Many colleges should close permanently

American universities once attracted students from around the world. Prestige places like Harvard and Caltech did so, but it also happened at good state schools like the University of Illinois, University of Texas and even my own alma mater, the University of Colorado.

The scientific education was second to none. Even outside of science, a broad-based humanities program thrived. As an engineering student at CU, my required curriculum included two full years of “Great Books” where we studied Socrates, Homer, Virgil, Chaucer and Milton.

But then some interrelated things happened.

First, our culture mistakenly came to believe that being an educated person requires college. Today, many businesses require a college degree for everyone on the payroll.

Colleges were happy to go along with this. It meant more customers.

It also meant dumbing down the curriculum, and you might think colleges would resist that. They did in principle but not in practice. After all, teaching easier stuff is easier.

This sentiment permeates all levels of the education industry. Self-serving high schools perversely pride themselves on how many of their graduates go to college, as if there’s not a single one in the graduating class who would be happier in military service, or in a trade or in a restaurant. Meanwhile, those same high schools fail to teach these college-bound youngsters the basics that they used to teach.

Second, our leftward-drifting society began rejecting Western ethics and values such as work and objective truth. Those things are too hard. A work ethic demands work, and many people don’t like work. Objective truth requires hurting the feelings of those who believe in things that are false.

Our culture was so rich that we could afford frivolity. The engine of enterprise created by industrial and technological revolutions harnessed to free market economies was powerful.

Laziness and falseness were drags on the economy but the economy still generated phenomenal riches for almost everyone. Our poor people are considered middle class in most of the rest of the world.

In the colleges, this feel-good luxury translated into a disregard for their mission of educating students. Why should they imbue students with knowledge, if we’re so rich that knowledge is not necessary anymore? And how could they, if there’s no objective truth anymore?

Stripped of their legitimate mission, the colleges found another. They became cultural talismans to the point of parody.

Colleges used to tolerate unconventionality. Fine, being exposed to unconventionality is part of growing up. Then they started to celebrate it, then they demanded it, and now they won’t tolerate any opposition to it.

They’ve made a fetish of tolerance except tolerance for those with whom they disagree.

Ah, but now we have the COVID crisis. As Hillary Clinton might say in a different context, and did, let’s not waste it.

It’s true that colleges were in tough financial times even before COVID, largely due to oversupply of their product, high prices and a demographics-induced shrinking of their customer base.

The internet – the most powerful invention since fire – undercuts their business model just as it undercuts every other business model that relies on monopolizing information.

Why pay $40,000/year to go to a third rate school in a fourth rate town to hear a fifth rate lecture from a sixth rate ponytailed professor who gets summers off and a month for Christmas while lambasting the suburban parents who are footing the bill, when on the internet you can watch and re-watch for free at your convenience a brilliant talk from a fantastic speaker who’s at the top of his game?

From the standpoint of the student, the only answer to that question is, because the second option doesn’t get him a certificate called “college degree” which he needs for the cubicle job downtown.

This won’t last. Driven by something they hate, competition, colleges are beginning to offer online degrees. Some such degrees are indistinguishable on their face from the on-campus degrees. And employers are increasingly willing to test for knowledge, not simply trust a degree to prove it.

Ah, you say, but that approach would miss the pot parties and keggers. Yes, I suppose it would. But $40,000/year (double that at private colleges) would buy a lot of parties elsewhere.

We can no longer afford six-figure, four-year expenditures for institutional pot parties that serve only to enrich the educational industrial complex while delaying adulthood.

Harvard with its $40 billion endowment was caught with its hand in the COVID cookie jar. Think of the unabashed greed behind that. Faced with an outcry, Harvard put the money back.

But hundreds of other schools are dipping in, from ordinary state universities whose financial responsibility should be with the state that runs them, to Harvard-wannabe private colleges with their own endowments. They do so even as they hire new diversity czars, clamp down on freedom of speech and deny due process to the criminally accused.

I submit that before taking taxpayer handouts they should engage in a little introspection. A little veritas.

A truthful institution of learning run by civic minded professionals – what we used to call “the academy” – would consider how to help society, not just how to milk it. Many of these tawdry but exorbitantly expensive scams should close their doors forever.

Misleading NYT graph juices Colorado virus death trend

Defying apocalyptic predictions, Colorado was not particularly hard-hit by the Coronavirus. The number of cases and deaths per capita were in the middling part of the U.S. range.

Moreover, in Colorado the virus is nearly dead now. A website set up by the state showing virus data over time shows this:

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It can be seen that the daily death toll follows the classic bell-shaped curve that epidemiologists learn in med school. If anything, it’s better than one might hope for, in that the decline in right-hand part of the curve is steeper than the increase in the left-hand part. Yesterday, the death toll was zero.

One might think that the state’s largest newspaper would see this as news. They don’t. Continue reading

Coronavirus closers, a Jonestown redux

Jim Jones was a socialist cult leader in the 70’s. Harkening back to Karl Marx, he preached that “those who remain drugged with the opiate of religion have to be brought to enlightenment – socialism.”

He hobnobbed with politicians like Walter Mondale, Rosalyn Carter and Jerry Brown. To pursue socialism, he set up a commune in the jungle of a South American banana republic. He was in charge, naturally, and named it “Jonestown.”  Assisted by endorsements from his politician friends, he persuaded some 900 American followers to emigrate to there.

He imported not just his followers to Jonestown, but also drugs. He replaced the opiate of religion with the opiate of socialism and the opiate of opiate. One of those drugs was cyanide.

The residents got high and watched Soviet propaganda films about America. Jones ranted over loudspeakers day and night about imperialism and capitalism. Much of the money for Jones’ anti-Americanism came from American taxpayers. The residents signed their welfare and Social Security checks over to him. Continue reading

Let freedom ring

We’re beating it. We’re beating the Coronavirus.

On second thought, let’s call it the Chinese Virus after the place it originated and the communists whose stupidity and mendacity inflicted it upon the world. If the Spanish deserve credit for a virus that didn’t even start in their country, then the Chinese surely deserve credit for one that did.

The virus is well past its peak in Europe, especially in hard-hit Italy and Spain. America is a week or two behind the European infection and death curves due to President Trump’s prescience and courage in imposing travel bans which were widely mocked at the time by TDS sufferers, some of whom later became Chinese Virus sufferers. But in America, too, it’s leveling off and will soon decline.

And now, early results of treatment with a bioengineered drug are very promising. The drug is inconspicuously named Remdesivir and was invented and made by a biotech company improbably named Gilead. Continue reading

Do the left teach their children not to cheat?

I’m no saint. In fact, I’m a seriously flawed human.

But I’ll say this. In over 20 years of school – that’s K through 12, college and law school, not to mention half a dozen gigs as an adjunct law professor – I never cheated or condoned cheating. Not even once. My parents taught me that cheaters are immoral, and cheaters taught me that cheaters are losers.

Which brings me to Joe Biden. Continue reading

The Aspen Times encourages crisis gifts — to itself

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The Aspen Times is on hard times and wants a bailout.

In case you’re not a gazillionaire, or in case you’re an unwoke one, Aspen is a rich ultra-left resort in the Colorado Rockies. Democrats outnumber Republicans about two or three to one.

Apart from skiing, the main sport in town is to make a show of detesting the money of moneyed visitors, and detesting the moneyed visitors themselves, while inventing ways to separate the detestable moneyed visitors from their detestable money. Such as $965/day ski lessons.

Which brings us to the newspaper, the Aspen Times. They’re woke for sure. Continue reading

What if Obama were president now?

It’s a fair question, given the criticism directed at Trump in this viral election year. The short answer is, we’d have more American coronavirus deaths.

Here’s why.

The infection rate in America is much lower than in most developed countries. In America, it’s currently about 400 cases per million population. In Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Germany and France, it’s 1,500, 1,600, 1600, 700 and 600, respectively.

(Yes, I’m aware that, to Hillary Clinton’s apparent delight, the total number of cases is now highest in America. But that’s because even though the infection rate in America is low, the total population of America is much higher than most other countries. Sorry, Hillary, but America is still doing relatively well.)

It’s not just the infection rate that’s much lower in America. Continue reading

Please don’t destroy the country for me

I’m 64 and have a congenital blood disorder. It causes pulmonary emboli – blood clots, especially in my lungs. Twice, it almost killed me. I have what the docs call “an underlying respiratory condition.”

Since I was diagnosed and began treatment with daily blood thinners years ago, this condition is manageable (so long as I avoid skiing into a tree which would likely cause me to bleed to death). In fact, I’ll probably live another 20 years. I’m not asking for sympathy, and I don’t need it.

Save your sympathy for our country and our world, especially for younger people like my daughters.

You know the story. Continue reading

Can we rope-a-dope the virus?

The “Rumble in the Jungle” was the 1974 boxing match in Zaire between two of the greats: An aging, slowing Muhammed Ali and the younger, stronger, harder-punching George Foreman.

Ali repeatedly let Foreman back him into the ropes. There, most of Foreman’s blows were deflected or absorbed by Ali’s arms which were bruised black and blue the next day. Ali allowed his body to recoil against the ropes like shock absorbers to absorb much of the rest.

That continued into the seventh round when Foreman landed a knockout punch to Ali. Except it failed knock him out. Ali leaned into Foreman and whispered, “That all you got, George?”

Foreman later said he thought to himself, “Yeah, that’s all I got.” He was exhausted. Continue reading

Aspen Skiing Company is infected and the Aspen Times assists in the coverup

Aspen Skiing Company, a certifiable progressive and green company affectionately called “SkiCo” by the local progs of Aspen, boasts of their concern for people over profits, even as they uncannily make lots of the later at the expense of the former.

SkiCo operates the four ski mountains on National Forests around Aspen, where they charge people $175 a day for transporting them up the mountainsides on lifts powered by electricity generated by burning fossil fuels (elsewhere, of course) so that the people can slide back down. They do so while simultaneously decrying the use of fossil fuels by others, in order to buy indulgences from the global warming priests.

SkiCo’s sliding-down-the-mountainsides gig is a feeder for an adjunct hospitality gig. They operate a hodgepodge of restaurants on the mountains where you can get a half-decent hamburger for, well, if you have to ask then you can’t afford it, and also get a bottle of wine to bolster your confidence if not sharpen your skill for the descent on crowded snowy slopes.

The hospitality gig also includes running a Five Star hotel called The Little Nell, conveniently located at the base of a gondola that takes skiers up the mountainside. At the Nell, you can enjoy New Years Eve but it’ll cost you an arm and a leg. Turns out, you can also enjoy a night in early March but it might cost you your life. Continue reading