From history.com: Americans launch Operation Persecution in the Pacific:
Allied forces land in the Hollandia area of New Guinea. The Japanese occupiers, only 15,000 in number, many of whom were on administrative duty, fight for more than three months against ludicrous odds at great cost: When the battle for the northern coast of New Guinea was finally won by the Allies, 12,811 Japanese were dead, compared with 527 Americans.
Timothy Egan: How to Heal the Heartland: "There are two big stories shaping the Great Plains...
...one of steroidal growth and disruption in the energy boom, the other of the slow death of small-town life.... The oil and natural gas bonanza has made housing in places like Minot, N.D., as competitive as rent-controlled apartments in Manhattan.... But... right down the midsection... lonely bars and empty diners, of crowded cemeteries and Main Streets where a dogs sleep away the afternoon. In Phelps, Frontier, Gosper or Gage counties, all in Nebraska, there are fewer people now than there were 110 years ago.... The impulse is either to write off the dying counties as flyover country and a buffalo commons, or to further turn them into a vast oil- and gas-producing zone. But there are other ways to a livable (and that overused word 'sustainable') tomorrow... water and immigration. The water is the Ogallala Aquifer... it’s disappearing, because of heavy irrigation.... We can’t make water. But we can slow down the rate at which we use it. The solution would involve sacrifice.... The other resource is people. Without immigrants, many of them illegal, huge parts of the prairie would be left with nothing but the old and dying.... Seventy of Iowa’s 99 counties are losing people, but you won’t hear anything about that on cable’s news wasteland. So, which is worse: a heartland in trouble, or a system where the big issues--water, land, and new blood--are not even part of a democracy’s most important contest?
Mark Thoma: Economist's View: Empirical Methods and Progress in Macroeconomics: Empirical Methods and Progress in Macroeconomics
The blow-up over the Reinhart-Rogoff results reminds me of a point I’ve been meaning to make about our ability to use empirical methods to make progress in macroeconomics. This isn't about the computational mistakes that Reinhart and Rogoff made, though those are certainly important, especially in small samples, it's about the quantity and quality of the data we use to draw important conclusions in macroeconomics.
Ryan Avent: Inequality: "Capital" and Its Discontents | The Economist: "Mr Piketty's magnum opus is certainly not without its weaknesses...
...but the quality of the criticism it has attracted provides a sense of the strength of the argument he makes. Consider Clive Crook....
There's a persistent tension between the limits of the data he presents and the grandiosity of the conclusions he draws.
The line doubles as a pleasingly apt description of Mr Crook's review. He is unhappy.... Why... doesn't Mr Piketty say that r must be significantly above g to generate the expected divergence, Mr Crook complains.... You don't even have to read hundreds of pages to get the qualification Mr Crook wants; you can start with the page on which r>g is first mentioned:
If, moreover, the rate of return on capital remains significantly above the growth rate for an extended period of time (which is more likely when the growth rate is low, though not automatic), then the risk of divergence in the distribution of wealth is very high....
If you only read the book's conclusion you could miss these details, but who would do that? Mr Crook then goes on to present his evidence:
The trouble is, he also shows that capital-to-output ratios in Britain and France in the 18th and 19th centuries, when r exceeded g by very wide margins, were stable, not rising inexorably....
Mr Piketty is not arguing that r>g means that rising inequality is inevitable. Indeed, that is close to the precise opposite of his argument, which is that r>g is a force for divergence.... If charts of stable capital-income ratios in the 19th century provided a devastating rebuttal to his story, Mr Piketty would not have included them so prominently.... I think he must have imagined that readers would look at the text around them as well....
Mr Crook rather uncharitably questions the motivations of those more taken with the book. He writes:
As I worked through the book, I became preoccupied with another gap: the one between the findings Piketty explains cautiously and statements such as, "The consequences for the long-term dynamics of the wealth distribution are potentially terrifying." Piketty's terror at rising inequality is an important data point for the reader. It has perhaps influenced his judgment and his tendentious reading of his own evidence. It could also explain why the book has been greeted with such erotic intensity....
It seems to me that Mr Crook has revealed more about his own priors than those of Mr Piketty's fans. "Terrifying" seems to me to be an accurate description of a society in which the top 10% of individuals own 90% of the wealth. Mr Crook scoffs.... That brings us to the most important of Mr Crook's criticisms: that it is living standards which actually matter.... Even if the book had nothing to say about growth, this would be an odd criticism.... What Mr Crook seems not to understand is that we also care about it because we care about living standards... high levels and concentrations of capital have not been a necessary or sufficient condition for rapid growth... have often sowed the seeds for political backlash... detrimental to long-run growth. His argument is that the living standards of many people around the rich world are now unnecessarily low, because of the nonchalance with which elites have approached distributional issues.... His argument is that economic growth that concentrates benefits on a small group of people will probably not be tolerated as fair, even if living standards among the masses are not completely stagnant.
It is an argument that is powerful and well-supported by the data—and extremely relevant today, whether or not one thinks inequality qualifies as the defining issue of the era. That, it seems to me, is why the book has been received as it has.
Brian Hicks: Charleston civil rights hero stood against the entire South: "Waties Waring and his wife, Elizabeth, were playing canasta...
...in their living room when the first brick crashed through the window. Shattered glass flew across the room as another projectile hit the front door. The Warings dove for the floor, certain they had heard gunfire. It was 9 p.m. on Oct. 9, 1950, and the home of a federal judge was under attack.
Scott Sumner: Could We Have Had a Severe Recession Without the 2008 Financial Crisis?: "I have trouble with DeLong’s implicit assumption is that the financial crisis caused the Great Recession....
The years leading up to 1990 saw Australian-level NGDP growth, if not more. So even if lending standards tightened sharply in the wake of the 1989-90 crisis, there was no possibility of hitting the zero bound.... With no zero bound in prospect, there’d be no reason for markets to expect an NGDP collapse.... Even if we had managed the 2007-08 subprime crisis very well from a regulatory/resolution perspective, there is no question that banks would have tightened lending standards sharply. That effectively reduces the demand for credit.... It’s quite plausible that the Wicksellian equilibrium natural rate would have fallen to zero in late 2008, even with a better resolution of the banks....
Let’s cut all that loose and try again.... Conor Friedersdorf’s argument that gay marriage opponents shouldn’t be likened to racist bigots goes something like this.
P1: Racism is pretty simple: “A belief in the superiority of one race and the inferiority of another.”
P2: Opposition to same-sex marriage is complex: “One thing I’ve noticed in this debate is how unfamiliar proponents of stigma are with thoughtful orthodox Christians — that is to say, they haven’t interacted with them personally, critiqued the best version of their arguments, or even been exposed to the most sophisticated version of their reasoning, which I find to be obviously earnest, if ultimately unpersuasive.”
C: Comparing same-sex marriage opponents to racist bigots falsifies by over-simplification
Friedersdorf is braced for resistance to P2. But P2 is ok and the problem is P1. I hope it’s obvious to you, when it’s put so simply. Racism is not… simple. (How could it be?)
Let me interrupt here by quoting from an email from E.J. Graff:
There are no good arguments against marriage equality under our current philosophy of marriage.
There were, under a previous one. But because of all the changes that happened in the West's marriage philosophy and laws between 1851 and 1974, same-sex couples now belong.
- It was NOT obvious that same-sex couples belonged in marriage in 1851, when:
- it was still a highly gendered institution,
- with legal responsibilities allocated by sex.
- It was not obvious in 1400, when:
- marriage was the way families divvied up land or labor,
- with the spouses' jobs interdependent and different (spinning over here, farming over there).
It's obvious now because an entire movement of people worked to make it obvious--NOT because Olsen & Boies made their argument, but because we delivered an argument and a country we had changed TO them.... People... who were against us just 20 or ten years ago: I remember what you wrote. I don't hold it against you. We had to make the argument and then the rest of you could follow.
And we will now let Holbo resume:
Annalee Newitz: The io9 Manifesto: Science Is Political: "io9 started out in 2007 as the germ of an idea for a site about futurism...
...with a name that was a joke about brain implants. Six and a half years later, we've grown in size--but we've also grown up. Our 2008 manifesto still holds true, but in 2014 we've got some amendments. Here they are.
"So we are settled," said the convenor of the meeting. "Our story is: the truth!"
"At least it is easy to remember," someone muttered under their breath as we gathered up our papers.
It seems to me that the Obama administration can go with any of three different truths as it tries to explain its banking programs to the world:
Brad DeLong : Department of "Huh?!": Larry Lessig Suffers Badly from Stockholm Syndrome in His Devotion to Nino Scalia Department: The surprising thing is that Lessig appears to have forgotten how Scalia prostituted his high office--and demonstrated that if you are not a Legal Realist you are a dupe--in Bush v. Gore. That train has sailed, that bus has rolled, that ship has hit the highway:
If there truly is a principled distinction to be made here--if Scalia and company are striking down gun regulation and violence against women statutes while upholding copyright and medical-marijuana restrictions not because they are political hacks but because they are judges--nobody, to my knowledge, has ever been able to explain how.
If Scalia does not vote to strike down Obamacare, it will be because of political pressure, not because of judicial doctrine or judicial restraint.
From World War II Today: H.F. Norman at Kohima:
At 09.30 hours Corporal Judges and his section consisting of Privates Johnson,Thrussel and myself, as well as Corporal Veal’s section, went onto the road to help evacuate the wounded Indians, BORs, walking and stretcher cases. It was my job to look at the stretcher cases. If they were dead I had to send the Indian stretcher bearers round the back of the feature where they put the bodies in a heap to be buried later.…
Charles Koch complains about the character assassination he experiences at the hands of Barack Obama, who he says is acting like the despots of the twentieth century like Hitler and Stalin. But why is he silent about the real character assassination he suffers? For that we have to resort to the archives, and the bemused Justin Fox:
Justin Fox (2009): on the crazed right-wingers who lead the character assassination of Charles Koch: "Update: Lew Rockwell weighs in...
on my taxonomy of Austrians:
The author hilariously sees Austrian economics as divided into two parts: the nice one, entirely in the super-wealthy Koch Brothers ambit, and the mean one, in mine! A little background: when I started the Mises Institute (an organization unmentioned by Time) 26 years ago, the head of the Koch Family Foundation angrily pledged to destroy me if I went ahead. "We have worked too hard to rid Austrian economics of Mises," he said. Hayek, he claimed, was their man, though, of course, he was far better than that, and a good supporter of the Institute. But the real problem turned out to be Murray Rothbard. It was the greatest of the Misesians and the founder of modern libertarianism whom the Koch World Empire longed to smash, and still does. Murray, founder of Cato, was the one man in the ambit to say no when the Kochs decided to jettison Mises for reasons of DC preferment.
Owen Zidar sends us back to the Wall Street Journal of twenty years ago, reminding us why Berkeley Economics has punched so much above the fundamental weight of the relative resources allowed us by the university over the past generation, and will continue to punch well above its fundamental weight in the future: a ruthless focus on what is important, a profound attention to what works, and an enthusiasm for marking our beliefs to market very rarely found as a guiding ethos in other economics departments:
Owen Zidar: Back to the World: Berkeley’s Economists Attack Policy Issues With Unusual Gusto: "Berkeley is having prospective PhD students visit the economics department today, so I wanted to share an old gem on Berkeley’s “real world economics”
WALL STREET JOURNAL (J) 12/01/95 Copyright (c) 1995 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. By Thomas T. Vogel Jr. Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal BERKELEY, Calif.: Activists have taken over at Berkeley, again. The school that was synonymous with 1960s tie-dyed radicalism is once more in the vanguard. This time it’s shaking up the economics profession, and the rebels are on the faculty, the 42 Ph.D.s in the Department of Economics at this University of California campus.
Their battle cry is “real-world economics,” and they talk and write about today’s hot-button issues, such as jobs and wages, immigration policy, the dollar and currency markets, business cycles and technology’s role in economic growth. While intellectually rigorous, many of their pursuits are a sharp departure from the esoteric realms of many academic economists, who churn out papers strewn with Greek- letter formulas understood by few and interesting to even fewer.