Linky Friday #50

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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77 Responses

  1. greginak says:

    E2- The battle seems to be between people who there must be One True Way to do something. The evidence of Finland and Sweden suggest there is more than one effective way to create an educational system. Hell Massachusetts, which is usually the highest performing state in standardized tests, does about or as well as F and S. It doesn’t actually seem that hard to create an effective educational system. Lots of places do it. It takes a handful of things starting with engaged parents who value education and picking one of few of the successful models of how to arrange a system.

    If there is a real battle here, it is often with the proponents of a certain policy who just want to talk about all the positives and never the negatives of what they suggest. Like charter school proponents who never, or almost never, explain how kids with special needs will be served or how cutting money from public schools will end up helping them. To be fair and balanced, fans of public schools don’t really have complete answers for how to bring about the major change the worst school systems needs. More money is good for many things and obviously doing something about the endemic poverty in those areas. But ending poverty is easy to say and also goes far beyond the realm of fixing schools.Report

    • Roger in reply to greginak says:

      No interest in engaging in an argument now, but I just want to clarify that you are making the other side’s point without realizing it.

      The argument FOR school choice is that there is not one way, and even if there was, we won’t know it without trying lots of things. The argument is that the way to discover and create better education for diverse ranges of needs and values is via experimentation, variation and constructive competition. The competition must have “attractors” pulling it toward better education for less cost, or it will be drawn to other features (as revealed by schools designed via political “attractors”).

      This creates a positive feedback loop well documented in two hundred and fifty years of free market product and service innovation and progress. “Engaged parents” choose the better schools that better meet their needs, so schools try to be better to get engaged parents’ interest. Less engaged parents free ride on the early adapters.

      Solving the issue of special needs students is not made harder via the introduction of constructive competition, it is made easier as resources as freed to go to these students (via the improved educational efficiencies — better ed for less — of selected schools).Report

      • Kim in reply to Roger says:

        The argument against school choice is that it’s a stalkinghorse.
        Translation: What my enemies want is manifestly obvious, and not in my best interest.
        I will not give them a drop of my children’s lives (should I have any), because they do not want them to be successful.Report

  2. NewDealer says:

    E2: I concur with Greg. I find that too many policy debates end up as locked horned struggles between people who believe X or Y is the one true way.

    M3: I think the US would cease to be a country if there were 124 states. That is too many for some reason that I can’t quite articulate.

    C1: I think the Braves moves goes to show how hard it can be for politicians to be accountable. As far as I can tell people in Cobb County are not very happy with the move and the amount of public money being spent on the new stadium. At least this is what I’ve read in articles. Yet the politicians of Cobb County seemed to be going full-speed ahead and damn their constituents. At least in SF, the move is because the politicians listen to the people and refused to spend public money on a new stadium. I am a strong opponent to public money being spent on sports stadiums and don’t think they have the economic benefit and prestige that many politicians seem to think they have. As far as I can tell I am in the majority on this issue. Also the owner of the Braves is on the CATO Board so now I will call him a hypocrite.Report

    • aaron david in reply to NewDealer says:

      ” I am a strong opponent to public money being spent on sports stadiums and don’t think they have the economic benefit and prestige that many politicians seem to think they have.”
      Would you say the same about performance art venues? Opera houses? Theaters?Report

      • dhex in reply to aaron david says:

        it’s a trap! 🙂Report

      • Chris in reply to aaron david says:

        In general, are performing arts venues, opera houses, and theaters built for organizations owned by billionaires, and are said billionaires then given special rights with respect to the use of those venues, along with the lion share of the revenue? If so, the two situations are comparable.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to aaron david says:

        And can the owners then blackout local broadcasts of the game if the local residents who paid for the stadium opt not to fill it on game day?Report

      • I hadn’t thought about it from quite that angle, Kazzy, but that’s a really good point about the blackouts. It seems to me that the justification for blackouts is seriously hindered by any local public support. That being said, my impression is that the blackouts are mainly an NFL thing, which would put them more in the wrong than the others (setting aside to the quite reasonable opposition to stadium-finance in general).Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to aaron david says:

        Blackouts are imposed by the NFL, and frankly I don’t understand them. Baseball and basketball have demonstrated that televising all of the games, including home games, is a way of building a fan base and increasing attendance. You see NFL owners who understand that sidestep blackouts sometimes by purchasing the unsold tickets themselves. I don’t understand why they don’t just vote to eliminate blackouts, or at least make them a team rather than a league decision.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to aaron david says:

        Or, more simply,

        * Do NFL teams need the subsidy to be profitable?
        * Do operas and symphony orchestras?
        * Are these two things identical?Report

      • greginak in reply to aaron david says:

        Also many performance art venues are run by and for non-profits with a mission to provide some sort of culture at low or lower cost with various charitable/educational parts.Report

      • Interesting question. Don’t know about others, but I live in a suburban county that has a permanent sales tax levy to support “scientific and cultural” things (including opera, theater, the art museum, and the museum of natural history). We had a temporary sales tax levy of the same size to pay for the public portion of the funding for Coors Field and Sports Authority Field. The stadium bonds have been paid off and that tax ended.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to aaron david says:


        That wasn’t my own thinking, though I can’t remember where I first saw it. But it made me even more opposed to blackouts than I already was. You (and @mike-schilling ) rightly point out that there are a variety of entities at play but the situation is still what it is. And it only gets worse when you consider that many of these publicly funded stadiums have severely jacked up ticket prices, pricing out a great number of fans who rely on television broadcasts.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to aaron david says:

        There are many more baseball or basketball games in a given season than football games. Most of these games take place when people can’t go see them live because of work and such. If you had blackouts in baseball and basketball, you killl your audience.

        The number of football games in a given season is much fewer and tend to take place when people aren’t working. The ticket prices are also a lot higher than baseball and basketball games and demand is strong, meaning that if anything football tickets are still bellow market value. Blackouts are good way of getting people to spend money.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to aaron david says:


        So you support the blackout policy?

        Ticket prices are set by individual teams. If they are below market, that is their own doing. The NFL already has a legally protected monopoly. The blackout policy further strengthens it. It basically allows the team to say, “No one gets to watch the game if 80K people don’t first buy $1000 tickets.”Report

      • On ticket prices, I recall reading an article in an optimization journal that showed, based on known ticket-price elasticities, the owner of a baseball team maximized revenue by setting prices so about 20% of the seats went unsold.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to aaron david says:


        Was that before or after dynamic pricing went into effect? I’m not sure how many teams use DP, but I’d be curious to see what impact it has had, if at all.

        If not familiar with DP, it is basically a system that updates prices in real time based on a variety of factors.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to aaron david says:

        The ticket prices are also a lot higher than baseball and basketball games and demand is strong, meaning that if anything football tickets are still bellow market value. Blackouts are good way of getting people to spend money..

        I think you’ve just undermined your point 🙂 Most teams have enough demand for tickets that blackouts aren’t needed to get people out to the game. Actually, because there are so few games, and most seats are sold for the season, going becomes an event: tailgating beforehand and sitting next to the same folks every game, not easily replaced by TV viewing.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to aaron david says:

        I don’t watch sports Kazzy. I’m just arguing why the NFL persues them and other sports franchises do not.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to aaron david says:

        1. Most museums are already quasi-public or public institutions that hold art in trust for the Public. State Attorney Generals can and do sue museums for violating this trust. A good example is over the various controversies involving the Barnes Foundation in Pennsylvania.* This is what makes deaccessioning such a controversial topic. On the one hand, museums do have limited space. On the other hand, what gives them the right to sell art that belongs to the public.

        2. Others pointed out the educational and cultural nature of museums and art institutions. If government support can lower or free ticket price then it is a good. The museums in London are free. The museums in DC are free. The Met and MOMA should be free or at least more affordable.

        *Short version. Barnes made a fortune fighting gonherea and bought a lot of really good art. He died without heirs and turned his house into a Museum called it the Barnes Foundation. The Barnes Foundation trust had very strict rules about when and how members of the public could see the art. Various attorney generals in Pennsylvania when to the bat to open up the collection for the public. Some people consider this a scandal (see the documentary the Art of the Steal). I consider it good. Art should be seen by the public and Barnes died almost 90 years ago.Report

      • @kazzy Almost certainly before dynamic pricing (given how long it’s been since I read optimization journals regularly). Intuitively — always a bad idea with nonlinear math — I suspect that the answer would come out much the same: base prices for tickets bought well in advance should be high enough that 20% of the seats would go empty, and generally declining prices as you get closer to the game simply generates additional revenue. OTOH, once customers know how the pricing scheme works, they can begin to employ their own strategies to try to take advantage of the owner’s pricing (eg, I can get a medium-quality seat for a medium price today for sure, but there’s an X% chance that I can get a high-quality seat for a medium price tomorrow). Dueling algorithms probably favor the owner, who has better information.

        Years ago when I occasionally took my wife to spend a day at the race track (nice lunch, then watch the horses run, with $20 set aside so we could bet on each race), owners’ boxes were held until 30 minutes before post time for the first race, then were available for the general admission price to people who knew to ask for them. Remarkably few people were willing to take the risk (at 30 minutes before post time the remaining general admission seats sucked). I don’t remember ever not getting an owner’s seat, usually right on the finish line.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to aaron david says:

        @ND, I am currently watching Art of the Steal on Netflex. There is something deeply ironic and disturbing about people defending an institution that really limited who could see the art as being more democratic than a museum open to the general public. I really can’t in anyway support the Barnes Foundation or say that its defenders come across well. The come off as even more elitist than the rich people they denounce.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to aaron david says:


        I agree. It is that kind of behavior that turns people against the arts and humanities. It is really disgusting.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer says:

      I’m agnostic on this. If the voters really want to subsidize a sports venue than I really can’t find anything impermissible with forbiding subsidization through taxes even though it doesn’t have the beneficial effects its proponents advocates. Stadiums are such massive infrastructure projects that I’d be more comfortable with at least some level of government involvement in building the thing and if government’s going to be involved they might as well fork over some money.

      The best solution would be government owned and operated stadiums that could be rented by various teams at market rates. The government would act as land lord and could use the rent money for what it will.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq says:

        FWIW, this doesn’t always happen via referendum. I don’t believe the new Yankee Stadium was ever put to a vote, but bilked the city for billions.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Kazzy, do you think it would have failed a referendum?

        My view is… the whole system absolutely sucks. Blackouts and stadium referenda. But the system is what it is and the one time I had to vote on it, I voted in favor. That was actually a case of a rare referendum failure. Which I was pleased about! All of this put me in the odd situation of having voted how I did, not particularly regretting it, but being proud of the city that said “No.”Report

      • Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I honestly don’t know how it would have turned out. If I remember the timeline, I wasn’t in the NY area at the time. I do know that the way it ultimately was done — with lots of back room deals and lots of broken promises — left a lot of people angry. NYC also has some unique quirks in that the residents of Manhattan might have gladly voted for the plan while Bronx residents would have been left without the parkland they were promised and the two boroughs becoming very mad at one another but the economic and political power of Manhattan winning out. I’m not sure how Queens (which was working on its own stadium with the Mets), Brooklyn, or SI would have gone.

        I’m slightly less bothered when it happens via referendum, but the deals are usually structured in such a way that are awful for the city but are lobbied for via “Keep our beloved sports team from leaving!”Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to LeeEsq says:


        Ok, Lee, libertarian me must press on this.

        If the voters really want to subsidize a sports venue than I really can’t find anything impermissible with forbiding subsidization through taxes

        Approximately ~75% of the population that is eligible to vote is registere to vote (although that has regional variations). In the type of elections these funding issues appear on the ballot, typically around a third of registered voters turn out, ley’s call it 35%. It takes only 50%+1 to pass the funding measure. 50% of 35% of 75% is ~13%. Proponents of these measures typically seek out low turnout elections and try to mobilize their supporters.

        So in what sense do “the voters really want” this? Is it possible that there could be anything “impermissible” about a mobilized 13% of the population imposing taxes on a less mobilized population?

        Stadiums are such massive infrastructure projects that I’d be more comfortable with at least some level of government involvement in building the thing

        Focusing simply on size does not present any clear principle. What is it about size that makes government involvement in the building of it desirable? The biggest sporting venue in the U.S. (by seating capacity), I believe, is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, built and continuing operation without government financial involvement. Can you identify ways in which that lack of government involvement has been problematic?

        Sun Life Stadium (formerly Joe Robbie Stadium) was built with private financing. Can you identify problems stemming from lack of government involvement in building it?

        if government’s going to be involved they might as well fork over some money.
        Eh, government makes these decision, but doesn’t fork over its own money, right?Report

      • j r in reply to LeeEsq says:

        The best solution would be government owned and operated stadiums that could be rented by various teams at market rates. The government would act as land lord and could use the rent money for what it will.

        Serious question: is there anything that the government owns and operates that both functions well and makes actual economic profit?

        I can think of things that the government does well, like certain parts of the military or NASA, but they certainly don’t generate any profit. And I can think of things that do generate profit, like student loans, but are the worst possible way of providing the relevant service. I can’t think of anything that satisfies both conditions.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        James, if you have the right to vote but do not exercise it but you don’t like what the government does than you really need to re-think your participation in the political system. One of the true strengths of conservatives is that they recognize the importance of getting out to vote for every possible election. Voting is the most basic and important political action possible in a democracy. It is ultimately the source of all action. You can protest, advocate, and write all you want but if you don’t have sympathetic politicians in the relevant office than you are not going to get what you want or prevent what you don’t want. So if most people decide not to exercise their right to vote than a good chunk of the blame falls on them if the government does as those that actually voted wanted.

        As a non-libertarian small-d democrat, I believe that democratic governments need to be flexible and responsive to the whims of the voters or electorate for the most part regardless of the wisdom of the electorate’s decisions. If the voters favor actvism than so be it, if they favor government inaction so be it. Determining what voters want is an art rather than science but having an government that can kind of do what the electorate wants is important. You aren’t going to get a perpetual liberal, conservative, or libertarian mood and if the mood changes than so should government action.Report

      • j r in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Voting is the most basic and important political action possible in a democracy.

        I have to disagree with this. An individual vote is an insignificant thing. And I don’t say that to denigrate voting, which can have lots of individual utility. However, your vote will never ever change anything. That’s just a statement of mathematical fact, of significant digits.

        Also, I think that voting, at the population level, is extremely important for a democracy, but I’m not certain that it’s the most important thing. A robust sphere of personal autonomy is likely more valuable. For instance, imagine two states. In Country A, the population votes for a new government every four years, but that government, once in power, has near-absolute power. In Country B, a constitutional monarch reigns and is free to appoint any government that he chooses, but the government’s power is limited to a few small clearly enumerated areas.

        There’s no reason to believe that Country A would be more democratic than Country B. In fact, the reverse is likely.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to LeeEsq says:


        Nice screed against non-voters, but it doesn’t really answer the question.

        The blunt fact is that a big factor in the low turnout rates in the U.S. Is our insistence in having multiple small elections. Lots of people will find it too much effort to pay attention to all of them. So you blame the individual, but why not blame a system that is poorly designed to promote paying attention and turning out, that in fact almost appears designed to do the opposite (although it’s not actually intended for that purpose), and that is ripe for manipulation by highly motivated minorities?

        Is it always the non-voters’ fault, and any (constitutionally allowable) outcomes are justified? If we further push the system toward duscouragement of participation, pushing turnout ever lower (say monthly elections, held every third Monday, or perhaps weekly elections, each Friday), does it remain the non-voters’ fault and all outcomes that tax them for things they disapprove of legitimate? If 9% of eligible voters vote for it? 3%?

        If not, on what basis do you call outcomes in the current system–voted in by only 10% – 20% of the voting eligible population, in a system that discourages participation and is demonstrably subject to manipulation by motivated minorities–legitimate?

        What’s your standard, or is it always and solely the non-voters’ fault, too bad for them?Report

      • @jm3z-aitch

        Is it possible that there could be anything “impermissible” about a mobilized 13% of the population imposing taxes on a less mobilized population?

        Not without an anti-rent-seeking amendment 🙂Report

      • Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

        DOE’s EnergyStar program. Saves billions.Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to NewDealer says:

      I think the US would cease to be a country if there were 124 states. That is too many for some reason that I can’t quite articulate.

      OTOH, I’m sure the folks who wrote the Constitution would find it inconceivable that we have a member of the House representing 994,000 people (and an average district population >710,000), or two Senators representing 38M Californians (taking the four most populous states, eight Senators representing a bit over 103M). In 1789 each House district had about 53,000 people (not the low point) and the entire country’s population was about 3.5M. Yeah, better communication and transportation, but still…Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Michael Cain says:

        I can’t remember where I read this but I somewhat remembering seeing that Abraham Lincoln predicted 300 million Americans at approximately the time we really did reach this level. People wanted big things for the United States including the Founders. They attempted to get more territory for the United States from the get go and did envision a very populous country. So I think the Founders would have no problem with these statistics.Report

      • When Lincoln was president, the House wasn’t capped at 435 members.Report

      • A correction, the House size was capped at the time, to 233. It’s theoretically possible, then, that Lincoln envisioned that to remain the case and that today we would have 1.4 million per house seat (on average). Or maybe he figured that would grow with time.

        Hard to say, though the 435 is the longest constant we’ve had (the 233 was tweaked a decade or so later, then changed more significantly a decade after that).Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Michael Cain says:

        For the record, we’ve had 435 since ~1911, when the U.S. had about 100 million people, less than 1/3 of what we have now. Given that up to that point we never had the citizen-rep ratio we have now, I think it’s reasonable to assume our leaders prior to that weren’t anticipating our current state.Report

      • The only caveat I have is that prior to 1911, the ratio of counted-citizens to representative had been steadily climbing. There may have been the assumption that would keep happening. That we’d be where we are eventually.

        On the other hand, sayeth Madison: “I take for granted here what I shall, in answering the fourth objection, hereinafter show, that the number of representatives will be augmented from time to time in the manner provided by the Constitution. On a contrary supposition, I should admit the objection to have very great weight indeed.”Report

      • Actually, we know pretty well how the Founders felt about the subject. Article the First, an amendment submitted by Congress to the states along with the amendments that would become the Bill of Rights, requires there be at least one Representative per 50,000 people. Hamilton and Madison both supported it. It came within one state of being ratified twice. Technically, according to Coleman v. Miller, it’s still open and could be adopted. For the first 35 years, Congress clearly made an effort to keep the district size below 50,000 even without the amendment.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Michael Cain says:

        If Article the First was law than there would be over 6000 people in the House. Thats simply too many elective representatives for Congress to be anything for a rubber stamp. Most of the legislative power would shift to the much smaller and therefore more manageable Senate. Congress would simply approve or disapprove of everything the Senate passes without any legislative initiative on their own.

        @jm3z-aitch, I agree that one problem with the voter turn out in the United States is that we have too many small elections. Another issue is that there are too many artificial barriers on voting and certain segments of the population are making it worse by insisting on unnecessary voting ID act because of non-existent voter fraud.Report

      • I would actually expect a House of that size to impose its own order. Whether that order would be superior or inferior to what we have now I am unsure.

        In any event, there is a fair amount of middle ground in between 435 and 6000.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Michael Cain says:


        I agree, but those other rules that limit voting can’t plausibly be considered the primary cause of low turnout in non-major ekections, because tirnout is so much higher in major elections. So they’re not relevant to the question at hand.Report

      • @leeesq I agree that 6,000 Representatives is at least impractical (and almost certainly worse), and that the Founders would certainly have changed their minds at some point and increased the district size. Nevertheless, there’s also no doubt about what they thought in 1789.

        In 2020, a large swath of the country (in terms of area) is going to be effectively disenfranchised unless either (a) more Reps are added or (b) state boundaries are redrawn. The Great Plains that is split across western Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma, eastern New Mexico and Colorado, and the northern part of the Texas Panhandle will be dumped into districts where each individual Rep will be elected based on his/her position on urban/suburban issues. There will be no Rep whose election will depend on what the rural Great Plains folks think of them. More Reps in total would deal with that problem.Report

      • @michael-cain The Dakotas don’t count?Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Michael Cain says:

        @michael-cain, I agree. There should be at least two hundred more representatives added to the house if not more. An ideal house size would be somewhere between 655 and 855 members. Thats large enough to provide better representation but small enough not to end up as a rubber stamp.Report

      • @will-truman The northern Great Plains get into some very different dynamics. Wyoming, Montana, and western North Dakota have much larger fossil fuel resources. The precipitation patterns are different. None of them have an urban area in the state that has outgrown the rural areas to the point that rural votes are on the verge of not counting. South Dakota is in-between.Report

      • @leeesq Based on my time as a staffer for a state legislature, one of the interesting consequences of adding even 200 Representatives would be that the body would almost certainly no longer fit in the Capitol. Working space per member in the chamber proper would go below anything reasonable; committee rooms would be too small to accomodate the members in a “dignified” arrangement; providing space for staff would probably require another office building and corresponding tunnels, etc.

        Will’s long-standing suggestion that we move the Capitol to someplace central like North Platte, Nebraska might be appropriate :^)Report

      • @will-truman The other thing I should have said about the northern Great Plains states is that they only have a single House seat each. That precludes any sort of redistricting efforts to reserve a seat for the rural GP part of the state (eg, Colorado’s fourth district). I’ve put together a county population cartogram here that illustrates the problem in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma: a rural GP district has to have an increasing amount of the non-GP areas carved off and attached in order to get the required number of people. As the counties with large populations are also the ones with the largest absolute growth rates, the problem will be worse in 2020 than it is now.

        Interesting to note that neither side seems to be happy as this happens. During redistricting, Colorado’s eastern plains counties were concerned about having suburbs increasingly dilute their rural focus; individual suburban areas were concerned about being attached to a majority-rural district and being ignored.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Michael Cain says:


        What software do you use to make such cartograms? Is it pretty easy to use? Because I can see endless uses for such a program.Report

      • What software do you use to make such cartograms? Is it pretty easy to use? Because I can see endless uses for such a program.

        Before saying anything about the stuff I use, I should point you at slicker, more integrated possibilities. If you have money, ArcGIS is a pretty powerful piece of Windows software and there are cartogram plugins for it (ArcGIS basic for home use is $100). A couple of free software packages are ScapeToad and MAPresso, both written in Java so should mostly run on most platforms.

        What I use is a pile of command-line tools, some written by other people and some written by me. My stuff is written in Perl, the pieces done by other people (all open source) in vanilla C. I opted to go this route for various reasons that were moderately important to me. I’ve been able to make everything run on all of Mac, Linux, and (an old version of) Windows. I think it’s pretty easy to use — and getting easier as time goes by — but most command-line hackers think that :^) The hard part of most cartograms is assembling the inputs: a map with all of the polygons you want in the coordinate/projection system you want and the values of the variable of interest, all with a common identification scheme. I’ve also been starting to play with noncontiguous cartograms (like this one showing the size of federal land holdings by state) and mesh-based cartograms. If you want to chat more, drop me e-mail at mcain6925 at gmail dot net; I’d rather not clutter up a discussion thread.Report

      • Oops. mcain6925 at gmail dot com.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Michael Cain says:


        I’m going to save that info, including email, for when I have some time to think about this.Report

  3. Glyph says:

    [M4] I wanna defy the logic of those laws.

    (possibly NSFW, if your workplace is LAME).


  4. [S3] I’ll just mention that League Alum Freddie has been pounding the no-STEM-shortage for a little while now.

    • One of the assumptions made, it seems to me, by the “we’ve enough STEM folks” side is that STEM jobs are filled the way that lower-education jobs are filled. Essentially, that there is a help wanted sign and someone goes in, applies, gets the job, and starts delivering product the way that a barrista would.

      It seems to me that while this is probably true for… oh, let’s say the superdupermajority of STEM jobs. But it also seems to me that, every once in a while, someone STEMy comes along and changes everything.

      And that, of course, changes everything.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        You mean college dropouts like Gates and Jobs? By the way, of the college courses Jobs took, he said the most influential one on his career was calligraphy.Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to Jaybird says:

        @mike-schilling , that hits at the real STEM crisis, something that the IEEE spectrum article brought up:

        We don’t know what kind of education is valuable, until years down the road when it actually becomes valuable. The calligraphy thing is a perfect example: Jobs had some knowledge of graphic design–that background informed the design of the Macintosh, and was a major reason for apple’s success as a company. But that’s not something he knew when he was taking that college course.

        And yet, most people who aren’t engineers or scientists are graduating with abysmally low understandings of math and science. I see an amazing number of people trying to transition from jobs into careers. Leveling up from “pizza delivery guy” to “something that can feed my children”. The responsible career around here is psychiatric and medical care–and I see so many people fail because they just don’t have the math and science they need to be a nurse or a psy-tech.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Jaybird says:

        There’s also the fact that the average American (well, probably the average citizen of any country) lacks the math and economics background necessary to evaluate political claims. It’s not just that people don’t have the education needed to be good engineers—it’s that they don’t even have the education needed to be good citizens.Report

    • North in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

      Huh, wassup with Freddie, does he have a new regular haunt? His place at L’hote appears abandoned.Report

  5. Kolohe says:

    J1: He’s not the only one, there’s at least three that held out until the 70’s. Shoichi Yokoi’s cave is a tourist trap attraction on Guam. (though before I went there I thought that kind of thing was just a Gilligan’s Island joke premise)Report

  6. NewDealer says:


    I agree with you that there is nothing wrong with stadiums built with private money but I think Lee has a point about democracies and referendums.

    Suppose we had an Australian style system that makes voting mandatory and it worked (or at least got around 80-90 percent of the populace voting) and there was a clear language referendum (as opposed to the usually unclear ones) on raising taxes to build a fancy new stadium, and it passed with a vote of 60 percent. Would this be a valid showing of the people’s will? What if it passed with 51-52 percent yes votes in an Australian style system with mandatory voting?

    What levels of voting participation are necessary in your eyes to make voting on a referendum valid especially if a successful vote is not something you want?Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to NewDealer says:

      Voter participation is only part of the story. The other part is forcing people who don’t want to subsidize a stadium to do so. You can make an argument for taxation when it comes to legitimate public goods or dire need, but neither of those applies here. Having the government seize people’s money to pay for a sports arena is never legitimate as long as even one person objects. Those who want a stadium can pool their money together, form a corporation, and lease or rent it however they choose. There’s no collective action problem for government to solve here.Report

  7. Brandon Berg says:

    I myself can barely conceptualize a 248-seat senate with equal representation among states.

    When you put it that way, I wonder if any state has ever seriously attempted to split itself up in order to increase its representation in the Senate.Report

  8. Kim says:

    Women who make sacrifices to stay with their kids are Able to Afford to do so.
    I would estimate that affluent women are probably more happy than less affluent women
    (if nothing else, one isn’t in the 15% of people whose kids are having trouble getting enough to eat.
    That would be really upsetting, yes?)Report

  9. Kim says:

    I want to wad the entire STEM article and throw it out.
    Finance grabbed up TONS of STEM folks before the crash.
    This really, really skews data — and Finance really LIKES Stem grads.Report

  10. Kim says:

    Re: France’s Why won’t they Publish Us?
    Japan doesn’t bother waiting for publishers.
    They let people fansub, even for the more famous writers.Report

  11. Kim says:

    Re: sex laws. I am amused by the ones I understand the reasons behind, and left wondering about others…Report

  12. Russell M says:

    I have an issue with P3. Jon Chait already pointed out that romneycare does not have any of the cost controls that Obamacare contains. so saying that mass. proves O-care will fail to lower costs because R-care does not misses the facts.

    • Will Truman in reply to Russell M says:

      It does have some of the “cost control” factors included. At least, while PPACA was being debated I was told that we would save money because people wouldn’t over-utilize emergency rooms (which turns out to be questionable) and preventive care saves money (which turns out not to be true).

      You and Chait are right to point out that there are cost control provisions that were not included in Massachusetts. I think the faith being put into these provisions is misguided. I was really hopeful that the ACO aspect would have more of an impact. Maybe down the line it will. I do like the readmission incentives. As Chait says, we’ll see.

      As it stands, it’s a case of dueling experts on the impact that has occurred.Report

      • Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        Some preventative care does save money.
        We’re working on getting some solid statistics
        on where the “preventative care” isn’t saving money and lives
        (like mammograms).Report

      • Enough preventive care costs more rather than less to make the statement “preventive care saves money” incorrect, though that’s definitely not the same thing as saying “Some preventive care saves money.” The same works in reverse for saving lives. “Preventive care doesn’t save lives” isn’t correct, but that is different than “Some preventive care doesn’t save lives” which is correct.Report