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Readers should be on alert, this is me confirming my biases. I am sure, too, that this research is only the case in Eastern Europe, never could imagine the same result holding here in the good ol’ U.S.S. of A.  I found this interesting in light of last Friday’s post.

School, what is it good for? Useful Human Capital and the History of Public Education in Central Europe
by Tomas Cvrcek, Miroslav Zajicek

The rise of education has featured prominently in the debate on the sources of modern long-term economic growth.  Existing accounts
stress the positive role of public education and the importance of political support for its provision.  We argue that such an
explanation for the spread of schooling is probably a poor fit for many nations’ schooling histories and provide an example, using
detailed data on schooling supply from the Habsburg Empire.  We show that while economic development made schooling more affordable and
widespread, the politics of demand for schools was not motivated by expectations of economic development but by the ongoing conflict
between nationalities within the Empire.  We find that public schools offered practically zero return education on the margin, yet they did
enjoy significant political and financial support from local political elites, if they taught in the “right” language of
instruction.  Our results suggest that, for some countries at least, the main link, historically, went from economic development to public
schooling, not the other way round.

In other news, this “reporting” may end up in the Top 10 Worst News Stories of the year. Sadly I have to teach and grade today, else we’d go sentence by sentence through it. You would think that such a piece would be celebratory – and also incredibly condemning for the 1% rhetoric. You see, 20% of us end up in the 1% at some point in our lives. What does that tell us about mobility? About whether “the 1%” are keeping all of the economic gains to themselves? About the entire narrative? Note also that one should not be surprised by the “disappearing act” of the middle-class, maybe our “objective journalist” would think about why. Here’s a glimpse at just the beginning of this train-wreck of a piece:

Fully 20 percent of U.S. adults become rich for parts of their lives, wielding outsize influence on America’s economy and politics. This little-known group may pose the biggest barrier to reducing the nation’s income inequality.

So, we already see that the author makes little effort here (or anywhere in the piece) to distinguish income from wealth, and the impact that has on “inequality” and our thinking about it. You will notice only later that the share of people having a chance to earn a lot more has MORE than doubled since Ronald Reagan ruined the economy for everyone. You will notice even that the author tucks away later in the piece that “these are not the traditional rich” (yeah, unlike my college comrades who are umpteenth generation New England blue bloods). And so on.

But notice the incredible sloppiness of even this phrasing. “Wielding outside influence on America’s economy and politics.” Did an editor read this? What does it mean? Indeed, there is not a single shred of evidence throughout the rest of the piece to demonstrate this. Do we see campaign contribution data by this 20%? Do we see evidence of more corruption because of this 20%? Or do we even see an argument that such influence, should it be demonstrated, is “undue?” What does Undue mean? But the “best” part of this excerpted piece is that it is entirely self-contradictory with the rest of the piece. We see above that this evil rich group also has undue influence on the economy. Well, if that were true, then how the heck can they not remain in the richest 2% or 1%? Just a few seconds later in the piece we read, “today’s new rich are notable for their sense of economic fragility. They’ve reached the top 2 percent, only to fall below it, in many cases. ”

Let’s summarize that in case you weren’t paying attention. This new horrible group of rich people has been created in large numbers since evil Ronald Reagan. They wield undue influence on an economy that is in tatters. And incredibly, what is most notable about this big, evil group of rich people is … their economic fragility? I don’t think additional commentary is necessary. Read the rest to see what the point, yet again, of “modern journalism” seems to be. Actually, I don’t know it’s point. Maybe they’re doing a public service by always giving us bloggers something to whine about.

One Response to “Does Government Schooling –> Economic Growth? And a Darwin-Worthy “News” Story”

  1. Harry says:

    This should go under your category, “And now they are coming for…”.

    Do the people around the coffee pot, Steve excluded, realize they are the new victims? The twenty percent are not the same people who have an AGI over $250,00 filing jointly, but they are the red meat for which Nancy Pelosi lusts.

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