Americans Are Just Too Stupid, But...
20 years ago when it became apparent that most office work could be done over the internet, I had one, simple question – why do we commute?
It was not an idealistic question. It was not a naive question. It was a very simple, logical, and ultimately correct question. And the reason it was a simple, logical and ultimately correct question was because it exposed the simple fact that commuting was obsolete for about 70% of the labor force.
What is fascinating, however, is how long it has taken the western world to capitalize on this simple opportunity. In reality, it should have taken no more than two years' time to migrate white collar work to people’s home offices. Office buildings should have been converted to residential living spaces long ago. And the past 20 years Americans should have enjoyed increased standards of living, lowing living expenses, less carbon/pollution, lower stress, increased health, stronger families and less traffic fatalities.
But here we are in 2023 pulling the teeth of a baby boomer corporate managerial class that should have retired long ago. An instead of allowing us to enjoy a new golden era in American labor, we’re still stuck commuting, tepidly asking our boss if we could telecommute, as if we were asking him if we could bang his wife.
Now working in banking I learned long ago that today’s American leaders are too stupid, short sighted, and ultimately set in their ways to capitalize on the tremendous opportunities technology has laid in front of us. And me pointing out these opportunities over the past 20 years was a colossal waste of time that has not resulted in a single, tangible change. But whereas my original goal inhighlighting these opportunities was to be a good economist and DRAMATICALLY improve our standards of living, today I merely point these things out for posterity AND to take great joy watchingAmericans unnecessarily suffer because of their ignorance, short-sightedness, and sloth. I’d like to see the day politicians, employers, corporate leaders get their heads out of their asses and make life DRASTICALLY better for all of us. But we are just too damn stupid. And so I am relegated to take joy in other people's misery.
To continue my enjoyment of watching stupid people suffer, let me highlight another opportunity Americans have squandered. An opportunity that would no doubt usher in a new golden era of American standards of living. An opportunity that would solve damn near all of our financial problems. Not to mention an opportunity we've been squandering the past 20 years. But one I am completely confident Americans will fail to avail themselves of.
Making higher education truly free.
The Nature of Education is Free
Whether you realize it or not we have the technology to make education free. And not in the sense that democrats, labor, or socialist parties mean wherein the tax payer pays added taxes for truly average westerners to get laughably stupid degrees in the liberal arts or social sciences. But in the sense of revolutionizing the concept of education from that of a product into a constitutional-right. And to understand this concept of education as a right, it helps to understand what education is at its atomic level versus how we currently provide an education to the people.
First, understand that all education is, is information. Whether it was learning your ABC’s in kindergarten or learning how nuclear fusion worked in grad school, it’s just previously-established information being passed onto and installed in a new brain. And this information unto itself is free. No individual or school owns that fact that 2+2 = 4. No university or college owns the information of how HTML code can be used to build a website. And so no person or institution can charge for facts or information, because these facts "just are." Information is self-evident, information is universal, information is free.
Additionally, the acquisition of this information can be free. I can go to the library and read books. I can learn from other people as they share their information with me. I can watch documentaries on nearly anything. And with the advent of the internet ALL human knowledge is now accessible for every one on the planet. And so today ANYONE can learn ANYTHING for free and no one (be that a person, government, guild, or university) can stop them. In this sense, information and therefore education, is a right. I have the right to know anything I want. I have the right to know facts, processes, and details. And no one can stop me from educating myself.
The problem comes where we as a society have allowed various institutions to determine whether or not the information someone has acquired qualifies as an “education.” And not just an education, but a certified education that is worthy of employment.
This is not entirely irrational. First, without some form of standards people could self-declare they are educated by essentially lying on their resume. Most of us would be reluctant to hire a civil engineer to build a bridge who claims he “totally educated himself, HONEST!” as opposed to one put through a formal civil engineering program. Second, until recently, schools were the most efficient way to educate masses of people. You can tutor an individual student one on one, or an individual student can grab a book on economics and teach himself at the library. But having an expert in front of a class of 200 students, clearly conveying specialized information is much more efficient than tutoring one-on-one or an individual inefficiently trying to educate himself on something completely new to him. So it is only rational that in a pre-internet era schools and universities would form as the most efficient way to educate people. But there are several problems with having physical institutions disseminating information and thus education, as well as what our education system has morphed into today.
First, you are going to incur costs. In having physical locations where information is disseminated, you need teachers, property, and buildings, replete with equipment (labs, desks, paper, etc), all of which cost money. Information may be free, but it's going to cost you if you wish to have people convey it to you in the form of a certified credential/education.
Second, even though a loud teacher with a powerful PA system can speak to a hall of 2,000 students (Willey Hall, U of MN, 1993), there's still a limit to the number of students a teacher can teach at any one time. And while it is impressive you can educate 2,000 students about Psychology 101 all at the same time, the technology exists that one YouTube video of that professor's same lecture could educate all the people in the world for free. Physical schools are not only costly, but obsolete.
Third, while no one individual school or college has a monopoly on education, the education industry as a whole does. Not necessarily out of malice or design, but in the fact that society more or less requires a formal education to even be considered remotely employable today. Worse, modern employers reinforce this unconscious monopoly by granting it nearly total intrinsic value by making NEARLY ALL employment contingent on receiving an accredited and authorized education from this system. This makes everyone's job, and therefore everyone's financial lives, and therefore NEARLY ALL OF OF THE US ECONOMY wholly dependent on this monopoly. And with ALL of the nation's economy and ALL of people's financial lives dependent upon this system, an incredible and unacceptable amount of power has been centralized into this one industry.
Fourth, this power has proven too tempting for people in the education industry and they have predictably abused it. The reason tuition costs so much (when its true informational nature is free) is because those employed by the education industry have morphed the education industry from one that educates, trains, and prepares generations of young people for success in the real world, to one where they absolutely fleece young people out of a lifetime of money. Everything from 2 years of unnecessary prereqs to get a Bachelors degree, to credits that cost $300 each, to college textbooks that cost $500, to refusing to recognize credits from different schools, the TRUE nature of the higher education industry in America is to extract as much money out of its students as possible in exchange for a permission slip to work (and for most college degrees, not even that). Nowhere (bar say, WGU and ASU Online) are schools trying to make education more affordable. Everywhere education has become a means by which teachers, professors, and administrators enrich themselves off the young.
And finally, corruption. Making matters worse is that in having such power centralized in one industry COMBINED WITH THE FACT nearly all American children must go through this system, other institutions, industries, and people who have harmful ulterior aims are too tempted not abuse this system. Whether you are a democrat or republican, it is PAINFULLY obvious the K-college system indoctrinates young people to become socialists and victims more than they do teaching them how to program a computer, fix a car, or do their taxes. More modernly, various trait-based groups have infiltrated and abused the education system to promote their trait based politics (be that race, gender, sexual preference, mental illness, etc.) to future generations, which does absolutely nothing to help young people (of all traits), but rather mentally impairs them with defeatism, victimhood, hatred, and no real employable skills. Employers are only more than happy to arbitrarily require more education as it allows them to unload on-job-training costs to schools and students. And everyone who's ever attended college are fully aware of the credit card companies and banks who line up during freshman orientation and graduation to get you to sign up for a credit card or a 7 year, 18% car loan. Young students are viewed as a captive audience to be butchered like cattle, not the generation society will rely upon to carry us forward, who need to be invested in.
When we add up all these costs, the price is tremendous.
The Costs of an Obsolete, Corrupt, and Truly Stupid System
Explicitly, we spend $671 billion dollars on our higher education system ($764 billion on K-12) per year. 85% of this money is outright wasted on degrees that have no employability. And unless your skill or trade requires a physical lab or hands on instruction (trades, engineering, physics, etc) worthwhile degrees such as computer programming, actuarial science, accounting, etc., can all be learned online or through self study. While it would require looking up data on the NCES (National Center for Educational Statistics), we can safely assume nearly 90% of this $671 billion is simply wasted money (and an argument can be made that with homeschooling, self study, and the internet a significant chunk of the $764 billion in K-12 is wasted as well). In other words, in using a system that allows people to self study from the comforts of their own homes, we could save about $600 billion every year (more if you consider K-12).
To put this into context and to show you just what a tremendous waste this has been, 3.5 million American children are born every year. If we just gave them this money it would be $175,000 per student, more if we were to allow students to self-study out of the K-12 system. And though the average home in the US goes for about $400,000, a ball park $200,000 per child would not only guarantee some basic level of housing, it would guarantee housing for a lifetime (and don't even get me started if we put that money into the S&P 500 at the time of their birth and let compound growth do its magic).
This is not an argument to defund education and instead give everyone in America a house (though it would ABSOLUTELY be a better use of the money). But it is to show you just how much money we are wasting on an obsolete and outdated system putting education behind a paywall. Not to mention just how much more we could do if we spent this money more intelligently.
What is arguably worse, however, is the non-financial costs we pay using this outdated education system. The fact we force children to attend school for 13 years AND THEY STILL DON'T HAVE AN EMPLOYABLE SKILL, is bordering on a human rights violation. The fact we require 4-8 more years of education on top of that is simple robbery and stupidity. And the fact most jobs that require a college degree could be done with an 8th grade education, means nearly half of these children's' lives have been wasted. If these kids were equipped with an employable skill at 16, allowing them to work instead of waste even more time in high school and college, a generation (assumed to be 20 years of births) could amass an additional $17 trillion in added economic production. Production that would enrich them rather than impoverish them (like student loans/college do today), and production that would eliminate nearly all of our economic problems. And this says nothing about the psychological benefits that would come with not having your entire childhood wasted in government buildings or your entire financial life crippled by student loans.
The New System
But like traffic jams and commutes, this nightmare can end tomorrow. We can usher in a free and new educational system quite literally in 6 months' time. And we could do this by legally recognizing an education is information, not how the information was acquired. Meaning no employer, government, or corporation could discriminate against how you got the information. They could only discriminate based on whether you had the adequate information/education to do the job. This would allow people to educate themselves for free (aka - becoming "autodidacts") in whatever manner they choose (likely the internet, but books, self study, groups, etc.), liberating them from the corrupt, inefficient, costly, and obsolete education system we have today. And quite literally overnight making us all $1 trillion a year richer and saving every person born in America 6 years of unnecessary education.
In practice education as a right would require two things. First, congress and the states would have to pass laws recognizing that
1) information is free, universal, and therefore everyone has a right to it,
2) that information is the same regardless of how it was acquired
3) therefore discriminating against how that information was acquired is a violation of that right.
This would make education free to all of us as employers would no longer be able to require a college degree as a condition of employment. It would require employers test for knowledge, aptitude, or experience, not whether you have a degree. (Or, if I could be so bold to suggest that employers maybe train their own damn employees).
Second, congress and the states would have to make make laws requiring employers, trade groups, industries, and professions to come up with tests that allow the self-educated to "test into employment" much like the Accounting profession has the CPA exam or California has it's bar exam. It would require each industry have a certification system like the IT profession has where people take tests to get certified in different fields. It would also require governments have some kind of enforcement arm to make sure employers are not giving preferential treatment to college graduates over the self-educated (or vice versa). But these costs would be a small fraction of the nearly $700 billion we piss away on the current system we have now.
Finally, there is a compelling civil rights argument that the current education system compared to this newly-proposed one unfairly discriminates against minorities, women, and other disadvantaged groups...because it quite literally does. Requiring the poor or otherwise disadvantaged to acquire an employable education through today's inefficient and costly education system, when technology allows for an equal education to be acquired for free AND in a much shorter time, is denying them the ability to avail themselves of that opportunity. And in forcing all people to go through the inefficient institutional system of education, regardless of the disparate impact it has on the disadvantaged, is one of the rare-but-real forms of institutional discrimination on minorities. I am no scholar on discrimination law or the Civil Rights Act, but because of the time and financial burden our current education system requires in order to be qualified to work, minorities (as well as poor people in general) are very much being discriminated against by today's education system, as opposed to those who can afford to leisurely and luxuriously spend 20 years getting an employable education.
In the end the new system would simply be one where colleges and universities (even some high schools) would be replaced with tests and certifications no different than the GED, COMPTIA, or CPA exams. Four year $150,000 college degrees replaced with one-time $500 tests in an afternoon. And the veracity and employability of these certifications would be enforced by the state and federal governments through the recognition that education is a right, regardless of how it was acquired, thereby making it illegal to discriminate against how that education was acquired. You technically don't even need the federal government to do this. A bold and caring (and likely "red") state could do this for its citizens tomorrow. Or an ethical company could realize just how immoral it is to require every young person have 17 years of education, and offer training programs instead. But as said before, American employers and leaders are truly stupid people. And so it's likely going to require the force of law to make any of this happen.
Stupid Americans Who Are Going to Get in the Way
There are no words that can convey my complete and total hatred for the people I am about to list below. They have prevented me, you, and the past three generations of Americans from even achieving 30% of our full potential. They are unnecessary, self-serving, wasted bureaucratic bloat, and some I would say are outright evil. Removing these people from society (in terms of their profession, not their lives...though there is the argument) would liberate us and the American economy to produce easily 3 times the amount of GDP we do today. It would also liberate future generations of children from wasting ALL of their youth in school, and instead allow the majority of Americans to be earning a living wage by the age of 16 and retire at 58. We are literally one law and one year of retooling away from a DRAMATICALLY better future where we are trillions of dollars better off, wealthier, happier, and education is truly free. And these despicable people are absolutely going to get in the way of that.
First, those currently employed in the current education system are going to be vehemently against making education free. Everyone from special ed teachers in pre-K to tenured professors at our highest ranked universities will be against this. And the reason is simple - 99% of them will lose their jobs.
I personally have no pity for the system and the people who have fleeced and impoverished three generations of Americans selling them information that should have been free just so they could have cushy, 9-months-per-year teaching jobs. I have no pity for the K-12 teachers who failed to give American children ONE employable skill after having them for 13 years. I have no care for college staff who enriched themselves by enslaving generations of Americans with student loans for worthless degrees. And I have a particular contempt for all of them as they've used the education system as a tool of government brainwashing for socialism, not education.
These grievances aside, the case against those currently employed in today's education system is much simpler - these people are obsolete.
Just as the horse and buggy industry died out because technology introduced the car, the internet has made most teachers obsolete. The system of congregating people in one area to audibly be informed and instructed, has been replaced with firing up your phone in bed and listening to the same lecture minus the bus ride, bullying, school drama, $75,000 tuition bill, and sermons about men having periods. But to show you how much more these people care about themselves than all of society, they will absolutely fight tooth and nail to make sure the rest of society continues paying the unnecessary $650 billion - $1.4 trillion (depending on how you want to measure it) to keep the old system going because it's more important they don't have to find new jobs, than allow society to advance. It would be no different than buggy makers preventing the rest of the country to avail themselves of cars because they're too damn lazy to retool and find a new profession. Those employed in today's education system will gladly hold the country's progress hostage so they can keep their pointless jobs. Some I guarantee will even do so violently.
Second and closely-related, employers.
Employers love colleges and universities because it lessens, if not, eliminates their training costs. If you have ever heard "Bachelors required, Masters preferred," or "hit the ground running" or "steep learning curve," that is employer-speak for "We aren't going to pay for any training." This is not only unfair, but highly inefficient. Unfair because in requiring college degrees employers offload their training expenses to the education industry (those costs ultimately borne by the combination of students, parents, non profits and the tax payers who all pool in to pay for college degrees). And HORRENDOUSLY inefficient because they require people waste 4 years and $125,000 getting a degree for a job that in all reality only requires 2 weeks and $1,200 in training.
Still, no matter how much employers claim to be about "work life balance," they will gladly force generation after generation to go into life-long debt to get college degrees as opposed to dropping a few pennies on training programs. Worse, you'll find many employers want their employees in debt because financially destitute people make more loyal and lower-paid employees.
Third, the democrat party.
Though obviously the American democrat party will be against any parring down or eliminating of the current education industry, this goes for any of the major and minor left-leaning parties of western nations. The reason is very simple - this is where they get future voters.
This isn't conspiratorial. This isn't an edgy take. Leftist parties of the western world completely rely on their education systems to pre-install socialist politics in children and certainly college students so that they can groom future voters and stay in power. And in letting people educate themselves, they potentially lose this voter farm, facing the same horror that keeps teachers and professors awake at night - losing their election and have to get a real job
Tragically (for the democrat party anyway) this proposal delivers what they've long promised, but failed to deliver - a right to a free education. But it does so by bypassing the education system that the democrats (and lefter leaning parties globally) rely on to get re-elected.
Here you may see some genuine and caring democrats rejoice in that there is a real and viable way to make education free. Here you may see a rare bit of bipartisanship where democrats and republicans come together to make our lives MARKEDLY better. And here democrats can deliver on a promise to minorities and the poor to make their lives TREMENDOUSLY and TANGIBLY better.
But the vast majority won't. And the reason why is the same reason why teachers, professors, employers, and college administrators are going to be against a free education - because it's more important they keep their jobs than advance society. It's more important they stay in power than help the people who voted for them. It will be fun to see what reason and rationale the left comes up with to be AGAINST a bill that would make education a right, but I eagerly look forward to it anyway.
And then finally, HR.
I've never understood why HR has to power-trip over those who are unemployed and less fortunate than they are. I don't know why HR has impoverished, indebted, and financially crippled generations of young Americans requiring progressively more and more education for jobs that could be done by 8th graders. And I don't see the incentive, reason, or motive for HR to be the insufferable, power-tripping bitches (men included) that they are.
I guess I just don't understand evil.
And because I don't understand evil, I guess I won't know why the HR profession will be against people having a right to a free education...but I know they will be.
Thankfully, however, "Becky" in "human resources"
will be powerless to stop it if education as a right is passed into
law. Karen and Her Coven of HR
Witches "Professionals" will no
longer be able to prevent people from advancing in their careers by
requiring absurd amounts of education...or by simply not liking your
shoes. And though Becky and the HR profession will raise
hell at the prospect of taking away their little fiefdoms, they are
thankfully the least powerful of all the groups who will stand in the
way of the nation's progress. Still, they are going to raise a stink about people having a right to a free education if it denies their ability to power trip over job applicants. But once again we see the common thread that unites all these evil people - it's more important they keep their power than the rest of society advance.
This Isn't Going to Happen
I'd like to say, "Tomorrow, literally tomorrow, we could make education free in America and provide the legal frame work by which other countries could do the same." I'd like to see kids enjoying their childhoods instead of being sequestered in government buildings for 13 years. I'd like to see young people being able to educate themselves for free, and being able to earn a living wage at18. And I'd like to see a country that has no debts, no deficit, no student loans, double the economic growth, and double the standards of living. But I don't think you, me, or anyone else is going to see this dream come true. And the reason why isn't because of the predictable resistance we'll see from teachers, democrats, Boomer Bosses, or Becky's, as much as it will be the American ignorance that has become endemic in our cultural psyche.
For whatever reason Americans are addicted to the status quo. They demand better, but will only accept better if it requires no work or change of behavior on their part. And even if a road map is clearly drawn for them to a better world, if it requires changing their behavior or even something as simple as thinking differently, they won't do it. They will remain the sheep they are, remaining in a world they claim not to like, because intellectual laziness and sloth is more comforting than change.
That being said, I really hate the Beckys. And I will forever hate the teachers who took my childhood away from me. I am certainly no fan of the democrats. And I loathe the baby boomer bosses who forced me and now three generations of Americas to commute unnecessarily these past 20 years. And while I am not optimistic about the chances of making free education a right (and the wonderful world that would usher in), nothing would make me happier than to see these people rendered obsolete...and forced to get jobs like the rest of us. Therefore, I would still kindly ask you to contact your congressman, contact your state legislator and see if we as Americans can't make this happen in our lifetimes. Take the 3 minutes to send this article to your representative, or just explain the concept of education being a right, and therefore discriminating against how one acquired said education is a violation of that right, and we can get those few politicians who actually care about Americans to make this idea a reality.
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