Friday, June 14, 2013

Education Lottery

In this TED talk by Sugata Mitra ("The child-driven education"), though it is not the main idea in the talk, he talks about the mismatch between what is taught in school and what is useful in life.

Here is some text about the talk:

Education scientist Sugata Mitra tackles one of the greatest problems of education -- the best teachers and schools don't exist where they're needed most. In a series of real-life experiments from New Delhi to South Africa to Italy, he gave kids self-supervised access to the web and saw results that could revolutionize how we think about teaching. 

I have seen news reports that have lead me to believe that the skills taught in schools in many countries are very badly matched to what people need to know in those countries. In those countries education becomes like a very costly lottery.  If you are at the very top of the class it might enable you to get visa to work in a developed country or to get one the few high level jobs available domestically but if you are not at the top of your class you get very little that is useful in your life.  There was a News report that focused on a girl in India and one of the comments by her family was that her older sister went to school for what they considered a long time and she was still a goat herder.  

I have seen a few reports that  claimed that many in Egypt had college degrees but were working jobs that did not require college. 

Shouldn't education be a way out or a way to live better?

The Big Compromise

As a Christan libertarian would like to see Government greatly reduced in  size and scope but most people want a government that provides for the poor and particularity in the areas of schooling and healthcare.  

Some of the numbers are at this link.

We are clearly spending a huge amount of money for what we get.  

If we must have a mixed system economic freedom but with a robust social safety net, let's at least make the system as efficient as possible. 

So to simplify and minimize the costs of providing for the poorest among us we would replace TANF (was AFDC commonly called welfare), SNAP (food stamps), housing subsidies and  Social Security with a basic income guaranty. This leaves a role for the church and other Charities because some people will drink and drug away their income.  Some people believe that food stamps and housing subsidies are superior because they cannot be spent on drugs and booze but that is a miss conception (interestingly they do not worry about that when it comes to Social Security) because for example people can buy food and sell it.  $200/weak for every adult who was born in the USA should provide enough money to produce the same or higher standard of living that is produced by those programs.  You cannot give anything for children because the incentives would be bad, this also leaves room for charity.

If you look at the statistics it seems medical care beyond the vaccinations, antibiotics and trauma care yield very low benefits per dollar, much less that people assume, but people feel very much compelled to provide them so:

Socialized medical care with deductibles based on a person's last year's income would be uncomplicated and ensure that everyone can get care. The individual would be required to pay for his own care up to his last years income minus the poverty level of income minus his prior years medical expenses.  This would encourage the most capable people to shop for price in medical care.  Also cheap high value items like vaccinations could be provided by Government free of charge as they often are today. 

Again shockingly to most people if you look at the statistics, it seems schooling beyond the 3rd grade also yields very little overall benefit for society but again it is an area were people feel strongly that it must be provided by the state.  

So considering that you cannot subsidize the middle class, the idea would be to have the middle class and rich pay for using Government schools.  Each family's bill would be based on their prior years income.  This would hopefully push down spending on schools. 

Some programs for the handicapped might be kept also.  

How to pay for all this, since we are trying to transfer some consumption from the rich and middle class toe poor we should collect money through a consumption tax.   Since most people feel that the rich should pay at a higher percentage rate than the poor the tax should be a progressive consumption tax.  You can have a progressive consumption tax by allowing individuals to put as much money as the want into an IRA and taxes them on any income that is not put into the IRA plus and money withdraw from the IRA.  This would greatly simplify taxation.

Additionally taxing externalizes like pollution taxes should be maintained and the Gasoline tax which is really a user fee should be maintained.

Biochar Kiln Plan

I have not yet built and tested this biochar kiln but I think it is a good plan and I will try to get it made.  

It is made with just a barrel and stove pipe.