Sunday, July 8, 2012

John Quincy Adams and the Conditions of Health

People don't discuss John Quincy Adams' presidency much these days. The sixth president sat in the Oval Office from 1825 until Andrew Jackson replaced him in 1829. And while Adams was by no means a saint, and many things have changed in the nearly two hundred years since his administration, there is one thing that John Quincy Adams advocated that makes a great deal of sense today. He advocated the development of a national university system. If such a system were built today it would not only ameliorate the problem of unemployment, it could significantly contribute to the production and reproduction of conditions of health - including that which is a constitutive aspect of such conditions, the development of self-government and autonomy.

One wouldn't even have to raise new funds to construct such a national university system. It would only require reallocating existing energies and resources. To be sure, the energy and resources it takes to finance the wars alone could be shifted into this national university project. Such a public works program - constructing campuses in every moderately large city, as well as in rural areas across the continent - would not only create much needed jobs, it would infuse a great deal of money into communities and local economies, and repair the country's infrastructure in a manner that would strengthen conditions of health, creating conditions of actual justice. Moreover, once up and running, the various campuses' departments would continue to employ countless instructors, technicians, administrators, librarians, and others, providing vital services to communities. In fact, all of a community's requirements could be taken care of, for free, through collective participation in these colleges.

Because it would be a public university system, owned by everyone, no tuition would be charged. Additionally, the national university system's medical schools, clinics, agricultural departments, engineering departments, and other facilities, like art departments and cinema departments, among others, would provide world-class resources and services for all to use as each community saw fit - provided they comport with conditions of health. Indeed, such a network of campuses could do a great deal to produce and reproduce the conditions of health, and eliminate the conditions of disease, that - according to the maxim - it is a society's duty to accomplish.

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