Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
corporate education reformA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Testing and charters – that's all President Obama's team has to offer, says the head of the American Federation of Teachers. Both are, essentially, part of the corporate strategy to privatize public schools from within, and to make teachers the villain in the education debate.
On Education, Obama's First Term Is Bush's Third
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The Administration is wielding a $4 billion fund like a whip.”
The nation’s teachers seem to be awakening to the fact that they are in a holding pen, awaiting execution as a social force in the United States. The executioner isn’t wearing a hood, but a world-famous smile. President Obama’s education scheme, cleverly titled “Race to the Top,” is a continuation of a 30-year effort to reshape public education in the corporate image – that is, to run schools like a business, in the service of business. And we all know that business would rather not have to deal with unions.
Teachers unions are finally coming to grips with the fact that Obama and his union-buster education secretary, Arne Duncan, are busy putting targets on teachers’ backs – much like the Republicans but without the name-calling. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Wiengarten called Obama’s reworked version of No Child Left Behind “Bush III,” after the president that imposed it seven years ago. “It looks like the only strategies they have” for improving public education “are charter schools and measurement,” said Wiengarten, referring to the regimen of high stakes testing that now defines American public schools.
Secretary Duncan, who fired entire school staffs when he ran the Chicago system, terminating Black teachers disproportionately, is no more nor less imaginative than any other corporate executive intent on squeezing the last drop of labor from every employee – and then blaming the workers and their union when corporate goals are not met. This is a fundamental and well-understood conflict in the private sector – and a relationship between labor and management that corporate forces are attempting to impose on public education. What we are witnessing is the privatization of public education from within, through the imposition of corporate management methods and measurements. This corporatizing process has been both obscured and facilitated by decades of unrelenting propaganda that posits teachers as the main obstacle to educational improvement.
Obama's 'Race to the Top' is a continuation of a 30-year effort to reshape public education in the corporate image.”
Corporate managers attempt to treat educational failings as “productivity” problems, wherein the schools are not getting enough bang for the buck from either teachers or students. Unremitting testing is the corporate management attempt to measure and reward productivity in the educational workplace. Since the testing regime is essentially a management technique, testing inevitably becomes the overarching focus of school leadership, and a whip in the hand of the bosses. Bosses do not easily give up their whips, which is why they cling so tightly to the high stakes testing regime.
The Obama Administration is wielding a more than $4 billion fund like a whip to coerce school systems into firing teachers based on test scores, and to force expansion of charter schools. The aim is to break the unions, pure and simple. It is a logical progression of George Bush’s corporate-inspired policies, which is why the teachers union president calls it “Bush III.”
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

 

Direct download: 20090930_gf_Teachers.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:49am EDT

depressionA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
If all the talk of economic “recovery” sound insane to the growing ranks of the unemployed and dispossessed, they're right. “The great investment banks are through, dead and gone, no longer willing or able to gather trillions in capital for any enterprise vaguely resembling national economic development.” All that's left is The Casino.
 
The Great Black Hole of Casino Capitalism
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
It now sucks all remaining and potential national wealth into its infinite darkness.”
Ruling circles in the United States have decreed that the Great Recession is over. These are the same circles that waited through half of 2008 to announce that the nation had been in recession since December of 2007. They now declare the worst is behind us even as unemployment climbs, smaller banks go under and a new wage of foreclosures looms. But there is not time in a 4-minute commentary to quibble about technical definitions of recession. In the larger scheme of things, such conversations are diversions that obscure what actually happened to the capitalist system over the past year. It has been broken beyond repair.
There is nothing left of finance capitalism but The Casino, which is only kept whirring along through the fiscal resources of The State. When the ruling circles, which of course includes the finance capital-infested Obama administration, announce that the economy is on the “road to recovery,” they are speaking of The Casino – Greater Wall Street and its speculations. But the once-dynamic heart of Wall Street, the great investment banks, are through, dead and gone, no longer willing or able to gather trillions in capital for any enterprise vaguely resembling national economic development. That stage of capitalism definitively ended in the Great Crash of last year. With the final collapse – decades in the making and historically inevitable – finance capital became irrevocably dependent on The State's capacity to subsidize its activities. It could not save itself, much less contribute to national economic reconstruction.
With the final collapse, finance capital became irrevocably dependent on The State's capacity to subsidize its activities.”
Instead, The State – meaning, the people of the United States – have so far gone into hock for $23.7 trillion to bail out finance capital, 1.7 times the U.S. gross domestic product for 2008. The relationship between finance capital and U.S. society has devolved to pure parasitism. Such is the nature of post-2008 capitalism in America.
Greater Wall Street has become a Black Hole of its own creation. It now sucks all remaining and potential national wealth into its infinite darkness. Medicare and Social Security and every seizable public asset are pulled ever closer to its event horizon, to be lost in the Black Hole: The Casino. Meanwhile, the ever-expanding military acts as its own Black Hole, in order to safeguard the imperial domain on behalf of The Casino.
Strange phenomenon occur in the presence of economic Black Holes. Unemployment in Detroit nears 30 percent, while Wall Street experiences 12-month highs. State and local governments disintegrate, safety nets unravel, as the rich clink champagne glasses in celebration of their mega-trillion salvation, financed through the full faith and credit of the people. Like Atlantic City, New Jersey, all is despair and devastation – except on the boardwalk at The Casino.
Post-2008 America has a Black Hole in its soul. The political project could not be clearer: We've got to shut down The Casino, before it sucks up everything of value around us.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090930_gf_GreatRecession.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:44am EDT

strikersA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Hyatt Hotels pounced on their Boston housekeepers like a great predator, firing the staff without notice and attempting to replace them at half the wages. A governor and a union stepped up in solidarity with the workers, who had been subjected to cruel, but not unusual, treatment in this late stage of capitalism.

 
Gov. Deval Patrick Joins Condemnation of Hyatt Firings
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Nearly one hundred people and their families were abused and traumatized by a huge corporation.”
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick deserves a salute for his solidarity with Hyatt Hotel workers who were cruelly disrespected and fired last week. Ninety-eight non-union housekeeping workers were summarily dismissed from three Boston-area Hyatt hotels, replaced by contract employees earning half their salaries. Hyatt outsourced their $14 to $16 an hour jobs to a Georgia company that pays only $8. Governor Patrick appealed directly to Hyatt's CEO for the workers' reinstatement and, when that failed, urged state employees to boycott the hotel chain, based in that wannabe Olympic city, Chicago. Massachusetts Gov. Patrick was right when he said the firings were “the worst nightmare of every worker in today's weak economy.”
There is a logic to the way that corporate behavior toward employees becomes more inhumane at precisely the same rate that the job market deteriorates. To put it simply, corporations are as cruel as they think they can get away with.When there are six unemployed persons for every job opening, the employer, like a king, feels empowered to behave like the worst kind of tyrant.
The Hyatt firings were doubly cruel in their execution. The workers, some of whom had been on the job for over 20 years, were ordered to train the new, outsourced employees, supposedly so they could fill in during vacations or when regular employees got sick. The housekeepers were not informed they were really training their replacements. Several days before the ax fell, the workers say management told them to empty their lockers so they could be cleaned. Actual notice of termination didn't come until the last day of work.
Corporations are as cruel as they think they can get away with.”
Although the Hyatt's Boston hotel employees are not unionized, some asked the hotel workers' union Unite Here for help. The union staged a demonstration at which 150 people were arrested, and sent one of the fired workers to Chicago to meet with Penny Pritzger, an heiress to the hotel-owning family who was also national finance chairman for the Obama presidential campaign. Hyatt's response to the employees' and Gov. Patrick's appeals was to offer the workers a brief extension of their current salaries and health benefits, and temporary jobs with another outsourcing agency that Hyatt contracts with in Chicago. The offer was rejected. Said one of the workers: “We will not accept temp positions that are designed to put others out of work.”
Hyatt's shameful, devious and heartless treatment of its Boston hotel housekeepers also illustrates the deceptive nature of unemployment statistics. The employees that Hyatt was forcing into unemployment were to be replaced by previously unemployed workers at half the pay. A company payroll was, presumably, cut in half, but no jobs were created or destroyed and the overall employment numbers remained unchanged. But nearly one hundred people and their families were abused and traumatized by a huge corporation, and most will not likely recover in this economy. And their replacements will clean up behind other people at poverty wages with no job security whatsoever. That is par for the course, in late-stage capitalist America.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090939_gf_HyattFirings.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:32am EDT