A friend of mine was recently incommoded by a neighbor (in an upper-middle-class neighborhood) who informed her that yes, everyone should have free education, and that people like her should pay for it, because she could afford it.

We’ll leave aside the immorality of arrogating to yourself the right of determining what your neighbors can afford and also of thinking you’re entitled to take it from them by force for purposes you think (but have no direct proof) are trustworthy and serve the community.

We’re not talking of providing for the common defense, here, or even stopping rioting on the streets. Yes, I know, I’ve seen the bumperstickers too.  “More schools fewer jails” or something like that.  If we needed more proof that they were nonsense, the 9/11 planners were among the richest, best educated of Muslims.  They weren’t striking out of privation or despair, but out of hatred (most of it probably inculcated by our own schools) and a thirst for power and self aggrandizement. By and large this is true of our criminals too.  There might have been — truly, I doubt it — back in the time of Dickens people who stole bread because they were hungry and were therefore horribly punished.  Maybe.  Most of what we hear of that is via authors like Dickens who thought they knew better ways to organize society and who had an ax to grind.

Read into the biography of any Victorian criminal, or even the seamy underbelly — I’ve skimmed it, when reading about Jack the Ripper, or other true-crimes of the period — or for that matter any Elizabethan criminal, of the sort that would be easy to paint as “he stole because he was hungry” and what you find is an habitual life of crime and the sort of weaving line of morality that we find among our own under class.

There was hunger aplenty before the industrial revolution, and yes, some people died in famines.  But barring the ultimate, desperate push and that usually affected everyone in a region, the laws held.  Most people — most morally formed, normal human beings — do not wish to hurt people and take their stuff.  Or at least they don’t wish it enough to do it.

So any possible “plus” of free college for all (I presume that’s the type of education this moral monster was speaking about, since high school is already free) was linked by this tenuous idea of the liberal left that education thwarts crime.  (It might even have been true once, when education was, unapologetically, about teaching the bourgeois virtues, but that type of education, nowadays, is non-existent, destroyed by the left itself. What is left is more on the grounds of teaching people why they’ve been wronged by society and that, as you might understand, does not inculcate probity or respect for society’s laws.)

Let’s leave aside that moral flaw, though, and the lies the gentleman in question told himself to pretend he had a right to take his neighbors’ money for the good of a nebulous third party.  (I.e. ultimately for the satisfaction of taking other people’s stuff, the savage joy of being able to cause suffering, all of it masked under altruism.)

Let’s say that he got his way and we were all taxed out of wazoo to pay for free college education for all.  What would we get out of it?

I’ll start by saying my education was if not free at least extremely cheap (I paid the equivalent of $20 a course and about the same for late exam fees) and paid for by Portuguese tax payers.

“See,” you’ll say. “You’re an hypocrite, who benefited from the program you would deny the poor of America.”

Which would just show that you know diddly squat about how “free education” works in most of Europe.  (Most because it might be different in Nordic countries.  I simply don’t know.)

In most of Europe there is Free College for some.  For the rest there are a variety of paid colleges and technical colleges.

The “Free College” in Portugal had its numbers frozen back in the sixties.  When I came through in the eighties, your grades had to be above the top one percent to qualify.  Some people waited and retook the exam for five years or something like it.

I entered first try.  Sure.  The downside of this was that I had “paid” for my education with blood, sweat and tears and a good part of my youth.  Before you say I was being melodramatic — and I know it doesn’t work this way now.  The system has changed markedly since I went through it.  For one, in our day, there was only one paying university and it was frowned at — only a little.  We were the year that the “revolutionary” changes hit hardest, right at the start of middle school equivalent.  Which means sometimes our curriculum changed five times in a year and we never got past the intro.

What this means, in practical terms, is that by the time we hit ninth grade no one had a clue what we knew.  So an exam took place, which overrode the class grades.  You had to be above a B to go on to tenth grade.  Much of the material was stuff we’d never covered, because of the crazy changes every year. There was no excuse.

I think something like 95% of people either failed that exam or were below the B.  A lot of my friends ended up going to “technical schools” after that (hard to explain to Americans.  They were still high schools, but they trained you for things like secretary and teacher’s assistant.  I think (THINK) they’re the equivalent of the British o-levels.  I KNOW that in my school, where the forms grades were pasted on the front hall some forms had NO ONE pass.  They looked all red, like they’d bled.  Our form and our rival form, being culled from the best students, were reversed and we only had four fail in each.

Leading up to that exam it’s as close to going crazy as I wish to try.  And we did have a few suicides.

Then the tenth and eleventh grade (I did twelveth in the US) “cuts” were just as brutal.  And even so, of those that graduated, most didn’t make it to college.

I didn’t have a choice.  My dad would have been heartbroken if a descendant of his couldn’t cut it.  So I made it.  But I paid for it, just not in coin.

Even so, and returning to our point, I’m not sure those are good investments of the taxpayer’s money.  Take my degree, when I went through it.  Sure, languages are the most rigorous of the humanities, and I have no problem with that.  But a lot of our training — literature, poetry — was less to develop the languages, and more, it seemed, designed to make us into “well rounded young misses.”  Which is, arguably what the degree had been when it was first founded.  Because it was paid by the state, only the state had the power to change the curriculum.

Most people who graduated with me went on to be language teachers, but we never got any actual TRAINING for that.  There was one course.  There were two for techniques of translation.  What there wasn’t was any of the training we actually needed and that most of us had to get in the first years in a job.  You know, drawing lesson plans, dealing with discipline problems, or conversely dealing with harassment among diplomats or bosses in a translation setting.  Or what to soft pedal for what cultures.

I find it really useful, in general, in life, particularly in complex situations to ask “who benefits from this?”  and “who controls this?”  It tells you everything you need to know. If those people are not the same, then you’re going to get malinvestment.

The people who benefited from the free college I received were, to an extent, students.  To a greater extent, public schools and employers for translators and multilingual employees who could be got relatively cheap since there was no debt to pay.

The problem is the people controlling the education were neither of those two groups, but government bureaucrats.  They neither knew nor cared what the two groups NEEDED and if the students ended up unemployed, or had to learn on the job and cost the employers money, no one was going to come after the bureaucrats.

And that is for a system which culled for the most academically gifted students, which means the chances of their learning fast and well on the job were pretty high, as were the chances of their adapting to whatever was thrown at them.

America is  more egalitarian and during its long march to the left has gotten quite averse to the claims of merit.  Because I’ll point out my husband also had practically free education, because he got a full ride scholarship.  These are rarer now for merit.  Merit is — AT BEST — a factor, taken in account with ethnicity and other signs of “group oppression” which have nothing to do with oppression.

The chances of a system like what I described above and what operates in most of Europe are next to none.

When these people talk of free college, they talk of free college in the same way that people talk of free high school: if you want it, you march up, sign up for it and take the college.

Who benefits from this?  Arguably the same group as above: students and employers.  Who controls it?  In all likelihood the federal government.

To what extent do those interests match?

Oh, not much at all.

The federal government will want people to be taught according to the latest theories of what makes students law-abiding or non-violent or what have you.  Most of these theories will be, as most such are, wrong and based on Marx and nothing else much.

Beyond that?  Professors’ lobbying have much more influence with the government than employers do. Already curriculums include a good dose of “grievance studies” that have no relevance to the market place and are only kept alive to give some professors jobs.  Already a good course on Western History is impossible to come by.

What more will happen with free college?  Oh, what won’t happen.  (“The fun we will have” — in a Dr. Seuss voice.)

First of all it will go the way of mandatory high school.  Most people are no graduating from high school with literacy skills that would get them flunked of middle school 25 years ago. Note “most” (I made d*mn sure my kids could read and write at a level that didn’t disgust me) and also no I’m not exaggerating.  I have for my sins been conscripted to help college students with work.  Their reasoning skills are non-existent (their indoctrination is impeccable, though.)

In short, most people graduating high school are NOT ready for college.  You put them in college and it’s “bonehead college” all the way. This means more “studies” degrees, where the learning is fuzzy and it’s very easy to pass even if you can barely spell your name, at least in some colleges.

Then there is the … use of such things.  American students, already, are taking six years to finish degrees, because they can.  Oh, sure, they can’t, but they will take it out in easy loans and they don’t fully understand the pain they’re letting themselves in for.  The reason for the extended time in school is what I call “major dance.”  People enter in a major, decide they don’t like it, go to another, then another, then….

This is insane to me.  Remember the process I went through, explained above.  You knew what you could get to, and you went there, and you finished.

Now imagine free college in the US.  Never mind the people who will stay in their whole lives, taking degree after degree (hell, I might do it) as that might be forbidden.  Imagine how many people will change degrees five times in a row and stay in for 15 years, before emerging with the least useful of degrees.

And then take the average student, who really wants to be in and really wants to take, say, engineering.  If college is free, can you deny admission to ANYONE who wants to be an engineer?  What are you? Some type of evil conservative?

People would get in with barely algebra, and the classes would all be dumbed down.  the resulting bs wouldn’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.  Depending on how far the “free” goes, employers would start demanding masters or doctorates, thereby delaying the time when young people become productive members of society and can start families of their own.

We can’t afford free college for all.  It would be an empty piece of paper.  And it would cost the future.




317 thoughts on “TANSTAAFL

  1. Heck, I knew when I was a teenager myself that college was not for everyone – that at least three-quarters of the students at my own high school were not interested in the life of the mind, were not equipped for an academic discipline, and just plain wanted to do something real-life. Play in a band, build houses, tinker with auto engines. At this time there was still a vo-tech track – my sister partook of it, and did quite well,
    I thought the Brits were quite sensible, in letting teenagers of fifteen or so take up apprenticeships, learn a trade, go to work.
    School for everyone, regardless of interest or inclination only cheapens it for everyone.

    1. In the 1980s Texas put in the requirement that every teacher pass a certain exam based on teacher training stuff. It knocked out a number of vo-tech teachers who were skilled at teaching skills but not at book learnin’. Then they went to requiring an ed degree or proof of college and evidence of working toward an ed degree. Then they started phasing out vo-tech for a bunch of excuses, er, reasons. Vo-tech is now, with very few exceptions, computer skills and pre-med (still book learning). About 20% of the population is just not wired for that sort of skill but does well with trades (or did until all the written certification tests on knowledge of code and international standards showed up.) The drop out rate is about 20% in most districts. Make of it what you will.

      1. Texas also still has the state technical institutes that train I&C technicians, diesel/automotive mechanics, machinists, and other industrial arts programs that the high schools dropped years ago.

        When I was at Comanche Peak, Texas Utilities hired most of their I&C techs from the Waco branch. They were well trained, competent techs.

        1. But those are not high school. That was my point – you have to wait until you are 18, or have dropped out, to learn a trade instead of it being part of the main school system. You could still get welding certification, learn plumbing and electrical trades, and a few other things while I was in public high school. That seems to have vanished and now the old TSTI system and some community colleges have taken its place. A few places you can start taking duel-credit academic classes at 16, but last I looked, you couldn’t enroll in the skilled trades programs until you were 18.

          1. The high school I went to had a university extension on one side and a vocational center on the other. As a high school student, I could (and did) take courses at either during the school day, receive credit at both the high school and the other institution, and the school district paid the tuition.

            It was totally awesome. Don’t know if the deal still holds.

          2. Not true in all Texas school districts. For example, my town (Garland) has a large community of immigrants (legal and illegal) where the kids simply do not have the elementary & middle school background (lEnglish and math, mostly) required for college. Simply too much water under the bridge to get them ready for college in grades 10-12. So the Garland school district has a strong vocational program (auto tech, auto body, welding, health care, cosmetology, etc). And remember, vote Mike Rowe for President and Posner is STILL a moron.

      2. In Missouri, south of St Louis, the County Junior College has taken over the Vo-Tech classes. There are everything from welding to Police Officer training available. High School kids are bused in as well open enrollment.

      3. In my high school, my sister’s class of 1993, had an entering sophomore class of 1000 students (9th grade was part of high school but attended at the junior highs). By the time she graduated, her class was around 500. This is in West Texas, oil country when the 80s bust economy was starting to recover. We still had some vo-tech and ROTC still handed out sharpshooting medals. They also took driver’s ed out of high school and you had to take it privately for a couple hundred dollars in the 80s and 90s. We had 7 kids in the family. I actually never took drivers ed in high school because we couldn’t afford more than one kid on insurance and if you were involved in after school activities, there wasn’t time to take a class.

      4. Two thoughts.

        First, the institution at which I was formerly employed is a satellite campus of the Texas A&M system. (I consider it to be a glorified community college with delusions of adequacy.) I don’t know if only that campus did it, or if it was system wide, but at one point you could graduate with a degree in university studies (although I might not be remembering the exact title). IOW, a degree in an undeclared major. That would have never happened at the UT system school where I got my doctorate, UT-Dallas. UTD may have changed in the years since I was there, but at the time it was where you went if you wanted to pursue a STEM degree.

        Second, I would never teach in public schools, but not (just) for the reasons you might think. The reason is that the state says I’m not qualified. I have a terminal degree, consistently score high on student teaching evaluations, and for over a decade successfully trained preservice teachers effective ways to teach science. But that’s not good enough. I haven’t had all the education classes, so if I taught high school, I would be required to do so under emergency certification and take classes to make up my “deficiencies”. No.

        1. You probably would fail with the education degree. In the 70’s, a sociology professor suggested that any normal college student would be incapable of the necessary practices of no thinking and spouting drivel that are required for an education degree.

          1. This is why I smile and politely change the topic when teachers urge me to get the ed degree so I can get state accreditation. I suspect I’d be flunked out the first semester.

            1. Wouldn’t surprise me at all. Way back in the mists of time, I had finished all my degree requirements by my senior term – so, senior year; I could take courses that just interested me, to finish out the credits required.
              I would up in a class featured in the syllabus as “Children’s Literature” – so nice overview of literature of the past, directed at the child reader, since books begin being deliberately aimed at sub-adult readers since say mid-Victorian times? You know, books written by popular lady writers with three names, like Frances Hodgeson Burnett, Louisa May Wilder and later writers? Lovely charming things for the juvenile audience; Robert Lewis Stephenson, Kipling … even more! The books that I had read as a child myself …
              Alas, no — it was a tiresome exercise in early progg-think, aimed at prospective elementary-school teachers. The prof who taught it still lives in my memory as the worst kind of sanctimonious PC-adhering progg-intellectual academic. He abominated RLS for Child’s Garden of Verses because it all rhymed. He loathed “The Wind in the Willows” — condemning especially the one chapter that I had always loved (for being especially lyrical – the Piper at the Gates of Dawn) for being grotesquely trite and sentimental …
              And there was some ghastly book that he held out to the class as the epitome of HF for the younger set … some depressing adventure about a family that flamed out at the Oklahoma Land Rush and wound up going home to Nantucket Island. IIRC one of the episodes that he thought most favorably of was the juvenile hero getting a hand-job from an equally juvenile female character who had been kidnapped by Indians at one point. It was all played out in dialog, but (shudder) was it nasty and depressing,
              After enduring that class, I put aside any notion of ever trying to qualify as a teacher in a public school.

              1. Sorry Celia, i would have responded to that class, “And you wonder why kids don’t like reading…”

                1. It was a long time ago, Draven – I was barely 22 at the time. But the whole memory of it has stayed with me, and prejudiced me against educational idiocy ever since.

              2. I was graduating into the post cold war engineering recession in California. End of history. Who needs defense contractors, etc. I thought maybe math teaching was an option. No. NO. Heavens NO! None of my engineering math classes counted. I would have to take math for math teacher’s classes. The only thing that counted from a BSEE was my general education classes. What a sorry program.

                1. I would have to take math for math teacher’s classes.

                  On the plus side it is unlikely you would have found the classes unduly challenging, provided you got drunk enough to shut down all critical faculties before class.

                  On the minus side there are the dual risks of liver failure before completing the program and of sobering up sufficiently during class to clearly enunciate your objections to the pedagogical philosophy, to place before the class the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent.

            2. No, you wouldn’t be admitted. Many education programs these days are flaunting the idea that unless you have enough evidence of SJW support in your life history they will not admit you.

          2. I had a couple of room-mates who took a science class designed for education majors. One was a math/computer science double major who burned the textbook afterward, he considered it so inane. (I have no idea why he wasn’t taking “Physics for Scientists and Engineers” — but then, this may have been for the “Life” Science requirement.)

            The other was a Communications Major/Sociology Minor (who willingly confessed that this was probably the weakest Major/Minor combination there was) who had to drop out because he couldn’t stand the inanity. I’m not sure if he was able to find a science class he could pass — he loved Geology, but had difficulties with the math — but he couldn’t debase himself to the point to pass this other class, either.

            So when you say “you probably would fail with the education degree”, I would have to concede that the statement is probably true.

            1. My favorite teacher was an engineer who taught science in high school. One of the stories he told was that when he applied for the teaching job, a school board member objected with “What does running a train have to do with science?”

              1. As a high schooler, I would have agreed with the school board member, which is why my degree reads Science rather than Engineering. Oddly enough in the mid 70’s the fact that engineers did not just drive trains was not out there where a well read teenager noticed it.

                1. In my family men grew up to be engineers and women were artists. For the longest time, nerd that I was, I thought that was the way the world worked.

                1. Of the teachers I had thru high school, the best were the old school ones where they had been at it for years and did well. But this was private school where results mattered.

              2. I saw that one go by a few times in my teens, but I didn’t find out train drivers were also called “engineers” until I as out of school.

                Other than impediments to traffic flow, trains have never been a part of life anywhere I’ve lived.

          3. As a follow-up to this issue, too, Utah is considering the possibility of allowing experienced people to teach children in the public school system; Utah teachers are afraid that the “unqualified” teachers will somehow destroy the system.

            Never mind that the only qualification that you really need, should be the ability to help students increase their knowledge. A good knowledge of the material to be taught, couple of years, and a good mentor should be sufficient qualification for any given individual!

            (I, for one, am in favor of nuking all government-required certifications. I am not at all convinced that governments are competent at ensuring that certified people are actually competent, but I *am* convinced that certification does much to create artificial employment shortages…)

            1. I’m at least a little in favor of destroying the public school system. Between big pederasty and rents, I suspect it is near if not doing more harm than good.

              1. I’m entirely ready to sign on to that.

                It’s not so much that I don’t think we need some general availability of education, I think we do. I just don’t think we can get there from here.

              2. Several years ago I read an article that made the case for complete privatization of the Washington DC education session. At the end of the article, it addressed the concern of “what if someone opened a school, and didn’t teach any of its students?” and the author agreed that this was a real danger: after all, there was nothing to prevent the Washington DC school district as a private entity…

                1. When my state, NC, recognized Home Schooling some decades back one requirement was that every Home Schooled child be annually academically tested.

                  The question of whether any required minimum achievement be demanded was tabled once somebody pointed out that they would have to impose the same standard on public school attendees.

                  1. Ha! Maybe NC requires consistency. NY does have the rule that all home schooled students must be academically tested with no similar requirement for public school attendees. In theory, if you “flunk” out of home schooling you’re supposed to go back to government schools. Where you’ll never be required to meet any standards ever again…

              3. There’s also the problem of the teachers’ unions contributing to Democrats. Who will “negotiate” their salaries with them.

    2. Hmm. I see that the vocational center next to the high school I went to has become a “technical college”. http://ubatc.edu/

      Most important thing I learned there was that I should not be allowed anywhere near a vehicle with a tool in my hand.

  2. A good answer to “we should be taxed for this because I can afford it” is “if so, you should feel free to give more of your money to *whatever cause*.” And also “if you feel you’re not paying enough taxes, the U.S. Treasury gladly accepts voluntary donations”.
    I’ve never heard of any “progressives” donating to the Treasury. We hear of Buffett pushing for higher taxes, but does he send an extra billion to Washington? I don’t think so. Hypocrite.

      1. If you have no problem stealing from me, then obviously you should have no problem with me stealing from you. I’ll be over to your house much later this evening with a truck.
        Not for myself you understand. I’ll sell everything and donate the money to really important causes. Things like the US Olympic committee and the NRA legal defense fund.

          1. Bingo…that sums up progs in one sentence, they don’t think the rest of us are people. Thier Gom Jabbar is do you mouth progressive opinions.

    1. Buffet likes to complain that “My secretary pays a higher tax rate than me.”

      What he does not complain about is his ability, as head of his corporation, to set remuneration methods that allow him to avoid taxes that his secretary cannot. By structuring his salary as other than payroll, Warren enjoys a higher standard of living at a lower cost. Instead of straight payroll, he can take his pay in dividends, cap gains and corporate expensing of many of the perqs of his office.

      Warren Buffet is a mealy-mouthed hypocritical son-of-a-blank who distracts the mob from his malfeasance by throwing raw meat to the slavering hordes his own rhetoric helps whip up.

      As model Executive-Americans, I much prefer the Koch brothers..

      1. How much money do Berkshire Hathaway holdings make from tax prep, tax avoidance, and estate tax handling consulting.

        I know the last, in the form of life insurance for those leaving significant estates, is quite high.

  3. “More schools fewer jails”

    In the state in which I live they have resorted to restricting access to a full blown driver’s licence for school age children who drop out of high school — and there still are drop outs.

    Meanwhile I am supposed to believe that more school are the solution to criminal behavior when a high school diploma does not guarantee functional literacy or the ability to do arithmetic?

    Yeah. Sure.

    1. That is simply a code word for hire more union teachers/administrators who will warehouse your kids until they are 18, then release them into the world.

      1. And that far too often only briefly before being reinstitutionalized in that other post graduate option, the US penal system.

        1. I strongly suspect because of efforts to erase the apparent difference between school and prison. Long periods of boredom not spent improving one’s real ability to learn. (Common Core is proof that they will cheerfully sacrifice actual utility to make rents.)

          1. The similarities are vast. A near complete lack of ability to make fundamental decisions about how to spend your time, answerable to unacountable authority, and progress through the system largely determined by time served.

            Oh, and surrounded by maladjusted thugs who seek to tear you down, making you dance for their amusement.

      2. They’ve tightly regulated the economy to the point of permitting very few jobs. Sticking people in ‘education’ for a longer period means they aren’t nominally in the workforce. The great society started paying welfare to the poor that would have no employment in their grand vision of society. Look at the welfare they’ve put in for folks in their twenties. It’s a con that wastes the time of the students.

    2. The state also mandates curriculum scope and sequence requirements that ensure the bright and the dullards will become bored but are prevented from escaping their educational hell.

      The schools’ unwillingness to acknowledge the effects of their procrustean pedagogy condemn students to march in step whatever their length of mental leg. There needs to be a return to the system of tracking students according to their abilities; that such tracking was once used to impede students by race is condemnation of racism, not the tools by which it was effected.

      1. I dropped out of the public daycare system when I turned 18. That “high school diploma”, which was supposed to be such a critically important document… nobody ever asked to see it. Because the overriding requirement for the diploma was to simply be there and filling a seat, with grades being unimportant. As if “feetball”, “calculator math” and “remedial English IV” were worth anything. (that was the “sports and Band” track, designed for kids who were only in class half a day anyway)

    3. Reagan proposed something similar during his first term.

      The Secret Service probably still has that letter I sent…

  4. But a lot of our training — literature, poetry — was less to develop the languages, and more, it seemed, designed to make us into “well rounded young misses.” Which is, arguably what the degree had been when it was first founded.

    It’s not a bad idea, either; for something that’s only likely to be used by someone in an elite position, you need to get it through their head that they don’t know. It’s good to try to get them to know some, but it’s even more important to get them to realize that there are known unknowns and maybe even unknown unknowns.

    This is especially so for smart people, or those who are treated as smart; they will flatly refuse to accept that something might not fit their starting theory, to the point of ignoring the differences between how they describe the situation and how it actually works. (This is especially so for things where they’re acting for the good of another party.)

  5. More of a side comment here.

    A lot of my friends ended up going to “technical schools” after that (hard to explain to Americans.

    Back when I was in High School (Cambridge High School, Cambridge, OH) in the late 70’s, they had a “vocational school” that one could switch to after either the Freshman or Sophmore year (my memory is kind of vague). There, in addition to an abbreviated selection of academic subjects, one would study things like auto mechanics, electrical work, or cosmetology.

    On being reminded of that, I did some searching to see if it was still there. Was not able to find anything about it so I guess it’s gone, a probably sacrifice to the gods of “everyone should go to college”.

      1. I said “after either the Freshman or Sophomore year” so basically the same. I don’t remember whether it was one year of HS and three of VoTech or two of HS and two of VoTech (probably the latter).

        It was a long time ago.

    1. We had that when I was a freshman in Wyoming (1981-1982) and I think we still did in El Paso as sophomore but it wasn’t presented to most of the student body…it seemed like it was treated as “special ed, HS version”.

  6. My most common reply to the “Free college” pushers is:
    “So tell me, how seriously is that free high school education taken by the students, and how well is it regarded by employers?”

    The replies have been quite entertaining!

      1. OT but I hit the Heyer sale this weekend and picked up the top three as recommended by the LibertyCon panel. Now all I need is reading time . . .

        1. …Which are those? I ran through a bunch via library a while ago and enjoyed, but probably gulped too fast to distinguish some very well.

          1. _Cotillion_, The Black Sheep, The Old Shades, The Grand Sophie, and Venitia. For some reason in my notes there’s a * beside Venitia but I;m not sure if that mean everyone on the panel loved it or if it was recommended with reservations.

            1. I’d add Devil’s Cub, but only after you’ve read These Old Shades; it’s much more fun if you read them in that order.

              1. I actually don’t care for These Old Shades. Black Sheep reminds me of Dave Freer. The character I mean. My favorite is Venetia which probably says more about me than I like to admit 😀

  7. Language warning:

    “more schools fewer prisons” equals the prisons getting more and more dangerously crowded.

    1. Sorry, the language is a lot rougher than I remembered. What stuck in my head was “Thank God we got penitentiaries!”

    2. Thank you for the embedded video. Richard Pryor, at his best, was a very very funny man. I wonder what he’d say about the college audience these days. 😉

  8. So many people fail to realize that college is a tool one has to use to put them in line for the job they want rather than a free ticket to get a job that matches them perfectly. A former friend of mine went to college with the notion that he’d get a job working on videogames. He didn’t know what kind of work it would be, what hat work would require of him, but he knew it was going to be videogames. He dropped out after three or so semesters without having developed a single skill that would help him in his goal, or even a clue as to what the skills he would need even were.

    Interestingly enough his parents provided him with everything he needed, right down to paying for college, no questions asked. The kid was just used to getting things, even when he didn’t fully understand what those things were (went electronics shopping with him once and was ready to strangle him in the first five minutes – he didn’t even know what the product he wanted to buy was or how to ask for it. I ended up having to shop for him, otherwise we would have gone home with a bunch of useless, expensive, junk and be no closer to finishing the project he had roped me into helping him with).

    1. > So many people fail to realize that college is a tool one has to use to
      > put them in line for the job they want

      No it isn’t. Or it shouldn’t be (it has become so since the 1960s, but like a lot of other stupidity from that decade should be unwrapped and disposed of).

      College is a tool for learning about the world so that one can function in it at a higher level.

      Programmers–the kind that sit in cube farms and implement “business logic” in Java–have no use for College, they need (really NEED) a “Vo-tech” style education that is big on skills like technical writing and short on stuff like Post-Modern Literature.

      Most people, to quote Ms. Hayes, have no interest in a life of the mind. We should not pretend otherwise.

      1. Of course, it could be argued that *every* style of education, particularly English degrees, would benefit from being short on stuff like Post-Modern Literature…

  9. Growing up in Canada not so long ago, my high school had a working auto garage. Real people would pay for oil changes (severely discounted) SMOG tests and other stuff. The teacher who ran it was (probably) a high functioning alcoholic, but a lot of kids got to work on their own cars, rebuild their own engines, and do something they enjoyed and at which they excelled. Not enough schools provide this pathway. Things are changing (anecdotally) but not nearly fast enough. Too many among the college educated can’t conceive of plumbing or mechanic as a vocation. They still think of it as something people are forced into by circumstance.

    1. A vocational instructor has to be someone with experience in the field and is grade by results. Hard to pad this with a bunch of Ed.D bureaucracy and a few brand new bs ed teachers.

      1. Very true. All the shop teachers seemed to know their stuff. Same with math, physics and chem. Humanities much more hit or miss. Easier to fake and bs as you say.

        1. I’ve taken a number of professional votech courses and it’s always been someone with time in field.

        2. One seriously brilliant Robert Heinlein essay is the one where he describes how to get a Ph.D. from a well known university without doing any meaningful work. He describes how the field in question measures the merit of a thesis by its weight (page count), and the number of citations referencing the work of the committee members. From the level of detail, one gets the impression he was speaking from actually having done it, rather than merely looked into it.
          The field? “Education”.

          1. Not an essay (or maybe there’s an essay too) but from The Number of the Beast Zeb telling the “shameful story” of how he got his PhD in Education while producing nothing nor adding anything to human knowledge. Things like “not studying education, but professors of education” and writing a dissertation that was complete bafflegab (and used a lot of obscure foreign sources that the folk reviewing his dissertation would be extremely unlikely to track down).

            1. It’s in Expanded Universe. Makes sense. Expanded Universe and Number of the Beast came out about the same time. One of my sacrileges is that I prefer the interstitial comments in Expanded Universe to the stories.

            2. The system has been greatly improved since Heinlein’s day.

              Now they are no longer likely to track down any sources or citations, foreign or domestic, obscure or common — so long as the thesis seems to support their prejudices existing dogma.

              1. I used to practice one of the more obscure forms of engineering, where primary sources were few and mostly pre-WWII. I had a modest collection of papers I had schmoozed or purchased from places like Boeing and General Motors. And that’s how I discovered that some of the most prestigious modern college textbooks were quoting those papers in support of… exactly the opposite of what they actually said.

                I guess the authors just shotgunned cites; people like me, who would spend months tracking down obscure references, are probably rare.

            3. I hate, loathe, detest, and abominate the kind of research that has one synthesizing what other, better (?) scholars wrote about [topic].

              It doesn’t permit any original analysis, and it’s damn hard to avoid plagiarism when you are summarizing other people’s thoughts and can’t do original analysis.

              It’s also dead boring to read.

              I am very fortunate that I rarely have to write research papers, and when I’ve had to in the last few years, I’ve been able to find primary sources (building blueprints, original photographs, the architect’s own writings about his projects,etc.) that I could analyze without referring to other researchers.

              1. Even better: “research” that turns out to be done entirely via “computer models.” With both the source code *and* the input dataset left out of the paper.

  10. Free government anything depends upon the legerdemain time slip.

    The good union kids I went to school with said one had to be a good little prole because the government had paid for so many things and you had to pay high taxes to pay them back. After that your kids were to be paid for and they would be taxed to repay, ad infinitum,

    It would be just as sensible to claim that one’s folks paid to establish the system and the government owed them. And their taxes would be to go to their kids. Such folks have more right to democracy because they don’t start out in debt, But the government institutions never promoted this second view. Odd that….

    The other problem is that ‘ad infinitum’ trap. American’s live in the second oldest democracy in the world. We don’t realize how short-lived most governments are. The current German state dates to after 1945. The current Russian governmental system to 1992? Since the Revolution France has had seven republics and how many empires? How many generations do governmental systems which can be called to account for their promises last?

    Would you say that the obligations for which Portugal is responsible date to before 1930?

    1. On that “ad infinitum” trap and the length of obligations: one of the Revolutionary era statesmen (it may have been Albert Gallatin, I can’t find the reference right now) argued that, morally speaking, no person or government has the right to take on any debt that lasts beyond the likely lifetime of the one making the decision.

      1. I can agree to that. Spending your oun money is much different than spending another’s.

        I spent many fine days on the Gallatin River.

  11. I would go with the old saying ‘You get what you pay for’. Funny how old sayings (even TANSTAAFL) have a core of truth and wisdom isn’t it?
    Our K-12 is ‘free’, and look how worthless the Department of Education and NEA (the largest UNION in America, tells you something doesn’t it?) and their latest iteration ‘common core’ are doing.

    1. I’ve told people the two biggest or most powerful lobby groups in Wisconsin are the WEA and the Tavern League. And for all the nonsense they might be (ir)responsible for, the Tavern League still manages to be the less damaging.

  12. Hence the STEM push.

    They’ve increased thoughput in other majors without regard for maintaining quality. That is part of why their value has declined.

      1. Until they start building bridges. I had a Civil Engineer boss that was horrified when he found out his granddaughter was being taught that the answers in math were less important than how you ‘feel’ about your answer. His response to the local school people was, ‘would you cross a bridge knowing that the engineer ‘felt’ good about his answers’?

        1. One of my favorite exchanges from Lois McMaster Bujold’s book Falling Free (paraphrased from memory)

          (Instructor puts a picture up on the screen). “Does anybody know what that is?”
          (Student) “A laser weld, sir?”
          (Instructor). “That is the most evil thing you will ever see. That is a falsified inspection report.”
          (Discourse on the event which caused several fatal accidents.)
          “Always remember, you may fool men but you’ll never fool the metal.”

          Words to live by.

          1. “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.” — Richard P. Feynman

            1. A similar expression from William F. Buckley: “Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive.”

          2. Made even better if you know that Leo Graf was heavily based on Bujold’s father. Which you may already, but it makes me all wibbly. 🙂

            1. I one found a reference on non-destructive testing that McMasters had been involved in.

          3. The problems with the Hubble telescope were the result of an entire *chain* of falsified reports.

            1. WP just ate my first go at this, so lets write it all again:

              The mirror problems, or the solar panels twanging like a screen door spring twice per orbit problems?

              On the mirror, I always had a hard time understanding this – the darn thing’s an optical mirror! It was sitting right there in the clean room! And they’re telling me that nobody did a sanity check on the darn thing?

              I get that the testing stuff the vendor had was all compartmentalized classified KH satellite stuff, but … It’s a frigging optical mirror! Wouldn’t you want to make sure it’s right before launching the thing?

              Has anyone added up how much that error cost to fix?

              On the solar panels, I once chatted briefly with a couple engineers who had on that, and the impression I got was that the twice-an-orbit vibration was a known issue on the KH satellites, but it mattered less there since the exposure times were a lot shorter imaging the Russians than imaging Sigma Draconis. Nevertheless they had told NASA about the issue and proposed a fix, but it would impact launch schedule so it got kicked up to NASA HQ. NASA HQ managers apparently phoned up their buddies in management of the operators of the KH bird, arranged to talk about what the contractor wanted to do to Hubble’s launch schedule over martinis, and the KH-management fellows said “Don’t worry! The bird’s great! You’ll love it! Have another drink!”

              So NASA ended up spending a boatload more money to replace the solar panels on orbit.

              WP delenda est. And Judge Posner is still a moron.

              1. I’m glad I looked up the report before commenting, because I remembered it incorrectly. However:

                The providers of the mirror submitted a test plan that replied on only one of at least three pieces of test equipment for checking the mirror. For some reason, NASA signed off on this plan. It turns out that one of the parts in the test setup was out of place, and gave an erroneous result. They thought that disagreement with that result from the other test equipment indicated something wrong with the other tests, instead of the first one.


          4. Oh, they know. They just don’t care.
            In fact, the common next step is to try and fool men that they’re dealing with metal rather than maze of fake paper.
            Like in “The Cold Equations”. Or the Church of Climatology, obviously.

        2. I can guarantee that the most radical advocate of modern, socially relevant Feelz Math is a classical math 1+1=2 absolutist when it comes down to their paycheck.

          1. I am not sure I can agree. It seems to me that many of them are of the attitude that one hour of work ought equal three hours of pay: one hour pay for being on the schedule, one hour pay for showing up and one hour pay for sorta kinda doing the work.

        3. There is a emphasis today on having kids “estimate.” Now, common sense estimation is based on experience, or things like referencing to a know value. Not this. They were supposed to “estimate” the area of a rectangle not calculate it. When I brought this up with the teacher, i was told “That’s what they’re tested on.” Can’t recall if I asked if she wanted us to read her meter or just estimate her bill every month.

          1. Using a slide rule is all about estimation. It’s an anlog device, after all.

            Having a feel for the numbers helps when you fumble a keystroke on the calculator pad, even if it’s only for a trivial order-of-magnitude decimal point error…

          2. Estimating is an important skill, especially in this day of calculators. Having a rough idea of what the correct answer should be near can help identify input errors.

            1. On the other hand… Don’t you have to know the exact number [for given. problem] first in order to know whether your estimate for other problems of the same type is reasonable?

              Like “whole word” reading – which I’m certain was a result of people reading that meme about how if the brain registers scrabled words correctly if the first and last letter are in the right places, and forgetting that the brain can only unscramble the words if it has already been trained in the proper spellings.

          1. I have become enormously skeptical of my ability to help disadvantaged students with STEM education.

            Knowing you’ve done it right is a combination of ‘all models are wrong, but some are useful’, and having the math to do the useful model correctly. This comes from doing a lot of empirical work and models.

            This means having the ability to do the math, and being comfortable enough doing math that you can make yourself do a lot of it.

            The retarding effect of common core math education leaves me very pessimistic for the future pipeline. If someone could tell their teachers and administrators to go fuck themselves, and study from good textbooks on the side, homeschooling is probably an option for them.

            1. I don’t disagree with the new math garbage. Tutored one semester in undergrad but the system they use for math confused the hell out of me. If you don’t have a feel for numbers and metals it is very difficult to be able to verify results.

            2. … leaves me very pessimistic for the future pipeline

              But look at how marvelously it meshes with demanding more H1B visas! It allows the bien-pensants to import a more congenial peasantry.

  13. One of my beloved brothers, a very intelligent man, attended college for years, learned a couple languages and a couple dozen musical instruments, and finally got his degree in his 40s. Apart from working as an ESL teacher, he’s always held menial/clerical type jobs and never really settled down. He’s also the family Marxist. Mere coincidence?

  14. Upon graduation from high school I was so burned out by our educational system that I walked away for 15 years. Finally took a few community college courses, was reminded that I actually liked and had an aptitude for learning (as opposed to education), got the opportunity to enroll in Engineering at UA Huntsville, and knocked out what was commonly considered a five year degree in ten quarters. Graduating GPÅ 3.8/4.0.
    In the middle of that I got bored and for a year ran one of the Math department’s micro computer labs. Broke my heart to see so many CS major freshmen come begging me to help them write an entry level basic program. No aptitude or ability for coding, but their parents had heard that computers were a solid job market, so that’s the only degree they would pay for.

  15. We’ve gone in 100 years from teaching Greek and Latin in high school to teaching remedial English in college.

    This is not an accident. People with a firm grounding in our own culture will see its nurturing of and dependence on logic and reason. When you want to push for a Utopia based on wishful thinking and revenge fantasies, that will not do.

    Thus, we have ‘problems’ with teaching math and science, because those two fields are preeminently dependent on logic and reason; the schools teach some PC version of Marx-flavored history to prevent any untoward thinking in the kids; and art and music have died, because it’s hard to manage where a soul might go when it has learned to love beauty.

    A college graduate, especially one from any of our elite universities, can be counted on to be 1) ill-informed and outright ignorant of his own culture and the morality that supported it; 2) uncurious; and most especially 3) totally convinced that he stands at the intellectual and moral apex of humanity.

    So let’s make sure such ‘education’ is free to all? It’s not that modern schooling doesn’t work, it’s that it works exactly as designed.

    1. See comment about Seattle, below.

      Logic and Reason are tools of Whiteness, the means of sexual and racial oppression.

      It requires a PhD. to swallow that kind of codswallop.

      1. Recently came across a comment somewhere to the effect that those old writers will quote stuff in French, German, Latin and even Greek and not even translate it for you. Of all the nerve!

        1. Na ja, und? Being familiar with at least one foreign language used to be the sine qua non for the educated and civilized. There’s a paragraph in _Adventures With a Texas Naturalist_ (1946. The author was an academic of the Olde School) where he complains that a young person at a social gathering not only could not discuss Xenophon as a prose stylist as compared to, say, Thucydides, but did not even know where “Thalassa, thalassa!” came from or who Xenophon was.

    2. So essentially you’re saying the college is merely providing the foundation for the Dunning-Kruger Effect in their graduates.

      1. It would hardly do to render their victims stupid if they didn’t also inoculate them against every learning anything. Best way to achieve that is by building up self-esteem, to the point where one is sure one is, in the words of Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way. Then, if one comes across anything that might suggest otherwise, it is automatically rejected. Dead white males, for example.

        One of these days, if I find myself amidst a herd of recent grads, I’m going to ask them: So, is your generation the most enlightened and virtuous in all of history? If not, which generation would be? Just to see if any heads explode.

      2. I tend to see it as an expression of Progressive Religious Faith, recognized in other applications as a Cargo Cult variant.

  16. So much here. Where to start, where to start.

    The problem in the US is that not everyone headed for college should be in college. Once upon a time in the US, education in the early grades taught students the tools they needed to learn – reading, writing; basic mathematics; and use of basic research tools, like dictionaries and encyclopedias. For a few grades after that, the emphasis was on teaching them what they needed to be a functioning part of society – history; civics; English; more advanced mathematics. High school was essentially to teach a trade or prepare a student for more advanced study. For those there were college, which wasn’t free but wasn’t exorbitant, either. I’m not sure how trade schools fit in to the history of all this, since that was what some high school classes were for back in the day, and there were apprenticeships (there still is for some professions, and not just med graduates – surveyors in some states have to be apprenticed). The barrier was grades. Didn’t have the grades? You didn’t get on what’s called the college track today, and if you didn’t have the means to go to college or the desire, you picked up a trade and hardly anyone batted an eye. Didn’t have the means or desire to finish high school? You went to work. Yes, education through high school has been free in most places in the US for at least a century, but it wasn’t compulsory. One of my grandfather’s had to drop out after the third grade to help earn a living after his father died.

    That grandfather had strong opinions of high school graduates who were functionally illiterate. When he had to drop out, he’d learned the tools to learn things on his own, and read whatever he could get his hands on. From his perspective, no student should be functionally illiterate by the third grade, and he had sharp words for those who knew they couldn’t read and did nothing to remedy it by they time they graduated. His words for schools graduating functionally illiterates were less sharp; he saw students as having the responsibility to apply themselves to learn.

    I don’t know what he would think of Work Ready certification. Work Ready is a test administered in some states that says yes, the student is capable of functioning in a work environment. That’s what high school diplomas used to signify. Be that as it may, everyone at our company had to take it when it came out, maybe Just Because, and I saw nothing on the tests that was above the fifth or sixth grade level. That fit what was standard in my grandparent’s era, when you learned enough before high school that you could hold a job, and high school was preparation for more learning intensive professions.

    Fast forward a few decades. When I was in high school, the emphasis was on putting everyone who could even halfway do the work on the college track. The reasoning was this presented better income potential. Those who couldn’t were put in the trades, the reasoning was that you could make a good living in the trades, which is true. The problem was that in most of the trades there is a considerable range of skills. It doesn’t take much know-how to carry brick and lumber; it takes a bit more to help saw lumber; a bit more to be a nailer; a bit more to mark and saw the lumber yourself; and this progressed to crew leader and beyond. What used to be called a master craftsman took abilities on par with a civil engineer. What the guidance councilors were trying to do was to shunt everyone who might have filled those upper levels toward college.

    If you picked up on a prejudice against the trades, you’re right. There is no shame in honest labor. That’s not how those in some sections of academia treated it back then. Given the insistence for free higher education, that probably hasn’t changed.

    None of this addresses the question of why should any education be free. It used to be that, in the US, communities paid for at least basic education. The reasoning might have been that it took certain knowledge to be a functioning member of society. A little over a century ago, it wasn’t unusually locally for adult immigrants to attend elementary school, not only to get an education, but to learn how to speak English correctly and how to be Americans. You could argue that learning how to learn and how to function as a member of American culture is a good thing for American society. At the high school level, at least in my grandparent’s day, it gets sort of murky.

    At the college level? If you’re going to restrict free education to those who could actually benefit from the education and, in turn, benefit society, and if you’re not going to play cute politically correct games with it, then maybe it’s a benefit for society as a whole. Given what I’ve seen from my own school days through now, I don’t have high hopes.

    Free higher education also overlooks a huge elephant in the room: Just because a good education can give someone options other than crime doesn’t mean they’ll take it. I know of prisons who offer high school diplomas, the hope being that a prisoner who earns a high school degree won’t become a career criminal. As it happens, everyone I know who’s done time has ranged from high school to college graduates, but there’s enough in prison who haven’t earned a high school diploma that they have these programs. Yet, since we have free education through high school in America, and since we have social nets that didn’t exist in my grandparents’ day, why didn’t they earn a diploma the first time?. Yes, I know there’s poor life choices and all that, and there are prisoners who earn high school diplomas and straighten their lives out, but since there is education readily available doesn’t mean someone will avail themselves of it.

    Even in our era when, unless you’re 100% scholarship funded, you pay through the nose for college, there are students who don’t seem to realize they are paying for this and it’s their money and time they’re wasting if they think it’s party time. And now some want this to be free?

    Uh-uh. Not on my dime. If I can’t afford to party, why should they?

    No, not all students would party hardy. But I suspect a larger number would, simply because they could, and I wouldn’t object to a stringent winnowing process. Except, in our PC times, we all know this isn’t going to happen.

    There’s something else, though, something that I don’t think has been mentioned. The US is dealing with the collapse of the Baby Boom, which means there’s not as many college age students to attend, and some colleges cutting back due to smaller numbers of students. Ah, but if everyone can go . . .

    1. Work Ready is a test administered in some states that says yes, the student is capable of functioning in a work environment. That’s what high school diplomas used to signify.

      That is due to the “magic dirt” theory most Western leftists subscribe to, if you have a HS diploma, it magically gives you literacy, numeracy, and saleable skills, no matter how well you were taught. Now that has been transferred to the college degree with the continuous dumbing down of primary/secondary education. The same applies to giving ghetto dwellers a house to own. It will magically transform them into responsible middle class taxpayers.

      And they call themselves the “reality-based community”.

      1. And they call themselves the “reality-based community”.

        Please note there is nothing in that designation specifying which reality they are based upon.

        1. I thought it was like “oil based paint”. It no longer serves a purpose related to what it’s based upon.

  17. I’m afraid the habit of requiring MA and PHD degrees for what were formerly BA positions has been going on for at least 10 years in parts of Silicon Valley for tech positions..

    One company even proudly listed (in internal email) the schools that would be targeted for recruitment; no others need apply.

    Of course, the flamewar this generated by the existing staff was a monumental blow to company morale. Imagine seeing that in the eyes of HR, your school didn’t make the cut and therefore you have a second-class mind, regardless of your current position and contributions.

    Having been a hiring manager in that company, I did see frightening levels of incompetence from schools of all levels–the degree doesn’t guarantee a quality education. An engineer from the University of Flyover could beat an engineer from Ivy League U. It was all about the individual, not the school.

    Of course, I’m biased. I have no degree at all–I was hired when they were closer to a startup and a coworker poached me from a mutual former employer. Competence mattered more than paper in those days.

    1. What is ridiculous is how unneeded that degree is.

      The man who until late last year sat in the cubicle next to me (he sadly has left us) began life as a printer and, realizing computer typesetting was replacing him, learned to program.

      Thus, a man without a college degree spent his last year writing software in a quant shop with multiple PhDs. Why did they hire him and why was he able to stay?

      Because he taught himself to be a pretty good programmer. He was probably as good as a lot of those elite school graduates as a programmer and I have no doubt due to having lived a real life as opposed to checking all the prog boxes at college he was more interesting human being.

      1. Probably better — being self-taught he couldn’t fall back on credentials to defend his work; his programming had to actually perform as required.

        1. Do not get me started on why programming should be an apprenticed trade as opposed to an academic field or we’ll be here all day.

          A BS in CS prepares you to study for an MS in CS (if that) much, much more than it prepares you to work on a software project.

          1. *blink, blink* You’re saying that a BS in CS without a MS in CS is BS as far as getting a job? Next you’ll be saying that PhD is a degree and not a description of what it takes to get an “advanced” degree. 😉

            1. You’re saying that a BS in CS without a MS in CS is BS

              As a PS, does the OS matter?

            2. It is not BS for getting a job but you will spend the first one to two years learning basic skills needed by work a day programmers you didn’t hear about in college from mastering your tools (especially your editor of choice) to understanding why you use source code control to how to really build something to validating data (my own personal hell my first six months out…I was very lucky in my patient tester who taught me why he ran some of the inane tests he did) and so on.

              Meanwhile you will touch very little of your upper division courses. Sure, five years in you’ll be doing things like designing domain specific languages (and thus use your compiler course) and so on but you’d have been better off for your and your employer to spend two years learning those in the shop skills right out of HS then getting the first two years of CS course work (actually, just the second year as you’ll have the first already) then do the last two over four years while working full time.

              You’d be worth much more on the market at 25 than if you did 4 years of college right at 18 followed by 3 years of experience because from the job POV you’d have 7 years (yes, that year of college only is placed so I’d count it as a year of experience) versus 3. Plus, you’d have smaller loans for college (the last two years might even have been paid for by your employer).

              1. In 40 years as a practicing mechanical engineer, I have never used partial differential equations at work, and calculus only once or twice. Lots of algebra/trig though.

                Diff Eq/calculus were fun courses to take, but pretty useless to the average engineer.

                1. I’m pretty sure that they serve the end of driving self-weeding among students. An engineer does enough math that they either need to enjoy it, or have the endurance to keep doing it. If you enjoy diffy q, you enjoy math. If you did not enjoy it, you can make yourself do math.

                2. I had lots of calculus and differential equations in college, and *never* put them to use in my software career.
                  Nonetheless, computer science professors are very fond of requiring such courses for everyone seeking a CS degree. Never mind that the vast majority of their students will have no use for it. Never mind further that there are lots of kids who have the mental skills to be excellent programmers but are not good at advanced maths. None of that matters, because such a course requirement is a jobs program for math professors and because the professors really only care about the needs of students who intend to get a PhD and perhaps become professors like them.
                  If you argue with these professors you will get a series of unsupportable claims which will open your eyes to the emptiness of academia’s claims to a higher moral purpose.

                  1. I’d guess for coding it’s a padding thing, but it might be a matter of sorting out those who can organize that many things at once– I don’t USE a lot of the math I learned, but the “tactics” for solving a problem have popped up elsewhere. 😀

                  2. You need the calculus for the upper division engineering courses. If you are mechanical, you should learn Navier-Stokes so that you know why you don’t want to use, and what you have to do to avoid having to use it. You need a certain level of math to understand what the modeling program is doing, so that you can hope to catch when it is giving wrong answers, and solve the issue if it is solvable.

                    1. It all depends on what kinds of engineering you are doing. Most programmers never need that, because the vast majority of programming jobs do not. Therefore it seems that it is reasonable to vary the requirements depending on the career track. University CS departments already cater to students aiming for a career in business computing, so it seems unfair to select out those who would do well but have trouble with calculus.

                    2. Hard to figure out orbital mechanics without calculus, or differential equations. But it’s not at all helpful for compilers. Or web servers. And if you want to do cryptography, you’d better get VERY deep into abstract algebra.

                  3. Without some reasonably advanced calculus (calculus 3 or so back in the day), you can’t get into anything serious with respect to probability and statistics – and those I have used in my career. Without a decent grounding in probability and statistics, much of the upper levels of finance are inaccessible (and/or very, very difficult). Now, I’ll admit not everyone out there has used markov chain modelling to project short-term expected default rates based on the current delinquency of a portfolio of loans, but I’d suggest it is a reasonably powerful tool to do so and a pretty good way of measuring the value of your current collection practices on that portfolio. The underlying theory of option pricing is very dependent on reasonably advanced calculus techniques.

                    You do know that a lot of the computer “calculations” for various functions are actually calculating by a computer using a Taylor series expansion? It is buried several layers deep in the code at this point, but it is still there. Cryptography on a computer is very dependent on some very deep mathematics as well. So, just because you have not ended up using the math you learned, it does not mean that other developers have not.

              2. Preach it, brother ! I’ve made the same arguments for years. Always thought employers should have an internal training program for bright high school graduates. 6 months of coding boot camp (with a fairly high washout rate for those who fail to demonstrate any aptitude) during which they earn a modest stipend. Then throw them into a project with a mentor for 6 months. Training plan/performance review updates every 3 months.
                Keep them adding to their skill set and within 2 years you have a useful programmer worthy of their salary. All at a fraction of the time, cost, salary of a 4 year CS degree and without the overhang of college debt.

                1. But doing it that way would open up the company to EO complaints if there was any disparity in the dropout/failure rates between the races or sexes.

                2. Time was when IBM’s biggest source of female programmers was sending secretaries to an eight-weeks training course.

      2. Many years ago when I was researching the history of the Apollo Project, I remember noting that one of the top engineering guys had no college. He started at one of the NASA labs as a model maker and basically picked up engineering on the job.

        Not something that one could do, or get away with, today.

        1. I met a man in the late 80s who claimed to have gotten a robotics job at NASA by first getting on as a janitor, and inserting one of his designs into a stack of robot designs that were to be tested, and someone noticing that it didn’t look anything like what they would normally build (besides being hopelessly simplistic for the state of the art at the time) and asking who had designed it.

          I never got any kind of confirmation or any way to confirm it, but it makes a nice story.

  18. Almost makes one think “crazy lady” Ayn Rand was a prophet sent by God (except for her being essentially an atheist). I sure liked her short story “Anthem” and that longer novel about John Galt… What was the name… It will come to me eventually… *shrugs*

        1. Yep, one of the bearers of the “Holy Swords” (forget their exact titles) is a devout atheist. 😀

            1. Wait, are you talking about the new guy?

              IIRC, the old guy was Shinto or Buddhist.

              1. Shiro was Baptist:

                Not long after he emigrated from Japan to California, he attended an Elvis Presley concert that also served as a Baptist revival meeting. Due to his poor grasp of English at the time, he ended up inadvertently converting to the faith.

                The third Knight of the Cross would be the Russian, Sanya:

                a former member of the Order of the Blackened Denarius; when he was 16, he accepted the coin of the fallen angel Magog, out of a desire to strike back at the Russian society that considered him an outcast. Over the next five years, he became the lover of Rosanna, Polonius Lartessa’s lieutenant and the one who recruited him into the Order. However, after learning that Rosanna did not care about him, he threw his coin away and was found by Shiro, who took him to meet the archangel Michael. Sanya accepted Michael’s offer to become a Knight and took up Esperacchius. Although he deals with supernatural and angelic/demonic creatures on a regular basis, he considers himself an agnostic and says that he fights for the good of society, fitting his devout socialist (Trotskyist) nature.

                The remaining Knight, Michael having been forced to (sorta) retire, is revealed in Skin Game to be the Jewish [REDACTED].

                Given the fact that Sanya was possessed by one of the Denarians and has met the archangel Michael it represents a fairly liberal approach for him to insist on remaining agnostic.

                  1. Sigh.

                    I redacted that because it occurred to me that I might not be the only reader of that series saving up the last couple books against future needs.

                    I look forward to the story arc that gets him there, given how milquetoast Waldo was at his introduction. That there seems like some Human Wave story-telling.

                1. He tried to tell Harry he was an atheist. Harry put his foot down on that, firmly. (and Harry calls himself “theological Switzerland”)

              2. Sanya is an Agnostic as far as I know. He considers that “angels” could potentially be aliens, and “miracles” could be brought about by alien tech.

                But there IS an undercurrent that he’s only holding onto that from stubbornness.

              3. When we first met the Knights, there was the old asian gentleman, Michael and a third one.

                Apparently, the third one had been possessed by one of the demons of the coins but was freed and later took up the third sword.

                He was either an atheist or an agnostic.

                The newest Knight of The Cross is Waldo Butters who is Jewish.

                    1. Not that spoiler, the spoilers about names, and folks ending up dead or retired.

    1. Her work is certainly looking more and more prophetic as time goes on, isn’t it?

      1. That might only be due to the fact that the Oppressor Class is using her books as a tactical guide.

        Rand, you magnificent bastard! We read your book!

    2. Atlas Shrugged 🙂 I enjoyed that book when I read it. Unless of your course your *shrug* was a nod toward the title. . .Been a long week!

    1. “incommoded” sounds like a fancy word for “swirly”.

      I suppose it does, if that fancy word is “in commode head”.

  19. As a college instructor, I see many students who really have no idea why they are in college other than the fact that it’s what one is supposed to do to get a job. They also have been told that Europe is so much better because those places have FREE college, and ‘Merica is bad because we make our poor kids sink into debt for it. In Europe, most of them wouldn’t even be in college. There is much to be said about the system that apparently most European countries use, in which they sort out their university-bound students earlier– leaving school at 16, or going to Tech Schools, or prepping for college. But that wouldn’t fly in the USA, since we believe in equality, and that European system is not equal (everybody should be a smart, successful college grad to show that we aren’t racist and stuff!)
    In America, where else can most young folks go after free school ends, but the big Vo-Tech program which the US Military has become? Why would anybody want to become a plumber, or an electrician, or an HVAC technician? Those jobs pay so much more than a BA in Sociology, or Grievance Studies, but they have no PRESTIGE, no sense of accomplishment or moving up in the world.
    Paging Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame…

    1. In America, where else can most young folks go after free school ends, but the big Vo-Tech program which the US Military has become?

      The military is harder to get into than college– it selects for different things. For starters, you aren’t going to go to the Navy for a degree that involves mechanical ability unless you demonstrate at least some ability to do so.

      The American “system” isn’t to make everyone a college graduate and equal, it’s because the guys who jacked up basic education are unlikely to magically become better when it comes to dealing with college.

  20. Well…well…well…of COURSE you don’t give the STEM students free college! Those complicated TECHNICAL courses cost money to give, so OBVIOUSLY you have to charge more to teach them…but then of COURSE you can tax their graduates more in later life to compensate the NORMAL people who are satisfied with a proper education. Check your privilege!

    1. Unless you are a STEM *graduate* student who speaks English, in which case you get free tuition in exchange for teaching 😀 (And I managed a full-freight merit scholarship for college with a mandated GPA requirement to keep–and it was for 4 years only. Can you say “motivated”? I KNEW you could!)

        1. Undergrad nope. Lots of schools don’t even offer much. Got 60k to ug over 4 years. My MS I got full tuition as Researcher but that was persistence.

  21. So many things wrong with this idea, only a Liberal could propose it.

    First: Like a bar which waters the drinks, they’re selling Education but they are delivering Indoctrination. See any number of studies demonstrating college seniors being less knowledgeable than frosh.

    Second: A primary driver of college expense is the huge array of supernumeraries, the assistant deans of this and that, none of which has aught to do with education. When the administration exceeds the faculty it is time to raise ship and scrape barnacles.

    Third: A college education is and always has been a luxury. Prior to WWII, if your family could afford to send you to college your career was already largely assured; what you went to college for was to learn was how to enjoy the benefits of such financial success and to establish a network of (friends, frat brothers, associates) to further extend that success.

    Finally, even if there is neither tuition nor books nor supplies nor student activity fees college will not be free. There is an opportunity cost to college, four years (now commonly six because students are disincentivized to carry “heavy” workloads and because many colleges do not provide course schedules which enable a student to take all course requirements and prerequisites in timely manner), four years that could have been spent earning money. Even if some students are so useless to remain at minimum wage all four years (in which case the benefits of a college education would likely have been wasted on them) that amounts to >$15K a year, or sixty thousand dollars of foregone income.

    “Free Education” is, like so many Liberal nostrums, patent medicine, snake oil for the proles.

    1. I still think what drove the “college explosion” was all that sweet, sweet GI Bill money from the Fed.

      1. Some folk — evil, cynical folk — have suggested that the purpose of that GI Bill college money was to moderate the entry of so many young men into the job market. Sort of like flood gates while the economy converted from wartime to civilian production.

        Utter nonsense, of course; it was just a Grateful Nation’s expression of appreciation for all the sacrifices made on its behalf.

        1. Probably a bit of this and a bit of that. Plus perhaps some Cold War calculus that we’d need a better schooled workforce or we’d be falling behind the USSR (which few realized was a giant with feet of clay)?

          1. Not really a giant either. The old USSR was more like three 3 ft midgets standing on each other’s shoulders wearing a big trenchcoat to cover the two on bottom, making them seem like a 9 ft tall giant.

            1. The question was whether, given that it was a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, they could know that for certain enough not to plan against a giant.

              1. Nod.

                In case of doubt, better to plan to fight a giant even if it isn’t a giant than to plan to fight something that is not-a-giant but turns out to be a giant.

      2. Partly that, partly all the hippies trying to get an educational deferment during the Vietnam years.

        1. The ‘Nam era abasement was the initiation of grade inflation, aka, “standards are for soldiers” during which professors became reluctant to give students enrollees the grades they had earned, lest said students become fodder for the draft.

          Set aside for another day the facts that a) such peril ought have been incentive for such students enrollees to work harder at getting adequate grades and b) such protection essentially condemned some other poor s.o.b. (likely some farm boy whose parents couldn’t afford to park him in college) to get drafted in place of the pampered students enrollees. Class discrimination, much?

    2. I was at a job a few years ago where i started as a consultant and they decided to bring me on as an employee. Imagine my surprise to find out that in order to do the job I’d been doing that company required a degree. I was given a choice of either taking a cut in pay and a demotion or going back to work on my degree. (My degree being Psychology and the job being Network Engineer).

      It didn’t matter what degree as long as I had one. So I started taking classes again and the material was so biased it was frustrating to even force myself to read it. In order to pass I just wrote/answered by the book so I passed the class and didn’t have to pay for that crap out of my own pocket. Luckily I’m no longer with that company.

      1. As somebody involved in software development, I am familiar with this phenomena. I ended up with a degree in Anthropology largely due to course scheduling.

        1. Lol. Of course!

          I keep debating finishing off my degree. I’m close but don’t feel like playing the game and giving the answers the instructors want to hear vs what I really think. Multiculturalism was starting to kick off my 1st go around in college and I had a hard enough time biting my tongue back then.

  22. Given that one of the things taught in school is “how to stifle your curiosity and follow the program”, whether the program makes sense or not, or whether it teaches you what you really want to know or not, it’s excellent for producing conformity and conformists. Those mavericks who want to go bushwhacking through the unexplored thickets of knowledge and find something really new are at risk of being excommunicated from the system.

  23. My first complaint is that free college is not free education but only free certification combined with free indoctrination.

  24. Groooooaaaaan. Free education? Proof Seattle has too much taxpayer money!

    Seattle offers classes on ‘white fragility’ to explain roots of guilt
    A city-run cultural program in Seattle is offering residents classes on “white fragility” so white folks understand why they can’t seem to handle matters involving race, and tickets have sold out.

    Lecturer Robin DiAngelo, who coined the term, is teaching the taxpayer-funded class for the city Office of Arts and Culture. She defines white fragility as “a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves.”

    Critics say it is just the latest attempt at spreading white guilt, following in the footsteps of concepts such as “white privilege.”


    The Office of Arts and Culture, which has a budget of $8.3 million, is holding two 4-hour classes, Aug. 17 and Sept. 7. Tickets are $60 and both lectures are sold out. Erika Lindsay, a city spokesperson, says staffers have been working on the event, but she could not pinpoint how much taxpayers are shelling out for the program.

    “A primary role of our office is to provide programs and resources to help the arts and culture sector flourish and many arts and cultural organizations see the ability to become more inclusive as a major step towards their ability to thrive,” she said.

    DiAngelo, who is white, has made a career out of studying whiteness. She earned her doctorate in multicultural education from the University of Washington in 2004. Ten years later, she became a tenured professor in whiteness studies at Westfield State University. Now she is back in Seattle working as a lecturer at the University of Washington. She’s also director of equity for Sound Generations, Seattle/King County and was recently appointed to co-design Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Anti-Racism Training program.


    Melinda Bullen, Diversity Resource Center coordinator at Mt. Hood Community College, lectured on “white fragility.” Bullen, who is white, told attendees, “because of their position of privilege and accustomed racial comfort, whites will often display racial arrogance by denying, debating, trivializing racism or critical thought regarding racial conflict.”

    — — —

    Debating is an expression of “white arrogance”? It’s a Kafkatrap — shut up and take your beating. Practice saying “Please ma’am, may I have another?”

    1. “Ten years later, she became a tenured professor in whiteness studies at Westfield State University.”

      That one fact would contaminate the degree of *any* graduate of WSU.

  25. I have been told that someone with a BS in engineering needs to also have an MS if they want to find work. Peculiar situation, with other confounding factors, but still.

    1. What flavor of engineering? A friend of mine has a BS Chem.E and she got a job just fine. GE Labs paid for her MBA and 6-sigma training but it certainly wasn’t a prerequisite.
      In my own field (software engineering), a BS is nice but I’ve worked with several B.Music grads who happened to have sufficient programming skills. (One of them, in fact, had way more than merely “sufficient” skills.) My own degree is in physics. Ability and relevant skill counts; a BS might add a little. I can’t imagine adding any credit at all for an MS, let alone a Ph.D.
      On the other hand, there are some fields where Ph.D. level training is clearly needed. You can’t design encryption algorithms (ciphers) without deep and intense training in the relevant math. That doesn’t keep people from trying and making a botch of it; you can find evidence for that in wireless LAN and cell phone standards…

      1. EE and ME Bs will do. You will have to get an MS to advance (which younger son intends to do in his own time, after getting job) and Phd ONLY if you want to teach (or work for Nasa.)

        1. In Silicon Valley the market is biased by the very large number of H1B engineers who did their BS degree back in Bangalore / Beijing / Taipei / Wherever and then completed a MS at a US university, which also helps polish their english. When a new grad is competing for entry engineering positions and all they have is a BSEE, while all those furriners have MSEE degrees on their resumes, the US citizen BSEE folks are at a real disadvantage, unless it’s a position that will need a security clearance. Or deal with customer engineers, like a tech support role..

          If one does get in with a BSEE one will definitely advance better later on with a MSEE or an MBA in their pocket – with advancement into executive ranks biasing to the MBA holders.

          I know a few Engineering PhDs, and they’ve told me the doctorate has been worthless to actually detrimental in their job searches. The German EE PhD “HerrDoctor” folks are the exception, treated like uber-MSEE.

          And I have several friends with ME degrees (uhm, let me think – yep, all have ME Masters) who are nearly the most often and longest unemployed engineers I’ve ever seen in the valley. Many had a bunch of work in the hard drive industry here, but that all went overseas, and they had to scramble around to find anyone who cared about making sure things physically held up.

      2. Mechanical Engineering, and yes, from an ABET accredited program. That specific someone was desperate for work, and had apparently badly botched the job search process. The source I heard from may have been wrong, and in hindsight, my summary omitted a potentially unfeasible alternative.

    2. #4 son graduated in December 2015 with a BS in Civil Engineering, and had two job offers that month. He took the position with Whiting-Turner and has been having a blast for the last 7 months. W-T is hiring engineers with BS degrees, my company is hiring nuke/mechanical/chemical engineers with BS degrees.

  26. > the people who will stay in their
    > whole lives, taking degree after degree

    Roger Zelazny, “Doorways in the Sand,” 1976.

    1. At least, his education was being paid by the Will of a rich relative. 😉

      Of course, his college managed to award him a degree anyway. 😀

      Oh, while a “freeloader”, he was a nice guy anyway.

      1. I remember a discussion of that story. Aliens disguised as wombats, a machine that reverses the handness of molecules, the British Crown Jewels touring the stars — everyone found those cool. The realism they complained of was the college wanted to throw him out.

  27. Back in wild days of my yoot(’62) I started college and was paying the princely sum of $7.00/semester hr and 15 hours per semester. And those were REAL semesters – 6 months long. The draft caught me and when I got back the cost had gone up to $12.00/hr and now they were 4 m0nths long. Eventually I slide over the local vo-tech and found something I wanted to do. Vo-tech was damn near free except for books and such. And the school I went to had major companies from all over the US coming to hire its grads usually in their last semester of courses.
    The push for college was there, but high school councilors were “allowed” to guide non-college material in other directions.
    Now-a-days it all college all the time. And as others have pointed out most of the college is now teaching what high school used to teach. I mean hamburger buttons on cash registers and cashiers who can’t do simple math? Well to the NEW! IMPROVED! INDOCTRINATION! SYSTEM! where the only thing that’s drilled into the skulls full of mush is how bad the USA has always bewen and how great the .gov is.(but only if run by the demo-progs).
    My mother was a teacher in the ’60’s – jr. high and then college.

    1. The push for college was there, but high school councilors were “allowed” to guide non-college material in other directions.

      The problem here is that in some (undetermined number of) communities those HS Guidance Councilors were prone to provide such guidance on basis other than academic potential. There was a similar problem with systems which placed kids into “fast” “average” and “slow” academic tracks, however useful such tracking might be due to the discovery that in some cases the track was assigned according to irrelevant characteristics, such as social caste or skin melanin content.

      1. I hasten to endorse your broader point and assure that my reason for quibbling was simply to point out a Liberal proclivity for throwing out babies with bathwater.

  28. My Father was a college Professor, and I dropped out of college during my first year and never went back. Father remained on good terms with me, and in later years told be that I reminded him of his father, a man he idolized his entire life.

    I’m still digesting that.

    Father taught me that colleges have always been homes for scholars and daycare for the idle children of the upper classes (and by the standards of the Medieval period when the college idea got started, everyone in the US with a roof over their head is Upper Class). That is, at base, what they still are, plus a training ground for the hard sciences and the engineering disciplines. Basic groundwork used to be provided by primary schools. My Grandfather on my Mother’s side graduated high school competent at math through Calculus, and fluent in English French and Latin. And that exposes what this is really about. The Progressives, for one reason and another, have ruined primary education. To disguise this fact they need to shovel everyone through some college. Even that won’t hide the rot for long, but the Progressive Left is always proposing short term solutions that will create long term problems.

    We don’t need free college for everyone. We need primary schools that actually teach. This will require gutting the teachers’ unions and colleges of education.

    I’m oiling my whetstone.

    1. Need some help? *passes cspschofield some finest filtered olive oil through the USB port*
      I wish that I had the opportunity for learning Latin in HS. I had to take German, which eventually turned out to be somewhat useful … but I really wish that I had the chance for Latin. Greek too, even.

      1. What’s stopping you from studying it on your own?

        What stops ME is a congenital lack of talent learning other languages, but that can’t be universal.

        1. Time and events … And the press of running a small home business, several at that …
          But I was making good headway on Modern Greek, thirty years ago — in comparing the Greek and Latin letters on the street signs in Athens! 😀

          1. O tempora, o mores! What, I can’t be the only person who learned Latin curses from Asterix and Obelix?

            1. I recently read the biography of Albert Gallatin (on Gutenberg.org, highly recommended). It quotes his letters, at length. And for the first 20 years or so, those are in 18th century French. Fun…
              Re. Asterix: for extra Latinity, the first book of the series has been translated into Latin. I don’t know about later ones, should look.

          2. Ireland produced a few decent ones. “May you melt off the Earth like snow from a ditch” and “May the ghosts of Mary Maloney and her nine blind illegitimate children chase you so far over the hills of damnation that the Good Lord Himself can’t find you with a telescope,” are two of my favorites.

      1. If you have a color printer, they sell adjesive-backed sticker paper you can print that image to…

  29. I am firmly convinced that this “delaying the time when young people become productive members of society and can start families of their own” is seen as a plus for our would be rulers.

    1. It slows down family formation and therefore helps avoid Paul Ehrlich’s Population Bomb! Overpopulation will cause mass starvation! I remember people talking about how Communist China got it. The one child rule was the wave of the future. Remember stories where it was necessary to obtain a government license to reproduce? That was just accepted as the most rational future. Crap like that drove me out of Science Fiction for decades.

      1. On Thursday I think, caught part of a philosopher on NPR’s “all things considered” talking about the “moral imperative” to limit reproduction.

        I changed it when he opened with the claim that those who have children get all the benefits, and (from memory) the “world” and the “future” pay.

        Resulted in some growly thoughts about how “philosopher” has come to mean “someone who ignores the facts to support his nifty idea.”

        1. Yup. And then started in on how there should be a global child carbon tax, to pay for the resources children consume. Posner is a moron, but compared to this guy he’s pretty smart and well adjusted.

        2. So, I take it that he doesn’t see the propagation of the human race as a functional good, nor is capable of realizing that someone needs to be around to take care of him in his old age. Of course, if he believed in euthanasia once you could no longer function independently, that would at least be internally consistent.

          1. I would bet it’s culling once you are no longer “useful.”

            He, of course, would ALWAYS be useful, because of his vast wisdom.

        3. I suppose you saw …

          Standing before several dozen students in a college classroom, Travis Rieder tries to convince them not to have children. Or at least not too many.

          He’s at James Madison University in southwest Virginia to talk about a “small-family ethic” — to question the assumptions of a society that sees having children as good, throws parties for expecting parents, and in which parents then pressure their kids to “give them grandchildren.”

          Why question such assumptions? The prospect of climate catastrophe.
          — — —

          If only such people’s parents had held such views.

      2. I’ve had a story percolating in the back of my head basically from reading so many “licenses to have children” stories–a space-pilgrim story, where you’ve got an asteroid-mining colony established (by a doctor specializing in reversing sterilization and his followers) so its people can be fruitful and multiply.

        It keeps being more of an extended rant or bland description than a story whenever I try to write it down. (Which is frequently a problem of mine.) But I keep hoping if I let it percolate a little longer, I’ll find the right angle.

        (It came as a juvenile adventure story of bamboozling the Home Office investigators, while hiding the fact that your unauthorized butts exist… but I think I might need to play it differently. Agh.)

        1. That’s because you’re thinking of it as an idea, not a story.
          Whom does it affect? Start with a woman who always wanted children, was sterilized for anti-state activities. She comes here to be able to conceive. BUT will they let the likes of her have kids, and wont’ the population outgrow this size rock, etc.
          Show her overcoming obstacles (like they have to buy in. Then jump to first ultrasound, what if the radiation hurts baby?) Frame it with her giving birth against background of an attack by Earth forces, because this person is “poluting the skies.”
          Have forces of asteroid win at same time baby is born. Have her name him something like Freeman or Libero.
          You’re welcome.

            1. Don’t Do It!!!!! Writers are TERRIBLE people, the sort of people who accept invitations to go ut to dinner even thought they know fans are waiting, with breath bated, for another snippet telling them of their Dark Fate.

              Not only that, but Posner is still a moron.

            2. Wouldn’t it be cool to see how our different treatments of the outline compared, though? 😀

        2. Those sorts of abstract ideas can be really hard to transform into stories.

          I recommend trying to identify a character strongly affected by it.

          1. That does explain most of the trouble I’ve been having with… well, most of my backburnered stuff.

            Will definitely toy with this. Thank you!

  30. This is what Free College gets you, although it makes more sense than what they actually said …

    HT: Power Line

      1. Ran across something interesting about Seattle’s hike in the minimum wage.

        From an employer there. He found that his part-timers started asking for fewer hours. And if he needed them to come in and said he couldn’t cut them, they called in sick. A whole bunch lost their jobs and he hired full-timers instead.

  31. At a recent convention, I dropped in on some friends and they shared their supper because they ordered too much. Afterwards, I was telling this to my friend who is a libertarian (but still closeted, so no names). She said:

    “Well, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but sometimes there’s a free dinner!”

  32. I would like to humbly propose that a liberal education is incomplete if it doesn’t include some sort of vocational training, as well…at least, it is, if a liberal education really is a sampling of all of human knowledge and experience, as it claims to be.

    I realized this shortly before I completed my doctorate, and stumbled onto machining. After graduating, I even took an introductory class, and I still wish I didn’t have gobs of debt and a family to support; otherwise I would have spent the three months required to get certification.

    Or better yet: it would have been nice to get that training before I embarked on my college degree; I could have then worked part time as a machinist while studying, and thereby avoid those gobs of debt in the first place! And who knows? I may have been satisfied, and even prospered, working as a machinist anyway….

    But this is surely a pipe dream, because free college is clearly the only way to go!

    1. [B]etter yet: it would have been nice to get that training before I embarked on my college degree; I could have then worked part time as a machinist while studying, and thereby avoid those gobs of debt in the first place! And who knows? I may have been satisfied, and even prospered, working as a machinist anyway….

      That is crazy talk! Don’t you realize the risks it poses to a bunch of phoney-baloney jobs civilization? Not only is there the very real risk you acknowledge, of kids deciding against going deeply into debt to pay for the jobs of countless Deans of Student Diversity, but there is the very real probability of having students who know when a professor has no idea of how the real world works!

      1. It might even be possible that large numbers of people would realize Posner is a moron.

        Or even that Posner is a genius compared to Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Baader-Meinhoff Ginsburg, and most of the members of the 9th Circus.

    2. I am 110% behind requiring training in manual and CNC machining for mechanical engineering students. Helps push idea of what is actually doable and how stuff is built.

      1. When I was taking that machining class, the teacher would explain that the reason why the lathe is said to be a “right-handed” or “left-handed” position, when it’s the reverse for the lathe operator, is because the engineer is looking at what’s going on from behind the lathe, opposite of where the machinist was.

        Except that he didn’t say engineer, except to explain what he meant when he said “the enemy”. 😉

        1. *Snicker* That’s what my powerplant instructor called the engine designers at Pratt and Whitney. You see, there’s this bit that usually needs work before the rest of the PT-6 engine does. And it’s located waaaaaay back here, up here, under this set of lines, snug as a bug in a rug, impossible to get a tool on without taking apart far too much of the engine . . . And PT-6s are slightly more common than crabgrass.

  33. “Who benefits from this? Arguably the same group as above: students and employers.”

    Wrong. The chief beneficiaries are faculty and administrators of colleges and universities. For the last 40 years or so, the government, through loans, grants, and direct subsidies, has made sure that American colleges will get paid for whatever they label “education” and can get some student to order.

    In other words, unlimited subsidies of demand with no quality control.
    The result was a gigantic expansion of the industry, and, as you have noted, a staggering decline in quality. And, as Parkinson’s Law dictates, a vast proportional increase in administrative overhead, with concomitant increase in employment, and prestige, salary, and perks for the managers thereof.

    1. As an aside, C. Northcote Parkinson was a real person, and “Parkinson’s Law” is from a real book of the same title from 1958, about the author’s experiences with politics and management in the British Colonial Office.

      It’s quite readable, and well worth your time if you get a copy from ILL or a used book seller.

      1. Indeed. He wrote one of his books (In-Laws and Outlaws, IIRC) while a visiting lecturer at the University of Illinois. (I mention this as evidence of authenticity. Who would expect a British scholar-satirist who mostly lived in Singapore to spend time at a Midwestern land-grant university? But he did.)

    2. I believe it was in 2014 that administrators (in aggregate) outnumbered teaching faculty in US colleges and universities for the first time. And the ratio continues to increase.

  34. A few days ago I commented on a Facebook post “college is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for an education.” Just this morning someone replied that it was if you wanted a job beyond fast food.

    I hope he sticks around, this could be fun.

    1. Education is irrelevant to “a job beyond fast food.” What your “friend” was addressing was certification, a matter to which education is irrelevant if not an impediment.

      College can be argued in many facets to be inimical to education.

      1. Certainly the way it’s done today. I mean, look at how many colleges are completely infested with Democrats.

        1. Completely? That is absolutely not true. At most elite universities, there is a large minority which considers Democrats to be sell-outs to the capitalist establishment.

  35. I am quite happy to say that my beautiful but wicked daughter starts college next week (biochemistry/forensic science dual bs/ms track), while my devious and conniving son starts the HVAC/Plumbing track at the county vo-tech as a 10th grader. The vo-tech school here has over 20 different programs. The instructors do need to be working towards their teaching certificates, but the primary qualification is still substantial real world experience.

    It’s the one thing they haven’t screwed up yet.

  36. “Already curriculums include a good dose of “grievance studies” that have no relevance to the market place and are only kept alive to give some professors jobs.”
    There are even high schools that are oriented around grievance studies: There is at least one “afro-centric” high school in Milwaukee which spends a lot of time teaching hits black students how oppressed they are. Unsurprisingly, it produces a lot of angry but ignorant kids, some of whom go on to careers in robbery and political violence.

      1. I almost asked “What’s the difference?” before I realized that robbers do not, as a rule, also practice extortion.

  37. > Most of what we hear of that is via authors like Dickens who thought they knew better ways to organize society and who had an ax to grind.

    CommieMutantTraitors are everywhere! Vigilance is paramount! 😀

    >9/11 planners were among the richest, best educated of Muslims. They weren’t striking out of privation or despair, but out of hatred
    Sure. As evidenced by their public admission of envy to the insecure, obese semi-literate junkies. I mean, CNN won’t lie to us… right?

    > during its long march to the left has gotten quite averse to the claims of merit.
    “averse” is an understatement. Look up “code of merit” on twitter and you’ll see a circus, with monkeys.

    1. I rather suspect Dickens and his contemporaries were simply looking for easy hooks to launch their stories and justify the characters actions. Surely they had little or no sociological training to facilitate their analysis of social ills.

      Of course, the training received by contemporary sociologists might well be deemed negative training …

      1. Well, obviously.
        What worries me is that while the main points are obviously good and sound, the methodology we see here looks more and more like a symmetric warfare with monsters, against which Nietzsche famously cautioned the over-enthusiastic.
        Try to count all the “Goebbels told you this!” chaff shots already in every other article – which is the button reds jam non-stop.
        The approach of our otherwise esteemed author so far didn’t reach “The company towns were paradise, and gibbet-happy sheep conversion of Britain was not a genocide!”, but visibly rolls in that direction – which is exactly the sort of history revisions the reds do.
        This gets disturbing.

        1. I’m not insane. I don’t like finding out how much we were lied to. Victorian age was NOT a paradise, for practically anyone, and certainly not for the working class, but all the same, it has been sorely infected by the fact that most writers and journalists were by our lights “progressives.”
          Look, I’m just saying “primary sources and verify.”
          I CAN SEE how some right side blogs go off the deep end into racialism and anti-semitism, because once you start questioning what you were taught it’s easy to fall off the wall. I’m not. I’m just telling you that yes, someone might have been arrested sometime for “stealing a loaf of bread” but by and large the people who were arrested for stealing a loaf of bread were a semi-criminal element.
          Don’t believe me? Read the histories of the women killed by Jack the Ripper or the millieu they lived in. There was a lot more similar to our chronic homeless than you’d think.

      1. Comments with more than a single link are typically delayed to allow moderation.

        Moderation in pursuit of reading is no virtue.

        1. Yes, and WordPress rudely neglects to inform the commenter even that the post is being sent to moderation, let alone the reason why.

          Ours not to reason why, ours but to be sent to WP timeout. 🙂

  38. I wonder if free college will lead to the situation in Jerry Pournelle’s Higher Education where corporations run private schools located where U.S. regulations can’t reach, to educate their new hires the way they should have been educated to begin with.

    1. Many companies effectively do, except they call it probationary employment or, in some places, Temp Labor.

      The US Military has reportedly based their entire personnel development strategy upon it.

  39. Scott Card agrees with you too — http://www.hatrack.com/osc/reviews/everything/2016-07-28.shtml

    “Well, here’s a clue. Most graduating high school seniors are not college material — not yet, anyway. They’re going to go straight to college with a high school mentality. I know, because I teach them, and even as juniors and seniors many of them are still as unresourceful and incompetent as high schoolers. “Will that be on the test?” “How many pages does the paper need to be?” Those are the questions they ask, by and large, while very few of them actually engage in discussion of, or questions about, the subject matter of the course. . . .

    So college has become what high school used to be — a minimal test of persistence and obedience to demonstrate to future employers that the graduate is willing to fulfill assignments given them by idiots.

    Only in a very few fields does college actually prepare you for real-world work assignments. For years my mother headed an advisement center at a university business school, and she had many, many students who came back to her a year or so after graduation and said, “I’ve never once used anything I learned here,” or, even more damningly, “I spent my first year unlearning all the things I was taught that turned out not to be true.”

    Here’s the great secret that no college is willing to tell you: Most real-world jobs don’t really require or even benefit from a college education. . . .

    For most fields, though, college is virtually irrelevant.”

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