#weekendreading Feed

Adam Smith Got There 250 Years Ago: "The Real Recompence of Labour..."—Twitter

Twitter: Adam Smith got there 250 years ago: "The real recompence of labour, the real quantity of the necessaries and conveniencies of… https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1271273216850276353.html: 'The real recompence of labour, the real quantity of the necessaries and conveniencies of life which it can procure to the labourer, has, during the course of the present century, increased perhaps in a still greater proportion than its money price. Not only grain has become somewhat cheaper, but many other things, from which the industrious poor derive an agreeable and wholesome variety of food, have become a great deal cheaper. Potatoes, for example, do not at present, through the greater part of the kingdom, cost half the price which they used to do thirty or forty years ago. The same thing may be said of turnips, carrots, cabbages; things which were formerly never raised but by the spade, but which are now commonly raised by the plough...

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John Bell Hood Blames Everybody Else for His Failure to Win the Battle of Spring Hill—Weekend Reading

The anti-Patton. Maybe he was a good regimental or brigade commander. Maybe. But no appreciation for the frictions of war in attempting complicated simultaneous actions, and no appreciation for the power of the defense and the rifle: John Bell Hood: Advance & Retreat: Personal Experiences in the United States and Confederate States Armies https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/book-hood-advances-%26-retreat.pdf: 'I dispatched a messenger to General Cheatham to lose no time in gaining possession of the pike at Spring Hill. It was reported back that he was about to do so.... I became somewhat uneasy, and again ordered an officer to go to General Cheatham.... I entrusted another officer with the same message... finally requested the Governor of Tennessee, Isham G. Harris, to hasten forward and impress upon Cheatham the importance of action without delay...

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Andrew Marvell: An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland: Weekend Reading

Andrew Marvell: An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44683/an-horatian-ode-upon-cromwells-return-from-ireland: ‘The forward youth that would appear
Must now forsake his Muses dear,
Nor in the shadows sing
His numbers languishing.

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Weekend Reading: Plutarch: Life of Cleomenes

Plutarch: Life of Cleomenes http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Cleomenes*.html: 'As long, then, he said, as the ephors kept within bounds, it had been better to bear with them; but when with their assumed power they subverted the ancient form of government to such an extent as to drive away some kings, put others to death without a trial, and threaten such as desired to behold again in Sparta her fairest and most divinely appointed constitution, it was not to be endured...

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Friedrich Engels (1884): The Relative Autonomy of the State: Weekend Reading

Weekend Reading: Friedrich Engels (1884): The Relative Autonomy of the State https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/origin_family.pdf: 'The state... is normally the state of the most powerful, economically ruling class, which by its means becomes also the politically ruling class, and so acquires new means of holding down and exploiting the oppressed.... The ancient state was, above all, the state of the slave-owners for holding down the slaves, just as the feudal state was the organ of the nobility for holding down the peasant serfs and bondsmen, and the modern representative state is the instrument for exploiting wage-labor by capital. Exceptional periods, however, occur when the warring classes are so nearly equal in forces that the state power, as apparent mediator, acquires for the moment a certain independence in relation to both. This applies to the absolute monarchy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which balances the nobility and the bourgeoisie against one another...

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Weekend Reading: Jongman on Poverty in the Roman World

From 1680 to 1780 the population of Massachusetts doubled every forty years: that is what a nutritionally unstressed pre-industrial population does. Living standards? Perhaps 4 to 5 dollars a day as today's development economists measure things, figure 1500 real (and 50 nominal) dollars a year per capita. At that level of prosperity the Massachusetts population was then nutritionally unstressed. The Roman imperial population was definitely nutritionally stressed: we think it was the same size in 200 as it had been in the year 1, and the population of the area that had been the year-200 Roman Empire was down by 25% come 600. Three great plagues (antonine, 165-80, St. Cyprian 249-62, and Justinian 541-2) played a role in the decline: the Roman population from 150-600 was not living below long-run subsistence. But it is very hard looking at the population history to ascribe a standard of living of more than 2.50 dollars a day per capita to the typical inhabitant of the Roman Empire. Things—at least as far as consumption of necessities relevant to reproductive fitness (and plague and other disease load) were concerned were probably better between -1000 and the year 1, as the population of the Roman Empire area jumped from 15 million in -1000 to 25 million in -500 to 50 million in the year 1: Willem Jongman: Poverty in the Roman World https://delong.typepad.com/egregious_moderation/2008/08/jongman-on-pove.html: 'Margaret Atkins and Robin Osborne, editors, Poverty in the Roman World: How successful was the Roman economy? For the last few decades, and in the footsteps of the late Sir Moses Finley, the prevailing opinion has been pessimistic: ancient Rome was a world without economic growth, and with great social inequality. Thus, only a small elite escaped life near subsistence, and even they did not escape the horrors of a demographic regime of high mortality. Thus the Roman economy never changed much over time: it was just a grim longue durée of poverty and underdevelopment. The fall of the later Roman Empire thus also became the "transformation of the world of late antiquity," since there had been nothing much to decline from. In a sense, the medievalists had won the day: the Middle Ages had not been a Dark Age after the grandeur that had been Rome. Perhaps surprisingly, this bleak view of Roman economic performance was barely ever validated empirically. Instead, research focused on possible explanations, such as elite economic mentality, technological stagnation or the scale and status of trade. Empirical research on the actual Roman standard of living was—and is—surprisingly rare...

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Edward Gibbon: History of the Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire: Weekend Reading

Edward Gibbon: History of the Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire https://www.gutenberg.org/files/25717/25717-h/25717-h.htm#Alink2HCH0001: 'If a man were called to fix the period in the history of the world, during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name that which elapsed from the death of Domitian to the accession of Commodus. The vast extent of the Roman empire was governed by absolute power, under the guidance of virtue and wisdom. The armies were restrained by the firm but gentle hand of four successive emperors, whose characters and authority commanded involuntary respect. The forms of the civil administration were carefully preserved by Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the Antonines, who delighted in the image of liberty, and were pleased with considering themselves as the accountable ministers of the laws. Such princes deserved the honor of restoring the republic, had the Romans of their days been capable of enjoying a rational freedom. The labors of these monarchs were overpaid by the immense reward that inseparably waited on their success; by the honest pride of virtue, and by the exquisite delight of beholding the general happiness of which they were the authors. A just but melancholy reflection imbittered, however, the noblest of human enjoyments. They must often have recollected the instability of a happiness which depended on the character of single man. The fatal moment was perhaps approaching, when some licentious youth, or some jealous tyrant, would abuse, to the destruction, that absolute power, which they had exerted for the benefit of their people. The ideal restraints of the senate and the laws might serve to display the virtues, but could never correct the vices, of the emperor. The military force was a blind and irresistible instrument of oppression; and the corruption of Roman manners would always supply flatterers eager to applaud, and ministers prepared to serve, the fear or the avarice, the lust or the cruelty, of their master. These gloomy apprehensions had been already justified by the experience of the Romans. The annals of the emperors exhibit a strong and various picture of human nature, which we should vainly seek among the mixed and doubtful characters of modern history. In the conduct of those monarchs we may trace the utmost lines of vice and virtue; the most exalted perfection, and the meanest degeneracy of our own species. The golden age of Trajan and the Antonines had been preceded by an age of iron...

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Weekend Reading: Peter Temin: Land Tenure and Exploitation from the Roman Empire to Lord Peter Wimsey


Peter Temin: The Roman Market Economy https://delong.typepad.com/files/temin-roman.pdf: Land Ownership: 'For at least four centuries... the Roman Empire preserved peace around the Mediterranean basin and allowed the system of land ownership and taxation to continue. Starting in the fifth century, the ability of the western Empire to preserve peace began to erode. Rome was sacked early in the fifth century, a traumatic event that led Augustine to write the City of God distinguishing belief in the Catholic Church from the defense of any earthly city. More important if less visible to most people living through it was the capture of Africa by the Vandals in 439. This loss deprived the central government of an important component of its tax base and made it impossible for the government to mount effective counterattacks against the various invaders of the Roman Empire. This clearly set up a cumulative process that led in a few decades to the demise of the western Empire (Heather 2005; Wickham 2009). What was the effect of this cataclysmic change on Roman property own- ers? I suggest that many landowners were unaffected as the decline of central authority began. Most of their activities were local, and local authorities continued to guide local economies. Invasions were sporadic and affected only swaths through the vast empire. Landowners in the path of the invaders must have experienced problems with their land ownership, but landowners in other areas probably carried on as they and their fathers had done before. Imported goods to any area became more rare and expensive as travel became more dangerous. “Across the sixth and seventh centuries African goods are less and less visible in the northern Mediterranean; they vanish first from inland sites, and then from minor coastal centres” (Wickham 2009, 218). The process of Roman decline was not one of uniform decline that affected everyone alike. Instead it was a selective process that involved more and more people over time...

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Weekend Reading: Rereading: William Boyd: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré

William Boyd: Rereading: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré https://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/jul/24/carre-spy-came-cold-boyd: 'One of the aspects of the novel that always bothered me was the end. Leamas... finally realises how he has been used by his own side, how he has been fooled, manipulated and misinformed to bring about a conclusion that was the opposite of the one he thought he was colluding in. He is offered the chance to flee, to escape and climb over the Wall with the young girl he sort-of loves back to West Berlin. He and the girl are driven to a "safe" area of the Wall in a car provided for him by a double agent. Operationally and procedurally this seemed to me a huge error. My feeling was that an agent of Leamas's vast experience and worldliness would surely be aware that such a means of escape was riven with jeopardy. Yet he goes along with it and pays the price. What had I missed? Reading the book again I now think I understand—but it does require close attention (new readers look away now)...

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Weekend Reading: Plutarch: Norm-Breaking and the Collapse of the Roman Republic


After this episode of political norm-breaking, thereafter every Roman politico on the make (except for Cicero) drew the obvious conclusion: if you wanted to have a successful career, you needed to have a loyal mob in Rome and a loyal army outside—or be closely allied with somebody who did. And the road to Marius-Sulla-Pompey-Caesar-Brutus-Antony-Octavian was well-paved: Plutarch: Life of Tiberius Gracchus http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Tiberius_Gracchus*.html: '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...

...And it was thought that even on this occasion Tiberius would have given way without difficulty had persuasion been brought to bear upon him, and would have yielded still more easily if his assailants had not resorted to wounds and bloodshed; for his adherents numbered not more than three thousand. But the combination against him would seem to have arisen from the hatred and anger of the rich rather than from the pretexts which they alleged; and there is strong proof of this in their lawless and savage treatment of his dead body. For they would not listen to his brother's request that he might take up the body and bury it by night, but threw it into the river along with the other dead.

Nor was this all; they banished some of his friends without a trial and others they arrested and put to death. Among these Diophanes the rhetorician also perished. A certain Caius Villius they shut up in a cage, and then put in vipers and serpents, and in this way killed him.

Blossius of Cumae was brought before the consuls, and when he was asked about what had passed, he admitted that he had done everything at the bidding of Tiberius. Then Nasica said to him,

What, then, if Tiberius had ordered thee to set fire to the Capitol?

Blossius at first replied that Tiberius would not have given such an order; but when the same question was put to him often and by many persons, he said:

If such a man as Tiberius had ordered such a thing, it would also have been right for me to do it; for Tiberius would not have given such an order if it had not been for the interest of the people. Well, then, Blossius was acquitted, and afterwards went to Aristonicus in Asia, and when the cause of Aristonicus was lost, slew himself.

But the senate, trying to conciliate the people now that matters had gone too far, no longer opposed the distribution of the public land, and proposed that the people should elect a commissioner in place of Tiberius. So they took a ballot and elected Publius Crassus, who was a relative of Gracchus; for his daughter Licinia was the wife of Caius Gracchus. And yet Cornelius Nepos says that it was not the daughter of Crassus, but of the Brutus who triumphed over the Lusitanians, whom Caius married; the majority of writers, however, state the matter as I have done.

Moreover, since the people felt bitterly over the death of Tiberius and were clearly awaiting an opportunity for revenge, and since Nasica was already threatened with prosecutions, the senate, fearing for his safety, voted to send him to Asia, although it had no need of him there. For when people met Nasica, they did not try to hide their hatred of him, but grew savage and cried out upon him wherever he chanced to be, calling him an accursed man and a tyrant, who had defiled with the murder of an inviolable and sacred person the holiest and most awe-inspiring of the city's sanctuaries.

And so Nasica stealthily left Italy, although he was bound there by the most important and sacred functions; for he was pontifex maximus. He roamed and wandered about in foreign lands ignominiously, and after a short time ended his life at Pergamum...

I do wonder how exactly I am supposed to read those last sentences: is Nasica's agency here in that he ended his life or that he went to Pergamum. but I have little Latin and less Greek: "οὕτω μὲν ὑπεξῆλθε τῆς Ἰταλίας ὁ Νασικᾶς, καίπερ ἐνδεδεμένος ταῖς μεγίσταις ἱερουργίαις: ἦν γὰρ ὁ μέγιστος καὶ πρῶτος τῶν ἱερέων, ἔξω δὲ ἀλύων καὶ πλανώμενος ἀδόξως οὐ μετὰ πολὺν χρόνον κατέστρεψε περὶ Πέργαμον..."

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Weekend Reading: Harry Brighouse: Teaching a 10 Year-Old to Read

Weekend Reading: Harry Brighouse: Teaching a 10 Year-Old to Read http://crookedtimber.org/2020/01/05/teaching-a-10-year-old-to-read/: 'My then-18 year old daughter was home with her friends when I opened my author-copies of Family Values. After they left she said “My friends are really impressed that you’ve written a book. But I’m not really. I mean, it’s just part of your job, isn’t it? It’s just what you’re supposed to do. I mean….it’s not like you taught a third grader to read, or something like that“. If you’ve read the book, or simply know its main theses, you’ll see many layers of irony in that exchange, and probably further layers of irony in the sense of pleasure and pride I got from it. But actually I did teach a kid to read, a 5th grader actually, though just one, when I was 18...

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Weekend Reading: Publius Aelius Aristides Theodorus (155); The Roman Oration

Weekend Reading: Publius Aelius Aristides Theodorus (155): The Roman Oration https://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/11/aelius-aristides-the-roman-oration-it-is-a-time-honored-custom-of-travelers-setting-forth-by-land-or-sea-to-m.html: 'Praise of Rome the City: Praise of your city all men sing and will continue to sing. Yet their words accomplish less than if they had never been spoken. Their silence would not have magnified or diminished her in the least, nor changed your knowledge of her. But their encomiums accomplish quite the opposite of what they intend, for their words do not show precisely what is truly admirable. If an artist should make a botch of it after undertaking to portray in a painting a body of famous beauty, probably everyone would say it would have been better not to paint it at all; to have let them see the body itself, or at least not to show them a caricature. And so I think it is with your city. Their speeches take away from her root of her wonders. It is like some effort to describe the marvelous size of an army such as Xerxes'. The man tells of seeing 10,000 infantry here, and 20,000 there, and so and so many cavalry, without reporting in what excites his wonder even a mere fraction of the whole. For it is she who first proved that oratory cannot reach every goal. About her not only is it impossible to speak properly, but it is impossible even to see her properly. In truth it requires some all-seeing Argos—rather, the all-seeing god who dwells in the city. For beholding so many hills occupied by buildings, or on plains so many meadows completely urbanized, or so much land brought under the name of one city, who could survey her accurately? And from what point of observation?...

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"There Speaks the Nineteenth Century!": For the Weekend

stacks and stacks of books

For the weekend: One powerful and very common presumption among the thinkers of the nineteenth century was that if the problems of overpopulation could be solved, and if that coupled with better technology solved the problem of inadequate resources to provide necessities, then the distribution of conveniences and luxuries would take care of itself, and the distribution of necessities would be unproblematic as an immediate consequence of common humanity in an age of abundance. They were wrong:

Edward Bellamy: Looking Backward 2000-1887 https://delong.typepad.com/files/bellamy-backward.pdf: '“Who is capable of self-support?” he demanded. “There is no such thing in a civilized society as self-support. In a state of society so barbarous as not even to know family coöperation, each individual may possibly support himself, though even then for a part of his life only; but from the moment that men begin to live together, and constitute even the rudest sort of society, self-support becomes impossible. As men grow more civilized, and the subdivision of occupations and services is carried out, a complex mutual dependence becomes the universal rule. Every man, however solitary may seem his occupation, is a member of a vast industrial partnership, as large as the nation, as large as humanity. The necessity of mutual dependence should imply the duty and guarantee of mutual support; and that it did not in your day constituted the essential cruelty and unreason of your system”...

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Weekend Reading: Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn Wrestles with the American Christian Church for His Soul, and Wins and Saves It


Mark Twain: From Huckleberry Finn https://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2019/11/30/all-right-then-go-the-whole-hog/: 'I about made up my mind to pray; and see if I couldn’t try to quit being the kind of a boy I was, and be better. So I kneeled down. But the words wouldn’t come. Why wouldn’t they? It warn’t no use to try and hide it from Him. Nor from me, neither. I knowed very well why they wouldn’t come. It was because my heart warn’t right; it was because I warn’t square; it was because I was playing double. I was letting on to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all. I was trying to make my mouth say I would do the right thing and the clean thing, and go and write to that n—r’s owner and tell where he was; but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie—and He knowed it. You can’t pray a lie—I found that out. So I was full of trouble, full as I could be; and didn’t know what to do. At last I had an idea; and I says, I’ll go and write the letter—and then see if I can pray. Why, it was astonishing, the way I felt as light as a feather, right straight off, and my troubles all gone. So I got a piece of paper and a pencil, all glad and excited, and set down and wrote: "Miss Watson your runaway n—r Jim is down here two mile below Pikesville and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the reward if you send. HUCK FINN". I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn’t do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking—thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell...

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Karl Marx: Capital, Vol.3, Chapter 52: Classes: Weekend Reading

Karl Marx: Capital, Vol.3, Chapter 52: Classes https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch52.htm: 'The owners merely of labour-power, owners of capital, and land-owners, whose respective sources of income are wages, profit and ground-rent, in other words, wage-labourers, capitalists and land-owners, constitute then three big classes of modern society based upon the capitalist mode of production...

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Milton Friedman (1982): Free Markets and the Generals: Weekend Reading

Milton Friedman* (1982): Free Markets and the Generals: "The adoption of free-market policies by Chile with the blessing and support of the military junta headed by General Pinochet has given rise to the myth that only an authoritarian regime can successful ly implement a free-market policy. The facts are very different. Chile is an exception, not the rule. The military is hierarchical, and its personnel are imbued with the tradition that some give and some obey orders: it is organized from top down. A free market is the reverse. It is voluntaristic, authority is dispersed; bargaining, not submission to orders, is its watchword; it is organized from the bottom up...

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Benjamin Wittes: The Collapse of the President’s Defense: Weekend Reading

Benjamin Wittes: The Collapse of the President’s Defense https://www.lawfareblog.com/collapse-presidents-defense: 'President Trump’s substantive defense against the ongoing impeachment inquiry has crumbled entirely—not just eroded or weakened, but been flattened like a sandcastle hit with a large wave. It was never a strong defense. After all, Trump himself released the smoking gun early in L’Affaire Ukrainienne when the White House published its memo of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. That document erased any question as to whether Trump had asked a foreign head of state to “investigate”—a euphemism for digging up dirt on—his political opponents. There was no longer any doubt that he had asked a foreign country to violate the civil liberties of American citizens by way of interfering in the coming presidential campaign. That much we have known for certain for weeks. The clarity of the evidence did not stop the president’s allies from trying to fashion some semblance of defense. But the past few days of damaging testimony have stripped away the remaining fig leaves. There was no quid pro quo, we were told—except that it’s now clear that there was one. If there was a quid pro quo, we were told, it was the good kind of quid pro quo that happens all the time in foreign relations—except that, we now learn, it wasn’t that kind at all but the very corrupt kind instead. The Ukrainians didn’t even know that the president was holding up their military aid, we were told—except that, it turns out, they did know. And, the president said, it was all about anti-corruption. This was the most Orwellian inversion; describing such a corrupt demand as a request for an investigation of corruption is a bit like describing a speakeasy as an alcoholism treatment facility. As this tawdy fact pattern has become increasingly exposed, the only defense that remains to the president is that it does not amount to an impeachment-worthy offense—an argument difficult to square with either the history of impeachment or its purpose in our constitutional system...

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Weekend Reading: Harry S Truman: Executive Order 9981: Desegregation of the Armed Forces (1948)

Harry Truman (1948): Executive Order 9981: Desegregation of the Armed Forces: "Establishing the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity In the Armed Forces...

...WHEREAS it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country's defense:

NOW THEREFORE, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, by the Constitution and the statutes of the United States, and as Commander in Chief of the armed services, it is hereby ordered as follows:

  1. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency or morale...

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Weekend Reading: Dietz Vollrath: Deep Roots of Development


Dietz Vollrath: The Deep Roots of Development: "Think statistically, rather than in absolutes.... It is plausible that ethnic groups in areas where there were large returns to long-run investment in agricultural production may end up more patient in the long-run as well.... There is a significant relationship of productivity with patience... but the R-squared is about 10%.... [And] the results don’t mean that ethnic group A with higher productivity had to have higher patience than group B with lower productivity.... Lots of other things affect the patience of an ethnic group over and above the productivity level, and hence lots of things could have changed over the course of history to explain patience.... The findings... do not mean it is impossible to change the development level of countries or groups today. But the deep-rooted nature of development may mean we have to find other policy levers to push, as we cannot go back in time and roll back colonization, or change inherent agricultural productivity...

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Anton Howes: Age of Invention: When Alchemy Works: Weekend Readings


Anton Howes: When Alchemy Works https://antonhowes.substack.com/p/age-of-invention-when-alchemy-works_: "Often, the alchemists were onto something: ’ve spent a lot of time recently researching innovations of the late sixteenth century, many of which involved alchemy. Alchemy today has a bad reputation, and for good reason. You cannot transmute base metal into gold (unless you have a modern particle accelerator). You certainly won’t transmute base metal into gold in a laboratory because of a particular conjunction of the planets, or because you happened to be especially pure of heart that day. But what is so striking about the alchemists is that they took experiments and observations very seriously. Even if they were entirely wrong as to why, their alchemical demonstrations often really did work...

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Weekend Reading: Paul Krugman: The Rich, the Right, and the Facts: Deconstructing the Inequality Debate

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Paul Krugman (Fall 1992): The Rich, the Right, and the Facts: Deconstructing the Inequality Debate https://prospect.org/economy/rich-right-facts-deconstructing-inequality-debate/: "During the mid-1980s, economists became aware that something unexpected was happening to the distribution of income in the United States. After three decades during which the income distribution had remained relatively stable, wages and incomes rapidly became more unequal.... During 1992 this genteel academic discussion gave way to a public debate, carried out in the pages of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and assorted popular magazines. This public debate was remarkable in two ways.... The conservative side displayed great ferocity.... Conservatives chose to take an odd, and ultimately indefensible, position. They could legitimately have challenged,,, on the grounds that nothing can, or at any rate should, be done about it. But with only a few exceptions they chose instead to make their stand on the facts to deny that the massive increase in inequality had happened... [in] an extraordinary series of attempts at statistical distortion. The whole episode... is a sort of textbook demonstration of the uses and abuses of statistics.... The combination of mendacity and sheer incompetence displayed by the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Treasury Department, and a number of supposed economic experts demonstrates something else: the extent of the moral and intellectual decline of American conservatism.... Fortune has long carried out annual surveys of executive compensation; and since the mid-1970s compensation of top executives has risen far faster than average or typical wages.... Surveys carried out by the University of Michigan have also shed useful light on income distribution.... There is also anecdotal evidence: Tom Wolfe... soaring demand for apartments in Manhattan's 'Good Buildings'... his Bonfire of the Vanities arguably tells you all you need to know about the subject...

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Weekend Reading: Annie Wood Besant (1878): The Law of Population: Its Consequences and Its Bearing Upon Human Conduct and Morals

Weekend Reading: Annie Wood Besant (1878): The Law of Population: Its Consequences and Its Bearing Upon Human Conduct and Morals: "The preventive check which is so generally practised in France that Dr. Drysdale—with a rarely wide French experience—stated that among the peasantry it was 'used universally', and was 'practised by almost every male in Paris, and all over the country', is one which depends entirely on the self-control of the man. It consists simply in the withdrawal of the husband previous to the emission of the semen, and is, of course, absolutely certain as a preventive...

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Weekend Reading: Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963): The Promissory Note and the Bank of Justice

Martin Luther King, Jr (1963): The Promissory Note and the Bank of Justice https://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/mlk01.asp: "In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness...

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Weekend Reading: Arthur Eckstein: Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome

Weekend Reading: Arthur Eckstein: Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome: "When Rome ran out of ferocious competitors in the interstate system, frequent large-scale war-making by Rome ceased, replaced by the pax Romana, the Roman peace. It is important to understand that in many regions of the Mediterranean the pax Romana came into existence not late but rather at a quite early point, and that most Roman high officials became administrators rather than generals at a quite early point. This is true in Sicily after 210 b.c.; in all of peninsular Italy by 200 (and in most areas of Italy long before that); in the Po Valley after 190; in most of Spain after 133; in North Africa after 100; and for ever-longer stretches of time in the Greek East. Similarly, Roman aristocratic culture after about 160 b.c. was gradually becoming more and more civilian in character and focus. Yet these twin crucial developments were both occurring well within the period when, according to most scholars, powerful internal cultural, political, and economic pressures were supposedly pushing Rome the war-machine and its militarized aristocracy implacably, in Schumpeteresque fashion, along its specially brutal and bellicose Sonderweg...

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Wikipedia: Socii: "The 75-year period between 338 BC and the outbreak of the First Punic War in 264 saw an explosion of Roman expansion and the subjugation of the entire peninsula to Roman political hegemony, achieved by virtually incessant warfare. Roman territory (ager Romanus) grew enormously in size, from c. 5,500 to 27,000 km², c. 20% of peninsular Italy. The Roman citizen population nearly tripled, from c. 350,000 to c. 900,000, c. 30% of the peninsular population.[16] Latin colonies probably comprised a further 10% of the peninsula (about 12,500 km²). The remaining 60% of the peninsula remained in the hands of other Italian socii who were, however, forced to accept Roman supremacy...

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Weekend Reading: Nikita Sergeyevitch Khrushchev (1956): Speech to 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U.

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Nikita Sergeyevitch Khrushchev (1956): Speech to 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U. https://www.marxists.org/archive/khrushchev/1956/02/24.htm: "Comrades! In the Party Central Committee’s report at the 20th Congress and in a number of speeches by delegates to the Congress, as also formerly during Plenary CC/CPSU [Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union] sessions, quite a lot has been said about the cult of the individual and about its harmful consequences...

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Weekend Reading: Monica Potts: In the Land of Self-Defeat

Opinion In the Land of Self Defeat The New York Times

Weekend Reading: I saw this in Kansas City, of all places—where, IIRC, one firm dropped out of funding the Chamber of Commerce because it was going on roadshows outside trying to attract jobs to the region. It thought more mployers might force it to pay higher wages: Monica Potts: In the Land of Self-Defeat https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/04/opinion/sunday/trump-arkansas.html: "What a fight over the local library in my hometown in rural Arkansas taught me about my neighbors’ go-it-alone mythology—and Donald Trump’s unbeatable appeal.... I returned to Van Buren County at the end of 2017 after 20 years.... I’ve realized that it is true that people here think life here has taken a turn for the worse. What’s also true, though, is that many here seem determined to get rid of the last institutions trying to help them, to keep people with educations out, and to retreat from community life and concentrate on taking care of themselves and their own families. It’s an attitude that is against taxes, immigrants and government, but also against helping your neighbor.... I realized this after a fight over, of all things, our local library.... The library board wanted to increase the pay it could offer a new head librarian, who would be combining her new job with an older one, to 25 an hour.... The library has historically provided a variety of services for this community. It has offered summer reading camps for children and services like high-speed internet, sewing classes and academic help. I grew up going to the library and visited it often when I returned. It was always busy. I thought people would be supportive. Instead, they started a fight.... The first comment came from Amie Hamilton, who reiterated her point when I interviewed her several months later. 'If you want to make 25 an hour, please go to a city that can afford it', she wrote. 'We the people are not here to pay your excessive salaries through taxation or in any other way'. There was general agreement among the Facebook commenters that no one in the area was paid that much... and the people who do actually earn incomes that are similar—teachers and many county officials—largely remained quiet.... When a few of us, including me, pointed out that the candidate for the library job had a master’s degree, more people commented on the uselessness of education. 'Call me narrow-minded but I’ve never understood why a librarian needs a four-year degree', someone wrote. 'We were taught Dewey decimal system in grade school. Never sounded like anything too tough'.... The library fight was, itself, a fight over the future of rural America, what it meant to choose to live in a county like mine, what my neighbors were willing to do for one another, what they were willing to sacrifice to foster a sense of community here. The answer was, for the most part, not very much...

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Weekend Reading: 2005 Comments on and Discussion of Raghu Rajan: "Has Financial Development Made the World Riskier?"

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Raghu's paper itself is at: https://www.kansascityfed.org/publicat/sympos/2005/PDF/Rajan2005.pdf: Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (2005): Discussion of: Raghu Rajan: "Has Financial Development Made the World Riskier?" https://www.kansascityfed.org/publicat/sympos/2005/pdf/Kohn2005.pdf https://www.kansascityfed.org/Publicat/sympos/2005/PDF/Shin2005.pdf https://www.kansascityfed.org/publicat/sympos/2005/PDF/GD5_2005.pdf: Donald Kohn: "My perspective on this interesting paper by Raghu Rajan has been very much influenced by observing Alan Greenspan’s approach to the development of financial systems and their regulation over the past 18 years. I believe that the Greenspan doctrine, if I may call it that, has reflected the chairman’s analysis and deeply held belief that private interest and technological change, interacting in a stable macroeconomic environment, will advance the general economic welfare...

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For the Weekend: The New Colossus

Statue of liberty Google Search

Emma Lazarus: The New Colossus: "Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"...

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Weekend Reading: Lin Zexu (1839): To Queen Victoria

A busy stacking room in the opium factory at Patna India L Wellcome V0019154 First Opium War Wikipedia

Weekend Reading: Lin Zexu (1839): To Queen Victoria: "We find that your country is sixty or seventy thousand li from China. The purpose of your ships in coming to China is to realize a large profit. Since this profit is realized in China and is in fact taken away from the Chinese people, how can foreigners return injury for the benefit they have received by sending this poison to harm their benefactors? They may not intend to harm others on purpose, but the fact remains that they are so obsessed with material gain that they have no concern whatever for the harm they can cause to others. Have they no conscience? I have heard that you strictly prohibit opium in your own country, indicating unmistakably that you know how harmful opium is. You do not wish opium to harm your own country, but you choose to bring that harm to other countries such as China. Why?...

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Weekend Reading: The Deeds of the Divine Augustus, by the Divine Augustus

Augustus Deeds of the Divine Augustus Weekend Reading: Augustus: The Deeds of the Divine Augustus:

  1. In my nineteenth year, on my own initiative and at my own expense, I raised an army with which I set free the state, which was oppressed by the domination of a faction. For that reason, the senate enrolled me in its order by laudatory resolutions, when Gaius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius were consuls (43 B.C.E.), assigning me the place of a consul in the giving of opinions, and gave me the imperium. With me as propraetor, it ordered me, together with the consuls, to take care lest any detriment befall the state. But the people made me consul in the same year, when the consuls each perished in battle, and they made me a triumvir for the settling of the state.

  2. I drove the men who slaughtered my father into exile with a legal order, punishing their crime, and afterwards, when they waged war on the state, I conquered them in two battles.

  3. I often waged war, civil and foreign, on the earth and sea, in the whole wide world, and as victor I spared all the citizens who sought pardon. As for foreign nations, those which I was able to safely forgive, I preferred to preserve than to destroy. About five hundred thousand Roman citizens were sworn to me. I led something more than three hundred thousand of them into colonies and I returned them to their cities, after their stipend had been earned, and I assigned all of them fields or gave them money for their military service. I captured six hundred ships in addition to those smaller than triremes.

  4. Twice I triumphed with an ovation, and three times I enjoyed a curule triumph and twenty-one times I was named imperator. When the senate decreed more triumphs for me, I sat out from all of them. I placed the laurel from the fasces in the Capitol, when the vows which I pronounced in each war had been fulfilled. On account of the things successfully done by me and through my officers, under my auspices, on earth and sea, the senate decreed fifty-five times that there be sacrifices to the immortal gods. Moreover there were 890 days on which the senate decreed there would be sacrifices. In my triumphs kings and nine children of kings were led before my chariot. I had been consul thirteen times, when I wrote this, and I was in the thirty-seventh year of tribunician power (14 A.C.E.).

  5. When the dictatorship was offered to me, both in my presence and my absence, by the people and senate, when Marcus Marcellus and Lucius Arruntius were consuls (22 B.C.E.), I did not accept it. I did not evade the curatorship of grain in the height of the food shortage, which I so arranged that within a few days I freed the entire city from the present fear and danger by my own expense and administration. When the annual and perpetual consulate was then again offered to me, I did not accept it.

  6. When Marcus Vinicius and Quintus Lucretius were consuls (19 B.C.E.), then again when Publius Lentulus and Gnaeus Lentulus were (18 B.C.E.), and third when Paullus Fabius Maximus and Quintus Tubero were (11 B.C.E.), although the senate and Roman people consented that I alone be made curator of the laws and customs with the highest power, I received no magistracy offered contrary to the customs of the ancestors. What the senate then wanted to accomplish through me, I did through tribunician power, and five times on my own accord I both requested and received from the senate a colleague in such power.

  7. I was triumvir for the settling of the state for ten continuous years. I was first of the senate up to that day on which I wrote this, for forty years. I was high priest, augur, one of the Fifteen for the performance of rites, one of the Seven of the sacred feasts, brother of Arvis, fellow of Titus, and Fetial.

  8. When I was consul the fifth time (29 B.C.E.), I increased the number of patricians by order of the people and senate. I read the roll of the senate three times, and in my sixth consulate (28 B.C.E.) I made a census of the people with Marcus Agrippa as my colleague. I conducted a lustrum, after a forty-one year gap, in which lustrum were counted 4,063,000 heads of Roman citizens. Then again, with consular imperium I conducted a lustrum alone when Gaius Censorinus and Gaius Asinius were consuls (8 B.C.E.), in which lustrum were counted 4,233,000 heads of Roman citizens. And the third time, with consular imperium, I conducted a lustrum with my son Tiberius Caesar as colleague, when Sextus Pompeius and Sextus Appuleius were consuls (14 A.C.E.), in which lustrum were counted 4,937,000 of the heads of Roman citizens. By new laws passed with my sponsorship, I restored many traditions of the ancestors, which were falling into disuse in our age, and myself I handed on precedents of many things to be imitated in later generations.

  9. The senate decreed that vows be undertaken for my health by the consuls and priests every fifth year. In fulfillment of these vows they often celebrated games for my life; several times the four highest colleges of priests, several times the consuls. Also both privately and as a city all the citizens unanimously and continuously prayed at all the shrines for my health.

  10. By a senate decree my name was included in the Saliar Hymn, and it was sanctified by a law, both that I would be sacrosanct for ever, and that, as long as I would live, the tribunician power would be mine. I was unwilling to be high priest in the place of my living colleague; when the people offered me that priesthood which my father had, I refused it. And I received that priesthood, after several years, with the death of him who had occupied it since the opportunity of the civil disturbance, with a multitude flocking together out of all Italy to my election, so many as had never before been in Rome, when Publius Sulpicius and Gaius Valgius were consuls (12 B.C.E.).

  11. The senate consecrated the altar of Fortune the Bringer-back before the temples of Honor and Virtue at the Campanian gate for my retrn, on which it ordered the priests and Vestal virgins to offer yearly sacrifices on the day when I had returned to the city from Syria (when Quintus Lucretius and Marcus Vinicius were consuls (19 Bc)), and it named that day Augustalia after my cognomen.

  12. By the authority of the senate, a part of the praetors and tribunes of the plebs, with consul Quintus Lucretius and the leading men, was sent to meet me in Campania, which honor had been decreed for no one but me until that time. When I returned to Rome from Spain and Gaul, having successfully accomplished matters in those provinces, when Tiberius Nero and Publius Quintilius were consuls (13 B.C.E.), the senate voted to consecrate the altar of August Peace in the field of Mars for my return, on which it ordered the magistrates and priests and Vestal virgins to offer annual sacrifices.

  13. Our ancestors wanted Janus Quirinus to be closed when throughout the all the rule of the Roman people, by land and sea, peace had been secured through victory. Although before my birth it had been closed twice in all in recorded memory from the founding of the city, the senate voted three times in my principate that it be closed.

  14. When my sons Gaius and Lucius Caesar, whom fortune stole from me as youths, were fourteen, the senate and Roman people made them consuls-designate on behalf of my honor, so that they would enter that magistracy after five years, and the senate decreed that on thatday when they were led into the forum they would be included in public councils. Moreover the Roman knights together named each of them first of the youth and gave them shields and spears.

  15. I paid to the Roman plebs, HS 300 per man from my father's will and in my own name gave HS 400 from the spoils of war when I was consul for the fifth time (29 B.C.E.); furthermore I again paid out a public gift of HS 400 per man, in my tenth consulate (24 B.C.E.), from my own patrimony; and, when consul for the eleventh time (23 B.C.E.), twelve doles of grain personally bought were measured out; and in my twelfth year of tribunician power (12-11 B.C.E.) I gave HS 400 per man for the third time. And these public gifts of mine never reached fewer than 250,000 men. In my eighteenth year of tribunician power, as consul for the twelfth time (5 B.C.E.), I gave to 320,000 plebs of the city HS 240 per man. And, when consul the fifth time (29 B.C.E.), I gave from my war-spoils to colonies of my soldiers each HS 1000 per man; about 120,000 men i the colonies received this triumphal public gift. Consul for the thirteenth time (2 B.C.E.), I gave HS 240 to the plebs who then received the public grain; they were a few more than 200,000.

  16. I paid the towns money for the fields which I had assigned to soldiers in my fourth consulate (30 B.C.E.) and then when Marcus Crassus and Gnaeus Lentulus Augur were consuls (14 B.C.E.); the sum was about HS 600,000,000 which I paid out for Italian estates, and about HS 260,000,000 which I paid for provincial fields. I was first and alone who did this among all who founded military colonies in Italy or the provinces according to the memory of my age. And afterwards, when Tiberius Nero and Gnaeus Piso were consuls (7 B.C.E.), and likewise when Gaius Antistius and Decius Laelius were consuls (6 B.C.E.), and when Gaius Calvisius and Lucius Passienus were consuls (4 B.C.E.), and when Lucius Lentulus and Marcus Messalla were consuls (3 B.C.E.), and when Lucius Caninius and Quintus Fabricius were consuls (2 B.C.E.) , I paid out rewards in cash to the soldiers whom I had led into their towns when their service was completed, and in this venture I spent about HS 400,000,000.

  17. Four times I helped the senatorial treasury with my money, so that I offered HS 150,000,000 to those who were in charge of the treasury. And when Marcus Lepidus and Luciu Arruntius were consuls (6 A.C.E.), I offered HS 170,000,000 from my patrimony to the military treasury, which was founded by my advice and from which rewards were given to soldiers who had served twenty or more times.

  18. From that year when Gnaeus and Publius Lentulus were consuls (18 Bc), when the taxes fell short, I gave out contributions of grain and money from my granary and patrimony, sometimes to 100,000 men, sometimes to many more.

  19. I built the senate-house and the Chalcidicum which adjoins it and the temple of Apollo on the Palatine with porticos, the temple of divine Julius, the Lupercal, the portico at the Flaminian circus, which I allowed to be called by the name Octavian, after he who had earlier built in the same place, the state box at the great circus, the temple on the Capitoline of Jupiter Subduer and Jupiter Thunderer, the temple of Quirinus, the temples of Minerva and Queen Juno and Jupiter Liberator on the Aventine, the temple of the Lares at the top of the holy street, the temple of the gods of the Penates on the Velian, the temple of Youth, and the temple of the Great Mother on the Palatine.

  20. I rebuilt the Capitol and the theater of Pompey, each work at enormous cost, without any inscription of my name. I rebuilt aqueducts in many places that had decayed with age, and I doubled the capacity of the Marcian aqueduct by sending a new spring into its channel. I completed the Forum of Julius and the basilic which he built between the temple of Castor and the temple of Saturn, works begun and almost finished by my father. When the same basilica was burned with fire I expanded its grounds and I began it under an inscription of the name of my sons, and, if I should not complete it alive, I ordered it to be completed by my heirs. Consul for the sixth time (28 B.C.E.), I rebuilt eighty-two temples of the gods in the city by the authority of the senate, omitting nothing which ought to have been rebuilt at that time. Consul for the seventh time (27 B.C.E.), I rebuilt the Flaminian road from the city to Ariminum and all the bridges except the Mulvian and Minucian.

  21. I built the temple of Mars Ultor on private ground and the forum of Augustus from war-spoils. I build the theater at the temple of Apollo on ground largely bought from private owners, under the name of Marcus Marcellus my son-in-law. I consecrated gifts from war-spoils in the Capitol and in the temple of divine Julius, in the temple of Apollo, in the tempe of Vesta, and in the temple of Mars Ultor, which cost me about HS 100,000,000. I sent back gold crowns weighing 35,000 to the towns and colonies of Italy, which had been contributed for my triumphs, and later, however many times I was named emperor, I refused gold crowns from the towns and colonies which they equally kindly decreed, and before they had decreed them.

  22. Three times I gave shows of gladiators under my name and five times under the name of my sons and grandsons; in these shows about 10,000 men fought. Twice I furnished under my name spectacles of athletes gathered from everywhere, and three times under my grandson's name. I celebrated games under my name four times, and furthermore in the place of other magistrates twenty-three times. As master of the college I celebrated the secular games for the college of the Fifteen, with my colleague Marcus Agrippa, when Gaius Furnius and Gaius Silanus were consuls (17 B.C.E.). Consul for the thirteenth time (2 B.C.E.), I celebrated the first games of Mas, which after that time thereafter in following years, by a senate decree and a law, the consuls were to celebrate. Twenty-six times, under my name or that of my sons and grandsons, I gave the people hunts of African beasts in the circus, in the open, or in the amphitheater; in them about 3,500 beasts were killed.

  23. I gave the people a spectacle of a naval battle, in the place across the Tiber where the grove of the Caesars is now, with the ground excavated in length 1,800 feet, in width 1,200, in which thirty beaked ships, biremes or triremes, but many smaller, fought among themselves; in these ships about 3,000 men fought in addition to the rowers.

  24. In the temples of all the cities of the province of Asia, as victor, I replaced the ornaments which he with whom I fought the war had possessed privately after he despoiled the temples. Silver statues of me-on foot, on horseback, and standing in a chariot-were erected in about eighty cities, which I myself removed, and from the money I placed goldn offerings in the temple of Apollo under my name and of those who paid the honor of the statues to me.

  25. I restored peace to the sea from pirates. In that slave war I handed over to their masters for the infliction of punishments about 30,000 captured, who had fled their masters and taken up arms against the state. All Italy swore allegiance to me voluntarily, and demanded me as leader of the war which I won at Actium; the provinces of Gaul, Spain, Africa, Sicily, and Sardinia swore the same allegiance. And those who then fought under my standard were more than 700 senators, among whom 83 were made consuls either before or after, up to the day this was written, and about 170 were made priests.

  26. I extended the borders of all the provinces of the Roman people which neighbored nations not subject to our rule. I restored peace to the provinces of Gaul and Spain, likewise Germany, which includes the ocean from Cadiz to the mouth of the river Elbe. I brought peace to the Alps from the region which i near the Adriatic Sea to the Tuscan, with no unjust war waged against any nation. I sailed my ships on the ocean from the mouth of the Rhine to the east region up to the borders of the Cimbri, where no Roman had gone before that time by land or sea, and the Cimbri and the Charydes and the Semnones and the other Germans of the same territory sought by envoys the friendship of me and of the Roman people. By my order and auspices two armies were led at about the same time into Ethiopia and into that part of Arabia which is called Happy, and the troops of each nation of enemies were slaughtered in battle and many towns captured. They penetrated into Ethiopia all the way to the town Nabata, which is near to Meroe; and into Arabia all the way to the border of the Sabaei, advancing to the town Mariba.

  27. I added Egypt to the rule of the Roman people. When Artaxes, king of Greater Armenia, was killed, though I could have made it a province, I preferred, by the example of our elders, to hand over that kingdomto Tigranes, son of king Artavasdes, and grandson of King Tigranes, through Tiberius Nero, who was then my step-son. And the same nation, after revolting and rebelling, and subdued through my son Gaius, I handed over to be ruled by King Ariobarzanes son of Artabazus, King of the Medes, and after his death, to his son Artavasdes; and when he was killed, I sent Tigranes, who came from the royal clan of the Armenians, into that rule. I recovered all the provinces which lie across the Adriatic to the east and Cyrene, with kings now possessing them in large part, and Sicily and Sardina, which had been occupied earlier in the slave war.

  28. I founded colonies of soldiers in Africa, Sicily, Macedonia, each Spain, Greece, Asia, Syria, Narbonian Gaul, and Pisidia, and furthermore had twenty-eight colonies founded in Italy under my authority, which were very populous and crowded while I lived.

  29. I recovered from Spain, Gaul, and Dalmatia the many military standards lost through other leaders, after defeating te enemies. I compelled the Parthians to return to me the spoils and standards of three Roman armies, and as suppliants to seek the friendship of the Roman people. Furthermore I placed those standards in the sanctuary of the temple of Mars Ultor.

  30. As for the tribes of the Pannonians, before my principate no army of the Roman people had entered their land. When they were conquered through Tiberius Nero, who was then my step-son and emissary, I subjected them to the rule of the Roman people and extended the borders of Illyricum to the shores of the river Danube. On the near side of it the army of the Dacians was conquered and overcome under my auspices, and then my army, led across the Danube, forced the tribes of the Dacians to bear the rule of the Roman people.

  31. Emissaries from the Indian kings were often sent to me, which had not been seen before that time by any Roman leader. The Bastarnae, the Scythians, and the Sarmatians, who are on this side of the river Don and the kings further away, an the kings of the Albanians, of the Iberians, and of the Medes, sought our friendship through emissaries.

  32. To me were sent supplications by kings: of the Parthians, Tiridates and later Phrates son of king Phrates, of the Medes, Artavasdes, of the Adiabeni, Artaxares, of the Britons, Dumnobellaunus and Tincommius, of the Sugambri, Maelo, of the Marcomanian Suebi (...) (-)rus. King Phrates of the Parthians, son of Orodes, sent all his sons and grandsons into Italy to me, though defeated in no war, but seeking our friendship through the pledges of his children. And in my principate many other peoples experienced the faith of the Roman people, of whom nothing had previously existed of embassies or interchange of friendship with the Roman people.

  33. The nations of the Parthians and Medes received from me the first kings of those nations which they sought by emissaries: the Parthians, Vonones son of king Phrates, grandson of king Orodes, the Medes, Ariobarzanes, son of king Artavasdes, grandson of king Aiobarzanes.

  34. In my sixth and seventh consulates (28-27 B.C.E.), after putting out the civil war, having obtained all things by universal consent, I handed over the state from my power to the dominion of the senate and Roman people. And for this merit of mine, by a senate decree, I was called Augustus and the doors of my temple were publicly clothed with laurel and a civic crown was fixed over my door and a gold shield placed in the Julian senate-house, and the inscription of that shield testified to the virtue, mercy, justice, and piety, for which the senate and Roman people gave it to me. After that time, I exceeded all in influence, but I had no greater power than the others who were colleagues with me in each magistracy.

  35. When I administered my thirteenth consulate (2 B.C.E.), the senate and Equestrian order and Roman people all called me father of the country, and voted that the same be inscribed in the vestibule of my temple, in the Julian senate-house, and in the forum of Augustus under the chario which had been placed there for me by a decision of the senate. When I wrote this I was seventy-six years old....

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Weekend Reading: John Stuart Mill (1829): Of the Influence of Consumption on Production

Living Wage report shows economy is based on Victorian workhouse Goldsmiths University of London

Weekend Reading: The birth of macroeconomics as we know it back in 1829. But Mill gets one big thing wrong: a depression happens whenever there is an uncompensated sharp rise in the demand for money, and such sharp rises can and do have many causes—nominal illusion in a time of inflation leading to "over investment" is only one of them. And, of course, Mill as absolutely hopeless with respect to the cure: John Stuart Mill (1829): Of the Influence of Consumption on Production https://delong.typepad.com/mill-questions.pdf: "Periods of 'brisk demand' are also the periods of greatest production: the national capital is never called into full employment but at those periods. This, however, is no reason for desiring such times; it is not desirable that the whole capital of the country should be in full employment. For, the calculations of producers and traders being of necessity imperfect, there are always some commodities which are more or less in excess, as there are always some which are in deficiency. If, therefore, the whole truth were known, there would always be some classes of producers contracting, not extending, their operations. If all are endeavouring to extend them, it is a certain proof that some general delusion is afloat...

...The commonest cause of such delusion is some general, or very extensive, rise of prices (whether caused by speculation or by the currency) which persuades all dealers that they are growing rich. And hence, an increase of production really takes place during the progress of depreciation, as long as the existence of depreciation is not suspected; and it is this which gives to the fallacies of the currency school.... But when the delusion vanishes and the truth is disclosed, those whose commodities are relatively in excess must diminish their production or be ruined: and if during the high prices they have built mills and erected machinery, they will be likely to repent at leisure. In the present state of the commercial world... unreasonable hopes and unreasonable fears alternately rule with tyrannical sway... general eagerness to buy and general reluctance to buy succeed one another... at brief intervals.

Except during short periods of transition, there is almost always either great briskness of business or great stagnation; either the principal producers of almost all the leading articles of industry have as many orders as they can possibly execute, or the dealers in almost all commodities have their warehouses full of unsold goods....

It may very well occur, that there may be... a very general inclination to sell with as little delay as possible, accompanied with an equally general inclination to defer all purchases as long as possible....It is true that this state can be only temporary, and must even be succeeded by a reaction of corresponding violence, since those who have sold without buying will certainly buy at last, and there will then be more buyers than sellers. But although the general over-supply is of necessity only temporary, this is no more than may be said of every partial over-supply. An overstocked state of the market is always temporary, and is generally followed by a more than common briskness of demand...

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For the Weekend: Fred Clark: The Duty of Speaking Ill of the Dead

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Weekend Reading: Very wise from the very wise Fred Clark: The Duty of Speaking Ill of the Dead: "From Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, 'The Last of the Spirits': 'The Spirit stopped beside one little knot of business men. Observing that the hand was pointed to them, Scrooge advanced to listen to their talk. “No,” said a great fat man with a monstrous chin, “I don’t know much about it, either way. I only know he’s dead.” “When did he die?” inquired another. “Last night, I believe.” “Why, what was the matter with him?” asked a third, taking a vast quantity of snuff out of a very large snuff-box. “I thought he’d never die.” “God knows,” said the first, with a yawn. “What has he done with his money?” asked a red-faced gentleman with a pendulous excrescence on the end of his nose, that shook like the gills of a turkey-cock. “I haven’t heard,” said the man with the large chin, yawning again. “Left it to his company, perhaps. He hasn’t left it to me. That’s all I know.” This pleasantry was received with a general laugh. “It’s likely to be a very cheap funeral,” said the same speaker; “for upon my life I don’t know of anybody to go to it. Suppose we make up a party and volunteer?”...

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Leo Strauss Gives a Cheer for His Right-Wing Principles: Fascist, Authoritarian, Imperial: Weekend Reading

Weekend Reading: Leo Strauss gives a cheer for his right-wing principles: fascist, authoritarian, imperial. I wonder what form his critique of the Nazi regime from those principles actually took?:

Leo Strauss: Paris, May 19, 1933: "Dear Mr. Löwith: On your behalf I have in the meantime made the necessary overture to Groethuysen, who is in London. Besides this I had occasion to speak with Van Sickle, the head of the Rockefeller Foundation, and informed him about you, your situation, your work and your interests. He made a note of your name, so I am sure he will remember it when he comes across it in Fehling’s letter. As concerns me, I will receive the second year. Berlin recommended me, and that was decisive. I will also spend my second year in Paris, and I will attempt in this time to undertake something that will make my further work possible. Clearly I have major “competition”: the entire German-Jewish intellectual proletariat is assembled here. It’s terrible—I’d rather just run back to Germany. But here’s the catch. Of course I can’t opt for just any other country-one doesn’t choose a homeland and, above all, a mother tongue, and in any event I will never be able to write other than in German, even if I must write in another language. On the other hand, I see no acceptable possibility of living under the swastika, i.e., under a symbol that says nothing more to me than: you and your ilk, you are physei subhumans and therefore justly pariahs. There is in this case just one solution. We must repeat: we, “men of science"-as our predecessors in the Arab Middle Ages called themselves-non habemus locum manentem, sed quaerimus... And, what concerns this matter: the fact that the new right-wing Germany does not tolerate us says nothing against the principles of the right. To the contrary: only from the principles of the right, that is from fascist, authoritarian and imperial principles, is it possible with seemliness, that is, without resort to the ludicrous and despicable appeal to the droits imprescriptibles de l’homme to protest against the shabby abomination...

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Weekend Reading: Nikita Khrushchev (1959): On Peaceful Coexistence

Nikita Khrushchev (1959): On Peaceful Coexistence: "The socialist states are ruled by the working people themselves.... To them war spells grief and tears, death, devastation and misery. Ordinary people have no need for war.... Peaceful coexistence does not mean merely living side by side... with the constantly remaining threat of [war] breaking out in the future. Peaceful coexistence can and should develop into peaceful competition for the purpose of satisfying man's needs in the best possible way.... Let us try out in practice whose system is better, let us compete without war. This is much better than competing in who will produce more arms and who will smash whom. We stand and always will stand for such competition as will help to raise the well-being of the people to a higher level.... We Communists believe that the idea of Communism will ultimately be victorious throughout the world, just as it has been victorious in our country, in China and in many other states.... We may argue, we may disagree with one another. The main thing is to keep to the positions of ideological struggle, without resorting to arms in order to prove that one is right.... With military techniques what they are today, there are no inaccessible places in the world. Should a world war break out, no country will be able to shut itself off from a crushing blow.... Ultimately that system will be victorious on the globe which will offer the nations greater opportunities for improving their material and spiritual life...

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Weekend Reading: Charles Kindleberger: Anatomy of a Typical Financial Crisis

Weekend Reading: Charles Kindleberger: Anatomy of a Typical Financial Crisis: From Charlie Kindleberger, A Financial History of Western Europe:

p. 90 ff: No discretion was allowed in the issuance of bank notes, however.... Sir Robert Peel, the Prime Minister, first contemplated allowing a relaxing power in the 1844 legislation, but ultimately decided against it.... Peel protected himself... in a letter from Windsor Castle, written on 4 June 1844: "My confidence is unshaken that we have taken all the precautions which legislation can prudently take against a recurrence of a pecuniary crisis. It may occur in spite of our precautions; and if it does and if it be necessary to assume a grave responsibility, I dare say men will be found willing to assume such a responsibility (BPP 1847 [1969], Vol. 2, p. xxix)"...

The difficulty in making the note issue inelastic... is that it became inelastic at all times, when the requirement in an internal financial crisis is that money be freely available...

The Bank of England came to the rescue of the South Sea Company... belatedly, and at a punishing price... to dispose of a dangerous rival. Its recognition of its responsibilities in preventing, or at least mitigating, financial crisis in the public interest took more time. There was a lag in understanding the need to have the money supply inelastic in the long run but elastic in the short. A further question was whose task it was to serve as lender of last resort...

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Maciej Cegloski (2005): A Rocket To Nowhere: Weekend Reading

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Maciej Cegloski (August 3, 2005): A Rocket To Nowhere: "The Space Shuttle Discovery is up in orbit, safely docked to the International Space Station, and for the next five days, astronauts will be busy figuring out whether it's safe for them to come home. In the meantime, the rest of the Shuttle fleet is grounded (confined to base, not allowed to play with its spacecraft friends) because that pesky foam on the fuel tank keeps falling off. There are 28 Space Shuttle flights still scheduled.... On the eve of this launch, NASA put the likelihood of losing an orbiter at 1 in 100, a somewhat stunning concession by an agency notorious for minimizing the risk of its prize program. Given the track record, and the unanticipated foam problems, it's probably reasonable to assume a failure rate approaching 2%, a number close to the observed failure rate (1 in 57) and one likely to fall on the conservative side as the orbiters age.... With 28 launches to go, probability tells us that the chance of losing another orbiter before the program's scheduled retirement is about 50-50. But past experience suggests that NASA will continue flying these things until one of them blows up again (note that suspicious four-year gap in manned flight capability right around the time the Shuttle is supposed to retire). This seems like as good a time as any to ask: why are we doing this?...

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Weekend Reading: Samuel Pepys: Diary: Friday 19 July 1667

Samuel Pepys: Friday 19 July 1667: "Up and comes the flageolet master, and brings me two new great Ivory pipes which cost me 32s., and so to play, and he being done, and Balty’s wife taking her leave of me, she going back to Lee to-day, I to Westminster and there did receive 15,000l orders out of the Exchequer in part of a bigger sum upon the eleven months tax for Tangier, part of which I presently delivered to Sir H. Cholmly, who was there, and thence with Mr. Gawden to Auditor Woods and Beales to examine some precedents in his business of the Victualling on his behalf, and so home, and in my way by coach down Marke Lane, mightily pleased and smitten to see, as I thought, in passing, the pretty woman, the line-maker’s wife that lived in Fenchurch Streete, and I had great mind to have gone back to have seen, but yet would correct my nature and would not...

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Dwight D. Eisenhower (1954): Letter to Edgar Newton Eisenhower: Weekend Reading

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1954): Letter to Edgar Newton Eisenhower: "Dear Ed: I think that such answer as I can give to your letter of November first will be arranged in reverse order–at least I shall comment first on your final paragraph. You keep harping on the Constitution; I should like to point out that the meaning of the Constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is. Consequently no powers are exercised by the Federal government except where such exercise is approved by the Supreme Court (lawyers) of the land. I admit that the Supreme Court has in the past made certain decisions in this general field that have been astonishing to me. A recent case in point was the decision in the Phillips case. Others, and older ones, involved 'interstate commerce.' But until some future Supreme Court decision denies the right and responsibility of the Federal government to do certain things, you cannot possibly remove them from the political activities of the Federal government...

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Francis Wilkinson: Gun Safety Takes a Back Seat to Gun Culture and Children Die: Weekend Reading

Millie Drew Kelly Girl Fatally Shot by 4 Year Old Brother Heavy com

Francis Wilkinson: Gun Safety Takes a Back Seat to Gun Culture and Children Die: "A mother stored a gun in her car to protect her children. It killed her daughter instead.: On Monday, April 8, Courtney Kelly’s Hyundai Elantra failed. Kelly had just gotten all three kids packed into their car seats in the back. Millie, 6, was on the passenger side. Maddox, 4, was on the driver’s side. Lucas, 2, was strapped in the middle. It was about 5:45 p.m. They were on their way to Maddox’s baseball practice. With the children settled, Kelly was poised to pull out of her driveway on Laurelcrest Lane in Dallas, Georgia. The car wouldn’t start...

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Jo Walton: The Spearpoint Theory: The Dyer of Lorbanery: Weekend Reading

JoBannerNarrower 1

Jo Walton: The Dyer of Lorbanery (Spearpoint Theory): "There comes a point in writing, and it’s a spear-point, it’s very small and sharp but because it’s backed by the length and weight of a whole spear and a whole strong person pushing it, it’s a point that goes in a long way. Spearpoints need all that behind them, or they don’t pack their punch in the same way. Examples are difficult to give because spear-points by their nature require their context, and spoilers. They tend to be moments of poignancy and realization. When Duncan picks the branches when passing through trees, he’s just getting a disguise, but we the audience suddenly understand how Birnam Wood shall come to Dunsinane...

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Titus Livius: The Latin War: The History of Rome: Weekend Reading

Weekend Reading: Titus Livius: The Latin War: The History of Rome: "The consuls now were Caius Plautius a second time, and Lucius Æmilius Mamercinus; when the people of Setia and Norba came to Rome to announce the revolt of the Privernians, with complaints of the damages received by them. News were brought that the army of the Volscians, under the guidance of the people of Antium, had taken post at Satricum...

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Thomas Wyatt the Younger: Weekend Reading:

Wyatt s Rebellion Wyatt Revolt Context Facts Summary Outcome

Weekend Reading: Great12-grandfather: Wikipedia: Thomas Wyatt the Younger - Wikipedia: "Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger (1521 – 11 April 1554) was an English politician and rebel leader during the reign of Queen Mary I; his rising is traditionally called 'Wyatt's rebellion'. He was also the son of the English poet and ambassador Sir Thomas Wyatt...

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Some thoughts about Sally Hemings: Weekend Reading

Sally hemings images Sally Hemings Descendants Pictures Places to Visit Sally hemings Thomas jefferson children Descendants pictures and Annette Gordon Reed Some thoughts about Sally Hemings Weekend Reading and REOPEN MOAR Links

Annette Gordon-Reed: Some thoughts about Sally Hemings: "It makes no sense to think of her life out of the context of her family's story. She was a part of a web of relationships put in place before she was born.Her specific context can only be discerned by garnering details from the archives. Simply looking at a statute book and/or looking at other people's lives, and extrapolating to create a picture of SH's life, will not do. She cannot be taken, nor should any one person be taken, as the embodiment of the system of American slavery...

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Daniel Davies: One-Minute MBA: Weekend Reading

Weekend Reading: Daniel Davies: One-Minute MBA: "(1) Avoiding Projects Pursued By Morons 101 http://blog.danieldavies.com/2004_05_23_d-squareddigest_archive.html: The secret to every analysis I've ever done... has been, more or less, my expensive business school education.... Good ideas do not need lots of lies told about them in order to gain public acceptance. I was first made aware of this during an accounting class.... (We also learned in accounting class that the difference between 'making a definite single false claim with provable intent to deceive' and 'creating a very false impression and allowing it to remain without correcting it' is not one that you should rely upon to keep you out of jail. Even if your motives are noble.)...

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"A Republic, If You Can Keep It": Weekend Reading

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James McHenry: Papers: "Monday 17 Sepr. 1787: Read the engrossed constitution. Altered the representation in the house of representatives from 40 to thirty thousand. Dr. Franklin put a paper into Mr. Willson's hand to read containing his reasons for assenting to the constitution. It was plain, insinuating, persuasive-and in any event of the system guarded the Doctors fame. Mr. Randolp[h], Mr. Mason, and Mr. Gerry declined signing. The other members signed...

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Weekend Reading: Polybius on the First Two Treaties Between Rome and Carthage

The Phoenicians 1500 300 B C Essay Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Polybius: Histories: "The first treaty between Rome and Carthage was made... twenty-eight years before the invasion of Greece by Xerxes [509 BC].... The ancient language differs so much from that at present in use, that the best scholars among the Romans themselves have great difficulty in interpreting some points in it.... The treaty is as follows...

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Weekend Reading: John Maynard Keynes (1937): How to Avoid a Slump

Il Quarto Stato

I. The Problem of the Steady Level

It is clear that by painful degrees we have climbed out of the slump. It is also clear that we are well advanced on the upward slopes of prosperity I will not say 'of the boom', for 'boom' is an opprobrious term, and what we are enjoying is desirable. But many are already preoccupied with what is to come. It is widely agreed that it is more important to avoid a descent into another slump than to stimulate (subject to an important qualification to be mentioned below) a still greater activity than we have. This means that all of us—politicians, bankers, industrialists, and economists—are faced with a scientific problem which we have never tried to solve before.

I emphasise that point. Not only have we never solved it; we have never tried to. Not once. The booms and slumps of the past have been neither courted nor contrived against. The action of central banks has been hitherto an almost automatic response to the unforeseen and undesigned impact of outside events. But this time it is different. We have entirely freed ourselves—this applies to every party and every quarter—from the philosop[hy of the laissez-faire state. We have new means at our disposal which we intend to use. Perhaps we know more. But chiefly it is a general conviction that the stability of our institutions absolutely requires a resolute attempt to apply what perhaps we know to preventing the recurrence of another steep descent. I should like to try, therefore, to reduce a complicated problem to its essential elements.

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