Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | February 19, 2013

Link Potpourri

1. In Bihar, some Indian rice farmers seem to have found some methods to produce higher rice yields:

Instead of planting three-week-old rice seedlings in clumps of three or four in waterlogged fields, as rice farmers around the world traditionally do, the Darveshpura farmers carefully nurture only half as many seeds, and then transplant the young plants into fields, one by one, when much younger. Additionally, they space them at 25cm intervals in a grid pattern, keep the soil much drier and carefully weed around the plants to allow air to their roots.

Dr. Surendra Chaurassa with Bihar’s agriculture ministry characterizes the results as “revolutionary”: “Farmers use less seeds, less water and less chemicals but they get more without having to invest more.” (H/T: Tyler Cowen.) See also this piece by Graham Land.

2. Please use a different example: Emory University President James Wagner is conducting damage control after saying, in the “president’s letter” for Emory Magazine, that the three-fifths compromise in the U.S. Constitution was a model for how people with political disagreements can “temper ideology” and work together “to identify their common goal and keep moving toward it.” His choice of example has led to, as Inside Higher Ed puts it, “an explosion of social media criticism.” (Next time, when looking for an example of constructive compromise, use an example like the Connecticut compromise, or the Electoral College.)

3. Chris Blattman on his favorite presidential biography.

4. Judge Richard Posner on the thought of John Rawls and social welfare programs:

I don’t endorse the argument of the philosopher John Rawls that no one is entitled to a high income because even characteristics that we think internal rather than external to a person, like IQ and leadership skills and athletic skills and energy and good health, are ultimately the product of luck. Therefore, Rawls argued, no one should be allowed to keep more of his earnings than necessary to “incentivize” him to exert himself in a way that will maximize the social product. That treats people like the cells of an animal’s body, or the ants in an ant heap. Rather my point is that, to the extent reducing income inequality increases overall social welfare, there is a case for programs, financed by the well to do, that increase overall welfare by more than the cost of the programs.

Prof. Althouse has some additional thoughts (mostly on Posner’s word choice).

5. Over at Marginal Revolution, Prof. Cowen briefly reviews Unfinished Empire by John Darwin and The Battle of Bretton Woods by Benn Steil.

6. America’s Finest News Source hits the nail on the head: from The Onion: “American Citizens Split On DOJ Memo Authorizing Government To Kill Them.” (H/T: Thoreau at Unqualified Offerings.)

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