Category Archives: public schools

The Wuhan virus has accelerated existing trends

The Wuhan virus has sped up existing processes, such as hastening inevitable deaths, changing the business world, and exposing the left.

You’ve probably read that 94% of Wuhan virus deaths happened to people who already had compromised health, whether from extreme age or diseases that were already putting stress on their bodies. Statistically, the members of that 94% cohort were more likely to precede the rest of us in death, even without the virus. What the virus did was to grossly, and tragically accelerate the process.

Learning the above data made me realize that the Wuhan virus has been an accelerant in many areas of American life. That is, it’s presence in America resulted in existing trends suddenly exploding into warp speed. Or for those of us who still remember long-playing records, the Wuhan virus took trends that were proceeding at 33 1/3 RPMs and ramped them up to 78 RPMs.

First, as noted above, the virus struck people who were fragile because of advanced age or ongoing health conditions, but weren’t facing imminent death, and killed them.

Second, the virus speeded up the move to telecommuting. I’ve been telecommuting since the early 1990s. The technology then was already good enough for me to do my legal research online and email my word product to my clients (all of which were law firms).

Over the years, it’s gotten even better. Back then, I had to get my court filings to the clients at least 24 hours in advance so that my clients could create the multiple hard copies needed for filing with the court and sending to opposing counsel. Now, the briefs never even become hard copies, while all the evidentiary documents are instantly scanned. Many courts don’t want paper filings. The valiant bike messengers who used to keep San Francisco legal practices afloat by whizzing through traffic to get last-minute filings to the courthouses became unnecessary.

I’ve just given you one anecdote about one field. However, the Wuhan virus suddenly turned the white-collar world into a telecommuting world. Take this story about Pinterest, one of the many entirely online businesses that realized that office space is an unnecessary expense:

Pinterest, a social-sharing site popular for pinning recipes, home inspiration and more, has canceled its large San Francisco office lease.

The lease was for 88 Bluxome, a high-rise complex to-be-constructed near Pinterest’s existing San Francisco headquarters. The company cited a shift to work-from-home due to the coronavirus pandemic in its decision. Pinterest will keep its current city offices, however.

“As we analyze how our workplace will change in a post-COVID world, we are specifically rethinking where future employees could be based,” Pinterest  Chief Financial Officer Todd Morgenfeld said in a statement Friday. “A more distributed workforce will give us the opportunity to hire people from a wider range of backgrounds and experiences.”

The termination fee for the 490,000-square-foot office space is $89.5 million, Bloomberg reports

In New York, it’s currently a big question whether the highrises that have stood vacant for months will ever fill again. This article notes that New York office towers emptied before — after the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic and after 9/11 — only to fill up again. Back then, though, telecommuting was not an option. (Even in 9/11, the technology wasn’t the same as it is today.) Also, back then, big-city mayors (at least, Democrat big-city mayors) hadn’t welcomed crime and intentionally driven out the middle and the monied classes.

Third, the virus speeded up the left’s antics. Antifa is nothing new. When Trump was elected, Antifa mobs started flexing their muscles in Berkeley and Oakland. Those were warm-ups. The dislocations of the Wuhan virus was like the starting gun for the Antifa mob. They were warmed up and waiting on the starting blocks for the signal. I’m willing to bet that what’s helped their virulence is the fact that a lot of people who previously had jobs are now getting money for free. This is especially true for teachers and criminals, both of whom have seen a diminution in their work thanks to the Wuhan virus:

Fourth, alternatives to disastrous public schooling have gotten a giant kickstart. Parents have been unhappy with public schooling for a long time, but it was always easier to keep the kids in the schools while hoping for the best. With schools refusing to teach, parents are opting for pods, tutors, and homeschooling. Many are discovering that their students are doing very well when they’re removed from the pathologies of public school. The ones who were beginning to run with a bad crowd aren’t, because there are no more crowds, let alone bad ones. Parents who were dismayed by leftist indoctrination are enjoying its absence.

Fifth, Americans got a really swift look at the Democrats’ dark heart thanks to its Zoom convention. If it hadn’t been for the virus, the convention as televised would have looked like an energetic, ebullient affair. We would have had endless crowd shots of visually diverse people happily screaming their support for Kamala and Biden. There would have been speeches complete with applause and balloons and all sorts of happy stuff.

For their convention, though, the Democrats opted for grim settings, dark colors, and small spaces. Not only was the convention visually terribly depressing, but the depressing speeches without applause lines became even grimmer. And then there was the fact that, without a visually diverse audience that the TV cameras could pan (Look at all the black people! Look at all the Hispanic people! Look at all the people with rainbow flags!), it became very obvious that the people leading the Democrat party are mostly old and white.

As the Republican convention showed, it didn’t have to be that way. Republicans opted for visuals that were expansive, bright, and uplifting. In addition, they chose diverse speakers, rather than the Democrats’ tried-and-true reliance on diverse spectators. Americans were treated to people white people, black people, Native American people, Hispanic people, handicapped people, and more, no longer on the floor cheering, but on stage speaking. And they didn’t speak about misery and hate. They spoke about an American unity premised on values and hard work.

I don’t think those fundamental differences in vision would have been so obvious with traditional conventions. That was something else useful that the Wuhan virus accelerant exposed.

Sixth, the Wuhan virus is speeding up the inevitable, and much to be desired, demise of American colleges and universities. These institutions have been ground zero of the leftist takeover of America. If you’re wondering why corporations not only paid obeisance to Black Lives Matter, but also paid millions in hard cash, it’s because their managerial ranks are filled with graduates of those colleges. All of the worst ideas in society today were incubated in American colleges. Readers know that I’ve been complaining for years about how much they cost, how little they teach, and how completely they indoctrinate.

Thanks to the virus, though, the colleges are afraid to re-open. They’re holding online classes, but refusing to give tuition refunds for all the social, hands-on, in-person experiences the kids aren’t getting. The refunds should also cover all the infrastructure costs the colleges and universities aren’t incurring.

Parents who see what their kids are learning are going to realize that they’re paying for nothing or for worse than nothing. Instead of encouraging kids to go to college, parents will start urging kids to get a job or learn a trade. They’ll realize that the knowledge colleges once had something of a monopoly on is freely available online.

The parents of boys will be grateful that their sons are no longer constantly at risk of being accused without due process of sexual assault. And all those parents who mindlessly believed that fake statistic that 1 out of every 4 college women will be sexually assaulted will no doubt be happy to have their daughters safely at home.

That’s six things that got sped up thanks to the Wuhan virus, and they’re all fundamentally important. Do you have more ideas?

Image: Speed (cropped), by Ton Boelaars. CC-BY-2.0.

I’m finding mystifying the left’s war on re-opening schools

Teachers’ unions do not want to re-open schools. I can think of some benefits for them from this stance, but mostly I think closed schools will hurt them.

I can think of three short-term reasons for leftists, in the form of teachers’ unions, to wage war on public schools:

1. President Trump wants to open the schools, so leftists reflexively oppose opening them.

2. Leftists think they can leverage school re-openings for political extortion. The Los Angeles teachers’ union is demanding, among many other things, that the city de-fund charter schools (their competition), raise taxes on the wealthy, and shrink class sizes by 50%. Meanwhile, in North Carolina, a teachers’ union is insisting that they won’t return to the classroom unless the state implemented universal healthcare for citizens and illegal aliens alike.

3. Having children at home puts enormous pressure on families. Single mothers can’t work at all. Two-parent families may be seeing their income shrink by 50%. This creates two possible responses:

The people who are mad with fear about the virus are also the people who think that Biden can actually make it all better. They’re true believers and they’ll accept without a trace of cynicism that the day after Biden’s election the madness will stop, not because this was all a political game but because the evil Trump will have been defeated.

Then there are the people who know this is all a con, intended to pressure people into voting for Biden. The way the con works is that, once Biden wins, the whole virus madness will end as swiftly as it did during the Black Lives Matter protests. These people want to vote for Trump, but they believe a vote for Biden is the only way to end this Democrat extortion.

The above three reasons, though, seem to me to be outweighed by a whole bunch of other factors:

1. There’s nothing conservatives want more than to see the end of public schools. Students stuck in bad districts don’t get educated at all and students in all districts are subject to non-stop leftist indoctrination. Additionally, the teachers’ unions are consistently the largest Democrat donors in most elections. Conservatives are sick of seeing their tax dollars go to Democrat politicians. If the teachers won’t teach, the schools might end and that would be a good thing. Let parents keep their money, with the law requiring only that they must educate their children to a certain standard. As my conservative mentor long ago said, some parents in the short term will make bad decisions, but the majority of parents want their children to thrive and they’ll make smart decisions. In any event, he said, nothing can be worse than a bad public school. (Those observations, incidentally, were what re-jiggered my thinking and started me on my long journey across the political Rubicon, from squishy Dem to conservative.)

2. Keeping kids out of school is really bad for them. We know that, unless they’re terribly immune-compromised or weak in other ways, the virus is a mere nothing to them. Keeping them out of school won’t save their lives.

However, long-distance education is nothing fish nor fowl. It’s not homeschooling, which has a separate dynamic that’s very focused on the individual. Instead, it’s drone schooling, with millions of students across America staring at a screen while a teacher lectures them, usually badly. The teacher has no reasonable idea what they’re doing.

Long-distance schooling also means that children from impoverished, violent, or neglectful backgrounds get even more of the short-end of the stick than they usually do. Some may not have access to computers, so they’ll get no education. Those children who are abused or ignored will be trapped 24/7 in those terrible environments.

Another problem is that children need to socialize. Not only are they being kept from school, but they’re also not even supposed to see other children under this paranoid regime. Children are like puppies. If they don’t properly socialize at a young age have social problems for the rest of their lives. Parents are already worried about children’s screen time. Imagine how bad it will be when they have no contact with their peers.

Lastly, children need to develop their immune systems. By protecting them from the one virus, we’re preventing them from exposure to all the other things that their body needs if it’s to educate the immune system to protect them throughout their lives. Children kept in bubbles when they’re young are very vulnerable to dangerous infections and diseases as they grow older.

3. While the teacher’s unions see a short-term benefit to keeping the school’s closed, do they really imagine that taxpayers will continue meekly to pay high taxes when their kids are sitting at home staring at someone lecturing on a computer monitor? Although governments across America have done a superb job of impoverishing ordinary citizens, they’ve done an even better job of ensuring that not a single government employee has been laid off or missed a paycheck. Expect that to change if students don’t go back to school.

4. In a funny way, keeping schools closed may work to undermine the public school system entirely because the closures might teach parents that it is possible to have an old-fashioned life, one in which one parent earns money and the other parent raises (including teaches) the children. Nowadays, with educational videos that are usually much better than a boring, marginally informed public school teacher, homeschooling is easier and better than ever before. Again, this will shrink tax rolls, which will harm the same teachers who refuse to go back to class.

5. The parents who are supporting keeping classrooms shut are being incredibly cowardly. We know that kids are minimally affected by the virus. In other words, parents must be concerned for their own welfare.

But we also know that younger adults are not too badly affected. People in their 20s through 40s — that is, the people who have school-aged children — usually get the virus, if they get it at all, at a very low level of sickness. Again, bad things can happen, but that’s the case with anything, whether it’s the flu, H1N1, pneumonia, or getting an infection that turns septic.

I can understand that teachers may be concerned because they’re exposed to so many kids at once, but surely there’s some way to protect them? Other than that, the people most at risk are grandparents, and they’re already sheltering from the grandkids now.

For those parents who aren’t into homeschooling, or who actually support public schools, how cowardly are those people who don’t want their kids to get the benefit of being in the same room as the teachers, socializing with peers, and developing their immune systems?

I can’t stop thinking about that woman in Arizona who threw her toddler out the window to save it. She was already on fire and might have saved herself by jumping after the baby. She didn’t, though. Instead, she stayed in the apartment, burning to death, to make sure that her 8-year-old daughter survived (which the girl did). Would that mother be so afraid of a virus that she would willingly destroy her children’s education and socialization? (And again, that’s assuming there are such benefits from modern public school education.)

Those are my thoughts, FWIW. On balance, I think the teachers are making a mistake to hold their classrooms hostage to their political demands. Time will tell, of course.

One more thing: Whatever else is going on, kids and masks are not a good idea. I’m not a fan of mandatory masks and I’m certainly not a fan of mandatory masks for kids:

Stephen Colbert echoes my claim that socialized medicine is like public school

As I did, Stephen Colbert analogizes socialized medicine to public school, but he misses that this analogy reveals how bad socialized medicine will be.

A little background: On Friday, Scott Adams did a podcast in which he inquired whether there had been any critiques of the hybrid healthcare plan some Dem candidates are putting forward, which would see Medicare for All with an opt-out provision. (And I don’t know about you, but I think it’s profoundly un-American when the government graciously gives you permission to buy a product that has always been sold freely on the open market. It’s just as bad as Obamacare’s mandate that one has to buy a product, whether or not one wants it.)

I decided Adams was correct and took it upon myself to address this hybrid idea. You can read my post here, but I’ll summarize briefly. I started by challenging socialized medicine by making the following points:

  • Healthcare is not a right.
  • Socialized medicine is a bad idea because we can’t afford it — and Europe afforded it as long as it did only because we paid for it.
  • Socialized medicine will inevitably bring about rationing, serious, “euthanasia is a good thing” rationing.

I then turned my attention to Adams’ specific question about the hybrid proposal of Medicare for All, which carves out an exception for those who wish to and are able to pay twice, once out of their taxes for a service they don’t use and once out of their pocket for private insurance. I explained that this will not work economically because, over the long run, those who are privately insured will be forced to underwrite drug and medical supply costs. That’s so because the companies that manufacture these medical necessities will be bullied into giving the government below-cost prices and will have to look elsewhere for profit. As private insurance costs rise, increasing numbers of privately insured people will be forced into the socialized system, the insurance companies will go under for lack of customers, and we’ll have only socialized medicine.

However, I said, before the insurance companies collapse, there’ll be a long, slow slide that will look remarkably like public schools. Quoting myself:

It takes time, of course, for the collapse I described to happen. What will happen first will play out like a medical version of public versus private schools — because when you think about it, what the so-called moderate candidates are calling for is the equivalent of public school, with a right (if you have the money) to opt out for private school.

America’s public schools are not healthy. They are modeled on Henry Ford’s assembly line because Progressives in days of yore admired that efficiency. Except the assembly line is broken and our schools do not turn out new, shiny, educated students. Instead, they turn out kids who are remarkably ill-informed and incapable. Moreover, while public schools were meant to be places free from political indoctrination, the militant, unionized, college-educated teachers in way too many schools look on those sweet young faces before them and think, “They’re so easy to indoctrinate when they’re young and malleable.”

In theory, people can opt out of public school. In fact, that’s not so easy. We’ve all paid for public schools through our taxes (property taxes for local schools, state taxes for school boards, and federal taxes to the Department of Education). If you’re not rich, having spent once for your child’s education, you’re not about to spend twice — so you end up sending your children to public schools, no matter that they’re gang ridden, that the teachers are incompetent, or that the facilities are broken down. As a product of San Francisco public schools, I know whereof I speak.

Even my kids’ affluent Marin County schools left a lot to be desired. I would have preferred sending them to Montessori, but having already paid many thousands in property taxes . . . well, my kids got factory educated. I’ve written reams about the fundamental problems with traditional public school education, so I won’t repeat it here. I’ll simply say that uneducated teachers (and that’s what so many are, even at the best public schools) and lousy teaching methods produce uneducated students.

What happens is inevitable: those with enough money put their kids in private school. In essence, they can afford to pay twice for their kids’ education — once through taxes, once through tuition. Pulling these kids out makes public education worse because the kids being pulled out are the ones whose parents are most committed to education, which means these are the students most likely to work hard and contribute to a classroom. It’s a brain drain. The inequality continues into college, as the private school children do better on tests on and essays, making them more attractive to colleges.

I wrote the above on September 16. On September 17, this colloquy occurred between Stephen Colbert and Elizabeth Warren (emphasis mine):

Colbert: You keep being asked in the debates: “How are you going to pay for it? Are you going to raise the middle-class taxes?” How are you going to pay for it? Are you going to raise the middle-class taxes?

Warren: So, here’s how we’re going to do this: Costs are going to go up for the wealthiest Americans, for big corporations.

Colbert: Taxes is what you mean by costs?

Warren: Yeah, and hard-working middle-class families are going to see their costs go down.

Colbert: But will their taxes go up?

Warren: But, here’s the thing—

Colbert: But, here’s the thing. I’ve listened to these answers a few times before and I just want to make a parallel suggestion for you about how you might defend the taxes that perhaps you’re not mentioning in your sentence… Isn’t Medicare-for-all like public school? There might be taxes for it, but you certainly save a lot of money on sending your kids to school and do you want to live in a world where kids aren’t educated? Do you want to live in a world where your fellow citizens are dying, even if it costs a little bit of money?

Warren: So, I accept your point and I believe in your point. Health care is a basic human right. We fight for basic human rights, and that’s Medicare-for-all. Everyone gets covered.

Of course, Colbert is totally wrong with his public school analogy, while I am not wrong about mine. For one thing, what Warren is demanding isn’t the two-tiered private system that allows people to opt out, even if it means paying twice, something that works with my public school analogy. If Warren were proposing schools instead of healthcare, she’s demanding a world in which public school is mandatory. I don’t think Colbert would like that because I suspect, although I could not find proof, that his children probably attend[ed] private schools. It’s the rare famous person who’s willing to risk his precious children’s educations in the public school district, even if the district offers good schools.

Colbert’s claim about socialized medicine being a public benefit like paying for public school is also wrong. To understand this, it helps to view public benefits as a a hierarchy. At the top of the hierarchy are things such as the military. First, the military is in the Constitution, which makes it a federal obligation on all citizens. Second, a country’s defense cannot reasonably depend on a multitude of private contractors, making the public option the only option. Third, a nation needs national defense. It is a necessity for a country and therefore reasonable for everyone to pay into it.

Next on the hierarchy might be public schools, but they’re not like the military. First, as I forgot to mention in my prior post, they’re not a federal responsibility because they’re not mentioned in the constitution. Despite the federal Department of Education, public schooling in America has always been a local matter, for which states and smaller government entities are responsible.

Second, American school systems have always functioned alongside private school systems. Moreover, parents never needed permission from the government to opt-out of public school, an obscenity that the hybrid Medicare for All proponents seem to be suggesting. Warren and Bernie are even worse: if they were messing about with education, they’d demand the instant closure of all public schools.

Third, private schools are not forced to subsidize public schools when it comes to supplies. As I noted about drugs and other medical supplies, private insurance companies and their insureds will be forced to subsidize the third parties who must take a loss in order to work with the government.

Fourth, when America was a nation of legal immigrants who all agreed ought to be melted into the cultural pot, public school homogenized immigrant children by ensuring that young people absorbed the same pro-American values. Nowadays, public schools teach kids to hate our history, hate our institutions, hate our country, and hate each other. I don’t see a public benefit to that.

Fifth, too many American public schools stink, especially in poor and minority communities, and that’s true no matter how much funding they get. Is that really an analogy you want to make if you’re advocating for Medicare for All?

At the bottom of the hierarchy of public goods you’ll find socialized medicine. I’m not going to repeat all my arguments about socialized medicine. You can read my other post for them. I just want to talk about the “public benefit” issue.

The military provides a clear public benefit. Public schools, provided they are able to fulfill their mission, arguably provide a public benefit by ensuring minimal literacy in a post-industrial nation. But what public benefit does socialized medicine provide?

I’ll let Dan Bongino explain (and the “he” to whom Bongino refers is Bernie who, like Warren, wants full socialized medicine):

I guess my point is that, while I found amusing and blogworthy the fact that Colbert echoed my public school analogy, he did it in a way with which I totally disagree. Public education in America — locally managed and funded, and arguably created at least a marginally educated populace — is not the same as paying for the illness your neighbor suffers from long years of abusing his body with unhealthy food and dangerous behaviors. It’s just not. That’s true whether you make the analogy in the context of fully socialized medicine, as Warren and Bernie want, or some weird hybrid, as the other candidates purport to want (knowing that it will inevitably destroy private insurance).

One more random point I’ve been meaning to make about Warren: I know she’s rising in the polls, but will black and hispanic voters really warm up to a scolding, old white woman who made her millions by lying about her ethnicity in order to steal an academic position from another minority candidate? I mean, we always speak in terms of her offending Native Americans, but the reality is that, if Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania were trolling for minorities to increase diversity, they might also have chosen a black or Hispanic woman if Warren hadn’t lied.

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