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Posted at 12:55 PM ET, 03/ 7/2011

Lunch Break

By Ezra Klein

Bill Gates argues that state budgets are destroying the American education system:

By Ezra Klein  | March 7, 2011; 12:55 PM ET
 
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Comments

Interesting little lecture but no real discussion into why Google and Microsoft are able to attract and retain the best minds in accounting and investment analysis (hint: money).
Also, it is kind of a back-hand slap at the federalist system.

Posted by: ctown_woody | March 7, 2011 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I think the problem with the budget defecits issue is that we think of it as purely a number crunching/accounting issue. In fact, any government budget, as well as any attempt to solve defecits therein, is full of value and priority driven decisions. The accountants and wonks lose sight of this and, in doing so, lose the public. We are decades behind in having a national debate about our national priorities and values. Personally, I'd like to see leaders discussing the importance of social investment in the United States and financing that through a fair and not overburdensome tax code. No one wants to talk about those things, so we are not getting anywhere.

Posted by: phillycomment | March 7, 2011 6:16 PM | Report abuse

--*why Google and Microsoft are able to attract and retain the best minds in accounting and investment analysis (hint: money).*--

Google and Microsoft expect a certain proficiency in work for that money. Delivering results on a par with the government school system wouldn't quite cut it.

Posted by: msoja | March 7, 2011 7:22 PM | Report abuse

--*I'd like to see leaders discussing the importance of social investment in the United States and financing that through a fair and not overburdensome tax code.*--

Collectivism doesn't work. We already have too much of it.

Posted by: msoja | March 7, 2011 7:27 PM | Report abuse

msojoa-
See? That's exactly what we should be asking ourselves. You claim that "collectivism" whatever that is supposed to mean, doesn't work. I think that's totally crap and can point to the entire developped world as an example of how certain forms of government "collectivism" create more wealthier, advanced societies. There's a reason that litterally every advanced economy has some form of national health care. We need to ask ourselves what we want society to look like and we need to discuss it in concrete terms, with things like numbers and figures.
The budget is not an accounting problem, it is a tool to implement the policies of the government, which in a democracy are a reflection of the will of the people.

This is high school level civics, but it is notably absent from the wonkish nerdery in DC.

Posted by: phillycomment | March 7, 2011 9:13 PM | Report abuse

--*forms of government "collectivism" create more wealthier, advanced societies.*--

Governments can't create wealth, they can only sap it. If governments *could* create wealth, they wouldn't have to tax people the way they do.

--*There's a reason that litterally every advanced economy has some form of national health care.*--

The "reason" that things like "national health care" are so widespread is that a number of people seem driven in trying to control their fellow men in one way or another, and by dint of their fervency have managed to persuade or bully enough people to go along with their dim ideas. But these "systems" are floundering, the world round. Here's the headline out of England, today: "Cuts put future of more than 50 hospitals at risk". That's in a country the size of North Carolina.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/cuts-put-future-of-more-than-50-hospitals-at-risk-2234229.html

--*We need to ask ourselves what we want society to look like and we need to discuss it in concrete terms, with things like numbers and figures.*--

That's just nuts. People don't craft societies like playing Sim City. You can't *tell* people that they are going to form one sort of society and not another. Societies only exist as a sort of aroma of character blowing off the hundred million individual decisions and actions of its members. To even try to pinpoint what U.S. society is is a fools errand. A thousand disparate societies blend to make up that equally nebulous phrase "national character."

--*The budget is not an accounting problem, it is a tool to implement the policies of the government, which in a democracy are a reflection of the will of the people.*--

You seem confused. The country was incorporated as a Republic, with severe constraints on what "the will of the people" could effectuate through government action. The Constitution was expressly written to protect the rights and property of individuals from people like you who have convinced themselves that they have the right to decide "what we want society to look like" for other people, and that "we need to discuss it". I want no part of the kind of society that you are likely to try to build. Yes, if you get a big enough gang together and impose your collective will on the rest of your fellows, then they and I will have to live with it, but I daresay, we won't do it as prettily as you imagine.

Posted by: msoja | March 7, 2011 11:33 PM | Report abuse

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