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« Ruminations – 24jan13 | Main | Climate Change – Another Asymmetric Dialogue »

25 January 2013


Russ Steele

Arizona State University OnLine Applicants can earn a degree online and receive the same diploma as if they attended classes on campus. They take the same tests.

Michael Anderson

I agree George. This is all to the good.

But the meritocracy still trumps. Brooks wrote about this in the NYT yesterday, to great effect:

George Rebane

MichaelA 827pm – Intriguing article by the recently liberalized David Brooks. To a large extent it is stuff that has become almost tautological in conservative circles (and most certainly covered here on RR). But he has an interesting conclusion, actually two, that bear comment.

“The final problem is that, in an effort to reduce the economic concentration of power, the administration is concentrating political power in Washington. If the problem is that talent is fleeing blighted localities, it’s hard to see how you make that better if decision-making and resources are concentrated faraway in the nation’s capital. … This is not to make a partisan point. The Republicans do not have a better approach. It’s simply to say that the liberal agenda is not very good at addressing the inequality problem it seeks to solve. The meritocracy is overwhelming the liberal project (of income redistribution).”

To the extent that the Republicans have been promoting the devolution of power from the center to local jurisdiction as a perennial plank in their platforms – including smaller government and all that - Brooks misses the obvious mark. And to claim that meritocracy is somehow winning over the socialist redistribution agenda in Obama’s America does boggle the mind. Thoughts?

Jesus Betterman

Given the automation we've already got has created the mass unemployment we are already experiencing, it will soon be evident to young folks that even having an engineering degree, will merely get you directed to a different window in the unemployment and food stamp lines. They'll probably start going for, "How to Grow Your Own Food" courses out of necessity. When will it occur to the concentrators of wealth that they are going to run out of customers with money to buy anything, on a planet with increasingly poisonous air and water?

Jesus Betterman

Davos is turning into a yearly "Back to the Future" flume ride into ever deeper canyons, down ever slippery slopes of stupidity, bobsledding with the invisible Jamaican elephant pyramid scheme of production and distribution, that will someday lay in ruins, reminiscent of Zorba the Greek's, lumber harvesting fiasco.

"Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost........DUCK!"

George Rebane

JesusB (aka Doug Keachie) 600am - Doug, is there a specific purpose or rule for when you wear your Jesus sandals?

But seriously, what is the progressives' rationale for the clearly irrational behavior of the wealth concentrators who are clever enough to create and manage their wealth in the first place? (We dispense with the myth that they all have inherited their wealth from days of yore.) Don't they need a consumer base from which to milk more wealth?

RR's long held position is that technology driven productivity gains will require fewer workers in the wealth creation sector (even some economists are beginning to realize that today). But until world population settles to those newer levels - after it maxes out around2050 - we have a huge demographic hump to work through. And providing services for those aged and infirm is a natural role to sop up excess workers (one can argue that government also sops up uncompetitive workers, but such workers are simply a friction on the public weal).

And then there are another 1.5B workers around the world wanting to join the developed world and enjoy the benefits they only see on TV.

Is it only the government/corporate alliances that keep back the workers of the world, or are there some other factors at play here that explain the current generation and distribution of wealth? Finally, what do you and yours believe is the relationship between the ability to generate wealth and its ultimate distribution?

Jesus Betterman

"are there some other factors at play here that explain the current generation and distribution of wealth? " ~George~ 7:31 am

The same factor is at work for the wealthy that I mentioned above at 8:48 am. They stick with whatever is working for them, without expending too much effort. In short, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Ryan Mount

Invention, in the classical rhetorical sense is the solution. Mix that notion with modern Capitalism, and you get entrepreneurship. Make new shit faster and better than anyone else.

If future students want a job where they just follow orders and "do their job," they better get use to getting a direct deposit from the EDD. Economic survival in the future is going to depend on one's ability to re-make their job on almost a daily basis. I'm not talking, per se, about making the next iPhone, but I'm talking about one's approach to his/her day-to-day job. The new worker needs to learn to be nimble and flexible and innovative, not just a worker bee especially in highly competitive jobs. IMHO, it comes down to the kinds of questions the modern/future worker will ask: not, "what do I need to be doing?" but rather "how can I make what I'm doing better?"

I generally see a new crop of corporate middle and upper managers as well as executives who seem to understand this notion. Although there is plenty of deadweight around as well.

So in a sense, America that virtue used to seem to be apart of our collective DNA. I said, used to be. However, if we can re-harness that can-do, and do-it-better spirit again (yeah, spare me the criticism of my doe-eyed enthusiasm), along with the stateless education programs that are proliferating across the globe, we might just come out ahead.


"If future students want a job where they just follow orders and "do their job," they better get use to getting a direct deposit from the EDD."

Technology wave surfing has always been an art.

What you describe was never the case in tech over the past 30 years, Ryan, but it remains the case in the public sector.

Brad Croul

Don't forget about good old, on the job training...


Back to the actual post above, distance learning has a long history, but it used to be by mail. I suspect these folks started with mail but moved to online when the technology matured.

Perhaps a graduate of Columbia Southern will chime in and describe the educational experience.


" ... Harvey Mudd School of Engineering in Pomona, California, part of the Claremont Colleges, but he seems to be making up for it with much home study" -Keach

Just a bit of housekeeping, there is no "Harvey Mudd School of Engineering"; "Harvey Mudd College" is neither a "School of Engineering" nor does it have a "School of Engineering". Nor was I an engineering student there.

It also isn't in Pomona.

Russ Steele


Everyone knows there’s a reason the most expensive colleges in the country — generally private residential institutions — charge so much. The money they spend on hiring the best faculty members (full-timers of course) and on keeping student-faculty ratios low results in a higher-quality education. Right?

The crowd gathered here for a standing-room-only session at the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities certainly wanted to believe. From a show of hands at the start of the session, the vast majority of attendees were administrators at those institutions. And the researchers who presented new data on the economics of liberal arts education threw cold water all over that conventional wisdom.

Research presented here by researchers from Wabash College — and based on national data sets — finds that there may be a minimal relationship between what colleges spend on education and the quality of the education students receive. Further, the research suggests that colleges that spend a fraction of what others do, and operate with much higher student-faculty ratios and greater use of part-time faculty members, may be succeeding educationally as well as their better-financed (and more prestigious) counterparts.


Oh My!


Russ, Mudd was once touted by Thomas Sowell as a lower cost provider of higher education than the higher priced name schools and easier to get into (if you had the stellar records and test scores it took) but with the fame (now between CalTech and MIT in the alum percentage with Ph.D.'s) they've found they could charge much more; the full freight children of the rich haven't blinked, and the middle class kids happily take on more debt.

Douglas Keachie

Ican only conclude that Greg accepts neither interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. How about anyone else? Cat got your tongues? Surely Walt favors one or the other, or both?


I guess online masters programs also is included here. I think it's a very nice improvement in education sector.

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