Current Affairs

"The Myth of Technological Unemployment"

Deirdre McCloskey:

Otherwise sensible folk are, for some reason, terrified by robots. Yet the results of automation are good overall. Workers move from wretched assembly-line jobs to better ones standing in white coats monitoring the robots, at the higher wages made possible by the higher tech. Or, even better, they move to jobs outside the auto industry, earning pay that goes further because people can buy the radically cheaper stuff the robots now make.

I'd add: the "terror" arises mostly from the fear that our educational system won't foster the move to those better jobs.


"What We Talk about When We Talk about Health Care"

Bingo.

What the Times fails to even cursorily mention: Apart from a case of genuine fraud — which was later litigated — the individuals concerned voluntarily bought these plans. And they worked exactly as advertised! The idea behind “junk plans” is far from insane: You don’t pay very much in premiums, but if you get sick, you end up paying a lot because deductibles are high and the insurance may not cover very much.


"How D.C. Schools Are Revolutionizing Teaching"

I especially enjoyed this bit:

Ironically, [Michelle] Rhee’s successors at DCPS have redesigned teaching through some of the very policies that teachers’ unions and other Rhee adversaries opposed most strongly: comprehensive teacher evaluations, the abandonment of seniority-based staffing, and performance-based promotions and compensation. They combined these with other changes, like more collaboration among teachers, that these same critics had backed. Just as notably, the transformation is taking place not at charters but in the traditional public school system, an institution that many reformers have written off as too hidebound to innovate.

Could those "hidebound" regular public schools be responding to increasing, intense competition from charters? Hmmmm . . .