Correlation does not equal causation, but they do tend to tango on occasion

One of these days my comments about oil & gas might land me in some hot water.  Over on LinkedIn, I tend to comment quite a bit about Petronas and Malaysia oil & gas & LNG.  That's simply because I have a lot more Malaysian connections on LinkedIn than I do here on Oil Price.  And some of my comments on LinkedIn have gotten "disappeared" in the past on "touchy" topics.

Anyway, my latest comment on LinkedIn may rile a few Petronas staff, but as many of you already know, I'm not a big believer in not speaking my mind.

So here's my latest observation this morning about the ongoing Petronas vs Sarawak dispute in Malaysia, which I posted on LinkedIn:

================================

Regardless of what Reuters or The Edge or any media say, I tend to think the abrupt slowdown in natural gas / LNG in Sarawak is due *at least in part* to the dispute over oil & gas (and LNG) rights and royalties, between Petronas / Federal government in Peninsular and Sarawak.

Malaysia is one of the largest exporters in the world of LNG.  And all of Malaysia's LNG exports come from MLNG in Bintulu, Sawarak.

The *timing* of the abrupt "problems" with natural gas & LNG in Sarawak happened at the same time as the very vocal oil / gas / LNG rights & royalties dispute between Petronas and Sarawak.  And mysteriously, approvals are not granted yet to resume production  < eye roll >

I remain unconvinced that the O&G dispute and the O&G slowdown are totally unrelated.  Just my opinion; as always, you are free to disagree.

Malaysia LNG exports hit 4-yr low on pipeline issues — sources

 

=============================

For a bit of background, here's one of my previous rants about this Petronas / Sarawak dispute:

Hey Petronas, Royalties are *not* the same as Profits

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14 hours ago, Tom Kirkman said:

One of these days my comments about oil & gas might land me in some hot water.  Over on LinkedIn, I tend to comment quite a bit about Petronas and Malaysia oil & gas & LNG.  That's simply because I have a lot more Malaysian connections on LinkedIn than I do here on Oil Price.  And some of my comments on LinkedIn have gotten "disappeared" in the past on "touchy" topics.

Anyway, my latest comment on LinkedIn may rile a few Petronas staff, but as many of you already know, I'm not a big believer in not speaking my mind.

So here's my latest observation this morning about the ongoing Petronas vs Sarawak dispute in Malaysia, which I posted on LinkedIn: 

================================

Regardless of what Reuters or The Edge or any media say, I tend to think the abrupt slowdown in natural gas / LNG in Sarawak is due *at least in part* to the dispute over oil & gas (and LNG) rights and royalties, between Petronas / Federal government in Peninsular and Sarawak.

Malaysia is one of the largest exporters in the world of LNG.  And all of Malaysia's LNG exports come from MLNG in Bintulu, Sawarak.

The *timing* of the abrupt "problems" with natural gas & LNG in Sarawak happened at the same time as the very vocal oil / gas / LNG rights & royalties dispute between Petronas and Sarawak.  And mysteriously, approvals are not granted yet to resume production  < eye roll >

I remain unconvinced that the O&G dispute and the O&G slowdown are totally unrelated.  Just my opinion; as always, you are free to disagree. 

Malaysia LNG exports hit 4-yr low on pipeline issues — sources

 

=============================

For a bit of background, here's one of my previous rants about this Petronas / Sarawak dispute:

Hey Petronas, Royalties are *not* the same as Profits

Ok, I'll bite:

Most governments are corrupt.  Why does anyone find your statements controversial?  What do they hope to accomplish by suppressing your opinion?

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8 hours ago, mthebold said:

Ok, I'll bite:

Most governments are corrupt.  Why does anyone find your statements controversial?  What do they hope to accomplish by suppressing your opinion?

In Southeast Asia, it can be a short road to trouble to criticize government leaders or government projects.

Insulting the King in certain Asian countries can land you in prison for many years.

I've had some of my earlier fiesty comments on LinkedIn "disappeared" last year, most likely due to getting flagged by others who didn't like my remarks.  This year I started keeping my remarks on LinkedIn a bit more restrained, because it was annoying getting my comments gone.

One helpful person on LinkedIn (who shall remain unnamed) offered me the following advice:

=============================

Yeah, I am actually connected with a few of the LI engineers and have discovered quite a bit about how the new system works. If it was "only" algorithms, then I would have less concern. Unfortunately, it is the "LI human filterers" that you have to gain a pattern of trust with (even though most don't even realize these "filterers" are in place); therefore, until you show a pattern of normal behavior and generic posts...at least until they divert their focus to something else... then yes, you do run the risk of content "they" don't agree with getting removed or "disappeared" on you.
The best away around it is to post generic content, positive nonchalant stories and other middle of the road topics; that is, until you build a following. Then, after awhile you can become more "you" and throw in the occasional post that aligns with your passion...stuff that your following will latch on too quickly and garner a lot of views / likes / comments. Doing it this way, the LI police can't react and your stuff stays.
Hope that is helpful.

=============================

The crackdown / shadowbanning on dissent and "unpopular" views by internet companies seems to be increasing recently.  Yesterday, one oddball crackpot on LinkedIn was summarily wiped out after attacking some poor oil & gas guy who questioned him.  I saved a bit of this oddball's work for my own anusement, but even this morning, deletion of Nigel Cheese articles is ongoing on Google and LinkedIn.  I posted a bit of this guy's wonderfully wacky crackpot stuff this morning in a different comment.

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31 minutes ago, Tom Kirkman said:

In Southeast Asia, it can be a short road to trouble to criticize government leaders or government projects.

Insulting the King in certain Asian countries can land you in prison for many years. 

I've had some of my earlier fiesty comments on LinkedIn "disappeared" last year, most likely due to getting flagged by others who didn't like my remarks.  This year I started keeping my remarks on LinkedIn a bit more restrained, because it was annoying getting my comments gone.

One helpful person on LinkedIn (who shall remain unnamed) offered me the following advice: 

=============================

Yeah, I am actually connected with a few of the LI engineers and have discovered quite a bit about how the new system works. If it was "only" algorithms, then I would have less concern. Unfortunately, it is the "LI human filterers" that you have to gain a pattern of trust with (even though most don't even realize these "filterers" are in place); therefore, until you show a pattern of normal behavior and generic posts...at least until they divert their focus to something else... then yes, you do run the risk of content "they" don't agree with getting removed or "disappeared" on you.
The best away around it is to post generic content, positive nonchalant stories and other middle of the road topics; that is, until you build a following. Then, after awhile you can become more "you" and throw in the occasional post that aligns with your passion...stuff that your following will latch on too quickly and garner a lot of views / likes / comments. Doing it this way, the LI police can't react and your stuff stays.
Hope that is helpful. 

============================= 

The crackdown / shadowbanning on dissent and "unpopular" views by internet companies seems to be increasing recently.  Yesterday, one oddball crackpot on LinkedIn was summarily wiped out after attacking some poor oil & gas guy who questioned him.  I saved a bit of this oddball's work for my own anusement, but even this morning, deletion of Nigel Cheese articles is ongoing on Google and LinkedIn.  I posted a bit of this guy's wonderfully wacky crackpot stuff this morning in a different comment.

That makes sense.

Oddly enough, I've found social repercussions to be worse in person - esp. at universities.  Express the wrong opinion around the wrong person, and suddenly you can't get help from an entire department.  So here's an opinion: social media can do as they please because they're companies paying their own way, but universities are on the public dole.  We should remove all public funding from these highly politicized organizations. 

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Speaking (with "@jack" to get attention) against blocking several antiwar figures on Twitter got my account locked for "unusual behavior". 

I grow up in "1984" - feels like its upon us again.

image.thumb.png.1f338078b0e4d138da164e69bdd8434c.png

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22 minutes ago, mthebold said:

We should remove all public funding from these highly politicized organizations.

Never going to happen.  But I like how you think!

The best thing we could do for US education is to unsubsidize it, though I am not sure if cutting all funding would be the best way to incentive competition in schools.  What do you think about awarding government funding ONLY to the brightest and best students?  Let's say...the top 5% students at each college with the highest GPA get their tuition paid, no questions asked. 

That could create competition as students attempt to compete for those scarce dollars.

To support this idea, let me tell you a story of one of my experiences in college.  It was Economics 101.  I diligently arrived at class early, took notes and studied hard for the test.  I sat next to a guy who rarely showed up for class.  When he did show up, he would often use class-time to take a nap.  We took our first test after a few weeks, and when the tests were handed back, I saw that he scored 29 out of 100 points (every question on the test was multiple-choice, A - D).

I had gotten a 135%.  

You see, the professor had allowed us a 5 point extra credit question, and then after that, she curved everyone's grades to make sure that everyone passed.  As a result, everyone received an additional +32 points, literally for no reason at all.

That pushed my grade to 135 points out of 100.

I told the guy sitting next to me that he would learn more if he actually showed up (or even stayed awake) for class.  I also asked if he had read the chapter before taking the test, and he replied that he didn't even buy the book so he couldn't read the book, let alone study for the test.  I replied that he should put more effort into learning since he was paying a lot of money to take this class. 

He replied.  "I passed with a 61, and no I'm not paying for it.  The government is."

Again, his reasoning:  "The government is paying for my classes, so why should I try?"    

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2 hours ago, DanilKa said:

Speaking (with "@jack" to get attention) against blocking several antiwar figures on Twitter got my account locked for "unusual behavior". 

I grow up in "1984" - feels like its upon us again.

image.thumb.png.1f338078b0e4d138da164e69bdd8434c.png

Shadowbanning and stealth censorship by tech giants is not imaginary.  I'm really getting annoyed at the increased stifling of "unpopular" ideas.

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1 hour ago, Epic said:

What do you think about awarding government funding ONLY to the brightest and best students?  Let's say...the top 5% students at each college with the highest GPA get their tuition paid, no questions asked. 

Intriguing idea there, Epic.  Meritocracy in action.  Every student gets a fair shot at a free education.

Sounds more workable than this idea:

Professors allow students to pick their own grade

A literature class at Davidson College this fall will use “contract grading,” allowing students to pick ahead of time their grade for the class and the workload they need to complete to earn it.

The offer is posed by Professor Melissa Gonzalez for her Introduction to Spanish Literatures and Cultures course, SPA 270, at the private liberal arts college in Davidson, North Carolina.

She is one of several professors across the nation who allow this pick-your-own grade method, billed as a way to eliminate the student-professor power differential and give students control of their education. But critics contend it is just another example of how colleges coddle students from the harsh realities of the real world, which includes competition and goal expectations.

... But not all students are convinced it’s a good idea, including Davidson College senior Kenny Xu, who is majoring in mathematics.

“It degrades trust in your achievement by outside authorities, including employers, grad schools, scholarships etc.,” he told The College Fix. “Imagine if an employer saw that you got an A not because you were truly one of the best in the class but because you fulfilled some requirement YOU personally set. Would he really trust that A? I think not.”

“Colleges are increasingly viewing themselves as a support system rather than an institution of learning,” Xu added. “Learning is not supposed to be easy, or comfortable. Excellence requires that you step out of your comfort zone and compete. Colleges are becoming shelters, which is not what this country nor what this generation needs.”

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3 hours ago, Tom Kirkman said:

In Southeast Asia, it can be a short road to trouble to criticize government leaders or government projects.

Insulting the King in certain Asian countries can land you in prison for many years.

I hope my VPN is working properly, because your comment is spot on.  And the power you speak of is normally and frequently abused by those in power to cover almost anything said that is directed towards any part of the "leadership".  Hey, if the country is called a kingdom, anything said against any of its agents can grossly be said to fall under this rule.  Right?  Wrong.

Perhaps you need an "attitude adjustment" down at the military barracks, which is at least a less severe punishment, or at least for a shorter period of time (say a few days to a couple of weeks!).

The self admitted goal of some of these leaders is to install and control an internet gateway, or what others call the (local) Great FireWall of China.  I don't even know if a VPN can help if they ever get that in place (if it's not already).  Thought control is alive and well, carry on (we're listening anyway).

Having said that, most advanced governments, and I'm sure anybody else with the right sums of money, have been eavesdropping on us for decades.  Once one accepts that as the norm, one can act accordingly.  This is a good place to add that I am truly thankful for all of those people around the world that fight these issues on behalf of the rest of us.  Hopefully they can at least slow down this intrusive form of control, though I believe it is ultimately hopeless.

I understand, as do you Tom, that your comments down there prick some very powerful people, and others that may not be as powerful but at least have great sums of money to either lose or gain.  Be careful, my friend!  

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1 hour ago, Epic said:

Never going to happen.  But I like how you think!

The best thing we could do for US education is to unsubsidize it, though I am not sure if cutting all funding would be the best way to incentive competition in schools.  What do you think about awarding government funding ONLY to the brightest and best students?  Let's say...the top 5% students at each college with the highest GPA get their tuition paid, no questions asked. 

That could create competition as students attempt to compete for those scarce dollars.

To support this idea, let me tell you a story of one of my experiences in college.  It was Economics 101.  I diligently arrived at class early, took notes and studied hard for the test.  I sat next to a guy who rarely showed up for class.  When he did show up, he would often use class-time to take a nap.  We took our first test after a few weeks, and when the tests were handed back, I saw that he scored 29 out of 100 points (every question on the test was multiple-choice, A - D).

I had gotten a 135%.  

You see, the professor had allowed us a 5 point extra credit question, and then after that, she curved everyone's grades to make sure that everyone passed.  As a result, everyone received an additional +32 points, literally for no reason at all.

That pushed my grade to 135 points out of 100.

I told the guy sitting next to me that he would learn more if he actually showed up (or even stayed awake) for class.  I also asked if he had read the chapter before taking the test, and he replied that he didn't even buy the book so he couldn't read the book, let alone study for the test.  I replied that he should put more effort into learning since he was paying a lot of money to take this class. 

He replied.  "I passed with a 61, and no I'm not paying for it.  The government is."

Again, his reasoning:  "The government is paying for my classes, so why should I try?"    

I went to college for 5 years and gained 2 degrees and 2 licenses from the FAA, and I could not have even been there if it had not been for Pell Grants and student loans.  I paid back all my student loan debt within about 3 or 4 years after graduating (don't remember exactly), but I was by then working for a major multi-national, living/working overseas tax free (due to U.S. tax laws and a relatively low salary) and being single.  The debt I hear about U.S. students having to accumulate over 4-5 years today is staggering, and they say it takes many of them a lifetime to pay it back.  I also remember that a very large % of students back in my time defaulted on the loans and were somehow forgiven by the government.  Anyway, if a person does not get a higher education today (true for most of us), they will have a very hard time in life.  I did not meet any freeloaders like you describe in your comment, but I'm sure they are there.  There's always some rat taking advantage of a system set up to help people that truly appreciate the leg up.

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8 hours ago, Dan Warnick said:

I understand, as do you Tom, that your comments down there prick some very powerful people, and others that may not be as powerful but at least have great sums of money to either lose or gain.  Be careful, my friend!  

Thanks for that, Dan.  I know you have travelled all over the world.  You obviously understand that the freedom of speech that many Westerners tend to take for granted are not common in Asia or in large parts of the rest of the world.

8 hours ago, Dan Warnick said:

This is a good place to add that I am truly thankful for all of those people around the world that fight these issues on behalf of the rest of us.  Hopefully they can at least slow down this intrusive form of control, though I believe it is ultimately hopeless.

Oh looky here, someone  < cough >  made a disposable anonymous sock named "Yellow Card" and did some reporting on a huge protest in Malaysia back in 2011, calling for free and fair elections.  Take note of the photos of the federal riot police arresting and tear gassing peaceful locals who were simply calling for free and fair elections.  The writing style of the poster "Yellow Card" may sound oddly familiar to some readers here...

https://whyweprotest.net/threads/malaysia-protest-for-a-clean-election-but-ban-by-our-own-malaysia-government.90793/

 

Note that a few months ago, federal elections were held here in Malaysia and the ruling government coalition which had been in power for 60 years was peacefully voted out of power.  So there is hope that things can get better.

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10 hours ago, Epic said:

Never going to happen.  But I like how you think!

The best thing we could do for US education is to unsubsidize it, though I am not sure if cutting all funding would be the best way to incentive competition in schools.  What do you think about awarding government funding ONLY to the brightest and best students?  Let's say...the top 5% students at each college with the highest GPA get their tuition paid, no questions asked. 

That could create competition as students attempt to compete for those scarce dollars. 

To support this idea, let me tell you a story of one of my experiences in college.  It was Economics 101.  I diligently arrived at class early, took notes and studied hard for the test.  I sat next to a guy who rarely showed up for class.  When he did show up, he would often use class-time to take a nap.  We took our first test after a few weeks, and when the tests were handed back, I saw that he scored 29 out of 100 points (every question on the test was multiple-choice, A - D). 

I had gotten a 135%.   

You see, the professor had allowed us a 5 point extra credit question, and then after that, she curved everyone's grades to make sure that everyone passed.  As a result, everyone received an additional +32 points, literally for no reason at all.

That pushed my grade to 135 points out of 100.

I told the guy sitting next to me that he would learn more if he actually showed up (or even stayed awake) for class.  I also asked if he had read the chapter before taking the test, and he replied that he didn't even buy the book so he couldn't read the book, let alone study for the test.  I replied that he should put more effort into learning since he was paying a lot of money to take this class.  

He replied.  "I passed with a 61, and no I'm not paying for it.  The government is."

Again, his reasoning:  "The government is paying for my classes, so why should I try?"    

 

8 hours ago, Tom Kirkman said:

Intriguing idea there, Epic.  Meritocracy in action.  Every student gets a fair shot at a free education.

Sounds more workable than this idea:

Professors allow students to pick their own grade

A literature class at Davidson College this fall will use “contract grading,” allowing students to pick ahead of time their grade for the class and the workload they need to complete to earn it.

The offer is posed by Professor Melissa Gonzalez for her Introduction to Spanish Literatures and Cultures course, SPA 270, at the private liberal arts college in Davidson, North Carolina.

She is one of several professors across the nation who allow this pick-your-own grade method, billed as a way to eliminate the student-professor power differential and give students control of their education. But critics contend it is just another example of how colleges coddle students from the harsh realities of the real world, which includes competition and goal expectations.

... But not all students are convinced it’s a good idea, including Davidson College senior Kenny Xu, who is majoring in mathematics.

“It degrades trust in your achievement by outside authorities, including employers, grad schools, scholarships etc.,” he told The College Fix. “Imagine if an employer saw that you got an A not because you were truly one of the best in the class but because you fulfilled some requirement YOU personally set. Would he really trust that A? I think not.”

“Colleges are increasingly viewing themselves as a support system rather than an institution of learning,” Xu added. “Learning is not supposed to be easy, or comfortable. Excellence requires that you step out of your comfort zone and compete. Colleges are becoming shelters, which is not what this country nor what this generation needs.”

 

8 hours ago, Dan Warnick said:

I went to college for 5 years and gained 2 degrees and 2 licenses from the FAA, and I could not have even been there if it had not been for Pell Grants and student loans.  I paid back all my student loan debt within about 3 or 4 years after graduating (don't remember exactly), but I was by then working for a major multi-national, living/working overseas tax free (due to U.S. tax laws and a relatively low salary) and being single.  The debt I hear about U.S. students having to accumulate over 4-5 years today is staggering, and they say it takes many of them a lifetime to pay it back.  I also remember that a very large % of students back in my time defaulted on the loans and were somehow forgiven by the government.  Anyway, if a person does not get a higher education today (true for most of us), they will have a very hard time in life.  I did not meet any freeloaders like you describe in your comment, but I'm sure they are there.  There's always some rat taking advantage of a system set up to help people that truly appreciate the leg up. 

Replying to all three of your posts simultaneously: it sounds like we have competing objectives that must be balanced:

- We need to stop wasting resources.  The government is broke.

- Higher ed needs an incentive to actually educate people.  I.e. there must be consequences for passing incompetent students and rewards for producing better graduates.

- Politics can't influence who does-or-does-not get educated.  Letting grades pick the students sounds great until we realize the education system itself is skewed to select certain types of compliant people, and these people aren't necessarily the best - or even remotely competent.  People in poor states/districts would also be disproportionately harmed.

- Poor students need a chance.  Even if you came from a poor family in a poor school district, saw no point in education in your youth, and let your grades tank, there should still be the option of redeeming yourself. 

I mentioned cutting funding to the organizations that run higher ed, and I still stand by that opinion.  The bureaucrats and academics have proven themselves utterly incapable of managing that responsibility.  That, however, doesn't mean we have to cut funding to education itself. 

Suppose we had a voucher system for higher ed.  Every student gets the same amount of money, and that student gets to choose where to spend it.  Trade school, certification training, for-profit institution, public university, private institution - doesn't matter.  It's their money to spend on "education" whenever and however they please.  If a kid grows up in a bad family and doesn't turn his life around until he's 25 (happens a lot), the opportunity is still there.  If a kid from a nice family in the suburbs thinks that private institution is worth the extra cost, he can add his life savings, student loans, and parental help to his government voucher.  If a kid has no interest in academics but is a genius at building things, he can go to trade school.  If a kid just loves hair, he can go to cosmetology school.  There would be some waste for sure, but on the whole, I suspect students would allocate these funds far more efficiently than bureaucrats. 

This would also force institutions of learning to compete.  Today, universities have a monopoly on public funding.  Under a voucher system, all career options would compete on an equal footing.  If students hated the university options, they could easily switch to something more practical w/o financial loss.  I.e. if the university wants to charge a premium for its services, it will have to demonstrate added value - something they currently find too plebeian for their refined tastes.  A voucher system would also create fierce competition between universities.  If students could take their money anywhere, universities would be forced to compete on the quality of their outcomes. 

In short, a voucher system would remove all the politics and apparatchiks from education, give the less fortunate an opportunity to succeed in any endeavor, place responsibility on the student for choosing a competent institution, and force institutions of learning to compete with each other. 

I suspect this would be politically feasible as well.  It would be applicable to and benefit everyone - not just the lovers of "education"*.  I'd bet I could get Trump supporters on board with this if I told them it funneled money away from the disdainful elites into more practical endeavors, and there should be plenty of liberals who agree with giving poor people opportunity. 

Thoughts?


* I make a distinction between true education and the "education" state institutions peddle.  My experience is that public systems do more harm than good. 

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4 minutes ago, mthebold said:

I suspect this would be politically feasible as well.  It would be applicable to and benefit everyone - not just the lovers of "education"*.  I'd bet I could get Trump supporters on board with this if I told them it funneled money away from the disdainful elites into more practical endeavors, and there should be plenty of liberals who agree with giving poor people opportunity. 

< slow clap >

Nicely thought out, mthebold.

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I will just say that your post absolutely shows that issues can be discussed in a rational way and solutions found.  Unfortunately, at least for the U.S., politics that are both irrational and untrue would pick your ideas apart and discard them as quickly as you even mentioned certain words, like "vouchers", as one example.

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1 hour ago, Tom Kirkman said:

< slow clap >

Nicely thought out, mthebold.

Honest question: is "slow clap" a sarcastic response?  I admit there's a sarcastic undertone to my thinking, but that's just because I don't care for politics. 

Seriously though, I'm just looking for solutions we can all get on board with.  As long as it gets us from A to B, I don't care how we label it. 

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(edited)

2 hours ago, Dan Warnick said:

I will just say that your post absolutely shows that issues can be discussed in a rational way and solutions found.  Unfortunately, at least for the U.S., politics that are both irrational and untrue would pick your ideas apart and discard them as quickly as you even mentioned certain words, like "vouchers", as one example. 

Fortunately, this is a pretty good forum, so I don't need to censor myself too much*.  I definitely avoid the word "voucher" in public though. 

The disadvantage of debating politics in America is that people lose their minds over certain things.  The advantage of debating politics in America is that you can describe the exact same things in terms of outcomes, and those same people will buy in.  You and I know what a voucher system is, but the average person is fuzzy on the details.  All they know is that their preferred ideology told them "voucher = good" or "voucher = bad".  The term has been emotionally corrupted. 

That's not their fault.  The average IQ is 100, half the population is below that, and the vast majority of us - even the intelligent ones - are struggling to keep up with life.  I can't and don't expect people to grasp the finer points of complex systems.  This is why we, as human beings, need good leaders.  If I see a better way, I should assume the burden of leadership and champion that way.  That's the only way to make it happen. 

So society is what it is, and because of that, people must occasionally lead.  That brings us to persuasion.  To the liberal, I would describe how the system would funnel money to poor communities and provide opportunity to everyone - which is true.  To a conservative, I would describe how the system would promote choice, invest in practical skills, and support blue-collar workers - which is also true.  The key here is that everyone gets both what they want and what they need.  I just have to find the words to persuade them. 

Also, I appreciate the compliment. 


*Unless I'm discussing Trump, about which even we seem comically irrational.  No worries though.  People are allowed to have feelings, and it costs me nothing to be considerate. 

Edited by mthebold
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59 minutes ago, mthebold said:

So society is what it is, and because of that, people must occasionally lead.  That brings us to persuasion.  To the liberal, I would describe how the system would funnel money to poor communities and provide opportunity to everyone - which is true.  To a conservative, I would describe how the system would promote choice, invest in practical skills, and support blue-collar workers - which is also true.  The key here is that everyone gets both what they want and what they need.  I just have to find the words to persuade them. 

Sorry to be negative, but if one side found out you talked to the other side and they agreed with you, you'd be finished in their camp as a liar and traitor.  I sincerely hope you find the words, but that divide in our ranks is deep, people are quick to judge and you only get one chance, or so it seems to me.  This makes it difficult for me to go home for a visit (I've lived most of my career outside the U.S.) and discuss any issue with anyone, even though most of the time I am politically neutral.  Neutrality and open mindedness seems to signal that one must be ignorant and should either be shouted down or ignored.

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26 minutes ago, Dan Warnick said:

Sorry to be negative, but if one side found out you talked to the other side and they agreed with you, you'd be finished in their camp as a liar and traitor.  I sincerely hope you find the words, but that divide in our ranks is deep, people are quick to judge and you only get one chance, or so it seems to me.  This makes it difficult for me to go home for a visit (I've lived most of my career outside the U.S.) and discuss any issue with anyone, even though most of the time I am politically neutral.  Neutrality and open mindedness seems to signal that one must be ignorant and should either be shouted down or ignored.

I feel your pain on this one.  I've been screamed at in public (literally) because someone thought I was a "privileged white male".  Nothing I said in that situation was going to help.  Fortunately, I don't have to persuade everyone.  The extremists on both sides are unlikely to change, but there's enough of a "squishy middle" to tip elections.  These people can often be reasoned with. 

It helps that I don't identify with any political ideology and have well-formed opinions on issues I choose to discuss.  Because I practice reasoning (most of the time...), I come across as someone who can be reasoned with - and even moderates who disagree with me are comfortable finding common ground.  We all want a better country.  We all want to help the poor.  We all want a strong economy.  We all want to protect the next generation.  We're all surprisingly similar.  What we disagree on is implementation, and the only way to sort that out is to listen.  When I listen, two things happen:
1)  I find out what's important to the other person.  I.e. they tell me exactly what words and concepts I should and should not use to communicate effectively.  They're teaching me their language. 

2)  They begin to trust me.  If I let someone talk, they'll eventually reveal something both controversial and deeply important to them.  The key is for me to not be a jackass about it(1). When they do this, I acknowledge that their emotion is valid and the core value they're expressing is a good thing.  I can do this honestly because it's true.  Once I do that, I've proven myself trustworthy, and we have common ground to start from. 

From there, I need to understand why they prefer their implementation.  How do they think the system works?  What interventions are they recommending?  Where did they come from?  What pain have they encountered?  This information forms a complex tapestry of why they think what they think, feel what they feel, and want what they want.  That's their personal logic.  We all have a personal logic, and there's no hope of convincing someone without understanding theirs. 

Once I have that, there's still no guarantee that I can convince them - or that I should even try.  Sometimes they tell me things I didn't know, and I have to rethink my position.  Sometimes they're the beneficiary of corruption, and my position would materially harm them.  These things happen.  When they do, it's my responsibility to incorporate that new information into my views.  I can't incorporate while I'm talking to them, so persuasion isn't going to happen during that conversation. 

But sometimes, I have a valuable solution to offer.  In those cases, I change a person's mind not because I'm persuasive, but because my solution sells itself.  It also suggests an honest approach to politics: the best way to change people's minds is to offer solutions.  If I don't have a solution, I need to rethink my position until I do.  Over time, my positions become better.  They appeal to a wider audience.  I become more persuasive because I've invested in better ideas.  I can't persuade everyone, but I can persuade enough - and honestly. 

I would argue that this strategy works even in extreme circumstances.  There was a comment a while back to the effect that we lost Iraq.  We didn't, actually - at least not until we left the country prematurely, but that's a different discussion.  Rewind to Fall 2006 - Spring 2007 when casualties were high and the media was declaring the war in Iraq lost.  Casualties were high because we were out in the neighborhoods fighting, and we were out in the neighborhoods fighting to demonstrate that:

1)  We were strong enough to defend the locals.
2)  We would stay to defend the locals regardless of how many of us died. 

That behavior stemmed directly from our strategy: communicate with the locals, find out what they needed, and provide solutions.  They needed stability and security, so that's what we provided.  It worked.  Within a few months, insurgents found it difficult to operate because the locals would rat them out.  We offered a better political solution, and the locals responded to that. 

Even in a situation where we were invaders, many people had died, and suffering was everywhere, taking care of people was persuasive.  If it worked there, I think we can make it work here. 

 

(1) I know, I know: I've stirred up s*** in the past.  This is an intellectual environment, ripe for verbal sparring, but it took me a while to learn the unspoken rules.  Speaking of which, I owe Jan an apology. 

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14 hours ago, Tom Kirkman said:

Professors allow students to pick their own grade

Mr. Kirkman, I really enjoy the forum and I am learning so much from you and others.   I read that article too, and upon reading the headline I was laughing. (as I believe you were)  But after reading the article, I found that I DO approve.  I think the author purposefully left out the part that the student doesn't get that grad just because they asked for it.  When trying to "nudge" people along to a new idea or concept, well it helps if they are vested in the outcome.  Think of it as a mission statement, or letter of intent, that is written by the student personally.  

-Mike 

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There are some really wise people on this forum and I like a little bit of everything I have read above.  I must point out though, that the Democrat Party is making huge moves toward socialism.  They are openly embracing and admitting admiration for Socialist Principles.  In example, to coin a phrase oft remarked by our last president, "A leveling the playing field...."  

Which brings me round to my point.  To socialists, its not really about equality of opportunity its about equality of outcome.  Sufficient programs, checks and balances are in place, have been in place to help ensure that the hard cases, those born into poverty with little or no real chance; can buckle down in school, work hard and receive help along the way and achieve college educations or tech certifications or whatever training to enter the workforce and earn a good living. 

That's not what Socialists want and the evidence can be seen everyday across this country on college campuses especially, where the thought police shut down thought, which is what higher education used to include.  Instead, now those campuses are used to indoctrinate to one way of thinking, to train the intolerant who claim to be tolerant.  We have not been interested in our education system educating our students and teaching them to critically think and see other ideas and perhaps more importantly how to have an honest, intelligent, open debate about things in a very long time.  No, socialists want canned outcomes.  People who think the same way about everything.  Free this and free that with little or no responsibility for personal outcomes.  And its been really popular, I mean hell, its easy to sell the idea of free stuff and no personal accountability.  Who doesn't want that?

Until we admit that all this easy money that leads to loads of college loan debt and graduates who cant think critically and aren't really prepared for a job, is more about sending as many people as possible through the indoctrination processor, the intended outcome I would argue, we cant even begin to talk about how to fix it.

 

TXPower

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1 hour ago, TXPower said:

There are some really wise people on this forum and I like a little bit of everything I have read above.  I must point out though, that the Democrat Party is making huge moves toward socialism.  They are openly embracing and admitting admiration for Socialist Principles.  In example, to coin a phrase oft remarked by our last president, "A leveling the playing field...."  

Which brings me round to my point.  To socialists, its not really about equality of opportunity its about equality of outcome.  Sufficient programs, checks and balances are in place, have been in place to help ensure that the hard cases, those born into poverty with little or no real chance; can buckle down in school, work hard and receive help along the way and achieve college educations or tech certifications or whatever training to enter the workforce and earn a good living.  

That's not what Socialists want and the evidence can be seen everyday across this country on college campuses especially, where the thought police shut down thought, which is what higher education used to include.  Instead, now those campuses are used to indoctrinate to one way of thinking, to train the intolerant who claim to be tolerant.  We have not been interested in our education system educating our students and teaching them to critically think and see other ideas and perhaps more importantly how to have an honest, intelligent, open debate about things in a very long time.  No, socialists want canned outcomes.  People who think the same way about everything.  Free this and free that with little or no responsibility for personal outcomes.  And its been really popular, I mean hell, its easy to sell the idea of free stuff and no personal accountability.  Who doesn't want that? 

Until we admit that all this easy money that leads to loads of college loan debt and graduates who cant think critically and aren't really prepared for a job, is more about sending as many people as possible through the indoctrination processor, the intended outcome I would argue, we cant even begin to talk about how to fix it. 

  

TXPower 

Yup. 

My best efforts have failed to convince people of this; it seems they can't - or won't - learn without pain.  The pain is starting to manifest though:

- Employers are realizing degrees are worthless and seeking other means of vetting potential employees.

- Students with worthless degrees are graduating with enormous debt and no ability to pay it off. 

- Universities are seeing an exodus of competent professors who don't want to deal with government regulations, incompetent students, and a culture that values equality of outcome over academic excellence. 

- Parents and students are voting with their pocketbooks. E.g. The University of Missouri's enrollment decline.

- The national debt has increased to levels where increased spending would lead to inflation.  Since inflation is a tax that disproportionately harms the poor, this constrains "socialist" behaviors. 

I see these as signs that public higher ed is struggling.  If it eventually recovers, how?  If it collapses, what do we replace it with?  Private institutions?  Non-traditional institutes of learning?  Standardized online testing?  On-the-job mentoring?  Target schools that produce competence at a younger age and then send students to the work force for employer-funded training?  Or do we just wallow in this forever and watch our society decline? 

Where do we go from here? 

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7 hours ago, mthebold said:

Honest question: is "slow clap" a sarcastic response?  I admit there's a sarcastic undertone to my thinking, but that's just because I don't care for politics. 

Seriously though, I'm just looking for solutions we can all get on board with.  As long as it gets us from A to B, I don't care how we label it. 

In this case, no, quite the opposite.  "Slow clap" here was used as applause for something remarkable, the opposite of heckling.

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4 hours ago, Mike Marcellus said:

Mr. Kirkman, I really enjoy the forum and I am learning so much from you and others.   I read that article too, and upon reading the headline I was laughing. (as I believe you were)  But after reading the article, I found that I DO approve.  I think the author purposefully left out the part that the student doesn't get that grad just because they asked for it.  When trying to "nudge" people along to a new idea or concept, well it helps if they are vested in the outcome.  Think of it as a mission statement, or letter of intent, that is written by the student personally.  

-Mike 

Thanks for your kind words, Mike.  This new-ish forum is becoming more interesting as users get more comfortable speaking their minds, and realizing they won't get ripped a new one by others if their points - no matter how popular or unpopular or far from mainstream - are presented clearly and logically.

Agreed the article actually has some interesting and unusual ideas, but to me, it doesn't seem very suitable for real life.  Too much leaning in the direction of everyone getting a "participation award" just for showing up.

I wouldn't really trust a bridge-building engineer who graduated under the "I want a Grade B" type education to build a bridge for my car to cross over a mighty river.  Maybe it's my grey hair, but I actually expect competence from professionals, and simply would not expect too much from a self-graded new graduate.  Too much of that "participation award" skepticism on my part, I guess.

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7 minutes ago, Tom Kirkman said:

Thanks for your kind words, Mike.  This new-ish forum is becoming more interesting as users get more comfortable speaking their minds, and realizing they won't get ripped a new one by others if their points - no matter how popular or unpopular or far from mainstream - are presented clearly and logically.

Agreed the article actually has some interesting and unusual ideas, but to me, it doesn't seem very suitable for real life.  Too much leaning in the direction of everyone getting a "participation award" just for showing up.

I wouldn't really trust a bridge-building engineer who graduated under the "I want a Grade B" type education to build a bridge for my car to cross over a mighty river.  Maybe it's my grey hair, but I actually expect competence from professionals, and simply would not expect too much from a self-graded new graduate.  Too much of that "participation award" skepticism on my part, I guess. 

On that note, I've noticed that anything short of fierce competition leads to complacency.  The modern meaning of "curved" is "the professor gave everyone free points".  The original meaning of "curved" was using a normal distribution to determine what percentage of students receive each letter grade.  Only the top 10% or so could get an A, some percent B, etc.  Sorting people in that manner generated fierce competition, driving people to achieve their true potential.  When you remove that competition, the level of effort dramatically decreases, and no one finds out how good they could be.  A sad side effect of this is that many people who should become competent never do

The idea that students would write a contract is interesting in that it teaches one how to plan, negotiate, and fulfill a contract.  This particular implementation is less interesting because that's not how the real world works.  The real world is competition.  With nature.  With your peers.  With other companies.  With other countries.  Your best laid plans are irrelevant when your competitor does better than you.

Now, if the professor had students write bids detailing how much "learning" they could offer, rank ordered them according to their bids, and flunked any who failed to fulfill their contract, that would mimic the real world - but that's just curved grading with extra steps. 

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1 hour ago, Tom Kirkman said:

I wouldn't really trust a bridge-building engineer who graduated under the "I want a Grade B" type education to build a bridge for my car to cross over a mighty river.  Maybe it's my grey hair, but I actually expect competence from professionals, and simply would not expect too much from a self-graded new graduate.  Too much of that "participation award" skepticism on my part, I guess.

Tom, you might be surprised to learn that the designer/builder of the Brooklyn Bridge never actually was an enrolled student in engineering school.  He (I think he was Austrian) simply sat in on some classes, emigrated to America, then convinced some railroad to hire him to oversee the building of railroad trestle bridges out in Ohio, and then using that experience showed up in New York and convinced the City Fathers to hire him to go build the Brooklyn Bridge.  Hey, it's still there, so looks like he figured out how to build your bridge, and never even made Grade "B".  

This thread has gotten seriously deep, with its investigation of political thought, upon which I reflect, this is why I remain a committed Monarchist.  God Save King Willem Alexander!  (My comfortable way of retreating from the messiness of "democracy.")  Oh, well.

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