Economics

The Roots of American Dysfunction

As a rule, systems fascinate me. Technical systems, political systems, cultural systems–you name it. The country in which I live–the United States–makes for a particularly puzzling, sometimes aggravating system. In this case, “dysfunction” doesn’t mean the system is bad, but it does point to a system that is not functioning…


Drug Pricing Mayhem

By this point you have likely heard of Martin Shkreli, the entrepreneur who thought he could make a killing by buying the rights to an anti-parasite drug and jacking the price up 5000%. While he eventually relented and promised to lower the price, the PR damage had been done: he and…


Working: Then and Now

In the early 1970s, writer and broadcaster Studs Terkel interviewed dozens of working people in America. The result was Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. The book is a classic of modern history, providing narrative snapshots of working life that are hard…


The Student Loan Scam

Full disclosure: I am currently paying federal student loans that I obtained while in college. I never finished college and it was never a huge amount (about $6000), nor do I expect any kind of reform to ever benefit me, but it would be unfair to say I’m a completely disinterested…


The Devaluation of American Labor

“An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.” This folk saying is frequently used to summarize the ideal American work ethic. Every able-bodied adult, in the absence of spouse or some other independent means of financial support, is expected to carry their own weight by working one or more…