tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN November 26, 2014 4:00pm-6:01pm EST
have to learn like reading, writing, and arithmetic. it is not easy for children in i might think it wouldn't work except for the fact that for many years, i have been an observer and researcher at the valley school in massachusetts. this school was founded in 968. it has about 150 students at any given time. it has about eight staff members this is not elite education, it is eminently affordable. the other things about the school is the way it is administered and the educational philosophy of the school. the school operates as a
participatory democracy. all the rules are made by a school meeting in which each student and each staff member has one vote and the rules are enforced by a judicial committee which is modeled after the jury system of our larger culture. a couple of teenagers in one staff member. whether it is a staff member or student, if they violate the rules, they are brought up before the judicial committee. that is the way to school perates. the school offers no curriculum, no tasks, no grades, no substitutes for grades.
it expects children to decide themselves what they want to it expects children to decide themselves what they want to learn, how they want to learn, what they want to do. if you were to go through the school at any given time of day, you might see scenes like on c1is slide. you might see scenes like on this slide. you would see children in the art room making various kinds of art projects. you might find somebody cooking in the kitchen. you might find somebody in the photo lab. children playing in one of the usic practice rooms. young people may be playing games such as chess. outdoors, you might find people playing down by the brook or fishing in the pond or playing a game on the f x field or strumming a guitar and talking and singing. you might find people building a
you might find people building a snowman or skating on that pond. you might see them playing in more traditional playground ays. the key to learning at this school is age mixing. the children are not segregated by age. the older children are naturally drawn to the younger kids and the little kids are drawn to the big kids. the young ones want to be able to read if they see older ones reading. the young ones want to be able to read if they see older ones reading. they want to be able to climb trees. they also learn by interacting with the older ones. in age mixed games, the children are scaffolding the behavior of the younger ones, bringing them up to higher levels of performance. many children at the school learn to read because they play games that involve reading with kids that know how to read.
the kids more or less teach them to read not because they are trying to teach them to read but because they need to do so to play the game. i should say that the advantage of age mixing also goes the other way. the older children are learning to care and be nurturing and be leaders by helping the younger ones in this. they are also being continuously inspired by the creativity and the energy of the younger nes. it is as valuable for the younger kids as the older nes. the best evidence that this works comes from follow-up studies to the graduates. quite a number of years ago, i along with a colleague conducted one such study. we found essentially all of the people that graduated from that school, almost all of them
agreed to be in the study and we found that they were doing very well out there in the world. they had no problems in higher education if they chose to go that way and they were in a wide variety of careers. they were very satisfied with their lives. many of them were pursuing careers that were direct extensions of childhood play. for example, one of the graduates was a machinist and an nventor. there was another that loved both who was now captain of the cruise ship. here was another who was fascinated by computers who developed his own software company. there was another who loved making golf clubs who is now a pattern maker in the high fashion industry.
people who have time to really pursue what they like to play ould find ways of making a living at that. they are doing what they are interested in doing. a couple of other studious -- studies have been published as books. they came to essentially the same conclusion as we did. the model is replicable. mostly in this country, some in other countries. one of the closest to hear is the tall grass sudbury school. it doesn't seem to depend on socioeconomic class.
it doesn't seem to depend on the particulars of the students personality. now here i want to describe the conditions that i think are common to the hunter gatherer band and optimizing children's abilities to educate hemselves. the first condition is a clear understanding that education is the child's responsibility. when children know that they are responsible for their education, they take that responsibility. they are led to believe that somebody else's responsible for their education and all they have to do is do what they are told. they tend to do that in a minimal way and don't take responsibility for their education. unlimited opportunity to play, explore, and pursue their own interest.
unlimited time. it takes time to try out ifferent things. it takes time to get bored and overcome boredom and find your passion. it takes unlimited amount of ime. opportunity to play with the ools of the culture. those would be bows and arrows and knives and fire and digging sticks. they love to play with computers. they know this is the tool of the culture and they need to spend a lot of time with it so it becomes an extension of their own body. access to a variety of caring
adults that are helpers. how important that last part is. the last person you want to go to to help you learn something is somebody who is evaluating you. you are nervous about that person. you go with more of a frame of mind of trying to impress that person with how much you know and not to say that i don't know this and i like some help. by not judging the children, the staff members are much more able to be helpers to the children than teachers in a typical school could be. free age mixing. that is absolutely key to the school. the school would not work if it were children all the same age because children don't have much to learn from others who are the same age. they learn from children who are older and children that are younger than themselves.
immersion in a stable, moral, democratic community. the hunter gatherer band are in their own different ways, democratic communities. they are communities in which every child knows that their ideas and their actions influence the others involved in the community. so they are growing up in a setting where they feel responsible not just for themselves but for the community within which they are developing. and that is an extraordinarily important aspect of education and one which is almost completely ignored in our regular schools. what i want you to notice is that none of these conditions exist in standard schools. it's as if we deliberately take away from children everything that they need to educate
himself when we put them in school and we tried very inefficiently and very and effectively to educate them. so i'm going to conclude this way. i am absolutely sure that some day, people are going to look back at us now and they are going to say, what were those people thinking? why on earth did they ever believe that coercion is essential for education? believing that you have to force people to eat or force people to breathe. why on earth did they ever think that standardization such that people regardless of their interests or predilections should all learn the same thing in the same way? be tested by the same test? what kind of crazy idea is that.
i am sure we will reach the day where people will look back and say that. i hope we reach that day sooner rather than later. i would like to see it come in my lifetime. i hope that some of you or maybe all of you will play a role in bringing that about before too long. and with that, i thank you for your kind attention. thank you for being here. and bless you all. >> let's have another round of applause. wasn't that so cool? all right, our next speaker has dedicated his career into taking the ideas we just heard about
into action. he is known for his outlandish and on spiraling educational tactics that utilize what is right in our own backyards to teach kids some pretty high powerful stuff. he is a do-it-yourself neuroscientist and the founder of backyard brains, an organization that develops to help kids discover neuroscience and how the brain works. the subjects of these experiments? let's just put it this way. warning, live cockroaches will be used in the following demonstration. let's bring him out.
>> hello, chicago. it's good to be here. i'm from michigan so i always love giving talks. it you guys are good people so i'm excited about this. i am a neuroscientist. it this talk will be about and are a science and exciting changes happening in the education system. the democratization of science. they now allow us to build at low cost, tools that used to only be done in a lab. what we are going to learn about today is that this change is happening and we are seeing it happen making citizen scientists out of us. the history of what it used to be to be a neuroscientist. this is a brain that i studied and i had to go to a graduate school, spending six years in a research lab getting a phd just
to get access to the tools to understand how the brain works. that seems a bit silly. one out of five of us is going to have a neurological disorder. we have no cures for these diseases yet. i dedicate my life to study the brain just to be able to understand how the brain works. for example, if you want to learn astronomy, you don't have to go to your phd. it you can buy a cheap telescope and understand a bit how the planets move. the point is, you can sit there and maybe you become nterested. but with biological sciences, there is nothing like that. there's no cheap telescope for the brain to be able to allow
you to get access to the same ools the professionals do. i worked with my lab mates and we would try to change that and come up with kits to work with kids. we would have a papier-mâché frankenstein and put ice cream in his brain. we would transfer that to another student and the student would take out the visual cortex back here and the student what all of a sudden have blinders on and could not see for the last -- rest of the class. we would pinch his arms own. t was really so different. it was so abstract. one of our lab mates decided to come up with an idea.
we published an abstract and we called it be hundred dollars bike. e wanted to take the lab equipment and make it affordable and easy enough. we would be able to record the same ron's in a very simple way. this is really kind of a shoddy stage. it didn't even work but there was so much interest from scientists. we kept getting e-mails about this thing, when can we buy one? we started with our prototype and we kept working on it until
finally we have a version that ctually works. the spyker boxx allows it to record living brain cells. we will do that today and we will use not a high-tech computer but students phones to be able to record been earl activity and analyze that as ell. before i go into the experiment, let's do a brief recall on what neuroscience is and what the brain is and what neurons are. not many people. this is why we need to do neuroscience earlier.
no one even really knows what the basic cells are. this is a neuron and a long axon that reaches out. this is where information gets passed from one to the other. the information comes in the form of electricity and it comes from one cell to the other cell and you do this enough times and that's how we are able to see and we are able to think. electricity comes in small packets and they are opening up really quickly and allows your brain to function. are you guys ready? let's hear you. thank you. as we said earlier, we are not going to use my brain and i'm not going to invite some appear to drill into your head. i'm going to use the brains of south american cockroaches which llow us -- whoops. he first thing i'm going to do
is pull out these cockroaches. oh, disaster. you've got this? what i'm going to do first is i'm going to anesthetize him. there are no tricks here. this guy is alive. does anyone know why we are oing this? are they warm-blooded? cold-blooded. that means they become the same emperature of ice water. those potassium channels stop moving. he stops feeling pain as well. i am knocking him out because we are going to do a surgery right now and i will remove one of his legs so that we can record the
neurons inside the legs. i'm going to take this guy out and i'm going to cut one of his legs off right there. gross. let me go back to the slides really quick. this is the leg of the cockroach. the beautiful hairs, they allow him to do something interesting. the neuron will send electrical messages up to the brain. the brain doesn't know that. it will try to get information to the brain. those neurons will start firing again and we should be able to listen to how the brain actually functions. i am going to take the leg and put a couple of pins on the leg. positive and negative.
you need to points for electricity. we don't think there are neurons. i will put one into the femur where i do think there are neurons. can you see that so far? i will turn on the speaker and we will listen to what the brain sounds like. can everyone here that? people say it either sounds like raindrops or frying bacon. that is how your brain sounds. if i put a wire to your brain, you would hear the same sounds. the beauty of nature, these are concerns. i will turn on this ipad here that i've plugged in. we will hopefully see that as ell.
now what we are looking at here, you can see those spikes that are going by. those are the messages being sent from the leg to the brain. so what would happen if i were to touch that leg? maybe it sends a message. i will go ahead and touch the leg. you see that? what you're looking at is information. it's being encoded and being sent to the brain. this would be the same if i wanted to touch the shoulder. he feels that because there is in or on there. this is how everything works from the sensory input into the brain. let's go back to slides really quick.
we'll come back and do more experiments. when people first see the spikes for the first time, these are not doctored photos. this is a wonderful thing. it is portable so we can get citizens involved. we can show spikes on a plane and as you get people to sit down, we can make kids understand it and give them the schematics. and not only that, what each of the knobs do. they develop their own experiments and we developed some online. i just want to do one more quick experiment. he brain not only takes an
information but it sends it back out to the muscles. instead of my brain, i'm going to send information coming out rum my cell phone and i'm going to play some hip-hop music which has electricity similar to the electricity in the brain into this leg and we see what happens when we send a little jolt of electricity inside this cockroach leg. very similar to an experiment alvani did many years ago. can you zoom in on that? let me turn it this way. what you are seeing is the cockroach leg, when the base frequency is playing, you will see a little twitching of the leg. i just want to jump to one more video.
what we are going to do now is i will show you what happens if you do this within -- this is the galvani experiment. this is a squid that you can catch off the shores of maine, of boston. i've done the same experiment here but inside the brain of a squid. it sends information down to the skin to change the colors. we will listen what happens when you play hip-hop music into a squid. i am looking down on it and hopefully have some audio ere. so what this is, these are the cells inside the squid that open and close like tiny muscles. the cephalopods change their color on demand. we have put a little bit of electricity there. you can actually do this pretty well.
so let's go to the next thing. i want to record the neurons from people through these muscular activities. can i get one volunteer from the audience? yes, what your name? perfect. all right. the first thing i want to do is hook you up and get one more volunteer. what we're going to do is i'm going to record the electrical activity and amplify it and stick it into someone else's arm. we are going to record your brain, amplify it, and control another brain. do we have a volunteer that would be willing to give it up? come on down.
let's hook you up really quick. are you ready for this? i will put a couple of pads on you. i'm going to put an electrode. this is saltwater which is on a lot of the sodium and potassium that connect to the metal. and in what i'm going to do is i'm going to hook you up to hear and put this one here. >> do you know each other? >> no. >> we are going to have you do something. i want you to squeeze your hand. i want you to squeeze up like you are revving a otorcycle.
now what we have here is we have amplified your electricity and we're going to turn on the led. when the red led comes on, we have amplified the electricity enough that we can make your our ove. nish, let's do your left hand as well. you have a nerve that runs down here, the funnybone. i'm going to try to hit this so that when she moves her arm -- what you're hearing is her motor cortex. we will stick it into your arm and make a brain computer interface to a brain brain nterface house that? i've got you hooked in and we are almost done here. you're going to feel a little
bit of pinching. an electrical charge will hit that nerve and you should be able to feel these things. you have completely lost your free will of that left arm and you are now completely in control of his left arm. let's try it. i will turn it up a little bit. when you move, go ahead. that we will do a really quick xperiment. ou look the other way. if i were to move your arm -- why is that? it has to be your brain sending it down to match your muscles. that is the last experiment right now.
you had me at narrow. the cockroach is still in there. in keeping with the theme of education outside of school walls, it is my honor to introduce you to the next speaker. what risk would you take to change your life? change your world or your community for the better? this is the question the next speaker challenged himself to answer. instead of attending a traditional grad school for an mba. this transforms the way you think.
>> i have been given 12 minutes so we will dive right in. a blank page and a problem. for most of my life even though i was seven years old, i was supposed to become and engineer. it has limitations meeting you have to go through a lot of schooling and that means you have to be incredibly smart. if she saw that, she would have elbowed me the whole time. in middle school, i came across some incredible mentors and teachers and friends. these guys became my heroes. ok, sorry. i told them i wasn't be going -- going to become a doctor or engineer. they said, why can't you do oth? which is a à la point. i found myself helping build a 40,000 space called the hub.
i got to do some of that work. i fell in love with this idea of the social enterprise. building businesses and organizations that were for-profit or for purpose. the common answer is i will get an nba. there were several great schools here, two of the top five or 10 schools in the country. i started down that track. the more i looked at the style of learning, i did not know if it hit me. i didn't want to get into so much debt that i couldn't navigate what i did afterwards. i thought if i could start from scratch, how could i design my education.
i started a blog and a ewsletter. i know what you're thinking, you got people to give you money? i convinced them that i would pull off 12 projects. it was from design, business, and social change. and i would also make collections along the way. it happened to be a leap year and i designed my own masters. it led me across the world. but by rocket scientists. i found myself in a digital agency.
ended up serving thanksgiving dinner learning with -- it put me in a position where i was slightly alone. esigning your own education, you are a little bit of a vagabond and a little bit of a vigilante. i would talk to these companies and i would say, can you give me a month? if you days to solve a problem? i would scope a project and find something that i could solve and at the end of that month, share that with that company. over and over, that's what
appened. interview, pitch them on an idea. it was scoping this thing. it was finding people wanting to create risk to make change. it was finding these people that were thinking about could i adapt and start a business this ear? and so those people started sending me their stories. at the end of the year, -- the beginning of the year, if you guys share your stories, i will compile it to an end of the year project that would be my version of dissertation. we designed a book of stories that were learning the risk. it became the theme of the leap ear project.
and finally i had to figure out how to design my on graduation. i had a community now, a dissertation. i put a cap and gown on and on this very stage. it was 18 months ago. my parents sat right there. my dad was elated. he introduced himself to everyone as the father of the leap year guy. awesome. the question came, how might we establish experience as a credible form of education. in a lot of cases, i would not be compensated for some of my work. i learned a great amount of practical tools. students, instead of doing 12 experiences in 12 months which is kind of the everest of the
program. we would do three experiences with 10 to 12 weeks and we would have classes peppered him throughout. we would find a small group of tudents. elf-awareness, community building, human centered design and human centered design and ommunity building. how do we redesign all aspects of higher education? we did not have a massive campus. the first thing you see is all these images of beautiful ampuses. what does that look like?
for campuses, we thought about countless office spaces with extra space. they be we could meet with them. companies started giving us space. and the idea of instructors, we ask them to give us two days of their time to teach us one of those five core ompetencies. we teamed up with a hostile here in chicago. it was kind of turning into a mix of harvard meets the amazing race. stanford was in the middle of doing a project where they were dissecting for cart -- for parts of higher education. library, accreditation, and experiential learning.
it we asked to be one of the partners. just last may, the final presentation called stanford 2025 where we were able to share some of the findings after a year of studies with them. that is my class, myself, and if you haven't gotten to check that out, a super awesome project. and of course there was the actual experience. this is the quick telling of what she did. >> when i started my year of experiences, i knew i wanted to become a better designer. i know that they are >> when i started my year of experiences, i knew i wanted to become a better designer. i know that they are communicated. i want to get better. i began working as a project manager for dojo.
for the first time, i communicated with them throughout the entire design process. i felt confident to take on my ext team in seattle. i was in studio seven with the architecture firm. i was able to design experiences for civic and corporate rojects. for my last term, i was in the department of design for arts ducation campaign. together, we worked on all aspects of the project for designing the physical form. my undergraduate degree is an architecture and music.
when considering careers, i thought it would have to limit yself to one or the other. i got to work on projects that let me exercise everything. it will help me design in every medium. rather, i can show how those skills make me a better designer for teammates. >> and giving me creative confidence going ahead. i say, don't study it. experience it. >> right? may have been things like creative confidence, creative gency. navigating things that are seemingly gray or white. they don't have a framework yet.
the real world portfolio. not seeing what they are able to do with it. but what they are able to do with higher education. they continue sharing this idea of designing education through experience. at the very end of last year which was just last month, they designed their own graduation with a shared for discoveries and they were able to tell their stories. they were also expected to welcome the next class of students. and they were able to hand them their diplomas on the first day. a piece of wood with the logo cut out. after each experience they are given a token that fills in the diploma. nd the next 12 students have
begun. they are starting off in their fall experience. obviously, starting with schools at a city or a museum, where do you start? it has been this combination of learning funding models and are we in movement? we have been able to work with businesses to consult and foster this community of curiosity. and we have 1000 people or 2000 people that design education through experience. what has been interesting is to think about having that many people come through here, and how do we create this process. this discovery of helping people
start with intention, don't declare a mission -- i'm sorry, don't declare a major but start by declaring a mission. debbie patterson is interested n health care. they are opening the challenge and administering the challenge for the ebola virus and finding ways to create solutions for that. for her to be in a position where she is able to learn and do so in a way that is building her body of work and serving an actual common need. and to take a risk and find things that push you out of a comfort zone. not that classes are bad but thinking about what i actually need to do that i don't know yet. this will push me out of my
omfort zone. johnson was in a spot where he had an invitation from an ad agency. i am really interested in either -- eastern orthodoxy and i would like to do a writing project on a monastery. i am thinking i am the leap year guy, this is -- i don't know if it's the right thing to do and he sends the new york times writer to mentor them. he lives in a monastery and rights a paper on this wall project. and not have this amazing piece that he's able to share. experience needs is valuation. it you can just move through things at 100 miles a minute. it will define your future if you take those moments to look back.
a way to do that, there are countless ways each day to take hances to look back. april used instagram, each place she did, showing how seat -- how she processes cities. how do we make learning a habit? it was one of our younger students, 20 years old in a position where they wondered how eams worked. the idea of iteration is now aunched him into a year of studying how i make my city more alive. they do a traveling tour of cold-weather cities. i think he is there right
now. a study about what is making copenhagen come alive. this process of intention, action, iteration. it is a framework and is becoming something that anyone anywhere can begin to execute on and think about and their own context. i think as i look at what scale looks like, those that design their education will be the ones that design their future. think about it in the context of design in general. the computer opened up an entire new type of design where people can design everything from websites to systems, to print design. and now there are countless ways to create things without much
cost and you can easily excel at them and learn how to do so. ame thing with businesses. it felt like you needed some sort of great credential to design a business. but now, anyone can launch a billion-dollar business and do it from their garage. i think this is going to happen ith education. i will end with this. there is a new breed of learner that realizes they don't need a costly degree to achieve the tools and networks to make a valuable contribution to society. but thoughtfully leaning into the countless resources around them. individuals can design their education. t will take extra attention to detail and an emphasis on telling their stories but those are increasingly necessary skills.
those who venture to take such a leap will set a lifelong pattern of being inventive, helpful, adaptable, and curious. and they can do so without the crippling debt that comes with higher education. it will be seen as an incredible option for someone of any age. from the corners of the inner-city, two workshops and any industry. on a systemic level, i propose you find every way to cultivate curiosity and leave a seat at the table for those curious and impassioned by what you are doing. and on a personal level, the tassel may have been turned and the final school bell may have wrong, but what does it mean for you to intentionally learn now? as the pace of change quickens, all of us find ourselves with feelings and at crossroads. if it is time to learn, i am inviting you to the same call i
have shared on the stage 18 months ago to be a student again. find ways to solve problems. people that are striving for change. watch how it inspires others. hanks. [applause] >> fantastic. reading, writing and reality, right? so great. all right. if you had one wish, what would you wish for? i heard that. our next speaker is the founder of wish bone a mom and pop organization ta is helping making dreams a reality for
low-income students. making the impossible dream a reality. she is a former teach for erica core member, education ventures fellow, an entrepreneur, and she has been recognized twice on the forbes 30 under 30 for her work in education. she is joining us today as a recipient of the social lowship.on or bhsi fel less lee bloom and david create this honor as a way to recognize individuals and encourage them to continue their efforts. please join me in welcoming our next guest. [applause] >> thanks so much for having me. this is great.
so convention neal, we think about opportunities a lot like this. this is a school where i went to high school in connecticut and known for its academic rigor, its structure and obvious opportunity. what is interesting about my experience at this school, it wasn't thing that got myself out of bed or got me excited or passionate. in fact, i really didn't relate to the opportunity offered here at all. instead, what created a culture of achievement in me was not academics at all. it was actually figure skating. so growing up, i was a competitive figure skater and figure skating was the thing that taught me dedication, purpose and confidence. ta was the thing that got me out of bed in the morning. had nothing to do with academics.
it created a self-driven sense of motivation to achieve and this translayed not only to everything else i did in life but also to school. so no one had to convince me that effort and really hard work was required to achieve in figure skating. i knew it. so after that, the opportunity to school was obvious to me. so let's fast forward to 2007, a couple of years later and i found myself teaching in a high school in south central los angeles. i had 260 tenth grade schools and were at a fifth grade reading level. a core of my students had one child, some had two or three. many suffered from domestic violence, gang violence and other forms of abuse. and in fact, my first year of teaching, a riot of 600 broke
out on campus and the lapd had to break it up. the opportunity of school was not really on my students' minds. but i really realized something far more interesting. despite the darkness and real adversity in my students' lives, there was something more interesting. they were motivated by the same things that motivated me. they wanted to feel confidence, purpose and dedication to something like i did in skating. so despite the obvious lack of traditional resources, what i would argue these students were most for was the opportunity to pursue passion. so when i was teaching in my very first year, i would find a research paper as the first paper of the year and out of 160 students, less than 10% turned this paper in, about 15. so i took a step back and
thought about the relevance of this paper. nd i think it was on farmworkers. i said forget about it. the new topic is, tell me about a passion you have. and the research component was to tell me how you would pursue this passion after school in the summer. 85% of my students turned in the paper and on time. and what was really even more interesting than this is that 20 of the papers started with something like this sentence, no one has ever asked me what my passion is. so, i stopped myself in my tracks and i started to read these papers and students wanted to pursue stem cell science. they wanted to study art. they wanted to learn phone production. had all these passions that they were hoping to pursue. wanting to capitalize on the
momentum, i ran a marathon to raise $12,000. and with that $12,000 i sent seven students on the programs on the papers they had written. when the students came back, they were way more confident and their attendance rates went up and started showing up at school and g.p.a.'s went up as a result of showing up to school more. i thought it was an interesting thing. this became my most important time in l.a. and as a result, i learned that running marathons isn't a sustainable form of fundraising so i started wish bone and send 250 students to after school programs. one has studied architecture.
one has studied photography. one has studied fashion design and we are just beginning. we are on track to be the leading provider of out of school access to the nation's [applause] >> thank you. like so many of those first students from locke, the first seven, we are seeing all of the students graduate high school and attending college and they come back and say this experience made the realize what could be possible. so while this impact seems so large it started so small. it started with just recognizing what passion feels like myself and then it continued by putting passion at the forefront of the schooldays of my students and then it continued also understanding that when students are curious they will learn and when they learn they will succeed. thank you. [applause]
>> awesome, just awesome. i feel that confidence and it is such a simple concept of pursuing passion that changes our lives. thank you for changing so many lives. ok, imagine a situation in which the circumstances were so extreme that you had to relearn much of what we typically take for granted. like walking, talking, eating, writing, everything. our next speaker is here to tell you, based on her experience she
founded declara, a technology platform that uses algorithms to develop certain path of learning. she is a former marine with aviation experience and had careers in both neuropsychology and software development. please welcome miss ramona pearson. [applause] ramona and i will just sit down and talk. it is great to have you here. the roots of your company are in your remarkable aspiring -- inspiring recovery from an accident you suffered when you were 22 years old. tell us about that and how it informs what you do. >> when i was 22 years old i was in the marine corps and i was
running and i used to run marathons and i would grab my dog and started out to run and a drunk driver at the same time i was leaving left a bar and we hit an intersection at the same time. he ran a red light and my left foot got caught in the will well andheel well in the car spun my leg around. the bumper sliced my throat and i suffered blunt chest trauma and if it was not for somebody, a passerby who opened up my airway, i would not be here today. so declara came out of the understanding of innovation and radical collaboration. because the innovation of being able to keep me alive and everything that was invented along the way inspired me to be an innovator myself.
>> what do you mean by radical collaboration? >> a few things happened so when you look around this room and i think about curiosity and the end of school, i get excited because a lot of people who invented some of the body parts i am wearing today inside of my skin were people who dropped out of college and school and invented. both by feet are titanium, my knees are titanium and i've different pieces in my heart, my nose is plastic, my cheekbones titanium and i am getting a titanium jaw bone next week. , somebody invents something just in time for me. [laughter] that inspires me. but it was this radical
collaboration. the hospital had given up and the medical professionals never thought i would speak again and it took me four years to learn to speak again and it was when they dumped me in a nursing home and i look like et had just landed. about 68 pounds bald and did not have a lot of my face by then , but i have like 100 grandparents in the nursing room who all came around and taught me everything i know. how to speak, how to walk, how to function as a blind person. i was completely blind for 10 years until some dropout figured out how to invent robotic surgery so i could have brain surgery to get vision in one of my eyes back. >> wow. [applause]
you are the definition of extraordinary. extra-ordinary. that is amazing. we see terms like machine learning and semantic search techniques and descriptions of the platform, can you say a little more about what edclara does? >> one of the things i learned when i was in the senior home is that a lot of people can come together and help accelerate your learning, not just once on the stage or a teacher but that knowledge is out there and what , we do is we replicate a lot of the hierarchical processes of the brain. so when you think about it your cell phone is a simple tool that can access you to an open
library of the sum of all human knowledge. it is fascinating that we have that much content in the world that just needs to be indexed, classified, sorted, and then provided in an easy to use way for learners. so i believe we are all lifelong learners and we are driving our learning through curiosity and every day i work by studying and learning and driving my work through what i learn. so we use the machine learning to understand and process content and be able to deliver that content to people based on their intent for learning. and sometimes we just automatically provide that to them. >> brilliant, really. i have this image of you in the nursing home with all these ladies standing around you -- teaching you -- right?
it's beautiful. tell us who is it available to? , >> we have been working with the nation of australia. what is fascinating is australia said we're rolling out new curriculum to our teachers so instead of taking a hammer and beating teachers over the head saying you have to learn this curriculum, they decided to use newara and we will on board educators to the curriculum. so what they did is the educators started leveraging our platform to be able to identify the holes in the curriculum and crowd source support around each other and the invention of new content so that they could support the role. -- rollout of the curriculum at scale. we aewre in mexico right now, doing the same thing, bringing educators to a new curriculum so what we started doing was
understanding the skill and labormismatch and -- mismatch and seeing how countries who have to transform their entire workforce because of their trying to onboard into the information society or their -- they are finding that their current economy is collapsing, so most of the countries that have come to us have said how do we transform our workforce at scale immediately, so those are the kinds of clients we started out with. now we are working with genentech to help researchers solve clinical trials for cancer much quicker and faster. coming this spring were going to have consumer products so that anybody can use our products for free. >> that was want be my next question -- did you hear that? awesome.
tell us more about you. this is your third startup, what other companies do you envision starting? >> since i am a lifelong learner i am always playing around with studying things so nanotechnology is something that i am fascinated with. mainly because i will probably have to fix myself. but actually i got into neurosciences because i thought i will have to figure out how to see again. fortunately someone figure that out for me. i started really focusing all of my companies around learning, mainly because it was such a difficult thing as an adult to come back and learn. mainly because my ego kept getting in the way. having to relearn how to speak i had to learn how to move my tongue and move my lips again
and when you're a kid you learn things so naturally because nobody is telling you that it is strange for you not to know these things and when you are an adult your ego starts to inhibit your ability and your curiosity to try things and risk-taking so the reason why all my companies have been wrapped around learning is i started out helping students learn and now i've been focused on adult learners because all of us have to be continuous learners because the world is changing so fast. and to be able to have 2 billion people out in the world to be your teachers through mobile devices, there are 2 billion people connected today and 5 billion in the next five years, we might as well create a platform that would allow all of us to connect all the time and to learn from each other.
>> you are so right. it is not even the answers we are looking for it is about having the right questions. >> you read my mind because one of the pieces of my product will be of about curated questions. one of the learnings i had from that was from a project called fold it. i don't know if you have read about it. but uw had an experiment about can we take novice learners and teach them l.a. liberality. so they created a simple school gamifieda -- that learning. they had a rocket ship that would go up. it started out with 40 people old ladies who were knitting and high school students but pretty soon that 40 became 700 and 40000 and 70,000 and these people now by crowdsourcing
solutions are able to be double doctorates in predicting how proteins are going to fold so imagine that that kind of power can help us invent new drugs and and issues and diseases faster than probably companies like gin -- genentec will be able to do. >> that is incredible. >> that is about learning to curate questions so you learn from the question. >> not only that, it is the essence of education, right? every of our speakers talked one about this that there is something very powerful about the act of giving. that we receive so much more when we are able to just open up our hearts and minds and give. that is exactly what you are doing area solutions are coming that would be 50 years in the making. >> it's amazing because when we start thinking about how we can
open up learning and provide democratization of content and resources when i think about the , greatest resources that are out there, those are us. everybody in this room. when i think about the senior citizens who helped me come back , imagine the power of people not being used to have all the skills and talent everybody in this room, but they just need to be accessed. >> and that is what helped you see it? >> exactly right. >> beautiful. we've a few seconds left and i will be rapid fire. the first, what advice do you have for all the entrepreneurs in the house starting their own company? and the second is, why do you think that smart people drop out? >> good question. risksrst question, take
and be willing to undo everything you have done. right now what we have been doing is inventing new tools that we are going to provide in our consumer product that will actually probably undo the tools we have invested in already and that is because you have to take the risk to invent and reinvent and continue to undo yourself so with education and learning a -- i believe you have to unlearn everything so that you can actually relearn and teach. why do people care about some of -- drop out? some of the smartest people drop out because we are not challenging them and we are restricting them on a pathway that is not right for them. so when we define a learning pathway for people or a curriculum for people and do not allow them to develop and curate their own curriculum and their learning pathway, we imprison their mind.
and the only way to free themselves is to escape. hear, give it up! [applause] >> thank you so much. >> thank you. right from the beginning to the end, there it is. oncedent john f. kennedy said that the goal of education is the advanced of knowledge and the dissemination of truth if we -- and if we look at education in this manner, it can be surmised it is not a method, time, or place that truly matters. it is the outcome. thanks again for joining us today and participating in our community of curiosity. the end of school! [applause] and i want to give it up for all the amazing speakers that we heard today in the beautiful art that we came back to about curating our own learning. if you love what you heard and
what to keep the conversation going, head to the back door -- bar tomas right now. because i'm done talking. [laughter] to continue the conversation with other attendees. on your way out check out our info table where we will be selling the 2015 memberships at a 20% discount this week only. then you will also want to stop by the chicago ideas week general store, where you can pick up some great year and get your book signed by peter gray. definitely do that. then finally don't forget to share your feedback for the chance to win great prizes by texting "talk" to 37479. thanks again, have a great evening and don't stop learning! [applause]
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] c-spanthanksgiving week, features interviews from retiring members of congress. watch the interviews tonight through thursday at 8:00 p.m. eastern. >> what we accomplished in 36 years, i don't want to look back at that so much is looking forward to the next couple of months. in the next couple of months there are a couple things i would like to do. one is to get my defense authorization bill passed. this is an annual effort, a major effort involving large amounts of staff. i want to finish up work on the permanent subcommittee on investigations, looking at some gimmicks which are used to avoid taxes. >> i have been a member of congress are 34 years.
if i was a manager for a baseball or a football team and was 34-1 i would be in the hall of fame. just sat on going. i had 18 cochairmen in my district who were supporting me and allowing me to run. >> also on thursday, thanksgiving day, and american history tour of various native american tribe. at 10:00 a.m. eastern following "washington journal." 1:30, the ground breaking ceremony of the new diplomacy center in washington with former secretaries of state. and clarence thomas, send alito, and sonia sotomayor. for our complete schedule go to www.c-span.org. simpson, a constitutional
attorney and director of legal studies at the california based institute spoke at a dinner in colorado about cronyism and corruption in our system of government. he argued several cases before the supreme court, including those dealing with eminent domain, super pac's, and public financing. part of the hungry minds speaker series. >> welcome to hungry minds speaker series with steve simpson speaking on cronyism, corruption, and government power. steve simpson is director of legal studies at ayn rand institute in irvine, california. a former constitutional the guy -- litigator, steve has litigated in the u.s. supreme court and lower and federal and state courts throughout the nation. steve was the lead lawyer in c, the casevs. se that created super pac's. and
he litigated many other campaign-finance and constitutional cases over the years. steve has written on a wide variety of legal and constitutional issues, and writings have appeared in the "wall street journal" the "washington post" "washington times" and many publications over the years. let's welcome steve simpson speaking on cronyism, corruption, and government power. [applause] >> ok. first of all, thanks very much, hannah and hungry minds for having me here. i have to say it is a pleasure to be back in colorado. the last time i was here, i was suing the government, so i have very cheerful memories of coming here. [laughter] it is nice to be back. that seems like a good segue into my topic than anything, cronyism and corruption in government power. we have heard a lot about
cronyism in the last several years. the political right and a lot of libertarians have been talking about it frankly for years and it has become a big issue with the export-import bank and other issues. we have also heard a lot for many years about government corruption, primarily from the political left, but frankly that's from across the political spectrum. so i think most people understand that these two ideas somehow go together. i'm not sure everybody would place the idea of government power in the triumvirate, and that is part of what i put it there, because i think that is really the key issue. but what i want to start, let's -- that is in a sense and essence that's what i want to get at. i want to get at what is the issue here and what should we be concerned about? there is a real problem when people talk about cronyism. it signifies or gets to a real phenomenon with government but i
think it's widely misunderstood. it's worth starting with a simple question. we hear about cronyism all the time. we hear about corruption all the time but what does this idea , mean? and this is part of what i want to do. i want to explore with this idea means and what its implications are. i will say off the top of the issue that there is a problem here but if you think about it the wrong way it has very dangerous consequences. but in order to get into this issue we should first start with what people think of this issue. what is that people are talking about when they talk about cronyism and corruption? so i want to start by characterizing this issue and kind of giving you an example of what we often hear. it's an election season now and it makes sense to think about this in the context that perhaps something that you have heard
and if you haven't heard you probably will hear. so think about this and ask yourself have you heard something like this? so here it is. money and influence are corrupting our democracy. we have a government not by and for the people but by and for the special interests. big business colludes with big government and redistributes money and favors to itself at the expense of everyone else. in short, it's not capitalism that we live under in this country it's crony capitalism. , i don't think this is anything new to you guys. if it is you are not paying sufficient attention because this is especially in an election year what we are hearing constantly. the question is, what does this mean? what is it that people are getting at? there is a real issue here. i think there's a real injustice and a view of our economic system and our government that criticized, but i
don't think people are thinking about it in the right way. now that's kind of a caricature of the issue. instead of relying on what i think is the general statement, let's first before we start analyzing this take a look at what the commentary is saying. the right is criticizing this issue a lot and let me give you a sense of what a lot of commentators are saying. first i want to really get a sense of what this is all about. this is an author by the name of tim carney. he is with the "washington examiner." he's done a great job attacking the issue of cronyism and special-interest influence. but i would part company with him on how he describes a buddy -- describes it. he wrote a whole book called the big rip off and here's one of the things he has to say about cronyism. the idea he is attacking is the myth according to him that this is big business is opposed to regulation. what he says is the truth is
that big business lobbies for and profits from big government policies that rip off consumers, taxpayers and entrepreneurs. moreover government is happy to , comply. i think this is a fairly typical view. here's another one from national review. this is how cronyism works. the company wants a special privilege from the government in exchange for political support in future elections. if the company is wealthy enough or backed by powerful enough interest groups the company will get it way and politicians will get another private sector ally. this is a quid pro quo or a trade going on here. a few cronies win at the expense of every one else. that's another common statement. last but not least let's look at what a politician has to say about this. this is i think my favorite of all. wendy davis, a gubernatorial candidate in texas, and she's describing her opponent. here's what she says about him.
my opponent is "part of the special interests crony class of insiders who has raised millions of dollars in campaign cash." that one caught me. i asked myself, what the hell is the special-interest crony class of insiders? it's not just an insider and it's not just a crony class of insiders but as the special-interest crony class. when i hear that i get this image of the guy that lives in a vault at halliburton and sits on a big pile of money and smoke cigars with dick cheney and they calculate on what's going on in the world. [laughter] the point is not to ridicule the idea of crony capitalism because , there is a serious issue. it is to ask the question what do people mean by this? let's characterize this idea. what are the essential points that people are putting forward in this idea of cronyism. i want to analyze the issue and see what is the real issue or what is it that we ought to be
criticizing or not. the main point here is what comes across in this description is that big business and big government writ -- collude to rip off the little guy. that well-connected insiders are able to get benefits from government that are not available to others and that, at the expense of others. ensure, the idea here seems to be that this is a problem of bad people corrupting a good system. the evil insiders who are profiting in corrupting our system of government. in case anybody misses the point let me give you one more , example. this one is from the economist magazine purportedly a magazine , that cares about the free market and capitalism. not long ago they ran a cover issue called planet plutocrat and in case you didn't get the
, point of that day had on the cover a picture of crocodile, it -- a crocodile, a wolf, and a hippopotamus dressed as businessmen. the obvious issue being animals are impersonating businessmen too much. it's too much, so but the idea here obviously is businessman and insiders are evil and this is a problem of outsiders or well-connected insiders influencing our political system to their benefit at the expense of everybody else. now i take pretty close to the , opposite view of that. so the idea is that this is a problem of bad individuals corrupting a good system, i think a far better way to think about it is the real problem here is a bad system, not bad
individuals. in other words, the problem here isn't individuals per se. it is the system in which they are operating. the problem is not that bad people are corrupting a good system. it's that our system is fundamentally flawed. if we want to understand this issue we have to understand that , aspect of the issue. in short this is a problem, , cronyism or what people are referring to as cronyism is the problem of the misuse of government power. it's not a fundamental problem of individuals trying to influence the system. and i'll explain why i think that. i would go as far as to say under the system of government we have, what people complain about when they complain about cronyism or the phenomenon here is absolutely unavoidable, and until we fix our thinking about government and until we reform government ultimately this problem has to persist.
that is what i want to focus on. before i go further i should say a word about the term cronyism. and it's actually four words. i don't like it. i don't like this term. this term suggests that the problem is an issue purely a -- of favoring people. it's purely an issue with influencing the system. there is nothing inherently wrong with cronies. the term cronyism really just means favoring your friends or your colleagues. that's not inherently wrong, but the suggestion of this term is the problem is favoritism. now i will however be using the term throughout the talk and i will apologize for that. i don't have a better term to use at least not one that's commonly used. in my focus ultimately it's on the phenomenon. what is it that people are complaining about and what should they be complaining about ? not the terms. however if i had to pick a term
ayn rand referred to poll peddling and the aristocracy of the poll, that people are able to use the power of government for themselves. that happens in a particular system. another one that i really like come from the 19th century french economist and it's a legal plunder and i will explain why think this is an issue. that captures it really well. so here's what i want to do in the talk. i want to cover three basic points. first, i want to explain why you -- i think this issue is really important. this is an issue that can even -- easily travel under the radar but i think that the issue of cronyism and how we think about a government that results in our economic system is really important. i guess i would classify the issue as i said as the misuse of government power. but there's more to think about in considering why it is we
ought to care about the issue. what i ultimately want to do is convince you to think differently about it and advocate to others and try to convince people what is the real issue here. that's the first thing i want to do. second, i want to explain what i think is wrong with the common thinking. the prevailing view that this is a problem of bad people and not a bad system. there is an absence of packaging -- in essence a packaging of two things that don't go together or ought not go together when to separate them. i want to examine something i mentioned a minute ago, which is that if this is a problem of government, under the type of government that we have this problem is unavoidable. there's no way to avoid it. i want to expose that, because the way we think about government is a large part of the problem. so long as we characterize our government in the common way and i will get to the issue. i mean you can sum it up by , saying democracy but there's more to say about this issue.
so long as we think about government that way and have that type of government this , problem is unavoidable. so let me start with the issue, why is cronyism a concern? my view is cronyism and what people rightly complain about with the term is a misuse of government power, and that should be of great concern to people. that's not what i really want to focus on. i will go back to that. i want to focus on for a minute on how this issue of cronyism or the underlying phenomenon, this issue that some people are accessing government for their benefit at the expense of everyone else, which is a common view. how does that affect our thinking of institutions in this country that are really important? that's something we need to step back and think about. i'm guessing that this actually impacts all of you in this room in ways that you have not considered. that's something i want to bring up because it's a serious issue and we need to correct this.
if we want to correct a lot of the flawed thinking about government, about capitalism and about business. let's start with the issue of business. it impacts our view. it impacts our view of our economic system. and our view of government, all in negative ways. now to begin with, i will assume, and i don't think this is a bad assumption. i will assume that most people in this room at least do not have an antibusiness you. by antibusiness or pro-business i'm not talking about individual industries or business, i mean in principle. my guess is you have a generally favorable view of business, and that is a good thing. i do, too. i think business is awesome. in principle. to signify the point -- simple
by the point. to oversupply at i would think about it like this. the industrial revolution and business and all the wonderful things that business has produced, and individuals in business has essentially made the difference between life and death for most people in this country and most people in the industrialized world. so to perhaps oversimplify a bit if it weren't for those two , things industrialization and business probably we would all be dead. or at the very least it make our lives infinitely better. so business is a positive thing . but think about this for a moment. think about your own view of business. in the current context of america is it true to really say to yourself that i have a positive view of business and the pursuit of business? maybe you can abstract away from individual examples and i will give you a couple of examples in minute. but my guess is you are like me, and sometimes, there are a lot of businesses that seem to do
the wrong thing. there are a lot of businesses that seem to be using government to benefit themselves at the expense of everybody else. and cronyism really impacts that. in fact that's kind of what i would say one of the fundamental reasons that people who would otherwise be motivated to view business a verbally, and indeed -- favorably, and indeed some people who work in business still have kind of a mixed view. business isn't really good, it's kind of dirty sometimes and this issue of cronyism impacts it. let me give you a couple of examples to sort of get you thinking about how you think about business and why this issue affects our thinking. consider the electric car company tesla. leave aside a minute that it is electric cars. i don't when you think about electric cars in the whole phenomena of electric cars. tesla is technologically amazing and everyone in southern california where i'm from, as far as i can tell only people in southern california can afford
them, but leave that aside a minute. it is an interesting company. my point is not to make a point about whether electric cars are good. it's to make a point about tesla and the broader phenomenon. tesla is now going to build a battery company in nevada. how do they come to nevada? well there was a big competition , that was held to decide what state tesla was going to come. it was not really a formal competition, but in effect it was a kind of competition and guess who was competing? nevada, california, and texas. the competition was for how many goodies can we give to tesla to entice them to come to the state? things like a free road, which is probably the smallest, cut rate electricity for a decade, meaning they will get a better rate than other tax payers, and no taxes for something like 20 years. we can talk about this in the question-and-answer period.
i will try to probe the steeper. i'm not making a point about whether or not it's good or bad to exempt people from taxes. i can make that point -- it is good -- but the overall point is this looks like tesla has got an inside line to the nevada legislature. this is an example of the nevada legislature and the other legislatures essentially saying hey come to our state and we will manipulate the rule of law for you. we will manipulate our laws. when i moved to california nobody said hey we will exempt you from taxes. [laughter] that's not the way it works. only tesla gets this. there are other really good companies. apple has done this. they set up operations in given states, and it really looked like there was a kind of quid pro quo. a trade going on with the legislature. if you look at the things closely, as a lawyer, some of you respect the rule of law, the phenomenon is pretty sickening.
let's make a deal. it's not leave us alone. let's make a deal. we will negotiate. these laws will not apply to you, this one, we will erase this part and have a special apple law or tesla law. that really is the impact on people's thinking about government, even people who are very pro-business. take one more, pfizer. pfizer the drug company. great. the innovation in medication today is phenomenal. pfizer are producing amazing drugs. but again, tainted by this issue of i will call it cronyism, but there is a deeper issue. one quick example. i used to work at the institute for justice. you probably heard about the issue of eminent domain abuse. i'm hoping you heard about the kilo case in connecticut where suzette kilo's home was taken
through eminent domain and handed over with hundreds of other homes to a developer so he could build a company partly which would be used by pfizer. so in my view that taints pfizer in a sense. if you think about the circumstances of this, we knocked hundreds of homes down and ultimately it is like nine years later, and what we have to show for it? not that we should expect good things out of this arrangement, but what we have to show for it is a barren field that isn't being used by anybody because it's stuck in all sorts of fights over it except ironically literally a group -- a group of cats. just a bunch of cats and they , are not even fat-cats. they're just regular cats. living in this. [laughter] where is the justice in that? the point ultimately here is this really pains their view of business and it's hard to sort
out who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. even if you have a positive view of business you are tempted to think this is dirty. think about it from the layperson standpoint. i think this is really impacting people's view of business. kind of corollary of that or a follow on to that is more broadly broadly speaking it impacts our view of capitalism and the free market, which again i probably don't have to make this point too much to you. but capitalism is a great thing. it's awesome that we have a system of capitalism that leaves us free to produce and the society, the advance society we have today is because of that freedom and the economic system of capitalism. but think about what people argue about capitalism all the time. even people who might be sympathetic to it. let me give you a quote and i think that will round out the point. but i think you have probably heard this sort of thing before.
so i'm going to read the quote first and then you guys can think about who this sounds like. this is a politician talking about the economy. "this economy delivered record corporate profits with sacking middle-class wages and anemic jobless recovery that promoted and exacerbated inequality. it has isolated the poor and squeeze the middle class. if ordinary citizens who work hard and play by the rules only end up subsidizing and bailing out the alleged insiders who do not, then the land of opportunity really isn't." who does that sound like? any thoughts? like john kerry, obama -- that is what i thought. actually it is senator mike lee of utah, who is very good on this issue of cronyism. my ultimate point here is that
this is an attitude, so that this is the attitude coming from a guy who is supposed to stand for the free market and capitalism. think about what the average man on the street thinks. they think capitalism is a rigged game. we see this constantly. inequality just rules capitalism. for thet a system of people. not a system where you can get ahead. it is not what you know it's who , you know. that is fundamentally untrue -- untrue and a slander of capitalism. because of that is really the opposite of capitalism. a large reason why they can get away with this is in my view what is going on with this issue of cronyism that makes capitalism less dirty and unfair. finally i would be remiss if i
didn't point out the impacts of our thinking, on our thinking about government. you might think and again i'm guessing i am from the ayn rand institute oppose government and that's not true at all. ayn rand thought government was absolutely essential. i agree with you wholeheartedly and in fact what a lot of people on the right and among libertarians would characterize government is a necessary evil. i would not say that at all. government is a necessary good. it's absolutely essential for us to be able to live freely. now that only applies though if government is limited to its proper purpose and i will discuss that as we go. my point here is this. government is essential and it's really important to our lives. it's what keeps us free. yet the prevailing view of
government, largely because of this issue of cronyism and issues wrapped up in it is that government is fundamentally corrupt. we have a corrupt government. -- i will leave that characterization aside. it's not a government out to do what it is supposed to do, to protect us. it is a government out to rip us off, as the book said. that is a very negative thing. that breeds cynicism about our government that makes it very to argue for proper limited government. it breeds a view that government is inherently corrupt. that's not true, not the proper kind of government. so that's to at least give you a sense of how this issue is used. it affects our view of business,
capitalism, and government and that is a negative thing. so we ought to get to the root of this problem in this issue and root out what the problem is and separate the good from the bad. that's what i want to do next. i want to talk about what i think is wrong with the prevailing view of cronyism with an eye toward what i think is right about it. in other words, what should we be criticizing when we criticize cronyism? if you are with me and you think there's a real fundamental issue here that we need to talk about, we need to think about how this issue is used and what i would say is the great injustice done in the idea of cronyism. boil my themeto in this part down to one essential point it would be this. cronyism is kind of a fuzzy term that packages together two
things that don't belong together. one of them is bad and one of them is good. the impact of this is too good and to elevate the bad. the impact of this is to damn the good and elevate the bad. it's sort of sullies the good part. what is the good? actually let me backup at second. this is what if you are interested what i'm getting at here is what ayn rand would have preferred as a package deal. this is an idea for a term or a concept that packages under one conceptual roof two very different things. the impact of it all if you are , talking about things i should -- that should be evaluated as good or bad, the impact is always to sully or dirty the good and excuse the bad. in a sense it's like blaming the victim in a crime. claiming that the problem was you were walking through that dark alley. so you deserved to be mugged. people should not walk through
dangerous areas. that's crazy. we shouldn't think about it in illegalityty and like that. we have to separate the good from the bad and judge harshly the bad and judge positively the good. the good in this, i would say, is the following. business, production, well that is produced by industrious people. it even goes as far as limited government and freedom. that is the good that is packaged into this idea of cronyism. not to put too, fine of a point on it, but stealing. using the government to steal from others. but it is also the erosion of the rule of law, the kind of perversion of the rule of law and a perversion of government. all of these things are packaged together in cronyism. and what the effect is is we ignore what is wrong with our government today and we end up blaming the wrong people.
so that's what i want to focus on now. now what i want to do is, i want to do this by exploring a little bit more that the idea of -- not the idea of cronyism per se but some related concepts. i'm guessing that you have heard some of these concepts. these are ideas that you either see in public these days as public discourse and oftentimes you will will see them and -- in economic discussions of government. so let me through a few of these terms out. what i want to do as i want to examine them and try to understand what are they implying. here are the terms. has anyone heard the term rent seeking? the idea here is that government erects barriers to entry are some sort of a qualification to get into a business and those who are in the business are then able to use their privileged position to extract what's known
as monopoly rent. basically just high prices. here's an example. i'm a lawyer, let's take lawyers. i am licensed to practice law in certain states. because of that licensing i can at least this is the argument and i think it is absolutely true because it is very difficult to compete with people like me. we can charge higher prices than -- and we can really get rid of competition. that's definitely true on a state-by-state basis. i just moved to california. i can't practice law there but it would be great if i could become a member of the bar to do legal practice on the side or just because it would be interesting. i'm not allowed to do that. here's another one, regulatory capture. have you heard this one before? i hope you have. so regulatory capture is the idea that regulatory agencies whose job is to regulate businesses get "captured" by the
businesses. they are turned and used by the businesses for the business's various purpose area supposedly a bad thing. that is the second idea, with the individual using the government in a particular way. , special ideas interest influence. everyone knows the idea here. private interests influence government or influence the political process and finally corrupting government or corrupting democracy. cronyism is another one that fits into this. think about this. all of these terms you see coming up in the debate. people are doing all of these things and is supposedly bad. they are rent seeking. they are capturing realtor agencies for for special interests influencing our policy or corrupting democracy. think about these terms for a minute. what is the common denominator or maybe another way to put it is what is the uncommon denominator?
what is the implication for everyone of these terms? what is missing from this calculus when we think about rent seeking private individual or private interests taking advantage of government laws whether it's regulatory capture, , private businesses capturing the regulation, special-interest influences. private business, private interest influencing politics corrupting democracy. , the idea here is that private . interest are corrupting democracy. the commonality is that private interest are somehow corrupting our form of government or taking over parts of our government and using that for their own designs. they should strike us as we are. i will give an example of why think that's true in a minute but think about what is it that , people are complaining about here when they complain about all these phenomena? regulatory capture. if the government has a particular power and you are capturing it for your own design. or rent seeking.
think about that. why do we call it rent seeking? what is wrong with rent? is rent a bad thing? i have rented a property before and i think it's an awesome thing. but the implication here is evil landlords who are preying on people. but why would we call it rent? special interest influence. terme know where this comes from? this has been around since the mid-19th century during the progressive era. this is an era when the government grew almost exponentially purposefully by , the progressives who wanted to expand the size and scope of government. their view was we are doing a wonderful public interest and of course on the side of god or however you want to characterize it and the evil special interests, businessmen who are
trying to influence what we do. they are bad outsider illegitimate. , we are good, insiders running the government for a proper purpose. so again this is the idea and any time you hear it is typically business interests but it very often is any private interest influencing government. so the idea at the root of all of these is somebody's using government but what is it that , they're actually doing? if you really unpacked as i -- this, what is actually going on, what is the real evil people are focusing on? what does it mean to create a barrier to entry? what is the government doing when it creates a barrier to entry? stripping down to its essence. it is imposing, passing a law that essentially says you are not allowed to undertake this business, and you are. what does that mean? that means the government is using the law to actively prevent people from doing what they would otherwise freely
choose to do. boiled down to the essence this , is the application of force and that's really what people are complaining about. the same thing with predatory capture. what do regulatory agencies do? they regulate and restrict business. their purpose is to prevent businesses or private individuals from doing what they would otherwise do in a free market. they are imposing force. that is in essence what people are complaining about when they complain about all these issues. why is it that they are blaming the private interest in all of this and not focusing on what it is that government does? think of some hypotheticals for a minute. let's say you pay a mobster to destroy your competitor's business. go burn down his business. would anybody describe that as mobster capture?
think about that for a minute. the idea is while the mobsters just exist to be used and the problem is here that you are using the mobster for illicit purpose. my view is the mobster is illicit to begin with, and we need to focus that. think about another example. a mobster comes to you and he says, you are in business. nice business you have there and i'd hate to see anything happen to it. if you pay me a little bit every week i will protect you from me destroying your business. the protection racket. would anybody say they paid the guy you are corrupting that mobster? that's horrible. you should not do that. what does this leave out? it leaves out two things.
it leaves out the role of the mobster first of all. what is he doing? he's using force and is something i talked about earlier earlier. it's a form of plundering. he is engaging in thuggery and a criminal act and get all of these terms and in fact the entire issued cronyism crosses over that entirely and that points at the individuals who are influencing the mobster. that's the first thing it does. the second thing it does is it elides the distinction between the guy who is defending himself by paying the mobster off because he has to in the guy who is enlisting the support of the mobster to destroy somebody else. it glosses over the distinction. that is a really important distinction. let me make it clear that should make it clear, my point is not government is a mobster in all cases nor is it that the businessman or private interests are always good. in fact this is an essential point the way to bring out. in one hypothetical the
business is being extorted and he's behaving in what many people, if you you don't have any other recourse what is your choice but to pay the guy off and let me do business. in one case he is innocent. in the other case what's he doing? he's using essentially extortion by means of paying somebody to go destroy another person's business. again, the central issue here is in both cases you cannot have this. this can't exist if you don't have mobsters. so the question i think that people need to ask about this issue of cronyism and government's role in it is do we want government that acts like a mobster or do we want government that protects our rights and acts like a proper government? there's a difference between those two things. and cronyism glosses over the whole thing. it doesn't say the evil here is a government using its power which is the power of force against innocent people.
it just says anybody who accesses this power, we are not really going to talk about what it is, it's bad influence. or is that to influence it in a wrong way. that is another concern. sometimes it's a good thing to use this power and sometimes it's a bad thing but we don't think about what is the essence of this and what is actually going on in these circumstances? now it's beyond the scope of my talk to go into a full-blown now it's beyond the scope of my talk to go into a full-blown analysis or discussion of the nature improper purchase of -- purpose of government but i want to make two related points that are really important to think about when we think about government and unpacking the issue of influence over government or a special interest warfare or cronyism.