One of the favorite conceits of so-called progressives is an unquestioning faith in the value of “universal pre-K,” or pre-kindergarten. “Universal” means available even to families that can’t afford it, which means that taxpayers pay for it whether they happen to have four-year-olds or not. Another income-redistribution tool.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio made universal pre-K a centerpiece of his campaign, and he wasn’t particularly coy about his intention to soak “the rich” to pay for it. (Unfortunately for him, “the rich” he hopes to soak are statewide, not just in New York City, so he will have to convince at least some Republicans in Albany to go along with the scheme — which so far has proven problematic.)

Now Connecticut’s governor has jumped on the bandwagon. In a May 28 event at Hamden’s Helen Street School, Dannel P. Malloy signed into law two bills. One establishes a whole new bureaucracy (hurray!), the ominously named Office of Early Childhood (not Early Childhood Education). The other makes more “free” pre-K slots available starting in 2015, and requires the new bureaucracy to “develop a plan to achieve universal access to preschool across all state-funded preschool programs.” This is supposed to cost the somewhat astounding figure of $100 million over ten years.

At the announcement event, Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr. made this far-fetched claim: “Every dollar we invest in pre-K saves $7 in avoided special and remedial education costs and criminal justice costs. Children who experience quality pre-K have improved performance and behavior in the classroom, are more likely to read at grade level, have higher high school graduation rates, and are less likely to smoke or be involved in crime.”

It turns out this claim is based on a 13-year-old study of a single pre-K and kindergarten program in Chicago using a modest sample size of 1,200 children.

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama said, "Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road." Few will be familiar with the studies the president referenced. But they are well-known inside the universal-early-education movement. The most famous is the Perry Preschool Project.

Perry was a 1960s experiment that was too small to be statistically valid. It involved 123 "at risk" low-IQ (70-85) children from one poor minority neighborhood. The kids were divided into a study group that received two years of high-quality preschool and a control group that didn't. What did all this achieve? The Perry project claimed a large gain in IQ: 15 points. But the gain had disappeared by the end of third grade.

It is unfortunately that in New York and now in Connecticut, what has been almost completely lacking in the “universal pre-K” conversation is critical media questioning of the costs and benefits of institutionalizing four-year-olds in government-run day care in the guise of “schools."

Connecticut must not plunge headlong into a dubious pre-K scheme whose benefits are unproved but whose costs to taxpayers are already acknowledged to be prodigious. For that to happen, the media must hold policy-makers’ feet to the fire to prove spurious benefit claims.

 

 The stock market works both ways: Current events tell us about the stocks. But stocks also tell us about the world: What people are really doing. Not just what some wish they were doing.

And right now, the soaring markets in two of the larger countries in the world, India and Brazil, are screaming: “Our people want more freedom, less government. More opportunities, fewer guarantees. We’ve seen 50 years of schemes and dreams and complicated social planning that have done nothing but suffocate people yearning to grow. We‘ve had enough.”

Start with Brazil: Next month, Brazil hosts the World Cup. The country has had seven years to prepare, yet many of the facilities will not be finished by the time the world’s biggest sporting event begins. Brazil’s greatest hero, Pele, recently scorched the corruption and incompetence of the people who allowed this to happen.

The ruling clique’s desperate answer as it prepares for the upcoming elections? Crank up welfare benefits. Obama phones, anyone?

Take the ObamaCare rollout and the deceitful delays in Veterans Hospital care. Multiply them by 10 or 20 or even 100 and that is what much of the world has been laboring under. Dreams, then excuses when it all falls apart.

“Come on dude — that was, like, two years ago” is their mantra when confronted with their latest regular catastrophe.

But there is too much information today. The old lies don’t work anymore. If they ever really did. And in Brazil, most indicators say the people are ready to throw the rascals out. Just like they did in India.

They want what we in America have. Or had. And they know their Western-educated pseudo socialists cannot give it to them. They will have to get it for themselves.

That is why investors are flocking to India and Brazil and other emerging markets and leaving the United States. They are not necessarily saying the United States is bad. But that India and Brazil are better.

It is easy to say the recent landslide election of a new president in India will make all the difference. But that is the tail wagging the dog.

The fact is India is a country full of entrepreneurs ready to burst. Brazil is a nation of young people, ready to be unleashed. Ready for freedom.

Just the way the people in the United States used to be, remember? Before we had headlines like: “Record numbers of people on disability.” “Record numbers of unemployed people not looking for work.” And the Huffington Post wants a new employment law they are calling “menstrual leave.”

Really?

We now talk about American exceptionalism the way people in Brooklyn talk about the Dodgers: They were great, and coming back any day now.

In 1961, the prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, was at the White House when President Kennedy told him about a great new program  called the Peace Corps and how Americans will soon be descending on India. Nehru replied: “Yes, I am sure they will learn a lot.”

Just so.

Bill Gunderson is an author, wealth manager and creator of the Best Stocks Now app.