Monday, March 23, 2009

Assorted thoughts, March 23

- Which regulations are the most unenforced? I don't even know the metric by which to make this judgment, so feel free to use your own, but I'll offer up the following which I thought of during lunch while I sat near the entrance to Jimmy John's. I'm fairly certain that it is a regulation that doors must open outwards-- that is, if you're inside, the door must push towards the outside. I presume it's based in a fear of a crush of a crowd against an inward opening door during an emergency. I'm curious if this is state-level, but it's been in my mind (and for a while) that such a regulation exists. What other foolish laws are on the books and just flagrantly ignored? None of the "can't marry a chicken during the third week of lent on a full moon" types either...

- Freakonomics passes along this article from CHE concerning the essay writing business. There are some fascinating parts to it-- I didn't know there was such a foreign aspect to it. And if there's a language barrier to these papers, yet they get turned in anyway, what's that say about the state of students as a whole?

I don't have a large problem with this. In the gains-from-trade sense, it's welfare enhancing, of course, but is everyone's degree summarily worth less? If you subscribe to the skill accumulation theory of education, then you are (presumably) not learning the requisite skills, and you'll be punished accordingly in labor market in the long run. If you subscribe to the signaling theory of education, then what you do once you get into the school doesn't matter at all-- it's just the name on the degree. Perhaps earning a degree signals you can do the work-- in that sense, it would harm the signal and the rest of the college-degreed population. Personally, I think the largest cost imposed on me would be having to deal with this issue should it ever come up in one of my classes. I don't imagine schools would smile upon this activity, and I think that is the stance they should be taking.

The dissertation part is intriguing-- is there even a remote possibility of that working? I'm very suspect.

- I mentioned briefly last week that any system hyped on its ability to predict last year's tourney outcomes should be taken with a grain of salt, as things went a little too according-to-plan. Well, after the first weekend, we have the twelve top seeds (all #1, #2, and #3 seeds) still playing. Perhaps just picking the chalk is the way to go? But what fun is that? A big loss to the casual bettor, too.


Anonymous said...

Yes, doors open outward to allow people to leave in emergencies - there was a school house fire in Oklahoma many years ago in which most of the children died due to doors opening inward. That's not a stupid regulation.

Matt E. Ryan said...

The focus was more on the lack of enforcement of certain regulations-- but just to clarify it, like just about all regulation, is absolutely ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

there should be a regulation to stop these types of entries. These stupid comments add no value to society.

Matt E. Ryan said...

On the assumption that anonymous comments add no value, yet regulation requires effort, wouldn't that mean that the regulation would be welfare minimizing? Which actually sums up regulation as a whole quite nicely.

I don't mind the comments-- even the pro-regulation, anti-growth ones. :)