Points of Light: Educational Opportunity, Damned Statistics & The Art of Money

Points of Light is a compendium of enlightening articles from across the internet, curated by Mike Vine.
Get ready to think…

The Irony of British State Education – Richard Mason @ FEE

Education used to be the realm of the wealthy aristocracy; to be educated was to be rich, while the impoverished masses remained illiterate and ignorant. Today it’s a human right of every child, as enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Thus, all of our children are educated equally, regardless of economic background, and provided for free by the state. Right? Wrong.

State education has done little, if anything, to close up old class divides and ensure the best education for all children. While all children (at least in Europe) do indeed receive an education, the very best schools are still reserved for the wealthy few, while the rest are forced into subpar institutions with little prospect of improvement.

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There’s No Such Thing as an “American” Homicide Rate – Ryan McMaken @ Mises Wire

There are clear regional differences in many cases. States in the far north and far northeast of the United States report very low homicide rates while certain homicide “hotspots” apparently in Missouri, Maryland, Illinois, and the deep South are driving up US rates.

These details emphasize the mistake of speaking of the nationwide US homicide rate as if it were in anyway descriptive of any single trend or legislative reality in the US.

We often hear about homicides are rampant in “America” — presumably caused by high levels of private gun ownership — but any serious look at the numbers forces us to refine our question and instead ask why some parts of the US have some of the lowest homicide rates on earth, while the situation in other areas is considerably different.

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Editor’s Note: New Hampshire is the most life-respecting jurisdiction in the US – and Arcadia fairs very well as a whole.

Money, It Turns Out, Is a Practical Art – Jeffrey Tucker @ FEE

The nationalization of money froze it in place. It was no longer subject to the pressure that free enterprise places on everything else. It was the great exception (there were other exceptions too, like schools and courts). It was stuck. In the 21st century, we were using the same core money technology as we were using in the early part of the 20th century. Hardly anyone thought anything of it. Surely we had come to the end of history.

The consequences were not only that money never got better. The nationalization of money led to a huge increase in government debt, wild swings in credit cycles, inflation, and even war because government no longer had to tax people for funds but rather could print it without limit. All of this ended up eating away at liberty itself, growing government beyond what any liberal society should tolerate, and fed human rights abuses.

Then Came Crypto

From the time that Bitcoin became viable, however, monetary theory would never be the same. In the years since that time (2009), I’ve noticed a gradual change taking place. We used to think about money as somehow existing in a finalized form. No more. It is now being thought of as we should have thought about it all along, as a technology that can become better in response to human needs.

In the 19th century, the word technology was not in common use. Instead a different phrase was popular: the practical arts. I think it is better. Inventing new things for human use is an art form. But it is not art just for admiring. It is art for using, art to make life better, a tool to enable a better path forward for all.

The practical arts today involve new apps, new buying options, new ways to communicate, new modes of transportation, and new markets. They make things cheaper, better, and more adaptive to our needs. Entrepreneurs compete to find better ways of serving us through the practical arts.

Thanks to the rise of cryptocurrency, the practical arts are being applied to reinventing money itself. It is going on every day, with thousands of companies innovating new monetary technologies. The big breakthroughs include: the uniting of money with payment systems, the dramatic diminution of counterparty risk, the inclusion of the unbanked, the impossibility of censorship, the security of ownership, the absence of a central point of failure. We keep discovering new virtues.

Cryptocurrency opened up the floodgates of monetary innovation a century after the enterprise had been shut down. F.A. Hayek wrote, “I have no doubt that competition would be much more inventive in providing the kind of monetary institutions needed for the proper functioning of markets.” He thought this might only happen by eliminating legal tender laws and dismantling central banks.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about cryptocurrency is that it unleashed competition without any reform of the system that still operates from the top down. No law was repealed, no plan was enacted, no new reforms were passed. It was as if a Maserati had sudden driven up alongside a fleet of Model Ts.

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