Month: March 2014

Dr. Varoufakis on Birds of a Feather

It is clear that racism, sexism and classism are discriminatory practices that impose harm on specific groups of people. It is less clear how discriminatory mechanisms in society arise and how they change the behavior of certain groups. Dr. Yanis Varoufakis, visiting professor at the LBJ School, conducted research on discrimination using game theory laboratory experiments. Inspired by past research on the behavior of a population of birds, Varoufakis tested whether people behaved similarly given an analogous game that the birds were observed to play. In the previous experiment the birds were all of the same species, but some...

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Austin Police Department and the Rule of Law

A closer examination of a recent jaywalking arrest shows that public safety and the rule of law should be taken more seriously. By now, I suspect that most of Austin is familiar with Amanda Jo Stephen’s arrest on February 20. I also suspect that most who are familiar with the event support Stephen, and to a much greater extent, oppose APD’s actions and response. I feel compelled to make my position known, because those behind the uproar have unjustly vilified APD and incorrectly absolved Stephen. I think this debate so far has seriously been lacking in three areas: public...

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Limited Impact: Questioning Impact Investment

Last week, the Net Impact chapter at UT’s McCombs School of Business hosted a summit on “Business for Good,” with one panel devoted to social impact investing. Social impact investing is any form of investment that has positive effects for the broader community. It is hard to state a more precise definition, because “impact investing” includes corporate foundation giving, government-led investment programs, and for-profit investing. I left the panel with considerable doubts about the capacity of impact investing to offer meaningful benefits for society. Its scale seems too small, its efforts too scattershot, its long-term viability too dubious. In...

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Be Resolute With Russia

As President Obama considers how to respond to the Russian military invading Ukraine, he may do well to heed the lessons of history. Three days after the Bay of Pigs invasion, President John F. Kennedy met with his former opponent, Richard Nixon. Despite the political embarrassment the president faced after supporting a botched attempt to topple Fidel Castro in Cuba, Nixon realized he and his Republican colleagues had to stand by the Democratic president until the crisis subsided. The Soviet Union, Nixon explained, “would probe and prod in several places at the same time, and as soon as we...

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