Friday, May 27, 2016

Lane Kentworthy — Social-democratic vs market-friendly progressivism

Iber and Konczal aim to highlight a tension within the American left between a “social democratic” vision of how to address social problems and a “progressive but market-friendly” vision. They say Bernie Sanders, a social democrat, believes access to education and healthcare should be a right, available to all persons regardless of income or wealth, whereas Hillary Clinton, a market-friendly progressive, thinks education and healthcare should remain market commodities, with access hinging at least partly on a person’s ability to pay.
 Hillary Clinton is a progressive? What? Clintonism is Third Way New Democrat!

But the observation on Sanders is illuminating, too. There is a difference between social democracy and democratic socialism. Sanders is a social democrat that is offering some tweaks to neoliberalism.
Though Sanders favors free college for everyone, that isn’t what he would provide. He proposes zero tuition (for in-state students at four-year public universities). But that wouldn’t cover room and board, which costs $10,000 a year or more for a typical student. Offering “free” college that doesn’t include room and board is a bit like offering “free” healthcare that covers the cost of surgery but requires patients to pay out of pocket for the hospital room. In the Sanders plan, low-income students, but not middle-income ones, “would be able to use federal, state, and college financial aid to cover room and board, books, and living expenses.” So for Sanders, like for Clinton, college education wouldn’t be genuinely decommodified.
That’s the case in Sweden too, which is why a large portion of young Swedes leave college with fairly large student loan debt despite paying zero tuition.
Lane Kentworthy
Social-democratic vs market-friendly progressivism
When the College Cost Reduction and Access Act took effect in 2009, neither lawmakers nor school administrators had any idea how many college students would check the box on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) -- the document that determines eligibility for Pell grants, subsidized loans and work-study awards that help students pay for college or vocational training -- to indicate that they were homeless.

At last tabulation, the number was 58,000, a small percentage of the 20.2 million students presently enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate study. Nonetheless, school counselors and advocates believe the number is starkly inaccurate and represents a mere fraction of university students who actually lack a permanent home.…
Truthout
Students With Nowhere to Stay: Homelessness on College Campuses
Ellen J. Bader

14 comments:

Ryan Harris said...

There will be social justice when state-universities serve not only the rich, well prepared elite, but also the poor and otherwise socially unacceptable. The universities need to become diverse, open centers of learning rather insular exclusive institutions. It is going to require deeper changes than simply funding mechanisms. It requires a change in attitude about how society benefits more than the individual as a result of higher education. It means that higher education isn't a privilege, isn't a scarce commodity that must be hoarded by the rich, guarded by social selection committee to protect their children... I don't think the left has even begun to move far enough to the left with Bernie. We need a complete re-think of what it means to be on the left. People don't even realize how far to the right the left is.

Tom Hickey said...

As an educator, I would say that the whole concept of eduction has to be radically overhauled to conform to contemporary times. The university is an institution that goes back to the Middle Ages.

As robots substitute for human workers, education will become a greater focus and credentialing and preparing people for jobs will become much less a focus.

In my view, life is lifelong education, cable to grave. we need to approach learning as a natural process that is integer to living a good life in a good society and look at education in that way rather than institutionally (structure inhibits freedom and creativity) and departmentally (departmentalizing education result in disintegration).

Same with health care and other fields.

Outdated and therefor wrong models.

In ancient times, one overarching model that integrated everything. Specialization and division of labor ended that. Now we need to rethink in terms of an overarching model that integrates all aspects of life in terms of the key fundamentals.

The ancients actually provide a useful precedent in perennial wisdom. This used to be the basis for a liberal education in the West, although it was limited to Western sources. Time to go global.

Bob said...

Another view is that higher education should be free but merit-based. Why are we churning out legions of degree holders when the economy doesn't support it? Most jobs do not require a college or university degree.

There's the argument that society benefits when the citizenry is highly educated. Well, the population of Europe and North America is as highly educated as it's ever been. Where is the improvement?

Bob said...

Learning is natural, and more diverse than the classroom/lecture model.

Tom Hickey said...

Learning is natural, and more diverse than the classroom/lecture model.

That model is poisonous.

The only "good" thing about it is that serves the elites who don't want free and creative people ruining their game.

See Michael Lermer on surplus powerlessness from the book of the same name. Surplus Powerlessness

Bob said...

It means that higher education isn't a privilege, isn't a scarce commodity that must be hoarded by the rich, guarded by social selection committee to protect their children...

I get the impression that it is about vanity more than anything practical.

Tom Hickey said...

There's the argument that society benefits when the citizenry is highly educated. Well, the population of Europe and North America is as highly educated as it's ever been. Where is the improvement?

Education is not designed for improvement. That's my point.

I've been in some semi-tribal places were the people are happy and productive even though they are not highly educated and don't have squat by our standards. But they get along fine and enjoy life. They will also gladly give you the shirt off their backs if you need it.

They are doing something right.

Would being able to do advance studies help them in that. Probably not. But they would have the ability to change things themselves instead of being dependent on medicine and medical assistance they don't have or control.

Can these be combined? I don't see why not and it's sure worth a try. Hint: its in the structure of the system and incentives that incorporate values.

We are training homo economicus (munnie-based consumer society) and they are raising homo socialis that is focused on living a good life in a good society.

Simsalablunder said...

"That’s the case in Sweden too, which is why a large portion of young Swedes leave college with fairly large student loan debt despite paying zero tuition."

Yes, and it's super stupid. You get government provided student loan to pay for food and rent and then if you get a job you start paying of that loan. Well paid work and you'll do it fairly quickly, the opposite if you end up with low paid work.

The loan will be written off as you retire if you still haven't paid it off. But that might change. Former idiot Minister of Finance wanted it to never be written off. And that would of course hurt those with a crappy pension.

Repaying the gov student loan is just a really stupid tax.

MRW said...

The university is an institution that goes back to the Middle Ages.

Actually before that. The Islamists invented it. ~900 AD. They introduced the idea to Europe. The Indians claim they were first, and point to one of their ruins (B.C.) as proof. But the first university that we know of still stands.

MRW said...

I like Jamie Galbraith’s idea. Pay kids to go to university; we pay the military, pay the kids. If we restrict the payment to those kids who go to free state institutions, not private ones, it can create enormous competition to get into them raising academic excellence from a young age.

Bob said...

Michael Lermer is saying that activists suffer from feelings of powerlessness. This makes me question whether there is such a thing as an activist. I have long believed that activists are different from most people.

Tom Hickey said...

Actually before that. The Islamists invented it. ~900 AD. They introduced the idea to Europe. The Indians claim they were first, and point to one of their ruins (B.C.) as proof. But the first university that we know of still stands.

Yes, I should have said that. The Western model on which Western universities are based goes back to medieval times.

The first universities in Europe with a form of corporate/guild structure were the University of Bologna (1088), the University of Paris (c.1150, later associated with the Sorbonne), and the University of Oxford (1167).
Wikipedia

The oldest record of a "university" is Nalanda in ancient India, but it was more a monastery than a university in the modern sense of an institution of higher learning. It was structured on the ancient model of integrated learning under a single overarching paradigm that was based on spirituality.

The Lyceum and Platonic Academy were somewhat comparable in ancient Greece. The Lyceum predates Aristotle predates him but he gave it his particular cast. Plato and many other pre-Aristotelians taught there. Plato also founded the Academy . It was destroyed in war in 88 BCE, but re-established under Neo-Platonism. Justinian closed it 529 CE, an event that many historians marks as the end of antiquity.

The ancient schools of higher learning were base on some version of perennial wisdom. Perennial wisdom continued to exist in Christianity but the spiritual aspect was suppressed as incompatible with normative institutional religion.

Normative institutional religion resulted in the mutually antagonistic bifurcation of religion and science, which is now only slowly being overcomes in a paradigm in which science and spirituality are complementary. This is the direction in which liberal education needs to go to be integrative.

Tom Hickey said...

I like Jamie Galbraith’s idea. Pay kids to go to university; we pay the military, pay the kids. If we restrict the payment to those kids who go to free state institutions, not private ones, it can create enormous competition to get into them raising academic excellence from a young age.

I am against incentivizing virtue with munnie. "Virtue is its own reward." Pecuniary incentive would work against the purpose of education to culture living a good life as an individual in a good society.

There are other more individually and socially beneficial ways to create incentives. We already know from bitter experience the outcome of economic incentives. Too much perversity involved in mistaking homo economicus for homo socialis.

Motivation is based on incentives. Getting the incentives right is everything. It's a matter of appealing to "the better angels of our nature" (Lincoln*) rather than the brute.

* We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861

Tom Hickey said...

Michael Lermer is saying that activists suffer from feelings of powerlessness. This makes me question whether there is such a thing as an activist. I have long believed that activists are different from most people.

Most people feel powerless and don't know it and don't do anything about it. Activists wake up to it but they are entrenched in the programming so deeply it is very difficult to break out of. It is part of the socialization process and education is a key aspect of that process.

Ever wonder why it's the psychopaths and sociopaths (thugs) that mostly get selected to power? They were never psychologically trapped by the process because that process is based on shame, blame, guilt, fear and a whole range of emotions that psychopaths and sociopaths don't fee.