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Articles by Keith Yost

STAFF COLUMNIST
August 3, 2011
Suppose for a moment that there are two farmers, Jim and Bob. Jim grows tomatoes, and Bob grows corn. Both crops take tractors to produce. Normally, corn and tomatoes are equally profitable, but this year, corn is expected to be 15 percent more profitable than tomatoes. Accordingly, Jim would like to loan out his tractors to a corn farmer and split the extra profits, while Bob is looking to borrow some tractors from someone else.
STAFF COLUMNIST
July 6, 2011
There are two methods by which mankind searches for the truth.
STAFF COLUMNIST
July 6, 2011
A central tenet of all true libertarianism is that individuals, not the state, are the final arbiters of morality. The role of the state as a promoter of moral behavior exists only as a corollary to its monopoly on force or its role as a coordinator of collective action, i.e., the state exists to prevent a man from imposing his will upon another through violence or theft, and to broker an agreement when decisions cannot be made at the individual level. To extend the law beyond that is to make the state a conduit for the very impositions that it was built to defend against. It is a subversion of free society.
STAFF COLUMNIST
May 10, 2011
If there is one conclusion to be drawn from half a century of studying the American educational system, it is this: throwing more money at the problem will not solve anything. According to the Department of Education, between 1960 and 2000, the pupil-teacher ratio fell from 25.8 to 16.0, the percent of teachers with masters degrees or higher went from 23.5 to 56.2, and the real amount spent per pupil went from $2,235 to $7,591 in 2000 dollars. What did we get for all that money? Reading and math achievement stayed the same, while science results actually fell. In 2003, our spending per pupil was five times that of Poland, but we actually achieved worse results on the international PISA tests.
STAFF COLUMNIST
May 6, 2011
In the aftermath of the U.S’s successful strike in Abbottabad, much attention has been given to what Osama bin Laden’s death means for the war on terror. Was bin Laden still an operational leader within al-Qaida, and if so, how much does his death hamper the group’s ability to conduct terrorism? Will jihadists still be able to recruit, fundraise, and coalesce under a single banner without their premier standard-bearer? How much safer is the United States with the world’s number one mass-killer moldering at the bottom of the ocean?
STAFF COLUMNIST
May 3, 2011
Deadweight loss triangles are a tough concept to explain to laymen. They require discussions of marginal cost and benefit, of incidences and elasticities, and of Pareto optimalities. Perhaps that’s why, in the 10 years since passage, the mainstream media has altogether forgotten the reasonable motivations behind the Bush tax cuts and substituted a narrative of its own. Today the airwaves are filled with serious men touting the ridiculous notion that the Republicans passed the tax cuts in order to give money to their favorite class, the ultra-wealthy.
STAFF COLUMNIST
April 29, 2011
In 1999, the Committee on Women Faculty at MIT released a report claiming that there was significant gender bias at MIT. Women made up a minority of the Institute’s professorship, and on average were paid less and allotted less lab space; the report alleged this was due to a “subtle but pervasive bias” against women at the Institute. In response, the administration began a concerted effort to recruit more women and increase the pay of female professors. They succeeded, though at the cost of convincing many that women were being given an unfair advantage.
STAFF COLUMNIST
April 22, 2011
Two weeks ago, Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, issued a CBO-scored budget proposal that is being called the “Path to Prosperity.” The budget, a first of its kind — a unique, comprehensive fix to our debt problem — has caught many in the political establishment flat-footed. This includes President Obama (whose own budget plan looks prodigal in comparison) as well as many Republican leaders who have thought it politically wise to advocate for spending cuts without enumerating what, specifically, should be cut.
STAFF COLUMNIST
April 8, 2011
I know you, for I have seen you dozens of times before. You think you want to be a scientist or an engineer. But be realistic — what do you, a teenager, know of science and engineering? You have applied to this institution, not out of any sophisticated understanding of the choices you are making, but because society has sold you a lifestyle brand. You want to be able to call yourself a scientist for the same reasons trendy youths want to buy clothes with swooshes or cigarettes with cowboy mascots. You crave, as any human does, the respect and admiration of your peers. You see the status that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have achieved, and hope that a career in technology will be your salvation. But you will find none here.
STAFF COLUMNIST
April 5, 2011
Back in February 2009, I wrote a piece for this newspaper asking President Obama to take a moment and decide whether he was an idealist or a realist in the world of foreign policy. Failure to answer this question, I warned, would lead him into many of the situations his predecessor had found himself in.
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