Category Archives: Featured

History

The Weakonomics blog talks about how history is taught in school.

In the grade school level, the content was always about events. It was “this thing happened on this date”. We never had to explain why it was important or even where that event fits in with its past and future. High schoolers can do that, but it was never presented that way.

And shares a video he finds entertaining. We agree, although a video of course does not allow for the conversation that he seems to imply would benefit education (here, too: we agree).  In any case, a subject we enjoy as we, too, believe in the importance of delving deeper in to historical knowledge.

Trickle Down

Theodore Dalrymple explains it, at Library of Law and Liberty:

 The trickle-down theory of wealth may or may not be correct, but those who hold it do not express, and never have expressed, ‘a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power…’ On the contrary, according to the theory it is not the rich whose goodness benefits the poor, but the system that allowed them to become rich, even if the rich should turn out to be hard-hearted skinflints. A system of redistribution, by contrast, really does require the goodness of at least the superior echelons of the system, faith in which is genuinely rather crude and naïve.

Deirdre McCloskey: market-tested innovation

I cite a citation:

Think of the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, big wealth accumulators in recent times. It wasn’t the magic of compound interest on capital that made them rich; it was intellectual property. They created billions of dollars of business from virtually nothing at all. If you measure the profits as a return on the small amount of initial capital invested, then it looks huge; but capital was no more important an ingredient of the original Apple or Microsoft than cookies or cucumbers.

Also:

Capitalism’s nature is not, contrary to Piketty’s claim, to forever protect and augment existing capital.  Central to capitalism’s nature is what McCloskey calls “market-tested innovation.”  And this innovation inevitably destroys the value of older, less-productive capital that is in competition with with it – in competition with the new capital, the new goods, the new production and consumption processes, and the new knowledge that innovative entrepreneurs create.

All at Cafe Hayek.

Words to ponder

From Coyote Blog, on education and affirmative action.

My only thought on this is one I have had a long time about colleges and diversity.  Universities are, if anything, institutions based on ideas and thought.  So it has always been amazing to me that university diversity programs focus not on having a diversity of ideas, but on have a diversity of skin pigment and reproductive plumbing.

I’ll have a large slice of employment, please

Thomas Dalrymple responds to Paul Krugman Slice of Labour.

He concludes:

Mr Krugman’s argument is not the argument in favor of labor market rigidity as above, however. He is what one might call a slice-of-cake man, where an economy is a cake to be sliced rather than a dynamic organism to be nurtured, and where supply and demand can be managed without reference to price. There may be cruder economic ideas, but I don’t know what they are. He is also, of course, a proponent of ever-greater government stimuli to the economy. In this article, he quotes John Maynard Keynes on the dangerous influence of ideas. I wish he had quoted Keynes’ eloquent words on the effects, social, psychological and economic, on the debauchment of the currency.

Students get clever, upsetting everyone

I point you to TechDirt’s article:
Study Indicates College Textbook Piracy Is On The Rise, But Fails To Call Out Publishers For Skyrocketing Prices
from the the-best-way-to-replace-’lost’-money-is-to-charge-people-more,-apparentl dept

The survey mentioned uses the suspect methodology of “you or someone you know”, which tells readers nothing about actual numbers or percentages.

But in any case, as TechDirt points out:

the key takeaways never point to the main culprit: textbook publishers.

Prices for textbooks border on extortionate. Valerie Strauss, covering the subject for the Washington Post, notes that prices for both tuition and books have increased at unreal rates over the past several years. (It should also be noted that BISG’s report is no bargain – $675 for “summaries” and $3,195 for the “Volume Four Bundle PDF”.)

Publishers are also trying to curb piracy by selling digital versions that are somehow only “good” for a single year (thanks, licenses!) and rendered inoperative if pirated by requiring an internet connection to access content and features. These are usually only slightly cheaper than their physical counterparts, but can’t be resold at the end of the year to recoup any of the purchase price and can be completely useless to the purchaser (depending on what’s locked up by the license) after the end of the license term.

Also note the Vocativ website’s reaction and research, succeeding in “pirating” three books in the public domain, “publication dates (in the order listed) 440 BC, 1789 (for the latest edition), 1478 and 2001.”

Presuming they did pay for their own textbooks, they should perhaps brush up on “piracy”, “public domain”, “copyright”, “fair use” and “English”.