Thursday, December 01, 2005

The New American Plebians: A letter to the Southern Illinois U. Newspaper, the "Daily Egyptian"

Dear Daily Egyptian Editor:

Thank you and congratulations for the editorial about decreased federal support for higher education ("Our Word,"Nov. 29). [1]

As you point out, the expensive Iraq War and tax cuts for millionaires are a big factor in this. But you only scratch the surface of what is going on. I'd like to point out just one (of many) profound consequences of our increased militarization and wealth concentration.

As funding for higher education continues to drop, at both federal and state levels, it's more and more difficult for people of modest means to attend college. That leaves the military as virtually their only alternative. And so we have the further entrenchment of a class system. The lower class of ethnic minorities and poor whites increasingly has the job of killing and dying in foreign lands for the further enrichment of the most affluent class -- the CEOs and large stockholders of the oil and "defense" industry. The middle class does not share much of the wealth, but they do get to dodge out of the fighting, and are thus encouraged not to worry much about it.

It's a neat little system, unless you're in that lower, military class, whom we might call the Plebians. That's what they called them during the Roman Empire, which, you might recall, collapsed under the weight of corruption at the top and the high cost of trying to dominate the world.

Jim Glover
202 N. Parrish Lane
Carbondale, IL 62901