Arnold Kling  


Was the 2001 Tax Cut Regressiv... Fisker Update...

1. Kevin Carey writes,

Not everyone is willing or able to get a bachelor's degree. But everyone should at least have the chance to try. After all, well-off students from upper-middle-class suburbs are going to college one way or another. It's the middle- and lower-income students and working adults who are most at risk of being left behind. When politicians attack the very idea of promoting more higher education, good, decent men and women may be prevented from getting the skills and training they need.

Tyler Cowen has a different take, also pro-college. I would have written that we probably do not help by treating the issue as binary--college or not college. Instead, we should make an effort to understand the mechanism by which college raises economic outcomes. For example, if it turns out to be credentialism, then what is in the interest of the individual (getting the necessary credential) may not be in the interest of society (which may be in disrupting credentials cartels).

2. The Washington Post reports,

In five years, they have never made a mortgage payment, a fact that amazes even the most seasoned veterans of the foreclosure crisis...repeatedly filing for bankruptcy and by exploiting changes in Maryland's laws designed to help delinquent homeowners avoid foreclosure.

Think in terms of Type I and Type II errors. A Type I error is foreclosing against a good borrower. A Type II error is letting a bad borrower avoid foreclosure. I will readiliy grant that a Type I error is worse than a Type II error, so we should tolerate some of the latter in order to avoid the former. However, I contend that we have let this bias get completely out of hand, resulting in a huge pileup of Type II errors with catastrophic effects on the housing market.

3. A Washington Post editorial says,

The legislation would empower the state to seize local tax revenue and redirect it exclusively to inflate school budgets -- mainly meaning teacher salaries, pensions and benefits. It would do so even if it meant overriding voter-adopted property tax limits or raiding funds for police, fire departments, libraries, parks and transportation. Montgomery and some other counties, which already spend more than half their budgets on schools, would be largely stripped of their discretion to set spending priorities.

As if our county were not already a wholly-owned subsidiary of the teachers' union, the state has to come in and make it moreso. The Post is arguing against this legislation, which has not yet passed.

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (7 to date)
GlibFighter writes:

And then there's this:

Does Koch funding for the Mercatus Center reduce the likelihood of you discussing this?

John Thacker writes:


The department chair at GMU, home of the Mercatus Center, has addressed the issue quite well here.

Regarding the article posted, while it may be true that "It's the middle- and lower-income students and working adults who are most at risk of being left behind," it seems that the vast majority of aid fought for these days is about that aimed at middle-income students, not lower and working class. That does reflect politics, but I get tired of seeing slogans about the poor used to defend policies that send money mostly to the middle and upper middle class.

J Storrs Hall writes:

Gack. I have come to expect more depth out of Tyler than such a tweet-like blurb. Can somebody tell me why we should not have a market in which there are schools that specialize in the knowledge that a fire chief needs to know -- a very important chunk of human expertise, I would argue -- instead of his having to learn it as a fringe curriculum of a state institution that specializes in sustainable gender-enabled basket-weaving for welfare recipients? Why should higher education be one-size-fits-all, except for the benefit of the educators?

Becky Hargrove writes:

The only way for education to overcome these limitations is for it to become a journey instead of a destination: a journey in which validation and credentialing occur throughout and in which we actively utilize knowledge every step of the way. Until knowledge is actually embraced as true wealth, we will only continue to accept grafted knowledge as worthy, instead of the knowledge that comes from the seed.

GlibFighter writes:

@John Thacker: Thanks for the helpful reference. Still, it's interesting that: (1) DB's nicely written piece appeared with, in blogging-calendar-time, such delay; and (2) other members of the GMU gang, normally a pretty chatty and reflective group, apparently have been collectively silent to date.

Mark Little writes:

Regarding credentialism, have you read John Derbyshire in the current issue of The Claremont Review of Books (subscription required), reviewing Andrew Ferguson and "Professor X"?

A couple of snippets:

The wretched souls being tormented in that hell belong to the most oppressed, persecuted, and disadvantaged segment of our population: the un-bookish. Somehow we have arrived in the 21st century with a class of rulers so bereft of imagination they cannot conceive that anyone would wish to be less educated than themselves.

There are some signs of resistance in our society. The "signaling" trope is now quite widely known. Many are coming to understand that--outside the professional schools and elite science research institutes--college is a credentialing machine with the purpose of making graduates fit to enter some level of the meritocratic elite. Is is, in other words, a sort of super-expensive and fantastically prolonged bris.

Read the whole thing.

Yancey Ward writes:

#3 is just a foreshadow of what is coming. Eventually, even state legislatures will have their control stripped as courts take over control of tax revenue streams to service various interests' contracts and such.

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