Thursday, June 30, 2011

Some Links

Lest you think this blog has fully transformed from one which started as a travelogue of sorts interspersed with thoughts (an accident of its birth, I assure you) to one with just random economic thoughts that may bore you (there is a rule about economists only being invited once to cocktail parties), I was on vacation recently. And by recently, I suppose I mean May. And at some point I'll probably put up pictures from Edinburgh, which will be a fun post.

But for now, some links that caught my eye:

1) Quantifying History: Two Thousand Years in One Chart

Or, as Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek wrote:

Lest we forget, amidst the daily/weekly/monthy/yearly ups and downs of the market, the market is an historically off-the-charts (almost literally) innovation machine.

Absolutely agreed. A chart, in this case, makes me very optimistic, provided we continue to bolster our economic freedom. Which leads us to...

2) Economic Freedom vs Income (and a whole host of other metrics lest you make the standard accusation that economists care only about economic growth)

Yes, the last bit is a political statement. I would argue this is an ideological statement. It's the argument that a government that stays small and lives within its means is one that promotes the most growth in all quality of life aspects. It's the argument that a country with secure property rights (as our Declaration of Independence put it, "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness", borrowing from John Locke's "Life, Liberty, and Property") best promotes economic growth (for example, how secure would you feel about investing if tomorrow the government seized your pensions to pay its bills, as happened in Argentina, or maybe not seize your pension, but borrow from it and give IOUs to say that you'll pay it back, as occurred with U.S. government workers recently). It's the ideological statement that a laissez faire system is the one that's best, never mind what our history books from 4th grade on teach us. At least, I remember being taught that in school, but maybe that's because going to private school is better than....

3) California Public Schools Considering De-Emphasizing Homework

I remember learning via doing homework. How else was I to learn how to read, write, critically argue (well, maybe you readers think differently) a point, do simple and advanced math (including statistics), and later understand more complex topics like economics, politics, investing, and so on? By magic? Or just staring at a chalkboard and listening to a teacher all day? Without practice, without something to make a skill a habit, how do you really learn?

I've lost most of my Spanish skills, for the simple reason that after passing the required proficiency level at Georgetown, I ceased to use it. If with that, then why not with anything you learn? Especially if it happens to be something important, like being able to read. Surely reading should be assigned as homework?

Maybe I'm just reacting with anecdotes to illustrate my thinking, and the statistics say that homework is not meaningful for learning.

Or maybe we're just trying to dumb our (public) schools down even more than they are right now. If I have kids, I definitely will do my best not to send them to a public school.

Well, I hope I've left on a controversial note!

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