Stray Links for 11 April 2012

(1) Matthew Slaughter and Laura D’Andrea Tyson praise multinational business enterprises (they’re more productive than other firms, they offer higher compensation levels, they account for 75% of U.S. productivity growth among nonfinancial firms), and then express concern over the fact that they represent a (slightly) shrinking share of total employment. In a sense, Slaughter and Tyson are fretting over the gap between, in David Brooks’ framing, Economy I and Economy II in the context of a particularly elite slice of Economy I. Fast-growing young firms in competitive sectors are perhaps best understood as multinationals in embryo.

But interestingly, Slaughter served in a Republican administration (that of George W. Bush) while Tyson has served in Democratic administrations (both Clinton and, in an outside advisory capacity, the Obama administration). The partisan difference arises, I would argue, when we think about what it takes to nurture Economy I: thinkers on the left tend to endorse industrial policy and high public investment levels while thinkers on the right tend to endorse subjecting the public sector to market competition. This latter idea, however, can also be described as “Blairite,” and in tune with a certain strand of left thinking that has faded a bit in the post-crisis years.

(2) Alexis Simendinger of RealClearPolitics points to a potential political vulnerability for the president: his emphasis on “fairness” doesn’t seem to resonate with so-called “swing independents.”

(3) Kevin Carey of Education Sector has an excellent Chronicle of Higher Education column on UC Davis’s embrace of “open badges,” a concept pioneered by the Mozilla Foundation. The basic idea is that students will earn badges by demonstrating mastery of a particular skill. Unlike grades, these badges will communicate valuable information about what students actually know how to do. And because these badges are open, students can demonstrate their mastery in a variety of ways and pursue certification from a variety of different institutions. 

(4) Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach for America, offers thoughts on the importance of granting schools more autonomy. 

(5) Ross Douthat’s latest Campaign Stops column is dead-on — and it serves as a sobering reminder that a pure defense of the welfare state status quo might prove very effective, assuming the economy doesn’t deteriorate any further: you don’t know you’re Greece until you’re Greece. 

(6) Avik Roy has been doing an able job of covering the ongoing controversy surrounding Charles Blahous’s analysis of the future of the HI Trust Fund under PPACA. 

(7) And Tim Carney reacts to Gene Sperling’s case for industrial policy. 

Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

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