The economics of toasters and colleges

General Electric recently sold off its appliance division to Haier Group.  GE is a household name but you’ve probably never heard of Haier.  The story came and went but I think it holds two important lessons, one for the US economy, in general, and liberal arts colleges, in particular. GE is a leader in diesel locomotives, jet engines, medical equipment, and energy generation. Sure, they could … [Read more...]

I’m shocked, shocked: forecasted budget surplus shrinks

I'm shocked, shocked... I can’t say I’m surprised that Minnesota’s projected budget surplus fell from $1.2 billion to $900 million for the remainder of the 2015-2017 biennium. The large surpluses we’ve experienced the past few years and the large projected surpluses are caused by the same phenomenon: our state government’s dependence on the income tax. The individual income tax yields about … [Read more...]

Craft college

Will machines take our jobs? It’s a perennial question, one posed regularly since the Industrial Revolution and probably since humans started making tools. Three recent articles focused my thinking about this question, generally, and how it applies to higher education, in particular. First, Steven Wilf and Peter Siegleman make an important point in their article, “How Digital Technology Spawned … [Read more...]