The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The new supermen?

Some of you (many of you, I hope) have heard about the Thiel Fellowship but, depending upon where and how you heard about it,you may not properly understand it. We often read articles in various favored sources and digest opinion more than facts. That particular phenomenon should be an article in itself.

I became intrigued by this Fellowship when I first heard of it. This is probably because I have certain views of higher education that parallel at least one aspect of the concept. I am used to sifting through opinion to gather facts. Though I sometimes get them wrong. I have no magical power to divine fact from fiction. A long time ago, when I was just a lad of single digit age, I began pondering the purpose of higher education. Probably because my teachers were urging me to consider college in my future and society was extolling its virtues.

Now, a child is not naturally inclined toward looking at his future in terms of 16 years of school. No, most boys my youth were eagerly seeking the day when school would be over and done with. Maybe equating it to a lifetime of summer vacation. That isn't reality, of course, but reality is far from our thoughts in that time of our lives, isn't it?

Let me try to present my view of this Fellowship.

He is offering a stipend, a grant, to those he feels represent the best and the brightest. He wants those with the greatest potential to not simply follow the accepted path but to do what we gleaned from those old fairy tales and legends... go forth and seek their fortunes. I like the concept. The recipient would have an opportunity to take a break from his academic life and get a look at real life. A chance to get an idea about what field he might want to enter. An opportunity to test himself. And then return to his education with a clearer vision of what he wants to accomplish.

He doesn't just hand each one $100,000 and tell them to go off and figure it out on their own. He offers them mentoring, guidance, counseling as they explore the possibilities.

I do not understand the criticism. He isn't denigrating higher education. He is encouraging entrepreneurship, ambition, and offering a cushion against the risks they might face.

My only complaint might be that he is also encouraging a kind of elitism. That these people will be more than just outstanding, that they will be a kind of "supermen." To me, this is a minor complaint.

I applaud Peter Thiel.

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