Posts Tagged ‘hegemony’

We’ve Seen This Movie Before

June 24, 2022

            The nation’s news blockbuster this summer is God, Guns and Babies: God with the US Supreme Court ruling in favor of religious schools with equity of state public funding, Guns with the recent SCOTUS overturning of New York’s centuries old gun licensing regulation, and Babies with the Supreme’s latest hit single covering Roe. Is the reader beginning to detect a theme here? In Licking County Ohio the news has been pretty much a monogamous relation with Intel. Now Intel has floated the Idea of a possible split if they don’t get all of the expected dowry (kinda like old Elon Musk). Within the same week we get word that New Albany has agreed to a 30 year, 100% tax abatement for their suitor, Intel. Meanwhile, Intel has let slip that it won’t formally dive in without passage of the Chip legislation which has been languishing in congress. That legislation is to provide billions of dollars in federal subsidies to domestic micro chip manufacturers. No need to reference Fox Con’s Wisconsin debacle, heralded with much fanfare during the Trump administration (also another debacle, of a more sinister kind), and likewise on an enormous scale of jobs promised, economic redemption – Not! (but paling in comparison with Intel’s over the moon swooning) Licking County residents can’t tell if the current iteration of news they are forced to watch is a remake or rerun (does it matter?). They’ve seen it so many times before with the public private partnership deals made by JobsOhio, Grow Licking County, Newark Development Partners, as well as all the “just private” commitments to develop, only if the funding is provided by the state, county or municipality; usually in the form of tax credits (historic are the preferred genre), abatement or infrastructure subsidy, etc. They include, but are not limited to, things such as the Arcade, Central elementary apartments, “affordable housing” behind the north side Walmart (Not!), west and north Newark single family residential development, etc. All this involves community resources (public funding) used for the profits of private individuals (in archive news the Supremes designated corporations as individuals). It has all the earmarks of the “socialism” condemned by the right wing, free market fear machine. Only, because it is destined for Capitalist entrepreneurs, it can’t possibly be state sponsored socialism; more like state sponsored Capitalism which in the case of “Communist” China is considered negatively (how far off was Orwell?). The movie ends, as we all know, with the Intel tail wagging the Licking County dog.

Adding Insult To Irony

February 24, 2022

            Although the major news event of the week is happening overseas with the fascist takeover of the sovereign nation of Ukraine by we-never-can-forget-being-Soviet Russia, S*** still happens here in Ohio. The super majority GOP Ohio legislature has been busy, though not on the constitutionally mandated, and Ohio Supreme Court ruling required, drawing of non-gerrymandered redistricting maps. It must be in the genes, this disregard of what 70% of the electorate voted in, as well as contempt for Ohio Supreme Court rulings (see school funding rulings for the last 20+ years). No, Ohio’s GOP legislators have been so traumatized by the events that happened in the nation’s capital on January 6, 2021, that they could only focus on affairs of the heart (Ohio being the heart of it all, etc.). All GOP (all the time) sponsored Ohio House Bill 109 just passed the house and is currently in the Senate (on its way to the governor). It seeks “to increase penalties for certain assault, vandalism, and riot offenses, to allow peace officers to bring civil suits against persons participating in a riot, and to prohibit bias motivated intimidation of first responders.” Although not a co sponsor of HB 109, Newark’s own Mark Fraizer IS a co sponsor of sister legislation, Ohio HB 325, currently wooing support in the Ohio House. This proposed revision of the Ohio code is “regarding a political subdivision’s emergency powers when suppressing a riot, mob, or potential riot or mob and the preservation of rights regarding firearms during an emergency.” The allure that seduced Mr. Fraizer is the staunch protection of Second Amendment Rights during a riot, mob, or emergency (or all of the above). Briefly stated, it disallows Ohio Constitution Home Rule provisions during such events by disallowing any action restricting firearm, ammunition or explosives sale or possession, etc. in managing such events. You can close the liquor stores and gas stations, but you can’t shutter the gun dealers. Ohio HB 109 takes what is already legislated as unlawful (your assaults, vandalisms and sundry riot offenses), and makes them even more illegal with the added onus (à la Texas abortion ban) of allowing civil suits to be brought against demonstration organizers (organized demonstrations corrupted by already illegal violent acts). Analysis can only show that these legislative ventures are meant to aid GOP political subdivision administrators and prosecutors to follow the law in such emergencies, especially after the directive by the Republican National Committee that such occurrences are “legitimate political discourse.” Atta Boy, Mark! You let ‘em know a thing or two about legitimate political discourse. Returning to the major news of the week, happening overseas but once again in everyone’s living room, Analysis marvels at the President’s chutzpa in requesting that Americans look to tighten their belts during a war we are not even engaged in. This, since the inception of the all volunteer professional U.S. military, after how many active wars (your Gulf War, your Iraq War, your 20 year Afghanistan War, your War on Terror, etc.) where Americans were specifically instructed to go out and buy Hummers and spend like there’s no tomorrow. And now, all of a sudden, tomorrow is here?

Olympic Schemes, Er, Dreams

February 6, 2022

            Much as it may come as a surprise to Whoopi Goldberg, the 1936 Summer Olympics was organized specifically to frame the superiority of the master race that was hosting them. Adolf Hitler was still somewhat stuck in the past by intending to accomplish this outcome (of racial superiority) through what manly man Charlie Sheen would call “Winning!” Hitler relied on past precedence to showcase this “winning’ as making for an irrevocable argument of dominance. Whoopi would be not as surprised to learn that the Third Reich’s Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels, was way ahead of the curve in terms of framing the accomplishments of the Third Reich and doing what we call today “marketing.” Most would be surprised to learn that the closest of Hitler’s cronies, the self same Goebbels, was an exceptionally well educated man with what would be considered today as a high IQ. But Goebbels’ (along with Hitler) subordinated this mastery of propaganda for the end of “Winning.” Such was the still prevalent mindset of the 19th century well into the 1930’s. Today, with the 2022 Winter Olympics, the propaganda itself is the desired end. Winning is irrelevant. Whereas Goebbels tried to market his message to any and all comers, Xi Jinping confidently has chosen his audience strategically (much as gerrymandering chooses voters for the party that draws the maps). In a way, he is preaching to the choir. The Olympics (and its athlete participants) have been usurped, co opted as a spectacle to highlight the future. And the future is manufactured. China is the world’s manufacturer (the recent Christmas “supply chain disruption” confirms this). Everything at the current games presented to those privileged to look is manufactured – the snow, the ice, the robots, the robot prepared and served meals, the mountain, etc. The “winter time sports” is completely divorced from anything winter (natural or historic). Xi’s mastering and maturing of Goebbels origination by making propaganda the end (and leaving the “Winning” to take care of itself) is not only brilliant but very instructive and informative of the time we live in. The 2022 Winter Olympics is more of a World’s Fair than a celebration of seasonal sport. Global warming scientists say such spectacles are limited in site and duration. Analysis finds all this informative and insightful with regard to the recent projections of the Intel chip manufacturing facility in Licking County. Like the renovation of the Arcade in downtown Newark, it looks like it will happen as long as the public money is there. Should supply chain issues be once again assured, not so much. The curious analogy which the two Olympic examples suggest is that the reception of the announcement by local county and state leaders of Intel’s decision closely mirrors that of Goebbels and the Nazi’s in the 1930’s.  It is couched and mired in the past, the 20th century outlook with its factory production thinking. Whereas Intel’s disposition is more in line with Xi’s China, the future, and fabricating everything with no regard to context or surrounding. Intel will have its way no matter the burden placed on the surrounding community, be it water supply, environment, housing, traffic congestion, or quality of life.

The Role Of Flo In Learned Helplessness

January 2, 2022

            “Since winning a third term in 2019, Mayor Jeff Hall has faced some difficult times, including the death of Police Chief Steve Baum in March and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.” (Newark Mayor: Tough times in ’21; new leaders, housing, developments in ’22. Kent Mallett, Newark Advocate, 1-2-22). There’s an insurance company ad running currently in the media. In it Flo is trying to get a focus group to talk about the product they’ve just had the occasion to watch on the big screen monitor. Their response is “what product?” They have no clue what it is about since the video featuring the product seemed too much like an ad. They just block out ads that appear on screen. Mallett’s Sunday front page article would absolutely fit in perfectly with Flo’s promotion. Who reads this stuff? Unless you are integral to the operation of the GOP favorite’s machine (as Human Resource Director Bill Spurgeon must be), own properties in town (like Service Director Dave Rhodes) or are key to their development (as in Mark Mauter, Development Director), there isn’t much there for you. Sure, Covid is in the opening line, but other than being addressed as an inconvenience to the efficient operation of the business, er, city, it is regarded as a painless nuisance. When did you ever hear Mayor Hall come out and say “I feel your pain”? Suffering the pandemic akin to suffering the opioid/meth epidemic? Naaa. Any mention of the residents of Newark, the actual people, any insights on addressing their concerns or issues? Nada. As Mallett’s headline succinctly and pithily states, there isn’t anything covered that would fall outside the purview of the Newark good ole boy’s patronage network of property and largesse. Mallett affirms this by quoting the Mayor himself: ““Your job is always to try to hire within and try to see where your talent is,” Hall said. “I think that’s preferred. To properly manage this town, you’ve got to know the town. A lot of times you can attract people from outside the community, as larger cities do, and they don’t understand the culture, sometimes, in the community. I think they need to understand Newark pretty well. So, you’re always looking internal to see what can work.” (Kinda sounds like something Sparta Mississippi Police Chief Gillespie would say. Newark = Sparta? Naaa. Couldn’t be.)  Analysis finds it to be an understatement to speculate that most local readers just shut out this political ad. The three time mayor is pretty well counting on this. It is included in his plans to run for a fourth term.

Another Lesson In The Reproduction Of A Learned Lack Of Imagination

November 6, 2021

            The 2021 election was this past week. All 8 Newark City Council seats were contested. All 8 went Republican though two races involved incumbent Democrats and one open seat was previously Democrat. The national news spotlight was on what took place in states like Virginia, New Jersey, or cities like Seattle, Minneapolis, etc. Their spin and prognostications were all about the upcoming 2022 mid terms as well as 2024 presidential election. But Newark reality speaks even more sadly than any of these Nostradamus’ crystal ball gazing’s. Conventional analysis swirls around turnout, charisma and politics as a game. The Licking County Board of Elections gives county wide registered voter turnout at 24.2% of total eligible. Since the GOP won, there is no talk of fraud or the election being rigged. Low turnout seems to favor the GOP. Yet precinct statistics show that is primarily who turned out, with the 1st and 7th ward having a percentage of eligible voters casting ballots at just above 11%, and the  5th showing a close to 30%. Margin of victory, even with low turnout, was consistent with the state average of 55% to 45% (with Newark roughly 60/40). Flag loyalty (party designation) appears to continue as the dominant factor in voting preference. This was evidenced by the veritable lack of charisma with the majority of winning candidates. Given a police line up, most voters who cast ballots couldn’t pick out their next batch of city government, let alone individual ward representative. Veritable unknowns now decide for the residents of the 1st and 7th district. Again, low turnout has much to do with where to reside made by aspiring politicos. Finally, politics as a game. If it were so, then the next two years will witness a game played with all the playing pieces having the same color and significance. A perverse kind of equality by virtue of no difference. And that’s where Newark’s outcome speaks sadness. Difference has no seat on the 2022 Newark City Council. Difference will have no representative to plead its case, promote its ideas. Nothing to temper power or ambition. Main street has become a one way. Analysis finds a learned lack of imagination to be the primary reason for the abysmal voter turnout. Newark’s 2021 election results provide another lesson in the reproduction of a learned lack of imagination. Will a lack of imagination help solve the city’s very real problems in 2022?

Punch And Judy 2021

October 25, 2021

            In a news exclusive, Rolling Stone headlined: “Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in ‘Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff” (Hunter Walker, 10-24-21). The article swirls around the accounts of two anonymous individuals involved with the planning and organizing of rallies and events prior to the grand finale of January 6. The members of congress included “Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)” as well as Georgia’s Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Walker reports that in an email to Rolling Stone “Nick Dyer, who is Greene’s communications director, said she was solely involved in planning to object to the electoral certification on the House floor.” “Dyer also suggested the public is far more concerned with issues occurring under President Joe Biden than they are with what happened in January. “No one cares about Jan. 6 when gas prices are skyrocketing, grocery store shelves are empty, unemployment is skyrocketing, businesses are going bankrupt, our border is being invaded, children are forced to wear masks, vaccine mandates are getting workers fired, and 13 members of our military are murdered by the Taliban and Americans are left stranded in Afghanistan,” Dyer wrote.” Analysis finds that to be a pretty gloom and doom, negative and dire to say the least, assessment of America today. Shelves were empty, unemployment was skyrocketing and businesses were going bankrupt in 2020 when Biden wasn’t President. Just trying to steer the conversation like Youngkin is doing with school board controversies in Virginia? Perhaps. But Analysis is intrigued by the description of America presented by Dyer, not in the strategies of rhetoric. What if it is true? If it were true, one would expect the repercussions to be pervasive, across the board. September 2021 unemployment rate was at 4.8%, the lowest since before the pandemic. Supply chain issues are causing shelves to be emptied. Economist point to the pent up demand creating a tsunami of buying as one of the factors involved with this gap (and our methodology is as old as the extinct Sears Roebuck catalogue – we order it and expect it to arrive on demand). As for businesses going bankrupt, as of this writing the S&P was at 35,700. It has and continues to rise. In the past that would be an indicator of confidence in the ability to make money in America. But wait, didn’t we just assume that Dyer’s description of America was true? If the dire assessment is so, that conditions in America suck, then what creates the rising value of stock certificates, continuously increasing the wealth of the 1% who own most of it? Analysis finds a disjunct between what Dyer says (as spokesman for MTG) and what the financial wealth actually being made and determined says. Analysis finds that, true or false, Dyer is trying to steer the conversation (and have MTG benefit from the fear and anxiety it creates). But Analysis also finds that, true or false, the controversy and strife caused by “the conversation” has not dampened the ability of the wealthy to make more money from their money. It seems that the greater the chaos and crisis, the more opportunity there is to reap financial reward for those not caught in the fray. Analysis finds it all to be an obverse Punch and Judy Show, where the puppet masters are heartily enjoying (and benefitting from) the spectacle of their audience pulling each other’s strings while beating themselves senseless.

Didactic Interlude

October 10, 2021

            This year’s Nobel Peace Prize recognized two journalists, Dmitry Muretov and Maria Ressa, “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace” No coincidence that here, in the polarized politics of the US of A, journalists are the favored whipping boy of diverse ideologies. Here, in central Ohio, journalism is essentially whatever the Gannett corporation dictates it should be, retaining ownership of just about all the small town papers as well as the Columbus Dispatch (and many more outside the state’s center). How does all this square up — ”the precondition for democracy,” the media being the source of the demise of democracy, and the monopoly on what locals are privy to see and know about their small towns? Today’s Newark Advocate provides some insights as to how this is. The headline “Newark south end residents say they live in fear in their neighborhood” (Kent Mallett, 10-10-21) is pretty sensational. It effectively positions the reader’s response. The extensive article starts off with “South end Newark residents say they live in fear of people they see on the streets who may be on drugs or struggling with mental health issues, probably homeless, and possibly stealing from the area.” It then transitions to being about a “problem” (the source of the fear), and what is being done about it (the community’s response). This then transitions into how the problem is being dealt with by the city (the community) which covers police and carceral services as well as non city behavioral health resources. Mayor Jeff Hall, who is on record as being opposed to spending any city resources to address the problem, is quoted by Mallett: “Mayor Jeff Hall told the residents, “I’m sorry that’s going on in your neighborhood. It is a complicated issue, it’s not an easy one to fix, but that doesn’t mean we ignore it. We’ll have discussion. When you come in, we talk about it, so it’s not to deaf ears, trust me, we do talk about it.”” The bulk of the article bemoans a lack of police resources, the Covid challenge at the County jail, and the hope for a new outreach program through Behavioral Healthcare Partners of Central Ohio. Interwoven throughout the reporting is the underlying tacit understanding that homelessness, and the homeless, are “the problem” (for if they had a residence they wouldn’t be generating fear throughout the neighborhood). “It is a complicated issue.” (Newark Mayor Jeff Hall) Really? If your gas gauge shows empty, you fill up with gas to solve the problem. Speaking of which, the city promoted the destruction of perfectly sound, inhabitable community housing stock for the sake of the development of an urban truck stop on N 21st street (with no provisions for replacement). Mallett does let this slip (just barely) with: “The federal moratorium on evictions ended recently, and Licking County evictions have increased from 136 in the first quarter of the year to 158 in the second quarter to 219 in the third quarter.” But this is followed up by a one line nod to a grassroots effort to address this debacle. Analysis finds the bulk of the article to perpetuate the misinformation that homelessness and the homeless are “the problem” not able to be solved by city government resources. It furthers the misconception that evictions, as well as being without a house, are inextricably linked with criminality, mental health, and a lack of moral compass (aka personal responsibility). “It is a complicated issue.” (Mayor Jeff Hall) Bull shit. Other cities, both here in the US of A as well as abroad, have dealt with it through providing housing for those without any. In Newark the misinformation molding the perception of those finding themselves without a house is reproduced and perpetuated by a monopolistic news journalism which bolsters the ideological polarity that undermines “the precondition for democracy.” Nowhere in Mallett’s report was any alternative view, approach or outlook on the matter of housing those without a house presented. Across the US of A (as well as elsewhere) the problem is being addressed and met. Why not here?

Spiritual Break

March 14, 2017

Whatever became of all the statistics and figures that flooded the media after the financial meltdown of 2008? You know, the various accounts of who owns what, and how much of what is earned goes where, etc. Things like that 43% of all Americans have no net worth, perhaps even owe more than they can pay (“choosing” to make health insurance payments via credit card is akin to Pay Day lending). Or that the majority of wealth generated during the first (and following) years of the recovery went to the top 1% of Americans, mostly to the top .6% at that. Have they just ceased to be, gone away? Almost as a Trump precursor, Ohio still preferred the business first gospel of John Kasich, electing him governor although Occupy “occupied” much of the discussion around these matters in 2010. Six years later, as a presidential wannabe, John touted the “Ohio economic miracle” for getting out of recession. Come 2017 he engages his fellow Republicans with Ohio being in a recession. In or out, how are we to know? Today all is “leadership, predominant influence, or domination” by the GOP (the dictionary definition of “hegemony”). Representative government is determined by apportionment of voting districts through this party’s actions. Policies, agendas, and priorities are determined by their super majority legislature, executive and judicial branches of government. Ditto on the Federal level. Is it any wonder all talk of who owns what, and how much, has ceased? How can this be returned to relevance? Today’s news is that Ohio is only second to Nevada in terms of gambling population, yet in the past year the state’s share of revenue from gambling casinos and lottery tickets has dwindled. Also down has been the state’s revenue from income taxes (no mystery there as the governor and legislature have and continue to favor cutting income taxes). In addition, revenue from retail sales taxes has dropped, along with the commercial activities tax. Liquor revenue is the exception, but that is taken by JobsOhio. The recent report by JobsOhio shows a 10% decline in new jobs over previous years (which cannot be verified independently, even by State Auditor Yost, so the reader must take JobsOhio’s word for it). The party of hegemony continues to promote, advocate and act in accordance with cutting taxes and cutting services – locally, state wide and federally. Ditto was done drastically with the speed of business in Kansas, only to have failed miserably. Ostensibly “employers” are saying jobs go unfilled due to lack of skills (even though Skill Games parlors abound). The stock market is at all time record highs. Someone is generating wealth to purchase stock at those prices. Who is accumulating wealth from all these “economically sound and prudent” policies? (refer to above for a clue) The major manifestation of late term capitalism, enabled by the hegemony of “business first” government, is the overwhelming preponderance of positive attitude – if you contribute or support making lots of money, then you are amazing, fantastic, a quality American. If you inhibit or impede that through regulation, criticism or “quality of life” concerns, then you are worthless – demeaned and disparaged. Any wonder? (refer to above for a clue) In Mexico, along the border, are factories and workshops known as a maquiladora. Mass produced assembly line goods destined to fulfill US consumer desire originate there. Security is tight. Little gets out about workers, conditions and practices within a maquiladora. To speak openly is to invite personal hardship. “In another segment of the video [Yoshua Okon’s “Canned Laughter”, 2006], the workers are taking a break, holding hands and meditating. In case the viewer might be tempted to think that this is a union meeting, the counterpoint to the assembly line, Okon explains that the workers he interviewed told him about mandatory “spiritual breaks” in the maquiladoras; they are organized, in his words, for the workers to be “thankful for being exploited.”” (Even Laughter? From Laughter in the Magic Theater to the Laughter Assembly Line by Anca Parvelescu) Does hegemony likewise demand a spiritual break?

Voter ID

September 14, 2016

“Evictions still on rise in Licking County despite recovery” headlines reporting by Jennifer Smola for The Columbus Dispatch (9-13-16). Smola writes that “The number of eviction cases filed in Licking County Municipal Court has steadily increased each year since 2010. Last year, the county logged 1,078 cases, an increase of 8.6 percent from a decade earlier, in 2006, before the Great Recession. The county is on track for a similar number this year, with 712 cases. The eviction hearings occur once every two weeks, and a court date late last month had 82 eviction cases — the most this year.” Later she reports the irony that “Regionally, mortgage delinquencies and foreclosure rates are down, according to a report last month from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, which covers Ohio and parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky. But despite those improvements, roughly 50 to 70 percent of low-income renters struggle with housing costs, the report said.” Bear in mind, dear reader, that Analysis has repeatedly covered the success story narrated by Tim Bubb and Grow Licking County. See his 2015 year in review (“A look back and ahead for Licking County” Newark Advocate 1-10-16). Indeed, overall unemployment places Licking County under 5%, within the state’s rate. And nationally the recovery is begrudgingly working, making the rich richer and the poor statistically not growing. So what gives with the growing evictions given the jobs are there along with “consumer confidence”? Smola considers “Despite low unemployment rates and reports of economic growth, the picture of recovery isn’t always as rosy as it’s portrayed to be, [local Newark activist David] Greene said. Wages remain low, and many jobs that are available locally are only part time, temporary or seasonal, he said.” Analysis reveals this to be an incomplete (and unsatisfying) explanation. A Wall Street Journal graphic from 6-21-16 (“Not Just the 1%: The Upper Middle Class Is Larger and Richer Than Ever” Josh Zumbrun) lists the various percentages of “class” population in the US. The poor (under $30,000 per year) at roughly 20%, the lower middle class (30-50,000) 17%, the middle class (50-100,000) comprises 32% and the upper middle class (100,000-350,000) at 29%. The rich (over 350,000) displace 2%. The 20% poverty rate has remained essentially flat lined for the last 50 years, yet evictions in Newark are growing. In a PBS Newshour article entitled “There’s less middle in the middle class as income inequality grows, Pew analysis finds” (5-12-16) Kai Ryssdal (Host & Senior Editor, PBS Marketplace) says “If you stop seven people — 10 people on the street, probably seven of them would say I am the middle class.” This is borne out by the WSJ “class” distinctions of “upper” middle class, middle class, and “lower” middle class instead of upper, middle and lower. Rich, middle class, and poor is how the politicians in this election year have divvied up the masses. More on this later. Ryssdal confirms Greene, but more completely: “Wages have been stagnant in this economy for decades now, right, which means incomes and household wealth are stagnant, which means there is more income inequality. And when you have income inequality, you have more going to the low end, you have more going to the high end, and those drivers of prosperity in America [the middle] are getting, as you said in the beginning, hollowed out.” The Pew findings, along with the WSJ article, find that although the poor and the rich have maintained the same percentage of population, the middle class (the middle) has shifted with roughly 2/3’s getting richer (increasing the percentage of the “upper” middle class) and 1/3 getting poorer (increasing the “lower” middle class). Not noted within the Fed report is that rents have been following the middle class, with landlords erring on the side of upward mobility in setting rents. More people today cannot afford rent though there aren’t statistically more “poor”. Politicians (Dem as well as GOP) have remained fixated on the rich, poor, middle distinction. With the poor remaining in stasis, no emphasis is placed on measures to create affordable housing. It is easier to speak of “jobs” as the solution. The 2/3 of the middle class that benefitted from the recovery would likewise explain the “base” that has materialized and supported the presidential candidacy of Donnie Trump. These folks have the most to lose with any political maneuvering that would integrate the “lower” middle class with the poor (creating an overall 37% of the population within a lower class status, in need of public support programs). It is this appeal to the fear of losing the gains accrued within the Obama recovery that drives the Trump candidacy. After all, the reality of loss is certainly manifest within the evictions suffered by those who did not benefit from the Obama recovery, the 37% in the lower class. Losses in the middle and “upper” middle class would not be found here, but rather in the Fed’s mortgage delinquencies and foreclosure rates. No wonder voter ID is such a huge issue. “If you stop seven people — 10 people on the street, probably seven of them would say I am the middle class.” But how many would identify as “upper’, middle or “lower” class?

Biopolitics Laid Bare

August 13, 2016

Analysis often lists “hegemony” as a tag line for many of its posted essays. Within any conversation, discussion, or exchange of ideas, it is assumed that there will be more than one point of view. Hegemony doesn’t negate this outlook. What it does describe is that one point of view or outlook dominates the exchange by determining format, or prioritization of hierarchy, or the agenda of ideas. Some ideas will be energetically contested while others will be so marginalized as to never find voice. Currently, in Ohio, there is a very contested exchange of ideas over the nature of state sponsored (paid for) education. The state constitution mandates education as a required state concern. The current Department of Education was caught with its pants down regarding charter school oversight, especially in regard to online schooling. The State Auditor has been vocal in advocating for better control, “accounting”. Results range from new legislation “to give an accounting” all the way to Ecot (major online school) being required to account for when its students attended and what they received for this attendance, etc. The “to give an accounting” screw primarily turns on money spent (by the state) and what is received in return (much as a purchase at a big box store is defined). The intricacies of what is learned, how much it costs, and whether it is comparable with brick and mortar educational facilities is what complicates the online analysis (how “to give an accounting”). After all, there is no little teacher on the other end of an online educational program to teach math, history or Spanish. It is only soft ware, 1’s and 0’s. Yet the demand remains for determining (and verifying) a return on money spent per pupil in either pedagogy. What ties the discussion together, makes it possible, is the self righteous predetermination of “performance” as a basis to assess the return on investment. (starts to sound a lot like the marketing of stocks, doesn’t it?). Hegemony reveals itself when one questions the value or worth of the cost of a school nurse, the guidance counselor, individual sports coach, school social worker or psychologist. Just how does one (the legislature) factor in the return on investment via the outcome or “performance” of individual students for these disparate education contributors? The hegemony of the debate, the dominance of the financial mode for determining the benefits of public education, through whatever means, is clarified when one considers other forms of public sponsored or funded interaction akin to education. Public transportation readily comes to mind. Though Licking County’s response to the need of public transportation certainly continues the hegemony of financial return (with service very much established around this priority), large city fixed service mass transit elides this hegemony. Like public education, public transit is considered a given requirement. Yes, bus routes must have limits (starts and ends), and yes, certain frequencies must be established, and stops determined, but after that, there is no channeling of ridership as to who goes where, and how often. Subway systems and light rail are accessible for riders no matter what, unfettered by any requirement of justification for their efficacy. Another example would be public libraries which promote various, often disparate resources for use by any (and all) with few necessities of legitimation by the user. We’re not talking rules here, but giving an accounting for resource availability. The hegemony of performance with financial accountability at the heart of the public education debate is evidence of what theoreticians describe as biopolitics. Black Lives Matter is just one of many responses to the politics of authority, where a monarch, dictator or “police” authority rules through intimidation or overt power (might makes right). Most modern “democratic” states rely on other measures to insure that taxes get paid, the state is secure internally/externally, and that its citizens can live out their lives (raise families, pursue interests, care for themselves and loved ones, etc.). Differing from authoritarianism, biopolitics relies on the biological development of the individual, and hence the citizenry. Through various means, biopolitics determines a pool of soldiers, or medical practitioners, truck drivers and school teachers, etc. to avail itself for the good of the state. The current debate of performance based accounting for the efficacy of any state sponsored schooling reveals the working of biopolitics within the functioning of Ohio’s “real” governance. Although an American democracy where each should be able to determine their own path, the State of Ohio is determining resource allocation only on the basis of how it promotes the aspirations of the state (which currently are totally market driven). Unlike public libraries or public transportation, where the individual user can determine the actual use (or not) of the public resource, the hegemony of “performance” and financial return on educational spending determines the orientation and development of the biological individual public education is meant to serve. Education as a resource for the citizens of Ohio becomes education as a response to the demands of the market. This is biopolitics laid bare.