Dr. Frankenstein Crafts a New Party


Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

Related Post Roulette

209 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    So let’s see… pro-tax breaks for families, pro-immigration, pro-ssm, pro-farm bill, pro-food truck, pro-military, pro-gun (with background checks), pro-marijuana, pro-education.

    I would love to have this be my opposition party.Report

    • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Jaybird says:

      If I disagree with Mike’s preferences, am I anti-education?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Shazbot5 says:

        Only you can answer that. Do you see the people who disagree with you as people who have looked at similar evidence that you’ve looked at and have reached different conclusions based on different priorities or do you see them as evil?

        If it’s the latter, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you why you hate children.Report

        • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Jaybird says:

          So, the straight answer is, “Yes, Shazbot is anti-education because he disagrees with these education policy changes”?


          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Shazbot5 says:

            If the shoe fits…Report

            • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Jaybird says:

              So, “yes” is your answer?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                My answer is contingent on your own philosophy.

                If you see those who disagree with you as standing in opposition of The Good, then, in this case, you find yourself in the strange position of actively opposing The Good.

                If, however, you see those who disagree with you as merely having reached different conclusions due to having different experiences, priorities, and weightings of the evidence, then you’re just someone who has different experiences, priorities, and weighs the evidence differently.

                Which are you?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

                But, JB, don’t you think it a bit odd or unfair to refer to the position as “pro education”?

                Who isn’t pro education? What makes us different is what and how we support educational efforts.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

                The people who want to make things better versus the people who prefer the status quo…

                What other ways are there to frame the issue other than “pro-whatever” for the people who want to improve things?Report

              • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Jaybird says:

                So, I can’t disagree with you that these policies will improve education and not be anti-education? Yours is the only pro-education view?

                IMO, these policies will make education worse or no better. I guess that makes me and all of the following anti-education:

                1. A large majority of teachers and educators
                2. Most academics who study education policy
                3. People and education leaders who live in countries with better test scores and better educational systems, e.g. those darn Finlandios

                We hate education, I guess.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                Pro-[particular changes]. Or even just pro-reform.

                I don’t recall people calling health care reform advocates “pro-health care.” As Kazzy said, that sounds odd. People said they were “pro-health reform” or “pro-reform.”

                You’re right that people who didn’t favor that reform were accused of favoring the status quo (that’s because as a matter of practicality, given the reform on offer and the political history of the issue, that’s what the position amounted to, though it was still inaccurate to say that was their actual position). But in advancing that charge, they were never, that I can recall, termed as being in some group other than the group that was “pro-health care” (i.e., maybe even “anti-health care.”) They were described as “anti-health care reform, ” (which was incorrect in many cases), or “anti-PPACA/Obamacare” (which was probably always correct).

                If you can point to an example of what you’re talking about that actually parallels what you’re saying here (I’d point you toward the gun debate – some people probably tended to say “anti-gun safety” rather than “anti-gun safety measures/requirements,” that would begin to support your facetious claims here. But some, even a fair number of instances wouldn’t go so far as to support your implication that this is almost universally how advocates of changes in a given issue area set up labels for those for and against their reforms (i.e. “pro-[issue area],” implying opponents of particular reforms are “anti-[issue area]”), which is what you imply here:

                [innocent eyelashes]What other ways are there to frame the issue other than “pro-whatever” for the people who want to improve things? [/innocent eyelashes]Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                I did mention the option of seeing “those who disagree with you as merely having reached different conclusions due to having different experiences, priorities, and weightings of the evidence” but, apparently, that doesn’t allow for enough wiggle room.

                I can’t help but wonder why that option isn’t taken.

                Is being able to call one’s opponents evil so very important?

                (Oh, and Michael Drew, the “pro-choice” vs. “anti-choice” debate was first to mind. Need me to find another couple of examples or is that one sufficient?)Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                woot….I’m Pro-Liberty, pro-freedom now…hell i’m even PRO-FREEEEEDDDDOOOOMReport

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                You gave that option in one comment, but then in the next said “What other ways are there to frame the issue other than “pro-whatever” for the people who want to improve things?,” which is clearly a rhetorical question (don’t try to say it wasn’t). The question is just whether it was spoken as your position or as a position you’re saying others take or demonstrate. given that you offered the other option in the previous comment, that means it’s the latter.

                Pro-choice/anti-choice is actually the question at issue in this debate. Do you think a woman should be legally allowed to choose an abortion, or do you think she shouldn’t? It’s accurate there. No one who was for health care reform should have thought or did think that people who were against it (or that version of it) were against there being health care, so they shouldn’t have said they were not “pro-health care,” and I’m asserting that they overwhelmingly didn’t. And likewise, people who are not for reforming education, or for a particular version of education reform, are certainly for there being education (and lots of public funding for it as well, typically), and so people should not say that they are not “pro-education.”

                I believe Mike wasn’t and would clearly and unequivocally say that he would not say that, and I think you know that, but for some reason you are elaborately equivocating for your own part.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                …In short, that option is taken. Often.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:


                I see no need to call people evil. I rarely do so.

                But labeling someone who wants better education through Means A “pro-education” and someone else who wants better education through Means B “pro-education” and someone else who wants better education through Means C “pro-education… and so on and so forth… eventually being labeled as “pro-education” is rather meaningless. It is helpful if it helps people recognize that all involved parties DO want to improve education and helps them to come to the table with a common goal rather than immediately identifying as antagonists… but beyond that, it doesn’t do much.

                So if your point is to point out that it would be wrong to call Mike “anti-education”, even if you vehemently disagree with his proposal… that’s fair. But it doesn’t do much beyond that.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                I actually offered that option *TWICE*. (As of this moment, comments 3 and 7.)

                It was when I saw it rejected a couple of times that I figured that I was arguing against people for whom the ability to call their opposition evil was more important to them than for themselves to be seen as merely disagreeing on a solution after weighing the evidence for themselves.

                When it comes to Mike’s platform, it’s not one that I’d sign onto, myself, but (as I also said), I wish that the opposition party signed onto it. I’d love for that to be one side of the debate. It’s a bright, cheerful, positive, and optimistic platform. Would that more politics got off on that foot.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Jaybird says:

                So Jaybird,

                I’m not anti-education just because I disagree, right?

                I want to be clear.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                It doesn’t matter how often you said it; we know you think that option exists. The issue is what you are saying about the propensity of others not to acknowledge or employ that option. And actually, what you did in those comments you reference is make what you might have been saying totally obscure by wrapping it in a thick, wool blanket of facetiousness, which also allowed you to avoid the question that was put to you, reading even slightly charitably. Shazbot knows he is not anti-education and you know that, which means he could only have been asking if you were saying he was. You could have answered directly, since in fact he is not the person who knows the answer to that question; you are. (To be fair to you, that’s not something he needed to think you might be saying, but at the same time, with the extent to which you clearly imply things without stating them and employ facetiousness here, I don’t think it was unreasonable for him to wonder if you wanted to say that or not.)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                Shaz, twice I’ve given you the option of saying “maybe people just reach different conclusions after looking at the same evidence I’m looking at” and, twice, you’ve apparently rejected that option.

                Surely it can’t be because you want to keep the option of seeing people who disagree with you, politically, as being evil while, at the same time, wishing to express disapproval that others might do the same to you… can it?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                The issue is what you are saying about the propensity of others not to acknowledge or employ that option.

                I think that, at best, they lack imagination. It’s all downhill from there.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Jaybird says:


                I don’t want to call anyone evil and never mentioned the word “evil.”

                What is your answer to my simple “yes or no” question?

                You have two options.

                1. Yes, Shazbot, you are anti-education because you don’t like these policies.

                2. No, Shazbot, you are not anti-education because you don’t like these policies.

                (NB: Given the law of excluded middle, you must believe in either sentence 1. or sentence 2. and not both because 2. is the negation of 1.)

                Please give me a straightforward answer about whether you believe sentence 1. or sentence 2.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Jaybird says:

                If you don’t know the answer, please tell me which of the words that you don’t understand.

                Remember, the question is whether you think that the evidence that I don’t favor Mike’s proposed policies on education is sufficient to call me anti-education.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                Shazbot asked you a simple question; in response you gave him “options” that, on any straightforward reading that doesn’t strain to try to figure out what you’re saying, were simply unresponsive non-sequiturs. Shazbot didn’t respond to them, from which you concluded he was a particular kind of person whom you don’t like, and now you’re going on about him “rejecting options” and so forth and so on.

                In reality, you simply refused to answer a simple question (which in itself is fine, but the rest of all that doesn’t seem fine to me at all).

                That’s what I see when I look at this conversation.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                I had a pretty decent rant that answered those issues but then I pressed send and it told me that I was not logged in. So I lost it.

                As such, I am going to go upstairs and feed the cats, put on some cozy PJs, get a plate of something, and see if I can’t settle down and recreate something almost as good.

                Sigh. I hate when that happens. (Anyway, not ignoring you, not blowing you off. Just irritated at the ‘tubes. Back soon.)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                When I first read Mike’s (fun! quite good!) post, I was struck primarily at how *POSITIVE* it was. Forward-looking, optimistic, all kinds of bright and shiny. I wasn’t thinking about the people who disagreed with his various policies. Why would I have been? I was thinking about what he wrote and being pleased at reading a positive and upbeat post.

                I thought I’d talk about how he was “pro-” everything that he was talking about because, let me restate, I was pleased at the positivity in his post.

                Imagine my surprise when the responses were of the form “what are you saying about *ME*?” Dude. I wasn’t.

                Now, when it comes to framing and discussing policy and what have you, one of the things that bugs me the most is the whole “who cares the *MOST*?” war that inevitably shows up. “I care the most!” “No, I care the most!” While I certainly understand the feeling that caring is important, I can’t help but keep in mind that many policy problems have more in common with engineering challenges than with, say, I dunno what to compare it to. (What problems are solved by how much you care?)

                Anyway, in this particular irritating dynamic in the “seriously, I care more” wars, is the inclusion of “being good” with “caring” (and, by implication, “not caring” with “not being good”). In all of the various things that the Doctor Dobson Christian Right has in common with the Progressive Left, this attitude really, really, really, really frustrates me. There’s more than one way to tackle pretty much anything and the fact that someone disagrees with this, or that, or the other particular policy implies anything, anything at all!, about how “good” they are.


                This strikes me as so fundamentally obvious (as it is true for pretty much anything you replace “EDUCATION” with), that it strikes me as funny that this could possibly, even for a second, be up for debate.

                So, to say again, Shaz: I am sure that you’re pro-education too.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                How hard was that, my friend?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                The internet ate (a much better, seriously) version of that comment the first time. So harder than it should have been.

                But it always freaks me out when I’m expected to say something that goes without saying. Surely you must be joking!, I say to myself. I’m usually willing to run with someone who’s joking.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                Nothing actually does go without saying, especially after the point at which it’s clear that you’re interacting with someone who in all their earnestness did not know that they should know that it goes without saying (for you).

                What, in the end, was gained by not straightforwardly answering the question and then straightforwardly expressing your dismay and anger that it didn’t go without saying that you weren’t saying those who didn’t agree with Mike’s education proposals were anti-education?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                I hope that, perhaps, someone out there will encounter someone who disagrees with them politically. Perhaps this person will find themselves about to say, paraphrased, “you’re against everything that’s good!”

                Perhaps they’ll remember this exchange and find that those words die in their throat. Maybe the other person isn’t anti-good. Maybe, just maybe, they will force themselves to consider, for a moment, the possibility that someone could have different policy preferences.


              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                And getting you to affirm that you believe all that was all Shazbot was looking to get out of you. Maybe what you describe will happen, but I would submit that treating someone here who was simply looking for you to affirm that you believe these things this way was not an acceptable way for you to pursue that aim. You should play it more straight and be less circuitous, facetious and, frankly, contemptuous of other people as long as you are going to do your thing here, Jaybird. None of us are here to have our time wasted in this way.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                It’s not contempt. I admit that there is a bit of mockery involved, but it’s the mockery of the puffery behind the attitude that sees someone say “this is a pro-education stance” and responds by saying “ARE YOU SAYING THAT I AM AGAINST EDUCATION??? ANSWER THE QUESTION!”

                See it as “affectionate” rather than “contemptuous” and you’ll be a lot closer to the mark.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                This has been amusing.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                I didn’t say you actually had contempt. I said you displayed contemptuousness. I.e., what you are doing communicates contempt, whether or not you feel it. I actually don’t think there is a conceivable way to hold that mocking each other here communicates anything other than contempt. It’s a great deal worse that you then ask for people to understand that necessarily contemptuous (even if you don’t feel contempt; I don’t care what you feel, I care what you say) way of relating to people as affectionate. From what you’ve said so far I have a great deal of difficulty believing that you had affectionate thoughts about Shazbot through this.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                I actually don’t think there is a conceivable way to hold that mocking each other here communicates anything other than contempt.

                Didn’t we just have this conversation?

                Truly, I have failed.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                You can mock someone you have a good basis of understanding/rapport with. (But why would you?) If you find yourself mocking someone you don’t know too well, tend not to agree with, currently disagree with, and whose views tend to make you have a slightly lower opinion of them, then you’re just mocking someone who is in that position wrt yourself. I don’t think it’s really all that possible to mock that person in the midst of any kind of halfway-serious disagreement about policy or politics without communicating alack of a certain basic level of respect for them (even though of course you actually have that basic respect).

                I’m not really sure how we just had that conversation.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Jaybird says:

                So, after 10,000 words, the answer is, “No, I don’t think you are anti-education.”


              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                That’s about the size of it. No, that’s exactly the size of it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                Shaz, I am going to give you a gift. This is a very valuable gift and you’re one of the people on the planet who will appreciate exactly how valuable it is. At some point this week, you will be out and about with your significant other. You will be discussing some minor trivia… celebrity gossip, an ad playing on a television screen you’re passing, perhaps a billboard… and you will mention that so-and-so is very attractive. Perhaps even in passing. A “I can’t believe that Gwyneth Paltrow got picked the most beautiful person in the world. They should have picked Ryan Gosling!” or something like that.

                Your significant other will turn to you and say “What? Are you saying that I’m not good looking?”

                You’re welcome.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                THE WORST THING Shaz could do if that situation were to transpire would be to approach it as you did here. The worst.

                You just say – and this is key – *IMMEDIATELY*: “Of course not, honey! You’re as beautiful as the day I fell in love with you!”

                Immediacy being the key part, but clarity also being key. Because that way people don’t get their time wasted or fail to understand what you mean.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                And, let me get this straight, that response is seen as “not contemptuous”?

                I will never understand you people.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                No, Jaybird, telling your significant other that she’s beautiful when you mistakenly make he think that maybe you don’t think she is (even though of course you do) is not contemptuous.

                Or did you mean by “that response,” the way I said that? It was animated but direct. I hope you didn’t feel it was contemptuous. If you did, though, I apologize unreservedly.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                Seriously, if that was over the top and you feel I’m being a hypocritical bully at this point, I apologize. I didn’t feel your “I’m really giving you a gift” comment to be necessary, and while it wasn’t contemptuous, I did think it continued to be condescending and, if not mean-spirited, then at least insincere. But there was no reason I had to respond; it would have been bigger of me not to. I apologize.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:


                Please feel free to shoot me down here, but I am wondering if it’s possible that to some extent you internalize directness as the beginnings of something like an affront, and the more animated the directness the closer to being uncivil, while some of us internalize indirectness and elision as disrespect or event (mild) contempt?

                If that were true about two about two people, it seems to me that it might well spell pretty difficult communication between them. And…

                Just a thought. Neither disposition, it seems to me, is better or worse than the other. I will try to be more patient with how I read and understand your meanings in the future.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Jaybird says:

                ““What? Are you saying that I’m not good looking?”

                Then I will pull a Jaybird and say 10,000 words not answering the question before answering, “No, I think you’re good looking too.”

                This will make my spouse rightly think that I do think she isn’t good looking even after I finally answer the question. Then I will pull another Jaybird and say it is her problem for being confused by my 10,000 words distracting from and not answering the question.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                If you’d like to write an essay where you can explain how pro-education you are, I would do everything in my power to see that we publish it here. I’m sure that there will be any number of comments in that post that agree that you are pro-education.

                Perhaps those comments will affirm your self-evaluation of your pro-education stance in ways that I never could.

                Would you write this essay? Seriously: I’ll do what I can to make sure that we put it up.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Jaybird says:

                No, I don’t wish to write such a post.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Jaybird says:

                I ignored most of that exchange but Shazbot, I see why JB pulled out the ‘write a guest post’ option at the end (I like to think of this as the nuclear option for bloggers). Going all the way back to the beginning, your question to the commentariat was pretty silly. My education proposals are just that, proposals. And they are also pretty incomplete because it wasn’t that kind of post. So to disagree and suggest we might think that means anything other than you simply disagreeing…I believe you were just being intentionally provocative. You seem to like philosophical rabbit holes, as you have taken me down many. The problem is that Jaybird is the League’s OG when it comes to that kind of stuff. A bunch of comments later here we are.Report

              • Avatar kenB in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yeah, we’d avoid a lot of excessive comments if Shaz and Michael would just respond with “99” whenever they don’t understand a Jaybird comment.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                “I liked this post, Mike. Bright, positive, pro-family, pro-business, pro-education!”


                Utopia in the comments, here we come!Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well, this is getting too meta, but,,,

                1. I don’t see how asking me to write a post is a nuclear response (nuclear option) to anything. To me, it is either merely a sincere request or a lame irelevant “come back.” I took it as the former. You seem to see it as the latter, but I don’t see how it is that.

                2. I asked Jaybird a question. I wasn’t being provocative. I asked if he thought i was anti-education. All he had to do was say “No” and then explain his choice of words. But for about 1000000 years worth of comments he, for reasons known only to Jebus, refused to answer the question, until he finally did.

                But now, somehow, his longtime refusal to answer a simple question that he eventually did answer makes me guilty of something? Whatevs.

                3. I don’t take people down rabbit holes. I ask questions about justifications and make direct arguments. (Also, I am often rude and stupid.) But I don’t talk around in circles and avoid issues and throw out red herrings.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Jaybird says:

                The point Shazbot was that you stated a hypothetical (“If I disagree with the education proposals…”) and then invited people to tell you what that meant about you…then got your indignation on because Jaybird played along but not in the way you wanted him to.

                Wouldn’t it have been about 1000 times easier to just say, “I don’t agree with the education proposals,” and then waited to see what people said in response? From the start I don’t think anyone believed that you thought they might think of you as anti-education for disagreeing so I don’t know what your goal was other than to start an exchange which gave everyone a headache.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Jaybird says:

                No, that wouldn’t have been easier than asking “Does that mean I am anti-education” which was the simplest question possible.

                I had hoped he would say “No”

                And then I would say, “Okay, cool. That’s what I thought you’d say. Just wanted to make sure.”

                But he refused to say “No” for a long, long time, suggesting at one point that “If the shoe fits…”

                Why is this my fault?Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Jaybird says:

                As I tell my kids, sill questions get silly answers.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Jaybird says:

                My non-silly question deserved the answer “No,” and everyone admitted that it should get that answer and then after 40 days in the wild, it got an answer.

                Did I do anything wrong?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                If we wish to explore desserts, I don’t know why your answer deserved a “no” more than it deserved a “I don’t know… what is your education policy?”

                Or do you think that you obviously deserved the former and it’s offensive to think that someone would ask the latter?Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Jaybird says:

                Did you just take back your “No” answer?

                Just to be very clear, this was the initial question, verbatim:

                “If I disagree with Mike’s preferences, am I anti-education?”

                You answered “No” after a long series of non-answers. Are you now saying the answer is “Maybe?”

                At a certain point, this subthread will go past insanity and will go plaid.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                No, of course not, Honey. I know that you’re as pro-education as the day we met.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Jaybird says:

                My cat’s breath smells like cat food.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kazzy says:

                Kazzy, plenty of people are anti education for the masses. I could name at least a couple of names, but then Jason would ask me to cite my sources…Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Shazbot5 says:

        Just by way of unsolicited advice to Shaz, from experience, I’ve learned that when JB makes statements like that that leave open the possibility that there is an implication that he may or may not be making, it’s best to just let those statements either imply that or not and not try to suss it out – because this is how he’ll be. If he really wants to make the point, he’ll make the sure the point gets made (in his way).

        In this case, since it’s true that nothing about saying that the ed reform agenda is pro-education means that he is saying that those who aren’t for it are anti-education, it would probably have been best to just let that be, and let him say that if he wanted to. (I think he certainly wanted to raise the question in people’s mind, for which he could then castigate them for thinking “that way,” since obviously the only way you would ever wonder that is if you’re someone who doesn’t think it’s possible for someone you have a disagreement with not to be evil, or at least think evil things – the evidence for that being that 1. as Kazzy says, being pro-education distinguishes nothing and no one from anything or anyone else, so it’s an odd label to use, and 2. that’s exactly what he then went on to do. But the fact of the matter is that he almost certainly wasn’t saying that if you don’t agree with Mike’s proposals, then you’re anti-education. That’s why I say that, from experience, I’ve concluded it’s usually best to just let his ambiguous statements hang out there and let him be responsible for them.)Report

  2. Avatar MikeSchilling says:

    I know that you identify as a conservative, where I identify as a liberal, but I can’t find much here to disagree with.

    On another subject, what restrictions are there on food trucks where you live? Where I have lunch (Oakland), they’re welcome.Report

    • I can’t speak for Mike, but there’s been a movement back home (large city, south, not-insignificant Hispanic population) to restrict them by way of sanitation requirements. It’s an unholy alliance between liberals (never pass up a chance to regulate!) and conservatives (hey, those – disproportionately non-white – people are getting away with something!).

      It was almost comical out in Louisiana. The immigrants came in for the rebuilding and food trucks followed. Suddenly there was a lot of concern about sanitation and safety and all that. To which, at least some people replied, “Are you kidding me? There are bubbas and creoles selling shrimp out the back of Subarus in the sun with mosquitoes buzzing all around!”Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

        In NYC, there has been a war waged against food trucks by the brick and mortar restaurants who fear that food trucks are stealing their business. This is stupid. The customers for food trucks are not the same as those from brick and mortar restaurants.

        Union Square used to have great food trucks. All gone now.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Will Truman says:

        ” there’s been a movement back home…to restrict [food trucks] by way of sanitation requirements. ”

        Well, let’s go the other way, then; stop restricting food trucks for sanitation reasons, but also remove those sanitation requirements from fixed restaurants (along with ADA regulations, emissions requirements, maximum-occupancy standards, and so on.)

        Sound good?Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Jim Heffman says:

          fixed restaurants tend to have low emissions. the customers….well that is different story depending on what they had for dinner. sounds like a win-win for everybody.Report

          • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to greginak says:

            “fixed restaurants tend to have low emissions”

            They’re also required to maintain proper ventilation systems, exhaust through diffusers, prevent fumes from leaking into the environment, etcetera.

            Food trucks can have the end of their muffler pointed directly at the customers if they feel like it.Report

        • Avatar LWA in reply to Jim Heffman says:

          Sounds like a good question:
          What sanitation regulations would anyone here like to see lifted?
          At a restaurant you habitually eat at, of course.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LWA says:

            Let the restaurants not have to wash their cast iron skillets with soap/water!Report

          • Avatar kenB in reply to LWA says:

            I’m not sure if that was meant as snark, but I actually think it would be an interesting exercise — take a big municipality and see if we can get a list of *all* the sanitation regulations for restaurants, along with the perceived benefits and the costs in compliance and monitoring for each one. That’s the level that a serious discussion of regulations should take place, not the typical “they’re important!” “they kill businesses!” slapfight.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to LWA says:

            What regulations get enforced, anyhow?
            That place in NYC with the $10,000 desserts is routinely closed for health code violations…Report

  3. Avatar Dennis Sanders says:

    At the risk of being shouted down, I think most of the post makes sense, but I have to disagree on the failure of the background checks. While I supported them and was sad to see the bill go down to defeat, there are reasons it failed other than “cowardice.”

    First, there was no indication the bill would pass the House. There was no compelling reason for a Senator to vote for something that would bring the wrath of pro-gun folks and wasn’t going to pass in the House. Yes, the 26 lives lost is compelling, but in the political arithmetic most senators only saw downsides, no upside.

    Second, is a more institutional change that has occurred in Congress since the 1970s. David Frum via Megan McArdle makes the best argument. This is a long post, so instead of posting a bit of it, I will link to it: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/04/23/memo-the-aaron-sorkin-model-of-political-discourse-doesn-t-actually-work.html

    None this means that background checks won’t ever pass. But I think it has to be done in light of the realities on the ground.Report

  4. Avatar greginak says:

    There is a a lot here i could agree with. Just to nitpick: there will never be a “good” time for gun control. It won’t be easier years past Newtown. For one thing, we’ll likly have some other nutbag go off and, two, i think its a bit naive to think the most energized pro-gun people will ever relax or be less paranoid.

    An audit for the military is nice, nothing special, just nice. Really seriously cutting the military budget requires a newer strategic vision about what we truly need.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to greginak says:

      Really seriously cutting the military budget requires a newer strategic vision about what we truly need.

      And what we can afford. The last Joint Operating Environment document that I read seemed to have a lot of “high oil prices are going to force us to scale back the military significantly” tucked in between the lines. I read it as worry about not just the kinds of cuts that audits might find, but worrying that, for example, the Navy would certainly not get to keep anywhere near all of its current eleven carrier strike groups.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to greginak says:

      I see a huge problem with cutting the military budget:

      In times like we’ve been through, perhaps still reside in, with a non-cooperative Congress, defense spending is one of the really big levers a president holds to do economic stimulus; particularly in smaller, far-flung communities where 50 jobs make a huge difference.

      But I’d also point out that defense is already cut. It’s half the sequester.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to zic says:

        If we want jobs programs than lets do jobs problems. There are far better jobs programs then defense; we can build roads, schools, houses for poor people, clean up garbage. There are all sorts of things we can hire people to do. We could treble the NSF and NIH budgets from money taken from defense spending.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to greginak says:

          The defense industry produces enormous amounts of software. I will assert that anyone who cares to can spend a couple of weeks talking to any department in any state or large city department in this country, and find a need for an enormous amount of new and/or updated software. This doesn’t even require the kind of potentially radical change in skills that some suggestions would require — eg, software developers trying to learn to be carpenters to build houses. This is just a matter of redirecting an existing skill set at a different group of problems.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to greginak says:

          I agree. But that’s not reality.Report

          • Avatar dexter in reply to zic says:

            Zic, Why can’t we move that money to programs that benefit all Americans instead of paying vast sums of money to protect the corp’s shipping lanes? I think that instead of having bases all over the planet our armed forces could do things in America. Do we really need bases everywhere? Do we really need to hire mercs to train anti drug forces in South America? Even more important, couldn’t those brains now being used to create more destructive bombs be used to create better solar energy panels?Report

            • Avatar zic in reply to dexter says:

              I totally agree, Dexter.

              If it were me, I’d pump money into R&D and job creation and infrastructure and not have a military.

              But there is great good, there, too. Military spending pays for a lot of important things other then bases and guns that benefit us, that we don’t realize. We’re not willing to pay for solar panels; Solyndra and all. But I’ll bet my bottom dollar that the panels developed to power remote coms in Iraq will be of enormous value in the US within the next decade.Report

  5. Avatar Will H. says:


    Of course, we have to have a National Anthem.
    That’s why the Jimi at Woodstock version of our national anthem will be played at all official functions.
    The other side can have Roseanne Barr.Report

  6. Avatar James K says:

    I can’t agree with the far subsidies Mike, and I don’t know enough about the specifics of the “heart” policies to really comment, but I can definitely see some potential here Mike.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to James K says:

      I’m with James, as you could expect. I pretty much am down with your platform except for the farm subsidies.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to North says:

        I would totally support farm subsidies if they went to small farms; I strongly believe in the importance of regional food production.

        But I’m really against spending money on large-scale industrial farms.

        And I do recognize that sometimes it’s hard to tell the two apart.Report

  7. Avatar greginak says:

    So i assume your saving the “enormous schwanzstucker” polices for a second post.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to greginak says:

      Definitely needs a second post. No one’s proposal for a new party can be taken seriously if the only mention of health care financing is “…so that more out-of-pocket health costs are paid by the well-to-do.” This is the 800-pound schwanzstucker that’s driving all of the forecasts of unsupportable long-term federal spending, slowly bankrupting the states (or at least forcing deep cuts in other traditional state programs), and is soon to reach 20% of GDP. I disagree with Mike’s statement that “…this is enough to get it moving.” Without a health care financing position, the new party is DOA.Report

  8. Avatar Zac says:

    Mike, I’m an extremely liberal guy and I would love to have your party to vote for. They sound much better than either of the options we have now.Report

  9. Avatar Qub says:

    They call for improving the stock of affordable housing

    They should look around the world first. The U.S. already does a better job of this than most countries. There are countries with housing that is more affordable, due to subsidies, but the stock is generally limited, resulting in long waiting periods. Housing suits the definition of a privat good, and so markets actually do a pretty good job of supplying it. Of course one way government could help with that is to stop mandating minimum lot and minimum home sizes that drive up the cost of a home, and whose real purpose is to prop up neighbors’ property value.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Qub says:

        Qub, I think that Vienna’s model is not really applicable towards America and is something that even many liberals might find troubling. In Vienna, most people live in and rent from the government. This goes against the entire home-owning ethic in America culture. American preferences are also for single-family houses and even in our densest cities like NYC or Boston, a lot of the housing stock is single-family houses.

        More practical problems is that city governments in the United States simply do not have the money to build or run Vienna-like housing estates. Our taxes are too low and can’t be raised to the necessary level. American cities have also demonstrated incompetency in building and running housing estates. We produce Cabrini Greens, not the Karl Marx Hof.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Qub says:

      America, where you can buy a house, and have the construction do $90,000 worth of damage within the first five years!Report

  10. Avatar Kimmi says:

    “improving the stock of affordable housing ”
    is incredibly unclear. Do you mean making affordable housing better, as the FHA loan program proposes to do?
    Or do you mean increasing the stock of affordable housing? (by, say, decreasing the goodness of existing houses, or decreasing the building codes that make new housing cost so much?)Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Kimmi says:

      A lot of people are focusing on that specific proposal and to be honest I don’t have the exact details. I am going to speculate that they are talking about more homes in the lower price range. I actually think this probelm is going to begin to solve itself too. A lot of Baby Boomers are going to be selling soon and when millions of their homes flood the market prices are probably going to fall.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        I’d say the rise in gas prices ought to mean a fall in prices, in a lot of places…Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kimmi says:

          Why? Do the things that have prices not have to rely on stuff that uses gas to get to where they are going to be sold at a marginal profit?Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jaybird says:

            … a fall in housing prices, jay. houses don’t move (or at least move rarely enough that their movement is not a large factor in their price).

            Not that this actually makes houses out there more affordable… in the presence of ever-increasing gas prices, it actually makes them less affordable as time goes on.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kimmi says:

              2x4s, drywall, shingles, copper pipes, linoleum, and avacado-green ovens all need to get to the site. Hell, so do the workmen who assemble them all together.

              A rise in the price of gas causes a rise in the price of damn near all.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jaybird says:

                Except that, as per upthread, we were talking about preexisting houses.
                Yes, gas does increase the cost of new housing. Workman’s cost is far higher I’m certain, as is value of the land in a lot of cases.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kimmi says:

                Ah, I see what you mean. Well, it seems to me that we’re more likely to have a homesourcing revolution than a “move back to the cities” one.

                People like being able to create new school districts out of thin air for their little ones, for some reason.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jaybird says:

                For somethings, this works really well (programming). Not so much for dockworkers and industrial parks, or even engineers. Wall Street would revolt if you forced them to work from home.Report

              • I think she’s saying that with higher gas prices, people can’t as easily afford houses in the ‘burbs that require a lot of driving for work, shopping, school, entertainment, or anything, really. This would put downward pressure on the prices of these homes.

                It could also lead to more mixed-use development, so people in the ‘burbs didn’t have to make long commutes everyday.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

                Could. But there’s no real reason to pay the extra money to ship something 30 miles away — and many many reasons not to.

                Ikea’s business model relies on having solid (cheap!) transportation. I see more businesses moving towards that model.Report

      • A lot of Baby Boomers are going to be selling soon and when millions of their homes flood the market prices are probably going to fall.

        So many people state this as a given that I’ve become a contrarian. As a Boomer, with a lot of Boomer friends, we seem to be finding reasons to hang on to our houses for as long as possible. The effects will also be localized. To some of Kimmi’s points, my house in an inner ring suburb just under two miles from one of Denver’s new light-rail lines (opening in 2016, and it can’t come too soon for me) is not going to drop in price.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Michael Cain says:

          Da. very much so. Houses in Scranton that people were using to commute to NYC? They’ve already plummeted in value.

          Smart towns decide what they want to save, and what they can afford to relinquish.Report

          • Avatar Dave in reply to Kimmi says:


            Since people can now afford to live closer to NYC as a result of pricing fundamentals, Scranton looks less and less favorable, as do a lot of locales in that part of Pennsylvania.Report

        • Avatar Dave in reply to Michael Cain says:

          I don’t know if this would happen either. If enough people saw prices dropping as a result of oversupply in the market, they’ll end up holding on to their homes until a time where they think they can get better pricing in the market.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Dave says:

            In the field of elder care, it’s hard to ignore the large number of people desperate to stay in their houses and out of institutions. And a fair number of states have, or have asked for, waivers so they can spend federal dollars on in-home services rather than institutional care, because it’s so much cheaper to provide the in-home support than it is to pay for institutional care.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Cain says:

          I’m more worried about when the Boomers start leaving the stock market en masse.

          I’ve been told that I shouldn’t worry about that because there is more than enough capital out there to snarf up stocks that go down in price. This strikes me as optimistic.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird says:

            In a country where >80% of the wealth, particularly financial securities, are held by a remarkably small portion of the population, it seems somewhat silly to think that there’s going to be a “run” on the stock market. What, they’re going to decide that $500K per year in income isn’t sufficient for their retirement, so they’re going to jump that to $1M? The people who hold the vast majority of stocks in this country don’t need to sell very much very fast to retire quite comfortably.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jaybird says:

            Hence why I’ve been calling it a Ponzi scheme. Oh, sure, the people who were in before the Boomers (they wealthy) got richer… But the pyramid scheme won’t last forever.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        Mike, during the mid 2000’s, I wrote about the speculative real-estate markets frequently. For one piece, I spoke with a researcher at Harvard, and his take was that the housing boom did just this: the single era of greatest improvement in housing markets in the world’s history; particularly in areas of old housing stock. There was massive amounts of re-insulating and ventilating and electrical upgrading and lead-paint removal.

        The problem is that that improving turned the housing unaffordable.

        I’ve spent the last two weeks embedded in housing again; my sweetie’s been offered several jobs (amazing, really, since he wasn’t looking for a new job), and one would require us to relocate to a northeastern city. Despite a 3-digit offer, more then doubling his salary, we cannot afford to move there; a two-bedroom apartment of the type one lives in at the end of college costs $2,500/mo. and up. And I’m considerably beyond that stage in my life where an apartment like that will suit my fancy.

        I predicted a housing collapse in 2005 in writing, (though not on the scale of the economic collapse we had; I didn’t understand the depth of gambling going on that was actually driving the bubble we were in.) What I thought then still holds true now: the median household price has to line up with the median household income.

        Priced dropped for most of the nation. But wages dropped more. We still haven’t had the actual correction in the housing market we need for a healthy economy.

        So I’m not sure if we need improved affordable housing; perhaps more affordable housing. But more crucial would be improved wages in general. Housing, even after the crash is not the problem, stagnant wages is.Report

  11. I find the education policy interesting. I’m not sure why you consider charter schools and vouchers outside our existing framework. Charter schools exist in many places. Private schools exist just about anywhere I can think of in the U.S. and Canada, so wouldn’t vouchers to go to private schools just be a way of opening up the existing framework? (Note, I’m not saying that they’re good or bad, just that they would exist within the current framework.)

    Also, I don’t really understand this: “Schools need to create a sense of elitism by crafting programs that are in-demand and have a high bar for admittance.”

    I mean, I know what the words mean, but I don’t know what the goal is. In many locales, there are in-demand, elite schools with a high bar for admittance (seems that describes a lot of private schools, but some public schools, as well). Is the idea to have kids compete to get into good schools? Doesn’t that really hurt some kids? Aren’t we likely to see a lot of the negative consequences to break along certain socio-economic lines? Maybe I’m just not understanding this policy or its application properly.

    I’m also worried about the post-secondary school education policy. It seems to me that lowering student loan rates and increasing grants/scholarships will just up the demand for colleges and universities. Won’t this put upward pressure on tuition, or will you be capping tuition prices?

    Further, if we do make post-secondary school cheaper, aren’t we just encouraging more people to go to college and university, whether it’s right for them or not? There’s a common refrain in the world of job searching that every job demands a university degree even if you really don’t need a university degree to do the job (how would, say, a BA in Music (Performance) prepare you to be a paper-pushing bureaucrat? I use this example because it describes a friend).

    I worry that your policy would just increase the fetishization of higher education. I’d like to see a demonstrated need (beyond just stupid job ads), before jumping on this policy’s bandwagon. And I mean that sincerely, if you show me the need, I’ll totally reconsider this.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

      There’s a real problem with education prices — I couldn’t tell you how to fix the problem, but it’s interesting that as the government phased out (or cut) pro-college programs.

      Pell grants don’t buy you nearly as much as they used to, for one — and student loans today? Nothing nearly as nice and affordable as they were in the 90s. The difference in rates I’m paying on my bachelor’s (roughly 94-99) and my wife’s masters (2007ish?) are HUGE. Like 3 or 4 percentage points more for the later stuff — and I cannot refinance or consolidate to lower rates. My undergrad stuff? Got to consolidate to a ridiculously low rate pegged off the prime rate. My wife’s masters? If I consolidate, the new rate is identical to the old (whatever mix of rates I pay will be the same — it won’t save a penny) and it’s not off the prime rate.

      There’s colleges springing up everywhere, loans are more expensive, and yet college prices are leaping ahead of all of that — it’s not even close. It’d be like the raw materials to make a car increasing by 3%, labor costs by 2%, inflation 3%, and the new car costing 40% more. It’s a head scratcher, and all the online schools and in-state tuition in the world won’t fix it, because they’re not addressing whatever the real problem is.

      And heck if I know what it is. All I know is it costs a LOT more than it did 15 years ago (far more than inflation would cover), the costs of borrowing are something like 3 times as high now as 15 years ago, and grants and the like are smaller and harder to get.Report

      • Thanks, Morat20. These are exactly some of the problems we see with post-secondary education (and, admittedly, I know very little about the U.S. system, but it seems a lot of the problems in Canada are similar to the problems down south). I’m like you, I don’t really know what to do about it (other than pray my daughters become successful rock stars or something).Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

      Jonathon – vouchers that shift public school kids into private schools just destroy the barriers to entry that make private schools so good. Charter schools seem to be incubators of experimental teaching methods. I think that while some are successful, often kids suffer for being subjected to new teaching methods.

      What I want to see is every school hosting some sort of program which makes it appealing. In my locale we call them ‘magnet’ programs. These should have corporate or university sponsors and be awesome. Let kids fight for the privelage of joining those programs. Competition is a good thing. For the rest that choose a more traditional path, let’s make that a viable option too.

      I’d like to think that if Uncle Sam makes grants more available they can pressure universities to curb spending. As for the danger of making a university education too commonplace, I agree to a point, however it’s still not an easy four years. I think the natural attrition rate will weed out a lot of those seeking degrees simply because they are free, meaning I know a lot of people who have 1-2 years of college under their belt.Report

      • Regarding your first paragraph – you’re saying you like the barriers that keep poorer students from attending the best schools? I can’t sign on to that. In fact, that sort of viewpoint would keep me from supporting a political party.

        Further, I don’t understand why you are against innovation in teaching techniques – especially when you want specialized schools. The status quo is not good. We need to figure out better ways to reach and teach our kids. There is, by necessity, going to be some experimentation. In Canada, the schools that offer innovative approaches tend to be more successful. I would think the U.S. would want to do the same thing (and, really, it’s just another form of competition).

        I don’t have much against your second paragraph, though I’m skeptical of the sponsorship idea.

        Your third paragraph is interesting. Yes, paying for school is really tough, but I imagine it might be tougher for the kids who are induced into going to university, who rack up 2 or more years worth of debt, but then don’t have the diploma that they need to get a good job (because of the inflated value of a diploma when looking for a job) that would let them pay off that debt. It seems your proposal might wind up helping the students who least need the help (those that graduate) at the expense of the students who are most vulnerable (those who drop out).Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:


          I’m saying barriers (specifically financial barriers) are what make private schools so successful. They create an obstacle which must be overcome and this creates a level of commitment. How do you see poor students and their families suddenly demonstrating the same level of commitment when given a golden ticket to a private school? That’s why I want to see a different kind of competition within the public school framework.

          I’m fine with experimentation. I just don’t want a whole school built around that model.

          My proposal would be for a lot more grants…so the kids that drop out incur no debt. The government still gets the benefit of them hopefully learning something while they are there.Report

          • “How do you see poor students and their families suddenly demonstrating the same level of commitment when given a golden ticket to a private school? That’s why I want to see a different kind of competition within the public school framework.”

            Noblesse obligeReport

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

              Or they function as an anchor around the necks of the students whose families pay tuition.Report

              • You’re assuming that the children of poor people are necessarily worse, less committed students than the children of wealthier people. Please show your work.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

                They’re not. Their lives are generally far more intrusive to their schooling, but generally the kids applying for lotteries and such have parents who are willing to move heaven and earth to minimize that.

                Honestly, I’d suspect the children of the poor whose parents are clamoring to get them into private schools are probably more motivated than the kids of rich parents, by and large.

                The kids of rich parents, however, are more likely not to have their lives upended. (Being poor sucks. The difference between poor with food and a roof and homeless is measured in microns at time).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Morat20 says:

                Agreed. The poor kids who have parents like that are the kids who are most likely to get up and out… assuming, of course, a path. We should make more paths.Report

              • I would tend to agree with both of you.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Jaybird says:

                More paths means clearing obstacles.

                The obstacles are caused by intergenerational poverty not bad education or unionized teachers. Good education is good, but it can’t cure poverty and poverty causes the bad results in American education,

                To improve education in the aggregate increase sending on welfare, increase the minimum wage, etc.

                The paths require us to spend more on poverty, not changing education.Report

              • Morat20, you’re right that poverty is an underlying issue, but the North American education system (yes, I’m painting with a broad brush) needs a lot of work, as well. There’s a lot of innovation going in alternative schools. There’s also a lot of good things happening in Nordic countries. Our school systems would benefit from incorporating some new ideas.

                Surely, we can work on improving the school system and fight poverty at the same time.Report

              • Avatar Qub in reply to Jaybird says:

                The obstacles are caused by intergenerational poverty not bad education or unionized teachers

                This is awfully close to begging the question, because it doesn’t address what causes intergenerational poverty. Bad education may very well be a factor there; certainly if poor children are likely to receive an inferior education than do well off children.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well, you can’t expect us to talk about “culture”.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Jaybird says:


                What evidence is there that putatively bad schools (schools with low test scores that are likely caused by poverty, IMO) cause poverty?

                The evidence is that charter schools don’t do any better in the aggregate teaching the same sets of students. And when you control for income and socioeconomic status, Teach For America teachers do not do better than public school teachers (though recent work found they did slightly better with math teaching, but not readin and writin.)

                I recommend this post (lots of links to important studies with nice overviews):

                “Another study conducted by the Center on Education Policy (pdf) compared the achievement of similar students at private and public high schools. The study found that when controlling for achievement trends prior to high school, socioeconomic status, and parental involvement, students at private schools fared no better on achievement tests in math, reading, science, and history than their public school peers. As with magnet schools, the reason private schools appear to instruct students better is that they have a higher percentage of students whose background predisposes them to superior achievement in any environment.”

                That’s probably a bit overstated, but not by much.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:


            Let me first say that I like a lot of what you have in this proposal. More importantly, I respect you a ton ’round these parts.

            But on this specific point, about the impact of lower-income families on private schools, as a teacher who has worked exclusively in private schools… you are dead wrong.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

          Look, why do private schools do so well?

          Public schools have to take EVERYONE. Private schools cherrypick.

          Sure, there’s lots of other things — but those two are the biggies. You simply can’t compare the two as long as that’s true. Even things like lotteries? Your starting group is self-selected for kids with parents motivated to get them into better schools.

          That’s a good chunk of the “filtering” effect of private schools. It doesn’t matter if they’re cherrypicking (or filtering) based on income, talent, or whatever — they’re highly selective samples that are tilted towards better academic performance. (Rich kids, no matter how dumb or spoiled, at least get fed regularly, have a roof over their head, access to doctors, and have parents and/or tutors who have at least some time to emphasize education).Report

          • Yes, in our current system, this is why relying exclusively on private schools and vouchers (both of which I support) to improve the education system is foolish.Report

            • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

              Well, there’s another problem: The public schools aren’t as bad as those yelling tend to claim.

              In fact, most public schools are fair to excellent. The truly bad ones are atrocious — but they are all (or so close to all as to be non-existant) serving very, very poor communities. It’s not that they don’t have enough money to run a school (although you can check out some of the rural Texas districts for some examples of that) so much as the kids themselves simply have concerns far beyond school, and education isn’t highly prioritized because it’s effectively a luxury for them.

              Broken homes, parents working multiple jobs, drugs, violence — a million anchors weighing down poor kids. No teaching method is gonna magically save them. Charter and private schools work by yanking out, well, the saveable kids. The ones with parents who are motivated and want their kids to learn. The kids who are willing to learn.

              It’s a knotty problem, but I get a bit tired of hearing “failing public schools” when we’re talking a tiny fraction of schools whose ‘failing’ nature seems entirely correlated with ‘grinding poverty’ while the vast majority of schools (filled with kids whose lives aren’t full of grinding poverty) routinely turn out decently to well educated kids in job lots.

              It feels…scammish, every time I hear “failing schools”. I instinctively grab my wallet.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Morat20 says:

                As well you ought. the people running the scam want to not have to pay a dime towards students who aren’t their own kids. Ever. (instead, using parochial schools to teach “probably wrong” information).Report

              • “It’s a knotty problem, but I get a bit tired of hearing “failing public schools”…”

                Fair enough. You’ll notice that in the comment I wrote, I spoke of improving the education system. I hope that we agree that there is room for improvement, even in good schools.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

                Yeah, that wasn’t really directed at you. Just generalized fatigue because that’s how every story’s written, it seems.

                And having actually bothered to go to school board meetings and pay attention, well — the “consultants” like Michelle Rhee have a great gig going.

                There’s serious, serious money in education and there’s an almost total lack of skepticism on would-be reformers part. They buy into the most ridiculousy things, hook, line and sinker.

                Waste not just hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars (in a single school district), but badly damage one or more years of kids education before they work out that the latest “School miracle” they paid big bucks for failed.

                It’s not even a particularly new scam. I’ve seen pitches at my own local school board meetings — badly skewed statistics and shiny charts that amount to an hour long “Scare the crap out of parents so they’ll demand change, then charge 100k for it”. People have been using variations of that since the dawn of time.

                *eyeroll*. And I live in a good school district. High rankings, good results, high graduation rates and impressive college numbers — from what is still a very heavily blue-collar school district. And I’ve still seen angry, angry parents who are convinced somehow their kid is getting screwed.

                How? They’re not 100% on that. But things must be done, and the person who just gave that great presentation showing how bad things are and how little Johnny is falling behind Has a Plan. It’s Worth the Money.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Morat20 says:

                Plus 100000Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Morat20 says:

                Yup. Public schools have been in crisis since basically the 60’s if you look into newspaper and magazine archives. Mostly by the same group of people with different arguments and the sad truth, since everybody has had one teacher they didn’t jive with, either because that teacher either may not have been Jamie Escalante or shocker, you might have been a massive asshole when you were in eight grade history, blaming the teachers is an easy thing for people to buy into.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Don’t get me wrong. I know bad teachers. Personally.

                Although “bad” comes in two flavors, at least when it’s the faculty discussing itself — “bad” as in “needs to be out of this school” and “Bad” as in “Does the bare minimum”.

                The former tend to get, you know, replaced. The latter don’t — for the same reasons the guys at my work who do the same thing don’t. They get the job done, just…the bare minimum to keep working.

                Even then, the “bare minimum” teachers are often people who just won’t update methods or adapt to changing circumstances. They’ve got a method, they stick to it, even if better ones are available. Or they’re close to retirement — the phrase ‘dinosaur’ is often used.

                But like every other job, there’s “bad enough to fire” (and they do get fired) or “I really wish he/she would quit so I could replace them with someone else”.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Oh, boy…
                Yeah, I still remember the teacher everyone called a “manhater”. She really just wanted people to actually respect her.
                But, being 5’1″, a lot of the boys wanted to push her around.
                And, being the teacher, she had a lot of banhammer to bring down on their souls.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                I’m just curious… how many people involved in this discussion are or were teachers?Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                *lazy wave* tutor. tried to teach a class briefly. sucked at it.Report

              • I’m not a teacher, but I’ve worked in education.Report

          • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Morat20 says:

            “Public schools have to take EVERYONE. Private schools cherrypick. ”

            Isn’t this equivalent to saying “the problem with schools isn’t the teachers, it’s the students, and the solution is to get rid of the dumb students”?Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jim Heffman says:

              That basically is the problem. Numerous studies have shown that once you control for socioeconomic factors, the vast majority of public schools are close to each other in results. It’s just that shockingly, going back to a house where you don’t have to walk past an open air drug market to a house where you might get dinner and the lights might be on the next morning ain’t every conductive to learning.Report

              • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                That’s not actually a response to what I said.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Jim Heffman says:

                The solution isn’t to get rid of the proglem students (in fact, poor students often aren’t dumb. They just, you know, have lives so crappy that school doesn’t even rate).

                Admittedly, that is the private school solution — and to an extent the charter school one — “educate only the students that are easy to, and hang the rest”. (Generally by dumping the rest on the public schools, then using that as proof as to how bad the public schools are.)

                The only real solution to the problem students is to fix their lives, at least enough where school can become even a low priority. However, that is obviously not in the “Education” baliwick. No teacher, no teaching method, no test, no nothing that can be done by, for, or through the education system, the school boards, or the Department of Education will fix that.

                Effectively, it’s as if you made aircraft out of materials that were not quality tested (and not allowed to be). Sometimes the metals were solid and strong, othertimes weak and brittle. You weren’t allowed to choose which ones you got or used. You had to use them all.

                And when aircraft fell out of the sky, saying “You suck as an aerospace engineer” will not ever fix the problem. The best aerospace engineers, the best factories, the best designs will continually fail.

                Until you get whomever is mining the metal to fix their dang problems.Report

              • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Morat20 says:

                The problem is the material and not the method, but somehow “get better material” isn’t an acceptable solution?

                See, you think you’re arguing for better social programs. What you’re *actually* arguing is that dumb students shouldn’t be allowed to go to school, because when the dumb students aren’t present the smart students do better.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        I think it’s hard to make all paths awesome. But we can at least try.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:

          In fact, I think we can start by understanding why folks don’t go into the tougher, more selective classes, and build something around that!

          If you’re still here because “I value my friends more than learning how to be an XYZ”… umm, that’s an Actual Job Skill (“I am sensitive and good with dealing with people, and I value their emotional well being”), and it’s worthy of specialized training, all by itself.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kimmi says:

            This assumes a level of competence on the part of guidance counselors (or the like) that I don’t know is warranted.

            It strikes me as very likely that “the good schools” will be very good at finding proper training/education placement for the students under its care, and “the bad schools” will leave their children behind.Report

            • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jaybird says:

              Yes. Likely. I’m just talking about creating better programs, even for the “mainline track.” After that, we can talk about effective placement.Report

  12. Avatar Citizen says:

    Interesting post Mike,
    I don’t support the farm subsidies, or crop insurance. I have seen enough of the smart farmers that don’t collect either, and don’t engage in that type of “safety”.

    It may be an ugly stance, but I think to dismantle control of immigration flow, it should be required to dismantle minimum wage.

    20 round mag? Is that just a token gesture? I think there should be a law produced that requires every gun manufactured to have the ability to be stored and carried open breech, with at least some mechanical process to chamber a round. Many guns are this way already, but why produce one thats not?

    If handguns tend to be the ugly side of crime maybe we should go back to cap and ball six guns. That would at least require a level of proficiency many criminals wouldn’t care to achieve. Also it would be easy to spot an illegal auto when every thing should be revolver.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Citizen says:

      Monsanto all the way? The big companies are the only ones that can afford to absorb losses (or, god forbid, make models telling them where the droughts are going to be).Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to Kimmi says:

        Please expand on your Monsanto reference, I love your comments but sometimes I don’t see the direction. Farming is nearly as much strategy as it is about size, In the good years some portion of surplus was saved to cover the bad years. Also when you observed your crop withering, there were strategies to plant something that fit that change in season. No insurance, no subsidies required. Has the nation become smart enough to fish up farming? Bajeez I hope not.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Citizen says:

          Pardon. The mention of Monsanto was simply synecdoche.

          Of course farming is about strategy. Which, in actuality, means weather/climate prediction (Why do you think Penn State kicks ass in that dept.?). [hence my comment about letting the companies make the models, as opposed to our unis — if you can’t tell, i’m a big fan of funding climatology research].

          Size means two things:
          1) You aren’t starting out. When you buy land, you buy it premised on the value of corn. And you’ve got a mortgage. You can’t switch, and not lose money. (Okay, with better climatology, this would matter less, as the bank would build in your land devaluing over time because of more drought).

          2) You can absorb losses in one area, while making gains somewhere else. This buffers you from small scale anomalies.

          I haven’t noticed Monsanto producing plagues that will only strike other people’s seed. Yet. I don’t blame the bees on them, they’re affecting everyone.Report

      • Avatar Just Me in reply to Kimmi says:

        Why do we always jump to corn production when discussing farming? I know corn is THE crop due to ethanol production, but it is not the be all and end all definition of farming.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Just Me says:

          Because if you ain’t growing it, you’re by definition not part of the problem (as you are choosing to grow a non-optimal crop, and thus losing money vis your competition — therefore, you can afford problems like droughts a lot better than your newer neighbors).

          … and it’s not just due to ethanol production. Lookit nafta, if you wanna have fun!Report

          • Avatar Just Me in reply to Kimmi says:

            Ok, I don’t get that, not one bit. If you are not part of the problem we don’t mention you? Is that what you just said?

            What do you mean by optimal?

            The small producer who is willing to do labor intensive work and sell their crops as specialty or quality products is making much more per acre than someone who is growing Monsanto corn.Report

            • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Just Me says:

              Are you talking people who are using their own family as labor? Because, even for the small farmers around here, they do use “migrant labor.”

              today’s random citation:

              Where’s yours?Report

              • Avatar Just Me in reply to Kimmi says:

                Where’s my what? Cite….I just live it, I don’t need to look this part up online.

                I’m talking about the farmers I know who they and their family do the labor. I”m not talking about the big ginormous agribusiness farms. There are farms around here that do use migrant workers, but they are mid sized dairy farms. They use American workers too. I have a friend who is going to school and milking 12 hours a day on the weekend for $12/hr. The farmers I know who do the specialty crops are all independents who just use their children as the labor force. They mostly sell at the farmers market or local restaurants.

                My brother he does dairy and raises beefers and corn. Not on a ginormous scale. He also does custom field work for the local farmers who don’t want to invest in their own equipment.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Just Me says:

                *nods* Okay, so the problem as I see it is that a lot of farmer’s kids are heading to the cities. (well, there’s a different problem with suburbs and exurbs). So, I tend to concentrate on “how do we get more farmers”, as a proxy solution for a ton of different problems (including biodiversity 😉 ). It’s not that I mean to ignore the folks who are well-established (and I sure wouldn’t, if we got into dairy pricing…)…

                My recollection is that corn is nearly always the most profitable, but naturally that’s not counting kids’ labor (and it’s not counting places like WV, where the land isn’t terribly suited for farming — ranching otoh…).Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Kimmi says:

                Over the medium (not to mention the immediate) term, we almost certainly meet most/nearly all of our outstanding demand for labor in our agricultural industry with lots of (hopefully very legal) immigrants. I deeply hope that a decent portion of those folks (or their offspring) become landowners themselves over (not too much) time – owners, that is, of some of the land they work in *this* country.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Michael Drew says:

                Because them buying homes/land in their own country is out of line?
                I’m all for letting them do what they please (definitely not standing in the way of folks becoming citizens)!

                After all, way back when, most of the Italian immigrants went home…Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

                Wow. No. Because it would be good for us to update our stock mental image of both what/who/where “immigrant agricultural workers” are, and who “American farmers” are. And because it would be a route to owner-farmer status that would be an additive option, if it came to exist, in addition to whatever such routes currently exist for them. There should be support and encouragement for that to happen, but of course people should always be free to buy land wherever. But if they come here to work, I hope they’ll at least consider, if they are going to look at buying agricultural land to work, setting down roots and buying land here. If a good number do, it would be good for us, and, I think/hope for those who choose it, good for them too.Report

  13. I don’t have time to comment on the specific policy proposals you put forth, but…this was an absolutely awesome post. I’m not used to policy posts that are actively fun to read like this.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      Thanks Mark.Report

      • Ok – one quick policy-specific question. When you talk about public schools competing with each other for funding, are you talking about a sort of “funding follows the student” scenario, but within the structure of the existing public school framework, presumably giving principals greater autonomy in structuring programs outside of a limited core curriculum?Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Mark Thompson says:

          Mark – I wouldn’t have funding follow the students precisely but I would set the following year’s budget based on the success of the previous year.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            success with students seems extremely hard to quantify.
            What you say sounds good, but it will lead to schools competing for the kids “easiest to fix” in whatever metric you use.Report

          • I’m not sure how you’re looking to define success here, but school funding reform is a small but underappreciated aspect of education reform.

            As I understand, the way funding is typically handled, at least outside of union contracts, is that any monies in a budget that are unspent at the end of a year are removed from the following year’s budget. This creates a tremendous incentive for entirely wasteful and indiscriminate end-of-year spending to ensure that every penny in the budget is spent so that the following year’s budget for that program isn’t cut accordingly. It would be far better if, rather than spending that money, it could be stocked away without any risk to the following year’s budget, either as a rainy day fund for recessions or other revenue declines, or for long-term projects, or even for performance-based teacher bonuses of some sort.

            Don’t get me wrong – this type of discretionary spending is a relatively small part of school budgets, but over the course of a couple of years, it would add up pretty quickly.Report

        • Avatar Stephan Cooper in reply to Mark Thompson says:

          If that’s something you’re thinking about, Alberta has that model, where public funds follow the student for public and public charter schools while parents are free to send their kid to any school they can get into. It seems to work pretty well.Report

  14. Avatar NoPublic says:

    I reject the notion that we should subsidize reproduction.
    Of humans or plant species.
    Both lead to undesirable land use practices.Report

  15. Avatar Damon says:

    I stopped at “heart” and glaced through the rest.

    Sure…take even more of MY money to fund your subsidies. Is this what the Independent label has become? Has it moved that far to the statist side?


    • Avatar James K in reply to Damon says:

      It would be a mistake to assume “Independent” was even as ideologically coherent as actual political parties are.

      Al independent means is “none of the above”.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to James K says:


        I kinda expected it to be somewhere along the standard BS Left – Right spectrum but frankly, it’s just a wee bit too statist for me. Figured it be more “out there”.

        “ideologically coherent as actual political parties are.” Gave me a chuckle. lolReport

  16. Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

    Reproductive organs (particularly those with a Y chro):

    What does this party become when money is introduced (lobbying, incentives, elections, revolving-door, et al)? Who ends up getting elected to it in 5, 10, 20, 50 years? Can anyone get elected to it without swearing some other fealty not defined above? What are/Where are the pressures to compromise the principles? How is the party captured by other interests?

    Or, are we staying exclusively in the genre of sci fi/fantasy?

    My 10-year-old son and I are reading The Two Towers at the moment. Fun to share. He’s only seen the first part of the Fellowship movie so far (up to leaving Rivendell).

    (We have a rule that you must read the book first.)Report