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The Big Answer


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The Culture of Contentment

a book by John Kenneth Galbraith

(our site's book review)

Armed security guards in walled-off enclaves are the trend in the separation boundaries between Haves and Have-nots
Armed security guards in walled-off enclaves are the trend in the separation boundaries between Haves and Have-nots

There is a secession—as in Robert Reich's The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism—going on in this country, and it’s about the Haves separating themselves off from the Have-nots. Armed security guards in walled-off enclaves are the trend in the separation boundaries between Haves and Have-nots. The author feels that if the Haves do nothing about the plight of the underclass, the latter will revolt, crime will increase, we’ll need armed services to hold down the revolution of the Have-nots, and Haves will discover the legacy of investing in prisons and cops, but not education and improving inner cities.

We are investing in prisons and cops, but not education and improving inner cities
We are investing in prisons and cops, but not education and improving inner cities

Like most liberals, he seems sure that more equitable income distribution, more investment in schools and inner city problems, and prioritizing human needs (translation: more tax and spend) above military spending will go a long way toward fixing things. The argument would be more convincing if he:

(1) presented convincing evidence that throwing money at things helps “fix” them (he didn’t);

(2) presented evidence that more money dumped into the educational system leads to better teaching rather than just richer teachers and administrators and bloated bureaucracies staffed with unproductive deadwood (he didn’t);

(3) presented evidence that the welfare state “generosity” of the past few decades hasn’t been a failure that did more harm than good, in many instances, and that the extra entitlements to the underclass have actually improved their situation rather than merely conditioning dependence (he didn’t);

(4) presented evidence that social engineering and political salvationism in the 20th century haven’t been a failed experiment, and in some cases, an utter disaster (he didn’t).

Galbraith presented no convincing evidence that throwing money at things helps 'fix' them
Galbraith presented no convincing evidence that throwing money at things helps 'fix' them


We need a solution that satisfies both sides, that empowers both responsibility and compassion, that transcends the right-left continuum, and that comes from individual choice, not tax-and-spend social engineering
We need a solution that satisfies both sides, that empowers both responsibility and compassion, that transcends the right-left continuum, and that comes from individual choice, not tax-and-spend social engineering

To improve schools, we must improve the character of teachers and students alike. For every great teacher that inspires and teaches well, there are several bored or oppressive or apathetic ones that are just there for the paycheck and to take out some of their life stresses on their captive audiences. Money alone has been proven not to work. To make the inner city improvement money really raise lifestyle quality, the character of the residents has to be enhanced first. And welfare money needs to turn into effective workfare programs, which it doesn't. (How will character be improved so that the needed inner city and educational and anti-crime and economic programs will actually do what we want them to do? Money won't help, but there is a way. Think MCs. See Why Register for an MC?.) Moreover, we need Third Wave schools, not Second Wave schools which is what we have currently in 2014.

Many teachers are bored or oppressive or apathetic and are just there for the paycheck and to take out some of their life stresses on their captive audiences
Many teachers are bored or oppressive or apathetic and are just there for the paycheck and to take out some of their life stresses on their captive audiences


Teachers' normal obedience-based view of education is incorrect: 'working with' works but 'doing to' doesn't work
Teachers' normal obedience-based view of education is incorrect: 'working with' works but 'doing to' doesn't work


Registering for MC search and match
Registering for MC search and match