Friday, March 15, 2019

The Worm in the Apple of all Administrative Institutions

Oh dearie me, so wealthy parents were trying to get their little darlings into fancy-pants colleges. So what else is new? And they used their wealth to corrupt college administrators. I can't believe they did that!

Look, the problem is not that university administrators are corrupt, or that parents will use money and influence -- even cheat -- to get their kiddies into name colleges. Of course they do! That's what the Barnacles and Stiltstockings at the Circumlocution Office do with their working hours. And that is what wealthy women do to get their children ahead.

This was illuminated for me originally in The Millionaire Next Door by Stanley and Danko, two profs that thought to publish their findings on the wealthy in a bestseller rather than in an academic journal.

According to Stanley and Danko, the average millionaire is not the robber baron of legend, but the chap next door that has built a small fortune out of humdrum businesses like dry-cleaning stores.

But, if you are such a successful businessman, what about your children? For every businessman knows that to make a fortune you have to beat the odds. It is not just enough to be a hard worker with a good idea; you need to get lucky. Chances are that your children won't beat the odds. What do you do?

Well, the answer is that you send your kids to a good college to prepare them for the professions. The fact is that the professions -- lawyering, doctoring, corporate administration -- provide a much better chance of a prosperous life than starting a business, and that is what wealthy people do for their children.

And obviously, today, the fanciest college offers the best chances and the best connections. The point about the Harvards and the Yales, I've learned, is not the education but the "extracurriculars," the lifelong connections that you make.

But what about the education? I'm glad you asked. I've been worrying about education for a while so I picked up a book by British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead on The Aims of Education. He starts out with this:
In the history of education, the most striking phenomenon is that schools of learning, which at one epoch are alive with a ferment of genius, in a succeeding generation exhibit merely pedantry and routine.
Well! Who could have foreseen that!

It stands to reason, of course, that education in our time would exhibit "pedantry and routine" because under the influence of the educated class of the last century, they have been made into palaces of administration, and no more so than in the last 50 years. I read a chap recently who recalled that, in the schools of his youth, there would be a headmaster, a second master, a secretary for the headmaster, and a bursar. All the rest of the administration would be teachers. This, I confess, was my experience with the British private schools of my youth. But now? You tell me!

The whole point of administration is to prevent change. The whole point of a government program and its administrative bureaucracy is to make change impossible. But that is a problem.

The problem is that although we humans all dream of a world where our comfort and prosperity is guaranteed forever, the only workable world is one in which we are not allowed to deploy our own personal police force to guarantee our emoluments forever. Or, needless to say, deputize that police power to some damn politician.

We need, instead, to get with the program, Jenkins, however upsetting it is to our digestion.

This should not be a mystery to you, unless you read a newspaper fed daily scandals by Media Matters for America or the Southern Poverty Law Center. There have been, over the past century or so, real life scientific experiments in this which have yielded staggering results.

One scientific experiment has been the Great Enrichment, in which complete nobodies have revolutionized the economy countless times and yielded real per capita incomes 30 times larger than 200 years ago.

The other scientific experiment has been the Great Reaction, in which demi-gods, praised to the heavens by their publicists and supporters, have yielded poverty and death on a staggering scale. Why? Because they led revolutions that instituted top-down administrative control of the economy that did not have a clue how to deliver prosperity. And that blamed "wreckers and saboteurs" when things went wrong, as the government of Venezuela is presently doing.

In another proof of God's existence and sense of humor, there is a germ of truth in the "wreckers and saboteurs" remark. For the nobodies, the start-up entrepreneurs of textiles, steam, electricity, oil, transportation, computers, did indeed "wreck and sabotage" the existing economy. Hand-loom weavers were wrecked by mechanical weaving; stage-coaches were sabotaged by railroads; whalers were wrecked by mineral oil providers; ten-key adder experts were sabotaged by spreadsheet programs.

It's all so unjust, and in a perfect world of administrative hierarchy, it would never have been allowed to happen. And we would be as poor as we were two centuries ago, and women would be dying in childbirth, and agricultural laborers would still be threshing corn by hand instead of being starved out by those evil threshing machines.

However all is not well, because we are buried in all kinds of administrative government programs that cannot be reformed and cannot be changed, in pensions, in health care, in education, in welfare.

So, we see how the government infestation of higher education has turned it into a corrupt administrative nightmare. What did you expect?

So, Social Security is going to run out of money? I can't believe they allow that!

So government health care is ruinously expensive? No kidding!

So welfare demoralizes the lower orders. Amazing!

And as the notorious racist Charles Murray has observed in Coming Apart, things work pretty well for the folks that run the administrative apparatus, the educated top 25 percent of America. But at the bottom, the men don't work and the women don't marry.

I just can't believe that the politicians and experts have allowed this to happen.

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