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June 2018

Edward Bellamy: How I Came to Write Looking Backward: Weekend Reading

Rivera: Detroit Industry

Edward Bellamy (1889): How I Came to Write _Looking Backward: "I accept more readily the invitation to tell in _The Nationalist how I came to write Looking Backward for the reason that it will afford an opportunity to clear up certain points on which inquiries have been frequently addressed to me...

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(i) Free trade, (ii) the industrial research lab, (iii) the gold standard, and (iv) high finance to lobby for peace and channel money to régimes that played by the rules of the game—those were the key stabilizing institutions of Gold Standardism. (i) Labor unions, (ii) Keynesian demand management, (iii) social insurance, and (iv) high-throughput oligopolistic assembly-line manufacturing—those were the key stabilizing institutions of Fordism.

So what are the next key stabilizing institutions? There is no guarantee that there will be any. There was, after all, a 33-year gap between the breakdown of Gold Standardism in 1913 and the first clear signs of the successful construction of Fordism in 1946. If we see 2000 as the last gasp of successful Fordism... then we may have a long slog. For who in 1913 would have predicted the future and bet that labor unions, Keynesian demand management, social insurance, and high-throughput oligopolistic assembly-line manufacturing were the key institutions to be building?:

Nicolas Colin: Doom, or Europe’s Polanyi Moment?: Polanyi’s... The Great Transformation... is really about the social and economic institutions that are necessary to support the market system and to make economic development more sustainable and inclusive...

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June 26, 2018: Ten Years Ago on Grasping Reality

Hoisted from Comments: J. Thomas on the Ethics of William Greider: "If Greider had told his reporters 'The headline for today's article is "Supplyside Scandal Exposed"' and they were supposed to point out known administration lies as lies and use the word 'scandal' at least 4 times per article... But he didn't. The articles he edited encouraged fools to continue acting like fools. He got the truth straight from Stockman's mouth and he reported the lies instead. Is there something about these events that you don't believe? Is there something about my interpretation that you disagree with? If you agree the events happened, what interpretation leaves Greider a nonhack?"

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From Atrios: What A Strange Publication: "I really have a had time understanding the people who work at the NYT..."

He is noting what Vivian Wang and her editors say this morning:

  1. We are not very good at our jobs.
  2. "Millenials" and "females" are not proper audiences for a "national publication".

Vivian Wang: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: A 28-Year-Old Democratic Giant Slayer: "Before Tuesday’s victory catapulted her to the front of the political conversation, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez seemed to find readier audiences with outlets such as Elite Daily, Mic or Refinery29—websites most often associated with millennial and female audiences—than with national publications..."

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Hoisted from teh Archives from Four Years Ago: Matthew Yglesias on Greg Mankiw on Thomas Piketty

Matthew Yglesias: On Greg Mankiw on Thomas Piketty: "Greg Mankiw... the latest entry in a genre of... rebuttals that appear to be written by people who aren't familiar with... Piketty...

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Not since Henry VIII Tudor Have We Seen the Like!

Clowns (ICP)

Disappointment, surprise, bluster, promises he cannot keep, illogic, threats, a promise to destroy the company...

President Donald Trump writes:

(1) Surprised that Harley-Davidson, of all companies, would be the first to wave the White Flag. I fought hard for them and ultimately they will not pay tariffs selling into the E.U., which has hurt us badly on trade, down $151 Billion. Taxes just a Harley excuse-be patient! #MAGA

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Voices from the Past: Trump vs. America's Founders: No Longer Fresh at Project Syndicate

Constitutional convention Google Search

No Longer Fresh at Project Syndicate: At the start of the American experiment, Founding Fathers Alexander Hamilton and James Madison pulled no punches: admitting that the historical record strongly suggested that a democracy, a republic—indeed, any form of government that gave substantial political voice to those outside an aristocracy of counsellors or advisors to a monarch—was a really bad idea: "It is impossible to read the history of the petty republics of Greece and Italy without feeling sensations of horror and disgust at the... state of perpetual vibration between the extremes of tyranny and anarchy.... The [unflattering] portraits... sketched of republican government were too just copies of the originals..."

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Note to Self: Last night I dreamed that I had traveled back in time and was having coffee with the young Schumpeter at the Cafe Central in Vienna. I tried to convince him not to be a "Liquidationist"—that the work of structural adjustment is done in the boom as people are pulled into higher-value activities, not in the depression as people are pushed into zero-value activities. I failed...

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Trump May Not Be the Least Balanced Person in the Trump Administration: Kevin Hassett Monday Smackdown

Clowns (ICP)

This, from CEA Chair Kevin Hassett in 2010 has always seemed to me at if not over the edge of mental illness.

There are many tells. The reliance on a "brilliant review" by a UND law professor and on an Oxford philosopher with no particle physicists even named is one. The raising of "military action" as a response is a second. The plea for following his preferred course of action even though he does not understand the issues because "how can we know that things we do not understand will not kill us?" is a third.

Grandiosity and unmooring from rational inquiry to an extent that, it seemed and seems to me, might well clear the clinical diagnosis bar...

In its entirety:

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I think Daniel Walden gets this right: the idea that there is some single "civilization" running Gilgamesh-Hammurabi-Moses-David-Athens-Sparta-Jesus-Rome-Charlemagne-Renaissance-Glorious Revolution-Representative Government-Industrial Revolution-Democracy is a rather peculiar fiction. Better to remember that M. Tullius Cicero thought Britain was not worth the bones of a single Tuscan centurion, for there was not an ounce of silver on the whole island and the Britons were too stupid and uneducated for it to be worthwhile selling them as slaves: Daniel Walden: Dismantling the “West”: "What is this mysterious entity called “the West” anyway?...

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June 25, 2008: Ten Years Ago on Grasping Reality

New York Times Death Spiral Watch (Maureen Dowd Edition): Is there any way for somebody writing in good faith to write both these columns in three months?...

Oil and Speculation: Since we don't see either large inventories of tanker cars filled with oil on the sidings or futures prices for oil above spot prices to make storing marginally profitable, he concludes that speculation is not driving oil prices today...

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If you are a white citizen, things are still normal. But will they be normal in five more years? Back in 2000 I would not have believed that the Republican Party would nominate and then fall into lockstep behind a President who tortured people. Time to ask the Rubin question: Look at all the future scenarios for five years out, and ask yourself: What might we wish in five years that we had done today?: Tor Ekeland: "My dad was tortured by the Gestapo: for 4 days and thrown in a concentration camp for being in the Norwegian Resistance...

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June 24, 2008: Ten Years Ago on Grasping Reality

*If you think the Washington Post is an embarrassment in the Age of Trump, it was no better a decade ago: *: Washington Post Death Spiral Watch (Lori Montgomery Edition): Lori Montgomery is giving her bosses up through Len Downie and Katherine Weymouth and Donald Graham what they want, clearly—and what they want is not to inform their readers about the budget.... If Len Downie and company truly want to entertain rather than inform, why not have Lori Montgomery write about Hollywood or professional sports? The people in Hollywood are much more aesthetic than politicians or budget experts. Professional sports not only has prettier and much more athletic people but also superbly structured narrative story lines without the awkward ambiguities and loose ends of government and policy. It is a mystery...

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Ten Years Ago at Grasping Reality: June 22, 2008

Higher-Level Languages and Genetic Programming: The Quintessence writes....

Wait...did you say "eldritch?": Comparison of the various chordate genomes reveals that there are very few chordate-specific genes. Specifically, the authors described 239 "chordate gene novelties" out of 22,000 genes in the lancelet. The nature and function of these genes is intensely interesting, and indeed the authors devote a separate report to issues related to this. But think about it: only 1% of the genes in chordates (vertebrates and all their relatives) are "novel" among genes from all other organisms. So if the toolbox isn't all that different between lancelets and lions, despite divergence at least 550 million years ago, then what is different?... The likelihood that changes in regulation of a (mostly) common genetic toolkit is a major factor in evolution of form....

Now that is scary. The DNA genome is best conceptualized not just as machine language for the cell and the organism, not just machine plus assembly language, not just machine plus assembly language plus Fortran, but all of those and overlaid over the whole, controlling everything, the highest-level genetic code for our humanity written in the molecular equivalent of Java.

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Blurb for Janeway: Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy, 2nd Edition

Neither Adam Smith’s nor Henry Ford's picture of the economy is relevant for us today. What thumbnail picture is relevant? We do not know, but Bill Janeway thinks harder and more successfully about this question than anybody else I have seen...

William H. Janeway: Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy, 2nd Edition: "Legendary economist Hyman Minsky identified author William H. Janeway as a 'theorist-practitioner' of financial economics; this book is an expression of that double life. Interweaving his unique professional perspective with political and financial history, Janeway narrates the dynamics of the innovation economy from the standpoint of a seasoned practitioner of venture capital, operating on the frontier where innovative technology transforms the market economy. In this fully revised and updated edition, Janeway explains how state investment in national goals enables the innovation process and why financial bubbles accelerate and amplify its impact. Now, the digital revolution, sponsored by the state and funded by speculation, has matured to attack the authority, and even the legitimacy, of governments. The populist response in the west, especially in the United States, opens the door for China to seize leadership of the innovation economy from America..."

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Some MOAR Links

  1. Dan Davies: "Just to be clear-paid internships are bad too..."

  2. J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lay of Leithien

  3. J.R.R. Tolkien: Light as Leaf on Linden Tree

  4. Michael McFaul: "Russia was kicked out of G7 because Putin invaded Ukraine & annexed Crimea. Letting Russia back in without any change in Russian behavior would Make America Look Weak Again..."

  5. Douglas A. Irwin (2008): Trade Liberalization: Cordell Hull and the Case for Optimism

  6. Kim Clausing: How will the #TCJA Impact American Workers?: "(1) Overall, the benefits of the #taxcuts are skewed toward the wealthy. (2) When the tax cuts are eventually paid for, the vast majority of American households will be worse off..." https://t.co/1HaOwddUai https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Dec5gBJWAAAghdc.jpg

  7. This was a private cabinet meeting. Yes, there are always lots of leaks and lots of complaisant reporters who work for sources generating a cloud of misinformation in an attempt to seek personal advantage in the court that is the White House. But "our principal is an idiot" is a message that people in the White House rarely wish to send: Dan Froomkin: "THIS IS NOT NORMAL: In private FEMA remarks, Trump’s focus strays from hurricanes..."

  8. The New York Times has done an appallingly bad job in this age of Trump. What they see here about the bad job done by Republican politicians is all true. But I wish they would turn their scrutiny inward a bit: New York Times: The Cult of Trump: "Every now and again, someone sticks a neck out...

  9. Well, since capitalism delivers higher real wages than any other system we know about, how can you oppose it root-and-branch except by somehow claiming it is fruit from a poisoned tree?: Matthew Yglesias: I would like to read an intellectual history of how exactly “slavery was a boon to economic development” became the leftist position, and “actually, slavery is a retrograde anti-growth system as well as an immoral one” (Marx’s view!) became the neoliberal sellout view..."

  10. One would not think that it would be difficult for the rich to understand that enabling kleptocrats with little respect for the rule of law in an attempt to fend off democratic waves of social democracy is very unwise. Princeton's Harold James looks at interwar Germany: Harold James: Ten Weimar Lessons: "The collapse of the Weimar Republic and the emergence of the Nazis' Third Reich in the early 1930s still stands as one of modern history's most powerful cautionary tales...


Lee McIntyre: "Cognitive scientists recommend using a "truth sandwich" to report lies: : ay the truth, then show the liar telling the lie, then fact check it. Otherwise the well known 'repetition effect' allows the news media to be used to amplify lies..."

Brian Stelter: "Journalists, 'you need to face something squarely: You're confronted with radical hacking of your own systems of operation. This requires radical rethinking of those systems' --@DanGillmor" https://medium.com/@dangillmor/dear-journalists-stop-letting-liars-use-your-platforms-as-loudspeakers-cc64c4024eeb


#shouldread

Eliana Johnson and Annie Karni: Nielsen becomes face of Trump’s border separations: "Kelly’s status in the White House has changed in recent months, and he and the president are now seen as barely tolerating one another. According to four people close to Kelly, the former Marine general has largely yielded his role as the enforcer in the West Wing as his relationship with Trump has soured. While Kelly himself once believed he stood between Trump and chaos, he has told at least one person close to him that he may as well let the president do what he wants, even if it leads to impeachment—at least this chapter of American history would come to a close..."

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Ten Years Ago at Grasping Reality: June 20, 2008

Sam Boyd Is a National Treasure: He reads Slate, so we don't have to poison our minds. And comments on William Saletan:

This is the same logic that people used to justify homeowners who didn't want to rent to minorities. That's just terrible, they clucked, but I wouldn't want to live in a world where the government told people who they could rent to. Well, as it turns out, that world is a lot better than the one it replaced...

It is a good point. Consider: William Saletan on contraception:

William Saletan, 2008: You bring your scrip to the pharmacy, and the guy at the counter says, "Sorry, we don't stock contraceptives." That's annoying and, in my view, stupid. But nobody's walling you in. Your burden consists of finding another pharmacy...

William Saletan on fair housing:

William Saletan, 1958: You go to the open house, and the real estate broker says, "Sorry, we don't sell to Negroes." That's annoying and, in my view, stupid. But nobody's walling you in. Your burden consists of finding another house to buy...

Is there a difference between these two? Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

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Ten Years Ago at Grasping Reality: June 19, 2008

Reported Deaths and Injuries from Meteorite Impact: "As of March 2008, the Near-Earth Asteroid with the highest probability of impact within the next 100 years is 2007 VK184, with a Torino scale of 1..."


Another Absolutely Beautiful Free Place in America...: There are few things finer than sitting outside the garth of Lora the Highly-Eccentric--Vikingsholm on Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe--reading Guy Gavriel Kay's The Last Light of the Sun...


June 18, 2008: Ten Years Ago at Grasping Reality

Atlantic Monthly Death Spiral Watch (Outsourced to the Poor Man Edition): If the Atlantic Monthly survives the new media hurricane in any form whatsoever, it will be because it maintains and strengthens its reputation as a good filter of information.... The Poor Man explains, slowly and patiently and politely, why publishing Gregg Easterbrook is the road to destruction....

Easterbrook cilps 5 words from page 2 of this report as evidence that the NAS was cautioning against making any policy decisions. Seventy pages later, in a chapter titled “Recommendations”, you find this:

Despite the great uncertainties, greenhouse warming is a potential threat sufficient to justify action now.

Ten pages of immediate policy recommendations follow. Again, this report came out 15 years ago...


Does anybody think Howell Raines ever had any business being a journalist?: Perhaps the Strangest Article I Have Read, Ever (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?): Howell Raines on Jim Romanesko.... There are, I think, only three "facts" I did not already know--and I don't know much about Jim Romanesko or Poynter:

  1. Poynter pays Jim Romanesko $170K a year.
  2. Jim Romanesko turned down an offer to jump to Brill's Content five years ago.
  3. awker's "readers tend to speak of Romenesko more as a historical figure than a must-read. 'I don’t feel obligated to check it daily since a lot of the news doesn’t directly relate to me,' says a young New York-based reporter at a major newspaper.... 'Romenesko... provides a great top-line summary for a dying industry--an invaluable tool for that master’s thesis 20 years from now on the fall of paper'..."

And, of course, this third is not a "fact." Howell Raines has no magic surveillance machine with which he takes the pulse of what Gawker's readers say. And we all know how worthless is Howell Raines's ability to find one reporter who--anonymously--will serve as a sock puppet and do Howell Raines's bidding by saying that Jim Romanesko is a has-been about to be consumed by the monster he created. It would be something--but not much--if the "young New York-based reporter at a major newspaper" were willing to be named. It would be considerably more if Howell Raines had made some effort to demonstrate that the views of his sock puppet were in any sense representative or influential....


Let Me Distract Myself By Thinking About Something Less Depressing than Trump. Let Me Think About... L. Cornelius Sulla!

Battle of the colline gate Google Search

(Late) Weekend Reading: The opening of Cicero’s Pro Roscio Amerino, According to Stephen Saylors Roman Blood. I would pay serious money for a Saylor translation of the whole thing, with stage directions and audience catcalls. Just saying:

Cicero stepped forward to the podium, cleared his throat and coughed. A wave of skepticism ran through the crowd. A botched opening was a bad sign. At the accuser’s bench Gaius Erucius made a great show of smacking his lips and staring up at the sky.

Cicero cleared his throat and began again. His voice was unsteady and slightly hoarse:

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(Late) Monday Smackdown: No, Ron Unz Does Not Tell It Straight. Why do You Ask?

Smackdown

Why would anybody claim that Holocaust denier David Irving was the defendant rather than the plaintiff in Irving v. Penguin Books and Lipstadt? I mean, that's what the case is called. And the plaintiff's name does come first. And why would anybody claim that David Irving lost his "fine central London home" because "Jewish movie producers and corporate executives" funded a lawsuit and he had been "forced to defend himself without benefit of legal counsel"?

Ron Unz has long been my poster child for the point that being mentally quick does not mean that you are smart, or intelligent, or wise. Turning your smartness to find reasons not to mark your beliefs to market but rather to justify prejudices you got from God-knows-where is no way to go through life, son.

Here is where Unz picks up and propagates the false neo-Nazi line that Holocaust denier David Irving was not the plaintiff but the defendant in Irving v. Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt: Ron Unz: The Remarkable Historiography of David Irving: "Irving is an individual of uncommonly strong scholarly integrity....is unwillingness to dissemble or pay lip-service to various widely-worshiped cultural totems eventually provoked an outpouring of vilification by a swarm of ideological fanatics drawn from a particular ethnic persuasion...

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Imprisonment by Malthus and "Negative Liberty": Outtake from Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Long 20th Century

Il Quarto Stato

At the start of the Long 20th Century John Stuart Mill, Britain’s leading economist, leading moral philosopher, and one of its leading imperialists and rulers of the empire as a former India Office bureaucrat, was putting the finishing touches on the final edition of the book that people then looked to to learn economics: Principles of Political Economy, with Some of Their Applications to Moral Philosophy. His book and his thought gave due attention and place to the 1730-1870 era of the British Industrial Revolution. Yet in the year 1870 he looked out on what he saw as a poor and miserable world. “Hitherto”, he wrote, looking at the world and at the Great Britain and Ireland of his day:

it is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day’s toil of any human being. They have enabled a greater population to live the same life of drudgery and imprisonment, and an increased number of manufacturers and others to make fortunes. They have increased the comforts of the middle classes...

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June 17, 2008: Ten Years Ago at Grasping Reality

  • Smackdown Watch: Beauty, Accessibility, Crowding, Expense: Barbara Ehrenreich's basic problem, I think, is that she doesn't like beautiful places that are crowded, especially crowded with the wrong people—recall her dismissal of Maine's beautiful (and accessible! and affordable!) Old Orchard Beach as a "rinky-dink blue-collar resort." But here is Robert Waldmann to perform the smackdown...

  • Journalistic institutions that have less than zero quality control: we are looking at you, Atlantic: The Atlantic Monthly Death Spiral Watch (Gregg Easterbrook Asteroid Devastation Edition)_: Why oh why can't we have a better press corps? The Atlantic Monthly features Gregg Easterbook, who writes: "The Sky Is Falling: The odds that a potentially devastating space rock will hit Earth this century may be as high as one in 10. So why isn’t NASA trying harder to prevent catastrophe?..." If the odds that a devastating space rock will hit the earth in a century are one in ten, then the chances that we have gone... one millennium without a DSR hitting the earth are 0.35... two millennia without a DSR hitting the earth are 0.12... four millennia without a DSR hitting the earth are 0.014... It's possible a devastating space rock hit the earth between eight and four millennia ago and we know nothing about it—but it's not terribly likely. It's very hard for me to believe that a devastating space rock has hit the earth since 3000 BC. We have Tunguska.... If you started out with a 50-50 prior probability that Gregg Easterbrook knows what he is talking about, your posterior probability that the lead of his Atlantic article is better than birdcage liner given no rock since 2000 BC is 0.0138. But we start with a lower probability than that, don't we? Gregg Easterbrook has a history.... If the Atlantic published an article by Gregg Easterbrook every month, we would have to wait 41 years before there was a 50-50 chance that even one of the Easterbrook articles was right...

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(Early) Monday (Self?) Smackdown: Baiae and LA as Causes of Republican Downfall? Seriously?

Roman republic orgy Google Search

The scary thing is that I do not know whether Tom Holland:

  1. did not notice that Niall Ferguson was misinterpreting his work...
  2. does not care that Niall Ferguson was misinterpreting his work on the grounds that "all publicity is good publicity", or whether...
  3. I am misinterpreting Tom Holland's work, and Holland really does agree with Ferguson—that it was the orgies of Baiae rather than, in Lucan's phrase, because "Caesar could brook no superior and Pompey could brook no rival...", and, as Plutarch put it, the right-wing decision to break the norms by which political clashes "though neither trifling nor raised for trifling objects, were settled by mutual concessions, the nobles yielding from fear of the multitude, and the people out of respect for the senate..."

A Twitter thread:

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Nick Bunker: "Some personal, #JOLTS related news: today was my last day at @equitablegrowth: After a bit over five years, I'm moving on. Incredibly grateful for the opportunity @hboushey and others gave me. The institution will always have a special place in my heart..." https://twitter.com/CardiffGarcia/status/1007717335707381760

Cardiff Garcia:: "Congrats, but what kind of world do we live in where you're not blogging and analyzing research at EG? 'Kool-aid, no sugar. Peanut butter, no jelly. Equitable Growth, no Nick Bunker. Daaamn.' -- Chris Tucker

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Duncan Weldon: "The one tweet version https://twitter.com/DuncanWeldon/status/1007681332137418759: 'Britain had unusually high wages compared to much of Europe (a legacy of more colonial trade) and easy access to coal. High wages and cheap energy made the introduction of labour saving technology profitable in Britain when it wouldn’t have been elsewhere..." https://www.nuffield.ox.ac.uk/media/2162/allen-industrev-global.pdf

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Yes: Last Fall the Unprofessional Republican Economists Were Lying About Corporate Taxes, Investment, and Growth. Why Do You Ask?

There were "economists" last fall telling us that the Trumpublican tax cut was going to raise real wages in America substantially and soon: Robert J. Barro, Michael J. Boskin, John Cogan, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Glenn Hubbard, Lawrence B. Lindsey, Harvey S. Rosen, George P. Shultz, John. B. Taylor; Larry Lindsey and Douglas Holtz-Eakin; James Miller, Charlie Calomiris, Jagdish Bhagwati; Kevin Hassett; Greg Mankiw; and the others. The people who last fall were telling us that the Trumpublican tax cut was going to raise wages by boosting growth by a number they decided was 0.4% per year—get us an extra 80 billion dollars of prosperity each year growing over time—all did so by pointing to the investment channel: (a) the tax cut would make investment more profitable, (b) we would then have about 800 billion a year of extra investment, (c) the added production made possible by that investment would be 80 billion a year, (d) and eventually wages would rise. (a) has happened. (b) was supposed to take effect quickly—this year. But (b) has broken down: business investment "should" be jumping from 13% to 17% of total production. It is not. So far it has jumped from 12.4% to 13.1%—one-sixth of the jump we were promised:

Gross private domestic investment Domestic business FRED St Louis Fed

This comes as no surprise: Paul Krugman: Tax Cuts and Leprechauns: "The immediate effect of cutting the corporate tax rate... a big fall in taxes collected from corporations...

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June 15, 2008: Ten Years Ago at Grasping Reality

  • Why do people do this? Why clickbait: Jack Balkin Is Wrong: Jack Balkin says that the Bush legal revolution has failed. He is wrong: it has just not yet succeeded. A McCain victory in November and another statist Supreme Court appointee, and that's it for the rights of any whom the president classifies as an outlaw. Balkin acknowledges this at the end. Better he had done so at the beginning...

  • Why do people do this?: Ummm... No!: "Barbara Ehrenreich's Fear of Falling, Blood Rites, and The Hearts of Men are among the finest works of sociology I have every read or ever expect to read. Which is why it is so very hard for me to read things like this—to which the only reaction is "that's simply not true!".... "This Land Is Their Land.... The general rule, which has been in effect since sometime in the 1990s: if a place is truly beautiful, you can't afford to be there..." And the essay has gone totally off the rails. The places she talks about: Sun Valley, Idaho; Drigg dollars for a season; The Hamptons; Cape Cod; Telluride. Yes, Sun Valley, Driggs, Jackson Hole, Key West, The Hamptons, Cape Cod, and Telluride are beautiful. Yes, they are expensive‚ as are Vail, Aspen, Back Bay, the Upper East Side, Santa Monica, Pacific Heights, and La Jolla. But it is a truly impoverished person who thinks that those rich yuppie watering holes are the only truly beautiful places in North America. The place I really want to go back to right now is the spine of the Canadian Rockies from the corner of Moose and Squirrel Streets in Banff to Malign Lake outside of Jasper. But Yosemite is always tugging at my heart. What's your favorite truly beautiful place to go that's cheap? The essay continues. But what's the point?...

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For the Weekend: Dante Alighieri and Guido da Montefeltro

Inferno

Dante Alighieri: Inferno 27:

"And now, I pray you, tell me who you are:
do not be harder than I’ve been with you,
that in the world your name may still endure.”

After the flame, in customary fashion,
had roared awhile, it moved its pointed tip
this side and that and then set free this breath....

"While I still had the form of bones and flesh
my mother gave to me, my deeds were not
those of the lion but those of the fox.

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The Damnation of the Professional Republican Policy Intellectuals

Inferno

I have long known that the thoughtful and pulls-no-punches Amitabh Chandra has no tolerance for fuzzy thinking from Do-Gooder Democrats. He is one of those who holds that not even a simulacrum of utopia is open to us here, as we muck about in the Sewer of Romulus here in this Fallen Sublunary Sphere. ”There are always trade-offs“, he says. “Deal with it“, he says. But here he leans to the other side, and, well, snaps: Amitabh Chandra: "GOP thinktanks https://twitter.com/amitabhchandra2/status/1007261629547982849 are the biggest milksops. From healthcare policy to environmental policy, from national security policy to fiscal policy, they have tacitly endorsed a mountain of anti-market + anti-growth + anti-America policies so as not to not upset their political masters...

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IIRC, the last Republican President and his administration were guilty of large-scale torture. From that perspective, mere criminal perjury is a relief. Of course, Trump and his administration are also undertaking policies that will soon if they do not now amount to large-scale torture as well: Orin Kerr: "The NY complaint also more or less accuses Trump of criminal perjury... https://twitter.com/OrinKerr/status/1007300059291979777

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Is it worse than back in the day when Eduardo Porter was writing stories that counterposed you and Donald Luskin as equally authoritative figures equally likely to be right about the economy, or when Mickey Kaus had a career saying you were too shrill, and whether Bush was lying about his tax cuts was irrelevant to the debate in the public sphere? Paul Krugman: "I'm finding it really painful to read the IG report stuff. FBI malpractice, combined with major media malpractice, got us Trump. This was obvious in real time. And many media organizations are still doing it in their reporting today..." https://twitter.com/paulkrugman/status/1007595490198937601

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