Monday, January 03, 2022

How to Give Everyone a Free Education in America



If you remember Die Hard, there was a scene where the FBI decided that to flush out the terrorists, it would be best to cut off the power to the Nakatomi Plaza.  This resulted in an argument between the FBI agents and the city's electrical grid manager who insisted the individual building could not be turned off, but that instead an entire city grid would have to be taken down.  But while the city manager and the FBI agents argued, there was a lowly electricity worker, sitting in the manhole, who was trying to tell all of them he could turn off the building right then and there.  Naturally, they ignored the man, the FBI pulled rank, an entire city grid was taken down, and Hans Gruber could finally open his vault.

And it is here I find myself in a similar situation as the lowly electrical worker sitting in the manhole.

I know how to make education free (or nearly free) for all Americans.

I know how to end the education crisis tomorrow.

And it doesn't require anything grandiose like revamping the entire education system, bailing out liberal arts majors, or forcing the taxpayer to spend an additional $500 billion each year on paying for every one's education.

It's as simple as a switch and it will benefit every American today and into the future to the tune of trillions if we just do what I say.  

Unfortunately, like the lowly electrical worker, the powers that be are either too stupid or too politically and financially invested in the current education system to actually listen to what I'm going to say.  Furthermore, most Americans themselves are too stupid and short-sighted to do the same.  And so like many of my previous economic recommendations, this will merely be for posterity so I can make fun of even more impoverished and debt-laden Americans in the future.  Because you are truly a stupid people and I've found it very enjoyable to watch you suffer when you don't have to, especially today's "college graduates."

Technology is Hard

The current educational system we have is based in technology that has existed since we could make buildings.  And the reason I say that is because it's true.  Once there was a building to house people, you could house students in a localized area, protected and uninterrupted from the elements, and an individual teacher (be that Plato or the the school marm from Little House on the Prairie) could instruct or teach their students, conveying information.  Overtime this basic model has been supplemented with technologies such as electricity, lights, LCD projectors, and red-light pointers, but the model remained the same - get a large group of people within listening distance of a teacher and that individual teacher could pass on information to 10, 50, 100, even a thousands students at a time.

But 25 years ago there was a large and obvious technological innovation - the internet.  And the day you could stream video or at least audio over it, it gave teachers the ability to reach the entire globe of students.  And while I myself was a student at the time, I was very curious how soon it would be before we'd implement this technology to do away with the:

  • trillions of dollars in physical buildings on college campuses
  • the unnecessary parking that was required to attend class
  • the overpriced college text books that could all be replaced for (near) free PDF's
  • as well as nearly all the teachers and professors in the country as the top 2% of instructors in their respective fields could now teach all the students in the world with their superior teaching abilities

And so I waited....and waited...and waited, and much like American employers refusing to let their employees work from home, I realized our education system was not going to let students the luxury of learning from home either.

And so now for the past 25 years I've watched over 100 million American students unnecessarily waste 4-8 years of their lives, pointlessly wasting trillions of dollars and billions of hours on dubiously-valued degrees, attending an old, obsolete, and incredibly inefficient education system.  That, and now we all get to hear their howls and complaints that they were duped and now need us to pay for their overpriced pieces of toilet paper.

But for all their screams and howls, for all the whining about tuition prices, none of that will change.  Professors and college admin need the outdated and obsolete education system to remain because they are luddites.  They need the rest of society to be held back so that they can keep their jobs.  The democrat party also needs the traditional education system because that is how they get future voters, socialists, and otherwise financially ignorant NPCs.  The students, who you would think would want something like free education, do not in fact want the old and outdated education system to go away, because they do not view "education" as an investment in their future, but rather a birthright where they can party for 4 years and imagine themselves intellectuals (when in fact it is painfully obvious most of them don't even understanding compound mathematics).  And parents do not want the old education system to go away because ever since their children were 5, they have used America's education system as free babysitting.  And college is merely adult-child daycare so the kids inevitably leave home and give ma and pa the chance to fuck on the kitchen island again.

As I said before, Americans are truly a stupid people.  Very few Americans are interested in a genuine education.  An investment in themselves that will improve their career, finances, life and futures.  Most Americans want an escape from life's responsibilities or a means by which to profit at the expense of others.  And THAT is the true point and purpose of today's education system, and why no matter how obsoleted the internet has made it, it will remain until the US ends.

How Education Could Be Made Free

But let's say you're one of the 2% of American people who aren't a bunch of worthless, lazy parasites.  Let's say you had an intellectual or genuine interest in making education free for everyone and improving society.  How would a "free education" system work?  What would it look like?  How could we educate the most amount of people in the cheapest way possible?

The first thing would be to rebuild the entire system around what education originally set out to do - educate the most amount of people in the most affordable way possible.  And that would mean making the internet the primary vehicle by which we educate ourselves.

This is already done by nearly every college campus (though reluctantly).  Today's colleges and universities do offer some form of education online, but they still attach an absurd price to it, often times charging MORE for an online class than an in person one.  But the real efficiency loss is you have multiple, if not thousands of colleges offering the exact same fungible commodity on multiple platforms - education.

I don't care if it's a Harvard accounting class or a Biff Bifferson's School of Business' accounting class - accounting is accounting.  The education is the exact same.  And this goes for nearly all of the sciences, including the fake ones that go by the moniker "social sciences."  Like YouTube, you only need ONE platform to disseminate this information to the ENTIRE GLOBE OF STUDENTS.  And unless you were born into a wealthy family or like to suck cock for a living, "Harvard" and "Cornell" are just brand names, not education.  So the new-and-free education system would do away with all colleges and universities and there would only need to be one source of education to disseminate it to the global community of students.  So forget "Harvard School of Business" or "The Carlson School of Management" (which is forgettable because nobody knows who they are anyway), there would just be a "Degree in Accounting" and you would get it on "the internet."

This might lead people to think that this new education system would be a monopoly.  That there would be one, elite school, with only the world's best and most elite teachers generating a SINGLE AND AUTHORITATIVE class in each of their respective fields, and for ALL students in the world to consume.  And the slightly savvier among us would see the obvious risks of putting education into such an elite group of people, having fear and concerns that a censorious and politicized education system, akin to YouTube, would emerge.  But even that is too much overhead as we are using an outdated sense of education.  We think education must be "conferred" upon the student by some kind of educational authority.  That in order to become "educated" you need a school and teachers.  When in reality, becoming educated is just gathering knowledge.  And since all the world's knowledge is available for free on the internet, a Globo-Educorp type of evil monopoly is completely unnecessary.  And this introduces the two remaining ingredients we would need for a free education system - autodidactism and credential boards. 

Autodidactics are the Future

If you don't know what an "autodidactic" is, you can become one by looking it up on the internet.  Because what you'll find out is that an autodidactic is one who teaches himself.  And while many people will say, "well I do better in a classroom environment" that is:

1- too bad

2- complete bogus

because just like everybody dies alone, nearly everyone teaches themselves.

While no doubt some people will do better in a traditional (and incredibly expensive and inefficient) classroom environment, in the end EVERYBODY has to teach themselves.  Yes, there might be a teacher there.  Yes, there might be your parents there.  But let us be perfectly honest.  Most teachers suck, most parents suck, and in the end it is up to the student to do well.  Shoot, even the concept of homework is an admission that after having their students for 8 FULL HOURS 9 MONTHS A YEAR, teachers still can't fully and adequately teach your kids.  And besides which, even if you teach yourself through books or the internet, there still is ultimately a teacher who created that content you are using to educate yourself.

Furthermore, lets say you did indeed do better with a physical teacher in the room uttering the EXACT SAME WORDS as they would on an instructional YouTube video.  

Would you not be able to learn more if you didn't have to commute to a campus?
Would not EVERY K-12 student in America be able to learn more from spending 2 hours on the internet than 2 hours stuck on a bus ride...everyday...for 13 years...roundtrip?

And it is here I don't really care to try to convince the stupid people, but the smart ones.  Because the stupid people are using education for anything but.  But the smart ones actually do care about education.  And if you think about it, wasting time forcing kids to attend physical prisons - be that k-12 or overpriced college campuses - is a HUGE economic waste of time that could be much better invested through autodidactism.  Furthermore, with cell phones and MP3 players, education can be taken with and consumed anywhere.  I personally have an equivalent to an associates degree in European history just tuning into podcasts.  And while taking in this history, I was doing all sorts of things like hiking, working out, working on my home, and otherwise not being idle.  An EASY multi-trillion dollar opportunity cost to today's conventional education system is that you must sit still and do nothing else but listen to Ben Stein drone on about economics.  While obesity alone could be wiped out if everyone listened to their pre-req classes' lectures while hiking or walking.

This leads to the final ingredient for a free education system - credential boards.

Because with everybody teaching themselves and getting their education from the internet, in order to become employable the quality of their autodidactic education must somehow be confirmed.  And we already several models to pull from to see how they work.

The computer/IT industry is full of various certification and credentials IT/computer professionals need to have in order to work places.  The CPA society also sets up tests you need to take before you can become a CPA.  There are various nursing credentials and tests you need to take before becoming a nurse.  California doesn't require you attend law school, just that you pass the bar exam.  Even something as simple as getting your CDL (commercial driver's license) is an example of where the student does not need an overbloated education system.  

But what if we did that for ALL careers and professions?  That instead of unnecessarily forcing millions of young people every year to waste 4 years of their youth and $120,000 in student loans to make "Karen in HR" happy you have a bachelors degree, the government set up certification boards that would give you the equivalent of bachelors degree if you passed?  That instead of funding the education industry to the tune of $1 trillion per year, the government instead just spent $10 billion a year establishing, running, and administering testing facilities that would certify you educated in whatever field you wanted?  Better yet, what if the government forced employers and industries to set up their own testing and accreditation protocols, and/or mandated that credentialed people were to be treated just as equally as the morons who wasted 4 years in college on a "real degree?"

I know the next step would be to have employers provide on-the-job training (and what a "horror" that would be), but the larger point is this nightmare of higher education would be gone.  Students would no longer have to waste 4 years in college to get an entry level position.  Young people would not be financially crippled forever at 22.  Employers would be humbled to hire able people, not overly-educated ones.  And nobody would be wasting 2 years of their finite and precious youth on those infernal "pre-req" classes.

I know America's privileged little cunts wouldn't get their precious "college experience," but who cares about them?  They're the morons who can't understand how the compound interest works on their student loans.

The Clarey School System of Free Education

And so in its final form, this auto-didactic and near-free education system would go something like this.  

No matter how old or young you are, you are allowed to study anything you want for free on the internet.  And if you wanted, you could test at either an industry or government facility to earn your degree or credential in "Accounting" "History" "Education" or "Biology."  By government law, employers would be forced to treat your credential as a college equivalent.  And bar the fees it takes to pay for the test, you don't pay a dime in tuition.

You can study on your own time.  You can study while you work the night shift at a warehouse.  You can study while you're on a cruise traveling.  And you can study at 12 if you're smart enough, thereby bypassing the hell that is known as k-12 education, becoming an engineer at 16.

No more "Bachelors Required, Masters preferred."
No more student loan debt.
No more crippled financial futures.
And no more taxes for a K-college education system.

Public colleges and universities would be closed, the buildings of which could be repurposed to help alleviate the housing shortage/costs.  Professors and college administrators would have to get real jobs, perhaps maybe serve us our coffee for a change.  Stupid kids, with rich parents could attend private schools and waste their time on "the college experience."  And those of you with a penchant for teaching could make millions being the best "calculus" teacher or "home auto-repair" teacher on the internet (much like it is done today, and ALSO without a "PhD" or "teacher's license).

And never, ever, ever again
will a single American
have to take one of those worthless pre-req liberal arts classes.

But of course none of this will come to fruition.  Because American, as I've said before, are an incredibly stupid people.  Just let it never be said we didn't have a simple, simple solution to turn off the electricity to the Nakatomi Plaza.


Consider purchasing "Worthless: The Young Person's Indispensable Guide to Choosing the Right Major."  It costs $12.95.  You degree will cost $120,000.  Don't be stupid.

Also consider purchasing 

"Bachelor Pad Economics"


Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Cappy! hope you had a nice Christmas break. Appreciate this column very much.
My sinful secret is I earn a living as a high school teacher - although in Maths and in a far-off country, which is at least something.
You'd think the pandemic would make more people realise the truth of what you've written here. When we had to teach from home (we've been back fully in person for the last 6 months), we split the year groups so one teacher took responsibility for lecturing/teaching new topics, while the rest who taught that year group logged on and checked kids' homework and helped with any questions. Most-productive-learning-evuh! Biased by fact we're an academically selective school, so the kids basically want/are pushed to actually learn. But the online way definitely can work fine.
Logically, we could have had the best maths teacher in the country (hi Eddie Woo!) doing the lessons and all the rest helping out/marking exercises etc. Even better, if we had aligned curricula between countries we could have the top few teachers in the whole world "in front" of the kids.
Your idea of all students being autodidacts, plus credentialling, is a logical further step.
And one extra point - if people are autodidacts, they will not waste ONE single second on crap that is useless or pointless. (buh-bye to 80% of high school or college English classes, which seem designed to indoctrinate politics rather than teach how to write or spread a love of reading...)

Anonymous said...

Oxford and Cambridge Universities started this way. When books with new types of ideas became available, groups of students split the cost to hire a tutor to help them understand what they were reading. Today, students still "read" a subject at Oxbridge. Back then, to split the cost of a tutor required being in the same room. On the Internet, it no longer does.

"there would just be a "Degree in Accounting" and you would get it on "the internet." - If you're an immortal Highlander, There Can Only Be One. On the Internet, let's use our freedom of choice. How about learning basic accounting from your choice of Khan Academy or MIT, both courses free right now, today, if you don't need to talk with the professor or get a transcript?

The signaling power of compliance for HR is a different issue than learning the subject at hand.

Speaking of bullshit hoops to jump through, your use of Blogger's There Can Only Be One Identity-Keeper And That's Google requires tor users to do some free Algorithmic Driving Training (aka Captchas) to post here. Five fucking sets of traffic lights and crosswalks to get to talk about the need for decentralization of information control!

RJ said...

As someone who claims to be an economist, I would think that you know that nothing is "free".

Mike Hamilton said...

I'm self educated in several diverse pursuits to a level of mastery. To pay the bills I do engineering consulting in a specialty field. I have no credentials and thus need to work under the "supervision" of an engineer. None of them yet have been able to produce what I can, even after years of my "mentoring" them.

Blackwing1 said...


I regret that one of your initial premises is simply incorrect. You said:

"The first thing would be to rebuild the entire system around what education originally set out to do - educate the most amount of people in the most affordable way possible."

That was NEVER the original intent of the governmental "education" system. Going back to the early 1900's try reading the works of the founder of the modern pedagogical and education system, John Dewey (yes, the inventor of the library filing system). His complete intent of having a centralized government take over, and make MANDATORY, the teaching of other people's children was to make them the perfect socialist/communist slaves. Pure and simple; no other purpose was involved.

Those systems, along with that brand-new Cabinet post and "Department of Education" from the fed-dot-gov, along with the "teacher's" unions, led to the centralization of the educrats and their now-extant system of brainwashing and indoctrination, all at the expense of the voiceless taxpayers, and without regard for the learning of the "students" (slaves-to-be).

It has worked perfectly, as long as you use the correct metric with which to measure it (certainly not standardized tests, which reveal the abject failure to actually teach things like reading, writing and arithmetic). Look at the attitudes of the average 18-year-old coming out of the government indoctrination system and you will find an overwhelming support for collectivism.

Take off and nuke the site (government eduction) from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.