Society can’t afford an uneducated underclass

“I don’t have any well-developed philosophy about journalism. Ultimately it is important in a society like this, so people can know about everything that goes wrong.”

“It does no harm just once in a while to acknowledge that the whole country isn’t in flames, that there are people in the country besides politicians, entertainers, and criminals. ”

“Since my retirement, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to help the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina. A society like this just can’t afford an uneducated underclass of citizens. ”

-Charles Kuralt

I believe all of these ideas are important when we think about the media. A democratic society does need journalists, and not simply entertainers, to tell the country what is going on, which means more than the spectacular. We need to know what is going wrong, and we need education as part of that.

Education & Journalism are key parts of a democratic society. Journalism does not need to be confined to print, and education does not need to be confined to schools. In our televised society the flames and celebrities attract our attention, the politician shout their importance, and the issues behind the flames and politicians are so often forgotten. The people that are affected are presented as victims of unexpected tragedies, but so often the only thing unexpected is which person is affected. We know there will be floods in California’s Central Valley, mudslides & fires through the Southern part of the states, fishermen will lose their jobs as stocks are depleted, and crops will fail as the droughts continue. Diseases will spread further & faster as insects find their viable lifespans and territories increase. These issues are so rarely dealt with in television journalism. How do we encourage the change?

The Road to Anarchy, or away from Westphalia

Not quite the apocalypse but Apple is not taking cash for iPhones anymore, which is another step away from the current state system. This is a move away from trust backed upon government reliability, and towards trust based on corporate reliability. Capital, and purchasing power, have rested in land, gold, silver, precious stones, salt, and government reliability. Now purchasing power is moving exclusively to trust in a credit card company.

Traditional states have rested on several concepts: sovereignty over land, monopoly on violence, and common currency. The rise of strong multinational organizations, whether it be for pure profit, or for common world goals is affecting the global balance of power. From changes to tax laws to draw large corporations to pressing leaders towards free trade agreements the global political situation is something that increasingly can be bought and sold.

Arthur C. Clarke said “CNN is one of the participants in the war. I have a fantasy where Ted Turner is elected president but refuses because he doesn’t want to give up power.” We had Wag the Dog about a president who starts a war to draw attention from a scandal, and discussions over the Clinton bombing in the Sudan (a chemical weapons plant, or a pharmaceutical plant?) but whether or not that is true, the media has indisputably had a large role in shaping the agenda of government for that last 25 years.

The removal of many of the traditional governing tools, responsibilities and powers is a step away from our idea of the western state. We aren’t moving directly to anarchy, but we are leaving the old rules by the wayside. Where will we go?