Smith College Protests: Beneath Outrage, Statistical Confusion

Two leaked letters between staff and administrators at the Smith College School for Social Work have led to mass student protests of perceived institutional racism. Professors alleged that admissions staff were doing a disservice–particularly to minority students–by admitting unprepared students … Continue reading Smith College Protests: Beneath Outrage, Statistical Confusion

Of Course Minimum Wage Reduces Employment

In his opus, Economics in One Lesson, Henry Hazlitt devotes an entire chapter to minimum wage laws. He’s quick to identify a semantic problem that lies at the heart of the debate on minimum wage. “…for a wage is, in fact, a price. It is unfortunate for the clarity of economic thinking that the price of labor’s services should have received an entirely different name from other prices. This has prevented most people from realizing that the same principles govern both. Thinking has become so emotional and so politically biased on the subject of wages that in most discussions of … Continue reading Of Course Minimum Wage Reduces Employment

Science and Politics: An Abusive Relationship

Decades before Luis Pasteur fostered scientific consensus on germ theory, Ignaz Semmelweis was imploring obstetricians to wash their hands after handling corpses. His work did little to inspire his fellow medical practitioners. On the contrary, he was met with indignation and disbelief at almost every turn. Though aided by his increasingly erratic behavior and political inelegance, there is no doubt that his alienation from the medical community was due in part to his then-heretical proposals. We’ve come a long way since the Roman Inquisition locked Galileo under house arrest for advancing the theory of heliocentricity. Yet still, skepticism is a … Continue reading Science and Politics: An Abusive Relationship

“Free” College Would be a Terrible Idea

The free college crusade represents a perfect collision of ignorance and entitlement. The movement is popular with self-interested students seeking debt forgiveness or a free ride and contributes heavily to the appeal of Bernie Sanders’ candidacy among them. While he is the most extreme in his rhetoric and supposed intentions, the venerable senator is only one among many high-profile Democrats to opine that higher education should be at least partially subsidized by federal money (or more accurately that federal subsidies should be expanded, since they already exist). Their argument is predicated on the idea that there is a moral or economic … Continue reading “Free” College Would be a Terrible Idea