Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Q&A - 26/5

Question

Do you have a favorite Arnold movie scene?

Yes

It is Party Pooper

Link

In a week when Florida students were logging on to another round of standardized tests, one of the stars of Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel clearly touched a nerve.

"If you want the kids' test scores up, bring back band and bring back shop and get kids actually learning stuff instead of teaching them how to take a test," TV personality Adam Savage said in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times.

Savage, who works with partner Jamie Hyneman on the science-based hit show, was promoting their live performance coming April 23 to Tampa's Straz Center, and his comment exploded on Twitter. A Times tweet of his quote drew more than 245 retweets within 24 hours, plus hundreds of favorites and comments on the value of teaching problem-solving and creativity.

The reaction seemed to underscore not just the public's exasperation over testing but the frustrations of science, art and music teachers who need expensive materials or who see their subjects de-emphasized because so much time is needed to get ready for tests.

Savage said STEM, the acronym for science, technology, engineering and math, should be STEAM "because you need art in there to complete an education."

After getting his start in special effects, he and Hyneman have turned Mythbusters into Discovery's most popular show by blowing things up and building crazy gadgets that use scientific methods to prove or debunk rumors and myths.

Savage said he is excited about the growth of robotics competitions, the makers movement of do-it-yourselfers and a variety of people from diverse backgrounds "getting interested in science by getting your hands dirty."

Agree

Warren Buffett

The American Dream promises that a combination of education, hard work and good behavior can move any citizen from humble beginnings to at least reasonable success. And for many, that promise has been fulfilled. At the extreme, we have the Forbes 400, most of whom did not come from privileged backgrounds.

Recently, however, the economic rewards flowing to people with specialized talents have grown dramatically faster than those going to equally decent men and women possessing more commonplace skills. In 1982, the first year the Forbes 400 was compiled, those listed had a combined net worth of $93 billion. Today, the 400 possess $2.3 trillion, up 2,400% in slightly more than three decades, a period in which the median household income rose only about 180%.

Meanwhile, a huge number of their fellow citizens have been living the American Nightmare—behaving well and working hard but barely getting by. In 1982, 15% of Americans were living below the poverty level; in 2013 the proportion was nearly the same, a dismaying 14.5%. In recent decades, our country’s rising tide has not lifted the boats of the poor [..].

That mismatch is neither the fault of the market system nor the fault of the disadvantaged individuals. It is simply a consequence of an economic engine that constantly requires more high-order talents while reducing the need for commodity-like tasks.

The remedy usually proposed for this mismatch is education. Indeed, a top-notch school system available to all is hugely important. But even with the finest educational system in the world, a significant portion of the population will continue, in a nation of great abundance, to earn no more than a bare subsistence.

To see why that is true, imagine we lived in a sports-based economy. In such a marketplace, I would be a flop. You could supply me with the world’s best instruction, and I could endlessly strive to improve my skills. But, alas, on the gridiron or basketball court I would never command even a minimum wage.

True

WB's suggested remedy is earned income credit. It certainly sounds better than the minimum wage alternative. But basic income would be easier to administer and check.