Real Education Reform

Education reform has taken many forms over the years, starting (in recent history) with the original reforms in Prussia oriented toward a regimented caste-like industrial worker-farm system, spreading to America with its industrial-education complex, and eventually culminating in the current contorted and corrupt system of intertwined governmental, political, corporate, and (incidentally) educatee interests, most parasitic and incidental to the enormous trough of money that is modern Schooling (schooling as distinct from Education).

This system has spread and enlarged itself neatly within Hayek’s paradigm for expanding governmental reach as well as being predicted by any reasonable model of bureaucratic behavior. It has engulfed formative-years schooling through attendance and curriculum mandates, teacher licensure and unions, and endless initiatives only tangentially related to actual education. It has expanded through post-secondary education as well, aided by grade inflation and credentialism unintentionally (we hope) inflicted on the US by misguided politically correct notions of jurisprudence.

So today we have an entrenched and ever-enlarging system with negative (or at the very least, rapidly diminishing) returns.

How can this be really reformed?

Most reforms center around superficial measures:

– Testing

– “Teacher accountability”

– Funding

– Alternate school structures: Virtual, charter, private, etc

– Technology. iPads. DVDs. Etc.

– Curriculum. Common core comes to mind.

– etc. No Child Left Behind was a sort of omnibus collection of the above.

Peter Thiel, for instance, with his 20-under-20 initiative, is actively encouraging and offering an alternative to college for truly talented youngsters. Yet even that does not address in any real or meaningful way school reform. None of the above listed measures do anything to address the system; they merely address implementation details.

I humbly suggest that real reform would take the following forms which would address structural components to our current education mess and not merely superficial symptoms of the rot:

- Eliminate the mandatory or forced schooling requirement. Let people learn or let their families teach them. Don’t force them to incur 12 years of experience opportunity cost during their formative years. Offer but don’t mandate it. Better yet, sell all the current public school system to private equity funds, use the proceeds and savings to offer annual funds/vouchers to parents who send their kids to those schools, pending verification of attendance. Or best yet, just get out of education altogether.

- Eliminate or greatly curtail child labor restrictions. Allow people to get meaningful and valuable life experience before age 18. Offer an alternative to sitting in Mrs Weebly’s 5th grade classroom for 9 months.

- Repeal / roll back Griggs vs Duke Power Company to puncture the credential bubble, excise all the hidden employment cost of using education as a screening mechanism, and get rid of all the post-secondary hangers-on in the college business… and oh yeah, allow companies to make their own hiring decisions.

- Get the government out of school loans, out of the messy and immoral business of putting citizens in debt to pursue goals of questionable value at an impressionable and inexperienced age, and out of market distortions.

- Eliminate the bureaucratic sinkhole of the Department of Education. The idea that the central gov’t is responsible at all for education is a corruption of its responsibilities, which chiefly include enforcing freedoms, contracts, and providing for national defense.

- Dissolve teachers unions. This argument is not necessarily education-specific and applies generally to public-sector unions. Why should public servants get to bargain against the taxpayer in a setting riddled with agency problems? Teachers have absolutely 0 incentive  and 0 agency – as a group – to actually improve a school. It’s like unionized workers in a shop; management and the workers are oriented against each other, and not toward improving the business for the customer.

Any one of these would be a major victory for education and general liberty, which is why they will never happen. The entrenched status quo is currently too strong to allow them to happen. A massive economic event would be needed to remove the government from education, which, though conceivably on the horizon, cannot be necessarily planned or implemented deliberately. Private industrial forces could make it happen, but it would be a difficult, long-term project against many well-aligned (& self-serving) powerful interests.

Here we find that fast food restaurants target black kids:

It’s hard to blame people for craving fast food when they are inundated with advertising from such a young age. But what’s disturbing is just how far fast food companies will go to target kids from groups already more likely to suffer from obesity – including the poor, rural Americans and black Americans.

1) More blacks are poor than whites

2) By virtue of being poor, people without money are more likely to eat cheap food, which includes fast food.

3) Birth rates for poor people are higher than for well-off people (by about 40%, natch), leading to bigger families (which cost money to maintain, leading to further reduced per-capita income) and more kids to eat the available food.

Therefore, my mighty application of logic leads me to conclude that fast food will, without any racism whatsoever, find a natural client base in poor black kids. Who woulda thunk – a cash-deprived household (or half-household, given the majority marital state of black america today) goes to the cheapest food source for nutrition?

The rest of the article –

“Fast food restaurants in black neighborhoods have significantly higher odds of using kids’ meal toy displays to market their products to children compared to restaurants in white neighborhoods,” said Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, the lead author of the study. “The associations we observe are troubling because we know that black children are at higher risk for consuming unhealthy diets including fast food, and have higher prevalence of obesity.”

– is quite obviously putting the cart before the horse because the fewer, wealthier white kids simply don’t eat as much fast food, so marketing to them doesn’t work. One could just as easily turn this on its head and say that fast food restaurants in white neighborhoods are targeting the adults by using fewer kid-themed advertisements compared to black neighborhoods, and are contributing to the adult obesity epidemic.


With women being tested in combat units as part of the pathway to full integration, I must ask the girl-power crowd:

Given the social-scientist-driven inevitability of women in combat arms, should we have female-only combat-arms units?  Why or why not?

If a unit ended up, for some reason, being vast-majority-female, would you advocate any top-driven staffing changes?

Leo Jenkins, a bona fide combat vet, writes in the Havok Journal:

Bottom line is this, women are not inferior to men. They aren’t. They have a slightly different set of strengths that offset our equal yet different set of strengths. If a women has the patriotism to enlist and serve in the military, the desire and ability to serve in special operations and the capability to enter and stay in that world then there shouldn’t even be a discussion about it.

I request elucidation of the different set of strengths that he claims offset “our” (I assume he means mens’) strengths, particularly as they pertain to aggregate performance in combat roles.

The rest of the piece, as usual, says nothing about any net increase to military effectiveness from introducing women to combat roles, and only speaks to the benefits to the women for applying and meeting minimum standards.

That is all.

I will never, ever tire of writing about women in the military (and specifically the pending integration into combat arms) because

1) I’m always right, because I logically prioritize winning wars and military efficacy over individual female badges and promotions

2) No one ever offers different pro-women-in-combat-arms arguments to think about.

In the weekly case of military-female-promotion-advocacy, we have the unintentionally ironically-named The Havok Journal, military/foreign-affairs blog/journal/site opining that “Women In Ranger School: It’s Not That Big Of A Deal:”

So it’s finally happened. After almost ten years of to-ing and fro-ing, Big Army and RTB (now called the ARTB, or ‘Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade’ for those of you not keeping up) have announced that females will now be let into Ranger School. And lots of you Scroll bearers (real Rangers), as well as many combat arms soldiers, are in a panic.

Fear not Brothers. When you actually put some thought into it, it’s not that big of a deal…

So what are the major concerns being voiced?

Standards will be lowered…

How will Ranger School handle female integration, segregation and hygiene issues without having a negative impact on training?…

This will have an impact on the way people look at the Ranger Tab and on the way people look at Regiment…

Well, this makes my job easier because the author didn’t even pretend to address what should be the overriding concern of any major change to the structure or culture of the Army:

Will this make the Army more effective? Why or not?

Apparently the author thinks that the major objections to women in combat roles are about Tampon dispensation on patrol instead of killing ISIS in “Fallujah Pt III: Doorkickers Redux.”

As far as the physical standards, initially they will not be lowered at all, specifically to make the point to the Senate Armed Services Committee that they aren’t. DOD and the ARTB have already stated that the first female Ranger students will be hand-picked from a pool of candidates. I can guarantee that out of ten female candidates chosen, five will be chosen to succeed (iron man competitors, triathletes, marathon runners, etc.) and five weaker female soldiers will be chosen and set up to fail, just so the course will look impartial. Within the first year, one female will magically be awarded ‘Class Leader’ or ‘Distinguished Honor Graduate’. She definitely will not be the typical female soldier, but the gender-friendly PC box will be fully ticked…

An even better answer: who cares? They signed up for it, let them worry about how clean their nether-regions are. If they fall out or quit over it, they are no better and no worse then the male student who quits because it’s cold out. It’s just a school. You’re never any more than a few miles from a road in any phase. You get admin halts and medical checks every couple of days where they can hand out wet wipes and tampons just as easy as they hand out moleskin and bug juice. It’s not rocket science. The Ranger School physical will probably now include a blood test to measure tolerances to antibiotics to fend off vaginal infections (they probably already have this for the FTX at Sapper School). Box ticked…

If some woman’s lady parts become a serious medical issue in the middle of nowhere, she can be airlifted and they can even use it as a training event.

As previously stated, they’ll drop a hell of a lot of body weight by the middle of Mountains. So much that it’s highly likely that they won’t have a menstrual cycle in Florida anyway; so it will be a pretty rare problem…

The fact that he’s arguing from the stance of “Yes, we can make these accommodations, and some of the women should be able to make it through!” strongly indicates that he too believes that women are a net drag on combat arms.

This leads me to my last point: the author effectively concedes that the net expected outcome of putting women through these schools and in these roles is negative compared to the opportunity cost of putting men through.

It’s an idiotic, socially masturbatory idea that will not win wars.

Which, by the way, is what we should be thinking about. Anyone thinking otherwise is not pro-women; he’s anti-victory.

**And a few notes:

1) Yes, he’s writing about Ranger School and not specifically combat arms. But the pentagon is under a directive to assess integration, or provide a report as to why women are not integrated. We’d be kidding ourselves if we think that this isn’t a prelude to full integration

2) Author may technically be telling people to chill out about the integration. But he (and they) shouldn’t. Not if they care about winning wars.

In the midst of a world full of turmoil:

– Rapidly escalating (again) in Iraq to fight ISIL (start with Airstrikes, next thing you know you’ve got a Division HQ there…

Geometrically increasing Ebola

– Russia invading Ukraine

– Various other world events that could possibly precipitate wars, including currency crises and the regular internecine 3rd-world fighting

The Army has deployed its newest, deadliest weapon/force-multiplier/BFG/MOAB to the fight:


The call-out is part of the Army’s ongoing effort to determine whether and how to open combat arms military occupational specialties to women.

Senior Army leaders are expected to decide in January if they want to move forward with this one-time, integrated Ranger school assessment. If the assessment moves forward, it likely will take place in the spring, and the Army will need volunteers already in place and ready to go, officials said Friday.

If the assessment takes place, it will be a first for the storied Ranger school, which until now has been open only to men.

First, the Army is seeking female soldiers who want to attend Ranger school as students. Women in the ranks of specialist through major can apply. They must meet the physical qualifications and prerequisites required to attend Ranger School.

If selected, female volunteers who successfully complete and graduate from Ranger school will receive a graduation certificate and be awarded and authorized to wear the Ranger tab. However, pending future decisions about whether women will be allowed to serve in combat arms MOSs, they will not receive the associated Ranger skill identifiers or be assigned to Ranger coded units or positions…

Yes that is correct.

By January 2016, the military must open all combat jobs to women or explain why any must remain closed. The Pentagon lifted its ban on women in combat jobs in 2012, but gave the military services time to gradually and systematically integrate women into the male-only front-line positions.

Special operations jobs are some of the last to be addressed, as commanders review the qualifications needed and assess the impact of bringing women in.

But don’t worry,

Military leaders have made it clear that they will not reduce standards for any jobs in order to let women in.

I have seen a lot of supportive commenting among my Army friends on Facebook about this. Much of it sounds like “Hey, I support this, as long as standards are upheld, because combat doesn’t discriminate either!”

This is flawed reasoning on both micro and macro levels.

On micro levels, any introduction of females into an all-male space inherently involves changing of the standards, in terms of accommodations, requirements, or cultural factors. Women in the Army has already resulted in different fitness standards by sex (as opposed to by job), different equipment and uniforms, different standards for going to wars, etc. Not to mention the cultural effects that women have on all-male institutions.

The introduction of women to Ranger School, even without any ostensible “standard changes,” is laughable on those grounds because women will get separate facilities. Or rather, everything in the Army’s history indicates that women will get separate living quarters, separate lockers, separate showers, separate bathrooms, etc. Now, go tell a black person that separate but equal worked well, and see where that gets you. This is inherently a different standard, because anyone who’s been in the mountains in Dahlonega will tell you that having 10 minutes after breakfast to take a shit in packed restrooms with everyone else, fight through the crowd to grab equipment, and get out to formation is part of the experience. It’s part of the standard. If you have your own showers and bathrooms, you’re simply not having the same experience.

That may seem like a trite example (unless you’re the one fighting through to the shitter), so let’s move onto something else: Spooning. Guys get close and friendly in Ranger School to stay warm during cold (e.g. 15 degree) nights in the woods. What will happen to the school the first time that a woman spoons with a guy and claims harassment? I guarantee it will not result in “no lessening of the standards.” Will only women spoon with women? Isn’t that modifying the standard?

Then there will be cultural adjustment. Can’t call guys pussies anymore. Gotta be more professional. And what about pass rates? If no women pass, will there be charges of ‘badge protecting’? Betcher ass that there will be pressure to pass women.

Point being that anything short of total integration will change the effective performance standard for women. I don’t see the Army doing that. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

But I’m getting off my points…

Second, on a more macro level, no one, to my knowledge, is arguing that women are superior to men in combat roles. Therefore, the best result that the Army can hope for by introducing women to combat roles (and by extension, Ranger school) is parity with mens’ performance.

Now, keep in mind that there are a limited number of slots for Ranger school (typically 300-400 per class, if I recall correctly). Keep in mind also that the females are 16% of the Army. This means that every slot allotted to a female is shutting out 4 potential well-qualified male candidates. So to top male performance, the females have to not only perform at parity with the male average, but they have to perform in the top 75th percentile of make performance (if I’m doing the math right…)

So any aggregate lesser or lessened performance – whether in longevity in the Service, in combat accomplishment, in physical hardiness, in leadership effectiveness, or other factors — would mean that that all female Ranger slots were wasted on a predictably inferior product. And there are plenty of indicators that women will, in aggregate, have comparatively poorer performance in the short and long-term (assuming they stay in) than men.

We’ve already seen that accommodations have been made for women in the service for performance and equipment. That alone, even actual performance notwithstanding, is what we might call a type of transaction cost, and leads to greater costs to the Army than just having men go through it.

So even if the women are comparable to men, the cost to the Army of the integration leads to a lesser outcome than keeping it male-only. It’s like evaluating two projects on cash flows – even if both generate some cash flow, you still want to pick the one with the greatest expected value. And because the expected value of women in combat roles is less than of men, putting women through Ranger school will crowd out men who could otherwise have put the training to better use (e.g. killed more bad guys over time, or whatever your metric is.)

What are the benefits?

There are none unless women bring additional efficacy–over and above what men bring–to the combat arms. As mentioned before, I haven’t seen anybody seriously argue that case.

So I’m forced to conclude, by lack of alternatives, that the only real benefit of introducing women to Ranger School (and combat arms) is so that they can say they went to Ranger School and combat arms. Not for real military results like winning wars, but for patches and evaluations, patches and evaluations that could well mean the lives of the solders who could have gone to Ranger school and used the training in a combat setting.

It’s like Economics In One Lesson; we’re breaking the window, but the politicians in the White House and Pentagon are telling us that breaking the window is generating economic activity because someone has to be paid to repair the window. In reality, the economic activity is the sum of the cost spent to repair the broken window and the opportunity cost (i.e. a negative value) that the capital could have otherwise gone to.

In this case, though, it’s human capital and combat capability we’re talking about. We’ll never know its sum, but the cost of this feminist careeroganda could literally be lives.

The Ebola epidemic, which I personally have been tracking for quite a while, has begun reaching scary-to-the-masses proportions. Indeed, it’s probably only a matter of time before it goes airborne, makes its way to a major airport hub, and gets to the US or wherever you happen to live. It will be a disaster the likes of which has probably not been seen since (and may well be worse than) the bubonic plague. It is a true black swan event, in progress, and the unpredictability will not scale linearly.

When this occurs, you can bet on one thing:

Government response will be massive and overreaching, disrupting the lives of millions.

Needlessly or not, there will be travel controls and restrictions; public advisories and ordinances resulting in involuntary confinement; public appropriation/confiscation of private property; and perhaps most scary of all, the justification for martial law and an incredible, far-reaching and irreversible (although ostensibly “emergency only”) expansion of the already formidable (some would say all-encroaching and inescapable) surveillance state apparatus, in the name — of course–of the “public good.”

To be sure, there may be some definite public good involved. Nobody wants a 50-70% mortality airborne contagious virus on the loose, particularly when combined with a 20+ day incubation period and idiots who don’t follow directions. This could well lead to months and months of continuing outbreaks of a disease; mass panic; economic recession or depression (remember the flight industry after 9/11? This would be an order of magnitude worse); breakdown of civil order; y’know, all that stuff.

But that is temporary. Reasonable confinement of the disease and public awareness will lead to a shortened epidemic curve. After which, and a few more flare-ups along with some technological solutions, we will be left with whatever legal structure (or lack thereof) the government has seen fit to erect during the crisis period. And the government is a ratchet – it giveth plenty, but rarely takes away. So in the fit of public panic and media-fanned opinionate flames, if there are martial controls; if there are more taxes; if there are expansions of the NSA’s already somewhat hazy borders of propriety; or any of a number of other unforeseen things (I’m not too creative, so my range here is limited);  those things will stay after the Stand-ish viral outbreak.

I don’t have an answer to this; it’ll be governed by the tide of public opinion, opportunistic yet hopefully opposed politicians, and media machinery. But it could well be the trigger for a ‘historical transformation’ of the US of A.

Paranoid? Maybe. Almost certainly so. But, being a fan of Bayesian logic, I’m inclined to think the worst of our Fearless Leaders, and this would certainly lead to the type of public outcry and justification for action that would be ripe for easy exploitation by… well, our current leadership, for example. In a rational world, the administration (read: President) would have been helping contain this instead of golfing, or, frankly, even in place of his half-assed belated response to ISIS, because this could well be – even at a few percent of probability – an existential threat to the US.

What can you do? Say something. Blog about it when you see it happening. Perceived isolation is one of the biggest causes of silence; be assured other people are seeing the same thing happen, and they probably don’t like it. Let your congressional reps know that they need a plan before the SHTF, or else panic mode will take over.

In the meantime, make sure you have enough to live more-or-less isolated for at least a few weeks, or preferably months:

o Something to charge your phone with

o Extra water, nonperishable food, some basic medicines, batteries, nonperishable supplies (toilet paper, looking at you)

o Some good books

o Cash

o Glock & ammo

o Mostly, just a list of disaster prep stuff.


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