...eighty miles south of Rome... founded in 529 by St. Benedict of Nursia.... Generations of scribes labored in the abbey’s library to copy texts and preserve artifacts.... From November, 1943, to May, 1944, the hill on which the abbey stood was at the center of one of the largest and bloodiest battles of the Second World War. Monte Cassino was a crucial part of the Gustav Line... ‘fortress strength.’... The Allied command, believing that the Germans were using the abbey as a garrison and ammunition dump, made the controversial decision to bomb Monte Cassino. On February 15, 1944, American B-17s, B-25s, and B-26s dropped more than four hundred tons of explosives on the monastery....
Could we please have better New York Times columnists?
...the stakes are not debatable at all. The Catholic Church was willing to lose the kingdom of England, and by extension the entire English-speaking world, over the principle that when a first marriage is valid a second is adulterous, a position rooted in the specific words of Jesus of Nazareth. To change on that issue, no matter how it was couched, would not be development; it would be contradiction and reversal...
Dear Mr. President:
I have received your letter of October 25.(1) From your letter, I got the feeling that you have some understanding of the situation which has developed and a sense of responsibility. I value this.
Now we have already publicly exchanged our evaluations of the events around Cuba and each of us has set forth his explanation and his understanding of these events. Consequently, I would think that, apparently, a continuation of an exchange of opinions at such a distance, even in the form of secret letters, will hardly add anything to that which one side has already said to the other.
9 million people living in the Confederacy: 5 million white, 4 million Black.
1.2 million adult white males in the Confederacy. 900,000 served. 75,000 died in battle. 75,000 died of wounds and infections. 150,000 died of disease in camp. 200,000 maimed. 200,000 deserted. 200,000 still with the Stars and Bars at the end.
21 million people living in states that remained loyal to the Union. 2.3 million served--1.9 million white, 400,000 Black (including Blacks from the Confederate states). 90,000 died in battle. 90,000 died of wounds and infections. 180,000 died of disease in camp. 200,000 maimed.
Mobilizing for a total industrial war is a b*tch when (a) your rich have been investing by buying slaves rather than building factories, and (b) nearly half of your population is more likely than not to turn any guns they get against you...
Missouri sent about 140,000 men to the Union, and about 60,000 to the Confederacy...
Amid great fanfare, the statue of Andrew Jackson was dedicated in Lafayette Park on January 8, 1853, the thirty-eighth anniversary of the battle of New Orleans. An elaborate parade preceded the dedication. A distinguished group including General Winfield Scott, Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, and the mayor and city council of Washington marched to the entrance of the White House, where they were greeted by President Millard Fillmore and his cabinet. Through a crowd of more than twenty thousand, they marched ￼across he street to Lafayette Park for the dedication. Senator Douglas gave an address on the military accomplishments of General Andrew Jackson and then introduced Clark Mills. Mills was so overcome with emotion that he could not speak and only pointed to the statue, which was then unveiled amid cheers and the salute of General Scott’s artillery.
The inscription on the west side of the marble pedestal reads “Jackson” and “Our Federal Union: It Must Be Preserved,” Jackson’s toast at a banquet celebrating Thomas Jefferson’s birthday on April 13, 1830. The phrase related to the nullification crisis...
Yes, I am happy that I am able to postpone reading further in chapter 11 of David Graeber's Debt: My First 5000 Mistakes for another week...
Amity Shlaes: What triggered Krugman’s pulling some kind of imagined rank on Asness was that Asness, along with me and others, signed a letter a few years ago suggesting that Fed policy might be off, and that inflation might result. Well, inflation hasn’t come on a big scale, apparently. Or not yet. Still, a lot of us remain comfortable with that letter, since we figure someone in the world ought always to warn about the possibility of inflation. Even if what the Fed is doing is not inflationary, the arbitrary fashion in which our central bank responds to markets betrays a lack of concern about inflation. And that behavior by monetary authorities is enough to make markets expect inflation in future...
I will react by asking, to the air, one and only one four-part question:
Consider whether one should line up with Amity Shlaes--along with William Kristol, Niall Ferguson, James Grant, David Malpass, Dan Señor, and the rest of that motley company--against Ben Bernanke. Suppose that one has no special expertise on the issue. Suppose that Ben Bernanke has studied that issue for his entire adult life.
Wouldn't anybody with a functioning neural network greater than that of a moderately-intelligent cephalopod recognize that such a lining-up was an intellectual strategy with a large negative prospective α?
Wouldn't--after the intellectual strategy's large negative-α returns have been realized--anybody with a functioning neural network equal to that of a moderately-intelligent cephalopod recognize that it was time to perform a Bayesian updating on one's beliefs, rather than doubling down and claiming that: it's not over--the inflationary pressures are building minute-by-minute?
Wouldn't--when thinking about how to double-down on one's negative-α intellectual strategy, and placing even more of one's mental and reputational chips on the claim that expanding and keeping the Federal Reserve's balance sheet beyond $1.5T generates excessive and dangerous risks of inflation, and that any such expansion ought to be stopped and reversed--anybody with a functioning neural network even less than that of a moderately-intelligent cephalopod recognize that phrasing one's doubling-down in the voice of John Belushi on a very bad day would be unwise, would be likely to call forth mockery and scorn on the same rhetorical level that one had chosen, and would make one a figure of fun and merriment?
And, when the readily-predictable tit-for-tat responses at the rhetorical level one chose do in predictable and due course manage to arrive, that to respond by whinging and sniveling and feeling offense would be unwarranted--would demonstrate only that whatever functioning neural network one does have was not fully connected to reality?
Responding to Krugman is as productive as smacking a skunk with a tennis racket.... Let's not be fooled by chicanery (silly Paul, you are no Rabbit).... An honest Paul Krugman (we will use this term again below but this is something called a "counter-factual").... Also remember, much like when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, nothing is over yet. The Fed has not undone its extraordinary loose monetary policy and is just now stopping its direct QE purchases.... Paul, and others, should by now know the folly of declaring victory too early....
This isn't a screed where I claim to have invented my own consumption basket showing inflation is rising at 25% per annum - though some of those screeds are interesting.... We have indeed observed tremendous inflation in asset prices.... If one counts asset inflation it seems we've indeed had tremendous inflation.... Where effects did show up, it actually caused rather a lot of inflation....
Mostly Paul is wrong, and twisting the facts, and doing so as rudely and crassly as possible, yet again. The rest of the JV team of Keynesians who have also jumped on board are doing the same thing, just with more class and less entertainment value than the master.... Paul will continue to be mostly wrong, mostly dishonest about it, incredibly rude, and in a crass class by himself (admittedly I attempt these heights sometimes but sadly fall far short). That is a prediction I'm willing to make over any horizon, offering considerable odds, and with no sneaky forecasts of merely 'heightened risks'. Any takers?
....For sixty years, he was one of my closest friends. My debt to him, both personal and professional, is beyond measure. Despite deep sadness at his death, I cannot recall him without a smile rising to my lips. He was as quick of wit as of mind. His wit always had a point, and was never mean or nasty — though some of the objects of his wit no doubt felt its sting. His occasional humorous articles — such as “The History of Truth in Teaching” — have become classics and demonstrate that had he chosen to become a professional humorist rather than a professional economist, he would have achieved no less fame in the one field than he did in the other. His death has left the world a far less joyful place for Rose and me, as for so many others.
Daniel Davies: The World Is Squared--Episode 3: The Greek Calends--A Disquisition on the Nature of Debt: "What is debt?...
...It’s a promise to pay back a specific amount of money at a specific time. Why is it so popular--why do people always seem to end up getting into it? Why, for example, don’t people make more equity investments, buying a share of someone else’s profits and sharing their risks in the way in which Islamic banking is meant to operate?
The University of California Press has put out a new edition of Charles Kindleberger's World in Depression early next year.
J Bradford DeLong and Barry J. Eichengreen: New preface to Charles Kindleberger,* The World in Depression 1929-1939*:
The parallels between Europe in the 1930s and Europe today are stark, striking, and increasingly frightening. We see unemployment, youth unemployment especially, soaring to unprecedented heights. Financial instability and distress are widespread. There is growing political support for extremist parties of the far left and right.
Over at Project Syndicate: The extremely sharp but differently-thinking Peter Thiel:
Peter Thiel: Robots Are Our Saviours, Not the Enemy: "Americans today dream less often of feats that computers will help us to accomplish...
...[and] more and more we have nightmares about computers taking away our jobs.... Fear of replacement is not new.... But... unlike fellow humans of different nationalities, computers are not substitutes for American labour. Men and machines are good at different things. People form plans and make decisions.... Computers... excel at efficient data processing but struggle to make basic judgments that would be simple for any human.... [At] PayPal... we were losing upwards of $10m a month to credit card fraud.... We tried to solve the problem by writing software.... But... after an hour or two, the thieves would catch on and change their tactics to fool our algorithms. Human analysts, however, were not easily fooled.... So we rewrote the software... the computer would flag the most suspicious transactions, and human operators would make the final judgment. This kind of man-machine symbiosis enabled PayPal to stay in business.... Computers do not eat.... The alternative to working with computers... is [a world] in which wages decline and prices rise as the whole world competes both to work and to spend. We are our own greatest enemies. Our most important allies are the machines that enable us to do new things...
During the past two weeks the drought of high-quality DeLong smackdowns on the internet has resumed. So it is time to turn back to the promise I made myself on April Fools Day 2013, and see whether the rest of the chapters of David Graeber's Debt: The First Five Thousand Mistakes are of as low quality as the utterly bolixed up chapter 12.
As you will recall, David Graeber is infamous for:
Apple Computers is a famous example: it was founded by (mostly Republican) computer engineers who broke from IBM in Silicon Valley in the 1980s, forming little democratic circles of twenty to forty people with their laptops in each other's garages...
and for having, concurrently and subsequently, offered three different explanations of how this howler came to be written and published:
He has claimed that it it all perfectly true, just not of Apple but of other companies (none of which he has ever named).
He has claimed that he had been misled by Richard Wolff, who taught him about Silicon Valley's communal garage laptop circles of the 1980s.
He has claimed that what he had written was coherent and accurate, but that (for some unexplained reason) his editor and publisher had bolixed it all up.
This passage is, in the words of the very sharp LizardBreath:
The Thirteenth Chime... that make[s] me wonder whether any fact in the book I don't know for certain to be true can be trusted...
And things have gone downhill from there...
Paul Krugman: Those Lazy Jobless - NYTimes.com Last week John Boehner, the speaker of the House, explained...
...People, he said, have “this idea” that “I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around.” Holy 47 percent, Batman! It’s hardly the first time a prominent conservative has said something along these lines.... But it’s still amazing — and revealing — to hear this line being repeated now. For the blame-the-victim crowd has gotten everything it wanted: Benefits, especially for the long-term unemployed, have been slashed or eliminated. So now we have rants against the bums on welfare when they aren’t bums — they never were — and there’s no welfare. Why? First things first: I don’t know how many people realize just how successful the campaign against any kind of relief for those who can’t find jobs has been. But it’s a striking picture.... The total value of unemployment benefits is less than 0.25 percent of G.D.P., half what it was in 2003, when the unemployment rate was roughly the same as it is now.... Strange to say, this outbreak of anti-compassionate conservatism hasn’t produced a job surge.... Why is there so much animus against the unemployed, such a strong conviction that they’re getting away with something, at a time when they’re actually being treated with unprecedented harshness?...
Matthew Dessem: Field Of Lost Shoes: "Here’s John Sergeant Wise...
...in the opening voiceover of Sean McNamara’s new Civil War drama Field Of Lost Shoes, describing how his father took him to a slave auction in 1858 to teach him a lesson about the evils of slavery:
My father’s heart had long since changed on the topic, and one night, he took me to a place that would forever change my own.
Here’s the actual John Sergeant Wise describing the same incident, in his 1899 memoir The End Of An Era:
Among my Northern kinsfolk was a young uncle, a handsome, witty fellow, much younger than my mother… He asked if I had ever seen a slave sale.
That uncle, erased from the film to make John Sergeant Wise’s father look more enlightened than he was, died fighting for the Union.
Here’s John’s father Henry in his own words, in an 1838 letter recounted in The Life Of Henry A. Wise Of Virginia, 1806–1876, a biography written by his grandson:
I have often been struck with the thought which justifies slavery itself in the abstract, and which has made me wonder and adore a gracious special Providence… I as firmly believe that slavery on this continent is the gift of Heaven to Africa...
Here he is again in February of 1861:
I am confident there are a number who would vote for abject submission and abolition of slavery tomorrow.... I now see that the fate of slavery is doomed in Virginia and we have no hope but in actual Revolution...
Here’s a line from Field Of Lost Shoes, spoken by a fellow Virginia Military Institute cadet before a shoving match that ends when John Sergeant Wise punches him in the face:
Wasn’t it your father, the governor, who opposed secession? The old fool.
Here is a record of the Virginia Convention, showing that Henry A. Wise voted for secession each time he was given the opportunity, on April 4 and April 17, 1861. And here is an account of his announcement to the Convention that he secretly, illegally sent troops to seize the Federal armory at Harper’s Ferry, in an attempt to force the issue:
armed forces are now moving upon Harper’s Ferry to capture the arms there in the arsenal for the public defence, and there will be a fight or a foot-race between volunteers of Virginia and Federal troops before the sun sets this day!...
As governor, Wise presided over John Brown’s execution for doing the same thing, albeit for very different reasons. But his heart did finally change on the topic of slavery, just as the film alleges. Here he is in an 1867 speech, explaining why he has come to the conclusion that the end of the plantation system was good for the South:
It was... to give the land its greatest pride, a solid Caucasian yeomanry, instead of being filled by ignorant, lazy slaves of a degraded race!
And yet in Field Of Lost Shoes, he’s practically William Lloyd Garrison. There are as many examples of this sort of bullshit in the film as the screenplay has words. Its subject is the Battle Of New Market, in which Confederate general John C. Breckinridge fed a battalion of Virginia Military Institute cadets—children, really—into the thresher, killing 10 of them and wounding 45 more. Just like kindly old abolitionist Henry A. Wise, the film’s cadets were a remarkably progressive bunch for the children of elite Virginians of the 1860s. For example, there’s a sequence in which they save VMI’s slave cook “Old Judge” (Keith David) from hanging by volunteering to be hung in his place. There’s also a scene in which they stop their march to save an African-American trapped under a wagon, so she can flee the approaching Union forces for some reason. And the racial harmony goes both ways; at the end, Old Judge weeps on the battlefield over the corpses of men who died to keep him in chains. The film is adequately directed, well-photographed, and competently acted. But it’s rotten at its core...
Q: How much of regional variation in real health-care (Medicare) costs is due to the fact that some regions have sicker populations than others?
A1 (micro): If we examine how much sicker people in different regions are, and multiply the difference in average sickness by how much extra treatment sicker people get on average, we get an incremental regional R2 ~ 0.1: an extra 10%-points of the regional real cost variation can be accounted for because some regions are sicker than others.
A2 (macro): If we just regress regional real costs on some plausible indicator of regional average sickness, we get an incremental regional R2 ~ 0.5: an extra 50%-points of the regional real cost variation can be accounted for because some regions are sicker than others. READ MOAR
Every day I get down on my knees and thank The One Who Is that I did not, back in 1982, and thereabouts sign up for the Republican team--as a liberal, technocratic Republican. I could easily have done it: Democrats back were as likely as not to be philosophically opposed to market-based mechanisms. Those of us of a neoliberal bent who back then thought that often market-based mechanisms were the best means of achieving social-democratic ends were not as unwelcome in the Democratic Party as it stood at the end of the 1970s as reality-based technocrats are in today's Republican Party. But it was clear in the early 1980s that the Democratic Party's activist base were not about to start slaughtering the fatted calf for us--let alone the ring, sandals, merriment, and best robe part. Besides, back then the Democratic Party's deformations back then seemed to be something that smart economists could help fix. The Republican Party's deformations back then, not so much.
Daniel Kuehn administers the smackdown:
Daniel Kuehn: Facts & Other Stubborn Things: Kuehn Smackdown Watch: Bastiat Edition" "Brad DeLong thinks that Bastiat would be a modern liberal...
...(I had said the other day that he likely would be a libertarian but that Smith, Jefferson, Locke, Paine, etc. were classical liberals that would very plausibly be left-liberals today). I think he makes a good case. I've discussed many of the passages he presents to make the claim here, and I think they are important for libertarian fans of Bastiat especially to be aware of. And anyone that's followed the blog for a few years know that I think most modern invocations of the broken window are God-awful and that Bastiat's understanding of general equilibrium is far more sophisticated and closer to people like me or Krugman who make important distinctions between stocks and flows (wealth and income) in arbitrating the effects of, for example, a disaster.
I would only say this in my defense (because I still think he would be more of a libertarian, simply due to the center of gravity of his commentary): he would certainly be more of a libertarian in the vein of Hayek of the Constitution of Liberty or Law, Legislation, and Liberty than a libertarian like Bob Murphy (for example).
Keith Humphreys: Weekend Film Recommendation: The Spy Who Came in From the Cold:
What the hell do you think spies are? Moral philosophers measuring everything they do against the word of God or Karl Marx? They’re not! They’re just a bunch of seedy, squalid bastards like me: little men, drunkards, queers, hen-pecked husbands, civil servants playing cowboys and Indians to brighten their rotten little lives.
So says disillusioned British secret agent Alec Leamas (Richard Burton) in perhaps the best effort to adapt a John le Carré novel to the big screen: 1965′s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. The serpentine plot concerns a burnt-out espionage agent who enters a downward spiral of booze, self-hatred and lost faith after a disastrous mission in Berlin. But then it turns out that Leamas’ decline and despair is a ruse (?) play-acted at the behest of his superiors. As planned, he is recruited by the other side and ends up trying to discredit East German intelligence head Hans-Dieter Mundt (A cold, effective Peter van Eyck). Leamas undermines the ex-Nazi by feeding false (??) information to Mundt’s ambitious, Jewish deputy (Oskar Werner, very strong here). It’s a difficult, high-risk mission, but Leamas knows that his boss back home is 100% behind him (???).
Over at Equitable Growth: John Mearsheimer is only one of a surprising number claiming that the current crisis in Ukraine is predominantly the U.S.'s, and NATO's, and the Ukraine's fault:
John Mearsheimer: How the West Caused the Ukraine Crisis: Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault: "The United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility...
...The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement.... For Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected and pro-Russian president--which he rightly labeled a “coup”--was the final straw.... Realpolitik remains relevant--and states that ignore it do so at their own peril. U.S. and European leaders blundered in attempting to turn Ukraine into a Western stronghold on Russia’s border....
Soviet leaders... and their Russian successors did not want NATO to grow any larger and assumed that Western diplomats understood their concerns. The Clinton administration evidently thought otherwise.... The first round of enlargement... 1999... the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. The second... 2004... Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Moscow complained bitterly.... The alliance considered admitting Georgia and Ukraine.... Putin maintained that admitting those two countries to NATO would represent a “direct threat” to Russia.... READ MOAR
J. Bradford DeLong
Professor of Economics, U.C. Berkeley
Research Associate, NBER
September 30, 2009
A Little Background
About a year and a half ago—in the days after the forced merger of Bear Stearns into J.P. MorganChase, say—there was a near consensus of economists that an additional dose of expansionary fiscal policy was unlikely to be necessary. The Congress had passed a first round of tax cut-based stimulus, the impact of which in the summer of 2008 is clearly visible in disposable personal income and perhaps visible in the tracks of estimated monthly real GDP. The near-consensus belief back then, however, was that that was the only expansionary discretionary fiscal policy move that was appropriate. READ MOAR
Over at Equitable Growth: My four biggest intellectual mistakes over the past decade--and all four are huge--are:
My belief from 2003-2007 that the serious threat to the American financial system came from universal banks that had used their derivatives books to sell lots of unhedged puts against the dollar rather than universal banks accepting lots of house-value puts without doing any due diligence about the quality of the underlying assets.
My fear from 2008-2010 that although nominal wages were downward-sticky they were not that downward-sticky and we were on the point of tipping over into absolute deflation.
My confidence in 2009-2010 that the major policymakers--Bernanke, Obama, and what turned out to be Geithner--both understood how to use the ample monetary, fiscal, banking, and housing finance tools at their disposal to effectively target nominal GDP and understood the urgency of doing whatever it took to return nominal GDP to its pre-2008 growth path.
My failure to even conceive that "Washington" starting in 2010 could possibly be sufficiently happy with the pace of recovery that serious measures to further boost demand would vanish from the agenda.
(1) and (2) and (3) I have written about elsewhere. Today we have a piece of (4) to deal with--why do so many people prioritize low-pressure economy policies that they regard as the only safeguard of hard money over economic recovery? Paul Krugman constitutes himself the συμποσιαρχ, decides that we will be drinking κρασί ακρατος, and poses the question: READ MOAR
OK. It's time to try to pull everything together on the Red States, the Republican Party, ObamaCare, "repeal and replace", and starting at the top of the evil tree and hitting every branch all the way down...
Let's start with a catch from Austin Frakt last January:
Austin Frakt: These two tweets tell you all you need to know about the politics of health reform: January 29, 2014 at 12:30 pm: Two of Avik Roy’s tweets yesterday...
...pertaining to the recently released Senate GOP health reform plan (the Patient CARE Act [of Burr (R-NC) Coburn (R-OK), and Hatch [R-UT) and discussion thereof, are very revealing.
@matthewherper: @Avik it still seems to me that this is going to hit a lot of voters harder. Even if it makes economic sense.
@Avik: .@matthewherper By repealing and replacing Ocare, the plan is more disruptive than it needs to be. But repeal needed for Right viability.
And, of course, it had no right-wing viability at all even so.
...But not only was Hamilton more progressive for his time, he has lessons for our response to climate change. Two hundred years ago, Alexander Hamilton was mortally wounded by then Vice President Aaron Burr in a duel at Weehawken, New Jersey. Their conflict, stemming from essays Hamilton had penned against Burr, was an episode in a larger clash between two political ideologies: that of Thomas Jefferson and the anti-Federalists, who argued for an agrarian economy and a weak central government, versus that of Hamilton and the Federalists, who championed a strong central state and an industrial economy.
George Orwell: Confessions of a Book Reviewer: "In a cold but stuffy bed-sitting room...
...littered with cigarette ends and half-empty cups of tea, a man in a moth-eaten dressing-gown sits at a rickety table, trying to find room for his typewriter among the piles of dusty papers that surround it. He cannot throw the papers away because the wastepaper basket is already overflowing, and besides, somewhere among the unanswered letters and unpaid bills it is possible that there is a cheque for two guineas which he is nearly certain he forgot to pay into the bank. There are also letters with addresses which ought to be entered in his address book. He has lost his address book, and the thought of looking for it, or indeed of looking for anything, afflicts him with acute suicidal impulses.
My Great^6 Grandfather James DeLong left his bones in Wichita, but only after carrying out the first-ever extraordinary rendition on the past of the U.S. government and then getting fired by Abraham Lincoln for being too aggressive in waging the Civil War on all possible fronts...
Morocco–United States Relations--Wikipedia: "During the American Civil War...
...Morocco reaffirmed its diplomatic alliance with the United States. Morocco also became the scene of a colorful foreign relations and political warfare episode involving the Kingdom of Morocco, the United States of America, the Confederate States of America, France, and Great Britain. In 1862 Confederate diplomats Henry Myers and Tom Tate Tunstall were arrested outside the American Consulate in Tangier after making disparaging remarks about the United States and its flag. American consul, James De Long overheard their jeers and asked Moroccan police to seize the men. When word reached Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes who was acting as the Confederate diplomat in the area, he sent out dispatches to as many neutral diplomats as he had contact with, including the British Consul to Morocco, John Drummond Hay. Semmes asked Hay to get involved and encourage Morocco to release the prisoners, to which Hay responded that he could only convey the message but not offer any recommendation for actions, as offering a recommendation would violate Britain's terms of neutrality. Semmes tried a similar tactic with the French consul, but without success.
Your freedom, you see, to exclude people of a race you do not like from a public accommodation--a hotel, a restaurant, a bus service, a retail store--is more freedom than their freedom to spend their money to participate in our societal division of labor just like most people. In fact, their claim that that is a freedom is false--it is not really a freedom at all...
The hard part--and this is the hard part about believing in freedom--is that if you believe in the first amendment, for example, you have to, for example, most believers in the first amendment will believe in abhorrent groups standing up and saying awful things. We're here at the bastion of newspaperdom. I'm sure you believe in the first amendment. You understand that people can say bad things. It's the same way with other behaviors. In a free society we will tolerate boorish people who have abhorrent behavior, but if we are civilized people we publicly criticize that and don't belong to those groups or don't associate with those people...
John Maynard Keynes (1926): The End of Laissez-Faire } "Panarchy - Panarchie - Panarchia - Panarquia - Παναρχία - 泛无政府主义: I The disposition towards public affairs...
...which we conveniently sum up as individualism and laissez-faire, drew its sustenance from many different rivulets of thought and springs of feeling. For more than a hundred years our philosophers ruled us because, by a miracle, they nearly all agreed or seem to agree on this one thing. We do not dance even yet to a new tune. But a change is in the air. We hear but indistinctly what were once the clearest and most distinguishable voices which have ever instructed political mankind. The orchestra of diverse instruments, the chorus of articulate sound, is receding at last into the distance.
H.G. Wells: “It seems to me that I am more to the Left than you, Mr Stalin”: "In 1934, Wells arrived in Moscow...
...to meet a group of Soviet writers. While there Stalin granted him an interview.... His deferential conversation was criticised by J M Keynes and George Bernard Shaw, among others, in the New Statesman.
Wells: I am very much obliged to you, Mr Stalin, for agreeing to see me. I was in the United States recently. I had a long conversation with President Roosevelt and tried to ascertain what his leading ideas were. Now I have come to ask you what you are doing to change the world...
Sitting next to Lord Skidelsky in the Sala Maggioranza of the Italian Treasury (after they turned off the air conditioning, I took off my tie when he took off his jacket) impelled me to reread his Keynes biography.
And, after rereading, I find that I cannot improve on what I wrote about them three years ago: my thoughts then were totally enthusiastic and totally adulatory. And my thoughts are the same now. (I haven't yet reread volume three). In his first two volumes, Skidelsky gives us John Maynard Keynes's life, entire. And he does so with wit, charm, control, scope, and enthusiasm. You read these books and you know Keynes--who he was, what he did, and why it was so important. READ MOAR
Alexander Hamilton, Federal Convention "Mr. Hamilton had been hitherto silent...
...on the business before the Convention, partly from respect to others whose superior abilities age, and experience rendered him unwilling to bring forward ideas, dissimilar to theirs; and partly from his delicate situation with respect to his own state, to whose sentiments as expressed by his colleagues he could by no means accede. The crisis, however, which now marked our affairs was too serious to permit any scruples whatever to prevail over the duty imposed on every man to contribute his efforts for the public safety and happiness. He was obliged therefore to declare himself unfriendly to both plans.
Conservatism and Its Absence of Contents: Jacob Levy thinks he has a problem: he cannot present conservatism attractively in his classes because there are no attractive modern conservatives:
Jacob T. Levy: Tyler Cowen... makes the insightful point that "none [of the 20th century American conservatives] have held up particularly well, mostly because they underestimated the robustness of the modern world and regarded depravity as more of a problem than it has turned out to be." It's a real problem--one I've often talked with people about in a teaching context, because there's no modern work to teach alongside Theory of Justice and Anarchy, State, and Utopia that really gets at what's interesting about Burkean or social conservatism.... The problem isn't... that the conservative temperament isn't easily reduced to programmatic philosophical works.... One of the problems is that history keeps right on going--and so any book plucked from the past that was concerned with yelling "stop!" tends to date badly to any modern reader who does not think he's already living in hell-in-a-handbasket. This is a particular problem because of race in America--no mid-20th c work is going to endure as a real, read-not-just-namechecked, classic of political thought that talks about how everything will go to hell if the South isn't allowed to remain the South.... Oakeshott has his own version of these problems; doesn't "Rationalism in Politics" end up feeling faintly ridiculous by the time he's talking about women's suffrage?...
I don't see any great answers in the comment thread yet. I guess I might say Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, and Kristol, Two Cheers for Capitalism, but the former isn't really distinctively conservative enough and I'm not sure the latter is a classic.
I say cut the Gordian knot.THERE ARE NO ATTRACTIVE MODERN CONSERVATIVES BECAUSE CONSERVATISM SIMPLY IS NOT ATTRACTIVE. DEAL WITH IT!!
Brad DeLong (2006): Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Augusto Pinochet, and Hu Jintao: Authoritarian Liberalism vs. Liberal Authoritarianism Jamie K. at Blood and Treasure writes:
Blood & Treasure: Hayekian dictatorship: Greg Grandin in Counterpunch sings of Friedman, Hayek, Pinochet, and someone closer to home:
Friedrich von Hayek, the Austrian émigré and University of Chicago professor whose 1944 Road to Serfdom dared to suggest that state planning would produce not "freedom and prosperity" but "bondage and misery," visited Pinochet's Chile a number of times. He was so impressed that he held a meeting of his famed Société Mont Pélérin there. He even recommended Chile to Thatcher as a model to complete her free-market revolution. The Prime Minister, at the nadir of Chile's 1982 financial collapse, agreed that Chile represented a "remarkable success" but believed that Britain's "democratic institutions and the need for a high degree of consent" make "some of the measures" taken by Pinochet "quite unacceptable."
So, as I said, just as I finish writing up my virtual office-hour thoughts on a framework for organizing one's thoughts on Friedrich A. von Hayek and twentieth century political economy, along comes the esteemed Lars P. Syll with a link to an excellent piece I had never read on the same thing by Equitable Growth's Fearless Leader Bob Solow.
It has been my experience that disagrees with Bob Solow at one's peril: not only has he already thought about and found reasons to object to your objection, but if you go further and find a reason to object his objection of your objection, he has already thought of a very good objection to that as well.
Solow sees a good, technocratic, information-theory focused economist Hayek, and a bad political pamphleteer Hayek. Solow sees the real Hayek as being the Good Hayek. He sees the Good Hayek as more moderate than Milton Friedman--committed to some level of professional technocratic economics guiding a social-insurance state providing basic incomes, implementing Pigovian taxes, enforcing standards and quality, and aggressively breaking-up monopolies. It is, Solow thinks, the Bad Hayek who is the problem. And the Bad Hayek is not the real Hayek, for the real Hayek had "not meant to provide a manifesto for the far right..."
I, by contrast, see not two but three Hayeks: the good Hayek, a bad macroeconomic business-cycle Hayek, and a profoundly problematic political-economy Hayek.
The Good Hayek was, I think, very very good--much better than Solow allows. Papers in mechanism design and information theory written forty and fifty years later are footnotes (often unacknowledged footnotes) to the Good Hayek.
The Bad Hayek was, I think, very very bad. To claim that the market economy exhibited large business-cycle fluctuations only because of policy errors produced by the existence of central banks (and, sometimes, because the potential availability of a lender of last resort allowed private bankers to engage in fractional-reserve banking) was just batty: contrary to all sound theory and all empirical evidence. Only an astonishing imperviousness to both thinking deeply and looking at the world could allow clinging to such a dead-ender position. Yet Hayek did. And his epigones do.
The Political Economy Hayek is, as I said, highly problematic. First of all, there is the dodging and weaving. Here is Hayek writing to Paul Samuelson:
I am afraid and glancing through the eleventh edition of your Economics I seem to have discovered the source of the false allegation about my book The Road to Serfdom which I constantly encounter, most resent, and can only regard as a malicious distortion.... You assert that I contend that 'each step away from the market system towards the social reform of the welfare state is inevitably a journey that must end in the totalitarian state' and that 'government modification of market laissez-faire must lead inevitably to political serfdom'.... How anyone who can just read my book in good faith can say this when ever since the first edition I say right at the beginning... 'Nor am I arguing that these developments are inevitable. If they were, there would be no point in writing this. They can be prevented if people realize in time where their efforts may lead...'
And here is Hayek writing a new forward for The Road to Serfdom in the mid-1950s:
Six years of socialist [i.e., Labour Party] government in England have not produced anything resembling a totalitarian state. But those who argue that this has disproved the thesis of The Road to Serfdom have really missed... that the most important change which extensive government control produces is a psychological change... necessarily a slow affair... not over a few years but perhaps over one or two generations.... The change undergone by the character of the British people... can hardly be mistaken... Is it too pessimistic to fear that a generation grown up under these conditions is unlikely to throw off the fetters to which it has grown used? Or does this description not rather fully bear out De Tocqueville’s prediction of the 'new kind of servitude'?... I have never accused the socialist parties of deliberately aiming at a totalitarian regime.... What the British experience convinces me... is that the unforeseen but inevitable consequences of socialist planning create a state of affairs in which, if the policy is to be pursued, totalitarian forces will get the upper hand... (I)
But we also have:
The assurance of a certain minimum income for everyone, or a sort of floor below which nobody need fall even when he is unable to provide for himself, appears not only to be wholly legitimate protection against a risk common to all, but a necessary part of the Great Society in which the individual no longer has specific claims on the members of the particular small group into which he was born... (II)
Yet, in 1956:
The most serious development is the growth of a measure of arbitrary administrative coercion and the progressive destruction of the cherished foundation of British liberty, the Rule of Law.... [E]conomic planning under the Labour government [has] carried it to a point which makes it doubtful whether it can be said that the Rule of Law still prevails in Britain... (III)
And, as Paul Samuelson wrote:
The Hayek I met on various occasions--at the LSE, at the University of Chicago, in Stockholm (1945), at Lake Constance-Lindau Nobel summer conferences--deﬁnitely bemoaned progressive income taxation, state-provided medical care and retirement pensions, ﬁat currencies remote from gold and subject to discretionary policy decisions by central bank and treasury agents.... This [is] what constitutes his predicted serfdoms... (IV)
To say the least, there is a difficulty in figuring out what the Political Economy Hayek believed. Solow takes the real Hayek to be (II) and regards (I), (III), and (IV) as line wobbles from the Bad Hayek that he, Solow, will overlook. But the Bad Hayek is not just "in the text": the Bad Hayek seems to me to be well-nigh omnipresent except when Hayek is playing the injured party in front of a social-democratic audience. I think you are more likely to find the Real Hayek in the "shut up and be glad you were born" passage in The Mirage of Social Justice:
While in a market order it may be a misfortune to have been born and bred in a village where... the only chance of making a living is fishing... it does not make sense to describe this as unjust. Who is supposed to have been unjust?--especially... if these local opportunities had not existed, the people in question would probably never have been born at all... [for lack of] the opportunities which enabled their ancestors to produce and rear children... (V)
And that in fact those who do not shut up and be grateful are guilty of moral fault, as in The Political Order of a Free People:
By the slogan... 'it is not your fault'... the demagoguery of unlimited democracy, assisted by a scientistic psychology, has come to the support of those who claim a share in the wealth of our society without submitting to the discipline to which it is due. It is not by conceding 'a right to equal concern and respect’ to those who break the code that civilization is maintained... (VI)
And then there is the (missing) letter from Hayek to Thatcher, apparently urging that Thatcher go all Pinochet-medieval on Neil Kinnock and Arthur Scargill, that elicited this reply:
The progression from Allende's Socialism to the free enterprise capitalist economy of the 1980s is a striking example of economic reform from which we can learn many lessons. However, I am sure you will agree that, in Britain with our democratic institutions and the need for a high degree of consent, some of the measures adopted in Chile are quite unacceptable. Our reform must be in line with our traditions and our Constitution. At times the process may seem painfully slow. But I am certain we shall achieve our reforms in our own way and in our own time. Then they will endure. (VII)
Why, then, do I call the Political Economy Hayek just "problematic" and not "evil"? Because I think there are some passages of great value in The Constitution of Liberty and in the three-volume Law, Legislation, and Liberty. But it is, I think, important not to pretend that the Bad Hayek elements were some kind of anomaly
While Solow is much easier on Hayek than I would be, he is much harder on Milton Friedman. For Solow, it is Milton Friedman who is the real Mephistopheles here. It is Friedman who over and over again would frame the issues as freedom vs. socialism, when actually the issue is "which of the defects of a 'free', unregulated economy should be repaired by regulation, subsidization, or taxation? Which... tolerated... because the best available fix would have even more costly side-effects?" It was Friedman whose "rhetoric... irrelevant or, worse, misleading, or, even worse, intentionally misleading... made... [the] policy discussion more difficult to have... [and] did the market economy a disservice."
I disagree: I see Friedman and Hayek as being equally willing to call social democracy "socialism", and equally likely to see it as corrosive of individual freedom.
But I see Friedman as being much more moderate than Hayek--not just in terms of being a true social and personal libertarian, not just in having a more sophisticated view of social insurance, but also having both a belief in democracy and education as well as a willingness to (sometimes) mark his beliefs to market that Hayek definitely lacked. When stabilizing the growth of the money supply did not produce the smooth aggregate demand path that Friedman had expected, he changed his mind--and became a big advocate of quantitative easing...
The key paragraphs from Solow:
Robert Solow (2012): Hayek, Friedman, and the Illusions of Conservative Economics: "A Review of Angus Burgin...
...The Great Persuasion: Reinventing Free Markets since the Depression.... There was a Good Hayek and a Bad Hayek. The Good Hayek was a serious scholar who was particularly interested in the role of knowledge... [but] also knew that unrestricted laissez-faire is unworkable... monopoly power... better-informed actors can exploit the relatively ignorant... distribution of income... grossly unequal and... unfair... unemployment and underutilized capacity... environmental damage... the Good Hayek’s attempts to formulate and to propagate a modified version of laissez-faire that would work better....
The Bad Hayek.... The Road to Serfdom was a popular success but was not a good book.... Hayek’s implicit prediction is a failure.... The source of their alarm was not the danger from Soviet communism or Nazi Germany, but rather the... New Deal here and the Labor Party there... ameliorat[ing] and... revers[ing] the ravages of falling incomes and rising unemployment.... Lionel Robbins... Friedrich von Hayek... Frank Knight... Jacob Viner... Henry Simons.... What seems off-key (at least now, at least to me) is that they all felt themselves to be in a struggle between free markets and collectivism (or socialism) with no possible intermediate stopping point....
This apocalyptic tone survived into the period dominated by Milton Friedman... the language of the Tea Party Hayekians.... In 2004, Friedman told The Wall Street Journal that, although the battle of ideas had been won, 'currently, opinion is free market while practice is heavily socialist'. The point to keep in mind is that 'socialist practice' includes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the certification of doctors, and the public schools.... Of course for those of us trying to live on this planet, the issue is... between an extreme version of free markets and effective regulation of the shadow banking system, or between an extreme version of free markets and the level and progressivity of the personal income tax....
THE GOOD HAYEK... had not meant to provide a manifesto for the far right.... There is no reason to doubt Hayek’s sincerity in this (although the Bad Hayek occasionally made other appearances)... [that] Knight and moderates such as Viner thought that he had overreached suggests that the Bad Hayek really was there in the text....
In the spring of 1947, with a grant from the Volker Fund of Kansas City, who were the Koch Brothers of their time, Hayek was able to bring together... thirty-nine colleagues... the Mont Pèlerin Society... [which] Burgin... endows... with more significance than it ever really had.... They... could not agree on... the permissible, indeed the desirable, deviations from laissez-faire?... Good answers are available, and many of them involve government intervention.... The inability to agree about this sort of thing, or even to face up to it, seems to have dogged the MPS.... Maybe the main function of the MPS was to maintain the morale of the free-market fellowship....
Leadership... passed... to Milton Friedman... different in style and, to some extent, even in ideology.... As his ideas and his career evolved... he moved in a different, almost opposite, direction, toward a cruder government-can-do-no-right position, certainly not given to ethical worries or even to economic-theoretical fine points.... Under Milton Friedman’s influence, the free-market ideology shifted toward unmitigated laissez-faire. Whereas earlier advocates had worried about the stringent conditions that were needed for unregulated markets to work their magic, Friedman was the master of clever (sometimes too clever) arguments to the effect that those conditions were not really needed, or that they were actually met in real-world markets despite what looked a lot like evidence to the contrary. He was a natural-born debater: single-minded, earnestly persuasive, ingenious, and relentless....
Friedman’s... most important work... consumer expenditure... important and useful... anticipated in much less satisfactory form by James Duesenberry, and Franco Modigliani developed a similar and in some ways more satisfactory theory.... But monetarism... has not proved to be tenable analytically or empirically. His Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960 (written with the late Anna Schwartz), while highly interesting, is not a towering intellectual achievement.
Burgin... attaches a lot of importance to the respectability conferred on the political right by the ideas of Hayek, Friedman, and the others.... I would not disagree, but... Thatcher profited from an ill-judged miners’ strike and, as Lyndon Johnson famously remarked, the passage of the Civil Rights Act lost the Solid South for the Democratic Party for at least a generation.
For a serious modern reader, the rhetoric is irrelevant or, worse, misleading, or, even worse, intentionally misleading.... The real issues are pragmatic. Which of the defects of a 'free', unregulated economy should be repaired by regulation, subsidization, or taxation? Which of them may have to be tolerated... because the best available fix would have even more costly side-effects? To the extent that the MPS circle made that kind of policy discussion more difficult to have, it did the market economy a disservice.
Over at Equitable Growth So, as I said, just as I finish writing up my virtual office-hour thoughts on a framework for organizing one's thoughts on Friedrich A. von Hayek and twentieth century political economy, along comes the esteemed Lars P. Syll with a link to an excellent piece I had never read on the same thing by Equitable Growth's Fearless Leader Bob Solow.
It has been my experience that disagrees with Bob Solow at one's peril: not only has he already thought about and found reasons to object to your objection, but if you go further and find a reason to object his objection of your objection, he has already thought of a very good objection to that as well.
Nevertheless... READ MOAR
Paul Krugman: Sliming Rick Perlstein: "OK, this is grotesque...
Rick Perlstein has a new book... and he’s facing completely spurious charges of plagiarism.... The people making the charges--almost all of whom have, surprise, movement conservative connections--aren’t pointing to any actual passages that, you know, were lifted.... Instead, they’re claiming that Perlstein paraphrased what other people said.... Can I say, I’m familiar with this process? There was a time when various of the usual suspects went around claiming that I was doing illegitimate things with jobs data; what I was doing was in fact perfectly normal--but that didn’t stop Daniel Okrent, the outgoing public editor, from firing a parting shot (with no chance for me to reply) accusing me of fiddling with the numbers. I also heard internally that there were claims of plagiarism directed at me, too, but evidently they couldn’t cook up enough stuff to even pretend to make that stick. The thing to understand is that fake accusations of professional malpractice are a familiar tactic for these people. And this tactic should be punctured by the press, not given momentum with 'opinions differ on shape of the planet' reporting."
Just as I finish writing up my office-hour thoughts on a framework for organizing one's thoughts on Friedrich A. von Hayek and twentieth century political economy, along comes the esteemed Lars P. Syll with a link to an excellent piece I had never read on the same thing by Equitable Growth's Fearless Leader:
Robert Solow (2012): Hayek, Friedman, and the Illusions of Conservative Economics "The Great Persuasion: Reinventing Free Markets since the Depression By Angus Burgin (Harvard University Press, 303 pp., $29.95) JUST AS I WAS wondering how to start this review...
...along came the Sunday New York Times Magazine with a short article by Adam Davidson with the title “Made in Austria: Will Friedrich von Hayek be the Tea Party’s Karl Marx?” One Tea Party activist reported that his group’s goal is to fill Congress with Hayekians. This project is unlikely to go smoothly if the price of admission includes an extensive reading of Hayek’s writings. As Davidson remarks, some of Hayek’s ideas would not go down well at all with the American far right: among them is a willingness to entertain a national health care program, and even a state-provided basic income for the poor.
Rick Perlstein: 40 Years Ago: How Nixon's Resignation Paved The Way For Ronald Reagan: "It seemed that by April 30 Richard Nixon had no choice...
...but to say something about Watergate: six Republican senators said they would not run for reelection unless he did. Young men who last month bestrode Washington like colossi were hiring lawyers under threat of indictment, leaking accusations against colleagues, writing messages on legal pads rather than speaking them aloud—who knew whether their offices, too, were bugged?
The Toast is irresistible. Here is a sample from this week:
Mallory Ortberg: "The Ability To Control Both Horses And Women": “Far be it from me to criticize the tactics of modern union organizers...
...but frankly I think the world was a better place when tradesmen organized to agitate for their rights in the workplace and practice esoteric mind-controlling spells at the same time:
The Society of the Horseman’s Word was a fraternal secret society that operated in Scotland from the eighteenth through to the twentieth century. Its members were drawn from those who worked with horses, including horse trainers, blacksmiths and ploughmen, and involved the teaching of magical rituals designed to provide the practitioner with the ability to control both horses and women.
Over at Equitable Growth: One way to conceptualize it all is to think of it as the shape of a river:
The first current is the Adam Smith current, which makes the classical liberal bid: Smith claims that the system of natural liberty; with government restricted to the rule of law, infrastructure, defense, and education; is the best of all social arrangements.
This first current is then joined by the Karl Polanyi current: Polanyi says that, empirically, at least in the Industrial Age, the system of natural liberty fails to produce a good-enough society. The system of natural liberty turns land, labor, and finance into commodities. The market then moves them about the board in its typically disruptive fashion: "all that is solid melts into air", or perhaps "established and inherited social orders are steamed away". But land, finance, and labor--these three are not real commodities. They are, rather, "fictitious commodities", for nobody wants their ability to earn a living, or to live where they grew up, or to start a business to be subject to the disruptive wheel of market fortuna. READ MOAR:
Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal: Alternate History: The Cincinnati: The Constitutional Convention essentially reproduced the late-eighteenth century division of power in the British government at the time: instead of King, Lords, and Commons we had President, Senate, and House of Representatives.
There were some tweaks: Individual Presidents were weakened by making them stand for four-year terms, while the Presidency was strengthened by giving it a mighty plebiscitary base. Congress was weakened by depriving it of the power to pass Bills of Attainder and Ex Post Facto laws. The Presidency was weakened by depriving it of the ability to bribe members of Congress by offering them posts of trust and profit. And the government as a whole was weakened in its authoritarian powers by the Bill of Rights.
But for the most part it was the late eighteenth-century British Constitution, dry-cleaned, brushed, and patched.
What if things had gone differently? What if the Founders had taken as their model not late eighteenth-century Britain, but that other great example of good government: the Antonine dynasty of the Roman Empire, in which each Emperor "adopted" the leading military politician of the next generation as his successor?
My brother sketches out what might then have happened:
OK. Each Imperator--chosen by the Cincinnati--serves for no more than two 10-year terms, with the mandate of the Cincinnati being to choose the most impressive available military politician as his successor.
Then we get:
1810-1820: "Light Horse" Harry Lee
1820-1830: Andrew Jackson
1830-1840: Andrew Jackson
1840-1850: James K. Polk (a stretch)
1850-1860: Zachary Taylor
1860-1870: Robert E. Lee (struggles to find a good general as successor)
1870-1880: U.S. Grant
1880-1890: Phil Sheridan
1890-1900: Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
1900-1910: Teddy Roosevelt
1910-1920: Teddy Roosevelt
1920-1930: John Pershing
1930-1940: Douglas MacArthur (uh-oh)
1940-1950: George Marshall
1950-1960: Dwight Eisenhower
1960-1970: Maxwell Taylor
1970-1980: Matthew Ridgeway
1980-1990: Alexander Haig (uh-oh)
1990-2000: Colin Powell
2000-2010: Colin Powell
Well, I've seen worse lists of rulers, but I'm not sure we make it through the Great Depression with MacArthur.
Perhaps the Republic falls in 1935 to an insurrection led by Huey Long in the role of the Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus. Perhaps not. Certainly a very different United States. An inferior one? Again, perhaps.
Central Spain, August 1812
Whilst marching from Portugal to a position which commands the approach to Madrid and the French forces, my officers have been diligently complying with your requests which have been sent by H.M. ship from London to Lisbon and thence by dispatch to our headquarters.
We have enumerated our saddles, bridles, tents and tent poles, and all manner of sundry items for which His Majesty's Government holds me accountable. I have dispatched reports on the character, wit, and spleen of every officer. Each item and every farthing has been accounted for, with two regrettable exceptions for which I beg your indulgence.
Over at Equitable Growth: I have been meaning to pick on the very sharp and public-spirited Jeff Faux since he wrote this seven months ago:
Jeff Faux: NAFTA, Twenty Years After: A Disaster:
New Year’s Day, 2014, marks the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The Agreement created a common market for goods, services and investment capital with Canada and Mexico. And it opened the door through which American workers were shoved, unprepared, into a brutal global competition for jobs that has cut their living standards and is destroying their future. NAFTA’s birth was bi-partisan—conceived by Ronald Reagan, negotiated by George Bush I, and pushed through the US Congress by Bill Clinton in alliance with Congressional Republicans and corporate lobbyists....
NAFTA directly cost the United States a net loss of 700,000 jobs.... And the economic dislocation in Mexico increased the the flow of undocumented workers into the United States.... By any measure, NAFTA and its sequels has been a major contributor to the rising inequality of incomes and wealth that Barack Obama bemoans in his speeches.... The agreements traded away the interests of American workers in favor of the interests of American corporations.... NAFTA’s fundamental purpose was... to free multinational corporations from public regulation in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, and eventually all over the world.... The 20th anniversary of NAFTA stands as a grim reminder of how little our political leaders and TV talking heads—despite their crocodile tears over jobs and inequality—really care about the average American who must work for a living...READ MOAR
Buy it. Buy it now. Buy three and give two away...
Rick Perlstein: The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan
Very brief preview:
Rick Perlstein: "To me, Reagan’s brand of leadership was what I call 'a liturgy of absolution'....
...Who wouldn’t want that? But the consequences of that absolution are all around us today. The inability to contend with climate change. The inability to call elites to account who wrecked the economy in 2008. The inability to reckon with the times when we fall short.... When Samantha Power is chosen to be ambassador to the U.N.; she’d written a magazine article in 2003 in which she wrote American foreign policy needed a 'historical reckoning' for crimes 'committed or sponsored'. That’s the kind of reckoning we were having in the 1970s, with the Church committee. Marco Rubio brought this up in her confirmation hearing and asked her for examples of the crimes, and the response was that America is the greatest country in the world and has nothing to apologize for. So that’s where we’re at today.... He believed strongly that moderates had no place in the Republican Party.... Pundits then and now believed the problem for Republicans was an inability to broaden their base. Reagan always insisted on the opposite..."
Over at Project Syndicate Ten years ago we had ridden the bust of the internet bubble, picked ourselves up, and continued on. It was true that it had turned out to be harder than people expected to profit from tutoring communications technologies. That, however spoke to the division of the surplus between consumers and producers--not the surplus from the technologies. The share of demand spent on such technologies looked to be rising. The mindshare of such technologies looked to be rising much more rapidly. READ MOAR at Equitable Growth
From the hag and hungry goblin,/That into rags would rend ye,
The spirit that stands/By the naked man
In the Book of Moons, defend ye,
That of your five sound senses,/You never be forsaken,
Nor wander from/Yourselves with Tom,
Abroad to beg your bacon.
Via Mark Ames:
Of course it's not a Holocaust Denial "Special Issue"! Only three of the seven articles--Greaves's "FDR's Watergate: Pearl Harbor" about how the real story is how the communists destroyed that anti-communist bulwark that was Imperial Japan, App's "The Sudeten German Tragedy" about just who were the real victims here, and North's "World War II Revisionism and Vietnam"--take the neo-Nazi line!
Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation is certainly the right place to start in thinking about "neoliberalism" and its global spread. But you are right to notice and do need to keep thinking that Polanyi is talking about pre-World War II classical liberalism, and that modern post-1980 neoliberalism is somewhat different.
First, as I, at least, see it, there are three strands of thought that together make up the current of ideas and policies that people call "neoliberalism":
Over at Equitable Growth: Lawrence Summers: Advantages the Rich Have That Money Cannot Buy: "The primary reason for concern about inequality is that lower- and middle-income workers have too little...
...not that the rich have too much... the criterion should be... [the] impact... on the middle class and the poor.... Important aspects of inequality are unlikely to be transformed just by limited income redistribution. Consider... health and... opportunity for children. Barry Bosworth and his colleagues... [the] cohort[s]... born in 1920 and... 1940.... The richest men gained roughly six years in life expectancy... the lowest... two years... lifestyle and variations in diet and stress [rather] than the ability to afford medical care.... READ MOAR