A Few Quick Hits
By Arnold Kling
Again, I am pressed for time, so not many comments.
I think that this is a big latent issue. My guess is that a lot of these students are not really prepared for college. If I had had the courage of this biology professor, I would have failed a huge proportion of the students who took the economics for non-majors course when I taught it at George Mason. I was appalled by the students’ inability to do the simplest algebra or to write a coherent, adult paper. My first year, I assumed that the problem was me, and to some extent it was, because I had not taught a large lecture class before. But by the third year of teaching, I decided that I was no longer the problem.
2. The Greek debt spreadsheet. Shift it ahead twenty years (or less), and you have the U.S. debt spreadsheet.
3. Tyler Cowen points to a short piece that says that profits were up at Forbes 500 companies in 2009 while employment was down. A lot of the profit increase may be in financial firms, which nonetheless should not be expanding–I, for one, do not want that sector to start innovating again.
It has been two years since my father died. He used to always talk about what he called the “corkball” problem. He was not an economist, and I tended to dismiss his view. He suggested that many people have obsolete skills (think of manufacturing workers or what I call the unskilled college graduate), and society needs to find jobs for them. He suggested that we need to find a socially acceptable way to pay them to play corkball, a St. Louis version of stickball. Again, I tended to dismiss his view at the time, based on the theory that markets will figure out how to allocate labor. But observing the challenges of Recalculation, the corkball problem is something I need to think about more.