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Rich, black, and flunking.. June 16, 2007

Posted by The Armchair Economist in Culture, Education, Society.
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It’s not news that black kids under perform their white counterparts in American schools. Reasons given always include things like racism, less resources available etc. Here’s an interesting look at a highly controversial study that looked at the problems facing the highly regarded Shaker Heights school district. Although the median income for the black population was significantly above the national mean (most were highly educated, well to do doctors, lawyers, etc who came here specifically to enroll their kids in the schools) their children still vastly underperformed their white peers (ie: gpa 1.9 vs. 3.45). While he claims that there are multiple factors at work, his conclusion was that the children adopted a peer culture where effort and performance was equated as ‘selling out’ and ‘being white’, in addition to general parental disengagement in their children’s studies. He also has some interesting opinions as to the reasons for differences in performance by people who were ‘forced immigrants’ (ie: native americans, american blacks) vs. ‘voluntary immigrants’ (asians, immigrant blacks). As many of his critics put it, he isn’t the first sociologist to ‘blame the victims’, but it is interesting that he does have some (sparse) support among the black parents from Shaker Heights.

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A Physics Teacher Begs for His Subject Back June 7, 2007

Posted by The Armchair Economist in Education, World.
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Wellington Grey, a secondary school teacher in Great Britain vents on what has become of the sciences across the pond. I guess American kids WONT be world underachievers when it comes to the sciences.

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“For God’s Sake, Please Stop the Aid!” June 7, 2007

Posted by The Armchair Economist in Economics, Health Care, World.
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The Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati, 35, says that aid to Africa does more harm than good. The avid proponent of globalization spoke with SPIEGEL about the disastrous effects of Western development policy in Africa, corrupt rulers, and the tendency to overstate the AIDS problem.

This article is particularly enlightening because of the Western world’s flawed perception that we are doing good when we provide food aid and various subsidies to the lesser developed nations.

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The Privatization of the Office of Vice President June 4, 2007

Posted by The Armchair Economist in Business, Commentary, Ethics, Politics.
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Just as he pays little attention to old-fangled notions of the separation of powers, Mr. Cheney does not overly bother himself about the bright line that should exist between his last job as chief of the energy giant Halliburton and his current one on the public payroll. With the attention being paid to corporate executive compensation and questionable ethical judgment, it makes you wonder why Cheney’s actions haven’t been more carefully scrutinized.  Oh wait, to do so would be pose a danger to national security. (I’d like to see the next corporate exec who takes the stand use that line).

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