The politics of education

I’m not Obama’s biggest fan, but I intend to vote for him again.  How could I not with the Republican party on the other side?

Anyway, I saw this on facebook and it reminds me why I’m casting my vote.


Nothing is a more surefire long-term solution to quite literally every problem facing us than education. However, there are two groups who seem to be opposed to greater knowledge in the form of education: Republicans and the religious. A less-educated populace helps their numbers tremendously.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Rock Doc

    We seem to be facing a general conservative attack on anything that involves collectively working to solve our current problems. I agree that education is the best hope, and I personally think that education through the Ph.D. should be free. It’s in the best interest of our country educate every citizen to the maximum level of their innate ability. I actually called my congressman and asked him to raise my taxes and give the money to education so that those who cannot afford college could go. The aide on the other end snorted and said that was at odds with my Representative’s position on Education. My rep is Congressman Sam Graves from Missouri’s 6th District.

    • Turumbar

      I feel your pain. Sam Graves is my congress critter as well. He’s quite a piece of work.

    • Stephen S.

      The conservative position is that higher education would be cheaper if government got out of it, as the guarantee of government assistance creates a price floor that education will never be priced below.

      That said, I plan to vote for Gary Johnson, because there are choices besides the giant douche and the turd sandwich. If people continue to vote for the least-worst of the two major party candidates, politics in the United States will never improve.

      I also intend to move to Australia as soon as I can afford to do so, though.

      • M Groesbeck

        …so instead of the “least-worst”, it makes sense to vote for the “worst-worst”?

        • Stephen S.

          How is Gov. Johnson the worst, exactly? Small government, freedom and liberty are the core of his arguments- things the other two candidates blatantly oppose (see Romney’s stance on marriage rights and the church’s role in the state, Obama’s drone strikes on American citizens, wiretapping without a warrant, NDAA, recent signing of a bill making it harder to protest events).

      • Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven

        The conservative position is that higher education would be cheaper if government got out of it, as the guarantee of government assistance creates a price floor that education will never be priced below.

        But it was priced below that for several generations.

  • left0ver1under

    Voting for Obama is like choosing to continue sliding downward on a slope.

    Voting for Romney is like choosing to drive a car full speed off a cliff, Thelma-and-Louise style.

    • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

      Not voting is like sitting in the back of the car saying “Well, at least I’m not at the wheel!”.

    • otocump

      So vote with your feet and leave.

      • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

        In this simile, the only place to exit to is also being dragged off the cliff. Perhaps the entire thing is on a huge tarpaulin that is being dragged along behind the car. Possibly. The device becomes seriously strained at this point.

        We need a new metaphor, STAT!

        • otocump

          It needs to be a turtle and banana metaphor. Perhaps involving space goats and Don Cherry. I think that can clarify things.

          Regardless, if the metaphor is to be considered accurate…then the door is a valid escape route. No ones locked it from the outside. You don’t have to ride the car all the way down.

          • peicurmudgeon

            You may not have to ride the car all the way down, but the descent of this particular car has a huge ripple effect across the world. We in Canada are very much being pushed to the right because of our close ties to the US. The power of American corporations is such that the entire world is affected by the effects of unfettered capitilization.

            No, getting out of the car helps no one, not even yourself.

  • karmakin


    There was a discussion on this over at Ophelia’s blog the other day, you can find it at:

    There’s a bit of class privilege here, but I’m going to ignore that, as it’s a common misconception, and one that needs to die in a fire. First of all, let me say this. Education is great. Access to education is even better. Wonderful things for our society.

    But in terms of fixing economic woes? Not so much.

    The common assumption is that there’s a shortage of educated labor, and as such if more people are educated, the jobs will be there. It’s basically supply-side economics. Yes, the same sort of thing that Reagan pushed, just from a different angle. Newsflash: They won’t be. While education MAY (consider the case of a gifted scientist who is able to develop new technology) be able to open new markets, generally speaking their opportunity is going to be limited to who is willing to hire them, and that is all based around consumer demand, both existing and expected.

    The #1 problem right now are the working poor. Full stop. They’re the people in the most trouble, and with the deck stacked against them. In an economy where everybody is educated, somebody is still going to have to do those jobs! (Actually, I’d make an argument that in a full education economy, those low skill/high labor jobs would actually be paid more, not less)

    Education might be a micro solution…a way for a crab to get out of the bucket, but it doesn’t change the reality that X number of people (and X is growing, make no mistake) have to be in that bucket…HAVE…and the bucket is boiling.

    In short, education should be seen as a social good, as social and economic mobility is a good thing, but there is a down-side. As skilled employees become more and more common, wages will start to slip.

    As I always say. We need to make the economy work for the janitor, the secretary and the laborer, as down the road it’s those same structures that will make the economy work for the rest of us.

    • Rock Doc

      Just a point of clarification from my initial post: When I say education, I mean all education, be it from four-year universities, junior colleges, or trade schools. The shortages of labor that we have are in the skilled labor positions, and many, many, many of the science and technical fields. In my field, those with B.S. degrees see an unemployment rate of about 4% (which is considered full employment) and with M.S. degrees the unemployment rate is less than 1%. I understand your point about the working poor. However, my point is that those who are educated are upwardly mobile within a job series. Those who aren’t will remain the working poor.

      I’m not an economist and I didn’t sleep at a Holiday Inn, but I do know that study after study after study links an increase in the education of a general population to higher standard of living, lower crime rate, lower rates of infant mortality, and a host of other indicators. I understand where Karmakin is coming from, but I think that with the global nature of the economy, countries that have the best-educated populations will outcompete other countries, increasing their share of the pie. Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, the size of the pie is not fixed. The amount of wealth available (and thus the amount that can be earned or distributed depending on your economic philosophy) continues to grow.

      If my paragraph above is correct (and that is certainly open to debate) then maximizing education will help to address the situation with the working poor. If I’m wrong, then I’m wrong and we have to try something else. Regardless, we have to try, and I am game as long as we evaluate our efforts to see if they produce results.

      Whew! And I can ramble too.

      • karmakin

        Well, I agree, it’s worth doing, for the social aspects. I just don’t think it’s an economic pancea, that’s all.

        Underemployment in most fields is getting to critical levels. (Underemployment is a much better statistic than unemployment) That said, the soon-to-come retirement bubble will have a drastic effect on all this. I just think that there’s a certain point where more education, without an effort to maintain full employment, results in a lowering of wages, a lowering of demand and higher higher inequality.

        The key here is the effort to maintain full employment, which is what is really needed.

  •!/Erulora Erülóra Maikalambe

    I expect Rmoney to use Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” as his campaign song.

  • Alan(UK)

    You have sat back while corrupt politicians have divided you into big-enders and little-enders. You are tearing your country apart over things that the parties tell you are important while neglecting the things that matter.

    What have you produced apart from Obama? An opponent selected by the inmates as being the most sane in the asylum and a Tea Party that would be at home around the Mad Hatter’s table.

    There are millions of you. You have been the richest country in the World. You have had some sort of democracy for years. You have attracted the best talent that the World had to offer. You have led the World in science and technology. You have universal education.

    Isn’t it about time that you sorted your own problems out?

    • Anonymous

      *have led. That was a long time ago, by our history. America rather sucks right now.