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Fear of consequences kills potentially good ideas

by Greg Krehbiel on 6 August 2017

Yesterday I heard an interesting conversation about affirmative action, and all the ways universities measure applicants. It’s not just grades and SAT scores. They include race, but they also include sex, age, geography, community involvement, and a lot of other things. The idea is that the university is enriched by having people from different backgrounds.

Well … maybe. What if you don’t allow those “different backgrounds” a chance to speak? How is the university enriched?

And what if some of the students brought in because of their race, sex, geography or whatnot are slowing down the class? What if the teachers start teaching to the stupidest kid in the room. How is that serving the smart kids and the university’s first goal of education?

The potentially good idea — having a diverse student body — is ruined by fear of the consequences — e.g., allowing the expression of unpopular views, or allowing kids who really can’t make it to fail.

We see the same thing with views on the right. “A man’s stomach works for him,” and “if a man will not work, neither let him eat.” It might be a good idea, but we’ll never know because we don’t actually let them starve.

Or what about guaranteed minimum income? Create a safety net — a bottom point below which we won’t let anyone go. It might be a good idea, but it could only possibly work if we severely restricted immigration, didn’t allow birthright citizenship, etc.

It seems to me that a lot of potentially good ideas are spoiled because people are afraid to see them through.

2017-08-06  »  Greg Krehbiel

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