Quote of the Week:

"He is no fool, who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." (Jim Elliot)

Drop me a line if you want to be notified of new posts to SiTG:

My site was nominated for Best Parenting Blog!
My site was nominated for Hottest Daddy Blogger!

This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from Woodlief. Make your own badge here.

The Best of Sand:

The Blog
Greatest Hits
DVD Reviews
Faith and Life
Judo Chops
The Literate Life
News by Osmosis
The Problem with Libertarians
Snapshots of Life
The Sermons

Creative Commons License
All work on this site and its subdirectories is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Search the Site:

Me Out There:

Free Christmas
Don't Suffer the Little Children
Boys to Men
A Father's Dream
WORLD webzine posts

Not Non-Fiction
The Grace I Know
Coming Apart
My Christmas Story

The Craft:

CCM Magazine
Charis Connection
Faith in Fiction
Grassroots Music

Favorite Journals:

Atlantic Monthly
Doorknobs & Bodypaint
Image Journal
Infuze Magazine
Missouri Review
New Pantagruel
Southern Review

Blogs I Dig:

Education & Edification:

Arts & Letters Daily
Bill of Rights Institute
Junk Science
U.S. Constitution

It's good to be open-minded. It's better to be right:

Stand Athwart History
WSJ Opinion


Home School Legal Defense
Institute for Justice
Local Pregnancy Crisis
Mission Aviation
Prison Ministries
Russian Seminary
Unmet Needs


Cox & Forkum
Day by Day

Donors Hall of Fame

Susanna Cornett
Joe Drbohlav
Anthony Farella
Amanda Frazier
Michael Heaney
Don Howard
Laurence Simon
The Timekeeper
Rob Long
Paul Seyferth

My Amazon.com Wish List

Add to Technorati Favorites

Friday, February 22, 2002

Bad Driving

A question from a loyal reader:

Should car dealers sell cars or price them based on a driver's history of drinking and driving?

Curious Carpooler

Dear Curious,

That's an interesting question. There is little room for should in the marketplace, of course, because should implies a commonly held belief or ethos, and the market exists precisely because people with differing subjective values see gains from swapping things. Yet I wonder if such a car dealer would be rewarded enough by non-drunk customers to make up for the loss of business from drunks. The latter, of course, would appear to go through more cars on average than your typical teetotaler.

Your question, by the way, reminds me of something I've long thought would be a good idea: a law (at the local level -- I may not be a good libertarian, but I am a federalist) that limits the weight of the vehicle one is allowed to drive based on one's age, IQ, and driving record. There is nothing more chilling to a driver than to spy in one's rear view mirror a mouth-breathing teenage boy attempting to control his two-ton suburban on oversized wheels. Under my rules, if he's as stupid as he looks, he's limited to a Daihatsu. One traffic ticket and he's busted down to a Schwinn.

On a related note, I recently had a conversation with a woman whose son is just now able to drive unsupervised. She's not sure what she'll get him to drive, but she assured me that it will be "really big, so he'll be safe." Her worry, you see, is that being young and impetuous, junior may have an accident. So she wants to wrap him in a ton of steel before unleashing him on the same streets my wife and children traverse. I called her an ignorant twit, and said I'd rather she bury her idiot child's remains in a bucket than increase the risk to my family because she hasn't raised him to be a safe driver.

Actually I just nodded and went "hmm," but I think she got my point.

posted by Woodlief | link | (0)

Rising College Costs

The NY Times reports that private colleges are raising tuitions because of "dwindling endowments" caused by a "sagging economy." But check out this sentence in the article:

"The sometimes striking tuition increases, just now being reported, come after seven years of moderate tuition increases at generally twice the rate of inflation."

In other words, while colleges saw their endowments jump double-digits on the back of a surging stock market, they continued to raise tuition at the "moderate" clip of twice the inflation rate. Now that their endowments are back to levels of three to four years ago, they are using that as an excuse to raise tuition even higher. One wonders just what else Harvard, for example, with an $18.3 billion dollar endowment, undergraduate tuition in excess of $22,000/year, over $14 million in additional yearly tuition aid from outside sources, and millions from state, federal, and corporate sources, needs so desperately that it must yet again hike tuition.

This is all especially interesting given an economic study by the National Bureau of Economic Research which calls into question the value of elite private college education. The authors compared the incomes of graduates from elite colleges with those of students who were accepted by an elite college but chose to attend a "lesser" school. The graduates of the latter schools actually have higher incomes, on average, than graduates of elite schools. One reason graduates of elite colleges do so much better than other college students, it turns out, is not the superiority of their schools, but the simple fact that elite colleges choose the cream of the crop to begin with -- students with the drive, background, contacts, and high school preparation that would serve them well in the job market regardless of their alma mater.

This raises a further question -- how much of future success is driven not by college education, but by grade and high school education? The graduates of elite colleges, after all, are much more likely to have attended private schools managed by people other than the slovenly, slack-jawed bureaucrats who increasingly man the government schools. Think about it. Most good parents sock away what they can in hopes of paying for at least part of their child's college education. Yet most of these same people leave their child captive to people who think that four years of "education" classes yields the knowledge necessary to train children, when in reality it leaves them ill-qualified for anything other than janitorial work. So perhaps parents will do their children more good in the long run by spending money on their education now, in the form of a good private school.

Congress could help a lot in that regard by creating a tax deduction for education expenses. Local governments could also help, by giving private- and home-school parents a full refund of the portion of their property taxes used to fund government schools. The odds of both are virtually zero, of course, so long as we allow the thuggish teacher's unions to dictate education policy, and repeatedly extort more money from us under the threat of not teaching our children.

Think I'd be a good candidate for PTA president?

posted by Woodlief | link | (0)

Thursday, February 21, 2002

Equitable Air Travel

Reuters reports that the Transportation Security Administration has ordered elimination of the "VIP lines" that allow frequent travelers to move through check-in and security more quickly. Don't waste time trying to figure out how this will make anyone safer, because safety, according to the TSA, is not the goal of this new regulation. The goal, rather, is to ensure that airport security is more "equitable."

In other words, TSA policy is apparently being written by union thugs and diversity counselors. These are the same people, by the way, who insist that it is only fair that a 70-year Jewish woman have the same likelihood of being searched by airport security as a 25-year old man named "Ahmed." Rich Lowry eviscerates Transportation Secretary and multicultural mullah Norman Mineta for this kind of nonsense in an excellent National Review Online piece.

I know the retort: equal rights and fairness good, discrimination bad. This is entirely wrongheaded. To the extent that people pose differential threats that are correlated with physical behaviors or other observable characteristics, discrimination is a valuable tool. To quote a former Supreme Court Justice, "the Constitution isn't a suicide pact." The ethos that regards equity of outcomes as more important than equity of opportunity, however, may well be just such a thing. We are certainly testing that hypothesis, when we allow the fairness and sensitivity police to determine our security policies.

posted by Woodlief | link | (0)