Category Archives: Education

America The Illiterate

I don’t generally think much of Chris Hedges, and the comments are nutty, but I largely agree with this piece:

The illiterate and semi-literate, once the campaigns are over, remain powerless. They still cannot protect their children from dysfunctional public schools. They still cannot understand predatory loan deals, the intricacies of mortgage papers, credit card agreements and equity lines of credit that drive them into foreclosures and bankruptcies. They still struggle with the most basic chores of daily life from reading instructions on medicine bottles to filling out bank forms, car loan documents and unemployment benefit and insurance papers. They watch helplessly and without comprehension as hundreds of thousands of jobs are shed. They are hostages to brands. Brands come with images and slogans. Images and slogans are all they understand. Many eat at fast food restaurants not only because it is cheap but because they can order from pictures rather than menus. And those who serve them, also semi-literate or illiterate, punch in orders on cash registers whose keys are marked with symbols and pictures. This is our brave new world.

Can democracy survive for long, with such an electorate? Of course, he doesn’t finger the primary culprit–our fascist public school system which manufactures exactly the sort of people who will keep it in power.

[Late afternoon update]

Are individualists losing the IQ war with the left?

Doing The Math

The Obama campaign has been lying about its donor base:

If, as Obama says, most donations are grassroots and in small amounts, the numbers do not match up. If this many people donated to his campaign he would be polling at well over 50%.

In a grassroots movement, you smell the green. He’s raised $600 million, as you say, in small donations. So divide it by ten bucks apiece and there’s 60 million donors. If 120 million people vote on Tuesday, and he gets 50% that equals …60 million voters! Honestly, you cynical rightwing losers, what’s so suspicious about that math?

On Fox Newswatch on Saturday, Jane Hall said that many of her (journalism) students couldn’t even calculate a percent. Of course, in this case, they’re not motivated to figure it out, even if they know how.

Aren’t There Any Editors Left?

Sarah Palin is righteously demanding that the LA Times release the tape, but look at this transcript:

…she saved her hardest criticism for the newspaper that currently holds the tape, saying they was refusing to release it to aid Obama.

“It must be nice for a candidate to have major news organizations looking after his best interests like that,” Palin said. “In this case, we have a newspaper willing to throw aside even the public’s right to know in order to protect a candidate that its own editorial board has endorsed. And if there’s a Pulitzer Prize category for excelling in cow-towing, then the L.A. Times, you’re winning.”

I’m pretty sure that the paper has never towed a cow. And she didn’t say that it did. She said that they kowtowed. But I guess neither the writer or editor (if there was one) knew what that word meant or at least how it was spelled.

Why I Have A Blog

To get past the gatekeepers.

I put up a(n admittedly semi-snarky) comment at Keith Cowing’s place yesterday, and he chose not to publish it (his comments section is moderated) for whatever reason. His blog, his call.

It was in response to “NASAAstronomer’s” comment that:

…if McCain and Palin win, we’ll be teaching creationism in our science classes, so how likely is it that space science will get funded?

My (unpublished until now) response:


Right. I’m sure that will be one of their first acts, to mandate the teaching of creationism in science classes.

Can you explain to me how that works exactly? Will it be an executive order, or what?

This kind of Palin derangement is amazing. Lileks noticed it, too:

Here’s your Sarah Palin overreaction of the day. Presumably she took out the entrails, dried them, and used them to lynch librarians. It’s really obvious, isn’t it? She wants to kill Lady Liberty and all she represents. The plane is included in the picture because she personally shoots polar bears from above, like she’s GOD OR SOMETHING. The comments have the usual reasoned evaluations – she’s a PSYCHO, a LUNATIC. That picture is so sad and so true.

I don’t know if anyone’s stated the obvious yet, but this might be the first time people have become unhinged in advance over a vice-presidential candidate. Not to say some aren’t painting McCain as something the devil blurted out in a distracted moment during his daily conference call with Cheney, but a Veep? It took a while for people to believe that Cheney commissioned private snuff films with runaways dressed up to resemble a portion of the Bill of Rights, but Palin is She-Wolf of the Tundra right off the bat. And god help us she can use email, which means she will control the government. The most Spy ever did with Quayle was stick him in a dunce hat. By the time we reach the election Oliphant will probably draw Palin sodomizing by an oil derrick with guns for arms. I have to confess: I think Palin is an interesting politician, but the people she’s driving batty are much more fascinating.

Imagine twelve years of this.


Well, we’ve survived eight years of BDS. I suspect that we’ll pull through a swamp of PDS.

Where Is The Pencil Czar?

George Will has more on economic ignorance:

The indignant student, who had first gone to Home Depot for a flashlight, says it “didn’t try to rip us off.” It was, however, out of flashlights. Ruth suggests that the reason Big Box had flashlights was that its prices were high. If prices were left at regular levels, the people who would have got the flashlights would have been those who got to the store first. With the higher prices, “someone who had candles at home decided to do without the flashlight and left it there for you on the shelf.” Neither Home Depot nor the student who was angry at Big Box had benefited from Home Depot’s price restraint.

Capitalism, Ruth reminds him, is a profit and loss system.Corfam–Du Pont’s fake leather that made awful shoes in the 1960s–and the Edsel quickly vanished. But, Ruth notes, “the post office and ethanol subsidies and agricultural price supports and mediocre public schools live forever.” They are insulated from market forces; they are created, in defiance of those forces, by government, which can disregard prices, which means disregarding the rational allocation of resources. To disrupt markets is to tamper with the unseen source of the harmony that is all around us.

The spontaneous emergence of social cooperation–the emergence of a system vastly more complex, responsive and efficient than any government could organize–is not universally acknowledged or appreciated. It discomforts a certain political sensibility, the one that exaggerates the importance of government and the competence of the political class.

Yes, an exaggeration that is reinforced by the propaganda inculcated into people by government schools.

Economic Ignorami

George Bush’s announcement this morning that the administration was concerned about “gouging” reminded me of why I wish that we’d had better options in the last two elections (and still do). I expect that kind of nonsense from Democrats, but you’d think that someone who was supposedly a businessman would know better. Or perhaps he does, and is just pandering. I’m not sure which is worse.

Every time we have a natural disaster like this, this idiotic topic comes up, and we once again have to explain Econ 101 to the products of our public school system, probably in futility. This time, it’s Rich Hailey’s turn.

Here’s what I wrote about it a three years ago, in the wake of Katrina.

[Update late morning]

Jeez, I thought that David Asman was smarter than that. Now he’s telling Fox viewers to take pictures of stations with high gas prices so that they can be reported to authorities. It’s hard for me to believe that Neal Cavuto would do that.

[Another update a minute or so later]

You know, I think that this is an explanation for socialism and collectivism’s continuing grip on the public mind, despite its long history of unending failure. There’s just something in human psychology to which it naturally appeals, and rationality just can’t break through. It just “feels” unfair for prices to go up in an emergency, regardless of the demonstrably bad consequences of attempting to legislate them.

[Late afternoon update]

Shannon Love explains how the gas station business works:

I’ll say it one more time for those who can’t be bothered to actually ask someone who owns a gas station. Gas stations set prices for the gas they sell today based on the wholesale price of the gas they will have to buy to replace it. Get it? The price you pay for a gallon today is the cost of the gallon the station will have buy to replace the one you just bought.

Gas stations sell gas at or near cost, so if they did not use replacement pricing any sudden spike in gas prices would shut them down and you couldn’t get any gas. I simply do not know why our public and private talking heads cannot understand and communicate this simple fact.

Because either they don’t know it, or they think that people don’t want to hear it. They operate on razor-thin margins, and can’t afford to hand out subsidized gas as charity, even if that wouldn’t screw up the market. And note, for those who say it’s “big oil” that is “maximizing profits” in the face of a national emergency, even if that were true (it’s not) “big oil” isn’t threatened with jail for “gouging.” It’s the gas station owner, who has no control over his wholesale gas costs. So people who demand that we crack down on gougers are essentially demanding that the station operators either operate at a loss, or pay fines, or go to jail. I don’t know why anyone would want to be in that business in the face of so much public ignorance about it.

Organize This

(Democrat) Sandra Tsing Lo writes that the Obamas should have been more supportive of their local school system:

it is with huge grief-filled disappointment that I discovered that the Obamas send their children to the University of Chicago Laboratory School (by 5th grade, tuition equals $20,286 a year). The school’s Web site quotes all that ridiculous John Dewey nonsense about developing character while, of course, isolating your children from the poor. A pox on them and, while we’re at it, a pox on John Dewey! I’m sick to death of those inspirational Dewey quotes littering the Web sites of $20,000-plus-a-year private schools, all those gentle duo-tone-photographed murmurings about “building critical thinking and fostering democratic citizenship” in their cherished students, living large on their $20,000-a-year island.

Meanwhile, Joseph Biden, the Amtrak senator, standing up boldly for the right to be a Roman Catholic, appears to have sent all three children to the lovely looking Archmere Academy in Delaware. Archmere’s Web site notes some public school districts allow Archmere students to use public school buses. Well, isn’t that great — your tax dollars at work in the great state of Delaware because with $18,000 a year in tuition, they can’t afford their own buses.

Public schools are for the little people, to be run as the teachers’ unions desire, and according to John Dewey’s toxic design.