- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Force people to be 'born poor' through privatization

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on June 26, 1999 at 12:00:08:

In Reply to: born poor? punish those who arent. posted by Gee on June 25, 1999 at 17:53:47:

: If I am slower than Donovan bailey due to my genetic potential then I am slower. If I am less educated than Eton schoolboy because I was born in Ghana then I am less educated. Bailry is not 'hoarding' genetics from me, the Eton boy is not 'hoarding' what he has been able to learn from me.

SDF: You change the subject from the right to an adequate socialization, the subject of my post. The reader is thusly misled that I was talking about talent, whereas the above response wasn't even a direct clash. So what if people are differentially talented? I'm not talking about hoarding talent but rather about hoarding the opportunities to develop talent (actually I'm talking about hoarding opportunities for adequate socialization, an even more egregious error on society's part), such hoarding having little to do with Donovan Bailey.

Reviewing my claim:

Should the crucial advantages of adequate socialization be hoarded by a rich few simply because the upper class needs to present the masses with phony career choices ("be a street sweeper or go unemployed or commit crimes and go to jail") while pretending all the while that these "choices" are uncoerced? Gee seems to think so.

It isn't the RECIPIENTS of educational largesse or athletic training who can be blamed for the artificial scarcity of situations for socialization. Let's remember, as we review the real-life situation of the lower classes, that the children of the lower classes have been FORCED into their situations. They can't choose different parents, or just divorce their parents and go out on the "free market" (not free, access rights not free) and rent an apartment of their own without any credit rating, no references, no steady job, no savings account.

Adequate socialization opportunities are indeed hoarded. Each day at work I see, amidst a society of wealth and plenty, kids who can barely read and write (for all the opportunities they aren't given to do so) or sit in a seat for long enough to master the subjects of school, students with serious behavior problems connected to home-life problems. Meanwhile there is supposedly a surplus of jobs in American society unmatched in any society in the world, but these jobs do not pay well enough, nor are they scheduled well enough, so as to allow parents adequate time and money to take care of their children.

(It's clear that competing capitalists under the pressures of market competition are obliged to pay employees the lowest possible wage for the highest possible labor-time. This point will be re-emphasized later.)

Nor do many of these parents adequately understand the obligations of childraising. Meanwhile my district suffers from a shortage of qualified teachers, and the ones that are qualified are seriously overworked. And our district spends pitiful amounts of money on the books our students need to be literate enough to qualify for decent jobs.

The consequences of hoarding socialization opportunities, in American society, are that American society spends an inordinate amount of time, more than any country, imprisoning its worst-off citizens. Either we contain them when they're little, or we pay the price later in terms of imprisonment, cops, crowd control, private police forces. America has chosen the latter option because of the widespread belief here that raising children is a "private" obligation. Meanwhile, a few libertarians around here advocate the privatization of the public school system. Great idea! Force more people to be "born poor" so we can incant the Tough-Luck Factor even more often!

What's left of the generally-accepted public obligation to take care of the young in the US is things such as schooling, which I help with, publicly-funded breakfast programs, inadequate yet participated-in by many of the students I see, AFDC (phased out by the Republicrats in 1996). And of course, charity. Charity doesn't work merely because Red Deathy curses at it. Charity doesn't work under capitalism because 1) the employing classes have a common financial self-interest in perpetuating poor, hungry working classes willing to do the "dirty work" for the lowest feasible wage, and 2) charity is an optional expense which disadvantages its giver in capitalist competition -- charity is money otherwise invested. Thus, the amount of charity the rich can afford to give will always be less than the amount needed to really resolve a social problem, the more so as a society reduces the amount of government force that is absorbing the costs of privatized poverty.

Therefore, it is in the financial interests of the capitalists as a whole to elect governments which do indeed provide sufficient amounts of welfare, because not providing sufficient amounts of welfare creates problems that won't be solved by the operation of the "free market" all by itself. If the capitalist class doesn't realize this interest, this is the fault of an ideology that apologizes for the neglect of the young under the pretext of the privatization of the tasks of the socialization of the young. It takes a village to raise a child, but if we just say that it's "tough luck" for that child to be "born poor," we're washing our hands of the social problem thusly created while refusing to admit of the social costs (of the production of undernourished underclasses) thusly incurred.

It isn't the fault of the young that they were born, they were born through no action of their own, their mothers conceived them and pushed them out of the womb. If we call them "sovereign individuals," we abet their neglect. What's needed are communities that take care of their young rather than using "privatization" as an excuse for denial.

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