From The View From Alexandria Via Instapundit: ‘Reynolds’ Law’

Full post here.

Perhaps not a law (moral/political/economic?), but:

“Subsidizing the markers of status doesn’t produce the character traits that result in that status; it undermines them.”

If you reward a certain behavior, you tend to get more of it, and:

‘Reynolds’ Law implies that progressivism sacrifices some (actually considerable) degrees of liberty and prosperity to move us away from equality by undermining the characters and thus behavior patterns of those they promise to help.

Not coincidentally, progressives accumulate power for themselves, not only by seizing it as a necessary means to their goals but by aggravating the very social problems they promise to address, thus creating an ever more powerful argument that something has to be done.’

Especially with regard to the economic component of higher ed in the form of massive student loan debt, Reynolds has been on top of the debate from a libertarian/conservative perspective.

Related On This Site:  Via Instapundit: Jerry Bowyer At Forbes: ‘A College Bubble So Big Even The New York Times And 60 Minutes Can See It…Sort Of’

A deeper look at what education “ought” to be… A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

The libertarian angle, getting smart, ambitious people off of the degree treadmill:  From The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-’A Conversation With Peter Thiel’ I think it’s going too far, trying to apply libertarian economics onto education, but Milton Friedman on Education is thought-provoking.

From Poemshape Via Andrew Sullivan: ‘Let Poetry Die’…Here’s a suggestion to keep aesthetic and political judgements apart-Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment…English departments can’t just copy “(S)cience”…yet they have so much to offer.

Out of the Valley of modernism, post-modernism, and relativism…one path from Nietzsche’s nihilism is through Leo Strauss and Allan Bloom: Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’Some Tuesday Quotations From Leo StraussFrom Peter Berkowitz At Harvard: ‘The Reason Of Revelation: The Jewish Thought Of Leo Strauss’.

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.  Technology is changing things rapidly, and maybe, as Charles Murray points out, it’s skewing the field toward high IQ positions while simultaneously getting rid of industrial, managerial, clerical, labor intensive office jobs.  Even so,  we can’t cling to the past.  This is quite a progressive vision but one that embraces change boldly.  Repost-Via Youtube: Conversations With History – Walter Russell Mead

“Spengler” At PJ Media: ‘Lessons From Europe’s Winners And Losers’

Full piece here.

In the piece, our author asks why Spain’s unemployment is up at 25% while Germany’s is down at about 7% (this past April): 

‘Why should Germany thrive while Spain implodes? That’s like asking why Facebook is worth a lot and Myspace is worth nothing. It’s a winner-take-all world. Countries that do well have to do a few things extremely well. Germany makes the world’s best machine tools, some of the best heavy engineering equipment, not to mention autos. German manufacturing dominates innumerable key niches. The Spanish don’t do anything well.

Because the world, and global markets are ruthlessly competitive on this analyis.  Germany is specializing and competing,  Spain is not, and the only thing holding them together is the Euro:

‘Spain shows how quickly a seemingly prosperous country can come apart when its entrepreneurial engine stalls.’

Eventually, some social and political analysis might be relevant as well. Francis Fukuyama recently suggested that instead of thinking about Europe in terms of the “two Europes,” Protestant, more individualized, more modern statecraft northern….against Catholic more familial, more insular, clientelistic Southern, the key is that these Southern countries have kept the old structures in place and simply grafted an image of the modern State atop it.  They can modernize if they get over these old ways.  But for now, they are not economically sustainable.  Of course, for Fukuyama, the solution is a a more Hegelian model of the state, endlessly perfectible,which perhaps he envisions here in America as well: Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest-’The Two Europes’

Related On This Site:  Have you downloaded the apps…and the concepts of Enlightenment and post Enlightenment liberty that can lead to runtime errors and fiscal failure? Sachs and Niall Ferguson duke it out: CNN-Fareed Zakaria Via Youtube: ‘Jeff Sachs and Niall Ferguson’

Joel Kotkin Via Youtube: ‘Illinois Is In A Competition’From The WSJ: ‘Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus’

Catholic libertarianism: Youtube Via Reason TV-Judge Napolitano ‘Why Taxation is Theft, Abortion is Murder, & Government is Dangerous’

Covering the law and economics from a libertarian perspective: Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution Journal: ‘Three Cheers for Income Inequality’Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘Death By Wealth Tax’

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From Roger Sandall: ‘The Slave Girl and the Professor’

Full piece here.

Sandall discusses a book and move titled I Am Slave as well as Kwame Appiah’s essay entitled “What’s Wrong With Slavery.” On some of Appiah’s thinking:

“What he calls “the central moral questions” about liberating slaves are the author’s main concern, and he affirms that freedom comes first. But according to Appiah “freedom is not enough”. After the act of liberation we also have a duty to guarantee every freed slave respect, dignity, and both social- and self-esteem.”

In the ‘best of all possible worlds’, perhaps we do, as far as self-esteem is concerned.  Sandall finds Western liberal establishment thinking a target when it comes to the depths of moral arguments necessary to address such an issue:

‘According to the title of a recent book by the amiable Dutch primatologist Frans de Waal we live in The Age of Empathy, something he attributes to our warmly social hominid instincts. Also recently published is a book by Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature, arguing that the modern era has been one of moral progress accompanied by a steady decline in violence. It seems that what Norbert Elias called “the civilizing process” is nowadays on many minds, and Kwame A. Appiah’s 2010 book, The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen, might be seen as broadly in the same vein. Taking an idiosyncratic view of moral and social progress, he sees national and social honour playing a key role in the outlawing of the duel, in the abandonment of Chinese foot-binding, in the abolition of slavery, and in the ongoing struggle by enlightened men and women in Islamic lands against the horror of “honour killings”. All these changes are what he calls “moral revolutions.”

Of course, one moral injunction might run:  “One should not enslave another”  which sounds straight-forward enough, but as we see in Africa and increasingly in Britain via Africa, some people are still engaging in the practice.  In fact, for much of American history, and in various other parts of the world in the past, now, and presumably in the future, many people can be said to violate such an injunction.  Human cruelty and indifference, the spoils of war, economic and competitive advantage, and the complex relationship between master and slave just to name a few, are reasons that one person will enslave another, and allow many other people to look away.

‘As a result, what amounts to an uncivilizing processis now flourishing on Europe’s fringes. For that is what the modern slave trade represents — the trade that trapped a 12-year-old girl in the Sudan and has doomed hundreds more African youngsters from elsewhere. This also relates to Appiah’s respectful anthropological account of the several grades of domestic servitude and patriarchal subordination in traditional West African society, grades blandly euphemised by apologists as “our regional family culture,” and that all too easily collapse into subjection and brutality’

Interesting essay.

Some truth and courage in the face of barbarism, but also a lot of sentiment, and dramatic romanticization of Africa: Kony 2012.

Related On This Site:  Repost-Roger Sandall At The American Interest: ‘Tribal Realism’

Romantic primitivism in Australia: ….Roger Sandall At The New Criterion Via The A & L Daily: ‘Aboriginal Sin’

Did Jared Diamond get attacked for not being romantic enough…or just for potential hubris?:  Was he acting as a journalist in Papua New-Guinea?:  From The Chronicle Of Higher Education: Jared Diamond’s Lawsuit

Hirsi Ali seems to have found the embrace of the West out of both tribal localism and its customs, Islam, and the short-sightedness of multiculturalism.  Notice non-Muslims are not the ones threatening her with death: Tunku Varadarajan Reviews Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s ‘Nomad’ At The Daily BeastRepost-Ayan Hirsi Ali At The CSM: ‘Swiss Ban On Minarets Was A Vote ForTolerance And Inclusion’

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The West is less violent?  I’m not sure I’m convinced by Pinker, anyways: At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas HobbesFrom Reason.TV Via YouTube: ‘Steven Pinker on The Decline of Violence & “The Better Angels of Our Nature”‘

Evolutionary psychology and moral thinking: Franz De Waal At The NY Times 10/17/10: ‘Morals Without God?’

Blackburn not so impressed with the Blank Slate: Simon Blackburn Reviews Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial Of Human Nature” Via the University Of Cambridge Philosophy DepartmentAt Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas HobbesFrom Reason.TV Via YouTube: ‘Steven Pinker on The Decline of Violence & “The Better Angels of Our Nature”‘

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Repost-Roger Sandall: Marveling At The Aborigines, But Not Really Helping?

Full post here: Where Romantic Pastoralism Meets Indigenous Realities.

Roger Sandall explores the difference between some of the realities of northern Aboriginal life and the romantic pastoral image that the larger Australian culture projects onto the Aboriginal:

The kindest service to Australia’s northern Aborigines which journalists of any seriousness writing for weekend papers can do is to avoid encouraging still more false hopes, especially among the well-intentioned southern middle-classes who read their stuff; and the notion that anyone can find a place in today’s Australia—on or off a cattle station—without literacy, numeracy, and a full mastery of English is simply untrue.”

The hypocrisy on display is familiar to us all. This is sentimental and secondhand support of the native population. It doesn’t recognize the depth of its own cultural ideas and traditions (language, laws and ideas which have often been used against the aboriginal) yet it’s not necessarily interested in the personal moral and individual sacrifice needed to include these people into the culture either.

Within these bubbles, aborigines languish with no past and little future, and a twisted incentive to live up to these romantic images.   In response, Sandall seems suggests the best way foward is to teach them the language, laws and ideas.

While it’s not exactly the moral high road, this seems to be the current American solution:


by NichK

The Mohegan Sun Casino

Related On This Site:  Repost-Roger Sandall At The American Interest: ‘Tribal Realism’

Romantic primitivism in Australia: ….Roger Sandall At The New Criterion Via The A & L Daily: ‘Aboriginal Sin’

Did Jared Diamond get attacked for not being romantic enough…or just for potential hubris?:  Was he acting as a journalist in Papua New-Guinea?:  From The Chronicle Of Higher Education: Jared Diamond’s Lawsuit

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Jerry Bowyer At Forbes: ‘A College Bubble So Big Even The New York Times And 60 Minutes Can See It…Sort Of’

Full post here.

Of course, in higher education, there’s a very good chance we’re looking at a bubble, where prices are being artificially inflated beyond the value of the education itself in an unsustainable manner.  There are many reasons for this, and the government getting into the business is an important one.

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A few related thoughts:

As Peter Thiel noted (and Charles Murray has for a while), there are some interests in our society which will not allow the open discussion of differences between people for reasons ideological which can become political, however plain these differences appear to us, however statistically valid they may be argued to be.  Thiel is a libertarian-minded reformer putting his money where his mouth is regarding the higher ed bubble, and Murray has been the voice of a contrarian social scientist, making unpopular arguments and observations for decades.

I think all of us recognize some good (and likely something essential) in public education, the educational experience, and the equality of opportunity found therein.  I tend to be more tolerant of much less conservative ideas regarding the social contract when it comes to our schools, young people, and the idea that all men are created equal for our democracy.  I also believe (perhaps naively) that we can find a way around the current impasse without necessarily backing ourselves into a European tiered solution, nor simply a return to the “soft-tiering” of prep schools and the Ivy League as a path to a good education, the right connections, and influence.

That said, it as vital as ever to challenge the failures of some interests who define the role of our educational institutions too broadly to be effective, and I think many of these interests aren’t going anywhere.   I think this is where Thiel and Murray are most effective.  Said interests have created:

1. The misplaced loyalty of teachers unions protecting their own and creating a twisted system of incentives that can reward mediocrity and harm students

2. The waste and mismanagement of public resources in public schools, and the politicization of the issue increasingly on the Federal level (all of us have a stake in this) sending good money after bad.  We have ended up with top down, inefficient set of standards and a huge bureaucracy. Much of it can be trimmed.

3. The tragedy and cost that the self-esteem movement will have to those who were never really included and challenged to learn in the first place, either dropping out or graduating without many basic skills, lacking in core compentency, and ill-equipped for the technological revolution and the global competition going on around us.  Civics, reading, writing, and arithmetic wouldn’t be a bad place to start…though most of these basic problems will always be with us.

It’s not clear to me at all that demanding our institutions serve principles of redistributive wealth, fairness, “justice” and the dread “social justice” really do any better with these problems in the long run.  And as for higher ed, it is deeply influenced by “lower” ed.

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All of this said, there do seem to be deeper issues at play, which are certainly up for debate as this subject has economic, cultural, political and personal implications for all of us.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Related On This Site: Should you get a college degree?:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

The libertarian angle, getting smart, ambitious people off of the degree treadmill:  From The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-’A Conversation With Peter Thiel’ I think it’s going too far, trying to apply libertarian economics onto education, but Milton Friedman on Education is thought-provoking.

A deeper look at what education “ought” to be A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

Nothing that Allan Bloom didn’t point out in the Closing Of The American Mind, at least with regard to a true liberal arts education: Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’

Perhaps some of the problem is due to the ideological interests holing up at our universities; at least in the liberal arts: Repost-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?From The Harvard Educational Review-

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Ilya Somin At Volokh: ‘Nonlegal Arguments for Upholding the Individual Mandate’

Full post here.

Somin takes on a few of the claims by supporters of the individual mandate.  Such is politics, of course, and perhaps more so as of late:

‘Both parties give short shrift to constitutional limits on federal power because judicial deference has created a political culture in which almost anything goes. More careful judicial scrutiny of Congress’ handiwork might lead Congress to start taking the Constitution seriously again. That result that should be welcomed by conservatives, libertarians, and liberals alike.’

Perhaps.  Comments are worth a read.

Related On This Site: Charles Fried and Randy Barnett among others, testify as to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (Nearly 3 hrs, but likely worth your time.  You can skip to the parts you’d like)……Randy Barnett At Volokh: ‘My Answers to Questions Posed by Senators Durbin and Sessions’…Wasn’t it the executive branch with too much power…not the legislative?: Eric Posner At Volokh Replies To Comments The Straussians are not too happy with that view, as the comments suggest:  From Volokh: Harvey Mansfield Reviews ‘The Executive Unbound’

From The New England Journal Of Medicine Via CATO: ‘The Constitutionality of the Individual Mandate’From If-Then Knots: Health Care Is Not A Right…But Then Neither Is Property?… From The New Yorker: Atul Gawande On Health Care-”The Cost Conundrum”Sally Pipes At Forbes: ‘A Plan That Leads Health Care To Nowhere’From AEI: ‘Study: ‘Obama Healthcare Reform Raising Costs, Forcing Workers Out Of Existing Plans’

Originalism vs the ‘living constitution?” George Will Via The Jewish World Review: ‘True Self-Government’A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

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Via The Mars Science Laboratory At NASA: ”Mount Sharp’ On Mars Links Geology’s Past And Future’

Full post here.

Mt. Sharp sits in Gale Crater, where Curiosity is headed.

“Mount Sharp is the only place we can currently access on Mars where we can investigate this transition in one stratigraphic sequence,” said Caltech’s John Grotzinger, chief scientist for the Mars Science Laboratory. “The hope of this mission is to find evidence of a habitable environment; the promise is to get the story of an important environmental breakpoint in the deep history of the planet. This transition likely occurred billions of years ago — maybe even predating the oldest well-preserved rocks on Earth.’

The water find is less probable.  Expected landing date is August 6th, 2012.  Let’s hope it goes well.