>>Well you know in economic
theory there is a name for the policies that Europe
is following, England too, namely imposing austerity in
the middle of a recession. It’s called the Herbert
Hoover Principle. That’s exactly what led
to the world depression. It was reinstated again in
1936 under the advice of– under business pressure, and
led to another recession. One well known economist
observed that European leaders
might perhaps be charged with violating an ethical and,
in fact, a legal principle, namely experimentation
with human beings that cannot be taken
without their consent, okay. This is an experiment to
see if the kind of policies which have always been
a disaster in the past, and which are likely to be a
disaster for good reasons again, whether these policies,
which have humans as their experimental subject, whether they should
be permitted. Well, that’s up to
people who don’t believe in the Marshall doctrine
to respond to. As far as education
is concerned, I don’t really feel qualified to
talk about the situation here. You obviously know much
more about it than I do. In the United States
it’s quite interesting, as I think I may have
mentioned in that letter of support that you brought up. About, I guess about a
year ago, by accident, I happened to be giving
some talks in Mexico at the National University
and I went straight from there to California to the
Bay Area for more talks. These are kind of, you know
they’re not the exact opposites in terms of the economy. California should be the
richest place in the world. Mexico is not the poorest
country in the world, but it’s a pretty poor country. The National University in Mexico has a couple
hundred thousand students, quite a high level,
good facilities. You know, engaged students
and the salaries, of course, are much lower than
the United States but it functions quite well. It’s free. Ten years ago there was
an attempt by the government to raise tuition slightly. There was a student strike, the
national students’ strike, and the government backed down. It’s still free. Okay, that’s one of the
poorer countries in the world. You go to California, one of
the richest places in the world. It had the greatest public
education system in the world. It was excellent, you know. It’s being systematically
destroyed. This has been going on since
the 1970s, very systematically, deliberately, for reasons that,
in fact, have been articulated. It has nothing to do
with economic necessity. These two comparisons
should suffice to show that, and there are many
others like them. So it’s not an economic
necessity, but other reasons, reasons having to do with the
vicious cycle that I described, and it’s having its effects. Next year for the first year,
the public universities, like the great universities,
Berkley, UCLA and so on, they’re getting more
of their income from tuition than
from the state. And in fact, that’s true of
most of the state college– the state universities
in the country, Massachusetts too, where I am. Well, these are deliberate
policy choices designed– they are designed essentially to privatise the
major universities. So very likely the stars in the
system like Berkley and UCLA and maybe San Diego, they’ll
probably be privatised. They’re almost like Ivy League
universities today; huge tuition and big endowments and so on. So, they’ll probably be
privatised and the rest of the system will just shrink. And it was a very good
system and of course, that has dire effects
for the future economy, but again that’s an
externality insofar as market systems apply,
they do to an extent and you don’t consider that,
short-term gain is what matters. So that’s
happening all over the country and the same is happening
with the public schools. So there’s major pressure, which
Obama is contributing to as well, to privatise the
public school system, what are called charter schools,
which is still paid for by the public, but they’re out of the public
education system. There’s plenty of
studies of them. They do roughly as well as comparable public schools
even though they have many advantages, like they don’t have to run the special
education programmes, they don’t have unionised
teachers and so on, but no special performance
gains. And that’s a way of
undermining public education, which has a kind of a
deep purpose behind it. It’s very much like the effort
to destroyed social security. There’s a major effort that’s
been going on for years to try to destroy the social
security system. It’s claimed– you
open the newspaper. Say you read the New York Times, the editorials will tell you
we’ve got this huge deficit problem and so we have to
deal with entitlements, social security,
Medicare and Medicaid and not waste our
energy on other things. Social security contributes
zero to the deficit, zero. It comes out of payroll
taxes, okay. It’s got– first of all– and furthermore it’s pretty well
funded for decades in advance and a little tinkering
would fund it forever, but that’s got to be killed. Medicare and Medicaid,
it’s true, but the reason for that is something
that they won’t mention. It’s because of the
privatised healthcare system, which is extremely inefficient. Now the US spends about
twice as much per capita as every other comparable
country on healthcare and the outcomes are
among the poorest. And if you look at
the privatised, unregulated healthcare
system you can see why, but you’re not allowed to touch
the financial institutions, the insurance companies
and so on, so that’s kind of like off the agenda. If the United States had a
healthcare system comparable to other industrial countries, not only would there
not be a deficit, there’d actually be a surplus. About half the
deficit in addition to that is the military
spending, but those things are, you know, off the agenda. You have to go after
social security. Why social security?
It’s extremely efficient. I mean, administrative costs
are practically zero, but, it has a couple of deficiencies. It’s no use whatsoever
to privileged people. [Laughter] So you get it– you know some billionaire gets
another small amount of money, it doesn’t make any difference;
you can’t even notice it. But its a sustenance for
most of the population, especially those
who’ve been wiped out by the fiscal catastrophe. It doesn’t pay that much, but
it pays enough to get you by. Beyond that it has an
ideological problem, which is never discussed,
but I think is quite crucial. It has to do with that message
from Kamal Abbas to the workers of Wisconsin that I mentioned. Social security is based on
the principle of solidarity. You’re supposed to care
if the disabled widow across town has enough food to
eat and that has to be driven out of people’s heads. You’re supposed to be
concerned just about yourself. Same defect in the
public education system. Like, I don’t have kids
in school anymore so, if I follow the rules I’m not
supposed to care if the public– I don’t want to pay taxes
for public education. But, if you’re infected by this
disease of solidarity you care if a kid across the
street can go to school. Now, that’s got to be driven
out of people’s heads, and that’s the same reason
for the attack on unions. So, you get these
massive attacks and I think that’s
what’s happening to the public education system. You know better than I would
that that applies here but, I wouldn’t be surprised. [ Silence ]