In January 1993, Joel Waldfogel asked 86 undergraduate students whether they liked their Christmas gifts. But Waldfogel is an economist, so he phrased the question more precisely, asking them how much they would’ve paid to buy those items for themselves.
As we await the dawning of the new year, I would like to look back on a pair of stories that received less coverage than they should have during 2013. Although different, each raises profound questions about our future. I don’t claim that these are the most important stories, or that nobody noticed them at all -- only that we should be paying more attention, and should ponder their implications, both in the year to come and in the decades beyond.
The tech world is all atwitter over accusations of arrogance. In an essay in the Wall Street Journal headlined “Silicon Valley Has an Arrogance Problem,” Farhad Manjoo decried the industry’s “superiority complex” and wrote: “For Silicon Valley’s own sake, the triumphalist tone needs to be kept in check.”
Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement that he will step down at the end of this month has prompted some commentators to wonder why we don’t encourage U.S. federal judges to retire early, too. Actually, we do -- and too many are.
On Oct. 8, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, a constitutional challenge to the limits on how much an individual can contribute to independent committees during a two-year election cycle.