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July 2007

Benjamin on rubbish

Nice piece by Clemson economist Daniel K. Benjamin, "Recycling Rubbish: Eight Great Myths About Waste Disposal".

Recycling is a long-practiced, productive, indeed essential, element of the market system. Informed, voluntary recycling conserves resources and raises our wealth. In sharp contrast, misleading educational programs encourage the waste of resources when they overstate the benefits of recycling. And mandatory recycling programs, in which people are compelled to do what they know is not sensible, routinely make society worse off. Market prices are sufficient to induce the trashman to come, and to make his burden bearable, and neither he nor we can hope for any better than that.

The New York Times advances a questionable hypothesis

In case you missed it, reporters for the New York Times asserted that "economic integration" has been enormously successful in raising the academic achievement of black students in Wake County, NC. The article requires a subscription, but here is the relevant part:

Economic integration initiatives differ from each other, and from many traditional integration efforts that relied on mandatory transfer of students among schools. Some of the new initiatives involve busing but some do not; some rely on student choice, while some also use a lottery. And so it is difficult to measure how far students travel or how many students switch schools.

The most ambitious effort and the example most often cited as a success is in the city of Raleigh, N.C., and its suburbs.

For seven years the district has sought to cap the proportion of low-income students in each of the county's 143 schools at 40 percent.

To achieve a balance of low- and middle-income children, the district encourages and sometimes requires students to attend schools far from home. Suburban students are attracted to magnet schools in the city; children from the inner city are sometimes bused to middle-class schools at the outer edges of Raleigh and in the suburbs.

The achievement gains have been sharp, and school officials said economic integration was largely responsible. Only 40 percent of black students in grades three through eight in Wake County, where Raleigh is located, scored at grade level on state reading tests in 1995. By the spring of 2006, 82 percent did.

It's a wonderful story. There's just five problems with it.

Continue reading "The New York Times advances a questionable hypothesis" »

"Industrial policy" redux?

James Pethokoukis observes that Hillary Clinton sounds like she wants to implement "industrial policy".


My suggestion: conservatives should chip in to buy Ms. Clinton and her political allies each a copy of the newest expansion pack of Civilization. It's fabulous. It would keep them busy for months at a time. And they would get what they have always wanted: a chance to run the world. And we would get what we have always wanted: that they would leave our economy alone.

Pareto improving. Win, win. What more can you ask for?