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20 December 2006


Matthew Foglino

I used to do a lot of biking on Long Island. One o f the things that I used to marvel at as I went through the posh hills on the outskirts of Smithtown, was how so many post-war middle class houses either had or were in the process of adorning their facades with columned entryways! It seemed that everywhere I looked, I could see private pleasure palaces being made out of pre-fabricated cul-de-sacs.

Our society does not place as much value on a public work anymore. It makes sense too. A public work is not a sexy work. With a public work or institution, people can only take pride in it and their being part of the collective that went toward its creation. An individual has no more share in a public institution as the next individual. With a private institution, or a private work though, there is promise in private ownership. A person could own it all for themselves!

We have come to place an every greater premium in the self. We have a culture that has gone from urban to suburban to exurban. With each progressive step, we have removed ourselves even further from the communities around us and have come to further emphasize the individual. In a city, people usually shop and live in a close area that they walk to and from. Moreover, being that there are so many people, they have to find some common ground and work toward some guiding goals for the neighborhood. Even the suburbs, though once removed in personal contact by the automobile, provide some town for a sense of community. But as we move more to the exurbs, highways replace streets and the need for a sense of community or solidarity seems to fade to the will and wish of the individual.

Of course, as Americans retreat further and further to their private Xanadus, the economy keeps growing with the cost of their creation. After all, a public work may cost an astronomical sum of money (no doubt greased a bit by pork) the job is still completed by the lowest bidder. Privately, however, with multiple works being created, there are many projects being done by a great multitude. This only pumps more money into the economy, sending bottom lines into the stratosphere.

Community and solidarity are simply not as profitable as individualism. When everyone works together, competition is eliminated and the profit motive is neutralized. It seems to me that education is merely another victim of this idea. After all, if private schools were viewed as on par with public schools, how could they justify charging $40,000 a year instead of $4,000?

Dominika Ksel

I agree to this statement, I have spoken to several students from well to do families who have been passed at institutions such as Harvard and Columbia merely by being part of donor families. Also, change the name of the school you graduated from when applying for jobs and you will find interesting results as to how the job market views you. Thanks for writing this article I will be gladly forwarding it.

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