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Unit 12-26-2010 09:41 PM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by eeeeeeeli (Post 193005)
Yes - it's so much nicer when people stay in their place.

"..and shut up and pay up so people like me can go to school for free."

eeeeeeeli 12-27-2010 12:59 AM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Unit (Post 193057)
"..and shut up and pay up so people like me can go to school for free."

I'll ignore the absurdity that anyone is "going to school for free", and go out on a limb here: you're saying the moochers are weaseling the rich out of their money by getting federal and state college subsidies?

Heck with it, I'll get right to the point. People are largely social determined. This is so overwhelmingly born out in the research it's not disputable (although, be my guest).

So, social structures are thus leveraged by the advantaged. The fact that there are large demographic trends in college admissions makes this a pretty obvious point. If this is true, then who has actually received the subsidy, the poor kid from a crappy neighborhood or the rich kid who's daddy and mommy both graduated from college?

You can argue this sort of "redistribution" is inefficient (as Mangu-Ward does). But that applies just as well to every "common good" service, aka that which is for the good of the society at large. Schools, parks, military, roads, libraries, etc. are more efficient in every way except one: doing it for the public good. Democracy requires legislation, accountability, etc. Not to mention provision of service with the express belief in the right of citizens to some level of access.

So, public libraries have to spend more to clean up after the homeless people you allow in. Police have to answer every 911 call. Schools have to provide special services to the disabled. And they have to do it all in conditions of incredible revenue uncertainty. This can severely hamper asset allocation. Much of the time government is spent in a mad scramble after a fickle public.

These sort of inefficiencies might be too high a price to pay for some. But they should at least acknowledge behind the sacrifice. We all have values and we seek to align our government along side them. I happen to think that the mentally ill have gotten a raw deal in life and ought to receive the very best treatment society can pay for - at least while there are still luxury goods being consumed. That's my America.

A better, more "values-neutral" position might be on an alien invasion (I imagine the prospects of being enslaved by a bloodthirsty alien race seeking to harvest our organs would be pretty universally uncomfortable). So would we not want every last available resource martialed toward defending against the invaders? Of course we would. Gucci bags in wartime are most conspicuous.

OK, well maybe aliens are a stretch - but we only have to go back to WWII to see what a nation is willing to sacrifice when they feel the cause is worth it. In that case, the only alternative was certain Nazi subjugation. I can guarantee you that anyone foolish enough to raise a fuss about "big government" and insisting the war be fought by private armies because of their efficiency would be given a swift kick in the arse.

Maybe I need to get very specific here: being enslaved by the Nazis is about as anti-freedom as you can get. Especially if you're Jewish, right? Death isn't very liberating. And neither is totalitarianism or torture. The point is that these experiences were so frightening that we were willing to sacrifice just about anything to avoid them happening to us.

How different then is growing up in poverty, or sleeping under a bridge because of the voices in your head? Or how about being a single mom who can't afford childcare for her kids? Or needing health insurance but not being able to afford it - or denied it because of a pre-existing condition? Or being old and not having money to pay the heating bill? Or even just not being able to go to college and better yourself because there is no practical way to do so without government help. I've worked plenty of minimum wage jobs and they felt nothing if not oppressive. There is always the trades, but even then, being forced into a lot in life that you were forced into choosing seems the antithesis of freedom at best.

Yet when the liberal response to these social problems is government intervention, the specter of "big government" is raised. The basic premise being disagreed with is the specific quality of each form of suffering. Nazis = bad, lots of death and rape = government intervention OK. But poverty, food stamps, drug addiction = not really so bad, maybe they deserve it = government intervention not OK.

I think what is most troubling for liberals is that we see these problems as just being very sad and we feel a moral compulsion to respond in a way that no one should have to experience them, even if it requires paying for an expensive and possibly inefficient infrastructure. The moral case is just that strong.

There are certainly philosophical principles that lead us here. We don't believe, for instance that these people truly chose their fate, as many (all?) on the right do. Neither do we feel that everyone should be given everything for free; it is hard to find a liberal these days that doesn't believe in a strong market system in which much of life is indeed ruled by the market.

But what liberalism is definitely not is a solution in search of a problem: that we aren't really concerned with social problems and just want more government for the fun of it - or to waste the money of the rich! This would be akin to claiming the right wants to spend money on the military and war just for the fun of it. Actually, one might say there is something sort of fetishistic about guns on the right. Maybe one day the left will get food stamp Barbie. I'm reminded now of the game Monopoly being so fun as a celebration of pure greed and competition. Games involving empathy, humility and sharing - values glorified on the left - are few and far between. (Ironically, Monopoly itself was popularized by Quakers and based on The Landlord's Game, a board game designed to show how rents "enriched property owners and impoverished tenants".)

And so, I suppose we've come full-circle - back to who owns what, and where we come from. The evidence for distinct structural mechanisms for class-determinism in America is really unassailable. Although many will continue to try. The reason for this is clear: to acknowledge it would generate a considerable amount of cognitive dissonance within the right-wing mind. If people are not freely choosing their lot in life, then a moral wrong is occurring. In the end, it is all about liberty.

Unit 12-27-2010 06:11 PM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by eeeeeeeli (Post 193062)
I'll ignore the absurdity that anyone is "going to school for free", and go out on a limb here: you're saying the moochers are weaseling the rich out of their money by getting federal and state college subsidies?

Heck with it, I'll get right to the point. People are largely social determined. This is so overwhelmingly born out in the research it's not disputable (although, be my guest).

So, social structures are thus leveraged by the advantaged. The fact that there are large demographic trends in college admissions makes this a pretty obvious point. If this is true, then who has actually received the subsidy, the poor kid from a crappy neighborhood or the rich kid who's daddy and mommy both graduated from college?

You can argue this sort of "redistribution" is inefficient (as Mangu-Ward does). But that applies just as well to every "common good" service, aka that which is for the good of the society at large. Schools, parks, military, roads, libraries, etc. are more efficient in every way except one: doing it for the public good. Democracy requires legislation, accountability, etc. Not to mention provision of service with the express belief in the right of citizens to some level of access.

So, public libraries have to spend more to clean up after the homeless people you allow in. Police have to answer every 911 call. Schools have to provide special services to the disabled. And they have to do it all in conditions of incredible revenue uncertainty. This can severely hamper asset allocation. Much of the time government is spent in a mad scramble after a fickle public.

These sort of inefficiencies might be too high a price to pay for some. But they should at least acknowledge behind the sacrifice. We all have values and we seek to align our government along side them. I happen to think that the mentally ill have gotten a raw deal in life and ought to receive the very best treatment society can pay for - at least while there are still luxury goods being consumed. That's my America.

A better, more "values-neutral" position might be on an alien invasion (I imagine the prospects of being enslaved by a bloodthirsty alien race seeking to harvest our organs would be pretty universally uncomfortable). So would we not want every last available resource martialed toward defending against the invaders? Of course we would. Gucci bags in wartime are most conspicuous.

OK, well maybe aliens are a stretch - but we only have to go back to WWII to see what a nation is willing to sacrifice when they feel the cause is worth it. In that case, the only alternative was certain Nazi subjugation. I can guarantee you that anyone foolish enough to raise a fuss about "big government" and insisting the war be fought by private armies because of their efficiency would be given a swift kick in the arse.

Maybe I need to get very specific here: being enslaved by the Nazis is about as anti-freedom as you can get. Especially if you're Jewish, right? Death isn't very liberating. And neither is totalitarianism or torture. The point is that these experiences were so frightening that we were willing to sacrifice just about anything to avoid them happening to us.

How different then is growing up in poverty, or sleeping under a bridge because of the voices in your head? Or how about being a single mom who can't afford childcare for her kids? Or needing health insurance but not being able to afford it - or denied it because of a pre-existing condition? Or being old and not having money to pay the heating bill? Or even just not being able to go to college and better yourself because there is no practical way to do so without government help. I've worked plenty of minimum wage jobs and they felt nothing if not oppressive. There is always the trades, but even then, being forced into a lot in life that you were forced into choosing seems the antithesis of freedom at best.

Yet when the liberal response to these social problems is government intervention, the specter of "big government" is raised. The basic premise being disagreed with is the specific quality of each form of suffering. Nazis = bad, lots of death and rape = government intervention OK. But poverty, food stamps, drug addiction = not really so bad, maybe they deserve it = government intervention not OK.

I think what is most troubling for liberals is that we see these problems as just being very sad and we feel a moral compulsion to respond in a way that no one should have to experience them, even if it requires paying for an expensive and possibly inefficient infrastructure. The moral case is just that strong.

There are certainly philosophical principles that lead us here. We don't believe, for instance that these people truly chose their fate, as many (all?) on the right do. Neither do we feel that everyone should be given everything for free; it is hard to find a liberal these days that doesn't believe in a strong market system in which much of life is indeed ruled by the market.

But what liberalism is definitely not is a solution in search of a problem: that we aren't really concerned with social problems and just want more government for the fun of it - or to waste the money of the rich! This would be akin to claiming the right wants to spend money on the military and war just for the fun of it. Actually, one might say there is something sort of fetishistic about guns on the right. Maybe one day the left will get food stamp Barbie. I'm reminded now of the game Monopoly being so fun as a celebration of pure greed and competition. Games involving empathy, humility and sharing - values glorified on the left - are few and far between. (Ironically, Monopoly itself was popularized by Quakers and based on The Landlord's Game, a board game designed to show how rents "enriched property owners and impoverished tenants".)

And so, I suppose we've come full-circle - back to who owns what, and where we come from. The evidence for distinct structural mechanisms for class-determinism in America is really unassailable. Although many will continue to try. The reason for this is clear: to acknowledge it would generate a considerable amount of cognitive dissonance within the right-wing mind. If people are not freely choosing their lot in life, then a moral wrong is occurring. In the end, it is all about liberty.

Is this some old rant of yours that you dug out of your blog archives?

My point is simple: people who are not into studying are being subsidized to go to college, when they get there they skip classes and bring the general level of education down, when they graduate they reduce the value of a diploma, forcing some to go even further into higher education to try and distinguish themselves. You can be sure that the needy and disadvantaged are not being helped by any of this.

By the way, your post could be applied word for word to anything the govt decides to do. Here's an experiment, I'll come up with something the govt should do and then you reread your own post with this new goal in mind. Ready? How 'bout: Govt should provide and help put up Xmas lights on poor people's houses (nobody should be denied a bit of Xmas cheer). Ok go ahead now, bring up the Nazis and all the rest.....

AemJeff 12-27-2010 06:57 PM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Unit (Post 193100)
Is this some old rant of yours that you dug out of your blog archives?

My point is simple: people who are not into studying are being subsidized to go to college, when they get there they skip classes and bring the general level of education down, when they graduate they reduce the value of a diploma, forcing some to go even further into higher education to try and distinguish themselves. You can be sure that the needy and disadvantaged are not being helped by any of this.

By the way, your post could be applied word for word to anything the govt decides to do. Here's an experiment, I'll come up with something the govt should do and then you reread your own post with this new goal in mind. Ready? How 'bout: Govt should provide and help put up Xmas lights on poor people's houses (nobody should be denied a bit of Xmas cheer). Ok go ahead now, bring up the Nazis and all the rest.....

It was a cogent and completely on-point post that expressed a particular point of view (that I happen to agree with [and Unit obviously does not]) very well indeed. Sneering doesn't work when it's obvious that the object of the sneer doesn't deserve it. Coming from someone who so often claims a lofty, above-it-all perch from where he projects his own arguments, this was especially galling.

Unit 12-27-2010 07:14 PM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AemJeff (Post 193101)
It was a cogent and completely on-point post that expressed a particular point of view (that I happen to agree with [and Unit obviously does not]) very well indeed. Sneering doesn't work when it's obvious that the object of the sneer doesn't deserve it. Coming from someone who so often claims a lofty, above-it-all perch from where he projects his own arguments, this was especially galling.

I, at least, try to compress my arguments in as few paragraphs as possible (and I try to avoid the Nazis, if possible).

Not4Navigation 12-27-2010 07:29 PM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AemJeff (Post 193101)
It was a cogent and completely on-point post that expressed a particular point of view (that I happen to agree with [and Unit obviously does not]) very well indeed. Sneering doesn't work when it's obvious that the object of the sneer doesn't deserve it. Coming from someone who so often claims a lofty, above-it-all perch from where he projects his own arguments, this was especially galling.

I beg to differ. Unit was pretty much on-target here.

AemJeff 12-27-2010 10:50 PM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Unit (Post 193102)
I, at least, try to compress my arguments in as few paragraphs as possible (and I try to avoid the Nazis, if possible).

I wouldn't call that reference a Godwin violation; and at the risk of repeating myself, it was on point.

Brevity may be the soul of wit, but if you can express yourself well at length (and a dozen or so short grafs is hardly extraordinary loquacity) then I don't see a problem.

badhatharry 12-27-2010 11:38 PM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by eeeeeeeli (Post 193062)
Maybe I need to get very specific here: being enslaved by the Nazis is about as anti-freedom as you can get. Especially if you're Jewish, right? Death isn't very liberating. And neither is totalitarianism or torture. The point is that these experiences were so frightening that we were willing to sacrifice just about anything to avoid them happening to us.

... I've worked plenty of minimum wage jobs and they felt nothing if not oppressive. There is always the trades, but even then, being forced into a lot in life that you were forced into choosing seems the antithesis of freedom at best.

You seem like such an earnest person and I really try to read what you've written but sometimes I just can't get past something...like what you've written above.

First you talk about the lack of freedom embodied by the Nazi movement and then you end with likening being forced into the trades to that same lack of freedom.

Surely you jest.

I know you have a heart for the downtrodden but it would seem that in the very recent past people who were members of the underclass were very happy to have snagged one of those 'trade jobs' you sneer at.

A little perspective would be good as you lecture us about the nature of the poor.

Quote:

I think what is most troubling for liberals is that we see these problems as just being very sad and we feel a moral compulsion to respond in a way that no one should have to experience them, even if it requires paying for an expensive and possibly inefficient infrastructure. The moral case is just that strong.
and what is most troubling for conservatives is the absolute certainlty of the those on the left that whatever they think will help will, in fact, help...just cause a really nice and troubled liberal with a moral compulsion thought of it.

eeeeeeeli 12-27-2010 11:48 PM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Unit (Post 193100)
Is this some old rant of yours that you dug out of your blog archives?

My point is simple: people who are not into studying are being subsidized to go to college, when they get there they skip classes and bring the general level of education down, when they graduate they reduce the value of a diploma, forcing some to go even further into higher education to try and distinguish themselves. You can be sure that the needy and disadvantaged are not being helped by any of this.

By the way, your post could be applied word for word to anything the govt decides to do. Here's an experiment, I'll come up with something the govt should do and then you reread your own post with this new goal in mind. Ready? How 'bout: Govt should provide and help put up Xmas lights on poor people's houses (nobody should be denied a bit of Xmas cheer). Ok go ahead now, bring up the Nazis and all the rest.....

I apologize if you felt overwhelmed by the length of my post.... I have a habit of developing theses from comments here and elsewhere - so yes, I was kind of taking the ball and running with it. So, to the extent that wasn't being direct I apologize. In my defense though, it was a response to your post and I'm grateful to you for the opportunity to "flesh out" more of my thinking.
(Also: mind you the Nazis were in no way ad hominem towards the right. My logic was simply to create a clear and real problem that everyone could agree was worth fighting.)

So, on Christmas lights: I tried to deal with that 3rd paragraph from the end:
"There are certainly philosophical principles that lead us here. We don't believe, for instance that these people truly chose their fate, as many (all?) on the right do. Neither do we feel that everyone should be given everything for free; it is hard to find a liberal these days that doesn't believe in a strong market system in which much of life is indeed ruled by the market. "

You've overstated things twice now and it's a bad habit, so shame on you. :) I think you could have put a finer point on your case for these subsidies inefficiently promoting bad behavior. I'm not trying to write your posts for you, just pointing out that to the degree that your overgeneralizations are untrue, the words you are typing become (by definition) untrue. By granting you the benefit of the doubt, one can make a good-faith effort to understand your deeper meaning, but it is somewhat tedious. And all this while fighting past the odiousness of the original falsehood promoted.

So, your assertion that these government subsidies are being wasted on poor behavior seems a wild claim. What would better numbers really look like? I for instance haven't wasted a bit of my subsidy. But I'm one in what - million? I'd like to see a better developed argument based on good data not fancy. Seems the real question would be to look at GPAs of FAFSA recipients. What percentage is pulling a C average?

Drilling down a bit is going to get really messy, though. What kind of pressures are these students under? Back to my previous post... if we acknowledge a structural inequity in need of remediation, what percentage of inefficiency are we willing to put up with? What portion of misuse of loans by students are we willing to put up with. I think 80% is probably way too much. 60%? 40%? Completely fair question.

But I get the feeling the question is existential, in that no amount of government is acceptable. And I find this attitude especially galling as it is unserious. Libertarians tend to get away with it because they are used to their utopian fantasies being indulged. But the rest of us in the real world have to actually create realistic policy and live with the repercussions. You simply can't discuss reality with people who are opposed to living in it.

eeeeeeeli 12-28-2010 12:08 AM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 193118)
You seem like such an earnest person and I really try to read what you've written but sometimes I just can't get past something...like what you've written above.

First you talk about the lack of freedom embodied by the Nazi movement and then you end with likening being forced into the trades to that same lack of freedom.

Surely you jest.

I know you have a heart for the downtrodden but it would seem that in the very recent past people who were members of the underclass were very happy to have snagged one of those 'trade jobs' you sneer at.

A little perspective would be good as you lecture us about the nature of the poor.

Slow down there. I have a tendency to get overzealous in my analogies and am unclear with my point. I began with Nazism as a clear problem we could all oppose. I don't mean to say that every problem is Nazism. I'm merely making a somewhat obvious point that problems worth attacking ought to be attacked.

So on poverty, I actually think that in many ways it is comparable to totalitarian fascism. When was the last time you were in the 'hood? It's terrible, right? The scariest part is the sort of cult-like mind-set that takes over. I'm going way wide-angle here, but from my perspective we are all responsible for having created the American ghettos (this gets deep into contra-causal free will and the question of determinism and that's a rabbit hole - but I think it's actually central to all this stuff). As such, we are all responsible for having created these little microcosms that are violent, self-destructive, undemocratic, etc. So yeah, in that sense I rank poverty way up there with some of the greatest threats ever facing out nation. In terms of pure numbers, the amount of suffering and lack of liberty (again, see: previous point on psychology), it's a huge problem.



Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 193118)
and what is most troubling for conservatives is the absolute certainlty of the those on the left that whatever they think will help will, in fact, help...just cause a really nice and troubled liberal with a moral compulsion thought of it.

Oh, you could say the same thing about conservatives! They think government won't work just because it's well, government. Can we just agree that both frames of thought are idiotic? Liberals left communism long ago. We aren't the ones holding fast to a one-size fits all ideology.

So can we do anything? That deserves an lol. Of course not all poverty programs work. Some are better than others. But there are amazing success stories. But you know, I feel like this is an old dodge by those on the right who want to shirk their responsibility because some programs - somewhere - isn't operating at 100% efficiency.

It's just too easy to say that. If only more people on the right were working toward programs that work instead of arguing existentially against government, we'd be much better off. Wouldn't specific, serious critiques alongside policy alternatives be a thousand times more interesting and useful?

edit: I forgot to address the trades comment: I certainly didn't mean to sneer. My goal is simply for people to have options. The reality is that college is often out-of-reach when many of the trades are not. Bottom-line is I think structural advantages are unamerican. I believe in trying to at least strive for a meriticracy, even if we never get there. The point of America for me is that we never stop trying.

badhatharry 12-28-2010 01:03 AM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by eeeeeeeli (Post 193122)
So on poverty, I actually think that in many ways it is comparable to totalitarian fascism. When was the last time you were in the 'hood? It's terrible, right? The scariest part is the sort of cult-like mind-set that takes over. I'm going way wide-angle here, but from my perspective we are all responsible for having created the American ghettos (this gets deep into contra-causal free will and the question of determinism and that's a rabbit hole - but I think it's actually central to all this stuff). As such, we are all responsible for having created these little microcosms that are violent, self-destructive, undemocratic, etc. So yeah, in that sense I rank poverty way up there with some of the greatest threats ever facing out nation. In terms of pure numbers, the amount of suffering and lack of liberty (again, see: previous point on psychology), it's a huge problem.

I don't think we are all responsible for having created American ghettos nor do I think they will ever be eliminated. But I will submit that the people who inhabit them are an ever changing group and many are able to leave them, never to return. That's a result of the glory of the human spirit. Your idea about poverty as immutable doesn't ring true and if you are going to blame causality, then certainly nothing is to blame except life itself.

Quote:

Oh, you could say the same thing about conservatives! They think government won't work just because it's well, government. Can we just agree that both frames of thought are idiotic? Liberals left communism long ago. We aren't the ones holding fast to a one-size fits all ideology.
The reason people question what government should/can do is not because it's government but because it's humans posing as people with answers to problems they have no idea how to solve.


Quote:

So can we do anything? That deserves an lol. Of course not all poverty programs work. Some are better than others. But there are amazing success stories. But you know, I feel like this is an old dodge by those on the right who want to shirk their responsibility because some programs - somewhere - isn't operating at 100% efficiency.
So much redundancy, so many good intentions with so many unintended consequences. The people who benefit the most from these programs are the people who work for them. And you continue to insist that people have responsiblity. Some people either don't agree, don't care or don't feel that the government is the best way to address poverty .

Quote:

It's just too easy to say that. If only more people on the right were working toward programs that work instead of arguing existentially against government, we'd be much better off. Wouldn't specific, serious critiques alongside policy alternatives be a thousand times more interesting and useful?
I think there are people on the right who will be working towards programs that will work in the new Congress. Of course everything they will try to do will be characterized as evil.

Quote:

edit: I forgot to address the trades comment: I certainly didn't mean to sneer. My goal is simply for people to have options. The reality is that college is often out-of-reach when many of the trades are not. Bottom-line is I think structural advantages are unamerican. I believe in trying to at least strive for a meriticracy, even if we never get there. The point of America for me is that we never stop trying

I think a good, honest trade is far superior to a crazy degree in something undefined like say...communications. And from what you have written above I don't think you have any idea about what the availability of landing a trade is.

We will never eliminate structural advantage. That does not mean that anyone is condemned to poverty or that America doesn't offer tremendous opportunity to almost everyone.

eeeeeeeli 12-28-2010 04:01 AM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 193124)
I don't think we are all responsible for having created American ghettos nor do I think they will ever be eliminated. But I will submit that the people who inhabit them are an ever changing group and many are able to leave them, never to return. That's a result of the glory of the human spirit. Your idea about poverty as immutable doesn't ring true and if you are going to blame causality, then certainly nothing is to blame except life itself.

I'm not sure what you mean by "life itself". When a poor teenager gets pregnant and drops out of school, her child is going to be at a great disadvantage. That's a fact. When that kid enters school he is likely going to be behind cognitively, emotionally and behaviorally. You take a statistical sampling of a prison population and you're going to find very high levels of risk-factors in their childhood/adolescence. Yet you're going to chalk this up to "human spirit" or "life itself"? That seems profoundly unimaginative!

Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 193124)
The reason people question what government should/can do is not because it's government but because it's humans posing as people with answers to problems they have no idea how to solve.

No idea? You have to stop with the over-generalizations! There are countless examples of programs that are solving problems. Someone needs dialysis, medicare pays for it. Problem solved!

If you're talking long-term, large-scale poverty problems, sure it's complex. But many of the programs are focused on getting specific results - like helping people get off drugs, or take night classes. That's not ending all poverty, but it's reducing it one person at a time. Just because we can't end all war should we stop fighting when necessary? Or malaria in Africa? Or well, most other large, seemingly intractable problems.

Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 193124)
So much redundancy, so many good intentions with so many unintended consequences. The people who benefit the most from these programs are the people who work for them.

You can't seriously believe that, can you? Child care subsidies for single mothers help social workers more than the mothers? Quality mental health clinics benefit the staff more than the patients? After-school programs benefit teachers more than struggling students? Medicaid payments benefit doctors more than patients?

Really?

Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 193124)
And you continue to insist that people have responsiblity. Some people either don't agree, don't care or don't feel that the government is the best way to address poverty .

On responsibility: see my argument on cultural/social determinism. We've created this society, it creates us. I went to it's schools. I interact with its economy. Who I am has near everything to do with who raised me, where I grew up, etc. Just think: would you risk not raising your child the best you know how? Why? Because you know that he will be advantaged if you do and disadvantaged if you don't. This is so clearly a part of our social understanding. How is it that we then can't see it when we look for reasons as to why people behave the way they do?

Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 193124)
I think there are people on the right who will be working towards programs that will work in the new Congress. Of course everything they will try to do will be characterized as evil.

Probably because they will involve cutting programs. Seriously. That is the opposite of helping people through smart programs, right? What government programs are the Republicans going to propose that will help reduce structural disadvantage for the poor in America? My bet is that they will say what they always say, "that by cutting government we are helping people help themselves." That isn't targeting structural advantage, it's pretending it doesn't exist.




Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 193124)
I think a good, honest trade is far superior to a crazy degree in something undefined like say...communications. And from what you have written above I don't think you have any idea about what the availability of landing a trade is.

I never said anything about actually finding a job. But as a career choice, there are generally less obstacles to a trade than college. Believe me, I work with kids every day who's chances are much greater in the trades than a four year university.

Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 193124)
We will never eliminate structural advantage. That does not mean that anyone is condemned to poverty or that America doesn't offer tremendous opportunity to almost everyone.

I completely agree. But we can make the field more level through a variety of specific, evidence-based, time-tested policies. College subsidies is one. You seriously can't be arguing it isn't. Or, I guess maybe you are(?!!). But that just seems ridiculous to me. I spent years in city college with many people just like myself who were clearly benefiting themselves and their community.

So, again I think much of what we're disagreeing on is A)the nature of human behavior - how much of it is determined, and B)the efficacy of policy responses to social problems.

I think the latter is generally dependent upon how one answers the former. Just consider how many liberals are in the "determined" camp and how they feel about government, versus how many conservatives are in the "free" camp and how they feel about government. So in my book the real problem is the question of human nature.

Unfortunately it's always been thought of as a black box, and at this point in the conversation people generally throw up their hands. But I think this is a cop out. For something so seemingly integral to one's core political viewpoint, a more than cursory investigation would seem in order.

Now, it is anything but an easy question. But I think many of the important elements of the question actually have some really good answers, and really good data to back them up. Especially in the past 50 years there's been a real convergence in numerous fields around the question of why people do what they do. When for millennia the greatest philosophers tackled the question they were at the disadvantage of having very little data to work from.

So for instance we can now predict very reliably a whole variety of human behavioral and social outcomes based on specific and simple parameters. There will always be outliers, but there is no reason to think that after a more thorough analysis there aren't very good explanations for the particular outcomes.

When you mention something as nebulous as "human spirit" as an explanation of why some people succeed where others fail, I'm struck by the seeming vastness of the distance between our conceptions of human behavior. While I think we're far from being able to have anything like a map of the human mind, or predict much of what anyone is going to do in the next hour, day, month or year, there is a whole heck of a lot that we do know, and there are numerous indicators of demographic trends.

And this is usually where the discussion winds up. I've never been able to get further than this with a conservative. It's fascinating, really. We're all so consumed by so many different and complex subjects but it always seems to come right back to this place. For what it's worth, I'll link to this website, which I think is as good as any at maybe getting at where I think the roots of liberalism's insight lies. (Although honestly, I've met many liberals who claim to believe in contra-causal free will. Which seems paradoxical in many ways - but I'll grant the philosophical weeds here are deep. I've never met a conservative who doesn't believe in CCFW. Which makes perfect sense.)

Florian 12-28-2010 07:05 AM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by eeeeeeeli (Post 193128)
Now, it is anything but an easy question. But I think many of the important elements of the question actually have some really good answers, and really good data to back them up. Especially in the past 50 years there's been a real convergence in numerous fields around the question of why people do what they do. When for millennia the greatest philosophers tackled the question they were at the disadvantage of having very little data to work from..)

Convergence? Do you really think that an evolutionary biologist, an historian, a sociologist, an economist, a political scientist, an anthropologist, a psychiatrist etc. would converge on an explanation of "why people do what they do?" I don't think so. The same goes for philosophers, past and present. What data do you mean? In the human sciences, unlike the sciences of nature, there are no data, but only interpretations of already interpreted data. There is a big gap, which has never been bridged, between a causal explanation of human "behaviour"--a word that prejudges the issue --and understanding or interpreting human actions.



Quote:

So for instance we can now predict very reliably a whole variety of human behavioral and social outcomes based on specific and simple parameters. There will always be outliers, but there is no reason to think that after a more thorough analysis there aren't very good explanations for the particular outcomes.
An example would be helpful here. Predicting aggregate, statistical "social outcomes"---as in economics--is not the same as predicting what an individual might do in a given situation, even if it were possible (but it isn't) to know everything about him.

While I consider myself a liberal and believe that the state should act to alleviate gross inequalities and help individuals to "realize" themselves, I think that liberals trivialize their cause when they pretend to know what they cannot know.

badhatharry 12-28-2010 10:50 AM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by eeeeeeeli (Post 193128)
I'm not sure what you mean by "life itself". When a poor teenager gets pregnant and drops out of school, her child is going to be at a great disadvantage. That's a fact. When that kid enters school he is likely going to be behind cognitively, emotionally and behaviorally. You take a statistical sampling of a prison population and you're going to find very high levels of risk-factors in their childhood/adolescence. Yet you're going to chalk this up to "human spirit" or "life itself"? That seems profoundly unimaginative!

Here's why I said what I said. You seem to be alluding to a thing a lot of people call determinism. I also believe that this is a force which is working in this world. Thus people through no fault of their own are born into circumstances which may not be optimum. The pregnant girl you refer to may have no prospects for the future and opts for love but instead ends up with a child she can't support...this isn't her fault but neither is it society's fault. If it were, we in society should be able to compel this girl to refrain from sex but we believe at some level everyone is responsible for their fate.

I could be way more imaginative but that would have no purpose.

Quote:

No idea? You have to stop with the over-generalizations! There are countless examples of programs that are solving problems. Someone needs dialysis, medicare pays for it. Problem solved!
We'll just have to see how this new 'affordable care' thingy works out. It seems as of today lots of problems are emerging, but never mind...right? The intentions were good.

Another little gem is the consumer protection agency headed by the genius from Harvard, Elizabeth Warren. It seems she wants to reign in those evil credit card companies but her big ideas apparently will make credit much harder for the poor to obtain and they may have to go to PayDay loans...ooops!

So many structural disadvantages to fix! The next thing she'll go after will be PayDay loans. That will make the loan sharks happy. I know! let's just give everyone all the money they need. It'll be so much nicer that way. No need to work at one of those lowly trades.

Quote:

You can't seriously believe that, can you? Child care subsidies for single mothers help social workers more than the mothers? Quality mental health clinics benefit the staff more than the patients? After-school programs benefit teachers more than struggling students? Medicaid payments benefit doctors more than patients?
I do believe it. Large programs are staffed by thousands of people. I would venture to say that the employees of these programs benefit just as much if not more that the people who they are supposed to benefit. That is because as with all programs that have no market restraints, waste is ubiquitous and there are no measures of success. They just go on in perpetuity.

Quote:

Probably because they will involve cutting programs. Seriously. That is the opposite of helping people through smart programs, right? What government programs are the Republicans going to propose that will help reduce structural disadvantage for the poor in America? My bet is that they will say what they always say, "that by cutting government we are helping people help themselves." That isn't targeting structural advantage, it's pretending it doesn't exist.
Witness how you react to the prospect of cutting programs. You don't care what the program is or if it's effective...just don't cut it! In fact what we really need is more programs so we can eliminate the structrual advantages in this society...utopian fantasy!

Quote:

I never said anything about actually finding a job. But as a career choice, there are generally less obstacles to a trade than college. Believe me, I work with kids every day who's chances are much greater in the trades than a four year university.
Less obstacles to the trades as a career choice? You are being very unclear here which makes me suspect you don't know much about the trades. I think it is foolish for you, as a teacher of disadvantaged kids, to insist they go to college. They are probably not equiped. But maybe if they get a decent blue collar job, their kids or grandkids will be eligible to handle the rigors of higher education.


Quote:

So, again I think much of what we're disagreeing on is A)the nature of human behavior - how much of it is determined, and B)the efficacy of policy responses to social problems.
This is pretty much what the whole country is disagreeing about.

Quote:

Unfortunately it's always been thought of as a black box, and at this point in the conversation people generally throw up their hands. But I think this is a cop out. For something so seemingly integral to one's core political viewpoint, a more than cursory investigation would seem in order.
Black box, rabbit hole...so many metaphors! I don't think that conservatives give human nature only a cursory investigation.


Quote:

So for instance we can now predict very reliably a whole variety of human behavioral and social outcomes based on specific and simple parameters. There will always be outliers, but there is no reason to think that after a more thorough analysis there aren't very good explanations for the particular outcomes.
blah, blah, blah.


Quote:

When you mention something as nebulous as "human spirit" as an explanation of why some people succeed where others fail, I'm struck by the seeming vastness of the distance between our conceptions of human behavior. While I think we're far from being able to have anything like a map of the human mind, or predict much of what anyone is going to do in the next hour, day, month or year, there is a whole heck of a lot that we do know, and there are numerous indicators of demographic trends.
You have said nothing which is not just as nebulous. What I said is that people are not stuck in poverty and that despite deprivation and 'structural disadvantage' people tend to seek and strive for a better life for themselves.
The best thing we can do is work with this healthy kind of self interest. That's what the free market accomplishes so well.

I don't have time to check out your link right now but I will look at it this evening and get back to you.

Starwatcher162536 12-28-2010 11:33 AM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Table 2.1 reports recent estimates of father-to-son mobility between income quintiles within the United States and Sweden. For each matrix in this table, element (i, j) thus indicates the probability that the sonís income falls within quintile j given that his fatherís income fell within quintile i. Following the usual convention, social classes are indexed so that class 1 is the bottom quintile (i.e., the 0 to 20th percentile) of the income distribution, while class 5 is the top quintile (i.e., 80th to 100th percentile) of the distribution.

United States
......1.......2.......3......4.......5
1 0.422 0.245 0.153 0.102 0.079
2 0.194 0.283 0.208 0.174 0.140
3 0.194 0.186 0.256 0.202 0.162
4 0.125 0.182 0.198 0.252 0.243
5 0.095 0.122 0.189 0.234 0.360

Sweden
......1......2........3.......4......5
1 0.258 0.243 0.215 0.176 0.109
2 0.209 0.225 0.237 0.195 0.133
3 0.183 0.211 0.219 0.223 0.164
4 0.175 0.177 0.196 0.218 0.234
5 0.163 0.140 0.134 0.193 0.371
Just thought this might move you two along a little, as much of this discussion revolves around how predictible a person's outcome is upon initial conditions. Low levels of wealth isn't the only risk factor sure, but we all know most correlate with wealth.

badhatharry 12-28-2010 11:37 AM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 193137)
Just thought this might move you two along a little.

Clear as mud...

...but then I'm just a blue collar slob.

Starwatcher162536 12-28-2010 11:39 AM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
The i's are the rows, the j's are the columns.

Starwatcher162536 12-28-2010 11:56 AM

To badhat and eliii
 
@Badhat

Presumably is the above data looked like;

....1....2...3....4...5
1 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
2 0.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
3 0.0 0.0 1.0 0.0 0.0
4 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 0.0
5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0

..you would be for goverment intervention to level the playing field. What % of GDP would you be willing to spend at today's marginal tax rates in order to get the data to look like America's real world values? What % of GDP would you be willing to spend at today's marginal tax rates in order to get America's data to look like Sweden's data?

@Eliiii

Presumably if it took 100% of GDP on social programs to get the data to look like;

....1....2...3....4...5
1 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2
2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2
3 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2
4 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2
5 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2

...you would agree that such a sacrifice in the freedom to spend one's wealth in a fashion one chooses is not worth it. What's the maximum amount of GDP you are willing to spend to maintain America's current level of intra-generational mobility at today's marginal tax rates? What's the maximum amount of GDP you are willing to spend to get America's current data to look like Sweden's data?

@Badhad and Eliii
Does your answer change is the share of overall wealth belonging to each quintile changes? How does it change if we are a more equal society? How does it change if we are a less equal society?

Ocean 12-28-2010 12:18 PM

Re: To badhat and eliii
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 193140)
@Badhat

Presumably is the above data looked like;

....1....2...3....4...5
1 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
2 0.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
3 0.0 0.0 1.0 0.0 0.0
4 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 0.0
5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0

..you would be for goverment intervention to level the playing field. What % of GDP would you be willing to spend at today's marginal tax rates in order to get the data to look like America's real world values? What % of GDP would you be willing to spend at today's marginal tax rates in order to get America's data to look like Sweden's data?

@Eliiii

Presumably if it took 100% of GDP on social programs to get the data to look like;

....1....2...3....4...5
1 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2
2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2
3 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2
4 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2
5 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2

...you would agree that such a sacrifice in the freedom to spend one's wealth in a fashion one chooses is not worth it. What's the maximum amount of GDP you are willing to spend to maintain America's current level of intra-generational mobility at today's marginal tax rates? What's the maximum amount of GDP you are willing to spend to get America's current data to look like Sweden's data?

@Badhad and Eliii
Does your answer change is the share of overall wealth belonging to each quintile changes? How does it change if we are a more equal society? How does it change if we are a less equal society?

Starwatcher, you remind me a little bit of my 9th grade physics teacher. He had been teaching 12th graders and advanced physics, and when he started with the younger ones, he didn't realize how little we knew.

Let me give it a try and see if this makes it clearer to others:

A perfect correlation between father's income and child's income would be a 1.0 where the corresponding row and column intersects. For example father's income on quintile 2, and child's income on quintile 2, if perfectly correlated, the number there would be 1.0. One of the tables shows an example of that perfect correlation. It means that no one moves from the income level they were born in. The poor remain poor, the rich remain rich with no mobility at all.

There's no such perfect correlation in reality. So the tables show how likely it is that a child will remain at or close to the father's income level. The closer to one the number, the more likely that there will be little mobility. A lower number indicates more mobility. By looking at the tables one can tell the differences in mobility between the US and Sweden. Sweden having greater mobility. One can interpret that as income reflecting individual factors and not how rich or poor the parents were.

Unit 12-28-2010 12:30 PM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by eeeeeeeli (Post 193121)
I apologize if you felt overwhelmed by the length of my post.... I have a habit of developing theses from comments here and elsewhere - so yes, I was kind of taking the ball and running with it. So, to the extent that wasn't being direct I apologize. In my defense though, it was a response to your post and I'm grateful to you for the opportunity to "flesh out" more of my thinking.
(Also: mind you the Nazis were in no way ad hominem towards the right. My logic was simply to create a clear and real problem that everyone could agree was worth fighting.)

So, on Christmas lights: I tried to deal with that 3rd paragraph from the end:
"There are certainly philosophical principles that lead us here. We don't believe, for instance that these people truly chose their fate, as many (all?) on the right do. Neither do we feel that everyone should be given everything for free; it is hard to find a liberal these days that doesn't believe in a strong market system in which much of life is indeed ruled by the market. "

You've overstated things twice now and it's a bad habit, so shame on you. :) I think you could have put a finer point on your case for these subsidies inefficiently promoting bad behavior. I'm not trying to write your posts for you, just pointing out that to the degree that your overgeneralizations are untrue, the words you are typing become (by definition) untrue. By granting you the benefit of the doubt, one can make a good-faith effort to understand your deeper meaning, but it is somewhat tedious. And all this while fighting past the odiousness of the original falsehood promoted.

So, your assertion that these government subsidies are being wasted on poor behavior seems a wild claim. What would better numbers really look like? I for instance haven't wasted a bit of my subsidy. But I'm one in what - million? I'd like to see a better developed argument based on good data not fancy. Seems the real question would be to look at GPAs of FAFSA recipients. What percentage is pulling a C average?

Drilling down a bit is going to get really messy, though. What kind of pressures are these students under? Back to my previous post... if we acknowledge a structural inequity in need of remediation, what percentage of inefficiency are we willing to put up with? What portion of misuse of loans by students are we willing to put up with. I think 80% is probably way too much. 60%? 40%? Completely fair question.

But I get the feeling the question is existential, in that no amount of government is acceptable. And I find this attitude especially galling as it is unserious. Libertarians tend to get away with it because they are used to their utopian fantasies being indulged. But the rest of us in the real world have to actually create realistic policy and live with the repercussions. You simply can't discuss reality with people who are opposed to living in it.

Another 6 paragraphs...I have a hard time arguing with such word productivity. So I'll just add a few random comments.

1. You seem to spend a lot of breath on making sure we identify you as on the "left", whatever that means, to the point that maybe that's your real goal here. OTOH you have to be careful when you self-nominate yourself as spokesperson for such a large and amorphous entity. Since we're on the topic, you've also assumed that I'm "on the right" and "libertarian" without even asking. I think this also shows that you're more interested in the formal debate than in the particular issue. Full disclosure: I'm a No Political Labels kind of guy.

2. How can you say that a subsidy is not free money? I'm puzzled by what you're objecting here. Subsidizing education means giving people free education. If you want to talk about something else be my guest. But that's the topic we're discussing here.

3. Let's even assume your premise "structural inequality in need of remediation", where did you address my concern that the tools for remediation (subsidized education) we're discussing, actually create new inequality (people striving for post-graduate degrees), a devalued BA etc..? Just because you identify a problem it doesn't mean that there's a "remediation" and it's even more unlikely that there is a "centrally planned remediation" that comes down from the govt. With that I don't mean to imply that there's nothing the govt can do, just that maybe it should be more subtle, i.e. review some its laws and regulations on the hiring process.

4. Data. There's data everywhere, the question is how you interpret it, and that's not an easy task. I have data that confirms my point of view, I'm sure you have data that confirms yours. One piece of data that I find compelling is the recent study on the amount of "slacking" going on right now as opposed to a few years back, and this conforms with the idea that we've artificially induced people to go to school that would have rather have done something else.

Unit 12-28-2010 12:35 PM

Re: To badhat and eliii
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 193142)
Starwatcher, you remind me a little bit of my 9th grade physics teacher. He had been teaching 12th graders and advanced physics, and when he started with the younger ones, he didn't realize how little we knew.

Let me give it a try and see if this makes it clearer to others:

A perfect correlation between father's income and child's income would be a 1.0 where the corresponding row and column intersects. For example father's income on quintile 2, and child's income on quintile 2, if perfectly correlated, the number there would be 1.0. One of the tables shows an example of that perfect correlation. It means that no one moves from the income level they were born in. The poor remain poor, the rich remain rich with no mobility at all.

There's no such perfect correlation in reality. So the tables show how likely it is that a child will remain at or close to the father's income level. The closer to one the number, the more likely that there will be little mobility. A lower number indicates more mobility. By looking at the tables one can tell the differences in mobility between the US and Sweden. Sweden having greater mobility. One can interpret that as income reflecting individual factors and not how rich or poor the parents were.

Sweden privatized social security, is experimenting with school choice and has very low corporate taxes. It's also a small and fairly homogeneous country, the right comparison should maybe be made with Minnesota (also full of Swedes).

eeeeeeeli 12-28-2010 01:12 PM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Unit (Post 193143)
Another 6 paragraphs...I have a hard time arguing with such word productivity.

OK, fair enough!
Quote:

Originally Posted by Unit (Post 193143)
So I'll just add a few random comments.

1. You seem to spend a lot of breath on making sure we identify you as on the "left", whatever that means, to the point that maybe that's your real goal here. OTOH you have to be careful when you self-nominate yourself as spokesperson for such a large and amorphous entity. Since we're on the topic, you've also assumed that I'm "on the right" and "libertarian" without even asking. I think this also shows that you're more interested in the formal debate than in the particular issue. Full disclosure: I'm a No Political Labels kind of guy.

I guess it's because I don't think it matters what you call yourself. You espouse libertarian ideas, you get a critique of libertarianism in response. Was there anything I said that would not have applied directly to what you were arguing?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Unit (Post 193143)
2. How can you say that a subsidy is not free money? I'm puzzled by what you're objecting here. Subsidizing education means giving people free education. If you want to talk about something else be my guest. But that's the topic we're discussing here.

This is silly. Do we really need to debate the difference between "a free education" and subsidies that help pay for education? When my government loan is deferred it is in a sense being subsidized. But interest still accrues. I feel like I'm bending over backwards for you here!

Quote:

Originally Posted by Unit (Post 193143)
3. Let's even assume your premise "structural inequality in need of remediation", where did you address my concern that the tools for remediation (subsidized education) we're discussing, actually create new inequality (people striving for post-graduate degrees), a devalued BA etc..? Just because you identify a problem it doesn't mean that there's a "remediation" and it's even more unlikely that there is a "centrally planned remediation" that comes down from the govt. With that I don't mean to imply that there's nothing the govt can do, just that maybe it should be more subtle, i.e. review some its laws and regulations on the hiring process.

I questioned the degree to which this is going on, versus the intended goal of helping people who want to and deserve to go to college? If we're still assuming the structural inequality exists, what you're arguing is that it acts as a nice mechanism for inflating the value of degrees, etc. Oh boy, my degree was so affordable and valuable because poor people were kept out of the system! So again, what is the ratio of the truly deserving to the undeserving (class skippers)?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Unit (Post 193143)
4. Data. There's data everywhere, the question is how you interpret it, and that's not an easy task. I have data that confirms my point of view, I'm sure you have data that confirms yours. One piece of data that I find compelling is the recent study on the amount of "slacking" going on right now as opposed to a few years back, and this conforms with the idea that we've artificially induced people to go to school that would have rather have done something else.

I have no data, but I'm not making the claim. When I was in school the classes seemed quite full. I will grant you that there are a lot of people going to college that lack proper skills. But it's more complicated than that. Structural inequality makes life hard for these individuals and a bit of support seems reasonable. If what we're getting at graduation is a competent individual, then what's the problem? I'll also argue that having credentialed people who represent the underclass is an enormously important goal in and of itself.

(sorry for the paragraph, but if you're not interested than don't read it!)I'll give you an example: my wife taught an intro English class at a state college. A few students in her class were part of a special cohort that was pulled from poor high schools and given extra support. When asked to write about life experiences, their papers were rich with introspection and wisdom, while most other papers were by comparison dull and lacking in perspective. If those students make it to graduation, they offer something very valuable to society.

Ocean 12-28-2010 01:22 PM

Re: To badhat and eliii
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Unit (Post 193144)
Sweden privatized social security, is experimenting with school choice and has very low corporate taxes. It's also a small and fairly homogeneous country, the right comparison should maybe be made with Minnesota (also full of Swedes).

I was just trying to explain how to read Starwatcher's tables.

Unit 12-28-2010 01:45 PM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by eeeeeeeli (Post 193145)
I guess it's because I don't think it matters what you call yourself. You espouse libertarian ideas, you get a critique of libertarianism in response. Was there anything I said that would not have applied directly to what you were arguing?

Libertarianism is a deductive theory that assumes some basic axioms such as the principle of non-aggression, property rights etc...I'm just arguing about non-intended consequences of subsidies for college, that's all.

Quote:

This is silly. Do we really need to debate the difference between "a free education" and subsidies that help pay for education? When my government loan is deferred it is in a sense being subsidized. But interest still accrues. I feel like I'm bending over backwards for you here!
You insist on a literal reading but what I'm saying is pretty simple: you consume X amount of education and a fraction p is free, so you're getting education for free. I'm bending backwards two times and knotting myself into a Mobius strip here for you!

Quote:

I questioned the degree to which this is going on, versus the intended goal of helping people who want to and deserve to go to college? If we're still assuming the structural inequality exists, what you're arguing is that it acts as a nice mechanism for inflating the value of degrees, etc. Oh boy, my degree was so affordable and valuable because poor people were kept out of the system! So again, what is the ratio of the truly deserving to the undeserving (class skippers)?
First of all I don't know what is meant by deserving and undeserving. My best friend from childhood went to a trade school and started working at 14, I got my PhD 12 years later, during those 12 years my friends education continued and increased, on the job, and he was being paid quite well too. Of course, his job was hard and repetitive in many ways, but in what sense did he "deserve" to spend 10 idle years in college?



Quote:

I have no data, but I'm not making the claim. When I was in school the classes seemed quite full. I will grant you that there are a lot of people going to college that lack proper skills. But it's more complicated than that. Structural inequality makes life hard for these individuals and a bit of support seems reasonable. If what we're getting at graduation is a competent individual, then what's the problem? I'll also argue that having credentialed people who represent the underclass is an enormously important goal in and of itself.
You're assuming that a college education makes people competent vs. learning on the job and getting work experience. I tend to view college as an expensive signal. The solution then is not to pay poor people to acquire expensive signals, rather it would be to allow employers more freedom during the hiring process, freedom to experiment, freedom to write individual deals with individual workers.

Quote:

(sorry for the paragraph, but if you're not interested than don't read it!)I'll give you an example: my wife taught an intro English class at a state college. A few students in her class were part of a special cohort that was pulled from poor high schools and given extra support. When asked to write about life experiences, their papers were rich with introspection and wisdom, while most other papers were by comparison dull and lacking in perspective. If those students make it to graduation, they offer something very valuable to society.
My point is that they already offer something very valuable and the reasons they face barriers to entry are more simple: minimum wage laws, labor laws, anti-discrimination laws etc....

Let me put it this way: what would happen if you subsidized people to go to graduate school and ended up doubling PhD production, would all these new PhDs get prestigious academic jobs? I bet you'd get a few working at McDonalds, but you don't need a PhD to work at McDonalds

Romanized 12-28-2010 02:34 PM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sapeye (Post 192928)
Interesting idea about people learning to be hair dressers on the job. I'm trying to imagine Katherine dropping into her local salon, having her regular stylist say, "We have a new employee here that has no clue about cutting hair, but s/he's gotta learn somewhere. Do you mind if he/she has a whack at your head?"

Are you serious? You never met a person that could do hair without going to some beauty college that normally charges $10000 or more a year. Most folks know how to cut hair beforehand, they just need the piece of paper to work in a legit salon. My aunt did hair as a child and for decades in her basement. Maybe you should just get out more.

eeeeeeeli 12-29-2010 12:04 AM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 193129)
Convergence? Do you really think that an evolutionary biologist, an historian, a sociologist, an economist, a political scientist, an anthropologist, a psychiatrist etc. would converge on an explanation of "why people do what they do?"

In a word, yes. They would certainly disagree on specifics, but much of their work relies on the premise that people have genetic and social reasons for what they do that don't spontaneously appear out of thin air as believers in contra-causal free essentially argue. They are products of an interaction of genes and environment that then processes stimulus and acts on it. That's still an incredibly broad statement - it says nothing about what a person is going to do at any given moment (as you say, this would require an almost infinite set of data). But it describes the limitations that the human mind is under (unconscious processing, for starters), and very good predictions can be made.

The more we understand of the brain, the more this sort of central dogma is solidified: that the mind exists within a physical organ, operates entirely within the laws of the known universe, and is a causal mechanism.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 193129)
An example would be helpful here. Predicting aggregate, statistical "social outcomes"---as in economics--is not the same as predicting what an individual might do in a given situation, even if it were possible (but it isn't) to know everything about him.

While I consider myself a liberal and believe that the state should act to alleviate gross inequalities and help individuals to "realize" themselves, I think that liberals trivialize their cause when they pretend to know what they cannot know.

Oh, I completely agree. But I'm not claiming that. I'm simply saying that we have a great a deal of evidence that how a society is structured is integral to how individuals in that society will operate.

To illustrate this in the real world: imagine 100 kids growing up in the projects, with single mothers high on crack and fathers in prison, then another set of 100 in some fancy suburb with two college-educated parents. The free will libertarian (which includes most conservatives) argues policy as if each individual, because of free will, has just as much opportunity as any other.

Yet the obvious reality is that the first group will do much worse. There's plenty of data on this. How you explain this in a free-will framework without resorting to racism is beyond me. Although come to think of it, racism would imply determinism anyway. I'm simply at a loss.

- some statistics on risk factors and success correlations-

eeeeeeeli 12-29-2010 12:22 AM

Re: To badhat and eliii
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 193140)
@Badhat
you would agree that such a sacrifice in the freedom to spend one's wealth in a fashion one chooses is not worth it. What's the maximum amount of GDP you are willing to spend to maintain America's current level of intra-generational mobility at today's marginal tax rates? What's the maximum amount of GDP you are willing to spend to get America's current data to look like Sweden's data?

@Badhad and Eliii
Does your answer change is the share of overall wealth belonging to each quintile changes? How does it change if we are a more equal society? How does it change if we are a less equal society?

I think those are excellent questions. First of all I don't pretend to know the right path to getting there. I know there are a lot of programs out there that do great things. But they're hardly some kind of anti-poverty panacea. I'm merely satisfied with promoting the idea that there is a need, and that by seriously tackling it we can get figure out more and more of what works.

The economics gets tricky. I think some level of supply-side makes sense, so I'd be wary of outrageous taxes on the wealthy (even if we could get them to pay it). That said, in purely moral terms I think that every child has a constitutional right to very similar levels of human capital by the age of 18. How we get there is tough.

Then they can decide for themselves to be a dumb redneck like badhat or a college-educated genius like me. ;)

Ocean 12-29-2010 07:42 AM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by eeeeeeeli (Post 193167)
Yet the obvious reality is that the first group will do much worse. There's plenty of data on this. How you explain this in a free-will framework without resorting to racism is beyond me. Although come to think of it, racism would imply determinism anyway. I'm simply at a loss.

The current brand of libertarianism, which seems to be mostly a mockery of the more sophisticated versions, runs on the paradox of implicit and explicit meanings. So, on the one hand it portrays "free will" as the main reason to expect personal responsibility and accomplishments, while on the other, it rejects social programs to remediate those inequalities you pointed out, because "nothing can be done or changed" (determinism). Part of that determinism can be associated to racial limitations which explains the racism that some display.

I think one of the key disagreements between liberals and libertarians/ conservatives is their acceptance of inequality. Although it would be Utopian to expect complete equality, the degree of variation that liberals are willing to accept is much narrower than for the others.

Quote:

- some statistics on risk factors and success correlations-
It ain't Ayn, is it? ;)

badhatharry 12-29-2010 09:16 AM

Re: To badhat and eliii
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by eeeeeeeli (Post 193168)
That said, in purely moral terms I think that every child has a constitutional right to very similar levels of human capital by the age of 18. How we get there is tough.

I don't recall this part of the constitution. Is it found in the good and welfare clause?

I'm checking out your naturalist site.

I jus hopes I kin understan it.

badhatharry 12-29-2010 09:29 AM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 193177)
So, on the one hand it portrays "free will" as the main reason to expect personal responsibility and accomplishments, while on the other, it rejects social programs to remediate those inequalities you pointed out, because "nothing can be done or changed" (determinism). Part of that determinism can be associated to racial limitations which explains the racism that some display.

The libertarian view is not that 'nothing can be done'. It merely questions what should be done while recognizing that just because the intent is good the effort won't necessarily have the desired result.

This is particularly important when you're confiscating and spending other people's money. If you want to do this kind of social program privately, it would be hard to find a libertarian who would object.

badhatharry 12-29-2010 09:53 AM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Responding to eeeeeeli:
There's a whole lot to the site and it will take me a while to get through it but here's the first thing I question. Below the writer makes an illogical leap and expects the reader to leap with him. I don't think that agreeing with the first part of the paragraph (which I generally do) compels me to then agree with what I have bolded. In other words, it doesn't follow necesssarily.

I understand that the writer wants to express that the person who believes in naturalism also has a basis for ethical orientation (something theists question). I guess I would say that believing that we are natural beings has nothing to do with progressive politics. In fact there are atheists who come up with entirely different conclusions. Ayn Rand comes to mind.

Quote:

The naturalist understands not only that we are not exceptions to natural laws, but that we donít need to be in order to secure any central value (freedom, human rights, morality, moral responsibility) or capacity (reason, empathy, ingenuity, originality). We can positively affirm and celebrate the fact that nature is enough. Indeed, the realization that we are fully natural creatures has profoundly positive effects, increasing our sense of connection to the world and others, fostering tolerance, compassion and humility, and giving us greater control over our circumstances. This realization supports a progressive and effective engagement with the human condition in all its dimensions.

popcorn_karate 12-29-2010 12:09 PM

Re: To badhat and eliii
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by eeeeeeeli (Post 193168)
I think that every child has a constitutional right to very similar levels of human capital by the age of 18.

where do you find that in the constitution?


and regardless of whether the word "constiutional" should be in that statement how does a person with an IQ of 70 manage to have the same human capital of someone with an IQ of 150?

badhatharry 12-29-2010 12:20 PM

Re: To badhat and eliii
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by popcorn_karate (Post 193197)
where do you find that in the constitution?


and regardless of whether the word "constiutional" should be in that statement how does a person with an IQ of 70 manage to have the same human capital of someone with an IQ of 150?

taxpayer financed implants

Unit 12-29-2010 12:30 PM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 193186)
The libertarian view is not that 'nothing can be done'. It merely questions what should be done while recognizing that just because the intent is good the effort won't necessarily have the desired result.

This is particularly important when you're confiscating and spending other people's money. If you want to do this kind of social program privately, it would be hard to find a libertarian who would object.

Right. In Ocean's view if you object to the central govt doing something then you're against anyone doing it. Nice logic!

badhatharry 12-29-2010 01:21 PM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Unit (Post 193199)
Right. In Ocean's view if you object to the central govt doing something then you're against anyone doing it. Nice logic!

Maybe that's because do gooders are mostly in favor of the government doing good in their name... not doing it themselves.

eeeeeeeli 12-29-2010 09:02 PM

Re: To badhat and eliii
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by popcorn_karate (Post 193197)
where do you find that in the constitution?


and regardless of whether the word "constiutional" should be in that statement how does a person with an IQ of 70 manage to have the same human capital of someone with an IQ of 150?

General variance in IQ has more to do with socioeconomics than anything else.
As for a constitutional right, it's implied. There are plenty of things we view as rights that are not specifically stated in the constitution. My logic is simple: Do kids have a right to an education? If they do, then they need a comparable one. And in order for them to get a comparable one, what we are essentially talking about is human capital. Obviously this is not something you can measure easily, as first you have to define it (see: IQ).

Look, if you want to argue that kids don't deserve a fair shot at success, go ahead. Otherwise I'm not interested in playing semantic games.

eeeeeeeli 12-29-2010 09:03 PM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 193136)
blah, blah, blah.

Nice talking with you.

badhatharry 12-29-2010 10:24 PM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by eeeeeeeli (Post 193217)
Nice talking with you.

Isn't that cute? I respond substantively to most everything you say and you become offended by one peripheral comment. I assumed you were different than that.

Florian 12-30-2010 04:34 AM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
eeeeeeeli writes...

I asked a rhetorical question (to which there is only one answer), and got a rhetorical answer (an attempt to persuade without appeal to reason).

So let me rephrase my question as an uncontroversial statement. It may be true that all the sciences are converging on a single scientific theory of everything, including human beings and their activities, but they are still far from that goal. At present, there is still a division between the human (or social) sciences and the natural sciences, corresponding to the division of reality (being) into matter and mind (in the broadest sense, including all the creations of mind--civilization as a whole). It may be possible one day to subsume all the sciences under one (natural) science, but there is still no agreement on which science that will be (physics? biology?). Indeed, if the convergence ever occurs, it is likely that it will be the achievement of an entirely new science.... In any case, as long as there are different sciences, with their own objects and methods, no one can say that all sciences are converging..... until they actually converge.

Thank you for the article. I suppose it is useful to know, from a public policy point of view, that the percentage of children who grow up in poverty (and all the rest--broken families, inferior education, crime) is higher among racial minorities, but I fail to see how this "proves" that racism is the cause of their plight.

At most, such figures support the commonsensical, indeed banal, view that a good education etc. are essential for the development and flourishing of children. As a liberal I wholeheartedly concur!

eeeeeeeli 12-31-2010 12:07 AM

Re: Communitas: For-Profit Colleges (David Halperin & Katherine Mangu-Ward)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 193235)
eeeeeeeli writes...

I asked a rhetorical question (to which there is only one answer), and got a rhetorical answer (an attempt to persuade without appeal to reason).

So let me rephrase my question as an uncontroversial statement. It may be true that all the sciences are converging on a single scientific theory of everything, including human beings and their activities, but they are still far from that goal. At present, there is still a division between the human (or social) sciences and the natural sciences, corresponding to the division of reality (being) into matter and mind (in the broadest sense, including all the creations of mind--civilization as a whole). It may be possible one day to subsume all the sciences under one (natural) science, but there is still no agreement on which science that will be (physics? biology?). Indeed, if the convergence ever occurs, it is likely that it will be the achievement of an entirely new science.... In any case, as long as there are different sciences, with their own objects and methods, no one can say that all sciences are converging..... until they actually converge.

Thank you for the article. I suppose it is useful to know, from a public policy point of view, that the percentage of children who grow up in poverty (and all the rest--broken families, inferior education, crime) is higher among racial minorities, but I fail to see how this "proves" that racism is the cause of their plight.

At most, such figures support the commonsensical, indeed banal, view that a good education etc. are essential for the development and flourishing of children. As a liberal I wholeheartedly concur!

I think this may have just been a misunderstanding. I didn't mean these fields were literally converging into one*, but that they were merely unearthing pieces of evidence that point in a similar direction.

*Although sociology and anthropology may indeed be either morphing into something quite different than they had originally been, or simply being subsumed altogether by other fields.

On the banality of education and human development. I quite agree - liberalism is built from this conception. But where I think it gets real tricky is in the transition from the macro/societal level to the individual and responsibility. Because while it is easy for most people to say, "Well yeah, if I abuse my kid for 18 years, he's going to be a sociopath", it's a lot more difficult to say to a sociopath who has just raped and killed someone, "well, you were made this way."

What I consider the mythology of contra-causal free will makes this seem a radical proposition. And so you've got conservatives and liberals at odds over an issue where the conservative says, "He could have made a different choice." And the liberal says, "Well, not really, if you look at the data." But then common sense tells us that we all have complete freedom: "Look, I can choose whether or not to make myself a cup of coffee!" It's getting from that individual, conscious action to the large scale, societal phenomenon that I think is frankly very hard for people to grasp.

I struggle with it myself, even though I know that the question is really very simple, and that I am merely fooled into thinking of my actions as being "free", despite the fact that when you look at my life and environment, and add in what we do know about human development and the mind, I'm really extraordinarily predictable.

So you get that data and and then look at the individual person, some sort of disconnect happens. We expect the individual to magically behave as if all that environment/genetic stuff doesn't matter. Yet if it didn't, you wouldn't see any patterns at all, and I wouldn't need to worry about how I treated my kid because at 18 years old, he would have "free will" that allows him to transcend every experience he has ever had.

**This is long, but just to emphasize: each of us can actually transcend our environment, but we have to learn how first. If you don't know how to make better choices, you won't. So the causality is still there, but hopefully it finds you!


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