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US education apocalypse comment

“Skeptical American employers, to remain globally competitive, will likely soon administer their own hiring tests. They already suspect that prestigious university degrees are hollow and certify very little. Traditional colleges will seize the moment and expand by sticking to meritocratic criteria as proof of the competency of their prized graduates.”

“Private and online venues will also fill a national need to teach Western civilization and humanities courses—by non-woke faculty who do not institutionalize bias. More students will continue to seek vocational training alternatives. Some will get their degrees online for a fraction of the cost. Alumni will either curb giving, put further restrictions on their gifting, or disconnect. Eventually, even elite schools will lose their current veneer of prestige. Their costly cattle brands will be synonymous with equality-of-result, overpriced indoctrination echo chambers, where therapy replaced singular rigor and their tarnished degrees become irrelevant.”

Victor Davis Hanson, military historian, classicist and Californian farmer, writing in the American Greatness website, December 2022.

There are, I am pleased to say, signs of pushback. UK-born historian Niall Ferguson and others are building a new university in Austin, Texas, while the evolutionary psychologist and writer Jonathan Haidt – co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind – is the moving force in the Heterodox Academy. That’s what I love about the US. In contrast to a rather tired Britain, the US retains this sort of can-do mindset in the face of imbecility.

34 comments to US education apocalypse comment

  • Steven R

    Before we get too excited, let’s wait and see if they get accreditation. Otherwise their degrees will be no more valid than those of some religious colleges and who knows if the accreditation people are “Woke” or not.

  • Jim

    “Before we get too excited, let’s wait and see if they get accreditation. Otherwise their degrees will be no more valid than those of some religious colleges and who knows if the accreditation people are “Woke” or not.”

    Personally if I was either an employer or in the market to take a degree I’d rate one that wasn’t ‘accredited’ by the current educational establishment. IMO the very USP of such new universities would be that they aren’t in hock to the woke establishment.

  • Paul Marks

    On American employer intelligence tests – I think a Gentleman (I can not recall his name) told us about a Supreme Court decision at the start of the 1970s that ruled them unlawful because of “disparate outcomes” (i.e. members of certain racial group do not tend to do well) – so employers “outsourced” the whole problem by demanding that people have university degrees (as a disguised intelligence test) to do certain jobs.

    These days, as the post indicates, a “good degree” is becoming a badge of being no-good – so relying on university degrees, is not going to work any more. Hopefully, this Supreme Court will not be as insane as the one 50 years ago.

    As for “non Woke” (i.e. non Frankfurt School Marxist) universities – they do exist in the United States, for example Hillsdale. There are some others – such as Gove City College.

    And Jordan Peterson is creating one.

    A good rule of thumb is “does this university accept government backed student loans?” – it the answer is “yes” do NOT go there, as the money comes with Federal government strings attached.

    Essentially American universities who-want-to-be-able-to-accept-the-government-backed-money have to be “Woke”.

    No doubt someone will produce examples of American universities that take the money and are NOT “Woke” – but once the money is accepted, the pressure does tend to follow.

    After all as far back as the Obama Administration it was, falsely (falsely), held that Title Nine of the Civil Rights Act meant there was a duty of care on universities to “protect” members of “disadvantaged groups” from the expression of opinions.

    It is much the same in the United Kingdom – education has become about only allowing certain “Woke” opinions and not allowing opposing opinions.

  • Paul Marks

    I think the University of Austin that J.P. mentions (the one that Nial Fereguson is working to create) is the same one that Jordan Peterson is helping.

  • Clovis Sangrail

    We are a little behind in the UK but even now QAA is trying to decolonise the maths curriculum at universities.
    Please write to your mp about this if you have time.

  • Kirk

    The entire basic premise of education has been abused past the point of no return, especially at the higher levels.

    It’s all self-referential, without external checks and balances as to whether or not it’s adding the least little value to our lives. We’ve enshrined “Big-E Education” as this cultural “good thing”, while never looking at what benefit it actually has, if any.

    Meanwhile, from where I sit, I observe that nearly everyone bitches about newly graduated workers in their fields being useless, and in dire need of training and real-world experience…

    Tell me again, what is the point of an education?

    I keep getting all these nebulous things in reply, when I ask that question. What I don’t get is anything concrete, or any real benefit, beyond the conferring of a credential whose very value has become demeaned by the fact that they’re handing them out like party favors. What good is it, when practitioners churn out useless thing after useless thing as their actual work-product?

    There’s a popular local home designer/architect around where I live. In the mountains. Where it snows. This person has not turned out a decent roof on a house we’ve built using their plans since forever; nearly every one of them is “artistic” and has mind-boggling snow and ice buildup if constructed as designed; it’s like this designer has never seen snow. Literally–Every garage they design has the eaves over the garage doors, nearly guaranteeing that you either have to have a roof that can support a massive amount of snow and ice, or you have the snow come off the roof and block the garage doors. It’s mind-boggling; you point these things out to their clients, and they’re all like “Oh, didn’t see that… We paid big money for those designs; it’s a local firm… WTF?”

    I run into this everywhere. You want to know how to do something? Don’t go looking at someone with academic credentials alone; find someone who has actually been doing that sort of thing for enough time such that they’ve learned from experience. The academically-trained person is likely to be an utter dolt.

    Again, why are we so worried about “Big-E Education”? So far as I can tell, it’s a net loss for society. My grandmother taught a one-room school in the mountains of Eastern Oregon for several years as a young woman; all she had was a high-school diploma and some exceedingly basic resources–The school was poor enough that they had trouble paying for coal to heat it, so it was all heated by donated firewood from parents. She got paid peanuts for that era, for the same reason: Poverty. All of her students learned to read; all of them learned basic math. Today’s teachers have expensive college degrees, high salaries, and huge budgets…

    Yet, the kids ain’t learning to read. Or, do basic math.

    Explain to me, again, the benefits of “higher education”?

  • Steven R

    The whole point of accreditation is to ensure that institutions are teaching necessary courses for disciplines and students are getting their money’s worth. This might not be important in the Liberal Arts, but do you want to be cared for by a nurse who went to a school that taught biology from a religious viewpoint and didn’t teach how bacteria becomes antibiotic resistant because they don’t believe in evolution? It happened at schools like Pensacola Christian College. Not only were the courses unaccredited, because evolution is the work of the Devil, but the graduates of their nursing program couldn’t get a job because the school wasn’t teaching what the job needed. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be thrilled if I just dropped 40 grand or so to be a nurse and I couldn’t get one. (PCC has since gotten accreditation for their nursing program.) Or went to get my teaching license and found out that I needed to take a practicum and my school didn’t require it. Or went to take the exam to become a CPA and only then found out you needed certain economics courses your school felt you didn’t require? Or applied to grad school and was told my diploma wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on?

    I get it, some of the schools are losing focus on what they need to teach, being more concerned with PC and BIPOC and safe spaces and shutting down free speech, etc., than they are of teaching what needs to be taught, and sometimes it has disastrous consequences (the bridge collapse in Miami a few years back when the teachers at Florida International University were more concerned with jamming art into the Engineering program and making sure women pass instead of making sure their graduates know what they’re doing), but by and large these schools get away with it because parents keep sending their kids to those schools instead of hitting them in the pocketbook and a lot of that comes down to how parents are told if their kids don’t go to college they will end up making a living 20 bucks at a time down at the truck stop.

    It’s just a way to keep schools honest about what they’re selling to students.

  • Kirk

    The majority of the problem with academia and “higher education” is that there’s no consequence for failure or anything that establishes institutional accountability.

    Kid is told “Get a degree; you’ll have a good job”, goes to school, gets degree: Finds that they can’t find a “good paying job” in their field; wash, rinse, repeat. Nobody ever goes to the institution of higher learning and says “Hey, I paid you arseholes good money; where’s my job that was promised…?”

    Realistically, there can be no such guarantee made, yet that’s the way everyone in the education industry sells it. If you stop and think about it, it’s a lot like a multi-level marketing scheme, but government-sponsored. Kid is forced to go to school; during schooling, told that “more school=better life”, and is subject to “guidance” by government-paid “counselors” who push that “more school” deal through everything they do with the kids.

    Stop and think about that, for a hot minute. The very people who’re supposed to be “helping” these students are a part of the system, invested in it and its perpetuation. Zero accountability; zero real-world feedback in the form of consequence. Nobody in the “education” industry ever gets sued for pushing education on people who’re not suited for the life academic, and will never make money from it. Simultaneously, there’s no push-back from industry, saying “Our employees don’t need your BS ‘educational’ credentials…” because their HR people are also part of the academic-industrial complex.

    I question the entire premise, to be quite honest. What net good do we get from demanding that someone looking for a job has a 4-year degree in some academic field that has zero application or relevance to the job? What virtue is conferred by that credential? What actual benefit comes from that expensive piece of paper?

    I think it’s entirely insane that the education system even has people in it that are able to advocate to high-school students that they should get more education. How is that sane? That’s completely nuts; “guidance counseling” ought to be done by an unaffiliated third party who is hired to look after the best interests of the actual student, not the system. The way it’s set up right now, you have people with vested interests in perpetuating the system who’re the only people who have the credentials to be giving advice, and of course, they’re gonna plump down for “more academia”, every time.

    I don’t have a problem with real scholarship or education; what I have a problem with is the idea that such things are either mandatory or actually beneficial. To some degree, the idea that you have to have a formal course of instruction for every aspect of life sorta makes a certain sense, but the actual productive benefit of that…? Highly questionable. Past a certain point, education is producing less and less in terms of “returned value”.

    What I think we need to do is to take a step back, and think very carefully about what the hell we really need out of the “education” idea; follow that up with asking the question of whether or not what we’re doing is getting us that, and then take a look at introducing some actual accountability and feedback about relevancy and benefit into the system.

    There’s nothing to say we need to go about this process the way we are; I question whether or not we’re getting our money’s worth out of the current process and system.

  • JohnK

    If I were setting up a non-woke university, I doubt I would base it in Austin, the most woke city in Texas. That seems like an unwise choice, I doubt they will be made welcome there.

  • Paul Marks

    Kirk “what is the point of education?” – from the point of view of the international establishment the point of education is to get most people to agree with their doctrines so that it is no longer necessary to rig elections.

    For example, most students, who voted. really did vote for Mr Biden in 2020, and for Katie Hobbs and John Fetterman in 2022 – and this was also true of most young people, who voted, years after they left the indoctrination centres (as the media, including the entertainment media, keeps reinforcing the indoctrination), over time (so the idea is) most people really will vote for such candidates (or any candidate the left puts up – Katie Hobbs refused to debate during the campaign, because she knew the election would be rigged so she did not need to campaign, and John Fetterman is basically a house brick) so election rigging will no longer be needed – in any State or nation. It will not be needed as most people really will be voting for the left – regards of how useless the leftist candidate is, or how much the economy and society are falling apart due to Progressive policies.

    No system of indoctrination or conditioning (what is sometimes vulgarly called “brainwashing”) is perfect – but as long as it works on the majority that is sufficient from the establishment point of view. Hence the “cultural aspect” of Agenda 2030 – which is an official United Nations project (not a “conspiracy theory”) which has been signed up to by most governments (and major corporations) in the world.

    It is much the same here – and the “response” is rather weak, mainly consisting of “the young are voting for the left – it must be house prices, we will do something about the planning laws…”

    It is hard to know whether to cry – or to laugh.

  • Paul Marks

    John K. – yes good point.

    Why Austin?

    The University of Buckingham went to Buckingham (hence the name) in the 1970s because there was some land a friendly person owned there, and the little town of Buckingham is rather conservative (at least I think it is).

    But Austin?

  • george m weinberg

    The case that largely banned intelligence tests is called Griggs vs Duke Power.

  • Kirk

    @ Paul Marks,

    The one thing that the system has to do is work. If the indoctrination/brainwashing works, then you’re A-OK.

    However… Once it breaks down, it’s gone. I introduce into evidence the number of vehemently anti-Mormon former Mormons who were “indoctrinated” in that faith from early childhood. If you ever run into these folks, it’s an educational experience. There are no heathens like Mormons who’ve “lost their faith”, and the reason for that is all their early “faith experiences”.

    Similarly, you want to see some seriously anti-left types? Don’t talk to people who started out on the opposite end of the spectrum; they’ll be relatively tolerant. The ones who’re most likely to have turned, really turned, on it all are the ones that were former “true believers” who discovered that they’d been lied to. The people who were taught to “believe” and who’ve discovered that what they were told… Doesn’t work.

    Nearly everything on the left doesn’t actually work. That’s the reason why the whole thing is never going to last for long. The inherent incoherencies and impossibilities are eventually going to catch up to them, and the process is already beginning. The whole thing may take a generation or two to fall apart, but fall apart it will.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    JohnK: “If I were setting up a non-woke university, I doubt I would base it in Austin, the most woke city in Texas. That seems like an unwise choice, I doubt they will be made welcome there.”

    I am sure Prof. Ferguson knows the score; he must have thought long and hard about the most suitable place. He has to balance where the bulk of students want to be against finding the most ideologically “sound” part of the US, and bear in mind that a place that might be good or bad today could change in 10 or 20 years’ time. Setting up an academic institution is for the long haul.

  • Steven R

    I have absolutely no problem with higher education having one of those introspective discussions about “why are we here? What is our goal in academia? What are our values and what do we want to achieve?” But right now, even if they do have that discussion it will end up with what they’re doing right now is the goal. They can’t have an honest discussion about themselves until they’ve had that existential crisis because they have barely survived obliteration and that isn’t going to happen until people have decided they don’t need to go to college.

    Now comes the part where we figure out how to make that happen. Trades are looked down on, manufacturing jobs are overseas and what remains is either mechanized or becoming mechanized, and corporate America has decided the BA is the new High School diploma. So how do we get away from everyone needing to go to college to the point that academia has a “Come To Jesus Meeting” with itself?

  • Ah, “george m weinberg” beat me to it. I was going to mention Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424 (1971), a US Supreme Court case. It actually did not prohibit, by the writing, IQ tests and Aptitude tests for employment, but de facto it did. IQ tests will almost always be considered illegal for employment in the US, and even Aptitude tests are often on shaky grounds. Who wants to fight a court case when you just want to hire qualified people? It’s much easier to privately evaluate and make a decision as any use of metrics becomes, to misquote The Who, “A Legal Matter, Baby”.

    It was, IMHO, the final nail in the coffin that killed the 1940s and 50s American cliché of “office boy to CEO”. Afterwards the the degreed people had the escalator to success and they closed ranks against the non-degreed. The collapse of US High School academics also hastened this.

  • I sneeze in threes

    IQ tests might not be allowed, but I hear implicit bias tests are all the rage.

  • bobby b

    “Skeptical American employers, to remain globally competitive, will likely soon administer their own hiring tests.”

    VDH has become quite pessimistic in his view of our country, with good reason, and so it surprises me that he thinks that American employers – large ones, at least – would do anything to go against wokeness. To attempt to measure competence instead of wokeness would be the kiss of death for most large American companies. We still need many more bridges to fail before people think of this as a problem. I believe they’ll take the hit on their own competence and try instead to increase their woke scores.

    The U of Austin might still succeed – there may be enough students willing to learn instead of be credentialed. But for $50k per year, I doubt it will be many of the best. Just too much of a future risk on ideological grounds for an 18-year-old to take. “Oh, you went THERE. Well, we still have many candidates to interview, so . . . “

  • Doniphon

    You don’t need college to learn Spanish. To really (omg really!!) learn Spanish: DELE C1 or C2; or SIELE C1; or CELU Advanced. In the USA of 2020 and beyond, if you want to be useful in the workplace then you want to be bilingual. Start with online classes 1-4 hrs/day; then go to immersion experiences in Spain or Latin America. There is plenty of reasonably priced teaching — eg, Academia Buenos Aires, Don Quixote Schools, Mente Argentina, Maria Ortega Garcia.com, others. There are summer camps for Spanish learners.

    Meanwhile, you need to learn a job that you can do. Learn to wait tables. It’s a skill. You’ll need to learn the menu cold. And you’ll have to learn to deal with customers, coworkers, and supervisors. And with money. You can get certified as a bartender.

    Alternatively, or in addition, you can get CPR-certified and then get a job as an au pair. In a Spanish-speaking country.

    Or learn to teach ESL. First in the USA, then overseas.

    If you do some variation of the above, perhaps including a semester or more at a Spanish-speaking college, then by the time you reach ~22 or so …you will be far better prepared to handle Life As An Adult than most of your peers.

    All of the above is do-able. I’ve seen it done.

  • Snorri Godhi

    If i were a major employer (hah!), i would require all hires to produce a full account of all the courses that they have taken in ‘college’ (university in euro.English).

    In addition, they should produce a full record of all DEI initiatives that their university imposed on them. If they are unable to do so, they don’t get the job.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Coming to think of it, i would do so even if i were a minor employer.

  • lucklucky

    Most, many American companies get money for being in the fashion of the day. Nothing will change until society changes.

  • bobby b

    “What I think we need to do is to take a step back, and think very carefully about what the hell we really need out of the “education” idea . . . “

    Start with, 75% of the kids need a vocation, not a profession or a calling. But we let that idea become equated with “the stoner kids in shop class.” We need to reclaim that concept, because it improves lots of outcomes. Probably most. If it’s truly important to give them a liberal-arts background at some point, why do we wait until post-secondary levels? Why can’t we get more rigorous earlier if it’s a value?

    And this conversation is too important to be left to academia. They’re conflicted out of this one.

  • Paul Marks

    Kirk – you raise an interesting argument and one that is going to be tested in November 2024.

    What happens when the indoctrination runs directly counter to the objective, and obvious, facts.

    Will the young carry on voting Democrat with the economy and society collapsing around them – refusing to accept that Progressive polices are leading to terrible results?

    The short answer is “I do not know” – we will find out in November 2024 (if we are still about).

    What happens to the liars if they get found out?

    Well, for example, most people who died from Covid could have been saved with Early Treatment with a combination of well established medications.

    So it is not just, in Britain and elsewhere, the vast sums of money that were wasted on “lockdowns” and so on – it is also the case that very large numbers of people died who could have been saved.

    That is why the various governments and corporations CAN NOT stop lying now – the CAN NOT.

    If for example, the American bureaucracy stopped lying and said “well your friends and relatives died, when the could have been saved, so we would have an excuse for Emergency Authorisation for the injections – the toxic injections that are killing people” they would be torn to pieces.

    That is why, for example, Andrew Bridgen ( British Member of Parliament) has not got a chance – the establishment have to destroy him, they must destroy him (and anyone else who points these things out) – otherwise the establishment themselves will be destroyed. And he did not help himself by using the “h word” (holocaust) – he gave the establishment the perfect weapon to destroy him with.

    “But Paul – you are just like that yourself, you often speak when you should be silent, and you use harsh language”.

    Yes – but do not do as I do, do as I say. I give good advice – even if I do not personally follow it.

  • Kirk


    I don’t know if enough people are going to be staring “fact” in the face enough by 2024. I do know that they will, eventually. Even the Soviet Union reached a point where they were no longer able to hide reality from the masses, and that’s why they collapsed.

    There are always limits. The question is, when do you hit them? I don’t know when they’ll hit them here in the US, but hit them they will.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I don’t know if enough people are going to be staring “fact” in the face enough by 2024. I do know that they will, eventually.

    Amen to that.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Another point to consider- years ago, I read a newspaper article which pointed out that students were being double-faced. For instance, when asked about evolution, they would give the expected scientific evolutionary answer, but when quizzed about their religious beliefs, they were creationists. And just a few years ago, a teacher was lamenting that she had tried to teach her students to be leftists, but they seemed to ignore her teachings in later life!
    So the students might be more resistant to the bias of their teachers than you fear. Or this might just be an Australian thing.

  • Paul Marks

    Nicholas Gray – I think it is an Australian thing (and a good thing), the evidence I have seen for Britain and the United States shows that the indoctrination of the young is working here.

    As for evolution and Christianity – James McCosh dealt with this in the 19th century (there is no contradiction) – and the people who wrote the essays on the “fundamentals” of Christianity in the early 1900s (against the leftist “Social Gospel”) believed in biological evolution – how “fundamentalist” came to mean “anti evolution” is a story wrapped up with William Jennings Bryan.

    WJB is almost forgotten today – but he was once incredibly influential (3 times the Democrat candidate for President) and he decided that biological evolution was not compatible with Christianity and carried a lot of people with him.

  • Paul Marks

    Kirk and Snorri – what I fear is that people will become so damaged “Woke” (Frankfurt School of Marxism) doctrine that when it becomes obvious that it is all lies, it will be too late.

    To give an example, the boys who have had their penis cut off, and the girls who who have their breasts cut off, may “wise up” at some point – but they will stay mutilated.

    And there is mental mutilation – as well as physical mutilation. The family has been undermined and many people have turned to drugs. They just can not function – can not really look after themselves and others.

    The damage to society, to people, has already been very great.

    As the economy collapses it will not be possible to look after vast numbers of people who have become totally dependent on benefits and public services – remember the “money” of governments (and banks) is just lights on computer screens – it has no real value, not even according to the subjective theory of economic value – as few people really value these lights on government and banker computer screens.

    The crises has been brought forward by the war in Ukraine – Mr Putin was told he had 100 Billion Dollars in “foreign exchange reserves” but a few keys pressed on computers and that “money” vanished (because it never really existed in the first place).

    Essentially Russian oil and gas and other raw materials (such as fertiliser) had been “paid for” with NOTHING – Russia it not only party to have noted this, it has “sunk in” around the world.

    These “Dollars” and “Pounds” (and so on) with which Western governments (and vast corporations) “pay” their bills – do not really exist. They do not represent gold – they do not represent anything at all.

    How are the Welfare States going to survive when this information is becoming obvious? And how are imports, of food, and raw materials, and manufactured goods, going to be paid for – now more and more people around the world understand what a scam the international economy is.

    By the way – the Western “gold markets” and “silver markets” are also a scam, most of the gold and silver traded does-not-exist.

    Paul Krugman (“Nobel Prize” in economics – even though Alfred Nobel created no such prize) stated the modern American (indeed Western) economy was sound because it was based on “men with guns”.

    In short the modern Western economy is based on “give us food, raw materials, manufactured goods, and so on – in return for fiat money, OR WE WILL SHOOT YOU”.

    An international economy based on “give us everything we need, in return for fiat-nothing-money, or we will kill you” does not seem very free market to me – and I do not think it can last much longer.

  • Paul Marks

    george m weiberg – I am very sorry indeed for forgetting your name Sir, and thank you again for the information (about the Supreme Court case that essentially banned employers using intelligence tests) that you have kindly provided.

    My memory is very bad these days – I apologise again.

    As for the Western gold and silver markets – “derivatives”, many times larger than amount of stuff that the players physically own.

    The West, at least Britain and America, is a scam – a Potemkin village (a bit unfair to actual Potemkin – but that is another story).

    But we are a very well armed scam – which is why the West has carried for decades after its economy should have collapsed.

    As the dreadful (but well connected) Paul Krugman puts it “men with guns”.

    But the military depends on technology that people “educated” in the modern way can not make – and it depends on a “warrior ethos” that is being undermined.

  • Griggs vs Duke Power did not only limit the use of IQ tests in hiring, it ALSO restricted the use of educational credentials–in this case, high school diplomas. It’s not clear to me what happened to this part of the decision, whether it got changed by legislation or a later precedent, or is simply ignored in practice.

    I’ve hired a lot of people, both directly and through subordinate managers, and have never felt much need for IQ tests…never put that much emphasis on educational credentials, either, except for a few particular kinds of jobs.

    OTOH, most of this hiring has been either for people who have been out in the world for at least a few years, rather than fresh out of school…or for people who are relatively easy to part ways with when they don’t work out, such as commissioned salespeople.

  • bobby b

    It’s funny to watch the back-and-forth in how we try to deal with supposed unfairness.

    We started out in academia and employment and police and criminal courts by utilizing the discretion and judgment of gatekeepers and judges. The theory was, put good people in those places and the right results will be chosen by them, to everyone’s benefit.

    And it mostly worked, except, if you asked some, friends and relatives and co-racialists of those gatekeepers and judges tended to do better than everyone else.

    So we took away discretion from those people, and gave prospective students complex “objective” tests to determine who got into a school, and who got the job, and we devised sentencing “guidelines” and mandatory sentences and criminal history points that made judges into calculators instead of deciders, and we loaded cops up with specific guidelines to specifically keep them from using their own discretion, because people just couldn’t be trusted.

    But that cold calculating approach was too fair, which wasn’t really what some people wanted, because the people passing the tests and getting the good credentials and the lighter sentences still weren’t the right people.

    So now we’re circling back, and the new model is to go back to discretion, but to make certain that the deciders – those empowered with personal subjective discretion – are of the right sort of people, who are devoted to social justice instead of mere justice.

    Seems like we’ve been going backwards all this time.

  • Paul Marks

    David Foster – yes that is really bad. And if you hire people based on interviews and do not hire the “correct” proportion of various groups….

    bobby b – yes we are going backwards, and in a lot of things.

    Calvin Coolidge had it correct – so many years ago.

    The “Progressives” (President Coolidge said) think they are progressing forwards to some wonderful new society – but they really moving backwards to tyranny and despotism.

    As for vast trade deficits – not even “men with guns” can make that economic model make any sense, not for much longer.

    Milton Friedman used to joke that if the trade deficit became vast and permanent then it meant that the United States had created the most wonderful export industry – printing bits of paper in return for all the riches of the Earth.

    But this was a joke – Milton Friedman did not actually mean it. He assumed that a trade deficit would correct itself after a few years – by the Dollar falling in relation to other currencies, so that imports would become more expensive. It is also reasonable to assume that unless there is an international commodity money (such as gold or silver) a seller would, normally – and at the end of a chain of transactions, require payment in their own fiat currency – not the fiat currency of the buyer.

    And now it is not even bits of paper – it is numbers on a computer screen, numbers that can be turned off at any time (such that the “100 Billion Dollars” Russia supposedly had – money that had no physical existence in the first place, essentially Russia had sold many things in return for nothing much).

    Someone would have to be insane to hand over food, fuel, raw materials, manufactured goods, for flashing numbers on a computer screen that can be turned off at any time (and which no one would really want anyway).

    Insane – or under threat. Hence Professor Krugman and his “men with guns”.