Thursday, October 8, 2009

Healthcare and Early Childhood Education

Today should be two separate posts, and maybe if it gets long it will be... away!

Healthcare is going to get done.  And while the left is going to be upset because it's not what they voted for and how much it will control costs is iffy (which is really the main long term problem with healthcare in the USA), it looks like healthcare will get done. I'm not sure what the Republicans will bitch about considering that this bill will reduce the deficit... but I'm sure they'll find something.  Goes to show how weird and hypocritical politics are—if anyone should be upset it should be Democratic voters because what they voted for is not getting done, yet they'll cheer this on as Obama being awesome.  Meanwhile, the Republicans will be against the bill because... I don't know, they're the opposition party and that's what they have to do.  Or something lame like that.  ANYWAYS, the bill coming out of the Finance Committee will be more than cost neutral, it's going to be cost negative, which is something every American should be able to get behind.  And if they don't?  They're idiots.

The fall out from Derrion Albert's beating death on Chicago's South Side continued yesterday (this is the little story that keeps running, three week legs).  But the story is starting to change.  Instead of blaming the neighborhood this took place in, the media is getting it right and focusing on the SOCIAL breakdown and what we can do about it.  There is a parenting crisis in this country, but there is a parenting crisis in every country and has been since the dawn of time so this is nothing new.  So to fill that gap we need to put in place social networks and safeguards to help.  The government can't do all the work, but it can do some of the heavy lifting. This story from the Trib points out:

Many others point to quality early-childhood education as crucial, and President Barack Obama made it a central premise of his presidential platform and has promised to pump millions of dollars into evidence-based programs.

Striking empirical evidence from the Perry Preschool experiment in Michigan showed large differences between the arrest rates of students in the intensive preschool effort and a control group not in the program. Some have estimated that the preschool program generated $13 in benefits for every $1 spent, with most of the savings because of a reduction in the criminal behavior of boys.

Okay, a 1,200% return is pretty fucking awesome and probably a policy initiative we should look into.  And even if you don't buy the Perry Preschool experiment, there are a tons of other places were you can look and find pretty awesome success stories.  Hey, if you don't believe me, believe the Nobel Prize winner.

I'm not going to rail on and on and on about how much human capital is wasted in the Untied States, even though I should, because no one will listen because no one wants to spend money on anyone other than themselves.  I know, it's one of the awesome aspects of democracy. Sigh.  But we have so much wasted talent in the United States that we should all be ashamed.  Maybe the awareness that the Derrion Albert story is bring to early childhood education a bit more to the forefront.  And if something is done and changed, then we all benefit because the more human capital there is, then there is more capital for all of us.  


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