August 11th 2021.
- Sugata Mitra’s Hole in the Wall Project (1999, New Delhi)
- Daniel’s book Choose Life on Amazon
- The Six Purposes of Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
- John Taylor Gatto’s book
- Principles of Secondary Education by Alexander James Inglis
- The Open Society and its Enemies by Karl Popper
- Goodhart’s Law on Wikipedia
- The Cost-effectiveness of Public and Private Schools of Choice in Wisconsin paper by Corey A. DeAngelis
- Corey A. DeAngelis on Twitter
- Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk Do Schools Kill Creativity?— the most popular TED talk of all time
Saifedean Ammous: [00:03:30] Hello, and welcome to another Bitcoin Standard Podcast Seminar. In today’s discussion, we’re going to continue the topic of the last seminar with Daniel Prince on homeschooling and fiat education. During the last seminar Daniel gave us his perspective on education, as well as his personal experiences as a father of four who does homeschool or more accurately, we should say unschool his kids.
And today we wanted to follow up. We had a bunch of questions to address from last time, and I have a bunch of questions that I wanted to talk about and a bunch of other concerns. So I’m going to kick things off first with one perspective on it, which is generally the opposition that you hear to homeschooling is that if somebody is not putting their kids in school, then they don’t care about their kids and they’re not concerned about them. Learning the essential skills [00:04:30] of modern life, and they’re not concerned about them fitting in to society and integrating.
You’re essentially having kids so that you can give the world sociopaths. But I think it’s becoming clear now, as the internet is allowing more people to get in touch with people that are different from the same 28 people they went to high school with, it’s becoming easy to see that not all unschoolers are like that. But I think there is another kind of unfair stereotype and criticism we can come up with.
So I’m going to be insufferable here Daniel, and give you my best shot at knocking what you’re doing down. I hope you can take it, but yeah. Isn’t it isn’t this luxury that very rich parents can afford to give their children but it’s extremely dangerous for people who are not extremely rich? Because if you’re extremely rich, the parents [00:05:30] have the time and the parents have the money.
Then yeah, the kids can go around and learn what they want whenever they want, because eventually, the kids just need to figure out how to keep running daddy’s business. That’s like playing life on easy mode, let’s face it.
If you’re born into a family with capital, then yeah you can spend your childhood enjoying life and learning and exploring and traveling and sailing and doing whatever you want and fishing and so on. Because ultimately all you need to do is just take over your family business or take over your family wealth and spend daddy’s money.
So you know, maybe it is easier for this kind of class, but maybe for most [00:06:30] people, the people first of all, who have to work. So they can’t just go and leave their kids out and about, range free all day because kids can get into trouble and can do all kinds of nasty things or they can get abducted or get into fights or who knows what happens.
So you need somebody to supervise them. And if you can’t afford that, because you have to be in a job because you don’t have a lot of money and you’re not rich, then that means either you’re going to leave the kids free, or you’re going to have to trust in children’s judgment to manage their life for the majority of their day.
On the other side, it’s not just about what they do with their day and time management. I think the more important aspect of it is if you’re not rich, then getting this education is a path out of poverty. So it’s a luxury for us to [00:07:30] be able to say that school was bad and boring and it didn’t challenge me intellectually and didn’t stimulate me. If you look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, all of those things are near to the top. Whereas for many people in the world you know, they are at the level where they cannot really secure the most basic elements of their daily needs in terms of food and shelter and so on.
So if you’re in that world, it’s kind of a sure ticket. If you turn up to school 12 years, you’ve learned your algebra, you learned to write and read and spell and developed the discipline to deliver homework on time, to meet deadlines, to be held responsible and to face punishment.
If you have those things and if you do them in school and then you go to [00:08:30] university, you get a degree, you can get a job. And if you’re poor, this is an enormous improvement over what your other options are. So it’s maybe a luxury that people like you can look at this and say, you’re going from one box in a school to a box in a university, and then you’re going to a cubicle in an office and you’re getting instructed and you’re getting shouted at.
And yeah sure, it sucks when you’ve tried more fun ways of living, but for many people, this is an enormous improvement over the alternative, which is maybe slave away at a sweatshop or go join a gang or get into crime or prostitution or so on. For many people, these are the options. You go to work all day, you slave away, you send your kids to a good school.
They do what they have to do. They learn their lessons [00:09:30] and then they get the job and they get a life where they get a better job than you had, and then they get a better life, a better house, a better existence. Do you think maybe this is an elitist thing that is perhaps good for rich people, but pretty dangerous to be marketing as a solution for everybody? What do you think?
Daniel Prince: Yeah, it’s a very good summation. And of course, obviously in very poor countries situations where illiteracy is going to be high, the focus on education does need to be there.
Whether that is helicoptering in, all of the foreign aid that we give out to different countries to build schools and whatever else, is that actually going to the right places?
And is that having [00:10:30] desired effects for these kids that get exposure to education? We certainly hope so. But then on the other end of the scale, like you’re saying, like the rich kids that are just going to end up running mommies and daddies companies, What’s what you’ll find, there’s actually a good study done by, I’ll give this the Peter as well afterwards, it’s called the Hole in the Wall Project and the Power of Self-Organized Learning by Sugata Mitra.
And he conducted this in 1999 in New Delhi. And it was located in an expensive slum, just outside of their offices with desperately poor people who are struggling to survive. And what they did is they sunk a computer into the opening of a wall near their office. And the screen was visible from the street and the PC was available to anyone who passed by. [00:11:30] Now, what happened was pretty astonishing as he goes on to tell, children came running out of the nearest slum and glued themselves to the computer. They couldn’t get enough. They began to click and explore.
They began to learn how to use this strange thing. A few hours later, a visibly surprised Vivek said the children were actually surfing the web. This also is on this link, which I’ll provide Peter, there’s a video of them doing this. So yes, it gives you what we were talking about before, this feeling that if we can just place trust back in to the fact that the kids are going to be able to teach themselves and learn, and we can put tools in front of them that they can start using and collaborating with each other to use, then they will learn and they will teach each other.
But like I understand exactly what you’re saying. Is this a privileged [00:12:30] lifestyle? To be able to make this choice, to choose to not use the education system? Yes, I’m in a privileged position. I suppose that I don’t have to be in an office anymore for 11 hours a day. My wife doesn’t need to work.
We’ve managed to escape that fiat nine to five existence, but most people haven’t. Most people are, both parents are working, so they need that aspect of daycare. They have no choice. What I’m hoping like we’ve said many times, COVID has sped everything up by 10 years, that sped up remote work.
So if we can now have the case where at least one of the parents is back now in the home and able to remote work or they might even now be able to be both parents in the home, remote working. And move away from the area that they were forced to pick to in which to [00:13:30] live, because they wanted to be near this particular school that they’re taking the kids out, because that’s a huge trap as well.
What you find is people overpay for housing to be either closer to their office when they’re younger in life, or when they’re older in life and they’ve started a family closer to the school they want their kids to go to because that’s the one, because that’s another virtue signal.
I want my kids to go to that school, so they’re going to get the best grades. And I look good in my society that I can afford to send them to this school. If you take all that away, you can move away from that area. You have now potentially two parents working remotely at home. You have far less outgoings for the prices of the houses, and you can actually start slowing your life down.
And the kids can enter into an online learning platform. So they’re still not completely uncontrollable and [00:14:30] running around the world. You know, singing anarchy at the top of their voices. They can find plenty of tools online to keep them engaged and learning with other kids. I’ve met so many different people in so many different situations, single, working, moms or fathers that have taken their kids out of school and just managed to make it work even whilst traveling full-time.
So they’re traveling full time, remote working and the kids, either one or two kids with them are doing the self-directed education as well. And what you find is actually when you’re traveling as well doing that, it’s cheaper than when you actually sat in, that blew me away. When we traveled for two and a half years, and that was cheaper month to month that it was when we were just sitting still [00:15:30] and just living day-to-day.
Yeah, I dunno. Is there any particular point in your opening question that you want me to go back to and press?
Saifedean Ammous: I got to say I agree with you. I’m going to try and play devil’s advocate a little bit more, but I can’t tie my agreement on this last point, which is that I think most people, if they really thought about it, at least one of the parents’ work is probably not worth all of the extra expenses that you have to give for the child.
Because the higher the income that you make, then the better the things that you have to get your kids are. So it’s not like this is something that can be resolved when you get this much money. Because the more money you get, the more money you’re going to want to spend on your kids’ [00:16:30] education and on, on your kids’ nannying and on your kids’ activities and all the things that you can’t give them because you’re not there.
So the more you earn, the more you spend on that stuff. And I think a lot of people report the idea that actually we’re far better off giving up some of our income, whether it’s by one of the parents not working or both parents reducing their work hours and spending more time at home, and then not having to deal with all of the bullshit that comes with school.
Because you know, in many cases it depends on where you are in the world, many cases, in no cases really is free education good. And if it’s good, then you’re paying for it one way or the other. So for instance, in the U. S. you can get into good free school, but you are paying the tuition out of your property taxes and out of the price of your house.
In [00:17:30] the U. S. the inefficiency is instead of giving the money to the good schools, you give the money to the Counties that run them. So there’s an extra layer which complicates accountability, but there’s also a ton of waste. There’s an enormous amount of waste in schooling because it is an area in which governments have spent a lot of money.
There’s an enormous amount of waste. And so if you actually want the high quality stuff, if you want your kid to be in a small classroom with interesting, intelligent, captivating, engaging, inspiring teachers, in most places in the world, you have to pay an arm and a leg for that. It’s quite incredible actually how high these prices are.
And yeah, if you wanted to send them to these top schools, then two salaries are going to be barely enough for most people. But if you think [00:18:30] about it, if you snap out of the need to have the marquee name, oh they graduated from this school, and you think about what it is that they get from that experience, you can provide them that at a fraction of the cost while giving up some of your income.
And I think you’ll come out ahead of it in terms of just the basic finances. Obviously, this isn’t true for everybody, but I think I’m just trying to make the point that I think a lot of people get stuck into this hamster wheel of, we need to pay the tuition for the school and therefore we need to get the job that we hate and we need to spend all day away from the kids and they don’t see how all of these problems solve each other basically.
If you focus on the one commodity that matters the most to your own life, which is your time, you only have your time in this world, you’re born, you’re given a bunch of time. You’re born with nothing, you’re given a bunch of time and then you die. [00:19:30] And when your time is up, that’s it. Then you take nothing away from you.
Your whole life is time. So people I think get fixated on the material aspects of life, ignoring their own time. So it’s like life is a game where you’re just trying to collect more coins and that’s not what life is. It’s not Super Mario, there’s no trophy for picking up the most number of coins at the end.
To borrow a cliche, it’s about the journey. Because really the journey is all that you have. At the end of the day, there’s no trophy you get to take away with you. You have the life and you need to live it. And you’re only going to be a parent of kids once in your life. And that’s really I think the thing that people miss. You’re only going to have this experience once. If you’re not going to dedicate time to it, to experience it, to enjoy it, to watch your kids grow, you’re going to be regretting it for the rest of your life most likely.
And the toys and the money that you [00:20:30] have are not going to make much of a difference. So I think the financial aspect of it is probably underrated because I think that maybe the flawed premise in my question is the fact that ultimately if the kids have a parent that can work for them, then that parent could also give them time.
If they can work, they can also give them time and that is probably more valuable for the kids, I would say.
Daniel Prince: A hundred percent. Yeah, that’s a great point because we’re at this stage now where young couples are deciding to have kids, they’re both working, they both have highly professional jobs and they both have that sunk cost of probably the college degree and four or five years into that career. And they might have already made one or two promotions. Baby comes along. You have, depends what country you live in, maybe you get a month paternity leave. Some countries are more lenient, you might get six [00:21:30] months.
After that you are handing the baby over to some kind of daycare or nanny, or it’s going to some kind of center. It’s so sad. It’s dystopian, it really is. To think that you would give a baby that young, this must hit home with you, you’ve got two very young kids around you.
Could you imagine giving them up every day for five days to go and work in a fiat job for nine till five? You and your wife gone? The trauma that baby would suffer, but people are doing it because they’ve been forced into this corner. We all know why, what the fuck happened in 1971, the only way that they feel that they can survive is by running on this treadmill.
And they think that they’re doing the right thing for their kid because they’re chasing the tokens and they’re not focusing on the time. All the child [00:22:30] wants is to be spending time with their parents. It’s that natural, it’s a primal instinct.
Saifedean Ammous: It’s absolutely amazing, it’s so accurate. I think you have to have been a parent and have to have focused on this one aspect of things to just see how remarkable it is, how kids really want your time and attention.
And as young as they are, they always are able to detect when you have given them their time and attention. And I’ve noticed this because I’d be on Twitter sometimes, so I get them to do something and as they get distracted, I sneak onto my Twitter and I start Twittering.
And immediately they feel the disengagement and they get agitated. Whereas when I put the phone away, and even though I try and be smart about it, I’ll sit like behind her so that she doesn’t quite see me on the phone. And she just thinks I’m standing over her, but immediately [00:23:30] they feel the attention, it’s almost supernatural.
It probably is supernatural. They feel that you are giving them your attention and they feel secure and happy when you give that. And then when you’re not, when you’re distracted, there’s just no way to compensate for it. And I think a lot of parenting is just compensating for the fact that you’re not able to give your child time and attention.
And the obvious way to do that is two things, both I think are terrible, but one is absolutely horrific. The first is you buy them things. So you buy stupid plastic shit that they don’t need. And you think, give them more shiny toys and they’ll love me. But the second, which is the worst and a far more pervasive is you give them sweets. This is like the parenting substitute.
That is just in my mind, it’s cruel, it’s child abuse. If you feed your children those things and you just let them have them at all times. You think you’re being nice to the [00:24:30] child. It’s a child. It doesn’t know what’s good for it. It has no idea what’s waiting for it 30 years down the line of heavy candy abuse.
And because they’re being encouraged to take all the candy that they want in as early as age three. And because every time they do something that’s good in school, you buy them ice cream. Every time you want to make up for them for something, every time you want to bribe them, every time you want to apologize for not being there for something, you just keep buying them sweets.
And it’s terrible. It’s terrible. It’s a horrible substitute for a relationship. And it’s a horrible substitute for attention. It’s much worse than just buying toys because, plastic stupid toys, they’ll play with them for 15 minutes and they’ll forget about them.
And they’ll just be junk in your room and then you’d get rid of it one day. But the sugar, it’s forever. You’re getting them onto a drug habit that [00:25:30] is extremely difficult to break. It’s still hard for me to break now, after five years of eating basically only meat and eating no sugars and no plant food.
I’m still tempted to dig into a cheesecake it’s a lifelong addiction and it’s not something that I’m going to be ever rid of. If you were an alcoholic, you don’t go back to being a normal drinker, a normal social drinker. That’s it, you’re scarred for life. You can’t do that drug anymore.
And this is what sugar really does. And if you recover from that nutritional damage, you need to constantly have a very careful relationship with sweets. You can’t go back to having a normal relationship and getting them started on it very young is just absolutely terrible.
And I think that the obverse of this, which [00:26:30] most people don’t realize is that if you just give them time and attention, you really don’t need money. You don’t need anything. Kids are so easy to amuse. They’ve only been on this Earth for a couple of years. They have not seen the vast majority of mundane shit that you have seen all of your life.
And so you can just make an entire afternoon out of just showing them a bridge. It’s an adventure on its own. They can learn and they can enjoy themselves, and they’ll have a good time. And it won’t even cost serious money. This is, I think what people miss about it.
Daniel Prince: I think for the first three years of their life, or so I think every day must be walking around, like they’re on a new LSD trip. Every time they wake up from a nap. Imagine like, just truly imagine, imagine you take your daughter for a trip in the car she wakes up, or your son is the youngest.
He falls asleep in the car and he wakes up in a completely new [00:27:30] location. Like perhaps you’ve gone through a forest or something for a walk, the fuck is this? It must be so damn weird, but you’re there and your wife is there and a sibling is there and that’s the safety and that’s the connection.
That’s just so powerful, and we’ve had such a breakdown in the family because of these expected social norms and constructs that have built up around us. It’s like no, the only thing you can do for your child is to send them to the best school and my God, in the U. S. They even have pre-kindergarten now.
Which I think would qualify you for kindergarten, which then qualifies you for the primary school. It’s so unbelievable. It’s beyond dystopian. If somebody made some kind of like Handmaid’s Tale movie about it, TV series based on [00:28:30] like the kind of stuff that we’re talking about and the treatment of kids and just forcing them through.
Mate, oh do you want to get me going on a school uniforms?
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, go ahead.
Daniel Prince: Oh Shit. This would be a good scene in said TV series. Imagine like people show up at your door in suits with clipboards and they introduce themselves as bureaucrat A and B and they say Mr. Ammous, we have it on good authority that you have a daughter in this house. That’s going to be turning five years of age this year.
Is that correct? Yes. Okay. All right, then she’s going to have to wear this and come with us. That’s about as dystopian as it gets, but that’s what people are willingly doing. And then every September, all the mum’s on Facebook had taken a little pictures of little Johnny and little Jane in their matching [00:29:30] school uniforms with their 30 kilos rucksacks on, full of God knows what, and sending them off out the door and the state will teach them now.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, it’s ridiculous. I think this brings me to another point that I wanted to get to which is the uniformism, not just in school, but in terms of thinking. And here, I think it’s beyond just the usual platitudes that they teach you in school about, which ironically they do teach you about being an individual and thinking for yourself and all that stuff, as you recite all the things that gets you the right answers. Beyond these kind of feel good motos, I think just thinking about it in economic terms, the expected returns on knowing something that nobody else knows are really high.
So if you’re the only plumber in a town, [00:30:30] that’s a very good gig. It’s much better than being the 20th plumber in the same town. If you have the town of a thousand people with only one plumber, you’re going to have a lot of good business going because you’re extremely valuable. People really need you.
If there’s 20 plumbers, the services of a plumber are going to likely be cheaper. What you want as an individual for yourself is to try and specialize in arcane knowledge that is not easily available for other people, because then that makes you special. And that makes you able to charge a premium because you can provide a lot of value for people with that knowledge.
So you’re always trying to specialize and individuate your skills. Whereas in school you’re being forced into knowing all of the same things that everybody else knows. Even as an individual, not just about what you want, I’d rather live in a place with a lot [00:31:30] of different people, because then that would mean a lot of different skills.
I’d rather not live in a place with identical drones, because then everybody does the same thing. There’s not a lot of room for specialization and for the division of labor and for trade. So it’s surprising when you think about it, that as the economy and economic activity becomes more developed, therefore more specialized, therefore people have more and more detailed job descriptions and more specialization within a much larger structure of production because of the development of capital and the accumulation of capital, in that kind of world, you need more variety in order to have more productivity and have more inventiveness and have more ways of approaching problems and just have more possibilities for trade and the division of labor.
And public education of course, is leading us in the opposite [00:32:30] direction where everybody’s being made to think the same things and use the same things. And of course, a lot of that is driven by fiat. It’s driven by government and systems and the century of public education was also the century of fiat. It’s not a coincidence.
Education became government policy in the 20th century like it had never been before, because the government had the printer and since the government has the printer then they should just make the most of it. And really if you think about it once the government has the printer, any kid who’s poor is essentially a policy choice.
If anybody in the U. S. today is poor, they’re poor because Jay Powell wants them to be poor. Because Jay Powell could just click a button and make that person rich, and nobody would even care. He’s printing trillions to bail out bankers every day.[00:33:30]
He could print $500,000 and rescue a poor family and make them live a good life. And yet he chooses not to. And I think Pierre Rochard’s brand of accelerationism here has really won me over. Most economists will generally bitch and moan about this is not fair, this is dangerous.
You’re destroying the currency. You’re destroying the incentive to work, but I think Pierre is a genius. And he’s also extremely responsible in the sense of he’s heavily influenced by Jocko Willink. So he’s always about, taking responsibility and taking ownership and not being a whiny little bitch.
And I absolutely love that approach to life. And in that approach you don’t want them to stop printing money because we have Bitcoin now, so we don’t need to beg them because it’s not [00:34:30] our money anymore. No, you want to accelerate it and you want to just basically show them the absurdity of their own premises, because if the government can save Goldman Sachs by printing a bunch of money, then why don’t they just save a poor family that’s starving in a poor American city?
They obviously value that thing more. It’s a compelling logic that’s being taken to its extremes. You know, Pierre Rochard is going to sound conservative with this kind of stuff very soon, when it’s going to be much more demand for printing. I think the money printing is heavily implicated in this.
So my question then is, I guess to turn this around is, do you think if we got rid of [00:35:30] fiat, which as you may have heard Bitcoin might do, if we were to get rid of fiat and we got rid of the interventions of governments and education, and we have education go back to being a free market, is there a good way of doing schooling in a free market that’s good?
Think about it, when you think of education the whole thing is massively disfigured and think of anything that’s disfigured by government intervention and you can conservatively estimate a 10 X increase in price and a 10 X decrease in quality on anything.
If government was to handle cars in the country where you live today, expect cars to get a lot more expensive and a lot worse, very quickly. So apply the same standard to education. Education will get a lot cheaper and will get a lot better, teachers will be responsible, there’ll be market competition, things will [00:36:30] improve massively.
How will that play out? Do you think there’ll be room, or to put it differently, if we lived in the Bitcoin standard, if we had a hard money and government was unable to interfere in education, would we still develop schools? Would we still develop specialized places for learning or would we just end up having unschooled kids roaming around everywhere getting into everybody’s lawn and everybody’s hair?
Daniel Prince: Flipping cars over and setting them alight.
Yeah, exactly. That’s definitely what would happen. That’s what happens every six weeks in the summer holidays, when no kids are at school. Complete anarchy!
Saifedean Ammous: I don’t want to get into too many personal stories, but yeah, you could make that argument, yes.
Daniel Prince: But yeah, it’s a good [00:37:30] question. And I would love to say if we were to move to be a Bitcoin standard, that there would not be a centralized education system because why would we just redesign the same thing? I would love to see a much more decentralized approach and bring back more kind of, like a micro school approach. An approach of of mentoring or apprenticeships, right?
Apprenticeships, when did they get like completely pushed to the side? I mean, what was that? How helpful was that to people that were struggling at school and they weren’t fitting inside the cookie cutter system. Now all of a sudden they can go on to become an apprentice, whatever, and go and get direct experience in whatever business that they chose.
That just makes so much more sense to what we have got.
Saifedean Ammous: It’s still taking place. It’s just it’s [00:38:30] been delayed by 10 years by the education mafia, essentially. They take your kids at six and instead of the kids at age of 15 going out or even 10, 12, going out, getting an apprenticeship, working at a butcher shop or at a car mechanic and seeing if they like this field of business, instead of that happening, they spend all that time in school and then at university.
And then they do that apprenticeship after they spent years and hundreds of thousands of dollars on education. And then they go and you start your job as an intern. It’s something that I like to bring up a lot when discussing the minimum wage issue. And I bring this up in the principles textbook.
People think that the minimum wage is bad. But the vast majority of jobs will hire you initially below the minimum wage. If you’re a doctor in your first year out of medical school, you [00:39:30] work as a slave getting paid less per hour than the janitor. And yet doctors are lining up to get these residencies because getting the residency is how you learn on the job.
And that’s what makes you a doctor. And many of them will tell you, they learn so much more in residency than they do in four years of medical school. So they fall over themselves trying to get into these very scantily paid slavery level jobs in those hospitals, because the compensation is not in the money that you spent.
Sorry, it’s not the money that you get paid during that year, it’s in the money that you make later. And that’s essentially the apprenticeship model. So people don’t protest protecting doctors from the minimum wage, but the same logic, the same exact logic applies for a 15 year old working as a waiter or washing cars. Your first job, you’re there to learn how to work, to learn how to deal with people, to [00:40:30] learn the basics of an industry.
And that’s an education that you should be paying for. The fact is most internships you learn more than you contribute there, and that’s why you don’t get paid a lot. And it’s true for engineers, it’s true for lawyers. It’s true for most jobs, people do an internship either after they finish university or during their time at university.
And they learn a lot from that and they benefit a lot from it. And it’s amazing when you think about it, some kids, and I’ve always envied those kids maybe envy is a big word, but I’ve always liked this, there’d be that kid who knows what they want to do since the age of five, all their life. I’m going to be a pharmacist and they just know, and they’re just going through all of the things that they need to do to become a pharmacist or a doctor, or own a restaurant or something like that.
And these kids, they could very easily learn all the things [00:41:30] that they learned at school in their spare time and spend most their time on the job, learning in these kinds of fields. And they’d probably be better off, if you were working at a restaurant as a kid and spending a few hours a day learning the topics that you find relevant for you, you’ll still learn to read and you’ll still learn math and you learn all the reading and the math that you need in order to run your hotel or restaurant or whatever it is that you like to run.
And you’ll learn a lot by being on the job. And now that’s just, instead of having 12 year olds do that from the comfort of their home, from the comfort of a family that provides for them, where you go and you spend the whole day trying to do something, and the worst thing that can happen is that at the end of the day, you decide this thing is not for me, and you go back home and you have a house and you have food on the table [00:42:30] and you have a family that can provide for you.
When you put it this way, it seems like an incredible opportunity. And you almost feel cheated out of your childhood that you didn’t get to do that. Go out there and live your daily life as a teenager as a mini adult basically, practice adulthood with the safety net of a family. Instead, people are thrown into this in their mid twenties when they’ve been brainwashed into the idea that scoring high grades on a test is what’s going to get your restaurant to work properly. Sit and learn your calculus and learn your chemistry and history and all that stuff, and then your restaurant will work.
And then they’re surprised to find that at age 23 they’re out there trying to make a restaurant work, and they have no idea what to do. Because all of the stuff that they learned hasn’t been very useful. So they’re basically starting from maybe not square one, but pretty close to it.[00:43:30]
Daniel Prince: Yeah, it’s so true. And that’s how I got my job. I was 18, I think, 17 or 18. And I did a two week internship at a foreign exchange brokerage in London. And yeah, that was it. That two weeks was getting coffees, sandwiches, running errands, like the most mundane retarded errands that you could do for 16 guys that were sitting around in a in a circle desk together, all shouting and screaming numbers at each other.
It was dollar mark. It was the dollar mark spot desk in London. And man, what an experience that was, such a great experience. That’s what I wanted to do after I got out of the hell. I hated the fact after two weeks, I had to get up and trudge my ass back into school at the time. I was like, God, I can’t wait for this to be over because if those guys needed someone on the desk, then I can just go in and I’ve had my face in the door.
They know who I am. I had a few drinks with [00:44:30] a few people that should be enough and sure enough a year later, I was done, out of school. Didn’t have any particularly good grades. They didn’t care. They’re like, yeah sure, you can come and work, we’ll try you out.
Saifedean Ammous: You know where the coffee is!
Daniel Prince: Exactly! And you can go and get a hundred of them a day. And in the end I still had to go and that was a very low wage in comparison. I’ve no idea what minimum wage was back in those days. But it was not a lot and a great percentage of it was going on the train ticket to get in and out. So you’d turn up at 6:15 and by 6:30 you’re getting 16 guys breakfast.
You’re back out getting breakfast, rain, snow, shine, whatever in London, then you’ll park into the director’s cars and then you’ll get in another round of coffees within half an hour, because they’ve finished their breakfast. Then four of them need new cigarettes. Cause they’d all sit there and smoke. These are the days where you could still smoke on the [00:45:30] desk.
But you were total dog’s body. But it was that experience that built up what you needed to start carving out a career for yourself. But if you didn’t like it, one you just left, two it showed and you were fired. And it’s doing everybody a favor because you don’t end up doing a job that you hate and they don’t end up hiring someone that is hopeless and not interested in doing the job.
Whereas if now we have this situation, I think it changed early 2000’s, especially in the banking sector, you could only hire someone that had a minimum X degree in math or PhD in economics or something for the banks. So what happened? All of the banks start complaining about the talent that’s out there on the market, because these guys turn up, they sit down and they’re like I’m ready to trade.
And like the fuck you are, what are you saying? [00:46:30]
Saifedean Ammous: You need to get coffee first.
Daniel Prince: Yeah. Get my coffee and you go and get his coffee. And she likes a tea with milk and he’s like I didn’t go to college for four years for this. Unfortunately, that doesn’t matter.
Saifedean Ammous: Labor theory of value right there.
You go into college, it doesn’t give the experience value. Yeah, I think this is very true. I think it’s just the general fiatization of everything where as we’ve discussed before on this podcast, in the fiat world, the results are optional. And so it’s really no longer about whether you can get into the bank and make the bank money.
Or obviously it is to some extent, but it’s becoming less and less about that. And you look at the current corporate world, I mean does anybody even want to make money selling [00:47:30] anything anymore? It’s like all of these corporations are just out there to regurgitate a bunch of bullshit about virtue signaling nonsense about the evils of carbon dioxide, destroying the planet and whipping themselves and self-flagellating themselves over racism and gender and all kinds of other stuff that is completely unrelated to the line of business in which they’re supposed to be.
But the reality is the vast majority of corporations today, they don’t live to satisfy their customers. They live to satisfy their banker. They live to satisfy their central banker. They live in order to play the politically correct games, you know close your business when there’s COVID and borrow from the bank at low rates.
It’s the socialization of industry that is allowing [00:48:30] so much of economic production today to just be fake. I think an enormous number of people in the fiat economy don’t have real jobs. They have fiat jobs where they’re just filling up an office and handing and performing a bunch of rituals, which when performed correctly, allow the entity for which you work to extract low interest rates borrowing from the next fish in the food chain essentially.
So you get money thrown at you from above if you tick those boxes and the more politicized markets become, the more significant this becomes and the less significant the politics, the less significant economic production becomes. I think an enormous number of companies wouldn’t exist if it was about their business.
You think about [00:49:30] something like IBM, what the hell does IBM even do anymore? Other than just take low interest rate credit, and then invest in a million different things all over the world and then make patents from them and then have a team of lawyers go around the world sue people for doing anything from those patents.
But it’s not a business. It’s more like a mafia where they’re just using their connections to get the money, and then they buy up all of their competitors, they buy up anybody who’s doing anything related to anything that they can do because they can get lower interest rate payments.
And so they can sit out as all of their competitors, any time they have a bad quarter, IBM has lower interest rates, and they can stick around. They can buy them, they have more money. You compare it to what a business should actually be like, with an idea, a mission [00:50:30] and a leader and a CEO who’s working on doing it.
We want to give people a cheap shoes. We want to give people a reliable car. We want to give people a computer that works. And for most of the, not most, but for a lot of these businesses, this isn’t the reality anymore. The CEO is changed every 18 months and he’s essentially there to run a bunch of financial engineering wizardry so that he can do interest rate arbitrage better.
And the operational side of the business, is almost like a front to the business. It’s almost like you’re trying to rob a bank and the way that you rob a bank is that you rent out the store next door to the bank and pretend that you’re running a business there. Where you’re selling cookies and you’re selling the cookies and you don’t care if you make money from the cookies.
What matters is that every [00:51:30] night after everybody’s gone, you can dig under your shop and into the bank next door. I got this from a Woody Allen movie by the way, a long time ago. But this is what like most fiat businesses are. This is a long tangent, but all of it goes back to education. And I think this is why education is becoming so completely unhinged from reality, whether it’s at the university level or school level, it doesn’t even matter with the questions, whether the questions are right or wrong.
It doesn’t even matter. What matters is that you follow the instructions and tick the boxes because that’s what your job is going to be. Your job’s not going to involve delivering good quality shoes at low cost to people who need them. Your job is going to involve ticking boxes and getting fiat financing.
So it’s like applying for that crime family that’s digging under the bakery into the bank. If you wanted to [00:52:30] join them, your cookie baking skills are irrelevant. They don’t care. How good are you at digging into the bank? That’s what we really need. And then they don’t care if they make shitty cookies and the customers don’t like them.
Although in that film, they end up making great cookies and the shop makes more money than they would’ve made the robbing the bank. But that was probably one of the, at least the story, it was probably written before 1971, when you could make money in ways other than robbing banks.
Daniel Prince: Actually there’s a graph on a 1971. I was on WTF happened in 1971. I was just flicking through it because I knew it was there and I wanted to try and find it. The growth of physicians versus administrators. I don’t know if you’ve seen that one. I think it’s like one of the last few. It’s just explosive. It’s just all of these administrative jobs completely through the roof.
That’s exactly what they’re looking for, like those book stickers, this is how they’re running [00:53:30] their countries. There will be more and more bureaucracies and more and more departments will open up to look after certain different little niche things that all of a sudden need policies and regulating.
And to do that, we need to staff an office of 50 people. It’s just like complete madness. And who, who fits the bill the best? This is the best thing. Who are the best people for those jobs? This comes back to the standardized testing that you were talking about before. Those people that got the A*’s and the A’s are the best because they excel at being average.
Because that is all school is testing for. Who is the best across the average? And so they end up being picked out for the administrative jobs because they know that they have been conditioned. Have you ever watched John Taylor Gatto’s, The Six [00:54:30] Purposes Of Schooling?
Saifedean Ammous: I don’t think have watched it, but I’ve read some of Gatto’s work, yeah.
Daniel Prince: This is like Matt. He, that there’s a guy called Alexander Inglis who wrote a book back in 1917 or 18 and Gatto tried to track this book down. It took him two years to get to this book and he finally found it in some back cupboard dusty enclave of Harvard after many phone calls and being turned down by Harvard to even entertain the idea of him finding and getting his hands on this book. Someone called him back out of the blue and he managed to get it. And he said it’s the most boring book he’s ever read in his life.
And it’s massive and it’s tiny print, but then he got the chapter 10, the six important functions of secondary education. And this is like the Bible of the purposes of schooling. Actually no, the book is called the Principles [00:55:30] of secondary education, the principles, and there are six, chapter 10, the first one is adjustive function.
So to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority. Bam, number one. Just jaw-dropping. Number two, integrating function to create conformity and how do they create conformity? They’ve got everybody moving together, sitting down together at the same time, move on the bell, looking the same, coming back to school uniforms.
You know, just conform, standing in your classes for assembly or whatever, because that’s your group of 28 people whatever. Number three, directive, diagnose your proper social role for life. So that’s what they’re doing. They’re sorting you. The directive, right? Okay, you’re going to be good at this.
You’re not good at this and they start sorting you very early. Number four, [00:56:30] differentiating function. So to do that, to build on number three, the differentiating function is to split students into higher and lower classes. So you have the more affluent and more kind of, clever I would say, intelligent.
Higher sets or classes than you would the the not so clever or the people that can’t sit still or, those that just aren’t interested in board, they get completely separated and you do that well in the UK, they use a set system. You know, you’d have set 1, 2, 3 down to five.
Five, selective function. Now this one’s weird. I’ll let you watch the clip. Because Gatto talks about how this is kind like preservation of favored races, and this is set in place to prevent the poor from interacting with what would be seen as the better breeding stock. [00:57:30] And that means putting humiliating labels on the poor, of poor mind or poor in the views of the eyes of society.
So you’d put labels around the neck you know, you’re not very clever, you’re not very good at this, you can’t play sports, always picked last for sports and all of this kind of stuff that we’ve all been through and we’ve all witnessed. Number six is the propaedeutic function, which is the grooming of those in higher classes to manage those in the lower classes.
And that is a perfect example of why you have prefects or headboys or headgirls or class presidents for those people that are being groomed to make them feel as though they are going to be the ones that are going to be better in society than the other people. Now, this is all written out in that book from back in 1918, and it’s certainly true today.[00:58:30]
Saifedean Ammous: Who is the author?
Daniel Prince: Alexander Inglis. It’s spelled I N G L I S, I believe, but pronounced Ingles.
Saifedean Ammous: He’s not writing this critically, he’s writing it, explaining it right?
Daniel Prince: Inglis wrote the book, the principles of secondary education. This is his guide map to what school should be for.
Saifedean Ammous: Yes, but I’m trying to, yeah, it says guide, he’s not criticizing this. This is not somebody trying to,
Daniel Prince: No, these are the points. This is it, this is what school is for. When you watch the link, I’ve already shared it with Peter. When you watch the link, you’ll be like, this is crazy.
And and that is first principles. That’s fair education from [00:59:30] first principles standpoint right there.
Saifedean Ammous: The fiatization of education is another thing that came about in 1914. Incidentally, I bought the domain name, whatthefhappenedin1914.com. I bought it a while ago and I’ve been meaning to start collecting these because it’s also very similar to 1971.
It’s one of those years where a lot of things keep popping up. The federal reserve was established in 1914, World War I happened then, and you just see the parallels all over. And it was basically then when you got modern public education and the form that it is. It’s then when modern medicine was born, in the current crazy form in which it is. And it was then in which the modern university system was born as it is.
And it was also at the time when we had the antitrust laws born, and this is usually [01:00:30] presented as a big giant victory for people against corporate power. But in reality, as a Murray Rothbard explains, this was the triumph of corporate power and solidifying it and protecting it from competition through the force of the state.
Every market now, there was a judge that was going to rule how much of each goods sales each competitor needs to have. If you’re the kind of simpleton who believes in Keynesian economics, that sounds like a great idea because now the judge will just stop anybody from having too much of a share. But in reality, what this ends up doing is it’s being used by the incumbents to freeze out all competition.
And that’s what ends up strengthening those monopolies over time. So a lot to answer for in [01:01:30] interests for the early 20th century. Yeah. It’s when public funding for for science started in the UK and in the U. S. it’s when, well in the U. S. I think it was more after World War II, but so many of these things began to happen around that time.
A lot of it was the rise of industrialization and men like Rockefeller. We’ve had an episode here that was a big giant tribute to Rockefeller in order to knock down Keynes. And of course as a lifelong, enthusiastic and a lover of hydrocarbon fuels, I have a soft spot for Rockefeller because, obviously it’s not cool to say this, but really Rockefeller’s contributions to the energy industry [01:02:30] are the reason that we have the standard of living that we have today.
But you know, he became so rich and he had so much money and he essentially brought the incredible transformative organizational mind that he developed on industry and on the energy sector and tried to apply it for all aspects of human life. And this is what the Rockefeller foundation was working on, and many of these other foundations.
We know that we have American people who would like to have gasoline and kerosene and all of these amazing products. And we have all of this stuff resting underground, and we need to work out the logistical procedure of getting this oil from under the ground, into people’s car tanks [01:03:30] and into their kerosene stoves and whatever.
So we need to have this organization and it’s easy to look at it right now and see how it works and think wow it’s impressive. But imagine having the kind of foresight to build this from scratch when it was still very primitive, when these industries were extremely primitive, extremely new, and then to come up with the idea of vertical integration, where we as standard oil are going to handle the entire process from exploring for that oil underground, all the way to getting it into your into your house in the safest, cheapest, most usable way.
You have to admire the kind of mind that it took. And today, we have a lot of business leaders that make a lot of money, a lot of them make that money because they made a right call [01:04:30] on some fiat money bullshit. A lot of them had invented a new way for people to shake that ass on the phone, which is interesting and all, but really the transformative impact of getting energy into the households is enormous.
I’m saying all of this because I’m going to say something bad about Rockefeller and it makes me feel guilty because I start to feel like the carbon dioxide hysterics who are ungrateful about those things. I recognize fully that my computer and everything that I enjoy in life today would not be possible without Rockefeller.
And I pay tribute to just the incredible genius that it took him to design that process. But when he applied that thinking for issues pertaining to humans, that’s when it went [01:05:30] wrong. And that’s one of the insights you’ve learned from reading Popper or reading Hayek or most significantly I think Mises, is that humans are machines and humans can’t be controlled from above. Humans have their own will, and their own will motivates them to look out for what’s best for them.
And they’re constantly acting in a way that improves their own lives. So if you’re trying to impose things on them top-down, you cannot do good for them. You can’t help people by imposing things on them. You can only make life worse for them by imposing things on them.
And the result is if you read Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies, the Rockefellers were to an extent bitten by the same kind of bug that people like Plato and Marx and Hegel had. Which is, here we have this incredible brain that can organize and systematically treat and [01:06:30] manage physical objects. And we do a great job with it. We need to apply that methodology to dealing with human beings.
We need to organize human society in the same way that we organize economic production of physical goods. And that’s always been a catastrophe every time it’s been tried. It’s of course to an extent the motivation behind all kinds of totalitarian ideologies, which is, let’s just make the population better.
That’s the motivation behind eugenics. It’s the motivation behind all kinds of horrible ideas like socialism and the like. And it is to a very large degree what gave us modern fiat education, wouldn’t you say?
Daniel Prince: And have you ever thought about how the modern fiat education system is boiling the oceans?
How much CO2, how much carbon dioxide, if [01:07:30] all the hysteria coming out of the status quo, how much carbon dioxide is emitted into the air from people first of all, just doing the school runs? How many billions of people are doing school runs? The buses, how many of those going crazy?
What about these buildings are generally old buildings. How would you say that they’re heated? And they’re heated how many weeks of the year? You know, there’s so many different ways that you could go.
Saifedean Ammous: I think a big part of the waste that’s involved is the fact that you’re trying to mass produce something that can’t be mass produced.
And so you’re trying to fit in a model where economies of scale work, and in order to get the economies of scale to work, the only way to do it is you [01:08:30] basically compromise on the quality beyond any kind of recognition. It’s just not possible to scale things that involve the human attention. And the result of it is that an enormous amount of waste is taking place, because getting all those kids into the same place at the same time and getting them out and then getting them all to get into the mood for math and then snap out of it and get them to the mood for English writing classes or whatever.
It’s not easy.
Daniel Prince: Billions of tons of pointless paper in pointless textbooks which get updated every, I’m sure you’re aware of the whole scam, the textbooks business. That’s shocking, absolutely shocking what’s going on there. You want to talk about one use plastic? How many kids have got like 50 pieces of one use plastic in their pencil cases. All of [01:09:30] these crazy narratives that we’ve just been having to listen to so long.
But then if you were to challenge the system again, you just trigger so many people. But I wanted to point to a quote of yours from your chapter in The Fiat Standard, which I wanted to bring up with you and kind of lean on.
“Education no longer needs to meet the needs and aspirations of the student to help them succeed in life, it needs to meet the political gains of the source of fiat.” That is so true. Now, did you know of an organization Saif, called Pisa?
Saifedean Ammous: No.
Daniel Prince: Okay, no it’s the Pisa programme. Actually it’s run by the [01:10:30] the OECD. And the Pisa programme is programme for international student assessment.
So basically the Pisa programme, countries, they put forth their 15 year olds ability in reading, science and math. So obviously they take their 15 year olds tests and submit them to the OECD who run this league table of which countries are supposedly doing a better job with education than the other ones.
So we’ve got a pretty clear incentive, right? What are they going to do? The first thing they’re going to do is try and pick the top students, and this happens every three years, so this is not a yearly thing. So every three years with this Pisa assessment comes around, this programme. Next year is going to be one.
So they take the results. So that cohort of 15 year olds, whoever’s next [01:11:30] year is just going to be whipped and whipped because they want the best results possible. But on the other end, which I find more distressing is those students that are not deemed to be good enough or up to scratch.
They get off-rolled. So they just disappear from the state school register. In the UK, it was apparently reported that 10,000 students had disappeared from the state school system to avoid having their results marked in the last Pisa assessment. So what the hell is going on? That is the exact thing that you talked about in that sentence there. It’s the incentive for the government and the fiat to make it look as though their education system is doing better than anybody else’s.
Meanwhile students, they just don’t care. You do well, or you don’t exist. It’s nonsense. [01:12:30]
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. An interesting idea I should have added perhaps, maybe I’ll get to add to The Fiat Standard, although I’ve shipped it off to the publishers, but I think they’ll let me have this, there’s an old saying, I forget the, I think it’s Goodhart’s law.
I think that’s the name of it, which is that whatever metric is targeted, stops being useful. If you’re trying to aim for achieving a specific metric, that metric is going to stop meaning anything, because it’s going to be manipulated and it’s going to become the target of human action in itself.
And then you can bring the metric down without changing the underlying reality, which is what you actually care about. And fiat education is a great example of this. How do we know if all of this money that we’re spending on kids is being used correctly? We test them. All right, so then we test them.
How do we make a good test? How [01:13:30] do we make a test that reflects things? So we come up with a test and then the entire education process becomes about getting the right result on the test, not just the students for themselves, but also the students for the school to get its money. And this is really I think what fiat does everywhere.
It’s a running theme in The Fiat Standard. And particularly in the second section of The Fiat Standard, which is let’s apply this mental framework and see if it helps us understand the mess in which we find modern education, modern science and modern nutrition in particular, modern dietary recommendations of the food industry.
And I think it’s extremely powerful because you see this over and over again. You have people in positions of monopoly power. People that you have to get your services from, you have your local [01:14:30] mafia of public schooling, and you can only join them. Or you have your local mafia of dietary advice and you can only join them.
And you have your global mafia of food producers, and you have to only eat from them. We don’t have to yet, but they’re working on it. They’re going to start trying to ban meat very soon. It looks like it. So you have these monopoly decision-makers and they’re not getting paid by their customers.
They’re getting paid by fiat. They’re getting paid by the money printer, which is essentially devaluing everybody else. And the main impact it is having is that it is removing the feedback between the market and the participants in the market, and the providers. Because now you don’t have to please your customer anymore.
You just have to please the people who are paying the fiat degrees. And you see this over and over again. And I think education is a perfect example of this. And [01:15:30] one very fascinating story about this is you look at the cost of public schooling education for a student, if you measure how much money public schools spend, there’s this great guy called Corey DeAngelis.
I’m sure you must know him on Twitter. He’s a freedom of choice and education advocate and he brings up some incredible facts, which you don’t hear about often. And one of them is that he did a comparison between the cost of the best private schools in the Washington DC area, the best private school that you could get your kids into.
And then you compare that to how much public schooling spends per student. And actually public schooling is more expensive per student. It costs more money to send kids to these dysfunctional crime ridden, drug ridden public schools, [01:16:30] hell holes basically, than it does to send them to the most expensive school in the area in the U. S. Capitol.
And the reason is the most expensive school is a free market school. They can’t keep students at the door so they’re always running a tight ship. They’re always walking a tightrope. They’re always having to optimize their performance. They’re always having to cut the waste.
They’re always having to make sure they get their revenue in the door. Whereas the public schools have none of that. And so even with the crappiest buildings and the crappiest teachers and the crappiest supplies possible, they still managed to outspend the most prestigious and most expensive schools in the area.
Daniel Prince: Yeah, it’s nuts. Yeah, I follow Corey. Man, he’s doing some great work. It shocks me, you read through the replies on to some of his [01:17:30] tweets and all he’s doing is dropping truth bombs, but it just triggers so many people because people are just trapped in it.
When you’re trapped in a system, you’ll never question it, classic Stockholm syndrome.
Saifedean Ammous: And the people most trapped in the system of course, are the public school educators who are the most ardent defenders of the system. And you’ll see them answering Corey’s tweets with their semi-literate answers, saying no, we have to get the kids learning quickly because otherwise if the kids don’t learn, then things are going to be bad.
That’s generally the kind of gist of their argument. In their mind. It’s the thing that you run into with all kinds of statist ideas, where if you oppose something being provided by the state, the statist can only imagine that you oppose [01:18:30] that thing existing at all, like you want to ban kids from learning to read.
This is what it means if you oppose public education. But of course, what he makes clear, and I think we see this in many sectors, is that when you just do this, when you have free competition rather than monopoly, and when you have the consumers paying rather than fiat paying, then you end up with a much better outcome for the consumers ultimately.
Daniel Prince: Yeah, absolutely.
Saifedean Ammous: All right. Who’s got questions?
Student: I have a question Saif and Daniel. Thank you, a very interesting discussion. So one question is at the beginning, you mentioned that there are online tools that [01:19:30] can be very helpful to educate your kids which you know, is very good to hear. I’m not too familiar, but I’m happy to hear that. One comment and question I have on that is, I mean I also believe that the purpose of education or going to school is not just learning facts and being exposed to the right curriculum, but also to socialize the kid, to be able to interact with other kids.
We are extremely social animals as you will probably agree with me. So what would you say to that? If a kid spends too much time online, then how would you replace the socialization aspect which is supposed to be, in my opinion, a strong element of a good school system.
Daniel Prince: To give you an example of how our kids are using one of these ed tech tools, they use galileoxp.com and that’s where they’re doing the socializing. That’s where they’re hanging out with kids. And what I love about it is they’re not [01:20:30] forced into hanging out with the same kids, every lesson, or every day, they get to hang out with kids that are not even their own age.
You know, you might have 8 year olds in the same club as a 13 year old, which I really enjoy to see. Because then you have this kind of, and they’re from all over the world, different cultures as well. So that for me is way more social of a setting than would be a classroom where you’re forced to sit down and open your books and be quiet and not even be able to talk to somebody else.
But on the first call that Saif and I did, we really debunked the socialization myth. So, if you missed that one, make sure. So I don’t want to repeat too much but I think we did go over it for about a good 20 minutes, 30 minutes maybe. [01:21:30]
Student: Okay. So you think that spending time in person, physically with others.
Daniel Prince: It’s also important. Yeah, a hundred percent.
For us that’s done via just interactions with friends, joining sports clubs, or dance clubs, music, clubs, whatever it is, whatever the kid’s interested in. That’s where they go and have the physical and social interactions. And of course, birthday parties, whatever that they get invited to. That’s actual socialization.
Whereas I find school to be the opposite. I find school to be antisocial. It’s forcing kids who might not have anything in common with each other to spend hours a day with each other. The same kids for maybe as long as 12 years. And they’re not even really allowed to speak to each other during the day when they’re in lesson time.
That’s not that social. You get to play time or recreation, whatever you want to call it, and [01:22:30] you spend most of that time avoiding the people you know you don’t like, rather than being social.
Student: Right, thank you that’s very helpful, really appreciate it.
Daniel Prince: No problem!
Saifedean Ammous: All right, anybody else have any more questions they wanted to ask Daniel? Peter?
Peter Young: So Daniel, for people that are interested in homeschooling their children, but don’t have a lot of time. What’s the one resource above all the others that you mentioned that you think people should check out first?
Daniel Prince: Ken Robinson’s Ted talk for me was one of the most pivotal moments in our decision making process. His original one, he’s got three Ted talks. The original one is called Do Schools Kill Creativity? Maybe I watched it at the right time. [01:23:30] Maybe we were primed for it. I don’t know, but I remember watching it and then just watching it again and again, and it was just such an amazing well given speech.
Very hard hitting and just made me and my wife start really questioning all the things that Saif and I have been talking about. We hadn’t questioned the system to that point. My God, no. I had a decent enough job. Good enough that my wife didn’t have to work, so she could be mom and do the school runs and all of that kind of stuff.
And we’d done the private schooling. We’d done the kindergarten. We’d done all of the usual, nine to five fiat life stuff. We were in it, and seeing that speech was like, whoa, hang on a minute. What did that guy just say? And it really did start me down the path of, [01:24:30] it’s like Bitcoin, isn’t it?
And as soon as you start following the rabbit and challenging the narrative, there’s always an extra little nugget to find. If anybody wants just one resource, I would say, yeah go there, go watch that speech.
Peter Young: Yeah, thank you.
Daniel Prince: Thank you.
Saifedean Ammous: Okay, anybody else have any more questions?
Student: I have one more question. I’m curious to hear your take on this. I mean the Western society, it’s becoming more and more common and accepted to just move away from your place of birth in search of more money, more economic opportunity, which means the family structure is not there anymore.
My family is in Italy, I’m in the United States, my wife’s family is in Romania. People tend to be spread out. And I kind of started to realize that this is probably not a positive development in many ways. It’s good to have your grandparents, parents and children together.
What are your thoughts about that? [01:25:30] And how did you experience that in your life?
Daniel Prince: Yeah, that’s been a very key part of our life actually, because we moved, my wife and I moved away from the UK in 99′. So at that point we didn’t have any kids, so my kids have grown up the whole time away from their grandparents and extended family.
So yeah, it could be difficult at times you would think, oh I wish we just had the grandparents around the corner. It would be nice. If they were a bigger part of each other’s lives. But I guess it was just one of those things, that’s just where we found ourselves, in that situation at the time.
It’s easier now with Zoom, Skype used to be good enough, but Zoom is even better, but it’s not the same. That’s not the [01:26:30] same as having the physical contact and whatever else. That’s obviously much nicer. But we got to a point where we were now living in France.
We were only a couple of hours away. So we could be to England three or four times a year. They could be here once or twice a year. So we were getting the interaction. Obviously nothing in the last two years, we won’t go into that. But yeah, it’s definitely something worth considering if you, depending on how tight your family is and the role that you want grandparents to play, or even if grandparents want to play a role. This is one thing, some grandparents are like, nah done.
I had my kids, I’m not gonna spend my time looking after yours, which has happened a lot in the UK because both parents are working and they still can’t afford the daycare. Nanny and granddad end up [01:27:30] picking up the threads and they ended up looking after the kids three or four days a week.
And that causes even more familial problems. There’s no exact answer. But yeah, I guess that’s my thoughts.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah I think this is another aspect, I am just going to start insufferably always referring everything to The Fiat Standard from now and tell myself that it’s actually marketing to justify it.
Daniel Prince: Yeah, do it.
Saifedean Ammous: In The Fiat Standard, in the chapter on fiat life, you know, the first chapter in that section is on time preference, and how fiat changes people’s time preference because we can’t save and therefore we start discounting the future more.
And I think one way in [01:28:30] which this manifests is that the family loses its importance because we expect more and more that, first of all we don’t expect our savings to last. So the role of the family and providing and passing on savings is diminished. And therefore that weakens the incentive for people to stick together.
Why should you care for your father when he’s not going to give you money? And on the other hand the essential function of the family is to take care of the family members when they’re very young and very old, and that gets undermined because when they’re young, the government is providing for them increasingly.
And when they’re old, the government is providing for them increasingly as well. So there’s little incentive for kids to listen to their parents. There’s little incentive for adults to provide for their elderly parents. And these bonds become weaker. [01:29:30] Obviously family is still important for a lot of people, but it’s not as important as it was a couple of hundred years ago, because back then it was literally life and death.
If you didn’t have a family, it was very hard to make it out in the world on your own. Life was very hard as it is before we had massive use of modern hydrocarbon energy. And before the end of the cluster of dilution, life was pretty hard for most people. You have to work all day a lot of the time in order to scrape together a living.
You had to have a family to do that. You had to have kids and you had to have the kids around you when you got old. And everybody’s supporting each other. It’s far less important right now. Partly of course, because of the advancements of technology, but also I think partly because of the intervention of fiat in the system that makes this much more powerful, makes the government much more [01:30:30] powerful and therefore weakens the family bonds.
And this is an evolutionary adaptive function of the state. The state will naturally grow to undermine the family and will grow more and undermine the family more.
And so it’s going to naturally be hostile to the family and it will undermine it. And I think the undermining of the large family, of the extended family is an enormous part of the problem of why kids need to go to school in the first place. I don’t come from a big family but as I’ve grown older, I’ve gotten to really appreciate it.
I think it’s just people massively underestimate how much of an asset it is to have several siblings and then to go on and have several kids and to have several uncles and [01:31:30] aunts on both sides. It’s just an enormous asset in life. And these are people very similar to you who are highly likely to love you and take care of you and help you out.
And I’d much rather go through life with this. And if you think about it from that perspective, if people had large extended families, the kids would always have things to do. They’d be in a safe space because it’s an area where the extended family lives. So there’s a lot of area for them to walk around and be surrounded by people who are family or at least friends of family and relatives of family.
And the natural synergy that exists there between the grandparents and the children is incredible. I’ve seen recently some research where a bunch of fiat scientists took kids to a retirement home and got the kids to talk to the [01:32:30] retirees and it was great for the kids, and it was great for the retirees.
Who could have known? Who could have imagined that generations interacting with one another would be beneficial for both? It’s only been part of human society forever, in every human society that has ever existed. We’ve undermined that because we have small nuclear families and they’re independent and they’re separated from one another.
And so the kids don’t have extended families to spend time with. It’s kind of unhealthy that if you have two kids, even as the parents are staying home with the kids, they’re just interacting with one other kid and two adults, and that’s not very healthy. Doesn’t mean the school is ideal, but it would be far healthier if a kid grew up [01:33:30] in a place surrounded by many more kids and adults that are family that take care of them that you can trust them around.
And that’s being undermined massively and I think this is really the kind of deeper structural answer to the problem of what do we do about kids. And how do kids spend their time? If they had five siblings and 45 cousins living within 500 meters of each other, all of them, that wouldn’t be an issue.
Daniel Prince: No, exactly. One thing I wanted to tell you about, cause I’m not sure whether you’ve even seen this kind of meme. It’s very prevalent in the UK, but there’s something called skiing. Aimed at the boomer generation, so all the grandparents. And it’s an acronym for going on a ski holiday, [01:34:30] for example, and the acronym ski is spend kids inheritance.
How fiat is that? That is exactly what you were talking about. Don’t save for the future. Don’t save for your generations, just go out and spend it. And that of course will have an effect on because even my parents say it from time to time. Oh yeah, we’ve been out skiing today.
We bought some new furniture and like it’s all tongue in cheek. It’s like god damn, you falling for the fiat memeing that’s going on without even realizing it. And it’s pretty sick and it’s done purposely to get them spending. And I think you’re right. Like the state has an interest in, certainly has an interest in dividing families.
Look what it’s done in the last two years. And if you look at UK Brexit, that was split [01:35:30] 50 50. That split families. Look at the U. S. politics now in the U S obviously, that splits families. This all works in the state’s favor.
Saifedean Ammous: Absolutely. Yeah, it is depressing. But then again, hey let’s not forget, we have Bitcoin and Bitcoin fixes this.
Daniel Prince: You beat me to it!
Saifedean Ammous: Yes. It’s amazing that whatever happens in the world, we can always end on this positive note because we know that Bitcoin fixes it all. The only questions outstanding are just how Bitcoin will fix it.
So will we head to a world in which people have more kids just run around free range or will we get good schools? Because I’m still not ready to entirely write off the idea that sending kids to a specialized place, if it’s run effectively and efficiently on a [01:36:30] market, they could learn and they could have fun and they could spend some time there.
And I think maybe the market will develop something healthy like this. Even when there isn’t all of the distortions fiat provides.
Daniel Prince: Yeah.
Saifedean Ammous: Whatever it does. We know that Bitcoin will fix it.
Daniel Prince: Sure. More schools like the Sudbury Valley style kind of school, I think would be a great place to start. Where kids have the choice.
You have that specialized place, you have adults there that are going to supervise and are going to help and are going to mentor, but there’s no compulsion. It’s not compulsory for the kids to turn up every day and follow the same thing. They turn up one day. Perhaps they want to learn maths.
You go find that guy that’s going to sit down and help you learn through maths. Perhaps you don’t, perhaps you want to go and play the trumpet. You’re going to find someone that’s going to help you learn how to play the trumpet or give you access to a YouTube video that’s going to teach. It’s just having this choice.
[01:37:30] You don’t have that at school, zero. You are a drone and controled every minute of the day. And at the same time told be yourself. Like you said earlier, it’s doublespeak, it’s complete doublespeak. Be yourself, be true to yourself, sit down, shut up.
Saifedean Ammous: But answer what we tell you.
Daniel Prince: Yeah, this is the answer. Two plus two is five. Wait until that turns up in the textbooks.
Saifedean Ammous: Won’t be long.
All right. Thank you so much Daniel again, for this has been massively entertaining and informative. And yeah, I think you’ve won me over for the homeschooling side. My daughter will hopefully thank you about it or baby blame you, we’ll see!
Daniel Prince: Only time will tell! [01:38:30]
Saifedean Ammous: Indeed.
Daniel Prince: Cheers Saif! I appreciate you having me on again, really good fun.
Saifedean Ammous: Thank you, thank you for joining us. Take care!