Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Employment

American Voters are Completely Out of Touch With Economic Experts

I recently ran across a remarkable survey of prominent US economists on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the stimulus package Obama passed at the beginning of his presidency. The results are striking for two reasons–they show a clear consensus among economists that the stimulus was a success, and they completely contradict popular opinion.

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Letting Unemployment Benefits Lapse is a Bad Idea

Congress has decided to let the extension in unemployment benefits it passed in the wake of the economic crisis in 2008 lapse. It’s estimated that 1.3 million Americas will lose their unemployment benefits completely, with 5 million seeing a reduction in benefit of some kind. This is a very bad idea. Here’s why.

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Do We Treat College Students like Indentured Servants?

I recently heard someone compare the modern student experience in the United States to indentured service. This comparison seems hyperbolic on first analysis, but I want to take it seriously. To what extent, if any, is the process of taking out student loans or working unpaid internships similar to the experience of poor 18th century opportunity-seekers in the United States?

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The Swiss Plan to Throw Money at People

The Swiss are apparently going to hold a vote on a rather radical proposition–giving every Swiss citizen a universal monthly income of 2,500 francs (about $2,750), for an annual income of 30,000 francs (about $33,000). For perspective, this amounts to about twice what an American working for the federal minimum wage would earn annually if he were to work 40 hours a week every week without any breaks. I very much doubt that the Swiss will vote for this proposal due to how very radical it is, but I’d like to discuss the implications it would have for Switzerland if they were to do so and contemplate what a similar program would do in the United States.

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The Self-Esteem Movement

Today I’d like to have a look at what’s often referred to as “the self-esteem movement”, the tendency in recent decades for children’s self-esteem to be prioritized in their upbringing and education. This topic was brought to my attention by a friend of mine, who had me read this piece by Luke Epplin for The Atlantic. In his piece, Epplin, argues that many films geared toward children in recent years have reinforced the centrality of self-esteem, depicting characters who seek to break out of conventional, functionary roles to do extraordinary things. He criticizes this theme, claiming that the success of characters in films like Turbo, Planes, Kung Fu Panda, Ratatouille, Wreck-It Ralph, and Monsters University is unrealistic. The characters in these films really are not physically, intellectually, or otherwise suited to the social roles they wish to take. It’s not possible to just will one’s way from being a crop dusting airplane to being a racing plane–racing planes are built to race, crop dusting planes are built to crop dust. I’d like to explore the implications of Epplin’s argument more widely, taking it outside of film and applying it on a larger scale.

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