More on universities – this time not on the libraries of Sydney University (although I will be back onto that the moment I’m through this ocean of rewriting), but on the appalling moves the Abbott government made in its 2014 federal budget to deregulate Australia’s universities so they are more like America’s. Education minister Christopher Pyne said before the budget that Australians have much to learn about universities ‘from our friends in the United States’.
I like the language economist and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz uses to debunk Pyne and the Abbott government’s delusions that such a move will bring better education: ‘A CRIME’. This is the sort of language we need to be using in our fight against neoliberalism. I note that these Liberal Party architects of this monstrous budget do not have an economist among them: Abbott, Hockey, Pyne, lawyers and sophists all. They have NO IDEA what they are doing. On the other hand, Stiglitz is in Canberra reporting from the heartland of free market America where it’s all gone horribly wrong, and is a bold and brilliant economist. Will they listen to him?
According to today’s Sydney Morning Herald, Stitglitz said: ‘Countries that imitate the American model are kidding themselves. It seems that some people here would like to emulate the American model. I don’t fully understand the logic.’ And he called the Australian education system ‘really a model for the rest of the world’ and said deregulating fees was a move in the wrong direction.
‘Trying to pretend that universities are like private markets is absurd,’ Stitglitz said. He called the American system ‘a way of closing off opportunity’ and said ‘While we in the US are trying to RE-REGULATE universities you are talking about deregulating them. It really is a crime.’
Stiglitz trashed the whole American free market model, the one the Abbott government is so desperate to instal in Australia. He said: ‘You have to say that the American market model has failed. It’s a very strong statement for someone who believes in a market economy.’
Some powerful words for the morning, to take into the day. I am realising more than ever that powerful words are what we need. So I cannot wait to read Naomi Klein’s new book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, due out this September.