Month: December 2004

Milton Friedman School for Tots

I blogged earlier on Roland Fryer’s experiment in paying children for grades.  A school near Detroit is taking the idea even further.


How do Beverly Elementary third-graders earn their paychecks? David
Snyder’s paycheck for the three school days before Thanksgiving looked
like this:

†¢ Spelling test — $2

†¢ Math warm-ups — $5

†¢ Idea with writing piece — $3

†¢ Class work — $3

†¢ Homework — $5

Being paid for schoolwork is part of the third-grade curriculum at
Beverly Elementary, in the Birmingham school district. Students earn
"Beverly Bucks" for homework, tests and class work, with a bonus thrown
in for good quality.

At the end of the week, they can take a paycheck home for endorsement.
Then the student can cash the check for Beverly Bucks and shop in the
class store….

The paycheck curriculum is part economics, part math and a very big part incentive.

"Their work has really improved," Knoper said. "When I come to work, I
get paid for it. We’ve really just likened it to the real world."

That’s cool but what I really like is this:

After the Christmas break, Knoper said the paycheck curriculum will be
ramped up a notch when the kids start paying taxes on the hallways (a
form of road tax) and playgrounds.

and the teachers even understand Beckerian efficiency conditions for crime.

Students can lose money, too.

"If I accidentally hit somebody, I have to lose $4 or $5," said Shane Holmes, 8, suggesting that losing that much money was horrifying.

I don’t suppose my children’s Montessori school will go for this. 

Thanks to Ted Craig for the pointer.

Markets in self-constraint

An Australian phone company is offering customers the chance to blacklist numbers before heading out for a night on the town so they can reduce the risk of making any embarrassing, incoherent late-night calls.

A survey of 409 people by Virgin Mobile, a joint venture of The Virgin Group and Optus, found 95 percent made drunk calls [TC: surely the percentage is lower in good ol’ New Zealand…].

Of those calls, 30 percent were to ex-partners, 19 percent to current partners, and 36 percent to other people, including their bosses.

The company also found that 55 percent of those polled would grab for their phone first the next morning to check who they had drunkenly dialled, compared with just eight percent who went for the headache pills first.

Here is the link, and thanks to Courtney Knapp for the pointer.

How to fix social security

All [social security] benefits are based on something called the primary insurance amount.  This amount, in turn, is based on a worker’s earnings, indexed to the growth in average real wages, for the highest 35 years of earnings…So every retiring worker gets to take advantage of overall economic prouductivity, pushing up the level of wages during the time in which the work was performed.  This adjustment allows the purchasing power of benefits to grow over time…the purchasing power of benefits paid to today’s teenager are scheduled to be 60% higher than benefits paid to a typical worker who retired in 2001.

…If benefits were indexed to prices, however, Social Security would, at this very minute, be in balance over the long-term – the system would be permanently solvent.  Not only would future revenues equal future costs, but there would be a surplus…

Did you get that right?  Just stop boosting benefits.

That is by Susan Lee, from The Wall Street Journal Op-Ed page, November 23.