– Humanist Heisenberg
I often write about education; it is a preoccupation of mine. One of the fundamental things that draws me to Satanism is the promethean symbolism of Satan, the bringer of light and knowledge. The one who tempted Eve to take knowledge and move beyond the limits of her useless existence. Satan, if we are to assume as people do, that is what the snake represents, really helped Eve exposed the first lie that is the symbol of god’s word and worth. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:17. Of course they didn’t die, Satan knew they wouldn’t and it pushed man to be where we are today. Knowledge is power and Knowledge is a belief that is both true and justifiable by its holder. We can only gain this through education and experience. So in my opinion education is one of the highest virtues that Satanists could value. This will be a two part post, this will focus on higher education, and the second will move to k-12.
My thesis argument here is that ‘Higher education ought to be free to all that want it’. In the 1960s it was decided that we should go to the moon, the notion energized our society to achieve something no one had ever done before. Surely there were people then who objected to their tax dollars going to a space program for which they didn’t see the benefit, for themselves mostly. Surely there were people who thought it a waste of government money to fund these companies and big brain people to do work they thought was esoteric and irrelevant. But once the majority of people agreed with the premise that we ought to go to the moon, finding money was not the issue. If we shifted priorities, we have money, we are a wealthy nation. So fast forward to today, I have found almost literally the same arguments against free higher education as the space program. It’s not about the money, and it’s not about how we get it done, fixing our system to provide free higher education is not an impossible task, it most certainly is easier than going to the moon. So my argument is that we ought to value education enough that as a nation we change our priorities and focus our energy and money in a different way.
There at two words that need differentiation, Education and Degree; Education is the process of learning, acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs and habits. A degree is something awarded after successful demonstration of acquired skills by a university. When people argue that we want free education they really seem to think it is a free degree, like getting your Ph.D. in chemistry from Trump University, it would be as worthless as the paper it is printed on. Education is not free, you have to work for it. I will reiterate ‘A four-year education is not a free degree’, if you think college is easy and that students are just there having a good time, you should come to my chemistry class, I imagine my students would say it is usually not a good time and there is work involved, usually hard work that makes your brain hurt. To avoid the issue of just giving away money, is really an easy fix, it’s what most scholarships have been doing for decades, and it’s called Grade Point Average (GPA) requirements, coupled with semester maximums. We could go even as far as to narrow the field of free education the government pays for if the concept is so untenable and make it solely for science, engineering and math. But, I will stick to all education being free as my argument; but two easy conditions limit the entire argument of waste fraud and abuse.
Evidence suggests that improving things as minimally as high School graduation rates by 5% could save the country $18 Billion dollars annually in crime costs, and this is just scratching the surface and not even considering higher education (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2013; Smith, 2016; Andrews, T. et. al, 2007). Virtually every academic article indicates “The social savings appear to be quite large over time, confirming that crime reduction is an extra indirect benefit that can be generated from education policies” (Machin, Marie, & Vujic, 2011) The economic savings are actually compounded because most research doesn’t take the economics further to calculate the cost savings of incarceration. Incarceration per person can be as high as $75,000 per year (AP, 2017). It costs the US almost a TRILLION dollars of which half is social cost due to its prison population (Ferner, 2016). This means YOU are ALREADY paying the equivalent of a college education per prisoner, to do nothing. If we shifted our focus, these might be students rather than inmates, at LITERALLY no added cost to you as a tax payer. While I get the idea of not wanting to give things away for free, which is a truly impressive piece of propaganda. The cost savings from our prison system alone, would pay for any amount of education we invest in. Providing an education to high risk populations in urban areas can substantially decrease juvenile and adult crimes regardless of the educational outcome (Cullen, Jacob, & Levitt, 2006). We cannot have the argument both ways, you cannot be against free education for fiscal reasons, yet support wasting money on incarcerating people.
Education is not just a onetime thing, it is a lifetime endeavor, but attending a college or university for four years expands our minds and our scope of experience. We learn about healthy behavior, health risks and improve our literacy so that we can comprehend more complex critical issues that are pertinent to our wellbeing. One of the major factors of education is learning science which can help to create more accurate beliefs on things like vaccines which can help us make better lifestyle choices and improve our self-advocacy. The skills acquired through education can improve our ability to navigate general administrative tasks like dealing with our health insurance which can make us better consumers and advocates. A review of health literacy found that people with lower literacy or comprehension tend to use more emergency services and are less likely to use preventative services such as mammograms or take medications properly which have an adverse effect on the cost of healthcare usually due to re-admission (Goldman, Smith, 2002; Spandorfer, et al., 1995; Williams, et al, 1998). If we want the consumer to be better informed so that they don’t have to rely on government provided insurance then we have to invest in education. Access and use of preventive services can have a drastic effect on healthcare costs, people who have higher education levels take more advantage of preventative screening (CDC, 2010; Steele CB, et al., 2013). Imagine the cost savings to our entire society if our population as a whole was more educated. It is often the argument that our healthcare costs are out of control that premiums are too expensive, but there seems to be few if any real solutions to how to deal with healthcare costs. If we need to discuss numbers, improving preventative measures, whether through education or not we could save tens of billions of dollars annually, depending on our level of utilization (Maciosek, Coffield, Flottemesch, Edwards & Solberg, 2010)
Educating people is a way to give people the tools to make the right choices for themselves; which seems to me to be another conservative platform, self-reliance. We don’t want the socialist government interfering in our lives, well, the only way to avoid this is to give people the capacity to think and make good choices for themselves. The empowerment of women through education, can by itself, have a drastic impact on social development (Hossain, 2015; Gage, Fang, O’Neill, & DiRienzo, 2013). Improving education levels, particularly in women can have a drastic effect on many high impact social issues that people claim to feel strongly about. The particular correlation of education on these issues is a known factor, as a society or an individual we cannot hold to beliefs that are contradictory and claim any sense of moral or idealistic high ground. You cannot be for individual freedom and for authoritarian dictation of what people ought to do with their bodies; you cannot be pro-life and against solutions that would save lives; you cannot be against social programs and against empowering individuals.
Lastly and most critically is the technology innovations that make America great are driven by education. There are lots of arguments that could be made about how innovators are not always the most educated and there are lots of people who didn’t do well in school who are now drivers of innovation. Yes we can see where these handful of truly exceptional people would excel regardless of traditional learning structures. However, for most of the rest it is the long game we are playing. Lots of hard work, studying and researching pushing the boundaries of questions being asked, looking at problems in new ways, and building upon what others have done to find a unique application of something not tried before. That is how innovation is really done for most of the science and technology world. That incremental progress is built upon the knowledge of others, both their successes and their failures. Understanding how people approached a problem and the fundamental underpinnings of science and technology takes time and education. Innovation is achieved often by thinking of things differently, this is why diversity in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is really critical. When we bring in different people with different backgrounds we logically get different perspectives on things and often we find ways around problems. Learning how to think, how to ask questions is not inherently easy for many if not most people and often is only achieved through education. If we as Americans want to continue to be world leaders in innovation; there has to be a commitment to education to maintain what we have achieved. There is a scale called the International innovation Index, to which if you compare the top 10 countries in innovation and cross reference that to world education ranking, well, it’s not hard to see that Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Netherlands, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Australia, and the United States are on these lists (Shepherd, 2010; Dutta, Lanvin, & Wunsch-Vincent, 2017). If we want to keep America great and stay in this fight, it is not something that can be just fixed later once it is lost. Education and innovation are long term investments and goals. “Education subsidy promotes human capital accumulation and increases firm value, thus accelerating [research and development] activity” (Hori & Yaamada, 2013; Siu Tong, & Si, 2010).
Somewhere out there, there is an exceptional thinker, an untapped resource that simply lacks the means to obtain a higher education. Providing diversity of thinking in our social structures including government is the best way to overcome issues and find solutions to problems. We need to provide free higher education to our population to improve our society as a whole and equip our populace with the skills to be self-sufficient and provide the capacity to be able to address social issues that have been long standing problems for the United States. If we do not put education first, then we will cease to be an innovator in the world economy for technology and the shift in world leadership will fall to the ones who have the capacity to deal with problems on a global scale. Lastly, it is a difficult concept for many American’s to accept, but education is a basic human right along with healthcare and it is the responsibility of the government to provide the tools for its population to stand on their own. I didn’t even address the issue of the multi-generational debt issue caused by higher education; but if you want people to be self-sufficient, contributing members of society then we cannot send young people out into the world being buried in debt that they spend most of their adult life trying to crawl out of, that is of no benefit to a country, if we are only concerned about the economics of as a metric of our greatness. Investment in higher education has no downside and only exponential return on our investments, it is worth considering for the future of America, if we truly want to make America great again.
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