Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bush of Arabia

Keith Olberman the other evening observed approvingly that the Europeans don't much care who is elected to be our next president as long as whoever it is tacitly repudiates George Bush and makes a clean break with the last eight years.

Madeline Albright recently sniffed that George Bush is probably the worst president in our history (She said this before going on, humorously enough, to imply that Bush is not concerned about the interests of other nations and that if everyone in the world were poor and ignorant we wouldn't have the problems we do).

Daniel Schorr of NPR observed the other day that George Bush has little to show for his visit to the Middle East. (Schorr pronounced the trip a failure even before Bush had returned home!).

None of these critics has apparently consulted those who actually live in the Middle East before offering their opinions of Bush's impact upon that region. For a completely different take on the significance of George Bush and his presidency one should read this essay by Fouad Ajami in the Wall Street Journal.

Ajami claims that Bush is the most consequential president the Middle East has ever seen. There is no doubt that he means this in a positive sense nor can there be any doubt that he's correct. No president has ever done more good for more people in the Middle East and gotten less gratitude and credit for it than has George Bush. Among other things there are 50 million people living in freedom today in Afghanistan and Iraq who suffered in terror and misery under horrific tyrannies just a few years ago.

Of course, many Europeans, and apparently Keith Olberman, as well couldn't care less about that achievement, and Madeline Albright can point to no accomplishment during her tenure as Secretary of State that is even remotely comparable. As for Schorr, anyone who thinks that the results of a state visit to the Middle East must be instantly apparent in order to be real is simply not to be taken seriously.

Thanks to Byron for the link to the Ajami article.


Education Pays

Here's data from 2006 which makes it starkly clear that education pays off both in terms of higher income and lower unemployment. The average unemployment rate in 2006 was around 4.8%. The following is a list of 2006 unemployment rates for people of various levels of education. The dollar figure is their median weekly earnings for that year:

  • Professional degree (1.1%) $1,474
  • Doctoral degree (1.4%) $1,441
  • Master's degree (1.7%) $1,140
  • Bachelor's degree (2.3%) $962
  • Associate degree (3.0%) $721
  • Some college, no degree (3.9%) $674
  • High-school graduate (4.3%) $595
  • Less than a high school diploma (6.8%) $419

It's pretty clear that, on average, the more schooling you get the better you'll do. People like Bill Gates who amassed fortunes with very little formal education are, of course, the exception. A high school student counting on being a Bill Gates is like a high schooler counting on making it in the NBA. You're a lot better off getting all the education you can get.