Monday, March 12, 2012

Clarifying current policy failure

Check out this blog post if you are interested in how the Fed can "print money" like crazy (actually, most of the electronically-created money is never turned into printed hard currency) while inflation stays low and the economy depressed.

One more thing to remember as we prepare for Wednesday: the ultimate goal of our policy studies is to help learn the skill of constructing arguments. Public policy is of course a worthwhile study in itself, but it is also an immensely effective context--and the Freshman Seminar is supposed to provide an introduction to argumentation in "a content-rich environment"--for advancing this end, as it forces us to translate complicated ideas, ideas that we may not even have the capacity to fully grasp on a purely technical level, into coherent and clear sets of arguments that emphasize why these technical details matter for the bigger picture. That is, public policy by its very nature forces us to state what matters about complex issues, which is precisely what a good argument does. So don't get bogged down in details--stay focused on the big picture. If you can do this with a complicated post like the above, you can do it with anything.

Update: I see no one has yet posted questions/links--no doubt this is because you are thinking so deeply about questions that you haven't had the time :)

Anyway, just to make it a bit easier and perhaps more fun, I just wanted to suggest some other ways to approach the assignment. I asked folks to post a question and, if they had one, a link that helped them answer that question. But it may be better if folks posted a question and then a link that helped them understand a different topic--after all, presumably that link has already answered the initial question. That way, we can get a sense of what is still murky and then have some resources available that might have helped folks answer some other questions. No doubt it will turn out that some of you end up answering the questions of others. And if you only have a question or a good link but can't think of both, that's fine as well.

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