Top up fees (yet more dissent)

by John Quiggin on January 27, 2004

I’m not clear enough on the workings of the British Parliament to know whether Blair’s 5-vote win on the second reading of his education bill means that the political fight is over, but I thought I’d have my say anyway.

First, I’ll respond to other CT bloggers who’ve discussed this issue. Chris primarily makes the argument that, given that money isn’t going to come from anywhere else, or on any other terms, it’s better to take what’s on offer than to refuse on the basis that the terms are bad ones. I suppose I agree with this, but it’s not a helpful basis on which to discuss policy. Assuming you don’t want the Tories back, the same argument could be used for acquiescence in whatever policy Blair chooses to propose. Chris also dismisses concerns about variable fees, and I’ll return to this.

Daniel argues on risk grounds against the repayment mechanism (borrowed from the Australian HECS scheme) and, in my view, gets the risk analysis wrong. For precisely the reasons he outlines for not using NPV rules in assessing the effects of fees, the insurance implicit in the provision that no repayment is required until/unless earnings exceed some percentage of average earnings is considerably more valuable than he suggests. Assuming the proportion is set to give a level higher than the average earnings of non-graduates, it makes education a one-way bet. If you win, by earning more than you would have expected otherwise, you pay back some of your winnings. If you lose, you pay nothing. I don’t know what the actual proportion is, so I should stress that my support for the repayment scheme depends critically on this variable – in the absence of a high threshold substantial insurance, Daniel’s analysis is correct.

The critical sticking point, though, is not the level of fees but the principle of variable fees. If this provision had been dropped, it seems clear that the rest of the package would have passed fairly easily. The claim that these are not the same variable fees that were specifically excluded in the manifesto is nonsense, and the determination with which Blair and Clarke have stuck to them shows this.

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RSS for Blogger Blogs

by Brian on January 27, 2004

Kaye Trammell and James Russell have noted that Blogger now has an inbuilt RSS feed – details here. Third-party RSS feeds for Blogger blogs have been pretty bad in the past, so hopefully this will be better. If you don’t know why RSS is good for you, read Kaye and Dave Winer. Let me add another reason – I (and I think many others) don’t read blogs without RSS feeds. Anyone who is running a Blogger blog should turn on this feature and display the feed link prominently.

Oxford protests

by Micah on January 27, 2004

I just received an email from a student at Oxford saying this:

bq. IMPORTANT NOTICE FROM THE PROCTORS

bq. The University regrets that it is unable, on health and safety
grounds, to make the Examination Schools available for lectures
and classes today (Tuesday 27 January) because there is a
student occupation of the building.

There were a few well publicized cases of fee resistance when I was at Oxford, but nothing this substantial. More

Oxford sit-in

by Micah on January 27, 2004

I just received an email from a student at Oxford with this announcement from the University’s administration:

bq. IMPORTANT NOTICE FROM THE PROCTORS

bq. The University regrets that it is unable, on health and safety
grounds, to make the Examination Schools available for lectures
and classes today (Tuesday 27 January) because there is a
student occupation of the building.

bq. Students and staff should consult the Examination Schools page of
the University web-site for information about arrangements for
Schools lectures and classes from tomorrow onwards.

There were a couple well publicized cases of fee resistance when I was at Oxford a few years ago, but nothing this substantial. The Guardian has more on the student protests, which are still fairly small, “here”:http://politics.guardian.co.uk/publicservices/story/0,11032,1132309,00.html.

Linkage

by Henry on January 27, 2004

I’m running to catch a plane, so I’m taking the lazy blogger’s way out.

Read:

“Steven Berlin Johnson”:http://www.stevenberlinjohnson.com/movabletype/archives/000138.html and Jack Balkin (“here”:http://balkin.blogspot.com/2004_01_18_balkin_archive.html#107480769112109137 and “here”:http://balkin.blogspot.com/2004_01_25_balkin_archive.html#107504723738260601) on whether the Internet is destroying democracy.

“Ed Felten”:http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/archives/000502.html on why Republican Senate file-snoopers may have indeed broken the law.

“Jessa Crispin”:http://www.bookslut.com/blog/archives/2004_01.php#001423 and “About Last Night”:http://www.artsjournal.com/aboutlastnight/archives20040118.shtml#67229 on changes afoot in the NYT Book Review (I’m with both of ’em – read the Washington Post’s “Book World”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/print/sunday/bookworld/, and especially the incomparable “Michael Dirda”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/style/columns/dirdamichael/ instead).

“Belle Waring”:http://examinedlife.typepad.com/johnbelle/2004/01/roses_really_sm.html on wusscore, a rapidly expanding musical genre.

“Amity Wilczek”:http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/natureisprofligate/2004/01/13#a145 on slugporn.

Investment and luck

by Chris Bertram on January 27, 2004

This is really Daniel’s department, but I’ve been waiting for Samuel Brittan to update his website with “his review”:http://www.samuelbrittan.co.uk/text173_p.html of John Allen Paulos’s “A Mathematician Plays the Market”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0465054803/junius-20 for a while, and he’s finally done it. The most bloggable point is borrowed — I think — from Taleb’s “Fooled by Randomness”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1587991845/junius-20

bq. In financial discussions you often hear how about Ms.X or Mr.Y who has had a consistently good record in beating the market indices. Paulos shows how such “successful” analysts can emerge purely by chance. Of 1,000 analysts, roughly 500 might be expected to outperform the market next year. Of these another 250 might be expected to do so well for a second year and 125 in the third. Continuing the series we might expect to find one analyst who does well for ten consecutive years by chance alone. But will she do better in the 11th year? Your guess is as good as mine.

After the New Economy

by Kieran Healy on January 27, 2004

This week at Crooked Timber, at the suggestion of Daniel, some of us will be discussing Doug Henwood‘s new book, After the New Economy. It’s an analysis and critique of “New Economy” rhetoric about productivity growth, the transformation of work and the process of globalization. Doug Henwood is probably known to many readers of CT. He’s the editor of the Left Business Observer and the author of Wall Street.

I read the book on a round-trip bus excursion to Sydney last week and wrote up a general review to kick things off. This is a fairly long post. You can get it in a more readable PDF format if you like.

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