Off for a day

September 29, 2010

Blogging may be light for the rest of the day and tomorrow as I’m off to NY for a job interview. I probably won’t take a new job, but it never hurts to see what’s out there.

Anacostia braces for an influx of white liberals

September 29, 2010

It appears that lots of out-of-towners are again going to be transported to DC for another meaningless political rally.

When the Tea Partiers were here, the locals made fun of them because someone told them which parts of DC to avoid for safety reasons. (I apparently live in an unsafe area).

Tea Partiers probably don’t live in close proximity to minorities, so they don’t understand elitism protocol for discussing minorities. First: never say "minorities." You are allowed to mention "safety" and quality of schools. But, these can only be mentioned abstractly. Thus, you’re allowed to complain about the safety of a neighborhood, but you’re not allowed to specify the precise boundaries of areas that are unsafe, since doing so would make it clear that lack of safety coincides with lots of minorities. In short, anything that gets close to hinting that minorities and crime might go together must be discussed as abstractly as possible.

If you can’t follow this, just do what most elites do: move to the suburbs and then judge everyone who actually lives close to minorities.

My guess is that the influx of liberals this weekend will stay inside the exact same boundaries outlined on the map. I think they will probably do a better job of not venturing outside the boundary than the Tea Partiers. After all, most of this week’s crowd will probably be staying with friends that live safely inside the appropriate areas.

Maybe I’m wrong, in which case Anacostia should brace for a huge day of tourism.

The decline of American ability

September 29, 2010

It would be sweet if I could get from DC to Boston in 3 hours. That travel time would actually be an improvement from the time it took in 1960 – sort of.

But, apparently building a high-speed rail line between these two cities (approximately 440 miles apart) will take until 2040!

That means that 21st Century America is capable of laying a bit less than 15 miles of track per year.

James J. Hill is either laughing or crying in his grave, depending on whether he had a sense of humor.

Apologists for government

September 29, 2010

My neighborhood listserv has become a forum for apologizing for crappy government services.

Someone complained that his mail was not coming on certain days and often coming after 10pm. The consensus on the listserv was that he should be happy he lives in a country with regular mail delivery.

Someone else complained about a homeless guy (I can’t write homeless man) who is living on the corner. The homeless guy hangs his laundry in the park – and his laundry smells unpleasant. The consensus on the listserv was that the resident should not complain to the police. After all, they have more important things to do.

Have the standards by which modern progressives measure the effectiveness of government really fallen this low?

Maybe I should move to Idaho . . . unfortunately no one in Idaho is stupid enough to pay me lots of money in exchange for small amounts of work. I guess there are some upsides to governmental inefficiencies!

More on education

September 29, 2010

Here – worth reading

Libertarians on education

September 29, 2010

Libertarians have recently been engaged in debates amongst themselves about educations. They’re basically debating whether education is 100% signaling or only 70% signaling.

Aretae offers a more nuanced summary of the debate, which you may find interesting.

I have several problems with this debate.

First, there is a moral tone to it that is not justified. Signaling seems to be considered "bad." I don’t understand why this is so. Humans – being social animals – signal. Humans always have signaled. Humans always will signal. If you want to improve education, I might suggest that you figure out how to make signaling more efficient – eliminating it is a hopeless task (like the Commies trying to eliminate profit).

Second, like most discussions among liberals and libertarians, this one fails to differentiate among people. The only public, pre-college school systems that I know anything about are suburban Minnesota’s (where I grew up) and urban Washington DC’s (where I live). The idea that these systems are the "same" in any meaningful way is absurd. The students attending the schools have wildly different goals. The parents of the students have wildly different expectations. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that the parents in MN were worried about which college their kids would get into while the parents in DC were worried that kids might get stabbed at school. To speak of "education" (without any differentiation!) as having x% of purpose A where x and A are the same in both these districts is ridiculous.

Third, the debate entirely skipped discussing a necessary prerequisite: what should education do? When reading the libertarian debates, one can’t help but think that the libertarians think that education should turn us all into entrepreneurs. They really seem to believe that if only the system worked right, soon all the children of the world would be founding their very own tech companies. This is hopelessly unrealistic. For some children, training that prepares them to work menial service jobs may be the most valuable educational experience.

I don’t want to defend the current education system, but I’m not sure getting everyone to drop out of school and start a business when they’re 13 is going to lead to better aggregate results.

Sailer on the poor

September 29, 2010

This is worth some quiet thought:

The essential problem with being poor in 21st Century America is less that you can’t buy enough stuff and more that you can’t afford to get away from other poor people. Those who can afford to move away from the poor, do, driving up housing costs elsewhere. That sections of Detroit are reverting to forest, while the Detroit suburbs are booming, is only the most extreme example of the centrifugal impact of the poor. In Memphis, tearing down downtown housing projects and giving the poor Section 8 rental vouchers made downtown safe for the affluent, but simply drove crime into the inner suburbs.