October 05, 2012

Obama and the debate (WSWS) It is impossible, however, to explain the performance witnessed by 70 million Americans by focusing solely on the political tactics devised by Democratic Party spin doctors or the personality traits of the nonentity in the White House. Like any significant political event, the course of the US presidential election can be grasped only through an analysis of the social forces at work. Only by considering the essential class role of the Democratic Party can Obama’s failure to take the offensive against Romney be understood. The Democratic Party, like the Republican, is a political instrument of the financial aristocracy that rules America. It has not the slightest independence from the capitalist ruling elite. That does not, however, make the two parties identical. They play distinct, albeit complementary, political roles. The Republican Party asserts the barely disguised appetite of the ruling elite for the greatest possible accumulation of wealth in the shortest possible time. While claiming, as Romney did Wednesday night, that policies of cutting taxes on corporations and the wealthy will “create jobs” and improve conditions of life for working people, this pretense has very little credibility with the American people. After all, the US is now in the fifth year of the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, with Wall Street profits returning to record levels, but working class living standards thrown back a generation. The Democratic Party poses as the advocate of ordinary working people, supposedly concerned with jobs, social programs and raising living standards, while occasionally criticizing...
Dissent Magazine - Andrew Ross - Universities and the Urban Growth Machine - Why has the price tag of an American college degree skyrocketed (500 percent in the public sector since 1985) in recent decades? Instructional cost is not one of the reasons. Salaries of full-time faculty have been stagnant for a long time, and the massive conversion of tenure track jobs into contingent positions (more than two-thirds of professors are now off the tenure track) has sliced the teaching payroll at almost all institutions. Aside from the obvious factor of shrinking state inputs, there is common agreement that the addition of many new layers of administrators, combined with rapidly rising salaries at the senior ranks, has played a leading role. Throw in the heavy investment in all kinds of extracurricular amenities, sports facilities above all. And then there is the less tangible factor of buoyant demand for places. Colleges raise their fees because they can—there is no shortage of applications—and also because a higher price connotes more prestige. Even if domestic demand falls off, the shortfall will be more than made up from overseas. Indeed, some analysts estimate that the global market for higher education will grow by 80 percent over the next decade, as the rising middle class in rapidly developing countries pursue a brand name degree for their offspring. Other factors are less well understood. Expansionary growth is foremost among them, and there are few colleges that have not embarked on ambitious new building campaigns in the last two decades (students joke that UCD is the acronym for “Under Construction...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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