FLASH: Idaho State Sen. tables bill mandating the torture of Idaho youth en masse. No, srsly:
Coeur d’Alene Sen. John Goedde, chairman of the Idaho Senate’s Education Committee, introduced legislation Tuesday to require every Idaho high school student to read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” and pass a test on it to graduate from high school.
When Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, asked Goedde why he chose that particular book, Goedde said to laughter, “That book made my son a Republican.”
“It was a shot over their bow just to let them know that there’s another way to adopt high school graduation requirements,” Goedde said after the meeting.
Christ. Extended stress positions and waterboarding would be infinitely more humane. Have you no decency, sir?
Related: Ayn Rand – The Comic.
Introduction: Blank is Beautiful
Three decades of erasing and remaking the world
The Shock Doctrine opens with a quote from the Book of Genesis, chapter 6, verse 11:
Now the Earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the rest of the earth.
(Creative) destruction in order to cleanse the world of corruption.
What happens when neoliberal economic theory is applied–in many cases through violent, often horrific coercion? Naomi Klein begins her best-selling chronicle of capitalist Utopianism run amok in post-Katrina Louisiana, where Milton Friedman, revolutionary evangelist of coolly amoral free market fundamentalism, sees an opportunity in Katrina’s destructive wake:
“[I]nstead of spending a portion of the billions of dollars in reconstruction money on rebuilding and improving New Orleans existing public school system, the government should provide families with vouchers, which they then could spend at private institutions, many run at a profit, that would be subsidized by the state.”
Within nineteen months, with most of the city’s poor residents still in exile, New Orleans’ public school system had been almost completely replaced by privately run charter schools. Before Hurricane Katrina, the school board had run 123 public schools; now it just ran 4. Before the storm, there had been 7 charter schools in the city; now there were 31.
Klein refers to this sort of opportunistic, ideologically-motivated renewal project ‘disaster capitalism’, noting that, over the past several decades, “Friedman and his powerful followers had been perfecting this very strategy: waiting for a major crisis, then selling off pieces of the state to private players while citizens were still reeling from the shock.”
It’s a theme Klein continually examines and reexamines throughout the book–and not simply in a metaphorical sense, as I will discuss further in later installments.
What stood out most for me in the introduction was how effectively Klein weaves together seemingly disparate strands of neoliberal economics, US foreign policy, and experimental psychology into a coherent thesis. She manages to avoid the logical inconsistencies of conspiracy theory, meticulously spreading the foundation for her thesis and taking advantage of her background as an investigative journalist to provide ample support for her contentions.
A few minor quibbles aside (The Cato Insitute is not a ‘neoconservative’ think tank, as Klein dubs it, but, rather, a right-leaning libertarian organization that, contrary to her insinuations, opposed the war in Iraq), the introduction provides both an expansive overview of the themes Klein will explore more in depth in subsequent chapters and an inspiring call-to-arms for those of us who have looked on in horror at the wreckage (both psychological and physical) that has been left behind after decades of neoliberal shock therapy.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure to check out Sarah’s first post–and, please, don’t hesitate to offer your own thoughts, opinions, and observations in comments. We want this to be an interactive dialogue, and look forward over the coming weeks to having you all read along with us.
Next week: The Torture Lab: Ewan Cameron, the CIA and the maniacal quest to erase and remake the human mind
She had joined Medical Students for Choice, an abortion education group with chapters on 135 U.S. campuses, as soon as she arrived at Maryland. The nation’s abortion doctors were graying, and unless a new generation took their place, the right to abortion might be rendered meaningless. Lesley imagined herself being part of that new generation. But would her support for abortion translate into action?
“I won’t know until I’m faced with doing it, but I think I would absolutely be able to provide [abortions],” she said. “It’s walk the walk, instead of talk the talk. I want my actions to be consistent with my words.”
How medical students choose to become abortion providers is in some ways no different from how they choose to become cardiac surgeons or pediatric neurologists. They explore the specialty and test themselves in it, finding some connection to a patient or a mentor that ignites their passion. Except for one difference: Medical students must explore abortion largely on their own.
Thirty-five years after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade, any mention of abortion is rare in the first three or four years of medical school, when students must zero in on a specialty and eventually apply for residency training. Even in Maryland, where about 61 percent of voters approved a referendum guaranteeing abortion in 1992 and which has the fourth-highest abortion rate in the country, abortion is not taught in any formal lectures at the state’s flagship medical school. The subject is viewed as too controversial, despite the fact that, according to the nonprofit National Center for Health Statistics, abortion remains among the most common surgical procedures for reproductive-age women. Nevertheless, many people, including some of Lesley’s friends, believe abortion is the murder of an unborn child and should not be legal, much less taught to future doctors.
Make sure to read the whole damn thing. As Lauren aptly points out, “a lack of doctors willing and able to perform the procedure will render the right to abortion meaningless.” And, as previously noted, the situation isn’t much better here in the Great White North.
Star-Tribune columnist Charles Quimby on how access to abortion in the US isn’t just being threatened by anti-choice legislative measures:
I don’t have firm statistics, but I would say most of the physicians providing abortion services in Minnesota today are my contemporaries or older. That is, people who experienced the days of illegal abortion and the complications that ensued. That is, doctors within a decade of retirement. The late Dr. Jane Hodgson, who tested Minnesota’s law by deliberately performing an illegal abortion in 1970, continued to perform abortions until age 76, traveling from St. Paul to Duluth, because doctors there would not. She was born in 1915 and reached reproductive maturity about the year nearly 2,700 women in America died from reported self-induced or illegal abortions.
Most of the subsequent generations of doctors, including those who completed OB-GYN residencies in the early ’80s who will soon be leaving practice, received no training in terminating pregnancies, and the attitude in medical schools still seems to be “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Residents who want to learn about the full range of women’s health issues are free to arrange their own training, if they can find someone to provide it. The barriers don’t just involve learning medical procedures that are not mentioned in class; there are also issues about malpractice coverage and getting institutional approval.
Today’s medical residents were born in post-Reagan America, went to college in during the Rehnquist/Scalia era and have only known a post-Roe existence. Faced with roadblocks in their already stressful training regimens, even strongly prochoice residents may not pursue this on their own.
Meanwhile, practicing physicians who believe in choice may advise patients about all their options in handling a pregnancy, but they aren’t going to provide all the options — especially without having the training. But also because of outright harassment, fear of bad publicity or concern for their family’s safety, they have quietly decided to let reproductive freedom become not just the patient’s decision, but the patient’s problem.
As they say, read the whole goddamn thing.
Related: Via Vicky Saporta, Pamela Pizarro examines how the “lack of trained abortion providers in Canada is huge problem and is keeping women in our country from accessing adequate sexual and reproductive health services”:
When you consider that up to 40% of women will have an abortion during their life time, it is astonishing that the abortion procedure is not required to be taught in any medical school curricula. In fact in a study conducted by Medical Students for Choice, 40% of 50 schools that they surveyed “do not teach any aspect of abortion in the pre-clinical years.”
(h/t boomgate for the vid)
Money quote courtesy Gladwell:
To say that Dutch I.Q. scores rose substantially between 1952 and 1982 was another way of saying that the Netherlands in 1982 was, in at least certain respects, much more cognitively demanding than the Netherlands in 1952. An I.Q., in other words, measures not so much how smart we are as how modern we are
Oh, and I’m having a good schadenfreude-laced larf over the Princeton librul hate crime hoax, from which Canadian Cynic divines the following rock-solid truism: “If David Horowitz is saying it, you know it’s a lie.”
h/t Chet Scoville.
The Bush administration’s Abstinence Only Program is an example of a failed national health-care policy directive, based on ideology rather than on sound scientific-based evidence that must be the cornerstone of good public health-care policy.
I believe this is what is commonly known as a “moment of clarity”. Of course, the usual suspects are demonstratively calling for a waahmbulance. Hey, I’ve got the first 25 pennies covered if someone else wants to pony up the other half.
Well, I’m glad I didn’t waste the Stanfield metaphor on Howard Hampton (too bad More Notes From Underground beat me to it). I’m with northwestern_lad: “I personally cannot wait to see the next polls that come out and see what kind of damage Tory has really inflicted upon himself.”
Update 09/06: And what a fumble – even the party faithful are considering apostasy.