I have discussed the role of educational levels of populations in advancement of progressive or liberal gov't as opposed to conservative or repressive gov'ts. Until I read a couple of books on the rise of National Socialism prior to Hitler's election, I'd believed that the better educated a population the less likely they will vote for candidates or policy's not in their own best interests. After reading the reasons for the rise of National Socialism I was forced to conclude that higher levels of education and literacy have nothing to do with whether or not the population is more or less prone to vote for or against their own best interests. The reason for my reversal of understanding is that Germany, prior to and during the rise of National Socialism had the highest literacy rate of the developed world (including the US's at the time), with higher rates of equivalent high school and above education levels. None-the-less the voting population continued to vote increasingly for the National Socialist candidates in regional and national elections over time.. .ultimately resulting in Hitler's becoming chancellor and then the self annoited dictator.
The reasons such a highly educated and literate population continued to increasingly vote for the National Socialists is immaterial in fact --- at least from the standpoint that educational attainment and high rates of functional and better literacy didn't prevent it.
I bring this up because the US has seen continual reductions in illiteracy rates since forever. It has also seen continually increasing rates of high school graduation, & post-high school education achievement. These are poor but still illustrative measures of a population's ability to discern and distinguish among policies and representative choices in the political sphere. Despite this however, the national political character has continued it's slippage to the right with consequence of greater and greater disparities in standards of living (i.e. economic purchasing power).
It is thus further evidence supporting the conclusion that population educational attainment levels have no real or practical effect on national political ideological direction. If educational attainment and/or functional literacy had any effect at all, one would have observed a continual U.S. national political spectrum increasingly moving to the left --with greater democratic majorities in both houses and the executive, as well as a steady shift of the conservative party's policies toward the center (from the right). The facts don't support this however, so the hypothesis that educational attainment levels of the population would provide for a more progressive gov't over time just don't fit the facts... .i.e. the hypothesis must be rejected, both on the basis of observation of Germany's rise of National Socialism, and the U.S.'s continual shift to the right.
One would like to believe that political & special interest propoganda with it's mis-truths, selective data, and out-right lies would be less able to pursuade the voting population if the population were more literate and educated.
We harbor this belief I think only because it makes analytic sense... discerning truth from fiction is more likely the better educated one is... or at the very least it would tend to create objective questioning, hence mitigate the effect of propoganda on the voting population. it must therefore be concluded that analytic and logical reasoning and projections of same as it relates to political & policy choice doesn't hold much sway in fact. Since observations are that the better the education level of the population doesn't provide votes for policies & gov't that serve the best interests of the vast majority (98% +) of the voting population (or its younger non-voting dependants), then better reasoning, logical thought and analytic analysis doesn't do it either.
If better objective thought and analytics don't have an effect, then what does? The only other alternative to better objectivity and analytic reasoning is the opposites... subjective reasoning and emotional thought processes. This is supported by the fact that highly mis-leading propaganda almost always has the desired effect on those it reaches.. which is generally targeted to a specific sub-set of the population... normally that subset that is able to be highly influenced by tugs at emotion and subjective thought. This is further suppored by the fact that the targeted audiance of propoganda is never (or very, very rarely if ever) the most highly educated and objective among the population --- i.e. the academic set.
The fact that the right wing has been so successful over the last 30 years in steadily advancing the position of a tiny minority of the population while minimizing the benefits to the vast majority... even reducing the benefits (real wage growth, disposable income growth, etc)... is testament to it's prowess in propoganda targeting capability (among other things it's also been able to do).
Among the "other things" it's been able to do is pursuade the bodies of representatives to cast votes benefiting the few while adversely affecting the many...and this capability has been achieved by even more tightly targeting representatives elections and re-election capability --- through massive electioneering efforts, methods, and especially funding. The effictive use of propoganda coupled with organizational skills and massive funds are effective... extremely effective in fact. So much so that it hardly matters what the voting population thinks or believes as long locally targeted constituants are able to be pursuaded to vote for the representatives supported by the propoganda.
In a nut-shell, the human character is on the whole better equipped and inclined to make choices based on emotion over logic or analytic reasoning... hence education, which advances the rational skills and capability of reasoned thought, is of little practical value as gov't and politics are concerned.
It is probable, therefore, that propoganda with its lies, innuendo, and mis-truths is accepted as truth by those targeted since they want to believe it... are in fact loath to not believe, and therefore are not inclined to question it, much less think or reason more deeply about it and arrive at a conclusion that they'd been lied to.
Along these lines I've been wondering why for example, there has been no real effort to unionize the so called "professional" white collar hoards that occupy the cubicles in the halls of corporate America. The are effectively forced to work at least 10, if not 12 or 14 hr days, their benefits have been and continue to be steadily cut... sick days, pensions (now near extinct), their contribution to their health care insurance continually increases or health benefits reduced, etc... while saleries have risen very little if at all over the rates of inflation. All the while, their jobs are being outsourced more and more to the emerging economies (presently China and India dominantly), leaving them with less and less job security .. i.e. risk of job loss rising.
Having been one of the cubicle members from early '70's to recently, I have personally watched the above conditions manifest... not nearly as fast at the company I worked for as in other company's, but inexorably none-the-less. I happened to be in a middle-group of employees that were hired after 1970 and before the early '90's. Those hired before me had better pension benefits, and those after the early '90's far, far worse retirement benefits than mine... to the tune of non-existant pension benefits (lump sum vested interest money and 401k contributions constitute the whole... forcing the risk and investment accumen on the employee... who are, sadly, poorly equipped to invest adequetly for their own future after retirement). I also watched the demise of independant thought and decision making take place under the threat of being "let-go" or loss of position, or reductions in raises &/or bonus's. This occurred immediatly upon company's beginning to "down-size" ... "re-engineering" was the original mantra used, and it accelerated as the outsourcing options became more prevelant. The effect was that cubicle members were effectively required to work far more for far less just to retain their jobs. This condition has only accelerated even more of late.
It therefore befuddles me that the hoards of our so called "professional" cadre of worker-bees occupying the cubicles of corporate america haven't attempted or begun attempts to unionize. Yes, I know that laws governing unionization efforts have been decimated and more decimation continues, but that doesn't preclude any effort having taken place at all. Oh, I forgot... saleried employees don't have to punch a clock into and out of work, and have the relative freedom to move about the halls without requesting to do so from their manager... but the way things are going that may eventually also change. I'm reminded of the productivity improvement actions such as a moving professionals from larger to smaller offices (less real estate used, smaller desks, etc.), and thence to cubicles, and most recently to cubicle-less work spaces.... which reminds me of the old school Japanese heirachy where the professionals sat in a large open room, at desks lined up one beside the other, face to face, with the managers sitting at the desks at the head of each line. i.e. each line of desks was a different department. Talk about economy of real-estate ... not to mention oversight and "order". Now it may not come to that level in the US but the makings of a similar effective order are in the making... a sort of gradualism that goes un-noticed.
Well then there are always the retail clerk jobs available ... whoops... but if you haven't already noticed the degree of automating retailing to require fewer clerks and check-out stand real-estate is prevelent already.... so much for the lowest end of the job market. Before too much longer (say 10 more years or so), check-out will consist of walking your cart or bag of goods through a "gate" which automatically reads the prices of the contents without a laser reader and charges your account (credit, debit) at your bank just by waving your card in the direction of some "card reader"... only one clerk will be at the exit to handle any deviant who didn't wave his card ... aka a security guard. There will be on station manned by one clerk that handles hand-written checks and cash purchases... but the lines for that station and the time it takes to check out there will quickly force 99.9% of shoppers to use their card and the automated check-out feature. Or maybe it will be on-line retail that eventually takes the day... one way or the other human employment need is dimininishing at an increasing rate... at least in the advance nations.
The message is that even unionization will eventually be no counter to capital intensive business as employment need of human effort will decrease, leaving an ever increasing over-abundance of highly qualified humans to quickly take the place of the other few that "complain" about condiitons, benefits, saleries, etc. Keeping your job will be more and more difficult in the future.... but this will only be the case if the progressive side of ideology cannot effectively and consistantly shift gov't, political power and the funds required from the fists of the right wing. I see no effective means of this occurring however, so I'm harbor little optimism that it will eventually occur.