|"A few years ago, The Freeman carried a little blurb I wrote based on an article I saw in Scientific American from about 1890 - 1899. That areticle praised the German method of technical education where each person learns to do one job extremely well. The article advised us (and Britain) to adopt this mode.|
The chief problem in comparing high school test scores or whatever is that in America we educate everyone. Elsewhere, they cull kids out and only the selected get the best education. So, there is that."
Well, first of all, the US system of education is almost similar to the Scandinavian model, which means that all pupils are educated in one class of school (High School f.e.). In Germany, we have selection after the forth grade (which may or maynot be good at that time, I still dunno). But it eliminates the problem of worse pupils hindering the better ones. We divide those children in 3 groups: Hauptschule, Realschule and Gymnasium (while Gymnasium is the most respectable school with the highest requirments). All in all, we have formed the American role-model of challenge, ability and reward into a school system. There is only limited choice in the High Schools in the US. I have had several friends that went to the US during their 10th or 11th grade and made their high school graduation in the US. While they had an Abitur of B to C in Germany, they all graduated with an A in the US. So, there must be a real difference. I don't know whether the seperation of young children is the road to success, but I think the requirement of ability is the ultimate source of our outstanding performance (despite a dismal education system).
"It is also true that in that system, a German who graduates from "high school" has the equivalent of an American with two years of college, i.e, what we for 40 years now call an "associate's" degree. So, there is that as well."
I don't know about that, but I think since we lowered the years in Gymnasium from 8 to 7, this comparison might lack certain criterias. I would also consider that in Germany, weh have a federal education, which means that people in the south are generally better educated than in the North (due to differences in the school system).
"The whole idea of educating children has always held some merit, but I think it would be better to put them work. Especially now, in an information and service economy, it ius safe and appropriate to let children be productive. Let kids work for 30 years and when they are older, they will have more money, be better parents, etc. Also, while they are minors, certainly, their incomes can go to their parents, which also makes sense."
I don't know. Many kids are not made for the kind of work you seem to think of, but are very talented in the natural sciences or in engineering. It'd be a waste of ressources to send them working. Or did I take this one wrong?
"Finally, laissez faire and all are fine, but consider... Which is more effective: cooking your own food, or eating out (or carrying in)? How much wealth do you have to create before your time is worth so much that housework is counterproductive? Do you pay someone now to come in and do the dishes? Of course not. (At least most of us do not.) My point is that by buying imported goods, we are exporting the value of our labor and losing the value of it. In buying imported goods, Americans are like ordinary people hiring dishwashers and vacuumers and wondering why we cannot afford anything else.
Consider this: American farmers can sell rice to Japan by the shipload for far less than the Japanese pay for it. However, the Japanese have made a political decision never to be dependent on anyone else for food. So, their trade barriers on rice protect their "inefficient" farmers."
Just look at the EU, you will find plenty of protectionist examples ;)
"Now that we have offshored our manufacturing -- and even the call centers and information processing -- was that such a smart idea?"
I don't think it was a smart idea and certainly the service will get worse (which has prompted some companyies in Germany to call back their services to Germany). I think all of the western industrialized nations will have to reconsider their stand. Either they will start being protectionists, or they will have to transform their economic system. I don't want to blame any company, because this would result in socialist tendencies to have a claim on their work and their property.
Do you want that?