I don't know what I thought I'd be like, old, when I was young. I don't think I thought about it much. I find that I'm surprised about how cranky I am. But some solace for an old crank like me can be found in the clever rants I find online. Here are three:
From economist Craig Pirrong, "Bullshit Numbers".
You are seeing a lot of covid-19 numbers thrown around. Virtually all of those numbers are bullshit.
From Heather MacDonald, Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, "Call It a Ponzi Scheme: Even during the Covid-19 crisis, colleges abuse their economic and reputational privileges."
Higher education today resembles a massive Ponzi scheme. Colleges desperately recruit ever more marginal students who stand little chance of graduating. Before their inevitable withdrawal, those students’ tuition dollars fuel the growth of the bureaucracy, which creates the need to get an even larger pool of likely dropouts through the door to fund the latest round of administrative expansion. Administrative positions at colleges and universities grew at ten times the rate of tenured faculty positions from 1993 to 2009, according to academic consulting firm ABC Insights. By the 2013 school year, there were slightly more campus administrators nationwide than faculty; spending on the bureaucracy was equal to spending on all educational functions, including faculty.
And finally, maybe not a rant because the tone is rather mild, but the substance is quite bracing, Jonah Goldberg, "Threat Level: Bat Guano".
What bothers me about the assumption here—echoed all over the place—is that the measure of a nation’s greatness resides in its technocratic expertise and its ability to centrally plan the provision of material stuff for citizens. For more than 20 years now, I’ve been peeing from a great height—ironically often from my basement office—on virtually all of the ideas embedded in this assumption. Tom Friedman’s envy of China’s authoritarianism, the progressive fixation on planning, positive liberty, the knowledge problem, etc. But I won’t descend down those rabbit holes here.
Again, I’d like a competent government as much as the next guy—if the next guy wants it a lot. But competent government is really a small part of what my understanding of greatness includes. And my definition of what a competent government looks like is very different than that of people who grow tumescent at the idea of America being “China for a day.”