Our Educational System's Primary Failure

Our Educational System’s Primary Failure

Posted by Karl Denninger

No, it’s not that they don’t teach history – even though the rendition of “history” given in government (and private) schools is questionable at best (how many, for example are taught the underlying truths of Thanksgiving, and how all the colonists almost died under a nearly-pure socialist structure?)

No, it’s not that many of our schools start kindergarten with an exercise in socialism, even though they do – by asking the parents to buy all manner of supplies which are then, either in whole or part, aggregated – that is, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” – in the first hour of class.  Isn’t that sweet – straight out of Karl Marx’s mouth to your five-year old’s ears.

It’s not even that these same government schools in many cases will hand out “awards” at the end of the year, or the end of a student’s time there, in which literally everyone is considered “outstanding”, destroying the value of the word – and the motivation to excel.  After all, not everyone can be “outstanding”, right?  If everyone is, then nobody is – whatever that level of performance is, it’s “normal”.

No, it is that we fail mathematically.

To succeed a young person needs to be able to do three things – read, write, and understand mathematics.  The fourth ingredient is that the innate desire to learn must not be destroyed in their first few years of school.

All children start life wanting to learn.  Ever watch a baby?  It’s a curious being, is it not?  It reaches, it fondles, it touches, it experiments.  We put plastic caps in our electrical outlets because one of the experiments a significant number of babies and toddlers will perform is inserting a kitchen fork into said outlet, with bad results.

So how do we go from that to a surly vegetative kid at the age of 9, 10 or 12?

We do it by failing in the essential purpose of education – giving our children the foundational understanding they need, and then getting the hell out of their way!

We want to mold educational experience.  To teach “as we want them to learn”, instead of “as they wish to synthesize.”

We’re fools.  You, I, our school systems.  All of us.

But in the midst of our mind-numbing and creativity-destroying “education system” we do something worse – we ignore, for the most part, the single most-important concept that our children must learn in order to be citizens.

I speak of the function shown in this graph:

This is our friend the lowly (and so-often forgotten) exponent.

It is not that we do not teach our children about this basic function of mathematics – we do.  Ask your kid in sixth or seventh grade if he or she understands exponents, square’s, etc – they do.

No, it is that we fail to teach the fact that any time two or more exponents are in play, one of them always “runs away” from the other.


We fail to teach the fundamental truth that you can never let this happen.


Because if you do, it is simply a matter of time before wherever you let that happen with comes to ruin.

And yet these functions are literally everywhere.  Think about it.

They govern population growth.

They govern energy consumption.

They govern monetary growth and inflation.

They govern economic growth.

They govern growth in the production of food.

They govern growth in housing.

They govern growth in earnings by corporations.

Literally everything around us in our daily lives has a compound function associated with it.


And yet wherever two or more inter-related compound functions are in play, if one of them has a larger exponent than the other, it is inevitable that they will “run away” from one another and lead to a ruinous crash of some sort, whether it be by overpopulation, by inability to produce that which is necessary to sustain the other, or in the form of an economic depression.

In each and every case where this interrelationship exists if you allow this situation to develop you create a circumstance where something dies – either economically or literally.

We can argue over when such a calamity will occur, but not if it will, because under the laws of mathematics, IT MUST.

We do not teach our children this.  We do not drill this as the essence of what they must understand.  We do not make clear that the above must never be allowed to occur and continue, and that in each and every case where it is detected, it must be stopped immediately.

Jimmy Carter lost his job because he went on national television and spoke the truth above.  That red line represents a 7% compound growth rate.  It was what he was speaking of in his famous address in which he said that if we continue to grow our energy consumption by 7% annually in ten years we will consume more than has been consumed in the entire history of the United States.

“The world has not prepared for the future. During the 1950s, people used twice as much oil as during the 1940s. During the 1960s, we used twice as much as during the 1950s. And in each of those decades, more oil was consumed than in all of mankind’s previous history.” – President Carter

He was right, by the way.

The American People fired him for uttering a fundamental mathematical truth.

Our school boards, administrators and teachers, including math teachers, willingly and knowingly put together school budgets, including salaries, that have “percentage growth rates” in them.  Those salary growth rates exceed both GDP growth and the growth of incomes in their district.

They willingly and knowingly pass and support the above double-exponent graph – a graph that they know (at least the math teachers do) will lead to ruin.

They do it anyway.

These same people do not teach our children that such a pattern in the growth of government, in the growth of money, in the growth of energy consumption, in the growth of population – all will eventually lead to the same ruin and for the same reason.

Why do they fail in this regard?

I’ll tell you why.

Because if they didn’t our teens – our high school graduates – might literally be rioting in the streets, burning those school board offices and government buildings to the ground.

They might do so because our young people would have the tools to recognize that these very same teachers, administrators and government officials have intentionally and with full knowledge of the consequences destroyed their futures.

That it is mathematically impossible for them to receive Social Security and Medicare as promised.

That Medicare Part “D” was passed by their parents and grandparents howling even though it would inevitably lead to the destruction of The Federal Budget and their future.

That “health insurance” premiums growing at 10% or more annually while economic output grows at 4% will inevitably collapse the economy, and that providing “free all you can eat” care to both illegal alien invaders and senior citizens (including those retired teachers) is mathematically impossible over the long run.

That it is mathematically impossible for us to continue to grow energy consumption at 3, 4, 5, 7% annually while we grow production at effective zero due to refusing to build nuclear plants and exploiting the energy resources we have in this nation.  Indeed, our schools teach that growth in the production of energy is evil.

That it is mathematically impossible to grow earnings, production or both at 4, 5, 6, 7, 10% annually while the population consuming your output grows 1%, and thus the stock markets must eventually crash to bring earnings and production into accord with population.  We simply argue over when that will occur, not if.

That it is mathematically impossible to grow credit – that is, debt – at 8% annually (and we have on average since the 1950s) while GDP grows at 5% annually and population at 1%.  Pursuing such a policy, which our leaders have and our educators espouse as “healthy” and “their goal”, inevitably leads to either a massive debt-default episode (e.g. a deflationary depression ala the 1930s) or collapse of the currency.   Not coincidentally, that’s close to the above graph – and is why our “economic problems” are not over.

That it is impossible to grow population forever at any compound rate since the rock we live on is fixed in size and resources.  Since one must inevitably have more people to consume more “stuff” (e.g. GDP) over a sufficiently long period of time all compound growth fantasies have a “use by” date at which they must end. Again, we argue only when, not if.

Our youth would recognize that none of what has happened – our energy dependence, our abuse of the land by “big farming”, the abusive and outrageous conduct of Wall Street, the bogus and fraudulent promises made, and ridiculous growth in spending beyond our means by our Local, State and Federal Governments – is an accident.

Rather, all of it has been by design and intent and the consequences of that design and intent will fall on THEM.

They would be pissed that “we the people” – their parents, their teachers, their school administrators, their governments from the city council on up to Congress and The President – have intentionally and willfully screwed the world in which they must live for their own puerile fantasies, and that they have done so with both knowledge and malice aforethought as to what the inevitable consequences would be – consequences those very same youth will have to pay.

They would raise hell, and in doing so would be both justified and appropriate in their actions.

But for our youth to do so, they’d have to understand how the power function – the lowly exponent – rules almost literally everything in their daily life, in the life of this rock we call “Earth” and in their future, both economic and otherwise.

To prevent that from happening so we can loot the future of our children and grandchildren, we intentionally refuse to teach them these fundamental mathematical relationships and in fact gloss over and obfuscate any such discussion, debate, or path toward understanding how this basic concept intertwines with and in fact controls virtually everything in our – and their – daily lives.

Indeed, it is obvious on its face that so-called “education” is not the goal of our government schools – or the private educators either – at all.

Those who claim that “private education is better” need to think long and hard about this.  Parochial and other private school environments – how many taught this fundamental truth?  The school I attended – a high-brow college-prep private academy (at the time) – didn’t.  A local religiously-oriented (and well-respected) private Christian school does not – I know this for a fact, as I know several students both past and present who attend there.  Our local government school system does not.

Let’s cut the crap America.

The above is the central understanding that every citizen must have in order for any society to have a chance at stable, long-term prosperity rather than a bogus and fraudulent existence predicated on one bubble after another, intentionally blown for the purpose of stepping on the people’s necks through the stripping of their prosperity in all of its forms.

Wake up while there is still coffee to smell.