All posts by Joel Schlosberg

The Raw-Dealed Actor/Teacher Show

Photo by Keizers. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The Wall Street Journal now realizes that income inequality can be a source of social problems.

No, its famously pro-proprietor commentators haven’t signed up for union cards.  Two different editorials in the August 28 opinion pages come not to praise labor organizing but to bury it, whether it’s South American schoolteachers whose policies “put unions above children” according to Mary Anastasia O’Grady in “Socialism Sinks Venezuela’s Schools,” or Sacramento screenwriters hitting up California for what an unsigned editorial dubs “Jobless Benefits for Susan Sarandon.”

What stands out is the unlikelihood of suddenly developing a tender concern for workers in fields without Sarandon-style stars to draw attention to their cause during the most contentious film industry strike in decades (followed closely by O’Grady decrying the use of schoolchildren as “a good prop for communists” while capitalists are equally happy to use a captive audience to prop up their own profits). Sarandon and actors struggling from a lack of comparable name recognition have more clout joining together. Meanwhile, loyal audiences perennially show up for Sarandon vehicles like The Rocky Horror Picture Show or Thelma & Louise precisely because they get more than a movie ticket’s face value out of them.

More insidious is the Journal‘s implication that pro-strike partisans are only “now seeking to put their thumb on the bargaining scale” after the “level playing field for unions and management” put in place by the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947.  In fact, as Murray Rothbard has observed, “it was the Taft-Hartley Act” itself that was responsible for “taming as well as privileging” unions and leading them “into the cozy junior partnership with Big Business and Big Government that we know so well today.”

The Journal views subsidies for strikers as inadvertently providing “even more incentive to use artificial intelligence to replace workers” than the course of technological progress resisted by flesh-and-blood thespians.  Yet it was cybernetician Stafford Beer, in the aftermath of his efforts to build a participatory computerized economy for leftist leader Salvador Allende in Chile, who foresaw moving past “the cultural myths that all technology is dehumanizing.”

Beer asked why “we shall prefer to sit a hundred pupils uncomfortably in front of a human teacher who hopes he understands relativity … than to give the individual pupil access to videotape recordings which he can replay to his hearts content, of Albert Einstein — who could be as lucid as the day.”

Half a century after Beer noted that “a computer can be interrogated, explored, used, continuously and in different ways by a few hundred pupils at once,” devices orders of magnitude more powerful are still being misused to “condition the pupil to give the right (in quotes) answers to a set of trivial questions.” O’Grady dictates that Southern-hemisphere socialists “track students” and “administer standardized tests.” Yet as Beer hoped, “the machine could be used as a real liberator” at a truly free, and thus fair, bargaining table.

New Yorker Joel Schlosberg is a senior news analyst at The William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.


  1. “OPINION: The raw-dealed actor/teacher show” by Joel Schlosberg, The Richmond Observer [Rockingham, North Carolina] September 5, 2023
  2. “The Raw-Dealed Actor/Teacher Show” by Joel Schlosberg, CounterPunch, September 7, 2023
  3. “The Raw-Dealed Actor/Teacher Show” by Joel Schlosberg, The Newton Kansan, September 8, 2023

Kennedy: For Free or Not For Free?

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (right), before he was the family outcast. Public domain.

“RFK Jr., You’re No JFK” proclaims John Turres in The Wetumpka Herald (August 1). Although “early on, Kennedy was getting a lot of attention and even support, because, well, he’s a Kennedy, and that’s what the family label gets,” Turres doubts that the halo effect will last as Democratic voters find out more about how Robert Francis Kennedy Jr. substantially differs from his uncle John Fitzgerald Kennedy — and, for that matter, Robert F. Kennedy père.

The “Kennedy for me” of JFK’s campaign promised to be “not so doggoned seasoned that he won’t try something new.” In the current decade, new (or even lightly used) tricks are viewed as a menace to the gerontocratic order. As Andy Page noted in a 2021 letter to The Wall Street Journal, few Democrats would still join JFK in championing “the mobility and flow of risk capital from static to more dynamic situations.”

Even radical leftists chide the 69-year-old junior Kennedy’s lack of enthusiasm for reviving similarly senior-citizen-aged programs. Current Affairs magazine’s Lily Sánchez and Nathan J. Robinson berate RFK Jr. for substituting a “delusional faith in the free market” for a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and “the general policies of social uplift that progressives support.”

Sánchez and Robinson consider RFK Jr.’s description of the economy as combining “a cushy socialism for the rich and this kind of brutal, merciless capitalism for the poor” a too-little-too-late “mimic[ry of Bernie] Sanders’ language of class antagonism.” They should know better, since they are aware that such “language of the populist outsider” draws from Noam Chomsky — who has traced his own view that “the state is there to provide security and support to the interests of the privileged and powerful sectors in society while the rest of the population is left to experience the brutal reality of capitalism” back to Adam Smith. It was the precedent of “bourgeois economists” who shared Smith’s laissez-faire convictions that led Karl Marx to acknowledge in an 1852 letter that “I do not claim to have discovered either the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them.”

Sánchez and Robinson view “the profit motive of the pharmaceutical, health insurance, and other related industries” as the root of their dysfunction — when in fact it is their scrupulous restraint of trade that enables them to reap revenue while ill-serving the public. (RFK Jr.’s claim that “some corporations don’t want free markets … they want profits” actually underestimates how antagonistic market competition is to corporate profit.) Rediscovering how class privilege springs from political power would do more to undermine it than dusting off FDR’s New Deal — or JFK’s New Frontier.

New Yorker Joel Schlosberg is a senior news analyst at The William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.


  1. “Kennedy: For free or not for free?” by Joel Schlosberg, The Wilson, North Carolina Times, August 3, 2023
  2. Kennedy: For free or not for free?” by Joel Schlosberg, The Enterprise [Williamston, North Carolina], August 3, 2023
  3. Kennedy: For free or not for free?” by Joel Schlosberg, The Johnstonian News [Smithfield, North Carolina], August 3, 2023
  4. Kennedy: For free or not for free?” by Joel Schlosberg, The Butner-Creedmoor News [Creedmoor, North Carolina], August 3, 2023
  5. “Kennedy: For free or not for free?” by Joel Schlosberg, The Wake Weekly [Wake Forest, North Carolina], August 3, 2023
  6. “Kennedy: For free or not for free?” by Joel Schlosberg, Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman [Wasilla, Alaska], August 3, 2023
  7. Kennedy: For Free or Not For Free?” by Joel Schlosberg, Newton, Iowa Daily News, August 8, 2023
  8. “Kennedy: For Free or Not For Free?” by Joel Schlosberg, The News [Kingstree, South Carolina], August 9, 2023

Never Too Late to Call College a Scam

Student loan debt has risen steadily in the years since Barbara Ehrenreich saw that its “‘return on investment’ isn’t looking that good” in 2006. Public domain.

By the time that the United States Supreme Court decided Joseph R. Biden, President of the United States, et al. v. Nebraska, et al. on June 30, it was no longer surprising that a majority Republican Court would side against a Democratic administration in opposing broad executive power to forgive student debt — even if the supposed presidential authority for doing so ultimately descended from a claim by George W. Bush in 2002.

It wasn’t the “‘U.S. Does Whatever It Wants’ plan, which would have permitted the U.S. to take any action it wished anywhere in the world at any time” as explained in The Onion‘s satire.

These days, Democrats are the ones eager to interpret the Higher Education Relief Opportunities For Students (HEROES) Act as granting carte blanche over American campuses, while Republicans like Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett observe that “an instruction to ‘pick up dessert’ is not permission to buy a four-tier wedding cake.”

Initial support for the HEROES Act was bipartisan, so it might seem that the parties of plutocrats and educrats merely drifted back toward their default settings.

Biden frames his case as “providing relief to millions of hard-working Americans” rather than “billions in pandemic-related loans to businesses.” He doesn’t mention It’s a Wonderful Life, but clearly aims to evoke something like the real-life equivalent of the cinematic Bailey Bros. Building & Loan Association lending a hand to the little guys instead of fat-cat Scrooges like “Henry F. Potter, the richest and meanest man in the county.”

Yet just as George Bailey paying him off further enriches Mr. Potter (whose comeuppance had to wait for a 1986 Saturday Night Live skit), subsidized student loans prop up the ever-rising costs that make taking on debt a commonplace prerequisite for college attendance in the first place.

Addressing her nephew’s graduating class of 2006, Barbara Ehrenreich wrote that “it’s too soon to call college a scam, and as long as they teach a few truly enlightening things, like history and number theory, I won’t.”

Half a century earlier, Howard Zinn avoided taking Richard Hofstadter’s history classes at Columbia University after “hearing consistently that Hofstadter was not a particularly good teacher because he was so focused on his writing” (in the words of Zinn biographer Davis Joyce), but was deeply influenced by Hofstadter’s books, especially The American Political Tradition. Aspiring historians can order a copy online for less than 0.1% of the five-figure cost of annual tuition, the postgrad usefulness of which Ehrenreich notes may be confined to knowing how to “pronounce the day’s specials” while waiting tables.

As Dana Carvey’s Bailey asked, “What are we waiting for?”

New Yorker Joel Schlosberg is a senior news analyst at The William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.


  1. “Never too late to call college a scam” by Joel Schlosberg, Wahpeton, North Dakota Daily News, July 3, 2023
  2. “Never too late to call college a scam” by Joel Schlosberg, The Enterprise [Wilson, North Carolina], July 10, 2023
  3. “Never Too Late to Call College a Scam” by Joel Schlosberg, Carolina Panorama [Columbia, South Carolina], July 19, 2023
  4. “Opinion: Never too late to call college a scam” by Joel Schlosberg, Newton, Iowa Daily News, July 25, 2023