January 04, 2007

Civil Liberty and the Culture of Envy

Blogs are educational, most of all for those who do them.

What little research I did for the Dumb, dumber, American conservative entry lead me to some interesting related issues.

Like any opinionated diehard, I am glad when my presumptions prove to be in line with reality and didn't I always say that we are living in a jealousy-ridden society? And that German egalitarianism has little to do with high-minded ideals, but is nothing but sheer, yellow-eyed jealousy?

Let's see what the Goethe-Institute, vanguard and flagship of German culture worldwide, has to say about private schools in Germany. The same Goethe-Institut, mind you, whose Damascus office's director (a Protestant pastor, which makes him automatically an expert of anything good and noble and certainly of Middle East affairs) dubbed Palestinian Arab terrorists "freedom fighters" and was, after much soul-searching, punished by a transfer to India, presumably because it's safely Jew-free and would thus curb the cleric's selective liberation-geared ardour. (Blogging IS educational: I had a look at the Damaskus office's website and was seriously amused to find that a concert is scheduled there for January 14, featuring Robert Schumann's Liederzyklus "Dichterliebe". I wonder how many of the Damasceans will enjoy the scoring of the Jew Heinrich Heine's poems.)

Amusing too, is the information that the engagement of Arab women within the job market is less frequent than in other countries worldwide and the related question: "What do you think are the main reasons for the under-representation of women within the job market and specifically in top-positions? How can the career-opportunities in your country be improved in your country/region?" What about: By getting rid of that medieval, misogynist death-cult called "Islam"?

But I digress. Back to Goethe and private schools.

Here, we are informed about how the umbrella association for private schools in Germany, Verband der deutschen Privatschulen see things and that the whopping long period of three years during which they have to prove that their concept has merit (SUCH audacity!) doesn't make it easy to start a private school. That passed, (listen well!) the state is funding 2/3 (TWO THIRDS!) of the costs.
To overcome this initial "dry spell" means for the private supporting organisation a considerable financial risk.
Yes. To finance a "private" school for three years to get then TWO THIRDS of the funds back from the state may be a "considerable financial risk" -- but only in the mind of a German freeloader with an irrevocable job contract and about 12 weeks paid leave. They are called "teachers" here.

Goethe's followers inform as as welll -- and can't quite help showing a certain smugness about it -- that the fact that grading the entrance of students by their parents' means is "not allowed" (nicht zulässig) in Germany and that private schools that perform such acts of blatant injustice may not be licensed. And indeed, the German Grundgesetz (Basic Constitutional Law) Article 7, paragraph 4 states just that. Now there were and are high-powered lawyers behind the Grundgesetz and I wonder whether it ever occurred to any of them that this law clashes with an important basic principle of a free society, namely the freedom of contract. If yes, they must have kept it safely to themselves.

Of course, not all private schools cost the same. The state only provides for the basic service state schools offer. Additional services and performances, like, for example, sport- or music lessons or full-time education, cost extra, which creates a nice little conflict, because the creation and accumulation of wealth is considered a dirty thing and must not be in any way related to anything as high-minded and "idealist" as education.

So, in one of those moves of eating the cake AND keeping it that Germans have developed into an art form, noble-looking politically correct egalitarian zeal officially overrides basic freedom rights. However, reality only too often overrides political correctness, and because we can not admit that, Goethe informs us:
Dass die Anzahl der Kinder, die aus reicheren Verhältnissen stammen, an Privatschulen überwiegt, hängt aber offenbar nicht primär mit den finanziellen Möglichkeiten der Eltern zusammen, sondern eher mit deren höherem Bildungsstand: Sie machen sich mehr Gedanken darüber, an welcher Schule ihre Kinder am besten aufgehoben sind.

The fact that the majority of children who are attending private schools come from a rich background is not primarily related to the financial possibilities of the parents, but rather with the latter's higher level of education. They are more concerned about, which school will take care best of their children.
Yeah, right. Of course, all those many illiterate millionaires are letting their children piggin' it at the local comprehensive, whereas most of the taxi-driving, jobless academics are sending their children to private schools. Everything not to admit that something as filthy as wealth might have anything to do with education!

The German culture of envy at its finest.

And that's what they call "idealism" here.