Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lead blogger for this week is...

No one! You may write about what you wish.

Let me suggest some possible food for blogger thought for those who may not know what to write about.

If you are not following the situation in Greece, it is something that you might consider paying attention to.

Syriza, a left-wing party, has just taken power. There is a sizable Marxist influence on their brand of politics, which has led to perhaps the only self-proclaimed Marxist finance minister in Europe, possibly the world. Yanis Varoufakis is, however, a very thoughtful and unorthodox Marxist, someone whose worldview fits very nicely in the eclectic mix of ideas we've been trying to create in the class.

Here's a couple of articles about him and Syriza to take a look at.
(This one is about a late professor of mine from graduate school)

Also, here's a link about a program recently funded at UA whose purpose is to reunite political philosophy and economics, much in the spirit of this course as well:

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Essay 2

Our eventual goal in the class is to produce a term paper that offers a detailed analysis--and it need not be of something that is narrowly economic or political--of a particular topic of interest to you. In preparation for this, our next paper will aim at producing an analytical summary of a particular policy, issue, or topic. For this assignment, I want you to design an argumentative paper that explains and informs a general reader about your particular policy/issue. Do not list disjointed pieces of information about the subject, but rather make an informative argument about what people often misunderstand about your issue, how it is possible to clear up those misperceptions, and what is most important to know about your issue in order to understand it most accurately. In other words, you want to explore the argumentative potential of informational modes of discourse, rather than just list facts.
Do not feel that you are stuck with whatever topic you choose for the final term paper, however. In fact, I want us to use this assignment as an opportunity for teaching each other about various possible topics and the different approaches to them. Feel free to be creative and take risks: the ideal topic is one that interests you without being overly sensationalistic or controversial and that you can explore in a detailed, complex way. 
We will briefly share our findings with the class through short, informal, 5-10 minute presentations. Please prepare a small handout that distills your findings and then present it to the class. Hopefully, this will serve as a kind of "topics fair" that allows the class to explore a wide variety of different subjects that might be of interest to them as we lead up to the final paper.


For this paper, I ask that you include at least two academic sources (books or scholarly journal articles). You can use other sources--readings from earlier in the semester, substantive newspapers or periodicals found using the library database--but you must use at least two examples of academic writing. Do not cite encyclopedias (whether online or not), informational websites (, for example), or other websites found using standard web searches. You can read these for background information, but don't cite them as sources. The paper should be in the neighborhood of 3-4 pages, double spaced, in 12 point Times New Roman Font, with one inch margins all around.
Finally, remember that the more specific you can be, the better. Medicare is a better topic than health insurance in general; the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) is a better topic than Medicare in general; and a comparison of two specific cost-reduction schemes associated with IPAB is a better topic than IPAB in general.
Bring a rough draft (at least 2 pages) to class for peer editing this Friday, February 20. Bring a clean draft to class Friday, February 27th. The paper is due Monday, March 2, and we will start our informal presentations on this day.