Kevin Williamson in National Review:
I was down at the Occupy Wall Street protest today, and never has the divide between the iPhone world and the politics world been so clear: I saw a bunch of people very well-served by their computers and telephones (very often Apple products) but undeniably shortchanged by our government-run cartel education system. And the tragedy for them — and for us — is that they will spend their energy trying to expand the sphere of the ineffective, hidebound, rent-seeking, unproductive political world, giving the Barney Franks and Tom DeLays an even stronger whip hand over the Steve Jobses and Henry Fords. And they — and we — will be poorer for it.
The low quality of our government-run system of primary and secondary education is the biggest problem in our society. With the right tax and regulatory incentives, squandered investment capital and ruined plant and equipment can be replaced quickly if necessary, albeit at often high cost. However, damaged human capital in the form of inadequately educated and miseducated people can never be replaced. At best, lost human capital can be supplanted only with many years of effort by improving the education of succeeding generations. The long-term compounded aggregate costs in lost productivity for poorly educated individuals, not to mention disastrous unintended consequences at the societal level from the adoption of bad ideas by a voting population largely ignorant of basic economics and history, are staggering.
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And that ignorance of basic economics and history are on vivid display in the comments of the protesters. Truly astounding.
This pack of misguided and incoherent people show that Bill Ayres’ attack from within on the educational system had been a massive success. The minds of countless millions if people have been damaged beyond repair. It is the most successful attempt to destroy America so far, and it may yet succeed.
“However, damaged human capital in the form of inadequately educated and miseducated people can never be replaced.”
I am not as pessimistic as you about the American people. I do not think that people loose the ability to learn when they turn 21. While it is true that languages are harder for adults to learn, many things become easier. Experience of the human heart and social interactions make history easier to read and understand.
I think there is a hunger for learning the truth, not the PC garbage. Look at Glenn Becks success, and how he put Hayek back on the best seller list.
The changes in the distribution of media content are pulling education away from the grip of the tenured radicals.
Don’t give up. It is not over while we draw breath.
Agreed. It is not over. People have a feeling they’ve been cheated and lied to.
It’s fixable. But it is going to be a steep hill to climb.
Lex and Robert Schwartz make valid comments. I was a product of a completely broken (or fixed, if you look at from Ayres’ standpoint) liberal arts educational system, attending the U of I in the late eighties. I still remember my history courses and how poorly they were taught (with a few exceptions).
But when I got into the real world, and started participating in real business transactions and started reading more, I was like Jake on the Blues Brothers when he saw the light.
So I am living proof that it can be fixed but Jonathan is also right. There are millions of people who are broken and beyond repair. I try to talk to them still, but I can tell when the spigot is dry and you just have to give up on some.
Some are lost cases. Like him. And him.
And many more candidates to this sad condition.
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