Alex Tokarev

Alex is a former WORLD contributor.

Ingenuity and incentives

Economy
by Alex Tokarev
Posted 8/22/12, 05:17 pm

Do your children like scary stories? It seems that most of us preserve some taste for them when we grow up (for instance, I love Stephen King). The media knows that an apocalyptic prophesy sells better than any good news. When a solution "doesn't lay right before our eyes, it is easy to assume that no solution exists," point out economist Steven D. Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner in Super Freakonomics. Hence scary, fatalistic, neo-Malthusian theories are always popular.

Read more

Malthus, restated

Economy
by Alex Tokarev
Posted 8/15/12, 06:15 pm

Old fallacies die hard. In 1798, Thomas Malthus published An Essay on the Principle of Population, where the disenchanted Anglican cleric shared his fears that unbridled sexual passions had doomed humanity to always return to the subsistence level of primitive hunter-gatherer tribes. At a time when most people on earth were living under some form of serfdom, it was reasonable to forecast such a gloomy future-after all, why would you excel in creating wealth when most or all of the above-subsistence "surplus" would be confiscated by your local lord or taxed away by the state.

Read more

Burn the ships!

Government
by Alex Tokarev
Posted 8/08/12, 04:23 pm

Some time ago, I had a heated argument with a colleague of mine on how to treat our students. His considerable experience as a pedagogue had taught him that students fail classes less often if the professor keeps them on a short leash. I could see the benefits of enforcing attendance polices and setting deadlines for various steps in writing projects. It is not a big secret that most young adults do not have enough self-control and are even more prone to procrastination than their parents. If we had this conversation in a high school I would have agreed with my colleague's position.

Read more