Staggering Costs, Part III

continued from Staggering Costs, Part II, 24 Oct 2011.


Redistributive economics has at its core a desire to re-order God’s plan that “those who don’t work, don’t eat.” [2Thes 3:10] It takes away the incentive to strive for achievement. Deprived of drive, man’s productivity drops, while business and social costs soar. Thomas Sowell’s Affirmative Action Around the World documents this second thrust of our thesis, that essentially every time and place that multi-cultural activists (MCA) have been given rein to reshape the world, the results have not lived up to the rhetoric:

The empirical consequences of affirmative action preferences and quotas have been paid remarkably little attention—with hard data being sparse to nonexistent in some countries—while controversies surrounding these policies have been discussed in terms of the vision and the rationale behind them and the counter-vision and counter-rationales of critics. Vague, emotional, confused, and dishonest words, which are incidental aspects of many controversial issues, are central to discussions of affirmative action in countries around the world. Few such programs could stand on the basis of their actual empirical consequences. Nor are their moral bases any more solid.

Some groups in some countries imagine themselves entitled to preferences and quotas just because they are indigenous “sons of the soil”—even when they are in fact not indigenous, as the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka and the Malays in Malaysia are not. Yet indigenousness has acquired a moral aura, not only among those claiming such status, but among observers and scholars as well. Why an accident of history and geography should have moral implications that last for centuries is a question seldom raised, much less answered. ~from the Hooover Institution’s Review

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

In The Two-Income Trap (TI), we learn that the two biggest expenses two-income families with children face are child-care and schooling. Over the past generation, as wave after wave of cultural revision has swept our land, we see widespread evidence of the fruits of original sin: “attempts to destroy fatherhood” (see chapter 35 of Crossing the Threshold of Hope), for Blessed JohnPaul II’s radical insight). This key to interpreting reality has simple solution: study the conventional wisdom (popular morés) and do the opposite. It’s been said that the most important distance in the world is the six inches between our ears. People’s attitudes shape their outcomes. In the span of a generation, we’ve normalized poor parenting:

In 1965 only 21 percent of working women were back at their jobs within 6 months of giving birth to their first child. Today that figure is higher than 70 percent. Similarly, a modern mother with a three-month-old infant is more likely to be working outside the home than was a 1960s woman with a five-year-old child. (55) As a claims adjuster with two children told us: “It never occurred to me not to work, even after Zachary was born. All the women that I know have a job.” [TI p. 30]

While “colleges have engaged in an arms race of expenditures triggered by the pursuit of prestige,” [TI p. 44] their grasping is driven by ego or pride, a deadly sin. In the Summa, St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that “inordinate self-love is the cause of every sin,” [Summa Theologica (STh), I, 77:4,1] while “the root of pride is found to consist in man not being, in some way, subject to God and His rule.” [STh, IIa, 162:5,1] Temperance marks a pathway from pride to servant-centered competence, with the “sincere gift of self” providing the milestones.

Courage and backbone, two aspects of the solution to the soaring costs of the two-income trap, (itself an artifact of the anti-family agenda), are not qualities typically associated with modern politicians. Warren and Tyagi contend:

In order to free families from the trap, it is necessary to go to the heart of the problem: public education.…A well-designed voucher program would fit the bill nicely.…We recognize that the term ‘voucher’ has become a dirty word in many education circles. The reason is straightforward: the current debate is framed as a public-versus-private rift…[which] misses the central point. The problem is not vouchers, the problem is parental choice. [TI 33-34]

Their logic is sound, and as reflected in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), supports the church’s position:

2229 As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. [CCC]

As for the school-prestige issue, writing in Forbes, Dan Seligman calls it “The Big Lie.” It’s your brains and effort, not the school that determines how well you do in your working career.

At the low end, we learn from NBER Working Paper 7450, “Schooling, Inequality, and the Impact of Government,” published [in] December [1999], that kids who do poorly in bad schools tend also to do poorly in schools with abundant resources.…

The Dale-Krueger paper [NBER Working Paper 7322, published August 1999, “Estimating the Payoff to Attending a More Selective College,” by Stacy Berg Dale and Alan B. Krueger] reports on studies indicating that even modest differences in SAT are associated with measurably higher lifetime incomes.…Were their postgraduate careers diminished because they had turned their backs on Harvard, or Princeton, or whatever?

Crisp answer: Not at all. The authors tell us: “Students who attended more selective colleges do not earn more than other students who were accepted and rejected by comparable schools but attended less selective colleges.”

While this post is longer than the norm, I wanted to retain the continuity of thought. Hope you are enjoying these as much as I did in putting them together some time back for my Masters.

Until next time,

Carpe Diem!


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About Mapache

As a international innovator in system safety and risk, Matthew Weilert (Texas A&M '84), has advised billion-dollar brands like Kraft, Coca-Cola, Bacardi, GM & the US Navy on what it takes to go from “good to great” in enterprise risk. Matt is a “global mindset thinker” (Thunderbird Graduate School 2011), who has the privilege of leading finance, medical, military and university networks of leaders (see to better risk results.

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