Alex Tabarrok Talks His Book
By Arnold Kling
there is plenty of risk in sending a kid to college! Forty percent of students don’t graduate within six years (and probably never will), many more graduate with degrees that won’t help them much in the labor force, and even the ones that do graduate often do so with student debt that will follow them for decades. Moreover, even when college pays for kids is it paying for society? A lot of schooling is just signaling, not the true building of human capital. There is an argument for subsidizing science, technology, engineering, and math fields, but should we really be subsidizing anthropology, sociology, and English lit students?
Read the whole thing. Of course, if STEM fields enjoy high incomes, it is not clear that there is such a gap between private and social benefits that a subsidy if warranted.
My favorite paragraph:
Michael Heller’s The Gridlock Economy is a brilliant book and a great read. Heller coined the term the tragedy of the anticommons. The better-known tragedy of the commons is the tendency for an unowned and hence nonexcludable resource to be overused. The tragedy of the anticommons is the tendency for a resource with many owners, each of whom can exclude the others, to be underused. I draw on Heller’s work to talk about patents. Basically, it’s hard to get an agreement to innovate when a product builds on four patents and each owner wants 30 percent of the profits. It’s almost impossible to innovate when a product builds on 100 patents and each owner wants 10 percent of the profits.