What Peter Drucker Would Be Reading

Peter Drucker

Recent selections from around the web that, we think, would have caught Peter Drucker’s eye:

1.     How Foreign Students Hurt U.S. Innovation: Most Americans think that high-skilled immigrants benefit the United States. For a long time, Norman Matloff, a computer science professor at the University of California at Davis, has been waging a lonely battle arguing the opposite. In his latest article, a post for the Washington Monthly, Matloff claims that the “high skills” claims of universities regarding their foreign students are really just a cover for getting rich students who pay high tuition fees. “Today, the F-1 program, as it is known, has become a profit center for universities and a wage-suppression tool for the technology industry,” he writes. “The F-1 and similar programs are discouraging qualified Americans from going into science and math careers, and are bringing us diversion, not diversity.”

2.     Your New Landlord Works on Wall Street:  The old landlord used to be the unshaven guy in the undershirt beating on your door for a rent check. The new landlord is a hedge fund or private equity firm. That’s the phenomenon David Dayen examines in The New Republic, noting that Wall Street has been scooping up distressed properties at cheap prices and then looking to rent them out for high profit or flip them fast. This creates more than one kind of problem, Dayen warns, calling it “the next Wall Street gold rush, with all the warning signs of a renewed speculative bubble.”

3.     The Very Best War in the World: These days, everyone wants a weak currency. Japan is just the latest. It’s a “currency war,” say worried critics. Pshaw, says Matthew Yglesias in Slate. Far from making everyone worse off, the way a real war tends to do, a currency war has the potential to make us all better off. “If we all adopt more expansionary policy, America will export more airplanes and Japan will export more cars and Europe will export more machine tools,” Yglesias argues. “Everyone gets more jobs, higher incomes and more stuff. It’s not a war, it’s a party!”

4.     Dx Comment of the Week: Last week, when we asked whether online courses might be able to match classroom instruction in quality, reader Simon Jeynes said that the success of the home-schooling movement offers a parallel, except that MOOCs promise to do even better:

Being fulfilled starts within oneself. It requires the right attitude. A good leader can inspire that attitude by showing someone how their contribution matters, how they are making a difference in this world. 

The difference with the MOOC concept (after all, distance education goes back 100 years) is the power of the medium, the universality of the knowledge that can be accessed and the availability of both to virtually anyone on the globe. While most parents don’t want to home-school, thus making it always a (growing) minority position, every parent can give their child a tablet, iPad, PC, smart phone, Nook or laptop. It is absolutely a game-changer, and it’s only a matter of time till we figure out how to make it work. That’s when universities, private schools and public schools in all their various forms will no longer be able to survive if they are merely mediocre.