01 March 2007

The Lake Woebegon Track & Field Team

It's hard to believe that Orrin let this pass without comment:
"This is the essence of equal opportunity. Every child, every person ought to get a head start," said Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who introduced the bill with Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga.


erp said...

He appears to think it's a good idea.

Brit said...

' Every child ought to have a head start' is what we used to call, in less enlightened times, an Irish joke.

David said...

Apparently, we can now call it a California joke.

Susan's Husband said...

Silly objection, because it's effectively a pun (reading a phrase as meaning 2 when the original writer intended meaning 1).

The meaning Mr. Cohen is ascribing only makes sense in a zero-sum world, where the goal is to beat others, as opposed to making it to the finish line (which, I am confident, is what the speaker meant). In this metaphor, the finish line is a successful, productive life and it's quite conceivable for everyone to make it, in which case everyone can have a head start. Only if, as a zero-summer, you think it matters who gets to the finish line first, is there a problem. I had not thought Mr. Cohen of that ilk.

Brit said...


Oroborous said...

"Head start" is an inherently competitive phrase, and is thus zero-sum.

"Boost", "helping hand", or even "Jet-Assisted Take Off" are competition-neutral.

But I dispute that it's quite conceivable for everyone to have a successful, productive life, at least in a world of free will and liberty.

While I agree that's it's well-worth striving to assure that everyone has opportunity, and a proper education, (which is not limited to just formal schooling), people's individual personalities, upbringing, genetic expression, and plain bad luck will inevitably cause some people to have bad, failed lives.

We can attempt to keep this number to the bare minimum, but we cannot eliminate it without coercion.

erp said...

... but we cannot eliminate it without coercion.

This is interesting. I had a conversation with a psychologist yesterday (I know going out of the bunker is dangerous, but sometimes it's unavoidable) and he had come to pretty much the same conclusion. He said some mentally ill people are comfortable with their delusions, their paranoia and even their bi-polar worlds. They'd rather live in cardboard boxes in the streets or in makeshift cabins in woods than take the psychotropic drugs that will make them feel "normal." Our normal is very abnormal to them.

That's why as soon they leave rehab or the hospital, they revert to what's a comfortable state of mind to them.

Should society coerce them to conform to our standards of a successful life or let them live in their own worlds.

Oroborous said...

Depends on how much they're harming society. If not at all, then ultimately not, although one coercive attempt first seems like a good idea to me.