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September 2019

Nice piece on the origins of the alt-right: John Ganz: The Year the Clock Broke: "Murray Rothbard loved The Godfather... even thought that the Godfather reflected his own worldview: 'Organized crime is essentially anarcho-capitalist, a productive industry struggling to govern itself.'... As early as the Reagan years, [Samuel] Francis called for Middle Americans to ally with a populist, 'Caesarist' presidency to accomplish their revolution, just as the French bourgeoisie aligned themselves with Napoleon.... He didn’t know it yet, but his Bonaparte was right there the whole time. On November, 9, 1992... New York magazine put Donald Trump on the cover...

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Comment of the Day: RW: "Cultures do not articulate authoritarianism the same everywhere; e.g., Trump/Johnsonism appears less 1984 and more Brave New World: 'What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture." —Neil Postman...

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One problem here is that strongly progressive taxes, national health insurance, expanded social security, and universal basic income are the most effective remedies to inequality and insecurity, yet those who vote for modern-day neo-fascist poliicians vote for politicians who oppose such police, root and branch—maybe not in their rhetoric, but in committee and on the floor where the rubber hits the road. The dominant rhetorical mode is not "we need to help each other through our agency that is the government" but rather "we need to crush our enemies, and then everything will be okay". My view is that equitable growth policies are worth doing for their own sake, but do not expect them to have much purchase in preserving liberal democracy:

Dani Rodrik: What’s Driving Populism?: "If... [fascism] is rooted in... culture and values, however, there are fewer options. Liberal democracy may be doomed by its own internal dynamics and contradictions.... Racism in some form or another has been an enduring feature of US society and cannot tell us, on its own, why Trump’s manipulation of it has proved so popular.... Will Wilkinson... urbanization... creates thriving, multicultural, high-density areas where socially liberal values predominate. And it leaves behind rural areas and smaller urban centers that are increasingly uniform in terms of social conservatism and aversion to diversity. This process, moreover, is self-reinforcing.... The cultural trends... are of a long-term nature, they do not fully account for the timing of the populist backlash.... Those who advocate for the primacy of cultural explanations do not in fact dismiss the role of economic shocks. These shocks, they maintain, aggravated and exacerbated cultural divisions, giving... [fascists] the added push they needed..... The precise parsing of the causes... may be less important than the policy lessons.... There is little debate here. Economic remedies to inequality and insecurity are paramount...

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The extremely sharp center-right economist Ricardo Hausmann comes from Venezuela, and has been trying to understand the roots of the collapse of the social contract there. The great fear is that Venezuela is, for us, the canary in the coal mine. His argument is strong, and I think that I have heard his argument before, in Plutarch's understanding of the downward spiral of the last days of the Roman Republic:

Plutarch: _ Life of Tiberius Gracchus_: "This is said to have been the first sedition at Rome, since the abolition of royal power, to end in bloodshed and the death of citizens; the rest 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...":

Ricardo Hausmann: How the Failure of “Prestige Markets” Fuels Populism: "Given the requirements of today’s technology, dismissing expertise as privilege is dangerous. That's why a well-functioning prestige market is essential to reconciling technological progress and the maintenance of a healthy polity.... Henrich suggests... prestige is payment for the generosity with which the prestigious share their knowledge.... A model of human behavior proposed by George Akerlof and Rachel Kranton.... Rising wage differentials may destroy the equilibrium proposed by Henrich. If the prestigious are already very well paid, and are not perceived as being generous with their knowledge, prestige may collapse. This may be another instance of the incompatibility between homo economicus and community morality emphasized by Samuel Bowles.... The collapse in the prestige equilibrium can do enormous damage to a society, because it may break the implicit contract whereby society uses critical skills. To see why and how, look no further than what has happened in Venezuela...

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It is certainly true that you have to look at both demand and supply to figure out what happens in equilibrium. But Milton Friedman's first rule is that supply curves do slope upward. Things have to be very weird indeed for equilibrium effects to do more than modestly attenuate impact effects. Sometimes things are really weird But that is not the way to bet: Raj Chetty: In Conversation: "We talked about moving-to-opportunity.... You might worry that if we help one low-income family move out of a low-opportunity area, do they simply get replaced by another low-income family who moves into that area, so we have essentially a musical chairs phenomenon?... Empirical research has recently mainly been focused on identifying individual-level effects. But trying to figure out how things play out in equilibrium is a very challenging problem, which, I think, is something we should have on our agenda to focus on going forward...

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Filipe Campante and Edward L. Glaeser: Yet Another Tale of Two Cities: Buenos Aires and Chicago: "Buenos Aires and Chicago grew during the nineteenth century for remarkably similar reasons. Both cities were conduits for moving meat and grain from fertile hinterlands to eastern markets. However, despite their initial similarities, Chicago was vastly more prosperous for most of the twentieth century. Can the differences between the cities after 1930 be explained by differences in the cities before that date? We highlight four major differences between Buenos Aires and Chicago in 1914. Chicago was slightly richer, and significantly better educated. Chicago was more industrially developed, with about 2.25 times more capital per worker. Finally, Chicago’s political situation was far more stable and it was not a political capital. Human capital seems to explain the lion’s share of the divergent path of the two cities and their countries, both because of its direct effect and because of the connection between education and political instability...

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Liveblogging: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Centwin King of Wessex

Journey To Normandy Scene 1

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (J.A. Giles and J. Ingram trans.): Centwin King of Wessex: "A.D. 676. This year, in which Hedda succeeded to his bishopric, Escwin died; and Centwin obtained the government of the West-Saxons. Centwin was the son of Cynegils, Cynegils of Ceolwulf...

...Ethelred, king of the Mercians, in the meantime, overran the land of Kent...

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Note to Self: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents: "Since the recession a decade ago, free-market economics (also known as neoliberalism) has been questioned on multiple fronts. As the dominant governing strategy for the past 40 years—including the Democratic administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama—the Left today is increasingly challenging neoliberalism. Indeed, as the primaries approach, many former Clinton and Obama officials are even openly challenging the 'power of markets' belief. In his new book, A Crisis Wasted, Reed Hundt, chair of the Federal Communications Commission under Clinton and a member of Obama’s transition team, makes the argument that Obama missed an opportunity to push for a new progressive era of governance, a miscalculation that ultimately hobbled his administration. Hundt is not alone on this score. In a viral Vox article earlier this year, former Clinton administration economist Brad DeLong said that the Democratic Party has and should move past market friendly neoliberals like himself. Please join us for a very special conversation between Hundt and DeLong about the limits of, and challenges to, free-market economics with Joshua Cohen, co-editor of Boston Review. WHERE: Outdoor Art Club, One West Blithedale, Mill Valley, CA 94941. WHEN: Monday, September 9, 2019, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm (PST)...

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Liveblogging: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Founding of Ely

Journey To Normandy Scene 1

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (J.A. Giles and J. Ingram trans.): Founding of Ely: "A.D. 672. This year died King Cenwal; and Sexburga his queen held the government one year after him...

...A.D. 673. This year died Egbert, King of Kent; and the same year there was a synod at Hertford; and St. Etheldritha began that monastery at Ely...

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Comment of the Day: Kaleberg: "'...the general effect of cold war extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union by the end of the 1980s.' - George Kennan. 'The suggestion that any Administration had the power to influence decisively the course of a tremendous domestic political upheaval in another great country on another side of the globe is simply childish. No great country has that sort of influence on the internal developments of any other one.' - also George Kennan. Still, the Cold War was a wonderful piece of myth making. It was the end of history and the start of history. Novus ordo seclorum....

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Fifteen Worthy Reads for September 6, 2018

Worthy Reads from Equitable Growth:

  1. A working paper I thought was very good, but that for some reason did not get a lot of attention: My take was always that this was overwhelmingly that "feminized" occupations have low pay. But Folbre and Smith make a strong case that other causes are also important: Nancy Folbre and Kristin Smith: The wages of care: Bargaining power, earnings and inequality: "The earnings of managers and professionals employed in care industries (health, education, and social services), characterized by high levels of public and non-profit provision, are significantly lower than in other industries...

  2. Another working paper from our past that should have gotten more buzz than it did: Yes, "overeducation" is a thing: Ammar Farooq: The U-shape of over-education? Human capital dynamics & occupational mobility over the life cycle: "The proportion of college degree holders working in occupations that do not require a college degree is U-shaped over the life cycle and that there is a rise in transitions to non-college jobs among prime age college workers...

  3. Applause for our attempt to focus on the broader implications of rising monopoly: Noah Smith: [Economists Gear Up to Challenge the Monopolies(https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-09-04/economists-gear-up-to-challenge-the-monopolies): "The antitrust movement is making a comeback.... Think tanks like the Washington Center for Equitable Growth are starting to zero in on the issue as well": Jacob Robbins: How the rise of market power in the United States may explain some macroeconomic puzzles - Equitable Growth: "Gauti Eggertsson, Ella Getz Wold, and I at Brown University argue that these diverse trends are closely connected, and that the driving force behind them is an increase in monopoly power together with a decline in interest rates...

  4. Equitable Growth alumnus makes an excellent catch here: Nick Bunker: Fascinating: "Fascinating dive into the data on industries with above-average earnings in the 90s, but now pay less than average": Andrew Van Dam and Heather Long: How the U.S. economy turned six good jobs into bad ones: "Six industries that provided an above-average weekly paycheck in the 1990s but now pay less than an average wage.... These downgraded jobs have one thing in common: They don’t require a college degree...

  5. Homeowner bankruptcy and foreclosure are liquidity events, not solvency events: Peter Ganong and Pascal Noel: Liquidity vs. wealth in household debt obligations: Evidence from housing policy in the Great Recession: "We use variation in mortgage modifications to disentangle the impact of reducing long-term obligations with no change in short-term payments ('wealth'), and reducing short-term payments with approximately no change in long-term obligations ('liquidity')...

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Larry Meyer: In John Cassidy: The Decline of Economics: "In our firm, we always thanked Robert Lucas for giving us a virtual monopoly. Because of Lucas and others, for two decades no graduate students are trained who were capable of competing with us by building econometric models that had a hope of explaining short-run output and price dynamics. [Academic economics Ph.D. programs] educated a lot of macroeconomists who were trained to do only two things--teach macroeconomics to graduate students, and publish in the journals...

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Josiah Ober: The Greeks and the Rational: The Discovery of Practical Reasons: "September 19 Lecture 1. Gyges’ Choice: Rationality and Visibility. September 26 Lecture 2. Glaucon’s Dilemma: Origins of Social Order. Lecture 3. Deioces’ Ultimatum: How to Choose a King. Lecture 4. Cleisthenes’ Wager: Democratic Rationality. Lecture 5. Melos’ Prospects: Rational Domination. Lecture 6. Agamemnon’s Cluelessness: Reason and Eudaimonia...

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Liveblogging: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Eoppa Brings Baptism to the Isle of Wight

Journey To Normandy Scene 1

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (J.A. Giles and J. Ingram trans.): Eoppa Brings Baptism to the Isle of Wight: "A.D. 658. This year Kenwal fought with the Welsh at Pen, and pursued them to the Parret. This battle was fought after his return from East-Anglia, where he was three years in exile. Penda had driven him thither and deprived him of his kingdom, because he had discarded his sister...

...A.D. 660. This year Bishop Egelbert departed from Kenwal; and Wina held the bishopric three years. And Egbert accepted the bishopric of Paris, in Gaul, by the Seine.

A.D. 661. This year, at Easter, Kenwal fought at Pontesbury; and Wulfere, the son of Penda, pursued him as far as Ashdown. Cuthred, the son of Cwichelm, and King Kenbert, died in one year. Into the Isle of Wight also Wulfere, the son of Penda, penetrated, and transferred the inhabitants to Ethelwald, king of the South-Saxons, because Wulfere adopted him in baptism. And Eoppa, a mass-priest, by command of Wilfrid and King Wulfere, was the first of men who brought baptism to the people of the Isle of Wight...

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Jess Phillips: House of Commons: ""Tonight I will vote against a general election just like I will vote against pretty much anything the current PM put in front of me.... I have no faith in literally anything the prime minister says. There is no distance that I could trust him.... The PM is playing some bully boy game, of some bully boy public school that I probably won't understand. [Tory MP shouting] Sorry, would the hon gentleman like to make an intervention? Crack on.... Yesterday I watched Conservative colleagues begging him to tell them what he wanted... to give them a deal to vote for. This is some game that three men in No. 10 have come up with to try to game the system so that they win.... Personally I will not vote for any election that falls before October 31st..... "It's just a shame that quite a lot of the people who are sat in front of me who know that what happened over the last two days is wrong are too cowardly to actually say in here, in public, what they're all saying in the tea rooms. "You've all crowed and given sympathy to me about the problems that we have in the Labour Party and you have just sat by silently as your colleagues were marched out.... "We shouldn't go on conference recess. We shouldn't be proroguing parliament. We are currently in a national crisis. This is not a game. This is not some toy we can play with.... I'm meant to believe the PM is really doing this because he has a vision for the people in this country? He has a vision that comes to him every night and it is his own face..."

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Alexis Lothian: Alice Sheldon and the Name of the Tiptree Award: "In recent days, we’ve seen questions raised on social media about whether the name of the Tiptree Award should be reconsidered.... The questions relate to Alice Sheldon’s actions at the end of her life. On May 19, 1987, she shot first her husband, Huntington Sheldon, and then herself.... The Motherboard does not believe that a change to the name of the Tiptree Award is warranted now. But we believe that this is a very important discussion, and we do not think it is over. The community that has grown up around this award since its founding in 1991 deserves to have its voice heard in any conversation as significant as renaming.... Alice Sheldon... the story of how she and her husband, Huntington Sheldon (known as Ting), died. Friends and family—and the science fiction community at the time—viewed this tragedy as resulting from a suicide pact: the desperate and tragic result of a combination of physical and mental illness and the Sheldons’ desire to die on their own terms. He was 84 years old; she was 71. However... the story can also be seen as an act of caregiver murder.... Ting’s friends and family understood his death and Alice’s as the fulfilment of an agreement between the two of them.... Phillips writes: 'Ting didn’t leave a statement, but all Ting’s friends that I talked to plus his son Peter were unanimous that it was a pact, and that Ting’s health was failing'...

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Aldous Huxley: Brave New World: "Outside, in the garden, it was playtime. Naked in the warm June sunshine, six or seven hundred little boys and girls were running with shrill yells overs the lawns, or playing ball games, or squatting silently in twos or threes among the flowering shrubs […] The air was drowsy with the murmur of bees and helicopters. The Director and his students stood for a short time watching a game of Centrifugal Bumble-puppy. Twenty children were grouped in a circle round a chrome steel tower. A ball thrown up so as to land on the platform at the top of the tower rolled down into the interior, fell on a rapidly rotating disk, was hurled through one or other of the numerous apertures pierced in the cylindrical casing, and had to be caught. 'Strange', mused the Director, as they turned away, 'strange to think that even in Our Ford’s day most games were played without more apparatus than a ball or two and a few sticks and perhaps a bit of netting, imagine the folly of allowing people to play elaborate games which do nothing whatever to increase consumption. It’s madness. Nowadays the Controllers won’t approve of any new game unless it can be shown that it requires at least as much apparatus as the most complicated of existing games'...

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Doug Jones: language Evolution: "People don’t just communicate by encoding and decoding literal meanings, but by inferring one another’s communicative intentions, always thinking 'I wonder what he meant by that'. There’s a whole branch of linguistics, linguistic pragmatics, that studies how this works. And pragmatic inference in language is just one instance of a special, powerful human aptitude for creating shared intentions. This aptitude means that there are always ways to subvert official speech, in any language, even Ascian or Newspeak. Or Korean: the news several years ago was that North Korea had banned sarcasm:׳Officials told people that sarcastic expressions such as “This is all America’s fault” would constitute unacceptable criticism of the regime׳...

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Note to Self: The Ten Americans Who Did the Most to Win the Cold War: Hoisted from the Archives](https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/02/note-the-ten-americans-who-did-the-most-to-win-the-cold-war-archive-entry-from-brad-delongs-webjournal.html): Harry Dexter White... George Kennan... George Marshall... Arthur Vandenberg... Paul Hoffman... Dean Acheson... Harry S Truman... Dwight D. Eisenhower... Gerald Ford...


#notetoself #2019-09-04

In the modern world, it is not tariff reduction but regulatory harmonization that is required for grasping increased benefits from the world division of labor. We need to work to level up rather than level down or level stupid, but we need to work to level the regulatory landscape. The Brexit hope is for a free-trade zone with the United States but also with "national sovereignty" over regulatory matters. That is just not how it works:

N. Piers Ludlow: Did We Ever Really Understand How the EU Works?: "Michael Gove... referred... to a free trade zone... from Iceland to Turkey of which Britain would, he was confident, still be part... irrespective of the outcome of the referendum. But this focus on tariffs was quaintly anachronistic, because ever since the 1980s the main target of European liberalisation efforts has... been... non-tariff barriers... regulatory convergence...

Liveblogging: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Egferth and Lothere

Journey To Normandy Scene 1

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (J.A. Giles and J. Ingram trans.): Egferth and Lothere: "A.D. 670. This year died Oswy, King of Northumberland, on the fifteenth day before the calends of March; and Egferth his son reigned after him...

...Lothere, the nephew of Bishop Egelbert, succeeded to the bishopric over the land of the West-Saxons, and held it seven years. He was consecrated by Archbishop Theodore. Oswy was the son of Ethelfrith, Ethelfrith of Ethelric, Ethelric of Ida, Ida of Eoppa...

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Sixteen Worthy Reads for August 30, 2018

Worthy Reads at Equitable Growth:

  1. IMHO, this is closely akin to William Julius Wilson's "the declining significance of race"—i.e., the rising significance of class: Robert Manduca: How rising U.S. income inequality exacerbates racial economic disparities: "In 1968... median African American family income was 57 percent of the median white American family income. In 2016, the ratio was 56 percent. The utter lack of progress is striking...

  2. How much of this correlation is causal? And how much is associational? I do not think we really know, in spite of studies of the build-out of broadband in France. The U.S. is a very different country. Nevertheless, I for one think that it is long past time to put universal broadband in the same bucket as basic sanitation and rural electrification—as something that is part of the citizens' share of being an American: Delaney Crampton: Why accessibility to broadband matters in reducing economic inequality in the United States: "A strong correlation between household income and in-home connectivity—a pattern that persists across both rural and economically depressed urban communities...

  3. Austin Clemens: Schumer and Heinrich Introduced a Bill to Create New Measures of Economic Growth: "Very excited.... @HBoushey and I have written extensively about the need to track growth not just for the economy as a whole but for Americans at every point along the income curve...

  4. Kate Bahn sends us to NPR's Planet Money: Kate Bahn: My Girl Joan Robinson: "My girl Joan Robinson is discussed in this episode of @planetmoney on underrated economists https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2018/08/22/641002632/the-underrated-economists...

  5. Newly-arrived at Equitable Growth, Will McGrew retweets Matthew Yglesias quoting Ryan Cooper: Will McGrew: Matthew Yglesias: "Ryan Cooper: 'There was no skills gap, nor an innovation shortage, nor an explosion of stay-at-home dads. There was a collapse in aggregate demand that was left to rot, while a lot of people who should have known better made things worse...'

  6. Equitable Growth alumnus Nick Bunker reminds us of this WCEG working paper from a year and a half ago: Emmanuel Saez, Thomas Piketty, and Gabriel Zucman: Economic growth in the United States: A tale of two countries: "We combine tax, survey, and national accounts data to build a new series on the distribution of national income...

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Erica Grieder (2015)The Politics of Jade Helm: "Greg Abbott’s announcement... that he would direct the Texas State Guard to monitor Operation Jade Helm... has been widely derided as political pandering, stoking paranoia, wasting state resources, and making Texas look silly. Way harsh, guys.... LTC Mark Lastoria did a good job of explaining the purpose of the operation and how local residents specifically might be affected. Less clear, at least to me, is whether the community as a whole was being unduly conspiratorial.... Several... had tinfoil-hat type questions.... Others may just have been wondering whether to make note of any planned amphibious landings at Lost Pines, or trying to assess the risk of cross-fire at Buc-ees. The latter type of concern is not deranged, especially coming from civilians who may have had little personal experience with the military or military personnel. And Abbott’s announcement is apparently in response to such concerns, rather than those being fueled by the right-wing fear machine.... Abbott notes that US Special Operations Command has already assured the state that there will be no risks to the safety of residents, or their rights, but he wants the Texas State Guard to keep an eye on the situation, just in case.... Activating the Texas State Guard in such a situation would entail some costs to the state (from current appropriations) and I wouldn’t call it the best use of state resources. Other than that, though, I don’t really see the harm...

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