Mason in the News

Posted: October 17, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Following are highlights of national news coverage Mason recently received.

Friday, Oct. 10, Seattle Times

States and Cities are in the Same Fiscal Mess as the Federal Government

“There is much concern over the impact of the stock market plunge on state and local pension systems with their estimated $3 trillion in long-term liabilities. The funds’ expected investment returns of roughly 8 percent are now wildly unrealistic. Unfunded liabilities, notes John Petersen of George Mason University, a senior analyst of state-local fiscal systems [and professor of public policy], ‘will probably grow exponentially.’ The often-ignored reality, says Petersen, is that state and local budgets are 12 percent to 13 percent of the entire national economy. ‘In the last (2000-01) recession, they held up because property taxes were doing well. But now it’s the fatal storm — everything is going down. It’s a 9/11 for government finance.’ Yet there may be something of a silver lining, Petersen suggests: ‘This financial — and now fiscal — crisis means we’re all in this together. We will need strong government — federal and state-local — to lead us.’”

Saturday, Oct. 11, The Economist

Scientific Journals: Publish and Be Wrong

“With so many scientific papers chasing so few pages in the most prestigious journals, the winners could be the ones most likely to oversell themselves — to trumpet dramatic or important results that later turn out to be false. This would produce a distorted picture of scientific knowledge, with less dramatic (but more accurate) results either relegated to obscure journals or left unpublished. John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at Ioannina School of Medicine, Greece, made a splash three years ago by arguing, quite convincingly, that most published scientific research is wrong. Now, along with Neal Young of the National Institutes of Health in Maryland and Omar Al-Ubaydli, an economist at George Mason University, he suggests why. It starts with the nuts and bolts of scientific publishing. Hundreds of thousands of scientific researchers are hired, promoted and funded according not only to how much work they produce, but also to where it gets published. For many, the ultimate accolade is to appear in a journal like Nature or Science. Such publications boast that they are very selective, turning down the vast majority of papers that are submitted to them.”

Saturday, Oct. 11, Washington Post

Va. Republicans Chart a Return to Dominance

“Republicans know they have not had as much energy and enthusiasm as Democrats have in recent years, but they say the atmosphere has improved in the past few months. Many activists say they sense growing excitement and a feeling that the party could be on the brink of a resurgence. Although they concede that they stand almost no chance of taking back the House or Senate next month, they are now hoping to limit losses to only a few Senate seats and fewer than a dozen House seats nationwide. ‘The Republicans really have had a run of bad luck,’ said Stephen Farnsworth, a political analyst [and assistant professor of communication] at George Mason University. ‘But the worst is over.’ President Bush is leaving office and conditions in Iraq have improved, and polls show the Democratic-controlled Congress has low approval ratings.”

Sunday, Oct. 12, Washington Post

Leesburg Land May Catch GMU’s Eye

“George Mason University has long expressed an interest in building a full-service campus in Loudoun County. In 2006, land developer Greenvest offered the university property in the proposed Dulles South community. But when Greenvest’s plans for Dulles South were nixed by the Loudoun Board of Supervisors, so were Mason’s. Mason and Northern Virginia Community College officials have combined their resources and are exploring what kinds of campuses would fit the needs of Loudoun’s growing population. The joint feasibility study is called ‘Planning for Enhanced Public Higher Education in Loudoun: Building on the Mason-NOVA Partnership.’ It will be completed before the end of the year, said Jerry Coughter, Mason’s Loudoun [site] executive officer. ‘We have the chance to do something innovative and creative here,’ Coughter said. ‘We want to do it right.’ Coughter cited a recent [Mason] study forecasting student population growth in Loudoun and the surrounding counties of Clarke, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Prince William and Warren. In 2012, more than 43,000 high school students will graduate from those counties, the study said. More than 25,000 of them will plan to attend a four-year college.”

Tuesday, Oct. 14, BusinessWeek

Some Cities Will Be Safer in a Recession

“Topping our list was Arlington, Va., a highly educated urban community just across the Potomac River from Washington, followed by the District of Columbia itself, where many residents work in government or related services. While D.C. didn’t enjoy Manhattan’s Wall Street-driven growth during the past couple of decades, it’s now in an enviable position. The capital has become a hub for companies that do defense and homeland security work in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. ‘We don’t have a Wall Street,’ said Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University. ‘When there’s a crisis like this, the Fed goes out and hires a bunch of people to help out. I suspect they’ll bring Wall Street guys to Washington and put them up in hotels or empty office buildings and put them to work.’”

Tuesday, Oct. 14, Las Vegas Sun

Margin of Error is Polls’ Fine Print; If it’s Big Enough

“Political scientists say the very existence of polls can affect public opinion, with a ‘bandwagon effect’ or an ‘underdog effect,’ while also influencing the decisions of potential campaign donors. Michael McDonald, a political scientist at George Mason University, asked, ‘Is it possible voters could be swayed? Possible.’ But McDonald doesn’t argue that a voter looks at a poll and goes with the candidate who is ahead. He thinks a poll might spur a reevaluation. So, if a candidate performs surprisingly well in a poll, a voter might suddenly see the candidate as a viable choice, whereas before the poll the voter never would have considered the candidate. ‘It’s like, ‘Oh, I really have a choice to make here,’’ he said.”

Wednesday, Oct. 15,

Does Temperament Matter?

“A funny thing happens when you sit down with historians and ask them what presidential temperament is and when it matters and whether voters make a mistake to let it count for much. What emerges is that temperament is as elusive as it is essential. George W. Bush probably wasn’t lying in the 2000 campaign when he promised a humble foreign policy. He just had no idea what was coming. F.D.R. probably was lying when he promised the anxious parents of 1940 that ‘your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.’ Always be sincere, Harry Truman said, even if you don’t mean it. The presidency is less an office than a performance: Who saw the gloom and glower behind Eisenhower’s incandescent grin? This is why temperament descends easily into caricature: the feisty Give-‘Em-Hell Harry, the cool-as-crystal Kennedy, the Vesuvian Lyndon Johnson. ‘We’ve taken temperament and turned it,’ warns presidential historian Richard Norton Smith of George Mason University, into ‘vaudeville.’”

Thursday, Oct. 16,

Small Business Owner’s Guide to the Election

“Restoring the health of the U.S. economy will dominate the domestic agenda of the next president, whoever he is. John McCain and Barack Obama have fundamental differences on how to do that. Both, however, will be constrained by fiscal realities — the ballooning federal deficit and the still-uncertain cost of the nation’s financial crisis. For businesses, one thing seems clear: Companies will face more government regulation. Both candidates are ‘likely to be big regulators,’ said Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.”

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