The most practical solution to your links on education is the Arizona school choice bill that just passed. This should become the core platform of the GOP to implement over the next few years of what looks like a red wave. There will never be a more favorable time for such a impactful practical change. I would devote 110% of all efforts toward this and regard nearly everything else as a distraction.

Expand full comment

Freddie doesn't really believe in the Null Hypothesis. He believes two contradictory and irreconcilable things, which the mainstream progressive / woke left notices and is why they generally reject his writings on education. If he were to pull the Charles Murray trick in "Coming Apart" and just consider whites, he could maintain the NH and insist - in line with the overwhelming weight of evidence - that environment and educational interventions seem to make very little difference in terms of one's rank of academic ability relative to the distribution of one's own race, and that above a certain minimum of nutrition, resources, and education, the big driver of outcomes seems to be genetic. In classic Rawls-Lefty style, he could just say, even without oppression, life is just naturally unfair, and so it's more just to intervene to make it more fair for people and to redistribute from those who were born with good luck to those who were born with bad luck, a kind of social insurance plus. "Socialism Within One Ethny."

But then when it comes to explaining the large gap in means between the distributions of different races, he totally forgets all that and switches gears and attributes it 100% to environment, resources, education, culture, oppression, and insert all the usual official mumbo jumbo here. Rejects the Null Hypothesis with p=0.999999. There hasn't been any significant lead pollution for generations now, and we know that by measuring levels in blood, but I'm sure someone will throw in lead, why not?

Well, he can't have it both ways. If the black kid would have had to potential to be at the 50th percentile of the population but is knocked down to the 35th percentile purely due to environmental factors, and that changing those environmental factors the other way would have pushed him back up, then environment is super important and likely the dominant factor, interventions have enormous potential for positive change for anyone being held back including lots of underperforming kids from other races, and what is all the genetics talk nonsense?

More to the point, the "Luck-based Socialism" model might justify redistribution as an ideological or moral matter - akin to transferring money from the able to the disabled - what it *doesn't* justify is the story of affirmative action somehow not being an explicit deviation from competency-based meritrocracy, "This person can perform at just as high a level as anyone else here, and the only reason there are disparities in track records or representation is discrimination, yadda yadda." That is, while it might justify the 'Equity' as a purely pecuniary matter, is does not at all justify the Diversity and Inclusion legs of the woke stool, of being able to make those all-but-in-name racial and sexual quotas and putting thumbs on the scale of selections of personnel to make the numbers come out right.

That is, it doesn't justify what is in fact the greatest quid pro quo that the woke progressive political formula has to offer its clients, which is that we will spin the narrative to justify giving you not just cash, but jobs and status as well, however the actual test scores or fair competition would have turned out.

Well, Freddie can't satisfy everybody. One can satisfy nobody by being right where they are wrong. But one can also satisfy nobody by being wrong where they are right. Which is what he's done.

Expand full comment

> "Researcher Guided Funding would take the ~$120 billion spent by the federal government on science each year and distribute it equally to the ~250,000 full-time research and teaching faculty in STEM fields at high research activity universities"

Is this take out of context, or is the proposed solution to completely remove merit and practicality and simply communistically hand out equal welfare checks to everyone? So the guys with a workable plan for a Fusion reactor have equal standing with the guy down the hall the next Darwin Award winning study of something stupid?

Expand full comment

My objection to government funded research is idiosyncratically ethical. I like to pay my debts and settle accounts. If I buy a light bulb from Tom Edison, he and I are square. If Al Gore invents the internet, I never hear the end of it.

Expand full comment

As you say, any system will be gamed. Therefore this cannot be a concern with any solution. One has to go into details to form a judgment on whether one system is better than another. What costs and foregone opportunities will gaming a given system require from actors? What costs can the broader society impose on gaming, what resources does it have to do that and what it will have to forgo to impose them? Etc.

Expand full comment

Given that the government will surely give massive priority to grievance study topics in the social sciences, probably a feature.

Expand full comment

The California public school situation is terrible, but the beautiful thing about California is how permissive they are with homeschooling. It's grown considerably in popularity, and people often don't even think it's strange that we homeschool our kids.

Expand full comment

Srinivasan: Stated so truistically that one must be certain that there is another message intended, besides just virtue signaling.

Expand full comment

I've been reading Freddie for a year, and like many smart socialists, he has good critiques of real-world capitalism, sometimes even noting how far it deviates from what Free Marketeers want, and how crony capitalists game it. Also like so many, his own solutions are usually lousy, depending on magic thinking. Unlike most, he's able and willing to critique Democrats and leftists and other socialists - because he's smart enough to know a lot of their emotionally satisfying junk is lousy.

I've just ordered his "The Cult of Smart" -- it would be good, Arnold, to do a book review of it.

We all want to live a bit like Lake Woebegone, where "everybody is above average". Ain't gonna happen, and can't happen. Status is always zero-sum, and there will always be folk near the bottom.

The best, non-perfect society comes from schools, parents, and culture, including art: "“hard work good, meritocracy good, envy bad, charity good”.

That "charity good" part is where Libertarians, in practice, fail selfishly but all too predictably. "The rich get richer, the poor get poorer", is usually NOT true, but often said and believed. The poor, under capitalism, get richer also. BUT -

the rich are getting richer faster than the poor are getting richer, and that's why inequality is increasing. And it should change.

The poor should be getting richer than the rich are getting richer. [Thanks to Pax Americana & Free Trade, this has actually been happening throughout the world, to the benefit of poor China & India & Asia, but at the cost of "rich" US workers]

In the USA, as long as the rich (99%? 90%?) are getting richer faster than the poor (40%? 20%?), it will remain a problem and, from the working poor perspective, a less just America.

We should be tracking the 90% (top 10%) income level, and it's growth, against the 40% income levels - and when the top 10% grows faster than the 40% level, that's a social / capitalism / culture problem that needs to be addressed. The lowest boats, of hard honest workers with low IQs, need to rise as fast as the highest boats, and the tax system should be moving towards that goal.

[This isn't quite Freddie's position, but is probably close.]

Expand full comment