Thursday, August 25, 2005


Even today, with all the blather about high tech, most jobs only require basic literacy. Yet, everyone is forced to get a highschool diploma. Up until 50 years ago this was not the case. The majority went as far as grade 8 and then got jobs. Only those young people going on to university or taking commercial courses for future white collar jobs completed high school. Then, in the mid-late 1950s a new scare was drummed up by the authorities, one that would eventually overshadow the Great Comic Book Panic and the Rock and Roll Hysteria. (1) This was the dreaded High School Drop Out Plague, which at times seemed a greater threat to "Our Way of Life" than those Evil Commies forever lurking under our beds.

This scam involved two groups, politicians and the education bureaucracy. The former sought to keep unemployment at a reasonably low level. One way of doing this was by keeping people out of the work force. An extra four years of schooling would reduce the unemployment figures by hundreds of thousands. For the education bureaucracy this was a gift from heaven. Force every child to go to highschool and education budgets would increase by 50%.

The scam worked its way up the education ladder. In 1960 if you got a BA or BSc that was enough. It was "open sesame" for most professions. But soon professions that were previously taught on the job required a further two years of education AFTER a bachelors degree. This sorry situation is nothing more than a cheap ploy to exclude people from these professions and create more jobs for the education racket.

Every middle class kid now must have a BA, whether they want it or not. Few will benefit much from it, other than the need for a piece of paper, so why bother? You see them jumping through all the bureaucratic hoops of the educational mandarinate. Most of them would rather be elsewhere. For many, university is a chance to drink beer, smoke weed and get laid, and for that you can't blame them. That's natural when you are 19 years old.

More to the point would be for young people to have real jobs, grab their tool boxes and head out to see the country, "on tour" like Joseph Dietzgen

and Pierre Proudhon did.

I do, however, believe that an educated populace is a good thing. The so-called libertarians who say "Why should I have to pay for other people's kids education?" are just damn fools. Everything is inter-connected, and don't ever forget it! The more genuine education a population has, the better it is for all of us. At its most basic - people who read, paint pictures or play music aren't out stealing old ladies purses. We would not wish to reproduce the pre-1960 situation where you had a poorly educated blue collar working class, a high school grad white collar working class and a university educated middle class. Rather, have people educated at ANY point in their lives. The young who do not want to go to school beyond the most basic level should get out and work. Many of them will eventually get bored with work and will return to class.

Important point! Formal education is not real education. Formal education is just "training." Real education is something else, something that comes from within - a passion and curiosity about the world. Few, if any, schools can give this. Formal education can provide the basic tools, like reading, writing and "figgerin", but the real education begins when you apply those mental tools on your own. The informal sort of education - which should be encouraged at all levels - such as public libraries, night courses, discussion groups, coop and community radio/TV, are the true areas of “cultural uplift.” Love of true education must also begin at home in the years before a child goes to school. Let there be vast campaigns to encourage parents to read to their children and give their offspring books.

1. For those of you to young to be familiar with these 1950's hysterias. The "authorities" in the early '50's deemed comic books the root cause of delinquency. These same authorities, as well as much of the adult population, felt the same about Rock and Roll, but with addition fears about sexuality, class and race. The fact that many adults believed such utter nonsense, and we teens obviously did not, was the beginning of what became known in the late '60's as the "Generation Gap."


Blogger Erin Hendrick said...

Thanks for your explanation of corporations that you posted a while ago. It really helped me understand the limited-liability concept.

6:12 PM  
Blogger Pat Murtagh said...

Your closing comments on the comic book industry "took me back in time" to my "wasted youth" when I was an avid comic collector. The same old story: if I'd saved the comics I had then they would be worth more than all my present assets.
The "craziness"of the 1950s was actually quite remarkable, but I don't think that people will look back on our time in 50 years without similar head-shaking. I can remember one wasted afternoon hanging around the 'Regina Book Exchange' (on "beautiful" South Railway Ave, now totally demolished in Regina's efforts to try and appear to be something other than what it is).
In walks either granny or auntie who doesn't have a clue but really has an attitude, and she starts hectoring the guy behind the counter about whether they have any "Christian comics". She won't take "go look"for an answer. She has the kid in tow who is whining pathetically that he wants "Superman comics", but auntie is just as oblivious to the kid as she is to the physical reality of a used book store. Meanwhile all us kids hanging around hoping for "new items" are bursting a gut about this drama.
"Auntie" was deliberately and malevolently cruel to both the kid and the poor bastard behind the counter, and she really had a strange view of her place in the universe that involved being waited on hand and foot in a run down store on Regina's skid row while she flaunted her claim to superiority.
I pity that kid from so long ago, but I pity kids today a lot more. If they "screw-up" in a VERY minor fashion they run the risk of being put through what may be YEARS of the refined cruelty of the pop-psychology make work project called "counselling", all with a threat of much more severe "intervention" if they fail to lie effectively, hanging over their heads at every encounter with those who "give them the help they need". At least "Auntie" wasn't making money from her nonsense.
Reading your blog made me go back and look up the whole matter of Frederik Wertham and the Comics Code, and what I found both confirmed and contradicted what I believed as a young comic fan. In our view at the time Wertham was "Nyarthohep, the mad god who gibbers at the centre of all realities" ie an arch-demon.
Mad he certainly was. I've browsed through both 'Seduction of the Innocent' and 'A Sign for Cain' and the man's opinions were quite bizarre, and his contempt for the idea of "evidence" was such that it definitely confirms a now common opinion that Freudian psychiatrists are in the same category as flying saucer cultists as grist for the mills of debunkers.
But...I aways knew that Wertham was a "liberal", but I never knew until now, having looked over his career, just how much of a "liberal" he was- to the point of disavowing the results of his efforts ie the Comics Code (though he still "took the money" when he was paid for "expert testimony" in front of legislative bodies investigating the entertainment industry). He wasn't clean enough to offer his services for free. in later years he even tried to "make kissy-face" with comic fandom, but the word "rebuff" hardly describes his reception. "Buff" means "polish" in one definition, and "polishing" was not what he received.
I am sure that the man was both puzzled and hurt by the reaction because' like all good liberals, he had at least one "infallible doctrine". That is that "good intentions" can never produce "bad results". As a psychiatrist he presumably had at least a rudimentary medical education such that the term "iatrogenic disease" shouldn't have sounded like a term out of the Ibo language to him. But he never took his education to heart...
The situation today is actually steeped in a lot more ignorance than it was when medicos such as Wertham controlled the system of "mind construction" in the 50s. The whole idea that good intentioned "intervention" towards social engineering can produce results much worse than the original problem is an utterly alien concept to the liberals of today. In their lack of an appreciation of the potential for tragedy and their hubris they are the precise mirror image of the fundamentalist right. Neither side appreciates the complexity of the world beyond their carefully guarded "certainties".
But I learned a few other things as I read through the history of the Comics Code. It was actually what one commentator referred to as a "brain burp" of Bill Gaines, the publisher of EC Comics. Great moments in shooting yourself in the foot. This deserves a place in 'The Encyclopedia of Stupidity' and a definite 'Darwin Award'.
I also got a few more "finer details" about the role of the publishers of Archie Comics in this matter. They weren't really the instigators that us young comic-nuts always assumed, but they sure jumped on the bandwagon fast, and along with DC Comics they got a stranglehold on the Comics Code Authority that they used with great effect to increase their market share. Their "sexual purity", however, (which reached its apotheos in their licensing of their characters to the fundamentalist 'Spire Christian Comics') was more than slightly muddied by many of their dealings.
I was also very happy to find out that Dell Comics basically thumbed their nose at the Comics Code. Put the Duck in a ring with Archie in a bare knuckle fight and Donald will win every time. It made me happy. It puts a different spin on what I once believed; that Marvel was the company that brought the Authority down. Long live the Duck and his nephews !

2:36 AM  

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