Free Markets, Free People

Krugman: Redefining “Equal Opportunity”

For the left, Paul Krugman has become a reliable flack, constantly pushing ideological themes with a veneer of “critical thinking” that simply crumbles upon examination.

His latest bit of nonsense, and I’m really at a loss at what else to call it, is his riff about “equal opportunity” and how disadvantaged Americans are in that regard.  In fact, per Krugman, we’re a much more economically stratified and “class-bound” society  than Europe and Canada:

And if you ask why America is more class-bound in practice than the rest of the Western world, a large part of the reason is that our government falls down on the job of creating equal opportunity.

The failure starts early: in America, the holes in the social safety net mean that both low-income mothers and their children are all too likely to suffer from poor nutrition and receive inadequate health care. It continues once children reach school age, where they encounter a system in which the affluent send their kids to good, well-financed public schools or, if they choose, to private schools, while less-advantaged children get a far worse education.

Once they reach college age, those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds are far less likely to go to college — and vastly less likely to go to a top-tier school — than those luckier in their parentage. At the most selective, “Tier 1” schools, 74 percent of the entering class comes from the quarter of households that have the highest “socioeconomic status”; only 3 percent comes from the bottom quarter.

And if children from our society’s lower rungs do manage to make it into a good college, the lack of financial support makes them far more likely to drop out than the children of the affluent, even if they have as much or more native ability. One long-term study by the Department of Education found that students with high test scores but low-income parents were less likely to complete college than students with low scores but affluent parents — loosely speaking, that smart poor kids are less likely than dumb rich kids to get a degree.

Let’s start with his premise.  HIs premise is it is the job of government to pick up those who’ve made bad choices, in the name of “equal opportunity”, and do what is necessary to “level the playing field”.  As you might imagine, government is Krugman’s answer for all perceived wrongs.

Unlike the real world, in Krugman’s world there apparently should be no consequences for bad choices.  There should, however, be consequences for good choices – those who have done what is necessary to have advantages in life should see their priorities for their money shifted, by government, to digging those who’ve made poor choices out of the holes they’ve put themselves in.  Make no mistake about it – anything government does it has to do with money it takes from someone.  Obviously we’re not talking about those who are the subject of Krugman’s lament – the “poor”.  They shall receive.

You see, in the universe from which Paul Krugman comes, “equal opportunity” has to do with outcome.  It is a total redefinition of the word “opportunity”, something for which the left is famous.  Take a common term and redefine it by turning it on its head.  Who isn’t for equal opportunity or fairness?  But the left never means those terms as commonly accepted.  In almost every case, it means government intrusion and penalizing those who are successful in the name of their redefined word or phrase.

In my world, government’s role in providing equal opportunity means that everyone is equal under the law, treated that way and thus has the same chance as any other person to get ahead through their own effort.  While Krugman attempts to sell his ideas as “equal opportunity” ideas, they’re simply the usual leftist whine about unfairness and an appeal to have government do something about it at the expense of others.  For Krugman it is unfair that those who make poor choices have to live with the consequences of those choices while those who make good choices, work hard and attempt to provide the best for the families they form should have an advantage.  And he’s equally upset with businesses that cater too them, such as “Tier 1 schools”.

Never mentioned is the fact that the schools they are fleeing are public schools where, if anywhere, Krugman should be focusing his “equal opportunity” whine.  It is there his underclass are poorly served by the very institution he claims can change their condition if only we’d take more from the advantaged.

Government.

Krugman attempts to sell the idea of permanent underclass in this country, but in reality income mobility remains high [pdf]:

• There is considerable income mobility of individuals in the U.S. economy over the 1996 through 2005 period. More than half of taxpayers (56 percent by one measure and 55 percent by another measure) moved to a different income quintile between 1996 and 2005. About half (58 percent by one measure and 45 percent by another measure) of those in the bottom income quintile in 1996 moved to a higher income group by 2005.

•      Median incomes of taxpayers in the sample increased by 24 percent after adjusting for inflation.  The real incomes of two-thirds of all taxpayers increased over this period. Further, the median incomes of those initially in the lowest income groups increased more in percentage terms than the median incomes of those in the higher income groups.  The median inflation-adjusted incomes of the taxpayers who were in the very highest income groups in 1996 declined by 2005.

•      The composition of the very top income groups changes dramatically over time.  Less than half (40 percent or 43 percent depending on the measure) of those in the top 1 percent in 1996 were still in the top 1 percent in 2005.  Only about 25 percent of the individuals in the top 1/100th percent in 1996 remained in the top 1/100 th  percent in 2005.

•      The degree of relative income mobility among income groups over the 1996 to 2005 period is very similar to that over the prior decade (1987 to 1996).  To the extent that increasing income inequality widened income gaps, this was offset by increased absolute income mobility so that relative income mobility has neither increased nor decreased over the past 20 years.

Or, in other words, we’re doing fine.  Equal opportunity exists and those who make good choices seem to be taking advantage of it.

The fact that there is income mobility in all quintiles seems to speak of opportunities for all, and it is certainly evident that those in the bottom quintile have indeed had the opportunity to move up and have done so.  And note the third bullet – even the top income groups show that sort of change.

There’s plenty of opportunity in this country – just listen to recent immigrants (legal ones) who make this country their home and are amazed by the opportunities they’ve been able to take advantage of to better their lives.  

The entire Krugman piece, of course, is aimed at Mitt Romney specifically and the GOP in general.  It all works toward this basic claim:

Think about it: someone who really wanted equal opportunity would be very concerned about the inequality of our current system. He would support more nutritional aid for low-income mothers-to-be and young children. He would try to improve the quality of public schools. He would support aid to low-income college students. And he would support what every other advanced country has, a universal health care system, so that nobody need worry about untreated illness or crushing medical bills.

Obviously you have to buy into his false premise to then buy into this litany of nonsense.  What Krugman doesn’t realize is much of what he laments are problems caused by government or government intrusion as well as pure old falsehoods.

What would you rather have, Tier 1 schools for everyone, or the status quo in which government runs the majority of the schools and the results continue to get worse?  Krugman’s answer: take more money from the advantaged and spend  it trying to fix something we’ve been spending more money trying to fix for decades.  Perhaps, instead of more government, equal opportunity requires less government and more private sector?

Not in Krugman’s world.

In that world government is always the answer, the disadvantaged are always disadvantaged because of those richer than them and equal opportunity simply means a different government run scheme for income redistribution.

Yeah, that’s worked out incredibly well to this point, hasn’t it Mr. Krugman?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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60 Responses to Krugman: Redefining “Equal Opportunity”

  • “He would support more nutritional aid for low-income mothers-to-be and young children. He would try to improve the quality of public schools. He would support aid to low-income college students.”

    Well, yeah, because we all know there currently isn’t ANY support for any of these things! We have spent my entire lifetime ignoring the needs of education by spending less and less money on educating our children, we have consistently spent less and less on nutritional aid programs, and the number of community, state, and private universities has fallen dramatically and there’s no aid to students, and so few students going to college that……

    Oh…..

    Wait…..

    Well never mind! However much we’re spending, it’s NOT ENOUGH because it’s not working, and the answer is to spend more, and support candidates who will promise to spend more!

    • @looker Yeah. It’s “for the children.”
      The day I see the kids walking out of school with checks in their grubby little hands is the day I’ll believe it’s for the children.

  • $15 trillion in the hole and there are people who still think government is the answer. What I find so perplexing is that anyone takes this view seriously. The government isn’t spending enough? Really?

    • @tkc882 Of course government is the answer in PUBLIC education. One way or another, it’s government. If you want to vouchers, and then pretend that is not government, then how do you feel about government insurance for healthcare? That is private healthcare with government payment, just like vouchers. (please don’t let me start a healthcare debate)

  • I agree with Krugman’s premise (surprise) and am frankly surprised that there is any disagreement on the premise, though I would fully expect disagreement on the solutions.
    I agree that good choice, hard work, and perhaps some luck SHOULD provide benefits to people and their children. But that is not what this is about. This about meritocracy versus plutocracy. Some of the brightest kids are getting a poor public education because of the situation of their parents while some very mediocre kids are getting stellar PUBLIC education because of the situation of their parents. This is wrong, and not just because it is unAmerican, but moreso because as a society, we are depriving ourselves of some brilliant producers in the next generation.

    • There is simply no good reason that a school in a poor district should have a penny less per child than school in a wealthy district, but the nature of our funding creates that anomaly. American, using essentially the same system we use today used to be the educational envy of the world, but the rest of world learned from our example and expanded upon it. The rest of the industrialized world doesn’t care if a kid is in a poor area, they try and provide an excellent public education for all, so the future geniuses of math, science, business, and even government, can have the opportunity to achieve their potential. In other words, they go out of their way allow the creme to rise to the top, not allow the historical creme to automatically be placed at the top.

      • I am not saying I necessarily agree with Krugman as to how to do this, or even if he is making an specific recommendation, but government is clearly and obviously a major component of PUBLIC education.
        I personally believe that this is an area where federalism hurts America. Sure, you could say that a poor community is poor because they made bad decisions, or are lazy, or stupid, and you could even say that it’s a free country, poor people are welcome to move to the richer districts, they just need to work harder and pay for it. That’s all good libertarian logic, and as long as you are okay with losing some very bright and potentially productive people in your desire to chase libertarian principles, I guess we can hold our heads high, proud that we have stuck to some core principles, as we watch our national slide relative to the rest of the world.
        In my view, we should be actively seeking brilliance and doing everything we can to make sure that the best and brightest, no matter what their socio-economic circumstances, be shepherded to meet their potential.

        • I would probably agree with folks in this forum on problems with our current education system, where bad students are pushed forward and few are allowed to fail on paper. We need to have diverse disciplines that allow people to travel the path best suited for them. This is where money could (and should) make a difference. If a kid should go a vocational route and their parents have the resources to send them through a different path, fine, do it. But filling our colleges with idiots who’s parents did well, while we allow much brighter to fall out of the system because their parents made poor choices does not serve our interests at all.

        • I hate the character limitation, that should be left to Twitter

        • @CaptinSarcastic So, the government should select the elite and plebes rather than leaving it to fate as we do now.
          Super to talk about all those brilliant minds going to waste, but no mention of those doomed by government decisions to never rise above their appointed level.

          And we know, the government (in this case, the education establishment that will decide who is bright and who is not,) always knows best doesn’t it?

          I love when the central committee plans for each of us. We should be happy in our government selected work rolls, so long as we’re confident the brilliant got their shot. Because, after all, we’re otherwise doomed as a nation.

        • @CaptinSarcastic “But filling our colleges with idiots who’s parents did well”
          ah, yes, I shouldn’t try to better my children because I did well, I should, via tax compulsion, be forced to try and improve the lot of someone else’s children.
          My wealth shouldn’t necessarily go where I want it, to insure my idiot children can stay at least at my level of society. That wealth should probably be taken from me, and redistributed by others in a more equitable, and fair system, established by… others who know better… who will ensure that our interests are being served as a country. Sounds better as a justification if we say America is failing against foreign nations. Clearly I’d be Un-American, and a failed patriot if I didn’t agree to such a noble plan.

          I understand, completely.

        • @looker what is your view of meritocracy in the education system?

        • @CaptinSarcastic Frankly I’m trying to sort out why we’re pretending “the collective” will benefit. The argument seems to be it’s all for the good of the country as a whole, but since I’ve watched this game playing since the mid 1960′s I can’t say as the country seems to be hugely better off. After all, here you are, here’s Krugman, still tinkering with the system, here are collages, offering courses in Occupy Wall Street and Gender Studies, here are American students, measured against the world and being found wanting, and you’re all 40 years, at least, into your experimenting.

          We HAD as system that worked, most of the people who comment here, and the ones who post here were beneficiaries of the system before further and further experimentation and money shoveling produced what we see today. How much leveling of this playing field will there be.

          Secondly, the argument is always ‘good of the children’ (well, the ones we allow to be born at least…) and ‘good of the nation’. Yeah, I’m loving what we’ve produced, I want to invest in an improved version of more of the same. And don’t talk to me about advancement, I came from a blue collar family and was the fifth of six, and the first to go to college. I understand completely about upward mobility, I’ve raised 3 myself. Your master plan ‘for the good of the country’ looks like jack to me. A college education guarantees NOTHING except loan debt, and all the good class rooms and equipment and highly paid teachers in the world guarantee nothing if the kids haven’t got good social grounding and self motivation to make something of themselves.

      • @CaptinSarcastic “a poor district should have a penny less per child” … now please explain DC where they spend $28,170 per pupil and they have all of the same lack of meritocracy as all those poor districts.

        • @Neo_ DC is an anamoly, you know that. DC is is not representative of anything else in America. If you were interested, you can learn how every state has richer and poorer districts, and how education differs between them. Anotehr factor that needs to be considered is infrastructure spending versus actual education spending. Some districts are in old, poor, urban areas, where they spend a lot of money just keeping the buildings standing, but the actual education spending is far below wealthier districts. It comes down to this; Are you okay with kids getting a different quality of education because of the tax base of the district they live in, if so, no problem, you have the system you want. If that does bother you (it bothers me), you would want to equalize the quality of education regardless of the income situation of their parents or the district at large.

        • @CaptinSarcastic @Neo_ “DC is an anomaly.” LOL. Is that how you plan to excuse all the problems? Again learn about the judge who ran a school district for a decade or more to “fix” the problem of unequal spending. IT DID NOT WORK.

        • @Harun @Neo_ DC as an example of a school system is like using Tim Mcveigh as an example of a Christian. DC is a school system, Tim Mcveigh was a Christian, the similarities end there. It is an absolute disaster of a school system. But consider this, in Illinois:

          The kids at Taft Elementary School in Lockport enjoy small class sizes and a strong basic curriculum, but the school offers no arts, language or technology classes, and the building’s heating system hasn’t been upgraded since 1959.

          Rondout Elementary School, near Lake Forest, offers Spanish in every grade, beginning with kindergarten. Most students are issued laptops, and they can join the band or chorus and study art, drama or dance.

          Why would anyone think this is okay?

      • @CaptinSarcastic “There is simply no good reason that a school in a poor district should have a penny less per child than school in a wealthy district”

        Do you know there are judges who did just that? They mandated massive spending to achieve parity…it didn’t do anything. I believe this was in Kansas City.

        Oh, and you have no idea how “the rest of the world” operates. Most of the world starts streaming the worker bees of society into worker bee schools at around J.r High. In Taiwan they refer to this as “putting the cows out to pasture”. They also achieve higher scores than we do, with less spending, and far more students per classroom -40-50 kids a class!

        We could easily pay the better teachers more money to teach larger classes, especially if we screened out “the cows” but I don’t think the unions would allow it.

        Also, there is an inherent flaw in the whole “meritocratic = churning of elites” concept…what if you were the first meritocratic society, and you’d already churned all the genetic cream to the top? You’d look less meritocratic than say the Chinese who are still sending genius peasants to college for the first time…but eventually, that flattens out and you’re left with genetic variety and luck which could mean less mobility in a very fair system.

    • @CaptinSarcastic Like I said above .. this is more a cultural thing.
      At the end of Spike Lee’s movie on Malcom X, I had hoped Spike would go to the theme that went through the thoughts of MLK Jr, Malcolm X and so many others … namely that getting a good education is the most important thing anyone can do for themselves. The Jewish community always referred to it as the one thing that couldn’t be stolen from them once they had it.
      Unfortunately, Spike did the South African BS, instead of focusing on those around him in the US. I guess even the Black community doesn’t like an uppity …

      • @Neo_ There is a cultural aspect to it, and that is sad and tragic, but it still doesn’t mean that the education opportunity should not be present for every kid.

  • “all too likely to suffer from poor nutrition” … notice he didn’t mention hunger.
    “are far less likely to go to college” … excuse my cynicism here, but this isn’t because of opportunity .. this is a cultural thing (i.e. acting white). There is a shitload of money out there that the top 15% never see a dime of, so it’s not for lack of opportunity.

  • “the disadvantaged are always disadvantaged” … when you call the bottom 30%, “disadvantaged.” You can be certain that there will always be a bottom 30% … who are disadvantaged. Mobility plays no function.

  • Individuals make their own opportunity, and the possibility of failure confronts each individual. That happens even to white cognitive elite who never find a focus for their intellect. For every person who just rolls through life via smarts, emotional maturity, and luck, there are probably more than a few for whom it is always a struggle. In between, there’s a little bit of rolling and frequent struggling. And work. Plenty of cases as well of dissolute sons or daughters of the wealthy who come to naught. Families make good individuals; good individuals create strong families. Learning works in that sort of environment. Keeping people on the plantation infantilizes them. And, of course, Krugman is *such* a typical liberal, who never believes that his plans for other peoples lives simply don’t work. But he doesn’t have to be so obnoxious about it.

  • Complaining about income mobility is all very well, but nowhere is it defined what the ideal mobility function would look like. While a rigid birth-to-death unchanging “class” seems undesirable, a purely random shifting of class every year for everyone would also be a kind of poor society. So just what do Krugman and likeminded chaps actually regard as a mobility function worth working towards? I’m 99% sure they have no flucking idea but find it a convenient talking point to hang some comparisons with the rest of tyhe Western world on, or in truth just the small subset that this year has “beaten” the US on for a particular statistic.

    • @DocD You can rest assured that whatever the plan is, Krugman and Erb don’t anticipate any lowering in their standard of living to accommodate some knuckle dragging hill billy with the wrong political views.

      Interesting how the people leading these ventures will leave that to the little people to sort out the niggling details while they oversee things from the elevated platform of the wine and cheesers. Rather like the support of the 1 percenters for the recent war on the 1 percenters. What they mean is the war on those with the wrong views.

  • The US does have less class mobility, and especially the top 20% remain in that group. There is more mobility in the middle quintiles. If you’re born in the bottom 20%, then you’ve got a 67% chance for staying in the bottom 40% (43% chance of being in the bottom 20%). The reason is not bad choices — that’s been shown pretty definitively. The reason is that where in society your born gives you opportunities and constraints. That’s why class mobility in Canada and much of western Europe is better than in the US, especially for the bottom 20%. Social welfare programs create opportunity — they help people be able to make better choices.

    As for the job of government, well, that’s up to the citizens to decide. I think that government should try to stop social structures and position of birth determine outcomes and work to having it be real choices. Right now the wealthiest form a kind of aristocracy with the best schools, colleges, opportunities, etc. By position of birth, the wealthiest are likely to remain that way. It’s fair and just to tax them a bit more to help those born without those benefits and with constraints (bad schools, neighborhoods, etc.) have a chance to make real opportunities.

    Of course, the voters decide what the job of government is. I’ve written about this a week or so ago: http://scotterb.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/the-american-myth/ People with your perspective have turned the American dream into a myth, and harmed the country. Krugman’s ideas are about recovering true opportunity so that people’s choices and work determine success, and not position of birth.

    • @scotterb Nice that the 1% can take time away from the slopes to educate the slobs. Noblesse oblige eh what old bean?

      • @DocD @scotterb

        Note poverty rates in the USA and Germany are both at 15%. (Its useless to compare Norway to the USA…maybe it could compare to North Dakato, but progressives don’t want to make that argument…no sirrreee, let’s include Compton and Chula Vista when comparing to Oslo.)

    • @scotterb This would all be wonderful, except people such as yourself, and Krugman have insisting on, and been getting more spending year after year, and our education system gets worse and worse.

      And yet, we’re supposed to just keep spending on your failed plans. How quaint.

    • @scotterb This would all be wonderful, except people such as yourself, and Krugman have insisted on, and been getting, more spending year after year, and our education system gets worse and worse. And yet, we’re supposed to just keep spending on your failed plans. How quaint.

      • @looker @scotterb Recently the progressives pointed to Finland’s school system as a model, because its state-run, unionized, and treats all the kids “equally.”

        (They can’t use German schools anymore because they started to suck, and Sweden has school vouchers, so Finland is the new flavor of the day.)

        Anyhow, they get all excited by Finland, except they don’t consider that maybe its not the communal socialist stuff that works in Finland, but the part where the principals can FIRE teachers who perform poorly. Or maybe they have higher standards for teachers and teacher education, etc.

        • Anyone think the teacher’s union will allow us to test teachers, fire the rotten ones, and up the education requirements for new recruits?

        • @Harun @looker @scotterb I’ve seen a few articles about the US should be copying FInland this past few days. I wondered why that had become something to talk about in cricles outside the USA, I should have guessed it was spill-over from the presidential campaign prepositionings. But you are right and it should be added that Finland is ethnically very homogeneous. Check out WIkipedia, over 93% Finnish, nearly 6% Swedish and the remainder mostly Russian and Estonian… ethnically very tight and culturally very uniform. Compare to the USA with very significant parts of African, Asian and Hispanic culture. You can’t put the Finnish model on that.

      • @looker @scotterb Recently the progressives pointed to Finland’s school system as a model, because its state-run, unionized, and treats all the kids “equally.”

        (They can’t use German schools anymore because they started to suck, and Sweden has school vouchers, so Finland is the new flavor of the day.)

        Anyhow, they get all excited by Finland, except they don’t consider that maybe its not the communal socialist stuff that works in Finland, but the part where the principals can FIRE teachers who perform poorly. Or maybe they have higher standards for teachers and teacher education, etc.

    • @scotterb How robotic of you, Scott.

    • @scotterb “The reason is not bad choices — that’s been shown pretty definitively.”
      Actually, it hasn’t. That’s just a typical fictional assumption leftists like to operate with.
      Being born into an upper section of society does give opportunity (as a direct result of good choices by your parents), but that is no guarantee you will stay there (as shown by the third bullet McQ posted from the Treasury data); and being born poor does not constrain where you can end up (also proven in the post). A child born to the bottom 20% has a much better chance of having their college education paid for by the government than one born at the 40th percentile, and it only takes a few years of service to earn the GI Bill.
      Children often end up with the values they are raised with; people that don’t value the mental effort needed to “move up”, as well as ones that aren’t driven by money, tend to pass that on to their children. Poor people that do insist their children perform well in school, and take the time to show they value their education as a means of improving their life often have children that go to college and/or end up in a better financial situation.

    • “the wealthiest are likely to remain that way. It’s fair and just to tax them a bit more” The tax rate isn’t anywhere near flat. The wealthy are taxed, not just a bit more, but a great deal more. The bottom 20% pay zero federal income taxes. Of course, Erb already knew that, but sometimes facts have to be ignored when you start with a conclusion.

      “Of course, the voters decide what the job of government is.” Not according to the Constitution (for the Federal government). That there is any truth to that statement in practice is the fault of the same government-control loving leftists that have subverted the constitution, twisted the definition of the American dream, and harmed the country. The voters should effect how the government does it’s job, but it’s actual purpose is already laid out and specifically limited.

    • @scotterb “the wealthiest are likely to remain that way. It’s fair and just to tax them a bit more ”

      You’d have to change the way we tax in this country. We tax income, not wealth. And there’s a difference between being wealthy and having a high income.

      • @Steverino @scotterb Interestingly, since education funding come primarily from property taxes, district funding for education is primarily funded with a tax on wealth.

    • @scotterb Krugman doesn’t have anymore of an idea about how to do that than you do. And that is if I even agreed with you that opportunity is no longer there, which I do not.
      .
      The bottom quintile group contains a whole lot of deadbeats, losers, ignoramuses, unwed mothers, petty criminals, drug addicts, and drunkards, OF course it will have a lower rate of social movement.

    • @scotterb “The reason is not bad choices — that’s been shown pretty definitively” If there is any upwards mobility then that proves that it’s based on the decisions of individuals and not merely the situation they were born into. Even if it was because they took advantage of some gov’t social program they had to decide to do so.

      If it wasn’t based off their good decisions, then how did they move up?

      Equality is in the opportunity, but the outcome is up to those that take the opportunity.

  • If Krugman knew that we NEED people that know what a pipe wrench is, he wouldn’t write the usual crap about everyone must go to college. The problem is Krugman is so highly educated and compensated that he doesn’t know what a pipe wrench is. But he’ll pay someone $100/hr to use one when he has to…

    • @MikesS I have never seen anything from Krugman (or Obama for that matter since the accusation was made) that “every kid should go to college”.
      For Obama’s part he said he would like to improve the education system to the point that America has the highest proportion of college grads in the world (got a problem with that?) and at other said that he would like to every kid in America career and college ready by the end of high school (any problem with that?).
      All this is about is having a good public education system because our future as a nation will be determined on the kids going to public schools today.

  • Just a note on education, and it’s importance. My wife and I had one child, and our plan was to just have one child. We enrolled in private Christian school in South Florida. We lived in a townhouse near the ocean with no decent public schools in any reasonable proximity. We had an unexpected second child when our oldest was six, and the economics changed. We could not afford two kids in private school, and it was actually a better deal to move to an expensive neighborhood with A rated public schools (uniforms and everything). Within two years of A rated public schools, we realized that the best public schools in Florida sucked, on every level.
    We did some research and moved to Douglas County, CO, one of the richest counties in America (#7) but also with small town charm and remarkable lack of transience. The schools here have been fantastic, and much better than even the private schools were knew in South Florida.
    I make a decent living and I am pretty good at what I do, so relocation was not a big issue and I did what I thought I needed to do for my family.
    I think it is tragic for every person who just can’t make those kinds of decisions and their kids are stuck in the kinds of poor schools that we were able to leave. There are enough unavoidable disadvantages to lower socio-economic status, the quality of PUBLIC education should not be one of them.
    I

  • I forget who said it but it was brilliant: The West will be the first civilization to educate itself to death.

    Crack that open and what you have is the difference between education and learning. Learning is what happens when you do something. You learn to play baseball by playing it. You learn to sell cars by selling them. You learn to install septic tanks by installing them.

    First step in making America a more mobile society is to cut the mimimum wage in half or, better, get rid of it altogether. It keeps low-skilled workers, which includes teenagers, out of the job market. It keeps them out of the job market because it makes them unaffordable. The price point is too high to get any return. No one needs more mobility than low-skilled workers. The minimum wage cuts them off at the knees.

    Second step is to de-school society. Get people out of school and into work as soon as possible. The very idea of a school is antiquated. The next one to open is ten years out of date the day it opens and fifteen years out of date after its first year. The *only* thing that is really keeping public schools in business right now is the babysitting function. That’s it. They frustrate the gifted. They destroy the below average. They turn reasonably intelligent kids into dopes. Only very alert and involved parents are able to avert these outcomes. The internet is the future of education, in a hybrid environment of homeschooling and private learning networks and centers.

    • Much of what happens in American public schools is learned helplessness. Many parents send off their bright and eager youngsters to kindergarten and first grade and ten years later figure out that they are getting back a manufactured imbecile. Their children are swept up in immature peer group cultures that endlessly conspire against adult reality. The lower skill kids are again hurt the most, but the high skill kids don’t get off easy either. They might not be really worked over until they get into college and get the full program of dimwittedness (hello Occupy Wall Street). Probably at most only a third of the people who go to college directly after high school belong there at that point in their life.

      Very important to renewing American economic drive and individual mobility would be employers, both big corporate and small business, hiring people earlier, before they go to college, training them in-house, and then offering them incentives to learn certain skills through online courses, which can be applied to a degree.

    • The whole idea of a four-year degree followed by graduate work is going to be a waste of time for most people. And colleges recycle the worst of these chumps by hiring them for practically nothing as adjuncts to teach a lot of their course offerings.

      Parents, or what’s left of two-parent families thanks to the willful destruction of American culture by the Left, which has “helped,” for instance, blacks to a 70% illegitimacy rate (hispanics ring in at 50%; whites are up to 30%), should stress work over school. You learn at work. You study via the internet. Your goal is always economic success. Nothing less. No hanging out with an idiotic peer group every spare minute.

      Business, business, business; work, work, work; learn, learn, learn. Not education: That’s a union racket now, and has been for probably 40 years.

  • Also, why settle for the 1,000th best teacher for a subject if you can have the best? With iPads you can walk around with the top fifty teachers in the world under your arm. I don’t know, for instance, how Sal Khan compares to the best teachers in any given subject. But he’s certainly way above average. He can explain virtually anything in math and science (stay away from the history, Sal).

    Get rid of this stupid John Dewey, brick and mortar, oppressive, degrading public school system and its union bosses. If a kid is ready for MIT he doesn’t have to wait. They have their course online, for free. If a kid isn’t going anywhere in school because nothing there interests him and he has a 90 IQ, let him go to work, and let the employer pay him what he thinks he’s worth.

    Flexibility *is* mobility. Flexibility is velocity. Stagnant, static, stale compulsion for the sake of unions and state power gets you back damaged goods.

    • @martinmcphillips This is one of the very few you ever say that I agree with. I could make some qualifications, but why quibble, technology can be used to bring the best to everyone. Under these circumstances, should kids need to actually visit a building to get to their virtual classroom, the attending people would literally be babysitters.
      Unfortunately the actual commercial application of online learning is a FAR cry from the utopian learning you describe. I have audited numerous online courses and the reality is they put the LESS in lifeless. For all the creativity and teaching skill they put into the online courses I have seen commercially available, it would be a far greater experience just to read a good book on the subject and then take a test on the contents of the book.
      Perhaps a good compilation of available videos arranged in a heirarchy with respect to effectiveness would be more valuable, but once people start using them, the commercial aspect kicks in.
      Perhaps the place for the government here would be just to purchase the rights to good work and then make it public domain. But we do have to respect people’s ownership of their work and use them as they allow. YouTube doesn’t mean YouOwnItForAnythingYouWantToDoWithIt.

  • Krugman is such a fool. The government can no more create equal opportunity than it can create jobs or prosperity. What does create equal opportunity is freedom from arbitrary rules and regulations. If you doubt that then ask yourself why businesses routinely hire illegal aliens. That is because business people don’t really give a damn about your color or origin they care about your work habits and productivity.

  • Ah, see, here we go, this is what we should strive for as a society – here’s 40 years of rock solid education on display in the wise and savvy international metropolitan city of New York.

    http://www.breitbart.tv/people-ride-subway-pantless-for-no-apparent-reason/

    We’re going places here in America! Yes sirreeeee!

    • @looker Just accept it as good and necessary. The people will decide, don’t worry. So long as the chicks aren’t fat…

      • @DocD 40 years of teaching ourselves this is Ohhhhh-Kaaaaayyyyy. It’s not right, it’s not wrong, it’s just different and that’s Ohhhhhhhhh-Kaaaaaaaayyyyyy.

    • @looker Before Christmas the thing was to dress as Santa. Thousands of Santas meeting up at bars to drink. That was O.K. with me. This, however, is douchebaggery, if not douchebuggery.

    • @looker New York City does remain, however, a largely O.K. place.

  • The Federal Government should have Krugman’s job.
    A mid-level bureaucrat at the Department of Education should suffice, given the job requirements.