Department of "Huh?!"
It's the Aggregate Demand, Stupid

Worth Reading, Mostly Economics, for April 17, 2010

  • Olivia: "Obviously the internet is the greatest distribution technology ever created for music and writing and video and journalism. But it’s also obvious it generally makes it more difficult for people producing such things to earn a living. So I have three goals with this: 1. Finally start paying some of the people who’ve created wonderful things I’ve enjoyed. 2. If possible, get lots of other people online to start doing this as well. It would be a beautiful thing if it grew and grew.... 3. In my most grandiose dreams, this idea would—in the process of becoming popular—make people realize that we need a new way to fund all kinds of art.... ’m convinced the answer is something like Dean Baker’s Artistic Freedom Vouchers... a $100 voucher each year that they could in turn give to anyone producing anything creative.... [R]ecipients... [who] accepted AFV money... for a period of time afterward... everything they produced would be copyright free.
  • Popova: "I am not saying that stealing a movie is a victimless crime.... I'm... describing the behaviour of movies as goods in economic terms.... [I]t's become progressively more difficult to make content... excludable.... It doesn't mean content is free... or cheap to make... or that content creators should not get rewarded.... It means that old business models based on content being a club good simply don't work.... So what does the future of content look like?... I don't know.... [F]or certain types... putting it up for free... increase[s] your sales.... We're going to see a wider variety of distribution models.... Art isn't the shiny disc.... It's the project that your favourite artist announces on their blog and asks you for funding and posts updates about.... Of course there will be free-riders. Not everyone will pay... even if they really like it. But those people might point their friends in the direction of that artist.... Bottom line: change is happening."
  • Bartlett: "It seems like eons ago that John McCain was a senator worthy of respect even when he was wrong. Now he's just wrong. His irresponsible attack on the value added tax yesterday is a case in point. Out of the blue, McCain introduced a non-germane amendment to pending legislation (H.R. 4851) denouncing the VAT. Here is the full text of his amendment, which is in the form of a resolution expressing the opinion of the Senate."
  • Bartlett: "The larger point Mark is making here applies as well to the decline of the news media... the things the right figured out long ago is that reporters and TV producers are lazy and the ones that aren't are too pressed for time to do more than take studies by think tanks or anyone else at face value. They don't have the knowledge, education or resources to do fact-checking or quality control.... One consequence of Heritage's breakthrough in developing short, readable, time-sensitive policy analyses is that they were just as useful to the media as they were on Capitol Hill. Reporters had the same need for predigested studies written in plain English, as opposed to the sorts of books written in academese that were the stock-in-trade of traditional think tanks like Brookings. Conservatives also realized that putting out a study saying the exact opposite of a liberal study was sufficient to muddy the water..."
  • Roubini: "All successful rescues of countries in financial distress – Mexico, Korea, Thailand, Brazil, Turkey – require two conditions: the country’s credible willingness to impose the fiscal austerity and structural reforms needed to restore sustainability and growth; and massive amounts of front-loaded official support to avoid a self-fulfilling rollover crisis of maturing public and/or private short-term debts. Reform without money on the table does not work, as nervous and trigger-happy investors would rather pull their money out if the country lacks the foreign-currency reserves needed to prevent the equivalent of a bank run on its short-term liabilities."
  • Jacob Levy thinks he has a problem: he cannot present conservatism attractively in his classes because there are no attractive modern conservatives.... "It's a real problem--one I've often talked with people about in a teaching context, because there's no modern work... that really gets at what's interesting about Burkean or social conservatism.... 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... race in America--no mid-20th c work... that talks about how everything will go to hell if the South isn't allowed to remain the South.... Oakeshott... ridiculous by the time he's talking about women's suffrage?..." I say cut the Gordian knot. THERE ARE NO ATTRACTIVE MODERN CONSERVATIVES BECAUSE CONSERVATISM SIMPLY IS NOT ATTRACTIVE TO US MODERNS. DEAL WITH IT!!
  • Mitchell: "NYT today in print quietly runs correction on Sorkin's column which misstated Krugman, causing battle"
  • Dingeldein: "On this day in history, 16 April 1789, Revolutionary War hero and Sarah Palin’s Favorite Founder George “Father of My Country; Also, Owner of 316 Slaves” Washington set off from his posh digs at Mount Vernon (“The Mount That Slaves Built”) for New York City, loathed metropolis of punchy-faced Glenn Beck, to get his inauguration on.... Agreeing with Hamilton that some serious taxation was necessary to pay for the ass-kicking we’d just handed Britain and to “secure the power of the new federal government,” Washington... got the f--- on his horse and – in the first real test of Federal Authority – led a massive army against these tax-dodging pricks.... “irony”: In the first real crisis of the new Federal Government, Sarah Palin’s bestest Founding Father Figure... personally horsed up and led a federalized army... against protesters bitching about high federal taxation..."
  • Krugman: "On Tuesday, Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, called for the abolition of municipal fire departments. Firefighters, he declared, “won’t solve the problems that led to recent fires. They will make them worse.” The existence of fire departments, he went on, “not only allows for taxpayer-funded bailouts of burning buildings; it institutionalizes them.” He concluded, “The way to solve this problem is to let the people who make the mistakes that lead to fires pay for them. We won’t solve this problem until the biggest buildings are allowed to burn.” O.K., I fibbed a bit. Mr. McConnell said almost everything I attributed to him, but he was talking about financial reform.... But it amounts to the same thing. Now, Mr. McConnell surely isn’t sincere; while pretending to oppose bank bailouts, he’s actually doing the bankers’ bidding."
  • NYT: "125: The approximate number of former Congressional aides and lawmakers who are lobbying for Wall Street and the financial services sector as part of a multibillion dollar effort to shape, and often scale back, federal regulatory power over the industry, according to analyses by Public Citizen and the Center for Responsive Politics." Accept any number by PC or the CRP without careful checking and you will find yourself naked on the moon, but these seem about right to me.
  • Jay Ackroyd: "I keep trying to come up with scenarios that would allow an international organization to systematically cover-up, and even enable, the sexual abuse of children. Like, imagine the Montessori program turned out to be an organization that permitted their practitioners to break molestation laws, and covered up for them. I can't see how the organization would last a month. The idea that the Church can have its members pray the hierarchy's way out of this seems absurd on its face. And yet we have seen no RICO filings. Oh, and by the way, all the talk in the Church hierarchy is that this is all in the distant past. You can be sure that this is not the case."