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This is a nice essay. I learned some things I didn't know before.

There's a pattern here in public policy-making that needs further attention. We have slogans and phrases that become untouchable. "Clean water" is one. Who isn't for clean water? I've never met anybody who wanted water to be dirty or poisonous. In the states we've had a very powerful movement called "Mothers Against Drunk Driving". Once again, who the hell would be in favor of allowing drunks to drive? These titles are self-evidently good things.

It goes on and on. I'm a fan of learning more about Universal Basic Income. We solve poverty by, well, giving people money. We do it anyway through social programs. Why not give it directly? (I don't know. Let's see what happens in various experiments)

"College" is yet another one of these magic phrases. Who isn't for college? Higher education? I just read another commenter on here that said we should stop this "war on colleges"

That's why I'm commenting.

The pattern is this: there's a phrase or slogan that nobody in their right mind would oppose. Lots of people and emotional energy is put into making sure we have this goodness for everybody. People who provide any sort of feedback at all aside from unanimous support are shunned. And they should be! After all, they're against $GOODNESS_X

Then we start spending money and making public policy around the phrase -- and the results can be quite mixed. Since the phrases themselves mean little, it's all about the tiny details, the implementation. Some groups do this thing very well. Some suck at it. Over time, however, in every one of these situations, architectural cruft accumulates and people figure out how to game the system to make it do things nobody ever intended.

Well then we're kind of stuck, aren't we? You can't provide any feedback aside from full support, otherwise we'll shun you. We established that when we started this movement. Colleges not working at the things the common person thinks they're supposed to be working at? Prices way up, graduates sometimes deep in debt with useless skills, use of the collegiate corporate structure as a proxy for a modern country club? You point that out and you're one of those anti-intellectuals fomenting a war on colleges.

The public discussions around dozens of policy initiatives suck. And they suck because the concepts have been so bowdlerized that we're all forced into false dichotomies. And technology, by continuing to promote the concepts that these huge, intricate, and detailed policy issues can be discussed at in terms of 140-character tweets or something similar? We've got a huge hand in making things as sucky as they have become. We're making a buck off of making people stupider than they would normally be and having them fighting over things they would normally mostly agree about. In my mind this is a terrible thing that my community is mostly responsible for.




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