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Politicalmath
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I think part of the problem is that it's hard to root for a powerful, rich protagonist who wishes to be more powerful or rich. Got to find some way to make the technology-savvy capitalist the underdog. But along those lines, I'd like to see more sci-fi/fantasy books where good intentions of an arrogant antagonist lead to truly horrific unintended consequences. It shocks me a little bit that this isn't a bigger theme in literature since it is such an obvious recurring theme in the real world. There are no end to excellent, compelling examples. Example: "Spare me your arguments about cost, deficits and debt. We have a moral duty to [insert good intentioned policy here]." Yes, let's ignore all practical considerations and get people to put their faith in a program that has an obvious and possibly devastating expiration date.
What they need to do is sign the "US Military" to a label and let the media industry go after Wikileaks. At least the New York Times would recognize that there might be an ethical problem with publishing the documents.
To me, it is one thing to value knowledge for its own sake and quite another to pay what modern universities charge for it. There is a common theme for people to make the assumption that all learning should be formal and credentialed. It seems to assume that if one is against paying $100,000 for four years of learning things that can be learned on Wikipedia, than one is an anti-intellectual knuckle dragger. I'm afraid our dear Professor Bainbridge does nothing in this piece to make that distinction or even to note that the distinction is in any way important. I come to this conversation not from the position of an uncredentialed knowledge hater, envious of my intellectual superiors, but as a highly credentialed intellectual professional in my 20's. I look around at my peers and see dozens of people with thousands of dollars in university debt who were assured as they entered university that all they needed was a degree. They received horrible career advice about studying "whatever you are interested in", spent four years worth of time to obtain degrees in history, English literature, film studies, etc. and now work in jobs that require none of the things they learned. They are angry, saddened, and frustrated. They wouldn't deny the value of knowledge for knowledge sake, but they would argue with the value of a formal, credentialed education that gave them very little in terms of job skills. Those like the blog author may argue "Little in return? What about the value of knowledge for knowledge sake? The beauty of literature, the life-long pleasures of the active mind, are these things nothing?" My response would be "Of course not. Those things are incredibly valuable and we should all be grateful that we live in a society where anyone can get them for free via the internet and public library systems. But given the fact that we can get them for free, does it make as much sense to pay two years worth of salary for them? Should we perhaps realign our cost-benefit decisions to reflect the workplace realities on the ground?" You want knowledge? Read Wikipedia, go to the Guttenberg project, buy a Kindle (which now costs about as much as a single university text book) and start a reading/discussion group with your friends. Get the benefits of knowledge without paying for it. Instead, spend your university money on a year in Mexico or Honduras and learn a second language. Sign up for Ignite in your local area and practice your public speaking skills. Learn a computer language on your own or take some classes learning something technical (like mathematics or sciences) that you can't learn without more personal attention. The transaction of learning has changed. It is time to re-align the business of learning to reflect that reality.
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Oct 24, 2010