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Links 1 through 10 of 473 by Chad Orzel tagged economics

Italy, who is one of the contributors to CERN, and thus helped financing the construction of the Large Hadron Collider in measure proportional to their gross internal product, is a country full of people who visit magicians, tarot readers, healers, etcetera. This is a huge phenomenon, and an economy which fully (estimated 99%) escapes taxation. In Italy every year an estimated 6B euros (about 7.5 billion dollars) is spent in these activities, according to a Eurispes 2010 investigation (sorry, the linked report is in Italian - I am sure it exists in English as well though).

6B euros is about the cost of the full LHC, or just a bit less. This means that Italy, alone, could have fully financed the LHC effortlessly if magicians and other charlatans had been stripped of that moneys, illegally earned. Or that, if those clowns had paid their taxes, Italy could have fully financed the LHC in two and a half years. (I remind you that constructing the LHC took several years).

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A pure functioning meritocracy would produce a society with growing inequality, but that inequality would come along with a correlated increase in social mobility. As the educational system and business world got better and better at finding inherent merit wherever it lay, you would see the bright kids of the poor boosted to the upper echelons of society, with the untalented progeny of the best and brightest relegated to the bottom of the social pyramid where they belong.

But the Iron Law of Meritocracy makes a different prediction: that societies ordered around the meritocratic ideal will produce inequality without the attendant mobility. Indeed, over time, a society will become more unequal and less mobile as those who ascend its heights create means of preserving and defending their privilege and find ways to pass it on across generations. And this, as it turns out, is a pretty spot-on description of the trajectory of the American economy since the mid-1970s.

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[I]t’s crucial to think about the big picture first, last and always in imagining what you have to have in a liberal arts institution. No allocation of resources makes sense in isolation. Or perhaps the right way to put it is that all allocation of resources make sense in isolation. Almost all disciplines, departments, programs and specializations can provide a narrative about how they are essential and eternal.

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Here are three things I noticed during my day of jury duty last week:
1. It’s a hassle to have to skip two days of work to spend that time instead sitting around in a courthouse. For some people, it means losing two days of hourly pay. For others, it means falling behind at work and needing to work harder to catch up when they get back.
2. Much of jury duty consists of sitting around for hours waiting to be called on (or not called on). The day I served, 120 of us sat in limbo from 9 a.m. until noon. Some of us read books, some worked on laptops, some chatted in the back of the room and some just stared out the window.
3. Jury duty pays a tiny stipend. I got a check for $11.04 — the equivalent of earning $1.38 a hour, or about $2,900 a year if jury duty were my full-time job. That’s obviously not a living wage, but it’s still greater than zero, and thus not wholly meaningless.
These three things gave me an odd idea. It’s a pipe-dream of an idea to help address the historic jobs crisis

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Your regular update from the publishing apocalypse. Which turns out not to be all that apocalyptic just yet...

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Mathews added, "we know that COACHE provosts' concerns about associate professors were well-founded." For all the effort of faculty members to win tenure, the results suggest great frustrations after tenure. "These data and other researchers' work are revealing how all of the mentorship, the protections of time, the clear policies and formal milestones that faculty had as assistant professors are lifted when they become associates," Mathews said. "Suddenly, they're teaching more, they're serving on more committees, they're even serving as department chairs -- yet the criteria for promotion to full professor have nothing to do with these activities. Many of them are like the newly tenured professor whom I recently witnessed, while setting up his laptop for a presentation, that his e-mail client showed over 3,000 unread e-mails. He is highly regarded in his field, employed at an Ivy League institution, well-liked by students -- yet completely overwhelmed and alone."

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Why do I bring this up?  I bring it up because I read this article about how the poor get trapped in a system that rains shit down on them.  No, I’m not here to offer the poor advice on how to find good prices.  They know far more about that than I do.  Rather, I do this to point out that good decision-making depends in part on having the time and space to make a good decision, somethign that is harder if you are caught in Catch-22 situations, things that pile one nasty consequence after another onto the smallest of mistakes.  Are there poor people who make cataclysmically dumb decisions without anybody getting in their way?  Of course.  I’m no dummie, I’ve worked in shelters, I know that some people are the authors of their own misery.  But there are even more who make bad decisions because the world rains shit down on them.

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A very long and thorough history of the New York Public Library, how its current plans to gut the main research library came about, and what they mean for the idea of a public research library.

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