Assorted links

by on March 4, 2009 at 7:11 am in Web/Tech | Permalink

1. When does paying for grades work?

2. Michael Barone is a very special man: he has driven through all of the 100 worst traffic intersections in the United States. 

3. Amazing that we would send her back, no?  Something is wrong.

4. Michael Lewis on Iceland, a very good read.

5. Should you respect the debts of the dead?

6. Why hasn't NBA free-throw shooting improved?

E. Barandiaran March 4, 2009 at 7:35 am

I hope you can link to stories about

1. Geithner: from tax cheater to tax enforcer.
2. Bernanke: uncomfortable because of $180B given to AIG.
3. Stiglitz and Stern: new cheerleaders in the block.
4. BHO: from Hope&Change to buy, buy, buy.
And the best one

Marc March 4, 2009 at 7:45 am

More amazing she wants to stay. You can’t say that about the Chinese and Indians these days.

John B. Chilton March 4, 2009 at 8:04 am

r.e. #3 – Amazing, indeed.

r.3. #1 & #6 – Maybe we should try paying for made free throws.

MostlyAPragmatist March 4, 2009 at 9:05 am

We’re not sending her back. She’s deciding not to renew her visa, again, partly because of how difficult it was, but the article says her husband just got an academic job in Vienna, so maybe her decision not to renew isn’t entirely due to the horrible visa process (which should be improved, by the way).

Inna Propriate March 4, 2009 at 10:01 am

It is a shame to send away such an attractive scientist. They are few and far in between.

mk March 4, 2009 at 12:20 pm

I still wonder whether we could subsidize schools instead of students.

Say we have a private school system. For each student, give the student’s school a certificate that entitles them to 0.1% of the government-collected income tax revenue of that student, every year, once he/she grows up and starts working.
In this way you directly subsidize schools for increasing the income potential of their students.

Paul March 4, 2009 at 1:05 pm

Re: immigration policy for scientists and engineers.

One thing that is usually overlooked is how immigration to this country depresses wages for engineers. Fifty years ago there wasn’t the big discrepancy between doctors’ and engineers’ incomes that you see today. Part of that must be due to the fact that so many U.S. engineers now come from abroad while the supply of doctors has been restricted by the capacity of U.S. medical schools.

Discussions of immigration frequently bring up the notion that: the immigrants are doing the jobs that Americans don’t want. Well, that’s true to some extent. But plenty of immigrants have great jobs. And while we are always hearing how we need more kids to go into science and engineering, our society continues to pay salesmen, doctors, and lawyers more money. Part of this is due to the high number of immigrants in the technical fields. Why would a kid go into engineering these days? You make a lot more on Wall St (where even if you do a bad job you make a lot of money.)

Amy March 4, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Spencer – visa costs have increased hugely following 911. I’m on a fiancée visa to the United States – which means I’ll eventually get permanent residency because I married an American citizen. We’ve paid well over $2000 so far, and still don’t have the residency 14 months after beginning the process, and 8 months after moving to America – even though I’m a simple case and have a lawyer. (For comparison a South African friend took just 4 days to get an equivalent visa to England).

The problem is that to be ‘more secure’ they seem to just be asking more officials to review the same document over and over again – 3 separate immigration offices, 2 interviewers and a border patrol guard will have reviewed my application by the time it is approved. I can’t see how any of it increases security.

It seems like the problem is striking the right balance between doing useful security checks and pushing the paper to too many desks. I don’t think more money will solve this.

Kerplunk March 4, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Re: Michael Lewis, can we use his last lines as the recital on future federal budgets:

When you borrow a lot of money to create a false prosperity, you import the future into the present. It isn’t the actual future so much as some grotesque silicon version of it. Leverage buys you a glimpse of a prosperity you haven’t really earned.

Careless March 4, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Amy: sounds like you missed the much cheaper K-1 by just a year or so. The most maddening thing about the process for us was the ridiculous disparities in the amount of time it took the centers to process. Some centers were taking 3-5 times as long as others, and of course you can’t choose where to file. Yay government.

John Pertz March 4, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Damn, poor Milton, he takes it on the chin again, this time from Michael Lewis of all people.

First Naomi Klein nails him with some odd diatribe about governments responding to crises with laissez faire policy, which has to be one of the weirdest political theses Ive ever read.

And then Michael Lewis takes the old swipe. I tend to think that Iceland was not a bastion of laissez faire before the crisis. Mixed economies can have their fare share of Gordon Gecko’s too. You dont have to be Hong Kong to live in a world of over zealous financiers.

torris187 March 4, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Re: Paying for grades

Isn’t the main reason we go to school is to make more money than we otherwise would without school. It just seems logical that if you increase the rewards of studying that students would study that much harder. I think the pyschologists are missing the point of why we go to school. Also, arn’t scholarships the EXACT same thing as paying students to study? I for one studied much harder in school from the fear of losing my scholarships than I otherwise would have without them.

Half Sigma March 4, 2009 at 8:29 pm

“What bothers me is that we allow students to come here to study, we train them to be excellent scientists, and then we make it nearly impossible to get an H-1B visa to stay here and work in a non-student capacity. They are almost forced to return to their home country. How is that an efficient use of our educational dollar?”

Education is like a trade good we export. Your statement makes no sense. It’s like saying “we make great airplanes, and then we sell them to foreign countries instead of keeping them in the united states. How is that a good use of dollars?”

Vernunft March 4, 2009 at 11:37 pm

“Isn’t the main reason we go to school is to make more money than we otherwise would without school.”

You can see liberal education dying in the syntax and semantics of that sentence. Yikes.

MW March 5, 2009 at 2:21 am

Paul, I am one of your poor engineers who have to compete with foreigners and I am against creating an engineering cartel as you suggest. We should look at why other professions are paid so much instead. Why so much of my paycheck goes towards health care and why legal compliance has added so much cost to everything I buy.

But you raise a good point. A cartel would definitely be in my best personal interest, to the detriment of the economy. One of the two main reasons, along with corruption, that most of the world is mired in poverty.

folge March 5, 2009 at 6:44 am

Raivo Pommer

ING-DiBa krise

Vor einer Falle beim Vergleich von Kreditangeboten warnt die ING-DiBa: Unter Umständen droht eine Herabstufung der Bonität durch die Schufa, die Schutzgemeinschaft für allgemeine Kreditsicherung. Das kann zur Folge haben, dass ein Kreditantrag abgelehnt wird oder der Kredit nur zu einem höheren Zinssatz zu erhalten ist.

Keine Gefahr besteht nach den Angaben der Experten, wenn eine Bank Einheitskonditionen für alle Kreditnehmer ausweist und beim Angebotsvergleich keine persönlichen Daten angegeben werden müssen. Aufpassen sollten Verbraucher bei der Jagd nach Kreditschnäppchen hingegen bei Banken, die den Zins von der Bonität des Kunden abhängig machen.

Erkennen lassen sich solche Angebote daran, dass kein fester Zinssatz ausgewiesen wird, sondern mit Begriffen wie beispielsweise “Ratenkredite ab 6,9 Prozent” geworben wird. Um ein konkretes Angebot zu erhalten, müssen Verbraucher bei solchen Geldinstituten ihre Adressdaten sowie weitere Angaben zur Einkommens- und Vermögenslage hinterlassen. Um den bonitätsabhängigen Zins zu ermitteln, fragt dann die Bank auf Basis dieser Daten bei der Schufa an

Kevin K March 6, 2009 at 10:29 am

Steve, in the sciences most research is done by grad students who are paid more or less the minimum wage. Also, there are armies of foreign post-docs at all the major research universities earning not much more than graduate salary. They are cheap labor for the tenured publishing machine.

blelch March 6, 2009 at 7:21 pm

Ah Half Sigma, but should we continue to build and export something we lose money on? Why should we make such a trade good in the first place, if not to get a return?

Graduate students get $ from fellowships, research budgets, and financial aid from endowments. Even at the undergrad level at our best universities, it costs far more to educate a student then that student pays in tuition.

(Say whatever you will about universities and cost-control and higher higher-ed inflation, it is a separate issue.)

The point is, education of these students is distinctly unprofitable to society as a whole (and do believe that government money is involved), except for the long-term investment in human capital. Did you ever count how many Silicon Valley companies were founded by immigrants? Ever use Google?

Many of these students want to stay here, with only second-choice employers in other countries. Many companies want to hire them, as their brains are quite attractive (America, sucking up the top parts of the IQ distribution from other countries). Why not let the market clear, and hopefully convince a majority of them to join as citizens? It is mind-bogglingly insane to do it as we do – pay first, give away later.

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