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Economics

March 05, 2015

"Everybody hates Pearson"

One reason:

In the U.S., testing is the most searingly divisive issue. The business of assessing students through high school has grown 57% in just the past three years, to $2.5 billion, according to the Software & Information Industry Association. Some believe “high-stakes testing” is the best way to create accountability; others think it measures little and incentivizes the wrong things. Either way, it is now the largest segment within educational technology—and in little more than a decade, Pearson has gone from no presence to dominating the realm.

The solution, as many people smarter than I have noted: more school choice.

March 04, 2015

"Two Cheers for Corruption"

By Deirdre McCloskey and it's a tour de force in a small space.

I don't agree--small corruption might be "O,K." but large-scale corruption is not. And cutting the federal government would go a long way to solving the problem. 

But it's an impressive piece: Jay Cost is wrong, Samuel Bryan is wrong, Madison is wrong, and Adam Smith is only half right. You don't read that sort of thing every day.

"Lone Star Resilience"

"Falling oil prices are no longer a threat to Texas."

We'll see, but the author makes a pretty convincing case.

March 03, 2015

"Retirement: When you should take Social Security"

Larry Kotlikoff has co-authored a new book on the subject. I recommend it, especially if you don't know about "declare and suspend" and "spousal benefits"

"Walker's Wisconsin"

Ironman at Political Calculations presents some interesting data on Wisconsin's recent economic performance

And as a former academic, I found this bit especially interesting:

In Fall 2009, the University of Wisconsin-Madison employed 2,017 faculty and 16,507 administrative staff. In Fall 2010, funded in part by Governor Doyle's new taxes and benefiting from President Obama's economic "stimulus", the number of faculty members increased by 10 to 2,027, while the number of administrative staff increased by 836 to 17,343. Since Fall 2011, of the 19,527 faculty, grad students and staff reported as being employed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where 2,200 are faculty and another 2,000 or so are grad student/teaching assistants, we can infer that the size of the university's administrative staff has increased to around 17,527, which represents an approximate 1,020 increase in the number of administrative staff since Fall 2009.

Coincidentally, Professor Chinn reports that the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Chancellor Becky Blanks has said that the Governor's proposed reduction in funding for the institution could require it to shed some 1,083 staff positions.

Well, that would be about right, wouldn't it? Just thought we'd take a quick moment to connect the appropriate dots....

March 02, 2015

"Raleigh needs buses, not rail"

Oh, my. An outbreak of sense in my local paper's op-ed page.

When it comes to a light-rail system for Raleigh, label me a skeptic.

I am a believer in buses, and I think our bus system should be expanded and more bus shelters erected.

Before we sink huge bundles of money into a light-rail system, I think a stronger case needs to be made, given our limited resources.

"If anything I exult in the quantity of decisions."

Amen, James Lileks, Amen.

I know where everything is. I have never felt overwhelmed by the quantity of decisions I am required to make, because I have in my head a set of standards: price, quality, how the excesses in this item will be offset by the virtues in this other one, and so on. If anything I exult in the quantity of decisions. To live in a land with 17 types of canned corn! 

"The Smearing of Willie Soon"

John Hinderaker makes a point that can't be reiterated enough.

. . . the New York Times and other pro-government sources assume that government funding of research is lily-white, while corporate funding is inherently suspect. This is ridiculous. Put aside, for a moment, the fact that the American environmental movement is funded by Russia’s state-controlled oil company. Also the fact that Greenpeace gets money ($203 million) from the American Petroleum Foundation, with another $214 million coming from the Chamber of Commerce.

That isn’t the real scandal. The real scandal is that the overwhelming majority of money spent on climate research comes from governments. Governments, most notably ours, fund climate hysteria to the tune of billions of dollars per year. Why? Because the whole point of global warming alarmism is to persuade voters to cede more control over Western economies to government. (No one actually cares about CO2 emissions from India or China, which together vastly exceed ours.)

See also "Global Warming: Follow the Money".

February 25, 2015

"The Danish Don't Have the Secret to Happiness"

A nice follow-on to my earlier post ("Sorry, liberals, Scandinavian countries aren’t utopias").

"When Environmental Policy Backfires"

Terry Anderson, writing for Hoover:

With over 2,000 listed endangered species, only 1 percent have been saved.

Environmentalists contend that the success rate is low because of economic development. According to WWF Global, “Habitat loss poses the greatest threat to species. The world’s forests, swamps, plains, lakes, and other habitats continue to disappear as they are harvested for human consumption and cleared to make way for agriculture, housing, roads, pipelines and the other hallmarks of industrial development.”

But the low success rate can be better explained by the fact that the ESA has been used more to stop development than to encourage species preservation. . . . 

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