The “War on Poverty” is a “War on the Poor”

By Liberal Anthropologist

In a previous comment I hypothesized a sudden end to welfare and what the effect would be on family structures.  In response, one of the commentators said that such a thing had been done before (in the 1800′s) and that it was Dickensian and there would be a return of the “poor house”.  In the video above you can see a complete Q&A with the economist Milton Friedman on the affects and side effects of the welfare state.  I recommend watching the debate between him and the idealistic 70′s students and others.  It is too bad that his lessons are being learned the hard way.

The “War on Poverty”  – started with great idealistic goals – has failed.  Don’t get me wrong.  It has had positive and negative effects.  Look at the graph below of the poverty rate in the US:

The data was only tracked starting from 1959.  The initial decline is out of a recession and was the norm prior to that.   It would cycle between 5 and 25% along with the economy. First of all, let’s look at the positive.  The War on Poverty and Welfare has kept the poverty rate stable.  It has specifically helped the temporary poor during economic crises.  Those who are not caught up in long term poverty stay out of it and are helped back out through these programs.  What this gets rid of is the historic peaks of poverty in the 20 – 25% range seen during economic crises of the past.  But this is mitigated by the extremely negative effects of such a manipulation of the natural economic cycle.  What has been created is something that did not exist before the War on Poverty.  A permanent underclass of 15% that are stuck forever in poverty.  It has decreased social mobility.  It has kept the number from falling below 10% as it did in previous decades and centuries.  It has increased the gaps between rich and poor.

And it has destroyed the family of this 15% by providing an alternative social structure to the family.  If welfare ended tomorrow, we would see an increase in the number of poor for years at a time during recessions.  But we would see greater declines below 15%, greater mobility, and fewer social issues such as the breakup of the family.  In my mind, the negatives of the welfare state far outweigh the positives.  The bottom line is it doesn’t work.

Poor houses are not some horrid thing.  The welfare state is a poor house.  Public housing plus food stamps is the government equivalent.  We should decry the end of the poor house because we took away the private and much more effective way of dealing with the poor.  There is zero chance of a return to the industrial era world of Dickens in the UK.  We live in a different place and a different time.  We would have more positive benefits from a return to private charity over government programs. We would put families back together and end the permanent underclass.

The most important thing we can do to help the poor is NOT welfare. It is economic growth.  Growing economies are the largest single factor to help the poor.  And if you don’t believe me, just go ask India.  Economic Freedom and less government interference is the key to helping the poor.  Stop making people get licenses for cutting hair or doing nails or other economic enterprises.  Stop interfering with small businesses with incredible burdens like Obamacare.  Stop creating minimum wages that drive businesses towards automation and greater efficiencies and let people work.   Stop “helping” so much and get out of the way.  That is the best way you can help.

 


Comments

  • Liberal Anthropologist says:

    Eric,

    I am truly confused by your thinking. We need to back up.

    Do you want police to not act on descriptive information that includes race or racially identifiable characteristics such as blue eyes or afros? How do you want them to act?

    If you want them to act SOLELY on behaviour, then do you concede that a criminal can shoot someone to death, throw the gun and then walk calmly away from the scene and 10 feet away the cops can’t stop them?

    You need to describe what police policy you want in order for me to understand how you want them to deal with descriptive information.

    PS: You may have a point on the handcuffs although they were so polite at the time that I was not bothered and had not thought of it since.

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    LA,

    I simply would like to go back to the idea of probable cause. Traditionally, this meant that you could not be stopped and frisked simply because you were a certain race. Police already push that probable cause envelope to the maximum extent possible, giving them new powers is not, imo, in our best interest. I will reiterate, however, that I do not live in an inner city. I might feel differently if I did.

    “If you want them to act SOLELY on behaviour, then do you concede that a criminal can shoot someone to death, throw the gun and then walk calmly away from the scene and 10 feet away the cops can’t stop them?”

    Having a specific description of a specific crime suspect (i.e, race, sex, height, build, hair color, clothing, etc) provides legitimate probable cause, imo. Saying a black man has been mugging people recently so we are going to stop and question/frisk all black men and see what we find does not.

    Your first answer to the question about S&F was right, btw. It was only when you saw that this is what was done in the TM case and why that was problematic that you had to change your tune. Go ahead and return to your first answer – embrace your inner libertarian :o )

  • Ed Myers says:

    L.A. The unit cost of a standardized test goes down with quantity ordered. The cost per student of developing and grading a single test spread across all public school students has to be cheaper than spreading that same cost over only a single state of students by requiring each state to develop their own test.

    You seem to think that every family should develop their own testing protocol. Talk about inefficiency! That has to be the worse case scenario. Even if the parents purchased the test instead of developing their own their price would be at retail and not wholesale because of the cost of marketing to millions of families instead of just a handful of purchasing agents. Then you have the administrative costs of proctoring the exam which are free when the test is part of the school day.

    You need to provide more data to support your unorthodox model that economies of scale are backwards from conventional thought and experience.

  • “Having a specific description of a specific crime suspect (i.e, race, sex, height, build, hair color, clothing, etc) provides legitimate probable cause, imo. Saying a black man has been mugging people recently so we are going to stop and question/frisk all black men and see what we find does not.”

    Then we agree in principle if not in degree. With all that back and forth. Race alone is not sufficient reason to ask questions. Proximity to an immediate crime is (potential witness). Frisking is not a legitimate exercise unless a weapon is suspected for a reason.

    In NYC, there have been accusations of the former. It is a simple matter for the cop to write down why he stops someone and why he frisks them. Now if he lies or abuses that, then we have a different problem that can be dealt with in other ways.

    As to Zimmerman, I just noticed that you seemed to be drawing that conclusion. Stop and frisk never happened in that case. Zimmerman never stopped him.

    If a cop had, there would have been a “cause”. One citizen saying he is acting suspiciously and that he was putting his hand in his pants would be enough to suspect a weapon. Without the citizen report, I think a cop observing the behaviour reported on the phone would have had legitimate frisking cause (if he saw it the same way).

  • Ed,

    You are missing a fundamental point. If the point is to create a standardized test, then – of course – the wider the area covered by the standard, the lower the costs of creating and administering that standard.

    BUT

    The question arises of whether such widely accepted standards benefits society. That is the point of my questions. Did we fix a problem with them. Were employers duped before and now are not.

    You made a lot of claims that you said that standardized testing was intended to fix. I am asking for some evidence that there was really a problem with employers being duped by lack of standards. And I am asking for proof that the standards fixed the problem.

    I can give a number of reasons standards could be bad – especially at a national level:

    1] It may not benefit society to have everyone spend time achieving the same level.

    2] A large system is schlerotic. Change is slow. Knowledge may move faster than can be accommodated.

    3] Some areas of knowledge do not have absolute truths. The definition of what becomes acceptable becomes susceptable to national politics.

    4] It increases homogeneity and decreases diversity. This is always a danger to a society.

    And there are more. You have a theory that this standardized testing is a benefit. Now show how society is benefiting. My questions in the previous comment still apply.

  • ed myers says:

    “You have a theory that this standardized testing is a benefit ”

    The No Child Left Behind mandated testing. If politics requires testing, one test is cheaper than 50. No need to decide the difficult question of whether it is a benefit or not to test if one’s goal is to reduce the impact of government on society…simply work on reducing the cost of government by making the testing more efficient.

    The point is that centralization saves money …if you have a relatively stable system. If you goal is to make radical changes to the system you are right that those destablizing forces can easily make a centralized system obsolete and wasteful.

    You haven’t made the case that all radical change is good and thus you can’t start with the premise that decentralization is better . It is just as likely that radical change is bad .(Do you want a educational system enamored with the fad of the week to experiment on your child?) Centralization acts as a stablizing force adding inertia that prevents rapid change that would spin off into catastrophe.

  • Liberal Anthropologist says:

    No Child Left Behind was the result of your political thinking. The idea that standardization was a good thing.

    I am asking you to show that the policy was even ever needed and that it has been effective in solving the problem you identify.

    Why should we enact programs and departments if they add no value. Standardization is not a value. Well educated children is a value. Businesses not being fooled by non-standard students is a value.

    You made the specific claim that businesses needed better centralized testing so they would know that they were hiring students with certain skills.

    I am asking for you to back up your claims. Where was the big social problem that No Child Left Behind solved? And is it solved?

    We cannot continue to have inefficient solutions to non-problems.

  • liberal anthropologist says:

    Ed,

    Perhaps you are doing further research. Let me know. If you can concede that there was not a problem with employers workers with unknown skills and that the education department has not solved a problem, then we can move on to some of your other points where you think centralization in the federal government adds benefit.

    You used the word radical to describe my thinking. It is indeed not radical. It is logical and is based on the idea that things should be done for a valid reason and that they should be effective. Hardly a radical idea. It would be foolish to keep in place systems that are not useful. This creates the sclerosis seen in other great societies that lead to their decline. We need agility and speed and your thinking fails us in that regard.

  • ed myers says:

    LA, if you won’t accept that a majority of Congress and GWB saw a problem that needed to be solved no research is going to change your mind on that point so I won’t try. Set aside the issue whether NCLB was good policy and simply accept that it is a given. My point is that if there is a legal requirement for testing, there is an opportunity for cost savings in developing say two or three tests instead of 50. This is common sense and is proven every time you go to COSTCO.. I just don’t understand your objection to it other than it disproves your thesis that all centralization is bad.

    You seem to be mistakenly extrapolating how technology could radically change delivery of lesson material to children into thinking that the entire child learning model could/should change overnight. That is radical and educational history is full of failed radical experiments. Agility and speed is an opportunity to ruin an entire generation and only with centralized monitoring/testing can you determine what educational innovations are working and which aren’t. You want innovation but you have to have it with a way that measures whther those innovations have positive or negative outcomes. That measurement is useless if there is no standard; setting standards is a centralized function.

    I agree that decisions on what technology to purchase to consume educational material should be at the lowest level–parents. BYOD to school is the trend that illustrates this point that rapidly changing evironments need distributed decisions so we don’t end up with schools filled with outdated equipment. However I don’t see that point as automatically favoring decentralization. You still have to deal with the harsh realities of economics…parents buying at retail with after-tax dollars would pay twice as much as a school buying it at wholesale. The support costs for helping kids with their device may be much larger than the price of the device itself so standardizing on only a few models could save significant labor costs.

    Nevertheless, decisions on policy and core curriculum and how to fund education in a non-discriminatory way are definitely centralized functions that fail miserably when they are decentralized. Virginia’s ugly history of resisting racially integrated schools would be the reality today had the federal government not had the power of the 14th Amemndment to prevent it.

    How would you have integrated society and solved the problem of racial discrimination through integration of public schools without using centralized power of the D.O.E? How would you solve the problem of inequity in educational outcomes for children with disabilities at the local level? Do you care that really bright and creative children from poor families won’t have the opportunity to compete in the job marketplace because local communities don’t prepare those children for college.

  • Liberal Anthropologist says:

    I accept that the majority of Congress and GWB thought there was a problem to solve. But that is irrelevant. They also thought there were WMD’s in Iraq.

    You made a claim. I am asking for evidence. You claimed that employers were hiring high school students and finding out they did not have the basic required skills. And that this was so common that it rose to the level of a wide societal problem requiring federal intervention.

    Where is the evidence that it is true? And where is the evidence that the problem was solved through a federal program? I will accept evidence. Please provide some.

    We will then deal with your problems with inequality. The first one is easy though. The 14th ammendment prevents discrimination and thus it is approriate to engage a federal power. But that is the Justice department. A department I do not oppose. Not the education department.

  • Ed Myers says:

    The nclb act was reauthorized. That is a significant fact that there was perceived value.

    LA, you are ignoring the forest by looking at one tree. Let’s remove that tree and try again by amending the claim. The ability to hold schools accountable for spending taxpayer money wisely is in itself enough reason to have evidence based educational testing. Whether businesses care that a diploma represents mastery of basic skills is not important. As taxpayers they join parents in wanting value for their tax contribution. No one wants fraud and waste.

    The constitution does not dictate the composition of a president’s cabinet. Whether DOE functions are separate or under the DOJ doesn’t really matter. You are playing an ideological shell game claiming DOE would be ok if it reported through DOJ to the president instead of directly.

    You have put off defending your assertion that all centralization is bad. I needed only one example to disprove your hypothesis and you keep avoiding showing how decentralization would be better or cheaper way to organize any of the government functions I mentioned. Start with the military. Provide evidence. If you are going to take absolutists stances prepare to defend against every counter example. (Or add greyscale to your worldview and get off your absolutists high horse.)

  • Liberal Anthropologist says:

    “The nclb act was reauthorized. That is a significant fact that there was perceived value.”

    No. That is the norm in any government. Momentum, inertia, and lobbyists.

    “LA, you are ignoring the forest by looking at one tree.”

    The forest is made up of many trees. I am happy to examine all of them.

    ” Let’s remove that tree and try again by amending the claim.”

    Fine. Then you are conceding this department has done nothing to help employers. We will have to figure out what they do that is valuable.

    ” The ability to hold schools accountable for spending taxpayer money wisely is in itself enough reason to have evidence based educational testing.”

    Are you claiming that before such testing, it was unknown which schools were good and which were bad? That the existing college entrance exam was insufficient for people to know which schools were the good schools?

    Which part of society was being fooled by bad schools masquerading as good schools? Please clarify.

    ” As taxpayers they join parents in wanting value for their tax contribution. No one wants fraud and waste.”

    Agreed. But we will have to see that creating a federal department fixed that or exacerbated that. Are you claiming that fraud and waste were significantly improved by the creation of the education department? Can you show me evidence that fraud and waste have been significantly impacted?

    “The constitution does not dictate the composition of a president’s cabinet. Whether DOE functions are separate or under the DOJ doesn’t really matter.”

    Not constitutionally, but efficiency-wise, yes. One logo. Less adminsitrators. What enforcement of the 14th amendment is needed can be handled directly by the justice department. I will be making the same argument with the useless energy department.

    ” You are playing an ideological shell game claiming DOE would be ok if it reported through DOJ to the president instead of directly.”

    No. I am saying to eliminate the Education department and move the only useful functions into DOJ. Nothing else they do is worth keeping.

    “You have put off defending your assertion that all centralization is bad.”

    I made no such assertion.

    “Start with the military.”

    The military should be a federal function controlling state militaries. I have no problem with this part of government. It is way too large for the miniscule threats we face today, but it should exist.

    “If you are going to take absolutists stances prepare to defend against every counter example.”

    I never took an absolutist stance. The federal government should:

    Maintain a military/foreign spy organization
    Deal with interstate commerce and interstate criminals.
    Provide a justice system to appeal to for constitutional matters
    Deal with foreign governments

    Not much else. That leaves very few departments. And a government 1/4 the size.

    1/4 is not zero. It is not absolutist.

    And my positions are not radical. They are logical.

  • Ed Myers says:

    l’ll take your car, remove 3 of the four wheels and reduce the weight to 500lbs all in the interest of the fuel economy! You’ll love it. It’s not a radical design…it’s logical! You’ll save money on fuel, maintenance and initial cost. You won’t miss the safety features that will have to be removed either. All those luxury items are unnecessary.

    Q: If you were president and had like-minded people as majority of Congress and SCOTUS, would you dismantle the beast quickly or plan to do it over 2 or three administrations or possibly 20?

    “The military should be a federal function controlling state militaries”

    If your consolidation of DOE under DOJ is an efficiency move than why would you propose 50 redundant militaries. OK the federal government would be joint command but integration would be worse than our fiasco in Grenada if every state has their own radio frequencies, their own uniforms, their way of doing things, their own gun design with incompatible ammo. Think of the cost of staffing an infrastructure of 50 Generals who will spend most of their time fighting amongst themselves like senators instead of working together to get a job done. This would be colossal gridlock and lots of wasted money with no security to show for it. Do you really want civil war II started by New York invading Delaware to stop the toll gate price gouging on I-95?

    “That the existing college entrance exam was insufficient for people to know which schools were the good schools? ”

    College entrance exam provides no information for parents of a child starting kindergarten. College entrance exams provide no information for parents of children who are not expecting to go to college or a school that has very few college-bound students. . College entrance exams are optional and students have no obligation to share it with the school. A junior who discovers that he has been told by his school that he was learning the right information has no time to recover if the SAT subject matter tests shows how poorly an education his school provided. Parents need that information much earlier.

  • Liberal Anthropologist says:

    Ed,

    You are fixated on efficiency. While I am focused on effectiveness. They are not the same thing. You can be very efficient at doing unnecessary things.

    I would hardly compare ending a department that has only been around for about 40 years with taking the wheels off a car. The comparison is not valid.

    Let’s get back to effectiveness. You have agreed that the universal testing is of no great value to the employer. You perhaps concede that high school level was already reasonably serviced by private college entrance exams.

    So now your argument for the value of the testing is to help choose kindergartens.

    So, please show some evidence that parents were unaware that their local kindergarten was terrible and would have made different decisions if only they hadn’t been suckered into believing it was a good school.

    If you can show that evidence, then also show the evidence that the testing has had a big impact on that and now the kids are going to less bad school.

    If you cannot show that there was a problem and that the solution was effective, then it matters not how efficiently the non-problem was solved.

  • ed myers says:

    LA,

    Of course no one wants the government to do unneccessary things. The problem: you want everyone to agree with your subjective definition of what is necessary. The fact that LCLB was reauthorized is all the proof needed that a majority thought there was a need and the solution was effective. I do not need to convince you.

    Everyone agrees that if government is doing something already it would be better to do it more efficiently. (Well, except perhaps you who thinks the military should be made less efficient and less effective by breaking it up into 50 state militias.) If every state is already doing testing and you can’t convince the majority to stop doing testing, then consolidation to a few federal tests instead of 52 state tests is better because it is cheaper.

    I do not agree that “universal testing is of no great value to the employer.” I do not need to defend this point in order to make the case that government efficiency through consolidation saves taxpayer’s money. Nothing about consolidation requires government to do the testing itself. I’m fine with outsourcing that work as part of achieving managerial efficiency in government.

    I also do not concede that “high school level was reasonably serviced by private college entrance exams.”

    An example: An elementary school in western loudoun did not pass AYP for several years in a row and the parents had the option of busing their childrento a different elementary school that did meet AYP. Many parents took advantage of the transfer opportunity. If there had been a standardized test they could have also compared West Virginia and Maryland school test scores and decided whether to move a few miles across the border. The high school numbers would not have provided a parent with information on which elementary school to select, since in Loudoun three elementary schools feed into a single high school.

  • Liberal Anthropologist says:

    “The fact that LCLB was reauthorized is all the proof needed that a majority thought there was a need and the solution was effective. I do not need to convince you.”

    This is a fundamental problem. It is not democracy that an opposition should not point out that a thing agreed by others could be unnecessary.

    I am asking for empirical proof. Such empirical proof should be available after this much time. If it doesn’t exist, then I would hope to convince a majority to eliminate this unnecessary expense.

    You seem to want to defend the expense, so I am asking you to tell me why I should think we got a good deal.

    As to the military point, I will deal with that next. It is one with more complexity

  • Ed Myers says:

    Voting is the empirical proof. I could agree with you on unnecessary expense but to what end? Unless you can convince the majority discussion is a worthless exercise. Work on government efficiency. No one opposes that.

    I think you have a streak of totalitarianism in you….theidea that everyone else is too stupid to see what is obvious and rational to you and therefore you should sweep in and save the day by radically altering the government selected by hundreds of millions of people over hundreds of years.

  • Eric the 1/2 a troll says:

    “This is a fundamental problem. It is not democracy that an opposition should not point out that a thing agreed by others could be unnecessary.”

    Not 100% sure about your question/statement here but I think the issue is one of onus. You wish for the supporters of a legitimately passed law to actively prove its worth and effectiveness or it should be rescinded. To me, the onus is on the opposition to prove that it is in our collective interest to overturn our legislature. Your way leads to things like activist courts which are inherently undemocratic. Case in point, the current SCOTUS and several recent decisions.

  • Liberal Anthropologist says:

    “Voting is the empirical proof.”

    Only of what people think is right, not the accuracy of those thoughts.

    ” I could agree with you on unnecessary expense but to what end?”

    Towards the end of creating a majority – one person at a time – so we can end the unnecessary expense.

    ” Unless you can convince the majority discussion is a worthless exercise. Work on government efficiency. No one opposes that.”

    That is the point of the exercise. I want government to be efficient, but I think we need to make more people aware of the value of effectiveness.

    “I think you have a streak of totalitarianism in you….theidea that everyone else is too stupid to see what is obvious and rational to you and therefore you should sweep in and save the day by radically altering the government selected by hundreds of millions of people over hundreds of years.”

    This is way off base and I have never demanded that democracy end. I don’t think anyone is stupid on this. I think people are not dealing with it in an evidence-based way. They just aren’t thinking. I am trying to get the thinking going.

  • Liberal Anthropologist says:

    “Not 100% sure about your question/statement here but I think the issue is one of onus. You wish for the supporters of a legitimately passed law to actively prove its worth and effectiveness or it should be rescinded. To me, the onus is on the opposition to prove that it is in our collective interest to overturn our legislature. Your way leads to things like activist courts which are inherently undemocratic. Case in point, the current SCOTUS and several recent decisions.”

    Your Onus point is interesting. We certainly do not define that.

    I would wish that the onus be ongoing for a law to be shown to be effective to even stick around. For example, it might be effective a while and then not. Why keep it after its effectiveness ended.

    I think I have expressed before a desire for a constitutional amendment that all laws (except the constitution) automatically expire and must be actively renewed every X years.

    As to evidence, I just spent the last 20 minutes looking for data that shows any improvements. I cannot find any. All I see is mostly unchanged data.

    Let’s use this:

    http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cnj.asp

    Are things getting better in a way that justifies all this testing and money?

  • Eric the 1/2 a troll says:

    “I would wish that the onus be ongoing for a law to be shown to be effective to even stick around. For example, it might be effective a while and then not. Why keep it after its effectiveness ended.”

    No problem with that. Simply convince the legislature it is no longer effective and have them overturn it. Again the onus should be on those who wish to rescind to prove their case and convince the rest of us to elect reps that will follow that will.

  • ed myers says:

    Or write laws to expire. Certainly NCLB had an expiration and a requirement for reauthorization. Lots of people made cases for and against and the acts effectiveness. It was then reauthorized.

    I’m not a supporter of NCLB, but it seems it was done following LA’s rules.

  • ed myers says:

    “I think people are not dealing with it in an evidence-based way. They just aren’t thinking. I am trying to get the thinking going.”

    LA, This is incredibly condescending. You might want to stop digging.

  • Liberal Anthropologist says:

    Eric,

    I provided a website with the data. There are no meaningful improvements in education despite increasing per capita spending (after inflation). So are we not wasting money?

    Ed,

    “LA, This is incredibly condescending. You might want to stop digging.”

    I don’t know. I am am sure I have been more condescending before.

    I provided the data. I can find no improvements since ths founding of the department of education. It seems that our efforts are resulting in approximate stability with slight declines.

    Since I cannot find the data that supports all this spending, can you please now go and look and find it for me? I looked at the debates at the time of the reauthorization and a bunch of people were pointing to the data saying to stop and a bunch of people were spouting theory as to why we should keep it.

    So I have looked myself. I cannot find evidence that NCLB or anything the Department of Education has done has had any positive effect.

    I am asking you to consider eliminating it or provide some data as to why you think it is effective.

  • Ed Myers says:

    LA, the data you supplied, alas, shows educational improvements, not declines or stability as you say.

    * The dropout rate.
    * Reading and Math scores for younger students . (Reduced dropout rates for poor-performing older students explains the flat test scores for older students.)

  • Liberal Anthropologist says:

    Ed,

    First of all, I looked up the inflation adjusted expenditures for each student from the 70′s to today and we have tripled expenditure per student. We should hold that in mind.

    I am open to facts that show that I am wrong and we are getting value for money.

    When I looked at that data, the improvements looked – to my eye – to be within the normal margin of error of the dataset. What is the margin of error in the measurements?

    Can you somehow show me that the standards used for measurement of the vertical axis have remained consistent? A lowering of standards could account for an increase.

    Lastly, can you show me evidence that the decreasing drop out rate is the cause of the lack of increase at the oldest age? Who studied that? I can’t find it and the math would be complicated to do. Possible, so I assume there is backup for your statement.

    How are you correlating standardized testing to the improvement?

    I am open here. I am trying to understand the facts. Please answer my questions. Assuming we can get there, I will be glad that there is a positive ROI.

  • Ed Myers says:

    Your 3x increase in expenditures are likely federal not total expenditure. The system has moved from placing the burden of paying for education solely on local to a federal grant system that directs resources to poor schools to equalize the educational resources per student. You need to look at both federal and local expenditures instead of cherry picking.

    Equality of opportunity is an American value. I’m not sure how much defending our values is worth or how to measure the resulting lower crime and increased productivity, but you can’t dismiss intangibles like that either without distorting your ROI.

    Longitudinal studies would provide more evidence-based educational decisions. Those studies can start now that we have 10 years of nclb data. Populations move around so having federalize standardized tests allows one to measure more students across time and across different local educational systems. You can’t measure ROI without data so I don’t understand your objection to national standards and national tests. (This is where we started this conversation…I gave the example of reducing taxpayer cost by consolidating testing and curricular choices under the DOE and you insisted that local autonomy was always better.)

  • Liberal Anthropologist says:

    Can you answer my questions? The improvements are so small that we need those answer to conclude that improvement is really happening.

  • Ed Myers says:

    Sorry LA, I’m not going to accept your invitation to go on a fools errand.

    If hundreds of legislators and their aides listening to hundred of hours of expert testimony decided that reauthorization of the NCLB act was needed, then I’m not going to be able to refute that in 20 minutes of searching on the internet.

    What I challenge is your blanket assertion that we can get rid of 3/4ths of the federal government apparently painlessly because it is unneeded and ineffectual. I think your approach (if actually tested) would end up creating duplicate functions at the state and local levels and the loss of economies of scale would prove to be more costly overall. I’ve given multiple examples and the experience of business to support my case. Like a internet huckster you are telling us everything has changed and economy of scale no longer works and the long tail of distribution or some other structural theory is going to revolutionize government organization. The burden is on you to prove that claim. We all saw the internet bubble pop and the predictions that all brick and mortar stores would vanish epic fail so we no longer have faith that freely flowing information is able to transform everything (e.g. government) into new more efficient structures. I agree there is opportunity for efficiency gains but not with your slash and burn approach.

    You didn’t answer the question of how quickly you wanted to get rid of the DOE? You also put off answering the question of how a decentralized army would be efficient and effective.

  • Liberal Anthropologist says:

    “If hundreds of legislators and their aides listening to hundred of hours of expert testimony decided that reauthorization of the NCLB act was needed, then I’m not going to be able to refute that in 20 minutes of searching on the internet.”

    I don’t want you to refute, I want you to support. That should be easy to find since it was reauthorized.

    I will answer your other questions, but in general, I want the change to occur slowly. Over a decade or more. I want to make sure we do little damage and society adapts.

    And you misunderstand my comment on the Army. I am talking about the structure we have now. With a standing federal army and state militaries.

  • Chris says:

    Big uptick in the early 80s, I see.

    What happened in the early 80s?

    Oh yeah, the war on drugs. You know, the nationwide law-and-order campaign that incarcerated millions of young black men who had the potential to be primary wage earners and instead drove their families into poverty. A campaign that was carried out, I might add, in a racist matter both legally (via the crack/cocaine sentencing disparity) and illegally (via racist application of police and prosecutor discretion).

    Over 30 years, the prison-industrial complex has grown vastly powerful, and the myth of this article (that welfare programs are the problem) has developed, all while the war on drugs continued (although the sentencing disparity was finally corrected – in 2010!).

    To repair the situation, we need to end the war on drugs, not incarcerate people for nonviolent drug offenses (think of the tax dollar savings!) and then redouble the war on poverty, together with other social engineering, to being to undo three decades of damage to the families of our fellow citizens.

  • liberal anthropologist says:

    I disagree that racism played a serious role. However I completely agree with you that the war on drugs was a huge mistake that had destroyed more families than drugs every would have.

    The rise in the 80s could be from many factors including the one you cited. This was also a period of growth in the value of the benefits increasing the relative motivation to move out of poverty.

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