Friday, November 18, 2016

A Focus Change in Schooling

I think that we should take Arnold Kling's null Hypothesis in education and twin studies seriously. That it is very quixotic to attempt to accelerate improvement in education. (Some improvement will come due to learning more about how people learn.)

But even given that, we cannot get more out of our schools.

The way that schools are measured today is by PISA test, but maybe the PISA tests do not measure anything important. Maybe the PISA test and other tests like the SAT are too close to IQ tests to tell us much about schools.

If were true and we cannot teach children more what would you propose?  I would propse the following:

  • If we cannot teach them more, we should focus on teaching the skills that will have the most impact on the student's lives. How to live a good life. How to be a good citizen. How fix you car and home. How to not get scammed. How to live on less. Etc. Over 90% of people do not need to know math beyond some basic algebra.

  • Some focus on improving the schools for parents. Like put the schools in more convent places. Make the hours more convent for parents.

  • Spend less money. The per student cost of school has gone up close to three fold since the mid 1960's with no improvement in those tests we use to measure. It seems like administration costs have swollen over the years, I think would could do it for less even with the expanded hours, I propose.

I am sure that others can come up with other ideas if they adopt the null hypotheses.

And lets stop beating up on US schools, they are as good as schools in any country.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Why I will not vote for Clinton

We tend especially in the this election to see the other side as all bad or at least to paint them that way to others, but everyone is a mix of good and evil and Hillary Clinton has done some good things in her life. For example, she did some good pro bono legal work especially early in her career and she has contributed to charity.

She may be a kind person on a personal level, I have no way to know, but we differ on the following political issues.


She and the Democratic party are very pro-abortion to the point of wanting to force taxpayers to pay for abortions.  Here is democratic convention abortion speech that illustrates the current Democrat party position on abortion. They used to say "Safe legal and rare" now they seem to think of abortion as just another birth control method that should be funded by tax dollars.


She is very hawkish. She voted for the disastrous war in Iraq. She now claims that that vote was a mistake, yet having seen the chaos caused by that mistake, she evidently supported bombing Libya and sending arms to Syrian rebels! Now you might say, surely she now has learned a valuable lesson and will do nothing like that ever again but she says she wants to enforce a no-fly zone in Syria NOW!

She strongly supports the war on drugs and putting young men, temped by profits to sell drugs, into prison. What makes it worse is that she is an occasional partaker in a drug at least as bad as the worst, that is alcohol and has been known to even get drunk and be ill-tempered when in that state.

She is for further taxpayer subsidization college. Which seems like a simple attempt to buy the votes young people. The Federal Government only run the Military academies and they are already free to those who attend. The state schools are run by the states, so they are a state issue. The problem with college is that the universities are spending way more than they need to and are accepting many students that they know have low chance of succeeding in getting a degree. They are taking way to many students in the the humanities. Further you are subsidizing the people most capable of earning money. The college students will pay directly or through taxes for their schooling. I think directly is better because it motivates the student to economise more. I would like to see the Federal Government stop guaranteeing student loans.  That has made many problems worse.

She is promising to prevent people from buying and selling to and from they want in the that see attacks free trade.

Her position on immigration is absurd. It is that we should have laws that ban people from entering the US but it you manage to sneak in and remain undetected for 2 years you should be allowed to stay. Here is my post on immigration.

Her stated position on equal pay for the sexes ignores the facts that men and women are not exactly the same. Men and to work more, at rougher more dangerous jobs and also more competitive jobs. there are many other reasons that men earn more.

Healthcare is regulated at the state level and so paying for it at the federal level make for bad incentives for state lawmakers. Already the federal Government subsidies demand for healthcare even while the states limit supply. She wants to subsidise people and limit the amount that people pay for healthcare to some percent of their income, a very bad idea.

She supports forcing people to partake in wedding ceremonies that are against their religious beliefs.

I will just throw this in, she also seems to be somewhat of a compulsive liar, even more than most politicians, for example in the wikileaks dump it was shown that she told an audience in Brazil that she was for open boarders but in the debate she claimed that she was talking about energy and seemed to be that she just thought that up on the fly. A little thought would have told her that that would not fly.

I could go on but won't.

Friday, October 14, 2016

I Kind of Liked This

For politician and most jobs principles are far more important than IQ 

The below is from an anonymous commenter:

Warren G Harding – Dolt (before you smirk look how well the country did under his normalization policy)
Calvin Coolidge - Intelligent  
T. Roosevelt - Dolt 
FDR – Dolt 
Truman - Dolt
 Eisenhower – Intelligent 
 JFK – Dolt 
LBJ – Dolt 
Richard Nixon - Genius (I think the smartest president of the modern era)
Jimmy Carter – very intelligent 
 Ronald Reagan – Dolt 
G Bush – Intelligent 
 Bill Clinton – Genius 
GW Bush – Dolt
Karl Marx – Genius for comparison


Wishful Thinking by Roberts and Deacon

Angus Deaton on econtalk  and Russ Roberts blame drug use and poor school performance by low income USAers on poverty and bad schools respectively. I do not buy those explanations.

I have known a lot of people who like to get up in the morning and start getting high (pot, THC, whatever). I have trouble relating to that because I do not have that desire at all but none of them seemed to be in any particular despair. As far as I could tell it was entertainment. So I think the opium epidemic is due to more access to opioid and people liking opioid.

Also I went to some high rated schools and some low rated schools and the only difference that I could see was the quality of the students. I think you are both putting way too much hope in schooling. I think that research shows that schools cannot really get the students to learn much more but they could improve by:

  • 1. Teaching more valuable life schools. That is if you cannot get them to learn more focus on getting them to learn the more valuable stuff for their lives. Consumer and practical skills.
  • 2. Change the hours of schools to better support working people. that is cover most working hours.
  • 3. Focus on spending less money on administration. 
I am not happy that this is the way that it is but if you cannot solve problems that you define all wrong.

Thoughts on Trump's Success

Joseph Stiglitz pushed a story (How Trump Happened) that implies that the bad economy is the main driver of the Trump success in the republican primaries.

First I have in the past said that Trump is what many conservatives wanted all along and I still believe that is a big factor but I also think there is something else, which follows.

(Now I like President Obama as a person but, I think he has badly mishandled issues of race. He seems to me to be more decent that most politicians.)

When President Obama was elected many people hoped that he would defend the Government and whites to his black constituency but starting in the Travon Martin case and then in the Fergison case he seemed to side with the aggrieved blacks, before the evidence came in. He never pointed out that is was impossible to know if the Martin or Brown where the aggressors. He also failed to promise to blacks that he would attempt to rectify the situation from within if did turn out to be persecution of blacks so that they need not protest.

He also failed to point out that there are 340 million people in the USA 40 million of them are black and these things are bound to happen regularly, but that that does not mean whites are out to persecute blacks. It makes it worse that he has been great at understanding and presenting the statistics on Terrorism for example Obama frequently reminds his staff that terrorism takes far fewer lives in America than handguns, car accidents, and falls in bathtubs do. The same is true for whites and police killing blacks, they are relatively rare events. He could be shouting that from the house tops but no.

He failed to say "Look many whites voted for me, they are not so bad", and that if I can get to be president prejudice, while it still exists, is not holding blacks back significantly. That blacks can do well in the USA and most are.

Maybe wrongfully, but when people elect a minority they expect him put great effort in to reconcile his minority with the majority, Obama failed badly with this challenge, angering people and so Trump. 

I fear Hillary Clinton will do the same always siding with women against men. For example the pay differential disappears when you factor in hours, occupations and career interruptions but she keep pushing the issue.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Why I Think the Scandals are Small but I will not Vote for Hillary Clinton

As far as the email server, Benghazi  and the sale of access through the Clinton foundation, it seems to me that these are minor and that most politicians do those sorts of things. Way to much is stamped classified if the federal government and all the insiders know that and I am sure that all the insiders know that you do not every send anything that is important to keep secret through email.

Also my guess is that classification often is used to keep secrets from the voters.

I do not think Hillary Clinton is a bad person for doing this stuff BUT where and when do we start, and I think that we should start, punishing powerful politicians for breaking the laws they make and/or enforce?

We raise our politicians to high up. It is just a job and the President is much less important than most voters seem to thing. Further if the President is impeached it is not even the other party that takes over it is teh vice president and he gets to pick a new Vice President.

Regan should have been impeached for Iran contra, Bill Clinton for perjury, Obama for the 2014 prisoner swap.

You might think that we would be impeaching presidents all the time but we would not, after a few impeachments they would start to be more careful to not break the law and unlike the poor guys who break that law even with punishment do to poor impulse control the politically powerful mostly have great impulse control.

So why are people who would stand with Regan over Iran Contra so upset about Hillary's email server, a much smaller matter, I think mostly because they are against her for other reasons but are hoping that to take her out on a technicality.

I am against Hillary Clinton for her position on abortion. She has moved to a position on abortion where not only does she want to keep it legal but she wants or tax dollars to be used to pay for it. Democrats used to say that they wanted to make abortion "safe, legal and rare", they have dropped the "and rare".

Hillary voted for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and if news reports are to be believed, even after seeing chaos that ensued after the war in Iraq, she pushed for arming rebels in Syria, pressuring Egypt’s Government to give way and bombing of Libya. She is also a drug warrior, late to support allowing the states to legalize marijuana.

Her position on equalizing pay by gender plus Government funding of daycare, on college tuition and trade are also bad but it seems most inteligent insiders seem to think that she is just lying about those policies. (BTW Here is an Idea by Steve Landsburg's on how to hold Politicians accountable for there promises.)

But it looks like she will win, so let’s hope that she learned some lessons and will get our military out of the middle east and legalize drugs.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Don Boudreaux and Me on entertainment

Don Boudreaux in a post titled:  Thinking At the Margin: It’s Revolutionary writes the following:

…I agree that most people are troubled that the likes of Tom Brady and Jennifer Lawrence earn far higher pay than does any firefighter or school teacher.  But this reality reflects not people’s correct understanding of a failing economy but people’s incorrect understanding of a successful economy.  It reflects also a failure of economists to better teach basic economics to the general public.  So let me ask: would you prefer to live in a world in which the number of people who can skillfully fight fires and teach children is large but the number of people who can skillfully play sports and act is very tiny, or in a world in which the number of people who can skillfully fight fires and teach children is very tiny but the number of people who can skillfully play sports and act is large?
I’m sure that you’d much prefer to live in a world in which skills at fighting fires and teaching children are more abundant than are skills at playing sports and acting.  Precisely because saving lives and teaching children are indeed far more important on the whole than is entertainment, we are extraordinarily fortunate that the numbers of our fellow human beings who possess the skills and willingness to save lives and to teach children are much greater than are the numbers who can skillfully play sports and act.
The lower pay of fire fighters and school teachers simply reflects the happy reality that we’re blessed with a much larger supply of superb first-responders and educators than we are of superb jocks and thespians.  Were it the other way around, then while we’d be better entertained with more top-flight sporting events and movies, all but the richest amongst us would suffer significantly greater risks of being unable to educate our children and of dying in house fires and from other mishaps.

First, I think it is more relevant that people like me, as far as I can asses, spend next to nothing Tom Brady and Jennifer Lawrence get no money from me (maybe some tiny amount I do occasionally watch pro football and see ads but I rarely buy the advertised products). I have spent and am taxed much more for teachers and probably much more for firemen even though we do not need as many as we have now.

Also, It seems to me that we are lucky that beyond some moderate level of ability additional teaching ability does not make much difference.

But I have for a while had theory that people underestimate how important entertainment is to people. It seems to me that entertainment is very important to people. You see falling apart shacks with $60/month satellite or cable TV. Even in a poor country like Honduras it is surprising how much a poor a person will fork out for TV.

My interactions in my youth with heavy drug users led me to believe that they are seeking to escape boredom by using, meaning that they are willing to risk health and life for entertainment.

Also look at those medieval cathedrals with the stained glass and it seems great music for very poor people. A lot was spent and since the bible does not require it I think is more for entertainment than for devotion.