7/09/2006

Comments on the haves and have-nots

"I don't see how we can maintain a decent society if we have a world split into haves and have-nots, with the haves subsidizing the have-nots. In our current educational system, close to 30 percent of the youngsters who start high school never finish. They are condemned to low-income jobs. They are condemned to a situation in which they are going to be at the bottom. That leads in turn to a divisive society; it leads to a stratified society rather than one of general cooperation and general understanding. The effective literacy rate in the United States today is almost surely less than it was 100 years ago. Before government had any involvement in education, the majority of youngsters were schooled, literate, and able to learn. It is a disgrace that in a country like the United States, 30 percent of youngsters never graduate from high school. And I haven't even mentioned those who drop out in elementary school. It's a disgrace that there are so many people who can't read and write. It's hard for me to see how we can continue to maintain a decent and free society if a large subsection of that society is condemned to poverty and to handouts."

Milton Friedman
July 2006 Issue of Imprimis contains the interview from which the quote was lifted.

3 comments:

AndyRand said...

"The effective literacy rate in the United States today is almost surely less than it was 100 years ago. Before government had any involvement in education, the majority of youngsters were schooled, literate, and able to learn."

This seems to be a mere speculative statement. Can anybody provide statistical eveidence to support it? I doubt it.For someone of Mr. Friedman's stature to be making a statement like this is only revealing his own personal bias.
My parents' generation had many who never graduated from High School and that
was in the thirties. My aunt never dropped out after the 8th grade and that was
not uncommon back then.
From what I understand, Mr. Friendman has been one of the leading proponents of
the anti-govenment movement in this country. Would would I look to him for an
objective viewpoint?

jpn said...

Here's a link to literacy rates for the US that goes back to 1900.

http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/education/p23-08.pdf

It includes up to 1960 and has the percent of illiterate people. The percent in 1900 was 11.3% and in 1960 is was 2.4%. The table looks like it came out of the World Almanac.

My Friedman is a big listener to Bill O'Reilly. He was quacking that there percent of illiterates was greater now than before the Revolutionary War. You might not believe this, but BOR was wrong.

AndyRand said...

So Mr. Friedman employees fallacies in his arguments! I guess we can just dismiss everything he says, right?