Affirmative Action, R.I.P.

It has become customary for colleges and universities in the United States to give preference to minority applicants in a program called “affirmative action.” In 2006, Michigan adopted an amendment to the state constitution prohibiting preference on the basis of race in admissions to the state colleges and universities. Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it would not—could not—strike down that amendment. That ruling, in the Old Man’s considered opinion, is correct. Continue reading

Technology, Unemployment and Inequality

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way, according to an Op-Ed article in The New York Times. Economists expected that as technology raised productivity the rewards would be shared between workers and owners, assuming “an economy in a steady state with no systematic structural changes occurring.”

They just don’t get it. Continue reading

Death as routine

I don’t mean death from disease or old age. That happens to all of us, if we’re lucky. I’m talking about lives cut short by violence, nine or so a day in motor vehicle accidents, another nine a day from gunshots, in the United States alone. Continue reading

High frequency trading

High frequency trading on stock exchanges, done by computers in tiny fractions of a second, is profitable for those who can get to do it, at the expense of other traders and investors. An Op-Ed in The New York Times sheds some light on it.

The Op-Ed article reports on what happened when regulators in Canada raised the transaction fees two years ago. High frequency traders were the most affected because they make the most trades. Here’s what happened on the Toronto Stock Exchange: Continue reading

The deadline

If the object of the Affordable Care Act (nicknamed “Obamacare”) is to have as many people insured as possible, why set a deadline for enrollment?

If the idea is to have a free market in health insurance, why not just have a free market — with rules to keep it fair, of course, but otherwise free to work like every other kind of insurance?