Generally speaking, I’m a proponent of freedom of religion, even in cases in which the religious beliefs in question are rather extreme. I do not think the state should go about preventing people from being Amish, even though by being Amish those individuals reduce our collective economic efficiency. Being Amish is no more debilitating to our economy than many other behaviors adults routinely engage in legally, and a good deal less than some–the Amish do contribute to society, albeit in economically less efficient ways. Some individuals (typically both the very poor and the very rich) lead wholly unproductive lives. However, I’m not so sure I can take this permissive attitude in certain cases involving children.
Yesterday, the supreme court announced a non-decision decision on the issue of affirmative action by universities. The ruling itself makes no significant difference to the status quo, but it got me thinking about the issue. As regular readers know, I think economic and social mobility is very important. For this reason, I am opposed to affirmative action.
As black history month approaches, the question occurs to me–what’s going on with racism in the states these days? Paul Krugman drew my attention to a Gallup poll that seems to indicate that things are headed in a positive direction, and it got me thinking.
By all accounts, the public education systems in western countries are not performing to the level that we are collectively demanding. There are fundamental structural problems with our schools that inhibit good outcomes for students. Western countries have become obsessed with universal student attainment of minimum academic standards measured by test scores and maximisation of enrolment rates at universities. I propose that this is flat out the wrong goal for our education system, that rather than try to teach everyone the same material at the same kinds of schools in the same kinds of ways, our education system should be more personalised to get the most out of each individual’s talent set, and I have a plan for how to do it.