David Henderson reminds us why we’ll miss the late Rick Stroup . (DBx: The first textbook out of which I taught was the second edition of Gwartney and Stroup – from which I myself learned much. Also, I’ll miss Rick in part because he always called me, whether in person or by e-mail, “young man” – a designation that men my age don’t believe but nevertheless get a kick out of hearing.)
In a wonderful podcast episode, Build for Tomorrow host Jason Feifer explored nostalgia throughout history. If you want to make America great again, you have to ask yourself when America was great, he thought. The most popular answer seemed to be the 1950s. So then he asked scholars of the ’50s whether people in the ’50s thought they were the good old days. Definitely not. People were worried about race and class, the impact of television, and the very real threat of instant nuclear annihilation. There was anxiety about rapidly changing family life and especially the new youth cultures and mindless, consumer-oriented students on campus. American sociologists warned that rampant individualism was tearing the family apart.
But there must have been exceptions. For example, being an autoworker in Detroit must have been amazing, considering how often this group is featured in current labor market nostalgia. Or was it?
When historian Daniel Clark launched an oral history project to find out how the autoworkers themselves experienced it, he fully expected to hear stories about a lost Eden. However, as Clark wrote, “hardly anyone, male or female, white or African American, recalled the 1950s as a time of secure employment, rising wages, and improved benefits.”
Instead, Clark was told about economic volatility, precarious employment, and recurring unemployment. In 1952, one-tenth of all U.S. unemployment was concentrated in the city of Detroit. Impressive hourly wages don’t say much about annual incomes if you are only called in temporarily and quickly let go. Most of the workers Clark spoke with recounted how they had to take secondary gigs (cab driver, trash hauler, janitor, cotton picker, moving company worker, golf caddy) to pay the bills.
Let’s hope that government-school administrators, and the teachers unions for which these schools are principally operated, will continue to reveal their true colors so that we might take a giant step on the happy road toward a complete separation of school and state .
The last few years have seen a proliferation of “open letters” by academics in politics and the humanities in favor of progressive causes. The hard sciences are different, and when mathematicians, physicists and engineers speak up to defend the integrity of their fields, Americans should pay attention.
The latest example is a new public statement  from hundreds of the country’s top quantitative scientists warning about the assault on math in schools. “We write to express our alarm over recent trends in K-12 mathematics education in the United States,” the statement begins. The social-justice wave of 2020 accelerated efforts to eliminate standardized testing and lower standards in math to give the appearance that achievement gaps don’t exist.
The scientists delicately describe the politicized erosion of standards as “well-intentioned approaches to reform mathematics education.” They zero in on the California Department of Education’s proposed new math framework, which encourages  math teachers to take a “justice-oriented perspective.” The signatories say the course roadmap will reduce the “availability of advanced mathematical courses to middle schoolers and beginning high schoolers” and discourage students from taking calculus.
Kevin Williamson relates tales from the “Carbon Cult in Glasgow.”  Two slices:
The climate movement likes to wear the cloak of Science!, but here on the streets of Glasgow, inevitably described as “gritty,” it is a movement of slogans — fruity and loopy and hippie and New Agey inside the Scottish Exhibition Center, where the U.N.-approved activists and critics and RINGOs and QUANGOs and YOUNGOs offer up their predictable maxims (“We Have a Right to Climate Education” and “The Future Is Female” and the inevitable “Black Lives Matter”), but they get angrier and ragier and a good deal less grammatical as you move outward through the concentric circles of Serious Power, centered today on the most sacred person of Barack Obama, paying a surprise visit and upstaging the official U.S envoy, haughty private-jet enthusiast John Kerry, which is plainly part of the former president’s extended “Hey, Joe Biden Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time!” tour. And the mottos and calls to arms and such grow positively hostile as you land on the actual Glaswegian street, outside of the barricaded zone of U.N. approval, where there is talk of Nuremberg-style trials for “climate criminals” and naked anti-humanism (“Love the Planet: Hate Children!”) and graffiti scrawled either by some quasi-illiterate climate warrior with approximately Greta Thunberg’s education or by some ingenious and nihilistic street philosopher offering up Plato-by-way-of-N.W.A.:
“F*** the Polis!”
The downside, of course, is that transforming environmentalism into a religion — a religion with creeds, rituals, and infidels — has made widespread international cooperation on meaningful environmental goals, including meaningful climate goals, all but impossible. As the graffiti around Glasgow denouncing “climate criminals” and the jeremiads of Greta Thunberg et al. have made perfectly clear, the true-believing environmentalists have very little interest in common ground or a middle ground, insisting instead that “climate justice” requires a complete transformation of both the individual and society.
As politics, that is totalitarianism; as religion, it is fanaticism. And the sweet smell of incense is not enough to mask the stink of it.