Sunday, August 31, 2008

Karl Marx for Student Body President

It is back to school time and each year as the leaves begin to change and the air begins to cool, my mind is always consumed with one thought: educational inequality. Did you know that last year, close to 100% of high school diplomas were given to Seniors? What did Seniors do to deserve such special treatment? Why aren’t more high school diplomas given to Sophomores and Juniors? If you are old enough to have your learners permit than, by golly, you should be able to get a high school diploma.

Of course members of the educational-industrial complex, other wise known as “the man”, will argue that Seniors get diplomas because they have earned more credits. How is that fair? Just because you have been at school longer than a 14 year-old freshman does not mean you are any more deserving of pomp and circumstance. Are we not all Americans? Do not all our zits pop and bleed the same? Credit-inequality can no longer go unnoticed by administrators who care more about educating than what is really important: their students feelings.

What I propose is a vast redistribution of credits. Those high school seniors who have more credits should be asked to contribute some of their credits to those students in the lowest educational achievement categories (i.e. freshman and stoners who can’t seem to pass geometry). Just think of how harmonious school will be with Seniors who have the satisfaction of seeing their AP English credits given to a sophomore, and a freshman who realizes that they will never have to take trigonometry because some Junior has already done it for them. Surely the bones and dust of our forefathers are rolling over in their tombs knowing that right now some 15-year cheerleader is having to study for her history exam rather than having the credits given to her by someone who already took the class. Just think of all the contributions she could be making to society instead wasting her time studying, such as texting her friends to find out if Johnny just likes her or if he like-likes her.

This is the moment, my credit-challenged brothers and sisters, when we can finally take away diplomas from the most credit-rich members of our schools and see that they are made available to all, regardless of whether you took Chemistry or not.

Does any of that line of thinking sound familiar? Without being too specific, I have just laid out the economic platform of one of the nation’s major political parties who, for fairness sake, shall not be named. Let’s just say it rhymes with “flemocrats”.

Each time the question of economics comes up in the current political climate it dwells far more on class than on mobility. We tend to look at economic classes as static, much like the congressional approval rating. It ain’t changing, so why bother. Due to our willing ignorance of class mobility, we focus more on taking money from people at the top and giving it to the people at the bottom, rather than moving people from the bottom up to the top. This idea is, of course, as absurd as taking credits from seniors and giving them to freshman rather than helping freshman move up the educational ladder. Economic achievement is no different than educational achievement; it takes time and effort.

A University of Michigan Study shows that only 5% of people who were in the lowest income category in 1975 where there in 1991. This means a full 95% of people managed to move up at least one category. A full 95% of people were economically mobile. A US treasury study shows that in the 10 years between 1996 and 2005, 58% of people in the lowest income group had moved up at least one level. “Twenty-six percent of them achieved middle or upper-middle class income, and over 5 percent made it into the highest income group.”

Need further proof? Three years ago I was so far below the poverty line that I felt like bumming change off of hobos. Have you ever tried supporting a family of four on $600 dollars a month? Mac and Cheese starts to taste pretty gross after a while. It should be noted that I was also a grad student whose earning potential far exceeded his actual earnings. Now, a mere three years later, I am earning well above the median income and I am firmly entrenched in the middle class. It was through education and skill achievement that I became economically mobile, not through government hand-outs and redistribution programs.

Besides, you think the rich don’t already distribute some of their money? Each day, Bill Gates gives out some of his money to over 40,000 people. These people are called “employees” and they do something called “work” and for this they receive “compensation”.

You don’t raise people out of poverty with other peoples money any more than you raise people out of school with someone else’s grades. Poverty is ended when people earn their own money.

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