Member of Parliament Ray Boughen, (Palliser), on behalf of Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages Shelly Glover, today announced that the Regina Symphony Orchestra is benefiting from a boost of $92,192 to its fundraising efforts through the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation.
In a recent post I mused about the decline of the traditional liberal arts degree. This has generated some questions for yours truly about what a young person should study after high school. In an ideal world high school would be enough for the overwhelmingly majority of people. You would graduate with the basic skills needed to be a productive member of society, as well as a reasonably well informed citizen. Think back to high school and ask yourself how many of the courses you took were genuinely valuable. Now imagine replacing those time wasting courses with everything from car repair to advanced mathematics. Whatever might suit the aptitude and intelligence of the student.
We live in a fallen age. Much of education, as noted in that recent post, is a job lot for otherwise unemployable drones. Teaching is a noble profession that has been degraded by unionism, anti-intellectualism and mediocrity. The greatest mistake of the classical liberal reformers of the 19th century was their adherence to the idea of public education. These men fervently believed in free markets and free minds, except when it came to the field of education. It was a mistake from which Western civilization may not recover. Public education is the principle of command and control applied to the training of the human mind. There is no end of possible mischief there.
But here we are, in the mess we're in. There have been worse epochs in human history, though none have had so poor an excuse for being so bad. We should have learned by now. The decline of the United States, militant environmentalism and much of modern feminism are not new problems, they are old problems with new labels attached. Still we must make do the best we can.
Most advice is useless. What worked for me, or might have worked for me, may not work for you. These are musings and should be taken as such. Only you know what's good for you, even if it takes a good long while to figure out what that is. With that in mind the following is targeted at Canadian high school students and their parents. Our American brethren face very different factors.
Due to historical and public policy reasons a Canadian university degree is a fraction the cost of its American equivalent. In most of the country a BA can be had for between $5,000 and $6,000 a year in tuition. Many of our American readers shake their heads at those figures. No it's not because our universities aren't as good as yours, it's that our government isn't as stupid as yours. This isn't a new phenomenon. With the exception of the Pearson-Trudeau years Canada has historically been the better governed nation.
A Canadian university student can still work their way through school. That's just not an option for many Americans, even if they study part-time. That's a vital difference. The biggest cost in going to a Canadian university is opportunity cost. That opportunity cost expressed both in terms of the money you could make working a minimum wage job, as well as the opportunity cost of not going to college or into the trades.
In Canada we're not completely screwing over the young. Though if Justin Trudeau gets into office it might be time to think about Australia. Tony Abbott looks to have some good conservative instincts.
Those with an aptitude for STEM subjects need no encouragement. They know where to go. I would, however, urge caution about what sub-field they enter. I've met more than a few disgruntled engineers over the years who regretted taking civil or electrical engineering. These seem to be high cyclical fields. The same can be said of IT. I came across an article years ago that suggested that half of engineering graduates, five years after graduating, are not working in engineering fields. I don't know if that's true but based on personal knowledge it at least seems plausible. Just because you study a STEM subject doesn't mean you'll work in a STEM job. Remember also that STEM jobs are far easier to out source, and automate, than many non-STEM jobs.
Let's say that you don't have the STEM aptitude. Nor are you particularly suited for working in the trades. Traditionally a liberal arts degree would have been a pretty good default position. But as I indicated recently, the liberal arts degree is dead. It might return to life through online education, but I'm not holding my breadth. I do believe that at some time in the near future large corporate employers will begin instituting standardized testing for all white collar employees. This would be similar to the combination IQ-aptitude tests that have been used by the United States military for decades. While flawed they seem to be a more cost effective way of sorting through young entrants into a field.
Whatever you take in university you will likely learn something. That something will, excepting our friends in the STEM subjects, be far less than what you can learn on your own. Most of what I learned at the University of Toronto was picked up not in a class room but at the massive John P Robarts library. Before the internet really took off having access to that library was a genuine privilege. The building itself is hideous. The collection of books is truly world class.
So if you're not learning anything in school, or not as much as you would by yourself or with like minded friends, why go? It's an open question as to whether young people should be spending four years of their life in university. Still it is a sad fact that many entry level positions "require" a university degree. Many of these jobs do not require anything more than Grade 6 math and Grade 9 English, so the official requirement for a degree is merely a pricey screening mechanism. You pay the price. So does the taxpayer.
The value of most degrees today is as a signalling mechanism. Forget about learning anything useful, true or beautiful. You need the piece of paper, assuming you don't have other viable options. Again not everyone can be, or wants to be, an engineer or a carpenter. Most jobs, even today, are basically learn as you do. The degree is just to get you past the HR Department.
You need the piece of paper. The two most valuable commodities are time and money. Don't sacrifice more than you need of either in order to get that piece of paper. If you're not going for a technical designation then take the easiest and cheapest degree you can find. With this in mind for most people the best degree they can take is Political Science.
Now some of you might find that an odd choice. Political Science is an oxymoron as a field of inquiry. As a field of study it's a pseudo subject. Which is why you should take it. I knew quite a few double majors in History and Political Science. Each and everyone told me that History was ten times the work. If you're looking for an easy C or B, then Political Science is your degree. If you want to push for Law School it's one of the easiest A+ subjects you can take.
The great thing about political science is that it allows the typical student an enormous amount of free time. The typical student spends that time drinking and whoring themselves out. Try to avoid being that dumb. The two smartest groups of people I met at university were engineers, for obvious reasons, and a small clique of political science majors. The latter had realized that for most people what you take in university is irrelevant. It's pretty much all useless. I had one Political Science student tell me he'd gladly trade in his BA for a single well connected uncle.
For those of us without well connected uncles, we'll have to keep the BA. But in getting the BA we can also spend our free time acquiring useful skills. The intelligent political science majors I met were by far the most entrepreneurial people on campus. Business majors are, almost by definition, not entrepreneurial. They go to school so they can work for someone else. B-Schools train corporate bureaucrats, not self starters and independent thinkers. This I know from painful personal experience.
If you have an entrepreneurial personality then go start a business. Why wait until you graduate? I had a business cleaning offices in university. I knew quite a few people who made good money painting and landscaping. If you know nothing about the industry before hand, then work for someone else for awhile. The main skill in this type of business is salesmanship. If you're not good at sales then find a friend who is. Become partners. You'll know more about business than most MBAs by the time you graduate.
As for the book keeping stuff, there's plenty of cheap software on the market. The accounting and finance that is studied in B-school is geared toward medium and large corporations. By the time you get to that stage you can hire someone else to do the numbers. As a business owner you need to have a general understanding of how finance and accounting works, you don't have to be an expert. Even if you have no interest running a landscaping firm after graduating, think about the networking possibilities. Schmoozing with some HR Department idiot will get you only so far. Mowing the lawn of a powerful businessman, who likes to see young people work hard and well, is probably going to get you further.
That's for the business minded people out there. What about the artsy types? The aspiring writers, painters and sculptors. First let me express by sympathies. The market is certainly tough, but then again it's never been much of picnic. The internet has destroy everyone's business model. Sooner or later someone will figure out a workable monetization strategy. Right now there is the ad hoc approach of subscriptions, advertising and sales. The bigger problem, however, that you'll face is that our culture is in decline.
Italy during the Renaissance had a population smaller than modern Ontario, yet it produced some of the greatest works of artistic genius. We are richer and far more technically advanced than those early modern Italians. So why can't we produce our own Leonardo? We probably are producing men of that level of genius, it's just that they don't go into the arts. Since the rise of Dada nearly a century ago modern art has been a pathetic joke. For those wanting to engage in serious art it's a struggle merely to find proper instruction. This is why I'm deeply skeptical of most arts programs at universities. They don't teach much and seem to consume an enormous amount of time doing so. Taking a Political Science degree gives you the signalling mechanism you need. It does this while giving you the free time to develop your talents alone and with other like minded people. The internet makes this far easier than at any time in human history.
Since the philistines do rule most of modern culture you'll have a battle making a living. Think of alternate ways of deploying your skill set. If you want to write the great Canadian novel, but that's going to take time, try becoming a copy writer. It's a profession I knew nothing about in High School. If I had I might have gone down that route. It has its risks. So does being chained to a cubicle for twenty years. Apply the same approach to other fields. If you're very good a something it's probably something that can be tweaked and applied to a ready commercial purpose. The vital thing is to be flexible. Rank what you'd most want to do, then second most and so on. If you have the knack you might want to pick up an unrelated skill set. Phillip Glass was a plumber and cab driver until his early 40s. Anthony Trollope worked for the Royal Mail.
A final word. Take nothing at face value. The above are merely the ramblings of one blogger in one corner of the blogsphere. Only you know what will work for you. There are plenty of people trying to manipulate an independently minded individual, trying to tell him or her that there is something wrong with their way of thinking. There is probably far more wrong with other people than there is with you. No one is omniscience but some of us at least try not to be blind.
Alex Proud argued in these pages (on these screens?) the other day that Britons have become irritatingly obsessed with appearing working class. He said that people pretend to be less privileged than they actually are so they can seem cooler or more interesting. Alex especially noted the “the mangled vowels of the public school mockney”.
In Canada our accent is sufficiently flat that no one, except bored American comedians, bothers to imitate it. Dull and worthy.
Look a famous American is saying something about us. Let's listen:
With a straight face, Clinton conceded: "I will say this. He has absolutely destroyed every stereotype people have about Canadians."
"The Canadians are upbeat, optimistic, can-do. They are embracing, they're inclusive," Clinton said. "Everything I ever believed about Canadians, ol' Rob has proved (that) stereotypes are not good, positive or negative I guess."
It's been a decade since Robert Fulford popularized the term: "The Longest Undefended Neurosis in the World." It's about as accurate a description of Canada-US relations as has ever been offered. The eagerness which, even at this late date, we lap up any mention of Canada on US media is oddly pathetic. This is the sort of behaviour typically seen in small bankrupt countries. Any mention of Portugal outside of Portugal is almost immediately reported on the state broadcaster. There is a strange cloying quality about such reports. A desperate yelling: "Hey we used to be important!"
It's a small country thing. When a big country thinks this way you get French-style arrogance: "Hey we still are important, it's that you lot aren't clever enough to realize that blindingly obvious fact."
Today Rob Ford is probably the most famous Canadian in history, save William Shatner. Neither men's careers has done much to change international perceptions of Canada. We're boring and probably polite. From time to time we kill seals and moose, though not necessarily in that order. As a general rule we avoid doing evil things. Short of carpet bombing a small country, which is well beyond our military capabilities, nothing we do will change these perceptions. We could annex Buffalo, something within our military capabilities, but I suspect most Americans would probably be grateful. They might throw in Rochester as a parting gift.
Mahool was the mayor of Baltimore who, in 1910, signed into law a racial zoning ordinance. According to Christopher Silver’sThe Racial Origins of Zoning in American Cities, he was also “a nationally recognized member of the ‘social justice’ wing of the Progressive movement.”
The cities employing racial zoning included many Southern ones: Norfolk, Atlanta, Louisville, Birmingham, and more. But they were not limited to the South: Chicago practiced a form of racial zoning, too. San Francisco and other California cities used it to keep Chinese laundries in their place.
"Teaching is a political act, and you can't choose to be neutral. You are either a pawn used to perpetuate a system of oppression or you are fighting against it," Radersma said during the session. "And if you think you are neutral, you are a pawn."
Which implies that there is no such thing as objective truth, merely political truth. This is the mentality of a totalitarian. The writer of the above isn't a fool, she's a dangerous fanatic.
"Being a white person who does anti-racist work is like being an alcoholic. I will never be recovered by my alcoholism, to use the metaphor," Radersma said. "I have to everyday wake up and acknowledge that I am so deeply imbedded with racist thoughts and notions and actions in my body that I have to choose everyday to do anti-racist work and think in an anti-racist way."
I agree completely. Kim Radersma, the author of the above, is a racist. Not because she's white but because she thinks being white makes you an automatic racist. Let us remind ourselves that being racist does NOT mean being mean to non-white peoples. This is the most superficial understanding of the term. A racist is someone who judges people by certain aspects of their physical make up, regardless of character, conduct or intelligence. Saying that white people are irredeemably racist is an incredibly racist notion. It is moral and intellectually on par with saying that all black people are stupid and dishonest. It is no less racist simply because the targets of said racism happen to be the majority of the population. Bigotry is not statistically determined.
Radersma said she taught a lower-level English class at the high school and her students were exclusively people of color. However, she said the Advanced Placement course in her school was almost all white and Asian students. Her principal observed class one day and commented on the difference in students between the two courses.
That experience, and the fact that her boss did not know how to tackle the problem, led her to leave the classroom and work toward her Ph. D. Radersma told the group she realized the problem was the institutionalized racist structure of education and her white privilege was causing the racial achievement gap.
White supremacy is a funny old thing. Until the day before yesterday it referred to whites who thought they were better than everyone else because they were white. The trouble with this old fashioned understanding is that, ahem, the children of Asian immigrants have been remarkably successful in modern North America. What sort "institutionalized racist structure" based on "white privilege" decides to make exceptions on racial groups? White people are better than everyone, except this group and that group. And maybe that group over there as well. A funny crop of racists.
Now having been one of the white western European students in a room full of South and East Asians I can explain their success quite simply: They're ambitious. They're not smarter and there is no magic gift which has been passed down through their genes. They take education seriously and many other groups simply don't. Talk to the typical Asian parent for five minutes and this becomes very apparent. But talking to actual human beings is beyond the warped logic of a racist fanatic.
And remember it's not me calling her a racist, she's describing herself in exactly those terms. She is a self-hating racist but a racist all the same.
The madness continues:
"My partner, who is a man, can't tell you about feminism. He knows a lot about it. He considers himself a feminist, but you want to learn feminism from him? No," she commented during the session. "You need to learn feminism from a woman. You need to learn what it is like to be a woman from a woman. He can't teach that. I can't teach students of color nearly as well as a person of color can."
While your garden variety racist, the primitive mentality that used to lynch blacks and burn Jews at the stake, thinks that he's inherently smarter and better than his victims, he doesn't usually believe in alternate realities. There are somethings so stupid only a graduate student can believe. What the above quote demonstrates is polylogism. Here is how Ludwig von Mises described the concept in his classic work Human Action:
Marxian polylogism asserts that the logical structure of the mind is different with the members of various social classes. Racial polylogism differs from Marxian polylogism only in so far as it ascribes to each race a peculiar logical structure of mind and maintains that all members of a definite race, no matter what their class affiliation may be, are endowed with this peculiar logical structure.
The Marxist variety of polylogism is largely out of fashion these days, though it does crop up in some denunciations of the rich. Racial polylogism has come back into fashion, despite it's deeply evil history, because it's apologists have hidden themselves within the rhetorical cloak of the Civil Rights movement. This is the dark irony of the neo-racists, they use the prestidge of the 20th century's most eminent anti-racists to advance their racist ideology.
Another topic of discussion was how white people's actions, like donating to charity or helping a family in need, are inherently racist. A white attendee of the conference told a story about how her family donated school supplies to one of her classmates when she was in first grade because the family could not afford them.
While the Left has hidden its statist agenda beneath appeals to "compassion," it should never be forgotten that the Left is above all a collectivist ideology. It is collectivist in its metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and finally its politics. They do not believe in objective reality, they believe that reality is unknowable, only people's beliefs are knowable. Truth therefore is not obtained by observing facts and drawing conclusions, truth is instead determined by whoever is talking.
There is black truth, white truth, aboriginal truth and so on. The logical extension of that is that there is no universal system of ethics. If you believe that ethics applies to all men at all times, then whether you help, or don't help, a particular individual has nothing to do with their race. If you believe that ethics is a racial construct then their race is all that matters. This is why white people helping non-whites is evil, it robs the non-whites of their dignity. Anyone who believes in our common humanity as a species must find such ideas morally repugnant.
This woman is not merely a fool, a parasitical product of an overgrown and bureaucratic system of state sponsored education. I repeat this woman is not a fool. Once you understand her basic premises everything else follows logically. She is being very consistent in her thinking, more consistent and more honest about it than most of her peers. That she is a self loathing white person is incidental.
Above all this woman is profoundly evil. She is espousing to young minds a racial doctrine as odious as anything in human history. It is true that, for the moment, she and those like her do have a large enough following to dramatically change the political course of the nation. But give it time. Two or three generations of children, immersed from their earliest conscious thoughts in this collectivist brine, will not emerge intact.
This racism will breed more racism. It will convince racial minorities that the society in which they live is rigged against them. This will exacerbate the tribalism that already exists among these groups. In time, after some period of resentment, the whites will accept the logic of the neo-racists but reject their self-abnegating goal. Once they do a new doctrine of white supremacy will emerge as odious and as dangerous as anything in the past.
I hope that there is still enough of the Enlightenment left in North America to reject this pernicious doctrine, to hold fast to our traditions of individualism and reason. In the meantime let us never forget the nature of the enemy we fight. Do not laugh at them. They are too powerful to merit our contempt, they are too evil to merit anything but our concern.