A Side of Feelings

face-palm-polar-bear

SMH…

When it comes to feelings (nothing more than feelings), there are two strongly reactive — yet very separate — feelings clubs on my mind these days. The one that surprises me is personal and seems to have only myself as a member. The unsurprising one, the angry, depressed, shocked one, contains nearly all the liberals these days.

A more on-the-nose term might be ‘city folk.’ (Or my personal favorite: “polis people.”) Some see this — I fully agree — as a divide between rural and city sensibilities, between local old-fashioned and global modern tech, between yesterday and tomorrow.

One side is stunned the other won, while the winners are holding their breath wondering what they’ve won…

Seriously, if you can see it from the outside (where I’ve usually been), it’s really, really funny. That first club I mentioned. The personal club of one. Our motto is “Ha! Told ya so!” — amusement is our watchword.

Mind you, it’s not a victory club, a victory feeling. This is all about the feeling of bitter irony. The “See? See what happens?” shaking my head in disgust feeling. It’s the dark smirking self-satisfaction of seeing the bleeding cut when I warned you many times that glass is sharp.

broken-glassVery sharp. Don’t play around with it. Seriously, don’t do that, or you’ll cut… Ah. See? See what happens when you mess around?

I’m surprised by my darkly gleeful irony. (Give it this much: it’s truly ironic!) This is the second vaguely weird switch in as many months.

First I’m not only okay with Cleveland losing, but actually switch to actively rooting for the Cubs early in game seven.

And now, while I’m not okay with Hillary Clinton losing, I don’t share (at least not yet) the horrified surprise or gut-wrenching anger over the loss.

For one thing, it didn’t surprise me.

It didn’t surprise certain political scientists. One, whose heretofore accurate, yet simple, model predicted Trump, repudiated his own model. He felt Trump was too much an outlier, so his model had to be wrong. Others who made strong predictions favoring Trump also dismissed 2016 as an aberration!

There was a sense of expectation and entitlement about the election that I always thought might create a backlash. Rural folk have resented that expectant entitlement — they see it as smug and, in particular, they perceive it as belittling them.

They’re not wrong. That’s key in understanding what happened. More than race, more than gender, more than nationality, this is about a native segment of America that feels forgotten and left behind.

For another thing, this was always a possibility to me.

Idiocracy documentaryIn the long term, I’ve seen The Marching Morons theory as one way things could actually go.

Many see Idiocracy as a dark comedy fantasy that became a prescient documentary (in, oh, such scary ways).

In the short term, the best the Democrats could do was Hillary Clinton.

The side that assumed they had this in the bag blew it because they messed around, made a mess, and messed up. They missed what was in plain sight in their figurative backyard.

On some level, this wasn’t OMG so much as Duh. (But one person’s Huh? is another person’s Duh!) Most of all, this was then, and it is now, about people’s feelings.

§

America has a long history of bringing people up. It’s one of our goals. There is a group of Americans who have lived here for generations — who were brought up by America — and who have worked hard for their country.

country-roadIn the living history of this country, these are the ones who fought and died in our wars; who built our bridges, buildings, cars, and washing machines; who made this country what it was.

They worked and died and believed, and in return America fulfilled their dreams.

The American Dream was real then.

We no longer live in such prosperous times, that much is certain.

Why the world has changed, whether it’s truly changed, what exactly has changed, when it started (or will end), where all this change ends up — these are questions for other posts.

What matters here is that America really has changed in clear and present ways — ways that affect people’s lives in specific ways. For some, most of these ways aren’t good, aren’t welcomed.

And while America continues to bring people up — the young, the newcomers, the modern — there is an inevitable decline for those not part of the head-long rush towards tomorrow. Democratization brings some up, but it brings others down.

on-the-jobThose folks look around and see an America they built, and they wonder, at the least, what the hell happened.

How did it all change so much?

Where did the jobs go? Where did the money go?

And most of all, where did my sense of being a real American go?

When did I become the enemy of so many? Why am I the bad guy, the deplorable?

They call where I live “fly-over land” and smile. They call it “the boonies” or “the sticks” and think nothing happens here, nothing comes from here.

I come from here, and I call it home. What about my feelings?

§

I have two points here.

debateFirstly, all the feelings of “us” and “them” operate exactly the same way on both sides.

Each side sees the other as unreasonable.

Each side sees the other side’s champions as demons.

Each side sees their own champion as less than ideal. Some even see their side’s champion as an unfortunate choice and wish for someone better.

But that pales in comparison to how much they hate the other side’s champion.

Those calling this a cultural war are correct.  What’s not correct is assuming only one side has merit. That’s where the expectation and entitlement start.

But to ascribe this to racism or sexism misses the point. Even nationalism and populism aren’t the wellspring. This springs from the pain and anger of personal loss. Other stuff gets swept up in that; people in pain lash out.

So I’m not hugely sympathetic to a lot of the garment rending on the left. You did this to yourselves. In part, it was because your head was up your ass on so many levels. But it was also because I share the disdain for smug liberal entitlement.

feelingsSecondly: “Feelings. Nothing more than feelings…” How many times have I stressed the importance of rational discussion?

Of education and knowledge?

Of the head steering and the heart pushing?

[Or how about my new one: It’s the head that gets us to escape velocity. The feelings are the rocket fuel. (And if you’re not careful, they can blow up!)]

An irony here lies in how the modern era celebrates and embraces feelings. Liberals, especially, elevate feelings above rational thought. (Exhibit A: anti-vaxxers.)

They think feelings are so important they corrupt the concept of contests so everyone can win Participation Awards and no one gets bruised feelings.

Well, guess what. Feelings — of loss, of harm, of anger — cost you the election. The guy who won did so by embracing the feelings of those you disdained to feel for.

I warned you, time and again, that feelings have sharp edges. That they can cut the unwary. That they’re dangerous. But no. This narcotic is far too powerful, too seductive, too much fun, to put down.

So I am not hugely sympathetic to the whining, to the feelings about a lost culture war. Those feelings have been matched by others for decades. They’ve been losing all this time; now the worm has turned.

§

How many times do I have to repeat the quote:

“A democratic society, an open society, places an extraordinary intellectual responsibility on ordinary men and women, because we are governed by what we think, we are governed by our opinions. So the content of our opinions, and the quality of our opinions, and the quality of the formation of our opinions, basically determines the character of our society.

Until we reach for and grasp this nothing really changes.

The social pendulum swings back and forth, but so long as it centers on thoughtless and emotional, nothing really changes.

Real change is hard. It takes dedication and decades. It takes working together — truly together, not in word, but deed.

So far we — all of we — seem more interested in “us” versus “them” games, more concerned with “our” side winning regardless of reality or reason.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

23 responses to “A Side of Feelings

  • dianasschwenk

    I feel like you’re holding back Smitty. Just kidding. Seriously, I think rural America felt that Trump sensed and validated how they were feeling… ❤
    Diana xo

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Well, you know, I wouldn’t want my feelings to put me in a bad orbit! XD

      Yep, Trump tapped into a high-voltage line that powered him all the way to the Presidency. He said to those folks, “Yes! What you’re feeling is real!” City folks have, for a long time, been telling them to get over it and get with the program. Forget the old songs you love; sing the new ones with us.

      Some people really like the old songs. They knew the words — learned them as kids from their parents and grand-parents. And those songs made them feel good.

      Everyone says we should be talking issues, issues, issues; but the reality is that Presidents, and how we elect them, are all about feelings about life and that person. Trump — love’m or hate’m — was exciting and irresistible. Clinton was the aunt you knew, maybe respected, but weren’t sure you liked.

      Thing is… when you put all that aside and apply rational thought to the matter, she’s such a clear winner that it’s not even a contest.

      Ah, well, so it goes. 😀

  • Steve Morris

    Trump has some valid ideas, which the Left simply ignored. As a European, one of the issues I’ve been aware of for many years is the way that Europe is largely dependent on US military force for its security. The UK is one of the very few NATO members that actually contributes the percentage of GDP that NATO membership requires. Why should other countries expect to get the benefit of NATO protection if they don’t meet their own obligations? Did Obama ever say a word about this in 8 years?

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Again, I agree completely.

      The USA has played the role of global superpower, benefactor, steward, and police. It’s probably high time we cut that shit out, at least some of it.

      I’ve leaned a bit Isolationalist ever since I learned the concept way back in grade school history!

      My country, ironically for all liberal sensibility, actually has a lot in common with The Donald. We’re brash, ignorant, loud, in your face, spectacularly bad sometimes, and people generally either love us or hate us. It’s hard to check the “no opinion” box when it comes to the USA.

  • rung2diotimasladder

    Specifically on education, there’s a huge opportunity liberals missed. This is one I’ve been fairly Republican about since I had a brain developed well enough to be anything, one of the very few issues about which I find myself on their side, nominally.

    Rant about liberals and education deleted. Enough ranting for me. 🙂

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Heh. Well (as I think you know) education is an especially large craw stick with me.

      I came up with the phrase “The Death of a Liberal Arts” education over forty years ago and have been using it in regret and disgust — and at ever increasing levels — ever since.

      And really all I mean by that is a passing level of formative exposure to the history and thinking of intelligent civilization along with a decent training in critical thinking.

      Some argue against my prescription on the grounds it means indoctrination into my political way of thinking, but very much to the contrary I just mean into my way of rational thinking combined with a few clues about the ways of the world. That’s my sole ask.

      Believe in whatever kind of world your heart favors; pursue your happiness however you wish; just don’t be stupid.

      ((Why is it I can never say anything in one paragraph?))

      • rung2diotimasladder

        I agree. Critical thinking especially. Imagine what life would be like if everyone took an elementary logic course in high school. Political debates might be a little more interesting if the audience could discern informal fallacies.

        Agreed on liberal arts education. And also agreed that it doesn’t have to be political indoctrination, although I can see why people think that’s what it is. But if you look at places like St. John’s in Annapolis as a model (a Great Books curriculum), you see how liberal arts doesn’t have to be political (and St. John’s might even be conservative in some ways.)

        But at a grade school level, we tend to hire teachers who don’t have much knowledge themselves, who aren’t exactly critical thinkers. (This is the deleted rant.) Liberals throw money at the problem, but fight fiercely against anyone who criticizes teachers and teacher unions and public education. I’m all for certain unions, but not this one. They seem adamantly opposed to raising standards and they oppose in a way that makes me think they don’t really care about education, only money, material goods for the classroom, and themselves. They railed against standardized testing, but didn’t offer any alternative. There really should be some standard for education, and they should know that. If they worry about teaching to some test that isn’t effective, why not make that test effective? But they’d rather abolish the whole idea and keep the status quo. And then there’s the teachers themselves and the lack of quality there. I’d agree to paying them more, even a lot more, if I knew there’d be higher standards on hiring them. This speaks for our society, I’m afraid. If we valued education the way we should, teachers would be making out like surgeons, but they’d have to prove their worth as if our lives depended on their expertise. Imagine what this would do in all areas of life! Imagine if parents pushed their children to become teachers instead of doctors and lawyers? Wouldn’t that be something.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Yeah, our education system is very messed up. Which is strange considering that our children are our future. It’s like we don’t care. Or don’t see the connection somehow. (Certain politics do favor a stupid and easily controlled populace… Preferably an unarmed one.) Mom was a grade school music teacher, and sister teaches first grade (or second? not sure), so I’ve seen both sides of the argument. Even so, I definitely lean towards improving every aspect of that system. I don’t favor the kind of protectionism unions often bring.

        Ha. A one-paragraph answer! I am capable of them…

        And I absolutely agree with you on the parts where you agreed with me. 😐

      • rung2diotimasladder

        I’m not really a Republican, I swear! 🙂

        I probably wouldn’t sound so-anti union if liberals had their priorities in order when it comes to public education. The complaints coming from teacher’s unions just seems so narrowly focused on what seems to me to be petty things, or maybe I’m misunderstanding the rhetoric.

        I’m all for other unions. My father was a tire builder and an outspoken union member. Unfortunately, that job didn’t pan out and he started a vending business. Other people weren’t so lucky, and they ended up losing quite a lot. I have no idea what happened during the Firestone strike, but I’m kind of glad my father never told me his involvement. It must’ve been ugly. He’d come home fuming. I was convinced he was responsible for doing some serious organizing—of what, I don’t know. I used to worry he’d end up in the hospital for mouthing off.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Your dad was a rabble-rouser! 🙂

        Unions are a great idea — workers should have representation — but as with so many good ideas, humans often mange to screw them up through selfishness. I do agree a great deal of what comes from teacher’s unions (and others) is BS designed to keep inadequate, even incompetent, workers employed. As usual, balance is the key.

  • Philosopher Eric

    Hi Wyrd and Tina,

    I’ve been slowly checking through the wonderful group of bloggers who you associate yourselves with, and wanted to stop here at your thoughts on education. I’m good with liberalism in most regards, but not where it mandates that governments dominate what markets might instead take care of. Yes education needs to be highly government funded, but I don’t see why it must provide its own schools. Why couldn’t people instead be given money to use in a private education market (obviously with the poor receiving far more than the rich)? Here I suspect that parents would tend to penalize wasteful schools, as well as reward efficient schools, and thus teachers would finally have true economic incentive to do their jobs well. Instead our education market seems like it could have been designed by the Soviets!

    Of course a conversion would be challenging, with all sorts of potential abuses given that people would be able to choose their schools. Furthermore I’ve never heard that a vibrant free education market has been achieved anywhere. But while I see why government cannot permit the free market to develop its military services, for example, I don’t see why it must provide its own schools rather than fund private schools, obviously with social equity in mind here as well.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Hello Eric. Welcome.

      Privatization of primary education isn’t a topic I’ve thought much about before. And while I’m dead set on people being educated, I’m far less invested in how they’re educated. If, say, home schooling (or any other means) turns out someone who is intellectually competent, I’m fine with it.

      That said, I think there are some points in favor of government direct-funding — and mandating and regulating — primary education (by which I mean grade school and high school — I am conflating secondary education with primary).

      In general, I think privatizing has two problems, at least in certain industries. The first is the personal cost of allowing market forces to control the market. The second is the requirement of competition for market forces to work.

      With regard to the first, when you penalize a business for bad service, usually the damage has already been done. In some cases, civil suits are required to recover compensation for damages above (sometimes far above) the original cost.

      In this case the cost is a bad education for your kid. And how long does it take to discover? One year? More? Long after?

      Ultimately the market usually (but not always!) detects inferior products, but the potential damage done in this case could be extreme.

      Then there is the need for competition. That’s what makes cable TV companies so vexing. They operate in a virtual monopoly, and — as we all know — most cable companies suck. To make privatized education work, there need to be multiple education “companies” operating in all regions. (Another issue is the need for companies to cover all regions of the USA.)

      Which brings up a last point: Profit. A privatized industry implies a “for profit” industry. (Which, incidentally, implies shareholders, which implies pressure to increase profits while decreasing costs, which is rarely good for the product or the consumers.)

      I’m not at all sure primary education is profitable. There are private schools, and generally speaking, only the fairly rich can afford to send their kids there. Consider what’s involved in providing a school (physical plant + staff) for a school year. Assume a client base in that year of 1000 and ballpark cost at 10 million.

      Each child needs a tuition of $10,000 just to break even. And that’s with a school of 1000 kids. Many would have far fewer (especially with competition). And my budget estimate may be extremely low!

      How do you mandate a private industry to provide quality education (at a profit) in all regions of the country? (And is making a profit off the education of our kids a good idea at all? The idea bothers me, but I tend to lean anti-corporation.) Is it efficient to have competing school systems? The physical plant required is significant.

      I think the bottom line is that it doesn’t really make sense, and it couldn’t be profitable.

  • Philosopher Eric

    Thanks for the detailed response Wyrd. I can see that we’re going to be having lots of great future discussions! The reason that I brought this up is because I really enjoyed Tina’s “rant” against teacher’s unions. I agree with each of you that unions can be problematic (though not always, since they also fight for smaller class sizes), but I also see systemic structural problems that no one seems to talk about. Yes the hurdles to a private market may be insurmountable as implied by your (admittedly quick) analysis, but we surely should still do our due diligence, given the importance of education itself.

    Firstly I’d like everyone to full acknowledge that our system is nothing short of “socialism.” Thus a teacher is expected to teach well for the greater good of society, not out of a desire for greater personal compensation. But if there were economic incentive to teach well in addition to individual altruism, surely more good teaching would occur? So how might we get there from here?

    I believe that conversion needn’t be attempted everywhere at once, but could instead begin in a large city somewhere. Thus parents in it would have the option of sending their children to public schools, or instead receive funding for private schools. Perhaps the poor would receive $25,000/year per kid, the middle class less, and the rich nothing. The point would be to change the system so that progressively better schools would become developed, thus changing the entire market and profession. Government money could accomplish this, I think, that is if reasonably approached.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      “I also see systemic structural problems that no one seems to talk about.”

      Such as?

      “Firstly I’d like everyone to full acknowledge that our system is nothing short of ‘socialism.'”

      I don’t agree with that at all. Socialism is a well-defined political ideology where the people own and control the means of production.

      Socialism is anti-corporation, which makes it pretty far left and therefore hated by those on the right. It’s a good propaganda word because people conflate it with communism. I don’t see any value in trying to stick a teaching peg in that hole. It doesn’t fit to my eye.

      What I do agree with — and this is one thing unions fight hard against — is linking teacher salary with student performance. This is a case where union protectionism favors workers over quality product. That needs reform.

      “Perhaps the poor would receive $25,000/year per kid,”

      Incentivizing them to have as many kids as possible? The government shelling out $100 grand for a four-child family to go to private school? Does not seem an improvement to me.

      I continue to believe privatized education is economically unfeasible.

      And I remain opposed to privatization in areas such as this for reasons I’ve already expressed. For example, we’re learning that privatized jails aren’t a good idea for corporations or for society. They incentivize imprisonment and they turn out to be unprofitable.

      Some things are better handled by society, by social sub-groups, than by corporations whose sole purpose ultimately is max profit. Teaching is more like being an artist or clergy, it’s a calling.

      But incentivizing better performance is definitely a good idea!

    • rung2diotimasladder

      Hello Eric! And Wyrd, thanks for giving me the heads up.

      I’m not sure how to accomplish a better education, but I’d be interested in hearing more about the voucher system. I just worry about relying too much on “free market” ideology, which doesn’t seem to work so well in other areas such as healthcare. (Although I suppose you could argue there is no true free market example of health care to look at.) Still, I respect that Republicans are worried about the quality of education. Or, were once worried. Not sure they are anymore.

      I’m not sure about what we call our current system of education, whether it’s socialist or semi-socialist or whatever, but if we’re worried about the quality of our teachers, I think the more direct remedy would be to pay teachers a lot more and then demand a lot more. They should have high levels of education themselves. I’m not sure what the criteria would be for hiring them, but it shouldn’t be the path of least resistance for someone who just likes being around kids. This way we could guarantee that we have bright people dealing with our children, which ought to be a minimum requirement, you would think. Other methods might work, or might not. I’m just not sure if vouchers would guarantee quality. But I’m being idealistic here, and vouchers may just be a good patch for the time being.

      The curriculum would also have to be considered, and I’d like to see the basic core curriculum get more attention. We’re not doing the basics right, and yet we’re worried about including more electives. I don’t know if older people know how bad it is now, but to give you an example (and I’m 34) I remember an English class in which the teacher never spoke, opting to play solitaire at her desk, and we sat on the floor and played guitar and took turns going to McDonald’s. The good kids got their easy A by doing the assignment written on the board, which was always a few grammar exercises out of a textbook. One semester, the HS I attended decided to give out an automatic A for perfect attendance. They tried to take that back when too many students ended up with straight As, and parents were in an uproar. Granted, I went to a public school in Oklahoma, not exactly the top of the line. Still, it’s pathetic.

      As for curriculum, I’d also like to see one second language being taught from kindergarten up. I’ve seen kids at a local private school learning math in French, or history in Chinese. This can happen, but we don’t do it, and we’re missing a great opportunity to catch kids in their sponge stage, before they start thinking “this is too hard.”

      Well, I gotta run. Happy Thanksgiving!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Right back atcha. And I agree with all you say here. There’s certainly a lot to fix in the current system!

        Maybe for all of us, a huge step is being clear on what “a good education” is. And insisting every child get one. Then maybe it’d be easier to see the best way to pull it off.

  • Philosopher Eric

    Well you may be right, but I’d like to see more dialogue in this regard, as well as experimentation. Given the admittedly crappy nature of our schools, a few micro investments shouldn’t hurt the country much! But yes they might be doomed for the reasons that you’ve mentioned.

    We spend about $20,000/year for a very basic but specialized private school for our son, given his normal IQ and extreme ADHD and dyslexia. It’s been a godsend! I actually suspect that it costs about the same or more for public education however, given union labor and such. My boy’s school is set up for extremely small class sizes, and actually has young low paid teachers. The headmaster certainly isn’t getting rich this way — he seems to run the school out of love given that the public system doesn’t address this particular need. On the public side, it was hell for us! My boy was derided for his inability to read, and thus it was difficult for us to keep his confidence high enough to continue trying nonetheless. Many don’t get such support. The goal of this school is for these children to be straightened out well enough for public high school. One and a half years left to go for us!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Ah, I can appreciate that you have an extraordinary interest in the subject! Your own case demonstrates the “calling” I spoke of — these folks (like nurses!) generally aren’t in it for the money. (My sister is a public grade school teacher. Most of her kids come from poor, often chaotic, often single-parent, homes.)

      I think it’s what you labeled “socialism” before… People perceive that society is better if they contribute, and some perceive that more strongly than others. Some go so far as to dedicate their life more towards that than their own ambitions.

      I absolutely agree paying teachers more, and putting more money into education, is a good idea! And finding ways to link performance and reward. I’ve long campaigned for more attention and resources devoted to education. We absolutely agree on the importance, and it needs to work for all children.

      That includes channels for those children outside the bell curve. It’s a fact of life that the bulk move at a certain pace established over time while a few either straggle or lead. (And the herd never appreciates outsiders.)

      The question is whether privatizing education would improve things. I’m not opposed to experiments, but in this case we’d be experimenting with kids and their education. Kind of costly and hard to fix if goes really badly. That suggests a volunteer situation, but there’s a strong regional component to school systems.

      Essentially a state or district would have to remove public school operation, require companies to provide it, and determine how to subsidize the citizen. It feels like a tough ask. Things like that have to be legislated and enacted, a messy, long process.

      Let me ask: Does this boil down to (a) a better school systems and (b) choice among different ones? Are those the key asks?

      I think those are great asks; I fully support them. For me it then becomes a question of how we encourage people to take education seriously. How do we convince them it’s important?

  • Philosopher Eric

    Wyrd I’m not so sure that these free market tests would be that hard to pull off. Let’s say that we find an applicable city that wants to give this a try. The public schools wouldn’t be closed, but rather parents would be able to apply for this program if they like, and thus private schools would progressively be substituted for public schools to the extent of this increased demand. For less disruption we’d expect some public school facilities to be leased over to private educators.

    A quick google search suggests that American public schools roughly spend $12,300/year per student, in which case $25,000/year for poor kids sounds like a reasonable investment to me. Then middle income parents could decide to keep their children in public schools for free, or apply for perhaps half what the poor would receive (making them somewhere around revenue neutral). The rich would get no funding of course, though would be quite welcome to attend public schools.

    So what would happen in such a test market? There would surely be complaints about private schools stealing away the best teachers, though to me that doesn’t sound entirely negative. You’ve already mentioned a desire for teachers to be held accountable for their performances. Perhaps some of the worst who remain would be taken out of their classrooms for other assignments (and with equal pay, since this is just a test) and other teachers would be brought in? So even on the public side there might be incentive to improve.

    It seems to me that children shouldn’t generally do worse here than they now do, and that such experiments wouldn’t cost much to try. The hope is that we’d learn how to effectively provide market incentives for productive teaching, and therefore not remain so dependent upon those wonderful altruists who have a calling to teach.

    Consider the old Soviet Union’s central planners, or people who were tasked with surveying their country in order to decide what was needed. If it became apparent that more cars were needed, then a car factory might be built. But their problem was figuring out how to get such workers to do their jobs productively, without market forces to serve as a rewarding and penalizing factor? Given that some workers might not choose to do their jobs well, they had to be crafty! This seems exactly how we Americans are trying to improve our government schools — by being crafty. And with its overriding market influence, I don’t believe that modern private schools function well either.

    There are certain kinds of services which the free market simply cannot provide, such as military, firefighting, and police work. But if our government were to fund education, while permitting parents to choose how to use these funds, then we might not need great schemes or even to throw lots of money at teachers. I’m a firm believer that free markets become abused commonly, which mandates the need for government intervention often enough. But I’d love to see what would happen in such test markets after a decade or so. Would educators do their jobs better than today, and so perhaps develop better methods? (One of my own pet peeves: Would they finally permit kids to explore math with the full use of calculators?)

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Well, as I said at the beginning, I care about the outcome — educated people — but not that much about the means. If your system can be made to work, great!

      I still lean towards (vastly) improving the existing system (as a first step, anyway). Generally speaking, it’s easier to modify an existing system than install a new one, and there’s so much we could do with the existing system.

      Either way, first we need to convince people how important it is! I feel I live in a time where education and intellect are increasingly devalued. It seems almost hopeless to discuss improved education in the face of that. (The bottom line may be that such a huge society as ours just isn’t viable.)

  • Philosopher Eric

    I certainly agree about the devaluing of education and intellect today (and my naivete about Trump shows that I’ve been slow in this regard). Beyond just the unions, in this light it’s hard to imagine some intellectual scheme like mine being permitted anywhere in this country. But at least we can talk about such things in forums like this one, and so potentially get some things done. Furthermore there must be schools systems in countries which aren’t as unionized or anti intellectual. I’d love to see what they might accomplish!

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