“Adam Smith, Rationalized,” By David Conway

I’m no scholar of Adam Smith, as much as I admire his work. That’s true even though I’ve read both of the linked works several times, there is a fair amount of nuance in Smith, as well as some pretty dry going. I sometimes have trouble reconciling Wealth of Nations with Theory of Moral Sentiments, as well. I think, judging by David Conway’s report that Jack Russell Weinstein, of the University of North Dakota, does an admirable job.

Here’s a bit of it:

Most importantly, if it turns out that, as Weinstein rightly claims was Smith’s view, free societies depend for their viability on the rationality of their members, and their rationality depends on the preparedness of their societies to ensure that they become such through provision of suitable schooling for all, then those in favor of free societies must also be prepared to countenance, as indeed was Smith, the public provision of schooling to ensure all societal members can and do develop the requisite degree of rationality. As Weinstein carefully explains in what are, perhaps, the most original and valuable chapters of his book:

It is Smith’s argument that education . . . is the security that ensures that students remain virtuous: an inadequate education results in the deprivation of moral capabilities . . . Smith is making the point that a child’s education benefits everyone . . . that education is one of the preconditions for the successful functioning of the invisible hand . . . Thus, Smith argues, the sovereign must . . . subsidize public education to help those who . . . cannot help themselves . . . For him, education provides a benefit to the state for little cost and, therefore, funding of public educational institutions for the young is a well-regarded trade-off.

The sovereign must ensure that all people have access to at least a minimum schooling. Education, is, for Smith, a basic good—a necessity of human life . . . Differing classes are entitled to equal minimal education but not to identical experiences. In this respect Smith’s commitment . . . is like Rawls’ maximin principle: the goal is to raise the bottom rung, not to create an equality of result . . . . Smith’s philosophy of education is both a theory of pluralism and a means to cultivate rationality. It argues that the more one develops rational abilities, the more one can create unity in the face of difference.

To say that Smith favored public provision of education is not to say that he would have condoned, let alone applauded, the present systems of public provision in western liberal democracies where whole populations are subject to effective monopoly supply without any choice or benefits of competition that only effective consumer sovereignty brings.

Source: “Adam Smith, Rationalized,” By David Conway | Nomocracy In Politics

The Swedish daycare experiment has been a social disaster

Robert MacLennan, then SDP leader, addressing ...

Robert MacLennan, then SDP leader, addressing the Liberal Assembly (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is fascinating. Sweden has imposed a system that nearly requires people to place their kids in daycare by age one, and it’s making for not very well educated kids, and horribly stressed out parents (especially mothers). I don’t find it overly surprising, that is the result I expect from leftist programs even, or maybe especially, the ones with good intentions. This is from The Conservative Woman, a very good British site, and is by Jonas Himmelstrand, it was first published by Mercatornet

Sweden is a pioneer in public, tax-subsidised, out-of-home daycare. In 1975, the Swedish government made public daycare available and affordable to all. Daycare expanded greatly during the 1980s and was made even cheaper in 2002 when a maximum fee (maxtaxa) was introduced. No matter how many children, no matter how many hours children spend in care, no matter how high your income – you never pay more than a fixed maximum amount, which is just below CAD $400. A low income family with one child would pay around CAD $150 per month.

Daycare in Sweden is tax-subsidised at a rate of between CAD $18,000 to CAD $23,000 per child annually. Parents who stay home, in most municipalities, receive no benefits of any kind. In high-tax Sweden this forces many homecare families into poverty.

The result, not surprisingly, is that daycare is the new norm in Sweden. Over 90 percent of all 18 month to 5-years-olds are in daycare.

How Swedish daycare got its start

In 1978, the women’s caucus of the ruling Social Democratic Party, a party that was in power for the better part of 40 years, published The Family of the Future: A Socialistic Family Policy.

The pamphlet strongly called for state-funded, affordable daycare. The goals were 1) better outcomes in child social development and academic achievement, 2) class equity, and 3) gender equity (or, as they put it, the liberation of women from their maternal instincts).

The results

Forty years later, official statistics show that the anticipated outcomes have not been realised. Poor outcomes are acknowledged across the political spectrum, but these are not connected to the daycare system in any way. Furthermore, there is surprisingly little interest in finding out why they exist at all. The following list shows what the outcomes are.

Rapidly declining psychological health in youth

Physical health among Swedish youth is among the best in the world, but the same cannot be said for psychological wellbeing. An official Swedish government investigation in 2006 showed that mental health among Swedish 15-year-olds declined faster from 1986 to 2002 than in eleven comparable European countries.

For girls, rates of poor mental health tripled during this period, from nine to 30 per cent. According to the latest report in 2014 from the Public Health Agency of Sweden (Folkhälsomyndigheten) the numbers have remained at these high levels.

The study is based on self-reported symptoms such as anxiety, fright and alarm – a point to which we will return later. The increase happened in all groups of youth regardless of family situation, labour market situation or parental socioeconomic status. These self-reported studies are confirmed by a comparable increase in diagnosed psychiatric illness among youth during the same period.

Suicide attempts among Swedish youth are also increasing.

The Public Health Agency of Sweden is careful about how to interpret these findings. They say they do not know the reasons, but possible causes could be a tougher labour market or cultural changes, like increased individualisation.

Increased sick leave among women

Sick leave for Swedish women is among the highest in Europe with half of all the women leaving work before age 65, due to psycho-social stress.

Source: The Swedish daycare experiment has been a social disaster

In a continuation, the next day the author speaks more about how Swedish parents have lost trust in themselves under this regime. Here’s a taste:

The Swedish government will go far to refute any causal claims regarding daycare and negative social data. This is understandable. If causality could be established it would be a near political disaster.

Typically, loyal government experts say that the poor psychological wellbeing is due to too many choices for young people today, that school results and behaviour are due to lack of demands on the students, and that Swedish parents have never been more interested in their children (which may actually be an indicator that they have lost their parenting instincts).

They go on: Women on sick-leave is caused by men not helping enough at home. The gender-segregated labour market simply shows that child care and parental leave need to be even more regulated. A top political issue in Sweden today is different ways to force the sharing of parental leave between parents, forcing them to take a third to a half each or lose their leave.

Source: Swedish parents have lost trust in themselves under the daycare assault

Before other countries copy Sweden’s public daycare system, they should be careful to consider what the results have been. They haven’t been all that good it seems, or even really acceptable, either for the children™ or even for the parents. Pretty much what I would call a ‘lose-lose’, except for the government, of course, which gains more control over everybody.

Character is destiny

w7041Classical education has been growing inside the United States for several decades.

Common Core’s entrance has only accelerated the trend.

This is how you educate men, and women, fit for use as men and women. That it is also the original Western, English, and American model is a bonus. What we have now is a model designed by the Prussians to create an obedient workforce, and soldiery, it does that well, be depriving them of a sense of morality, right or wrong, or a sense of things beyond the horizon. let alone the ability to interpret causally, based on our experience, both personal and as a civilization.

Read on and enjoy, by Joy Pullmann of The Federalist.

[…]‘Classical education is the means to freedom, the sine qua non of a free people.’

In the Common Core era, many parents have taken to classical education for respite, opening new schools public and private and flocking to homeschooling organizations such as Classical Conversations (disclosure: my son attends a CC co-op, and my husband ran one for two years). Catholics, Lutherans, Eastern Orthodox, and evangelicals have in recent years started and expanded societies for classical learning that offer teacher training, curriculum, publications, and seminars. “Classical Education,” the book, succinctly details its subject’s prominent expressions.

“Classical education is always inclined, by nature, toward decentralization, toward localism, towards connecting authority with responsibility,” said the book’s coauthor, Andrew Kern, the founder of the CiRCE Institute, which publishes curriculum and holds seminars for classical educators. It, too, is growing. “You’re not self-governing if you can’t rule yourself. Classical education is the means to freedom, the sine qua non of a free people, because it trains people in self-governance, in perceiving and living with the truth.”

Nothing Like Common Core

Classical education leaders like Kern, Anderson, and Moore draw sharp divisions between them and progressive education, the kind that has ruled U.S. schools since the 1900s and manifests itself today most prominently in Common Core. Common Core aims entirely at job preparation—see its motto, “college- and career-readiness,” which Congress has even endorsed by making it the defining characteristic of federally acceptable state K-12 goals in pending bills to reauthorize No Child Left Behind.

‘It is impossible for [most public] schools to succeed, because the people making the decisions don’t have to live with the consequences.’

Like America’s founders, classical enthusiasts hope their students achieve far more than entry-level job skills. They intend for their students to also exhibit the public and private virtues necessary to cultivate and preserve America’s unique form of constitutional, limited government.

“We don’t know what [students] are going to be—lawyer, garbage man,” Anderson says, with a characteristically direct look. “But you will be an American, and can determine our fate through voting. They will all be humans. Se we want them to be good at it.”

Source: In The Common Core Era, Families Flock To Its Opposite

Decadence, Episode 4: Education

I’m going to post another one of these today, simply because I’m tied up and am not going to get anything written for you. Still, I intend to present the whole series, anyway, so it’s really a question of timing.

This one, on education, I think makes some very excellent points, although as we all know, if I agreed with everything he says, one of us would be superfluous. :)

The Socialist Dream Will Never Die

w704 (2)Steven Hayward over at Powerline recently wrote something very interesting.

Not long ago I was listening to one of Russ Roberts’s archived “EconTalk” podcasts with the great Thomas Sowell (and if you don’t listen to EconTalk you’re missing one of the top podcast artists of our time—subscribe for free here), and was completely stunned by something Sowell said. When he was assigned Friedrich Hayek’s seminal essay “The Use of Knowledge in Society” as a graduate student, he didn’t get it. Sowell found it too abstract and dense. Russ Roberts, another fine Chicago-school economist, said he had the same reaction to it the first time he read it, and, moreover, that Vernon Smith (a Nobel Prize winner) also found the essay opaque at first reading.

Source: The Socialist Dream Will Never Die | Power Line

Like Steven, I’ver never found this anything but clear as a plate glass window, so I’m a bit dumbfounded. Still the examples he gives worked through it, extraordinarily well, and as sometimes happens, maybe they understand it better for not seeing immediately the point.

He then proceeds to comment on an article in The New Republic, entitled “What If Stalin Had Computers?” What his point is that it is simply the old socialist saw that communism merely needed more time, as if a few more generations of misery would have made it work, violates another thing. Name one thing that Stalin’s Soviet union invented or developed from scratch. Can’t think of one myself, everything they had, somebody in the west, mostly Britain or America developed. So, Stalin having computers is simply a fantasy, that would have never happened in a millennium without the west. But, in truth, communism, or socialism, can never work, because people will always act in their own rational self-interest. And if you attempt to force it, they will simply pretend to work, and lie.

And the real reason it makes no difference is this. Sometime, long ago, I read a quote from Sir Winston Churchill, which I can no longer find, that said roughly, “We gather all the statistics in the world, and analyze and plan things on them, and reorder national priorities and all that. But it all come down to that grubby little man, with a clipboard and a pencil, who wrote down whatever he felt like.” And that is what always kills command economies–they lie to themselves, whether they are the Soviet Union, Venezuela, or increasingly, the United States. The real reason that we didn’t forsee the downfall of the USSR was that we believed the BS given to the Politburo.

Let’s finish with Steve and how he finished his article:

I recall reading one of the last interviews Hayek ever gave shortly before his death in 1992 in Forbes (sadly I can’t seem to find it now), where he was asked whether the information revolution and supercomputing didn’t change things, and make possible more effective centralized economic planning. Hayek said no—no matter how big and fast computers get, and how complete the data gathering, no centralized process can ever hope to match the uncoordinated actions of the constantly changing marketplace. Go re-read “The Use of Knowledge in Society” slowly and repeatedly until you get it.

At the end of the day, of course, the socialist impulse is not really rooted in reason or epistemology, but in envy and the desire for authoritarian control. That’s why we’ll never be rid of these people, no matter how many Venezeulas and Cubas you pile up.


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