Assorted Links with Commentary

1. Due to massive inflation, shops in Venezuela are now weighing money rather than counting it–a true paper standard.

2. As the economy collapses, Venezuelan’s are turning to bitcoin–using free electricity to mine the coins–but the secret police are hunting the miners.

3. Larry White and Shruti Rajagopolan note that India’s demonetization is really an expropriation that will transfer wealth to the government. Whether the wealth transfer is of black market holdings or not remains to be seen.

4. George Borjas remember’s Castro’s demonetization:

Castro quickly found a simple way of confiscating “excess” cash. The currency was changed overnight. And everyone had to turn in their old paper currency for the new paper currency, with some limits being imposed on the amount of the transactions. There was a miles-long line on what I think was a Saturday morning, as the entire Cuban population was turned into beggars for the new currency.

5. Alex Bellos looks at Newcomb’s Problem. The answer is obvious.

6. Steven Pearlstein on Four tough things universities should do to rein in costs. I liked this bit of history:

In 2002, George Washington University President Stephen Trachtenberg noticed that the school owned roughly $1 billion worth of facilities that sat idle for at least a third of the year. If he could reconfigure the academic calendar for year-round operation, he reasoned, he could enroll thousands more students without having to build new classrooms, labs, dorms or athletic facilities.

Doing so, however, would have required some professors to periodically teach during the summer, which didn’t sit well with the Faculty Senate. Its report on the matter reads like a parody of self-interested whining by coddled academics dressed up as concern for the pedagogical and psychological well-being of their students.

Prices aren’t rising because costs are rising, however, costs are rising because prices are rising.

7. Evolution is amazing. By acting as selective breeders, poachers are changing the genetics of African elephants.

In some areas 98 per cent of female elephants now have no tusks, researchers have said, compared to between two and six percent born tuskless on average in the past.


Semantics. If "gold standard" means "gold standard", Josh is only talking about some Austrians, not libertarians generally.

If "gold standard" means something broader like "monetary rule", then you get Friedman and most other libertarians on board. But I think it's unhelpful, stupid even, to define "gold standard" this way.


Good thing nobody cares what you think, eh?

Barro was definitely talking about "libertarians generally" and not the quacks in Auburn.

4. Remarkably like what Modi just did in India.

[#4 (Castro quickly found a simple way of confiscating “excess” cash. The currency was changed)

Yes, India just did a similar move on a more modest scale.

When government politicians control & define a national currency, holders of a specific currency are always at risk of a major surprise "devaluation". History abounds with examples.

This is precisely how the U.S. Federal Government will ultimately solve its huge untenable debt problem -- at some future point it will simply re-define what a U.S. Dollar is.

See #3. Great ideas never go out of fashion.

6. I will try not to presume the politics of the author. But the proposals sound an awful lot like the prescription for savings as described by proponents of the PPACA. And that hasn't worked as described. Administration costs shouldn't exceed the cost of instruction. Why? Why shouldn't the information age drop the cost of instruction monumentally while the cost of administration rises? Seems logical to me. There are, no doubt, great ideas in there that could work. But some of them have similarities to wide sweeping legislative efforts we've seen elsewhere and the results aren't promising. Maybe try some actual innovative thinking?

Why wouldn't the information age drop the cost of administration? Most of what administration used to do is now software. But you can't digitize your dean of diversity I suppose.

The information age has had thirty years to act on the cost of administration. Office productivity software hasn't changed much in a long time. Haggling about bills still takes people. And as you point out in a joke, the political waste doesn't improve with automation. Like it or not.

But teaching appears ripe for significant cost reduction via technology scaling the capacity of good teachers and automation replacing graders and a lot of the little things associated with classes.

Not that I'm strongly convinced of this, but the idea that universities will be mostly administration in a generation doesn't seem wildly implausible.

It crosses my mind that maybe a lot of teaching staff used to spend a lot more time in administrative, etc., work.

So, does the higher amount of dollars allocated to specific positions which are largely administrative in nature actually mean that more total resources are spent that way?

Most often, I would think that using university professors to do administrative work is not a good allocation of resources, and so it's not clear whether more resources going into explicitly administrative positions implies a shift towards misallocation.

I'm not sure this is true given a) service expectations of faculty, which are quite high, and b) that faculty were not expected to necessarily know how to type up their own documents within living memory of people who are still working in academia.

There is no doubt that you would expect both to see their costs go down as a result of technology over time. But I don't think it's a given that it would/could/should mean administration will be the lower of the costs compared to instruction.

Why would that be the expectation? Costs are not a factor of what needs to be done and how much. It is a factor of how much cash is coming in.

As for technology, 40 years ago no one knew how many rolls of toilet paper were in stock. Now they have a whiz-bang piece of software, 6 people inputting data, an IT department, enormous software and hardware costs, and they still don't know how many rolls of toilet paper are in stock.

Obviously they need more money.

I noticed, having taken summer classes every year at Northwestern, that they were usually staffed by full professors who actually wanted to teach. It was a better experience than the other quarters.

My winter and summer classes in college were uniformly taught by graduate assistants rather than actual professors.

How about fall and spring?

Chicago operates on quarter system where Summer acts as fourth quarter.....obviously not same number of classes as Fall thru Spring but it works really well and you'll get some decent profs too. You can also compress a full year of language requirement in 10 weeks though not sure if they do that anymore....drawback is it'll be about 95 degrees and humid in Hyde Park most every day

Steven Pearlstein attended college where and when they operated all 12 months of the year?

I started working at a college right after high school on the paint crew in June 1966 and then worked summers when no regular classes were held until I became full time employee with the summers marked by almost all the students leaving until 1973.

The change during that time, and the thing that paid me to work full time, was fund raising to build more buildings and other real estate. In the late 60s, the building were a new library and expanding it to accommodate new technology in media, with a desire to provide computer access to information. The library and it's librarian is known for its efforts in that area. And the other project was continuing to expand the science facilities, again with computer access integral, my other job at the college, running the computer center and providing students and professors hands on computer access.

But by the 80s, the fund raising shifted to sports complexes and luxury housing, at least in my view. As a student, my dorm was concrete slab floors and cinder block walls, two students per room, 10 rooms per group John with two showers, four sinks, two urinals, four toilets. There was a lobby, and a basement room used for dorm meetings, and as a weekend night club. And that was the modern dorm, with the other dorms going back as far as a century. The oldest dorm had been 5-10 bunks per room that had been divided up into a warren of singles, doubles, and triples.

Sports were played on fields with bleachers for a few hundred, except for football with a cinder track and more substantial bleachers for maybe two thousand. The field house had bleachers that folded back that handled about a thousand, used for phys ed, campus meetings, concerts. Today, a grand football stadium, a basketball arena, Olympic swimming pool, with dedicated rooms for phys ed, extensive weight room, dedicate gymnastic space.

And instead of a small arts and student center, a big arts center, etc.

The college is still only in the 1100-1200 student range.

Currently returning to upgrading the science facilities to accommodate new bio chem genetic technology and faculty.

Steven Pearlstein should be calling for football to be played 12 months a year, basketball played 12 months a year, track and field 12 months a year because that's where a lot of the idle high cost real estate is.

Students are already paying twice as much for the luxury housing. Unless they live off campus in old houses filled several to a room like I and my peers did.

I took summer session every year at UC-Berkeley, and they tended to be taught by professors from the state university system. Some of them were pretty good teachers -- usually better than during the regular year. I guess that's what you get when you hire only for teaching competence without regard to research publications.

The University of Minnesota gets 35,000 applications for 5,200 freshman openings. Until those numbers are reversed nothing is going to change.

5,200 applications for 35,000 openings?

"Dear Applicant

You are in! But you knew that!

See you next semester.

PS -- Do you have any friends? We have ~29,000 more spaces"

It's not nice to make fun of people with dyslexia.

6. It's fun to laugh at coddled faculty who don't want to teach in the summer, but MR is a pro-markets economics blog. Why is this the equilibrium? Faculty spend summers working on research (let's ignore for now the value of research). If you ask them to teach summers too, they will ask for a higher salary, or they will leave and join a competitor university that does not ask them to teach in the summer. It's a marketplace. It's the same thing as with tenure. Sure, you could scrap tenure. But you'll have to pay higher salaries, or accept losing your best faculty.

OK let's say you demand summer teaching. Of course not all faculty can leave, because some are overpaid. You'll end up keeping all the deadwood, but losing your best researchers. GWU becomes a teaching-focused institution. There's nothing wrong with that, but it should then be renamed GW *College*.


An employer can't just unilaterally remove an aspect of compensation without seeing a response from employees. I understand academics have less mobility than, say, accountants or lawyers, but they have some.

They have surprisingly little. Accountants have a lot. (I'm a historian. My students who are accountants -- there have been a couple -- have been able to move around a lot.)

HI story is fixed, the past, and there is never anything new in history, so clearly historians can teach 12 months a year the unchanging history of the world??

Clearly it's not so easy to quit and start somewhere else next week like some software developer.

But over time you would see effects. Compensation affects hiring - you'd either raise other aspects of it or lose good people. And there is the occasional competitive offer made to an established person.

Yep. Worth pointing out that, in an accounting fiction we mostly find comical/depressing in academia (given that summer is the only time anyone gets any real research done), a professor's official salary is almost always a 9-month or 10-month salary, so the universities can claim it's "like" they're paying you 20%-25% more than they're actually paying you because you are compensated by way of summers off. Except, of course, you usually are working. And yes, many departments let you use grant overhead or extra teaching to top up the difference, but grants are scarce and even when you get one, some funders won't let you use it for that.

Simply put, many of us have skills that would be a lot more lucrative if we did something else, and as economists rightly point out, if you change our incentives, we might well do something else, even if we prefer teaching and even if our teaching has more (potentially unquantifiable) value than whatever that something else is.

Then, please do something more lucrative. It will help the taxpayer, and some unemployed PhD can have your job.

Academia already washes out many very talented people, including some of the best teachers, because of the mediocre pay, limited labor mobility, poor work-life balance, institutional dysfunction, etc etc. So snark all you like, but if you make the profession unappetizing enough in the name of cost containment, you'll get what you pay for.

"we prefer teaching and even if our teaching has more (potentially unquantifiable) value than whatever that something else is."

I strongly suspect your intuition is wrong here, and that the fact that you are heavily subsidized suggests that as a society, we're buying too much of what you're selling. I.e., the world would be better off if you were doing something else.

"mediocre pay" etc.

It doesn't actually matter whether the pay is great or the pay is awful. If you reduce it from whatever is the equilibrium, you'll get a response from the employees. People will make different choices, as you outline.

Your response overlooks at least three key points. First, higher education almost certainly has positive externalities, so probably there ought to be some level of subsidy, even if one could argue it's too high at present (I'm agnostic on the latter point -- the subsidy almost certainly isn't allocated optimally, but whether an ideal allocation would lead to a lower optimal subsidy is hard to ascertain). Second, most of the expense isn't going toward the teaching, and it's very hard to predict what the equilibrium of subsidy, tuition, and salary would be if universities returned to a focus on teaching as core mission, but I doubt salaries would go down, since academics with several additional years of training and work beyond a master's for a PhD and maybe postdoc aren't paid that much better than master's-holding K-12 teachers. (I wouldn't oppose a refocusing on that core mission, by the way.) Three, some have suggested that the "buying too much" mechanism is on the demand side, i.e., more people are attending college than is socially optimal. I am not sure what to make of that argument, but it's certainly a possibility.

I don't overlook those points at all, I just disagree with them.

Anyone who thinks higher education, broadly, has positive externalities isn't paying attention. It isn't all engineering and science.

Salaries seem largely determined by how much money you bring in relative to how much you can demand in the private sector. So finance pays well, engineering all right, and liberal arts quite poorly.

Regarding the demand side, to the extent there's anything to the signalling model or the consumption good model, clearly we are spending more on education than socially optimal.

Outside of a very limited set of research problems and teaching assignments, you would almost certainly improve the world by taking a job where you are paid for your contribution.

Of course they would need to pay the professors for their time. Getting them to teach for free is not required for the GW plan to work. The GW plan was premised on using, and thus getting revenue from, facilities that otherwise would sit empty and simply be a cost.

But in most fields there is not a shortage of PHD's and little of the Universities' prestige comes form its professors. So if they quit you replace them, if they go to other Universities you could get the experienced Professors that they replace. I think that the state schools being subsidized already should ignore loss of prestige to some fairily low level and educate more students at lower cost. To be concrete target 20% increase in enrollment and 50% of the current per student cost. I think if you forgo prestige it could be done.

If all universities did this in harmony, sure, it would be more workable. People could still move to the private sector, but there'd be fewer options.

But if one university does this unilaterally, it would face serious problems.

Yes, MR is pro-markets, so let's just go all the way and give adjunct professors what they deserve.

That's weird. The .png part was not made part of the link, so you can't just click on it. You have to select the whole thing, copy it, and paste it into your browser. I don't know why that happened.

Most students attend public univerisities. State legislatures could easily pass a law mandating all year classes at public colleges and universities.

What, you're going to quit your job at Berkeley because they make you teach an extra class?

Teaching load is a major point of negotiation when hiring academics. For sure Berkeley would lose people if it tried to make them teach more.

Does it have to be "teach year round" or could it be "choose which two thirds of the year you work, and not everyone can choose fall and spring"?

Choosing B alone, and finding it empty, gives us the knowledge that the Entity is fallible; one might value this more than £1000.

It just comes down to the premise regarding the Entity. If the Entity is just making rational & logical inferences, choosing both boxes is dominant & you will get $1000. If the Entity has some kind of magical powers, you can get your $1M by choosing only the second box. Not sure what fuss is about.

If the Entity can know whether you are the kind of person who will pick only B even when it makes no sense, then of course you have to pick B only. Otherwise you are NOT that kind of person and the $1M will not be there. So the question is whether the Entity could know that or not. From the phrasing of the question I interpret that it can, so I would pick B only (it also makes it easier that I don't care about $1,000, but I think my answer would be the same regardless).

Interesting tweak: Box A contains $1M (or $250k or something), Box B contains $1B (or nothing)

I still think I'm picking B only.

That's just Tversky and Kahneman's gig. They show that rational people do not use a linear utility function. This is often misinterpreted by economists as indicating irrational behavior; they interpret it this way to rationalize their continuing use of a linear utility function.

Me too. I wonder what is going on in the heads of people who think they can outsmart the Super Intelligent Being. SIB got it right every time before. What makes you so special?

I think you have to go with your guy.

If Cowen picks only B, even if picking B is so evidently against his very nature, there is a risk that B will be empty, regardless of how good the Entity has been in the past.

I'm more of a gambler, and would pick B, assuming the entity knew this.

Gut, not guy.

#7 so you do read the comments?

#1. It is important to recognize that this is definitely not a consequence of a command economy, which is enthusiastically supported by commenters Bill, disgraced "economist" Barkeley Rosser, opinion writer Paul Krugman, Soviet fanboy Bernard Sanders, and MR losers Nathan, and Jill, but is instead the result of a conspiracy against Venezuela by the United States in the western world.

Have you heard? Tyler has decided to end this comment board and just have Thomas tell us what all the other commenters think. And we can all cancel our subscriptions to NYT, because Thomas can tell us what Krugman and Bernie Sanders think about everything also. Since apparently Thomas believes he can read everyone's mind, LOL.

Oh, to be clairvoyant like Thomas. We should all be so lucky-- or so narcissistic.

Literacy does not imply clairvoyance

#7. It is important to note that Evolution can affect external features, but intelligence is a god-given invariant.

Excellent point.

A is plausible, therefore A is true.

When poachers kill all the elephants that grow tusks we are left with a population of elephants which do not grow tusks, which stands as evidence that Africans are inferior brutes.

By this display of superior intellect, I now award myself an IQ rating of 145 because I'm better and more right.

#2. In a cleverly devised command economy, such as those which are endorsed by the leftists on MR, the unfortunate consequence of acting on supply and demand is gulags, torture, or death. Ultimately, however, the bourgeoisie deserves nothing less should they refuse to support both the poor's bread and the political class's opulence, at least according to our MR leftists. Of course, the average MR leftist expects to be the political class, with its palaces and sex slaves. Like John Podesta.

Now THAT is a tough job Americans won't do, being John Podesta's sex slave.

That's what Haiti "charity" is for. Hillary has taken a few villages.

Or at least you believe that, if you believe fake news.

Thomas is surely the straw man expert here. Congratulations on boiling down all economies to either Soviet Communism or else extreme laissez faire totally unregulated capitalism. And then beating up on the straw man of Soviet Communism-- a type of economy which absolutely no one in this comment section, or in the entire U.S., wants to have-- except according to the imaginative fantasies of Thomas and other consumers of fake news.

In the real world, it is the Republican party that supports the political class's and the .01%'s opulence, not the Dems. Oops, I said something real here. Horror of horrors. Bu don't worry. No problem for you here, Thomas. You can just turn back to your fake news now-- the news that tells you that DT is the Great Savior of the American working class and middle class. If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you. Fake bridge selling-- like the selling of DT to the American voter through fake news-- being free market capitalism at its best.

I'm pretty sure I actually do remember Sanders saying that if he was elected, it would be to the gulags for all who did not embrace the Danish way.

The preference from the right to reduce sentences for victimless crimes such as people deciding what to put in their bodies or where to stick there whatever between consenting adults is also much appreciated .

I do wish the left wing in America would stop advocating for longer prison sentences for more things.

The right wing is to be highly respected for its clarity of speech and human rights oriented approach with regard to such concerns.

Credit where it's due, Nathan. Been at least 15 years since the Dems were pushing tough on crime laws. Glad they abandoned that policy, and it's been a long time coming for both parties.

Although ironically it's the Kochs pushing sentence reform on the Republican side.

Here's to a hopeful reform law for drug sentencing. Something we can all agree on.

Why is that ironic exactly?

It's ironic due to the vilification of the Koch brothers as modern day Satans. Im sure the media will spin it as racism somehow.

Wowsers, now is that historical revisionism if I ever saw any.

"Tough on crime", if seen from Democrats, was in response to highly effective quasi-brainwashing wherein politicians must be seen as tough on crime, despite crimes rates already having been falling - the necessity to appear "tough on crime" is because right wing parties will rip to shreds any governing party that is unable to project this "toughness", no matter how socially suboptimal it might be.

Some people suspect this might be somewhat related to things like how Trump fans pissed on a homeless guy or how African Americans often do serious time for low-level drug crimes that almost no white upper middle class person would ever do time for ... but if there are good reasons to think I'm wrong about that which do not involve argumentation along the line of "no, but they're worse", I'd be happy for reasons to think I'm wrong.

But hey, let's forget about pissing on homeless people and focus on completely dismantling any notion of barriers against state intrusion into person lives because maybe they'll catch some pedophile sooner, if they aren't too busy filing the web with such materials as a part of their stings in the first place.

Because if you aren't tough on crime ... well, you may as well be disseminating propaganda which promotes pedophilia and heroin usage among young children?

If sort of matters, because if what comes from that give and take is to blame the middle roaders for what excesses still existed, as opposed to those responsible for the political environment which made various stupidities necessary, then this will be yet one more concrete example of "why not to bother working with the other parties".

Kind of like how Obama gets "blamed" for the ACA, yet this was basically Republican policy from 10 years previous.

Well, my mistake I suppose for trying to agree with Nathan. I thought we could all celebrate a turn in our political discourse towards sentencing reform and an abandonment of tough on crime rhetoric. I think criminal reform is one of the great human rights frontiers left in the US. Apparently I'm wrong because of a president elect I don't support....or something. And something about homeless people. And urination. I still don't see how it's revisionism to recall that Hillary herself casually referred to "super predators"

To echo Art Deco, a not insignificant portion of the tough on crime political support came from black communities. This isn't a surprise, since they were the prime victims of the massive violent crime wave, and still are the primary victims of violent crime in the US. It may have been a rational response to an unprecedented rise in violent crime. But I think we can all agree that it's time for reform.

I thought you were blaming someone for stupid policies that were forced upon them by dumb maneuvering from others with regard to "tough on crime" - which continues in the form of ever increasing paranoia about types of crimes which have declined consistently for several decades now.

So ... you weren't "blaming" them for dumb policy, but instead observing who was at the helm when policy went in that direction with that vocabulary?

#4. It is important to note that the left in the United States would never expropriate anyones wealth, such as with a 401k seizure for Social Security, or a tax on wealth to support reparations. Never, never, never. And if they did, we should all be so lucky as to invest our property in whatever it is the clintons have their property invested in.

Any opinions on how civil forfeiture is proceeding these days?

Do you think those who think it has extended to absurdity into the realm of flagrant abuse, and who believe restraining the practice would be better, should look to the "left" or the "right" (excluding libertarians) for support on the issue?

How about banning civil forfeiture for people whose skin tone exceeds a certain "whiteness" threshold? (On the basis that their innocence might be presumed but not that of others.) Would that be OK with you?

#6. It is important to consider that it is racist, sexist, transphobic, and islamophobic to suggest that colleges should reduce their budgets. If anything, we need more Associate Deans of Gender Equality, Inclusion, and Sharia Law, etc. Remember, as Justin Trudeau said, honor killings should not be considered barbaric, because it's racist to say that Muslims shouldn't murder their daughters. I'm sure Bill, Nathan and Barkeley "the loser" Rosser would agree.

Is your life fun, Thomas? Beating on straw men constantly and clairvoyantly telling us what Bill, Nathan etc. think, so that they don't have to go to the trouble of ever commenting? Interesting that you can't find any Left of Center people in the U.S. to criticize, so you have to criticize a Canadian political official instead. But as a fake news consumer, I am sure that being without any evidence in the U.S. for your "facts" doesn't bother you at all.

Is bashing the Left, with no real evidence whatsoever for your bashing, a fulfilling meaning to your life? Everyone must be jealous of you, huh, Thomas? Some people only cure cancer, create great art or literature etc. But Thomas's life is focused on the most important achievement of all-- bashing liberals without evidence.

If people are killing people they can call 9-11.

We don't need a dedicated line to single out "barbaric practices" of certain groups. Such behaviours are barbaric regardless of who does them.

The position of policing authorities at the time, wisely, was "we do not comment on political matters" - of course, it had precisely zero relation to policing because it is already possible, in fact encouraged, to call the police when people kill people.

If gentiles claim (((merchants))) run the media, it's anti-(((merchant))).

If (((merchants))) do it, it's fine.

I just don't understand how good Christians can let themselves follow a guy like (((Jesus))), or vote for (((Ivanka Trump)))'s dad.

What's your point. That you can't be "anti-((()))" unless you dislike every single ((()))? That's a juvenile argument.

LOL, I'm the juvenile one not the anti-semites who can't even just say 'look at da jooz ruining everything' and use brackets instead. I mean, even if we set aside the childishness of brackets, what exactly is the point of noticing the demographic makeup of certain industries? Yeah, there's a lot of Jews in banking, and the media, and law firms. There's not so many playing football and being CEOs. So the heck what?

"Yeah, there’s a lot of Jews in banking, and the media, and law firms. There’s not so many playing football and being CEOs. So the heck what?"

There aren't many Jewish CEOs? The point of noticing them is because they use their power to their benefit and our detriment. Libs like yourself are fine with "noticing the demographic makeup of certain industries" so long as it is to decry the supposed over representation of white people.

How do they use their power to our detriment and their benefit any differently than Christian CEOs (most of them) and bankers (Dimon, Stumpf, Mack, Naratil, many others) and media leaders (Murdoch, Slim, Ailes, many others)?

And yes there are very few Jewish CEOs, and the ones that exist are in banking almost exclusively. There are more non-Jews running banks both in the US and abroad however.

Chuck, I agree with you that the political correctness pushed by some individuals about that particular issue is indeed unfair.

Oops, I made Thomas wrong again. He thinks he can clairvoyantly predict everyone's opinion on every issue, just by reading a few of their comments.


Just wanted to say that I have really appreciated your posts today.


#4: I haven't realized before Mr. Borjas was so doctrinary. In war it doesn't matter if the winner is good or evil, losers will suffer a lot. Dreaming of US foreign policy being driven by abstract ideals will just end in frustration as presented by the vignettes.

Mr. Borjas is oblivious to the fact that Venezuela is one of the most punctual payers of debt, sells oil to the US and has investments in the US. Under a different perspective, perhaps the US-Cuba rupture was an excess and the modern US-Venezuela is a success of realpolitik. US diplomats in 19060 had a very thin skin for Castro's comments, perhaps modern US diplomats saw Chavez as a words man, not actions man. After all, Chavez never sent armed forces to a civil war in Africa. to measure them with doctrinary ideals. Perhaps it's better to rely on the history of US-Cuba relationship instead of vignettes:

"This article makes an argument analogous to Costigliola's: that the intense emotional response of U.S. policymakers to Fidel Castro's anti-American rhetoric led them to conclude that coexistence with Castro's revolutionary government was impossible, even before Castro took policy decisions that seriously threatened U.S. interests. The result was a half century of hostility between Cuba and the United States, of which neither the duration nor intensity was inevitable."

The Societ Union and world communism is gone. So who cares about Chavez?

Cuba in 1960 was scarier for a real reason.

#5. Yes. B only. If you were going to David Edmonds advice (taking both because your decision cannot alter what's in the boxes), the infallible super-intelligent being would have predicted this reasoning. So don't reason that way. Bottom line -- you can't trick a being who can predict your thoughts with 100% accuracy. pull out a coin (or can this super-intelligent being also predict the results of all random physical events?)

The obvious answer is that you get a research grant of 2 million pounds to study the issue. And let grad students work it out while you take the summer conferencing in Europe.

No one has noticed Prof. Tabarrok stepping up to the plate?

This could get interesting. After all, it is always interesting to read an immigrant's take on what is going on in America and the rest of the world.

Yes, noticed. Is this the first assorted links post by AT?

"7. Selective breeding is amazing." -- There, fixed that for you.*

*Of course I believe in evolution. This isn't evolution any more than selecting for a new color rose or shorter legged sheep would be. A tuskless elephant is still an elephant.

It's not selective breeding because it's not intentional.

Of course it is. If hunters limit their "harvest" to elephants with tusks, what are they doing except being selective? Intentional or not, humans are responsible for the selection and the result is the same.

The point is, it's not evolution until it's clear a new species is emerging. Nothing suggests tusk or no-tusks will lead to that.

But the hunters aren't being farmers here and modifying their livestock through selective breeding. They're predators, like lions and hyenas, which seems to fit the definition of evolutionary pressure here :

"it’s not evolution until it’s clear a new species is emerging"

This statement is simply false, regardless of whether the process in questions is considered selective, or natural.

“it’s not evolution until it’s clear a new species is emerging”

I have heard that premise state before, and I don't know whether it's true or not. It's certainly not true in the strict definitional sense.

More Scientific Facts: 1. Mind is not dependent on Brain but, in any event, all Brains are created equal. 2. Evolution only occurs from the neck down and, in the case of humans, stopped 100,000 years ago.

The next 5 years in genetic science are going to hit a lot of people really hard. Like a Trump Train.

Evolution is a change in the frequency of alleles in a population over time. Usually creatonists want to argue speciation but that's really irrelevant (although it also follows inescapably from evolution, really)

Evolution is just descent with modification, so this *is* evolution. What we are observing in the elephants is not speciation, and nobody said it was.

In 2002, George Washington University President Stephen Trachtenberg noticed that the school owned roughly $1 billion worth of facilities that sat idle for at least a third of the year.

First, this isn't much of a cost. Most of those facilities were built by GWU decades even nearly centuries ago (founded around 1821). Yes you have to remodel buildings and upgrade them over time but the actual cost of running GWU probably doesn't consist of building very much (also $1B 'worth' includes property values which no doubt have gone up dramatically over the decades even though the buildings themselves are probably about the same).

Second, this really isn't a question about cutting cost but increasing revenue. The ice cream shop closes in winter, but people like ice cream year round so why not keep it open in winter running on a reduced schedule and we make more money? The University could charge more tuition by running a summer schedule and offer more jobs for facility. Why aren't they eager for both?

Its not a question of when "Most of those facilities were built". Its a question of what is the marginal cost of building new buildings because the current supply is being under-utilized.

Near me I have 3 ice cream places. Two Dairy Queens and one non-franchise. The non-franchise one is open year round, one of the Dairy Queens closes in winter and the other stays open. Why did the market build 3 ice cream places? Why not 2 places a bit larger? I mean I know the *real* answer probably concerns different owners, the places getting built at different points in history and even though they are close they have slightly different locations servicing different markets.

In terms of classroom space, schools have lots of options. For example, near me I often see local colleges renting office space in business areas to service night students. They get location without having to build or own a new building and it seems to be net income positive (collect more tuition less cost of paying teacher to do a night class = profit!). For a campus a new building might make sense for either marketing (brand new dorms with luxury accommodations!) or because it's easier to build than utilize an older building (a new robotics program might require a dedicated building rather than trying to retrofit an older building that was used to teach literature).

What I'm thinking about seeing college happily rent office space to serve students who have day jobs is that as an economic entity the University is happy to adapt itself to a different type of customer market. So the reasons given for saying no to the idea of running the school in summer are silly but that's because the faculty doesn't know the actual reason they don't opt for it?

Most schools I know do in fact run a scaled down summer session. Why not run it as intense as their regular sessions? I don't think it is as simple as pampered professors who can't contemplate the idea of running with a full schedule during summer.

1+2: Don't worry boys -- socialism will definitely work NEXT time.

#5. This is why philosophers are shot on sight, or should be. The last philosopher who made an honest living was Comicus, and he fell to Political Correctness.

6. "Prices aren’t rising because costs are rising, however, costs are rising because prices are rising."

Can Tyler provide evidence for State legislatures hiking tuition in order to drive up education costs?

Can Tyler provide evidence that GWU trustees first raise tuition and fees, and then look for ways to increase costs?

Why are GWU trustees motivated to hike tuition simply to hike tuition prices?

Why are the two recent student graduates interested in hiking tuition prices of the underclass students the recently left behind? The hate students? Want to get back at underclass students? Or are those the lone voices on the trustees calling for price cuts with all the other trustees the ones who are seeking to make GWU the playground of only the wealthy elites?

But if Tyler really believes that, then he should support Congress passing a law capping the price of tuition at current levels, and then support a 10% annual price cap reduction. For GWU, tuition would be capped at $52,000, and then reduced to $47,000, $42,000, $38,000, $34,000, $30,000, $27,000, ... so that in a decade costs will be cut to what they were in 1960, and his GWU salary will be reset back to a tenured professor circa 1960.

It's called the unseen hand for a reason.

See my previous post, why have colleges kept their facilities vacant during the summer for generations rather than optimize them by running year round classes? The cost of buildings are actually lower these days than it was in generations past. Generations past had to actually build many of the buildings that are now historic and the cost of construction labor was relatively higher back then. So why not get the most use of a building that's already built?

Yep I think you got it, they hate students. Seriously. Not the university but the customers, namely students. Part of the value of the degree in general and the degree from a particular school is that it is limited in supply. Once you're in the school or you graduated, it is in your interest that the school limit rather than maximize the new degrees it grants. Of course you want the school to continue granting degrees because otherwise it will fade from memory and your degree will become worth less in the job market, but you want the school to grant enough new degrees to keep it something with prestige value but not so many degrees that they become common.

So as an alumni you are happier to donate to remodeling a marvelous old historic building rather than lowering tuition and running the degree factory 365 days a year.

#6. GWU faculty whining: What a bunch of crybabies. They should have to get real jobs like the people that pay the outrageous prices for their services. If it wasn't for the college accreditation monopoly they would be teaching HS - we still need babysitters.

I had a Stanford PhD rock star math prof in grad school tell me that most of his students were useless and he didn't know why they were even in school. I suggested he ask them and he did exactly that during the next class. Most were long-in-the-tooth fuul-time worker bees trying to improve themselves. At the end of this process he told he had never had a job of any sort, not even a summer job scooping ice cream (his words). He said he had wealthy parents that paid for everything. For him, it was all school, university, grad school at Stanford, post doc, the faculty. Rough life.

I look forward to the day when these people get replaced by online ed.

They better get some content online and establish their brand.

Average is over.

#5 Just take box B. If Her Highness was right, then you are rich. If She is wrong, buying that knowledge is worth the loss.

Okay, scenario two.

Let's say the Super-Intelligent Being has been tested 1,000 times, and was correct in her predictions 998 times. 499 times she correctly predicted someone would one-box (each of those 499 people getting 1 billion), 499 times she correctly predicted someone would two-box (each getting 1,000), 1 time she incorrectly predicted a one-boxer would two-box (thus that one person getting 0), and 1 time she incorrectly predicted a two-boxer would one-box (that person getting 1,000,001,000).

Now you're player 1,001. Which way do you do it?

"About 30% of the population lack even the basic ID required to change old for new currency notes"

Wrong. Over 93% of Indian adults have an Aadhar card, which enables bank account opening. Possibly a higher proportion of households.

#5 I think the problem is not solvable because the premise contains a contradiction:

It says 1) an entity can predict your future precisely , but it also says: 2) you’re free to make a choice in the present. If the future is completely determined ( given enough intelligence) then there is no choice to be made, anymore than the earth has a choice in the path of its orbit.

Those who choose box A and B assume 2) is true and 1) is false contradicting the premise

Those who choose B assume 1) is true and 2) is false contradicting the premise

I disagree. Even if a choice is predetermined, it still has to be made

you can call it a choice but it's just an automatic sequence by construction ( it can be completely determined, so the choices themselves may appear free but are really comprised of a forced sequence of events). The problem asks "what would you do" the answer is it's not up to me, there is an automatic sequence. The assertion that you have a choice is illusory and incompatible with predetermination.

Great comments Stephan

Not actually a valid objection, as can be seen simply by moving to variant two:

Let's say the Super-Intelligent Being has been tested 1,000 times, and was correct in her predictions 998 times, for a "mere" 99.8% accuracy. 499 times she correctly predicted someone would one-box (each of those 499 people getting 1 billion), 499 times she correctly predicted someone would two-box (each getting 1,000), 1 time she incorrectly predicted a one-boxer would two-box (thus that one person getting 0), and 1 time she incorrectly predicted a two-boxer would one-box (that person getting 1,000,001,000).

Now you're player 1,001. Which choice should you make?

This is a different problem. If the entity is only a statistical guesser ( mostly right), you calculate the expected value of each option but the statistics must be known. It's not a hard problem. In your example B wins

Okay, then why in the original scenario are you assuming that an entity that has been right 100% of the time is not merely a very good statistical guesser -- someone with 99.999999999998% accuracy, but without enough trials to be proven wrong yet -- rather than proof there's no such thing as free will?

#5. The correct answer in the given scenario is to take only B.

The reason is simple enough; the claim that "You cannot influence a decision made in the past by a decision made in the present!" is a completely unsupported premise. Unless Dr David Edmonds has an actual refutation of, for example, Thorne, et al, "Cauchy Problems in Spacetimes with Closed Timelike Curves," Physical Review D, V12, 1990, establishing that effect cannot precede cause, he's talking out of his ass.

But there's a broader philosophical problem. The philosophical problem is that no such premise can be established with certainty. We can only reach the conclusion that causality is never violated through induction that it is never violated, and induction is never certain. No matter how many white swans one looks at, the first black swan ever encountered establishes the existence of black swans anyway.

There are attempts by philosophers to avoid this in Newcomb's Problem by declaring, as an explicit premise, that your decision will not retroactively change the decision made by the Super-Intelligent Being. The philosophical problem is that no such premise can be established with certainty inside the scenario, only outside it. There is nothing in epistemology that will let you know that your knowledge "In this scenario, it's been absolutely established causality cannot be violated" is true for certain, rather than, say, a hallucination.

I discuss why Newcomb’s Problem is like a “hard case” in law -- i.e. a choice problem with conflicting and equally logical solutions -- here:

5. Shouldn't it change my future expectations about the world if I am given this choice? The odds that a Super Intelligent Being will come along and offer me this choice again in the future is now non-zero. If so, I should say "I will always pick B SIB - I trust you. Let's hang out some time."

I would also derive utility from proving a SIB with a previously perfect record wrong through my choice, if it had predicted I would choose both. The feeling of true freedom of will in the face of a cold indifferent universe is worth more than £1,000.

It's cute to see you rationalizing your innate servility as "true freedom of will" there in the second paragraph, Turkey Vulture. But the only way to extricate yourself from terminal alienation in the endless projected mind-games of God is to side with objective reality and take both boxes.

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