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Told You So

My colleague, Jim Stergios, mused a few weeks ago about Bernie Madoff and the lack of trust out there right now. And Jim is exactly right. In a previous life, I was part of group that attempted to raise an investment fund (obviously it didn’t work out, did it?). My colleagues were forever pitching the idea to a variety of placement agents, fund-of-fund operators, and miscellaneous middlemen. These gentlemen were always impeccably dressed, impossibly self-assured, and gave off a well-monied whiff that, by virtue of pedigree, education and/or previous employer, each had some link to sources of capital. That fund never got raised (obviously) but I was reminded of those particular types as I read Harry Markopolos’ devastating critique of […]


A rather odd article by Jamie Vaznis of the Globe on charters and pilots. The Boston Foundation-commissioned study does exactly what Vaznis notes in the first sentence: “A new study indicates that Boston charter schools significantly outperform the city’s traditional schools, but raises new questions about the city’s experimental pilot schools.” But then he goes on to use most of the rest of the article to question pilots. A little more of the clearly good news about charters would have been helpful–and less story fishing. The story is very good–just so heartening as to our ability to address the achievement gap. By comparing students who got into charter schools by lottery against those who were not chosen by lottery, the […]


Ed Glaeser has an interesting and thoughtful piece in today’s Globe on the various stimulus ideas floating around. I am a bit concerned about the rush to spend billions of dollars willy-nilly. The stimulus package has turned into a Christmas Tree of sorts, with every group hanging their desired ornament on it. But I fear most people are not paying attention to the details. The State has cranked out its list. There are some worthy projects here, but there is also a lot that has not been fully vetted. $200 million for rebates for biomass pellet furnaces? $200 million buys you about 60,000 of those furnaces outright (against a housing stock base of around 2.5 million) and it increases as […]

Will they give the money back?

As I was walking to work this AM, a cab (thanks hackney license #385!) ran a red light, stopping only to berate me for walking in a crosswalk with a walk signal. It got me to thinking about the fare increase of this summer. Back in August, in the throes of the gas crisis, the city of Boston raised rates after a series of complaints by cab drivers and their representatives. I advocated back then for a break in the artificial monopoly that supresses the number of cabs in the city (read the comments too). As gas prices have dropped from $4+ in August to less then half that (at least where I live), the new, higher rates remain in […]

If Kant had had a nose for public policy

Passed on by a friend with a mathematical appreciation for symmetry, and for that balance of responsibility and opportunity, in public affairs is a recent letter to the Wall Street Journal: I read with interest the president-elect’s appointment of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education. Mr. Duncan may in fact be the right man for the job, but if the president-elect and his new secretary really wish to fix public education, they need only push through one change: It is hereby illegal for any member of Congress to send his or her children to any nonpublic elementary, junior or senior high school. What do you think? My guess is the whole system would be fixed over the weekend. Our friendly […]