Pope groups blames Obama victory on university system

No, we are not making this up. The following is an excerpt from a fundraising email sent out this morning by the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy (better known as the Pope Center to Dismantle Higher Education):

“While we congratulate the president on his victory, conservatives are asking themselves why he won. One reason is our universities. 

For years they have failed to give undergraduates an understanding of markets, the role of free enterprise, and the problems of a highly redistributive state. Obama himself lacks that appreciation, which is part of why our economic slump continues. 

The Pope Center is dedicated to restoring balance to our colleges and universities. We expose misguided, one-sided courses that attack capitalism and we help students on campus see other aspects of important issues in U.S. history. We encourage universities to teach analytical skills that citizens need. Step by step, we are showing how to bring change to our universities. 

Your gift is needed to advance our work! Please give $50, $100, or more to the Pope Center. You can donate easily at popecenter.org/support. Or send your check to the address below.” 


  1. Darlene Burns

    November 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    When I read that the first thought that I had was it sounds like it is straight out of the ALEC / Koch brothers playbook! I certainly hope they don’t succeed in their plan.

  2. Andrew Ray Gorman

    November 7, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Are they kidding? The econ courses at most universities are basically capitalism appreciation crash courses, which I’m sure has NOTHING to do with the money they pump into universities. They also act as if the only perspective in economics is the Neoclassical view, and even then they only promote the subset of that, being Austrian economics.

    There are other perspectives. For instance, I would argue that there is no such thing as a free market, and that these big money advocates of this concept just want to reduce market participation to a relative few.

    I have no problem with universities teaching the neoclassical view, but they need to teach other views, like the classical and marxian views. Whether or not one is more “right” is up to what the individual personally believes.

  3. Jack

    November 7, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    The Republicans have a never ending list of what is wrong with America. Not that we should ignore what is wrong in the country but to blame their lost on Tuesday on anything other than an the lack of an effective campaign is something all together different.

    It’s okay to be sore loser but to place the blame on others because you didn’t meet the challenge is more than being a sore loser – it’s being a loser period.

  4. david esmay

    November 7, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    People like Pope and the Koch brothers aren’t interested in capitalism, what they are interested in, is influencing business schools into teaching corporatism and calling it capitalism. They want to fundamentally change how we as a country view, and how education teaches established tenets of capitalism. They want schools to produce obedient corporate cogs to fill their machines.

  5. jlp75

    November 7, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    I agree David. This is just a ploy to channel the anger of Romney voters into support for his brand of education “reform”. This guy is a stain on our state.

  6. Frank Burns

    November 7, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Jack, Pardon the GOP for trying to fix problems instead of falsely demonizing their opponent to each special interest group.

  7. david esmay

    November 8, 2012 at 8:25 am

    The GOP solution has, and will always be tax cuts for the rich. And when debt and deficits explode, they will always blame education and the poor. It’s the party of personal irresponsibility. Other than giving wealthy people more, what solutions have they proposed? None. Hell they propose cuts and then back away from their own proposals. Does anyone remember the crap Eric Cantor pulled during the last GOP manufactured crisis?

  8. Ethan Tillman

    November 8, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Wouldn’t promoting capitalism only education be an example of “one-sided courses” considering capitalism isn’t the only economic theory in the field?
    -I feel that I have to preface this by saying that I’m not anti-capitalist, but why should that matter to the response of my question?

  9. david esmay

    November 8, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Ethan, you are correct, but critical thinking doesn’t exist in the neo-con bubble floating in the conservative fever swamp.

  10. Frank Burns

    November 8, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    I think what he is saying those majors that are not needed in the market place need to be de emphasized and those funds shifted to focus on majors that the market needs. It makes sense.

  11. Lex

    November 8, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Frank Burns: No, it does NOT make sense. Not even CLOSE. What makes sense, in a marketplace in which people are likely to have five of six different careers between the ages of 22 and 70, is to give them a college education that will enable them to learn well enough, quickly enough to adapt to change, to learn new skills quickly, and to communicate clearly.

    For most of the last decade I’ve held Internet-related jobs that didn’t even exist when I graduated from college in 1982. And I did well enough in them to get written about in trade magazines and national newspapers. Why? Because I work hard and because the education I got 30 years ago made it very easy for me to learn new skills, conceptualize things in new ways and solve problems.

    That, by the way, is exactly the kind of education Art Pope does NOT want North Carolinians to have, because along with it come the kind of critical thinking skills that eventually lead one to discern the many flaws in his thinking and the sense of civic obligation that leads one to speak out on them.

    Pat McCrory may or may not be a moderate at heart, but if he even wants to be re-elected in 2016, let alone seek higher office down the road, he’s going to sign every damnfool piece of legislation the General Assembly teabaggers send him because he knows that if he doesn’t, he’ll be primaried from the right. And Art Pope is there to make sure he never forgets it.

  12. Frank Burns

    November 8, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    If the public is being asked to help fund your education then the public has the right to allocate those funds to majors that are in demand. If you want to major in basket weaving, fine but don’t expect the public to help. It may be necessary to reduce funding to the 4 year colleges to community colleges. Demands of the market should be our guide.

  13. Lex

    November 8, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    And, Frank, what you don’t seem to get is that “the demands of the market” are not the same as the demands of Art Pope and ALEC. They’re focusing on whether you can get that first job out of school and then be a compliant corporate drone the rest of your life. Most of the rest of us — and by God, we pay taxes, too — are focusing on education for a lifetime of multiple careers, because THAT is the real “demand of the market.”

    I’ve worked in a handful of fields in the last 35 years, including more than a dozen years as a recruiting, hiring and training manager, and in every one of them the people who tended to make it to the top were the ones who had vision, critical thinking skills, analytical skills, problem-solving skills and communication skills. And you know where the best place to get those is? A rigorous undergraduate liberal arts curriculum. If there’s a better investment for state tax dollars, besides perinatal care and pre-K education, no one has found it yet, and if there’s a better economic development tool AT ALL to spend state tax dollars on, no one has found that yet, either.

    Art Pope has an agenda, and it is not to promote the general welfare and improve the economy. Because if he thinks that focusing undergraduate curriculum on getting students their first job right out of college is the most effective and efficient way to do that, he’s either crazy or stupid. And I choose to pay him the respect of believing that he is neither.

  14. Steve Hutton

    November 8, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Considering the election success of Republicans and conservatives in NC, the Pope Center can’t very well complain that the UNC system is obstructing free enterprise. Perhaps now the Pope Center can focus its attention and efforts on “fixing” Berkeley, Michigan, Columbia, etc.

  15. Frank Burns

    November 9, 2012 at 5:35 am

    Lex, The costs for a 4 year college have been spiraling out of control. Why is that? Are we paying the professors too much? Is there more overhead than is necessary? Is it fair to keep going to the well of the NC taxpayer to provide funding regardless of cost? How would you suggest we handle the continued public funding? Don’t you think it wise to establish a criteria? Or do you think we should never question their funding requests and just give them whatever they want and damn the taxpayer, full speed ahead? There is no open checkbook and therefore a criteria is needed to allocate limited state funds. If you don’t like the idea of using market forces to set that criteria, have you got a suggestion? I’m sure they would be receptive to considering it. As a taxpayer, I will be looking at them like a hawk making sure they don’t raise my taxes.

  16. Lex

    November 9, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Frank, the issue of higher-ed finances has different answers depending on the type of school, and that’s true even within the UNC system, let alone private nonprofit and for-profit schools. But I noticed how neatly you dodged my point about the purpose of a college education.

    Moreover, even since the Great Recession, a college education provides a better return on investment over an average lifetime than anything else you can do with that money during the same period — real estate, stocks, bonds, oil,. gold. Have you considered that in your conception of how market forces work?

    Finally, you ask, “Is it fair to keep going to the well of the NC taxpayer to provide funding regardless of cost?” The question is moot: It’s the law. Article IX, Section 9 of the North Carolina Constitution states: “The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.” No one seriously argues that that means every citizen who wants one gets an absolutely free education at a UNC campus, but it does mean that providing affordable higher ed to its citizens is a responsibility that the state has taken very seriously for a long time. I’m always tickled at how many college-bashers have never read that provision.

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