Chapter Twenty-Seven: The Business Model

The business model was taking over everywhere. It was a part of the free market gospel of neoliberalism since the 1980s. It had taken a while for the privatization mania in the schools and universities to take hold, but now that it had, it was going great guns. What country or system could resist it? It was, of course, driven by none other than that global corporate leader, the United States of America.

This was the fallout from the Chicago School of Economics. Everything, all of human behavior, could be understood in terms of neoclassical economic logic according to Anthony Downs. Then Gary Becker came up with the idea of human capital. Education was just a capital investment, like investing in any other commodity. One could then measure the rate of return on the investment. The idea of knowledge for the sake of knowledge aside from productivity was considered an old fashioned concept and out of date.

Whatever happened in America, it seemed, had to be taken up in other countries even if it was bad. Especially if it was bad. From the observation of Singer, the worse the innovation, the more damaging, the sooner other countries would latch onto it. This was especially true of those countries that were known as the big emerging markets. This was where crony capitalism was flourishing and demonstrating its economic horsepower.

Singer found that especially those countries that tended to hate the outside, particularly the West, took up the worst innovations of America in the shortest time. This was especially true of countries ruled by a religious party. This was most certainly driven by their material interests to make money and get as rich as possible in the shortest possible time. They were going head over heels for crony capitalism. The most eager in this regard were the religious parties once they got a taste of power. Intuitively, one might have thought just the opposite, but this was not the case. They stuck like a magnet to the Great Satan, the American dollar bill.

In America the private corporations were itching to get their hands on the schools. They were a gold-mine for profits. They were going to mine them, and the students’ brains and souls once they got them McDonaldized. It was generally believed that the public schools were largely a failure and failing more all the time. Once this image was consolidated among the public, through the corporate media, then they could be closed down and education forked over to private corporations. They would be given contracts to run the schools. It didn’t matter whether the students learned anything or not. The idea would be to produce and groom individuals to serve the needs of the corporations. Actually the corporations had found a way to make sure that they did not learn the critical facts that a citizen should know. It would just be a simple trick for the corporations to dress things up to make it look like they were doing a great job and something that the public sector could not do. All they had to do was to teach them how to pass the tests. It would just be another exercise in corporate hype.

Ironically, the corporations were largely to blame for starving the schools of the funds which they needed. With their off shore tax havens, they had long ago stopped paying taxes. More and more of the burden of education was put on the backs of the people. As private schools got to be established people realized that they were ruining the lives of their children by keeping them in the public schools.

The corporations pushed hard for the voucher system. This was a tricky way to get people’s tax money out of the public schools and into the hands of the private sector. Students going to private schools would get their tax money back in the form of a voucher and spend it at a private school. Of course, they had to pay more than they got for the voucher. Private schools cost more so they had to pay the balance. Of course, this just brought the public schools down that much faster. This was part of the plan.

It was similar to the way the manufacturing sectors of the economy had been destroyed in the seventies. Now the corporations were going after the schools too. If tearing down a country was profitable, then it would most certainly be torn down.

Regardless of how bad the model was, it started to be spread around the world. Corporations had huge reserves of cash. If they sank some of it into creating a university, there was nothing to lose. It would raise the visibility of the business enterprise. It would be billed as a non-profit enterprise, even as it generated huge incomes for those who were running the institution. The profits could always be disguised as costs to keep up the non-profit image.

Since the 1990s, private universities had sprung up like mushrooms all across Aslanistan. It was one of the leading countries for this enterprise.

It was realized that in the existing world, a young person was sunk without a university degree. This is not to say education. Whether they were educated or not, they had to obtain a university degree one way or another. The old state universities were of a mixed quality. Some were good, but most quite mediocre. They were anti-intellectual and conservative teaching a list of courses set up by the educational bureaucracy, CRAP.

Every year, examinations were given, but thousands were not good enough to pass to get a place in these universities. Now with more families coming into the middle classes and having money, then the vogue became to simply buy a degree in one of the private degree mill institutions. That was the ticket.

At first it was done in Chaos, with students going there who were left out. But in a decade or so, so many private universities came up in Aslanistan that the universities in Chaos were begging and crying for students. A supply had to be mined from somewhere. It was like looking for copper or gold. Once the supply was found, it would be mined and processed and the universities would stay in business.

What they found in this case, the gold they found was black gold, that is students from Nigeria. They began to import them en masse. Since it was not a part of the European Union, it was easier. All they really needed was cash in the form of Euros or dollars.

On the island there was much more flexibility. While there were laws, they were relatively meaningless and could not be reinforced, in any event. So the model was underway. They were laughing all the way to the bank. If a student complained too much, they could simply be deported back to Nigeria. They might try to make the leap over the wall to Europe. This would be the big prize, but this was a difficult task to achieve.

In the business model, the maximum had to be squeezed out of the employees, just as in an outfit such as McDonalds or Burger King. This meant hiring the least qualified employees. It meant loading them up with so many courses that they were going out of their minds trying to remember what they were supposed to be teaching in each class. It meant crowding together into cramped offices. It meant not giving them their own computer. It meant not subsidizing any research. It meant not providing any money to go to conferences for contacts with other academics and self- improvement. It meant basically ignoring them and their needs as academics. They should not interfere in the operation. It meant chaining them to a desk like a bureaucrat from nine to five, thereby killing any brain cells which might still be alive. This would kill all their creativity and prevent them from thinking as much as possible. It was a variety of incarceration, a slow death, which would set in permanently if they stayed in the position. It meant that there would be no faculty representation. If they raised a problem at a meeting, then they would be told that there was nothing that could be done about it. Certainly not in the business model which looked to the bottom line.

There would also be no student organizations in order for the students to be represented. Except for a few token projects organized and controlled by above by the corporate honchos for window-dressing. There would be no input from the students. There would be no way for the employees to address working conditions or labor issues. Any kind of such attempt to address such issues was grounds to get one fired at once. Even when they were being cheated out of half of their retirement, they were so intimidated that they were afraid to raise the issue. They expected to be sacked if they did. There were no medical benefits to be paid. They were given short-term contracts which meant that they were paid only for the days they worked and not during annual leave. Employees would generally be churned over as at McDonalds, but if they stayed long enough to get advancement, it would just mean that they got stuck on the island. The rank would be useless and disregarded if they went elsewhere. It also meant that they would be isolated with a lack of research facilities.

The business model was not about education, but corporate profits.