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Summer 2002 • Vol 2, No. 7 •

Eighth Grade is Enough!

By Bonnie Weinstein

The massive rip-off on Wall Street doesn’t only affect small investors and those whose pension funds were tied up in the fraud, it affects all working people. With the help of capitalist politicians these corporate movers and shakers in the top echelons of the ruling class have gotten away with approximately six trillion dollars over the last decade alone according to Lou Dobbs of CNN’s Money Line.

But even though corporate executives profited from the swindle, they will, at most, blame a few individual CEO’s and then show “losses due to theft” on the books. They will get corporate welfare and then try to make up for those “losses” even more by cutting employee benefits and bringing down the living standards and working conditions of those they haven’t laid off yet. They will need to make up for the temporary slowdown in order to continue their feeding frenzy.

While the politicians cry foul play, scratch their heads, and wonder what should be done about corporate crime, they will be pocketing profits from investments and huge campaign contributions from those very same crooks. Almost every leading politician, from the president on down, has already been implicated in some kind of fraudulent moneymaking scheme on Wall Street.

Already workers are being forced to pay more for medical benefits and either hold down two jobs or work extra hours per week to keep up. The social infrastructure, from roads to bridges is in disrepair. The schools are in a shambles. In addition you can bet all working people are going to pay for this swindle through further cutbacks and downsizing of all human services—both public and private—from hospitals to the quality of products and services.

As the president smugly demands strong punishment for a “few bad apples,” he and the rest of the capitalist class are laughing all the way to an offshore bank.

The following story illustrates how big business and government led by both Democrats and Republicans use the hypocritical double standard to fool people into thinking they are on their side while they rob them. While the capitalist politicians cry poverty when it comes time to funding education and human services they “patriotically” fund the largest military budget in the world, about $437 billion dollars, currently1.

While they react in horror to the poor test scores of American school children, for instance, and arbitrarily up the standards for those tests, they scheme behind the scenes to withhold the funding necessary to really improve the quality of education or to help children increase their performance on those tests.

Every Democrat and Republican, in fact, every capitalist politician must be an expert in this kind of hypocrisy.

Bob Herbert wrote an article in the July 1 New York Times entitled “The ‘Iota’ Standard” showing how this hypocritical game works. He shows how the politicians, in particular New York Governor Pataki, fooled the people of New York on this issue.

Pataki, while voicing his concern that academic standards for New York school children were too low, campaigned to raise these standards and promised to raise the performance of the children. But, when it came time to provide the funds necessary to really accomplish those goals, he fought and schemed against any funding of it at all.

According to Herbert, “Three years ago, when officials in school districts around the state were expressing concern about tougher high school graduation requirements being imposed by the State Board of Regents, Mr. Pataki insisted, ‘We should not back down one iota from our efforts to raise students’ performance standards.’”

Pataki’s U-turn

Herbert continues, “But last year, when a court found that the State of New York had failed in its constitutional obligation to provide ‘a sound, basic education’ for New York City children, the governor skidded into a U-turn. He suddenly became less worried about academic standards and much more worried about the money that might be required to really educate the city’s children.”

“So,” says Herbert, “he ordered an appeal of the ruling handed down in January 2001 by Justice Leland DeGrasse of the State Supreme Court. Justice DeGrasse had determined that the education provided New York City students is so deficient that it falls below the constitutional floor set by the education article of the New York State Constitution.’”

Justice DeGrasse “…ordered state officials to develop a system to help the city relieve overcrowding, reduce class size, hire more qualified teachers, improve the condition of the schools, and acquire new books, computers and supplies.” Even this would be just a beginning of what would be necessary to solve the massive problems that the schools now face due to years of cutbacks, inflation and hardship in the lives of children that make it difficult for them to learn.

Thanks to Governor Pataki, the appeal of Justice DeGrasse’s ruling was successful. The Governor’s hypocritical swindle worked and he got the best of both worlds for the capitalists. He got good press when campaigning against poor standards and performance in the schools. He succeeded in raising the academic test standards so it will look like the students and teachers are simply not trying hard enough when they end up failing the tests. And he got away without increasing the budget one “iota” in order to meet the tremendous needs of the children and their schools if they are to have any chance of increasing the performance of students at all.

In fact, according to Herbert’s article the, “Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court overturned Justice DeGrasse’s ruling and said the state does not have to do much when it comes to the education of public school children. In fact, it doesn’t have to do any more than it’s doing now.”

Herbert goes on, “The court ruled that providing kids with about an eighth grade education was sufficient. If the kids are capable of flipping burgers or running messages, that’s good enough.”

Both the Democrats and Republicans have been playing this game of feigning support for the things that workers need while they are campaigning for election, then, as Herbert says, “fighting like hell” to see that they are not funded after they are elected, for a long time. (I wonder what the $437 billion dollar military budget2 could do for the schools, our children and our community.)

1 From the War Resisters League pie chart at: warresisters.org

2 Ibid





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