Saturday, May 3, 2008

Capitalism Gone Even Madder Than Usual. Auctions for the Rich to Fund NYC Public Schools

In the 1970s in the Koch administration in NYC, I briefly went out with
a woman who was a high school teacher in the New York City school
system. As the budget cuts were beginning she had her students sell
crafts to raise money for school supplies. Today there is a sad and
crazy story in the New York Times," Bids for Botox" dealing with Public
School Auctions which are beginning to follow the patterns of private
schools. The wealthy and businesses are often contributors to the
auctions in rich areas. I
n the story among the items auctioned were a rabbit-fur jacket(the
rabbits were not asked for their assistance) tickets to a fourth of July
baseball game at Yankee Stadium, even a "botox " house call. An adviser
to the public school auction, a private school consultant made the point
that stock brokers rarely make(what sells and for what can't be so
easily evaluated). The public school was a wealthy one. I doubt such
items(and a only mentioned a few, would be in working class school

But auctions themselves have no place in the funding of public
education, as against charity, which is never about rights. . I teach
at a university whose top administrators spend more and more time trying
to raise money from wealthy donors and corporations as they face deeper
and deeper budget cuts. I don't think they have tried these sorts of
auctions yet, although I know one who might bid on the Yankees tickets.

The public sector will stagnate, atrophy and eventual become in effect
the slum of the economy if it is not revived through large social
investments. It has been under attack for a generation, creating a
huge political-economic imbalance with has made John Kenneth Galbraith's
comment in the 1950s classic, "The Affluent Society," in which he saw
the U.S. becoming a nation of "private wealth and public squalor" a
curse. It is a crisis which can only be solved by reorganization of the
tax structure and a national industrial economic policy that will not
only end the culture of budget cuts but more importantly launch an
expansion that will undue the damage of the last thirty years. That can
only happen through new course for the federal government, a course
which, with progressive tax reform will "trickle down" to the states.
If our readers think this is utopian, let them exam the dystopia that we
are currently experiencing and which goes from bad to worse
Norman Markowitz


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