A Philosopher's Blog

The Value of Public Universities

Posted in Business, Ethics, Philosophy, Politics, Universities & Colleges by Michael LaBossiere on July 6, 2015

One stock narrative in the media is that the cost of attending college has skyrocketed. This is true. There is also a stock narrative that this increase, at least for public universities, has been due to the cutting of public education funds. This certainly is part of the truth. Another important part is the cost of sustaining the every-growing and well paid administrative class that has ensconced (and perhaps enthroned) itself at colleges and universities. I will, however, focus primarily on the cutting of public funds.

The stock media narrative makes it clear why there was a cut to public education spending: the economy was brought down in flames by the too clever machinations of the world’s financial class. This narrative is, for the most part, true. Another narrative is that Republican state legislatures have cut deeply into the funding for public education. One professed reason for this is ideological: government spending must be cut, presumably to reduce the taxes paid by the job creators. A reason that is not openly professed is the monetization of education. Public universities are in competition with the for-profit colleges for (ironically) public funding, mostly in the form of federal financial aid and student loans. Degrading, downsizing and destroying public education allows the for-profit colleges to acquire more customers and more funding and these for-profits have been generous with their lobbying dollars (to Republicans and Democrats). Since I have written other essays on the general catastrophic failure that is the for-profit college, I will not pursue this matter here.

A third openly professed reason is also ideological: the idea that a college education is a private rather than a public good. This seems to be based on the view that the primary purpose of a college education is economic: for the student to be trained to fill a job.  It is also based on what can be regarded as a selfish value system—that value is measured solely in terms of how something serves a narrowly defined self-interest. In philosophy, this view is egoism and, when dignified with a moral theory, called ethical egoism (the idea that each person should act solely in her self-interest as opposed to acting, at least sometimes, from altruism).

Going along with this notion is the narrative that certain (mainly non-STEM) majors are useless. That is, they do not train a person to get a job. These two notions are usually combined into one stock narrative, which is often presented as something like “why should my tax dollars go to someone getting a degree in anthropology or, God forbid, philosophy?”

This professed ideology has had considerable impact on higher education. My adopted state of Florida has seen the usual story unfold: budget cuts to higher education, imposition of performance based funding (performance being defined primarily in terms of training the right sort of job fillers for the job creators), and the imposition of micro-managing assessment (which is universally regarded by anyone who actually teaches as pure bullshit) and so on.  When all this is combined with the ever-expanding administrative class, it becomes evident that public higher education in America is in real trouble.

At this point most readers will expect me to engage in my stock response in regards to the value of education. You know, the usual philosophical stuff about the unexamined life not being worth living, the importance to a democratic state of having an educated population and all the other stuff that is waved away with a dismissive gesture by those who know the true value of public education: private profit. Since I have written about these values elsewhere, I will not do so here. There is also the obvious fact that the people who believe in this sort of value already support education and those who do not will almost certainly not be swayed by any arguments I could make. Instead, I will endeavor to argue for the value of the public university in very practical, “real-world” terms.

First, the public university is important for the defense of the United States. While private, non-profit institutions do rather important research, the public universities have contributed a great deal to our defense technology, they train many of our officers, and they train many of the people who work in our intelligence agencies. Undermining the public university weakens the United States in ways that will damage our national defense. National defense certainly seems to be a public and not just a private good.

Second, large public universities are centers of scientific research that has great practical (that is, economic) value. This research includes medical research, physics, robotics, engineering and all areas that are recognized as having clear practical value. One sure way to ensure that the United States falls behind the rest of the world in these areas is to continue to degrade public universities. Being competitive in these areas does seem to be a public good, although it is obviously specific individuals who benefit the most.

Third, large public universities draw some of the best and brightest people from around the world. Many of these people stay in the United States and contribute a great deal—thus adding to the public good (while obviously benefiting themselves). Even those who return home are influenced by the United States—they learn English (if they do not already know it), they are exposed to American culture, they make friends with Americans and often develop a fondness for their school and the country. While these factors are hard to quantify, they do serve as advantage to the United States in economic, scientific, diplomatic and defense terms.

Fourth, having what was once the best public higher education system in the world gave the country considerable prestige and influence. While prestige is difficult to quantify, it certainly matters—humans are very much influenced by status. This can be regarded as a public good.

Fifth, there are the obvious economic advantages of a strong public higher education system. College educated citizens make more money and thus pay more taxes—thus contributing to the public good. While having a job is certainly a private good, there is also a considerable amount of public good. Businesses need employees and people need doctors, lawyers, engineers, psychiatrists, pilots, petroleum engineers, computer programmers, officers, and so on. As such, it would seem that the public university does not just serve the private good but the public good.

If this argument has merit, it would seem that the degrading of public higher education is damaging the public good and harming the country. As such, this needs to be reversed before the United States falls even more behind the competition.

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  1. TJB said, on July 6, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Mike, the universities have purged conservative faculty and have conducted an outright war against the GOP and for that matter against the very values of the taxpayers that they need to support them.

    “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

    Ah, but they don’t teach Shakespeare anymore as he is a dead white male…

    • WTP said, on July 6, 2015 at 9:54 pm

      LOI of 4.0. Obviously a reasonable discussion is futile.

      • TJB said, on July 6, 2015 at 11:46 pm

        Agreed. The gulf is too wide.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 7, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      Actually, conservative faculty (if one considers Koch appointees) are on the rise. Because of the cuts in state funding, many schools (such as the nearby Florida State) are accepting private money that comes with a condition: those providing the money have a significant role in selecting faculty. There was quite a buzz about FSU “selling out” to the Kochs.

      There really has not been a purge. One reason is that modern conservatism is far less interested in intellectual foundations than traditional conservatism. Another is that yesterday’s academic conservative is probably seen as liberal today-perhaps because she believes in that science stuff. Also, professors have generally been liberal- smart people who have conservative values would usually tend to not go into low paying teaching jobs, but would instead go to Wall Street.

      • wtp said, on July 7, 2015 at 9:56 pm

        Another is that yesterday’s academic conservative is probably seen as liberal today-perhaps because she believes in that science stuff.

        This is such an insult to people such as Thomas Sowell, Horowitz, etc. etc. etc. This bullshit typical of academic leftists like yourself is the real problem. Yet you academics scream when your obviously socialistic and downright communist statements are called out for what they are. Seriously. WTF do you get off passing yourself off as some sort of unbiased “educator” when you make such insulting accusations? As for your general “point”:

        It’s not every day that left-leaning academics admit that they would discriminate against a minority.

        But that was what they did in a peer-reviewed study of political diversity in the field of social psychology, which will be published in the September edition of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

        Psychologists Yoel Inbar and Joris Lammers, based at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, surveyed a roughly representative sample of academics and scholars in social psychology and found that “In decisions ranging from paper reviews to hiring, many social and personality psychologists admit that they would discriminate against openly conservative colleagues.”

        This finding surprised the researchers. The survey questions “were so blatant that I thought we’d get a much lower rate of agreement,” Mr. Inbar said. “Usually you have to be pretty tricky to get people to say they’d discriminate against minorities.”

        Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/aug/1/liberal-majority-on-campus-yes-were-biased/#ixzz3fGDGUGVH

      • T. J. Babson said, on July 7, 2015 at 11:19 pm

        These faculty, Mike?


      • T. J. Babson said, on July 7, 2015 at 11:25 pm

        Mike, you have been trained like one of Pavlov’s dogs to hate the Koch brothers. But can you tell me what exactly they have done to provoke the animus against them?

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 8, 2015 at 2:44 pm

          My disagreements with the Kochs rests on some of the following factors:
          1. Supporting bad science in regard to climate change.
          2. Supporting and actively contributing to the corruption of the American political system.
          3. The involvement of the Koch’s corporation in criminal misdeeds. http://www.businessinsider.com/gop-mega-donor-koch-brothers-tied-to-global-criminal-misdeeds-in-bombshell-article-2011-10
          4. The Koch brothers endeavors in purchasing influence in academics, with the FSU example being but one.
          5. Their company’s environmental record: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/inside-the-koch-brothers-toxic-empire-20140924?page=2
          6. Their financial support of voter suppression laws.
          7. Their expressed commitment to a flawed political philosophy.
          And so on.

          I have no disagreement with their being super-rich or their support of medical research and the arts.

          Naturally, I expect people to try to reshape the world to maximize their own self-interest. However, what is good for the Koch brothers is generally rather bad for everyone else. I also have a general opposition to the political system they have helped shape, namely the one in which massive campaign contributions shape the political landscape.

          • nailheadtom said, on July 9, 2015 at 6:40 am

            There’s always going to be climate change. Just a few thousand years ago almost all of Canada and a significant portion of what’s now the US was covered in many feet of ice year around. The Kochs are minor leaguers in American political corruption. What’s the nature of their “flawed political philosophy”? Maybe they’re not in favor of a law that requires a valid photographic ID in order to vote but if they indeed are, what’s the objection? Identification is needed to buy cigarettes. That could be smoker suppression, I guess.

          • T. J. Babson said, on July 9, 2015 at 7:41 pm

            A totally Pavlovian response.

            The Koch brothers simply wish that the kind of opportunities they enjoyed will be available to future generations.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 13, 2015 at 3:48 pm

              Being born into wealth? Yes, that would provide plenty of opportunities.

            • T. J. Babson said, on July 13, 2015 at 10:30 pm

              Mike, if you think octogenarians worth 40 billion dollars are primarily interested in adding a few more billion to their pile then you have a lot to learn about human nature.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 14, 2015 at 3:06 pm

              They seem to have a rather larger sort of end game in mind.

            • T. J. Babson said, on July 13, 2015 at 10:42 pm

              Sadly, you are simply parroting Dem talking points about the Koch brothers.

              Free markets have done more to bring people out of poverty than any other economic system. This is simply a fact. Yet, instead of embracing what works, ostensibly smart people turn away from free markets and embrace socialism and collectivist ideologies which have failed again, and again, and again.

              What is it about economic freedom that irritates leftists so much?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 14, 2015 at 3:15 pm

              No, I’m just listing facts about the Koch brothers. I’m fine with their donations to medical research and so on. I’m less fine with their environmental damage and endeavors to shape academics. Naturally, I’ll admit that my opposition to them in regards to academic shaping is that I disagree with their economic theory. But, a good friend of mine got a job through the Koch money, so I suppose I’m sort of okay with it on that level.

              I suspect that the issue that some people have with claims about the free market is based on an historical look at what occurs when the market is ostensibly free, such as during the age of the robber barons.

              I would tend to think that the market would operate rather similar to the rest of the social system. That is, if people need to be subject to rules and limits in regards to other behavior (like killing, stealing, owning missile launchers, making meth, growing pot, stopping at certain signs and so on), then comparably rules and limits would be needed in regards to economic behavior. Hobbes certainly got that idea-as he saw it, people are egoist hedonists across the board and need to be compelled by the state. Also, as Mill argued, we need limits on freedom to actually have freedom. For example, my freedom to silence you must be limited so you can be free to express your views. So a free market would certainly need regulation and limits to keep it free.

            • T. J. Babson said, on July 13, 2015 at 10:44 pm

              “I have no disagreement with their being super-rich…”

              “Being born into wealth? Yes, that would provide plenty of opportunities.”

              I feel a disturbance in the Force.

            • T. J. Babson said, on July 13, 2015 at 10:54 pm

              It’s a Dem world:

              On the afternoon of July 4 in Washington DC, a teenager with a knife boarded a crowded metro train and attacked a 24-year-old man, Kevin Joseph Sutherland, stabbing him 30 or 40 times and kicking his head repeatedly until he was dead. No one tried to stop him.

              The Washington Post reports that “passengers trapped in the moving train huddled at both ends of the car and watched in horror” as the attack took place. There were about ten people on the car, but no one intervened. They just watched Sutherland get beaten and stabbed to death right in front of them.

              The story goes on to describe the 18-year-old attacker, Jasper Spires, robbing other passengers, who handed over their cash and tried to avoid even looking at him, hoping to be spared.

              “You’re not really sure what you need to do,” said one witness, a 52-year-old woman. “This man is holding a bloody knife. I don’t think anyone was going to try and stop him.” Perhaps that’s not surprising coming from a 52-year-old woman. In general, it’s hard to fault people in this situation for failing to intervene—even though they obviously should have.

              I’m Not Sorry I Put Myself First
              What is more surprising is a failure to express regret for not having intervened to save a man’s life. One eyewitness posted his account on Reddit, showing no remorse about failing to intervene, and expressing no sacrificial impulse:

              …What I don’t wish is that I had somehow tried to attack the assailant. I am a little bit larger than he was, but I would not have won. It’s scary, because if we had been sitting closer and had seen the attack start I probably would have tried to help, and would have been stabbed.

              We asked the police if we could/should have done something differently, and they said that we did the right thing—get to safety and get help (well, I guess my wife did the right thing, I’m kind of a dumbass). On top of that, they said to focus on remembering everything you can about the assailant.

              I am lucky to be alive. But Kevin is not, and my heart breaks every time I think about it.
              This is beta male rationalizing at its finest—and it is terrifying. Here is a full-grown man, larger than the attacker, who instead of thinking afterwards, “Maybe if I had stepped in and done something, that guy would be alive,” can only thank his lucky stars it wasn’t him.


            • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 14, 2015 at 3:28 pm

              Were those people all Democrats? Would Republicans have rushed to defend the man?

              Would Republican control of the White House have caused them to leap into battle, unarmed, against a man with a knife?

              Going up against someone armed with a knife, even with years of training, is likely to result in severe injury and perhaps even death. As the experts always say “you will get cut.” When I was at Ohio State, one of the guys I knew in Tae Kwon Do got into it with a guy with a knife and got cut up rather badly. I don’t recall the exact count for stitches, but it was in the neighborhood of 100.

              I’ve done knife training and you learn quickly that even someone who is just slashing away stupidly with a knife will cut you up, even if you have a black belt and years of practice. Only in the movies does the hero just grab the knife arm and smack the blade from the attacker’s hand.

              In the abstract, a person would be heroic to risk his or her life to help someone. In practice, this sort of heroism would tend to result in just another body. After all, most folks are not trained to fight, let alone effectively take on a person armed with a knife. So, it is probably too much to expect the average person to take this sort of risk. That said, I am sure that most or all of those people would have wanted someone to intervene if they had been the victim. To expect that, of course, one has to be willing to do that for others.

            • WTP said, on July 14, 2015 at 7:33 am

              “I have no disagreement with their being super-rich…”

              “Being born into wealth? Yes, that would provide plenty of opportunities.”

              That’s The Value of Public University education.

            • TJB said, on July 14, 2015 at 9:24 pm

              Mike, think for a second which party wants people to be unarmed and unable to defend themselves.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 24, 2015 at 4:52 pm

              Certain liberal democrats. But not Bernie Sanders. If you live in the real New England, you know that a man without a gun ain’t hardly a man at all.

            • TJB said, on July 14, 2015 at 9:29 pm

              Mike, the pieces you linked to were hit pieces in lefty rags, not real journalism. How does the Koch record compare to similar companies?

            • WTP said, on July 15, 2015 at 8:43 am

              TJ, read this on Wiki concerning the patriarch of the family, Fred Koch. Found it quite enlightening. I was aware the Fred K. was a founder of the John Birch Society but not of how well informed he was about communism and how such knowledge likely formed his perspective. First crony capitalism disgusted him enough to go to work in the USSR, then disgust with Stalin taught him the lesser of two evils lesson.

              In 1927, Koch developed a more efficient thermal cracking process for turning crude oil into gasoline which allowed smaller players in the industry to better compete with the oil majors. The larger oil companies quickly sued in response, filing 44 different lawsuits against Koch, and embroiling him in litigation for years. Koch was to prevail in all but one of the suits (which was later over-turned due to the fact that the judge had been bribed).[11]

              This extended litigation effectively put Winkler-Koch out of business in the U.S. for several years. “Unable to succeed at home, Koch found work in the Soviet Union”.[12] Between 1929 and 1932 Winkler-Koch “trained Bolshevik engineers[13] and helped Stalin’s regime set up fifteen modern oil refineries” in the Soviet Union. “Over time, however, Stalin brutally purged several of Koch’s Soviet colleagues. Koch was deeply affected by the experience, and regretted his collaboration.”[12] The company also built installations in countries throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia.[1]


              This is neither here nor there to your discussion with Mike. However anything having anything to do with real facts nor the mystical world of reality is neither here nor there in regard to discussions with Mike. Just thought you might find it interesting. Or perhaps you were already aware.

            • T. J. Babson said, on July 15, 2015 at 9:15 am

              Very interesting, WTP. He certainly had every reason to oppose communism with all his might.

              I can also see why he hated crony capitalism:

              In 1927, Koch developed a more efficient thermal cracking process for turning crude oil into gasoline which allowed smaller players in the industry to better compete with the oil majors. The larger oil companies quickly sued in response, filing 44 different lawsuits against Koch, and embroiling him in litigation for years. Koch was to prevail in all but one of the suits (which was later over-turned due to the fact that the judge had been bribed).

            • WTP said, on July 15, 2015 at 9:24 am

              Yes, which makes you wonder whose money it really is behind the anti-fracking hysteria.

          • TJB said, on July 14, 2015 at 9:26 pm

            Mike, do you even know the Koch position on climate change?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 15, 2015 at 4:09 pm

              Is it still this: “For the record, Koch says this of climate change: “You can plausibly say that CO2 has contributed” to the planet’s warming, but he sees “no evidence” to support “this theory that it’s going to be catastrophic.”

            • TJB said, on July 15, 2015 at 4:49 pm

              Yes, and that falls well within the mainstream of scientific thought on the issue.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 24, 2015 at 4:52 pm

              I think the most recent stance is that it is happening, but there is nothing we can do.

            • TJB said, on July 24, 2015 at 9:10 pm

              This is still a reasonable position. See, for example:

              A 2008 paper by James Hansen [PDF], former director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the world’s foremost experts on climate change, showed the true gravity of the situation. In it, Hansen set out to determine what level of atmospheric CO2 society should aim for “if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted.” His climate models showed that exceeding 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere would likely have catastrophic effects. We’ve already blown past that limit. Right now, environmental monitoring shows concentrations around 400 ppm. That’s particularly problematic because CO2 remains in the atmosphere for more than a century; even if we shut down every fossil-fueled power plant today, existing CO2 will continue to warm the planet.

              We decided to combine our energy innovation study’s best-case scenario results with Hansen’s climate model to see whether a 55 percent emission cut by 2050 would bring the world back below that 350-ppm threshold. Our calculations revealed otherwise. Even if every renewable energy technology advanced as quickly as imagined and they were all applied globally, atmospheric CO2 levels wouldn’t just remain above 350 ppm; they would continue to rise exponentially due to continued fossil fuel use. So our best-case scenario, which was based on our most optimistic forecasts for renewable energy, would still result in severe climate change, with all its dire consequences: shifting climatic zones, freshwater shortages, eroding coasts, and ocean acidification, among others. Our reckoning showed that reversing the trend would require both radical technological advances in cheap zero-carbon energy, as well as a method of extracting CO2 from the atmosphere and sequestering the carbon.

              Those calculations cast our work at Google’s RE<C program in a sobering new light. Suppose for a moment that it had achieved the most extraordinary success possible, and that we had found cheap renewable energy technologies that could gradually replace all the world’s coal plants—a situation roughly equivalent to the energy innovation study’s best-case scenario. Even if that dream had come to pass, it still wouldn’t have solved climate change. This realization was frankly shocking: Not only had RE<C failed to reach its goal of creating energy cheaper than coal, but that goal had not been ambitious enough to reverse climate change.


            • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 27, 2015 at 6:33 pm

              I’m ready for the apocalypse.

  2. ajmacdonaldjr said, on July 6, 2015 at 10:25 am

  3. TJB said, on July 7, 2015 at 7:42 am

    David Gelernter:

    “Students today are so ignorant that it’s hard to accept how ignorant they are. It’s hard to grasp that [the student] you’re talking to, who is bright, articulate, interested, doesn’t know who Beethoven was. Looking back at the history of the 20th Century [he] just sees a fog. Has [only] the vaguest idea of who Winston Churchill was or why he mattered. No image of Teddy Roosevelt. We have failed [them].”


    Comments, Mike? Should we just double down on failure?

    • WTP said, on July 7, 2015 at 8:59 am

      Well, while we’re rolling our own there’s this via David Thompson’s excellent blog:

      “Of those that graduate with a degree, some will have degrees that prepare them for nothing that is highly valued by society,” Gassel wrote. “I remember last year at a college open house hearing from a young woman who had a degree in women’s studies. She told the parents sitting in the room that she was lucky to get a job with the university. I don’t think she realized how that sounded.”

      She added: “Apparently the only thing a women’s studies degree prepares one for is working for a university admissions office to promote that degree to other gullible students.”

      Gassel also criticized the “protective cocoon of pseudo real life,” in which schools provide counselors to help students deal with every minor slight they might be subject to. This, of course, does not prepare students for real life, where no such protections exist.

      College is a lot different today than even when I was a student (which was just a few years ago). Now the “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” crowds run the campuses. My fear is of what will happen when these precious snowflakes who need counseling after hearing a different viewpoint get into the real world. Will they accept that they can’t avoid opposing views? Or will they fight to make everyone else kowtow to their beliefs?


      • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 7, 2015 at 4:09 pm

        Still plenty of schools doing real teaching. I haven’t been to a single meeting on “trigger warnings” or “safe spaces.” Those are probably for the “elite” schools who are full of precious snowflakes.

        Presumably Thompson and I agree that students need to be exposed to ideas they disagree with and develop the minimal strength needed to endure reading, for example, an essay that contains ideas one does not love.

        Perhaps the precious snowflakes will run into natural selection. Or they will weave themselves new cocoons.

        • wtp said, on July 7, 2015 at 10:06 pm

          Presumably Thompson and I agree that students need to be exposed to ideas they disagree with

          Mike, care to inform us as to where you have exposed yourself to ideas you disagree with? Outside of this audience, I mean. Your writing is terribly uninformed from any perspective outside the ivory tower. You stay in your own cocoon. Gimme a break.

          develop the minimal strength needed to endure reading, for example, an essay that contains ideas one does not love.
          It is not enough to endure reading…an essay that contains ideas one does not love. A well rounded, educated person can write a convincing essay that contains ideas one does not love. They can understand differing perspectives from the inside. This is not easy and does not come with 4-6-8 years in college but from a lifetime of questioning one’s prejudices and rigorous self-examination.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 7, 2015 at 4:00 pm

      Looking back on history, every generation claims that the following generations are more ignorant, have loose morals, like the wrong music, and dress foolishly. Plato makes this point. When I was a kid, I remember the adults bemoaning our ignorance and wicked ways (why they walked to school uphill both ways in the snow). Now I hear my fellows bemoaning the wicked ways of the youth of today.

      Are most kids ignorant of the past? Yes. Were they like that when I was a kid? Hell yes.

      This is not to say that the kids are not ignorant, just that we should not present this as “kids today”-as if kids have not always been ignorant and foolishly dressed. I must now go and yell for the damn kids to get off my lawn.

      • WTP said, on July 14, 2015 at 7:35 am

        And which fallacy is this, repeated for the umpteenth time?

  4. nailheadtom said, on July 8, 2015 at 7:12 am

    “While private, non-profit institutions do rather important research, the public universities have contributed a great deal to our defense technology, they train many of our officers, and they train many of the people who work in our intelligence agencies. ”

    Since the US has yet to be invaded by another nation/state, maybe you could say that the public universities have succeeded in their defense of the country. On the other hand, the US hasn’t actually won a physical engagement with an enemy force in 70 years. The greatest enemy of the past, the Soviet Union, wasn’t defeated by the American military but instead fell victim to its own socialism and central planning, ideas that are held dear by the faculty of large public universities in the US.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 8, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      In all my years in academics, I have only met a few true socialists. Most faculty do accept that there should be social spending: public money for education, infrastructure, health, law enforcement and defense. I used to run into the occasional person who went to college in the 1960s and who had woolly ideas about some sort of vague social system. They often drove nice cars, lived in posh homes and were solidly upper-middle class hippies.

      I have, of course, heard the occasional Marxist laying out some unfounded analysis of some movie or book. They seem to dwell mostly in post-modern studies. I did have a course on analytical Marxism, taught by a professor who was a well known analyst of the former Soviet Union. He was most certainly not a socialist or Marxist.

      Academics often play at politics-it seems to often be part of their stage persona.

      • WTP said, on July 8, 2015 at 7:55 pm

        Oh, puh-lease. How much of this bullshit sandwich do you expect us to swallow?

      • WTP said, on July 9, 2015 at 8:26 am

        Michael LaBossiere said: “Let us suppose that Obama really wants to ram socialism down America’s throat. Is this a bad thing?”

        Soviet Union

        But of course, Mike is not a socialist. And neither, I suppose, were Venezuela, Cuba, etc. etc. etc.

      • magus71 said, on July 9, 2015 at 2:20 pm

        Mike, just because most liberals do not understand the roots and intricacies of socialism does not mean they aren’t socialists. Most people don’t understand why their toilet works, but they presumably flush every day.

        • WTP said, on July 9, 2015 at 2:59 pm

          most liberals do not understand the roots and intricacies of socialism

          Oh, I think a great number of them understand very well. That is why they deny being socialists. The word stinks from every application of it. The left constantly speaks of capitalism not being “sustainable”, yet whenever socialism is invoked, more and more power and more and more wealth must be seized by the state in order to enforce its utopia until ruin results. It’s a constant gamblers’ folly of throwing good money after bad. This is why they tried so hard to spin a 61-39 vote in favor of the Greek bailout as being “too close to call’ early on. They have to project as many lies as possible. The whole socialist system is built on deluding people. What are you supposed to believe, what everyone else is saying or your lying eyes?

          And no, law enforcement, nor a court system that enforces private contract, nor defense, etc. do not constitute socialism. Nor do public roads nor most anything having to do directly with land or the maintenance of such.

          Socialism works until you start running out of other people’s money. Even 38% of Greeks seem to understand this to some degree.

          • magus71 said, on July 9, 2015 at 3:14 pm

            I’m counting the latte lounge liberals, college students and Hollywood airheads, too. The policy makers do understand. Many of the people who vote for them fall comfortably in to uneducated voter realm. But getting “free” education, healthcare, and prosecuting hate crimes sounds like a great idea to them. And they have no idea in which country Karl Marx was born.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 9, 2015 at 3:38 pm

          People don’t know what they want. Once they get what they think they wanted, they realized they didn’t want that.

          • magus71 said, on July 9, 2015 at 3:43 pm


          • WTP said, on July 9, 2015 at 4:36 pm

            All the more reason why people should be responsible for their own wants. Then they have no one to blame but themselves.

            You leftists want to create “freedom from want”, the ” right to an adequate standard of living”. You can’t just create such intangibles by edict or decree. Wealth must be created before it can be consumed. If you are consuming and you have not created, you are consuming someone else’s wealth. If you first borrowed this wealth and have agreed to pay it back, this was a voluntary arrangement. The lender will expect something in return. Something that the lender values. Usually an amount of wealth greater than that which was loaned.

            If the individual does not create wealth for themselves and no one voluntarily supports them, leftists think they can force others to provide these things, either by government taxing those who create wealth and giving it to those who want, or though phony make-work systems and phony minimum wage laws. This works until those actually creating the wealth choose either by attrition or fatigue to stop supplying the fruits of their own labors. Once this critical mass is reached, the socialist system spirals downward to subsistence living, or worse. Happens. Every. Damn. Time.

  5. T. J. Babson said, on July 9, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    Socialism = “free stuff for everybody” because we will make the rich to pay their “fair share.”

    I am not aware of a single example of where socialism made things better than they were before socialism.

  6. TJB said, on July 16, 2015 at 6:39 am

    Mike, which side in this debate is really standing up for the little guy? Which side are you on? Which side would the Kochs support?

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