All posts by Julian Adorney

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Can School Choice Save A Stagnating Economy?

In the Huffington Post, Dale Hansen sums up many liberals’ views when he claims, “The recent appointment of Betsy DeVos has proved one thing – conservatives are far more concerned about politics than they are about educating children.” But the competitive education reforms that Devos champions are essential to giving kids the skills to thrive in a global economy.

Median wages in the US have stagnated, but liberals who decry this fact ignore a root cause: a mismatch between the skills that students acquire in school, and the skills that they need to thrive in the workplace. Jobs in many sectors keep commanding higher salaries: IT wages rose 18.4 percent from 2011 to 2015. The problem, as renowned economist Tyler Cowen notes in Average Is Over, is that our economy leaves behind people who lack the skills to compete in these sectors. And traditional public schools are still focused on outdated classes like cursive writing, in lieu of preparing students for the economy of the future.

The U.S. needs an education system that’s as dynamic as the market our kids will enter, where new technologies can spring up overnight and render old ones obsolete. The warehouse model of one teacher lecturing to 20-30 students, which has remained almost unchanged since its importation from Prussia in the 19th century, is no longer working.

Continue reading at Townhall.

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Your vote didn’t matter and that’s why we need a smaller government

On Tuesday, 120 million Americans voted, and Donald Trump won. But the link between a vote cast for Trump and his election is correlational: for the average American, nothing we did had an impact on the election.

The fact is that, in a national election, your vote doesn’t matter.

If you live in one of the 39 non-swing states in the United States, your vote had no impact. If you live in Alabama, it doesn’t matter if you voted for Clinton; your electoral votes went to Trump.

Even in swing states, economist Bryan Caplan shows that your vote is unlikely to matter because your single vote only affects the outcome if it’s a tie. Let’s look at Florida, considered the most important state of this election.

Fivethirtyeight.com gave Mr. Trump a 50.3 percent chance of winning Florida. Given this, the average voting Floridian had a less than 1 in 10^69 (that’s 1 followed by 69 0’s) chance of deciding who won Florida. To put that in perspective, it’s much less likely than the odds of getting struck by lightning the very moment one opens a winning Powerball ticket.

For the average American, nothing we do will affect a national election. If we donate $100 to our candidate, it may bring in 1-2 additional votes. If we volunteer 20 hours, we might earn them another 10-15 votes. Neither of these activities is going to shape the election.

Americans tend to trust government because we assume that it’s, “of the people, by the people, for the people.” The quote attributed to Barney Frank sums it up: “Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.”

It’s a lot easier to trust and champion big government if you assume that government is something that we all have a say in. But the fact is that, as an individual, your say is so miniscule that it doesn’t matter. The federal government will pass new laws and regulations regardless of what you want.

Continue reading at The Hill.

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If you don’t vote your conscience, you’re throwing your vote away

Figures from Bernie Sanders to Paul Krugman to Elizabeth Warren, worried that millennials will support a third party candidate, are bombarding us with appeals to vote for Clinton. Their message: this election is too important to vote your conscience.

But this appeal ignores the reality of voting. Voting your conscience won’t hand the election to Trump, because your individual vote doesn’t matter.

Bryan Caplan, economics professor at George Mason University, calculated the odds of your vote mattering. The fact is that it’s very improbable, because for your vote to affect an election, the two candidates have to be within one vote of each other without you. If Trump earns 2,000,000 votes in a given state without your vote and Clinton earns 2,000,002, then it doesn’t matter whether or not you voted. The outcome wouldn’t change.

If you’re in one of the 39 non-swing states in the United States, your vote has no chance of changing the outcome. If you’re in California, it won’t matter if you vote for Trump; your electoral votes are going to Clinton.

But what about swing states? Even in the closest contest possible, the odds of your vote mattering are much less than the odds of you getting struck by lightning.

Let’s take the example of Colorado. In 2012, 2.56 million people in Colorado cast a vote for president. Even if Colorado’s a very competitive swing state this year (say, 51 percent odds that Clinton will win), your vote has less than a 1 in 10^100 (that’s 1 followed by 100 0s) chance of mattering. To put that in perspective, it’s much less likely than the odds of you getting struck by lightning on the way to the polling booth, while also winning the Powerball this year….twice.

And that’s assuming that Colorado is a very competitive state.

Continue reading at Rare.

college

New Department Of Education Rules Threaten Colleges

The Obama administration’s Department of Education recently proposed new rules to enable more students to sue universities that defrauded them. While the government should punish blatantly deceptive institutions, these proposed rules promise to penalize many high-quality colleges.

The rules will enable students of a university to sue and recoup their tuition if the university offered a “substantial misrepresentation” of elements like the employability of its graduates or the nature of its educational programs. This is a lower standard than mens rea, the legal principle in fraud cases that a crime requires intent. Troublingly, students can successfully sue whether or not the college intended to lie, meaning that universities will be subject to lawsuits over clerical errors.

This could be crippling. My alma mater, the University of Colorado at Boulder, brings in almost one-third of its revenue from tuition. If just one class of 5,000+ students were reimbursed for their tuition, the university with a substantial shortfall. This could mean cuts to valuable services. Because the University of Colorado is a public institution, taxpayers could also be called upon to make up the difference.

Continue reading at The Daily Caller.

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How Important Is the DC Metro? Not Very.

What if a major city’s rail system suddenly vanished?

Millions rely on rail-based public transportation, either because they can’t afford cars or because traffic is so bad. These trains and light rail systems alleviate congestion and pollution while serving the poor. Many consider them icons of 21st-century transportation and good government.

So if a city’s rail system disappeared, would that city be thrown into chaos and congestion, cars barely moving and horns blaring? Or would ordinary people innovate a solution?

That’s the question DC residents faced this past March. And the nation got to see the results.

Read the rest on FEE, here.