Does the CAP harm the global poor?

by Chris Bertram on July 26, 2006

I wish Daniel would post more on CT and less on the Guardian’s Comment is Free site, partly because I worry that regular CT readers may sometimes miss his pieces. Today he has “a really interesting article”: arguing that agricultural subsidies aren’t always bad for the global poor and, indeed, by lowering prices for Africa’s consumers, may often be good for them. That definitely goes against the conventional wisdom (both left and right) in blogdom. Definitely worth a read.

Krugman, Galbraith and Kamm

by Henry Farrell on July 26, 2006

(one of these things is not like the others … )

I’m reading Paul Krugman’s _Peddling Prosperity_ which I’m enjoying a lot, both the bits that I agree with and the bits that I disagree with. But one thing struck me as a little odd.
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Trading Places

by Harry on July 26, 2006

I just finished reading Julian Betts’s essay “The Economic Theory of School Choice” in his (excellent and remarkably inexpensive) edited collection Getting Choice Right. For the most part I don’t expect to find really new ideas about school choice in what I read, so it was a thrill to find something I hadn’t encountered before. The contributors all assume (correctly in my view) that school choice is an inevitable feature of the education system, so the issue is how to get it right — in other words, how to make it as efficient and equitable as possible (self-styled opponents of school choice tend to support the de facto status quo, a school choice system riddled with inefficiencies and inequities).

The most obvious barrier to a school choice being efficient and to it being equitable is the fact that in a choice system schools get to choose students, leading, one presumes, to a concentration of advantaged students into popular schools. Defenders of choice usually offer three solutions to this problem; lotteries (preventing schools from choosing); quotas (allowing them to choose but limiting their ability to select for advantage) and weighted student funding (allowing them to choose, but giving them incentives to choose disadvantaged children, and compensating schools which get landed with high concentrations of disadvantage). (I suggest a combination of these in my proposal at the end of School Choice and Social Justice).

So what’s new in Betts’s paper?

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CT policy on trolls, sockpuppets and other pests

by Chris Bertram on July 26, 2006

We welcome comments from readers on posts, but you do so as guests in our private space. If your comments are blatantly racist, sexist or homophobic we may well delete them. The same goes for comments which are personally defamatory or insulting or which seek to derail a thread through provocation of one kind or another. If your comments strike us as stupid or irrelevant we may also delete them in the interests of keeping the conversation at a reasonable level. Likewise, commenters who routinely seek to make marginally relevant debating points may be barred to make room for those with a substantive contribution to the discussion. It is up to us.

We are happy to accept pseudonymous comments but we will not knowingly accept comments from individuals using more than one id and thereby giving the impression that their comments originate from more that one person. The only exception to this that is acceptable is where a person who normally comments under their own name needs to comment pseudonymously for clear professional or personal reasons. Commenters should normally provide a valid, working email address. Such addresses are only visible to members of the CT collective (and not to casual readers). Commenters who provide addresses like may find their comments deleted without warning.

We respect the preference of many genuine commenters for pseudonymity and will protect their privacy. However, this respect does not extend to those who abuse pseudonymity to launch personal attacks on posters or other commenters, post racist or sexist comments or employ sockpuppets. We will, if appropriate, publish the identity of such abusers and share their identifying information with other sites.

How to Make Our Ideas Clear — to Others

by Cosma Shalizi on July 26, 2006

In the comments to my post on Onsager, Maynard Handley explains why he finds himself somewhat unsympathetic, as Onsager apparently did not expend the effort necessary to make himself understood by others.

You, the author of the paper, have a responsibility to make your ideas comprehensible. If the first method you choose to explain them fails, then you listen to what people say about where they lost all track of understanding and write a new paper—- with NEW explanations, not the same explanations that failed last time only renumbered. … [This is] not something that is drilled into young scientists; that it is YOUR responsibility to make your ideas clear to others, not their responsibility to try to figure out what you are talking about. As science grows ever larger and ever more complex, I think it is time for all scientists to be much more explicit and much more ruthless on this point.

Whether this is really a fair criticism of Onsager, I couldn’t say, but the general point is true, important, and a perfect hook for the next thing I wanted to post about.

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