"Will Tax Reform Spur States to Embrace School Choice?"

That would be so cool.

One of the unforeseen consequences of the Republican tax reform bill will be to increase pressure on state and local unions to soften their half-century opposition to school choice. To be sure, this would be a remarkable reversal for public labor. But the emerging incentive is a powerful one: The modest subsidy of public school alternatives is now the only way to both rescue government public pension plans — the cumulative underfunding of which has been estimated as high as $6 trillion — and thus keep promised benefits reasonably intact.


"A New Paean to Progressivism Overlooks Why Americans Lost Trust in Government"

In this piece George Will has a terrific paragraph I'd like to make Liberals read every day:

Goldfield’s grasp of contemporary America can be gauged by his regret that the income tax, under which the top 10 percent of earners pay more than 70 percent of the tax and the bottom 50 percent pay 3 percent, is not “genuinely progressive.” He idealizes government as an “umpire,” a disinterested arbiter ensuring fair play. Has no liberal stumbled upon public-choice theory, which demystifies politics, puncturing sentimentality about politicians and government officials being more nobly and unselfishly motivated than lesser mortals? Has no liberal noticed that no government is ever neutral in society’s allocation of wealth and opportunity? And that the bigger government becomes, the more it is manipulated by those who are sufficiently confident, articulate, and sophisticated to understand government’s complexities, and wealthy enough to hire skillful agents to navigate those complexities on their behalf? This is why big government is invariably regressive, transferring wealth upward.

See also this 33 minute video: "Public Choice Theory: Why Government Often Fails".


"Higher Education Is Drowning in BS"

The gentleman sounds really ticked off.

BS is universities hijacked by the relentless pursuit of money and prestige, including chasing rankings that they know are deeply flawed, at the expense of genuine educational excellence (to be distinguished from the vacuous "excellence" peddled by recruitment and "advancement" offices in every run-of-the-mill university).

BS is the ideologically infused jargon deployed by various fields to stake out in-group self-importance and insulate them from accountability to those not fluent in such solipsistic language games.


Follow-up to Deaton and Cartwright

Andrew Gelman agrees that randomized trials are often overrated.

(I hadn't  known there was a little literature mocking overreliance on randomized trials. See, for examples, "Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge: systematic review of randomised controlled trials" and "Does usage of a parachute in contrast to free fall prevent major trauma?: a prospective randomised-controlled trial in rag dolls".)


"The Hawaii worker who 'pressed the wrong button' has been reassigned"

Some folks are angry that the guy hasn't been fired (see, for example, here), but I think more culpable is the person who designed the system's user interface.

The worker had been completing a shift change at the time of the alert and, according to the Washington Post, was using a drop-down menu that gave two similar options: “Test missile alert” and “Missile alert.” Instead of selecting a system test, the worker sent a real alert.

UPDATE. Jason Kottke think so, too: "Bad design in action: the false Hawaiian ballistic missile alert".


"Looks like time’s up for New Jersey’s pension fund"

Pro tip: when you, for a long time, spend money you don't have, sooner or later things will get very ugly.

When Phil Murphy becomes New Jersey’s 56th governor on Tuesday, he’ll face a stark choice: Ship all new tax dollars to the state pension fund and freeze all other outlays — or sit back and watch the fund head to collapse.

Related: "Collapsing pensions will fuel America’s next financial crisis".