Friday, August 28, 2009

Why Do I Love Paul Krugman? This Is But One Reason

Heredity, environment, justice

Oh, Kay. Greg Mankiw looks at a graph showing that children of high-income families do better on tests, and suggests that it’s largely about inherited talent: smart people make lots of money, and also have smart kids.

But, you know, there’s lots of evidence that there’s more to it than that. For example: students with low test scores from high-income families are slightly more likely to finish college than students with high test scores from low-income families.

It’s comforting to think that we live in a meritocracy. But we don’t.


anita said...

only in america ... or something like that.

i've been taking language courses over the summer --- spanish through to august, and now i've finally matriculated into a graduate program to get a master's in teaching ESL/EFL/TESOL.

in this early fringe of my journey toward a new career, i have met several italians ... i.e., people who grew up and were schooled in italy through college and for whom english is their second language.

what i have discovered from this people, is that in italy, public universities are almost entirely free ... and those are the schools were the cream of the crop, as well as hard working average students go. PRIVATE schools, on the other hand, are where parents send their kids who aren't interested in education, have behavioral or emotional problems, or, most likely, are just plain fuck-ups.

each of these individuals i have met had studied, from early on, Latin, English, French and, some, Spanish. they are amazingly multi-lingual, every single one of them.

here in the u.s., we no longer waste our time and money on teaching foreign languages or other "non-essential" subjects such as languages (other than english), art, music, drama. UNLESS, of course, you happen to be a student in an upper middle class (or higher) school district.

our schools are turning out thousands of students who will not only be incapable of competing with the students graduating from schools in other first-world countries, but they, due to their entire lack of exposure to the "liberal" arts, will be astoundingly boring and lacking in nuanced ideas.

Randal Graves said...

People can use facts to prove anything. 14% of all people know that.

Oh, come on, as if knowing Vermeer from velvet Elvis will increase your portfolio! Arts are for Old Europe!

Suzan said...

Thank you, Anita!

I've said this for the last 20 years (seems like it anyway).

I urged my nieces and nephews to take Latin first and that's all they ever studied because that's all the high school counselors told them they would need to get into college.

What counseling.

And thank you, Utah! We both love Paul Krugman (for soooooo many reasons).


Sherry said...


we need to do better. we really need an attitude adjustment about a lot in our country.

Comrade Kevin said...

I've never been deceived, though I cry bloody murder knowing that I have.

Utah Savage said...

Anita, this is the most interesting comment I've ever seen. It should be a post all on its own. I'd love to repost the Krugman blog post and your comment as part of the post. You have demonstrated by this example of our ignorance of foreign languages how backward our public education system is and how stupid we must seem to the rest of the world.

I'm glad to hear you're retooling for a new career. What a good choice you've made.

Randal, Sherry, Susan, and Kevin, thanks for the comments.

Nan said...

For some reason Krugman's comments reminded of that great Molly Ivins quote regarding aWol: "George Bush is a man who was born on third base but thinks he hit a home run." Too often in this country we confuse the results of privilege with the results of meritocracy.

And Anita is so right about how intellectually poor the typical American student is compared to other countries. I have relatives in Finland, and by the time kids finish school there they're generally fluent in multiple languages. Here in the US we're doing good if kids manage to master English by the time they're through high school -- or maybe college. (Based on some of the papers I edit at work, I'm not sure some of the US-born scientists working at CDC are literate in English.)

Utah Savage said...

Nan, I agree that Krugman might have been channeling Ivins. Along with Anita's comment yours could also be part of a longer post on our impoverished culture. I have started blog posts with the title "How Fucking Stupid Are We?" and then thought better of insulting us all. But these two comments are so smart and have made my case for me. If I can get your permission I'll post both comments under that discarded title. You both illustrate what I've been wanting to say. Thank you for the thoughtful comment.