Monday, March 18, 2013

Campus Crusade for Austerity

It's bad enough that college students are getting crushed with debt before they even graduate to a lifetime of wage slavery. But now, insult is being added to injury. On campuses throughout America, kids are getting inundated by a flood of class war proselytizers. The missionaries, unfortunately, are not the remnants of the Occupy movement or the labor movement. They're the One Percent Meritocracy, spreading the addictive dogma of austerity to their peers. The message: Wall Street is not robbing you blind. Grandma and Grandpa are. Stop them, starve them now, before it's too late!

And just who do you think is behind the innocuously-named "Up To Us" propaganda campaign? It's the Clinton Global Initiative University! Already spreading its tentacles across authoritarian-ready campuses throughout the nation, this traveling college-within-a-college is much more than a neoliberal greed-washing racket purporting to fight global hunger and disease. It aims to be a full-scale evangelical Campus Crusade for Austerity, in which well-off, well-scrubbed, well-dressed and annoying young things corner their unsuspecting peers in order to hammer home the Gospel of Voluntary Safety Net-Shredding. The aim is to create the next generation of greedsters, get them before their social idealism permanently alters their psyches.

Not surprisingly, the Department of Deficit Hawkery at CGI University is being partially funded by billionaire vulture capitalist Pete Peterson's greed foundation. It's even sponsoring an "Up to Us" essay contest in which the  college team coming up with the best idea on how to make the rich richer and the poor poorer "Fix the Debt"  will be awarded a relatively paltry $10,000 grand prize (which will just about pay the interest on the typical six-figure student loan.) 

Among the essay contest judges will be (shock) Chelsea Clinton, who, having just plunked down over $10 million on a new luxury apartment for herself and her hedge fund hubby, is now a deficit hawkette in good standing, sincerely worried about how retirees, war widows and orphans, and veterans will eat into her tax-exempt trust fund. Also judging will be ABC/Disney Sunday plutocratic coffee klatch host/Clintonite George Stephanopoulas. George, apparently, sees no conflict of interest between openly shilling for billionaires and hosting a news program in which he uncritically swallows the dogma of the same wealthy deficit cultists, projectile-vomiting it back out at you, the victimized audience.

(In case you were wondering if there is a difference between Republicans and Democrats, it's this: the Romneys and their ilk openly bash the 47%, the "You People." The Clintons smarmily feel your pain, and will pose for pics with you while you slave away in their kid's new digs. Oh, and let's not forget the culture war wedge issues to make you believe there's a difference between the two halves of the Money Party. Hillary finally comes out in favor of gay marriage today, even though her kid is not gay, thus one-upping R-Coming Out Rob Portman, who is, libs say, a total hypocrite because his son is gay. Plus, she publicly comes out to the Human Rights Campaign lobby, big funder of Democratic candidates, supporter of past efforts to privatize Social Security, and instigator of Barack Obama's own coming-out evolution extravaganza. Wealthy LGBT groups also have been corraled in the Pete Peterson deficit reduction veal pen. Are we sensing a pattern yet?) 

But I digress. Getting back to Clinton Initiative University -- just to show that CGI U. is totally down with that all-important "balanced approach" beloved of Obamians and Clintonites everywhere, the other two judges of the Save the Rich contest will be (you guessed it!) those beloved greedy geezers Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson of Obama's Catfood Commission. These guys definitely put the cool back into cold-hearted cruelty.

Pete Peterson and the Clintons have even managed to corral Comedy Central host and youth idol Stephen Colbert and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey into their veal pen of celebrity spokespeople. The participants are a veritable who's who of Fortune 500 CEOs and Hollywood moguls -- in other words, the Democratic Party donor class. Eat, Pray, Love, Profit. I bet they all huddle under their covers at night, reading Ayn Rand by a flashlight powered by environmentally friendly batteries.

I Dreamed I Dwelt in Marble Halls, or Chelsea's Bathroom


Fred Drumlevitch said...

A fine post, Karen.

But it almost made me lose my cookies. Literally. (I had just eaten some great chocolate chip cookies). I must remind myself not to read Sardonicky immediately after eating!!!

Seriously, though, I think that you are on the right track, Karen. We live in a country that for most of us most of the time --- there are exceptions --- exerts its plutocratic control more subtly than outright jack-booted domination. Manipulation and co-optation are (with some caveats) the primary tools of their trade, and even us progressives (as well as the broader populace, of course) need to develop the necessary highly-sophisticated sense of skepticism that can immunize us against their techniques without, though, falling prey to powerlessness/nihilism.


On a related subject (universities):

The University of Arizona's new second in command administrator, hired last month, will receive a record salary of $408,000. (Plus probably all sorts of perks that add up to a substantial additional amount).

From an Arizona Daily Star February 13 newspaper article:

"The UA is poised for a new season of excellence, which requires innovation, discipline, creativity and a spirit of partnership and collaboration among our leaders," Hart said in a news release. "Andrew Comrie exemplifies these and many other qualities that will make him an excellent provost."

The news release didn't mention Comrie's salary. J.C. Mutchler, the new executive director for Hart's office, said in an interview that the $408,000 figure is below the median $416,000 salary for provosts nationwide."

So, I guess it's a bargain!!!!

And from an Arizona Daily Star March 10 graphic:

The University of Arizona's highest administrator, Ann Weaver Hart (readers of Sardonicky will remember my comments about her elaborate preparations for a breakfast with students) gets a salary of $475,000 --- and total compensation of $620,000 per year. (No mention, though, whether that includes an allowance for breakfasts!)

Meanwhile, U of A tuition continues to rise at a rate well in excess of inflation:

The bottom line, as I see it: It's no surprise that the plutocratic propaganda initiative is being extended to university students. As currently structured, the university administrations are themselves very much a part of the plutocracy. And students, most of whom are far too young to remember a different time, are already primed by their "knowledge" of the contemporary world into a ready acceptance of plutocratic dominance.

Jay - Ottawa said...

“Eat, Pray, Love, Profit.”

Hilarious post! But horrendous, because the joke falls back on us.

Reading Karen’s veil-lifting piece on the latest campaign of the Good Clinton Clan brings to mind the best novels of Sinclair Lewis. How the Clintons embody the cheery boosterism and glamorous shamming of the new century. So very like Elmer Gantry is Bill Clinton setting up his Global Initiative revival tent on one campus after another.

And you say Steve Kolbert is with them? I thought he was on our side mocking the Babbitts of Main Street and the Gantrys of Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

It’s as though we’ve been strapped into the sandals of another Caesar to absorb the blades from expected and unexpected hands: “E tu, Hillary? E tu, Bill? E tu, Erskine? E tu, HRC? E tu, Colbert?”

Denis Neville said...

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve." - Henry David Thoreau

One would think that Bill Clinton had already fleeced us enough.

But the Big Dog is still coming for more.

Spit or swallow?

What do these self-congratulatory gatherings of the rich and powerful accomplish?

Chris Hedges, reviewing Bill Clinton’s book "Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World," wrote:

“His book is the political equivalent of "Marley & Me" It is filled with a lot of vapid, feel-good stories about ordinary and wealthy Americans setting out to make the world a better place. It smacks of the philanthropy-as-publicity that characterized the largesse of the robber barons -- the Mellons and the Rockefellers -- and has become a pastime for our own oligarchic elite. Clinton's call for charity is the equivalent of well-scrubbed prep school students spending a day in a soup kitchen, doling out food to the people whose jobs were outsourced by their mommies and daddies. It does little to alleviate suffering. But it is a balm to the conscience of the oligarchic class that profits handsomely from the impoverishment of the working class, globalization and our anti-democratic corporate state. The rich love to dine out on their own goodness.”

James F Traynor said...

We are the veal.

Pearl said...

A number of years ago, Bill Clinton was invited to give a speech in
Hamilton, Ontario at the McMaster Medical Center in support of a local lung research organization. The city was inundated with crowds, numerous
entourage traveling with Clinton, extra security, etc. He spent a not too generous amount of time with a speech and when he left the cost of his visit which included his fees, extra money for security, clean up after the crowds, etc. left the city in a financial hole. People were not impressed and the local newspaper did not have very kind words about it all. Any extra money going to the lung organization did not make up for the costs of his appearance.

This is how he and his wife have been able to accumulate substantial wealth
by using his Clinton Foundation to accept contributions to help worthy
causes by charging large fees for his speeches and no doubt using legal
loopholes to further enrich themselves. I haven't heard what was done to help honor the pledges for Haiti that his foundation accepted and which along with other organizations fell through.

I am glad Chelsea won't be homeless - reports of her stint as a TV reporter
were a strong thumbs down. But the hedge fund business must be booming.

Karen Garcia said...

Sorry I made you sick, glad I made you laugh, satisfied I made you mad. That is my mission in life. Luckily there is something new to make us puke and yuk and flail helplessly every single wonderful day!

Neil Gillespie said...

@Pearl "legal loopholes"

The word "legal loopholes" is too benign; "legalized corruption" is better.

Thanks Karen for the link to the Mail Online story.

"Assuming Ms Clinton and Mr Mezvinsky put down a $2.1 million deposit on the their new The Whitman $10.5 million home, their monthly mortgage bill will be $52,358 and $57,371 if the couple handed over a 10 per cent downpayment instead."

Just the difference between these two payments is $5,013...and the bedroom looks right into another building, according to the photo.

Can’t really comprehend those amounts.

Commentor Jon Marx wrote "So what does this couple actually DO to earn enough money to pay for such a place? Or is it best not to ask..."