Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Doing the same idiot thing ...

What makes the scientific community different from most groups of humans is the willingness of the group (but not necessarily individual scientists) to let go of emotionally-satisfying hypotheses when they are not supported by the data.

By contrast, consider education and government.

For at least two decades, we have been warned by business and government leaders that we need more graduates in the technical fields, just to sustain our infrastructure. Even in these tough economic times, the graduates in Engineering, Mathematics and Geology are finding good jobs. These disciplines require a great deal of Mathematics training to succeed, and our Education College experts hold to the philosophy that the key to that teaching is pedagogy. To that end, they have tried to make it easier to learn, to reduce the speed at which the students learn the material, or to dispense with material altogether. These huge experiments have not made a significant difference in the graduation rates in these subjects.

To my experimental mind, this suggests that the difference is one of innate ability, which is anathema to the John Dewey philosophy of education as a social equalizer. Instead, we just try to pump even more money into failing ideas.

In the case of government, we can look at tax policies. Since the 1950’s, the tax burden has shifted from corporations to individual taxpayers. Within that latter group, the past 30 years have seen a shift, where the lowest 50% or so pay very little in taxes, and the marginal tax rates for the wealthy have gone steadily down. All of these changes were supposed to make our economy strong, and have utterly failed. Yet, what is the current mantra? Cut taxes for business and keep the tax cuts for the wealthy (including preferential rates on capital gains and no estate tax).

While I can readily understand that the rich and powerful would have this view, what is it that makes middle-income and poor Americans support this idea?


AntiCitizenOne said...

You're missing the hidden Tax.

The one that's privately collected.

It's called Land Rent.

If the state taxed land rent instead of it being collected privately it could cut the damaging taxation of business and work.

James Higham said...

Instead, we just try to pump even more money into failing ideas.

More than that. Into ideologically unsound ideas as well.