Friday, April 29, 2011

Science and Specialization

The toasting problem isn’t difficult: don’t burn the toast; don’t electrocute the user; don’t start a fire.  The bread itself is hardly an active protagonist.  It doesn’t deliberately try to outwit you, as a team of investment bankers might; it doesn’t try to murder you, terrorise your country, and discredit everything you stand for…The toasting problem is laughably simple compared to the problem of transforming a poor country such as Bangladesh into the kind of economy where toasters are manufactured with ease and every household can afford one, along with the bread to put into it.

My comment: 

One implication is that greater specialization makes innovation much harder — hardly anyone has a good grasp of the whole 

Could this be something that was/is made worse by signaling squeezing out education in schools? The principles of the science are simple, though not always intuitive, and an intelligent person could absorb there principles across all sciences pretty quickly but in order for sciences to be difficult enough to signal high intelligence we go in great depth in a single area describing the principles in depth with difficult math that almost no one needs to know. This leaves little time for a broad approach. If one takes a broad but shallow approach in school, say by taking all low level classes, he will not have signaled enough intelligence to move on in the sciences.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Means Testing Social Security and Medicare

Great post by Caplan riffing on a post by Posner about means testing Social Security and medicare.  My take is a little different on Social Security, I think that we should eliminate the SS tax give everyone over 65 the same amount as a welfare payment.  This would make the program more an insurance plan than a retirement plan.  It would be insurance against out living your savings and not having children that are willing and able to help you. It would reduce the burden on the young, who tend to be less wealthy than the elderly, and eliminate the burden on the working poor.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Reason to Reform SS

Lately some Democrat pundits have started to call for reform of SS in order to reassure future beneficiaries about the program. I think that the fact that republicans are scaring people about SS is not sufficient reason to mess with it but I do think there is at least one good reason to mess with it.

The only reason to address SS now is that it would allow us to lower the SS tax (FICA). The way I see it SS is a pay as you go welfare program and so as long as it is not in the red now there is no problem with it except that young people trying to start families are over taxed to give more to rich and middle class people over 65.