One clear sign of the End Time is when the media starts publishing my opinions on the economy.


Worse yet, now I have to worry that, for the benefit of the world, Warren Buffett will send his goons to kill me. As long as I'm a dead man walking, I might as well make things worse before I go. Here now, more of my opinions about the economy.

I wonder what people mean when they say the economy will recover in 2010. The only way that can happen is if another irrational bubble forms thus creating an illusion of wealth similar to our previous illusions. If you take illusions out of the equation, there isn't anything to get "back" to. The wealth was never there in the first place.

I said before that I think we're on the cusp of a change as fundamental as the industrial revolution. But this time the change will be on the consumption side, not the production side. As a society we have dabbled with recycling and such, but it has always been fairly optional. There was no real penalty for waste.

The coming consumption revolution won't be strictly for the benefit of the environment. It will be an economic necessity, driven largely by the huge numbers of retired poor. There simply won't be enough stuff for everyone if waste is allowed.

The Internet will make this revolution possible. I've already written about the concept of ride sharing becoming widespread if the Internet and smart phones allow you to easily find rides going your way. That's just one example of how society could adapt to having less money without losing much in terms of happiness. Here's another example:

In California we're facing a severe budget deficit, and this will demand cuts in education among other things. I can imagine a future economy where everyone is home schooled over the Internet, and the average result is an improvement. With the Internet you could leverage the best teaching methods to the entire country. No one gets the bad teacher or the disruptive class. There are no bullies and no cliques.

Obviously you can see lots of problems with this approach. We assume that kids gain a lot from the social interaction of being in school. And of course personal attention from a teacher is important. But we have enough home schooled kids in the world to test that theory. My guess is that as long as home schooled kids have friends in the neighborhood, and siblings, they socialize just fine. The social skills can be learned on sports teams and at Girl Scouts. And I suspect a parent can give better personal attention than a teacher with 20 students.

Poor kids don't have computers and Internet connections. But subsidizing them would be far cheaper in taxes than sending them to school. And suddenly everyone would get the same quality of education.

I'm reading an excellent book called Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. One of the topics involves the huge academic disadvantage absorbed by kids who are the younger ones in a given class. Eleven months is a huge difference in maturity when you are in second grade. Home schoolers could start grades on their birthdays, and always be at the same maturity level as their peers. That change alone can buy you a big gain in average academic achievement.

Gladwell also discusses the disadvantage of having no school in the summer. It's a legacy of our farming past, with no current utility. Every summer the American kids lose ground to the Japanese kids who school year round. Home schooling would have no long breaks. Another problem solved.

This is the sort of change that could never happen if the economy was in a happy bubble and it seemed that money was abundant. But as the reality of our economic situation settles in, unthinkable options become thinkable. The good news is that the unthinkable options will have lots of advantages.

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Jan 12, 2009
"I wonder what people mean when they say the economy will recover in 2010."

Here is the chilling truth: I once was working on economic predictions for a corporation's executive insiders publication. This was when the company had hit a bumpy road. The company's economist was giving me the "good news" he foresaw two years down the road. I looked up and asked him, "Really?" He sighed and said, "If I knew the answer to that, I wouldn't be working here." - for my office survival tips: http://tinyurl.com/9wykph
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Jan 9, 2009

I'm all in favor of Education 2.0. But before I accept the conclusion that there is an obvious economic benefit, I would want to hear what would happen to the 4 million unemployed K-12 teachers and the entire text book industry?
Jan 9, 2009
Homeschooling works where the parents are dedicated to it. As a governor for a school in a "deprived" area, I see the effects on the children who have parents who don't feel the need for education. At least when those kids are at school they are getting SOME attention from the teacher: if they were at home, they would get nothing. Not only would the parents not help out with the "homework" side, they wouldn't make sure the kids spent the time they need to on the internet on the "schooling" side.

Home schooling for all simply won't work without a heck of a lot of resources invested in "parent training" - and also parent enforcement. Like I say, it works for the kids currently home schooled because their parents care, and because there are few enough that the authorities can keep tabs on them.
Jan 8, 2009
Regarding your reply to my comments.....

You mention the following as problems that homeschooling avoid "Namely: School violence (including murder and rape), drugs, early sexualization, cliques, bullying, taunting, teaching to the lowest common denominator, and socialization by peers. " It seems you are suggesting that these are somehow commonplace in public schools but somehow this doesn't happen to homeschool children. They just aren't prevalent and public schools can and do know how to deal with these problems. 'Teaching to the lowest denominator' - many, if not most public schools have the ability to teach at mainly different levels, from special education classes to gifted and talented and in between. Drugs are everywhere if you have the desire to look for them and I doubt very much that it is possible to keep your kids away from drugs unless you cage them and that's illegal and the same thing for sex. Keeping your children under lock and key seems more symptomatic of someone who is a control freak, paranoid, and affraid of the world. The world isn't such a scary place as it is often made out to be. Kids deserve better.
Jan 8, 2009
I feel the need to respond to crazymonster, even though I tire of constantly countering those who neither understand the homeschool experience, nor possess the proper perspective on what children really deal with in public schools.

First, crazymonster asserts that few parents have the ability to teach their own children. The fact that I know of scores of successful homeschool families is merely anecdotal. The fact that homeschool children consistently score much higher than public school students on standardized tests (keeping in mind these tests are designed around the public school curriculum and should, therefore, favor the public school student) should put that assertion to rest. To put it succinctly, homeschool children are better educated than public school children.

Second, crazymonster posits that public schools provide a richer variety of individual experience than a homeschool can, by virtue of the fact that the public school is by its nature a diverse group and that teachers are a seminal part of this experience by filling the mentor role. On this I can only attest to my own children’s familiarity with diversity and adult role models. Through groups, classes and events, my children experience a tapestry of social interaction. We know families of varied and exotic religious backgrounds, a diversity of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, as well as varied strata of economic and social classes. Their interaction consist of many adults (class teachers, coaches, other parents) who can fill the mentor role and make that significant difference that only an adult mentor can provide.

Third, crazymonster contends that by not attending public schools, homeschool children are “missing out from so much of life.” Crazymonster then goes on to list 13 aspects of the public school experience that homeschool children are lacking. I could take those points one by one, but that would make an unreasonably long post that would neither illuminate nor educate. Suffice to say that of the 13 points, only “school spirit” is obviously lacking by homeschool students. Substitute the word “love” for “spirit” and I would say we are pretty even. What is noticeably missing from the list of 13 are the aspects of public schools that crazymonster does not wish to make manifest. Namely: School violence (including murder and rape), drugs, early sexualization, cliques, bullying, taunting, teaching to the lowest common denominator, and socialization by peers. Admittedly, that is only eight to carzymonster’s 13, but given more time and an expanded forum, I’m certain I could produce additional examples.

Crazymonster concludes by stating that public schools are just the most wonderful places and that no child should be denied access and, furthermore, homeschooling should be banned. I think my refutation speaks to the specifics of carzymonster’s objections, but not to the sub textual argument. I believe that crazymonster, and others, are guilty of romanticizing the school experience they had when they were children. I remember when I was a child in school I was terrified that the teacher might see me chewing gum in class. Now kids are terrified by who might be packing heat. I remember as a freshman wondering if I could steal a kiss from Linda Holmes behind the gym after school. Now freshmen are video taping themselves getting oral sex on the school bus. I remember as a child being challenged by the material and being held accountable if I failed. Now the curriculum is dumbed down to the lowest level, and kids are given “social advancements” to the next grade.

For those who choose to homeschool, the experience can be rich and rewarding and every bit as good as a traditional brick and mortar classroom. In so many ways, it can be so much better.

Jan 8, 2009
Regarding Japanese schooling. My experience with Asian schooling is that it is rote-based, stifles creativity and causes too much stress on children of all ages. If kids are learning and studying they need breaks - so do the teachers. You can't learn non-stop. Summers should be long - 3 months minimum break - there are a lot of things kids need to do in the Summertime, there should be at least a month off in winter. Kids need about 1-2 weeks off in Spring. Private schools have lots of time off and they have high test scores too.
Jan 8, 2009
Regarding Japanese schooling. My experience with Asian schooling is that it is rote-based, stifles creativity and causes too much stress on children of all ages. If kids are learning and studying they need breaks - so do the teachers. You can't learn non-stop. Summers should be long - 3 months minimum break - there are a lot of things kids need to do in the Summertime, there should be at least a month off in winter. Kids need about 1-2 weeks off in Spring. Private schools have lots of time off and they have high test scores too.
Jan 8, 2009
One of the best things about going off to school every day is going away from your home, and the same thing holds true for the parents, getting away from the kids. Few parents have the ability to teach their own children and few have the depth of education and experiences to pass on. I don't know of anyone who can't say there wasn't a special teacher, teachers who made a difference in their lives - major difference. Pivotal experiences. Parents can't do it all, they can't be the soul influence - afterall they are the primary influence, but a big part of education is listening and learning from a huge variety of people, going to school with different backgrounds and upbringing, and having long-term meaningful relationships. I feel sorry for every child that is homeschooled. They are missing out from so much in life. School, education, people, teachers, librarians, drama teachers, PE coaches, comarderie, school spirit, health classes, shop, art, learning! - the whole environment is such a wonderful and important experience that no child should every be denied the experience. In fact, it is every childs right to go to school. I'd like to see the whole homeschooling movement banned. It just isn't fair to kids. Kids deserve to go to shool.
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Jan 8, 2009
Thanks for plugging homeschooling! But I agree with one of the people who commented: you can go even further. You should research the full spectrum of homeschooling.
I also want to say, if someone is thinking of commenting on problems they think might exist with homeschooling, research homeschooling and talk to some homeschoolers first, because, frankly, it's very unlikely you'll say anything that hasn't been said several times before and we have a ready answer for. (Although the comments about 50% of the workforce disappearing is new to me.)
Can I just take a moment to vent my frustration towards the conservative-fundamentalist homeschoolers? First off, they act like they represent homeschooling, but most importantly I have very little patience for parents who try to prevent their children from encountering other points of view. I read stuff about and by conservative-fundamentalist homeschoolers and I can understand why some people are wary of homeschooling. When they go overboard they make it even more likely that the public will try to control the way we are taught. They do NOT represent us!
Sorry for bringing that up, but I needed to get it off my chest, and this was a perfect opportunity.
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Jan 8, 2009
Sounds good the way you describe it. I think however that the biggest problem with homeschooling is not the lack of social interaction or personal attention, but the need for self-discipline.
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Jan 7, 2009
Hi Scott,
I agree with you that happines has not much to do with the consumption.
I am from India and I have lived in many countries from Singpore to Canada.
I have observed that an average Indian is happier than an average North American, although the latter consumes a lot more.
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Jan 7, 2009
Did a little reading but could not justify that Japanese schools go on on for the full year. They have 3 semesters and have about 45-60 days of leave ... a basic google search will show up the many time-tables of the academic year.

Unless you were referring to something more specific.
Jan 7, 2009
While I don't know that a purely virtual school environment would work well, I do agree that there needs to be a fundamental shift in how our children are educated. The glacial pace of change in our schools can no longer be tolerated. There is a new book out called "Weapons of Mass Instruction" by John Taylor Gatto that is a great read on what is wrong with our school system today and why we are just flushing money down the proverbial toilet. Highly recommended reading.
Jan 7, 2009
I just finished a Gladwell book myself, "Blink" (about those split-second intuitive gut feelings we all use, and are used by). Highly recommended.

Jan 7, 2009
Response to R. Saunders. Schools are intended to teach, not create jobs.
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 7, 2009
Home schooling is never a good idea except if the parents are rich and can afford not to have a job, but even in that case, the parents could contribute more to society by doing services to the society than two their own few kids.
Don't forget to encourage women to have career and financical independence instead of staying home to school her own kids.
Jan 7, 2009
In regards to your comment: If you take illusions out of the equation, there isn't anything to get "back" to.

If you take illusions out of the equation, there isn't anything at all. It is all illusion. We will simply keep going from one illusionary bubble to the next, like those people in the music commercial that fall from one bubble into the next one.

The good old days never were, they were just good for the people who writing the histories. The poor were too busy trying ot survive.

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Jan 7, 2009
I may be a true "outlier" (I haven't read the book), but I have to disagree with the "eleven months younger" assertation. I was born on my state's cutoff date for starting school and was always, without exception, the youngest kid in my class. I was also pegged for the "accelerated" program in elementary school and never had any problems.

Guess what? When I graduated HS I was a year younger than the girl in my class that was born on four days later in the same month but one year earlier. I was also a year younger when I graduated college and started my career. And one more thing- I'll retire a year earlier because my profession's retirement program is based on years of service rather than age so I've got that going for me, too.
Jan 7, 2009
To yearsofpractice:

The first rule of secret posting protocols is you do not talk about secret posting protocols. Consider yourself admonished.
Jan 7, 2009
A friend of mine sent me this test from 1895. Many COLLEGE graduates today could not pass it (I know, I showed it to a lot ofthem that I work with). I don't know of any 12th grader, let alone 8th that could pass this test.

1895 Eighth Grade Final Exam in Salina, Ks.
1895 Eighth Grade Final Exam

Remember when our grandparents, or great grandparents among younger people, and such stated that
they only had an 8th grade education?

This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, KS. It was taken
from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical
Society and Library in Salina and reprinted by the Salina Journal.
Jay Murley defies you to get a hundred on this because he couldn't even on an open book basis, thanks to a personal favorite like geography.


Grammar (Time, one hour)

1.Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.
2.Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no Modifications.
3.Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.
4.What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts
of lie, lay and run.
5.Define Case, Illustrate each Case.
6.What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.
7.Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you
understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.
Jay Murley notes that it gets more interesting below.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

1.Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2.A wagon box is 2 ft deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels
of wheat will it hold?
3.If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs.,what is it worth at 50
cts/bushel,deducting 1050 lbs.for tare?
4. District No.33 has a valuation of $35,000 What is the necessary levy to
carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for
5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $1.20
per meter?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around
which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.
(Hints from Jay Murley who hasn't used rods and tare weight for decades either. A rod is sixteen and a half feet and tare refers to the empty weight of the vehicle or container, like those strange numbers you notice on the sides of freight cars. so good luck with the balance.

U. S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn,
and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849,
and 1865.
Jay Murley notes that Union States were still calling the hostilities of 1861-1865 the Rebellion in 1895.

Orthography (Time, one hour)

1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic, orthography,
etymology, and syllabication?
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, sub
vocals, diphthong, cognate letters, and linguals?
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u'.
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions
under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi,
dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates
the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane,
fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by
use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.
Jay Murley notes that we have called orthography spelling since the early middle of the twentieth century.
Some of these questions have been passe as long.

Geography (Time, one hour)

1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America.
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba,
Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall & Orinoco.
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the
sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the
inclination of the earth.
Jay Murley knows a bit of geography but found question seven tricky facing 1895,
and finds Hecia in five unanswerable. Perhaps its a Kansas hamlet that vanished in the Dust Bowl. Hint from Jay Murley : Aspinwall may come to you when you think about California history.
Notice that the exam took five hours to complete. Gives the saying 'she/he
only had an 8th grade education' a whole new meaning co,pared to today's products
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