I’m not often surprised by what I see on political-argument TV, but this odd, sinister promo from MSNBC talker Melissa Harris-Perry surprised me. It’s a call for parents to cede more of their authority over the children to the state. Here is what Harris-Perry says:
“We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had a private notion of children, your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children. So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s we start making better investments.”
“We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.” That’s kind of creepy. I wonder if Harris-Perry has ever moved away from the faculty, or MSNBC lounges and encountered a mother or papa “bear” who doesn’t regard parenthood as a “private idea” and feels he or she ought to be first in line when it comes to their “cubs’” welfare.
Harris-Perry is also wrong on dissing our investments in public education. As this OECD report shows, our investments in education compare well with the rest of the world. From the report “… the U.S. spends 7.3% of its GDP on all levels of education combined. This is well above the OECD average (6.2%), and more than all other OECD countries except Denmark (7.9%), Iceland (8.1%), Korea (8.0%) and New Zealand (7.4%) … Across all levels of education, annual per-student spending by educational institutions in the U.S. is higher than in any other country.”
Matt Lewis, writing for The Week magazine, has pointed out the unfortunate connection between Harris-Perry’s promo to this passage to George Orwell’s dystopian novel, “1984:”
“The family could not actually be abolished, and, indeed, people were encouraged to be fond of their children, in almost the old-fashioned way. The children, on the other hand, were systematically turned against their parents and taught to spy on them and report their deviations. The family had become in effect an extension of the Thought Police. It was a device by means of which everyone could be surrounded night and day by informers who knew him intimately.”
To me, Harris-Perry’s cheerless rant is more reminding of the dreary Obama campaign ad, “The Life of Julia,” where the president’s campaign team pitched the state as the primary supporter of a woman throughout her life. I don’t think Harris-Perry intends sinister motives. She merely underscores MSNBC’s role as the cheerleader behind the Democratic Party’s tilt toward more collective, statist policies. I find it very interesting that this promo, which must have gone through several reviews and approvals at the news network, made it through to the airwaves without objections.