Letters To The Editor (April 2021)

by | Apr 10, 2021

Our readers opine.

The Separation of School and State and Modifying the Constitution

I would like to thank Capitalism Magazine for publishing [excerpts from] Brian Simpson’s A Declaration and Constitution for a Free Society – and Professor Simpson himself for authoring it. And if I may I would like to suggest one further modification to the Constitution that is essential to the preservation of a free society: the separation of school and state. The government subsidy of education is a violation of the citizens’ rights inherently, and has the calamitous effect of financially incentivizing educators to use the classroom to subvert the principles of a free society. Although it is difficult to ascertain the degree to which this dynamic has motivated today’s teachers to poison their students’ minds against Western liberalism (for it is not at all in the interest of manipulators to acknowledge their machinations) there can be little doubt that it is a significant factor eroding the political morality of contemporary youth.

Aengus Song
Washington State, USA
April 9, 2021

Dr. Simpson Responds:

I thank Aengus Song for the letter regarding the excerpts from my book A Declaration and Constitution for a Free Society.  I agree that government subsidization or provision of education violates rights.  The violations occur through the expropriation of funds from taxpayers to provide the education.  In addition, government-provided education leads to further violations of rights through the collectivist and statist ideas that are generally taught at schools ran or paid for by the government and that will be used by students of the schools to justify violations of rights in the future.  Because of the violations of rights necessary for the government to provide or fund education, in the book, I propose the addition of an amendment to the Constitution to prevent the government from providing or funding education, except where the education or training is directly needed to protect rights, as in the case of military academies.  The latter are needed to educate people in the art of warfare and ensure we have an adequate number of military leaders to run the military and thus help the government protect rights.

Government funding of education also restricts competition in education by providing the education at no cost or a lower cost to students (or their parents).  This makes it much harder for private providers of education to compete.  This government monopoly reduces the quality of education by forcing people to consume the educational services the government is providing (or subsidizing).  Education in a free market would be of much higher quality than in our current environment of government-provided education because of the greater competition that would exist.  Furthermore, in order to achieve a free market in education—and a free society more generally—the philosophical climate in the culture would need to be much more rational.  This latter would be the most important factor in achieving a much higher level of quality in the education system and in the products and services that are produced, in general, in the economy.

For more detail on these and many more topics related to education, see chapter 8 of A Declaration and Constitution for a Free Society. There I also discuss such topics as whether school vouchers are consistent with a free market in education and how poor people would benefit from a free market in education.

Brian P. Simpson
California, USA
April 10, 2021

p.s. The book can be obtained for a 30-percent discount for a limited time period by using the code LEX30AUTH21 when purchasing the book at the publisher’s website.

 

 

The Truth about Intellectual Ability

Professor Edwin A. Locke responds to John Stossel’s column Woke Colleges by explaining why SAT tests are not biased and training has a very small effect on scores.

Re: Woke Colleges By John Stossel

  1. The SATs (math and verbal sections) are valid predictors of performance for all groups. This does not mean that the mean scores of all groups are the same but only that people who score highest do the best academically. The SAT is a good measure of intellectual ability, that is, the capacity to grasp concepts.
  2. The SAT has one advantage over school GPA because it is a fixed standard, whereas high school GPA can depend on what standards a given school happens to use. GPA is still useful, however, because it reveals how people have used their innate ability.
  3. Training on the SAT can be of some help, but the effects are relatively modest.
  4. Intellectual ability, meaning the capacity to grasp abstractions, is heavily genetic, about 50-80%,  and the genetic effect actually increases with age. Schooling increases knowledge, but it has only a small effect on IQ. Note: this is not unfair. Fairness is a human concept and does not apply to the metaphysically given, i.e., your genes.
  5. IQ should not be confused with learning and the acquisition of knowledge. IQ refers to capacity or potential. People with higher IQs can learn faster and are more able to grasp higher-level abstractions.
  6. IQ is more related to positive life outcomes than any other known trait, e.g., education, job success, income, marital success, health, longevity, and law abidingness.
  7. IQ is not the only factor related to life success. Another obvious factor is free will, the choice to use one’s ability through sustained cognitive effort and persistence (see Edwin A. Locke, The Illusion of Determinism: Why Free Will is Real and Causal). Everyone can improve on almost anything with effort though everyone does not get to the same place. (This is also true in other realms, e.g., music, sports, etc.) Other success factors are personality (e.g., conscientiousness) and moral virtue (e.g., rationality, honesty, integrity).
  8. What is the role of family? Family atmosphere may seem to have a role in IQ because high IQ children often come from families that are financially successful. But this is usually because the parents have high IQs. Such parents routinely encourage education because they know that education is a meal ticket. The more important role of the family is psychological. Mean, cold, cruel, irrational, criminal parents can do tremendous harm to their children. A mistreated, abused child may even suffer brain damage, but, that aside, they can automatize many wrong subconscious conclusions about people, the world, and themselves long before they are able to understand what is going on conceptually. They may need extensive psychotherapy and/or medication later. “Mixed” parents, those with some virtues and some flaws (e.g., parents who lack warmth may lead the child to think there is something wrong with them), can be survived if the child later uses their own, independent judgment to decide what to agree with and what to reject. Therapy may be of benefit or be needed by some here too. “Perfect” parents are rare.

Edwin A. Locke
Maryland, USA
April 3, 2021

 

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