The COVID-19 pandemic will go down as the event that bisected the narrative of our lives. Unless something even worse happens, we will talk about it in terms of pre-Corona and post-Corona.
No matter if the total death toll turns out to be not significantly higher than the seasonal flues of the past decades, the fact remains that our institutional response to the viral threat brought the economy to its knees. At the time of this article, unemployment claims continue to soar to record-breaking numbers. The intricate supply-chain of the entire world is disrupted in some way.
Libertarians know better than most that economy is the lifeblood of society, and if its circulation is clogged up and halted, there are consequences that no one can foresee. Some have fantasized that the hard problem of economic calculation is solvable with an encompassing AI supercomputer, one that would have access to sensors and data all over the world, and use Big Data analytics to provide a safety net. Unfortunately, we are nowhere near that reality.
Chaos on top of Chaos
Instead, the reality we do inhabit is one of unprecedented government intervention into the economy. MMT, Modern Monetary Theory, deemed it appropriate to inject trillions of dollars into circulation as a last-ditch attempt to save the economy from total collapse.
How many trillions? It no longer matters. From where does the magic money come from? As Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated, the extra debt, on top of an already immense debt, will not increase taxes, but it is simply a markup increase.
As you can tell, this is not the time when libertarian economic policies can viably enter public discourse. Citizens and businesses are in dire need of financial rescue, and the FED is there to provide. Very few people are willing to listen about the traps and failures of big government that led us to such a fragile state of affairs.
Education is the Source of Our Problems
Everything stems from education. Our politics, culture, and behaviors. It is no coincidence that our current educational system perfectly reflects the bloated, centralized, and wasteful nature of our society.
Think about it for a moment. If we could magically restart the entire modern civilization from scratch, with the existing internet technology, would anyone think that going to huge, expensive buildings to listen to someone speak for an hour would be a good, productive model to construct the educational system?
This thought experiment tells us that we are living in the inertia of the policies of the past. Everything is like it is because it was like that before. The current pandemic, with its social distancing, lockdowns, and quarantines, gives us an extraordinary opportunity to make people see what is glaringly obvious:
- Online learning platforms and tools are far more convenient, economical, and pedagogical than the theater of a physical lecture.
- Massive education expenditures go to physical textbooks, buildings’ maintenance, and admin parasitism. Should students incur enormous debt to continue such waste?
- Inflation of absurd and easy courses because universities want to increase the supply to college demand, due to federal subsidies.
Moreover, have you noticed that very few academics post their content online? What would happen if it was open to scrutiny? Would we have gender studies and queer musicology, among hundreds of other courses that no employer would ever benefit from? Would we have poor economic theories that created our fragile economy?
On top of that, if we were to transition to online economic education, students would be able to receive help with assignment quickly. Such a learning system would swiftly emerge. More diligent and talented students would be able to get professional assistance online from instructors and professors who master digital education skills.
No doubt, many more pandemics will come and go. Some even far worse than the current one. If libertarians are to have a critical influence on society in the long-run, finally, this is the chance. It is possible to educate people about the benefits of online education. It will not take much now to demonstrate to people the characteristics of an expensive and ritualistically bureaucratic theater of current education.
However, there is a huge parasitic inertia behind the status quo. Hundreds of thousands of apparatchiks, teachers who peddle useless courses, and unhinged ideologues who are using the educational system to push their social engineering agendas. We could all be better off without them, building a modern online educational system with the use of digital means.