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The limitations of free market education

The general limit of free market economics, which I discussed in depth in my previous essay, is that individuals may, whether it is reasonable or not, attempt to carry out decisions which are not in the best interest of society, in which case, by definition, it is in the best interest of society to intervene (a societies attempt to intervene in society is by definition carried out by a “government†; as in that’s how we define government in this collection of essays). Furthermore, it is not necessarily unreasonable to carry out acts which have negative consequences for society, if it is reasonable to assume that these consequences only manifest after expected life span of this individual. I went on to describe the most relevant and obvious cases where discrepancies between an individuals interest and societies interest might arise: education, pollution, military, transportation.

Educational matters I briefly mentioned are the most important actions within society. Let us consider this more thoroughly.

Let us dispense with a lengthy arbitration as to the subjective and objective nature of education, for our purpose here is to consider education on the institutional level. Let us also not go into lengthy description as to the nature of independence of mind and how such things affect society. Not that these issue are not of vast importance, but rather are so vastly important that their discussion would soon consume this entire essay and we would not arrive at a level of abstraction necessary to discuss education in the free market context for at least fifty three pages. I discuss these issues in an essay I called the Nonage Works, and indeed the essay is fifty three pages long and perhaps not yet complete.

Thus, though we have not proved anything, in the spirit of analysis let us continue to discuss under the following assumptions, which we might prove or disprove on some other occasion.

Let us assume that within the realm of communication and thought there exists education, and within the realm of education there exists training. Thus education encompasses more than training, and communication and thought encompasses more than education .

Let us first consider training. Training we define as thought, communication or activity which furthers capabilities but does not necessarily further the knowledge or understanding of how these capabilities should be used. A soldiers training is quite different from a soldier’s contemplation on when and where to make use of these capabilities. Indeed, knowing how to shoot is altogether a different thing than knowing what one should shoot. We will consider the latter knowledge after discussing the significance of the former.

Let us then assume that capability is a function of training for any given individual. We do not assume that this function is identical for all individuals.

Training(Individual) Þ Capabilities

We can further assume that the capabilities of two people are at least the sum of their individual capabilities. If there combined capabilities exceeds that of the sum of their individual capabilities we call this additional portion the synergy advantage.

Thus, it is clear that if the capabilities of any member of a group increases the capabilities of the group increases.

The significant question is whether there is an optimum way a group of people could receive training or train amongst themselves.

Let us consider that there is no optimum way to train a group of people, that training is training and produces the same results regardless of who gets trained in what and how much.
Let us call this Argument a: [none of these symbols mapped into html, imagine reasonableness]
Let: Ttotal be the total training available for a and b.
T1 be a portion of this training such that 0£ T1 ³ Ttotal
T2 be a portion of this training such that 0£ T1 ³ Ttotal, and T1¹T2
Then if there exists two instances of the application of Ttotal where
Ttotal Þ[(T1Þ a) and (Ttotal 1 – T1Þb)]ÞE1
and Ttotal Þ[(T3Þ a) and (Ttotal 2 – T3Þb)]ÞE2
if E1=E2 argument a is true. If E1¹E2 then the theory that
TconstantÞa, bÞEconstant is false.

If argument alpha is true then if one doubles the training one always doubles the effectiveness. Thus if “ten portions of training†was put into persons a and b, no matter which way this training is distributed (for instance 10 for a, 0 for b; 5 for a, 5 for b, 7-3, 2-8), there will always yield a proportional amount of effectiveness to 10 units of training, unaffected by how it was divvied up.

However, if a graph relating training to effectiveness looked like anything else, say:
[the graph cannot be pasted, but resembels Y = square of X ]

Then ten units of training would yield perhaps 7, but nine would yield 6.8, and may 8 would yield and so on an so forth. With sufficient information a few calculus equations would tell us the optimum fashion this training could be employed for two individuals.

This would coincide with experience. For, if training was available for carpentry and welding for a group of two people, clearly the optimum distribution would be for one person to train in carpentry and one person train in welding. Indeed, argument a implies that if all the training available for an entire nation or indeed the entire planet was given to one person, this single individual could accomplish everything the world accomplishes and, assuming this person kept society functioning, no one else would have to do anything at all. This latter result we would consider sufficiently absurd to reject argument a. However, argument a seems more and more “fair†the les and less direct these relationships are. Though let us first establish what we would call a direct situation.

A direct situation would be, for instance, if you and I were stranded on an island and the only way we could survive is through the correct application of welding and carpentry, and furthermore we came across a welder, some carpentry tools, some desired material, and various books, manuals and volumes on carpentry and welding, we would not come to the conclusion that one of us should take and learn all this material while the other does nothing. The value of efficiency is quite obvious and we would consider ourselves quite fortunate that their is two of us to learn the two skills that, for whatever reason, we must learn very fast or face the deadly Cyclopes.

However, let us consider an indirect case such as:

There is within a society, carpentry training available for one person and welding training available for one person; there are two individuals willing to be trained in either; however, one of these individuals happens to, for whatever reason, control who receives both training. Would it not be reasonable for this person to allocate all the training to their own person. Though this would cause society to be less efficient, this decrease in societies hypothetical capability does not necessarily outweigh the increase in personal gain due to excess training for that fortunate individual. Furthermore, what if the training was available and the person who controlled who receives this training in such a position because they had amassed the wealth to make it possible.

Indeed, if a person gains wealth should not this person be able to decide how this wealth is spent? And yet, should not society act in the best interest of society? For indeed, if one gains wealth it is mostly due to society. Hermits are not generally considered wealthy. But a lengthy diatribe into “fairness†and who owes who is pointless and meaningless and part of the problem when discussing economics.

The real question is what is the optimum way to train a population and what is the optimum way to approximate this? We can begin by assuming that the optimum training method would yield the following relationship:.
Portion of social effort Þ Training ÞSociety Þ Maximum efficiency

We can further assume that the more a person is trains the less time this person can utilize this training afterwards, but the more efficient this later effort is. We know surely that training should take up more time than zero percent of one’s life and less time than one hundred percent of one’s life. We also know that for every training effort there exists an optimum person in society this effort should be allocated to. We not only want the optimum training for every needed training, but also the best person for every specific training effort.

We can also define a concept we shall call the knowledge pool. We define the knowledge pool as all leisure communications in a society associated with knowledge. For instance, when knowledge is spread word of mouth, we would say this morsel of knowledge is prevalent in the knowledge pool. Information in the knowledge pool can also be wrong, which would be bad for society. There are all sorts of mathematical models in existence that attempt to model how information is spread in a society. The more efficient the knowledge pool the more efficient society becomes. But we shall leave non training or educational interactions and nuances concerning the knowledge pool for another essay. Our purpose here is to try to describe how training and the knowledge pool interact.

We begin by making a distinction between the individual knowledge pool and the social knowledge pool. It will become clear that the social knowledge pool, which we alluded to in the previous paragraph, is simply the sum total of all the individual knowledge pools.

The individual knowledge pool we define as the sum total knowledge available for a specific individual. It is a hypothetical definition encompassing all the understanding at any given moment the given individual could obtain, and how much effort would be involved in obtaining any specific understanding. It becomes clear that for every individual we wish to maximize the obtainable desired information and minimize the effort it takes to obtain said information (among whom we count ourselves).

Thus, we would wish that “training†be equally distributed among society. What we mean by this is that every individual associates with a wide as possible cross section of the training spectrum; everyone knows to the lowest degree of separation possible every single type of trained person. Thus, a maximally complete understanding of society is circulated, as well as every specific problem, requiring information or interpretation, is resolved in the most expedient manner; politics would indeed flourish along with the expedient resolution of countless dilemmas (which would result in economic success).

The limitations of free market education now become clear.
With respects to our first critique of primary and secondary education it is clear that a free market education system yields a disproportionate amount of training effort into the wealthy, which yields only a slight increase in capabilities for this class of people and a far greater decrease in capabilities for the non wealthy: reducing the total capabilities for society. Furthermore, this leads to a total decrease in quality of students society can select for further training decreasing the capabilities of the higher educated.

For, with respects to second description on the allocation of training (which is best suited for discussing specific training), if who gets trained is based upon who can afford said training and not who best suited to be trained in any given thing. Lowering the total capabilities of society.

Furthermore, from if type and amount of training is dependent on parent income, and income is dependent on type and amount of training then it becomes clear that the allocation of training becomes less variable from one generation to the next. Thus, training comes to determine who one associates with. With respect to our description of the knowledge pool it becomes clear that a complete understanding of society would not flow under free market education. There would be a decrease in general understanding which would greatly reduce this societies ability to form decisions, as the understanding that precedes any decision is lessoned. Which brings us to discuss this decision making process. For, as we have stated training only increases capabilities and it is a different matter all together to discuss to what end these capabilities should be employed.
For surely one is bound by one’s capabilities. Clearly one could not accomplish something one isn’t capable of accomplishing. However, at any given moment one is capable of doing any number of things. Deciding upon what to is to a certain degree independent from training. Clearly we could say one can increase one’s capability to employ one’s capabilities efficiently, but how do we judge efficiency, and is this capability about capabilities encompassed in capabilities this capability refers to, in which case it refers to itself and yields no new information, or is it some other kind of capability. All this is esoteric logical quibbling which would eventually lead us to question the set of all sets and further question the completeness of logic itself though important subjects to the advancement of logic, does change the reasonableness of forming the best possible decision we can form in the mean time..

Thus, let us assume that as with the individual, societies training determines societies capabilities which does not necessarily determine societies use of these capabilities. What determines this use we shall call that part of education we subtracted in order to arrive at our definition of training. Let us now consider this part in itself. The first thing we realize is we do not have an expedient definition as we did with training; for, when we defined training in terms of capabilities, it becomes an empirically verifiable thing; what can a given person do? is a question that we could in theory answer in a way every one agrees upon. However, what should a given person do? is a question of which people have disputed over for thousands of years.

Thus, in speaking of that part of education that is not training - which we shall simply refer to as education for the rest of this essay - we cannot presuppose some necessary condition for increase in goodness, like we presupposed increase in societies capabilities was necessarily good for society. However, we can make the following observation about history.
For a very long time the question what should society do? was deemed unfit for a “commoner†to answer. This gave rise to the idea of the masses or the mob which politicians and philosophers for the most part deemed it the responsibility of certain people, generally including themselves, to manipulate for everyone’s benefit, sometimes including these masses but always including themselves. The mob needed to be controlled, or at least could be controlled by one thing or another - hopefully by a thing one supports. For the most part the “commoner†was complicit in this plan which made a certain form of sense as most commoners could not read or write and had little understanding of what was happening outside of their immediate surroundings . What do they know of international politics? Better to leave such matters for the king. However, as “commoners†became more aware about the world in general they became more aware that these princes and kings were not any more qualified for the most part then themselves. Indeed, if they made a mistake that would in the end be felt by the common people, should not the common people try to correct this mistake and more importantly prevent such mistakes from happening. We would consider this good and will return to this concept after a continuation of our main discussion. Our main question for now being what can we say about good decisions?

We cannot say much, but perhaps can make the following assumptions for an individual and see what good may come of this line of argument.
A good decision is born from a large amount of thought .
Capabilities Þ thinking about, among other things, these capabilities Þ decision Þ action

Thus we would expect desirable options to be born out of high capabilities and good decisions to be born from a large amount of thought. Thus, for every matter concerning society it is best for a maximum number of people to be thinking a maximum amount about it. Clearly this is dependent on a general awareness of the nature of the society, world and universe these individuals live in (which we have already proved is best encroached upon through a non free market education system).

This idea of decision making is incredibly complex, especially with respect to society, and I deal with it in depth in my essay entitled “Decision Theorem†, and with respects to society in an essay “On politics†. However, if we assume that the ability to form decisions is affected in some way (especially over many generations) by the type of education system a nation employs, if this type varies from person to person, as it does in a free market education system, then poorer decisions are intrinsically made - especially in a democracy where it is very clear that educating one person to the point of that person being able to vote “perfectly†and educating another person not at all both vote. Fortunately, we know that education, like training, is not related to effectiveness linearly. The education of two people yields far greater results than putting this entire education effort in to one person and no education for the other.

Indeed, only the poorest of the poor countries, who tragically cannot afford any national education system, employ free market education; indeed, they have no other choice. All other countries subsidize the education of those who cannot afford it to some degree, for the drastically bad effects of total free market education are very obvious. The question then is to what degree should free market education be limited.

It just so happens that I have had the pleasure of observing fairly closely the workings of three different education institutions. The Canadian education system, because I have lived most of my life in Canada, the Finnish, because I am also a Finnish citizen, did my term of service in the Finnish defenses forces and half my family lives in Finland, and the American education system because, not only is America close to Canada and I have visited or traveled though America on various occasions, but I am also exposed to a lot of American media and have had many conversation with Americans in Canada, America and Mexico.

As I understand it, in America, the funding a primary school or secondary school receives is sometimes, in some way, proportional to the income of the neighborhood that attends that school. The quality of teachers is of course proportional to a schools funding. Furthermore, post secondary education, be it collage, university or some form of apprenticeship program, often costs money. Because of the discrepancy between schools, the SAT is used so that a good mark in a poorer quality school is not in reality such a good mark.

In contrast to Canada, where in each province, the total educational budget is more or less divided evenly between all students. In Ontario for instance, a school receives around eight thousand dollars for every student that attends the school. The quality of teachers is on average the same; the requirements being at primary and secondary level a bachelors degree and teachers college. Schools function but there is nothing to rave about. Post secondary schooling, of all sorts, is highly subsidized through taxes. Students that pay entirely for their post secondary education are not disadvantaged by any insurmountable amount; (insert statistics). Because there is little difference between the quality of education from school to school, no SAT type test exists. There are sadly plenty of “anomalies†in the system and ignoring of minorities. Though I would say the system is superior to the American system I deplore greatly the Canadian secondary school system. Canadians in general do not possess enough understanding to think outside the educational framework they are raised in, and so cannot seriously think about improving the education system.

This is in contrast to Finland which employs, as Canada, the same flat funding per student idea. However, one requires a masters degree to teach at the secondary school level, and the school system is designed and sufficiently funded so that each school must compete against the other local schools for students, in the spirit of healthy competition. Having a reputation of being a reasonable accommodating reputation is very important to a school, and much thought is put into all the policies and so on. Whereas in Canada, the school one attends is based upon where one lives and there isn’t really much difference between the schools anyway; certainly no spirit of competition to deliver the best quality education. Furthermore, not only is post secondary education of all sorts paid completely by the government through taxes, students, making under a certain amount of money (statistic), qualify for extra money from the government, benefits, and subsidized housing. Thus, in Finland one is paid around four to five hundred Euros for attending University, or any other post secondary education.

These are two very different approaches to education and one approach lost somewhere in the middle. Not surprisingly we find three different cultures largely explained with appeal to education.

Finland has just been deemed the most competitive economy on earth, she has the highest percent of newspaper readers, and essentially no classes and relatively no passing of wealth from parent to child. This latter thing is another extremely important aspect of totally tax funded post secondary education, for it allows youth to gain independence materially extremely quick; the norm in Finland is to move out almost immediately after graduating secondary school. As we know material independence provokes independence of mind. If a just turned voter is still dependent on his or her parents to form decisions how could we expect such an individual to make decisions affecting the entire country. Furthermore, many university students do not work at all during the school year which yields incredibly deep education and thought, and the one’s that do work do not work much at all (working a single day a week is considered tough). As there are not really any classes any relevant understanding quickly permeates all society. Thus, not only does this high level of education yield a highly capable and adaptable economy, it also yields deeper thinking about national issues. Pollution was a major political topic in the seventies, shortly followed by legislating strict environmental laws, enforcing these laws, and heavy funding to clean up the damage that had already been done. The latest social discussion was on prisons. Previously, Finland employed a prison system similar to that of the United States, Russia or Canada, however, research and speculation into alternative system sparked massive public curiosity. Sentences are now shorter, prisons are coed and resemble more suburbs than what we’d call prisons, and most importantly prisoners receive whatever education they wish and often times work during the day somewhere outside the prison; prison becomes more of a temporary home than a prison. The idea is born out of the fact most criminals do not profit much from their crime activity and so participating in society is often times more profitable anyway; furthermore, the criminals that do make a lot of money are generally at the top of a criminal organization of which the base - those actually doing the crime and the dirty work - are paid little; a minimum wage job can compete with the little pay of petty crime without the risk from the law, from their own criminal organization, and from other originations , plus it’s not a good environment to raise kids, there usually no benefits and the pension is something to be admired. Diminishing the criminal sub culture through education and there are less criminals thus diminishing crime . The system is of course cheaper than harsh punishment, as the increase in education spending is far outweighed by the decrease in incarceration; also, the increase in education spending has a return for society when the criminal enters the work force. Most Fins have read many articles upon this subject and understand to high degree the variables at work.

Finland still has problems, but at least she’s aware of these problems and ideas are generated and discussed to deal with them. The classlessness of Finland stemming from her educational policies can be superficially argued against by appealing to the homogenous nature of Finnish culture. This argument does not hold in the end but discuss it here would be a grievous tangent to our main objective. Fortunately, we also have Canada as an example.

Canada is among if not the most multicultural country on the planet. I have lived in Canada for most of my life and have never observed any sort of class like phenomenon. There are a few racists here, who are generally ostracized by society, and there is certainly no class of racists. I’ve never seen a gated community, nor have I ever come in contact with anyone where I observed that they where from a different social class; indeed, I have never met another Canadian who I didn’t have something in common with and could not amiably converse with, speculate about politics, joke around and in general learn from one another. At no point in time do I ever remember speaking with someone where I felt superior to them or that I felt they felt superior to me . However, this lack of concentration on education is beginning to take it’s toll on Canada, and we shall see whether Canada has enough understanding to keep improving at a sufficient rate, in which case she will improve her education system, and moreover deepen enough in understanding through such educational efforts to adapt to the environment and geopolitical changes poised to occur in the near future.

America on the other hand is a country where the president’s administration can issue and support a statement stating that sugar has nothing to do with obesity and that the consumption of sugar should not be targeted in any attempt to decrease obesity. In every other democracy in the world making such a claim would be political suicide. Green house gases causing global warming is fairly complicated science where I can imagine someone who really likes gasoline buying into arguments that it isn’t true. But too much sugar in no way leading to obesity or unhealthiness I can’t really conceive of any rational person accepting. I don’t even think we need science to resolve this issue. I would hope that American’s are simply not aware about this dubious sugar claim their president made; however, I did, in my journey through America from Mexico, witness a mother filling her babies bottle with coca-cola. It didn’t previously occur to me that there was a recipe for diabetes, much less someone would employ it in child care.

Clearly much thinking must be done into the nature of education system.


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