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Guard Labor: Why is Inequality Bad?

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Inequality is a hot topic these days. But why is inequality undesirable?  Does it just violate commonly held ideals like fairness and equality. Or, does it do more and actually shrink the economic pie?  Economist Sam Bowles argues the latter. The following article describes Bowles’ beef with inequality. (HT Marginal Revolution). Bowles offers a key […]

Education: An Inferior Good?

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Last week, Obama spoke about education and argued that American children don’t go to school long enough.  He said: We can no longer afford an academic calendar designed for when America was a nation of farmers who needed their children at home plowing the land at the end of each day. Our children…spend over a […]


Monday, October 6th, 2008

I’m talking about my students. I have 45 of them and I’m still learning their names and faces. They see me around campus and know who I am, but I don’t always recognize them. The other day I was tying my shoe in the library and I heard someone say “see you in class” before […]

Price Discrimation in Education

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

The president of a regional liberal arts college gave a presentation at my university today about price discrimination in higher education. Private colleges almost universally set tuition at a high rate and then offer a combination of need and merit-based scholarships to students based on their willingness to pay. In theory, poor students with rich […]

Skin in the Game

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

While grocery shopping with a friend of mine, she mentioned that she always buys the slightly more expensive eggs.  The higher price signals that the eggs are of higher quality.  If the pricey eggs are still on the market, someone must be buying them for a reason.  In unfamiliar markets consumers often use price to […]

Rediscovering My Inner Economist

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

The anticipation was too much. Discover Your Inner Economist, by Tyler Cowen, wasn’t available through interlibrary loan and I couldn’t wait. I went ahead and bought a used copy off Amazon. My expectations were really high going in. I had read and listened to a number of favorable book reviews and am a big fan […]

The Voucher Paradox

Friday, November 16th, 2007

Economists don’t agree on many things. When they do, they almost invariable face strict opposition from the public. From free trade to Pigou taxes, good economics collides with good politics. So, I was very surprised to find that educational vouchers are widely supported by economists and the general public, yet have had very little political […]

Merit Aid

Friday, November 9th, 2007

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a seminar by Joshua Goodman on “Who Merits Financial Aid?  Massachusetts’ Adams Scholarship”.  It was a refreshing surprise given  the dull seminars I had attended earlier in the year.  Goodman, a job market candidate at Columbia, analyzed the effects of a scholarship program in Massachusetts that awards students […]

Inviting Ridicule

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Children in England and Wales have been routinely weighed at school for the last two years. Now, parents of children as young as 5 will receive notification if their child is obese, reports the Times. When I was 6 years old, a routine eye screening caught my lazy eye while there was still time to […]

The College Experience

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

Michael Wesch, a cultural anthropologist at Kansas State University, asks 200 students their thoughts on a Vision of Students Today. The video is available on YouTube. Having attended Kansas State University, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Idaho I can say that this video does a decent job of capturing the culture in […]