And there's Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) again, trying to differentiate himself from other Republican Presidential candidates by calling for the dismantling of the "cartel of colleges and universities." Just like the rest of them, Mr. Rubio identifies a problem and offers solutions that'll make it worse -- "teaming" up students with investors will make those students do what investors want them to do, and we give the wealthy more than enough control over our future -- or he offers "innovative" solutions that have already been tried and have already succeeded. You may also recall that Mr. Rubio also wants to get rid of those "elitist" accreditation associations so that for-profit college chains (like his former "constituent," Corinthian Colleges) can get on the same footing as America's state-supported and private universities. But we think of some institutions as second class because they are second class -- particularly the ones that promise education and employment and instead saddle you with debt. Marco Rubio's "populism" doesn't shame our elites so that future generations do better -- it shames our elites so that even more undeserving elites can take their place.
Shafaq Hasan and Ruth McCambridge tell us what should make us uneasy about our celebration of a homeless man whose playing of "Come Sail Away" on a piano on the street earned him some 12 million views (and tens of thousand of dollars in donations): "the underlying assumption that homeless people are without skills, histories, or essential worth and that when you find one that is skilled, that person is some kind of anomaly." When you think about it, it's not a surprise -- most of us view the homeless as just people who bother us for money, or people who constitute a "burden" on the taxpayer (though, of course, we know that a little pre-emptive generosity would both help the homeless get back on their feet and save the taxpayer money). And to think that Mr. Gould would still be utterly marginalized if not for a) a Florida nonprofit placing pianos all over downtown Sarasota so good citizens can play them and b) someone with a cellphone. And under a President Scott Walker, who thinks corporations should determine everyone's worth and every activity's utility, America will shove so many more marginalized folk further into darkness.