Two self-efficacy stories

1. Kids who are paid to study study more

Pretty obvious. Wise educators should align extrinsic and intrinsic rewards, at least when dealing with children who are not able to make the decision to learn by themselves.

Specifically, educators of children should pay them to study, while demonstrating to the students that their efforts will pay off (literally!)

2. Most blogs are abandoned

Creative bloggers need to not only master their craft and gain the attention of their peers: first, they need to keep trying, in spite of many failed attempts at meaningful attention.

Both of these stories are courtesy of Slashdot: News for Nerds.

Reinforcing Failure

The air in Beijing have never been cleaner in the four years I came here.

A Clear Day of Reinforcing Success in Beijing

Yesterday, took the #2 BRT to the #10 subway line, and rode it most of the way home.

This two are, of course, related. Neither the #2 BRT nor the #10 Subway existed last year when we visited. More people taking mass transit, as well as other investments in infrastructure, creates public goods, such as better air.

China has been “reinforcing success,” throwing money at what works.

However, reinforcing success requires a ruling class that either (a) cares more about the country’s future than their friendships and connections, or (b) a system that rewards caring about the country’s future more than building powerful connections.

I do not know if (a) or (b) explains Geithner’s failure as Treasury Secretary.

Instead of “reinforcing success,” Tim Geithner is “reinforcing failure.” He gives billions in grants to politically powerful friends like Goldman Sachs, and two whole companies to the United Auto Workers (a politically powerful bloc). Forget mass transit and clean energy — imagine how much more such grants to successful enterprises — such as Microsoft and Oracle — would have achieved.

Geithner recently visited Beijing, where his economic policies were laughed at and ridiculed. Two days later the state-run media piled on, noting that Geithner bought into the bubble.

Perhaps some of Geithner’s concern for speculators who lost money is an attempt to recoup his own losses?

Whether it is to reward his own friends, save his own skin, or both, Geithner is a terrible treasury secretary, who is using billions that could be better spent elsewhere to bail his friends and himself out.