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Friday, January 25, 2008

An Education Stimulus Package

Washington,D.C. (Jan 25, 2007): President Bush and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today announced a bipartisan stimulus plan to improve higher education. Announcing the initiative on the White House lawn, the president said: "This package is urgent. We must boost falling grades with an immediate stimulus. I urge Congress to act soon."

The president had suggested increasing every student's GPA by 0.2 points, but Democrats objected, saying that help should be targetted to those who need it most. "The President wanted to use the failing grades of poor students as an excuse to raise grades for the good ones", speaker Pelosi commented, "while we wanted to help those who really need the help".

The compromise plan will add 0.4 to all students with a GPA under 3.0, but will add less for students scoring better, gradually phasing out to zero for anyone with a 3.8 or above.

On the campaign trail, Senator Obama criticized the deal, as a quick-fix, saying that grades were not enough; students who do well should be made to pay more, since they are obviously getting more from the system. The amounts raised could be used to pay for extra tuition for students who are failing. "We need a plan that creates hope", said the Senator, "we need creative solutions". GOP candidate Mike Huckabee, called for more structural changes and science programs that taught Intelligent Design.

Meanwhile, most students interview were happy with the new plan. "I can definitely use the help I can get", said Mitt Koplaski, who studies economics at the University of Oregon.

My question is this: if you can tell that this is spoof, explain why, in principle.

[Hat tip: "UMassHoops", posting on "The Motley Fool", for the kernel idea.]


  • It is a spoof in principle because it takes the real-life scenarios of government and clueless politicians in our economy, as with printing currency, the tax policy and the campaign trail, and uses other concretes that apply similarly to illustrate in a more lucid way the errors. But maybe that is just the definition of a spoof.

    The core principle it is spoofing is the "making stuff up" principle (how it is, that's how it is... A is A). You can't make stuff up. In the spoof, the government tries to create value out of air by bumping up grades on paper, like it tries to do with currency, despite the underlying value staying unchanged. The students don't work any harder or learn more, and the identification (grades) of the value of working and learning is diluted by the false increase.

    Students may be fooled into thinking they have actually learned something they haven't, which will harm them later when they try to do things they aren't able, and fail. Or non-spoofed, businesses may think they have more value saved than they do, if they haven't noticed the change in the value of the currency, and make innocent but bad business decisions as a result. In both cases, the recipients of the "stimulation" are actually worse off than if they hadn't been stimulated.

    By Blogger James, at 12:12 AM  

  • Obama said we need a plan that creates hope...but what is his plan? I don't mind criticism, but the way I feel if you're gonna criticize then come up with your own plan. Everytime I hear him talk about "hope" I think of Rudy and his "9/11" turrets syndrome...with Obama it's "hope" turrets.

    Huckabee really has to get off this bandwagon of teaching intelligent design in the public schools. If you've ever seen his doesn't look like there was a lot of intelligence put into that design!

    There's no doubt our educational system needs help. Scrapping no child left behind would be a start. Kids aren't learning when all they are being taught is what will be on a test. My daughter is a high school teacher and she's so fed up with slim lining her class lessons to drum into their heads a few facts and figures. You can't teach History by memorizing dates, you have to understand the complexities of how those incidents occurred.

    Great post!

    By Blogger Mary Ellen, at 6:47 AM  

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