Trump tries to bully ‘sanctuary cities’: Daily Bullshit, January 28-29, 2017

Unauthorized migrants

Patrik Jonsson, “Why police worry about Trump’s ‘sanctuary cities’ crackdown,” Christian Science Monitor, January 26, 2017, http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2017/0126/Why-police-worry-about-Trump-s-sanctuary-cities-crackdown

Evan Halper and Melanie Mason, “With California’s ‘sanctuary cities,’ Trump might be starting a fight he can’t win,” Los Angeles Times, January 27, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-sanctuary-legal-battle-20170127-story.html


Torture

John Bohannon, “Scientists to Trump: Torture doesn’t work,” Science, January 27, 2017, http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/01/scientists-trump-torture-doesn-t-work


Education

So “Corey DeAngelis is a Distinguished Doctoral Fellow, University of Arkansas?”[1] His article is a good example of capitalist libertarian intellectualism. He relies on an economic definition of a ‘public good,’ this being that “[a] public good, according to the economic definition, must satisfy two conditions: 1.) nonrival in consumption, and 2.) non-excludable.” He then attacks schooling rather than education (yes, they’re different but one is meant to foster the other) using really rather specious arguments. “If one student is in a seat in a classroom,” DeAngelis writes, “they take up another child’s ability to sit in the same seat.” Which, since we’re being fussy, actually means the seat is a private good and says nothing about the schooling. So, okay, we require pupils to bring their own chairs to school to answer that objection. As to education, which is the public good we’re actually concerned about when we aren’t chasing straw person arguments, it is indeed the case that I can share knowledge and training without diminishing these capacities in myself.

“Second, and perhaps most importantly,” DeAngelis writes, “it is not difficult to exclude a person from a school, or any other type of institution.” He replies to the point that primary and secondary schooling are compulsory that “[t]his is a simple confusion of the economic definition. The definition does not state whether children are or are not excluded from the service in present day.”[2] What he means is that even if prohibitions exist against shutting down public schools, in a capitalist libertarian imagination, we nonetheless could and therefore schooling fails the ‘non-excludability’ test for a public good, at least in the definition that DeAngelis relies on.

Back in the real world, as a society, we have committed to guaranteeing all children a primary and secondary education because we—or at least most of those of us who didn’t vote for Donald Trump—generally believe that an educated citizenry is necessary in a democracy, which admittedly is not actually what we have[3] (it is to some degree an oligarchy[4] and to some degree an inverted totalitarian state,[5] both of which, if anything, require an even more educated citizenry). Historically, education as a public good in the United States may date to 1647 when “[l]ike most European Protestants, Puritans insisted that [Christian] conversion required familiarity with the Bible and, therefore, literacy” and mandated teachers and schools.[6]

And please note, I haven’t checked on the definition of a public good (sorry, much to my irritation, I can’t find my economics textbook to even start on this) here—if that’s wrong, DeAngelis’ entire article goes completely down the toilet.

DeAngelis isn’t quite being intellectually dishonest here. But the moves he makes in his article are not legitimate and certainly no one claiming to be a “doctoral fellow” should make them.

Corey DeAngelis, “Schooling Is Not a Public Good,” Foundation for Economic Education, January 26, 2017, https://fee.org/articles/schooling-is-not-a-public-good/


  1. [1]Corey DeAngelis, “Schooling Is Not a Public Good,” Foundation for Economic Education, January 26, 2017, https://fee.org/articles/schooling-is-not-a-public-good/
  2. [2]Corey DeAngelis, “Schooling Is Not a Public Good,” Foundation for Economic Education, January 26, 2017, https://fee.org/articles/schooling-is-not-a-public-good/
  3. [3]James Madison, “Federalist No. 10,” in The Federalist Papers, ed. Garry Wills (1982; repr., New York: Bantam, 2003), 50-58.
  4. [4]Noam Chomsky, “The U.S. behaves nothing like a democracy,” Salon, August 17, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/08/17/chomsky_the_u_s_behaves_nothing_like_a_democracy/; Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” Princeton University, April 9, 2014, http://www.princeton.edu/~mgilens/Gilens%20homepage%20materials/Gilens%20and%20Page/Gilens%20and%20Page%202014-Testing%20Theories%203-7-14.pdf
  5. [5]Chris Hedges, “The Coming Climate Revolt,” Truthdig, September 21, 2014, http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_coming_climate_revolt_20140921
  6. [6]Paul S. Boyer et al., The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People, 8th ed. (Boston: Wadsworth, 2014), 65.

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