....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.
...and thank you all for joining us here today. This is a special day for us at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, especially at the Helena Branch. Dave Solberg, a member of the Branch’s board of directors, will complete his service at the end of this year. I would like to extend my personal thanks to Dave for his service to the Helena Branch and, more broadly, to the Federal Reserve. The time that our directors, and members of our advisory councils, devote to their work is truly valuable. Dave and his colleagues bring important insights about the economy from people on Main Street and on farms and ranches across the region. As I have said many times, we have no end of data at the Federal Reserve, but data are backward-looking, and we need all the information we can get to make judgments about the future course of the economy. So thanks again to Dave and to his colleagues on the board, as well as anyone else in the room who has served on a Federal Reserve board or council. We appreciate your service.
...is compatible with values rooted in our nation's history, among them the high value Americans have traditionally placed on equality of opportunity.... To the extent that opportunity itself is enhanced by access to economic resources, inequality of outcomes can exacerbate inequality of opportunity, thereby perpetuating a trend of increasing inequality.... Society faces difficult questions of how best to fairly and justly promote equal opportunity. My purpose today is not to provide answers to these contentious questions, but rather to provide a factual basis for further discussion.... I will review trends... then identify and discuss four sources of economic opportunity in America.... The first two are widely recognized as important sources of opportunity: resources available for children and affordable higher education. The second two may come as more of a surprise: business ownership and inheritances.... In focusing on these four building blocks, I do not mean to suggest that they account for all economic opportunity, but I do believe they are all significant sources of opportunity for individuals and their families to improve their economic circumstances...
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?
Nieman Storyboard: "In what might be the only performance of Texas stand-up comedy about narrative writing...
...Vanity Fair writer Bryan Burrough recently offered practical tips for long-form storytelling to a Mayborn Conference audience. Prior to his magazine career, Burrough spent several years reporting for The Wall Street Journal; he has also written five books, including Public Enemies and Barbarians at the Gate. In these excerpts from his talk, Burrough addresses the best transition word ever, presents his strategy for avoiding writer’s block, and reminds you that “your words are not nearly as great as you think they are.”
Charles Evans: Patience Is a Virtue When Normalizing Monetary Policy: "I would like to thank the Peterson Institute and Adam Posen...
...for organizing this conference focusing on labor market issues. The functioning of the labor market is always of great interest to both academics and policymakers. But today, with the collapse of labor demand during the Great Recession and ongoing structural changes, judging the health and future of labor markets is both especially challenging and important. The work presented at this conference and others like it offers an opportunity to integrate the most recent research with the thinking of policymakers. In keeping with this theme, I will first offer my views on the labor market and how the issues raised here influence my thinking on monetary policy, and I will then discuss my more general strategy for considering when and how we should begin to normalize monetary policy.
Paul Krugman: 'Seven Bad Ideas,' by Jeff Madrick: "The economics profession has not, to say the least...
...covered itself in glory these past six years. Hardly any economists predicted the 2008 crisis — and the handful who did tended to be people who also predicted crises that didn’t happen. More significant, many and arguably most economists were claiming, right up to the moment of collapse, that nothing like this could even happen.
Furthermore, once crisis struck economists seemed unable to agree on a response. They’d had 75 years since the Great Depression to figure out what to do if something similar happened again, but the profession was utterly divided when the moment of truth arrived.
Weekend Reading: Michael Berube (1996): Review of Dinesh D'Souza, "The End of Racism", Transition http://www.jstor.org/stable/2935241?
Strolling through the Detroit International Airport on my way to my parents' home in Virginia Beach, I came upon a newsstand-bookstore that was devoting eight or ten shelves of space-roughly one-quarter, I believe, of its "new bestsellers" wall-to Dinesh D'Souza's The End of Racism. I had heard a great deal about the book before it was published, and had just recently been asked (twice, actually) by the Chicago Tribune to re- view the thing. I declined, partly on the grounds that I've already read more D'Souza than any human should, having perused both Illiberal Education (1991) and his rarely mentioned first (and best) effort, Falwell: Before the Millennium (1984). That's the book where D'Souza writes:
listening to Falwell speak, one gets a sense that something is right about America, after all.
Dean Baker: Influencing the Debate from Outside the Mainstream: Keep it Simple: "If people working outside of the mainstream of the profession are going to have any impact...
...on economic policy debates in the United States it is essential that they understand the forum in which the debate is taking place. This is not a contest of ideas where the best arguments and evidence win out. If we are talking about a debate within the economics profession, think of debating the morality of abortion with the pope in front of the College of Cardinals. That is pretty much what it is like to try to challenge any of the main precepts of economics within the economics profession.
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 (???).
Noah Smith: Austrian Economists, 9/11 Truthers, and Brain Worms: "In the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan...
...the super-genius villain puts alien worms into people’s brains in order to subvert them to his demented cause. I think Khan could have been an Austrian economist. To those of you who have run afoul of the defenders of Austrianism on the Internet, the analogy will be clear. The Austrian worldview is like a brain worm that has infected large swathes of our financial industry, commentariat and general public. Even you, dear reader, may carry one or two of its wriggling larva inside your gray matter.
Annalee Newitz: 8 Things We Can Do Now to Build a Space Colony This Century: "We talked to scientists and experts about the fundamental things they think we should do right now...
...if we want to have a space colony in the next 100 years.
Save Earth: NASA astronomer Amy Mainzer, who studies Near Earth Objects at JPL, says our number one priority has to be here on our home planet. She told io9 that it's a pretty inhospitable universe out there, so our space colonies will probably never replace home:
From my perspective, the most important thing we can do to be prepared for any activity far in the future is try not to wipe out life here.... The defining challenge of the next hundred years is to come to grips with creating a sustainable future here, as a minimum precursor to building a sustainable future anywhere else.
Change the Way the U.S. Government Plans Space Missions: Ariel Waldman....
If the nation decides to begin a space colony outside of low Earth orbit, you need to talk about changing the way NASA does business. Currently, NASA engages in a capabilities-based and/or "flexible path" approach in which technologies are developed with no specific set of missions in mind.... The National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Human Spaceflight... recommend[s]... NASA switch to a "pathways" approach... [with[ a horizon goal... [and] a very specific set of stepping stones along the way.... As far as technologies needed for a pathway that leads to Mars, the committee assessed 10 high priority areas in terms of the technical challenges. The 10 high priority areas are: Mars Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL), Radiation Safety, In-Space Propulsion and Power, Heavy Lift Launch Vehicles, Planetary Ascent Propulsion, Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS), Habitats, Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Suits, Crew Health, and In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU - using the Mars atmosphere as a raw material).
Develop 3D Printing in Space: Les Johnson suggests:
3D printing and the rocket engine are the two inventions that will eventually enable space settlement. With 3D printing you can cut that supply chain and make all the spare parts you need locally.... A colony cannot survive if it is dependent upon a supply chain from Earth. We must mine asteroids for their raw materials (making solar arrays, colony structural materials, etc from the raw materials in Near Earth Asteroids)....
Let Space Tourists Take Vacations in Orbital Hotels: Seth Shostack... heads up the SETI Institute.... He said that our best bet is to create a thriving space tourism industry today.... He told io9:
At space conferences, people interested in commercializing space want to build small hotel rooms in orbit.... The big problems here are not technical--they are liabiltiy. But there is a market.... at any price point for putting people in orbit. So the first eight space hotel rooms are expensive, but then it's cheaper for next eight....
Figure Out How Ecosystems Work:... Hedvig Nenzen... gave us the lowdown on all the things we need to research now if we ever hope to terraform a barren world:
I'm going to assume that we find a new planet without an ecosystem already on it. Thus, in order to live in space we will have to build something from scratch with species we bring us. Scientists are realizing that it's more and more difficult to make an ecosystem from nothing, and to know how exactly the new ecosystem might work. There are just so many details and parts in an ecosystem that we don't understand yet....
Build a Giant Sun Umbrella with Robots: UC Berkeley economist Brad De Long, who has written a great deal about how robots will change our future economy, noodled around late one night with a few robot-fueled ideas he shared with io9:
It seems clear to me at least that anything done at or inside the moon's orbit over the next century will be better done by teleoperated robots, because beyond the van Allen belt and the atmosphere we become very heavy creatures that need not only water but also sheaths of lead. So I have been trying to think of something we might need to do far enough outside the moon's orbit that teleoperated robots won't do it, and that would be wildly profitable--as the late Jim Baen liked to say, successful space travel and space colonization will be exothermic, not endothermic....
The big one, of course, is the giant sun umbrella at L1, 930,000 miles away. That is far enough that teleoperated robots controlled from a local station shielded against solar storms and cosmic rays might do much better then robots with a 10 second response leg controlled from earth, and that might be a vastly cheaper way of dealing with global warming successfully then hoping for the nuclear/better solar fairies to show up.
Were I NASA, I would be planning for the sunshade now—both the Earth-control 10 second lag teleoperated robot and the local station controlled versions. And, of course, the moon base—perhaps robot only, alas!—for manufacturing the station would make lifting it out of the gravity well to L1 much cheaper.
Study How DNA Repairs Radiation Damage: Sylvain Costes is a molecular biologist at Lawrence Berkeley Labs.... He has some advice.... He told io9:
To colonize another planet, you need to focus on biology. The best way to deal with radiation is to take nutrients that will protect you, like antioxidants. Of course, you need the right ones. NASA and other groups have shown that there are a lot of nutrients blueberries, and more efficient ones, that will protect you against radiation. It won't stop radiation, but it can mitigate the effects....
Costes believes we need to plan for space colonies by discovering better anti-oxidants, adopting a "risk management" approach to space travel. He also notes that it's possible that some people simply may not be able to thrive in space, because their DNA doesn't recover from damage as easily as other people's.
Educate People About Our Connection to Space: Mae Jemison... the most important first step is education:
If we are to have any hope of having a robust, healthy nation of humans living, working, growing up and excelling happily in space we have to reconnect people here on Earth today with their ancient space heritage! The task is to get people to feel that we, like our ancestors, are linked to the stars above, not just the ground beneath our feet. And to know that what we prepare now builds the future. Teach that the reason we can predict aspects of flooding today is because everyday people thousands of years ago noticed the connection of the tides to phases of the moon. And they created calendars based on the movement of the stars. Call weather and crop satellite pictures "images from space," or GPS directions "satellite navigation."... But just a rational discussion won't do it; to feel it, let's make sure that at least once a year we go outside at night with all the lights off and experience a star-studded vista!
Weekend Reading: Civility, Outrage: "In the grand scheme of internet things...
...I don’t think I’m a particularly harsh interlocutor. While I sometimes happen into them, I don’t like twitter fights. When I argue I prefer to keep the points neat, discrete, and narrow. This is to keep things topical and non-personal. That’s just how I prefer to argue in public--keeps the headaches to a minimum. Nonetheless I am still from time to time accused of being uncivil. This is usually in the context of me writing about something odious someone has said, like when that Federalist dude said we should shame poor kids, or when Erick Erickson said poor people negotiating better working conditions are “failures at life.” In these cases critics usually don’t take exception with what I’ve argued, they just suggest it would’ve been better if I had done so differently — usually that means in a kinder, gentler, more soothing way.
But I’ve gotten suspicious of this brand of criticism--which is not uncommon--and so I’ve put together a list here of reasons I seriously question the cult of civility:
...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.
From David Leonhardt's The Upshot:
Claire Cain Miller: Will You Lose Your Job to a Robot? Silicon Valley Is Split: Following are a sampling of the points of view expressed in the Pew report.
Most utopian: “How unhappy are you that your dishwasher has replaced washing dishes by hand, your washing machine has displaced washing clothes by hand or your vacuum cleaner has replaced hand cleaning? My guess is this ‘job displacement’ has been very welcome, as will the ‘job displacement’ that will occur over the next 10 years. This is a good thing. Everyone wants more jobs and less work.” — Hal Varian, chief economist at Google
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.
Janet L. Yellen: Labor Market Dynamics and Monetary Policy: "In the five years since the end of the Great Recession...
...the economy has made considerable progress in recovering from the largest and most sustained loss of employment in the United States since the Great Depression. More jobs have now been created in the recovery than were lost in the downturn, with payroll employment in May of this year finally exceeding the previous peak in January 2008. Job gains in 2014 have averaged 230,000 a month, up from the 190,000 a month pace during the preceding two years. The unemployment rate, at 6.2 percent in July, has declined nearly 4 percentage points from its late 2009 peak. Over the past year, the unemployment rate has fallen considerably, and at a surprisingly rapid pace. These developments are encouraging, but it speaks to the depth of the damage that, five years after the end of the recession, the labor market has yet to fully recover.
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...
From Josh Brown and Jeff Macke: Clash of the Financial Pundits:
Josh Brown and Jeff Macke: Chapter 7: The Man Who Moved Markets: ￼"'There are clear lines separating those who swear by him and those who swear at him.' —LOUIS RUKEYSER ON JOE GRANVILLE...
...It is late in the evening on January 6, 1981, and telephones all over the country are starting to ring. Thirty employees of a Florida-based stock market newsletter business are making out-going calls to deliver a very simple, yet ominous, message to a few thousand subscribers across the nation:
This is a Granville Early Warning. Sell everything. Market top has been reached. Go short on stocks having sharpest advances since April. Click.
Early the next morning, just after the opening bell of trade rings on the New York Stock Exchange, the market gaps lower and sell orders continue to flood into the trading floor. The Dow drops a total of 24 points that day, or 2.5 percent, on historic volume of more than 93 million shares traded, more than double the daily average. The Dow then proceeds to drop another 1.5 percent the next day; a five-week sell-off is soon under way. Traders and business news reporters are pointing toward Joe Granville to explain the sudden, sharp drop in the stock market, and Granville is more than happy to be pointed at.
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.
Dale Eisinger: My Short Career in the Internet Outrage Business "The target demographic: white males, Rust Belt, fifty-plus...
...We came in early; I saw the sunrise every morning.... We made up the New York office of a conservative media company based in the South. In hindsight, the politics seem both hyper-specific and nebulous; the one constant is that they orbited around white-hot outrage and fear. This was not obvious to me when I replied to the "Digital Reporter" listing.... The earnest man conducting my interview assured me that my politics had nothing to do with the scope of the work I’d be doing. For the most part, he was correct. We’re all actors on the internet, right? “Fuck it,” I said to myself, “You’ll have a job writing news.”...
The War on Christmas was a big topic around the office. When the shooting at Sandy Hook happened, the answer was “more guns.” These were positions I was not used to hearing directly. Not that I hadn’t worked at news organizations with conservatives before. This was just so clear cut, and an orthodoxy: To assign pitched outrage to mundane news items for the sake of clicks. That was the job: to trawl Twitter, and the rest of the internet, for conspiracy and evidence of liberal malice. Then, to repackage these stories or posts or memes for the target demo. This is a common job description for a certain large—and largely invisible—class of web writer. And it is tedious, mind-numbing work.... My request for a pseudonym, which I did not expected to be granted, was. This was a staggering development. The speed at which the “yes” came back was unnerving, as if such requests were common.
Sam and I conferred for a good hour before he drummed up a loose and purposefully Arabic-sounding anagram of my name. The next email came back even quicker than the first: “Are you an embed from Gawker?” Not that I hadn’t considered, before signing on, that I could spill the company’s secrets to the liberal media. It's just that, it turns out, there weren’t really any secrets to spill. One time I found a couple massive portraits of Ronald Reagan in a coat closet. Otherwise, everything you needed to know was right there on the page. “That name is too hard to catalog in the CMS,” my editor eventually wrote back. I settled on the alias “William Dennings” and, at one point, tried to link my author profile to a stranger’s corresponding Facebook page. The guy in the picture wore a mustache and a cowboy hat.
I identified with the few other writers and producers on a pretty basic level: we were just trying to make a buck. On other, much more significant levels, I felt totally alone. Ruth seemed idealistic and “liked boys.” David was an energetic old tabloid reporter who always wore jeans. Steven had a family and a bit of a lisp. Joshua, who sat next to me, had been in the battle of Fallujah and ran a small publication from South Jersey focusing on animal rights issues. He had decency and kindness and heart. He was trying to lose weight after a few slack newlywed years. Eventually, he and my editor would get into a contest over who could shed more pounds. I’d be fired before seeing the outcome.
None of these people were essentially bad. And as far as I could tell, none of them were really ideologues. I seemed to be the only one constantly defending my politics, forcing myself to be the odd man out at after-work drinks or one remarkably boozy company lunch somewhere on Park Avenue South. Otherwise, I absconded to my hideout in Brooklyn, dreading the next day, passing out before the sun went down just so I could wake before it came back up. Was anyone stopping us from celebrating Christmas? What was the lawsuit against the CEO of Papa John’s Pizza all about? How many headlines could we get off of Lena Dunham’s haircut? What was it like to share a trailer at the RNC with Sean Hannity? In the world I wanted to live in, in the New York I’d envisioned for myself years before, the answer to all these questions was another question: “Who gives a shit?” That was the problem: getting myself interested in this news was the real work. The rest was a form letter.
My attention wandered. I sought out stranger and stranger news. My friends made Tweets specific to my stories so I could put them into posts. If I wasn’t working through lunch, I’d sit in the park and watch porn on my phone and occasionally crank one out in the office bathroom. I spent afternoons tailoring my OKCupid page. I used the copier for “an art project.” I lost my RFID keycard. I made stupid mistakes. I came in later and later and sometimes not at all.
Every morning, I’d get a runsheet of stories my editor would have liked to see covered. I didn’t have to accomplish them (I rarely did as time went on) but it was the closest thing we had to direct guidance. Eventually I was given a story about a very young person in a Western state who identified as transgender. This elementary schooler wanted to use the girls’ bathroom and this caused a stir all over conservative media. I got it into my head that I could do something about this. I wrote the article sympathetic to the child in what I’m sure was a crusade of bombast. The next day, I must have been late. My editor called and the sun was up and I was still in bed. He sounded genuinely pained. “Today,” he said, “we’ve had to make the hard decision to let you go. I don’t know what’s gotten into you. You’re trending sideways.” Then he said bye and hung up.
Trending sideways. Media theorists tell us again and again that we seek out news that harmonizes with our own views. We want reinforcement of our biases. The confusion over “what is news” is a consumer malady insomuch as the mediamakers can twist it: outrage, distrust, confusion, misinformation, conspiracy. Any media professional knows what spin is, and we’re all guilty of it to different degrees. But here, I made myself the twisted one, my perspective of the conservative world so flawed that I refused to believe in anything other than an idyll, a world where journalism always changes things for the greater good. It just didn’t exist. And it doesn’t.
More simply, I couldn’t do the work. I failed. A byline is not just a byline; it’s the signatory on a contract of truth. Then, totally alone, I no longer trusted myself. I knew I wasn’t me. If we already know what we’re reading, we’d better at least know who we’re not.
McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Unused Audio Commentary By Howard Zinn And Noam Chomsky, Recorded Summer 2002 For The Fellowship Of The Ring (Platinum Series Extended Edition): BY JEFF ALEXANDER AND TOM BISSELL
Chomsky: The film opens with Galadriel speaking. “The world has changed,” she tells us, “I can feel it in the water.” She’s actually stealing a line from the non-human Treebeard. He says this to Merry and Pippin in The Two Towers, the novel. Already we can see who is going to be privileged by this narrative and who is not.
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.
Michael Koplow: "I mean it when I call these friends and acquaintances well-intentioned; the first group is genuinely and legitimately concerned...
...with Israel’s safety and survival and is terrified by the anti-Semitic outbursts and attacks around the world under the cover of the Palestinian cause and sees no other rational response to the nihilistic and eliminationist rhetoric from Hamas but the current IDF operations in Gaza. The second group genuinely cannot abide seeing hundreds of Palestinian civilians killed and images of dead children on Gazan beaches and blames the Israelis for bringing a tank to a knife fight and using it in ways that seem to cause indiscriminate death while Israeli civilians are relatively safe from Hamas rocket fire. Neither group is going to ever come over the other side or change its views, but that is to be expected. The despair comes from the fact that neither group even empathizes with the other side or remotely understands how someone can possibly arrive at a position different from its own....
Cosmos Elysee of the Center for Evidence-Based Haruspicy (2009): On the Certainty of the Bayesian Fortune-Teller: "Three-Toed Sloth: Slow Takes from the Canopy (My Very Own Internet Tradition): June 16, 2009:
Attention conservation notice: 2300 words of technical, yet pretentious and arrogant, dialogue on a point which came up in a manuscript-in-progress, as well as in my long-procrastinated review of Plight of the Fortune Tellers. Why don't you read that book instead?
Q: You really shouldn't write in library books, you know; and if you do, your marginalia should be more helpful, or less distracting, than just "wrong wrong wrong!"
A: No harm done; my pen and I are both transparent rhetorical devices. And besides, Rebonato is wrong in those passages.
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!
Max Gladstone: Choice of the Deathless:
Battle demons and undead attorneys, and win souls to pay back your student loans! At the elite demonic-law firm of Varkath Nebuchadnezzar Stone, you'll depose a fallen god, find romance, and maybe even make partner, if you don't lose your own soul first.
"Choice of the Deathless" is a necromantic legal thriller by Max Gladstone, Campbell Award-nominated author of Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise. The game is entirely text-based--without graphics or sound effects--and powered by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.
- Explore a fantasy realm with a rich and evolving backstory, based on the novels published by Tor Books.
- Play as male or female, gay or straight, dead or alive (or both).
- Build your career on carefully reasoned contracts, or party all night with the skeletal partners at your firm.
- Navigate intrigue and mystery in a world of scheming magicians and devious monsters.
- Look for love in at least some of the right places.
- Balance student loans, sleep, daily commute, rent payments, and demonic litigation—hey, nobody said being a wizard was always fun.
From John Maynard Keynes's 1926 pamphlet The End of Laissez-Faire13: "The economists... furnished the scientific doctrine...
by which the practical man could solve the contradiction between egoism and socialism which emerged out of the philosophising of the eighteenth century and the decay of revealed religion. But... I hasten to qualify it. This is what the economists are supposed to have said. No such doctrine is really to be found in the writings of the greatest authorities. It is what the popularisers and the vulgarisers said.... The language of the economists lent itself to the laissez-faire interpretation. But the popularity of the doctrine must be laid at the door of the political philosophers of the day, whom it happened to suit, rather than of the political economists.
Claudio Borio (2012): The Financial Cycle and Macroeconomics: What Have We Learnt? "[']The financial cycle[']... denote[s] self-reinforcing interactions between perceptions of value and risk...
...attitudes towards risk and financing constraints, which translate into booms followed by busts... [that] amplify economic fluctuations and possibly lead to serious financial distress and economic dislocations.... Equity prices can be a distraction.... Interest rates, volatilities, risk premia, default rates, non-performing loans, and so on.... Combining credit and property prices appears to be the most parsimonious way to capture the core features....
Jonathan Chait vs. Peter Suderman on ObamaCare:
Jonathan Chait: Libertarian Accidentally Shows Obamacare Success: "The Commonwealth Fund has a new survey...
...showing that the proportion of adults lacking health insurance has fallen by a quarter, from 20 percent of the population to 15 percent. (Most respondents, including 74 percent of newly insured Republicans, report liking their plan.) Also, this week, the Congressional Budget Office again revised down its cost estimates for Medicare, which now spends $50 billion a year less than it was projected to before Obamacare passed. Also, the New England Journal of Medicine recently estimated that 20 million Americans gained insurance under the new law.
The latter study comes in for criticism by Peter Suderman, Reason’s indefatigable health-care analyst.
Inaugural Michel Camdessus Central Banking Lecture on Financial Stability’, at the IMF
CHRISTINE LAGARDE: Oh, my goodness. Madam Chairman, you have impressed us enormously with a rich, dense, very informative and very candid read — your read of the current situation and how monetary and macroprudential — monetary policy and macroprudential tools could be used in sequence, in parallel, in different circumstances. And I would like to, maybe following the Stradivarius analogy of Michel, to stay loyal to (our man ?) today, what would you say? Would you say that macroprudential tools are second fiddle to the main Stradivarius of monetary policy? Or would you say that, depending on circumstances, macroprudential tools become the premier violon and have to deal with the issues as a first line of defense?
Adam Smith: Smith: Wealth of Nations, Book I, Chapter 8: "The liberal reward of labour...
...as it encourages the propagation, so it increases the industry of the common people.... A plentiful subsistence increases the bodily strength of the labourer, and the comfortable hope of bettering his condition, and of ending his days perhaps in ease and plenty, animates him to exert that strength to the utmost. Where wages are high, accordingly, we shall always find the workmen more active, diligent, and expeditious, than where they are low; in England, for example, than in Scotland; in the neighbourhood of great towns, than in remote country places. Some workmen, indeed, when they can earn in four days what will maintain them through the week, will be idle the other three. This, however, is by no means the case with the greater part.
Alfred Marshall (1885): Cambridge Inaugural Lecture: The Present Position of Economics "It is commonly said that those who set the tone of economic thought...
...in England in the earlier part of the century were theorists who neglected the study of fact, and that this was specially an English fault. Such a charge seems to be baseless. Most of them were practical man with a wide and direct personal knowledge of business affairs. They wrote economic histories that are in their way at least equal to anything that has been done since. They brought about the collection of statistics by public and private agencies and that admirable series of parliamentary inquiries, which have been a model for all other countries, and have inspired the modern German historic school with many of their best thoughts.
I remember that I found this, by Amartya Sen, totally convincing when I first read it 32 years ago. And I still find it totally convincing today:
Amartya Sen: Just Deserts: "This book... a collection of [P.T.] Bauer’s essays...
...gives an excellent account of his main theses on development policy and international relations. It also presents his approach to economic equality and inequality in general, and places his discussions of development against the background of some of the broadest issues of political economy.... I shall argue that Bauer’s approach—in spite of its power and appeal—is fundamentally flawed, and that his analysis cannot bear the weight of the conclusions that he rests on it.
Thom Hartmann: The Second Amendment was Ratified to Preserve Slavery: "The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified...
...and why it says "State" instead of "Country"... was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia's vote.... Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that... and we all should be too. In the beginning, there were the militias. In the South, they were also called the "slave patrols," and they were regulated by the states. In Georgia, for example, a generation before the American Revolution, laws were passed in 1755 and 1757 that required all plantation owners or their male white employees to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of all slaves in the state. The law defined which counties had which armed militias and even required armed militia members to keep a keen eye out for slaves who may be planning uprisings.
Andrew O'Hehir: The Empire Strikes Back: How Brandeis foreshadowed Snowden and Greenwald: "In the famous wiretapping case Olmstead v. United States...
...argued before the Supreme Court in 1928, Justice Louis Brandeis wrote one of the most influential dissenting opinions in the history of American jurisprudence. Those who are currently engaged in what might be called the Establishment counterattack against Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden, including the eminent liberal journalists Michael Kinsley and George Packer, might benefit from giving it a close reading and a good, long think.
Arthur C. Clarke (1971): Reunion: "People of Earth, do not be afraid...
...We come in peace--and why not? For we are your cousins; we have been here before.
You will recognise us when we meet, a few hours from now. We are approaching the solar system almost as swiftly as this radio message. Already, your sun dominates the sky ahead of us. It is the sun our ancestors and yours shared ten million years ago. We are men, as you are; but you have forgotten your history, while we have remembered ours
Jim Sleeper: Brooks, Wieseltier: Cries of American Weakness by the People Who Weakened America: "Cries for American military preparedness are growing louder and louder by the day, rising, circling, and echoing one another...
...in a frenzy that even the awfulness of events in Ukraine and many other places doesn’t quite explain. The reason, according to Leon Wieseltier, David Brooks, and other prophets of American Destiny, is that (as I quoted Wieseltier here on March 10) President Obama “is not raising the country up, he is tutoring it in ruefulness and futility…”
To quote Robert Benchley, “Having a dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.” Such are the shortcomings of experience. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to review past mistakes before committing new ones. So let’s take a quick look at the last 25 years.
I’m going to start this off with a quote from Chip Delany, writing in the essay “Racism and Science Fiction” which was published in NYRSF in 1998. It’s online, you can look it up.
Since I began to publish in 1962, I have often been asked, by people of all colors, what my experience of racial prejudice in the science fiction field has been. Has it been nonexistent? By no means: It was definitely there. A child of the political protests of the ’50s and ’60s, I’ve frequently said to people who asked that question: As long as there are only one, two, or a handful of us, however, I presume in a field such as science fiction, where many of its writers come out of the liberal-Jewish tradition, prejudice will most likely remain a slight force—until, say, black writers start to number thirteen, fifteen, twenty percent of the total. At that point, where the competition might be perceived as having some economic heft, chances are we will have as much racism and prejudice here as in any other field.
We are still a long way away from such statistics.
But we are certainly moving closer.
I’m tempted to just stop there, drop the mic, and walk offstage, point made. Chip’s a hard act to follow.
Robert Skidelsky: Book review: Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty: "The early 19th-century founders of the classical school of economics..
...reasoned that the distribution of a society’s income depended crucially on who owned its productive resources. David Ricardo identified three classes of producer, landlords, capitalists and workers. Each of these classes owned a factor of production—land, capital and labour. With land and capital scarce relative to labour, landlords and capitalists could claim a disproportionate share of the produce that they and the workers jointly produced. Workers’ pay would be forced to subsistence. Classical socialism, as Karl Marx conceived it, was a branch of this tree. Abolish private ownership of land and capital (and the power which this gave) and one would abolish the “rents” to their owners, enabling workers to receive their proper share of production.
Irving Fisher: Economists in Public Service: Annual Address of the President: Source: The American Economic Review, Vol. 9, No. 1, Supplement, Papers and Proceedings of the Thirty-First Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association (Mar., 1919), pp. 5-21 Published by: American Economic Association. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1813978 Accessed: 17/04/2013 12:34
Of the many effects which the war has exerted on the minds of men, one of the most notable is the keener desire which we all now feel to be of genuine public service. During the war hundreds of our members have done "war work." In Washington alone one hundred and twenty of them have been in public service. During the impending world-reconstruction, economists will probably have more opportunity to satisfy this impulse than most students in other departments of human thought; for the great problems of reconstruction are largely economic.
Adam Smith: [An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations]: "In every thing except their foreign trade...
the liberty of the English colonists to manage their own affairs their own way, is complete. It is in every respect equal to that of their fellow-citizens at home, and is secured in the same manner, by an assembly of the representatives of the people, who claim the sole right of imposing taxes for the support of the colony government. The authority of this assembly overawes the executive power; and neither the meanest nor the most obnoxious colonist, as long as he obeys the law, has any thing to fear from the resentment, either of the governor, or of any other civil or military officer in the province.
The colony assemblies, though, like the house of commons in England, they are not always a very equal representation of the people, yet they approach more nearly to that character; and as the executive power either has not the means to corrupt them, or, on account of the support which it receives from the mother country, is not under the necessity of doing so, they are, perhaps, in general more influenced by the inclinations of their constituents. The councils, which, in the colony legislatures, correspond to the house of lords in Great Britain, are not composed of a hereditary nobility. In some of the colonies, as in three of the governments of New England, those councils are not appointed by the king, but chosen by the representatives of the people. In none of the English colonies is there any hereditary nobility. In all of them, indeed, as in all other free countries, the descendant of an old colony family is more respected than an upstart of equal merit and fortune; but he is only more respected, and he has no privileges by which he can be troublesome to his neighbours.
Before the commencement of the present disturbances, the colony assemblies had not only the legislative, but a part of the executive power. In Connecticut and Rhode Island, they elected the governor. In the other colonies, they appointed the revenue officers, who collected the taxes imposed by those respective assemblies, to whom those officers were immediately responsible. There is more equality, therefore, among the English colonists than among the inhabitants of the mother country. Their manners are more republican; and their governments, those of three of the provinces of New England in particular, have hitherto been more republican too...
Emanuel Derman: "Speech at Commencement 2014 to Berkeley MSE Grads: March 21, 2014...
...It’s truly a great pleasure for me to be at the University of California at Berkeley today. Not quite 50 years ago, when I was an undergraduate studying physics in Cape Town, I began applying to go to the United States for graduate school. It seemed to be the right thing to do if you were serious about your field.
So I applied to three schools: Columbia, because I knew someone in Cape Town who had just gone there, and because it was in New York City; Caltech, because Feynman was there and had recently been awarded the Nobel prize and also published the stylish and insightful Feynman lectures on physics, though I didn’t understand at the time what he had actually accomplished; and Berkeley, because it was in the news for the start of the revolts against arbitrary authority on campus. I read the other day that year is the 50th anniversary of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement that seem to me to have kicked off the Sixties. For those of you who are too young to remember that, whichI suppose is all of you graduating today and maybe much of the faculty too, take a look — it’ll make interesting reading.
Vladimir Lenin: "I would urge strongly that at this Congress a number of changes be made in our political structure.
I want to tell you of the considerations to which I attach most importance.
At the head of the list I set an increase in the number of Central Committee members to a few dozen or even a hundred. It is my opinion that without this reform our Central Committee would be in great danger if the course of events were not quite favourable for us (and that is something we cannot count on).