American school children and Russian cows

If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person

I am not an education policy wonk: I’m just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.

When Allison Benedikt says “worth it,” she is insisting that you consider all other children more important than your own child. Those of a totalitarian disposition might consider this idea worthy of debate, but, short of government forcing it, no one could consider it practical. Even president Obama has rejected Benedikt’s dictum.

One wonders how Progressives like Ms Benedikt reconcile their relentless public school focus on self-esteem training with their opinion that the collective is more important than you are. You’re special because your parents decided to sacrifice your education to the common good? You’re just as important as everyone else who can’t read or write?

It reminds me of an old Russian joke about a peasant with one cow who hates his neighbor because the neighbor has two cows. A genie offers to grant the envious farmer a single wish. “Kill one of my neighbor’s cows!” he demands.

Ms Benedikt is not arguing on behalf of children, or the “common good.” She’s arguing on behalf of public employee unions and big government, so ignore this report from Harvard: Students Learn Less in States with Stronger Teachers’ Unions

For Ms Benedikt that’s not a bug. It’s a feature. Of course, she would probably object that that’s an example what she wants to change. However, she also probably would object to education system reforms like those in Wisconsin and Michigan.

And, by the way, somebody should tell Ms Benedikt that calling president Obama a “bad person” is racist.

"…labor cartels with no interest in their customers"

That’s what I said Monday.

Today, Investors Business Daily asks, “Why Are Tuitions So High?”

An IBD analysis of data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that from 1989-2009 the number of administrative personnel at four- and two-year institutions grew 84%, from about 543,000 to over 1 million.

By contrast, the number of faculty increased 75%, from 824,000 to 1.4 million, while student enrollment grew 51%, from 13.5 million to 20.4 million.

RTWT You’ll soon see that it is the confluence of Federal interference in K-12, Federal regulation of higher education, Federal student loans and Pell grants, and teacher’s unions political clout which are responsible for the perfect storm of rising costs.

Higher Education Bubble Rent Seekers

It’s not the students. It’s the ADMINISTRATORS.

A Senate bill that would encourage the growth of alternative training programs for teachers and principals, some of which would not be based at colleges or universities but would have the authority to give certificates considered the equivalent of master’s degrees, has come under fire from higher education organizations that argue Congress should focus on higher education institutions in efforts to improve teacher quality…

“While our organizations support the reform of educator preparation programs, we have several concerns about this legislation, and we ask you not to support it,” they wrote in the letter, which was signed by the American Council on Education, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, among others.

“[H]igher education organizations” = arrogant closed shop public employee unions pretending to be professional associations. AKA labor cartels with no interest in their customers.

Of “higher education organizations that argue Congress should focus on higher education institutions” one can only ask, “Where have you been and what have you been doing to improve teacher quality while Congress was solely focused on your votes institutions, whose costs have risen vastly more (439% from ’82 to ’07) than any other segment of the economy? Why is the biggest category to increase in your bloated spending that of administration? Why are you still propagating useless ‘diversity’ and ‘feminism’ studies? What does the term “intellectual diversity” mean to you?”

Soft bigotry in Ann Arbor

James Taranto mentioned this in his Wall Street Journal Best of the Web Today column, making many of the obvious (except to Ann Arbor’s Dicken Elementary School Principal Mike Madison) observations.

Taranto (he uses the Royal “we”):

We don’t doubt Madison’s good intentions, nor do we think it was a “wasted venture.” It seems to us an excellent idea to expose black youngsters to accomplished black adults, for just the reasons he states.

But why only black youngsters? We are forever hearing that white Americans continue to harbor “racial resentment,” derogatory stereotypes, even flatly racist attitudes toward blacks. In this column’s opinion, that problem is overstated. But it certainly couldn’t hurt to show pupils of pallor that rocket scientists don’t necessarily “look like them.”

Further, who’s to say an accomplished black adult can’t be a role model for a white child, or vice versa? The multicultural mindset is impoverished inasmuch as it sees people primarily as members of a subpopulation, rather than as Americans or human beings.

During our childhood, we once read a book about Harriet Tubman, the escaped slave who made a career of rescuing other slaves. It never occurred to us that because Tubman was black, her story was “black history” and therefore not of interest to us. We were inspired by her heroism in the cause of freedom–universal human themes.

Similarly, the laws of physics do not discriminate. Anyone with the aptitude and the interest can become a rocket scientist. That’s a worthy lesson to teach children of any color–and that ain’t rocket science.

The field trip reminds me of the blacks-only graduation ceremonies at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan (and others, see here and here). The people organizing such things would be shocked, shocked, that their “reaching out” is actually teaching that blacks and whites being together necessarily denigrates one race or the other. Or both at once. Mike Madison is training them to it.

Taranto did miss the question of what this field trip causes these students to think about each other, and the direct, if subtle, contribution it therefore made to turning out future racists of all pigmentation. So sad that young people are in the hands of idiots whose intentions are good.

When society’s preponderant meme, like Madison’s, is that people are perfectable if we just shelter them from competition, force them to have the right experiences, make them obey the proper regulations and shovel enough money at their personal problems – this racial profiling is what results. Accomplishing it means you have to be in charge of their lives. Unfortunately, society has decided to put such people as Mike Madison in charge of our most impressionable members. We should be ashamed.

The other obvious question, of course, is what firestorm would have been visited upon Mr. Madison if it had been a whites only field trip. He never even thought about that, because he was too busy condescending to the black children mistakenly placed in his care.

Welcome to the Party, Mr. President

Mr. President, I am thrilled you have noticed the Tea Party movement. I know the day after nearly a million people attended Tea Parties across the nation Mr. Gibbs said you hadn’t noticed.

But, yesterday, in St. Louis, you said:

“Those of you who are watching certain news channels on which I’m not very popular, and you see folks waving tea bags around, let me just remind them that I am happy to have a serious conversation about how we are going to cut our health care costs down over the long term, how we are going to stabilize Social Security.”

Mr. President, you do have a habit of attacking straw men. We definitely agree – I and think I speak for most of those demonstrating on April 15th – that a serious conversation is needed about all your grandiose plans. We wish we thought you weren’t serious, and we’re seeing now that you understand we are serious. Heck, even a serious soliloquy on your part would have been appreciated, so an invitation to dialog is a wonderful thing. I’ll start.

We need to start our serious conversation by recognizing that we cannot afford to add over $600 billion to spending on health care, as you, Mr. President have proposed. Your good intentions to save money this way are naive, and can only work through rationing. We should take a lesson from other countries where health care is “paid for” by the government and is, perforce, universally rationed. You never mention that when you speak of the “investment.”

I agree we must abandon the failed policy of employer subsidized health care ushered in during WWII. General Motors, for one excellent example, offered health care to its workers because the government let them deduct it, and because GM needed some way to attract and keep talented employees under federal wage and price controls. Government fecklessness was the beginning of this mess, and the beginning of the end for GM. We’ve learned nothing from the 3 obvious lessons above, or at least you haven’t. Offering government health care to fix this decades long corporatist problem will just make it worse.

Government already controls over half of all health care expenditures in this country, and that, and the accompanying regulations, are the biggest barriers to the competition that would help reduce costs. If you are successful in taking over health care it will become the single largest reason for doctors to quit being doctors – already an issue.

It is true that even with such massive government intervention there are entrepreneurs proving costs can be dramatically lowered. You propose to stop such innovation and replace it with scarcity managed by bureaucrats.

As to intentions, let’s take the instance of the increase in tobacco tax that is intended to fund SCHIP, children’s health care. This is a good intention, but the tax disproportionately affects lower income people and it will increase the cost of health care in direct proportion to the improvement in health of the people who live longer because they quit smoking. Better to let them pay for the cigarettes and for the health care entirely on their own.

To fix Social Security we must acknowledge that the general government has been lying and stealing, conducting a ponzi scheme, for decades, and that the reason Social Security is already insolvent is because government could not control its greed. Any private enterprise would be fearful of prosecution under RICO. Even in the face of this fact, your predecessor gave us the largest single entitlements increase in our history. You promise to quadruple his error.

You want to fix education by federalizing it and dumping in more money. By that measure Washington, D.C. should already have the most successful public education system in the United States. It is difficult to grant you the benefit of the doubt here due to your direct involvement in failed experiments in Chicago. To fix education we must turn it back to the States and allow experimentation, in vivid contrast to the recent shameful actions of your administration in canceling a successful vouchers program in Washington, D.C..

Addressing our energy future by doubling down on failed subsidization policies is simply perpetuating the corporate welfare scheme both your predecessors ran on behalf of the ethanol pirates. We should be encouraging private industry to build nuclear plants, and we should do so by repealing unnecessary regulation – which will also save the general government money. We should encourage windmills and solar in the same way, by getting out of the way. If they can’t make their way, so be it.

I must say I am happy to hear you’d like to have a serious conversation with the Tea Party movement, because I am really worried there won’t be any debate in Congress. As I’m sure you know the Senate Democrats voted yesterday, alone, to pass the outline of your $3.4 trillion budget. They are threatening to invoke reconciliation, which, as I’m certain you know from your many years as Senator, reduces the final vote required to pass a bill to a simple majority and limits debate to 20 hours. Even Senator Byrd finds this outrageous when it involves a budget bill. When that bill involves well over $3 trillion, any serious person must wonder if you even have a clue what that means.

I am disappointed that the world’s greatest deliberative body will probably have very little time in which to debate the implications of your unprecedented increase in spending and the effect your policies are likely to have on the quality of health care, the cost of energy, job creation, and the further mediocritization of American education your Faustian bargain with the NEA necessitates. If your plans for massive additional intrusion into the lives of American citizens by the general government come to fruition it will damage this country severely, perhaps irreparably. And that will hurt the whole world.

Mr. President, I heard you say you would prefer not to be forced by circumstances to be in the banking or automobile businesses and that you don’t want to expand government. Like many things you say this is quite clever and partially true, but it hides the real point. Why, indeed, would you be satisfied with ownership of a moribund automobile industry and the boring business of finance? After all, these things are small potatoes compared to the health care and energy industries, and are minuscule compared to future dividends promised by the federalization of the indoctrination industry. Sadly, your ambitions are not nearly so small as General Motors or Bank of America.

So, let me know, I’ll be there for a substantive discussion at your convenience. Maybe we can even touch on the concept of minority rights if you have time.

Government schools

Run by government unions.

If you think educating our children is a solemn reponsibility, you are in direct disagreement with the Michigan Education Association. Click over to MEA Exposed in order to hear some truly despicable speeches from Paul Helder, president of the Grand Rapids teachers union, and Earl Graeber, an MEA director working with the Grand Rapids union at the MEA Bargaining, Political Action and PR Conference, earlier this month in Detroit.

Truly, the MEA cares about the children only as bargaining chips.

Taylor Mali

This should be required viewing for the MEA, with a requirement to write an essay about what it means.

What’s a Teacher make?


This should be required viewing for anyone who speaks with a rising inflection at the end of a declarative sentence.

Like, you know? Whatever.

Intelligentsia Derangement Disorder

Now I get it.

You will too, when you read the results of the study identifying the symptoms of the mentally debilitating and apparently incurable disease; Intelligentsia Derangement Disorder, or “Lee Bollinger’s Disease.”

Psychiatric Association Releases Final Report on “Lee Bollinger’s Disease”

(SATIRENEWSSERVICE) The World Psychiatric Association (WPA) today issued its long-awaited, massive study on Intelligentsia Derangement Disorder (IDD). Known popularly as Lee Bollinger’s Disease, IDD is characterized by profound disruption in cognition involving the most fundamental human attributes: language, thought, perception and desire for self preservation.

The disease has been found in epidemic proportions on university campuses. The WPA study, which included extensive case histories of every single academic in the United States and Western Europe, reports that 99.99999% of all, non-economist social science professors are affected as are almost all tenured members of the “Arts” faculties of universities throughout the developed world.

According to the Report’s main author, Dr. Edith Erwachsenenwelt, M.D., Ph.D., the cognitive development of most sufferers of IDD ends in early adolescence whereas non-sufferers experience continued development of their cognitive capacities throughout adulthood. “The cessation of the process of adult cognitive development,” said Dr. Erwachsenenwelt, “produces the following symptoms, all of which are exhibited by each and every IDD sufferer”:

Read the rest here. ;->

Why Government is the Problem

…concentrated benefits and diffused costs.

Two recent articles at Tech Central Station reminded me of a pamphlet available from the Hoover Institution. It is titled “Why Government is the Problem,” and is based on a speech given by Milton Friedman at The Manhattan Institute in 1991. An unedited transcript of the Wriston Lecture can be found here.

Following are excerpts from all three of these articles. All are worth reading in full. First, Friedman:

One of our major social problems is clearly the deterioration of our educational system. Next to the military, education is the largest socialist industry in the United States. Total government spending on schooling—I call it schooling rather than education because not all schooling is education, and conversely—comes close to total government spending on defense. With the so-called peace dividend, it may already exceed it. The amount spent per pupil in the past thirty years has tripled in real terms after allowing for inflation. Input has tripled and output has been going down. Schools have been deteriorating. That problem is unquestionably produced by government.

…Government has played an increasingly large role in medical care. For decades, total spending on medical care was about 3 to 5 percent of national income. It is now 12 or 13 percent, and the acceleration of spending dates from the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. Some of you may have seen an article published in that excellent journal of opinion, the Wall Street Journal, in which I cited figures on hospital cost per patient day, adjusted for inflation. The cost was 26 times as high in 1989 as it had been in 1946; personnel per hospital bed was seven times as high, while the number of hospital beds had been cut in half. Great advances in medical care have certainly occurred, but they did so before 1965 as well as after. Those seven times as many people per hospital bed are clearly not people who are attending to patients; they are mostly people who are filling in forms to satisfy government requirements for payment.

…The people who run our private enterprises have the same incentive as the people who are involved in our government enterprises. In all cases the incentive is the same: to promote their own interest. My old friend Armen Alchian, who is a professor at the University of California in Los Angeles, once put this point in a very straightforward way. There is one thing, he said, that you can depend on everybody to do, and that is to put his interest above yours. The people who run our private enterprises are the same kind of people as those who run our public enterprises, just as the Chinese in Hong Kong are no different from the Chinese in Mainland China, yet the results are vastly different; just as the West Germans and the East Germans were not different people, yet the results were vastly different.

The point is that the actions that serve self-interest are very different in the private sphere than they are in the public sphere. The bottom line is different. If a group of people start an enterprise in the private sphere, it may be a success or it may be a failure. Most new enterprises are failures. If the enterprise were an obvious success, it would probably already be in existence. If the enterprise is a failure, that means it loses money. The people who own it have a very clear bottom line. To keep it going, they would have to dig into their own pockets. They are reluctant to do that, so they have a strong incentive either to make the enterprise work or to shut it down.

Suppose the same group of people have the same idea, start the same enterprise in the government sector, and the initial results are the same. It is a failure; it does not work. They have a very different bottom line. Nobody likes to admit that he has made a mistake, and they do not have to. They can argue that the initial failure was only because the enterprise was not on a large enough scale. More important, they have a much different and deeper pocket to draw on. With the best intentions in the world, they can try to persuade the people who hold the purse strings to finance the enterprise on a larger scale, to dig deeper into the pockets of the taxpayers in order to keep it going. That explains what is a very general rule: if a private enterprise is a failure, it is closed down—unless it can get a government subsidy to keep it going; if a government enterprise is a failure, it is expanded. I challenge you to find exceptions.

…Let me take a very different example in the United States. At the end of World War II, we had wage and price control. Under the inflationary conditions, many employers were finding it difficult to recruit employees. They were trying to find ways to get around the limitations of wage control. They began to offer health care as a fringe benefit to attract workers and succeeded in having it treated as a nontaxable fringe benefit. The excuse disappeared once wage and price controls were eliminated, but the tax exemption of health benefits did not disappear; it continued. Nobody was spending any money on it personally; it was at other taxpayers’ expense. It created a medical system in which it came to be taken for granted that employees would get their health benefits through their employers, because that way they could get them in a tax-exempt form. As a result, it has become a major propellant of the drive for socialized medicine. It is why you have a large part of the business community fostering socialized medicine.

…The problem is not that government is spending too little but that it is spending too much. The problem in schooling is that government is spending too much on schooling for the wrong things. The problem in health care is that government is spending too much on health care for the wrong things. The end result has been that government has become a self-generating monstrosity. Abraham Lincoln talked about a government of the people, by the people, for the people. What we now have is a government of the people, by the bureaucrats, including the legislators who have become bureaucrats, for the bureaucrats. That is what we have in fact.

Again, let me emphasize, the problem is not that bureaucrats are bad people. The problem is, as the Marxists would say, with the system not the people. The self-interest of people in government tends to lead them to behave in a way that is against the self-interest of the rest of us.

…Heretical though it may seem, it would be nice to get back to the spoils system instead of the civil service. That would debureaucratize the administration of laws.

What Healthcare and Higher Education Have in Common – Jon Hall

Assured payment results in waste and fraud. It has caused an explosion in medically unnecessary tests and procedures. It is why universities can provide their professors with cushy sinecures for precious little work. (How else could the University of Colorado afford a 6-digit compensation package for the likes of a Ward Churchill?) The hospitals and universities don’t have to economize and prioritize; they can have it all. The money will be there for them.

The Real Solution to Poverty – Arnold Kling

The point of this essay is to simply state the obvious. If you look at poverty from the broad perspective of international and historical comparisons, the solution to poverty is decentralized entrepreneurial activity under capitalism.

The capitalist solution to poverty is unsatisfying to many people, because it is not planned or intended. Policymakers and anti-poverty programs per se are not involved.

…How can advocates like the Center for American Progress persist in proposing centralized, planned solutions for poverty? I think that the key to maintaining faith in these ideas is to focus only on intentions. If a program is intended to reduce poverty, then it is an anti-poverty program. Instead, I believe that anyone who sincerely wants to do something about poverty needs to focus on outcomes.

…Sometimes, I wonder if the anti-poverty crusaders even care about the outcomes of the policies that they propose. For example, do food stamps reduce poverty? If so, then one would think that those concerned with poverty would count food stamps when they measure people’s income. Instead, they rely for the most part on data on family incomes that exclude government assistance of any kind. That is, the crusaders make policy pronouncements as if poverty reduction depends entirely on government assistance, and yet they measure poverty as if government assistance has no effect whatsoever.