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Attacks on working people are moronic

BY GUEST COLUMN | MARCH 19, 2012 6:30 AM

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The last few years have seen a marked increase in blatant and ugly attacks on working people.

We now see prominent political figures expressing views that are at best antisocial, justifying them with pseudo-Randian arguments, implying that massive inequality here or anywhere is somehow inevitable.

That many of these same people more often than not receive financial/occupational rewards for these opinions clearly places their arguments within a framework of their sense of self-importance, making them easy to dismiss (unless you're a moron or feel equally self-important).

However, this negative view of humanity has recently oozed into The Daily Iowan editorials. It too started innocently enough: columns about Ron Paul which amounted to Cosmo Girl profiles of his mythic, dreamy, and imaginary "bold" beliefs, typical reactionary diatribes about nothing from the student Republicans (for some reason printed verbatim), etc.

But recently their rhetoric has become more subtle and unsettling.

The most glaring instance of this, and what prompted me to write, was Adam B Sullivan's "Santorum's Right about Something" (DI, Feb. 29), in which Sullivan parroted Santorum's opinion that higher education shouldn't be available to everyone because some important jobs don't require the kind of knowledge one gains in higher education. This would've been a very positive column had it not contained mischaracterizations of "low-wage" jobs and higher education.

Sullivan dotes on McDonald's employees who are good at "flipping burgers" and "don't need to go to college." Except that nobody who works at McDonald's actually flips burgers. As someone who has actually worked at McDonald's, I know that there is a machine that cooks both sides of the patties simultaneously. That way they don't have to pay you very much because you just press a button.

The only people who flip burgers are cooks who work in restaurants. You know, trained professionals.

Or look at "the best argument against universal higher education: agriculture." Yes, farming is simply a matter of finding a plot of ground, digging a hole, throwing in seeds, and watering it a few times a day. Obviously. You don't learn that in school.

The point of higher education isn't that we all be able to recite poetry or solve complex math problems. It is developing a critical mode of thinking; acknowledging that while there are rather unpleasant tasks which must be done by someone, the people who do them should be rewarded for their service, not given wages that barely support them and not told that "somebody has to get bugger all for this hard work."

Underneath these flimsy premises is a belief that inequity is fine and necessary, that some people deserve it. For nowhere in the column was there a call to improve conditions, wages, job security, nor even an attempt to answer why these people must do these things. There was only the claim that they must, "just cuz." It belies a broader trend towards a lazy and smug insistence in the status quo that is a disservice to the DI. I've become rather worried.

Jesse Marks
UI senior


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