When I was a Child I Read Books: Essays, by Marilynne Robinson, Farrar Straus and Giroux
This is an important book. In her essay: Austerity as Ideology, Robinson shines her considerable light on the matter of our democracy. Our economic story, as currently being told, is pushing austerity as a means of reaching economic integrity. The pivot away from the freewheeling ways of the masters of the universe that brought us, unasked, to what is being called a precipice, goes unexamined by those who now think the problems stem from a free spending government and 47% of fellow Americans deemed as takers. Takers of what?
Among the policies and decisions that led to the great recession, two things stand out: we entered into two specific wars and the generalized "war on terror" that allowed for many movements without any oversight, diminishing rights and liberties with abandon. There was never a war economy; very few of us were asked to sacrifice anything for the war effort as we deployed service men and woman again and again. On the home front the economy was racing ahead as the internet brought with it new market efficiencies and the ability to find a means of liquefying assets. For most Americans their home is their greatest asset. All that unused principal became the new gold rush when a stock market approach could be attached to mortgages. Freed up equity and mortgage bundles became liquid gold as the market responded with ever increasing home values. What disappeared, along with the equity and the value, was the stability that a home provides for the humans that dwell under its roof -- foundations shifted.
Now we're being sold on the notion that the correction for the malfeasance of the few is austerity for all. The price of austerity -- the cost to get back to a new form of stability -- comes at the expense of cherished institutions. At this very moment, the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, attempting to make good on his promise for education reform, is proposing price points for specific majors. Majors considered desirable by the state's current economic needs would get a price break.
The state of Florida has little need for the humanities, the arts, or English majors. You can still choose these programs, if you like; you will pay for your frivolity. How long does it take to bring to ruin institutions when business models become the only way to measure value?
Read Robinson's essay. I've only touched on one or two points here. Robinson's essays are rich; there is no voice like hers. I am a grateful reader.