Episode-678- Listener Feedback for 6-6-11
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Join me today for our weekly listener feedback episode. To submit content for a show like today’s please send your email with the subject line “question for jack”, “article for jack” or other appropriate subject line to jack at thesurvivalpodcast.com
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- Win a free AR7 Survival Rifle
- China has dumped over 97% of short term US debt
- Green tea exports banned from Japan due to radiation
- The real dangers of the Japanese disasters
- Storage of home brew in kegs
- New jobs report confirms the “degree vs. job disconnect”
- Over 4000 Free eBooks from the National Academies Press
- War veterans turn to gardening vs. drugs for PTSD
- What’s really different for returning vets today vs. say WWII
- How worried should we be about the E. Coli breakout
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- Win a Free AR-7 Survival Rifle from Ready Made Resources
- China Dumps US T-Bills
- Banned – Japanese Green Tea Imports Due to Radiation
- 4,000 Free eBooks from The National Academies Press
- Organic Farming vs. Drugs for Vets Suffering from PTSD
- Fox News Piece on E. Coli I played on the Air Today
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The “If men were angels, no government would be necessary” quote comes from James Madison in the Federalist Papers #51. As a Federalist, he was most certainly a “bad guy” for his time, and the good guys like Jefferson were Anti-federalists. It is only through the continual collapse of political freedom over the centuries that Madison seems like a good guy today in comparison.
Back when I first became a free-market anarchist back in 1995, there was hardly any of us. And the quick dismissals of the idea as in this episode were common. Likewise at the time, the creativity and resilient nature of the free market made anarchists equally quick to dismiss survivalists. However, as anarchists shouted from the rooftops starting in 2005 warning of the housing collapse and saw that this bubble would be the highest financial peak the USA would reach before eventual default, we began to move heavily into survivalism.
BTW, I’m not the same anarchist to whom you responded. The movement has grown like crazy, and I meet new anarchists in person at things like aquaponics meetups all the time now. Eventually, it might be worth reading some of the free-market classics rather than just a superficial dismissal. As you are more of a practicalist, you might prefer to start with David Friedman’s The Machinery of Freedom. (Yes, he is Milton Friedman’s more logically consistent son) rather than Murray Rothbard, who is the top free-market anarchist writer who’s influenced more people through an ethics and rights based economics rather than Friedman’s approach of writing independent of natural rights.
I am not a Maddison fan but when a man is right he is right. Anarchist’s can never explain how the rights of the individual will be protected in an anarchy.
Though I do have a great deal of respect for your view and feel more of you are necessary to pull the totalitarians close to your view and thus my own view.
As a libertarian I believe in freedom, right up until you take it away from another man.
@Jack regarding anarchism.
I think the simplest thing I can do is explain how free market anarchists define some terms that are used almost interchangeably in general culture. Because they aren’t generally differentiated, distinct ideas are lost in the process.
Say 100 people get together on a frontier and all universally agree to form a government with various features to limit it. The particular design and limits don’t have primary importance, only the universal consent gives it legitimacy. So how they choose to defend themselves is also not of primary importance. This is a legitimate anarchist government and not a contradiction in terms.
Say that government of 100 decides they need to expand and tells an additional 20 neighbors outside the current government that they and their land are being annexed through eminent domain. Maybe they will be allowed to be citizens with full “citizen rights”, but that is irrelevant if they were not individually allowed to first choose to join the government without duress, then the action is a crime and violation of natural liberty and property rights.
The government that was originally legitimate by anarchist definition has become a state and is no longer morally legitimate. It may retain may features like a legitimate government. People may continue to treat it as legitimate, but states by definition come into existence by adding the feature of parasitism, and all states through history eventually kill the host people, but first try to feed off neighbors before members/citizens.
Anarchism is a fascinating subject. Remember “What if they gave a war, and nobody came?” Well, what if they offered a government and nobody wanted it?
Philosophically anarchism sounds ideal – the last stage of individual freedom. But are not many of us here preparing for the events of at least temporary anarchy?
I would have to agree with Ayn Rand in that the state of our culture is currently not up to it (anarchism). If everybody could internalize libertarian doctrine, that would be a start. But how likely is that? Our culture seems to be moving away from libertarianism in many respects. But perhaps the Marx “thesis – antithesis” will bring us through.
I think that you can have any kind of government, or no government, but if the underlying culture is crappy, your going to have a crappy society to live in. I think that culture trumps everything – it is what you (and others in society)teach your children. I think that libertarianism is capable of offering the opportunity to create the highest culture the world has ever known.
As human beings, we all have ids, egos and superegos. They are all important aspects of our various personalities. Because of inevitable conflicts between individuals and groups of individuals, I certainly would not expect a perfect world with or without a government. We have to accept this imperfection.
At some point, in the far distant future, it would be nice to have some anarchist communities who could opt out of “The System” as an experiment. The proof is in the putting. Perhaps we could learn something useful.
So how would you as an anarchist handle this?
I am bigger than you, have more resources, have more armament, etc. I want your house, I come take it, throw your ass out on the street, you get NO “rights of citizenship” in Sprirktopia. I just take your shit and you are screwed.
What do you do? Say you fight back, my hired goons shoot you, your wife looses her husband, her kids a father. My goons put them in a truck and drive them into the desert and kick their asses out in the middle of the desert.
No cops, courts or elected officials intervene. What a great system that sounds like! Of course you can tell me how tough you are, how you have friends to help, etc but the reality is someone is always stronger and someone is always weaker.
There is a place for government, I just wish the average person knew how limited that place is.
You propose a situation where (even if “might doesn’t make right”) “might makes what is.” That we should acknowledge and agree, and adjust our response accordingly. However, if the particular “might” of the day would always have power, then they wouldn’t have need for propaganda. Nation-states maintain control through persuading most peons to obey voluntarily against their individualist self-interest. So we persuade people to distinguish the concepts of might and right, because with enough awareness, might can on rare occasion switch to the side of right.
I’m definitely not advocating attacking the bully who is guaranteed to beat you. Even when taxes are illegtimate, I still pay them when the duress is real. People left Norway to make Iceland a successful anarchist society for 250 years. That didn’t mean it went without wars, but it successfully avoided having a nation state till the much larger Norway took over. But just because a larger, more powerful entity can take over a smaller one, doesn’t mean that it is either right or more efficient, or best to do so.
In other words as always as an anarchist you have no answer to how individual rights would be protected in an anarchy.
Your solution allows the man with the most money and toughest knights to rule the realm. Eventually they band together into kingdoms, etc.
We had that before it was called the Feudal System.
So Jack says that we need to have the three branches of government in order to define and protect individual rights and freedoms.
If we accept this, how do we protect ourselves from what seems to be the inevitable reinstatement of a tyranical government? There seems to be all mannner of ways this is accomplished by politicians. A constitution and declaration is fine and dandy, but if its intention is bastardized, as is often done today, we end up in the same boat again and again. Partially at least for the same reason – the strong, with government police power, overcome the weaker. The servant becomes the master.
I suppose that we must be eternally vigilant and try to enculturate others with libertarian thought and action. At the moment, the growth of libertarianism is encouraging, but at the same time we have a very long way to go to make noticeable headway. The Survival Podcast is of enormous value in changing our own lives and in the fight for less government.
I hope that some day Jack will want, and be able, to do a regular radio or TV show in the future. Maybe a talk show where he can demolish statist guests on the air.
@a wiggins – I never said that! Did I say our 3 branch government is the way to go? Did I say we needed a big federal government?
I didn’t say any of that and if you listen you know I am a libertarian meaning I am for very little government.
What we do need is enough government to protect the individuals rights from other individuals and from other governments.
My personal view though is our current government system isn’t bad, the constitutional system with rights held mostly by the states and the people. It sure isn’t running that way but you can’t blame the system, we the people get the blame.
This is the biggest case I can make against anarchy right now. If our people can’t run a republic right they sure hell can’t run an anarchy.
So if we want to have a society with no state first we must learn to run a republic, then perhaps my libertarian government comes next followed by no government.
I will tell you this though, shut down all government tomorrow and by the end of the week there will be millions dead, injured and dying. In a year there will be a new government and you will like it far less than the one we have now, that is if you are still here to suffer under it.
Here is another great site for ongoing education and book sources for free. They were featured at the TED conference.
It seems to me that anarchy could only work if people had a very high degree of principles that they lived by in regards to interactions with other people. This could theoretically work, but practically speaking…it is highly doubtful.
Not to insult anyone, but I think many people who are anarchists are as much promoting a fantasy as the people who hold up socialism or communism–if it were just done “right” for once. No…I think reality has proven otherwise.
Could someone construct a model for anarchy (with common principles) that would work? I suppose, but it is so far from reality in today’s world, I don’t see it as being practical…at all.
That being said, I think it is important to discern between anarchy (lack of government) and chaos (total lack of rules or conventions).
I’m trying to understand your constructed argument against anarchism as it doesn’t quite make sense to me. It seems you argue that a hypothetical, that *if* some society is more powerful than an anarchist society and if it can then defeat and collapse it…then anarchism is disproven ideologically? The same “if” argument disproves limited government, or constitutionalism if someone could defeat it too then. Or *if* say, the government tells the military to throw survivalists in a gas chamber, and if Oathkeepers isn’t powerful enough to stop it, then that disproves the legitimacy of Oathkeepers by the same argument structure. (And I’ve seen that argument made against Oathkeepers too.)
If I understand, you think a state should take away *some limited* real and legitimate rights from the people involuntarily and the state should use the power of those removed rights to *defend* the remaining rights? Any group that is powerful enough to set limits on a nation-state, is also powerful enough to break them…and they always do, which tends to prove limited government as utopian. Anarchist Iceland stayed independent longer than the USA’s existence to date…and Iceland did so as a small island without an empire to exploit nations and natural resources worldwide.
I didn’t realize that somehow I implied that you thought that we needed a big federal government. I was incorrect in assuming that you thought that a three branch government was the way to go. (I did not mean our current system)
I was talking in a general sense that executive, judicial and legislative are needed to insure that rights and liberty are protected. How this is all set up constitutionally is very important.
So would you agree to that? Or should there be more or less branches? Or no branches at all? Or am I just out on a limb?
Maybe there should be four branches. Another branch to watch the other three. Or even five as a backup. (two is one)
Does one need to construct an argument against anarchism? Can you provide an example of any large society living in anarchy working?
What was the population of Iceland during those 250 years? What effect do you think being a fairly isolated island had to do with that?
The population today is about 300,000. That’s 60% the size of my County. I can only presume that it was significantly smaller about 1000 years ago.
Factionalism–for any number of reasons is real, and an apparently natural outgrowth of human nature. How, exactly does anarchy stand up to this?
Further, I don’t know much about Iceland, but was it really an anarchy? Did they literally have no government structure? From my brief search that doesn’t seem to be true.
But I’m asking, not telling.
I think I am getting it now. You don’t like the idea of separate branches and what that implies under our current syatem? Is that it? Frankly I’m puzzled as to what you think is correct for a very limited government in this regard.
For instance would you agree to the idea of severely pruned branches with ongoing and scheduled pruning?
Iceland had about 100,000 population during its medieval anarchist period. That was about the size of the combined Greek city states during the age of Socrates. Here is how the society worked.
A person, group, family, or clan could form a government, and that government charged for their protection and court services. There wasn’t just one, or even a fixed number of governments. However, what is so odd to modern thinking is that each government was not a contiguous territorial monopoly. So if one person felt their government was not efficient or fair, then they could switch their membership like we switch electricity service today. Further, if you thought no existing government was good enough, you could start your own government. (But if you were in it alone, that was still dangerous because it would leave no one in your government to seek justice if you were killed.) Now warfare occasionally happened between clans, but when every war had to eventually be settled by paying the man-price for every kill, they were kept limited. The Icelandic Sagas make people think that Iceland was always at war, but read more closely, you notice it goes from the story of one war right into another, but there was actually a generation that passed in between the wars. If anything, I think they were too militarily oriented, but I’m still judging by the sagas.
Totalitarian governments often say you can leave, but you don’t get to take your property/land with you, because they have total and final control over land under their dominion. In Iceland, switching governments didn’t mean you had to move. A little economics means that the lower the barriers to switching governments, the more efficient governments must be to compete. This is why Jefferson thought the ideal independent government should be a “ward” IIRC, referring to an agricultural neighborhood of maybe 10,000 people.
David Friedman (Milton’s son) goes into quite a bit more detail on Iceland’s history and anarchism.
Separately, the 3 branches of government are misidentified. The real dividing line would be bureaucracy, corporatocracy, and military.
Am I remembering correctly that the spinach ecoli problem that we had not too long ago could not be washed off??? The ecoli was in the spinach?
Here’s a video by Stefan Molyneux on Anarchism vs. Minarchism.
He runs Freedomain Radio, and has over 1,500 podcasts on philosophy and anarchism.
So, based on what you describe (thanks BTW), they had an orderly system of government (not anarchy), except it was decentralized, and had potential for creating alternate segments of government.
I’m sorry, but I don’t understand how that can be described as anarchy.
@Kam it isn’t. Anarchy simply can’t protect individual rights from others who do not honor them. As soon as an anarchist tries to construct a system that does, it becomes clear to all but the anarchist that what they are proposing is a government with rules, regulations and laws.
I don’t have any issues with a three plank government I just resent being told I said we needed one.
I think there could be many forms to a republic as far as structure. But again a republic must be run by its people not the other way around.
The sad truth is WE GET THE BLAME for the nation we have. Our people can change it with out blood shed anytime we want we just have to stand up and do it. As the people won’t do it for now the people like us who demand liberty must create it in our own lives and be an example.
Again if our people are too weak to run an republic no matter what people like decentralist say, a anarchy would be a blood bath and one that would SWIFTLY lead to a tyranny.
I would also say pointing to Iceland as an example of a anarchy that worked is less of an argument than pointing to Norway as an example of socialism working.
Yes, without universal respect and adherence to a set of principles, there is no way Anarchy could work. The larger the group, the more likely that SOMEONE will deviate from that theoretical set of principles, and create a need for some sort of system to protect the people in the system.
There would have to be an inherent benefit to adhering to the principles, and even then, that cannot account for people who see a larger benefit in violating them. Bottom line…I don’t see how it works outside of a purely theoretical model.
In regards to a 3-branch governmental system…I have no problem with it at all. Further, I claim that there is little wrong with the system of government established by the US Constitution. The problems arise from VIOLATION of that system of government, and this continues, because of the unwillingness of the people to punish those who do.
That video was the BIGGEST pile of total bullshit I have ever seen.
He had no answers he simply goes on and on that “its scare tactics” but he has NO ANSWER as to how to protect the individual from the majority or the mob. No anarchist does.
We are almost 100% in agreement except where you are wrong. LOL That really is just a joke bro.
However here is where we differ,
You blame our government for violation of our constitution and our God given rights. I don’t!
I blame our people for allowing government to do it. We are in control but most of us don’t care.
Well, I do agree that we the citizens are to blame for not acting to stop our elected officials from violating the Constitution and their oaths of office, but I think the violators themselves are (naturally) to blame as well.
I understand that “We the People” are the ultimate (and only) source of our own society, but we are not direct actors in these violations (well most of us aren’t).
I think the bottom line (which we agree) is that the people are responsible for maintaining our Constitution, and we’ve failed at that…for quite some time now.
My point is that correcting this problem is what I want–so we force our elected officials to adhere to the Constitution. I am not in favor of throwing out an excellent (but not perfect) system because of damage done by those violating it. Unfortunately, my wants aren’t likely to happen.
Holy Cow, that Freedomain Radio guy amazes me…for how incredibly delusional he is. Don’t get me wrong–he is mildly entertaining in some ways. What I see here is someone using the appearance of logic and rational, while talking around in very convenient circles of his own making. He’s basically arguing with himself, and SURPRISE, he wins!
I hear objectivists make accusations of “mysticism” a lot, but this form of “logic” fits that description as well as anything else I’ve ever heard it applied to. Delusional fantasy under a cloak of rational thought is what this is–in my opinion.
It’s also telling that he sort of mildly mocks any criticism he faces as a means of ignoring it.
Maybe I’m being a bit too quick to criticize, but on the other hand, first impressions are often pretty good.
@Jack RE: our #23.
OK, we can leave it at that then! Well said!
Regarding the report about helping vets through organic gardening, below is an article about inmates at Leavenworth being taught about gardening, and raising nearly a quarter million pounds of produce to feed themselves and the needy.
On college, a litmus test you might consider adopting when the question of go or not comes up, is what is the investment and what is the ROI (in dollars and years)? In other words, in 4 years (or how ever long the program is) where will you be in terms of debt and income potential. Contrast this with where you would be in the same number of years if you pursued your goals without college. There is a short list of occupations where 4 years of experience isn’t worth several times more than a degree (especially right now).
Also on the e-coli topic, I think you left out a HUGE aspect to the problem. You spoke of how the strain was created (antibiotic saturated cattle farms), but not about why it ended up in the produce side of the food supply. The strain has been traced back to a sprout farm that was using cow manure as fertilizer as part of their “organic” operation. The farm was simply using BS in place of chemical fertilizers never giving a thought to the source of the manure or to composting it first. This isn’t the first example of this type of “organic” nonsense I’ve heard of either. When people try to grow organic but revert to more of an all natural monoculture, they invariably start using natural solutions far more hazardous than the synthetic counterparts. All natural and organic don’t equate to non-toxic – especially when used in the commercial sense.
I think the big concern here in the US isn’t that this strain will migrate over here, but rather are we eating produce from sources that are doing the exact same thing…
@InBox485 – You are 100% wrong more accurately out of date with your info. The sprout farm was cleared long ago. They are pretty pissed about being blamed for what they didn’t do.
Thanks for the update. Guess I need to keep more up to date. The article I read did cite the farm owner acknowledged that they used the manure for fertilizer. That struck me as being a really bad idea unless it is being properly composed first.
2011-06-08 11:06 PM
More tests came back negative Wednesday on sprout samples from an organic farm in the northern town of Bienenbuettel but the farm is still considered a possible source for the outbreak. German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner said eight clusters of patients _ more than 50 infected people _ can now be tracked to that farm.
“That means even if we have no (positive) sprout test results yet we have indications based on tracking nutrition the affected people eat,” she said. “We are even looking for more cases that can be linked to the farm.”
June 9, 2011 9:42 a.m. EDT
The sprouts came from the farm which officials believe could be the source of the outbreak. But initial tests showed no sign of E. coli there, agriculture officials in the German state of Lower Saxony said Monday.
Authorities said that does not mean their suspicions were wrong; they would not expect to find evidence of E. coli if the tainted sprouts were no longer in the supply chain.
And Wednesday, Lower Saxony agriculture officials said three workers at the suspect farm had diarrhea in early May and at least one has been diagnosed with the dangerous strain of E.coli.
Authorities have also found that a cafeteria in the town of Cuxhaven, where 18 people came down with the infection, had also received sprouts from the farm in question, said Natascha Manski, a spokeswoman for the state agriculture ministry.
June 9, 2011
The problem has to do with both the nature of E. coli and the way agriculture has been centralized in the U.S. and to a slightly lesser extent in Europe. An E. coli infection can take more than a week to produce the first symptoms and by the time it’s diagnosed, good luck getting horribly sick people to remember what they ate on Tuesday two weeks ago. And the more time that passes, the higher the chance the contaminated food will no longer be in the food supply.
I feel like I’m late to the party on the whole anarchism issue, but it sounds like I’m not the first. Glad to see that!
Regarding the protection of individual rights, people can and would make arrangements for self and mutual protection if such services weren’t already monopolized by the state.
Just as food is produced in the absence of socialized food production, so would defense be provided in the absence of socialized defense. Under a free market, you can buy food from a willing seller, grow your own, or join a coop of some sort, depending on your tastes and preferences. And, you would decide what and how much food to buy or grow. You aren’t perfectly protected from famine, but I’d say you’d be far worse off in that regard than you would with a monopoly food system.
It’s really not that crazy, Jack.
What you are describing is still a feudal system. When my money can buy better protection than your protection, my protection can tell you what to do and kill you if you don’t comply.
There is a country that operates like this today. It is called Somalia.
For the most part the US doesn’t monopolize protection either. In most states there are very few places you can’t be armed.
Feudalism is defined by conquest based and geographically contiguous land ownership. Both elements are opposite of both historical and conceptual anarchism.
However, tribalism has much more overlap with anarchism, even without using the term anarcho-tribalism. Something like Gideon and Samuel in the Bible. The first refused to be king, the second told the people that they reject God by desiring a king/kingdom.
Somalia is a partial example. It has so much outside influence funding warlords and a transitional state that it is more feudal than anarchist because of the outside forces. My best friend was a Marine sniper there in ’93. Unfortunately much of the corruption comes from the CIA and the natural blowback.
I was prepared to offer a rebuttal but happened to come across this passage of Voltairine de Cleyre which I offer instead:
“They thus took their starting point for deriving a minimum of government upon the same sociological ground that the modern Anarchist derives the no-government theory; viz., that equal liberty is the political ideal. The difference lies in the belief, on the one hand, that the closest approximation to equal liberty might be best secured by the rule of the majority in those matters involving united action of any kind (which rule of the majority they thought it possible to secure by a few simple arrangements for election), and, on the other hand, the belief that majority rule is both impossible and undesirable; that any government, no matter what its forms, will be manipulated by a very small minority, as the development of the States and United States governments has strikingly proved; that candidates will loudly profess allegiance to platforms before elections, which as officials in power they will openly disregard, to do as they please; and that even if the majority will could be imposed, it would also be subversive of equal liberty, which may be best secured by leaving to the voluntary association of those interested in the management of matters of common concern, without coercion of the uninterested or the opposed.”
This is the slave argument as said in the 19th century, people couldn’t fathom a world without slaves and said, therefore, we must always have slaves since the world had never existed without them. The state is a form of slavery, and one day, it might be possible to live without it. People must be taught true principles though to gain an understanding of this.
What book talks about the history of Iceland and anarchy?
#22, So it sounds like you are OK with anarchy then because anarchy is the choice of the individual to live as they please and choose what structure to live under. That’s a big difference from the state because you don’t have a choice.
In anarchy there is governance and therefore government, otherwise it would be called chaos with no acceptance of natural law, which government is, the system of natural law, which anarchism lives under according to the non-aggression principle.
Your arguments for limited government could be used for anarchy also, its the peoples fault if it doesn’t work. Either way, people must understand the principles of the matter and understand when they are breaking them, the principles lead to anarchy anything beyond that is a partial or total statism and break with the non-aggression principle. The only way towards freedom is, as you say, through the individual, it matters not what the state does as long as in our minds we are free.
David Friedman goes into more detail in “The Machinery of Freedom” which is now available for free as PDF on his website: http://www.daviddfriedman.com/
To say that anarchism isn’t anarchism because there is governance and voluntary government is confusing a simplistic interpretation of the etymology with a definition of a word and philosophy. Part of the problem is when people make “government” and “state” as synonyms instead of distinct concepts that do overlap.
Similarly, we don’t say that a Democrat is someone who believes in democracy or a Republican as someone who believes in Plato’s Republic. Of course, those are parties as opposed to philosophies and so change with the times, but it is wrong to use etymologies as definitions in general, otherwise a Cretin is anyone who is Christian. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cretin
Another thing improper is to put bias or conclusions in definitions instead of maintaining a neutral point of view. So a socialist can’t just define socialism as “giving everyone equal opportunities”. The socialist and the non-socialist don’t agree that that conclusion would happen. What they did agree upon as socialism became the neutral definition: “the centralization of the means of production” and so debate centered on what would happen following that idea with decentralists saying that would be REALLY BAD.
Anarchism is not an idea about concluding what a society would look like, such as what socialism does, acknowledging that it could widely vary. Many forms of anarchism would fail, just like voluntary businesses often fail. That doesn’t disprove either the ethics or sustainability of either voluntary business or voluntary society (i.e. anarchism).
Pertaining to the topic of “free” books and education, I checked out the NAP that was listed in the show notes. Based upon Jack’s comments, I was expecting more; however, I was very much disappointed.
I perused the site over various subject areas. It seems to me that much of the information is the kind of BS you typically expect published from liberal government agencies. I found nothing, so far, that provides fundamental instruction in any area of study. The assumption is that you’re already educated, and that you are wanting to maybe explore current research. Just look at the section on climate change to see what a crock of BS is passing as educational material. There is an awful lot of so-call “policy” type publications in the stack, which is a tip-off to government based, ivory tower, think tank type garbage.
This is not to say that there may be some useful information buried in the stack, but I think one would be much better off looking in other places for useful educational material.
I’d like to add some additional observations on a college education. On top of the points you made I see several other problems with our youth who go to college.
First is the fact that at some level college needs to be a job training education, meaning that the degree you get should have some real world job application. Areas like engineering, medicine, certain types of mathematics and the hard sciences. Even within these areas you need to look at the real world and see what areas of these subjects have demand. As an engineer within spitting distance of retirement age, I work in the embedded systems area, and get calls from recruiters on a regular basis looking to fill positions. I know other engineers in areas that are not as needed who are struggling to stay employed. One of the problems I see with all of these areas is that they are hard and take concentration and work. It means taking all of the math and science your high school offers, plus reading other papers and information in the field you wish to enter. Too often I see kids with a 4 year degree in literature, or humanities who work as a barista at Starbucks and are clueless why the world has seemingly passed them by.
Second, is the fact that some of these kids need some adult supervision from their parents. I know of several kids who are going to school for elementary education, which if you look at the current and pending layoffs of teachers throughout the country, may not be the best field. Leaving that fact aside however, I see some kids who attend the local branch of their state university (in our case Ohio State), while living at home, and working a summer job. I see others who have opted to attend more prestigious schools and live on campus. In the first case the kids will graduate with little or no debt, while the second case will be debts in excess of $40-60K. The sad fact is that both will start an entry level position at a starting salary in the 35K range, one with no debt, and the other with that “college experience” and in debt for perhaps decades.
One final note comes from a friend who is a high end contractor who nearly 10 years ago told me he would be losing his “masters” in 10 to 15 years. Master masons, carpenters, cabinetmakers and the like who command top dollar and make great money, who nevertheless were unable to find anyone willing to apprentice to the “really” skilled trades.
I think maybe it’s time for our parents to do the research and maybe be the bad guy in guiding your kids to a realistic future.
On your topic of the National Academy Press, the other resource to keep in mind is MIT’s Open Courseware. Most or all of their undergraduate courses are available as video and audio lectures.
I understand your feelings about anti-depressants, but some people do need them. Sometimes they have the opposite effect, but that means the doctor must carefully manage the patient to determine which drug works and what doesn’t. I use them and after 10 years of trying to get by without them, I finally gave up and started using them full time. I would not go back to living without them. I ranch for a living and that life style does help, but is not a cure. My disorder is genetic. PTSD is induced and may not need the medication, but if monitored carefully, may help. The problem with the VA is they don’t provide the close supervision of the use of the drugs and they don’t catch when a bad reaction is occurring. Use of mood altering medications is an art and it can take up to 3 years to work out the right combination for an individual.