate told the student: “Don’t just go to one that has the highest price. Go to one that has a little lower price... And don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on.” ...
Mr. Romney’s remarks were even more callous ... given what’s been happening lately to American higher education. ... Adjusted for inflation, state support for higher education has fallen 12 percent over the past five years, even as the number of students has continued to rise... The damage these changes will inflict ... should be obvious. So why are Republicans so eager to trash higher education?
It’s not hard to see what’s driving Mr. Santorum’s wing of the party. His specific claim that college attendance undermines faith is, it turns out, false. ... But what about people like Mr. Romney? Don’t they have a stake in America’s future economic success, which is endangered by the crusade against education? Maybe not as much as you think.
After all, over the past 30 years, there has been a stunning disconnect between huge income gains at the top and the struggles of ordinary workers. You can make the case that the self-interest of America’s elite is best served by making sure that this disconnect continues, which means keeping taxes on high incomes low at all costs, never mind the consequences in terms of poor infrastructure and an undertrained work force.
And if underfunding public education leaves many children of the less affluent shut out from upward mobility, well, did you really believe that stuff about creating equality of opportunity?
So whenever you hear Republicans say that they are the party of traditional values, bear in mind that they have actually made a radical break with America’s tradition of valuing education. And they have made this break because they believe that what you don’t know can’t hurt them.

    Posted by on Friday, March 9, 2012 at 12:36 AM in Economics, Income Distribution, Universities | Permalink  Comments (153)

          


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