It was recently reported that Trump has recommended folding the Department of Education into the Department of Labor. While there is little information available about the reasoning behind this specific recommendation, the Department of Education’s own website provides some possible clue:
The Department’s History
Although the Department is a relative newcomer among Cabinet-level agencies, its origins goes back to 1867, when President Andrew Johnson signed legislation creating the first Department of Education. Its main purpose was to collect information and statistics about the nation’s schools. However, due to concern that the Department would exercise too much control over local schools, the new Department was demoted to an Office of Education in 1868.
In reading this brief history of the Department, I couldn’t help but think about the recent abuse with common core and wonder about the circumstances of its demotion way back in 1868. It’s likely a topic for further research, as I had not planned to write about my opinion of the Department itself.
Actually, what find curious is the recommendation to fold Education into Labor. If the Dept. of Education is to be demoted, it has to go somewhere, and perhaps to someone like Trump and most of the people in his cabinet, it makes sense to put in with Labor. Obviously, not everything has more than superficial meaning, and I am not trying to suggest this does. But the cynic on my left shoulder says it symbolizes the perception of what public schools really are, and somewhat of a confirmation of my criticism of the public education system here and here.
My thought is that if the Dept. of Education has to go somewhere rather than being abolished, Commerce is the place it should go. We are a capitalist society, and we need to teach capitalism in practice rather than churning out wage slaves by the millions who believe that capitalism is nothing more than a necessary evil and who lack the basic skills to make their own jobs when their lives DO depend on it. It would be nice to believe that the good economic policy fairy will appear out of nowhere, sometime in the near future, wave her wand, and just like magic the US starts churning out advantageous employment opportunities by the millions, and no one in the wage slave trade will ever have to worry about joblessness again as to render public assistance programs irrelevant. But I stopped believing in fairies quite a long time ago; and to hear the talk around the circles, we have too many jobs and the Fed really needs to do something about that… Lord. It’s as good now as it will ever be. Sad, but true.
Some may be wondering what this all has to do with Abraham Lincoln. There isn’t much of a material association as there is a symbolic one. US history used to be a quite a fixation. Even though I do read a lot, one of the first things I do when I get a new book that has glossy pages in the middle, is go over the photos. Thus it was not lost on me when Trump’s inauguration location, in a departure from modern norm, was in front of the Capitol building as was Lincoln’s, decorated with colors similar to the flag of 1861.
The man, Trump, has no humility at all, because it’s easy to make the inauguration look like Lincoln’s, but it is deeds that really mean something. And these tariffs, they mean something, but I am quite positive that they don’t mean anything that matches any intention Lincoln ever had. To people like Trump and his buddies, they have no clue what imports mean to people on the margins. You know that Walmart slogan, “Save Money. Live Better,” it actually means something to Walmart customers. They get things that are not quite as good, but they have something better, a better standard of living than otherwise. And these tariffs have the possibility of ripping those things right out of their hands. And I know for a fact that Lincoln, especially in the beginning of his political career was against policies that have this effect. Here is an excerpt from a speech he gave in 1838 about deflationary effects of the Sub-Treasury:
By the Sub-Treasury, the revenue is to be collected, and kept in iron boxes until the government wants it for disbursement; thus robbing the people of the use of it, while the government does not itself need it, and while the money is performing no nobler office than that of rusting in iron boxes. The natural effect of this change of policy, every one will see, is to reduce the quantity of money in circulation.
By this means, every office-holder, and other public creditor, may, and most likely will, set up shaver; and a most glorious harvest will the specie men have of it; each specie man, upon a fair division, having to his share, the fleecing of about 59 rag men. In all candor, let me ask, was such a system for benefiting the few at the expense of the many, ever before devised? And was the sacred name of Democracy, ever before made to endorse such an enormity against the rights of the people?
The general distress thus created, will, to be sure, be temporary, because whatever change may occur in the quantity of money in any community, time will adjust the derangement produced; but while that adjustment is progressing, all suffer more or less, and very many lose every thing that renders life desirable. Why, then, shall we suffer a severe difficulty, even though it be but temporary, unless we receive some equivalent for it?
And very many lose everything that renders life desirable…
Has anyone ever heard Trump speak about average people with such detail this way? I have not, and certainly not regarding his tariff policy. But I think that anyone who has put any serious thought into the matter understands what it means. Yet these are always the unheard voices because it’s too easy to hear Apple complain about their predicament of having voluntarily given away the horse, the barn and all tack in order to chase profit in China, and too inconvenient to hear these. Lincoln heard them. Trump is no Lincoln. Trump is Van Buren.