Notes from The War on Normal People

- book-reviews, economics, politics, business, sociology

Below are my notes from “The War on Normal People” by Andrew Yang.

Chapter 1: My Journey

2-3 million will be out of jobs from automation of driving

Seemed to be searching for a higher purpose that eluded them

We have many smart people doing a lot of the same things

America is starting 100,000 fewer businesses per year than it was 12 years ago

Our economic engine is stalling out

Chapter 2: How We Got Here

Today 5 banks control 50% of the commercial banking industry

The chance of children earning more than their parents is 50% down from 92% in 1940

Ratio of CEO to worker pay rose from 20 to 1 in 1965 to 271 to 1 in 2016

Regulations separating consumer lending and investment banking were abolished

Financial deregulation started under Ronald Reagan. Regulation under Bill Clinton set the banks loose.

Securities grew 500% as a share of GDP between 1980 and 2000 while ordinary deposits shrank from 70% to 50%

Since 1973 productivity has skyrocketed relative to worker wages

The share of GDP going to worker wages has fallen from 54% in 1970 to 44% in 2013 while the share to corporate profits went from 4% to 11%

Inequality has surged with increased winner take all economics

The top 1% have accrued 52% of real income growth since 2009

Everyone is less happy in an unequal society. The wealthy experience higher levels of depression and suspicion.

Chapter 3: Who is Normal in America

The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed - William Gibson

Average american is not a college graduate

Median household income was $59k in 2016

Median personal income was $31,099

Mean was $46,550

Mean gets dragged up by those who make millions

Average is $55k for college graduates

Median hourly wage is $17.40

26% identify their neighborhood as urban, 53% suburban, 23% as rural

Mississippi $22k lowest median income

59% don’t have the savings to pay an unexpected expense of $500 - 2017

75%, $400 another study - 2015

Median net worth for high school graduates - $36,000 including home equity

63.7% own their home

$9,000 - $12,000 if you don’t include home equity

$4000 - $7000 if you remove the value of their car

Women are pulling ahead of men on the education front

Only 52% of Americans own any stock

Through a stock mutual fund or a self directed 401k or IRA

Top 20% own 92% of stock holdings

Chapter 4: What We Do for a Living

Clerical and administrative staff is the most common occupational group

2.5 million of these jobs are customer service representative

Live Person

30% of banks home office workers are engaged in clerical tasks

Clerical tasks are cost centers

Office and administrative work jobs are disappearing

1/10 American workers are in retail and sales

8.8 million working as retail sales workers

$11 per hour $22,900 per year

100,000 workers were laid off in retail from Oct 2016 to May 2017, more than all coal workers combined

Each closed mall means 1000 lost jobs

300 jobs lost to local supplying businesses

Taxes decrease

School funding decreases

Crime increases

Why are malls closing?

Rise of e-commerce, particularly amazon

Pushing traditional retail into extinction

Alternative suggestions for workers:

Global freelancing platforms like Upwork

E-commerce websites like Etsy

Upwork is primarily for developers, designers and creators

US workers are priced out by workers overseas

Etsy only works for a handful workers and only counts for 13% of household income

Long distance low skill jobs are most subject to automation

Food preparation and service is the number three job in America

$10 an hour - median hourly wage

Median $23,850 annually

50%-70% of fast food sales take place in drive throughs

McDonald’s has plans to replace workers in 2500 locations

4 million workers work in fast food

McKinsey: 73% of food activities are automate-able

The number four job in America is materials transport, truck driving

Chapter 5: Factory Workers and Truck Drivers

2000, 17.5 million manufacturing workers in the US

12 million in 2011

5 million lost their jobs after 2000

80% were due to automation

1/6 working age men is now out of the work force

2012 - 41% were still unemployed or dropped out of the labor force

44% of 200,00 displaced workers from 2003 to 2013 in Indiana had no payroll record by 2014

Jobs for people with graduate degrees grew by 32% even though overall jobs kept dropping

Disability benefits

Rose by 3.5M

Michigan half of residents who left the work force went on disability

Average age of truck drivers is 49

94% are male

Most popular job in 29 states

88% of drivers had at least one risk factor for disease

7.2 million workers serve the needs of truck drivers around the country That’s a $17.5B economic hit

1/12 workers in Nebraska works in and supports the trucking industry

By 2019 all new Tesla’s will be self driving

Uber and Lyft: 50% of all rides will be given by autonomous vehicles by 2022

Only 13% of US truckers are unionized

10% of truck drivers are solo owner operators who own their own trucks

Chapter 6: White-Collar Jobs Will Disappear Too

Narrative science creates report previews

The distinction for jobs that will be automated easily is not manual vs cognitive, physical vs mental

The real distinction is routine vs non routine

Investment advisors will be on the chopping block

Radiologists - recognizing patterns on images

Lawyers - finding and replacing terms in a contract

Federal reserve: 62 million jobs are routine

44% of total jobs

We’ll be left with high end service jobs and high end cognitive jobs and very little in between

This trend goes hand in hand with the disappearing middle class and rising inequality

More data created in the past two years than the entire history of the human race

40,000 searches per second

1.2 trillion per year

By 2020 1.7MB created every second per person

$300B saved for healthcare industry per year by improved use of data

Betterment has $9B under management

By 2020. 8.1T under management by robot advisors

5500 trading jobs on the floor shrunk to 400

600 Goldman Sachs NYSE traders to just 2, supported by 200 engineers

Bloomberg reported that Wall Street reached peak human by 2016 and will now shed jobs progressively

Insurance employs 2.5M Americans

25% decrease in employment by 2025

Accountants are vulnerable too

1.7M bookkeeping and accounting clerks

Paralegals and secretaries will be replaced

Law schools churn out many more graduates than the market requires

Document review is 60% accurate by young associates - AI is how 85%

80% of medicine is cookbook

Radiology, pathology, family medicine, ost done by nurse practitioners, dermatology

Robo-assisted operating theatre

AI could analyze thousands of surgeries and know what to do in every situation

AI therapists treat veterans for PTSD

Surgeons are among the highest trained and highest compensated doctors because cutting people open is a big deal

AI can be better than any human for one thing

Dumber than a 2 year old at everything else

Chapter 7: On Humanity and Work

Women are better equipped in the service economy including nurturing and teaching other people

Imperfect workers:

  • require training
  • Have to rest
  • Healthcare
  • Get sick
  • Want to feel good
  • Have bad days
  • Have families to deal with
  • Get bored
  • Legal protections
  • Sue employers
  • Steel
  • Quit
  • Get injured
  • Take breaks
  • Bad judgement
  • Expect time off
  • Talk to reporters

Are most forms of work ideal for humans?

Voltaire said work keeps away: boredom, vice and need

Loss of status, malaise and demoralization due to loss of work

Most people don’t like their jobs

The most organic human jobs are often not lucrative

The most lucrative jobs are inorganic

Submerging humanity

High commitment to work

Benjamin Honeycut

Purpose, meaning, identity, fulfillment, creativity, autonomy - the things that are necessary for wellbeing - are absent from the average job

Most jobs today are a means for survival

Without their structure and support people suffer psychological socially financially physically

We don’t like it and we have too much of it

But we don’t know what to do with ourselves without it

Humans need work more than work needs us

Chapter 8: The Usual Objections

Aren’t fears of disappearing jobs claimed periodically like with the agricultural and industrial revolution?

Betting against new jobs has been bad every time in the past

Last wave: Big farms, tractors, factories, assembly lines, personal computers

This wave: AI, machine learning, self driving vehicles, advanced robotics, phones, IOT, nanotechnology, digital currencies, 3D printing, genomics, AR/VR

There has never been a computer smarter than a human until now

Data is about to supplant human judgment


Upheaval and unrest, labor unions in 1886, 40 hour work weeks, pensions, Labor Day, universal high school

Efficient market hypothesis

Most investment professionals believe this is incorrect or incomplete

Construction jobs, drone pilots, data scientists

Trade 100 high school graduates for 5 or 10 college graduates somewhere else

The test is not

Will there be new jobs

The real test is

Will there be millions of new jobs for middle aged people with low skills and levels of education near the places they currently reside

Government should be education and retraining programs?

Certain training programs sell The fiction of learning So they could put it on their resumes


The government needs to identify at risk individuals

Have the resources

Each person needs to be retrained

If jobs are vanishing, wouldn’t it show up in the unemployment rate?

Unemployment no longer serves as an unreliable predictor

95 million working age Americans, 37% of adults, out of the work force

Previously 70 million in 2000

Underemployment rate of recent college grads - 44%

U6 unemployment rate is between 9% and 16%

If we were undergoing a revolution, wouldn’t we see a productivity spike?

Productivity is lower

But productivity indicators are backwards looking

Technology has created an abundance of labor, both human and machine

When things get tight

Management teams scrutinize things in the name of cost discipline

The real test of automation will come with the next downturn

Cost cutting knives will come out

Chapter 9: Life in the Bubble

6 paths to 6 places

Many educated people have been narrowing what they do

Finance, consulting, law, technology, medicine, academia

New York, SF, Boston, Chicago, DC, LA

Finance and technology spend money on prospects

Many are making more in a year than others will see in a decade

Humanities in Stanford have dropped from 20% to 7%

80% of brown went to one of four met areas

Our national universities are a talent drain on 75% of the country

Odds are you’ll go to one of several areas and your home town will never see you again

There are only a few clear visions of what success looks like today because of heavy recruiting pipelines

Money, status, training, dating, peer pressure, elevated career trajectory all point in the same directions

High paying jobs are sought more because of increasing debt

2014 ACHA survey 86% felt overwhelmed, 54% anxiety, 8% suicide considered

57% women, 43% men

Princeton - once you’re here you become risk averse

Book excellent sheep: Current generation of strivers, driven to achieve without knowing why, paralyzed when not sure how to proceed

The achievement demons

Private company ownership is down more than 60% among 18 to 30 year olds since 1989

Millennials are on track to be the least entrepreneurial generation in modern history

Depressed, indebted risk averse people don’t start companies

What are we striving for?


  • My career is a choice that indicates my values
  • There is no courage without risk
  • Value creation is how I measure achievement
  • I will create opportunity for myself and others
  • I will act with integrity in all things

VFA sense of community has been like water for thirsty people

Choose between family and function

Fly to when things go south

Professional empathy is limited

In the bubble the market governs all

Servants to the tide of innovation

The logic of the marketplace is seductive to all of us

It gives everything a tinge of justice

It makes the suffering of the marginalized more palatable in the sense that they deserve it

Problems with bubble people:

  • They think the world is more orderly than it is
  • They overplan
  • They mistake smarts for judgment and character
  • They overvalue credentials - head not heart
  • They need status and reassurance
  • They see risk as a bad thing
  • They optimize for the wrong things
  • They think in 2 years not 20
  • They need other bubble people around
  • They get pissed when others succeed
  • They think their smarts should determine their place in the world
  • They think ideas supersede action
  • They get agitated I’d they’re not making clear progress
  • They are unhappy
  • They fear being wrong and looking silly
  • They don’t like to sell
  • They talk themselves out of having guts
  • They worship the market
  • They worry too much

Chapter 10: Mindsets of Scarcity and Abundance

80% of startups were initially self funded

Most entrepreneurs come from financially comfortable backgrounds

Mindset of abundance

Immigrants have higher rates of starting businesses because many feel they don’t have a choice

Effects of scarcity

Poor and rich perform similarly on fluid intelligence tests

Forced to consider how to pay an unexpected hypothetical car repair bill of $3000 before the test - poor group would perform 13 IQ points lower (almost one whole standard deviation)

Activating scarcity mindset

People on a diet are continuously distracted and fair worse on mental tasks

Lonely people too

People with phones in front of them

Sleep deprived

Poor people asked to think about money

Internet hasn’t made us smarter

Struggling with time money energy bandwidth attention empathy

A culture of scarcity is a culture or negativity

People think about what can go wrong

Chapter 11: Geography is Destiny

When jobs leave a region things go downhill

When jobs go away the cultural cohesion breaks down

When things start going very badly for a company

The strongest people generally leave first

They have the highest standards for their own opportunities

And the most confidence they can thrive in a new environment

Their skills are in demand and they feel little need to stick around

The people left behind tend to be less confident and adaptable

59% of American counties saw more businesses close than open 2010-2014

Five metro areas accounted for more new businesses than the rest combined

New York, LA, Miami, Houston, Dallas ^

California NY and MA 75% of VC

Best areas for income mobility have elementary schools with better test scores, etc

Our economy is stagnant and declining

Median home in the US is worth $200k

Average list price is $250k

Yogurt might cost $2, $15 in tolls, $16.50 for movies, $500/month for garages

Anchor institutions invest in community growth

When anchor companies stumble people get worried

People move to cities to work at the big companies

But a lot of people were born there

When you’re used to losing people and resources you make different choices

The sins that cause trouble are personal sins: laziness, self indulgence, drinking, etc

Chapter 12: Men, Women and Children

5 million manufacturing jobs lost 2000-2014

3/4 of manufacturing workers are male

Disproportionally hit men without college degrees

Make men less likely to marry

When manufacturing work becomes less available the proportion of men who get married declines

For women, steady job is the single biggest factor they look for in a spouse

1/6 men 25-54 are unemployed or out of the work force

Tend to play video games

Women are 57% of college graduates

3 women graduate for every 2 men

Fewer men considered marriageable

Lower rates of marriage means proportional amount of children raised by single parents keep rising dramatically

Fertility is declining but modestly

Unmarried mothers doubled 1980-2015 18-40%

Single mothers to fathers 4:1

18.5M are single mothers

More men as non providers -> many difficult family situations, decline in fertility, decline in marriage, rise in fraction of births disadvantaged

Boys in single parent households suffer more than girls

Stably married parents makes one more likely to succeed in school

Absent fathers affect boys more than girls

College becomes something many girls but only some girls do

Boys who get less attention as children struggle

14% of boys received a diagnosis of ADHD

2012 - 70% valedictorians were girls

College educated women don’t like to marry non college educated men

1/3 college educated women will not find a male partner to marry if they want one even with ideal matching

Many successful women without families or raising children on their own

“It is easier to raise strong children than repair broken men” Frederick Douglas

Chapter 13: The Permanent Shadow Class: What Displacement Looks Like

Life expectancy going down for certain groups

Suicides up

Overdoses up

Whites with high school degree or less have the same mortality rates as African Americans with the same education


Jobs have crumbled away

Higher mortality rates applied equally to middle aged men and women

59,000 died of drug overdoses

Drug overdoses exceeded accidents as the leading cause of accidental deaths

Highest rates of death to overdoses in 2016

West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Ohio, Rhode Island

2 million Americans dependent on opioids

95 million used prescription painkillers in the past year

More than used tobacco

People think of opioid addiction starting with prescription painkiller use

CDC Director: no other medication used so frequently for non fatal conditions that kills patients so frequently - OxyContin

Pain relief or party drug, high for hours

Opioid addicts graduate to heroin often

More easily obtainable

90% of heroin users are white

Treatment is difficult

Withdrawal is intense

10% with drug abuse disorder received treatment

Few heavy users can simply take the medication and embark on a path to recovery

Increased social security and disability

Age of disabled has gone down

9M Americans receive disability benefits

Manufacturing employment plummeted in the same year that disability applications started rising

$1172/month average check

$143B per year

15% of men, 16% of women on disability

Up from 6% in 1960s

Appalachia, Deep South, etc

8-9% of the work force on disability

People avoid the Walmart’s and pharmacies because everyone goes shopping on the days the checks arrive

People depend on them to survive

2014 - 2M people applied

100,000 disability judges

Waiting period for a hearing is 18 months

No lawyer or doctor examines

40% of claims are approved

$300k lifetime average award

Lawyers advertise on TV to help people navigate process

Massive disincentive to work because benefits are lost when you show ability to work

Virtually nobody recovers

Judge: If the american public knew what was happening half would be outraged and half would apply for benefits

75% of initial claims get denied

The lawyer worked through process, was approved the second time, lawyer collected $2700

More Americans are on disability than work in construction

Shock absorber for the unemployed or unemployable

Permanent shadow class of beneficiaries

Truly disabled and needy may be shut out

People who lawyer up get benefits

Subject to fraud

Once you’re on you never leave

Chapter 14: Video Games and the (Male) Meaning of Life

“Virtual worlds give back what was scooped out of modern life

It gives us back community

A feeling of competence

And a sense of being an important person people depend”

Video games are responsible for 20-33% of lost work hours

50% of low skilled young men live with their parents

Happiness has actually gone up for the video game basement class

Become less happy in their 30s and 40s

May drift from video games to gambling drugs and alcohol

Every society has a bad men problem

The analog and the real world will become less appealing

Chapter 15: The Shape We’re In / Disintegration

Public faith in medicine, media, public schools, and government are all at record lows

Young people have sympathies for other types of economies

Because they’ve seen the failures of capitalism in recent years

History suggests a violent revolution will happen

Violent crimes and protests are less common than in the past

2500 leftist bombings between 1971 and 1972

Unemployed group of working age men is a common mark of Middle East countries that experience upheaval

Peter Turchin: 3 preconditions to revolution

  1. Elite oversupply and disunity
  2. Popular misery, falling living standards
  3. A state in fiscal crisis

Societies typically experience

Periods of extended Integration and prosperity

Followed by periods of inequity, increasing misery

Followed by disintegration

More militias in the woods

More random shooting

Chapter 16: The Freedom Dividend

Peter Phrase, author of 4 futures, said work encompasses three things:

  1. The means by which the economy produces goods and services
  2. The means by which people earn income
  3. An activity that lends meaning and purpose to people’s lives

Implement a Universal Basic Income

The freedom dividend

Annual income $12,000 for each adult

18 - 64

Require constitutional supermajority to change

Proposed by Andy Stern in Raising the Floor

The poverty line is $11,770

Bringing all Americans to the poverty line and eliminating gross poverty

Everyone from a hedge fund billionaire to a non working mother would receive a check

If you work you could start saving and get ahead

An analysis by the Roosevelt Institute found adopting it would:

  • permanently grow the economy by 12.56% to 13.1% or $2.5T
  • increase the labor force by 4.5 to 4.7 million people

Cost would be an additional $1.3T per year

The federal budget is $4T and the entire US economy is $19T

Pay for it with a VAT?

Out of 193 countries, 160 already have a VAT

All developed countries except the United States

A VAT of 10% would pay for the full plan

The government is not great at many things but it’s great at giving lots of checks to lots of people - Andy Stern

Chapter 17: Universal Basic Income in the Real World

Nixon proposed the family assistance plan

Passed the house of Representatives

Stalled in the Senate because of Democrats who wanted something even more robust

Canada had a UBI experiment

  • Minimal effect work
  • Birth rates dropped
  • High school graduation went up
  • Hospital visits went down
  • Domestic violence went down
  • Mental illness went down

Alaska has an oil dividend of $1000 to $2000 per year

Lowest income inequality state

A group of Cherokee Indians had a $4000 dividend from a local casino

Changed the personalities of children for the better

The money produced clear changes in the parents

Direct cash giving has been shown to be more effective than giving goods and services

Finland tried a $660 per month basic income test

2000 unemployed people

India is considering a basic income project

2017 in Oakland California Sam Altman

100 households in Oakland

$1000-$2000 per month for a year

Hiring researchers to see what would happen

Main counterarguments: we can’t afford it

Money wouldn’t be wasted on bureaucracy

More efficient

Get money back in forms of:

  • New businesses and economic activity
  • Better educational outcomes
  • Improved health
  • Reduced crime
  • Reduced services for homelessness

Another objection: it’ll reduce people’s incentive to work

But the evidence shows incentives to work stay about constant

Chapter 18: Time as the New Money

Some have proposed universal job programs

But it’s very expensive to organize, train and employ people

The US is relatively low among the percentage of people who work for the government: 15% vs Canada’s 22.4% or UK’s 23.5%

Time banking has been tried in many towns across the country

Some people think time banking could rebuild the infrastructure of trust

Digital social credits would reward people who do things for the local community

Why credits instead of cash?

Credits come at low cost to the government vs direct payments of cash

Also would give people more of a reason to do low value rewards and feel more rewarded

Harnessing market dynamics to spur social good

Chapter 19: Human Capitalism


  • An AI life coach
  • Machines installing solar panels across the country
  • Wearables that monitors your vitals
  • Voting securely in local elections via smartphone without any worry of fraud

Resources and market incentives do not exist

Little incentives for:

  • Keeping families together
  • Improving infrastructure
  • Improving democracy

Adam Smith, who wrote The Wealth of Nations, is known as the father of modern capitalism

Our general thinking is to contrast capitalism with socialism

Our modern view:

  • Capitalism won the war of ideas by creating immense wealth
  • Socialism was widely discredited


There is no such thing as a pure capitalist system, many different forms of western capitalist economies:

  • Market feudalism of middle ages
  • Expansionist Mercantilism of european trading companies
  • Industrial capitalism of America
  • Welfare capitalism starting in the 1960s

Many forms of capitalism in the world right now

Singaporeis the 4th richest company in terms of per capita GDP

One of the most free open pro business economies in the world

But government directs policy

Human capitalism tenets:

  1. Humanity is more important than money
  2. The Unit of an economy is each person not each dollar
  3. Markets exist to serve our common goals and values

Saying: “What gets measured gets managed for”

The person who introduced the measure of GDP to congress:

The welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measure of income

In addition to GDP and job statistics the government should also measure:

  • Median income and standard of living
  • Engagement with work and labor participation rate
  • Health adjusted Life expectancy
  • Infant mortality
  • Quality of infrastructure
  • Fitness and mental health
  • Access to education
  • Substance abuse
  • And more

Chapter 20: The Strong State and the New Citizenship

Former presidents act was passed - pension of $250,000 per year

The market has overrun our leaders

Our leaders have gotten to cozy

We should give presidents a raise from $400K to $4M tax free per year

But they can’t accept speaking fees or any board positions after leaving office

It’s highly irrational for any regulator to come down on industry too hard

Because they’re waiting with the big paychecks afterwards


Lifetime ban on regulators for working for the industries they regulate

In exchange for an increase in salary to $400K

Mortgage backed securities:

Big banks settled

Most people kept their jobs

CEOs walked away with hundreds of millions

It pays to be aggressive and abuse the public trust

What could we do to fix this?

Proposal: for every $100M a company is fined, both its CEO and largest individual shareholder will spend one month in jail

Legal tribunal and due process

If this rule was in place during the financial crisis, the CEOs would all have been lined up to be put behind bars

Chapter 21: Healthcare in a World Without Jobs

Healthcare costs were the number one reason for bankruptcy in 2013

Joke: “Healthcare is where good ideas go to die”

Even things that made sense wouldn’t work

Healthcare costs have continued to climb

We spend twice what other industrialized countries do per capita, with worse results

2014 commonwealth fund report:

United States is last among major industrialized countries

Efficiency, equity and health outcomes

Despite spending more

Job-based healthcare

Discourages businesses from hiring

Incentivizes part time gig workers

People hang onto jobs just for the health insurance

Job lock

Discourages job fluidity

Shackle for people with jobs and reason not to hire for business owners

Healthcare only gives a few options

No idea the differences

When you’re sick you’re cost insensitive

Lack of market discipline has driven costs higher

The more services, tests, appointments, procedures the better

Rewards activity and output vs outcomes

Single payer healthcare system

Guarantees healthcare and fixes prices

Medicare is politically bulletproof

Proposal by Sam Altman for Medicare for all:

Gradually lowering the eligibility age for medicare over time

Current system:

Puts money and efficiency over time with patients

Professionals feel like:

Pawns in a money making game for hospital administrators

2016 survey of American doctors

63% have negative feelings

49% often or always experience burnout

49% wouldn’t recommend medicine to children

Primary care desert

Many states are offering grants and incentives to address doctor shortages

Martin Ford, author of Rise of the Robots suggests:

New class of healthcare provider armed with AI

Equipped to head out to rural areas

Primary care specialists

Technology with a non doctor could provide same quality of care as a doctor in majority of cases

Doctors have lobbied against nurse practicioners seeing patients

Would be against this

Need to transform the way doctors get paid

Movement for value based or quality based reimbursement

Patient outcomes, readmission rates

Reward accordingly

When doctors get paid flat salaries

They can focus on patients

Cleveland Clinic is consistently ranked as one of the top ones in the country

Freedom from “pay for service” would improve outcomes

Chapter 22: Building People

What are people set to college to learn?

Originally was to develop a sense of morality

“Character is the main object of education”

For many decades the purpose has been to set up people for jobs

What happens when the jobs dry up?

Increase technical and vocational training emphasis at the high school level

Sal Khan: If you asked the literate monks and scholars, they’d guess 2-3% of the peasants would be capable of reading

Now we know its closer to 99%

If we ask the same about quantum physics, you might say 2-3%

But this is short sighted in the same way

Clearest impact of technology on teen development has been starkly negative

Smartphone usage has caused increased depression and anxiety

People born from 1995 on

4% of students completed MOOC courses

Online courses continue to improve but college applications remain higher than ever

We often mistake content for education

Founder of Alt School

Worst use of smartphones in education was the replacement of humans

School uses video cameras to minitor students for playback

High school’s fixation on college readiness should be expanded

Bottom 2% of countries in terms of countries with mandatory paid leave

We should start schooling earlier, Pre-K

Laptops and software have been unhelpful in making poor schools better

Only in well performing schools

Better teachers, better culture, individualized attention work in poor schools

College is over-prescribed

Graduation for bachelor’s degrees was 59% percent after 6 years

As low as 29% for certain sectors

College is America’s true dropout factory

Why is college so expensive?

No real measure of effectiveness

But college has risen more dramatically than all other costs

Real income for college graduates has declined even as tuition has gone through the roof

Average college tuition has risen as much as 440%

Universities have become more bureaucratic, more administrators

DOE: Positions grew by 60% between 1993 and 2009

10 times the rate of tenured faculty

In 2015, Yale spent more on private equity managers managing its endowment $480M Than on tuitiona assitants, fellowships, etc.

Joke: Yale is a hedge fund with a university attached to it

Tax exemption status…

Taxpayer subsidy: $2000 to $4000 per student per year

$10K for state university

Harvard $48K/student/year

Princeton $105K/student/year

Proposal: tax exempt status should be lost if universities don’t spend their full endowment income from the previous year

1975: 1 professional staffer for every 50 students

It’s now 1 for every 21 students

It will likely be necessary for the government to step in with requirements

Chancelor of The University of Maryland: if some foreign power wanted to diminish higher education in America, they would have created US News and World Report rankings

High hope for coding bootcamps

Flatiron School and General Assembly

Also the Minerva Project

Why don’t we make more great schools and expand admission numbers for existing great ones?


The logic of the market has overtaken most of our waking lives

Most technologists are certain the automation wave is coming

Ideas don’t change the world, people do

We most convert to a mindset of scarcity to a mindset of abundance