Live from Over the Great Basin: From Wikiquote: "Between them these two books...:
Live from Over the Great Basin: George Orwell: From Wikiquote: "Between them these two books...
Comment Dialogue of the Day: C. Trombley: Crooked Timber as Its Best Possible Self: "So Plato was great because he was trying to be Confucius? Why not dump him and go with the real thing?"
Maynard Handley: "Uhh, because Confucius' solution to all problems is 'perform the rites properly'?...
Most highly recommended from the drinking party:
Do read the whole thing--or at least, Plato's Republic, Mary Renault's The Last of the Wine, The Just City, The Philosophy Kings, and the five symposium contributions above. I only wish I had some thoughts of my own to add of high enough quality to stand in such company...
Brad DeLong (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:
Economista Dentata: John Law in Venice: "John Law, like all the best people...
Live from Evans Hall: If this is the kind of thing you like, you will like this thing very much--you will, in fact, think that this is the best thing on the internet so far this year:
Week 4 Memo Assignment: Slavery and Serfdom: In his Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith confidently asserted that slavery was uneconomic–that in commercial society, manumission was the road to higher productivity because the carrot of working for yourself is much more efficient than the stick of being whipped by others.
He went on to say that unfree labor–slavery, serfdom, debt peonage, and so on–could only survive where the rich chose to pursue not the pleasures of prosperous living but the pleasures of domination–and that as humanity progressed morally and also progressed technologically to invent new commodities this love of domination would decline.
This week we have a number of papers that conclude, as I read them, that Smith was horribly wrong. Can we rescue Smith's optimal, Panglossian view of the historical destiny of unfree labor? Why, in history, didn't Smith's argument work?
Attention conservation notice: Over 7800 words about optimal planning for a socialist economy and its intersection with computational complexity theory. This is about as relevant to the world around us as debating whether a devotee of the Olympian gods should approve of transgenic organisms. (Or: centaurs, yes or no?) Contains mathematical symbols (uglified and rendered slightly inexact by HTML) but no actual math, and uses Red Plenty mostly as a launching point for a tangent.
There’s lots to say about Red Plenty as a work of literature; I won’t do so. It’s basically a work of speculative fiction, where one of the primary pleasures is having a strange world unfold in the reader’s mind. More than that, it’s a work of science fiction, where the strangeness of the world comes from its being reshaped by technology and scientific ideas—- here, mathematical and economic ideas.
For February 3, 2016: Economics tends to view growth as a continuous and diffuse process: if one firm does not solve the problem of how to efficiently utilize resources, others will and drive the first out of business; if one technological vein plays itself out, energy will focus on others.
The papers this week argue different. They argue either that some unique and particular institutions and technologies matter a lot--or, implicitly that they do not, for it is other institutions or technologies or simply the aggregate state of the economy that matters the most. What kinds of evidence not presented in this week's reading might lead you to come down on one or the other of the many, many sides in this debate?
Over at Project Syndicate: It is now more than two years since I first heard that Thomas Piketty had an amazing book coming out.
Jeff Weintraub (20130: Adam Smith's conceptual sleight-of-hand on exchange, cooperation, and the foundations of social order: "This was a response to one section of a post by Brad DeLong containing Snippets: Smith, Marx, Solow: Shoebox...
...The first snippet in this compilation.. posed the question 'Exchange and its vicissitudes as fundamental to human psychology and society?' and followed that with a justly famous quotation from Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.... Brad's question zeroed in on some crucial issues. I was provoked to start writing a message... I thought would run a few lines... but it turned out to be a little longer, so I might as well share it.
Must-Read: (1) Cecil Rhodes stole a lot of stuff. (2) Cecil Rhodes got a lot of people dead. (3) Cecil Rhodes built a lot of stuff. (4) Cecil Rhodes tried hard to spend his money to create a peaceful, united, trading world in which people of different countries understood each other--and (5) understood that people of British culture and British race were boss.
It's fine to celebrate (4). And it's good to actually spend the pile of money that derives from Cecil Rhodes on (4). But if you want to have a big statue of Rhodes hanging around, shouldn't it be part of an exhibit that also notes his role in (1), (2), (3), and (5), and puts it all in its proper place?
Monticello these days, I think, does that, and does that properly. Can Oriel College say that it does that? Does Plender have any constructive ideas as to how to do that? And is he willing to head up a fund-raising campaign?
John Plender: Capitalists Excel at Giving Themselves a Bad Name: "Oxford’s dilemma is indicative of how the system can create wealth but often in ways that offend...
Live from La Farine: NAIL ‘EM UP!!!! Methinks it is time to go reread Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men again...
Molly Ball: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/01/how-sarah-palin-created-donald-trump/424911: "Think what the [Republican] establishment was already, at that point...
...doing to Palin. The GOP elites had plucked her from relative obscurity, largely for her superficial characteristics, then mocked her for all the things she didn’t know. They took her to Neiman Marcus for an image makeover on the party credit card, then leaked word of it to the press to make her look like a greedy, starstruck hick. They expected her to be a docile pawn—but she went rogue.
Notes for My Comment at the URPE-AEA Session: Causes of the Great Recession and the Prospects for Recovery
J. Bradford DeLong on January 18, 2016 at 08:14 PM in Economics: History, Economics: Inequality, Economics: Macro, History, Long Form, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Streams: (BiWeekly) Honest Broker, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted | Permalink | Comments (1)
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...As I listened to Ralph Abernathy and his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself, I wondered who he was talking about. It's always good to have your closest friend and associate to say something good about you. And Ralph Abernathy is the best friend that I have in the world. I'm delighted to see each of you here tonight in spite of a storm warning. You reveal that you are determined to go on anyhow.
Hoisted from Ten Years Ago: I recommend the archives of National Review: a gift that keeps on giving: As part of National Review's celebration of Martin Luther King day, we present William F. Buckley, from the February 22, 1956 issue:
The Onion: Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over': "WASHINGTON, DC–Mere days from assuming the presidency and closing the door on eight years of Bill Clinton...
Dwight D. Eisenhower: Farewell Address:
My fellow Americans:
Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor. This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.
Munk School Trans-Pacific Partnership Conference: Geopolitics Panel
Revised and Extended: I could now talk about the risks of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. You have already heard a lot about the risks in the previous session here. You have heard about dispute resolution and about intellectual property. You have heard about instituting largely-untested dispute resolution procedures in such a way that they will be very difficult indeed to amend or suspend or replace or adjust in the future.
We all know very well the eurozone’s ongoing experience. We remember that the euro single currency is in its origins a geopolitical project. We remember the origins of the eurozone at Maastricht—the decision of the great and good of Europe that something needed to be done to bind Europe more closely together in the wake of the absorption into the Bundesrepublik of the German East and the collapse of the Soviet Empire. The creation of a single currency was clearly something.
J. Bradford DeLong on January 16, 2016 at 11:28 AM in Economics: Growth, Economics: History, History, Long Form, Moral Responsibility, Obama Administration, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Strategy, Streams: (BiWeekly) Honest Broker, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted | Permalink | Comments (14)
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George Orwell: Review Of "Mein Kampf" by Adolf Hitler (March 1940):
Today's Economic History: Wikipedia: Takahashi Korekiyo: "Viscount Takahashi Korekiyo (高橋 是清?, 27 July 1854 – 26 February 1936)...
...was a Japanese politician who served as a member of the House of Peers, as the 20th Prime Minister of Japan from 13 November 1921 to 12 June 1922, and as the head of the Bank of Japan and Ministry of Finance.
Are these the right five papers for first-year Ph.D. students in Economics to read for their week spent thinking about unfree labor--slavery, serfdom, debt peonage, etc.? If not these, what are the right papers?
Richard J. Evans (2012): Reviewing ‘Walther Rathenau’ by Shulamit Volkov: "On the morning of 24 June 1922, Walther Rathenau, the German foreign minister, set off for work from his villa in the Berlin suburb of Grunewald....
Jefferson to Adams 11 January 1816:
I agree with you… on the 18th century. It certainly witnessed the sciences and arts, manners and morals, advanced to a higher degree than the world had ever before seen.…
Are these the right papers for first-year Ph.D. students in Economics to read for their week spent thinking about extractive and developmental institutions? If not these, what are the right papers?
Why Hitler Lost the War. Or Did He?
Have we come any closer now to explaining Hitler?...
Are these the right papers for first-year Ph.D. students in Economics to read for their week spent thinking about cities and economic growth? If not these, what are the right papers?
Are these the right papers for first-year Ph.D. students in Economics to read for their week spent thinking about accounting for economic growth? If not these, what are the right papers?
Live from the Banks of the Mississippi: The City Council of Nauvoo: Ordinance: "Be it ordained by the City Council of the City of Nauvoo...
Over at Huffington World Post: Future Economists Will Probably Call This Decade the 'Longest Depression': Posted: 01/08/2016 9:28 am EST Updated: 49 minutes ago: Economist Joe Stiglitz warned back in 2010 that the world risked sliding into a 'Great Malaise.' This week, he followed up on that grim prediction, saying, 'We didn't do what was needed, and we have ended up precisely where I feared we would.' READ MOAR
Tolkien and the Great Wars: On the car into Manhattan with my brother one morning last year, we got to talking, as brothers do, about J.R.R. Tolkien, his Lord of the Rings, and World War II...
As you may or may not have thought: as of the end of the first volume, The Fellowship of the Ring, the Lord of the Rings is GrimDark indeed.
Are these the right five papers for first-year Ph.D. students in Economics to read for their week spent thinking about the pre-1800 absence, the 1800-2050 presence, and the possible post-2015 end of what Simon Kuznets termed "modern economic growth"? If not these, what are the right papers?
Are these the right papers for first-year Ph.D. students in Economics to read for their week spent thinking about the pre-1800 absence, the 1800-2050 presence, and the possible post-2015 end of what Simon Kuznets termed "modern economic growth"? If not these, what are the right papers?
Are these the right papers for first-year Ph.D. students in Economics to read for their week spent thinking about the Malthusian Economy? If not these, what are the right papers?
Robert Skidelsky: Big Think on Keynes Interview:
Today's Economic History: Mary Beard: There is no such thing as the fall of the Roman Empire: "The Romans don’t sit down and have a grand plan to conquer the world...
Over at Project Syndicate: Piketty vs. Piketty: BERKELEY – In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the French economist Thomas Piketty highlights the striking contrasts in North America and Europe between the Gilded Age that preceded World War I and the decades following World War II. In the first period, economic growth was sluggish, wealth was predominantly inherited, the rich dominated politics, and economic (as well as race and gender) inequality was extreme... READ MOAR over at Project Syndicate
Today's Economic History: Abbott Payson Usher (1934): A Liberal Theory of Constructive Statecraft: Presidential address delivered at the Forty-sixth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 27, 1933:
Classical and neo-classical economic theory is commonly associated with a form of liberalism that was more largely directed toward the repeal of old laws and regulations than to the constructive development of institutions to meet new social problems. In the past the chief emphasis has been laid upon these destructive accomplishments of economic liberalism. It has therefore been easy to overlook the actual constructive accomplishments of the early nineteenth century, and many are disposed to believe that these positive achievements were inconsistent with the primary postulates of classical and neo-classical theory.
Today's Economic History: For Homer and his audience, writing is unnatural and un-human: "many deadly signs on a folded tablet...".
What is natural to humans--what we were back in the environment of evolutionary adaptation when we were in biological equilibrium--is grunting bands of 50 or so making their way across the Horn of Africa with their stone tools. Since then, the language Singularity, the agriculture Singularity, the writing Singularity, and perhaps now a fourth have changed human life in many ways beyond all recognition. "What is natural to humans" almost invariably means "what I expect to happen", which is roughly the same as "what I learned about how things were, were done, and 'ought' to be done back when I was a child".
Homer: Iliad: "Proetus’ wife, the fair Anteia...
Not the Comment of the Day: Chris G: Chris Bertram Wages War on Eyeglasses, Surrenders to Cyborgs: "Skepticism of cyborgs does not imply a negative outlook towards eyeglasses, canes, literacy, etc...
Live from Aixois: I learned this morning that:
Over at Equitable Growth: I am, once again, struck by just how much smarter the economics profession as a whole would have been over the past sixteen years if only people had taken as their lodestone this paper: Paul Krugman (1999): Thinking about the liquidity trap
Wherever I look at the post-2007 discussion in macroeconomics, I see enormous literatures and subliteratures, all of them containing a great deal of verbose and confused argument, all of them eventually leading to conclusions that were... laid out with diamond-like clarity in single paragraphs in Krugman (1999): READ MOAR
The pick of the litter from the archives today is my introduction to a course I will never have time to teach: Treating Karl Marx Seriously, and with Respect.
But I still do hope, someday, to teach a different course: "Smith, Marx, Keynes, Polanyi, Piketty"...
Live from the Roasterie: MOAR AEI-Quality Research!
Memo for W. Bradford Wilcox: if you are going to try to argue that religion is good, don't use "high priests" as an insult. More generally, how could any religion that preaches that while we are saved people who live differently than we do are damned not be a significant net negative--both for this world and for any future one? How would that work exactly?
W. Bradford Wilcox: The latest social science is wrong. Religion is good for families and kids: "It’s a message we hear more and more: Religion is bad...
[I]t is naive to suppose that the [Supreme] Court's present difficulties could be cured by appointing Justices determined to give the Constitution its true meaning,' to work at 'finding the law' instead of reforming society. The possibility implied by these comforting phrases does not exist.... History can be of considerable help, but it tells us much too little about the specific intentions of the men who framed, adopted and ratified the great clauses. The record is incomplete, the men involved often had vague or even conflicting intentions, and no one foresaw, or could have foreseen, the disputes that changing social conditions and outlooks would bring before the Court... --Robert Bork, Fortune December 1968 p.140-1....
Live from La Strada: DougJ: Things Done Changed: "This quote is getting a lot of play...
...and rightfully so (via):
Live from Evans Hall: Some of us think that the GOP as we knew it ended when it lost its soul back in 1964, with the Goldwater nomination and its abandonment of its long and honorable commitment to full incorporation of African-Americans as equal citizens:
Oliver Wendell Holmes: Dissent: Lochner v. People of State of New York: "I regret sincerely that I am unable to agree with the judgment.... This case is decided upon an economic theory...
Eduardo Manzano: Why Did Islamic Medieval Institutions Become so Different from Western Medieval Institutions?: "There is a pattern here; a pattern that shows Western Medieval institutions...
...as more recognizable, more prominent, more assertive than their Islamic counterparts. Obviously, this does not mean that Islamic institutions did not exist: there was no central religious organization, but religious dogma and rituals were consistently shared by a huge number of believers; socio-political institutions were somehow foggy, but coercion was exerted in Islamic social formations; town or city halls were never built, but Medieval Islamic cities expanded and worked successfully, integrating large populations. So, institutions certainly did exist in Islamic societies. The challenging issue is that they seem to have been consistently different from the ones we find in the Medieval West....