Posts Tagged ‘David Graeber’
* Put the Student Union of Michigan in charge! In the end, the university’s rationale for the campaign relies heavily on a narrative of state defunding. For example, as a Detroit News article relates, “President Mary Sue Coleman called the campaign ‘audacious’ and said no gift is too small since universities need philanthropy with states no longer able to support them to the degree they must for schools to be globally competitive.” This narrative seems difficult to square with the actual role of the endowment in funding university operations. The endowment contributes only 4.5% (of its total holdings) to the general operation funds of university each year. The principal stays invested. Thus, if we look at the breakdown of revenue sources at the university in 2010 the endowment contributed only $253 million. Student tuition however generated over $1 billion, while state funding totaled $315 million. The endowment clearly has very little to do with making up for lost state funding. Its purpose lies elsewhere. And that elsewhere is in the university’s move to behave more and more like a hedge fund, mobilizing donated capital to secure new revenue streams. It does this by taking advantage of its tax-exempt status to build up a hoard of money that it then invests around the world in shady funds and places it would rather the university community did not know about. In so doing, the university is slowly becoming an important player on Wall Street but to play with the “big boys” it needs more and more capital, which requires constant fundraising campaigns. This money is destined for investment not students. Little of it will ever reach students in the form of scholarships or be used to offset increases in tuition. (via)
* Meanwhile: The University of California Invests in Prisons.
* Yanis Varoufakis on ponzi austerity.
Whereas in standard Ponzi (growth) schemes the lure is the promise of a growing fund, in the case of Ponzi austerity the attraction to bankrupted participants is the promise of reducing their debt, so as to liberate them from insolvency, through a combination of ‘belt tightening’, austerity measures and new loans that provide the bankrupt with necessary funds for repaying maturing debts (e.g. bonds). As it is impossible to escape insolvency in this manner, Ponzi austerity schemes, just like Ponzi growth schemes, necessitate a constant influx of new capital to support the illusion that bankruptcy has been averted. But to attract this capital, the Ponzi austerity’s operators must do their utmost to maintain the façade of genuine debt reduction.
* “I am as American as April in Arizona”: Nabokov interviews at The Paris Review.
* Naomi Klein: How science is telling us all to revolt.
* MetaFilter has your shutdown megapost, including the list of all the “nonessential” government services that will be closed during the shutdown, including WIC, NIH, the CDC, and the EPA. Here (via Twitter) is the memo from 1995 by which OMB makes its determinations. But don’t worry; progress wealth transfer to rich people continues even in the face of this disaster. zunguzungu: “Essentially Vicious.”
* Meanwhile, liberals have already been rolled on spending cuts with respect to the shutdown and it’s likely to only get worse.
* Peter Frase takes up Graeber’s “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs.”
* One in ten [student] borrowers across the country, 475,000 people, who entered repayment during the fiscal year ending in September 2011 had defaulted by the following September, the data showed. That’s up from 9.1 percent of a similar cohort of borrowers last year.
Herman Wallace, who was held for more than 40 years in solitary confinement in Louisiana jails, is still being confined inside the prison although Judge Brian Jackson ordered on Tuesday that he be immediately released. Wallace, 71, is suffering from lung cancer and is believed to have just days to live.
We should do what works to strengthen our schools: Provide universal early childhood education (the U.S. ranks 24th among 45 nations, according to the Economist); make sure poor women get good prenatal care so their babies are healthy (we are 131st among 185 nations surveyed, according to the March of Dimes and the United Nations); reduce class size (to fewer than 20 students) in schools where students are struggling; insist that all schools have an excellent curriculum that includes the arts and daily physical education, as well as history, civics, science, mathematics and foreign languages; ensure that the schools attended by poor children have guidance counselors, libraries and librarians, social workers, psychologists, after-school programs and summer programs.
Schools should abandon the use of annual standardized tests; we are the only nation that spends billions testing every child every year. We need high standards for those who enter teaching, and we need to trust them as professionals and let them teach and write their own tests to determine what their students have learned and what extra help they need.
* DDoS attack on the health care exchanges? Or just a whole lot of people wanting to buy insurance?
* Obama’s new education policy neatly showcases the spectrum of choice we now have in our political system: to be ground down a bit at a time by technocrats who either won’t admit to or do not understand the ultimate consequences of the policy infrastructures they so busily construct or to be demolished by fundamentalists who want to dissolve the modern nation-state into a panoptic enforcer of their privileged morality, a massive security and military colossus and an enfeebled social actor that occasionally says nice things about how it would be nice if no one died from tainted food and everyone had a chance to get an education but hey, that’s why you have lawyers and businesses.
* In May, Duke University announced plans to adopt one of the most extreme college sexual assault policies in history, changing the recommended sanction for perpetrators from suspension to expulsion. That means that whenever a student is found guilty of committing a sexual assault, expulsion is the first punishment the Duke disciplinary committee will consider.
* UConn Considering Ban On Student-Faculty Sexual Relationships. Again: Considering?
* Towards a new understanding of the Amish: Amish Hackers.
* Joss Whedon attacks both Twilight and Empire. He doesn’t care who he hurts.
* What went wrong on Enterprise? The cast and crew fess up.
* And Fukushima continues to be a nightmare. That things were as bad as they were in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake is one thing — but it’s been years and the news only gets worse.
Lots of reactions to Obama’s terrible higher-ed plan in the world today, including my various rants and back-and-forths from Twitter yesterday afternoon.
* Chris Newfield: The Core Problems with ObamaEd.
Since no one wants big tuition hikes, the only way to increase the graduation rate is to make a major public reinvestment, starting with poor colleges with bad rates. But President Obama didn’t call for major restoration or rebuilding of state investment in public colleges, and there is only one minor tool in his auditing kit that would encourage it. His charge that colleges just raise fees and pass on the costs to the taxpayer smacked of Ronald Reagan’s waste, fraud, and abuse paradigm for public services. This can only damage the future case for the new public revenues the sector obviously needs.
Bady said that was the most troubling part of the plan.
Obama “is putting all his chips in the MOOC basket,” he said. “No part of the plan is grounded in the reality-based community; it’s all buzzwords and fantasies that some future technology will magically lower costs. But none of these projects have really advanced beyond the ‘maybe someday it’ll lower costs’ stage; right now, it’s all speculation.”
The president’s reference to “offering colleges regulatory flexibility to innovate” is worrisome, he added, in that Obama may intend to extend online and MOOC programs a special exception from having to prove or demonstrate their value with actual results, “forcing colleges to defund tried and tested programs in favor of flavor-of-the-month Silicon Valley start-up partnerships.”
* And while we’re on the subject! On the phenomenon of bullshit (academic) jobs.
Why has academic admin tripled as teaching staff decline? Is teaching 3x more complicated than it was 50 years ago?—
David Graeber (@davidgraeber) August 22, 2013
But rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world’s population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning of not even so much of the “service” sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all of the people whose job it is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza deliverymen) that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones.
These are what I propose to call “bullshit jobs.”
How can one even begin to speak of dignity in labour when one secretly feels one’s job should not exist? How can it not create a sense of deep rage and resentment. Yet it is the peculiar genius of our society that its rulers have figured out a way … to ensure that rage is directly precisely against those who actually do get to do meaningful work. For instance: in our society, there seems to be a general rule that, the more obviously one’s work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it. Again, an objective measure is hard to find, but one easy way to get a sense is to ask: what would happen were this entire class of people to simply disappear? Say what you like about nurses, garbage collectors, or mechanics, it’s obvious that were they to vanish in a puff of smoke, the results would be immediate and catastrophic. A would without teachers or dock-workers would soon be in trouble, and even one without science fiction writers or ska musicians would clearly be a lesser place. It’s not entirely clear how humanity would suffer were all private equity CEOs, lobbyists, PR researchers, actuaries, telemarketers, bailiffs or legal consultants to similarly vanish…
1. You are more likely to complete NAVY SEAL training than click a banner ad.
2. Only 8% of internet users account for 85% of clicks on display ads (and some of them aren’t even humans!).
3. You are more likely to get a full house while playing poker than click on a banner ad.
4. The average person is served over 1,700 banner ads per month. Do you remember any?
5. You are more likely to summit Mount Everest than click a banner ad.
6. The average clickthrough rate of display ads is 0.1%.
7. You are more likely to birth twins than click a banner ad.
8. About 50% of clicks on mobile ads are accidental.
9. You are more likely to get into MIT than click a banner ad.
10. You are more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad.
Pagel and his collaborators have come up with a list of two dozen “ultraconserved words.” It contains both predictable and surprising members. The most conserved word is “thou,” which is the singular form of “you.” “I,” “not,” “what,” “mother” and “man” are also on the list. So are the verbs “to hear,” “to flow” and “to spit,” and the nouns “bark,” “ashes” and “worm.” Together, they hint at what has been important to people over the past 15 millennia.
1. Increase the starting salary for a three-credit semester course to a minimum of $5,000 for all instructors in higher education.
2. Ensure academic freedom by providing progressively longer contracts for all contingent instructors who have proven themselves during an initial probationary period.
3. Provide health insurance for all instructors, either through their college’s health insurance system or through the Affordable Care Act.
4. Support the quality education of our students by providing their instructors with necessary office space, individual development support, telephones, email accounts and mail boxes.
5. Guarantee fair and equitable access to unemployment benefits when college instructors are not working.
6. Guarantee eligibility for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to all college instructors who have taught for ten years, during which they were repaying their student loans.
7. With or without a time-in service requirement, allow all college teachers to vote and hold office in institutional governance, including faculty senates and academic departments.
* There were a few radical writers like Tom Paine who did use the word “democracy” from early on, but the first official use was by Jefferson and Madison when they founded the “Democratic Republican” party — which is clearly just some sort of PR trick, since Jefferson himself never uses the word “democracy” at all in his own writings. But the person who really transformed the language was Andrew Jackson. He ran as a “democrat” and it was so effective that over the course of the 1830s, everyone started calling themselves that. So basically the Republican system that was set up to contain democracy itself got renamed “Democracy.” Interview with David Graeber on Democracy in America.
For the prison to close, lawmakers would have to lift a ban on transferring prisoners to the United States. But it was good that Mr. Obama also pledged to “examine every option that we have administratively” — because there are steps he could take without Congress.
* Interactive infographic at the New York Times shows long-term Democratic hegemony (at least at the presidential level) given most demographic assumptions.
* Gasp! But how could this be? Universities Benefit from Their Faculties’ Unionization, Study Finds.
* And some Friday night Graeber: A Practical Utopian’s Guide to the Coming Collapse.
In retrospect, though, I think that later historians will conclude that the legacy of the sixties revolution was deeper than we now imagine, and that the triumph of capitalist markets and their various planetary administrators and enforcers—which seemed so epochal and permanent in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991—was, in fact, far shallower.
* I’ve said this before: let’s have an academic decathlon. You choose a team based on whatever pedagogical criteria you want. You can choose students from public school or private, unionized teachers or not, parochial or secular, from charter or magnet, from Montessori or KIPP or whatever else you want. However, I choose the demographics of the students on your team. For my team, the situation is reversed: you choose the pedagogical factors for my students, but I choose the demographics. You stock your team kids from whatever educational backgrounds you think work, and mine with whatever educational systems you think don’t work. Meanwhile, I give you all children from the poverty-stricken, crime-ridden inner city and impoverished rural districts where we see the most failure. I stock mine with upper-class children of privilege. I would bet the house on my team, and I bet if you’re being honest, you would too. Yet to accept that is to deny the basic assumption of the education reform movement, which is that student outcomes are a direct result of teacher quality.
* If you are a low-income prospective college student hoping a degree will help you move up in the world, you probably should not attend a moderately selective four-year research institution. The cards are stacked against you.
Who among us can forget Malia’s first words to a rapidly-growing crowd in this historical meeting between present and future, “People of 2009, we come from–” words that were immediately interrupted by her younger self, surrounded by Secret Service, saying, “It’s 2013,” which led future Malia to punch future Sasha, saying, “I told you not to mess with the controls.” Malia then continued, “2013, seriously? What’s the friggin’ point?”
* Academic jobs watch: Specialist Professor, Homeland Security.
* California isn’t a state in which liberals have run wild; it’s a state where a liberal majority has been effectively hamstrung by a fanatical conservative minority that, thanks to supermajority rules, has been able to block effective policy-making. Krugman is optimistic that the Republicans’ stranglehold on the state seems to be abating; I’d note that in the arena of public education at least all the worst ideas are coming from the Democrats.
* That’s because these workers represent what’s happening to U.S. work in three critical ways. First, precarity: Workers lack job security, formal contracts, or guaranteed hours. Second, legal exclusion: Labeled as “independent contractors,” “domestic workers” or otherwise, they’re thrust beyond the reach of this country’s creaky, craven labor laws. And third, the mystification of employment: While a no-name contracted company signs your paycheck, your conditions are set by a major corporation with far away headquarters and legal impunity. Guest Workers as Bellweather.
* But if Emanuel brought Byrd-Bennett in to work the same kind of charter magic in Chicago that she did in Detroit, he may be dismayed to encounter one important difference: Chicago is now in a good position to fight back. The school closings hearings were packed with engaged, motivated citizens, and the teachers union is more organized than it’s been in three decades. During its popular and successful strike, the union’s approval rating climbed while the mayor’s fell—public opinion polls showed that taxpayers blamed Emanuel for the ugliness that took place during negotiations. The CTU’s current leadership has built relationships with community leaders and organizations, forming a coalition to fight the slash-and-burn privatization pushed by the Board of Education and its corporate sponsors, and has even hosted civil disobedience trainings open to the public. This afternoon’s protest will serve as further evidence that Emanuel is indeed up against a new opponent, one strong enough that not even the best “cleaner” may be able to defeat it.
* Nate Silver makes your Final Four book: Louisville Favored in Final Four, but Wichita State Could Become Unlikeliest Champion.
* Zero Dark Thirty is supposedly a film about freedom. A “freedom so threatening that there are those around the world willing to kill themselves and others to prevent us from enjoying it,” as the TV sound-bite in the background puts it. The odd thing is that this freedom is never once glimpsed within the film itself. Obviously, we are constantly reminded of the imprisonment and torture of the al Qaeda suspects, but it is never their freedom we are meant to be concerned with. More tellingly, it is the American spaces within the film that leave this freedom unseen. A strange becoming-prisoner takes hold of the spaces, and of the American body itself: not unfolding, in the end, either defeat or victory, but pulling together in a constricted space the impossibility of both.