And, boy! is Yuhanon not a happy camper:
Matthew 3:1-12 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying:
Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying:
The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them:
O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves" "We have Abraham to our father!" For I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire...
I will note that the sins of the Pharisees and the Saducees--those who claim the high places in the Synagogue, and have others blow upon trumpets when they ostentatiously give alms from their surplus--condemned by Yuhanon are not:
Rather, the sins condemned are of a different order entirely...
Attention Conservation Notice: Harley Shaiken at the Berkeley Center for Latin American Studies asked me if I could write a short comment on a piece he was running by Javier Couso about Chilean politics, "neoliberalismo", once-and-future President Michelle Bachelet, and the electoral victory of her New Majority Coalition--Couso being one of the co-authors of the currently highly influential El Otro Modelo: Del Orden Neoliberal al Regimen de lo Publico. The piece got out of control, and is not a success...
But if you are interested in my not-very-well-connected thoughts on Chilean politics, "neoliberalismo", once-and-future President Michelle Bachelet, Seeing Like a *State the really-existing socialist and neoliberal projects of the twentieth century, and the electoral victory of her New Majority Coalition, they are below the fold...
Jacopo Jacobo Timmerman writes about Gabriel Garcia Marquez writing about Fidel Castro. Marquez is amazed and transfixed as he worshipfully writes about how Castro works so late into the night, telling how many people what they should do in so many different disciplines of life--orthopedics, the baking of bread, and the distribution of beer. Timmerman n writes about how only an insane social system would require a single dictator to be the omniscient expert and authority on everything. And Timmerman n wonders why it is that Marquez responds to this situation with awe rather than with horror.
Where did I read this? When did I read this? Why can't I find it again? Why is my Google-Fu failing me?
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As I like to say, we are moving into a twenty-first century in which we are highly likely to spend a greater share of our collective income on:
Historical experience teaches us that whenever we try to supply any of these four needs via an un- or a lightly-regulated market, it does not go so well. This suggests that we are likely to be happy in the twenty-first century only if we shift our collective economic cognition and organization to place somewhat less emphasis on the market and more on... something.
The problem is that we have--or, at least, from where I sit I think we have--very good ideas about the success and failure modes of markets (i.e., Friedrich Hayek (1947), Individualism and Economic Order; Kenneth Arrow (1969), "The Organization of Economic Activity: Issues Pertinent to the Choice of Market versus Non-market Allocation"). We know rather less about the success and failure modes of politics (i.e., James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, The Calculus of Consent; Mancur Olson, The Logic of Collective Action; Josiah Ober, Democracy and Knowledge: Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens).
And, IMHO at least, we know very little about the success and failure modes of bureaucracy.
So I would like to call for people to think, and think hard, so that a generation hence we know as much about the success and failure modes of bureaucracy and politics as we do about markets--and, I hope at least, have evolved some more tweaks to make all three modes of social organization and cognition less subject to failure.
Alas, I have no special insight into how to start thinking about these matters. But Cosma Shalizi has the best diving board I have found:
Review of Edwin Hutchins, Cognition in the Wild: Human beings coordinate their actions to do things which would be hard or impossible for them individually. This is not a particularly recondite fact, and the recognition of it is ancient; it is in the fifth book of Lucretius's De Rerum Natura, for instance.... The nineteenth century, and to a lesser degree this one, have witnessed a dramatic expansion in the numbers of us engaged in administration, bureaucracy, management, oversight--that is to say, in formally-organized tasks of collective cognition and control. We did not invent bureaucracy, the mainstay of the ancient empires, but we're much, much better at it... corrupt, inefficient institutions which work poorly; every election, Piffleburg [WI]'s citizens mutter something like "what do we pay taxes for anyway?" Yet to run any one of these institutions at the level of honesty, efficiency and efficacy which makes Piffleburg grumble would have demanded the full powers and attention of even the ablest Roman propraetor or Tang magistrate. That all of those institutions, plus the ones not restricted to a single city, could be run at once, and while governed by a very ordinary slice of common humanity, would have seemed to such officials flatly impossible.
The immediate question this raises, of why we are so much better at collective endeavors than the ancients, can be answered fairly simply. To a first approximation, the answer is: brute force and massive literacy. We teach nearly everyone to read and write, and to do it, by historical standards, at a high level. This lets us staff large bureaucracies (by some estimates, over 40% of the US workforce does data-handling), which lets us run an industrial economy (the trains run on time), which makes us rich enough to afford to educate everyone and keep them in bureaucratic employment, with some surplus left over to expand the system.
This would do us no good if our ideas of administration were as shabby as those of our ancestors in the dark ages, but they're not: we inherited those of the ancient empires, and have had quite a while to improve upon them (and improvements are made easier and faster by the large number of administrators and the high standard of literacy). Among the improvements are many techniques (standardized procedures, standardized parts, standardized credentials and jobs, explicit qualifications for jobs and goods, files, standardized categories) and devices (forms, punch cards, punch card tabulators, adding machines, card catalogs, and, recently, computers) for making the administration of people and things easier. (We've been over parts of this before, looking at James Beniger's book on The Control Revolution and Ernest Gellner's Nations and Nationalism.)
All this is in the realm of technique; when it comes to theory, we are quite at a loss. We can see, in a rough, common-sensical way, what makes us better at running things than the Romans were, but we don't understand how either they or us pull off the trick at all. That is to say, we don't really have a good theory about how collective action and cognition work, when and why they do, how they can be made to work better, why they fail, what they can and cannot accomplish, and so forth.
Intellectually, these are large, tempting problems; technologically, they have obvious relevance to the design of parallel and distributed computers; economically, they could mean real money, not just billions; and, in general, it'd be nice to know what it is we've gotten ourselves into.
Now, in a sense, this problem has been approached by many of the social sciences.... Much of the most interesting research on these problems has been done by economists. The great Friedrich Hayek (that is, Friedrich Hayek the profound social scientist, not to be confused with his evil twin, Friedrich Hayek the right-wing ideologue) was apparently the first to point out that markets perform a kind of collective cognition or calculation which would be beyond the scope of the individual actors in the markets. Since his time, the economists have devoted considerable thought to how the way a group is put together--its procedures, the distribution of power, resources, beliefs and preferences within it--effects the decisions it arrives at, the courses of action open to it. Some of this work, like Arrow's Social Choice and Individual Values and Olson's Logic of Collective Action--is now classical, and, under various names, it's an active, thriving area of inquiry....
[But still] we know next to nothing about how collective cognition works, or when it works, or how to make it work better; we have some ideas about it, but at best they've the status of artisanal rules of thumb...
The United States economy has undergone dramatic changes in the last three decades. Arguably, none of these changes has been so well documented as the rise in income inequality.
From 1979 to 2007, the top 1 percent of households saw their incomes skyrocket by 275 percent, while incomes for the bottom fifth of earners increased by less than 20 percent. Last year, the top 10 percent of earners took home more than 50 percent of national income, a higher share than in the 1920s. And today, the wealthiest one percent of households possess more than a third of U.S. total net wealth; the average CEO makes $14 million a year, while the average worker makes $51,200.
We should begin by translating the Communist Manifesto's phrase:
Das stehende und das ständische verdampft...
Society's order and the orders of society are steamed away...
with "orders of society" referring to the legal and cultural distinctions that make one noble, peasant, bourgeois, guild member, et cetera. We should not translate it as: >All that is solid melts into air...
So you ended up XY instead of XX. Get over yourself. Even conservatives generally stipulate that insurance should protect people from the financial consequences of random events. But they seem not to recognize that being born a woman is a random event. Sorry, dudes, you had no control over that. Allowing insurers to discriminate based on gender means penalizing half the population, just because those folks ended up with one type of chromosome instead of another.
Of course, if you acknowledge [this point] it has some implications for the rest of the health care debate. If we’re not going to make people pay higher premiums because of genes that determined their gender, then what about people born with genetic abnormalities? Or predisposition to diabetes, heart attack, or cancer? Pretty soon you end up arguing that it’s wrong to charge higher premiums to people who, through no fault of their own, happen to need more medical care—-thereby conceding one of Obamacare’s core principles.
Prairie Weather: Signs that Obamacare is working:
Kevin Drum has the cheerful news that small business is adding health insurance "for the first time in a decade, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. Nothing spectacular, just steady growth.
Of those who currently offer insurance, 7 percent plan to drop it. Of those who don't currently offer insurance, 13 percent plan to add it. That's good news, and the report notes that "If small employers follow those plans, the net proportion of them offering would rise, breaking a decade-old trend." ...Drum,MoJo
That news--confirmation that the "debacle" is Fox lingo for "chugging along nicely, thank you"--seems to add color to the numbers. Sarah Kliff writes at WaPo:
Despite a very rocky first month for the health insurance exchanges, public opinion on the health-care law did what it has done for the past three years: stayed exactly the same. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation's latest tracking survey, "the October poll finds that the public’s overall views of the ACA have held relatively steady since last month, with 44 percent saying they have an unfavorable view of the law, 38 percent a favorable view, and 18 percent saying they don’t know enough to say."...
Obamacare gets the least attention in a list of four recent media blitzes. The media -- all of 'em -- got that all wrong.
Growing health disadvantages have disproportionately impacted women over the past three decades, especially those without a high-school diploma or who live in the South or West. In March, a study published by the University of Wisconsin researchers David Kindig and Erika Cheng found that in nearly half of U.S. counties, female mortality rates actually increased between 1992 and 2006, compared to just 3 percent of counties that saw male mortality increase over the same period. “I was shocked, actually,” Kindig said. “So we went back and did the numbers again, and it came back the same. It’s overwhelming.”
Paul Krugman: Award-winning Paragraphs:
John Taylor has accomplished something sort of amazing: he has managed to write the two worst paragraphs I’ve read this week. Here they are:
Joshua Bloom: Wealth and Labor in the Cognitive Automation Era:
Disruptive technologies have always been greeted with a concern—and many times a back reaction—by the institutions that they are, or are meant to, disrupt. In the startup world, we think about disruption as replacing established technologies and ways of doing things with compelling (and better) alternatives, challenging incumbent market dominants. But disruption also means changing how people work, and therefore also means upheaval in labor markets. [October 25], in the Uncharted Forum here in Berkeley, I discussed artificial intelligence on stage with former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Brad DeLong (also a professor with me at Berkeley). Uncharted is a new ideas-exchange event modeled in part after SXSW, Ted and Davos.
Daniel Little: Understanding Society: Why a war on poor people?:
American conservatives for the past several decades have shown a remarkable hostility to poor people in our country. The recent effort to slash the SNAP food stamp program in the House (link); the astounding refusal of 26 Republican governors to expand Medicaid coverage in their states--depriving millions of poor people from access to Medicaid health coverage (link); and the general legislative indifference to a rising poverty rate in the United States--all this suggests something beyond ideology or neglect.... How is it possible to explain this part of contemporary politics on the right? What can account for this persistent and unblinking hostility towards poor people?
One piece of the puzzle seems to come down to ideology and a passionate and unquestioning faith in "the market". If you are poor in a market system, this ideology implies you've done something wrong.... Another element here seems to have something to do with social distance.... A crucial thread here seems to be a familiar American narrative around race...
Ashok Rao: Feed the Beast:
Since 1988 education (purple) has increased almost seven fold. Healthcare (red) five fold. Food and beverage prices have only doubled, apparel costs have flatlined, while technology and entertainment prices have plummeted. Basically prices for everything the government is good for have a positive slope and everything it’s bad for have a negative slope. I don’t think any other graph could more clearly explode hopes for a smaller, or even flatlined, government.
Paul Krugman: Why Is Obamacare Complicated?:
Obamacare isn’t complicated because government social insurance programs have to be complicated: neither Social Security nor Medicare are complex in structure. It’s complicated because political constraints made a straightforward single-payer system unachievable. It’s been clear all along that the Affordable Care Act sets up a sort of Rube Goldberg device, a complicated system that in the end is supposed to more or less simulate the results of single-payer, but keeping private insurance companies in the mix and holding down the headline amount of government outlays through means-testing. This doesn’t make it unworkable: state exchanges are working, and healthcare.gov will probably get fixed before the whole thing kicks in. But it did make a botched rollout much more likely.
So [Mike] Konczal is right to say that the implementation problems aren’t revealing problems with the idea of social insurance; they’re revealing the price we pay for insisting on keeping insurance companies in the mix, when they serve little useful purpose. So does this mean that liberals should have insisted on single-payer or nothing? No.... Yes, Obamacare is a somewhat awkward kludge, but if that’s what it took to cover the uninsured, so be it.... The odds remain high that this will work, and make America a much better place.
Pro-Growth Liberal: EconoSpeak: A Fuzzchart on Federal Spending Courtesy of John Taylor:
Mark Thoma used to crack me up when he would refer to those Jerry Bowyer National Review graphs as Fuzz Charts, since Bowyer usually tried to deceive his readers. Now if you miss those good old days--John Taylor has kindly decided to take over....
A starting point is to lay out in simple big picture terms what the House and Senate budget resolutions passed earlier this year look like.... The chart shows the recent history of federal outlays along with the path of outlays as a percentage of GDP under the Senate proposal and under the House proposal. There is a big difference in these two paths. Spending gradually comes down to pre-crisis levels as a share of GDP under the House plan and remains high under the Senate plan. I have been arguing since 2009 that undoing the recent spending binge is a reasonable goal, and prefer the House version on that count.
My problem with his chart is its historical starting point is 2000 when Federal spending as a share of GDP was only 18.5%.... A naïve reader might think the historical norm was the 18.5% observed in 2000, but my graph takes us back to 1961. And it turns out that Federal spending as a share of GDP was not always as low it was at the end of the Clinton years. The peace dividend years are over and future health care spending isn’t going to what it was in 2000--but John Taylor wants us to think there is something magical and normal about the Ryan budget.
For two decades, from the same home office, Sullivan has been exposing the tax-dodging schemes of multinational corporations in the columns of Tax Notes... an early light on how companies had finagled 'transfer prices'... called out the big drug and tech companies for transferring ownership of their patents and trademarks... to subsidiaries in Ireland and other low-tax jurisdictions.... in 2010 pieced together from public filings that Apple had understated its reported profits to hide the fact that it was paying a tax rate of less than 2 percent on its overseas profits, shining the spotlight on Apple’s tax avoidance schemes. “We’ve been banging the drum on this stuff for years,” Sullivan said with just the slightest hint of satisfaction as the morning sun filtered into the garage he shares with bicycles, garden tools, an American flag and an old coffee maker. 'But it’s finally gone prime time'
Why wine matters: Randall Grahm in conversation with Felix Salmon.
The crystal ball: What will happen in the 2014 midterms Markos Moulitsas in conversation with Josh Barro.
Are we born racist? Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton in conversation with Phil Bronstein.
Start: October 25, 2013 1:40 pm
End: October 25, 2013 2:50 pm
Event Category: Conversation
Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty: Why the 1% should pay tax at 80%:
In the United States, the share of total pre-tax income accruing to the top 1% has more than doubled, from less than 10% in the 1970s to over 20% today (pdf). A similar pattern is true of other English-speaking countries.... Other OECD countries... have seen far less concentration of income among the mega rich. At the same time, top income tax rates on upper income earners have declined significantly since the 1970s in many OECD countries--gain, particularly in English-speaking ones.... At a time when most OECD countries face large deficits and debt burdens, a crucial public policy question is whether governments should tax high earners more. The potential tax revenue at stake is now very large....
Corey Robin: Burke in Debt:
Some day someone should write an essay on the struggles of Edmund Burke in his final years to overcome his considerable debts—some £30,000—by securing a peerage and a pension from the Crown.... So terrified was he of dying in a debtor’s prison that he struggled in his retirement to learn Italian. His hope, claimed one of the many visitors at his estate, was to flee England and “end his days with tollerable Ease in Italy.” (He also floated, apparently, the possibility of fleeing to Portugal or America.) “I cannot quite reconcile my mind to a prison,” he told a friend. Thanks to the interventions of his well connected friends, Burke secured from Pitt in August 1795 two annuities that would wipe out his debts and a pension that, along with an additional pension and the income from his estate, would enable him and his wife to live in comfort into their old age.
Three months later, when Burke took up his pen against a proposal for the government to subsidize the wages of farm laborers during bad harvest years (so that they could sustain themselves and their families), he wrote, “To provide for us in our necessities is not in the power of government.”
The greatest hesitation I have about the market economy is the wedge between demand and the willingness to pay that is the ability to pay. This is, after all, why full employment is so important. This is why opportunity and equality are so important.... This wedge... presents] insurmountable problems... [to]any kind of welfare claims about the market economy.... We can't say anything about the quality of the system as a whole that isn't contingent on implausible assumption about the quality of the distribution of the ability to pay. The trouble is the ability to pay is tied up with productivity, and this doesn't seem to be a justifiable basis for distributing well-being. At the same time allocating productivity efficiently is the only chance of getting a surplus in the first place to distribute.
If we have robots, robot socialism is probably an answer. Until then I just don't know.
Per Jim Henley's request:
India, a long-time bastion of Fabian socialism, instituted significant reform in 1991...
Capitalism and socialism are specific about the conditions they deem necessary for the creation of wealth and rising standards of living. Populism is not. It is a shout of pain...
Fortunately, modern societies have finally abandoned as unworkable the various economic models of socialism that were so popular a century or more ago. But we need to recognize that welfare states, unless contained, have proven similarly trouble prone. Even the long-vaunted welfare model of Sweden has felt the need for a significant overhaul...
Economists--my own tribe--hink that people are better off if they have more money--which is fine as far as it goes. So if a few people get a lot more money and most people get little or nothing, but do not lose out, economists will usually argue that the world is a better place. And indeed there is enormous appeal to the idea that, as long as no one gets hurt, better off is better; it is called the Pareto criterion. Yet this idea is completely undermined if wellbeing is defined too narrowly; people have to be better off, or no worse off, in wellbeing, not just in material living standards. If those who get rich get favorable political treatment, or undermine the public health or education systems, so that those who do less well lose out in politics, health, or education, then those who have done less well may have gained money but they are not better off. One cannot assess society, or justice, using living standards alone. Yet economists routinely and incorrectly apply the Pareto argument to income, ignoring other aspects of wellbeing...
Economic Policy Institute: The Price of Rights: Regulating International Labor Migration:
Whether Congress should open the U.S. labor market to more foreign workers is one of the most challenging questions it faces in the debate over how to reform federal immigration laws…. Dr. Martin Ruhs of Oxford University explores the tensions between human, labor, and citizenship rights and the determinants and ethics of labor immigration policies…. The Price of Rights examines labor immigration policies from over 50 countries, analyzes how high-income countries restrict the rights of migrant workers as part of their labor immigration policies, and discusses the implications for global debates about regulating labor migration and protecting migrants. Please join the Economic Policy Institute on Monday, October 21st from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. for a discussion about The Price of Rights with the author and a discussant.
Alan Greenspan's publisher did not send me a copy of his new The Map and the Territory. So at the moment I am running on the two different books read by Larry Summers and Steve Pearlstein:
Larry Summers: The Map and the Territory:
It was my privilege to work closely with Alan Greenspan for the eight years I served at the Treasury during the Clinton administration. His new book, The Map and the Territory, brings me back to fond memories of our conversations over the years. I haven’t always agreed with my friend but he has always left me wiser and with something to ponder. I have been struck… by the way… his approach… draws both on commitments to an individualist, libertarian philosophy and on extensive and deep immersion in economic statistics…. The range of topics and arguments makes this book a very important statement, whether one ultimately agrees or disagrees with the author. I found myself doing plenty of both. Greenspan’s range, vision and boldness is especially important at a time like the present, when Washington is preoccupied with the political and petty….
Winter Break Reading: Before you show up here in the spring for Econ 2, please:
Yes, there will be a quiz…
And then, before your first section meeting:
From his An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations:
The difference of natural talents in different men is, in reality, much less than we are aware of; and the very different genius which appears to distinguish men of different professions, when grown up to maturity, is not upon many occasions so much the cause as the effect of the division of labour.
From Amazon's page on the book:
‘The extent of the market’ is limited not just by transport but by trust: [T]here is also a feeling that some of the [recent] best-sellers have trivialised economics, titillating the reader with sex and drugs while neglecting the more important insights of the discipline. Nobody could accuse Partha Dasgupta of deepening this rut. In this Very Short Introduction, he has taken as his theme the original mystery of economics: the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. And he motivates the study not with unadorned GDP statistics but by comparing the lives of two young girls: Becky, who lives in an affluent American suburb, and Desta, the daughter of Ethiopian farmers. Why do two children, born so much alike, live such different lives?
From: Brad DeLong firstname.lastname@example.org
To: UCB Econ 2 Spring 2014 students
Subject: The Prologue to Partha Dasgupta's "Economics: A Very Short Introduction"
Becky, who is 10 years old, lives with her parents and an older brother Sam in a suburban town in America's Midwest. Becky's father works in a firm specializing in property law. Depending on the firm's profits, his annual income varies somewhat, but is rarely below 145,000 US dollars ($145,000). Becky's parents met at college. For a few years her mother worked in publishing, but when Sam was born she decided to concentrate on raising a family. Now that both Becky and Sam attend school, she does voluntary work in local education. The family live in a two-storey house. It has four bedrooms, two bathrooms upstairs and a toilet downstairs, a large drawing-cum-dining room, a modern kitchen, and a family room in the basement. There is a plot of land at the rear - the backyard - which the family use for leisure activities.
The sixth thing economists have to say is about “macro”: about how sometimes the entire market system appears to go awry in some puzzling way. Sometimes when you go the market, you find the money prices that you have to pay higher than you expected—perhaps 10% higher than you expected last year when you made your plans. It seems that, somehow, there is too much spending money chasing too few goods. How is this that this happens? And what should the government do to make sure that it does not happen?
From James Fieser's (email@example.com) Hume Archives:
LETTER FROM ADAM SMITH, LL.D.
TO WILLIAM STRAHAN, ESQ.
Kirkaldy, Fifeshire, Nov. 9. 1776
It is with a real, though a very melancholy, pleasure that l sit down to give you some account of the behaviour of our late excellent friend, Mr. Hume, during his last illness.
Will Wilkinson: Is a Non-Ideological Political Philosophy Possible?:
It's mostly personal epistemic virtue, but the content of belief helps too. I think a moderate general Pyrrhonism plus conceptually savvy empiricism plus pluralism plus a socially deliberative/procedural bent (not just democratic but also scientific) adds up to something close to non-ideological--as close one is likely to get, at any rate.
I stopped calling myself a libertarian in part because I thought my many marginal disagreements added up to something really substantive and categorical. Mostly, though, because ideological self-definition inwardly encourages a spirit of community and camaraderie and partisanship that is one of the blessings of life, but which also makes true philosophy next to impossible. I struggle daily with the possibility that I have made the wrong decision, and that belonging, even on the basis of shared error, is more important than truth. Where my label was, there is a scar.
UCB Public Affairs: Festival of ‘uncharted’ ideas coming to downtown Berkeley:
Robots, technology, race, food justice and climate change are just some of the diverse and pressing topics up for discussion at “Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas” Oct. 25 and 26. The downtown-Berkeley happening will feature a who’s who of speakers and lots of opportunity for participating “infovores” to interact, converse and imagine new futures.
Truman Medal Lecture: Her bottom line:
What is different this time is the Tea Party, which has broken the norms of American governance.
I do not believe we can run the federal government effectively with this low a level of discretionary appropriations to GDP.
We will implement the ACA, and it will go reasonably well.
I'm disappointed the president has not been willing to put forward something very close to what's in his budget and say: "Come on , John! Let's do it!"
Alas! The curse of Green Lanternism has struck again...
Nine from Fritz Stern's memoirs:
Fritz Stern (2006), Five Germanys I Have Known (New York: FSG: 0374155402): p. 216:
All manner of political editing had gratuitously added anticommunist comments to my discussions of Nazism. When I refused to allow the altered piece to appear under my name, Elliot [E.] Cohen, Commentary's legendary editor, yelled at me over the phone. I was a mere refugee, I was acting "un-American," and he had the power to "make me" in public life if only I would be reasonable. This intimidation mixed with promised reward didn't appeal to me, and I stuck to my guns...
Fritz Stern (2006), Five Germanys I Have Known (New York: FSG: 0374155402): p. 94:
In subsequent decades, some Germans were upset when I insisted that you had to be a village idiot not to have known about Dachau and some of the other camps during the 1930s. Hence I was interested to read not long ago that in July 1933 the celebrated violinist Adolf Busch wrote to his brother Fritz, the conductor, that Germans nowadays prayed: "Lieber Gott, much mich stumm, dass ich nicht nacht Dachau kumm." Lord, make me dumb [mute], so I to Dachau do not come.
The most powerful and informative health-affairs think tank is: The Incidental Economist:
Austin Frakt, Aaron Carroll, Kevin Outterson, Harold Pollack, Bill Gardner, Adrianna McIntyre, with occasional additional contributions by Don Taylor, Ian Crosby, and Steve Pizer. They punch so much above their weight that it is not funny. In fact, it is not clear to me that they have any weight at all--that any academic, research, or philanthropic institution has given them a dime for anything, rather than they having scrounged themselves into existence in their copious spare time and funding web hosting off of the spare-change jar…
Aaron Edlin asks whether anybody has updated Campbell and Shiller's original 1996 mean-reversion regressions to include the extra decade and a half of data we have obtained since.
As the DeLong Smackdown shortage has left us temporarily out of high- or even moderate-quality DeLong Smackdowns that are either valid or interesting (no, my judgment is that Niall Ferguson will not do; complain in comments, if you must--the point of this pseudo-weekly feature is to rise the level of the debate, not lower it still further), we are importing a smackdown at great expense via time machine from 2007.
You can thus see the expense and effort we devote to keeping our readers happy...
November 29, 2007: D-squared Digest: Have You Stopped Murdering Your Political Opponents? D-squared Digest -- FOR bigger pies and shorter hours and AGAINST more or less everything else:
Ashok Rao: The Great Degeneration by Niall Ferguson:
Rarely is a book’s title… so well-suited for its own description…. I agree with Niall Ferguson’s principal charge; that is institutions more than geography and culture explain global economic disparity, and their decay – especially in the West – should be of concern. At least more than it is right now. Also, despite the fact that he seems to know almost nothing about monetary policy, I found The Ascent of Money to be invaluable. Never, however, have I read a book… so blatant in its fraudulent claim, only vindicated by a lawyerly interpretation of grammar….
Dani Rodrik: The Perils of Premature Deindustrialization:
Most of today’s advanced economies became what they are by traveling the well-worn path of industrialization…. Peasants became factory workers, a process that underpinned not only an unprecedented rise in economic productivity, but also a wholesale revolution in social and political organization. The labor movement led to mass politics, and ultimately to political democracy. Over time, manufacturing ceded its place to services…. Only a few developing countries, typically in East Asia, have been able to emulate this pattern…. Consider Brazil and India…. In Brazil, manufacturing’s share of employment barely budged from 1950 to 1980, rising from 12% to 15%. Since the late 1980’s, Brazil has begun to deindustrialize…. India presents an even more striking case: Manufacturing employment there peaked at a meager 13% in 2002, and has since trended down….
Collection: African American Newspapers
Publication: THE NATIONAL ERA
Date: February 1, 1855
Title: SLAVE CASE.
CAMBRIDGE, O., Jan. 12, 1855.
To the Editor of The National Era: Enclosed I send you an account of a recent “Slave Case,” which occurred at this place. Having seen no notice of it in your paper, I clipped the enclosed account from the Guernsey Jeffersonian, thinking that you had not, perhaps, heard of it.
Yours truly, E. SMITH.
So what do economists have to say when they speak as public intellectuals in the public square? As I see it, economists have five things to teach at the "micro" level--of how individuals act, and of their well-being as they try to make their way in the world. These are: the deep roots of markets in human psychology and society, the extroardinary power of markets as decentralized mechanisms for getting large groups of humans to work broadly together rather than at cross-purposes, the ways in which markets can powerfully reinforce and amplify the harm done by domination and oppression, the manifold other ways in which the market can go wrong because it is somewhat paradoxically so effective, and how the market needs the state to underpin and manage it on the “micro” level.
Tyler Cowen: Time management tips:
John Quiggin offers some time management tips over at CrookedTimber.org. I’ll second his call for a daily "word quota", but express horror at his notion that you should ever devote a morning to "8-10 jobs that ought to take 5 minutes each."
Here are my suggestions:
- There is always time to do more, most people, even the productive, have a day that is at least forty percent slack.
- Do the most important things first in the day and don’t let anybody stop you. Estimate "most important" using a zero discount rate. Don’t make exceptions. The hours from 7 to 12 are your time to build for the future before the world descends on you.
- Some tasks (drawing up outlines?) expand or contract to fill the time you give them. Shove all these into times when you are pressed to do something else very soon.
- Each day stop writing just a bit before you have said everything you want to. Better to approach your next writing day "hungry" than to feel "written out." Your biggest enemy is a day spent not writing, not a day spent writing too little.
- Blogging builds up good work habits; the deadline is always "now."
Sit down some evening and watch the news on the TV, or scan the magazine covers in the supermarket, or simply immerse youself in modern America.
If you are like me, you will be struck by the extent to which our collective public conversation focuses on seven topic areas: