Rather than Medicare for All, he's offering Computer Science for All, as a kind of booby prize. A chip in every classroom and in every body will not only help the lack of medicine go down. It'll make Silicon Valley as rich as Croesus and Predatory Insurance and Big Pharma all put together.
While Hillary was shamelessly dragging the mother of a brain cancer patient up onto her campaign stage as a prop to spread the lie that Bernie Sanders would rip out her daughter's chemo line on Day One of his presidency, Obama is using the waning days of his own presidency to try and convince us that all we need to survive (besides Obamacare, of course) are a few more skills to make our lives as servants in the oligarchy seem cool.
If we have to live in a Dystopia where we periodically enter the health care lottery for a slim chance to win at actually living, Obama will at least try to make us feel better. Welcome to the Brave New World of Techno-optimism, folks!
From his weekly address to Da People:
Hi everybody. As I said in my State of the Union address, we live in a time of extraordinary change – change that’s affecting the way we live and the way we work. New technology replaces any job where work can be automated. Workers need more skills to get ahead. These changes aren’t new, and they’re only going to accelerate. So the question we have to ask ourselves is, “How can we make sure everyone has a fair shot at success in this new economy"?
(Translation: These changes are fueled by job-destroying, corporation-enriching, democracy-killing policies that I like to call free trade deals, You know, like NAFTA -- which my pal and designated successor Hillary Clinton championed back in the day. Oh, and the TTP which she only pretends to hate because she has to fool enough people to beat Bernie.The Neoliberal Project -- the free market supplanting representative government, and dictating social and economic policies -- is nothing new. It got its second wave in the 90s when the first Clinton Regime continued the Reagan Revolution. So, we of the power elite sit around and rhetorically ask ourselves how we can make sure that enough people will actually believe what we say. We are so disingenuous that we don't even care how the phrases "fair shot at success" and the "skills gap" are being greeted with howls of derision from millions of struggling people and Bernie-supporters out there. We do have the barest glimmer of an idea that people are fully aware of how corrupt we elected officials truly are. We can't admit this, though, because if we did, plutocratic heads might explode.)
So back to my propaganda script:
The answer to that question starts with education. That’s why my Administration has encouraged states to raise standards. We’ve cut the digital divide in our classrooms in half. We’ve worked with Congress to pass a bipartisan bill to set the expectation that every student should graduate from high school ready for college and a good job. And thanks to the hard work of students, teachers, and parents across the country, our high school graduation rate is at an all-time high.Through our discredited Race to the Top program, we had the excuse to close hundreds of "poor-performing" schools. Rather than allocate funds to alleviate pupil hunger, parental unemployment and other social ills, we saved money by shutting schools down and transferring the kids to for-profit charters to help private equity vultures get even richer. Better to put some high-tech crap from the Gates Foundation in classrooms (big donor to Hillary's slush fund, by the way!) than keep those unionized teachers around. And the two tightly clenched cheeks of Bipartisan Consensus actually passed an ass-pirational bill telling those poor kids and parents that "we" expect a lot more hard work from them.
But enough of the cold-hearted truth. Propaganda's my name, propaganda's my game. My baritone spiels are nothing if not "euphoric, narcotic, pleasantly hallucinant." (h/t Aldous Huxley.)
Now, we have to make sure all our kids are equipped for the jobs of the future – which means not just being able to work with computers, but developing the analytical and coding skills to power our innovation economy. Today’s auto mechanics aren’t just sliding under cars to change the oil; they’re working on machines that run on as many as 100 million lines of code. That’s 100 times more than the Space Shuttle. Nurses are analyzing data and managing electronic health records. Machinists are writing computer programs. And workers of all kinds need to be able to figure out how to break a big problem into smaller pieces and identify the right steps to solve it.OK, now we're getting into some super-cool, fun Huxley territory. Humans won't really become redundant: they will simply become the migrant labor at the robot farms. High school grads will become minimum-wage rocket scientists! Forget nurses spending tender loving direct care time with sick people. They'll be too busy uploading data so that Predatory Insurance can bill them quicker and get paid faster. They'll be too wrapped up in writing code to call any emergency Codes. Every minute of every working day will be a zero-sum slog. Your entire life will be shattered into many little puzzle pieces that you will then be expected to put back together again. And if you can't take the pressure, there's plenty more where you came from. So stay in school, and make Bill Gates richer while I drone on:
In the new economy, computer science isn’t an optional skill – it’s a basic skill, right along with the three “Rs.” Nine out of ten parents want it taught at their children’s schools. Yet right now, only about a quarter of our K through 12 schools offer computer science. Twenty-two states don’t even allow it to count toward a diploma.In Brave New World, there will be no time for literature, creative writing, history, ethics and probably Recess. Every diploma will have a Computer Chip embedded in it to follow you for the rest of your life. As Aldous Huxley wrote, "Most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution." So let's prove Bernie wrong with my magical computer chips, my little chipmunks!
So I’ve got a plan to help make sure all our kids get an opportunity to learn computer science, especially girls and minorities. It’s called Computer Science For All. And it means just what it says – giving every student in America an early start at learning the skills they’ll need to get ahead in the new economy.Your kids are our kids, but my kids are my kids. Computer rights are human rights, and human rights are computer rights. This is the part where I endorse Hillary, and mention girls and minorities, because polls show she's starting to lose women and blacks. As long as some crappy neoliberal initiative has the words "for all" in it, you can forget that Medicare for All is never, ever, never in a zillion years ever gonna happen. Not ever! Thirty million uninsured people are just collateral damage. But maybe they can think they're getting ahead in the New Economy with a few technical skills and Bill Gates software. To quote Aldous again, "A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.”
First, I’m asking Congress to provide funding over the next three years so that our elementary, middle, and high schools can provide opportunities to learn computer science for all students.(I hope -- LOL -- that this will be just the fig leaf I need to cram through the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership. Democrats can ease their consciences if we tepidly promise to offer a few computer classes to folks whose livelihoods we aim to destroy by this corporate coup.)
Second, starting this year, we’re leveraging existing resources at the National Science Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service to train more great teachers for these courses.(This is a weasel-worded way to say I will "appropriate" funding from other social programs to train low-paid, non-unionized teachers to both market and use Bill Gates's products more efficiently.)
And third, I’ll be pulling together governors, mayors, business leaders, and tech entrepreneurs to join the growing bipartisan movement around this cause. Americans of all kinds – from the Spanish teacher in Queens who added programming to her classes to the young woman in New Orleans who worked with her Police Chief to learn code and share more data with the community – are getting involved to help young people learn these skills. And just today, states like Delaware and Hawaii, companies like Google and SalesForce, and organizations like Code.org have made commitments to help more of our kids learn these skills.(One Privatization Utopia in just one little paragraph, with just the right smidgen of Police State surveillance thrown in for good measure. This is not a project, people: it's a Movement! It's a Tempest! Oh Brave New World, that has such people in't!)
That’s what this is all about – each of us doing our part to make sure all our young people can compete in a high-tech, global economy. They’re the ones who will make sure America keeps growing, keeps innovating, and keeps leading the world in the years ahead. And they’re the reason I’ve never been more confident about our future.Keeping the cancer of global capitalism growing, one little malignant cell at a time. Endless growth at any cost, no matter the ultimate death of the planet from an overload of innovative pollution.
Despite his protestations that he is not endorsing Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, Obama's weekly radio address actually does amount to a campaign speech for her. As Chris Lehmann writes, Clinton is relying heavily on this same kind of "techno-optimism" to convince people to vote for her over Bernie Sanders. Thus the wording "Computer Science for All", instead of Computers for Kids or something similar. They really seem to think that as long as their rhetoric sounds inclusive, they can fool at least some of the people some of the time.
Lehmann notes that Alec Ross, Obama's tech adviser during his victorious race against Hillary in 2008, immediately went to work for her in the State Department:
Everywhere Ross looks across the radically transformed world of digital commerce, the benign logic of market triumphalism wins the day. When Terry Gou—the Taiwanese CEO of Foxconn, the vast Chinese electronics sweatshop that doubles as an incubator for worker suicides—plans to eliminate the headache of supervising an unstable human workforce by replacing it with “the first fully automated plant” in manufacturing history, why, he’s simply “responding to pure market forces”: i.e., an increase in Chinese wages that cuts into Foxconn’s ridiculously broad profit margins. And you and I might see the so-called sharing economy as a means to casualize service workers into nonunion, benefit-free gigs that transfer economic value on a massive scale to a rentier class of Silicon Valley app marketers. But bouncy New Economy cheerleaders like Ross see “a way of making a market out of anything, and a microentrepreneur out of anyone.
When confronted with the spiraling of income inequality in the digital age, Ross, like countless other prophets of better living through software, sagely counsels that “rapid progress often comes with greater instability.” Sure, the “wealthy generally benefit over the short term,” but remember, kids: “Innovations have the potential to become cheaper over time and spread throughout the greater population.”Yeah, kids.... as fraught as your lives have become with an Obamacare Bronze Plan or No Plan, and no hope, never, ever, never of Medicare for All.
If this post has scared the living daylights out of you, as well as making you mad as hell, there is a very simple solution.
Simply Feel the Bern, and help fan the flames of the revolution against the neoliberal scourge. Capitalism is way overdue for some deep-tissue cauterization.
There is better living through Medicare for All. Because our lives are not cheap. Our lives are not theirs to program and atomize.
|(credit: Taylor Jones, Cagle Cartoons)|