Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Academia and Politics

Aside from the other ills about academia that I have catalogued ad nausiem in previous posts is the surprising myopia that many academics seem to have.  It's almost like having to do all of the (what seems to me to be pointless) work, politics (kowtowing to senior faculty, especially those on your dissertation committee), addtional coursework and research kind of leeches any sense of the wider world from them.  Plus, once they reach their goal of a PhD, from what I've noticed firsthand, they develop a sense of entitlement and arrogance that I think comes from the long-term intiatory process that they've undergone.  In many ways they become as insular as monks in a monastery at the top of a mountain.

So, what we have now in our government's leadership are a bunch of folks with Ivy League educations, many with higher degrees that have a myopic, entitled, and arrogant/'I am educated therefore I know best' view of the world.  They've gone from one insular social situation into another, that of Washington DC.  Many of them have not held any jobs outside of either academia or government--they've never been exposed to the issues that they are trying to change--How on earth can any good come of this??   The people that DO have the real-world experience lack the inherent nastiness and knowledge of in-fighting that the others have from their extended time in academe, so they get pushed aside or shouted down much like the former global warming 'skeptics/dissenters'.

I do think that one way to combat this would be to ensure that more time is spent by our elected officials at home, rather than in Washington.  I've said before that they get assimilated into that culture and since they then do not have any direct contact with their constiuencies (like going to the grocery store, restaurants, etc. and listening to what regular folks are discussing) they lose touch.  It's amazing how Ben Nelson's attitude changed when he was booed out of his local pizza joint--it really was, I think, his first inkling that what he did was widely perceived as wrong by the folks at home--I'm sure that in Washington he was assured that he was doing his best for his constituency etc.  Only by having direct contact with the folks at home, the folks that elected them, will the insular ideological walls be broken.

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