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Author Topic: Thomas Sowell & Walter Williams Thread - 2 Masters & Icons at work.  (Read 1490 times)
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« Reply #50 on: April 09, 2012, 08:22:05 PM »

http://news.investors.com/articleprint/607115/201204091829/sowell-comments-on-passing-scene.aspx


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« Reply #51 on: April 09, 2012, 08:22:58 PM »

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Why Politicians Promise Heaven And Deliver Hell
IBD Editorials ^ | April 9, 2012 | Thomas Sowell
Posted on April 9, 2012 8:05:27 PM EDT by Kaslin

How long do politicians have to keep on promising heaven and delivering hell before people catch on, and stop getting swept away by rhetoric?

Have you noticed that what modest economic improvements we have seen occurred during the much-lamented "gridlock" in Washington? Nor is this unusual. If you check back through history, doing nothing has a far better track record than that of politicians intervening in the economy.

With all the talk about people paying their "fair share" of income taxes, why do nearly half the people in this country pay no income taxes at all? Is that their "fair share"? Or is creating more recipients of government handouts, at no cost to themselves, simply a strategy to gain more votes?

Some people are puzzled by the fact that so much that is said and done by politicians seems remote from reality. But reality is not what gets politicians elected. Appearances, rhetoric and emotions are what get them elected. Reality is what the voters and taxpayers are left to deal with, as a result of electing them.

Instead of following the tired old formula of having politicians and bureaucrats give college commencement speeches, in which they say how superior it is to follow a career as politicians and bureaucrats "public service" why not invite someone like John Stossel to tell the graduates how much better it is to go into the private sector, supplying what people want, instead of imposing the government's will on them?

(Excerpt) Read more at news.investors.com ...
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« Reply #52 on: July 02, 2012, 08:43:27 PM »

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Teaching Economics (Thomas Sowell)
Creators Syndicate ^ | June 3, 2012 | Thomas Sowell
Posted on July 2, 2012 9:34:10 PM EDT by jazusamo

   
Having taught economics at a number of colleges for a number of years, I especially welcomed a feature article in the June 22nd issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, on how economics courses with the same name can be very different at different colleges. It can also be very different when the course is taught by professors in the same department who have different approaches.

The usefulness of the three approaches described in the article depends on what the introductory course is trying to accomplish.

One professor taught the subject through a steady diet of mathematical models. If the introductory economics course is aimed at those students who are going to major in economics, then that may make some sense. But most students in most introductory economics courses are not going to become economics majors, much less professional economists.

Among those students for whom a one-year introductory course is likely to be their only exposure to economics, mathematical models that they will probably never use in later life, as they try to understand economic activities and policies in the real world, may be of very limited value to them, if any value at all.

If the purpose of the introductory course is to serve as a recruiting source for economics majors, that serves the interest of the economics department, not the students. It may also serve the interests of the professor, because teaching in the fashion familiar in his own research and scholarship is a lot easier than trying to recast economics in terms more accessible to students who are studying the subject for the first time.

Having written two textbooks on introductory economics one full of graphs and equations, and the other with neither I know from experience that the second way is a lot harder to write, and is more time-consuming. The first book was written in a year; the second took a decade. The first book quickly went out of print. The second book ("Basic Economics") has gone through 4 editions and has been translated into 6 foreign languages.

Both books taught the same principles, but obviously one approach did so more successfully than the other. The same applies in the classroom.

The opposite extreme from teaching economics with mathematical models was described by a professor who uses an approach she characterized as democratizing the classroom, "so that everybody is a co-teacher and co-learner." This has sometimes been called "discovery learning," where the students discover the underlying principles for themselves while groping their way through problems.

Unfortunately, discovery can take a very long time much longer than a course lasts. It took the leading classical economists a hundred years of wrestling with different concepts of supply and demand often misunderstanding each other before finally arriving at mutually understood concepts that can now be taught to students in the first week of introductory economics.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the discovery learning professor sometimes seemed to be the one doing most of the work in the class, "bringing the students' sometimes fumbling answers back to economic principles."

This course's main focus is said to be not on mastering the principles of economics, but being able to "dialog" and discuss "shades of gray." With such mushy goals and criteria, hard evidence is unlikely to rear its ugly head and spoil the pretty vision of discovery learning.

Discovery learning may not serve the interests of the students, but it may well serve the ego of its advocate. Education may be the only field of human endeavor where experiments always seem to succeed as judged by their advocates.

By contrast, the third method of teaching introductory economics, in lectures by Professor Donald Boudreaux of George Mason University, tests the students with objective questions which means that it is also producing a test of whether this traditional way of teaching actually works. Apparently it does.

The Chronicle of Higher Education also reported on the students. The feckless behavior of today's students in all three courses makes me glad that I left the classroom long ago, and do my teaching today solely through my writings.
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« Reply #53 on: July 09, 2012, 10:47:11 AM »

Thomas Sowell
Jobs Versus Net Jobs



One of the reasons for the popularity of political rhetoric is that everybody can be right, in terms of their own rhetoric, no matter how much the rhetoric of one side contradicts the rhetoric of the other side.

President Obama constantly repeats how many millions of jobs have been created during his administration, while his critics constantly repeat how many millions of jobs have been lost during his administration. How can both of them be right or, at least, how can they both get away with what they are saying?

There are jobs and there are net jobs. This is true not only today but has been true in years past.

Back during the 1980s, when there were huge losses of jobs in the steel industry, the government restricted the importation of foreign steel. It has been estimated that this saved 5,000 jobs in the American steel industry.

But of course restriction of competition from lower-priced imported steel made steel more expensive to American producers of products containing steel. Therefore the price of these products rose, making them less in demand at these higher prices, causing losses of sales at home and in the world market.

The bottom line is that, while 5,000 jobs were saved in the American steel industry, 26,000 jobs were lost in American industries that produced products made of steel. On net balance, the country lost jobs by restricting the importation of steel.

None of this was peculiar to the steel industry. Restrictions on the importation of sugar are estimated to have cost three times as many jobs in the confection industry as they saved in the sugar industry. The artificially high price of sugar in the United States led some American producers of confections to relocate to Mexico and Canada, where the price of sugar is lower.

There is no free lunch in the job market, any more than there is anywhere else. The government can always create particular jobs or save particular jobs, but that does not mean that it is a net creation of jobs or a net saving of jobs.

The government can create a million jobs tomorrow, just by hiring that many people. But where does the government get the money to pay those people? From the private economy which loses the money that the government gains.

With less money in the private sector, the loss of jobs there can easily exceed the million jobs created in the government or in industries subsidized by the government. The Obama administration's creation of "green jobs" has turned out to cost far more money per job than the cost of creating a job in the private sector.

In addition to reducing jobs in the private sector by taking money out of the private sector to pay for government-subsidized jobs, the Obama administration has made businesses reluctant to hire because of the huge uncertainties it has created for businesses as regards the cost of adding employees. With thousands of regulations still being written to implement ObamaCare, no one knows how much this will add to the cost of hiring new employees.

In the face of this economic uncertainty, even businesses that have an increased demand for their products can meet that demand by working their existing employees overtime, instead of adding new employees. Many employers hire temporary workers, who are not legally entitled to benefits such as health insurance, and who will therefore not be affected by the cost of ObamaCare.

When President Obama boasts of the number of jobs created during his administration, the numbers he cites may be correct, but he doesn't count the other jobs that were lost during his administration. His critics cite the latter. Both can claim to be right because they are talking about different things.

What has been the net effect? During this administration, the proportion of the working age population that has a job has fallen to the lowest level in decades. The official unemployment rate does not count the millions of people who have simply given up looking for a job.

If everybody gave up looking for a job, the official unemployment rate would fall to zero. But that would hardly mean that the problem was solved or that the "stimulus" worked. Creating particular jobs does not mean a net increase in jobs.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is www.tsowell.com. To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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« Reply #54 on: January 10, 2013, 08:01:56 PM »

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