New Essay at The Daily Beast: Richard Hofstadter and America’s New Wave of Anti-Intellectualism

Twenty-first century philistines, suffering from a lack of imagination and curiosity, have seized upon understandable economic anxieties since the financial crash of 2008, to shepherd an increasingly large flock of American sheep into the livestock freight carrier Pulitzer prize winning historian, Richard Hofstadter, called “anti-intellectualism.

Anti-Intellectualism in American Life—one of Hofstadter’s best, among many great books – was a pile of dynamite in 1963, when it was first published and blew a sizable hole in the house of America’s self-comforting delusions of intellectual superiority. In 2014, one can only hope that some of its initial blast still reverberates, as media commentators, university administrators, and even the President, have exposed themselves as adherents to what Hofstadter indicted as the “lowest common denominator criterion” of thought and “technician conformity” of lifestyle. Suspicion, and often outright hatred, of ideas is making American culture as riveting as oatmeal. By reading Hofstadter, one learns that the resurgence of a new anti-intellectualism isn’t new, at all. In fact, Hofstadter identified the particularly poisonous strain of the virus that now infects the American mind and kills the imagination.

Read the rest at the Daily Beast.

New Essay for The Indianapolis Star – The Reason Behind the Cost of Higher Education and The Fight Against It

The Indianapolis Star has run my new essay on the reasons behind the absurd and paralytic costs of higher education. In the op-ed piece, I indict and condemn the venal, corrupt, and cruel system of higher education in America, calling it a “lucrative playground for tenured faculty, many of whom make well over $100,000 per year for teaching two or three courses a semester, and administration, whose mysterious duties and invisible tasks earn some of them annual salaries over $200,000.”

As I explain in the article, multiple studies have connected “administrative bloat” with the exorbitant increases in college tuition. University employees are enriching themselves, while they scam students and their families, and pay adjunct instructors miserly wages for carrying the same work loads as their tenured peers. They pull off the heist all while congratulating themselves for advocating “social justice,” “diversity”, and “multiculturalism.”

The cost of higher education leaves countless young people paying off heavy debts for their entire lives. It has become one of the most important factors in the lives of millions of Americans, yet no major political figure or media commentator tackles the problem. Mitch Daniels, former governor of Indiana and current president of Purdue, has broken the trend of complacency, by announcing a tuition freeze and promising to cut the Purdue budget by $40 million. My article summarizes the situation and places the issue in its proper context. I call the Daniels story one of the most important in America.

bildeOn an interesting side note, I pitched the story to several other major publications – news and culture magazines, left wing websites, and right wing websites – but everyone passed. I’d like to thank The Star for its courage in spotlighting the story. It seems that issue of student debt is not yet on the nation’s radar. To put it simply, most people don’t care, but when the student loan bubble pops, everyone will be wondering what happened and why no one tried to stop it. The bleak outlook of the future is why Daniels’ new crusade is so important.