Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Equal Or Something

with 6 comments


I know I’ve been out of the loop for a few days, but I have been Writing Things, and Writing Things takes precedence over the blog.

Of course, the blog is also Writing Things, but it’s a different kind of Writing Things.

And that’s how I end up getting confused.

I want to present the following link:


It’s from the American Prospect, which is a liberal magazine, so you should know going in that what you’re going to get is a liberal perspective.

It’s one of those things, though, that seems to wander through  my life with increasing frequency these days.

The analysis isn’t bad so much as woefully incomplete, and the ending recommendations are risible. 

And they’re risible not because Republicans would block their passage in Congress, but because Liberals would.  One thing I can guarantee you will not happen is a law rescinding the tax deduction for contributions to private colleges and universities. 

And,  of course, the recommendations include a lot of the same old/same old, like increasing money for pre school programs.  Never mind the evidence that they don’t increase academic achievement even five years after the fact.

Still, there is something real going on here, even if the writer can’t find it with a flashlight, and it’s something real I think we ought to pay attention to.

So I’m putting out the  link and soliciting comments on the content before I start.


Written by janeh

June 14th, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses to 'Equal Or Something'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Equal Or Something'.

  1. The author lost me at the first mention of public investment. It was all down-hill after that.


    14 Jun 13 at 3:07 pm

  2. I must be getting old. I couldn’t finish the article. Why does the author believe that only university graduates succeed and that a white collar job is essential?

    Miranda – the wealthy student – strikes me a candidate for the alcoholics ward or drug overdose ward 10 years from now.

    And there is no mention of the middle class or infra-structure workers. If the wealthy are to have private jets, then there must be people to design and maintain the jets and airports.

    Amazon and Intel did not become successful companies by selling only to the rich.

    My suggestion for universities would be generous scholarships available only to children with low income parents.


    14 Jun 13 at 6:08 pm

  3. I just came across this article which seems appropriate to the target.


    Krugman’s solution of guaranteed health care and minimum wages strongly reminds me of the science fiction “Republic of Haven” in David Weber’s Honor Harrington series.


    14 Jun 13 at 6:32 pm

  4. This is fun! Let me add to the solutions no one will adopt:
    1. Rigorous K-12 education, especially in low-income environments, demanding results from students and teachers–in fact, probably paying the successful teachers of low-income students more money than they could make as administrators.
    2. Thin government, which is inherently non-competitive, and make the private sector SO competitive that talent will trump connections made at high-prestige schools. (Yes, this means no special deals for “well-connected” firms.)
    Now let me suggest one which probably will be tried–in fact is being tried now:
    Massive government intervention in “dysfunctional” families–not yours and mine, of course: those other families, over there. (Quick show of hands: how many people think aborting a child is too personal a decision for the government to be involved in, but raising a child is something for the entire village? How many hold exactly the reverse? Did I miss anyone?)
    Apart from whether a government ought to have the power to interfere in how families conduct themselves, what would be the odds of them getting it right? Would someone care to count up the different experts’ systems of child-rearing propounded in my lifetime? And of course this means none of them have been thoroughly vetted yet.

    The depressing thing is that the article is right about one thing: families are the key. Where the article is most spectacularly wrong is in thinking in terms of family income. Every few years we see a new class of penniless immigrants coming out of those same poor neighborhoods and wretched schools to enter our most prestigious universities and rise to the top of our institutions. The schools, it seems, are good enough if the families are.

    We know the problem. We have no clue to the solution.


    14 Jun 13 at 6:42 pm

  5. John, we have here a distinction between bursaries, which are awarded on the basis of financial need and scholarships, which are awarded on the basis of academic brilliance. It’s a useful distinction when discussing aid to students, but I suspect one that’s dying out. It’s not dead yet, though.

    I got tired reading the thing about half-way through, and before that, I was wondering if they all go to ‘good’ universities, who’s going to be running the coffee shops? People with PhDs? Wait, they might be running them now. And what’s wrong with a skilled trade or other honest but perhaps low-status job (and does the writer know how much a truly skilled tradesman can earn, especially if he or she also has the skills to set up in business successfully?)? And those families who pay their children’s living expenses well into adulthood – aren’t any of them the type I seem to encounter, who are struggling to get their indulged adult children off their backsides and into some sort of paying occupation – or at least to get them to contribute to household duties in return for the free room and board?

    And a bit I did note near the end wherem, in an appeal to noblesse oblige, he said that wealthy families should contribute an amount equal to what they spend on their children to organizations working in support of reducing social disparity, or something like that and I’m not going back to re-read it. If you (wealthy or not) want to help poor children do well in school (as the link to your expenses for your own children might imply), wouldn’t you donate to the schools? Or perhaps to groups that feed, clothe or shelter poor children, or teach them outside schools? Not some lobbying group hoping to change society as a whole.


    15 Jun 13 at 7:58 am

  6. Heh. I couldn’t finish either.

    Not One Single Word about doing work one enjoys, at ANY level. Or, for that matter, work that actually enriches the world. The definition of success seemed to be:

    1. Makes lots of money
    2. In an office
    3. In a city

    That’s not my definition. So striving to get more people into that situation isn’t a goal I want to support.


    15 Jun 13 at 10:46 am

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Bad Behavior has blocked 241 access attempts in the last 7 days.