A Baker's Dozen of Books Worth Reading...

The Vela

  1. The Vela https://www.serialbox.com/serials/the-vela
  2. Barbara Chase-Ribaud: Sally Hemings; A Novel https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1569766797
  3. Annette Gordon-Reed: Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0813933560
  4. Kevin O'Rourke: A Short History of Brexit https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0241398339
  5. E.M. Halliday: Understanding Thomas Jefferson https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0060957611
  6. Guy Gavriel Kay: A Song for Arbonne https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1101667435
  7. Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1557094934
  8. Keri Leigh Merritt: Masterless Men https://books.google.com/books?isbn=110718424X
  9. Gareth Dale: Karl Polanyi: A Life on the Left https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0231541481
  10. Philip Auerswald: The Code Economy: A Forty-thousand-year History https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0190226765
  11. John Judis: The Nationalist Revival: Trade, Immigration, and the Revolt Against Globalization https://books.google.com/books?isbn=099974540
  12. Richard Baldwin: The Globotics Upheaval: Globalization, Robotics, and the Future of Work https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0190901772
  13. Patricia Crone: Pre-Industrial Societies: Anatomy of the Pre-Modern World https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1780748043

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Martin Wolf: Theresa May Is Taking a Hideous Brexit Gamble: "Why, then is the prime minister so set on getting this deal through parliament? It is surely because she believes it is the only way to achieve three conflicting objectives at one and the same time: keep her party united; agree with the EU; and deliver the promised Brexit. These objectives are not unreasonable.... But sticking so doggedly to this strategy is also extremely risky...

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (March 21, 2019)

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  1. David Warsh: Austerity is Defunct: "Long-term stagnation is a real possibility...

  2. Wikipedia: Gregor MacGregor

  3. Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen: Quantum Computing for the Very Curious: "Presented in an experimental mnemonic medium, which makes it almost effortless to remember what you read...

  4. Remaniacs Podcast

  5. Laura Tyson and Susan Lund: The Blind Spot in the Trade Debate: "Digital flows and services.... As governments assess their external balances and competitive positions, hammer out trade deals, and set national policy agendas, they need to look beyond manufacturing and agriculture...

  6. Notice anyone missing from Clive Crook's list of Brexit villains? That's right: no Johnsons, no Farages, no ERGs. Somehow the right-wing nutjobs whom he has spent so much of his career carrying water for have no agency, and so are not worth mentioning as bearing responsibility. Bless their little hearts: Clive Crook: Britain’s Next Great Brexit Mistake: "No great regard for the EU.... Cameron’s bungling.... Rarely... did May miss a chance to make things worse.... This pitiful result... the Remain majority in Parliament chose to let it happen...

  7. Casey Newton: Instagram's Reckoning Arrives

  8. Petitions: Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU: "The government repeatedly claims exiting the EU is 'the will of the people'. We need to put a stop to this claim by proving the strength of public support now, for remaining in the EU. A People's Vote may not happen-so vote now...

  9. Robert Shrimsley: No words: "We're close to a gangrene moment" said one senior European Commission official...

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Comment of the Day: Erik Lund: "In later stages, the AI taught itself to recognise school ties and to perform Masonic handshakes. Unfortunately, on being informed that software wasn't eligible for Skull and Bones or Opus Dei, it became critically unstable and tried to run away to join SEAL Team 6...

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I agree. This is bending to reality. But the reality has only changed a little bit since last December: John Authers: Federal Reserve Bends to Economic Reality: "Looking at various recession indicators, several of which are produced by the Fed, it looks as though Powell may be bending to the evidence of economic trouble ahead and not, as many claim, bending to pressure from the financial markets...

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John Authers: Things Are Finally Looking Up for Theresa May: "EU... patience has run out and they do not want to waste more time waiting for the infuriating British to make up their minds.... EU leaders have decided that they are ready for a no-deal Brexit and could handle the consequences. This is probably not true of the U.K. And so the EU is prepared to risk forcing the issue, and forsaking the (still slim) chance that the U.K. might yet decide to stay. Thus, Theresa May, for whom personal support appears to have evaporated, might conceivably be in position to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat...

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The real lesson, I think, from AI-machine learning is that AI-machine learning is a lot like "human judgment"—we have remarkably little insight into what features decisions of the situation are salient to the mind or to the whatever that is actually making the deciding. Thus this is not just a cautionry tale for AI-machine learning, it is also a cautionary tale for human "experts": Andrew Hill: Amazon Offers Cautionary Tale Of AI-Assisted Hiring: "Amazon, one of the most innovative and data-rich companies in the world, leapt on that possibility as early as 2014. It built a recruiting engine that analysed applications submitted to the group over the preceding decade and identified patterns. The idea was it would then spot candidates in the job market who would be worth recruiting...

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In response to a query from Nancy M. Birdsall on what are the most important contributions to feminist economics, Equitable Growth's Kate Bahn provides a shoutout to, among others, my college classmate Joyce Jacobsen of Wesleyan—who got me my first economics RA job: Kate Bahn: "Some good resources are Beyond Economic Man and Toward a Feminist Philosophy of Economics. I particularly like Joyce Jacobsen's essay on 'Some implications of the feminist project in economics for empirical methodology' in the latter...

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Dani Rodrik has, I think, a better way to frame the problems that he and Richard Baldwin are both thinking about this winter: Dani Rodrik: The Good Jobs Challenge: "[For] developing countries... existing technologies allow insufficient room for factor substitution: using less-skilled labor instead of skilled professionals or physical capital. The demanding quality standards needed to supply global value chains cannot be easily met by replacing machines with manual labor. This is why globally integrated production in even the most labor-abundant countries, such as India or Ethiopia, relies on relatively capital-intensive methods.... The standard remedy of improving educational institutions does not yield near-term benefits, while the economy’s most advanced sectors are unable to absorb the excess supply of low-skilled workers. Solving this problem may require... boosting an intermediate range of labor-intensive, low-skilled economic activities. Tourism and non-traditional agriculture... public employment ... non-tradable services carried out by small and medium-size enterprises, will not be among the most productive, which is why they are rarely the focus of industrial or innovation policies. But they may still provide significantly better jobs than the alternatives in the informal sector...

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Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, newly-installed over at EPI, is doing a bang-up job: Pedro Nicolaci da Costa: These 5 Charts Show Inequality Is Bad for Your Health—Even If You Are Rich: "Pickett and Wilkinson kept coming back to a single uniting factor—inequality: 'What the research shows—not just ours but that of hundreds of researchers around the world—is that inequality brings out features of our evolved psychology, to do with dominance and subordination, superiority and inferiority, and that affects how we treat one another and ourselves, it increases status competition and anxiety, anxieties about our self worth, worries about how we are seen and judged'.... Here are five charts from their presentation...

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Question: How long before internet searches for "Delong economist" come up not with me but with this guy?: Delong Meng: Optimal Mechanisms for Repeated Communication: "We consider a repeated communication model with a long-run sender and a long-run receiver.... A biased adviser who prefers policy θ + b, whereas the receiver wants to implement policy θ. The sender’s utility is uS(a,θ) = -(a−θ−b)2, and the receiver’s utility is uR(a,θ)= −(a−θ)2.... For the optimal mechanism the receiver chooses a function a(ht) that maximizes her expected payoff with respect to the sender’s incentive constraint.... We characterize the payoff set as the discount factor goes to one, and we analyze the rate of convergence to points on the frontier of this limit payoff set...

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Andrew Rilstone: The Opening of the Gospel of Mark: "I almost wish that Mark's Gospel could be presented in some kind of Tony Harrison pidgin: 'God-Is-Gracious dips people in the Desolation./God-Is-Gracious heralds dipping to change their minds and undo their near-misses./Everyone from Praise-Land comes!/Everyone from Peace-town!/They are all dipped in the Flowing/Acknowledging their near-misses...

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A brilliant paper. But I have a worry: those at the upper tail of the income distribution are, to a substantial degree, those whose broadly-construed portfolios are ludicrously risky who happen to be unusually lucky. I am not sure they have properly accounted for luck here: Matthew Smith, Danny Yagan, Owen M. Zidar, and Eric Zwick: Capitalists in the Twenty-First Century: "Entrepreneurs who actively manage their firms are key for top income inequality. Most top income is non-wage income, a primary source of which is private business profit. These profits accrue to working-age owners of closely-held, mid-market firms in skill-intensive industries. Private business profit falls by three-quarters after owner retirement or premature death...

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Raising the Curtain: Trade and Empire

Yet Another Outtake from "Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long Twentieth Century, 1870-2016"


Il Quarto Stato

Raising the Curtain: The Long Twentieth Century—Trade and Empire

The extent to which the navies and trading fleets of the great European sea-borne empires of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries shaped the industrial development of western Europe has always been one of the most fiercely-debated and unsettled topics in economic history. That European expansion in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries were catastrophes for the regions of west Africa that were the sources of the slave trade; for the Amerindians of the Caribbean; for the Aztecs, Incas, the mound-builders of the Mississippi valley; and for the princes of Bengal and others who found themselves competing with the British East India Company in the succession wars over the spoils of India’s Moghul Empire—that is not in dispute.

But how much did pre-industrial trade and plunder affect European development? That is not so clear.

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James Felton: Nine days from ‘Brexit day’, does anyone have a clue what’s happening?: "We’re begging for an extension and seeking trade deals with the mighty Liechtenstein. Everything is fine.... It was admittedly quite funny that Theresa May is in the position of defending getting people to vote over and over again until she gets the result that she wanted.... After the announcement, some ERG members expressed dismay that they weren’t allowed to vote again (see how funny this is?) Strongly approve of Bercow making decisions based on how funny they are to people who retain the capacity for rational thinking)....If only they’d treated the meaningful vote more like a meaningful vote and less like tantric legislative foreplay before a full 29 March climax, but you live and learn.... So here we are. Nine days to go, hoping that 27 countries that May said would be crushed if they didn’t offer her a good deal are kind enough to all let us stay a little longer if we beg. If we’ve annoyed any one of them enough, say, by calling them Nazis or likening them to Soviet prisons for the past three years, they could veto our extension...

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“An Extraordinary Episode in the Economic Progress of Man!”: Yet Another Outtake from "Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long Twentieth Century, 1870-1914"

DIE, DARLINGS, DIE!!!!!


Il Quarto Stato

“An Extraordinary Episode in the Economic Progress of Man!”

Yet all in all it is not possible to see the 1870-1914 making of the single global economy—and society—as anything other than an extraordinary and wonderful episode in the history of humanity. Looking back from 1919 on the optimistic, economists’ world that he had thought he had lived in up until the start of World War I in August 1914, John Maynard Keynes wrote, in his Keynes-centric upper-class-focused way:

What an extraordinary episode in the economic progress of man that age was which came to an end in August, 1914!... Conveniences, comforts, and amenities beyond the compass of the richest and most powerful monarchs of other ages. The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, in such quantity as he might see fit, and reasonably expect their early delivery upon his doorstep; he could at the same moment and by the same means adventure his wealth in the natural resources and new enterprises of any quarter of the world, and share, without exertion or even trouble, in their prospective fruits and advantages.... He could secure forthwith, if he wished it, cheap and comfortable means of transit to any country or climate....

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Six Migrants and Their Descendants Who Made History: Yet Another Outtake from "Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long Twentieth Century, 1870-2016"

MOAR DARLINGS MUST DIE!!!!!


Il Quarto Stato

Six migrants and their descendants who made a lot of our history:

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"A 'period'... could be three years, or it could be 20": Paul Krugman (May 1998): Japan's Trap: "The basic premise-that even a zero nominal interest rate is not enough to produce sufficient aggregate demand-is not hypothetical: it is a simple fact about Japan right now. Unless one can make a convincing case that structural reform or fiscal expansion will provide the necessary demand, the only way to expand the economy is to reduce the real interest rate; and the only way to do that is to create expectations of inflation...

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Wise from Simon: a "Green New Deal" needs to be not just technocratically efficient but politically popular: Simon Wren-Lewis: How to Pay for the Green New Deal: "Tackling climate change is resisted by powerful political forces that have in the past prevented the appropriate taxes, subsidies and regulations being applied. Which is a major reason why the world has failed to do enough to mitigate climate change.... Just as proponents of a Green New Deal are savvy about the need to overcome the resistance of, for example, the oil and gas industry, they also realise that the Green New Deal needs to be politically popular. So the New Deal package has to include current benefits for the many, perhaps at the expense of the few.... If you cannot make the polluter pay, it is still better to take action to stop climate change even if future generations have to pay the cost of that action...

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Jacob Levy: Democracy for Republicans: "American conservatism and market liberalism... overlook the deep relationship between democratic government and modern commercial capitalism.... The kind of positive-sum market economy that has transformed the world since 1800 through compounding productivity increases and economic growth is very different from the ancient Rome riven by class conflicts over zero-sum land distribution, but the Founders understood the Roman precedents better than they understood the world that was about to emerge. And that economic world emerged with, not against, the development of a kind of democratic government they also did not foresee, government by contending, permanent political parties alternating in power by competing for votes in a mass-suffrage society...

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Excellent insight into police-community relations in America from a very observant and thoughtful peace officer: Patrick Skinner: "One of the questions I ask every class: When was the last time you had a positive encounter with a cop who didn’t know you were a cop in which she wasn’t telling you to do something (Traffic) or you weren’t asking something. The answer 100% has been ‘never’. That’s an issue.... I’m speaking to literally the most cop supportive group-other cops-and they can’t think of a positive voluntary encounter with a cop. The problem isn’t our neighbors. It’s us the cops. It doesn’t have to be this way. So, that’s my whole 1 day course kinda.... We need to train cops entirely as if they didn’t have a badge and a gun. And only at the end say ‘by the way, you have this authority, use it as a parachute.’ The badge gets you in the door. The rest is anti-drama. Act accordingly...

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (March 20, 2019)

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  1. Jennifer Jensen Wallach (2002): The Vindication of Fawn Brodie: "Julian Bond... articulated the feelings of many black Americans when he said: 'Through all my life, as long as I have known there was a Thomas Jefferson, I have known there was a Sally Hemings. And I have known, not in a... scholarly way... I know this relationship existed and while, I cannot prove it, I don't find it at all odd that it might have, or could have, or actually did happen. A man who owns slaves is not far away from one who will sleep with his slave.... Brodie noted that: /The unanimity with which Jefferson male biographers deny him even one richly intimate love affair after his wife's death suggests that something is at work here that has little to do with scholarship, especially since they are so gifted in writing about every other aspect of his life'...

  2. Fawn M. Brodie (1971): Jefferson Biographers and the Psychology of Canonization: "The women who have written about Jefferson in Paris see neither inhibitions nor 'hangups', nor an absurd preoccupation with the god of reason; they also read the Cosway letters without preconceptions about Jefferson's lack of masculinity.... One could continue, in describing the varied biographical treatment ofJefferson's intimate life, by discussing the ancient, controversial story of Sally Hemings. The documentation is so scattered and complicated, however, that it deserves a small volume in itself, and simply cannot be adequately reported in this essay.... Malone, who finds the story even more abhorrent than does Peterson, devotes a whole appendix in his new volume to a discussion of the evidence. He holds that the father of Sally Hemings's children may have been Peter Carr, but that it was more likely to have been his dissolute brother Samuel. 'It is virtually inconceivable', he writes ofJefferson, 'that this fastidious gentleman whose devotion to his dead wife's memory and to the happiness of his daughters and grandchildren bordered on the excessive could have carried on through a period of years a vulgar liaison which his own family could not have failed to detect'.... The unanimity with which Jefferson male biographers deny him even one richly intimate love affair after his wife's death suggests that something is at work here that has little to do with scholarship, especially since they are so gifted in writing about every other aspect of his life...

  3. E. M. Halliday (2001): Understanding Thomas Jefferson https://books.google.com/books?isbn=006175546X

  4. The very sharp John Lukacs on what I call "fascism"—proletarian ethnoi that need to fight enemies foreign and domestic with economic cleavages within the ethnoi papered over, rather than proletarian classes that need the economic system unrigged. For some reason he calls it "nationalism", which I think is properly something different: there may well be elective affinity between belief in the nation-state as a political and sociological community and fascism, but it is certainly not an identity: John Lukacs: The Duel: The Eighty Day Struggle Between Churchill and Hitler: "The principal force of the twentieth century is nationalism...

  5. Brilliant from my freshman roommate Robert Waldmann: Robert Waldmann: The Transformation of Left Neoliberalism: " We should want a small state, but the key is a small surface area not a small volume. Shrinking the state by drilling so there are private-sector salients worsens the problem...

  6. David Brooks: The Case for Reparations: "Sitting, for example, with an elderly black woman in South Carolina shaking in rage because the kids in her neighborhood face greater challenges than she did growing up in 1953...

  7. Brishen Rogers: Beyond Automation: The Law & Political Economy of Workplace Technological Change: "Companies are, however, using new information technologies to exercise power over workers in other ways, all of which are enabled by existing employment laws...

  8. Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman: Screenplay: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

  9. Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo (2007): The Economic Lives of the Poor

  10. Wikipedia: Greek to me: "It may have been a direct translation of a similar phrase in Latin: 'Graecum est; non legitur'...

  11. Daniel Davies: One-Minute MBA

  12. David Leonhardt: Trump’s Trade Grade: "'He set out to fix a non-problem (a trade deficit) and created real ones including international conflict, higher consumer prices and gross inefficiency'...

  13. George Magnus: China Leadership Monitor: "Before the 1980s and again since 2012, when reforms were suppressed or stifled and inputs were boosted, but without any improvements...

  14. Jonathan Bernstein: 2020 Elections: Far Left Won’t Take Over the Democratic Party: "It lost five of six presidential elections through 1988. The Democratic Leadership Council of that era was split...

  15. SF Eater: Ginto Izakaya Japonaise

  16. Ramen Shop

  17. Iyasare

  18. *Gregory Travis *: 737 MAX Article

  19. Juliane Stockman: @JulianeStockman: "If you haven't subscribed to @tressiemcphd https://thefirstand15th.substack.com, you need to.... I'm gonna have to journal about this months' essay. Hell, I'm probably gonna take it into therapy to process it. It packs a wallop...

  20. John Harwood: @JohnJHarwood: "Trump/GOP promised lasting 3+% growth from self-financing tax-cuts. Mainstream economists predicted brief deficit-fueled growth burst...

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"The... value of names... was changed into arbitrary.... Inconsiderate boldness, was counted true–hearted manliness: provident deliberation, a handsome fear: modesty, the cloak of cowardice: to be wise in every thing, to be lazy in every thing. A furious suddenness was reputed a point of valour. To re–advise for the better security, was held for a fair pretext of tergiversation. He that was fierce, was always trusty; and he that contraried such a one, was suspected. He that did insidiate, if it took, was a wise man; but he that could smell out a trap laid, a more dangerous man than he. But he that had been so provident as not to need to do the one or the other, was said to be a dissolver of society, and one that stood in fear of his adversary.

"In brief, he that could outstrip another in the doing of an evil act, or that could persuade another thereto that never meant it, was commended.... To be revenged was in more request than never to have received injury. And for oaths (when any were) of reconcilement, being administered in the present for necessity, were of force to such as had otherwise no power; but upon opportunity, he that first durst thought his revenge sweeter by the trust, than if he had taken the open way. For they did not only put to account the safeness of that course, but having circumvented their adversary by fraud, assumed to themselves withal a mastery in point of wit. And dishonest men for the most part are sooner called able, than simple men honest: and men are ashamed of this title, but take a pride in the other...":

Neville Morley: Lawful Neutral?: "Victor Davis Hanson, and the use of ‘consensual’ to describe attempts at doing without the active consent of the governed is a neat trick.... Hanson['s]... first chapter explicitly presents The Two Americas as an echo of Athens v Sparta, sophisticated coastal elites versus rough unlettered rural folk, with the majority of Greek poleis rooting for the later. Hanson presents himself as the detached observer, who lives among the real people of the countryside on his ancestral estate but knows his way around the world of the city–and so his choice to side with the ‘Spartans’ is based on full knowledge and understanding of both sides, not the ignorance of knowing no other way of life (a fault of the clever Californian and Beltway elites as well).... His depiction of a divided America is Thucydidean not only in its chosen tropes but in authorial self-conception: he... recognises, even as he recoils from... the charisma and power of a Cleon, despising and desiring at the same time his rough anti-aristocratic manliness; Cleon’s methods are not those of Thucydides’ class, but they promise to have the desired effect on the corrupt status quo, simultaneously too democratic and anti-populist. This Thucydides is Chaotic Evil: dedicated (even if just as cheer-leader) to... the triumph of individualism and naked self-interest.... As Thucydides described and this modern Thucydides exemplifies, every action is praiseworthy insofar as it benefits one’s own faction and hurts the enemy, and reckless vulgarity and self-interest are redefined as the traits of an off-putting Homeric hero...

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I am of the view that a surprisingly large chunk of American (and British) political history from 1990-2020 may well turn out in historians' future judgments to revolve around Rupert the Kingmaker, in a role analogous—but in a really weird way—to the role of the Earl of Warwick in the Wars of the Roses.

As David Frum once put it: "We thought that Fox News worked for us, but then we learned that we worked for Fox News".

Thus the Murdoch succession—the transition from Rupert the Decider to Lachlan the Decider may well be a key moment. Rupert thinks it is a huge joke to boost his fortune by scaring the piss out of his viewers and so glueing their eyeballs to the screen so they can be sold fake diabetes cures and overpriced gold funds. Rupert thinks this is a huge joke even though—or, rather, especially because—it leads to him getting lots of side-eye from his peers.

Lachlan is likely to value the side-eye less, if it all, and value being one of the great-and-good in good standing more: Steve M.: Is This Why Fox Suspended Jeanine Pirro?: "I don't believe there'll really be major changes at Fox. I think the hope is that small, insignificant steps will bamboozle investors and advertisers. But we'll see...

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Benjamin Wittes: ‘Speaking Indictments’ by Robert S. Mueller III: "Bob Mueller has already told a remarkable story. He’s told it scattered through different court filings in a variety of cases, indictments, plea agreements, stipulations of fact. We decided to distill it, to organize it, to put it all in one place, to tell the story of the Russia investigation orally, to let a remarkable group of speakers read the speaking indictments that Mueller has issued. So here’s the story of the Russia conspiracy, distilled to a brief audiobook in seven chapters. What you’re about to hear is all taken nearly verbatim from actual Bob Mueller filings. We’ve cut a lot, moved stuff around, and changed a few words here and there to make it sound more like a narrative. We have changed the meaning not at all...

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The Disjunction Between Production and Distribution: An Outtake from "Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long Twentieth Century 1870-2016

Il Quarto Stato

KILLING YET MORE OF MY DARLINGS! (sob!)


In the world as it stood in 1870–and even more so in 1914—there was a huge disjunction between the growing effective economic power of the human race and the proper distribution of this potential wealth. Science, technology, and organization were clearly wreaking miracles. The rewards, however, were not going to the scientists and the engineers and the workers, but to the landlords and the financiers and to the organizer-entrepreneurs. The sociological contribution of this latter group in creating organizations and setting them in motion was mighty. Best friends Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels probably put it best in 1848:

The business class, during… scarce 100 years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature’s forces to [hu]man[ity], machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalisation of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground—what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labour?…

However, the benefits of greater human power to harvest fruits from nature and organize persons did not trickle down. There were, broadly speaking, as of 1870 three views about why it did not trickle down; and about what, if anything, ought to be done about it:

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Save for white baby-boomers and pre-baby boomers who rode the post-WWII wave of government-sponsored housing finance and inflation on the one hand and union and white-collar defined-benefit pensions on the other, by and large the "middle class" in terms of wealth has always been a multi-generational phenomenon: what with keeping-up-with-the-joneses and the slings-and-arrows-of-fortune, several generations of secure middle-class incomes are required to build up anything that can be called a middle-class wealth stock.

And racial discrimination has made it impossible for African-Americans to have such a run of security:

Darrick Hamilton: Racial Equality Is Economic Equality: "Race is a stronger predictor of wealth than class itself. The 2017 Survey of Consumer Finances indicates that the typical black family has about $17,600 in wealth (inclusive of home equity); in contrast, the typical white family has about $171,000. This amounts to an absolute racial wealth gap where the typical black family owns only ten cents for every dollar owned by the typical white family!...

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Alan Krueger's suicide is horrible and tragic news. All sympathy to his family. He was a light that shone very brightly for good into many dark corners. זיכרונה לברכה: Noah Smith: Alan Krueger Led a Quiet Economics Revolution: "Nor did Krueger restrict himself to the academy... chief economist at the Department of Labor... assistant Treasury secretary... chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers later in the Obama administration.... Krueger’s work defined what a modern economist should look like. He relentlessly focused on issues of practical, immediate importance. He constantly concerned himself with the betterment of the lives of poor and working people, but refused to naively assume that programs designed to help these people always had the intended effect. He was always aware of relevant economic theories, but never let himself be bound by them. This eclectic, humble, humanistic but practical approach has set the tone for an entire generation of young economists. He was taken from us far too soon, but his impact on economics, and on the world, will last for a very long time to come...

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The ca.-1870 Disjunction Between Production and Distribution

Il Quarto Stato

In the world as it stood in 1870 there was seen to be a huge disjunction between the growing effective economic power of the human race and the proper distribution of this potential wealth to create a prosperous and happy society. That science, technology, and organization could wreak miracles had become commonplaces. Best friends Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels probably put it best in 1848:

The business class, during… scarce 100 years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature’s forces to [hu]man[ity], machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalisation of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground—what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labour?…

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Imprisonment by Malthus and "Negative Liberty"

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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Outtake from Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Long Twentieth Century: The Dire Absolute Poverty of the Globe in 1870 https://www.icloud.com/pages/0-ZwSIf-ES3dfIBtF_dW_DBmQ: You need to understand three things to grasp the state of the world economy in 1870: that the drive to make love is one of the very strongest of all human drives, that living standards were what we would regard as very low for the bulk of humanity in the long trek between the invention of agriculture and 1870, and that the rate of technological progress back before 1870 was glacial, at best...

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For all the Trumpists, language and argument is not an attempt to understand the world and persuade others but rather an attempt to destroy understandings of what is and to dominate others: Gabriel Schoenfeld: Trump Supporters Say the Darndest Things: "Readers may not be aware but before Roger Kimball became a fanatical acolyte of Donald Trump, he was a fanatical hater... bitterly complaining of the rallies where Trump 'encouraged a whipped up crowd to extend their right arms in Nazi-like salute while pledging allegiance to the Great Leader'.” Many more such depictions of our 45th president as an aspiring führer can be found in the prolific output of this eminent conservative intellectual.... To judge by his response to my review of Hanson’s book, Kimball seems to have forgotten that he specialized in such Nazi references... right up until the moment he abruptly switched from worrying about the impending Trump Third Reich to hailing Trump for his 'salubrious and morally uplifting' presidency. I don’t believe it is an ad hominem argument to raise questions about the quality of a mind that would produce such extraordinary gyrations...

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One of my hobbyhorses: a "semi-skilled" worker is an unskilled worker with a union: Kate Bahn sends us to: Byron Auguste: Low Wage, Not Low Skill: Why Devaluing Our Workers Matters: "Such jobs require optimizing time tradeoffs, quality control, emotional intelligence and project management. They are not low skill, but they are low wage. Why does this matter? When we stereotype or lazily assume low-wage workers to be  “low skill,” it reinforces an often unspoken and pernicious view that they lack intelligence and ambition, maybe even the potential to master “higher-order” skilled work. In an economy that is supposed to operate as a meritocracy—but rarely does—too often, we see low wages and assume both the work and workers are low-value...

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South australia sea shanty Google Search

Note to Self: South Australia:

In South Australia I was born.
Heave away! Haul away!
In South Australia, 'round Cape Horn.
We’re bound for South Australia.

Heave away, heave away
Oh heave away, you rolling king,
We're bound for South Australia.

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The Lighting Budget of Thomas Jefferson: DeLong's Morning Coffee

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Morning Coffee Podcast: The Lighting Budget of Thomas Jefferson: Should the U.S. fall into recession soon, the Federal Reserve will have very little room to loosen policy to cushion the downturn. This is a large asymmetric risk. The right way to manage an asymmetric risk is to buy insurance: the Federal Reserve should be buying recession insurance. It is not. This is a substantial problem...

8:02: https://delong.micro.blog/2019/03/17/the-lighting-budget.html | https://delong.micro.blog/uploads/2019/708e9b89bf.mp3

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Mark Bauerlein (2006): On Michael Bérubé: Weekend Reading

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I wonder if Mark Bauerlein has become a Trumpist? Yes indeedee, he has—not anti-anti-Trump, but the Full Monty: "President Trump is the only one who can stop the left now": Mark Bauerlein (2006): On Michael Bérubé: "An assigned essay topic that was claimed by a conservative student to be anti-American, a claim rightly judged by Bérubé a silly exaggeration. Still, the tendentiousness of the question is plain. Here is the final sentence: 'Analyze the U.S. constitution (original document), and show how its formulation excluded [the] majority of the people living in America at that time, and how it was dominated by America’s elite interest'...

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Weekend Reading: William Freehling: Secessionists at Bay

Weekend Reading: William Freehling: Secessionists at Bay pp. 128-9: "One episode at Monticello illustrates the master's [Jefferson's] genius at evasion. Sally Hemings, Monticello's most celebrated slave, put Jefferson to the test as few trustees have been tested. No trustee more successfully evaded his examination. Most historians, emulating Jefferson's contemporaries, have narrowed the Sally Hemings issue to one question: Did Jefferson sire her five mulatto children? The circumstantial evidence does not serve Jefferson well. Hemings, whitish daughter of Jefferson's father-in-law, was long a household servant within the Big House. Jefferson was always in residence nine months before she gave birth. Jefferson manumitted some of her children and freed no black without a Hemings connection...

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Weekend Reading: Garry Wills (1974): Uncle Thomas’s Cabin

Weekend Reading: Garry Wills (1974): Uncle Thomas’s Cabin: "It should be clear, by now, what fuels the tremendous industry [Fawn Brodie] poured into her work—her obsession with all the things she can find or invent about Jefferson’s sex life. Since that life does not seem a very extensive or active one, Ms. Brodie has to use whatever hints she can contrive. In particular, she reads practically the whole Jeffersonian corpus as a secret code referring to what is presented as the longest, most stable, most satisfying love in Jefferson’s life—that with Sally Hemings...

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (March 17, 2019)

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  1. Jason Furman: Review of Kim Clausing: "Open: The Progressive Case for Free Trade, Immigration, and Global Capital": "If I had to assign policymakers one up-to-date guide to the latest economic policy issues on taxes and trade it would be this one...

  2. Facundo Alvaredo, Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman: World Inequality Report 2018: "The World Inequality Lab seeks to fill a democratic gap...

  3. This Federal Reserve interest-raising cycle: not just an ex-post but an ex-ante mistake: Adam Ozimek and Michael Ferlez: The Fed’s Mistake: "The Fed made a numerically significant error in underestimating the amount of labor market slack...

  4. Wikipedia: Philip Auerswald

  5. Langston Hughes: Let America Be America Again

  6. Wikipedia: Metric

  7. Dmitry Grozoubinski: Dmitry's Guide To Writing A No-Deal Is Project Fear Article: "Are you a Tory Lord who once had to share a cab with a Hungarian? An Oxbridge chancer who wants to be on telly? Just write an article about No-Deal being 'Project Fear.' How? This guide can help!...

  8. Dan O'Sullivan: Pigs (A Million Different Ones): "The internet is now the world’s largest subduction zone, where an endless column of young, mostly white males are overtaken and crushed by the unstoppable force of far-right extremism. Violent misogyny, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, gay-bashing, anti-black racism-you name it, you can find it, in ever more plentiful amounts online. The biggest tech platforms you can name-Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit-serve up this kind of poison on an industrial scale, mushrooming and expanding at a rate that makes catching up with the spread almost impossible. The early neo-Nazi webforum Stormfront is on life support, largely because there is no need for the far-right to stay in an online cul-de-sac.... We as a society are going to be living with the effects of this radicalization for the rest of our lives...

  9. Maria Lawton: Bacalhau à Gomes Sà

  10. Dan Murphy: The Entire Economy is Fyre Festival.: "Izabella Kaminska: 'Search LinkedIn.... 41 results for 'chief future officer', 44 for 'chief joy officer', 52 for 'chief happiness officer', 63 for 'chief thinking officer', 170 for a 'chief vision officer', 197 futurists and 354 futurologists...' [155 Retweets, 363 Links] Does this many likes and retweets make me an influencer, an evangelist, or a thought leader?...

  11. Karl Rodbertus (1850): Overproduction and Crises

  12. The Points Guy: JetBlue Mint From New York to San Francisco

  13. Impossible Burger

  14. Wikipedia: Jack o' Kent

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To stop the New Zealand gunman Abdul Aziz needed a weapon He picked up the first thing he found Los Angeles Times

Comment of the Day: DilbertDogbert: Anyone Can Wear the Mask. You Can Wear the Maskk: "The good prof has an 'I'm with her' image. I propose he have an 'I'm with him' image of this man: https://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-new-zealand-hero-20190317-story.html. Funny how white nationalists are hero's in their own minds when armed but are sheep when confronted without one.

AP: To stop the New Zealand gunman, Abdul Aziz needed a weapon. He picked up the first thing he found: "'"I realized this is something else. This is a killer', he said.... Aziz said as he ran outside screaming, he was hoping to distract the attacker. He said the gunman ran back to his car to get another gun, and Aziz hurled the credit card machine at him.... Aziz spotted a gun the gunman had abandoned and picked it up, pointed it and squeezed the trigger. It was empty.... 'He gets into his car and I just got the gun and threw it on his window like an arrow and blasted his window', he said. The windshield shattered: 'That's why he got scared'...

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Comment of the Day: Graydon: What a Politics Based on Lies Looks Like: "Y'all are making something simple complicated. There's a Murdoch quote out there about why Murdoch supported leave; when he goes to Number 10, they do what he says. When he goes to Brussels, they don't know or care who he is. Basic primate status is defined by who can tell you what to do. The British upper class are raised in environments which make this really, really obvious, and also which make norm violation especially intolerable. (Yes, this is an imperial hangover.)... The driver is to make damn sure no one can tell them what to do. The Tory support for the whole thing derives from norm-violation; the norms of their childhood have changed, and they're having a coping failure. It's all aligned, from the money on down. People like predictable, and this particular predictable is Those People Can't Tell ME What To Do. Laws, the economy, good sense, or the basic tenet of civilization—indirect benefit beats direct gain from exercising power—all have nothing to do with it. It's impossible to tolerate existing in some other hierarchy...

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Amy Davidson Sorkin: The Magical Thinking Around Brexit: "Scornful shorthand for all that the Brexiteers promised voters in the June, 2016, referendum and cannot, now or ever, deliver. An E.U. official, referring to what he saw as the U.K.’s irrational negotiation schemes, told the Financial Times that 'the unicorn industry has been very busy'.... 'A lot of the people who advocated Brexit have been chasing unicorns now for a very long time', Leo Varadkar, the Prime Minister of Ireland, said last week in Washington, D.C., where he attended St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. His visit coincided with a series of votes in Parliament that were meant to clarify the plans for Brexit but which did nothing of the kind. Instead, the next two weeks will test how deeply a nation can immerse itself in self-delusion...

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Dominic Gates: Flawed Analysis, Failed Oversight: How Boeing and FAA Certified the Suspect 737 Max Flight Control System: "Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) managers pushed the agency’s safety engineers to delegate safety assessments to Boeing itself, and to speedily approve the resulting analysis.... The safety analysis: Understated the power of the new flight control system, which was designed to swivel the horizontal tail to push the nose of the plane down to avert a stall. When the planes later entered service, MCAS was capable of moving the tail more than four times farther than was stated in the initial safety analysis document. Failed to account for how the system could reset itself each time a pilot responded, thereby missing the potential impact of the system repeatedly pushing the airplane’s nose downward. Assessed a failure of the system as one level below 'catastrophic'. But even that 'hazardous' danger level should have precluded activation of the system based on input from a single sensor—and yet that’s how it was designed.... Both Boeing and the FAA were informed of the specifics of this story and were asked for responses 11 days ago, before the second crash of a 737 MAX last Sunday.... Citing a busy week, a spokesman said the agency was 'unable to delve into any detailed inquiries'.... Boeing... is 'unable to comment... because of the ongoing investigation' into the crashes, Boeing did not respond directly to the detailed description of the flaws in MCAS certification, beyond saying that there are some significant mischaracterizations'...

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Via Bob Reich: Harry S Truman (1952): Batavia, New York: Rear Platform: "Senator Taft... explained that the great issue in this campaign is 'creeping socialism'. Now that is the patented trademark of the special interest lobbies. Socialism is a scare word they have hurled at every advance the people have made in the last 20 years. Socialism is what they called public power. Socialism is what they called Social Security. Socialism is what they called farm price supports. Socialism is what they called bank deposit insurance. Socialism is what they called the growth of free and independent labor organizations. Socialism is their name for almost anything that helps all the people...

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Joseph A. Schumpeter (1947): History of Economic Analysis: "Analytic effort is of necessity preceded by a pre-analytic cognitive act that supplies the raw material for the analytic effort. In this book, this pre-analytic cognitive act will be called Vision... Factual work and ‘theoretical’ work... will eventually produce scientific models.. to which increasingly more rigorous standards of consistency and adequacy will be applied. This is indeed a primitive but not, I think, misleading statement of the process by which we grind out what we call scientific propositions...


#noted