The Manufacture of Consent
excerpted from the book
If You Love This Planet
by Helen Caldicott
WW Norton, 1992, paper
THE MANUFACTURE OF CONSENT
The story of corporate propaganda explains,
I believe, the strange and powerful patriotism and nationalism
of the American people, their ready acceptance of propaganda and
media manipulation, and the reality that American workers are
not represented by a broad-based, powerful union movement. It
also explains why the minimum wage in 1991 was only $4.75 per
hour and why there are insufficient occupational health and safety
standards, no uniform free health care system, and no national
system of free higher education.
By comparison, the people of my native
country [Australia] are quite blasé about nationalism or
patriotism; we rarely fly flags. But the minimum wage is $10 per
hour, and the union movement is strong. The workers have excellent
occupational health and safety standards, and we have a free health
care system and an almost free university system.
... the work done by the late Alex Carey,
an AustraIian psychologist who lived in the United States during
the 1970s and 1980s. He was fascinated by the origins of American
culture and made an extensive study of the history of propaganda
and its political effects.
From the beginning of this century, large-scale
professional propaganda campaigns have been waged by American
business in order to shape public attitudes to accept and endorse
the capitalist system, and this propaganda has changed the direction
of American society.
The campaign began between 1880 and 1920
in Britain and the United States when the right to vote was extended
from 15 percent of the adult population to 50 percent. This popular
franchise immediately posed a threat to the rich minority, because
as real democracy was instituted, people would naturally be voting
for laws that supported their own health, education, and welfare.
For the first time, their tax dollars would be used to support
the majority of the population and not just the rich. In 1909,
two leading scholars-Abbott Lawrence Lowell, president of Harvard,
and Graham Wallas, a leading British student of democracy-warned
that the consequences of those new laws might be dangerous. They
said, "Popular election may work fairly well as long as those
questions are not raised which cause the holders of wealth and
power to make full use of their resources. If they do so, there
is much skill to be bought, and the art of using skill for the
production of emotion and opinion has so advanced, that the whole
condition of political contests would be changed for the future."
In other words, if the power of the rich is challenged, they will
use their money to intimidate and coerce people, to buy votes,
and to produce a mandate for themselves.
By 1913, a congressional committee was
established to investigate the activities of an organization called
the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), which represented
many U.S. businesses and had already begun disseminating vast
quantities of literature with the apparent intention of "controlling"
public opinion in the fledgling democracy.
But public opinion moved away from and
did not support corporate philosophy during the First World War,
which ended in 1918, because the American people were encouraged
to work together for the good of the country. Women took equal
jobs side by side with men, and a mood of unselfishness and generosity
prevailed in the country.
The techniques of propaganda were developed
during the First World War when the American people were reluctant
to become involved in the war because at that time they had no
specific animosity toward the German people, although Germany
certainly antagonized many Americans when it sank the British
passenger liner Lusitania, with the loss of 128 American lives.
President Wilson and others initiated a large and very effective
campaign, under the supervision of the Committee on Public Information,
headed by George Creel-a Denver newsman-to convince the nation
that Germany, whose people were called Huns, was the seat of all
Propaganda is "the organized spreading
of ideas, information or rumour designed to promote or damage
an institution, movement or person," and the First World
War marked the first time in history that propaganda had been
successfully conducted on a large scale. Within six months, the
American people were devoted to hating the Germans and to defeating
them in the war effort. (Does it sound familiar? Replace Germany
with Iraq.) Public opinion at that time had been so aroused that
grotesque campaigns of witch-hunting and Americanism abounded.
One of the creators of propaganda during
the war was Edward Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud, whom he
closely resembled. (I met him in 1981 on a cold rainy Boston day,
and he offered to help in my anti-nuclear war campaign. In the
end, he was unable to contribute, but I learned some rather remarkable
facts. As we sat drinking tea, looking over a narrow Cambridge
street, he told me proudly that he was the person who taught women
to smoke, by dressing them in beautiful clothes, placing a cigarette
in their hand, and adorning Vogue magazine with their photographs.
I felt ill.) Bernays headed the transfer of wartime propaganda
skills to the business arena. When the war ended, Bernays wrote,
business "realized that the great public could now be harnessed
to their cause as it had been harnessed during the war to the
national cause, and the same methods would do the job."
After the war, propaganda was recognized as a tool corporate America
could use to further its own agenda. In 1919, some 350,000 U.S.
steelworkers went on strike and demanded shorter working hours
and higher pay. (They were working eighty-four hours per week.)
Because they had felt proud of their work during the war, they
naturally expected that they would be well treated. But they were
not. Instead, the U.S. Steel Corporation bought full-page advertisements
in newspapers to encourage the strikers to return to work and
to accuse the strike leaders of being Bolsheviks and Reds (at
a time when the Russian revolution was in its infancy) and of
being Huns. They also told the American people that the price
of steel would soar if the workers prevailed. How could the U.S.
corporations call proud American workers Communists and Germans
when they had rallied so staunchly behind the war effort?
Unfortunately, a gullible public was largely
persuaded by this propaganda offensive. The strike was defeated
by the artificial engineering of public opinion, which had been
successfully turned against the workers. By the time the strike
ended, twenty workers had been killed, the hours and wages remained
the same, and the price of steel went up. So the steel industry
Organized unions, I believe, are the best
and only vehicles for the representation of the true interests
of the working people of America-health care, occupational and
safety standards, wages, working hours, and so on. They constitute
the sole force that can take on, and to some extent control, corporate
power. But since 1919, U.S. corporations have systematically worn
down, demoralized, and destroyed organized labor by using the
techniques of propaganda, Red-baiting, and intimidation.
The successful propaganda campaign that
ended the steel strike was then extended to American public opinion
at large. Corporate America started the rumor that American workers
and their leaders wanted to overthrow the federal government.
It introduced this unsubstantiated notion through a public relations
campaign in the media that led to an intense period of virulent
anticommunism, in the years 1919-21. The witch-hunts and blatant
Americanism also continued after the war, and people were actually
jailed for practicing their right of free speech. As a result,
many American citizens felt persecuted and alienated within their
own country. This propaganda campaign proved to be very effective,
and the American public was persuaded to support the rights of
rich citizens and corporate power, while support for civil liberties,
social reform, and the labor movement declined.
In the 1920s, Edward Bernays called this
use of propaganda "the engineering of consent," and
Harold Lasswell, for fifty years the leading American scholar
of propaganda, said in 1939 that propaganda had become the principal
method of social control. Lasswell remarked, "If the mass
will be free of the chains of iron, it must accept the chains
of silver. If it will not love, honour and obey, it must not expect
to escape seduction." In other words, if ordinary people
gain power in a democracy through the vote, then the rich will
find another way to maintain control.
Everything went well for corporate America
during the 1920s, but the country suffered during the Great Depression
of the 1930s. Tens of millions of people lost their jobs, the
banks collapsed, and people starved. Among the poor and indigent
arose a great wave of hostility and animosity directed toward
big business and corporate power, and people demanded a more equitable
distribution of wealth.
In 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was
elected president, and his administration launched the New Deal,
which cared for and gave succour to millions of unemployed, depressed
people. Mass employment schemes were initiated to rebuild cities,
bridges, and roads, as were other public works. The common people
of America loved and trusted FDR, many being mesmerized by his
"fireside chats," broadcast on the radio. It became
morally and politically acceptable to advocate government ownership,
government programs, and socialism as such.
But business people never liked or accepted
President Roosevelt, because they had temporarily lost the public's
loyalty, so they set out once again to recapture the minds of
How did they do this? Well, they spent
millions of tax-deductible dollars on public "education"
programs and on polls. They also taught "human relations"
to their own workers in order to control their thinking.
In 1935, the by then renowned National
Association of Manufacturers (NAM) organized another massive propaganda
campaign. The president of the NAM told business leaders in 1935,
"This is not a hit or miss program. "It is] skillfully
integrated ... to ... blanket every media.... It pounds its message
In 1939, the La Follette committee of
the U.S. Senate reported that the NAM had blanketed the country
with propaganda that relied on secrecy and deception. The NAM
employed radio speeches, news cartoons, editorials, advertising,
motion pictures, and many other propaganda techniques that did
not disclose its sponsorship. One business-sponsored agency distributed
a steady supply of canned, ready-to-print editorials to twelve
thousand local newspapers, and some 2.5 million column inches
of this material were published.
By the late 1930s, public opinion polling
had been invented, and it turned out to be highly useful to business.
It was employed, according to Alex Carey, as an "opinion
sensitive radar beam," which continually assessed ideological
drift in the population. The polling data were used by the industrial
propaganda institutions to provide continual flow of data and
feedback, so that they could define and redefine their probusiness
messages to make them more effective. It was also used to evaluate
public response to product marketing.
In 1945, the corporations invented a new
method to sell their capitalistic philosophy, which they called
"techniques for community ideas." They discovered that
the American people were not very excited by the rather sterile
concepts of capitalism or free enterprise but that they did exhibit
a rather positive emotional response to the notion of "Americanism."
From this new information, the corporations devised a formula
that tied many fundamental values together:
free enterprise = freedom = democracy = family = Christianity
= nationalism = God.
The equal and opposite formula they devised
went something like this:
egalitarianism = equality = government
interference = socialism = unions = communism = Satan
These two formulas became the backbone
of corporate philosophy and profit-oriented activities and propaganda,
and they have been used ever since with undiminished success.
STRIKEBREAKING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS
In 1937, a steel strike erupted at Johnstown,
Pennsylvania, when Bethlehem Steel refused to acknowledge the
steel union. At that time, the corporations needed to gain control
of a restive population, after the years of the Depression and
the New Deal. So the local chamber of commerce joined with the
NAM and Bethlehem Steel to orchestrate another propaganda campaign
using the steel strike as the fulcrum. The National Citizens Committee
was organized and launched by local businessmen; it engaged an
advertising agency and a public relations council. The committee
broadcast its antistrike messages of "Americanism" twice
over a national network, and two full-page ads appeared in thirty
newspapers in thirteen states. The campaign was once again successful.
At the end of the strike, James Rand,
of the Remington Rand Corporation, proudly announced, "Two
million businessmen had been looking for a formula like this,
and business had hoped for, dreamed of and prayed for such an
example as you have set.'' This antistrike tactic was called the
Mohawk Valley formula, and since that time this scientific strikebreaking
technique has been used in every major strike in the United States.
The Senate-based La Follette committee
criticized the propaganda tactics of the NAM in the 1930s, building
up to the 1940s, in the following way: "The leaders of the
association resorted to 'education' as they had in 1919-21. They
asked not what the weaknesses and abuses of the economic structure
had been, and how they could be corrected, but instead paid millions
to tell the public that nothing was wrong and that grave dangers
lurked in the proposed remedies.''
But the NAM continued to use its propaganda
campaigns in the fight against labor unions. The corporations
fought the most important strikes in 1945-46 in the press and
over the radio, not in the picket lines. In effect, business owners
bypassed the workers and went over their heads to appeal to the
public, using false and unfair statements.
Fundamentally, these corporate campaigns
were designed to achieve three objectives: (1) to minimize wage
rises and to maximize profits, (2) to oppose decent working hours,
a minimum wage, occupational health and safety standards, and
employee health coverage, and (3) to prevent government regulations
from interfering with their activities.
Over the years this corporate philosophy
prevailed, so the workers of today are almost totally unprotected,
with the minimum wage set at only $4.75 per hour. By comparison,
unions in Australia have always been very strong, and as a result
Australian workers have a decent minimum wage of approximately
$10 per hour and are protected with good health care systems and
safe working conditions. By and large, the Australian public and
businessmen are tolerant of strikes because they understand that
civilized negotiations will always be conducted and everyone will
eventually benefit. However, U.S. corporate propaganda is now
starting to infiltrate Australia and to affect its union structure.
It is imperative that Australians learn from the past mistakes
of American society, before our relatively compassionate society
is degraded and changed forever.
The propaganda barrage by U.S. corporations
continued through the years 1946-50. During this time, the NAM
distributed 18,640,270 pamphlets that vehemently pushed anticommunist,
antisocialist, antiunion, and anti-New Deal sentiments versus
free enterprise and capitalization. Some 41 percent of these pamphlets
were sent to employees, 53 percent to high school and college
students, and 6 percent (over one million) to community leaders,
such as ministers and women's club leaders.
In 1946, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
distributed a million copies of a fifty-page article entitled
"Communism in the United States." In 1947, a similar
distribution occurred for a pamphlet entitled "Communists
within the Government," which alleged that about four hundred
Communists held important positions in the government.
The most effective propaganda weapon for
both employees and college students was found to be a comic booklet.
The National Association of Manufacturers News of February 1951
proudly proclaimed, "If all NAM produced pamphlets ordered
for distribution to employees, students and community leaders
in 1950 had been stacked one on top of the other, they would have
reached nearly four miles into the sky-the height of sixteen Empire
State Buildings, a record distribution of 7,839,039 copies."
The American Advertising Council, which
was established fourteen days before the United States entered
World War II to combat people's enthusiasm about the New Deal
and their disaffection with the free-enterprise system, represents
large corporations and advertising agencies. In 1947, it announced
a twelvemonth, $100 million campaign, one of numerous related
campaigns to "sell" the American economic system to
the American people. Daniel Bell, a professor of sociology at
Harvard, said in 1954, "The output is staggering. The Advertising
Council alone in 1950 inspired 7 million lines of newspaper advertising
stressing free enterprise, 400,000 car cards, 2,500,000,000 radio
impressions.... By all odds, it adds up to the most intensive
'sales' campaign in the history of industry." The campaign
was used to "rewin the loyalty of the worker which now goes
to the union and to halt creeping socialism, with its high tax
structure and quasiregulation of industry.''
Fortune magazine in September 1950 carried
an editorial saying, "The Free Enterprise Campaign is shaping
up as one of the most intensive 'sales' jobs in the history of
the industry-in fact it is fast becoming an industry in itself"
This deluge of brainwashing paved the
way to the shameful era of McCarthyism in 1950-54, when Senator
Joseph McCarthy intimidated, hounded, discredited, shamed, and
destroyed the lives of hundreds of his fellow American citizens,
until finally one man, Joseph Welch, was brave enough to confront
him in a Senate hearing and speak the truth. Soon thereafter McCarthy
died. From 1950 to 1965, corporate power was again safe from the
threat of a freethinking skeptical democracy.
In 1955, Fortune magazine estimated that
there were five thousand U.S. companies supporting public relations
departments, at an annual cost of about $400 million.
Do you see how the cold war was a logical
spin-off from these successful initiatives to control domestic
thinking? The somewhat contrived threats of Russia and communism,
not innocuous by any means, of course, were used primarily to
intimidate and silence the freethinking working people of America,
but the deadly nuclear arms race was a result of this domestic
DESTRUCTION OF PRICE CONTROL
The same tactics combining public relations
with corporate political ideology were also used by big business
to obtain uncontrolled price rises. The campaign I am about to
describe was a prototype of techniques that continue to be used
to "manage" democracy in the interests of American business.
After World War II, President Harry S.
Truman was worried about rising prices because goods were in short
supply. He decided to keep prices low by supporting and extending
the life of the federal Office of Price Administration (OPA),
which had been established during the war.
But business wanted prices to rise. Represented
once again by the NAM, it therefore launched a massive campaign
against the OPA by printing millions of leaflets that were stuffed
into the shopping bags of housewives. It also published full-page
ads that stated cleverly but falsely that price controls themselves
were the cause of the goods shortage.
In 1946, the Opinion Research Council,
monitoring the results, found that at the beginning of the propaganda
campaign 81 percent of the American people favored OPA but that
at the end only 26 percent supported a continuation of the OPA.
Americans had been manipulated yet again to act against their
own best interests.
A discouraged Truman said, "Right
after the end of the war, big business in this country set out
to destroy the laws that were protecting the consumer against
exploitation. This drive was spearheaded by the NAM.'' In the
effort to kill the OPA, the NAM spent $3 million, which in those
days was a lot of money. As a direct result of this operation,
consumer prices rose 15 percent and food prices 28 percent between
June and December 1946. The people had again been exploited.
To add insult to injury, these price rises
canceled the wage rises that labor had obtained from some of its
more successful 1946 strikes; at the same time, real wages dropped
from $32.50 per week to $30.00 per week, while yearly corporate
profits reached their highest point in history, $12 trillion,
20 percent higher than those of the best war year.
It is interesting that since 1918 the
Soviet government brainwashed its people by consistently lying
to them, but its techniques were so clumsy that the people knew
they were being brainwashed. By contrast, in the United States,
corporations became expert manipulators, so most people have swallowed
the corporate doctrine whole.
HUMAN RELATIONS - INDUSTRIAL PSYCHOLOGY
The corporations developed another nifty
trick to convert their workers from "unionism" to "corporatism."
It occurred to them that since most U.S. workers were captive
audiences in their factories, if they appealed to them the right
way, they could win their hearts and minds. Psychologists might
be interested to know that the human relations movement was pioneered
by corporate America for an ulterior motive. Human relations,
a euphemistic phrase, was also called "employee participation,"
"employee communication," and "democratic decision
During 1945-46, business firms invested
huge amounts of money in the study of this psychological discipline,
and a plethora of books and literature appeared on the subject.
Psychologists and social scientists were recruited to develop
new and more effective methods to include workers in a science
called "interpersonal communication," which was really
used to induce workers to support their corporate bosses. By 1950,
management had become obsessed with employee "communication."
Fortune magazine noted, "There is hardly a business speech
in which the word is not used."
These techniques of worker manipulation
proved to be a successful tool for bypassing union power in the
factories, and worker loyalty swung to management. In 1959, Peter
Drucker, who represented American Management Consultants, said
of human relations policies, "Most of us in management have
instituted them as a means of busting the unions. That has been
the main theme of these programs. They are based on the belief
that if you have good employee relations, the union will wither
on the vine.''
The literature on human relations continued
to grow. During the decade of the fifties, there were four times
as many studies of small human relations groups published in social
science journals as in all previous publication history. Surprisingly,
few sociological studies document the impact of this movement.
THE REAGAN ERA
For fifteen years after Joseph McCarthy
died, the American public was once again placid and under control.
Most people worked hard for their friendly corporation-it was
like one big family where loyalty reigned supreme. But then came
Vietnam and the civil rights movement, flower power, Woodstock,
and Watergate, and the nation once again lost respect for corporate
control. We must remember that 20 percent of the 250 million people
in 1985 owned 44 percent of the money in the United States and
that vast disparities between the very rich, on the one hand,
and the middle class and the poor, on the other, must be maintained
at all costs. How else could the Mellons, the Rockefellers, and
the others have become so hugely rich without this brilliant control
of a so-called democracy?
In 1975, the Advertising Council therefore
launched another "economic education" campaign on the
U.S. public. Two years later, Fortune described the council's
continuing campaign as "a study in gigantism." By 1978,
according to a congressional inquiry, U.S. business was spending
$ 1 billion a year of tax deductible money for "education,"
to convince people that big government was bad for them. (The
truth is that government regulation is bad for corporations. It
is amazing how corporate advertising can turn truth on its head.)
The campaign was once again successful, and public support for
the proposition that government is bad rose from 42 percent in
1975 to 60 percent in 1980. On the coattails of this vastly expensive
propaganda exercise was elected the doyen and figurehead of right-wing
corporate America-Ronald Reagan. What an incredibly successful
campaign! I remember it well. In 1975, the concept of big government
was not a topic of discussion; by 1979, TV reporters would ask
me, "But isn't big government bad?" I had no idea from
where this concept had come. Now I know!
TREETOPS PROPAGANDA AND THINK TANKS
Brainwashing entered a more sophisticated
phase in the 1970s. Until then, the propaganda offensives had
been "grass roots," but now the corporations decided
to establish a series of "think tanks" staffed by brilliant,
erudite people who produced editorials, TV news pieces, and legislative
material that was easy to understand, well conceived and written,
and very acceptable to both the media and Congress. The material
has always been provided in a timely fashion to guide legislation
on a particular issue. This sophisticated, high-level manipulation
is called "treetops" propaganda. Instead of being directed
toward the man in the street, it is focused on influential decision
makers in Congress and in the media-newspaper editors, columnists,
and television. Its immediate purpose is to set the terms of debate
and to determine the questions and agenda that dominate public
Here are a few instances of the terms
* In the wealthiest country on earth,
should unemployment be maintained at 6 percent or at 10 percent?
Not, should unemployment at any level be unacceptable? (Unemployment
is good for business because it weakens unions' negotiating power
by providing a pool of unemployed workers.)
* Should private doctors have more control
over the medical system so that doctors make more money and only
the rich get good treatment?
Not, Does every person have a right to
free state-of-the-art treatment?
* Is it economically desirable to eliminate
CFC gas, should CFCs be reduced to 50 percent production by 1995,
or would business lose too much money? Not, Should CFCs be eliminated
* Would auto companies suffer too much
if they made fuel-efficient cars? Not, Are fuel-efficient cars
a necessity for saving the planet?
These think tanks are involved in "policy
research" or "agenda setting" for the corporate
benefit. Their goal is not to save the earth or to care for the
American people but to enable the rich to get richer and maintain
their power. I find it extraordinary that the rich expend so much
effort and energy to gain ever more money and power, for these
assets do not by themselves lead to happiness.
Although some private think tanks, such
as the Conference Board and the Hoover Institute at Stanford University,
have existed for several decades, some new, aggressive right-wing
tanks producing an incessant flow of market-oriented studies were
established in the 1970s. Among them are the Heritage Foundation,
the American Economic Institute for Public Policy Research, the
American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Georgetown Center for
Strategic and International Studies, and the Business Roundtable.
Funders include such reputable corporations as Reader's Digest,
Hertz, Coors, Holiday Inns, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Bechtel,
Gulf Oil, Vicks (makers of VapoRub), Amway, Hunt Oil, and the
Chicago Tribune Company. (Of course, there are also a number of
think tanks that might be described as left-wing, among them the
Brookings Institution, the Institute for Policy Studies, and the
World Policy Institute, but they exert little influence on the
These think tanks virtually created the
new conservative movement of the 1970s and set Reagan's agenda.
The Heritage Foundation drew up a comprehensive list of agenda
items for his first and second terms of office. The first document
was called "Mandate for Leadership-Policy Management in a
Conservative Administration." During his eight years in office,
Reagan withdrew financial support for the United Nations (until
recently the United States still owed several hundred million
dollars to the UN in back debts from the Reagan years); undermined
the trade unions; mined the National Parks; decreased funds for
education, medicine, job training, community development, the
poor, the elderly, and the indigent; stacked the Supreme Court
with conservatives; built more nuclear weapons to develop "superiority"
over the Soviet Union; attempted to create the capacity to fight
and "win" a nuclear war; gave tax breaks to the rich
and increased the sales tax; and undermined the Civil Rights Commission.
But the actual agenda of these corporate-funded think tanks is
to (a) decrease government regulation of big business, (b) decrease
taxes for corporations and for the rich, (c) destroy the unions,
and (d) increase profits.
In 1977, the AEI produced fifty-four studies
on right-wing agenda items, twenty-two forums and conferences,
fifteen analyses of important legislative proposals, seven journals
and newsletters, and ready-made editorials sent to 105 newspapers.
Public-affairs programs were carried by three hundred TV stations,
and display units were produced for three hundred college libraries.
The Business Roundtable, founded in 1972,
comprises 197 chief executive officers from America's largest
corporations. In financial terms, the total revenues of these
companies represented in 1981 was equal to about half the GNP
of the United States, or more than that of any other country in
the world. In 1972, Justice Lewis Powell, a Nixon appointee to
the Supreme Court, urged business "to buy the top academic
reputations in the country to add credibility to corporate studies
and give business a stronger voice on the campuses." This
happened. In the 1970s, business established chairs of "free
enterprise," filled with handpicked candidates, in forty
colleges. This is a prostitution of classical education!
The Roundtable maintains a statesmanlike
image, but according to Ralph Nader "the dominant purpose
leading to the foundation was a desire to combat and reduce union
power," and "it proclaims moderation while sabotaging
moderate reform." Although the Roundtable specializes in
treetops propaganda, it also works closely with the NAM and the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce in their grass-roots activities. Together,
they in 1978 defeated labor law reform, which was established
to help reinforce America's declining labor unions, and they worked
to oppose important consumer protection bills.
To this end, the Roundtable hired a public
relations firm that distributed canned editorials to 1,000 daily
papers and 2,800 weeklies, along with cartoons that attacked consumer
protection bills. It also utilized a fraudulent poll claiming
that 81 percent of all U.S. citizens opposed consumer protection
when independent polls showed that one out of every two people
favored it. This poll was published in a full-page advertisement
in the New York Times. According to Fortune magazine, the defeat
of this bill was a signal of victory; in retrospect, it marked
a watershed in the history of consumerism (its fate mirrors the
defeat of Harry Truman's Office of Price Administration in the
So the business of America is business-as
demonstrated in the successful campaigns of 1919-21, 1946-50,
and 1976-80. To quote Alex Carey, "Complete business hegemony
over American society was established. On each occasion similar,
if not more sophisticated propaganda and public relations techniques
... In Australia, all universities, until
recently, were funded by the federal government, and education
for all disciplines, including law, medicine, architecture, and
science, was totally free. Two years ago, the government introduced
a small tertiary tax of $1,000 to $2,000 per year, which I fear
may be the beginning of privatization of our university system.
This new scheme is strongly supported and encouraged by right-wing
think tanks employing the U.S. treetops philosophy and by corporate
Australia. But my daughter, who recently graduated from medical
school, had almost her entire education paid for by the Australian
High schools and primary schools are funded
and run by the state governments, and education is free and uniform
throughout each state. Like health care, free education is deemed
a right of all children and people.
When I lived in Boston, I was surprised
to discover that school districts in the state are autonomous
and funded by the local population. It follows that, if schools
are located in poor communities, the educational standards or
facilities will be correspondingly low. In America, private schools
are very expensive and available mainly to the middle class and
the wealthy, as are many good colleges and universities, except
for some excellent state systems like that of California. It is
hard to believe that it can cost $20,000 or more to send one child
to college for one year. For a family of six, educating four children
breaks the budget and often leaves the parents in penury for years.
Such a state of affairs is not fair, equitable, or right.
If You Love This Planet