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Steofan The Apostate
(simaulius) - F

Locale: Bohemian Alps
Son of Carbon Flame War on 10/12/2010 22:55:29 MDT Print View

Testing, testing...

Not that I don't trust IT folks, but sometimes you just need to try things out for yourself!

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Son of Carbon Flame War on 10/13/2010 04:16:50 MDT Print View

It works!

This is...one small step for man.....one....giant leap for mankind.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Son of Carbon Flame War on 10/13/2010 17:22:45 MDT Print View

Awesome!!!

I'm still waiting to hear what Nick thinks will happen to all those who have not *acheived* to his standards. Rot in the street, or riot and raid his fortunes and family?

And why must America's (or the world's) population continue to increase? Lack of individual responsibility is one culprit. The drive of economic growth is another, and is devastating to our ecosystems and totally unsustainable. Lack of a secure future is a third reason in developing countries, as is lack of adequate education and birth control. But heck, it costs money to address these issues, and where is the money going to come from?

China had the right idea with it's one child policy, and it's created a new generation of solo children who have their parents total support and encouragement for higher education and better jobs. America (and the rest of the *west*) can't compete with this single-minded ground swell of focused and motivated parents and children...I am awed by how much harder and smarter our Asian post grads work than us westerners and Polynesians.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Son of Carbon Flame War on 10/13/2010 18:14:26 MDT Print View

Read an article (The Economist) today that mentioned average age...

Demographers have often noted that most of the emerging world will stay young while the rich world ages. In 2020 the median age in India will be 28, compared with 38 in America, 45 in western Europe and 49 in Japan. But the dividend will be paid not just in the form of more favourable dependency ratios but also in a more entrepreneurial business culture. Young people are innately more inclined to overthrow the existing order than are their elders.

Later it notes that...

This argument needs to be qualified. China, the emerging world’s most powerful engine, is ageing rapidly, thanks to the one-child policy: by 2020 the average age in China will be 37, almost the same as in America.

IMO, very interesting to think about how the game will change.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Blaming China won't help the economy on 10/13/2010 18:29:40 MDT Print View

From the NY times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/opinion/27kaletsky.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

IT is a safe bet that Asian currency intervention was not on the minds of Republican primary voters in Delaware this month when they selected a Tea Party favorite, Christine O’Donnell, as their Senate candidate. But the pendulum swings in American politics are a key concern of Wen Jiabao and Naoto Kan, the prime ministers of China and Japan, respectively, who both met with President Obama in New York on Thursday, with the loss of American jobs to Asian competition high on the agenda.

The Asian nations’ interest in American politics stems not just from America’s standing as the sole global superpower, but also from a growing belief among Asian leaders that the era of United States hegemony will soon be over, and that the polarization of its politics symbolizes America’s inability to adapt to the changing nature of global capitalism after the financial crisis.

What does this sweeping statement have to do with the price of yen? Plenty. On Sept. 15, the yen dropped sharply against the dollar, improving the competitiveness of Japanese exporters. After a brief bounce last week, expect the downward trend to continue. Mr. Kan’s government has decided to follow the lead of China and other Asian nations in “managing” (some critics would say manipulating) its currency; it spent a record $23 billion in a single day on foreign exchanges — the largest such intervention ever — instead of leaving the yen’s value entirely to market forces.

To understand how this decision will affect the United States, we must start with parochial politics — not in Delaware, but in the larger parish called Asia, which remains terra incognita to most American politicians and voters.

In Asian politics, what you see is often the opposite of what you get. On Sept 14. Mr. Kan, generally seen as favoring free markets, held on to his job in an intraparty election after a bitter challenge from his rival Ichiro Ozawa, who had loudly demanded a Chinese-style policy of currency intervention to keep the value of the yen low. Given Mr. Kan’s victory, investors assumed that currency intervention was off the agenda and piled into the yen, lifting it to a 15-year high against the dollar. It turns out, however, that Mr. Kan, in winning the election, may have tacitly ceded control of economic policy to Mr. Ozawa, known as the “shadow shogun” for his prowess in backroom dealing. Hence the ensuing sell-off of the yen.

The decision to break with free-market ideology and spend government money to control the yen’s value against the dollar was mainly driven by Japan’s relationship with China, not America. Japanese companies including Sony and Toyota that had demanded government action devaluing the yen were not concerned primarily with their competitiveness against America rivals. The motivation was a fear of being undercut by exporters in China, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan — all countries that aggressively manage their exchange rates.

With Chinese economic policy now serving as a model for other Asian countries, Japan was faced with a stark choice: back United States criticisms that China is artificially keeping down the value of its currency, the renminbi, or emulate China’s approach. It is a sign of the times that Japan chose to follow China at the cost of irritating America.

Japan’s action suggests that, in the aftermath of the recent financial crisis, the dominance of free-market thinking in international economic management is over. Washington must understand this, or find itself constantly outmaneuvered in dealings with the rest of the world. Instead of obsessing over China’s currency manipulation as if it were a unique exception in a world of untrammeled market forces, the United States must adapt to an environment where exchange rates and trade imbalances are managed consciously and have become a legitimate subject for debate in international forums like the Group of 20.

Market fundamentalists who feel that government interference with free markets is anathema should be reminded that, by today’s dogmatic standards, Ronald Reagan is one of the great manipulators of all time. He presided over two of the biggest currency interventions in history: the Plaza agreement, which devalued the dollar in 1985, and the Louvre accord of 1987, which brought this devaluation to an end.

The fact is that the rules of global capitalism have changed irrevocably since Lehman Brothers collapsed two years ago — and if the United States refuses to accept this, it will find its global leadership slipping away. The near collapse of the financial system was an “Emperor’s New Clothes” moment of revelation.

In this climate, the market fundamentalism now represented by the Tea Party, based on instinctive aversion to government and a faith that “the market is always right,” is a global laughingstock. Yet more moderate figures from both parties largely hold the same view: a measure to punish China over its currency passed the House Ways and Means committee on Friday with bipartisan support.
Outside America, however, a strong conviction now exists that some new version of global capitalism must evolve to replace what the economist John Williamson coined the “Washington consensus.”

If market forces cannot do something as simple as financing home mortgages, can markets be trusted to restore and maintain full employment, reduce global imbalances or prevent the destruction of the environment and prepare for a future without fossil fuels? This is the question that policymakers outside America, especially in Asia, are now asking. And the answer, as so often in economics, is “yes and no.”

Yes, because markets are the best mechanism for allocating scarce resources. No, because market investors are often short-sighted, fail to reflect widely held social objectives and sometimes make catastrophic mistakes. There are times, therefore, when governments must deliberately shape market incentives to achieve objectives that are determined by politics and not by the markets themselves, including financial stability, environmental protection, energy independence and poverty relief.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that governments get bigger. The new model of capitalism evolving in Asia and parts of Europe generally requires government to be smaller, but more effective. Many activities taken for granted in America as prerogatives of government have long since been privatized in foreign nations — even in what so many Americans view as socialistic Europe.

In France, Germany, Japan and Sweden, water supplies, highways, airports and even postal services are increasingly run by the private sector. For home mortgages to be backed by government guarantees would be unthinkable anywhere in Asia or Europe. Tax systems, too, are in some ways less redistributionist in Europe and Asia than they are in the United States. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the proportion of income tax raised from the richest tenth of the population is 45 percent in America, compared with only 28 percent in France and 27 percent in Sweden. These countries raise money for public services mainly from middle-class voters, through consumption and energy taxes, not by soaking the rich.

AS a result, these nations’ budgets are more stable and their governments have more ability to support their economies in times of crisis. They are also better positioned to manage their currencies and their trade relations, subsidize long-term investment in nuclear and solar energy, and spend money on infrastructure, job retraining and education. In America, by contrast, the tax system’s dependence on revenues from the richest citizens means that the social safety net and long-term goals like energy independence can be achieved only if the rich keep getting richer.

Which brings us back to Delaware. What if America decides to ignore the global reinvention of capitalism and opts instead for a nostalgic rerun of the experiment in market fundamentalism? This would not prevent the rest of the world from changing course.

Rather, it would make it likely that the newly dominant economic model will not be a product of democratic capitalism, based on Western values and American leadership. Instead, it will be an authoritarian state-led capitalism inspired by Asian values. If America opts, for the first time in history, for nostalgia and ideology instead of pragmatism and progress, then the new model of capitalism will probably be made in China, like so much else in the world these days.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Blaming China won't help the economy on 10/13/2010 18:56:48 MDT Print View

Lynn - Interesting info.

Also...

Europe's sovereign debt crisis isn't over and will continue to spread, first to Japan and then to the U.S., warned renowned Harvard University professor, Niall Ferguson.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/39646116

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Son of Carbon Flame War on 10/14/2010 01:43:18 MDT Print View

Several folks asked for my feedback on the unemployed and how will we deal with it if we do not redistribute income. It seems they feel redistribution of income will prevent rioting and create some sort of utopia in America.

First of all, my comments are not intended to try and change anyone’s mind, beliefs, or point of view, because I think most who disagree with me are not open to thinking things out, or evaluating their position. Also, my comments are directed to the US economy and government.

Contrary to popular belief, I am not cold, callous, or insensitive to the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs over the past 3 years. Before I share my viewpoints, a little background.

I work for a privately owned company that just a few years ago did over $1 billion a year in revenue with over 10,000 employees. Today we do around $400 million per year with about 3,500 employees. We do business in 23 countries. The economy has hit us hard, just like most businesses in the US. We have made a profit during these recession years, and we did not receive any government bailouts or loans. The owners of my company invested their money, took risks, and created the jobs. The employees did not create the jobs or take the risk. The company does not owe its employees anything, except to pay them on time for the “contracted” quality of work. It is a fair exchange. As the economy slowed down, our revenues dropped. Which means we needed fewer people, because we had less business. We still need to generate a profit for the owners (that is called return on investment), and there are two ways to maintain/improve profitability: 1) increase sales or 2) reduce expenses. With falling revenues, we have had to reduce expenses, which among many areas of cost savings includes cutting staff.

I manage a group that has shrunken to about 30% of what it was 4 years ago. That means I am the person who lays off the people in my group. I am responsible for profit and expense control. If a staff reduction is needed, I must determine the best people to keep, and then deliver the message to those who do not make the cut. And in my group, there are two kinds of employees: good employees and great employees. There are no slackers or poor performers. The decision of who stays is based on performance and the needs of our customers. There cannot be any other criteria. So lets say I have to lay off one of two employees. The first one is a great employee. A high performer, who would be able to handle some extra workload after the staff reduction. Also this employee would be able to find a job quicker than the other employee, because highly talented people can and do find jobs in the current economy. This first employee, is in excellent financial shape and could make ends meet for a few years without working. The second employee is a good one. But not great. If I keep this one, any extra work might be difficult for him or her to accomplish. Additionally, this employee would have more difficulty finding a job, and lives week-to-week, with little money in savings. So which one would you keep? My responsibility is to do what is best for the company. Keeping the company healthy will result in re-investment of profits to re-grow, and create more jobs. This is what I have been dealing with for several years. Not something a lot of folks have to live with.

Every time a manager has to lay off an employee for reasons other than poor performance, I think he or she needs to ask him or herself… “Have I done everything possible to create the opportunities that would have avoided a layoff?” That can be sobering. I work in Operations, not Sales. But our company needs more sales. So in addition to my full time operational responsibilities, I have been working to help our sales department sell. And it has generated additional income, resulting in saving some jobs. I do not get paid for all the extra hours. But it helps ensure our viability, my job, and the jobs of some of our employees. I do not do this out of charity; I do it because it needs to be done.

So what about all the people out of work? Most of them do not want a handout or unemployment benefits. They want a job. Who is going to create a job for them? Not the government. The government does create jobs; it spends the peoples’ money. My company is currently investing in product development, which hopefully will create more jobs soon. If we tax the company more money to take care of the unemployed, there will not be any money left to create the needed jobs. “You cannot have your cake and eat it too.”

And for those out of work who do not want a job, I could care less about them. There are too many of them in America. They are a minority of the unemployed, but the government has created this sense of entitlement. Actually the government does not consider them unemployed.

Here is a question… Have you ever created jobs for others by using your ability? For most Americans, the answer is no. That is not a condemnation, just the fact that a small percentage of the population can create the jobs others need. Why on earth would we want to take money away from the job-creators and give it away? The job-creators need the money to create the jobs we need.

I am sure most of you are thinking that I am pro business. This is true. But not all businesses are good or ethical. Part of our current problem is due to the incompetence and greed of many so-called business people. These are people who could not have been “successful” without all the government entitlements and programs. Ultimately all of this was caused by the government trying to manipulate the economy for decades. Every government action causes a reaction, and generally it is bad. A lot of our current problems are the result of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were created by the government to manipulate the money supply. Then the focus was to finance homes for people who could not otherwise afford them. If you cannot afford to buy a home, then you cannot afford to buy a home. A is A. The scumbag financial creeps manipulated the government programs. Then the government gave them our money, to bail them out. We have too much government, and it is sucking up all the capital that is needed to create jobs and grow our economy. Americans are going to have to tighten their belts or the ship is going to sink. The government cannot spend our money out of this mess. I do not need to be taxed so some government idiot can tell me that too much salt, alcohol, or drugs are bad for me. Why do I have to look at “.gov” billboards telling me to have my prostrate checked?

And for a government to tell me how many children I can have? Not a country I would want to live in, or even visit. Yesterday on the radio I heard a story about a city on the east coast that is about to pass a law that would make it illegal to park your car unlocked. If a policeman can open your door, you get a ticket. When is this insanity going to stop? The good thing about America is that we can stop the insanity. Or at least in theory we can stop it. Unfortunately too many Americans, who received a free education, do not have the ability to think logically or reason. They do not want to think, because they feel the government will take care of them.

There is a saying that I abhor, “It is not what you know, but who you know.” Those who live by this creed are not capitalists, but bloodsuckers that gain by pull and influence, not ability. And this saying is what too many people think capitalism is. And government programs are set up to benefit those who “know” somebody. These are the people who have pulled us down. America needs to get back to business under a real system of capitalism. The government can pass laws and punish those who violate anyone’s right to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness, but we can do just fine without the majority of government services.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Son of Carbon Flame War on 10/14/2010 11:29:50 MDT Print View

Oh, okay. I guess that's that then, huh? Nick's scried the clockwork of the entire world, and since he'll not deign to further discuss his wisdom with us mere mortals, we ought to just mute ourselves and retreat to our caves, where we will revert to eating our children and pine for the light of America. Sounds reasonable to this barbarian. I ought to do penance for finding pleasure and a sense of liberty where I live. Surely I must be badly misguided.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: Son of Carbon Flame War on 10/14/2010 11:36:15 MDT Print View

Nick: "...they feel the government will take care of them."

Unfortunately their false sense of security will become a harsh reality. The wheel continues to turn, but it is still not out of the mud.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Re: Son of Carbon Flame War on 10/14/2010 13:26:30 MDT Print View

OK Nick, I agree that jobs are better than handouts. I think everyone does except those scumsuckers you mentioned, that plague all societies. And I agree that taxing the businesses out of business is bad business for the economy. Better to tax individual income and sales tax to fund essential and social services. And American businesses are under a particularly high burden compared to most other developed countries because of your health care system. It makes I that much more expensive for businesses to compete internationally.

But what to do about it? How, right here and now, is America going to fund health, education, welfare, infrastructure and all the other things needed to make a society work? Obviously you can vote someone new in, but honestly, you and I know that won't make any difference. At the top of the political pig pile there is really not much difference between contenders, they are all in it for themselves. You are wanting a fundamental shift in government policy, right? Do you have a clear idea of what that policy would look like and how it would provide all the infrastructure to run society and stay competitive and a world power? I am asking in all honest curiosity.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Son of Carbon Flame War on 10/14/2010 14:12:17 MDT Print View

> But what to do about it? How, right here and now, is America going to fund health, education, welfare, infrastructure and all the other things needed to make a society work?

Do we need these things to be funded by the public through taxes?

Health care is not a right. If people believe that socialized medicine is a good thing, we cannot fight that. We have a right to health care if we can afford it. But nobody has a right to health services just because they want it or need it. Can people afford health care? Of course they can... they are funding health care today for themselves and also for those who cannot afford it. Those who are paying for their own health care are also paying others. They are paying for more than they are getting.

Public education is also wrong. The education system is owned by everyone. This means that the power-grubbers are trying to gain control of the public education system, so they can dictate what children will be taught. Public education in America is failing. Public schools are doing a good job of boosting drugs, violence, and illiteracy. The top ranked 20 universities in the US are all private institutions, as reported by US News and World Report:

1. Harvard
2. Princeton
3. Yale
4. Columbia
5. Stanford
6. University of Pennsylvania
7. Cal Tech
8. MIT
9. Dartmouth
10. Duke
11. University of Chicago
12. Northwestern
13. John Hopkins
14. Washington University St Louis
15. Brown
16. Cornell
17. Rice
18. Vanderbilt
19. Notre Dame
20. Emory

I do not think we are getting our money's worth for public education.


Welfare: for the most part, what we need to survive must be produced. Why would we shackle the people who produce to benefit those who produce nothing? By giving part of what I produce with my hard work to those who do not produce is immoral.


Infrastructure: in the US, most infrastructure projects are politically motivated, not based on economic needs. Thus, the bridges to nowhere. Millions of people have never ridden a train, bus, or airplane. But they pay for much of the infrastructure.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Son of Carbon Flame War on 10/14/2010 15:01:57 MDT Print View

Want to fix the budget? Start here, and get back to us when it's been reduced by three-quarters. Kicking the poor around is easy but meaningless (not to mention contemptible).

defense through FY11

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Son of Carbon Flame War on 10/14/2010 15:16:12 MDT Print View

Agree totally Rick, if I were paying taxes in America I would be a lot more hacked off about defense costs than health, education and welfare. However, Nick, you did not answer my question.

"How, right here and now, is America going to fund health, education, welfare, infrastructure and all the other things needed to make a society work?"

BTW, infrastructure is a lot more than bridges to no where. Things like roads, sewage, trash collection etc...are all needed to make society run in a modern way. Would you ask every single person to pay, up front, for these services and infrastructures? And by you answer "We have a right to health care if we can afford it. But nobody has a right to health services just because they want it or need it." Does that mean you would just let people who can't afford it go without? People who can't afford private education not send their kids to school? Those that end up unemployed with mouths to feed just starve or resort to crime? That sounds like a real nice country to live in! I was asking for real answers, like if YOU were president (keeping in mind all the lobbying, in-fighting in government, and issues like defense to try and sort out), how would you go about it? It sounds like you would like a return to the wild old west where you either survive (quite literally), or you don't. Or am I mis-reading your opinions?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Son of Carbon Flame War on 10/14/2010 15:23:29 MDT Print View

Rick,

No argument from me. The function of the military is to protect us from external enemies. Changing the world political structure with force is beyond this concept.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Son of Carbon Flame War on 10/14/2010 15:36:14 MDT Print View

Bump for Nick, I think we cross posted and you missed my above comments (or you're ignoring them which is fine too).

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Son of Carbon Flame War on 10/14/2010 16:40:11 MDT Print View

"The function of the military is to protect us from external enemies. Changing the world political structure with force is beyond this concept."

Who pays for the military in your no tax world, Nick? Where do you get people educated enough to perform competently in today's high tech military environment with no public education? Are all the grunts going to come from private schools? Who pays for the academies that educate our officer corps? Where do you get enough healthy individuals to fill the ranks with no health care, except for those who can afford it? Assuming the military would, in fact, be defending us from external enemies, how would they move around the country with no airports, ports, or
highways? For that matter, what would motivate them in any signifiant number to fight for a country such as the one you describe?

As for your comment about those who disagree with you being either unwilling or unable to think things through, do you really mean that? Seriously?

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Son of Carbon Flame War on 10/14/2010 16:48:57 MDT Print View

"So what about all the people out of work? Most of them do not want a handout or unemployment benefits. They want a job. Who is going to create a job for them? Not the government. The government does create jobs; it spends the peoples’ money. My company is currently investing in product development, which hopefully will create more jobs soon. If we tax the company more money to take care of the unemployed, there will not be any money left to create the needed jobs."

The latest statistics indicate ~17-18 million unemployed, not counting those who have given up looking which brings the total to ~25 million people without jobs. I ask you again, what do you propose doing with these people while all you job creators are figuring out how to create jobs? Let 'em starve? Turn 'em into Soylent Green? What, Nick?


"And for those out of work who do not want a job, I could care less about them. There are too many of them in America." A minority of the unemployed, but still a lot of people. Again I ask, what do you propose doing with them?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Son of Carbon Flame War on 10/14/2010 17:02:07 MDT Print View

Tom, I did not say no government. We need limited government. We need a government that protects our basic rights, which includes a judicial system and a military. We pay for these things, it is in our rational self-interest to do so. People have fought for this country to preserve their own self interest... which is generally called freedom.

Our military members risk their lives for us and themselves. They do it because they are not willing to live under the rule of any enemy. I am a huge advocate of our military academies. And when needed, the military will educate our soldiers to use the technology.

Also, I am not against infrastructure. It is critical to our well being. But infrastructure should be paid by those who use it.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Re: Son of Carbon Flame War on 10/14/2010 17:05:01 MDT Print View

"For that matter, what would motivate them in any signifiant number to fight for a country such as the one you describe?"

I'm guessing his answer might be the same as those people who first fought against taxation without representation, who manned their armies with unpaid volunteers who thought freedom was everything worth fighting for. Of course, that fails to recognise how far the world has moved on, and maybe the tea-party voters really would like to return to those times? Of course, any attempt to do so would result in America rapidly being over-run by all the modern powers that would have the technology, the paid fighters and all the *infrastructure* to do so.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Son of Carbon Flame War on 10/14/2010 17:12:55 MDT Print View

"We have a right to health care if we can afford it. But nobody has a right to health services just because they want it or need it. Can people afford health care? Of course they can..."

I don't know where you are getting your information, Nick. Somewhere around 46 million people in this country are uninsured, either the unemployed or working poor. Without insurance, health care is unaffordable here. Again I ask, what do you propose doing with these people? Among other things, if left untreated they will increasingly present a threat to public health. I won't even attempt to address the moral dimension because I would clearly be wasting my time.

"Public education is also wrong. The education system is owned by everyone. This means that the power-grubbers are trying to gain control of the public education system, so they can dictate what children will be taught. Public education in America is failing. Public schools are doing a good job of boosting drugs, violence, and illiteracy. The top ranked 20 universities in the US are all private institutions, as reported by US News and World Report:"

Again, what do you propose doing with all those people who can't afford one of those top ranked universities? How would you even prepare them to compete for admission? How are people to be trained for the increasingly complex demands of jobs in a modern economy? How will they acquire basic literacy and math skills at an early age? Does all this depend on private enterprise? Home schooling? Is there no role for government in the education system?