This is Louis Woodhill, columnist for Forbes magazine and a man that has nothing on his mind except gumming the theory of economics to death by espousing the inefficiency of public education. You might think that this guy is Donald Trump or Carlos Slim wealthy. Nope. He’s a successful software engineer that has decided that employing a group of people to develop things that will eventually become Internet porn and time wasting dribble for his employees must be pre-requisite enough to comment on the overall state of public education. So he wrote an article called an article called Solyndras in the Classroom. What’s the main idea of the article?
“America has gotten nothing for the enormous increase in educational “investment” that we have made over the past 60 years…..instead of being given a 2009 education for $158,717 (Woodhill’s estimation for a lifetime of education investment on one student by the government), an average student were given a 1967-style education for about $58,000, and $100,000 in capital with which to start his working life.
At this point most people adjust Mr. Woodhill’s drool cup and remind him that the nice bus to the local dog track will be along shortly. I mean, at the very least I guess you pat him on the head and smile a lot. The article is so damn stupid that you almost feel sorry for the guy.
Now, I’ll fully admit that I’m very against the government waste that is pervasive in everything, including Education. But to say that government’s investment in education has brought nothing for 60 years is just idiotic. Never mind the evidence of American economic power that has been connected to education; the development of a middle class to the screaming creative innovation that has come out of educated (yes, publically educated) people. How about some tremendous social accomplishments brought about that have increased the cost of education. Things like the excitement of the Space Race, the Civil Rights Act, the increase of women into higher education, and mainstreaming of special education students in an attempt to get them to be productive members of society. But no, Woodhill wants to give every four year old an abacus and $100,000 to blow on a car and PS3 games in some idiotic argument that the world is full of the entrepreneurial spirit. Never mind that 80% of those with the entrepreneurial spirit fail. Call me crazy but I think that the investments in education have had much better opportunities for return.
And Louis’ lame argument that there hasn’t been an increase in productive physical capital over the course of sixty years is pretty much like saying that all other variables in the ocean of the argument doesn’t matter. No other time in human history has a society been more productive with less. In fact it is the phenomenal pace of that productivity that has lead to this structural unemployment issue that we are dealing with. Woodhill’s refusal to acknowledge this makes it look like he was bored one day and decided to just pop public education while hopefully throwing in a questionable statistic just to sound credible.
Hey! Let’s just take a little glance at the following statistic and see the complete unimportance of a public education.
Well it looks like someone is putting a value on education because clearly being educated seems to matter in the eyes of employers. And since most of those people will have gone through the public education system, I would say the investment seems to be working. And now Louis Woodhill can move on and make sure the dust is off Steve Forbes loafers.