robertogreco + matthewyglesias   17

interfluidity » Home is where the cartel is
"Housing is a bitch.

A case can be made that divisive hot-button issues like inequality and immigration ultimately derive from housing dysfunction. Kevin Erdmann eloquently tells the tale. Matt Rognlie has famously argued that the increase in capital’s share of income, often blamed for inequality, is due largely to housing, once depreciation is taken into account. All of this reinforces the thesis of people like Ryan Avent, Edward Glaeser, and Matt Yglesias who have argued for years that housing supply constraints are to blame for high rents in powerhouse cities, and may constitute an important drag on productivity growth and a cause of macroeconomic stagnation. (See also Paul Krugman, quite recently.) Several of these writers argue that cities should eliminate restrictive zoning and other regulatory barriers to development, then let the free-market create housing supply. In a competitive marketplace, high prices are supposed to be their own cure. Zoning restrictions, urban permitting, and the de facto capacity of existing residents to veto new development are barriers to entry that prevent the magic of competition from taking hold and solving the problem.

My view is that the “market urbanist” diagnosis of the problem is more persuasive than its prescription for addressing it. As a positive matter, they just won’t win the political fights they propose. On normative grounds, I’m not sure that they should. The market urbanists present themselves as capitalist deregulators but I think they can be described with equal accuracy as radical redistributionists. The customary property rights surrounding homeownership in many cities and suburbs include much more than the use of a square of earth and whatever is built on it. Existing homeowners bought into particular neighborhoods in large part because of their “character”, which includes nice-sounding things like walkability or “charm”, as well as not-so-nice-sounding things like access to exclusionary education. Newer residents have bought and paid for those amenities, while older residents may feel they have earned them by helping to create them. Economists describe houses as a form of capital that provides a stream of services, rather than a cash flow, to owner-occupants. We should also describe the arrangement of neighborhoods as a form of capital that provides services people value. Property owners have disproportionate use of, and, informally, enjoy substantial control rights over this “neighborhood capital”, and these benefits have been capitalized into residential real-estate prices. (Location, location, location!) “Zoning reform” is an anodyne way to describe an expropriation of those customary rights. It amounts to diminishing residents’ ability to preserve or control the evolution of their neighborhoods, in order to challenge the exclusivity on which the value of existing neighborhood amenities may be based.

Market urbanists sometimes respond that eliminating restrictions should, in economic terms, be good for existing property owners. Suppose I own a plot of land, and today I’m only allowed to have a two story house on it. If tomorrow I suddenly have the right to build ten stories, but I can still keep the little house if that’s what I prefer, the new option can only improve my property’s value, right? Surely de-zoning would be a windfall for property owners, as land prices would include part of the capitalized stream of rents from the ten urban lofts that could now, potentially, be built there.

This is unpersuasive “partial-equilibrium” reasoning, which explains why homeowners are usually unpersuaded. Any given property owner rationally wants restrictions lifted on the use their own property, but lifting restrictions on neighbors’ use of their properties creates risks and costs. The ultimate effect of a general upzoning is hard to predict and may not be positive for incumbents, especially when potential impairment existing amenities — “neighborhood capital” — is factored in. Far from being a sure gain to existing residents, upzoning is a form of risky investment, the proceeds of which will be shared with developers and new residents, the costs of which will be concentrated on people whose financial statements and human lives are deeply exposed, with little diversification, to the quality of their neighborhoods. Even if, in aggregate, land values increase, densification of an existing neighborhood creates risks for individual property owners they many not wish to bear. If an apartment block is built next door, my old neighbor may have gotten rich from selling, but my plot may not be suitable for putting up yet another tower, and my home may be worth less for its busy, unquaint new neighbor. People experience individual not aggregate outcomes, and individual outcomes are usually riskier than aggregate outcomes. Absent some insurance mechanism, it is rationally hard to persuade individuals to consent to policy changes that, in aggregate terms, would meet a return-to-risk hurdle but at an individual level might not. When market urbanists point to how much more productive and awesome the city as a whole might become, they are missing this point."



"I don’t know what will work. But, looking around a bit, I’d suggest we take a look at two particularly promising examples. The housing policies of Singapore and Germany couldn’t be more different. But both countries have been remarkably successful.

Singapore never solved the problem we are banging our head against, how to take existing prosperous neighborhoods and make them more dense. It never tried. Instead, Singapore expanded its housing supply, at remarkable speed and scale, by building out extremely dense but nevertheless green, livable, and attractive “new towns“. Rather than restricting our attention to putting more housing in existing desirable neighborhoods, why not follow Singapore and build new neighborhoods, and when we run out of space for those, new ring cities? Singapore has done a ton of experimenting, in regulation, architecture and urban design, in putting greenspaces around (and on) increasingly creative high-rise developments. Obviously, Singapore is very different, socially and politically, than the United States and other Western countries. Some things won’t (and shouldn’t) translate. But we still have a lot to learn from their experience. Are we really incapable of building new, compact, microcities without their becoming Cabrini-Green or the banlieues of Paris?

Germany’s virtues are less sexy than Singapore’s sci-fi eco-towers. But they are great virtues nonetheless. Somehow, Germany has managed to avoid the price booms that in so many countries (including the Scandinavians) have segregated society between those who were homeowners at just the right times and those who were not. Germany’s path is ideologically mixed. On the one hand, German property owners have a right to build within broad planning parameters. On the other hand, what we in the United States call rent controls are universal in Germany. (German leases are implicitly “rent stabilized”. Berlin has recently begun an experiment with old fashioned administered prices.) Lending for home buying is regulated and conservative in Germany, preventing joint credit/housing booms. (You’ll recall that German banks had to dive headlong into American junk housing securities and Southern European bonds to get themselves into trouble, since their own economy wouldn’t produce enough product.) Homeownership and renting are roughly balanced, and home prices have had no tendency to increase dramatically. Homes in Germany are what a naive economist might predict they should be, a very durable consumption good that provides a stream of housing services, not a ticket to financial gain at all. Germany’s cities are very affordable relative to their counterparts elsewhere in Europe and in the United States. Germany’s housing success seems boring, in the way that your chest might seem boring to a guy who has just been stabbed and is spurting blood from a ventricle. Boring, but wonderful.

Boring Germany, sci-fi Singapore, or something else entirely. Urban housing is a really hard problem. We’ll need lots of inspiration. That economics textbook might help a little, but don’t try to use it as a cookbook."
housing  economics  via:tealtan  2015  steverandywaldman  germany  singapore  us  capitalism  cities  urban  sanfrancisco  rents  inequality  affordability  regulation  policy  ryanavent  edwardglaeser  paulkrugman  kevinerdmann  mattrognlie  exclusion  outcomes  risk  aggregation  matthewyglesias 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Why more education won't end poverty, in one chart - Vox
"The United States has made great strides over the past few decades in increasing the educational attainment of its populations. Millennials are the best-educated generation in American history and the baby boomers were themselves much better-educated than the "greatest generation." This means that the share of high school dropouts has greatly declined and the share of college graduates in the population has sharply increased.

One consequence of this is that we have massively improved the educational credentials of people living below the poverty line, as shown by this great chart from Matt Bruenig of the progressive think tank Demos:

[chart]

"During this time, the overall poverty rate has risen by 1.1 percentage points. This ought to cast some doubt on the idea that further increases in educational attainment are going to cure poverty over time.

Bruenig offers some thoughts on why the education cure hasn't worked, but I think he overcomplicates it somewhat.

The key point I would make is that the poverty rate facing people who have full-time jobs is actually pretty low:

[chart]

People face various kinds of barriers — the macroeconomic situation, economic conditions in the town where they live, certain kinds of disability, family responsibilities, substance abuse problems, etc. — that make it hard for them to get a full-time job.

To reduce poverty, you either need to address those barriers or you need to just hand over some money. More schooling has certain kinds of real benefits to society, but it hasn't moved the needle on poverty historically, and there's no reason to think it will in the future."
education  poverty  us  policy  matthewyglesias  mattbruenig  2015 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Teaching Machines and Turing Machines: The History of the Future of Labor and Learning
"In all things, all tasks, all jobs, women are expected to perform affective labor – caring, listening, smiling, reassuring, comforting, supporting. This work is not valued; often it is unpaid. But affective labor has become a core part of the teaching profession – even though it is, no doubt, “inefficient.” It is what we expect – stereotypically, perhaps – teachers to do. (We can debate, I think, if it’s what we reward professors for doing. We can interrogate too whether all students receive care and support; some get “no excuses,” depending on race and class.)

What happens to affective teaching labor when it runs up against robots, against automation? Even the tasks that education technology purports to now be able to automate – teaching, testing, grading – are shot through with emotion when done by humans, or at least when done by a person who’s supposed to have a caring, supportive relationship with their students. Grading essays isn’t necessarily burdensome because it’s menial, for example; grading essays is burdensome because it is affective labor; it is emotionally and intellectually exhausting.

This is part of our conundrum: teaching labor is affective not simply intellectual. Affective labor is not valued. Intellectual labor is valued in research. At both the K12 and college level, teaching of content is often seen as menial, routine, and as such replaceable by machine. Intelligent machines will soon handle the task of cultivating human intellect, or so we’re told.

Of course, we should ask what happens when we remove care from education – this is a question about labor and learning. What happens to thinking and writing when robots grade students’ essays, for example. What happens when testing is standardized, automated? What happens when the whole educational process is offloaded to the machines – to “intelligent tutoring systems,” “adaptive learning systems,” or whatever the latest description may be? What sorts of signals are we sending students?

And what sorts of signals are the machines gathering in turn? What are they learning to do?
Often, of course, we do not know the answer to those last two questions, as the code and the algorithms in education technologies (most technologies, truth be told) are hidden from us. We are becoming as law professor Frank Pasquale argues a “black box society.” And the irony is hardly lost on me that one of the promises of massive collection of student data under the guise of education technology and learning analytics is to crack open the “black box” of the human brain.

We still know so little about how the brain works, and yet, we’ve adopted a number of metaphors from our understanding of that organ to explain how computers operate: memory, language, intelligence. Of course, our notion of intelligence – its measurability – has its own history, one wrapped up in eugenics and, of course, testing (and teaching) machines. Machines now both frame and are framed by this question of intelligence, with little reflection on the intellectual and ideological baggage that we carry forward and hard-code into them."



"We’re told by some automation proponents that instead of a future of work, we will find ourselves with a future of leisure. Once the robots replace us, we will have immense personal freedom, so they say – the freedom to pursue “unproductive” tasks, the freedom to do nothing at all even, except I imagine, to continue to buy things.
On one hand that means that we must address questions of unemployment. What will we do without work? How will we make ends meet? How will this affect identity, intellectual development?

Yet despite predictions about the end of work, we are all working more. As games theorist Ian Bogost and others have observed, we seem to be in a period of hyper-employment, where we find ourselves not only working numerous jobs, but working all the time on and for technology platforms. There is no escaping email, no escaping social media. Professionally, personally – no matter what you say in your Twitter bio that your Tweets do not represent the opinions of your employer – we are always working. Computers and AI do not (yet) mark the end of work. Indeed, they may mark the opposite: we are overworked by and for machines (for, to be clear, their corporate owners).

Often, we volunteer to do this work. We are not paid for our status updates on Twitter. We are not compensated for our check-in’s in Foursquare. We don’t get kick-backs for leaving a review on Yelp. We don’t get royalties from our photos on Flickr.

We ask our students to do this volunteer labor too. They are not compensated for the data and content that they generate that is used in turn to feed the algorithms that run TurnItIn, Blackboard, Knewton, Pearson, Google, and the like. Free labor fuels our technologies: Forum moderation on Reddit – done by volunteers. Translation of the courses on Coursera and of the videos on Khan Academy – done by volunteers. The content on pretty much every “Web 2.0” platform – done by volunteers.

We are working all the time; we are working for free.

It’s being framed, as of late, as the “gig economy,” the “freelance economy,” the “sharing economy” – but mostly it’s the service economy that now comes with an app and that’s creeping into our personal not just professional lives thanks to billions of dollars in venture capital. Work is still precarious. It is low-prestige. It remains unpaid or underpaid. It is short-term. It is feminized.

We all do affective labor now, cultivating and caring for our networks. We respond to the machines, the latest version of ELIZA, typing and chatting away hoping that someone or something responds, that someone or something cares. It’s a performance of care, disguising what is the extraction of our personal data."



"Personalization. Automation. Management. The algorithms will be crafted, based on our data, ostensibly to suit us individually, more likely to suit power structures in turn that are increasingly opaque.

Programmatically, the world’s interfaces will be crafted for each of us, individually, alone. As such, I fear, we will lose our capacity to experience collectivity and resist together. I do not know what the future of unions looks like – pretty grim, I fear; but I do know that we must enhance collective action in order to resist a future of technological exploitation, dehumanization, and economic precarity. We must fight at the level of infrastructure – political infrastructure, social infrastructure, and yes technical infrastructure.

It isn’t simply that we need to resist “robots taking our jobs,” but we need to challenge the ideologies, the systems that loath collectivity, care, and creativity, and that champion some sort of Randian individual. And I think the three strands at this event – networks, identity, and praxis – can and should be leveraged to precisely those ends.

A future of teaching humans not teaching machines depends on how we respond, how we design a critical ethos for ed-tech, one that recognizes, for example, the very gendered questions at the heart of the Turing Machine’s imagined capabilities, a parlor game that tricks us into believing that machines can actually love, learn, or care."
2015  audreywatters  education  technology  academia  labor  work  emotionallabor  affect  edtech  history  highered  highereducation  teaching  schools  automation  bfskinner  behaviorism  sexism  howweteach  alanturing  turingtest  frankpasquale  eliza  ai  artificialintelligence  robots  sharingeconomy  power  control  economics  exploitation  edwardthorndike  thomasedison  bobdylan  socialmedia  ianbogost  unemployment  employment  freelancing  gigeconomy  serviceeconomy  caring  care  love  loving  learning  praxis  identity  networks  privacy  algorithms  freedom  danagoldstein  adjuncts  unions  herbertsimon  kevinkelly  arthurcclarke  sebastianthrun  ellenlagemann  sidneypressey  matthewyglesias  karelčapek  productivity  efficiency  bots  chatbots  sherryturkle 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Iceland put bankers in jail rather than bailing them out — and it worked - Vox
"Yesterday, Iceland's prime minister, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, announced a plan that will essentially close the books on his country's approach to handling the financial crisis — an approach that deviated greatly from the preferences of global financial elites and succeeded quite well. Instead of embracing the orthodoxy of bank bailouts, austerity, and low inflation, Iceland did just the opposite. And even though its economy was hammered by the banking crisis perhaps harder than any other in the world, its labor didn't deteriorate all that much, and it had a great recovery.

How great? Well, compare the evolution of Iceland's unemployment rate with what happened in Ireland, the star pupil of the Very Serious People:

[chart]

Or compare it with the United States:

[chart]

How did Iceland pull it off?

Let the banks go bust

For starters, rather than scrambling to mobilize public resources to make sure banks didn't default on their various obligations, Iceland let the banks go bust. Executives of the country's most important bank were prosecuted as criminals.

Reject austerity

[chart]

Iceland was nonetheless hit by a very serious recession that caused its debt-to-GDP ratio to soar. But even after several years of steady increases, the government didn't panic. It prioritized recovery. And when recovery was underway and the ratio began to fall, the government let it fall gently.

Devalue and accept inflation

[chart]

There's no free lunch in life, and no country recovers from a severe recession without some bad things happening. But while most developed countries have gone through years of grindingly high unemployment paired with super-low inflation, Iceland did the reverse. It let the value of its currency tumble, which naturally brought about higher prices.

But as a result, the country's export industries rapidly gained ground in international markets. Unemployment rose, but maxed out at a modest 7.6 percent before falling steadily to a very low level. In the US and Europe, the priority has been on low inflation to protect the asset values of the wealthy. Iceland prioritized jobs, and it worked.

Impose temporary capital controls

In the context of bank defaults and a plunging currency, the government felt it was necessary to impose an additional measure — capital controls, regulations restricting Icelandic citizens' ability to take their money out of the country. This is a serious violation of free market orthodoxy. More importantly, it can be a major hassle to ordinary people's lives and an impediment to starting new businesses. In some countries, like Argentina, capital controls become a breeding ground of corruption and mischief.

That leads some to believe that no matter how well heterodox policies work economically, they're ultimately doomed to political failure.

Iceland shows that's not the case. Getting policy right is difficult, but it can be done. And the upside to doing the right thing — devaluing the currency massively, then imposing capital controls to contain the fallout, then ending the capital controls once the economy recovers — can be enormous. Iceland has had a rough time over the past seven or eight years, but so have a lot of other countries. Things are looking up there now because the country's leaders had the wisdom to reject elements of the self-satisfied conventional wisdom that have proven so harmful elsewhere."
iceland  banking  greatrecession  austerity  finance  2015  economics  matthewyglesias  unemployment  employment  labor  policy  politics  regulation  capitalcontols  currency  devaluation  inflation 
june 2015 by robertogreco
This is how the American system of government will die - Vox
"The United States' system of government is a nightmare. The Constitution requires levels of consensus between branches of government that are not realistic in a modern country with ideologically polarized parties. The result is near-total policy stasis and gridlock that in some cases, like the debt ceiling crisis of 2011, risks stopping measures from taking effect that are necessary to prevent total calamity. As the saying goes, things that can't last forever don't, and it's reasonable to predict, as Matthew Yglesias does, that America's untenable system of government will fall apart, probably in our lifetimes.

But Yglesias is vague as to how that will happen. While he's careful to say that past democratic collapses — such as the Honduran constitutional crisis of 2009 — aren't necessarily models for what will happen here, he does seem to presume some kind of crisis. At some point, an impasse between the executive and legislature will create a state of exception, a point at which disaster cannot be averted through normal legal channels.

But it's hard for me to imagine a crisis whose resolution would involve an all-out coup or dissolution of democratic institutions. What's much likelier is a continuation of the executive's gradual consolidation of power until the presidency is something like an elective dictatorship. It won't happen in a big bang, and no individual step in the process will feel like a massive leap into tyranny. But compared to today, the president's powers will be almost unrecognizable."

[See also “American democracy is doomed” (Matthew Yglesias):
http://www.vox.com/2015/3/2/8120063/american-democracy-doomed ]
2015  us  government  dylanmatthews  matthewyglesias  politics  democracy  constitution  thegreatreset  juanlinz  checkandbalances  parliamentarydemocracy  presidentialgovernment  polarization  gridlock 
march 2015 by robertogreco
American democracy is doomed - Vox
"To understand the looming crisis in American politics, it's useful to think about Germany, Japan, Italy, and Austria. These are countries that were defeated by American military forces during the Second World War and given constitutions written by local leaders operating in close collaboration with occupation authorities. It's striking that even though the US Constitution is treated as a sacred text in America's political culture, we did not push any of these countries to adopt our basic framework of government.

This wasn't an oversight.

In a 1990 essay, the late Yale political scientist Juan Linz observed that "aside from the United States, only Chile has managed a century and a half of relatively undisturbed constitutional continuity under presidential government — but Chilean democracy broke down in the 1970s."

The exact reasons for why are disputed among scholars — in part because you can't just randomly assign different governments to people. One issue here is that American-style systems are much more common in the Western Hemisphere and parliamentary ones are more common elsewhere. Latin-American countries have experienced many episodes of democratic breakdown, so distinguishing Latin-American cultural attributes from institutional characteristics is difficult.

Still, Linz offered several reasons why presidential systems are so prone to crisis. One particularly important one is the nature of the checks and balances system. Since both the president and the Congress are directly elected by the people, they can both claim to speak for the people. When they have a serious disagreement, according to Linz, "there is no democratic principle on the basis of which it can be resolved." The constitution offers no help in these cases, he wrote: "the mechanisms the constitution might provide are likely to prove too complicated and aridly legalistic to be of much force in the eyes of the electorate."

In a parliamentary system, deadlocks get resolved. A prime minister who lacks the backing of a parliamentary majority is replaced by a new one who has it. If no such majority can be found, a new election is held and the new parliament picks a leader. It can get a little messy for a period of weeks, but there's simply no possibility of a years-long spell in which the legislative and executive branches glare at each other unproductively.

But within a presidential system, gridlock leads to a constitutional trainwreck with no resolution. The United States's recent government shutdowns and executive action on immigration are small examples of the kind of dynamic that's led to coups and putsches abroad."



"The idea that America's constitutional system might be fundamentally flawed cuts deeply against the grain of our political culture. But the reality is that despite its durability, it has rarely functioned well by the standards of a modern democracy. The party system of the Gilded Age operated through systematic corruption. The less polarized era that followed was built on the systematic disenfranchisement of African-Americans. The newer system of more ideological politics has solved those problems and seems in many ways more attractive. But over the past 25 years, it's set America on a course of paralysis and crisis — government shutdowns, impeachment, debt ceiling crises, and constitutional hardball. Voters, understandably, are increasingly dissatisfied with the results and confidence in American institutions has been generally low and falling. But rather than leading to change, the dissatisfaction has tended to yield wild electoral swings that exacerbate the sense of permanent crisis.

As dysfunctional as American government may seem today, we've actually been lucky. No other presidential system has gone as long as ours without a major breakdown of the constitutional order. But the factors underlying that stability — first non-ideological parties and then non-disciplined ones — are gone. And it's worth considering the possibility that with them, so too has gone the American exception to the rule of presidential breakdown. If we seem to be unsustainably lurching from crisis to crisis, it's because we are unsustainably lurching from crisis to crisis. The breakdown may not be next year or even in the next five years, but over the next 20 or 30 years, will we really be able to resolve every one of these high-stakes showdowns without making any major mistakes? Do you really trust Congress that much?

The best we can hope for is that when the crisis does come, Americans will have the wisdom to do for ourselves what we did in the past for Germany and Japan and put a better system in place."

[See also: “This is how the American system of government will die” (Dylan Matthews )
http://www.vox.com/2015/3/3/8120965/american-government-problems ]
2015  us  government  politics  constitution  thegreatreset  democracy  juanlinz  checkandbalances  parliamentarydemocracy  presidentialgovernment  polarization  gridlock  dylanmatthews  matthewyglesias 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Tax private schools.
"My colleague Allison Benedikt has a worthy rant attempting to use moral suasion to persuade people not to send their children to private school. She's absolutely right. She also very reasonably says that private school should not be made illegal. Freedom, after all, counts for something.

That said for the public policy literalist in your life, I would say that the relevant issue here is taxes. Private elementary and high schools are, like many other classes of nonprofit institution in the United States, subject to some very favorable tax treatment. One part of this is that donations to private schools can be deducted from your income tax bill. For normal people, the charitable tax deduction isn't a particularly large subsidy. But for the kind of people who send their children to private schools and who pay very high marginal income tax rates, this can be extremely valuable. Second, non-profit institutions are generally exempted from property taxes which, again, can be a big deal in expensive cities.

I'm a little bit skeptical about both of these practices in general. But as applied to private schools it seems totally and obviously outrageous. A private high school may be a non-profit organization, but it's certainly not a charity. It's a private club for the benefit of the families involved. At best private school is a private consumption good like buying your kids expensive clothes or fancy toys. There's no reason municipal tax codes should encourage land to be used for private schools rather than houses or regular businesses and there's no reason the income tax code should encourage rich parents to spend money on private school tuition rather than anything else. John Cook's view that private school should be illegal goes too far, but I'm skeptical that hectoring alone is enough to solve this problem. Make prep schools start paying property taxes, and deny their donors lavish tax subsidies for their donations and I think we'll start to see some real change."

[See also: “There's a Simple Solution to the Public Schools Crisis”
http://gawker.com/5943005/theres-a-simple-solution-to-the-public-schools-crisis
privateschools  education  schools  charitableindustrialcomplex  allisonbenedikt  matthewyglesias  economics  taxes  nonprofit  policy  johncook  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  nonprofits  capitalism  power  control 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Two — but only two — cheers for blasphemy - Vox
"Blasphemous, mocking images cause pain in marginalized communities. The elevation of such images to a point of high principle will increase the burdens on those minority groups. European Muslims find themselves crushed between the actions of a tiny group of killers and the necessary response of the majority society. Problems will increase for an already put-upon group of people."
matthewyglesias  charliehebdo  2015  freespeech  marginzalization  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  freedomofspeech  satire  racism  islamophobia  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Giving Tuesday: Don't donate to a fancy college.
"My alma mater, and perhaps yours, would like to take advantage of the concept of "Giving Tuesday" to get you to give them money. Here's some advice: Don't do it.

Send your money to a poor Kenyan or buy mosquito nets for West Africans in need. If you specifically want to help out an American, then walk out the door and give money to a homeless person on the street. If you want to help out with education, then find a local elementary or high school that's working effectively with poor kids and throw it some cash. There are a lot of things you could do with your charity dollar and essentially all of them are a better idea than giving money to Harvard or Yale or Stanford. For starters, though these highly selective charities like to talk about their generous financial aid policies the fact is that they rarely admit students from low-income families. And when they do admit students from low-income families, those kids usually already get a pretty generous financial aid package because these schools are already extremely rich.

The one and only valid reason to donate money to your selective and well-endowed alma mater is that you're implicitly trying to bribe them to give your own children preference in the admissions process. If that's what's motivating you, then by all means knock yourself out. Those legacy preferences are real, but they don't just exist to be nice. It's about getting money. But paying people to give your children preferential treatment isn't charity. It's more like anti-charity."
charity  philanthropy  economics  education  money  2013  matthewyglesias  ivyleague  elitism  highereducation  highered 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Economic Personalities for our Grandchildren | Jacobin
[Now paywalled, so read here: http://www.peterfrase.com/2012/11/economic-personalities-for-our-grandchildren/ ]

"Lebowitz relates…she loved to write as a young woman, but developed crippling writers’ block once she began to get paid to write…posits that she is “so resistant to authority, that I am even resistant to my own authority.”

"It’s people like this that I’m thinking of when I say that with reductions in working time & something like a generous Universal Basic Income, we would begin to discover what work people will continue to do whether or not they get paid for it. That’s not to say that all work can be taken care of this way… But we can at least start asking why we don’t make an effort to restrict wage labor to areas where it actually incentivizes something."

"I ultimately have a lot of optimism about what people are capable of, and I believe a socialist future would, among other things, bring us more music and literature from the Chris Cornells and Fran Lebowitzes than does the system we live in now."
capitalism  society  incentives  money  economiccompulsion  compulsion  idleness  creation  writing  franlebowitz  soundgarden  robertskidelsky  keynes  humans  behavior  rewards  intrinsicmotivation  trevorburrus  earnedincometaxcredit  taxes  lanekenworthy  mikekonczal  ubi  universalbasicincome  matthewyglesias  nacyfolbre  jessethorn  motivation  economics  behavioraleconomics  cv  authority  creativity  leisurearts  artlabor  labor  peterfrase  socialism  2012  chriscornell  post-productiveeconomy  artleisure  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
WH forces P.J. Crowley to resign for condemning abuse of Manning - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com
"On Friday, State Department spokesman PJ Crowley denounced the conditions of Bradley Manning's detention as "ridiculous, counterproductive & stupid," forcing President Obama to address those comments in a Press Conference and defend the treatment of Manning. Today, CNN reports, Crowley has "abruptly resigned" under "pressure from White House officials because of controversial comments he made last week about the Bradley Manning case." In other words, he was forced to "resign" -- i.e., fired.

So, in Obama's administration, it's perfectly acceptable to abuse an American citizen in detention who has been convicted of nothing by consigning him to 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement, barring him from exercising in his cell, punitively imposing "suicide watch" restrictions on him against the recommendations of brig psychiatrists, & subjecting him to prolonged, forced nudity designed to humiliate & degrade. But speaking out against that abuse is a firing offense. Good to know."
torture  barackobama  neveragain  military  terrorism  politics  democrats  shame  glenngreenwald  matthewyglesias  mockdemocracy  2011  bradleymanning  dissent  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
Matthew Yglesias » Poor People Are Much Poorer Than You Think [via: http://scudmissile.tumblr.com/post/1230275595/abbyjean-actual-represents-the-actual]
"Via Tim Noah, a striking chart from Daniel Ariely and Michael I. Norton’s paper (PDF) “Building a Better America One Wealth Quintile at a Time”: [graph here]<br />
<br />
Actual represents the actual distribution of wealth. Estimated is what people think the distribution of wealth is. I agree with Noah that the methodology that generated the “ideal” numbers is a bit odd so I’ll ignore it.<br />
<br />
Both Noah and Ariely & Norton focus on what this shows us about the top twenty percent, but I don’t think that’s news. We already know from polling that the median voter supports “soak the rich” tax policies far beyond what the right people who run the Democratic Party are prepared to propose. What’s interesting here is the extent to which the public vastly overestimates the prosperity of lower-income Americans. The public thinks the 4th quintile has more money than the median quintile actually has. And the public thinks the 5th quintile has vastly more wealth than it really has."
matthewyglesias  inequality  us  wealth  taxes  policy  politics  myths  misconception  wealthdistribution  from delicious
october 2010 by robertogreco
Matthew Yglesias » Taxes, Taxes Everywhere
"there’s no way to have a progressive renaissance in the United States unless progressives find some politically feasible way of directly making the case that higher taxes for better services can be a good trade. And it’s worth trying to be honest about this. The other American journalists I’m traveling with, all lefty environmentalist types, can’t stop complaining about how expensive basic consumer goods are here. And it’s true, stuff’s expensive! But college and preschool and doctors and hospitals are all free, and the carbon emissions are low. This is, I think, a good trade but it really is a trade. Low taxes plus cheap dirty energy and large numbers of poor people will give you cheaper restaurants."
matthewyglesias  taxes  denmark  us  policy  politics  society  qualityoflife  well-being 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Matthew Yglesias » The Libertarian Parking Garage Challenge
"I really do look forward to the day when the Cato Institute starts specifically denouncing all of this stuff and really going after it. As a supporter of bicycle initiatives, I think it’s nice to see the federal government kick some bucks into a bicycle facility. But as you can see that money is dwarfed by what’s spent on public (and, yes, federal) subsidies for automobile parking facilities. I would gladly equalize federal funding for car parking and bike parking at $0 per year. But I get annoyed when friends of limited government pick on the crumbs handed to cyclists while completely ignoring the loafs going to cars."
bikes  cars  transportation  us  government  economics  politics  libertarianism  parking  funding  matthewyglesias  biking 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Matthew Yglesias » More Serious Friday Nordic Blogging
"we’re trapped in a frustrating circle of passive acceptance of the idea that we just have to live in a country where public services are ill-funded & poorly delivered. ... A country that once built transcontinental railroads & sent people to the moon has decided that for some reason it’d just be impossible to solve our current social problems...when you point out to people that there are countries where the political system has taken decisive action to tackle these challenges, people kind of shrug and observe that the US is very big...But the country was also big years ago when we were building the world’s first mass literacy society. Indeed, it used to be considered advantageous to the US that we were so big and people used to wonder whether small countries weren’t just inherently stuck in poverty. The truth of the matter, however, isn’t that our problems couldn’t be solved it’s that we’re not seriously trying. And we’ve developed a political culture in which that’s considered okay."
us  education  policy  matthewyglesias  finland  reform  change  politics  wealth  poverty  power  socialpolicy  school  schoolreform 
december 2008 by robertogreco

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