Category Archives: Education


Remember all those left-wing pundits who drooled over Chavez?

Chavez’s untimely death from cancer in 2013 saw an outpouring of grief from the global left. The caudillo “demonstrated that it is possible to resist the neo-liberal dogma that holds sway over much of humanity,” wrote British journalist Owen Jones. “I mourn a great hero to the majority of his people,” said Oliver Stone, who would go on to replace Chavez with Vladimir Putin as the object of his twisted affection.

On the Venezuelan regime’s international propaganda channel, Telesur, American host Abby Martin — who used to ply her duplicitous trade at Russia Today — takes credulous viewers on Potemkin tours of supermarkets fully stocked with goods. It would be inaccurate to label the thoroughly unconvincing Martin, who combines the journalistic ethics of Walter Duranty with the charm of Ulrike Meinhof, a useful idiot. She’s just an idiot.

Brutal, but fair.

[Update a few minutes later]

Venezuela’s slide toward civil war. Unfortunately, the government confiscated the weapons (which many on the Left would love to do here, if they could pull it off). So unless we smuggle some in to them, the war won’t end well for freedom.

[Update a while later]

An AP reporter finally leaves the country:

In the early days, the shortages seemed almost whimsical. My Venezuelan friends were used to going on Miami shopping sprees. When I made trips home, they asked me to bring back perfume, leather jackets, iPhones and condoms. I usually took two near-empty suitcases to carry back the requests, plus food and toiletries for myself. As the crisis deepened, the requests became harder to fill, and traced the outlines of darker personal dramas: Medication for heart failure. Pediatric epilepsy drugs. Pills to trigger an abortion. Gas masks.

And things were still somehow getting worse. The first time I saw people line up outside the bakery near my apartment, I stopped to take photos. How crazy: A literal bread line.

Then true hunger crept into where I lived. People started digging through the trash at all hours, pulling out vegetable peelings and soggy pizza crusts and eating them on the spot. That seemed like rock bottom. Until my local bakery started organizing lines each morning, not to buy bread but to eat trash.

This is the end state of socialism. They ran out of other peoples’ money.

Demonizing School Choice

won’t help education:

…it’s certainly fair to note that people opposed to desegregation decided that one way to solve the problem was to get rid of public schools, allowing racists to choose a lily-white educational environment for their children. Maintaining Jim Crow is a vile motive, and it can’t be denied that that was one historical reason some people had for supporting school choice.

Only the proper answer to this is, So what? You cannot stop terrible people from promoting sound ideas for bad reasons. Liberals who think that ad hominem is a sufficient rebuttal to a policy proposal should first stop to consider the role of Hitler’s Germany in spreading national health insurance programs to the countries they invaded. If you think “But Hitler” does not really constitute a useful argument about universal health coverage, then you should probably not resort to “But Jim Crow” in a disagreement over school funding.

If you think we can’t allow school choice because Jim Crow, then it would be just as logical to oppose minimum wage and gun control, because historically, their purpose has been to control blacks.


Yes, sorry, but they really were socialists, and there is nothing “right wing” about them.

Related: Dinesh D’Souza apparently has a new book out:

Dinesh D’Souza explodes the Left’s big lie. He expertly exonerates President Trump and his supporters, then uncovers the Democratic Left’s long, cozy relationship with Nazism: how the racist and genocidal acts of early Democrats inspired Adolf Hitler’s campaign of death; how fascist philosophers influenced the great 20th century lions of the American Left; and how today’s anti-free speech, anti-capitalist, anti-religious liberty, pro-violence Democratic Party is a frightening simulacrum of the Nazi Party.


Ivy League

Don’t send your kids there.

I didn’t even take SAT in high school. I worked for a year after graduating, then went to community college, then transferred to Ann Arbor. It would never have occurred to me to do all the crazy things kids do to get into these overrated schools.

[Monday-morning update]

This seems related: Targeting “meritocracy.”

The real solution to this problem is the one none of the anti-meritocracy articles dare suggest: accept that education and merit are two different things!

I work with a lot of lower- and working-class patients, and one complaint I hear again and again is that their organization won’t promote them without a college degree. Some of them have been specifically told “You do great work, and we think you’d be a great candidate for a management position, but it’s our policy that we can’t promote someone to a manager unless they’ve gone to college”. Some of these people are too poor to afford to go to college. Others aren’t sure they could pass; maybe they have great people skills and great mechanical skills but subpar writing-term-paper skills. Though I’ve met the occasional one who goes to college and rises to great heights, usually they sit at the highest non-degree-requiring tier of their organization, doomed to perpetually clean up after the mistakes of their incompetent-but-degree-having managers. These people have loads of merit. In a meritocracy, they’d be up at the top, competing for CEO positions. In our society, they’re stuck.

The problem isn’t just getting into college. It’s that success in college only weakly correlates with success in the real world. I got into medical school because I got good grades in college; those good grades were in my major, philosophy. Someone else who was a slightly worse philosopher would never have made it to medical school; maybe they would have been a better doctor. Maybe someone who didn’t get the best grades in college has the right skills to be a nurse, or a firefighter, or a police officer. If so, we’ll never know; all three of those occupations are gradually shifting to acceptance conditional on college performance. Ulysses Grant graduated in the bottom half of his West Point class, but turned out to be the only guy capable of matching General Lee and winning the Civil War after a bunch of superficially better-credentialed generals failed. If there’s a modern Grant with poor grades but excellent real-world fighting ability, are we confident our modern educationocracy will find him? Are we confident it will even try?

I’m quite confident that it won’t. As Glenn often says, these people aren’t educated, or competent. They’re just credentialed. They’re the very opposite of elite.


Health Care

Yes, access to it is limited by overregulation:

The problem is that healthcare consumers have limited options. At the two ends of the spectrum, they can see a licensed doctor, or they can do it themselves. One option is extremely expensive, time-consuming, and reliable, and the other is free and still time-consuming but not as reliable. In between, there are few other choices. It’s possible to use a service like Teladoc or visit a drugstore clinic in some areas for minor issues like strep throat, an earache, or a sprained ankle, but in the absence of the current system of occupational licensing, there’d be a much broader continuum of possibilities between my unlettered amateur visits to Dr. Google and visits to an actual doctor’s office.

The problem is compounded by the fact that we pay for health-care via “insurance” coverage, which isn’t really insurance but just prepaid health-care. This system requires lots and lots of rules about what can and can’t be covered and what constitutes medicine. The entire healthcare market would function much more efficiently if there were more options. For treating a lot of conditions, you don’t need someone who went to four years of medical school and worked through a grueling residency. Better to save that talent for more challenging stuff and allow people to seek marginal improvements over DIY diagnosis.

But instead, we’re forced to buy “insurance” that isn’t really insurance, and they’ve totally destroyed the concept of insurance.

Nancy MacLean

Is she the new Michael Bellesiles?

It’s very important to the Left to try to make the case that conservatives are racist, even with fake history, not only to smear them, but to cover up their own long history of racism, which continues even to this day.

[Wednesday-morning update]

Well, this is brutal, but fair:

Once I realized that this was the approach, the larger point became clear: Democracy in Chains is a work of speculative historical fiction. There is considerable research underpinning the speculation, and since MacLean is careful about footnoting only things that actually did happen she cannot be charged with fabricating facts. But most of the book, and all of its substantive conclusions, are idiosyncratic interpretations of the facts that she selects from a much larger record, as is common in the speculative-history genre. There is nothing wrong about speculation, of course, but there is nothing persuasive about it either, in terms of drawing reliable conclusions about history.

The reason that Democracy in Chains is remarkable is that it is such a great story. The evil mastermind of the secretive “Public Choice” movement, James M. Buchanan, was the winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. MacLean is able to decode the true meaning of his mostly rather bland, academic-ese writings, after which Buchanan achieves the status of a Bond villain. Buchanan sought nothing less than to bring down the America we all love, and replace it with a plutocracy. The account is rendered plausible by MacLean’s excellence as a writer.

The problem with history, of course, is that many narratives about a few cherry-picked events and documents are “plausible.” The task of the historian is to try to distinguish among plausible accounts “through careful sifting of evidence and respectful encounters with opposing points of view.” There is none of that here. Even a casual familiarity with the basic facts of James Buchanan’s life and scholarship, and of the growth and success of the Public Choice movement, reveal far simpler, and more plausible, explanations.

…MacLean’s thesis really does read like a plot line that Ian Fleming rejected for a Bond novel: “No, that’s nuts. Let’s go back to the idea where a nuclear missile blows up the moon and changes the orbit of the Earth, causing earthquakes that allow recovery of hidden oil reserves and diamonds. That’s more plausible.” Nevertheless, the narrative thread connecting the documents and discussions that MacLean has selected from the much larger and more equivocal record does indeed have this structure, and that is what we are evaluating.

It’s long, but worth the read, if you want to actually understand Buchanan, public choice and libertarianism.