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Thoughts Left Lying Around

December 2, 2013

1. Education often focuses on “Great Works” – students are forced to do activities which older generations did for fun. Will students in 100 years be forced to play Pong and Mario? Will they resent Namco and Nintendo as much as modern students resent Charles Dickens and Hemmingway?

2. In the board game Smallworld, factions not chosen become more valuable over time which leads to self correction. Might that be a useful policy mechanism for dealing with privatizing schools? Students who are undesirable because of disabilities could get ever increasing subsidies until a school picks them. An auction would avoid students being totally left behind, but might be humiliating and degrading for students who need high bids to be accepted into a school. Would secret bids help?

3. Is Learned Helplessness efficient? People ignore tasks they suck at, such as refusing to learn to reboot their computer when it isn’t working. It encourages specialization and saves mental energy, but it’s annoying when someone refuses to learn something which is quite simple.

4. If you refuse to react with disgust to social ideas, you are halfway to “thinking like an economist”. Seemingly, if it sounds evil, economists are in favor of it:
Child labor – We already do child labor, we just call it school. There’s no difference between the working conditions of the average office worker and that of a school child. If anything, the white collar jobs which schools are supposedly trying to prepare their students for are more pleasent environments than schools.
Baby selling – it’s already legal, it’s just that the mother can’t get any of the profit. If you don’t believe me, go to an adoption agency, ask for a baby and tell them you won’t pay them because you don’t morally believe in selling babys. They’ll laugh you right out the door.
Kidney selling – it’s already legal, just the person whose kidney it is can’t get any money for it. Doctors get paid, hospitals get paid. The only person who doesn’t get paid is the person donating the kidney.
Price Gouging
Minimum wage
Paying college atheletes
Other examples?

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