Education is not a prerogative of the fortunate who have been born into comfortably well-to-do socioeconomic families or, if deprived, sponsored by goodwill fairylike patrons for splendidly expensive private higher education. It is not a status symbol to distinguish the fortunate from the melee in ostentations display of their supposedly high intelligence, dazzling scholastic aptitude, and a means to continue such expensive education as a symbol of confidence, competence, and cleverness.
But Joshua Angrist, an Israeli-American Nobel laureate in Economics of the year 2021, doesn’t think that way, not least because those who enter expensive elite schools are already brighter than their ordinary or troubled peers. The Nobel-Prized theory of education in the context of the selective admission process has become a concrete, incorruptible credo for the elite academic institutions and enflamed the already swelled up egos of the diploma holders doing well in their lives. When I read about him from today’s newspaper, I had to re-read his saying that “the reason graduates of those schools tend to do well has more to do with selective admission than education.” I understand his intention to demystify social legend that an Ivy-league diploma will guarantee you lifelong flowery roads to financial security and commensurate social status. However, it has more to do with his defense of continuous selective criteria to muster a pool of academically, and usually economically affluent, prospective students than anything else. What he argues is, “Don’t mess with the elite schools’ admission processing, for they select only the smartest ones!” Therefore, his argument calls for changing social agendas for changing such selective admissions to improve public education.
Angrist himself is a product of privileged education that some people wear like fancy hats on their pointed heads. He went to Oberlin College for BA and Princeton University for MA, Ph D. He teaches at Harvard University, which has become the infallibly supreme Ivory Tower in the States and most East Asian countries. Based upon Angrist’s focus on causality and effects on social impacts, it will be natural for him to defend the selective admission process, and I say go for it.
But it irks me to read from the Nobel laureate that supreme education is not for everybody. Since Angrist prides himself in employing real-world empirical evidence in his theory, does he marginalize those who have ambitions and aspirations to receive such quality education but are disadvantaged of the opportunities to learn the skills apt for demonstrating their minds? What about them, and how can he help them to access such opportunities? He’s not a social worker, which I don’t think he will not be pleased to be associated with even, but as an intellectual, he has a social responsibility to answer such vital issues. And if this unequal distribution of privileged educational opportunities is not worth studying, I wonder if those Nobel Prize panels thought his opuses deserve such international recognition. After all, Economics always comes last in the Nobel Prizes, with its being on the criteria most recently in the late sixties mainly begetting Americans.
A gentle giant in the maze of darkness
Sees the darkest corruption of the heart
alloyed in the putrid puss of proud violence
Writhing his pulsation of life like a serpent
Twisting the veins that carry life to his breath
Pounding the dome of his sovereign palace
In a morbid frisson of the ecstatic dance of death
Amid the cries of the man in a maze of disgrace
Unarmored, unguarded, unprotected, unheard
As the rampant madness of murder with passion
Possesses the man with the corrupt heart blinded
By outgrown white heat of hatred with unreason.
P.S.: It would have been my first day of returning to the office after the partial end of stay-home order in California had my brother not told me of a civil unrest situation in Downtown LA where my job was located; the subway station I always use was closed, and a curfew would be enforced in LA Counties starting from 6:00 PM, which would affect my returning home via trains.
Behind all this commotion lies another intermittently continuous police brutality exercised against the socially disenfranchised or marginalized – or to put it more blatantly – invisible, and therefore ignorable. The demonstrations were egged on by the inhumanly aggravated handling by the police of George Floyd, a former promising college basketball student who had eked out living by working as a security guard until he was laid off due to Covid-19 lockdown.
I don’t care what Floyd’s past sins are. I don’t need to know his character assessment to reason the initiation of Floyd’s arrestment by the police in the first place. What I see from the video of his undignified death posted on the New York Times attests to the manifestation of how prejudice aided by the unbridled zealous passion of the heated moment can lead to the destruction of humanity. The more I watch the tragedy, the more I see the man’s pathos and the oppressor’s inhumanity. How could you do that? This alone matters to me. Hence this poem is my elegy to Mr. Floyd.
RE: 8/10/2018 article of “A Home for Homeless Vets” by Teresa Watanabe of The Los Angeles Times
It has always been the case that those who who have suffered from afflictions of life appear to give helping hands to the bearers of the suffering. In Vigil’s Aeneid, when Aeneas and his people arrived at the shore of Carthage after the fall of Troy, the beautiful queen Dido welcomed the refuge with open arms and provisioned them with food and shelter and told Aneneas, “because I was once a sufferer of the affliction, I know how you and your people feel.” Now the time and space is translated in modern day California, and this very noble act of humanity in the figure of an old veteran solder continues.
A certain Japanese-American WWII veteran campaigns to provide affordable housing for veterans as well as low-income individuals and families at the risk of homelessness. He has even gone out of his way by establishing “Go for Broke National Education Center” in order to develop a five-story building on leased city land that would house the center and as many as seventy affordable housing units for the aforesaid applicants who find themselves between a rock and a hard place on the threat of eviction from their homes by landowners.
The article in fact brings light to the increasing number of homeless population that results from urban gentrification by which private developers plan to evict low-income residents from their newly acquired properties, so that such reworked properties will accommodate to the level of comforts required by those who can afford high rents, and thus create a totally new residential and commercial environments commensurate to the economic levels of the gentry.
The projection of building a low-income housing complex should be put into action forthwith without fail; it’s not about creating Skid Row, pace the popular opinions on such project in fear of tainting the atmosphere of communities and affecting the economic activities adversely due to the substantive presence of exiguousness incarnate.
I firmly believe that there should be more consorted efforts of fellowships of humanity as aforesaid to actively, substantially and tangibly help people in need to the extent possible by providing them with many more supportive “permanent” housing programs, not ad-hoc homeless shelters. It makes my head swivel in wonderment why politicians do not champion such existential programs, instead of hackneyed willy-nilly metaphysical ideologies that only divide this nation built upon liberty and justice. For if people are ruthlessly kicked out of their abodes just because they are undesirable in the eyes of the businessmen, where can they find liberty and justice to live their sovereign lives as resonated by the Gospel?
Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don’t have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them, “God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!” – if you don’t give them the necessities of life? (James 2:15-16)
Re: July 10, 2018 article of “Fast-food hiring practices are probed” by Jeff Stein of The LA Times
Working at a fast food store is often the only possible choice of laboring men and women out of steady, well-paying employment under unfavorable circumstances that push them to choose provisional jobs to eke out living, just as some of aristocratic and educated middle-class men used to work at the docks at a harbor in Victorian England. To add insult to the injury, be it ever known that any such worker who finds himself/herself in the labor limbo gives hostages to employment security in exchange of his/her sovereign principles, dreams, and wills.
I was appalled by this article of modern-day version of indentured service term called “No-Poaching Clauses,” which restricts managers from hiring employees from another store in the chain. Such arbitrary employment practice oppresses not only the livelihood but also dignity of employees working at well-known fast food franchises in the U.S.
By binding employees only to one store in the chain, an employer violates the quintessential elements of what makes us human: to quest for freedom of will, will to meaning, and meaning of life. Anyone striving for a new opportunity in life should do so to achieve individual values of life of which the acquisition of sustenance is indispensably requisite.
Forget sectarian political tendencies and partisan ideologies that are nothing but airy doctrines and demagogic campaign leaflets that are not in touch with the reality. Although it is reassuring to learn that there are at least seemingly some conscientious politicians (thank God for exerting their statesmanship on the existential matters of citizens’ daily lives) who are investigating such proprietorial contractual clauses, there should be many more bipartisan politicians willing to join the force to voice out the injustice done by the employers of the franchises and stop the exploitation of their workers at once.
Never forget “The laborer is worthy of the reward.”