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Independence and specialization: part I

Independence and specialization: part I

Despite the contemporary narrative surrounding the decline of low-skill manufacturing jobs, specialization as the only source of stability and career path is the historical norm. During the Colonial era, the standard professional arrangement was tradesman, and with it apprenticeships.  As part of the apprenticeship process the final stage was achievement of Master status obtained either…

Government bloat: societal divide

Government bloat: societal divide

In his writing regarding the ratio of federal employees to federal contractors (1.5 million : 15 million), economic historian and professor Brian Domitrovic argued that the contractor bubble is rooted in a desire to undermine the private sector. His argument is that federal contractors are in reality federal employees under a different name. The root of Domitrovic’s thesis lies in American…

Low entry threshold, or affirmative action: a case study

Low entry threshold, or affirmative action: a case study

Over the 2010s, a pointless drama played out in the American Supreme Court - twice. A young woman, Abby Fisher, filed a personal injury lawsuit against University of Texas at Austin for not admitting her as an undergraduate. In fairness to Fisher, it turned out that the suit was the concoction of adults in her life who wanted it to become the landmark case that would bring down institutional…

Caveat emptor: Or credulity's reward

Caveat emptor: Or credulity's reward

At the end of April 2019, a 28-year old confidence woman, Anna Sorokin, received a lengthy prison sentence for fraud. The sequence of events was cinematic in terms of the audacity of her swindle, which the courts concluded to be well in excess of $250,000. Using the alias Anna Delvey and claiming to be a German trust-fund baby, over the course of four years she materialized for periods in New…

"Access" to upward mobility: A case study

"Access" to upward mobility: A case study

In June 2016, the New York Times published an exposé on Valparaiso University School of Law and their process for recruiting new students. The piece provoked a polemic on the subject of the place of markets and government intervention in education because it revealed that the problematic practices employed by the school were simply standard for a certain level of institution. It was a very…

The Brexit divide: region and identity

The Brexit divide: region and identity

Political scientist Matthew Goodwin, co-author, along with Roger Eatwell, of National Populism: The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy, has called Brexit a “purple” vote, i.e. neither left or right but a melding of the two spectra, though often with differing or completely opposing agendas. A long-form piece by the BBC provides perspective on Goodwin’s assertion. The main…

Tech and achievement: a new "problem"

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Tech and achievement: a new "problem"

Recently, I attended a workshop given by a man who had obtained his PhD in the early 1990s. When he was a student he was the only person that to finish the entire programme and graduate, not only from his admission year but also from several groups on either side of him. The explanation was that the technological difficulty of doing research, assembling, organizing, and then publishing…

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