[p2p-research] Towards a post-scarcity New York State of mind

Michel Bauwens michelsub2004 at gmail.com
Fri Aug 14 20:05:02 CEST 2009

Hi Paul,

I was aware of working class literacy and of the remarkable literary level
of the self-taught in the 19th cy, but I must say your figures are really

I wonder if that was the case in Europe though ...

clearly, in Asia, I can witness it every day, it is NOT the case, for
example, the literary rate in thailand with general schooling is quasi 100%,
but if I see the children of the burmese guestworkers (including a number of
their parents) and some of the unschooled nannies and maids I have seen,
they are illiterate ...

I think many conditions would need to be present, to make this type of
unschooling successull on a massive scale ...

This being said, I encounter every day the dumbing down effects of public
schooling here, and its disciplinary (lots of physical punishments in
schools here, it's quite unbelievable) focus ...

The best thing for my mind is lots of educational freedom, i.e.
homeschooling for those that want it, generous provisions for experimental
and alternative education and schooling, regulated private schools, and
well-fundedocally independent democratic public schools for those who want
it ...

Unless you want to be coercive, there's no other way ... and I certainly
don't want a capitalist marketplace instead of schools ... education is NOT
a commodity ...


On Thu, Aug 6, 2009 at 9:33 PM, Paul D. Fernhout <
pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:

> Michel Bauwens wrote:
>> So you would just give the cash to families? How would you insure they do
>> not spend it on something else, unless it were vouchers?
> As any teacher would say, if they were honest, there is no point putting a
> kid in a classroom chair (as far as learning anything useful to the kid) if
> the child is hungry, sick, tired, cold, worried about their homelife, and so
> on. So, even if parents spend money on the basics, that is not a problem
> IMHO and a kid will be better off.
> Now, one may question other ways parents might spend the money. But, I'm
> also questioning how school spends the money. :-)
> As I just pointed out on the open manufacturing list, quoting Gatto:
> http://groups.google.com/group/openmanufacturing/msg/a90bb68a94948038?hl=en&
> http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/3b.htm
> """
> Looking back, abundant data exist from states like Connecticut and
> Massachusetts to show that by 1840 the incidence of complex literacy in the
> United States was between 93 and 100 percent wherever such a thing mattered.
> According to the Connecticut census of 1840, only one citizen out of every
> 579 was illiterate and you probably don’t want to know, not really, what
> people in those days considered literate; it’s too embarrassing. Popular
> novels of the period give a clue: Last of the Mohicans, published in 1826,
> sold so well that a contemporary equivalent would have to move 10 million
> copies to match it. If you pick up an uncut version you find yourself in a
> dense thicket of philosophy, history, culture, manners, politics, geography,
> analysis of human motives and actions, all conveyed in data-rich periodic
> sentences so formidable only a determined and well-educated reader can
> handle it nowadays. Yet in 1818 we were a small-farm nation without colleges
> or universities to speak of. Could those simple folk have had more complex
> minds than our own?
>  By 1940, the literacy figure for all states stood at 96 percent for
> whites, 80 percent for blacks. Notice that for all the disadvantages blacks
> labored under, four of five were nevertheless literate. Six decades later,
> at the end of the twentieth century, the National Adult Literacy Survey and
> the National Assessment of Educational Progress say 40 percent of blacks and
> 17 percent of whites can’t read at all. Put another way, black illiteracy
> doubled, white illiteracy quadrupled. Before you think of anything else in
> regard to these numbers, think of this: we spend three to four times as much
> real money on schooling as we did sixty years ago, but sixty years ago
> virtually everyone, black or white, could read.
> """
> So, to be frank, even if *all* the parents gamble *all* the money away, the
> children may be better off. :-( At least in the USA.
> But, I suggest, almost all parents will spend that money in ways that
> benefit their families, of which investing in a good education is an
> important part of hope for the future. (And if they don't, what does that
> say about their prior schooling?)
> The thing is, schools as an idea have so usurped the notion of education
> that we have forgotten what is possible or how many aspects there are to
> intelligent kids. Health is a key aspect of a productive intelligence.
> Stephen Hawking is stuck in a wheel chair and has a brilliant mind, true,
> and aspects of his brilliance may even relate to his physical confinement
> (as genius often is a response to unusual obstacles), but in the main, the
> healthier people are, the smarter they are. Still, tests have shown that
> children of divorced families tend to do better on standardized tests, in
> part because they need to be smarter to survive the turmoil. So it is true
> that, to the extent families are happier, test scores might decline
> slightly. But I don't consider test scores the ultimate arbiter of healthy
> intelligence or a healthy society.
> I'd suggest, that in general, as a result of wealthier families (as oppoed
> to wealthier schools) we'd get happier citizens more engaged with the world
> around them (in part because they would spend more time in the world around
> them than in classrooms). Out of that would flow many good things. And that
> is the ultimate goal of education in a democracy, is it not? A healthy
> engaged citizenry?
> I know it may not be the goal of a hierarchical state of course, who may
> actually benefit from sick uneducated fearful slaves being easier to
> control.
> Why not a basic income instead of $20k?
> I'd prefer a basic income instead, agreed, and at that level in the USA.
> This is just a way to put the beginnings of basic income in place in one US
> state using the existing social and legal framework we have. And, it
> includes the idea of perhaps a class action lawsuit related to
> discrimination to force compliance by the state with this plan (if the state
> resists what may soon be an absolute undeniable necessity in an age of
> jobless recoveries and collapsing economies and massive unemployment like in
> Marshall Brain's Manna).
> The irony is that this proposal is counter-intuitive to current disastrous
> economic policies of low taxes. Those current policies go counter to the
> historic boom in the USA from high taxes during and after WWII at a 94%
> marginal tax rate (since free markets only function well if wealth is spread
> around, so they become more like peer networks than monopoly networks). So,
> I have a New York State specific bit of humor in the middle that may be hard
> to follow for those not knowing recent New York politics. :-) Tom Golisano
> is a billionaire who has been lobbying for low taxes, recently helped shut
> down the New York State government for days, and left the state to avoid
> taxes. The basis of his fortune is putting accountants out of work through
> automating payroll processing, which would be a fine thing to do, except if
> the economy collapses because all the wealth stays centralized with Tom
> Golisano and the ex-accountants are left unemployed and destitute without a
> basic income to get their share of the commons that underlies all this
> wealth. So, I tried to reverse his role with that of the current NY governor
> who wants to raise taxes, but years in the future, after raising taxes
> worked.
>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Golisano
> "In June 2009, Golisano took partial credit for the Republican seizure of
> control in the 2009 New York State Senate leadership crisis. Golisano, who
> had supported a number of Democratic Party candidates during the 2008
> election, was dissatisfied with, among other things, the Democratic plan to
> solve the state's budget crisis by raising taxes on New York's wealthiest
> residents. He orchestrated the defection of Democratic senators Pedro Espada
> Jr. and Hiram Monserrate, who voted with Republicans to reinstall Dean
> Skelos as majority leader."
> I mention the basic income idea later in the essay indirectly, by
> suggesting a natural progression of extending this $20K amount to earlier
> ages and later ages, all the way up to age 65 or so when Social Security in
> the USA starts.
> Essentially, it is a way to put in place Marshall Brain's proposal in
> "Manna". :-) But starting from New York State instead of Australia, and
> without the corporate aspect, but instead using democratic means, including
> public law related to schooling.
> Or, to paraphrase that famous saying about hammers and nails, if all you've
> got is a property-tax-funded public school system, every basic income plan
> looks like an education policy. :-)
> --Paul Fernhout
> http://www.pdfernhout.net
>  On Thu, Aug 6, 2009 at 1:53 AM, Paul D. Fernhout <
>> pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:
>> Michel Bauwens wrote:
>>> such a voucher system
>>>> While I can see how it may at first fit into that mental category,
>>> giving
>>> US$20k per child to the families to spend as they wish is not a voucher
>>> system, since vouchers are transfers of small amounts of money to other
>>> schools.
>>>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_voucher
>>> "A school voucher, also called an education voucher, is a certificate
>>> issued by the government by which parents can pay for the education of
>>> their
>>> children at a school of their choice, rather than the public school to
>>> which
>>> they are assigned."
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