Freedom really is just another word for nothing left to lose.

Thomas Paine, 1737-1809

Welcome to Freedom-land.

Seriously, think about it.  The world’s greatest power has increased its own poverty levels to where full 1/3 of the population lives in this state.  Many of us commoners believe the state is a force to be resisted at both the national and state level.  We believe we have lost as communities.

And yet, we lose more rapidly than ever due to these very impulses.  Our desire for more local control while hating the loss of control in our lives leaves us open to market ideology/mythology.  The Randian impulse to individual alpha-ism won through commercial and material gain, foregoing all others in our striving self-interest, is felt as a kind of “freedom” and self-direction.  Yet the state and its corporate partners are pulling these strings as well.

We still buy Apple products though they are a clear net loss to humanity (child slave labor anyone?); we still watch endless mindless television; we still honor athletes, actors and robber-barons.  We still believe that “entrepreneurs” will come up with some great thing that we can glom onto in order to save us from servitude forgetting that the masters own the patents.

Voucher education, as one legislative “battle” lost, serves the state and church–remember we have moved far enough from the Sermon on the Mount to allow our religions to preach to us of the holiness of wealth accumulation and so the church, state and corporate ideologies work in lock step.

Indiana, after passing “sweeping” reforms in its entirely GOP and Right Wing government, one that of course doesn’t serve fully half if not more of the population’s beliefs (while serving even less in economic terms with that GOP electorate seeming none the wiser), is now poised to expand even these.  Soon vouchers will be allowed for all income levels and will be applicable across all schools.  From a recent article in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (the only Indiana paper raising alarms), “Expanding the most expansive voucher program,” editorial writer Karen Francisco tells us what is to come.

Senate Bill 198, sponsored by Yorktown Republican Doug Eckerty, lifts the requirement that a student attend at least two semesters of public school before qualifying for a voucher. It also does away with any pretense of targeting vouchers to families who are trying to leave a struggling neighborhood school for a higher-performing private or parochial school. To land the support of parochial school parents last year, Gov. Mitch Daniels and state Superintendent Tony Bennett urged them to be patient. It pays off next fall, when thousands of them will qualify for vouchers for children who would have attended parochial school regardless of the quality of their local public school.

The fiscal impact statement on the proposed bill appears to be absurdly conservative. It uses the figure of 26,630 – the number of private school students who qualified this year for a free- or reduced-price lunch – and multiplies that figure by $4,313, the average voucher amount this year, to arrive at a fiscal year 2013 cost of $115 million. That’s the first year the cap on vouchers is lifted.

But vouchers in reduced amounts are available to students from families earning as much as 150 percent of the reduced-price lunch threshold, and the figure increases by $7,067 with each additional person in the household. A Fort Wayne family with five children could earn as much as $93,823 a year and qualify for voucher entitlements totaling at least $15,000 annually. That’s in addition to the textbook tax credit available only to parents of private, parochial and home-schooled students.

Will the bill pass.  Undoubtedly.

In other words, soon the public will be funding all of our current parochial schools.  In other words, in Indiana, that means the public will be paying for religions education.

It is of the utmost danger to society to make it (religion) a party in political disputes.  (Thomas Paine, Common Sense)

But here’s the kicker–it’s part of a three card monte plan–bait and switch, by the gang members of ALEC.  Introduce more heinous and worrisome legislation in order to distract the opposition from your real goals.  Francisco explains.

Unless the pending lawsuit against the voucher program is decided in favor of the plaintiffs, Republican lawmakers have no reason to stop now. The battle over the right-to-work bill will drown out any complaints over another multi-million-dollar assault on public education.

There is this also, from New Hampshire (h/t Focus):

Under the terms of the bill, which was sponsored by state Rep. J.R. Hoell (R-Dunbarton), a parent could object to any curriculum or course material in the classroom. The parent and school district would then determine a new curriculum or texts for the child to meet any state educational requirements for the subject matter. The parent would be responsible for paying the cost of developing the new curriculum. The bill also allows for the parent’s name and reason for objection to be sealed by the state.

Hoell stressed the new law could allow parents to address both moral and academic objections to parts of the curriculum. The lawmaker said he could imagine the provision being utilized by parents who disagree with the “whole language” approach to reading education or the Everyday Math program.

“What if a school chooses to use whole language and the parent likes phonics, which is a better long-term way to teach kids to read?” Hoell said to HuffPost.

The bill originally included provisions to end compulsory attendance that were taken out by fellow legislators, Hoell noted, saying he would work to address the compulsory attendance issue this year. He said he has seen research showing that non-compulsory attendance equaled better academic performance in Singapore before attendance was required. In addition he noted that it would all bring a market-based approach to education, noting that college and graduate students are not required to attend classes.

“If you can afford it, you go after it,” he said.

What we are seeing is the return of segregation and absolute inequality, baldly proclaimed a facet of freedom of choice.

Just think of that last comment from Republican Rep. J.R. Hoell.  “If you can afford it…”

That is now the United States of America in essence.  We have two creeds in this country that have likely been true since the end of World War I but only now have they been proclaimed a kind of birthright: If you can kill it; If you can afford it.  Take it or buy it, if you can.  (I’m pretty sure this the hedge funder creed.)

Patrick Henry rewritten: Take my Liberty, But give me Choice!

Again, Tom Paine:

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.  (The American Crisis)

We esteem “freedom” indeed too lightly when we believe it cognate with economic choice.  We obtain choice by the great expense of real freedom as we accept the definitions offered through the manipulations of market barons and political lapdogs.

 

*photo by porteous

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