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  1. (blame Brant and MSK for encouraging me to write more) For the past 13 years, I shopped for schools, K-12, worldwide. It rarely mattered where my wife and I lived and worked. It always mattered where the kid went to school, and we found a house or an apartment later, within walking distance or a short drive to the best school. First grade was in a leafy green neighborhood in Perth, Australia, after we explored north, east, south, and west. An old red brick schoolhouse, nice kid friends, a wise, warm-hearted teacher. We were walking in the park one day after school, and a black swan let my daughter approach and stroke his neck. Incredible. Swans never let anyone do that. She had imaginary horses that trotted to school with us in the morning. I still remember their names. We bought an enormous, round trampoline with safety nets that lived in the garage, next to her artist's easel, acrylics, brushes, and a tarp on the floor. Two goldfish in a bowl sat on her desk, and she had a tall, wide mirror to see herself dance with a favorite CD and a white tutu. Third grade was in a compact, historic small town west of Denver. Fourth and seventh grades were expensive, sky high apartment rents in upscale neighborhoods of Houston, near Rice University and then in Old Memorial, so she could have multicultural social experiences and academic challenges that were age appropriate. She jumped ahead a grade doing Advanced Placement, completing 7th and 8th grade in a single year. The previous year, she attended aviation ground school and got to pilot a Cessna 172, a hefty chunk of our household budget. Sometimes, the best schools were on the internet, and we paid big fees for 6th grade and university high school distance learning, textbooks, lab equipment, and proctored exams, because I couldn't find a sane, safe, academically challenging brick and mortar campus. Some of my school choices were mistakes. She got punched by a black girl in kindergarten (I pulled her out in a heartbeat), and she got shoved by a bully in 5th grade (a teacher's spoiled brat, raised holy hell with the teacher and the principal). It was a mistake to let her test into 4th grade when she should have been in 2nd at a private school in Copenhagen. Diplomatic offspring from Africa are insane and dangerous. I had to escort my daughter to and from the classroom door and finally withdrew her, hired a tutor who was totally wonderful, a lovely young Kiwi who took her to museums, libraries, parks, and ice rinks -- a happy, clever Mary Poppins who was studying international law. Worth every penny. Big smiles. I mention it to open the discussion of private choice. Whether it's education, employment, or government, smart people seek the good, price no object. I can't fault the migrants who walk through Mexico and then throw themselves at Border Patrol agents to illegally enter the U.S., dead certain that they will be rescued and fed, given free housing, medical care, and pocket money for legal representation by a benevolent government and anonymous taxpayers. I agree with Michael Savage, who argues that previous U.S. immigrants had to pass a medical exam, had to speak English, and there was no welfare state, no "safety net" for his immigrant grandfather who worked his fingers to the bone and died young, did whatever menial work he could find, in the hope that his children might survive and thrive in Queens, which they did. There is enormous peril in today's cradle to grave socialism. I shouldn't have to spell that out to an Objectivist. The evidence is everywhere -- Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Los Angeles. Savage's adopted hometown of San Francisco is filthy with human feces and flies on the streets and sidewalks. Cholera and communicable diseases stalk the 50,000 homeless in Los Angeles. Narcotics are big business from coast to coast. It's a difficult mission to find an elementary or middle school that doesn't dumb down kids with propaganda, or a high school that isn't packed with thugs, drug users, and opportunistic predators, exempt from control by incompetent, must-hire, unionized black "educators." We were investigators, visited schools and studied the data until we found one or two that we could trust. Our daughter made the final decision, this one instead of that one, if we found two schools that seemed okay. People do this all the time, in grocery aisles, car lots, internet sites, friendships, and banks. You couldn't bribe me to do business at Capital One ever again. Frost Bank was wonderful, and I never had a problem at Wells, Barclays, Westpac, or Perth Mint. I had to watch Chase like a hawk, because they liked to say one thing and do another. The business of making good consumer choices isn't a question of getting it right, but rather being ready to pull the plug. I fired Comcast and switched to AT&T. Same thing with a job. I've been hired and fired more than once -- and rehired by a boss because relationships take time to percolate. The decision to write was a major gamble, after making sure that my wife and daughter were provided for with bulletproof property, a lump sum for security, and a monthly dribble of Social Security that I earned over a lifetime of paying in. Was it a good bet, that I could succeed as a writer? Hell, no. I have to work as a handyman to keep myself in cigarettes, bread, and balogna. Decisions have consequences. We invested tens of thousands in ballet classes, gymnastics, music teachers, flying lessons, computer software and hardware, video equipment, horses, Latin, calculus, pets, and an infinity of Bakugans and Legos to grow a daughter. She became an artist who knows her way around the world, drives a pickup truck confidently. What happens next will be something she'll have to decide for herself as a young adult. The consequences for Mom and Dad are less influence, less significance in her life, sooner or later. I have taken the long way around the barn to say something else. Each of us is an individual, no two alike. Lifetimes, ambitions, challenges, and outcomes are never identical. In previous writing I said there could not be two Ayn Rands, two Humphrey Bogarts, two Winston Churchills. Retail democracy is a fluid competition and collaboration of folks who have very little in common -- observed by Voltaire at the London Stock Exchange. Anglicans, Nonconformists, Catholics, and Moslems, who despised each other's religions, put aside their personal emnity while they traded in the money market, honored each other's notes and pledges. There's no religious or racial test at a Safeway or Kroger. I have patronized businesses owned by Sikhs, blacks, Mexicans, Orthodox Jews, Arabs, Amish, and hillbillies. Hopefully, no one will be shocked if I say that I'm an anarchist, and that private life is mostly free. What we think, say, dream, connive, accept, decline, or keep secret is a personal choice uncluttered by policemen. I found myself saying to David D. Friedman that there was no cop standing over his shoulder while he wrote, and no cop watching me read it. I know that NSA seizes metadata and vast traunches of voice, text, and transactional data streams, scanning for keywords. I'll bet you $100 to a donut that they're up to their little beady eyeballs spying on the political class, especially the Trump clan, Russian diplomats, and Wikileaks. We are far too many and too ordinary to attract much attention by FBI, CIA, or the cop next door who has a wife and small children to greet with a smile, concealing from them the tedium and sorrow that he had to suffer on the shift he just ended. In my recent book, Tin Barn Philosopher, I noted that government people are anarchists, too. They mow their lawns, go to church, get sick and visit a doctor, binge on chili cheese nachos and watch TV, no different than we do. I can't remember the last time I went to church or watched a football game, but that's not an issue in America. In Britain, the License Authority skulks around listening at windows to make sure that you're not "illegally" watching TV if you haven't paid your TV license fee to support the BBC. Evangelical radio talker Eric Metaxas said that when he went to visit a cathedral in England and knelt to pray, the vicar burst into tears because no one had done that in years. So, we're different, you and me and Metaxas and everyone else. Why then are we procrusteanized by government? -- not by something as trivial as politically correct government broadcasting in England, but by an awesome leviathan with carrier battle groups and ICBMs and hundreds of thousands of pages in the Federal Register to regiment farms, factories, energy production, food and drug sales, health care, forestry -- shit, the list is endless. If memory serves, every seasonal creek is considered a "navigable water" by EPA and the Corps of Engineers. Consider what political democracy actually does. It's winner take all, a thin plurality, more often than not a mandate to expand government power, Federal, state, local, and judicial. A majority of Californians voted to approve Prop 8. The state sued to knock it down, affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, imposing gay marriage nationwide. It's a one-way street to uniform obedience, no more "federalism," in which individual states were conceived as laboratories of democracy with different rules for marriage, abortion, etc. Only one aspect of local policy remains as a market to attract or repel residents -- their tax rates. Whites are fleeing California, New York, and Illinois in increasingly greater numbers. Blacks and wetbacks aren't, because those Democrat strongholds have plush welfare amenities. In the long view of history, it doesn't matter where people relocate, to avoid urban crime or marginally higher state and local taxes. Honestly, I wanted to tear out my remaining hair at times, while searching for a relatively safe, sane school for my daughter. The charter schools had a lottery rigged to admit blacks and latinos, no different than colleges and universities that she'll need as a young adult -- a young white adult with straight A's and a high ACT score, penalized for racial and intellectual "privilege." I don't take it personally. There are millions being penalized in employment, higher ed, and civil liberty. It's worse in South Africa. White farmers are hunted and murdered. Whites were driven out of Rhodesia and Kenya, producing instant famine in formerly prosperous, well-fed biracial societies. Returning to our own predicament, the United States is sinking financially. Social Security and Medicare are insolvent. Entitlements and interest on the debt are nearing 3/4 of the Federal budget, and likewise 3/4 of state budgets, assuming that interest rates remain low. There is no reason to assume that they will. Rates are not arbitrarily set by the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee. Interest rates are determined by the financial markets. If stocks crash, bonds are bid, and in the current context it might be corporate bonds. The last time we had a crash, in 2008, I made money with Boeing puts, Oppenheimer funds, 8% Australian CDs, and bullion. U.S. commercial and residential property values collapsed, triggering a worldwide panic. I don't think Congressional and Federal Reserve bailouts will work again. The problem is fiscal, not financial leverage in "dark pools" of derivatives. Government will go bankrupt, especially if there's a military clash in the Persian Gulf, additional pressure on the Federal budget -- but bankruptcy is inevitable. We are being eaten alive by socialism, bureaucracy, and police state repression, not unlike the economic disaster of the FSU. So. There is an historic opportunity approaching, sooner or later. Very simple concept. Pay for what you want. If you want a good school for your children, pay for it. It you want war in the Middle East, pay for that. Free health care and housing for illegal immigrants? -- write a check to Catholic Charities or sanctuary San Francisco. When the government dies, each of us gets a vote in dollars (or gold or cryptocurrency) to fund whatever industry you prefer to sponsor. I plan to vote for electricity, gasoline, and a volunteer fire brigade. People will cling to government like a lifeboat, especially in D.C. and its pampered, wealthy suburban counties, comfortably populated by government workers, government retirees, and government contractors. Our global "allies" will wring their hands about Russia and Iran. Afghanistan will revert to dry, high rubble and poppy harvesters. American cities might have a decade or two, to drive out productive people and do nothing about rising crime. Flyover Country will do what needs to be done, as always, to feed and clothe their kids, operate and mend their agricultural equipment. I don't worry about rural America. Co-ops will continue to supply seed and feed, diesel and grease, electric generation and water works. Farmers and ranchers are hunters, heavily armed and competent to deal with varmints of all kinds. Houston and Silicon Valley are particularly resilient, well designed with standby power and cohesive, slightly overbuilt community resources led by a nimble, nongovernmental elect, unlike chaotic, effete Los Angeles. Oh, well. Burbank and West Hollywood will experience a richly deserved, overdue third act, and that will be the end of that. If the Aqueduct dries up, ruthless Mexicanos will claw back El Norte, fence or no fence. If you remember the Rodney King riots, LAPD and CHP can be relied upon to walk away and let it burn. "Promise Keepers," returning warriors, and tough vets are a force to be reckoned with, from sea to shining sea. Wacky ancaps (like me) have long predicted that ad hoc arrangements are perfectly capable of keeping the peace, except in hopeless inner city hellholes like Compton and Camden, South Chicago and Detroit. This is God's will, so to speak, and I don't doubt that religion will mean something again in America, as it did to our forefathers and pioneers who pushed west and fought hostile Crow, Sioux, Comanche, and roving gangs of bushwhackers. How does America regain its global footprint and belly fat? I don't think it will. You could pay for it, I suppose.
  2. Lindsay Lohan meets reality, what a metaphor for the US One of the problems when you live-stream stuff is that others record it. Look what happens when a famous true-believer social justice warrior goes out into reality to demand that the world obey her because of her feelings. She gets smacked, smacked hard, and it scares her. Mother of two punches Lindsay Lohan over 'child abduction' bid As I understand the story, Lohan was in Moscow and met a Syrian refugee family out on the streets (they appear to be homeless). She offered to take them to a hotel and house them so they could watch movies and other cool stuff. The parents did not want to accept her hospitality, especially for their kids, and walked away from her, taking the kids with them. Lohan followed recording live and did what any self-respecting social justice warrior does. She accused the people who didn't agree with her (the parents) of being evil. She said they were subjecting their kids to human trafficking and ruining the Arab culture. When she tried to grab the hand of one of the kids, the mother hauled off and whopped her a good one. This is kinda like what the elitist lefties have done to the American education system. Except they actually did get their nasty mitts on the kids. But the parents woke up and the elitist lefties are stunned that the parents are whopping them a good one, especially in politics right now. But not just politics. The cultural backlash is in overdrive, too. The elitist ring-leaders know what they are doing, so they expect this, but I hope their true-believing useful idiot progeny are as scared as Lindsay Lohan was. It's a great wake-up call to meet reality for the first time, get whopped hard, and survive it. It's the start of growing up into adulthood. Michael
  3. An interesting story from August 1 at the BBC: How Canada became an education superpower -- for those who followed today's Presidential unveiling of an immigration reform, the story has a few explanations of how Canada can place high on international education ranking -- while dealing with large amounts of immigrants. Without getting into the weeds, Canada's immigration policies are more like the reforms suggested for the USA -- a "points-based" system -- except for the family-class newcomers. At roughly ten percent of the American population, Canada inducts a greater relative proportion of immigrants than America does. This year we are likely to admit 300,000 or so ... not including 60,000 refugees. Anyway, some readers may find this intriguing -- how Canada has maintained high in-migration levels and still raised its education rankings to the top tier. I have added some bolding for skimmers ... What say you to the reforms in the pipe for the USA? With the exception of reducing 'family-class' criteria, it is possible a new immigration framework could pay off in terms of the rankings cited in the BBC story, given time. On the other hand, the equivalent of Canada's yearly target/quotas would be 3,500,000 newcomers every year. Yikes! ____________ From a Business Insider story last Xmas:
  4. This documentary by Stossel is bullshit. There ain't no way schools are that bad. But it's good entertainment. Obviously he is stretching the facts to make a point. video 40:46The point of all of Stossel's documentaries seems to be that government has a power similar to the power King Midas had. Everything King Midas touched turned into gold. Government has a power like that except with one difference. Everything government touches turns into shit.
  5. I was watching the gates notes and was motivated to blog about education as It is a lot of political and employment problems .