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Posner's dim view of the American electorate is well supported. Consider how many people think that increased drilling for oil will affect gasoline prices in the near future. Consider how many people truly believe, on the basis of no substantial evidence, that Obama is a Muslim. Consider the bumper sticker that exhorts the Feds to keep their hands off "My Medicare". Both Dems and Reps exhibit the same justified contempt by insisting that the elderly "earned" their entitlements. But there's no cure for this in the manipulation of limits on campaign spending. And the need for new contenders for office does argue against them.
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Desert is irrelevant to the justice of any distribution. All we can count on th justify a distribution of wealth is procedural justice -- a fair system for distribution. We normally think that a procedurally regulated market place provides such a systen. Deserving relates to the just return to some characteristic of the deserving person. But talents are distributed arbitrarily, as is good fortune. No one deserves these talents or the good luck. See Rawls, Theory of Justice. How, then, can one deserve a return to such an arbitrarily distributed (undeserved) characteristic or good fortune?
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The benefits of college (except prestige and connections and association with persons of high intellect) are available to those who attend junior colleges. Informational and skills training benefits are there in abundance. There are also too many colleges and "universities" teaching things that require little research on the part of faculty and find a proper home in junior college. Communications, leadership, computer science that focuses on the use of computers and programing, etc. really don't belong in a full-time college or university with high-paid faculty, charging high tuition. Hence, the intellectual benefits of college or universities are diluted as is the intellectual core of the student body. Lacking from the picture of higher education are prestige and money for good junior colleges, probably private and not-for-profit. Improve on this and you lower the cost of higher education and produce a more effective and creative work force.
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Jul 28, 2010