I can understand the attraction of an unconstrained lust for profit and power, but I am puzzled by the stupidity of its practitioners. I'm presently researching the life and work of William Petty, more than three centuries ago. Petty was an avaricious land pirate, who is willing to move entire populations from one country to another and promoted wars in order to win favor with the government, but Petty was not stupid.
For example, Petty, who is trained in medicine, realized the economic benefits of a healthy population. He even called for clinics to care for orphans and poor children.
I was struck by a recent Wall Street Journal article that reminded me of Petty's intelligence. David Wessel reported on a paper from the Chicago branch of the Federal Reserve Board, showing how children's health care boosted test scores. The study itself pointed to a relatively obvious outcome, I wondered why so little attention has been paid to the economic payoffs from better health care -- especially in the mainstream media.
Here is a snippet from the articlet:
Wessel, David. 2009. "Wider Health-Care Access Pays Off." Wall Street Journal (8 October): p. A2.
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Working Paper 2008-20
"Kenneth Chay of Brown University, Jonathan Guryan of the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business and Bhashkar Mazumder of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago ... (link) improvements in test scores of black teenagers from the South in the 1980s to improved health care they received as children after Southern hospitals were integrated in the 1960s. The bottom line, in a working paper circulated by the Chicago Fed, is this: "Improved post-neonatal health among blacks born between the early 1960s and early 1970s ... led to long-term improvements in the academic and cognitive skills of these cohorts as teenagers."
Then on Sunday Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed two bills regarding higher education. One limited excessive administrative salaries during hard times and the other would have brought more accountability to the State University System and the University of California. Supposedly, limiting executive salaries in higher education would do a disservice to students. Presumably, if salaries were limited, students would like the opportunity to pay as much tuition.
Here again, William Petty emphasized the importance of tapping the potential of ordinary people.
Finally, I read an AP story, which describes how soldiers are dying because of weapons they carry to not function properly.
So what we have is government that demands we have excellent education to compete in the world. To do so, we can cut funding, as long as we are willing to smash teachers unions and force students to take endless multiple-choice tests. We praise our brave soldiers are carrying out our imperial ventures, but let war profiteers supply them with inferior materials.
William Petty, once accurately described as a great land pirate, would have immediately recognized the stupidity of our neoconservative leadership.