Who deserves $2/hour?

This whole clip is good, but here’s the 40 seconds of a billionaire suggesting we pay mentally retarded people $2/hour.  Good stuff.


You slept great last night!

I didn’t.  I woke up feeling really tired.  Perhaps if Sarah had not insisted we snuggle in the middle of the night.  Anyway, some really interesting research about the power of believing you slept well.  From the Atlantic’s Julie Beck:

Maybe if you were sweetly, blithely ignorant of your somnial failings, you’d feel more chipper and work more efficiently. In a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers from Colorado College tested the effects of being told you’re getting enough sleep—“placebo sleep,” as they call it…

Then one of the experimenters pretended to calculate that each participant got either 16.2 percent REM sleep or 28.7 percent REM sleep the previous evening. After getting their reading, participants took a test that measures “auditory attention and speed of processing, skills most affected by sleep deprivation,” according to the study.

A second experiment repeated these conditions, while controlling for experiment bias.

Results: Participants who were told they had above-average REM sleep performed better on the test, and those who were told their REM sleep was below average performed worse, even when researchers controlled for the subjects’ self-reported sleep quality.

Implications: A great victory was won here for lies, over truth. This study shows that if you’re in the mindset that you’re well-rested, your brain will perform better, regardless of the actual quality of your sleep. Conversely, constantly talking about how tired you are, as so often happens in our culture, might be detrimental to your performance.

Alright then, you did sleep great last night.  Now back to doing some productive work!

Photo of the day

Apparently the UK has been having a lot of crazy weather this month.  Great gallery from the Telegraph:

Storm and flood warnings have been issued for the South West of England

Waves break over Saltcoats Esplanade in Scotland. A spokesman for the Met Office said the UK as a whole had seen a large amount of rain in January.Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The GOP paradox

Enjoyed this Yglesias post on the difficulty of using the government to solve problems when you are committed to the never spending any more money.  A classic (and accurate) bit of snark:

Zachary Goldfarb has an interesting piece about the mini-perestroika of Republican thinking about ways to enact policies that will bolster people’s incomes and make their lives better. But then on paragraph nine you get to the key problem (emphasis added):

As they cast about for ideas, Republicans are struggling to find policies that match the simplicity and gut appeal of such Democratic proposals as raising the minimum wagewithout violating core conservative principles by increasing spending or interfering with market forces. Many lawmakers are turning to conservative think tanks, such as the American Enterprise Institute.

Many of us in America are struggling to find weight loss strategies that don’t require us to spend more time at the gym or eat less food. It turns out to be challenging.

Years ago when I lived in Virginia I remember the Republicans saying how we needed to invest more in building roads (always a problem in NoVa), but that obviously we had to find a way to do this without actually spending any money.  There was a great Roanoke Times editorial that suggested the Republicans try alchemy.

Kristof on pre-K

Really enjoyed this Kristof column summarizing the evidence of what good policy pre-K is.  I especially like that he puts the seemingly disappointing results from Head Start in proper perspective:

Republican critics focus on (and misunderstand) a major, well-designed project called the Head Start Impact Study. It found that Head Start produces educational gains that fade away. By third grade, when the research ended, there was little detectable difference between those assigned to Head Start and those in control groups.

That’s disappointing. And that’s why critics denounce Head Start as a waste of money.

Yet early education has always had an impact not through cognitive gains but through long-term improvements in life outcomes. With Perry, Abecedarian and other programs, educational gains fade, yet, mysteriously, there are often long-term improvements on things that matter even more, such as arrest rates and high school graduation rates. The Head Start Impact Study couldn’t examine those outcomes.

Other researchers have, and their findings are almost unanimous. One rigorous study led by Eliana Garces, then of U.C.L.A., found that Head Start graduates were more likely to graduate from high school and attend college than their peers. David Deming of Harvard found that children who attended Head Start were more likely to graduate from high school and less likely as young adults to be “idle” — out of a job and out of school.  [emphasis mine]

Jens Ludwig of University of Chicago found that Head Start reduced child mortality in elementary years, apparently because of screening and treatment referrals.

Beyond Head Start, a series of randomized trials of other early education initiatives repeatedly found the same result: Long-term outcomes improve.

I wish this post didn’t have the “political” tag.  I wish that a policy so obviously beneficial and so obviously cost-effective would just have universal support.  This is just so something we have to make happen.  On the one hand, I am encouraged that several states have figured this out.  On the other, it is disheartening that we cannot get anything out of Congress to help make this happen on a national level.  But heck, you’d think if Oklahoma could somehow figure this out, so could another 49 states.  

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