People who believe that a computer will not miss diagnoses fail to understand how much serendipity is involved in hitting upon the right diagnosis in the first place.
Why Obama Really Matters
In March’s “The Emancipation of Barack Obama,” Ta-Nehisi Coates posited that the president’s reelection matters even more than his election because it repudiates the history of violence and legal maneuvering designed to strip blacks of privileges. A reader offers another reason.
For a long time, many people—myself included—worried that if Obama was voted out of office, the Democratic Party would not nominate another black person for the foreseeable future. That’s one reason many of us wanted Obama to win reelection, beyond the political and policy implications that are important in their own right. The election of Barack Obama was a milestone in the history of race relations in this country, but his reelection was probably necessary for the message to fully sink in. And in a way, it was ideal that his victory wasn’t some foregone landslide—the fact that it surprised so many people has probably helped serve as a wake-up call.
education and economics
In March’s Chartist dispatch, Nicole Allan and Derek Thompson studied “The Myth of the Student-Loan Crisis.”
The authors try to justify the 150 percent increase in college costs since 1995 and the 300 percent jump in college-loan debt since 2003 with a variety of misleading graphs and statistics.
First of all, comparing the return on a college degree to the return on stocks or on gold is not valid. You can invest money in the stock market or gold and let the investment do the rest. With college, you have to invest money and put in years of work, while at the same time giving up other pursuits that may have economic returns, such as starting a business. And after college, the return on your investment will, to a large extent, depend on the ongoing effort that you put in throughout your career.
The authors correctly point out that a college education, as well as a high-school education, can be very important to an individual’s success. So I am thankful that our local K–12 schools have kept their costs in line with inflation and do not use the importance of their work to justify a similar 150 percent increase in costs and 300 percent increase in local debt. Because in the long run, managing costs is essential to making education accessible and sustainable for future generations of students.
Menomonee Falls, Wis.
“The Myth of the Student-Loan Crisis” presented an infographic on college debt that was long on graphics and short on info. Yet even where the authors are committed to denying there is a crisis, the data poke through the happy-talk narrative.
First, as the authors note, students attending Harvard leave with less debt, on average, than students attending other schools, which is to say that the current system works better for elites than it does for the rest of the population. (Who could have predicted such a thing?)