Anyone who has ever been in a Third World country, or even in a slum neighborhood at home, is likely to wonder why there can be such dire poverty among some people, while others are prospering.
One of the ways of trying to reduce the vast disparities in economic success, which are common in countries around the world, is by making higher education more widely available, even for people without the money to pay for it.
Item: A Chinese woman studying at Hays State University in Kansas tried to board a plane with a stun gun in her purse. The TSA called the cops to arrest her. She later told the AP she hopes to “resolve” the incident with a fine.
Last week, President Barack Obama, at a Capital Hilton fundraising event, told the crowd, "We can't go back to this brand of you're-on-your-own economics." Throughout my professional career as an economist, I've never come across the theory of "you're-on-your-own economics." I'm guessing what the President means by — and finds offensive in — "you're-on-your-own economics" is that it's a system in which people are held responsible for their actions, that they take risks and must live with the results, that people can't force others to pay for their mistakes, and that they can't live at the expense of other people.
With all the talk about "disparities" in innumerable contexts, there is one very important disparity that gets remarkably little attention — disparities in the ability to create wealth. People who are preoccupied, or even obsessed, with disparities in income are seldom interested much, or at all, in the disparities in the ability to create wealth, which are often the reasons for the disparities in income.
Remember all those neocons and Republicans who cheered George W. Bush’s “indefinite detainment” of “enemy combatants”? Many of them — though, amazingly, not all — have lost their enthusiasm for trampling the Constitution now that Obama’s administration has suspended habeas corpus for American citizens, too, with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA).
In November 2011, Commentary magazine asked 41 members of the cultural elite — writers thinkers, and professors — whether or not they were optimistic or pessimistic about America’s future. While most of the comments dwelt on political and economic issues, some of the contributors pointed to our education system as a source of their pessimism.
While discussing on The View recently how North Korean heir Kim Jong Un enjoyed the luxury of being sent to a Swiss boarding school, Whoopi Goldberg said the following, “This is what happens with communism. It’s a great concept; on paper it makes perfect sense. But once you put a human being in power, it shifts. We saw it in Russia; we’ve seen it all over the world.”
Last week's column started off asking: "What human motivation gets the most wonderful things done?" The answer is that human greed is what gets wonderful things done. I wasn't talking about fraud, theft, dishonesty, special privileges from government or other forms of despicable behavior. I was talking about people trying to get as much as they can for themselves.