Red Sox Win

My senior cat left me the hairball of victory this morning in honor of the eighth World Series victory by the BoSox.  It was a joy to clean it up.  Three World Series wins in ten years is much better than none in fifty plus.  I’m really glad it didn’t go to a seventh game.  I don’t think I could take it.


MWG received an email that started as follows:

Charles Krauthammer is a brilliant political thinker who can articulate common sense political principals in a uniquely refreshing way.

As every accounting major should know, you can be a principal in an accounting firm but you cannot be an accounting principle.  Of course, when accountants use the term accounting principles they use principle in a broader meaning than English language does.

Student Evaluation of Instruction

Lyell Asher is not the first to complain about student evaluation of instruction (SEI) and he uses a common economic model – students only care about leisure time.  He only provides information about limited studying by students and suggests that there might be a grade to SEI score trade off.  He also asserts that SEI scores are the only tool used to evaluate instruction.

The first assertion is likely to be so minor that it is irrelevant.  Because the relationship between grades and SEI scores is so weak there are many examples of high SEIs and low grades.  The second seems unlikely to be true given the emphasis on assessment at almost every school.  Most schools do peer reviews as well.

Asher does have, however, hit on an important point.  Faculty believe that there is a strong and positive relationship between SEI scores and grades.  It does not matter that the belief is false.  When MWG speaks to a faculty member about SEI scores the response is almost always about grading or rigor.  The near universal belief is what matters.  If one con man can get high SEI scores while giving high grades then we must all do it.  It does not speak well for our ability to analyze or our integrity but there it is. 

Departments can be part of the solution.  They need to use a variety of measures to evaluate instruction and constantly beat back the myth of grades causing SEI scores.  Higher levels will worry about retention.  Departments are the place to insure quality instruction.

Great Fun

Mark Perry is having fun with the new proposal to raise the minimum wage.  To wit:

Something must be done about this unacceptable situation. Without some kind of government intervention in the market for low temperature readings being registered on existing thermometers and thermostats, Mother Nature will continually and ruthlessly expose the elderly in the UK, America and other cold climate countries to harsh winter conditions of unconscionably low temperatures. Who among us wouldn’t agree that these excessively low winter temperatures are unfair, unreasonable, unjust and even “immoral”

His neat solution is to change thermometers.  Perry notes this is pending legislation and MWG would add that is even more cynical because it appears that there is no time to pass it.  The legislation is proposed so brownie points are earned from pressure groups (some unions have contracts tied to the minimum wage) but it can’t pass so no damage is done to the fragile economy that is in the hands of the Democrats.  It is a challenge to be cynical enough.

Bad Decision Making

A quote from the Morning Jolt:

Several computer engineers said it would likely be easier to rebuild than to fix the issues in the current system. But it’s unlikely that the government would toss out more than $300 million worth of work.

Geraghty’s link doesn’t reveal the quote but let’s assume it is real because it is an excellent example of bad decision making.  It is not clear who the bad decision makers are.  It doesn’t matter if $3, $300 million, $30 billion has been spent.  It is spent.  In economic terms it is a sunk cost.  Sunk cost are irrelevant to decisions.  Well, sunk costs are irrelevant to good decisions.  For a variety of bad decisions often based on sunk costs see Animal House.

Unions and the Minimum Wage

Michael Barone is terrific but I think today he blundered.  He said in his NRO column:

I take a somewhat different view. Over many decades, union leaders have supported legislation that extends to non-members benefits unions have secured for members.

They have consistently supported higher minimum wages — arguably because they bump up (already higher) union wages — ignoring the strong evidence that higher minimums reduce low-skill employment.

It is the first item he cites.  Most of the rest of them I might be convinced on but not the first.  Unions support minimum wage for the same reason that Walmart generally does.  Minimum wage makes it more difficult for the competition.  Walmart can’t always support the minimum wage because Walmart is large and the damage to the economy by the minimum wage might offset the other benefits.  Of course, in the case of Washington DC, when the minimum wage is exorbitant and essentially only for Walmart then they must resist.  Minimum wage is way to exclude low skill individuals from the labor market and protect the the high wage individuals and organizations.