Educational Inflation

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Society / Social Order / Central-Decentral / Deschooling / Rants /

I want to write this file ASAP. Initially I merely sketch the idea:
Once upon a time you had the sheep or you had the wheat or you had the arrow heads or you had the cowrie shells, or the silver, or the gold … or you couldn’t trade. Now governments print fiat dollars, on paper. The government gets to spend the money first: when favored merchants will accept the fiat money, knowing that they’ll get to spend it second, before the market corrects for its worthlessness. Paper dollars aren’t the only thing the government copies and mass produces, value, quality … be damned.

A baker may bake a wicked good cookie; but no baker can bake millions of cookies and still expect them to be of comparable quality. Universities like Cambridge, Harvard … gathered some good books, some good scholars. You couldn’t get anything or everything at those places, but you could get as close as human culture comes to intellectual cream. Now the governments spew out schools, mass producing the (ahem) scholars themselves, ever encroaching on private universities with (ahem) AIDs. (Is any cream left in the universities? (any cream anywhere? yes, by god, in nature! in garrets! starving in the wilderness!)

Back in 1970 Ivan Illich made the point, orally and in print, that the Church had invented Purgatory so that its capitalist monopoly on masses could continue to expand among the dead once it had saturated the market among the living. I wrote a short story projecting his image into science fiction: selling scholarly updates to dead scholars, bankrupting the living ones. (Ivan never responded to my story: I sent it to him, but never learned if he read it: his communications with me were one-way: him to me, me to others, but not me to him, him actually receiving. Or, he did receive but didn’t answer: for months and years.)

Note: educational inflation has the same catastrophic results as monetary inflation. The “good” schools benefit because they have the better scholars as the market floods with the cheap imitations (discounting the homeostatic, immutable fact that human institutions will never reliably know a silk purse from a sow’s ear).

It’s hard to restore 4,000 censored text files, especially when you’re broke, old, losing your sight and hearing, your inventions plagiarized, not rewarded.
I’ll trim duplications.

Parallel Scribble

Inflation: Educational
Once again I compose the menu before I make the meal: then I practice the dish before I claim that I’ve made it well or that it’s attractive, nutritionally balanced … Thanks to bkMarcus’ recent studies of Austrian economics and his gifts, including Gene Callahan’s Economics for Real People, I am now revising my prior dismissal of economics as egregious pseudo-science: one of the many ways organized bands of paid intellectuals keep the doomed off-balance, confused. A number of “economic” points, metaphors … will now begin appearing at No doubt I’ll have to make a teach/society/economics/ sub folder to string them. Today I merely jot a couple of notes under the rubric inflation.
Callahan contrasts a good that emerges as a stable medium of exchange — money: gold, for example — with fiat dollars, printed by a government and not backed by any guarantees other than the issuing government’s own word. When a government wants something it can’t afford, a war for example, all it has to do is print more money: and spend it. (And here’s a key point: the government gets to spend its bogus money first: before the market, reality, whatever … has corrected the money to its proportional worth. And here’s the other key point: the government manipulates time (in relation to value) (as do banks and other government-privileged economic parasites and predators).
Now: I don’t claim to be ready to do a good job with these materials today. What I do want to do is set the table for the place where the finished meal will be served: and promise at least a couple of the side dishes:
Inflation (Trust Inflation)
Money Inflation Educational Inflation Health Inflation Theological Inflation …

Not knowing when I’ll find time to be back, I also note a couple of specific points to be made:
All of these are examples of trust misplaced.
Money Inflation
The government prints the money, the government gets to spend the money first. The government spends the money say with arms merchants: the arms merchants get to spend the money second. … The schmuck pitching manure gets to spend the money last: when it’s shriveled value has been noticed by all.

Educational Inflation
Cambridge, Harvard … are places that distinguished scholars have gathered. Important documents gather with the scholars. Different ideas are tried. The scholars come because they find that their chance of being understood by peers rises in an atmosphere where peers might also come. Columbia, Yale, Rice … Amherst, Colgate … Smith, Vassar … Bryn Mawr … Other schools develop following something akin to a “gold standard.” Then the government decides to help education. The government issues schools: by the million: stamping them out like cookies, using ever cheaper dough … A good scholar, skipping to the new state “university,” gets “paid” in dollars and acclaim valued at only fractionally less than yesterday’s dollars and acclaim at Colgate or Dartmouth. The student graduating in State U’s degree-year-1, gets a degree only three or four years behind the value of education of the time of the issuing of the school. But the schmuck answering the TV ad to make big bucks with a degree in computers gets paid with a drastically deflated degree: for which he’s paid a grossly inflated price. (Serves the sucker right: why didn’t he go to Brown a hundred years ago?) note

Health Inflation
One hundred and fifty years ago doctors killed more women (and babies) in childbirth than in any recorded time before or since. But by one hundred years ago medicine was doing much better. (A couple of hundred years ago, doctors had a very poor reputation; but only the rich ever used them anyway.) Ordinary people never used doctors at all: until, under Napoleon, they were ordered to hold still while their leg was amputated. Now everyone feels deprived until their tit is cut off, their uterus cut out … Governments got rid of Napoleon but now government assigns the kind of medical interference people must accept. Your being ill is meaningless until you have a note from your doctor. What happened since is complex, and I’m not trying it today. This is merely a promise to do so.

Theological Inflation
And the same thing has happened in group-backed belief imperialisms. When I told the draft board in 1961 that I was a conscientious objector, I got no consideration from that board because only I and I alone represented my conscience. One voter is not felt to be a threat to a government. Had I been a Quaker … any group with numbers, the board might have listened. Had I brought a note from my minister, I might have been drafted anyway, but assigned to a pastor, an ambulance; not been handed a rifle (but then a typewriter). Here again my point is tricky, will been seen coming less readily than above: with education, with money; but by the time I’m done I hope the visitor will see: it’s more of the same: the Jew got to spend his faith note before the Christian, the Christian before the Muslim, the Catholic before the Protestant, the Protestant before the Quaker, the Quaker before the Mormon … and any of them before the Communist … And, if the libertarian has no clout, where oh where, does the philosophical anarchist fit in?

bk responded immediately with a point that I immediately recognized:
I accept the claim that Communism — Marxism, at least — is a faith. Judaism is not. I don’t know about Islam.
… Not one of the many Old Testament commandments includes a requirement to believe anything.
I’ll include more of that interesting note in my piece on Faith.A Hundred Years Ago:
Please don’t think I’m suggesting that some simple model of degeneracy applies too literally in the case of universities. Four hundred years ago in Florence you would have been just in time to back Ignorance against Galileo. Nine hundred years ago the professors joined the priests in ganging up on Abelard. After all, he was arguing that ordinary things — this chair, that girl — are real. No, no: only abstractions, preferably fictitious abstractions, are real.
Universities are merely what they are: generally ahead of the mean, but also generally not exhibiting too keen a cutting edge.
Still, modern government funding (like old-timey Church funding) can put universities smack back in the middle of the mean.

Deschool Menu


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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