Thursday, June 28, 2012

One Of These Is Not Like The Others

(Political cartoon by Jen Sorensen and published 6/27/12 at Daily Kos. Click on image to enlarge and then please return.)

I can see the sneers and eyerolls of the corporatists from here: "Why, that's just silly."

Why, yes. Yes, it is silly. Just as silly as trying to run a government or a university like a corporation, which is the whole point.

Once again, for the eleventy-seventh time: a corporation/business is completely different than a government, and completely different than a university. The aims, purposes, and goals are different. The purpose/goal of a business is to make money for its owners/shareholders by providing a product or a service. The purpose/goal of government is to provide for the general welfare of its people. The purpose/goal of a university (or any school at any level) is to educate (not propagandize) its students. Profit is the centerpiece of a business, its raison d'etre. Profit plays no role in government and public education, or at least shouldn't.

In fact, it is not even necessary for a government or university to break even all the time. There will be situations which call for deficits until the money can be found via tax increases or surcharges to cover the difference. This is not to say that schools and governments should not be careful with the public's money. Waste and fraud should be eliminated across the board, whether in education spending or defense spending. But the goal is not profit.

Jen Sorensen is a University of Virginia alum, so her comments on the U-Va scuffle appended to the cartoon are especially pertinent:

While this particular battle may have been won, the corporatization of higher education remains a problem. More than anything, this situation has revealed the dangers of the awesome hubris that can develop among certain wealthy individuals in positions of power. The handful of people behind Sullivan's ouster included a couple billionaire hedge fund managers and a condo developer from Virginia Beach with a soft spot for the musings of David Brooks. Such experience does not qualify one to make sweeping decisions in secrecy about a major public university. Here's a suggestion for those who think their success in extracting wealth from the marketplace means they're brilliant Renaissance People capable of running anything: take a few of those millions and buy some humility. Please.


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