Mackinac Center spreading conspiracy theories about conspiracy theories

You have to hand it to Michael Van Beek. As the Mackinac Center’s “Director of Education Policy” he has a pretty kewl job. He works in a truth casual environment with the likes of Henry Payne and Manny Lopez. He gets to write whatever he wants and use his own articles as supporting evidence. He is probably paid very well and I bet he’s enjoyed more than one scotch and cigar. And his only requirement for this job is that he swear to tell the truth and then lie every day. I’m not saying the lies come easy. Heck, Michael has to lie about today, lie about tomorrow, and lie about what lied about yesterday. That’s got to wear ya down. Still, good work if you are a liar and you want to get paid for what you do best.

This time Van Beek is offering his valuable opinion on this mlive article:

Gov. Rick Snyder is more hostile to K-12 education than former Gov. John Engler, Kalamazoo County school officials say

… “At least Engler kept the funding going,” said Tim Vagts, superintendent of Galesburg-Augusta Community Schools. “Snyder is choking us out. He talks about colloboration, but he’s not collaborating at all.

The assertion that Snyder is more hostile than Engler is factually correct, if you consider drastic funding cuts and frontal assaults on the institution of organized labor to be “hostility.” Most reasonable people who do not have an ideology based hatred for labor would consider this to be hostile. Those on the right who do have a hatred for labor would not call it “hostility,” preferring instead to call it “screw you we’re in charge.” You see the difference.

In an article on the Mackinac Center site Capitol Confidential, Van Beek labels the concerns of Snyder’s critics as “conspiracy theories.

According to an article posted on the Mlive.com news site, some Kalamazoo County public school officials are complaining that Lansing politicians want to “eliminate public schools.” Such alarmist rhetoric like this is not uncommon from education bureaucrats, although taxpayers might find the timing a bit odd given that both the state House and Senate have just increased education funding to nearly $13 billion next year.

Van Beek offers two links to support his position, both leading back to other Mackinac Center articles. In fact there are six links in the entire article, and except for the link to the mlive conspiracy article, all of them link to other Mackinac Center articles. It’s genius deep-linking in terms of SEO and visitor retention, but everyone should see it for what it really is; a closed community of carefully crafted lies designed to support the carefully crafted lie that we’re talking about now.

Van Beek makes a soft attempt at claiming there is no attack on public education because funding for next year has been raised. Which would be like me saying gas is cheap because I got it for $3.58 one day last week. It’s a tiny bit of data that has been disconnected from all of the other data that work together to present the big picture.

Then this tool goes on to assert that the power struggle between school districts and Lansing is really one between “K-12 public school establishment and parents.” Here we go again with the Mackinac Center and other right-wing organizations trying to drive a wedge between members of the public. It isn’t the parents who have been attacking the teachers and the school districts. It’s the Lansing and DC Republicans.

The right-wing campaign to funnel public money into private companies is based on image branding. Making their private, unfettered, unregulated companies look good and making our public and highly regulated public institutions look bad. They are really good at this stuff and they’re doing a pretty good job doing this to our schools. They’ve done this to everything in our society: our food, our labor safety laws, our health care, our environment, and so on. Really, if you can brand George W Bush as someone who can keep America safe, then everything else comes easy.

Van Beek is just one of the tools in the Republican arsenal of image branding. With this article, Van Beek wants to distract the public from the fact that the Republican agenda is to divert money away from publicly owned schools and into privately owned schools that are funded with public dollars. Cyber schools, charter schools, whatever kind of school there is that does not have a strong teacher workforce to keep money in the classroom. The more kids you can take away from public schools, the more profit there will be for private companies. Nowhere in this equation do you find any Republican concern for the actual education of the students.

Mike Papantonio had an interesting segment on this yesterday. If I have a few minutes I’ll add a follow up with his audio.

There are no cover bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Follow me on Twitter - @christinebarry
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