Outsourced to: Elizabeth Kolbert: Hosed: "One commentator predicted that by 1930 horse manure would reach the level of Manhattan’s third-story windows...
Outsourced to: Elizabeth Kolbert: Hosed: "One commentator predicted that by 1930 horse manure would reach the level of Manhattan’s third-story windows...
We need to remember who the deniers and the skeptics have been over the past 30 years: bad judgments and corrupt arguments need to be remembered.
First of all: I'm looking at you, Steve Dubner and Steve Levitt...
**Weekend Reading: Why couldn't any of the awful people whining and sniveling about Yale's renaming of Calhoun College read--or reprint--this?
Sidney Blumenthal John C. Calhoun: "On his deathbed, Andrew Jackson, reflecting on the dramatic episodes of his presidency, expressed his greatest regret...
...It was that he had not had John C. Calhoun hung for treason. “My country,” he said, “would have sustained me in the act, and his fate would have been a warning to traitors in all time to come.” Jackson had once considered him a friend, just as Henry Clay regarded him as a political comrade-in-arms and John Quincy Adams thought of him as an intellectual companion, but they each independently came to the same conclusion that he was a brooding Mephistophelian figure of rancor, vengeance, and dark designs driven by a thwarted and raging mania to be president.
Outsourced to: Robert Waldmann: Podhoretz: "John Podhoretz who wrote...
What if the tactical mistake we made in Iraq was that we didn't kill enough Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them and make them so afraid of us they would go along with anything? Wasn't the survival of Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35 the reason there was an insurgency and the basic cause of the sectarian violence now? [John Podhoretz (July 25, 2006). "Too Nice to Win? Israel's Dilemma". New York Post. Retrieved April 7, 2007 <http://nypost.com/2006/07/25/too-nice-to-win-israels-dilemma/>]
Why can't "fiscal conservatives" ever man up and take responsibility for their actions and their lives?
When you try to starve the government, sometimes you succeed--and then things that need to be done don't get done. Shame on the LA Time for publishing this.
Outsourced to Kevin Drum:
Kevin Drum: Blame Oroville on "Fiscal Conservatives": "Victor Davis Hanson is a native Californian who hates California because it's become too brown and too liberal...
Monday Smackdown: This may be the stupidest thing I have read this year! Shame on the FT for publishing it!
I get 4480 results on google for "Garland Tucker". I get no results before this morning for "'Garland Tucker' +Calhoun". The fact that Yale's Calhoun College has been named for John C. Calhoun all of Garland Tucker's life has never led him to say anything about how bad a person John C. Calhoun was. Garland Tucker has had his chance all his life before now to use the honor Yale has done Calhoun to, as he quotes Cicero, "not be a child". He whiffed it.
For, you see, Tucker doesn't think Calhoun is bad: his position as the most powerful pro-slavery politician and leading intellectual advocate for the expansion of slavery in the first half of the nineteenth century is, in Garland Tucker's eyes, vastly less important than Calhoun's being a "free trader and" and opponent of "expanding federal government... bloated bureaucracy, patronage abuses... and ever-higher tariffs..."
But John C. Calhoun's role in history is not "complex"--it is evil, starting at the top of the evil tree and hitting every branch all the way down:
Garland Tucker: Expunging slave-owners’ names erases our complex history: "Calhoun will no longer be Calhoun.... Yale... after eight decades it will rename one of its residential colleges...
Robert C. Allen (2003): Farm to Factory: A Reinterpretation of the Soviet Industrial Revolution (Princeton: Princeton University Press: 0691144311) <http://amzn.to/2kpLZd2>
The Big Question:
Was the Soviet Union an Asian economy, (like) a Latin American economy, a (central or western) European economy, or a settler-frontier economy?
If it was an Asian economy, than it did well on economic growth--even though horribly (save in comparison to Maoist China, the Khmer Rouge, and the Korean Hereditary Dictatorship of the God-Kings Kim) in terms of societal well being.
If it was a Latin American economy, it did OK in terms of economic growth--Allen says "good", but I think he overstates his case: "OK".
If it was a (central or western) European economy, it did very badly--badly enough to prompt its bloodless overthrow.
If it was a settler-frontier economy, its badness attains world-historical levels.
I reject Allen's conclusions, largely because of the regression-discontinuity study I did in the middle of the 1990s:
The discontinuity between the countries on the left and the countries on the right is simply where Stalin's (or Mao's, or Giap's) armies stopped. The communist countries were, as of the moment that the Iron Curtain collapsed, missing 88% of their prosperity as measured by what seems and seemed to be the most natural yardstick.
February 13, 2017 at 02:46 PM in Berkeley, Books, Economics: Growth, Economics: History, Economics: Inequality, History, Moral Responsibility, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Streams: (Wednesday) Economic History, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth | Permalink | Comments (4)
Back in 2009, Greg Mankiw was opposed to any [carbon-tax/cap-and-trade] proposal that did not use "most" of the [revenue raised by the tax/money earned by auctioning the permits] to cut marginal tax rates.
Today Greg Mankiw is in favor of a carbon tax proposal that does not use any of the revenue raised to cut marginal tax rates.
Scott Lemieux: Requiem for An Epic Grift: "On conventional terms, Ben Carson’s cosplaying as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination was a failure...
Should-Read: Wikipedia says: "Cumulative global sales of highway legal plug-in electric passenger cars and light utility vehicles achieved the 2 million unit milestone in December 2016.... The United States ranks second with more than 570,000... through December 2016..."
Attitude without expertise--or any desire to acquire expertise--has long seemed to me to be the dominant current within Fred Hiatt's part of the Washington Post:
Charles Lane (2013): Obama’s Electric Car Mistake: "The Obama administration’s electric-car fantasy finally may have died on the road between Newark, Del., and Milford, Conn...
William W. Freehling (1990): The Road to Disunion: Secessionists at Bay, 1776-1854 (New York: Oxford University Press: 0195058143) <http://amzn.to/2jTYTon>: "Kentucky, while not as southern as Virginia, was more western...
...Kentuckians suffered from the usual western problem: too much land, not enough laborers. Slavery, prime solution to labor shortages deeper in the Southwest, could never be as widespread in Kentucky’s cooler climes. A low percentage of slaves arguably intensified the labor shortage, for potential white settlers preferred free Ohio, immediately to Kentucky’s north.
Fintan O’Toole: Welcome to Trumperica: "Donald Trump’s chaotic signing of grandiose orders has the air of a deluded despot’s last days, not his first...
...Probably the smartest thing anyone said about Donald Trump before his election was the explanation by Salena Zito in The Atlantic of why he could get away with making wildly exaggerated or flatly false statements: “When he makes claims like this, the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”
From Ernest Gellner (1990): The Civil and the Sacred: "This... characterization of the south- easterly Muslim neighbor of Atlantic civilization... makes a neat contrast to the Marxist eastern one...
...there, we witness a virtually total erosion of faith, combined with a strong, in many cases passionate, yearning for Civil Society. In fact, the present vogue of the term originates precisely in the politico-intellectual life and turbulence of that region.
Benjamin Franklin (February 3, 1790): Petition from the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery: "To the Senate & House of Representatives of the United States...
...The Memorial of the Pennsylvania Society for promoting the Abolition of Slavery, the relief of free Negroes unlawfully held in bondage, & the Improvement of the Condition of the African Races.
This is how we do:
We tried really hard to rescue you from the orange-haired baboon. We'll neutralize most of what he does. We have our--big--problems, but we are a better future for a better nation. Watch us...
Ernest Gellner: Conditions of Liberty: Civil Society and its Rivals: Chapter 1: "A new ideal was born, or reborn, in recent decades: Civil Society...
...Previously, a person interested in the notion of Civil Society could be assumed to be a historian of ideas, concerned perhaps with Locke or Hegel. But the phrase itself had no living resonance or evocativeness. Rather, it seemed distinctly covered with dust. And now, all of a sudden, it has been taken out and thoroughly dusted, and has become a shining emblem.
James Madison: Madison's Bill of Rights: "I am sorry to be accessory to the loss of a single moment of time by the House...
Every time I start thinking about Thomas Jefferson, I get distracted by the family psychodrama—and by the plight of the Hemings family—and by the fact that TJ named one of his sons by Sally Hemings, born at the start of Jefferson's second term as president, "Madison".
I wonder what Jemmy Madison thought of that, and whether Jefferson told him personally that he had done so...
January 31, 2017 at 06:09 AM in Economics: History, Economics: Inequality, History, Moral Responsibility, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Science: Cognitive, Streams: (Tuesday) Hoisted from Archives, Streams: (Wednesday) Economic History, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth | Permalink | Comments (6)
Bonnie Kristian: We're All Public Intellectuals Now: "Michael C. Desch, ed., Public Intellectuals in the Global Arena: Professors or Pundits? http://amzn.to/2kx3M6U (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2016), 416 pp., $55.
If there is a single theme running through Public Intellectuals in the Global Arena: Professors or Pundits?, a new anthology edited by Michael C. Desch, it is a word of caution for those who would guide the public mind.
Live at Vox.com: NAFTA and Other Trade Deals Have Not Gutted American Manufacturing—Period: Politically speaking, there was no debate on United States international trade agreements in 2016: All politicians seeking to win a national election, or even to create a party-spanning political coalition, agree that our trade agreements are bad things.... From the left... Bernie Sanders.... From the right—I do not think it’s wrong but it’s not quite correct to call it “right,” at least not as Americans have hitherto understood what “right” is—but from somewhere... now-President Donald Trump....
From the center establishment... popular vote–winning (but Electoral College–losing)... Hillary Rodham Clinton.... “I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I oppose it now, I’ll oppose it after the election, and I’ll oppose it as president.…” The rhetoric of all three candidates resonates with the criticism of trade agreements that we heard way back when NAFTA was on the table as a proposal—not, as today, something to blame all our current economic woes on... Read MOAR at http://vox.com
January 24, 2017 at 06:35 AM in Economics: Growth, Economics: History, Economics: Inequality, History, Long Form, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Streams: (BiWeekly) Honest Broker, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted | Permalink | Comments (68)
Richard Feynman: Math and Science: "I’m going to describe to you how Nature is—and if you don’t like it, that’s going to get in the way of your understanding it...
...It’s a problem that physicists have learned to deal with: They’ve learned to realize that whether they like a theory or they don’t like a theory is not the essential question. Rather, it is whether or not the theory gives predictions that agree with experiment. It is not a question of whether a theory is philosophically delightful, or easy to understand, or perfectly reasonable from the point of view of common sense. The theory of quantum electrodynamics describes Nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And it agrees fully with experiment. So I hope you can accept Nature as She is—absurd.
John Scalzi: The New Year and the Bend of the Arc: "As we begin 2017...
...there is something I’ve been thinking about, that I’d like for you to consider for the new year. It starts with a famous quote, the best-known version of which is from Martin Luther King, but which goes back to the transcendentalist Theodore Parker. The quote is:
The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
Hoisted from the Archives: My Very Short Take on World War II...: From “September 1, 1939,” by W.H. Auden...
...I sit in one of the dives/On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid/As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:/Waves of anger and of fear
Circulate over the bright/And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;/The unmentionable odor of death
Offends the September night.
Accurate scholarship can/Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now/That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,/What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:/and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,/Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return...
A lot of intellectual energy in the early 2000s was a reaction to the installation by a five-to-four vote of a manifestly unqualified president--and the huge wave of justificatory bullshit that the Noise Machine generated around that in the form of clouds of misinformation to hide reality. People with platforms began calling it out, hoping to find other people to talk to to check whether they were being gaslighted or not.
The finest example of this I have ever seen was Belle Waring's Best Weblog Post EVAR from 2004. It's a thing to remember. If aspect of the Reagan presidency were real tragedy, and the entire Bush 43 presidency was tragic farce, what is this about to be?
Belle Waring (2004): If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride--A Pony!: "I think Matthew Yglesias' response to Josh Chafetz' exercise in wishful thinking was about right...
...even if Brad DeLong's is more nuanced.
I'd like to note, though, that Chafetz is selling himself short. You see, wishes are totally free. It's like when you can't decide whether to daydream about being a famous Hollywood star or having amazing magical powers. Why not--be a famous Hollywood star with amazing magical powers! Along these lines, John has developed an infallible way to improve any public policy wishes. You just wish for the thing, plus, wish that everyone would have their own pony!
January 16, 2017 at 05:12 AM in Information: Internet, Moral Responsibility, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Streams: (Monday) Smackdown Watch, Streams: (Tuesday) Hoisted from Archives, Streams: (Wednesday) Economic History, Streams: (Weekend) Reading, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1)
Jonathan Bernstein: Artists' Choices and Repeal, Replace, Delay: "Brad DeLong on what kind of president Trump will be...
...A lot here I agree with, but I think DeLong undervalues Ronald Reagan's appreciation of his audience -- his real audience, not just the one in his mind. Reagan (and not just the mythical Reagan, but, as DeLong says, the real one) was willing to back off on plans going wrong. For all of his considerable ability to believe stories that were not true, he was willing to accept that things he did could go wrong. I'm not confident Trump has that ability, and (unlike Reagan) unfortunately everything in Trump's brief political career has given him excuses for rejecting cautions from anyone.
Adam Tooze: USA: Goodbye to the American Century: "The rise and fall of US hegemony. Or Donald Trump and the sunset of American hegemony...
...The American Century is over. We can tell, not only because the Americans have elected a ludicrous President, but because, for all his nationalist braggadocio, Trump’s ambitions are so modest. He aspires, after all, only to make America great again.
George Orwell (1946): In Front of Your Nose: "Many recent statements in the press have declared...
...that it is almost, if not quite, impossible for us to mine as much coal as we need for home and export purposes, because of the impossibility of inducing a sufficient number of miners to remain in the pits. One set of figures which I saw last week estimated the annual ‘wastage’ of mine workers at 60,000 and the annual intake of new workers at 10,000. Simultaneously with this—and sometimes in the same column of the same paper—there have been statements that it would be undesirable to make use of Poles or Germans because this might lead to unemployment in the coal industry. The two utterances do not always come from the same sources, but there must certainly be many people who are capable of holding these totally contradictory ideas in their heads at a single moment.
Duncan Black: Eschaton: America's Worst Humans: "Chris Cillizza. I'm sure Cillizza got his career opportunities through nothing other than the pure meritocracy...
...that exists in our free market Nirvana. Certainly he got none of the breaks that blah people do. Still if he wasn't doing this, I don't see how he wouldn't be under a bridge somewhere.
Scott Lemieux: Love Is Always Scarpering, Or Cowering, Or Fawning: "This month’s Cillizza Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field Of Hackdom goes to… Chris Cillizza:
@TheFix: You should watch this Paul Ryan town hall on CNN. The guy is extremely impressive.
@OnceUponA: It is very difficult to have a working understanding of health policy and simultaneously be impressed by his answers on ACA. https://t.co/NTdpL9gTIw
J. William Ward (1962): Andrew Jackson: Symbol for an Age 0195006992 http://amzn.to/2jAbLvi: "IN the spring of 1822, Noah M. Ludlow, prominent in the beginnings of the theater in the western United States...
...was in New Orleans. One day early in May he received, as was the custom in the early theater, a ‘benefit’ night. Remembering the occasion some years later, Ludlow could not recollect what pieces had been acted on that evening but he did recall doing something that was as a rule ‘entirely out of [his] line of business.’ As an added attraction he had sung a song he thought might please the people. The song was ‘The Hunters of Kentucky.’
Comment of the Day: James: Nancy Letourneau: Republican Confusion Over Obamacare Repeal: "Hoisted from 2012 http://www.bradford-delong.com/2012/10/john-podhoretz-badly-needs-some-better-friends-than-fred-barnes.html...
...But there is something serious to be written here about Orwell, "1984", and the ability of the Inner Party to keep its understanding of the world separate from the propaganda they feed to the Outer Party and to the proles.
I always assumed they knew this and were just trying to figure out who to blame when they didn't pass a plan.
January 11, 2017 at 04:04 PM in Information: Better Press Corps/Journamalism, Moral Responsibility, Obama Administration, Politics, Science: Cognitive, Streams: (Monday) Smackdown Watch, Streams: (Tuesday) Hoisted from Archives, Streams: Comment of the Day, Streams: Cycle | Permalink | Comments (2)
From left and right alike we hear something called "globalization" condemned. The forces driving the world economy toward increased economic integration are sinister. On the left politicians like Democratic congressman David Bonior begin speeches by noting three things that come to the U.S. from Mexico--dirty trucks, drugs, and hepatitis. On the right politicians like ex-Republican Pat Buchanan blame a century-old conspiracy to deliver America into the hands of the international bankers--and somehow to Buchanan the bankers are always named Goldman, Sachs, or Rubin; never Morgan or Baker.
January 10, 2017 at 07:23 AM in Economics: Growth, Economics: History, Economics: Macro, History, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Streams: (Tuesday) Hoisted from Archives, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted | Permalink | Comments (2)
Sidney Coleman (1994): Quantum Mechanics in Your Face: "The problem is not the interpretation of quantum mechanics. That is getting it backward. The problem is the interpretation of classical mechanics...":
Daniel Kahneman et al.: Noise: How to Overcome the High, Hidden Cost of Inconsistent Decision Making: "At a global financial services firm we worked with, a longtime customer accidentally submitted the same application file to two offices...
Weekend Reading: John Hempton: When Do You Average Down?: "Warren Buffett is famously fond of "averaging down"...
I. The Third Coming of John A. Hobson
In my view, the current debate about “secular stagnation” started by Larry Summers is best thought of as the third coming of John A. Hobson.
Hoisted from the Archives from 2000: The Neoliberal Bet: January 15, 2000 ; Our panelists--Robert Kaplan, Saskia Sassen, and Manuel Castells--are all seeing not a crowded, thirsty world, but a crisis of urban governance. We are becoming an urban world. Cities require a lot of public services to function well. And our panelists seem to have no confidence in the ability of city governments in what we call emerging market economies to deliver services--police, electricity, roads, schools.
A correspondent reminds me of [a moment] almost four years ago that powerfully drove home to me how low the intellectual standards are on the American right. This will be very important to remember over the next four years--especially since the Trumpists are not the brightest of the lights on the American right as it stands today, never mind how it stood before the ascendancy of George W. Bush fifteen years ago, and never never mind how it stood before the ascendancy of Newt Gingrich twenty-five years ago.
It takes some wind-up, however. Let's start with the (usually) very sharp Thomas Nagel:
Thomas Nagel (2012): Mind and Cosmos: "If I decide, when the sun rises on my right, that I must be driving north instead of south...
[a moment: http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2013/03/why-oh-why-cant-we-have-a-better-press-corps-andrew-ferguson-of-the-weekly-standard-edition.html
Attempts to make sense out of right wing Austrian economics can never amount to anything.
Nevertheless, like a moth to a flame--or like a dog to vomit, or like a dog to something worse--whenever I see something like:
"Ricardian Equivalence" Is a Claim That Tax Cuts Are Ineffective Stimulus, Not That Spending Increases Are: I learned this from Andy Abel and Olivier Blanchard, almost before my eyes first opened: increases in government purchases are ineffective at boosting real aggregate demand only if both (a) 'Ricardian Equivalence' holds, and (b) what the government buys (and distributes to households) is exactly what households would buy for themselves.
'Ricardian Equivalence' by itself simply does not do it.
2003: On Machiavelli's "Letter to Vettori," or, The Value of the History of Economic Thought: A surprisingly-large number of people have recently asked me why I am interested in the history of economic thought. They make various points. First, we don't learn physics from Galileo's Discourse on Two New Sciences. There are other, better, more complete, more accurate ways of presenting the material. In any real body of knowledge, the more up-to-date has to be preferred to the less because we know more than they did.
A correspondent tells me that the Wall Street Journal has reviewed the book from our Notre Dame public intellectuals conference of three years ago and that, while the book is trashed, my piece is called "entertaining and enlightening" by the reviewer Daniel Johnson. This greatly pleases me--enlightenment is all one can hope for, and if one is entertaining as well one may be read even by those who do not get paid to do so. That makes my--personal--day, and I gratefully thank him.
Unfortunately, he also writes:
Hoisted from Others' Archives:
...was an unrepentant reactionary who was on the wrong side of every major legal controversy of the twentieth century. The fifty-eight senators who voted against Bork for confirmation to the Supreme Court in 1987 honored themselves, and the Constitution. In the subsequent quarter-century, Bork devoted himself to proving that his critics were right about him all along.
Stupidest Man Alive Nomination: Larry Kudlow: Hoisted from the Archives from 2008: One would think that National Review would want to maintain a smidgeon of a reputation, and hence at least edit Larry Kudlow for his biggest howlers. But no. Eschaton reader js informs Atrios of the stupidity:
John Holbo (2008): Shameless: "I know logically that Larry Kudlow has no shame, because...Larry Kudlow!...
"I now know it is a rising, not a setting, sun" --Benjamin Franklin, 1787