W3945 Seminar on Inequality and Public Policy

Dec 2002

I must admit, I walked away from this class feeling very disappointed and frustrated. The class is titled "Inequality and Public Policy" but we touched on neither topic. Instead, class time was spent looking at charts and graphs that all basically said the same thing: the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Spilerman did not analyze why the graphs were the way they were, did not give any specific policy measures, and did not ground anything in a historical framework. What's more, Spilerman is a really smart guy--too bad he isn't a more dynamic professor.

Jan 2002

As the previous review says, many have taken this class based on the name and a semi-promising syllabus. DON'T DO IT. this is one of those courses where the professor is obviously bored out of his mind and would rather be teaching graduate students. He didn't seem to know any of the students in the (small) class, never once discussed the books and articles he assigned, and once even seemed confused as to what was on the syllabus. I think we got through about 1/4 of the discussion topics, and what went on in class was less discussion and more him going through chart after chart of numbers without offering concrete analysis or interpretation. A waste and a disappointment.

Jan 2000

Sounds like a cool class and many have been duped into taking it on this account... but brace yourselves, there is no moving and shaking here. Public policy is hardly mentioned, let alone examined, in the course; rather, it is an analysis of the struggle undergone by upper-middle/somewhat upper-middle/relatively upper-middle/and purely middle classes in doing their taxes.