J. Goodrich

J. Goodrich is a recovering economist and the sole proprietor of the political blog Echidne of the Snakes. She also blogs for TAPPED.

Recent Articles

SAT SCORES DOWN!

SAT SCORES DOWN! The horror! I woke up to the news that the SAT scores this year are the lowest since 1999! What is happening here? The simplest answer is that more students are taking the test . Given its intended objective to predict college performance in the first few years, those who have traditionally taken the test have been the ones most likely to plan to go to college. When the pool of test-takers increases for various reasons a larger percentage of them will consist of those who have not done that well at school and are likely to score lower. The SAT tests have always been controversial. For instance, they predict college performance better for some ethnic groups than others, and the way the questions have been framed or adjusted over time has been argued to favor certain social classes or one of the genders. Given this background, it is interesting that the new writing section in the SAT is called controversial because it increases the length of the test and causes more...

ON RIGHTS AND MARKETS.

ON RIGHTS AND MARKETS. Paul Krugman in today's New York Times gives us the conservative case against expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP): to let the markets reign, and then strikes it down in a very clever way: Suppose, for a moment, that the Heritage Foundation were to put out a press release attacking the liberal view that even children whose parents could afford to send them to private school should be entitled to free government-run education. They'd have a point: many American families with middle-class incomes do send their kids to school at public expense, so taxpayers without school-age children subsidize families that do. And the effect is to displace the private sector: if public schools weren't available, many families would pay for private schools instead. So let's end this un-American system and make education what it should be -- a matter of individual responsibility and private enterprise. Oh, and we shouldn't have any government mandates...

PEOPLE ARE MORE EXPENSIVE THAN CARS

PEOPLE ARE MORE EXPENSIVE THAN CARS . Guess who made that profound comment and when? It was Mitt Romney last year , explaining the new Massachusetts health insurance policy which included an individual mandate. The policy was modeled on car insurance, and Romney explained the individual mandate in the policy with these words: "We insist that everybody who drives a car has insurance," Romney said in an interview. "And cars are a lot less expensive than people." Well, that was then. This year Romney proposes a health insurance policy for the whole country which doesn't include the requirement that people must buy health insurance if they can afford it. Now the idea is to transform the federal assistance states currently get to cover the uninsured into block grants, to add a few tax deductions and to turn an even blinder regulatory eye on the health care industry. The Romney plan has at least two serious problems. First, the financial solutions he suggests are insufficient to cover the...

MORE ON COLLEGE RANKINGS.

MORE ON COLLEGE RANKINGS. A recent New York Times article discussed the shadow side of the U.S. News & World Reports annual college rankings: It is in the interest of the colleges to game them by, say, evaluating other colleges negatively or by inflating their own apparent applicant pool so as to allow the college seem more selective : Indeed, the rankings are so influential, two decades after they were started, that one clause in the contract of Michael Crow, the president of Arizona State University, promises a $10,000 bonus if he can raise its standing. Frustrated college officials and high school guidance counselors say the magazine is not only reporting on how colleges perform, but is also changing their behavior as they try to devise gambits to scurry into the top ranks. Take admissions. A college's acceptance rate, or the proportion of applicants it admits, counts towards its rank, and the more selective the college is, the better. So some colleges try to increase the...

MEANWHILE, IN IRAQ.

MEANWHILE, IN IRAQ. The emergency political summit called by president Jalal Talabani has failed . The Sunnis are still outside the government. As Kevin Drum points out: It's not exactly news or anything, just further confirmation of the obvious: the eventual fate of Iraq (outside the Kurdish north) is the establishment of a Shia theocracy closely aligned with Iran. As far as I can tell, no one has even a colorable argument that things are moving in any other direction, and equally, no colorable argument that there's anything we can do to stop it. I wrote pretty much the same in my salad days as a blogger in 2004 when we were told how good the invasion was for the rights of Iraqi women. Even Dick Cheney in the 1990s knew that invading Iraq would lead to its destruction as a secular state: Is the surge in Iraq succeeding? This discussion sometimes sounds like listening to a bad radio which picks up two stations at the same time. Mostly we hear the experts pontificating on the tactics...

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