A conversation that I had yesterday with my 14-year-old son, Thomas, prompts me to pose this question: would college education in the U.S. be improved if it, too, were supplied in the same manner as K-12 schooling is supplied?
That is, would the quality of college education in the U.S. rise (or at least not fall) if every American were assigned to a government owned and operated college nearest to his or her residence? (Thomas, for example, would be assigned to George Mason University.) Tuition at these colleges would be $0.00; these colleges’ expenses would be funded exclusively through taxes. Each college student would be unable to attend any government college save the one to which he or she is assigned (although students would retain the right to attend privately owned and operated colleges that would sustain themselves by charging tuition).
Finally, truancy statutes would be enhanced to require schooling through grade 14 (that is, through a student’s sophomore year in college).
Would this arrangement work? Would it improve the quality of post-secondary education in America?
Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:
Challenging George Will’s case against trade-adjustment assistance, Eric Salonen analogizes such assistance to compensation that government pays to people whose properties are taken by the building of a hydroelectric dam (Letters, June 14). This analogy is faulty. Unlike with land, almost no one has a property right to a job (we tenured professors being the unjustified exceptions to this sound rule) – for to have a property right to a job would be to have a property right to the manner in which other people spend their money. Such a ‘property right’ spread across the economy would completely suffocate the economy’s competitiveness and dynamism and, thus, over time impoverish us all.
Moreover, Mr. Salonen’s analogy doesn’t answer the question posed by Mr. Will: Why should workers who lose their jobs because consumers start buying more imports be treated differently than workers who lose their jobs for any of the many other reasons, unrelated to imports, that workers lose their jobs? Just as it’s unjust to force taxpayers to ‘compensate,’ say, the brewery worker who loses her job because consumers buy less beer from St. Louis and more wine from Sonoma, it’s unjust to ‘compensate’ the brewery worker who loses her job because consumers buy less beer from St. Louis and more wine from South Africa.
Donald J. Boudreaux
And further: Does Smith – by purchasing Jones’s services today – thereby commit to purchase Jones’s services tomorrow and into the future until and unless Jones releases Smith from such an obligation? No. And any reasonably informed Jones would not want such an arrangement because, as that Jones understands, if Smith knows that by hiring Jones today he cannot fire Jones tomorrow, Smith is less likely to hire Jones today (or, if he does hire Jones, Smith will do so only at a lower wage
Here’s a letter to Washington DC’s WTOP radio:
In today’s 3pm hour you reported on the “pilgrimage” (your reporter’s word) that many Americans make every summer to DC “to witness democracy in action first hand.”
Your reporter’s reverential tone implies that tourists to DC behold here something hallowed. I disagree. Too much of what tourists to DC witness first hand is theater – marble and monuments meant to mobilize the spirit; buildings and boulevards built to bedazzle; ceremonies and celebrations suggesting the sacred. But behind it all are venal politicians grasping for more power and hoping that the stage-props scattered about DC will dupe ordinary people to buy into the ridiculous notion that government officials are saints whose genius is matched only by their grand goodwill.
In fact it’s mostly fraudulent – the gaudy ornaments of the power-hungry hungrily and cynically enchanting their victims with the illusion of earthly salvation by flesh-and-blood saints. As dramatist David Mamet writes in his new book The Secret Knowledge, “Having spent my life in the theatre, I knew that people could be formed into an audience, that is, a group which surrenders for two hours, part of its rationality, in order to enjoy an illusion. As I began reading and thinking about politics I saw, to my horror, how easily people could also assemble themselves into a mob, which would either attract or be called into being by those who profited from the surrender of reason and liberty – and these people are called politicians.”*
DC is a stage on which the greedy fool credulous audiences into self-destructive subservience.
Donald J. Boudreaux
* David Mamet, The Secret Knowledge (New York: Sentinel, 2011), p. 9.
UPDATE: Here’s Frank Chodorov, writing in 1954, on Washington, DC – an essay very much worth reading. The opening few paragraphs:
It’s June in Washington. It’s June all over the country, of course, but to the capital city the month has special significance. It inaugurates the annual trek of gaping sightseers from all over the country to this American mecca.
Soon the vacationing schoolteachers will be ah-ing and ohing before the wondrous temples of government, while prizewinning high school students will pay their worshipful respects to the pompous dignitaries and official hirelings who carry on the affairs of state. Honeymooning couples, already taking one another for granted, will transfer their admiration and adoration to the indicia of political power, while farmers, satiated with the wonders of nature in their native habitats, will be propitiating the gods of government in their air-conditioned apses. In summer, it is the proper thing for Americans to come to Washington and view with awe.
If you were to ask these visitors, they would tell you that they came here only to admire the beauty of the town. And, to be fair, this is a beautiful town. Why shouldn’t it be? It is like a harlot who never soils her hands with useful work, and whose only occupation, outside of harlotry, is to preen and primp—at the expense of her admirers. Washington is, and ought to be, the most beautiful city in the country; it is also the most useless.
Putting aside the aesthetic thrill which these gapers get out of the visit, they cannot but carry away with them an overpowering impression of the glory and grandeur of the government domiciled here. It must be a wondrous government that operates in this wondrous environment. And when they get back home they will tell of the invigorating, almost healing, experience of having seen the anointed and brushed the robes of greatness; even as did those who in ancient times visited Rome. They will have visited the holy of holies. And all their lives thereafter they will tell, and magnify the tale, of their almost sacred pilgrimage.
Tim Blair – Wednesday, June 15, 11 (06:26 am)
Truth be told, who among us hasn’t at one time or another decided to be an online lesbian? Mark Steyn outs himself and others:
Just for the record, Jonah Goldberg, Mark Krikorian, John Derbyshire and I are all 23-year old lesbians. We started this site as a joke when we were drunk one night and had no idea so many gullible people would fall for such an obvious hoax. For public appearances, we hire 57-year old male 12th-year Social Construct Studies students who’ve been short of cash since the sperm donor clinic closed down.
Tim Blair – Wednesday, June 15, 11 (06:18 am)
Tim Blair – Wednesday, June 15, 11 (06:13 am)
The Sydney Morning Herald appears to have dropped its long-standing men of no appearance crime reporting policy:
A woman has been sexually assaulted after getting out of a taxi in inner city Sydney …
The man is described as being aged about 30, of Mediterranean/Middle Eastern appearance, about 170 centimetres tall with short brown hair.
In other positive Fairfax news, they’ve hired someone good. He’s of Daily Telegraph appearance.
(Via David G.)
Tim Blair – Wednesday, June 15, 11 (06:10 am)
The latest Newspoll is in:
Ms Gillard’s satisfaction rating has dived five points in the past fortnight to a record low 30 per cent, well below Mr Rudd’s low of 36 per cent in his final days as PM.
Her approval was a record high 50 per cent before she announced the carbon tax plan, a decision that has crushed her personal stocks and support for Labor.
It may be just as well that the Dalai Lama has given up his political role after the revered Tibetan spiritual leader Tuesday referred to Australia’s female prime minister as a man …
“If your prime minister has some kind of spiritual interest then of course my meeting would be useful,” he told reporters at Parliament House.
“Otherwise, I have nothing to ask him. Also, you see, there’s no point to seek advice from him.”
He was quickly corrected by one of his aides, who quietly said: “Her.”
(Via Larry T.)
Tim Blair – Wednesday, June 15, 11 (06:02 am)
Bush-haters vowed to depart the US during his presidency. It seems, however, that the great exodus is occurring under Obama’s reign:
The number of individuals renouncing their U.S. citizenship (or terminating their long-term U.S. permanent residency) and expatriating from the U.S. continued to soar in the first quarter of 2011.
Tim Blair – Tuesday, June 14, 11 (01:32 pm)
A comment at The Age, submitted by “mastersstudent”:
I find it ludacris that people can accuse uni students of being bludgers and in need of a ‘job’. I am now a masters student have been studying for 6 years and believe me relish the thought of the day I can get out of bar work that has got me through with minimal wage as i balanced studying, working and having a barley minimal social life …
Education is the future and hope for science, medicine, environment and the world.
Could be a fake. Then again, considering contemporary educational standards, could be all too terribly real.
Tim Blair – Tuesday, June 14, 11 (01:29 pm)
We live in a brilliant time, which probably accounts for all of the complaining. It’s a luxury thing. US comedian Louis CK has a fine routine on modern technological miracles, all of them wasted on what Louis reasonably describes as “the crappiest generation of spoiled idiots that don’t care”. He elaborates:
“I was on an airplane and there was high-speed internet. That’s the newest thing that I know exists. And I’m sitting on the plane and they go, ‘Open up your laptops. You can go on the internet.’ And it’s fast and I’m watching YouTube clips.
“Then it breaks down and they apologise, the internet’s not working. And they guy next to me goes: ‘This is bulls--t.’ Like, how quickly the world owes him something that he first knew existed only ten seconds ago.”
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, June 15, 11 (06:52 am)
AGAIN I must ask: if global warming is so clear a threat, why all these deceits?
You see, the Gillard Government and its paid alarmists this week stooped to even more despicable lows to panic you.
Take Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery, who used to claim we’d never again get dam-filling rains and that Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide could run out of water by ... oops, already.
This week he was at it again, insisting global warming was already drowning some of our islands.
“There are islands in the Torres Strait that are already being evacuated and are feeling the impacts,” he claimed.
Oh, really, Tim? Which ones? When?
In fact, sea levels have dropped over the past few years.
Moreover, even Toshie Kris, a warming alarmist who chairs the Torres Strait Regional Authority, last month described evacuations of his islands as a thing that might happen one day, not a thing that had happened already.
“The Torres Strait may well be the first area in Australia to commence evacuations of inhabited lands, not as a precaution but as a direct result of climate change,” he said.
The only evacuation I know of to which Flannery could be referring was of just six families from Yam Island in 2006 when a storm coincided with a king tide.
But such floods have happened in these low-lying islands since before memory. For instance, Bamaga, on Cape York, was settled more than 60 years ago after Saibai Island was hit by a tidal wave. So which islands, Tim?
Surely you can’t be referring to the few families who have quit Papua New Guinea’s Carteret Islands?
After all, the real problem there is not that the seas are rising but that the land, on tectonic plates, is falling.
But Flannery’s alarmism is almost forgivable compared with that of the Department of Climate Change, which yesterday leaked to the Herald Sun its latest “fact sheet” on the allegedly deadly threat of global warming.
So I read this: “Victorians ... are being warned that global warming could slash the ski season by up to 96 per cent ... The number of heat-related deaths could reach 1318 a year ... “
What shameful hucksterism from the department.
The claim that skiers will weep for warming is based on a suspect CSIRO 2003 study, which warned that ski resorts could already lose a quarter of their snow by 2018.
Yet most of the snow seasons since have been great, and this year’s has opened early. One day the CSIRO will admit it was wrong. Again.
The death scare is even dodgier. That bizarrely precise prediction that 1318 older Melburnians could die of heat in 2050 plays down two critical things.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, June 15, 11 (06:47 am)
Janet Albrechtsen agrees:
Gillard’s problem is still Gillard. Her public positions lack private convictions. From opposing a big Australia, gay marriage and a republic to supporting the flag and the importance of religion, Gillard so obviously echoes voters for no other reason than political gain. Her statements on everything from immigration to population are knee-jerk populism, aimed at dominating the media cycle and putting out potential policy bushfires, rather than presenting a genuine narrative about her political beliefs. Gillard darts all over the place depending on what she wants…
The PM’s backflip on the carbon tax is just more of the same. Confusion now surrounds her leadership because no one really believes what she says any more.
Paul Kelly is only a little more generous:
Gillard’s tragedy as PM is that she knows the problem but seems unable to resolve it.
She knows where Rudd went wrong: too many premature announcements in deference to media spin; too many expectations without the follow-up delivery; too many switches of positions leaving the public confused about the beliefs and identity of their Prime Minister.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, June 15, 11 (06:47 am)
NEXT week marks a year since Julia Gillard became Prime Minister - and first made the promises that have killed her.
What’s unfolded since has been one of the most incredible self-destructions in Australian politics.
It’s Shakespearean, how this feminist hero and darling of even conservatives such as Alan Jones became the hapless joke we saw on 60 Minutes on Sunday, giggling awkwardly outside her boyfriend’s shed at The Lodge as she meekly obeyed his ban on women.
That cringing scene hinted at the real tragedy behind Gillard’s fall.
It’s not just that she’s been the most incompetent and weak prime minister since at least World War II, with not a single achievement to boast of in a junkyard of failure.
More devastating is that she’s flunked the moral test. Gillard has failed, above all, because of her lack of character.
Let’s go back a year to see how she came undone, and why Labor kids itself to think she can recover.
It’s hard to believe now, but a year ago even conservative commentators thought they saw in Gillard a directness, competence and strength of purpose totally missing from Kevin Rudd, then prime minister.
“We’ve got the wrong person running the country,” enthused Alan Jones as Deputy Prime Minister Gillard, a “smart lady”, giggled in his studio.
“Gillard is impressive,” agreed The Australian’s Janet Albrechtsen, another conservative. The Sydney Institute’s Gerard Henderson professed himself a “great admirer”.
As I warned then, much of this admiration came from people only too keen to praise someone who might rid them of Rudd. And, indeed, she did.
Never mind that in May last year Gillard insisted Labor would definitely not replace Rudd: “There’s more chance of me becoming the full-forward for the Dogs.”
Just a month later, on June 24, a shocked Rudd was packing his office, and Gillard was Prime Minister.
But it was in that very instant of her greatest triumph that Gillard began to destroy herself.
Gillard never explained why Rudd had to be knifed, other than to say the “government has lost its way”. But how? What was Gillard’s role in that?
Sure, Rudd was indeed played out, as even the Liberals privately conceded, but for many voters his assassination seemed an inexplicable and wanton betrayal.
After all, Labor was still ahead in the two-party preferred vote, as measured by Newspoll - 52 per cent to the coalition’s 48.
If that was the excuse for removing Rudd then, what is the excuse for not removing Gillard now? Newspoll routinely shows Labor under Gillard down to just 48 per cent or worse.
So Gillard knew from the start of her reign that her hands were dirtied by deceit and double-dealing.
Nothing, then, could be more important to her survival and self-respect than to rebuild the public’s trust in her character and her word.
No more trickery, no more false promises, no more betrayals. More than any politician since Malcolm Fraser, the onus was on Gillard to play it straight.
Yet, incredibly, what followed has been the shameful record of deceits that defines Gillard today, and makes her unelectable.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, June 15, 11 (06:43 am)
What applies to one industry actually applies to the economy as a whole - that it makes no sense to impose a carbon dioxide tax before the rest of the world:
FORMER ACTU president and Labor MP Jennie George has called for the steel industry to be kept out of the carbon tax until similar regimes are operating in competitor countries.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, June 15, 11 (06:29 am)
The notion that warming seas were bad for corals always seemed implausible. Yet our scaremongers kept pushing the line that global warming would kill the Great Barrier Reef:
Julia Gillard’s key climate-change adviser, Will Steffen, has warned that nothing short of securing an effective global agreement to tackle climate change can save the reef, while one of the world’s leading reef scientists, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, has said Australia will be left with ”the great weedy reef” unless the world cuts emissions.
How often such alarmists warned us give up, or the reef gets it:
Hoegh-Guldberg’s past predictions make me doubt his latest.
In 1998, he warned that the reef was under pressure from global warming, and much had turned white.
He later admitted the reef had made a “surprising” recovery.
In 1999 he claimed global warming would cause mass bleaching of the reef every two years from 2010.
He yesterday admitted it hadn’t.
In 2006, he warned high temperatures meant “between 30 and 40 per cent of coral on Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef could die within a month”.
He later admitted this bleaching had a “minimal impact”.
And now the latest research from Japan, from its National Institute for Environmental Studies and published in Geophysical Research Letters, shows that warmer seas indeed help reefs, not hurt them:
Rising temperatures caused by climatic warming may cause poleward range shifts and/or expansions in species distribution… We show the first large-scale evidence of the poleward range expansion of modern corals, based on 80 years of national records from the temperate areas of Japan, where century-long measurements of in situ sea-surface temperatures have shown statistically significant rises. Four major coral species categories, including two key species for reef formation in tropical areas, showed poleward range expansions since the 1930s, whereas no species demonstrated southward range shrinkage or local extinction. The speed of these expansions reached up to 14 km/year, which is far greater than that for other species.
(Thanks to reader Baa Humbug.)
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, June 15, 11 (06:17 am)
Newspoll spells disaster for Julia Gillard, every which way:
While Ms Gillard has tried desperately to promote her carbon tax and settle an asylum-seeker deal with Malaysia during the past two weeks, voter satisfaction with the way she is doing her job has slumped five percentage points to a new low for her of 30 per cent…
Voters also turned off Ms Gillard when asked who would make the better prime minister, her support falling from 44 per cent to 41 per cent - also a new low for the Labor leader.
Personal support for Ms Gillard is now similar to that of former Labor prime minister Paul Keating before he lost the 1996 election and that of former Liberal prime minister John Howard in 1998 after he announced he would introduce a GST. It is also lower than Kevin Rudd’s approval rating when Ms Gillard replaced him as Prime Minister a year ago… Mr Abbott is now within three points of Ms Gillard as preferred prime minister, on 38 per cent.
According to the latest Newspoll survey, conducted exclusively for The Australian last weekend, Labor’s primary voted has dropped back to its second-lowest on record at 31 per cent ...
Based on preference flows at the August 2010 election, the Coalition widened its two-party-preferred lead in the past two weeks from four points to 10 - 55 per cent to Labor’s 45 per cent.
The last Newspoll before Gillard knifed Kevin Rudd, claiming the Government had “lost its way”, had Labor on 52 per cent. Now it’s on 47 per cent…
Signs of nerves:
JULIA Gillard has failed to silence dissent on her back bench, with Labor Left faction figure Doug Cameron rejecting her demand for MPs to confine criticism of policy decisions to caucus meetings.
Senator Cameron yesterday reserved his right to criticise the government during a torrid caucus meeting in which he was accused of disloyalty by Right faction MPs.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, June 15, 11 (06:03 am)
The frist scapegoat was Karl Bitar, who was driven out from his job as Labor’s national secretary. Now another has been found:
But the Prime Minister is standing by Terry Moran, her department chief, in what is becoming a test of her authority less than a fortnight before the anniversary of the Labor coup that brought her to power…
Dissatisfaction with Mr Moran’s performance has flared in recent days, with Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese angry about the bureaucrat’s management of a conflict with the new NSW Liberal government over road funding.
One source who asked not to be named noted that the the problems of both the Rudd and Gillard governments concerned breakdowns in the process of government, and that Mr Moran was the “common ingredient”.
One of Mr Moran’s defenders within government noted last night it was a matter of public record that Mr Rudd had refused to see his department head in the last four or five months of his leadership, so Mr Moran could not be blamed for the breakdown in government processes in that period.
(Thanks to reader Grand Wizard.)
Rudd refused to see his own department head for more than four months? These people are mad.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, June 15, 11 (12:09 am)
You’re astonished, I’m sure, to be told electric cars are yet another green mirage:
An electric car owner would have to drive at least 129,000km before producing a net saving in CO2. Many electric cars will not travel that far in their lifetime because they typically have a range of less than 145km on a single charge and are unsuitable for long trips. Even those driven 160,000km would save only about a tonne of CO2 over their lifetimes.
The British study, which is the first analysis of the full lifetime emissions of electric cars covering manufacturing, driving and disposal, undermines the case for tackling climate change by the rapid introduction of electric cars.
Another green scheme turns out to to all pain for little gain:
THE NSW government has called on Julia Gillard to immediately dump incentives for households that install rooftop solar panels, saying federal Labor’s green scheme is too expensive.
Despite Climate Change Minister Greg Combet having scaled back subsidies in the scheme to quell anger over rocketing electricity prices, the NSW pricing watchdog yesterday confirmed that the federal government’s renewable energy target - which requires 20 per cent of electricity to be produced from renewable energy sources by 2020 - would be responsible for six percentage points of a 17 per cent increase in power bills from July 1.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, June 15, 11 (12:08 am)
Ouch. That’s the Leftist hero speaking, too:
The Dalai Lama gave so little thought to the prospect of a meeting Australia’s Prime Minister he didn’t even know she was a “she”.
Asked whether he was disappointed Julia Gillard had followed Labor tradition by declining a meeting, the Tibetan spiritual leader was blunt: “No.”..
“If your Prime Minister has some kind of spiritual interest then of course my meeting would be useful,” he told reporters at Parliament House in Canberra.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, June 15, 11 (12:07 am)
I don’t think Papua New Guinea’s acting prime minister has the reopening of the Manus Island detention centre on his mind right now:
PAPUA New Guinea’s acting Prime Minister Sam Abal said his family were “immediate suspects” in a murder case today after the corpse of a woman was found inside his Port Moresby compound.
Heading the Pacific nation while veteran leader Michael Somare recovers from heart surgery in Singapore, Abal said an “unfortunate and regrettable incident” had taken place at the family home at the weekend…
Abal had recently moved to a hotel and was not living at the Konedobu address, the newspaper said.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, June 15, 11 (12:03 am)
A tribute to Japanese efficiency and sense of purpose: then and now pictures of the areas worst hit by March’s tsunami.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, June 15, 11 (12:03 am)
Normally, the foreign minister would have made the call, had he being doing his job:
INDONESIA’S agriculture minister has criticised Australia’s decision to suspend live cattle exports, labelling it as “unfair” and complaining the move was announced without any consultation with his government.
In a clear sign that Canberra’s handling of the issue has upset Indonesia, Agriculture Minister Suswono today said the decision was rushed and only made in response to public pressure in Australia.
”There should have been communication first. The decision had been made and then the agriculture minister called asking us to understand the policy,” he said.
“They should have talked to us first. The Australian agriculture minister was under strong public pressure so they had to do it.”
Andrew Bolt – Tuesday, June 14, 11 (06:42 pm)
For the most excruciating footage of - and insight into - Kevin Rudd, check this latest.
Andrew Bolt – Tuesday, June 14, 11 (06:32 pm)
Essential Media has more bad news for Julia Gillard, a week before the anniversary of her first year in office: Labor 46 per cent to the Coalition 54.
When Gillard knifed Kevin Rudd, Labor was 52 to the Coalition’s 48, according to Newspoll.
Essential Research also has Gillard with her worst approval ratings yet - 34 per cent approve and 54 disapprove.
And on her signature issue, just 50 per cent of the public now think humans are responsible for global warming.
Andrew Bolt – Tuesday, June 14, 11 (02:32 pm)
I wish I could persuade Joel Silver to read my columns, but luckily I’ve still got my TV show.