I'm pretty sure most of you feel as I do about the Miss America pageant: YAWN!

But that's not what I'm writing about. I'm writing about how dumb some of my fellow Americans are.

Nina Davuluri, a born-in-America Hindu with family roots in India, is being depicted in vicious posts and tweets as a Muslim, an Arab, and "probably a terrorist."

A lot of Americans view any male with dark skin wearing almost anything other than a hat as probably Muslim. After 9/11, many a Sikh was treated as a probable terrorist. Sikhism is a religion having nothing whatsoever to do with Islam. It's far more closely related to Hinduism. All Sikh men are expected to wear that headgear consisting of a cloth wrapped around their head which we often associate with India. Hindu men don't wear headgear as a rule, even if they are Muslim.

Davuluri was also criticized for her pride in her Indian heritage rather than her Americanism. Would these same idiots be so critical of a woman being proud of her English, Irish, French, or German ancestry? I don't think so.

How did we as a people become so dumb? Is it a function being citizens in the world's most powerful economy?

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Davuluri was also criticized for her pride in her Indian heritage rather than her Americanism. Would these same idiots be so critical of a woman being proud of her English, Irish, French, or German ancestry? I don't think so.

I think they would be critical. Not as many and maybe not as harsh, but they would definitely be critical that she is not 'Murican first and foreigner second. After all, remember 'Freedom Fries' and 'Liberty Poodles'?

How did we as a people become so dumb? Is it a function being citizens in the world's most powerful economy?

We as a people have always been dumb, we are just slowly getting smarter. National pride/patriotism and the like is nothing more than a slightly more sophisticated form of tribalism. It will go away in time, hopefully. But we have always been dumb. Think back 50 or so years ago, that girl wouldn't even be allowed to enter the competition, let alone win.

"become so dumb"?  Why do you think the founding fathers came up with the electoral college?  They thought the general population (of landowners, at the time) were too stupid to be trusted to choose the country's leader.

Thanks for that, Doug - I went to look up 'electoral college' - what an odd system! 

Add to that the fact that in the US there is no provision for the public to propose laws through a referendum process and it's unlikely to be changed anytime soon.

You gotta love that electoral college--just in case the ruling class doesn't like how the popular vote is going--there's a failsafe.

It started when Nixon and Reagan both decided that the education system was overrated and started proselytizing for private schools, while slowly draining funding for public education. That's the interesting thing about public education, it is supposed to educate the public. But it can't do that on hopes and dreams alone.

Jeez you are just full of leftist bullshit talking points today.


Note that in inflation adjusted dollars education spending has gone up by a factor of twenty in the last seventy years.  This cannot be explained entirely by population increase (unless the population of the US in 1940 was a mere 15 million--uh, no it wasn't).  The Nixon administration FAR from "slowly draining funding" for public education shows some of the steepest increases and would probably have the highest percentage increase (since that steep rise comes off a lower baseline than, say the rise that started in 1982).

There is a small decline that started in 1978 (under Jimmy Carter) and ended in 1982 or 1983 (the first or second full years of the Reagan administration).  I'd have to say that under Reagan Education spending greatly increased.

Of course we are woefully undereducated in the US [I surely won't argue with you there], but that is IN SPITE of huge expenditures, not because it's being starved of cash.  We shovel cash into our educational system at a furious and growing rate, yet student achievement remains flat at best.  Maybe there's more to it than how much money is spent.  Maybe it's more a matter of how it is spent?


I'd say we could probably cut it in half, and if we change our educational methodologies and squander less on administrative overhead that adds no actual education, provide a better education.  But the teachers' unions would scream bloody murder.

First off (and less importantly but I want to get this out of the way so it doesn't get forgotten), you are clearly addressing higher education (your two charts address government funding of higher ed), whereas I was thinking of K-12 education, traditionally completely paid for by the government.  To some extent we are therefore talking at cross purposes here.

Second off and more importantly, mea culpa, I should not have relied on that piece of shit site--you were justified in calling me on that.  I had to go all the way to page 6 of the search results to find any graph claiming to show what I was interested in, which was total government expenditures on education, adjusted for inflation, over time.  Not just the US department of Education--education is primarily funded by states.  I know that federal expenditures have generally been going up faster than state ones have as it takes on a larger percentage of K-12 funding, but I knew that showing THAT info would be grossly misleading.  Also, not just colleges.  I didn't look for "per pupil" but that would be even better.

I found (this morning) the National Center for Education Statistics but I can't seem to get it to produce such a graph either.  However I did find a site that claims to have digested the data on NCES, and which produced this:  http://educationnext.org/the-phony-funding-crisis/ (all caveats that should apply to the POS site from earlier, do apply here until it can be checked.)  It's on a per-pupil basis, which should control for growing population, etc.  Assuming for the remainder of this paragraph that the date here are in fact accurate, the shape of this curve matches the POS site fairly closely, even including the dip around the Carter/Reagan boundary layer.  (Should we abbreviate that K-R to match K-T?)

It is, by the way, entirely possible that the POS site's data is correct. (The fact that a conservative site was willing to "admit" that there was a minor dip around the start of the Reagan administration suggests they were trying to be honest.)  But I should not have relied on it.

Now here's my present speculation--based on my recollection graphs of overall spending that I have seen in the past, even though I can't find such a graph on a reliable site today.  And I have to get to work so I am not going to be doing a ton of research right this moment.  With all those qualifiers here we go, subject to change:

Perhaps we are both right.  Perhaps government funding of higher education is indeed dropping because it is being squeezed out by burgeoning K-12 spending.

As for my earlier speculation that you compared to asshole extrusions, it was based on rapid increases in K-12 spending (as "shown" previously), flat to declining student achievement in spite of the increased spending (though I hear there is a recent upward trend that is encouraging).  This suggested to me more and more money being flushed down a rathole and not actually improving results--since we had equivalent or even better results in the past with much less funding, we should be able to do the same today, with much less funding.  If these are both true it implies that we're spending money stupidly in K-12 (which is what I was thinking of).  But now that's called into question until I verify (or not) the trend in both of those graphs (the one from my original post and the one I pointed to in the post).

OK off to work.  I am late as it is.

Our subject is public education, so we have no cross-purpose unless you unintentionally ignored that this includes public higher education. Government traditionally paid for most of this as well, but unlike in most other developed countries, it does not anymore. You provided this data yourself in the link to the CBS article. I illustrated it more clearly in the graphs I posted.

We are not shifting from unintentional ignorance to willful ignorance just to preserve your point, which was false.

I admit that what I had in mind was K-12, and you corrected me on that.  The data you presented, nevertheless, ONLY addressed higher ed.  So I think I can be forgiven for figuring you were thinking of only higher ed (since your rebuttal ONLY addressed it) whilst I was thinking of K-12.  My fault here was in thinking only of K-12.  I don't know why I had that blind spot as I responded, but it was not an intentional admission on my part.  So please don't accuse me of being willfully ignorant on this basis.  I will happily discuss BOTH K-12 and higher ed from this point forward.

And my point--which was that public education spending increases over time, IS NOT FALSE with regards to K-12 education.  I now have data from a MUCH more reputable source:


The accompanying text states:

After adjustment for inflation, current expenditures per student in fall enrollment at public schools rose during the 1980s, remained stable during the first part of the 1990s, and then rose again. There was an increase of 37 percent from 1980–81 to 1990–91; a change of less than 1 percent from 1990–91 to 1994–95 (which resulted from small decreases at the beginning of this period, followed by small increases after 1992–93); and an increase of 34 percent from 1994–95 to 2008–09. In 2008–09, current expenditures per student in fall enrollment were $10,591 in unadjusted dollars. In 2007–08, some 55 percent of students in public schools were transported at public expense at a cost of $854 per pupil transported, also in unadjusted dollars.

Far from cutting spending on education under Reagan as H3xx claimed it increased 37% during the 1980s.  I don't know what HIS source was, but ironically the POS site looks pretty good here compared to his source, at this point.  (Though again, I should not have relied on it.)

The data granularity is a lot coarser before the 1980s but the 1960s and 1970s show large gains as well, suggesting (but NOT proving, since for all we know from this there is a huge hidden "dip" in the early 70s that Ford and Carter made up for) that Nixon didn't cut education either.

And THIS is the trend I was thinking of when I called bullshit on H3xx.  And within that (K-12) context (which I admit I did not make clear, my bad) it turns out I was right, though (as I have said before) I should not have relied on the site I did rely on.

[Steve] This suggested to me more and more money being flushed down a rathole and not actually improving results--

[Gallup] Public schools, community colleges and state universities are not "ratholes".

Education--true education--is not a rathole, I agree.  If I thought so I certainly wouldn't have done any college, much less post grad work.  But clearly, if you can multiply per pupil expenditures after inflation by almost four in K-12 from 1960 to taday, and end up with WORSE results, a lot of that money is not going to actual education of students but rather to things that have no added value in producing educated people--that's the "rathole" I had in mind.  (It's important not to confuse real education with the institution called "education.")  Or, it is but educators are working harder and stupider rather than "smarter not harder."  My suspicion (admittedly mostly based on anecdotes) is that it is a combination of both factors.

[Steve] since we had equivalent or even better results in the past with much less funding, we should be able to do the same today, with much less funding. 

[Gallup] Correlation is not causality.

It isn't but what this shows is that there isn't a very strong correlation between amount spent per pupil, adjusted by inflation, and the quality of actual education that pupil receives.  I imagine some folks out there see declining student achievement, hear people complaining about cuts to education, and draw the "obvious" inference that the decline is due to the cuts, and that increases are all that are needed to fix the problem.  And many people in the education industry do their best to foster that impression.  But there aren't any cuts (K-12), to the contrary, spending goes up and up as results have fallen.  THAT is one of the points I have been trying to make.

I do not believe that the decline in results is directly caused the increase in expenditures.  But I have a hard time seeing how the increases were beneficial--and if they weren't beneficial, that money has been wasted.

[Steve] If these are both true it implies that we're spending money stupidly in K-12 (which is what I was thinking of).  But now that's called into question until I verify (or not) the trend in both of those graphs (the one from my original post and the one I pointed to in the post).

[Gallup] It confirms you were talking out of your ass. You say we can cut public education budgets in half and produce better education. Even if you "verify" the trend the conclusion does not follow thepremise.

It confirms that at points in the past we spent less than a third (closer to a quarter) per pupil, adjusted for inflation (K-12) and got better results than what we are getting today.  If--now that I have more reliable data--suggesting that we should be able to repeat that feat via the right reforms to the K-12 system (no, not mindless "across the board" cuts that hit both useful and useless line items equally) is still "talking out of my ass," then you win.  But if you do wish to claim victory here, please do explain why it's impossible.

OK, I realize that I've been basing this post entirely on K-12.  I am now going to go look at Higher Ed and try to fill in my inadvertent blind spot--In a future post.  (Since my original post and thinking was in fact K-12 centric, I will NOT try to claim at this point that the quality of college education has been declining while per pupil expenditures, either by government or by the students themselves has been increasing.  I will further not yet claim that H3xx was full of shit claiming Reagan and Nixon cut funding for higher education, and I (for the present) apologize for implying such because I was talking about K-12 only, yet writing "education.")

Meantime, if you respond to THIS POST, please respond in the K-12 context, as little I have said here so far pertains to higher ed.  If you throw higher ed stats at me at this point, you will not have refuted anything I've said in this post.

H3xx's point was that funding for public education has been drained starting with Nixon and Reagan. Your point is that this is "leftist bullshit". Your point was refuted in that public higher education has been savagely cut. This ended the debate since Hexx obviously was not claiming all funding for all public education funding has been cut.

Okay,so somehow the cuts from 2008 to 2013--caused by decreases in revenue due to a severe recession--are somehow Nixon and Reagan cutting ALL education?

What the fuck?!?!

I've thrown out a TON of data here, from reputable sources.  I've conceded that there was indeed a cut to ONE sector of eductation (public higher) in the most recent five years, but I've also demonstrated the funding overall has skyrocketed... after you insisted that I consider all education, not just K-12.  Oh but when I do THAT you want to focus on public tertiary education over the last five years.

Can't have it both ways.

You just didn't like the answer I came up with and want to obsess over a recent drop to the one sector... and somehow blame it on Nixon.

But assuming what you say is correct it refutes your point: if the spending per pupil has no strong correlation on the quality of the education, then cutting it by 50% will not improve it. Here ends the debate.

Won't hurt it either.

Here ends the debate.

Indeed.  Until the next time you decide to obfuscate in the face of overwhelming statistics.

Higher education

I expect (going in) that the dynamics will be somewhat different and far more complicated since there is direct government support of higher ed (e.g., public universities), government supported scholarships, and finally, the "skin" put into the education by the students themselves, either up front or via student loans.  Another complication is that universities have a second mission, and that is research; not every dollar that goes in is even nominally intended to educate.

Your two graphs show burgeoning tuition and decreasing state support for higher ed as percentages.  But that's not enough, actually to prove your case; for that we need dollar amounts.  Arizona cut state support 50+% over five years?  How many dollars was that?  From this graph, it could be ten dollars per student or ten thousand.

Tuition jumped 78.4% in Arizona over the same period?  How many dollars was that?  It could be ten thousand, or it could be ten.

If you pick the first alternative in both cases, you can't blame more than 0.1% of the tuition increase on cuts to state funding  If on the other hand, it's the second alternative, then you can not only blame the entire tuition hike on state cuts, you can even offer to pay students a stipend (European style) if the state would just restore the funding it cut.  (I really doubt this is the case; it would require huge increases in efficiency, not something government institutions are known for.)

I don't think either of these extremes is true, but I walked through that to show that because your data is presented as percentages of numbers we don't see, it doesn't actually show a connection, it merely suggests one.

So OK, this makes your case much, much better--The time span is the same (08-13) and it uses dollar amounts:


It shows the dollar amounts and Arizona cut per student expenditures by somewhere between 7-8K and hiked tuition by somewhere between 4-5K.  It had the highest dollar amount tuition hike, but it looks like Washington (state) was just a whisker behind it.  Hawaii, Washington, and Alabama, meanwhile, had larger dollar amount cuts, implying that they were originally spending more per student.

In every single case, the rise in tuition was less than the cut in funding.  So complaints that public college tuition increases are due to cuts in the budgets for public higher education seem justified.

The article blames decreasing tax revenue during the economic downturn that started towards the end of Bush II.

But note this is public higher education, only a portion of all higher education, and a smaller portion of all education.

I'm interested to see what's up with other colleges as well, and in longer-term trends.


(download table 2a)We see inflation-adjusted private/nonprofit tuition going from 10,378 dollars in 1972-3 to 29,056 dollars in 2012-3.

Public four year went from 2,225 to 8655, with a large part of the jump occuring in the last five years (confirming the above)--tuition and fees jumped 27% in those years.  However... the jump during the five years before THAT was even greater as a percentage (31%)!  Why?  Similar results for public two year institutions, a 24 percent jump during the last five years and a nineteen percent jump the five years before that.  We can't blame those 2002-2007 jumps, of similar size to the ones you highlighted, on the recession that hit in 2008!  I wonder what the government funding trend was.

That turns out to be harder to pin down for some reason, data for government support of higher ed pre 2008 is difficult to find.  But I eventuall found this:


If you scroll down to the bottom, and click on the graph icon next to nation, you get a time graph of how much money state and local government kicked in per public college student.  From 2002 to 2008 it dipped then rose again, showing a net increase (the numbers are 5,960, 5756, 5920, 6393, 6785. and 7106.  I don't know if they are inflation adjusted.  But note: IN SPITE OF THIS INCREASE in state support, students got socked with percentage increases in tuition pretty much the same as they are facing now with *declining* state support.

So tuition goes up and up regardless of how much the system is being fed from the government end.  Why is that?  I have my speculations, but I will keep them to myself; they aren't germane, and you would just insult them.

OK let's put it all together.  This whole thing erupted when H3xx claimed that Nixon and Reagan had cut "education"--presumaby government spending on it, to include K-12 and College--and I called bullshit.  (I am not sure what the last five years has to do with that, but of course arguments evolve over time to encompass more and more.)

I've managed to show that Reagan and *probably* Nixon did NOT cut K-12 spending, not even adjusting for inflation, when measured on a per-pupil basis.  I've finally found a site that will show me TOTAL government (all levels) spending on total education.

http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/year_spending_1989USbn_14bc2n_2... shows you the federal and local breakdowns for 1989, the last year Reagan had influence on the budget.  (Note though that he didn't do much to influence STATE budgets).

Here is the 1989 number:  total spending on education $282.0B (all education levels, all governments) and here is the 1981 number:  $174.1B

Nixon left office in 1974. $81.4B
Nixon's first partial year in office was 1969  $50.9

These numbers are NOT adjusted for inflation.

http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl lets me adjust for inflation.

Converting to 2013 dollars, education spending in 1969 was $324.4B  In 1974, it was $386.2B


1981's education spending in 2013 dollars, 447.9B
1989's education spending in 2013 dollars, 531.9B


...and if you had read what I wrote you would see I confirmed your point anyway.

Sorry, but I don't see how an increased inflation adjusted dollar amount can constitute a cut.


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