Contract on America: Educated need not apply

My jaw dropped when I saw the contents of the Repuglican party’s revamped, 2010 version of the 1994 Contract on America. For those too young or those who were politically asleep in 1994, the Contract With America was a 10 point policy shopping list of what the Republican Party planned to implement during the next Congress. It was a sweeping document that including smoky promises of “fiscal responsibility” (we know how that turned out), a bolstering of law enforcement initiatives aimed at incarcerating and killing African American men, and the cutting of welfare programs in order to discourage black women from having babies, all the while giving tax breaks to white land and business owners in the name of “economic development”. In short, it was angry white people speaking out, desperately hoping to hold on to power in a country suffering under the thumb of out of control, dangerous and parasitic minorities and educated, atheistic liberals trying to enforce their anti-Jesus, pro-gay agenda. Liberals who wished to turn America into a vice filled cesspool akin to the Biblical Sodom and Gommorah. In short, not much different than anything we have today.

In the new version, what we get are the typical talking points of tax breaks for white people and a reining in of government spending, an end to TARP payments, bigoted social points relating to “traditional marriage”, anti-woman “life” measures and a bizarre condition that all bills presented by Congress have a Constitutional seal of approval, as if that wasn’t already the job of the Supreme Court. Buried in the text of this FOX News inspired treatise, is a hiring freeze on all new non-security federal employees. While I am sure that the employees of the Virginia hardware store where this was unveiled are thinking that this means that the feds will stop hiring black people and mexicans to work on the highways, what it really means is that the brightest and most productive members of American society will, for the time being, not have the option of entering public service. For example, American public health students will no longer need to apply for jobs at the Center for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), USAID, or the NIAID .

Statisticians and trained scientists no longer need to bother applying to the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Agriculture, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Census Bureau, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US Department of Transportation, the Government Accountability Office or any other governmental agencies which help maintain and protect America’s infrastructure. Educated and experienced people who entered their respective academic fields in the hopes of entering the public sector and serving the greater good, need not look to the American government. Rather, they should get a job in the military, which is not such a bad gig but useless for domestic issues, or working the cash register at the local hardware store (not a bad gig, but a waste of a degree). It’s obvious that Republicans don’t believe that non-security agencies actually provide a worthwhile service. In fact, its pretty clear that they just don’t believe in government, which explains why they run it so badly.

The Republicans, while spewing talking points of economic development and tax breaks, have proven themselves over and over again to have incredible disdain for the educated. They, in their rhetoric, have done nothing less than vilify scientific research and knowledge. Only one of the Senate candidates believes that climate change is real. All of the new candidates spew excuses for blocking environmental policy as if they were experts, while not being able to digest even basic scientific thought. Note Rand Paul’s recent comparison of climate scientists to Osama Bin laden:

“Now Osama bin Laden had a quote yesterday. He’s says he’s after the climate change as well. It’s a bigger issue, we need to watch ‘em. Not only because it may or may not be true, but they’re making up their facts to fit their conclusions. They’ve already caught ‘em doing this.” [Rand Paul, 2/4/10]

Their new policies, while one the surface may appear to aim to cut spending and rein in debt, result in nothing more than closing the door on the educated, revealing yet another nail in the coffin for American science, hammered down by a dimwitted sector of the populace which would rather believe that humans rode dinosaurs and encourage large businesses to pollute than create a responsible and competitive society. Hiring freezes on services that the private sector can adequately provide may be in order, but the blanket wording of the Repug’s new Contract suggests grave implications in the shrinking of the American brain pool, arguably, our greatest resource. Note that all of the agencies I mentioned previously provide services that the private sector cannot responsibly perform. Blocking the hiring of young, talented, willing and qualified individuals from entering these important organizations will have implications that could extend for decades. Vote in November, someone’s job may count on it. Our future may count on it.

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About Pete Larson

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Nagasaki University Institute for Tropical Medicine

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