George Will Stole My Money as a Movie Star!!!!!!!

May 7, 2014

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

JPGB inside joke backfill here and here.


“A Sturdy Portion of the Public Is Not”

January 16, 2014

octopus

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

George Will certainly knows how to turn a phrase:

The rise of opposition to the Common Core illustrates three healthy aspects of today’s politics. First, new communication skills and technologies enable energized minorities to force new topics onto the political agenda. Second, this uprising of local communities against state capitals, the nation’s capital and various muscular organizations demonstrates that although the public agenda is malleable, a sturdy portion of the public is not.

Third, political dishonesty has swift, radiating and condign consequences. Opposition to the Common Core is surging because Washington, hoping to mollify opponents, is saying, in effect: “If you like your local control of education, you can keep it. Period.” To which a burgeoning movement is responding: “No. Period.”

Hey, that last part is pretty clever. I wonder where he got it. Hmmmm . . . must have been from Jason! 🙂


Government Takeover of STEM

January 4, 2011

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

In his Sunday column, George Will advocated a government takeover of the economy. Well, not quite – but close.

Will points out, correctly, that the economy is really, ultimately driven by the discovery of new ways of serving human needs. From this, he concludes that the enormous government regime of subsidies (and consequent control) of “basic science” and other STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) research in universities must not only continue, but be dramatically expanded.

He makes the by-now standard argument for government control of STEM:

  1. STEM contributes to the economy through “basic science.”
  2. “Basic science” doesn’t yield useable results rapidly enough to show up on quarterly earnings reports.
  3. Businesses are incapable of seeing past quarterly earnings reports when making decisions.
  4. Therefore, only government (through its hired retainers in the universities) has a long enough time horizon to be entrusted with control of basic science, and hence STEM.

How is this wrong? Let me count the ways.

The error starts right at the beginning. “Basic science” is not what drives entrepreneurial innovation and economic flourishing. “Basic science” is part of the liberal arts and is not all that much different from the study of poetry. It’s about investigating the fundamental structure of the universe simply for the sake of understanding it – just like poetry, in a different way, investigates the fundamental structure of the universe simply for the sake of understanding it. Basic science not only doesn’t produce economic benefits on a quarterly basis, it doesn’t produce economic benefits at all (except insofar as it contributes generally to the maintenance of a humane culture). 

This matters because it is universities who fundamentally drive “basic science,” but not entrepreneurial innovation. There’s a reason Bill Gates had to leave Harvard to found Microsoft.

It’s entrepreneurially minded businesses that drive entrepreneurial innovation and economic flourishing. The assertion that businesses don’t support long-term innovation is false. Some do, some don’t. The ones that do are where the dynamism of the economy comes from. Google encourages employees to spend a set portion of their time working on side projects over which they have total control, and which are not expected to produce defined results; the Google News service was created as one such project. Yes, there are many businesses that can’t see past their quarterly earnings reports. But the solution to that is for a partnership of philanthropy and educational institutions to raise up a new generation of entrepreneurial leaders who can see past their quarterly earnings reports.

If business as a sector is congenitally and permanently incapable of long-term thinking, the United States is scrod, and we should all quit trying to save it.

The worst error is to think that government and universities are capable of better long-term strategic thinking than business. The opposite is the case. Just look at the outstanding examples of long-term strategic thinking we have before us in those sectors today – in government, $14 trillion debt with bailouts, nationalizations and endless Keynesianism (on the right and left) at home, and fecklessness and appeasement abroad; in the universities, a ridiculously unsustainable business model, the most dysfunctional labor policy (tenure) of any sector of society, and a total abandonment of the sector’s core function (education for human life) in favor of hyperspecialization of technical competencies.

The main difference between business and the government/university axis is that business occasionally does really take care for the long term.


George Will on Perpetual Adolesence

March 4, 2010

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Related to this previous conversation, George Will weighs in on the modern “living in Mom’s basement” Peter Man American male.

Oi vey


States to Protect Health Care Freedom?

November 19, 2009

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

George Will wrote a column today about an effort to protect Arizonans from being forced to buy health insurance or to ban the right to privately purchase medical care by Obamacare.

If Obamacare passes, the people of Arizona may give it the proverbial single finger salute. Other states may as well.

The proposed initiative reads:

No law shall be passed that restricts a person’s freedom of choice of private health care systems or private plans of any type. No law shall interfere with a person’s or entity’s right to pay directly for lawful medical services, nor shall any law impose a penalty or fine, of any type, for choosing to obtain or decline health care coverage or for participation in any particular health care system or plan.

Clint Bolick notes that the federal protection of individual rights have always served as a floor, not a ceiling. If both Obamacare and this language passed, an interesting legal battle would ensue. Money quote from the column:

The court says the constitutional privacy right protects personal “autonomy” regarding “the most intimate and personal choices.” The right was enunciated largely at the behest of liberals eager to establish abortion rights. Liberals may think, but the court has never held, that the privacy right protects only doctor-patient transactions pertaining to abortion. David Rivkin and Lee Casey, Justice Department officials under the Reagan and first Bush administrations, ask: If government cannot proscribe or even “unduly burden” — the court’s formulation — access to abortion, how can government limit other important medical choices?

How indeed? This would all be much better if judges simply rediscovered an ability to read the 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution, but if you can’t “unduly burden” abortion how are you supposed to “unduly burden” an individual’s right to pay a heart surgeon or have an appendix removed?

Hopefully the Senate will kill Obamacare, but if not, the fight can be carried on by other means. If some states passed such amendments and other did not, get ready for the second great doctor migration. I had a Canadian doctor growing up in southeast Texas in the 1970s. Any guesses why?


A Different Kind of WaPo Gold

May 14, 2009

Billy-Bragg-Talking-With-The-Taxman

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

In other Washington Post news, those who have been following our coverage of the resurgence of socialism will not want to miss George Will’s column today:

The administration’s central activity — the political allocation of wealth and opportunity — is not merely susceptible to corruption, it is corruption.

HT Jim Geraghty


The Hits Keep Coming, Friday Night Massacres Just Couldn’t Bury This Story

April 23, 2009

Despite Obama and Duncan’s best efforts to conceal their steps to kill the D.C. voucher program by acting on Friday afternoons, they have utterly failed at burying this story.  The hits just keep on coming.

In the latest round we have Morton Kondrake picking up on the appeasement metaphor I used in my WSJ piece:

“In a demonstration of obeisance to union power, however, Congressional Democrats refused to re-fund a private school voucher program in the District of Columbia and the administration swallowed the decision. Obama and Duncan say they have hopes to “work with” the unions rather than openly confront them and capitulation on D.C. vouchers may have been a goodwill offering. Whether appeasement will buy cooperation remains to be seen.”

George Will seems to be channeling  Juan Williams’ fury:

“As the president and his party’s legislators are forcing minority children back into public schools, the doors of which would never be darkened by the president’s or legislators’ children, remember this: We have seen a version of this shabby act before. One reason conservatism came to power in the 1980s was that in the 1970s liberals advertised their hypocrisy by supporting forced busing of other people’s children to schools the liberals’ children did not attend.

This issue will be back. In a few months, the appropriation bill for the District will come to the floor of the House of Representatives, at which point there will be a furious fight for the children’s interests. Then we will learn whether the president and his congressional allies are capable of embarrassment. On the evidence so far, they are not.”

Peter Roff writes in U.S. News and World Report:

“Former North Carolina Sen. and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards liked to go around talking about the “two Americas.” Where education is concerned, he may have been on to something. There’s one America for the elites, like members of Congress and the President and Mrs. Obama, who send their children to private schools; and there’s one for everyone else, the regular people who, at least in the District of Columbia, are seeing the educational dreams they have for their children shattered on the altar of politics.”

And Adam Schaeffer over at Cato has given Arne Duncan an award.  Unfortunately for Duncan it is the Chutzpah Award.

All of this is on top of the greatest hits collections, volume one and two, as well as a bunch of other hot singles from the Washington Post and others too numerous to mention in this 30 second commercial.

How can Obama, Duncan, Durbin, and the rest stop this pain?  One easy solution is to do the right thing, follow the evidence, and renew D.C. vouchers.


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