photo by Joe Mazza and Brave Lux

Monday, March 7, 2016

How to Eat Our Children, A Manual from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and the State’s Institutions of Higher Education

Illinois House Representative Terri Bryant (center) braising babies in sugary BBQ Sauce.
This photo was taken soon after Rep. Bryant voted against funding Illinois higher education,
but voted for opening a work camp
, and proposed a new work camp citing the jobs it will bring to Southern Illinois.

How to Eat Our Children, 
A Manual from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and the State’s Institutions of Higher Education
by Jacob Juntunen

It is a melancholy fact that this, the great state of Illinois, suffers a $40 billion debt, a disproportionately high tax rate, and an increasing income disparity between those who never hunger and those who go to bed wanting. Surely no one desires this suffering to continue. Many years have brought many proposals from politicians, activists, and educators. But, only recently, have leaders emerged that can solve Illinois’ problems. These emissaries are Governor Bruce Rauner alongside his allies in the state’s institutions of higher education. Together, they have provided a guide for the rest of America. With much modesty, then, I propose that we must once again accept that the unpleasant prospect of eating our children is the most prudent action to take. The budget impasse that Rauner has created paves the way to our child abattoir.
Since July 1, 2015, the state of Illinois has operated without a budget because Rauner cleverly holds it hostage over business-friendly reforms, like union busting. Eight months with no funding to higher education has superbly hurt Illinois’ most vulnerable students and the teachers’ union. Rauner has exploited the lack of budget to shave fat from university populations—that is, to trim students that can’t pay their way and to fire otherwise secure, tenured professors of useless subjects. In so doing, the governor is providing important new sources of nutrition for the rest of us. Let me provide two concrete examples so readers in other states may carry out similar actions.
In Illinois, a MAP Grant provides funds to about 130,000 of the state’s poorest students, the type who couldn’t attend college without assistance. Because of the income inequality in our country, these students tend to be women and/or people of color. Rauner has ingeniously not released any funds to these young people—our children, if you will. In fact, he vetoed a bill devised by the divided Illinois Congress to fund these students. This is why you need an ex-CEO with no political experience like Rauner running the state. The career politicians from both sides of the aisle came together to “help,” but luckily their efforts were thwarted by our long-sighted governor. Without MAP Grants, our children won’t be attending college and receiving false notions of equality, useless critical thinking skills, or, worse, hope for a better future. We must all agree that hope, without opportunity, is nothing short of cruel. Governor Rauner understands this, and, by refusing to fund MAP Grants, he kindly returns our children to lives of poverty. There, instead of having false notions of a good career, our children can serve as cheap labor. They may even be locked up for profit in the state’s large prison industry, which, in the Governor’s proposed 2016 budget, would receive a $100 million budget increase. Not funding MAP Grants is a win-win-win for Illinois: colleges loose students, the state gains business-friendly cheap labor, and we can warehouse the extra children for profit.
Similarly, by refusing to provide funds to all public institutions of higher education, Rauner is breaking the backs of the powerful teachers’ union with the help of higher education itself. Some results have been immediate, such as Chicago State’s fiscal crisis: without state funds, it sent pink slips to its entire staff. But the governor is also capitalizing on decades-long efforts to reduce college from education to mere labor force training. Take, for example, the types of cuts colleges and universities throughout Illinois are suggesting for survival: departments purged, retiring faculty not replaced, irrelevant programs like early childhood education axed. And, of course, raising tuition is always a good way to balance a college’s books. All these steps help demoralize higher education, and can even turn the public against it. But how is higher education helping the governor along?
It has done so for years by increasing the numbers of administrators instead of faculty—plus increasing administrator salary. For example, the president of a public university in Illinois makes more than a sitting Supreme Court judge, but of course no one speaks of cutting administrative salaries. Our CEO governor and business-minded university presidents understand that well-paid and ample administration is necessary to run a corporation. Likewise, an efficient company has as few low-level laborers—such as professors—as possible. To that end, since the 1990s, universities have increased spending on administrative salaries by 61% while faculty spending only rose by 39%. In some cases, such as Arizona State University, the number of administrators increased by 97% and faculty actually decreased by 2%. That is exactly the type ratio we need to set to prepare our children for consumption. With decreased faculty, and, especially, a lack of tenure-track faculty, we can save public education and reduce to a minimum the number of students enrolled.
For instance, many departments in the humanities are almost entirely staffed by non-tenure-track faculty whose jobs hang by a string. They are the first people downsized since their contracts are only for a semester, or, at best, an academic year. Cutting adjuncts wholesale would neuter pointless departments like English who require them to teach introductory courses. Literacy and literature only provides students false ideals; English won’t help our children in the types of jobs for which we are preparing them. Indeed, we are benevolent reducing college to fit the narrow futures of our children. These educational trends fit perfectly into Governor Rauner’s budget plans.
And so, since we elder statesmen and women do not want to see these dark economic times affect us, we must let them affect our children, who luckily are still fat and succulent. Times have not yet become so hard that our children are starving in the streets as they once did in Ireland when other modest proposals were made. To make sure we do not reach such a state, we must follow the lead of Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and Illinois institutions of higher education. Follow them and we will never starve ourselves, for our children will keep our bellies full.

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