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Archive for May, 2011

Meta Post

It seemed like the majority of my posts were written about things that I read that resonated with me or things that I didn’t quite agree with. I noticed that many times I tried to tie in my own examples from my life in an attempt to better understand the subject matter and relate it to myself. I wouldn’t say that there are broad themes or concerns reoccurring in my readings. It does seem though that many times I get stuck on something that I read at the beginning of the chapter that seems to catch my attention and I have a hard time letting it go for the rest of the post. Over the last weeks my posts seem to have gotten more content based. I feel like initially it was difficult for me to come up with things for myself to really talk about and discuss because im not learned in the art of Economics and many days I felt that the other posts by the other students were so much better than mine. I feel like over the last couple of weeks I have been able to really start to understand the subject matter and focus on being able to somewhat think critically of the information although that sometimes didn’t translate into great writing. While I was rereading my work I was actually really surprised by how much filler I use in each of my posts. I never noticed that I was really just trying to take up space when I was writing but when I was reading it I had the impression that I maybe didn’t feel very confident in my abilities as an economist. Some of the ideas that I see as worth revisiting I actually have already revisited several times. In one of my posts I talked about how public use policy is really just an awesome way for the government to just take whatever they want from me and that is something that I have actually been reading a lot of lately. I have enjoyed looking up other cases of people that have been through those problems with the government. I noticed that some things excited me more than others. I loved learning new concepts and seemed to really enjoy talking about the things that I learned more than the controversy and things I disagreed with. I value the time to put my thoughts in ink. I seriously think that writing blogs helps you to think critically about the information that you are reading and that has been invaluable. I think it shows in my excitement in a lot of my blogs. I think I may have used the most words like “wow, awesome, etc.” there were a lot of different times that I was excited to learn and when I had those epiphanies it was really neat to see and reread later as well!

meta post

This second half of the semester has been an interesting one; it has been full of interesting application of the basic economics that we learned in the first half of the semester. Looking at my posts over the second half of the semester, I think that the overall quality of my posts has gone up, considering that was one of my main goals for this second half I’m very happy with that. The content of my posts didn’t seem to change; I spent a lot of time talking about costs and economics efficiency. That to me makes sense. I have been taking economic classes for four years now and those two points have been ground into me in every single class. I’m ok with that, I think that if people understand the bases for economic efficiency then they will be able to make better economically efficient decisions.

The natures of my posts have only changed slightly over the past half of the semester. Like I stated before I think that they have become a higher quality, but I did notice that they did start to focus on more of the law side of things. This is something that I was happy to see, this is a law and economics class and I didn’t feel like that I was getting the law side of the class. Now after critically reading my posts I can see that the law is much more applicable to economics then I originally thought. I think the reason that my posts are changing in this way is just because the class readings were headed in that direction. They focused much more on the system of law and applications of certain laws, mainly involving property rights.

In my posts there are a few things that I would consider revisiting. My post about welfare encouraging people to remain in poverty could be a very interesting graduate thesis, I think that it is something that is very measurable, and we can directly link economic incentives to people working harder to get out of poverty. If those incentives aren’t there then people aren’t going to try and change. Another thing that is worth revisiting would be out legal system encouraging rent seeking behavior. It would be a very interesting study on our legal system to see what would happen if punitive damages we done away with. I think that it would save out government a lot of money in not having to support bogus claims of damages with judicial resources. People would only bring legal action to the courts for things that they would hold as much more valuable to them.

The main part that I valued in doing the weekly blogging is that I game me incentive to read the books and come to class educated on what was to be discussed. Most of the time I do reading as an afterthought, or to study for a test. With this system in place I was forced to know what was going on before the teacher taught it. I believe that this was one of the reasons that I was able to make much better contributions to the class in the discussions.

Overall I think that the blogging became more of an applicable way to aid in the teaching of this class. It gave us another perspective on what was being taught that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. I’m happy to have taken this class this semester, it has given me an opportunity to use my economic training in a different field that I was never that I would do. It has really opened my eyes on how economics really come to play in every decision that we make, not just in the models that we learn.

Final Meta Post

As I read through my blog posts since the midterm I was pleasantly surprised. I often feel as if I don’t know really know anything about economic theory. Throughout the duration of this class I have been acting under the impression that everybody seemed to be learning much, much more than myself. But as I was reading through my posts I became a little bit proud of myself. This class has been the most difficult class for me this semester. I have really struggled with understanding the concepts and I most of the lectures have gone right over my head. But as it turns out a few of my posts actually make it look like I might know a little something about economic theory. My posts might not be as detailed and nuanced as my fellow students, but I am still happy with my posts.

One thing that I noticed about my posts is that I began to pull more outside information to help support my posts. I believe that all of the information that I used was completely relevant to the situation. An example of using outside resources was my post about executive agencies. When I wrote that post I had been watching C-Span around the clock. It was just around the time that there was the debate going on about whether the government should shut down or not. This example illustrated just how inefficient the executive agencies have become especially because of the huge amounts of money being thrown at them.

As I read through my posts I also discovered another commonality, the fact that I hardly ever understand Friedman. I am definitely a newbie when it comes to economics and I am not sure that reading Law’s Order by David Friedman helped me out at all. It seemed that every time I would open up his book my brain would just get more and more confused. I have never enjoyed people that talk in riddles and David Friedman is the master of it! A lot of my posts were my explanation of my deep confusion. The biggest problem that I have with Friedman’s writing is his use of examples to illustrate his point. In my 14 years of educational experience I have noticed that whenever a teacher, writer, or any other type of instructor is trying to make a concept clearer to the class they take advantage of the use of examples. However whenever Friedman uses examples the only result is that I ended up even more baffled than I already was. Perhaps this is an unintended consequence of his use of horribly tangled examples, or it was his goal to leave the reader confused. Either way I did not enjoy reading his book at all. In one of my blog posts I discussed one the scenarios that I found particularly puzzling. In the chapter about tort law Friedman tries to clarify exactly what Causation is. He uses the examples of two hunters that accidentally shoot a third hunter. I cannot get past the fact that if situation was actually to occur, it most definitely would not be dealt with by using tort law. This situation is definitely a criminal situation. It doesn’t matter if the killing is accidental or not, the fact is these two hunters (or at least one of them) killed a man and they should be tried in criminal court.

Overall I just flat out did not enjoy blogging. Unfortunately I feel like my distaste for blogging could be seen in my blog posts. A few of the posts may have seemed like I put very little effort into them, but that is only because I put very little effort into them. I think that whenever I got frustrated with the reading or my inability to fully grasp a concept I sort of just gave up. Looking back on my blogging has actually helped me to realize what I can do better in any class. Perhaps from now on whenever I don’t understand an idea in a class, instead of letting myself get frustrated and give up, I need to calm down, reread, and then seek out help. So although I did not enjoy blogging in least, it has really given me and idea as to what I can work on to become a better student for the rest of my educational career.

Tony’s Metapost II

Since midterms, my posts have changed. There were a few things that I promised myself I would do better on, and I have. A few negative things were also dragged along in my posts as I attempted to get better, and learn more about law and economics. I was much more creative and original in my thoughts, arguments, and titles this time around. I also, unfortunately, used a whole lot of bad rhetorical questions, and my creativity sometimes got in the way of being heavily involved with the readings. Last semester I developed the ability to spark my own thoughts from the readings. This semester I learned to develop those sparked thoughts. Another skill I learned this semester that I did not use previously was using material from other relevant classes. There do not seen to be themes that prevailed heavily in my work, although it looks as if I purposely wrote about economic concepts that were not in the subject matter for the week, and ended up writing about them some other time. What I talked about diversified greatly from last semester. I improved, but there’s still room for improvement.

The creativity in my posts was really nice until the last few posts. This may be narcissistic but I love the titles I came up with. They are pretty funny I think. I even forgot why I called “Tasty Decisions” what I called it until I realized that I was talking about preference in the market and not food. Other good titles were “Monoplease…” and, “McDarrrrnlds.” “The Unguided Criminal” may be the most original post I wrote. It is about what our system would be like if we rewarded good behavior as well as punished bad behavior. I was pleased with my writing style and reaching the goals I wanted.

In my posts, materials from classes I’m either taking now, or took a semester ago was popping up. I saw a lot of ideas from Machiavelli this go around, and many other ideas from political theory. I’ve also used contemporary American history information (which is my major) to argue against authors, like in “Monoplease…” This is probably not a good strategy for someone who is an amateur economist, but I did it anyway.

I also encountered a few problems. Because I was trying to amp up my style, I used a lot of rhetorical questions. A lot. I think I have them in most posts, right near the end, without answering them. That is a bad writing strategy because it frustrates the reader, and discredits the writer for not completing thoughts. Along with rhetorical questions, I made some bad arguments. In “Monoplease…” I argued that legislatures are under contract with voters, but I did not consider the trustee model. The argument would have been stronger if I had at least tried to discredit that model. In “Tort(ure) by Liability” I completely set myself up to make a great argument on how taste and culture effects liability rules, but ended up making an argument that was weak about people who automatically assume responsibility no matter what law says.

The subject matter of my posts this half of the semester was broader than the last (which I count to be a good thing). I did tend to talk about incentives for politicians a few times, because I feel that that is important to consider as a participant in society. I also compared the government to a business many times, which reveals my skepticism. Overall, the subject matter was better this semester. I ranted about free market institutions in what seemed like every other post last semester. I didn’t even get bored re-reading my posts this time.

This half of the semester saw blogging progression. I was able to be more creative and original in my posts. I had some trouble with writing lots of rhetorical questions and weak arguments. I diversified my gambit of writing subjects unlike sticking to a single theme by accident like last time. I really enjoy the books we used for class and for the most part, enjoyed writing the blogs.