Not a liberal indoctrinator, but a typical Democratic professor

Okay, so maybe I’m not a liberal indoctrinator, but, via the Monkey Cage, I learn that I am pretty typically a Democrat when it comes to my grading.  I have never intentionally set out to do it this way, but my grading generally works out to a fairly flat distribution:  I’m pretty easy to get a B from, not very easy to get an A from, and conversely, if you are trying, you’re probably not going to get a C or worse.  Turns out, this pattern of a flatter distrubtion is more characteristic of Democrats– at least in on study:

When it comes to grading, Republican and Democratic professors at one unnamed elite university put their ideologies into practice, a new study finds: Republicans welcomed inequality, handing out more very high and very low grades, and Democrats’ grades grouped more tightly around the average.

Republicans also gave black students lower grades than their colleagues. In both cases, the researchers stressed, there was no way to know which approach better reflected students’ performance.

That’s from a post by Chris Shea at the Wall Street Journal’s Ideas Market blog, summarizing this paper(ungated pdf) by Talia Bar and Asaf Zussman.

Interesting!  I do wonder how universal this is, as the study is only one elite university, but I would not be that surprised if it generalizes.  Maybe I should check out the distributions of my (2) Republican colleagues.  And, just for a little visual, here’s my most recent grade distribution for an upper-level class:

The Republican tax pathology

Last week, but still worth mentioning, Ezra asked a useful question: “why do Republicans hate taxes so much?”  He ends up going into a very useful discussion marginal tax rates and how they affect individual economic decisions.  What’s so frustrating is that Republicans are so theologically opposed to taxes, that they’ve become theologically opposed to any increases in government revenue– even if that means closing inefficient loopholes, as opposed to raising marginal rates.  Non-crazy Republican (sadly, an ever-rarer phrase) explains in Ezra’s post:

But Hubbard emphasized that what mattered for decision-making was marginal tax rates — the taxes that affect whether you do one more thing. Think about it like this: Imagine you make $1,000,000 annually and we impose a 50 percent tax on every dollar of income above $1,000,000. That makes doing more worth less to you. But let’s say we cut the deduction for your health-care insurance, or your mortgage interest. That raises your taxes, and you may not like it. But it doesn’t give you a reason to work less. Quite the opposite, in fact. But Hubbard didn’t feel Boehner was giving sufficient weight to this distinction. “When I heard the speaker,” he said, “I didn’t just hear him rule out marginal increases. I heard him rule out cutting tax expenditures, too.” To Hubbard, that didn’t make much sense. Cutting tax expenditures wasn’t like raising tax rates. It wouldn’t be apocalyptic for the economy. It wouldn’t keep the decision-makers from investing. It might even keep them from over-investing in things we want less of, like expensive health-care insurance policies and homes.

He concludes with a really nice rebuttal of the Republican obsession on marginal rates:

Leonard Burman isn’t a Republican economist, but he is a tax expert. He was actually deputy undersecretary for tax analysis in Bill Clinton’s Treasury Department. And when I reached him for comment, he found the whole conversation baffling. “You can build these models where people are very sensitive to changes in taxes,” he said, “ but in practice, there’s scant evidence of it actually working out that way. And lucky for us. If we really needed to get the tax code just right in order for the economy to grow, we’d have been in a depression for the last 40 years.”

The bottom line, he says, is that these theories were tested, and recently. “In the 1990s, we raised taxes, particularly on the rich. And a lot of these people were saying our tax increases were going to kill the economy. But remember what actually happened? We got rid of our deficits and the economy grew really robustly for 10 years. And what if it happened again? We might get rid of our deficits and the economy would grow really robustly for another 10 years. Maybe it’s good for the economy to actually get the deficit under control.”

Sadly, the #1 Republican priority is the lowest taxes possible for the richest Americans.  Not that they don’t have other priorities, but that is priority #1 (and clearly, much more important than the deficit).

DSK, sex crimes, and the media

Damn, does the media love a good story about a wealthy and powerful person charged with a sex crime. Before this week, I had absolutely no idea who Dominique Strauss-Kahn was. What, maybe .01% of Americans did. Heck, I’m guessing only 5% or so of Americans even know anything about the International Monetary Fund that he headed. Thus, it really is kind of amazing the huge amount of media attention this is getting.  Every single time I check the Post or the Times on-line, this is the lead story. GMA spent ten minutes with the alleged victim’s lawyer today.  I don’t really have any thoughts on the facts of the case as I don’t ever pay attention to cases where a rich foreign national in New York city is accused of sexually assaulting a maid.  And I’m not this time.  Sure, I get that the IMF is an important international institution (I’m not that provincial in my American politics focus), but really, all these constant headlines and details?!  If I didn’t know better, I’d think the media just wanted any excuse to endlessly report a high profile sexual assault case.

Not in today’s Republican party he can’t

So, the Post’s article about Utah’s Huntsman has the following headline on the homepage:

Ummm, no.  Sure, they’ve got to try and attract readers, but nobody semi-intelligent who follows politics can believe Huntman has a snowball’s chance in hell at the GOP nomination.  Why?

In a likely presidential bid, he would bring with him a political resume punctuated by his stint as President Obama’s ambassador to China and loaded with centrist positions on immigration, cap-and-trade climate legislation and gay rights.

Oh, yeah, that’ll go over just great with the base.  How’s this for understatement:

That could be an uneasy fit in a GOP primary season that is already pushing candidates to the right.

If Huntsman enters, he would battle Mitch Daniels (assuming he runs) for every Democrat’s favorite Republican.  So not the recipe to win next year’s nomination.

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