**MUST OF THE MUSTS:

  1. Happy Thanksgiving! https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/happy-thanksgiving.html https://youtu.be/rVQqQuOO9yQ

  2. Abraham Lincoln: The Gettysburg Address: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this…

  3. Timothy B. Lee: No, Apple Isn’t Opening a New Manufacturing Plant in Texas https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/11/trump-brags-he-opened-apples-texas-mac-pro-plant-it-opened-in-2013/: ‘“I opened a major Apple manufacturing plant in Texas,” Trump wrote Wednesday…. Trump echoed that theme in a tweet after the tour. “Today I opened a major Apple manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America,” he wrote…. It’s technically owned by Apple contractor Flex, not Apple…. More important, it’s not new. Apple has been building the Mac Pro at the same location since 2013. Apple is opening a new facility in Austin—a 3 million-square-foot office complex where Apple says its employees will perform… “engineering, R&D, operations, finance, sales and customer support”…. But that new facility isn’t a manufacturing plant. It will create some high-paying jobs, but they’ll mostly be white-collar jobs in areas like engineering, finance, and sales…

  4. The book that is going to come out of Ober’s 2019 Sather lectures is going to be so great: Josiah Ober: Agamemnon’s Cluelessness: Economic Rationality and the Alternatives https://tinyurl.com/dl20191121: ‘Among the many goals of Politics book 1 is to put chrêmatistikê—as expert knowledge of a particular relationship among production (poiêsis), exchange (allangê/metablêtikê), and consumption/possession (ktêsis), all characteristically involving coined money—into the normatively correct place in his naturalized hierarchy of value. The critical conclusion is that chrêmatistikê (or one specific type of chrêmatistikê) is a subordinate part of oikonomia. It is not “according to nature” (kata phusin) but rather a technê arising from practical experience (empeiria) . It aims the possession and increase of wealth, at accumulation of money, as an end. That accumulation is by its internal logic unbounded and unconstrained, insofar as wealth denominated in monetary terms has no natural limit. Chrêmatistikê thus is a matter of maximizing a single resource (one thought to give access to all other resources), rather than optimizing or satisficing in respect to other values. It is at once contrary to the true end of human existence, a prevalent approach to the management of material goods, and (at least potentially) an essential instrument for both the oikonomos and the politikos. Among the delicate tasks of book 1 of the Politics is, then, to demonstrate that Aristotle knows enough about this dangerous and vulgar (phortikon) instrument to specify its proper uses, while avoiding appearing to honor it as a science worthy of a detailed treatment…

  5. John Maynard Keynes: View of the Pre-World War I European Equilibrium https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/john-maynard-keyness-view-of-the-pre-world-war-i-european-equilibrium.html (1919): The Economic Consequences of the Peace https://delong.typepad.com/files/keynes-peace.pdf: ‘Very few of us realize with conviction the intensely unusual, unstable, complicated, unreliable, temporary nature of the economic organization by which Western Europe has lived for the last half century. We assume some of the most peculiar and temporary of our late advantages as natural, permanent, and to be depended on, and we lay our plans accordingly. On this sandy and false foundation we scheme for social improvement and dress our political platforms, pursue our animosities and particular ambitions…


  1. Richard Partington: How the Wheels Came Off Facebook’s Libra Project https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/oct/18/how-the-wheels-came-off-facebook-libra-project?utm_term=Autofeed&CMP=twt_gu&utm_medium=&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1571424834: “Support for Mark Zuckerberg’s mission to reshape global finance is slipping away slowly but surely: When Facebook announced plans to launch a digital currency earlier this summer, it added a full-blown revolution in global finance to its typically vaulting Silicon Valley mission statement: to create a digital currency alongside its efforts to bring the world closer together through networks. Over the past month, that mission has gone badly awry. The Libra cryptocurrency project now faces existential threats from world leaders and central bankers worried about its harmful potential: as a vehicle for money laundering, a threat to global financial stability, open to data privacy abuse, dangerous for consumers and stripping nations of the control of their economies by privatising the money supply. Seven high-profile partners in the Facebook-led consortium that is building the digital currency–known as the Libra Association–have quit in dramatic fashion in recent weeks, including PayPal, eBay, Visa and Mastercard, as concerns mount…

  2. Abraham Lincoln: The Gettysburg Address: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this…

  3. Yes, play your position is good advice. But concern for the health of the public sphere—the willingness to call out lies, and so filter out of the discourse liars and their enablers—is now part of playing your position for everyone. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is not willing to do that. But he is at least willing to say he will ban “political” ads. And in the process of announcing the decision, he slags Facebook. But Jack will have difficulties: what is a “political” ad?: Jack Dorsey: ‘Internet political ads https://twitter.com/jack/status/1189634369016586240: present entirely new challenges to civic discourse: We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought. Why? A few reasons: A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money. While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions. Internet political ads present entirely new challenges to civic discourse: machine learning-based optimization of messaging and micro-targeting, unchecked misleading information, and deep fakes. All at increasing velocity, sophistication, and overwhelming scale. These challenges will affect ALL internet communication, not just political ads. Best to focus our efforts on the root problems, without the additional burden and complexity taking money brings. Trying to fix both means fixing neither well, and harms our credibility. For instance, it‘s not credible for us to say: “We’re working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, buuut if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad… well… they can say whatever they want!” We considered stopping only candidate ads, but issue ads present a way to circumvent. Additionally, it isn’t fair for everyone but candidates to buy ads for issues they want to push. So we’re stopping these too. We’re well aware we‘re a small part of a much larger political advertising ecosystem. Some might argue our actions today could favor incumbents. But we have witnessed many social movements reach massive scale without any political advertising. I trust this will only grow. In addition, we need more forward-looking political ad regulation (very difficult to do). Ad transparency requirements are progress, but not enough. The internet provides entirely new capabilities, and regulators need to think past the present day to ensure a level playing field. We’ll share the final policy by 11/15, including a few exceptions (ads in support of voter registration will still be allowed, for instance). We’ll start enforcing our new policy on 11/22 to provide current advertisers a notice period before this change goes into effect. A final note. This isn’t about free expression. This is about paying for reach. And paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle. It’s worth stepping back in order to address…

  4. Wikipedia: Tale of Ragnar’s Sons https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tale_of_Ragnar%27s_Sons: “When Sigurd Hring dies, Ragnar Lodbrok succeeds him as the king of Sweden and Denmark. Many foreign kings come to take parts of his kingdom as they think Ragnar is too young to defend it. Herrauðr, the earl of Götaland and one of Ragnar’s vassals had a daughter, Þóra Borgarhjǫrtr, who was very beautiful. He gave her a lindworm, but after some time, it encircles her tower and threatens anyone who approaches it, except for her servants who fed it with an ox every day. At his symbel, Herrauðr promises his daughter to the man who kills the serpent. When Ragnar hears of this, he goes to Västergötland and dresses himself in shaggy clothes that he had treated with tar and sand. He took a spear and approached the serpent which blew poison at him. Ragnar protected himself with his shield. He speared the serpent through its heart. He then cut off the serpent’s head, and when the people found out what had happened, he married Thora. Then, he proceeded to liberate his kingdom

  5. Heather Boushey: On Reddit https://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/df2ua6/im_heather_boushey_president_and_ceo_of_the/: “I’m Heather Boushey, president and CEO of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, and author of the forthcoming book, Unbound: How Inequality Constricts Our Economy and What We Can Do About It. AMA! : politics…. The latest economic research from across academic disciplines shows the many ways that high economic inequality—in incomes, wealth, and across firms—serves to obstruct, subvert, and distort the processes that lead to widespread improved economic well-being…

  6. Unpredictable and chaotic work schedules are turning out to be an extra source of inequity that is, at least to me, surprisingly large. About the only half-silver lining is that Britain appears to be even worse: Cesar Perez and Alix Gould-Werth: How U.S. Workers’ Just-In-Time Schedules Perpetuate Racial and Ethnic Inequality https://equitablegrowth.org/how-u-s-workers-just-in-time-schedules-perpetuate-racial-and-ethnic-inequality/: “n an attempt to minimize labor costs, employers in today’s U.S. economy saddle workers with last-minute and low-quality schedules. These schedules, sometimes referred to as “just-in-time schedules,” are unpredictable, unstable, and often provide workers with an insufficient number of hours. Today, sociologists Kristen Harknett at the University of California, San Francisco and Daniel Schneider at the University of California, Berkeley released new analyses drawing from surveys with 30,000 retail and food workers at 120 of the largest retail and food service companies in the United States to show who suffers from these schedules, and how…

  7. Yes, rural Kansas is now, in some ways, reminiscent of seventeenth-century England. Why do you ask?: Cory Doctorow: In Kansas’s Poor, Sick Places, Hospitals and Debt Collectors Send the Ailing to Debtor’s Prison https://boingboing.net/2019/10/16/midwestern-dickens.html: “Kansas is a living laboratory for far-right experimentation with extreme economic cruelty: a state where Medicare expansions were thwarted, where xenophobia has penetrated the state bureaucracy, where a grifty, incompetent lawyer has apologized for slavery and driven women out of his own party, even as neighboring states thrive by tending to the needs of working people, rather than the super-rich. As Kansas sinks into poverty and ruin, its people are growing ever-sicker: poverty is strongly correlated with poor health outcomes, especially in America, where being poor means you can’t afford preventative care, and even more especially in Kansas, where limits on Medicare expansion exclude even very poor people from access to subsidized care. Enter hospital debt collectors. Propublica’s Lizzie Presser reports from Coffeyville, Kansas, home to Coffeyville Regional Medical Center, the only hospital for 40 miles, now that its rivals have all shut down. In Coffeyville, magistrate judges are appointed, and need no special training to hold the office. Judge David Casement—a cattle rancher who never studied law—presides over medical debt cases, which he hears quarterly at ‘debtor’s exam’ days. At these proceedings, debt-collectors—who do have law degrees, and whom the judge relies heavily on for legal advice—are allowed to quiz sick people, or the parents or spouses of critically ill or dying people, about their assets and income and to ask the judge to order them to divert what little they have to Coffeyville Regional Medical Center, minus the debt-collector’s healthy cut. But sick, poor people can’t always afford to travel to the courthouse: sometimes, it’s because they have to go see a specialist (or take their kid or spouse to see one); sometimes it’s because they had to sell their car to make a previous debt payment. When this happens, debt collectors like Michael Hassenplug from Account Recovery Specialists Inc (ARSI) can ask the judge to issue a warrant for the debtor, who is taken to the local jail and hit with 500 in bail. Many can’t pay it, and stay in jail (Hassenplug insists that they’re not in jail for their debts, but rather for their failure to appear), while others who manage to borrow the 500 often find that it is then surrendered to the hospital and its arm-breakers. Meanwhile, the debts mount: in addition to punitive, usurious interest, the hospital and its debt-collectors reserve the right to lard on fees, fines and penalties…

  8. Timothy B. Lee: No, Apple Isn’t Opening a New Manufacturing Plant in Texas https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/11/trump-brags-he-opened-apples-texas-mac-pro-plant-it-opened-in-2013/: ‘“I opened a major Apple manufacturing plant in Texas,” Trump wrote Wednesday…. Trump echoed that theme in a tweet after the tour. “Today I opened a major Apple manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America,” he wrote…. It’s technically owned by Apple contractor Flex, not Apple…. More important, it’s not new. Apple has been building the Mac Pro at the same location since 2013. Apple is opening a new facility in Austin—a 3 million-square-foot office complex where Apple says its employees will perform… “engineering, R&D, operations, finance, sales and customer support”…. But that new facility isn’t a manufacturing plant. It will create some high-paying jobs, but they’ll mostly be white-collar jobs in areas like engineering, finance, and sales…

  9. The book that is going to come out of Ober’s 2019 Sather lectures is going to be so great: Josiah Ober: Agamemnon’s Cluelessness: Economic Rationality and the Alternatives https://tinyurl.com/dl20191121: ‘Among the many goals of Politics book 1 is to put chrêmatistikê—as expert knowledge of a particular relationship among production (poiêsis), exchange (allangê/metablêtikê), and consumption/possession (ktêsis), all characteristically involving coined money—into the normatively correct place in his naturalized hierarchy of value. The critical conclusion is that chrêmatistikê (or one specific type of chrêmatistikê) is a subordinate part of oikonomia. It is not “according to nature” (kata phusin) but rather a technê arising from practical experience (empeiria) . It aims the possession and increase of wealth, at accumulation of money, as an end. That accumulation is by its internal logic unbounded and unconstrained, insofar as wealth denominated in monetary terms has no natural limit. Chrêmatistikê thus is a matter of maximizing a single resource (one thought to give access to all other resources), rather than optimizing or satisficing in respect to other values. It is at once contrary to the true end of human existence, a prevalent approach to the management of material goods, and (at least potentially) an essential instrument for both the oikonomos and the politikos. Among the delicate tasks of book 1 of the Politics is, then, to demonstrate that Aristotle knows enough about this dangerous and vulgar (phortikon) instrument to specify its proper uses, while avoiding appearing to honor it as a science worthy of a detailed treatment…

  10. Adam Smith (1776): On the Disturbances in the American Colonies https://www.econlib.org/archives/2012/07/adam_smith_on_u.html Wealth of Nations IV-7-152: “To propose that Great Britain should voluntarily give up all authority over her colonies, and leave them to elect their own magistrates, to enact their own laws, and to make peace and war as they might think proper, would be to propose such a measure as never was, and never will be adopted, by any nation in the world. No nation ever voluntarily gave up the dominion of any province, how troublesome soever it might be to govern it, and how small soever the revenue which it afforded might be in proportion to the expence which it occasioned. Such sacrifices, though they might frequently be agreeable to the interest, are always mortifying to the pride of every nation, and what is perhaps of still greater consequence, they are always contrary to the private interest of the governing part of it, who would thereby be deprived of the disposal of many places of trust and profit, of many opportunities of acquiring wealth and distinction, which the possession of the most turbulent, and, to the great body of the people, the most unprofitable province seldom fails to afford. The most visionary enthusiast would scarce be capable of proposing such a measure with any serious hopes at least of its ever being adopted. If it was adopted, however, Great Britain would not only be immediately freed from the whole annual expence of the peace establishment of the colonies, but might settle with them such a treaty of commerce as would effectually secure to her a free trade, more advantageous to the great body of the people, though less so to the merchants, than the monopoly which she at present enjoys. By thus parting good friends, the natural affection of the colonies to the mother country which, perhaps, our late dissensions have well nigh extinguished, would quickly revive. It might dispose them not only to respect, for whole centuries together, that treaty of commerce which they had concluded with us at parting, but to favour us in war as well as in trade, and, instead of turbulent and factious subjects, to become our most faithful, affectionate, and generous allies; and the same sort of parental affection on the one side, and filial respect on the other, might revive between Great Britain and her colonies, which used to subsist between those of ancient Greece and the mother city from which they descended…

  11. A little bit aggressive and overceratin from the brilliant Esther Duflo, but only a little: Channel 4 News: _”‘There is no reason to fear low-skilled migration’ https://twitter.com/Channel4News/status/1194652089814855680. Nobel prize-winning economist Esther Duflo says ‘the effect of low-skilled migration on low-skilled wages is zero’. Esther Duflo is… guest on this week’s Ways to Change the World podcast… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1pZfFY132Q

  12. Morgan Kelly and Cormac Ó Gráda: The Preventive Check in Medieval and Preindustrial England: ‘England’s post-Reformation demographic regime has been characterized as “low pressure.” Yet the evidence hitherto for the presence of a preventive check, defined as the short-run response of marriage and births to variations in living standards, is rather weak. New evidence in this article strengthens the case for the preventive check in both medieval and early modern England. We invoke manorial data to argue the case for a preventive check on marriages in the Middle Ages. Our analysis of the post-1540 period, based on parish-level rather than aggregate data, finds evidence for a preventive check on marriages and births…

  13. Kate Bahn: Domestic Outsourcing of Jobs Leads to Declining U.S. Job Quality and Lower Wages: “One prototypical example is janitorial work, where most office cleaners today are employed by a janitorial services company that is contracted by the building owner where individual office places lease their space. These kinds of fissured employment patterns have led economists and other social science researchers to examine a variety of empirical research questions about what has caused domestic outsourcing, what the impacts have been and for whom, and what the future of the firm will be…

  14. Alan M. Turing (1950): Computing Machinery and Intelligence: “The view that machines cannot give rise to surprises is due, I believe, to a fallacy to which philosophers and mathematicians are particularly subject. This is the assumption that as soon as a fact is presented to a mind all consequences of that fact spring into the mind simultaneously with it. It is a very useful assumption under many circumstances, but one too easily forgets that it is false…

  15. Yes, we know that job training programs can be very effective. But how to keep them effective as they scale up? Normally we rely on markets and the profit motive to incentivize preserving effectiveness with scale. But with social-insurance and other pro-poor programs, the beneficiaries do not have the social power to use the market to keep the programs that serve them on track: Paul Osterman: How to Turn Bad Jobs into Good Ones https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2019/11/12/mit-economist-how-turn-bad-jobs-into-good-ones/H5z8xFljzvA8EFedkTeiNJ/story.html?event=event25: ‘Research shows the benefits of retraining and raising wages outweigh the costs…. Part of the problem lies in low skill levels. In Massachusetts, 53 percent of workers who earn 15 an hour or less have no more than a high school degree. But we also know that most people can improve their skills. Effective job training programs, such as those offered by the workforce development organization JVS Boston, can make a real difference. As an example, in the past year, its 12-week pharmacy technician training program placed 45 people in better-paying jobs; graduates went from earning an average of 13 an hour before gaining new skills to 17 an hour after. We have good evidence that well-run job training programs, ones that include significant investments in training, support services (for example, help with small unexpected expenses), and coaching for participants, are effective in moving people into better jobs and raising their earnings. High-performing programs are also characterized by strong relationships with employers. We know how to make these work, but we face two big challenges: spreading the model to reach more workers, and providing the resources needed to pay for it…

  16. Yes, we are now in a manufacturing recession and have a profit recession too. Why do you ask? And it’s not like we are having a big wage boom: Charlie Bilello: “With 90% of companies reported https://twitter.com/charliebilello/status/1195007972222676999, S&P 500 GAAP earnings down 5% over the past year, largest decline since Q4 2015…

  17. Claire Jones: How and Why Economics Forgot Keynes’ Warnings on Panics https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2019/11/05/1572966859000/How-and-why-economics-forgot-Keynes–warnings-on-panics/: ‘The skill of the good economist, like the good writer, lies not just in what they include in their work, but what they choose to leave out. The real world is hideously complex. So too are people. If economists are going to tell us anything about either, then they must resort to abstraction. The trouble is what happens when what you choose to leave out one of the things that ends up mattering the most? In a new paper (hat-tip to the University of Washington’s Fabio Ghironi for drawing our attention to it), Nobel Prize winning economist George Akerlof does a brilliant job of explaining how and why, in the decades before the financial crash, macroeconomists failed to include any meaningful role of the financial system in their economic models. The paper takes us back to his graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1962, “when a particular version of Keynesian economics was ascendant”. This “particular version” did not, Akerlof notes, pay much heed to John Maynard Keynes’ “beauty contest” theory of market behaviour, which helps explain why asset prices become unmoored from economic fundamentals…. What we like about Akerlof’s paper is not only the degree of examination he applies to himself and his profession, but also the (not all that common) acceptance of the broader social and political forces that influence its findings…

  18. These two are Equitable Growth’s not-so-secret but very powerful intellectual weapon on issue of public finance: Greg Leiserson and Will McGrew: Taxing Wealth bu Taxing Investment Income: An Introduction to Mark-To-Market Taxation: “The sharp increase in U.S. wealth inequality in recent decades has spurred interest in increasing taxes on wealth. This issue brief introduces mark-to-market taxation, one approach to raising taxes on wealth by reforming the taxation of investment income.1 In a system of mark-to-market taxation, investors pay tax on the increase in the value of their investments each year rather than deferring tax until those investments are sold, as they do under current law. This issue brief first defines investment income and explains how mark-to-market taxation works. It then reviews the revenue potential of this approach to taxing investment income, explaining why a mark-to-market system can raise substantial revenues. Finally, it summarizes the distribution of the burden that would result, which would fall overwhelmingly on wealthy individuals…

  19. And over in Britain, the quality of governance is even worse than here in America: Martin Wolf: Why I Want Another Hung Parliament https://www.ft.com/content/863c9b96-fca0-11e9-a354-36acbbb0d9b6: ‘Victory by fanatics on a modest share of votes is all too likely under the UK’s first-past-the-post system, with several parties in competition. Since the two biggest parties are likely to be an English nationalist party and a hard-left socialist party, the outcome of the December 12 election might harm Britain irreparably…. One explanation for the weakness of investment is uncertainty over when, how, or even whether the UK is going to leave the EU. Some will argue that it is essential, for just this reason, to get it done. That is not so: first, the deal reached by Mr Johnson is a really bad one; second, it will not end uncertainty, precisely because it is a bad one…. The notion that a new trade deal would be finished by the end of 2020 is also a fantasy. It is likely to take many years, with more cliff edges threatening a “no-trade deal” option along the way…. Since “getting it done” quickly is a fantasy, I am delighted Mr Johnson has put his bad deal on ice to pursue the alternative of a general election, even though it is likely to be dreadful…. Electoral Calculus currently predicts… a 52 per cent chance of a Conservative majority, an 11 per cent chance of a Labour majority and a 37 per cent chance of a hung parliament. This last possibility is enticing…. Under the Tories, the UK would get a hard Brexit, prolonged uncertainty and a regulatory race to the bottom… under Labour, it would get a softer Brexit, but a government that wants to take the UK out of the west politically (Mr Corbyn’s goal) and economically (that of John McDonnell, shadow chancellor). How can a country dependent on the confidence of global investors survive a government committed to expropriation? Policy Exchange is persuasive on these risks. Yet, under a hung parliament, the UK could negotiate a new deal and then put it to the people for confirmation. The sillier ideas of the two main parties would also have to be abandoned. After such a sobering failure, both the Tories and Labour might even consider moving away from some of their more extremist posturing…

  20. Gregory Meyer: Why US farmers Are Falling Out Of Love with Donald Trump https://www.ft.com/content/41b3c728-0a11-11ea-b2d6-9bf4d1957a67?shareType=nongift: ‘As impeachment gathers momentum, anger over ethanol policy threatens the president in the Corn Belt…. Siouxland is a biofuel refinery, taking corn by the truckload from some of the nation’s best land and brewing it into ethanol for car engines. Built with local farmers’ capital and political muscle, these plants have established a market for excess grain supplies over the past 15 years and helped cut US reliance on foreign oil. But this autumn, the plant laid idle for six weeks, one of dozens to have slowed or halted their operations even as demand for transport fuel creeps higher. Plant owners blame government waivers that allow smaller oil refineries to ignore quotas requiring biofuel use. The policy shift has capped demand growth and pressured prices for corn and soyabeans. The resulting pain for farmers is now creating a problem for Donald Trump. “We pretty much supported President Trump in the last election,” says Kelly Nieuwenhuis, one of 391 local farmers with a stake in Siouxland. “I know the polls say he has still got a lot of strong [farmer] support, but I’ve heard a lot of people that won’t support him again because of biofuels.” The anger highlights the Trump administration’s difficulty satisfying rival constituencies in the Corn Belt and oilfields. The number of “small refinery exemptions”, or SREs, has shot up since 2017 and shaved 7.4 per cent from the government biofuel target in the latest round, according to the Energy Information Administration. The government says low-volume oil refineries are entitled to such waivers if they can prove hardship from biofuels quotas. This obscure policy shift, conducted in the shadow of national news about impeachment, is now weakening Mr Trump’s standing in a core voting bloc ahead of the 2020 elections…

  21. Duncan Black: What Was It All About https://www.eschatonblog.com/2019/11/what-was-it-all-about.html: ‘There isn’t going to be much soul-searching from New York Times journalists about how they, specifically, were the marks for this Ukraine stuff. Donald Trump is the stupidest man in America, but he is smart enough to know that the New York Times would run with “battling accusations of corruption” every time they mentioned Candidate Biden. And I mean the New York Times. They were the target. Whether they are active players or dumb saps is another question…

  22. John Quiggin: Russia or California? http://crookedtimber.org/2019/11/23/russia-or-california/: ‘Most Republican voters don’t yet realise the path they are following. But if you had told them, in 2015, that they would be cheering Trump a few years later, they would have laughed. There’s no sign yet of any improvement. In this context, it’s interesting to look back at the claims of Jonathan Haidt that conservatives understood liberals better than vice versa. His method was to compare the views liberals imputed to conservatives (essentially that they were Trumpists) with the self-descriptions of conservatives. As it’s turned out, liberals knew conservatives better than conservatives knew themselves*. Haidt’s own trajectory, from progressive concern troll to the “Intellectual Dark Web” illustrates this. The standard defense now is that conservatives were so outraged at being called racists that they became racists just so they could trigger the libs…

  23. Paul Waldman: Look What You Made Them Do https://prospect.org/power/look-made/: ‘Bari Weiss… “When conservatives, classical liberals or libertarians are told by the progressive chattering class that they—or those they read—are alt-right, the very common response is to say: Screw it. They think everyone is alt-right. And then those people move further right.” I don’t know about you, but I can’t recall ever changing my ideological beliefs because I got criticized for my current ideas (which happens plenty). But whenever a conservative finds themselves the target of criticism for the substance of what they say, other conservatives are sure to rally to their defense by saying: This is how you got Trump, you stupid liberals…. For years, conservatives have been treated to a steady diet of race-baiting from their most beloved news outlets and media stars. The likes of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News continually tell their audiences that African Americans, immigrants, and Muslims present a profound threat to everything they hold dear, and they should remain in a constant state of fear and rage about it. They spent eight years arguing that Barack Obama was oppressing white people with his radical black nationalist agenda, and that every policy he pursued was actually about punishing the white people he supposedly hated so much. That’s the rancid stew the right has been simmering in for the last decade. And now we’re supposed to believe that the increased prominence of neo-Nazis and white supremacists is the fault of liberals being insufficiently polite, that whites gravitated to Trump because liberals were rude to them, and that if Trump gets re-elected the people who voted for him won’t be responsible for their own choice but instead the blame will rest at the feet of the left? Please…

  24. Price Fishback: World War II in America: Spending, Deficits, Multipliers, and Sacrifice https://voxeu.org/article/world-war-ii-america-spending-deficits-multipliers-and-sacrifice: ‘The US became the ‘arsenal of democracy’ by producing a massive amount of military goods that raised real GDP by 72% between 1940 and 1945. Yet, multiplier estimates for this expansion in government spending are less than one. Long-range studies at subnational levels show that military spending was associated with small effects on per capita activity. Military spending in the context of a quasi-command economy crowded out private consumption and investment and forced people into the military. In essence, Americans sacrificed heavily to win the war, while their Allies sacrificed even more…

  25. Arvind Narayanan: How to Recognize AI Snake Oil https://www.cs.princeton.edu/~arvindn/talks/MIT-STS-AI-snakeoil.pdf: ‘Why is there so much AI snake oil? AI is an umbrella term for a set of related technologies Some of those technologies have made genuine, remarkable, widely-publicized progress Companies exploit public confusion, slap the “AI” label on whatever they’re selling…. AlphaGo is a remarkable intellectual accomplishment that deserves to be celebrated. Ten years ago, most experts would not have thought it possible. But it has nothing in common with a tool that claims to predict job performance. Companies advertising AI as the solution to all problems have been helped along by credulous media. As a result, the US public believes that the automation of all jobs is only 10 years away! If policy makers believe that such a radical transformation is imminent, imagine how it would warp our priorities. I believe that that’s actually happening today. Note that AI experts have a more modest estimate that Artificial General Intelligence or Strong AI is about 50 years away, but history tells us that even experts tend to be wildly optimistic about AI predictions…

  26. Eric Hobsbawm (1998): The Communist Manifesto in Perspective https://www.transform-network.net/en/publications/yearbook/overview/article/journal-112012/the-communist-manifesto-in-perspective/: ‘It is, of course, a document written for a particular moment in history. Some of it became obsolete almost immediately…. More of it became obsolete as the time separating the readers from the date of writing lengthened. Guizot and Metternich have long retired…. The Tsar (though not the Pope) no longer exists. As for the discussion of “Socialist and Communist Literature”, Marx and Engels themselves admitted in 1872 that even then it was out of date…. Though Marx and Engels reminded readers that the Manifesto was a historical document, out of date in many respects, they promoted and assisted the publication of the 1848 text…. Unlike Marxian economics, the “materialist conception of history” which underlay this analysis had already found its mature formulation in themid-1840s. and remained substantially unchanged in later years. In this respect the Manifesto was already a defining document of Marxism. It embodied the historical vision, though its general outline remained to be filled in by fuller analysis. How will the Manifesto strike the reader who comes to it for the first time in 1998? The new reader can hardly fail to be swept away by the passionate conviction, the concentrated brevity, the intellectual and stylistic force, of this astonishing pamphlet. It is written, as though in a single creative burst, in lapidary sentences almost naturally transforming themselves into the memorable aphorisms which have become known far beyond the world of political debate: from the opening “A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of Communism” to the final “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win”. Equally uncommon in nineteenth-century German writing: it is written in short, apodictic paragraphs, mainly of one to five lines—in only five cases, out of more than two hundred, of fifteen or more lines. Whatever else it is, The Communist Manifesto as political rhetoric has an almost biblical force. In short, it is impossible to deny its compelling power as literature…. What will undoubtedly also strike the contemporary reader is the Manifesto’s remarkable diagnosis of the revolutionary character and impact of “bourgeois society”. The point is not simply that Marx recognised and proclaimed the extraordinary achievements and dynamism of a society he detested, to the surprise of more than one later defender of capitalism against the red menace. It is that the world transformed by capitalism which he described in 1848, in passages of dark, laconic eloquence, is recognisably the world in which we live 150 years later…. Two things give the Manifesto its force. The first is its vision, even at the outset of the triumphal march of capitalism, that this mode of production was not permanent, stable, “the end of history”, but a temporary phase…. The second is its recognition of the… bourgeoisie… [and its] miracles ascribed to it in the Manifesto…. In 1850 the world produced no more than 71,000 tons of steel (almost 70 per cent of it in Britain) and had built less than 24,000 miles of railroads (two-thirds of these in Britain and the USA). Historians have had no difficulty in showing that even in Britain the Industrial Revolution (a term specifically used by Engels from 1844 on) had hardly created an industrial or even a predominantly urban country before the 1850s. Marx and Engels did not describe the world as it had already been transformed by capitalism in 1848; they predicted how it was logically destined to be transformed by it. We now live in a world in which this transformation has largely taken place, even though readers of the Manifesto in the third millennium of the Western calendar will no doubt observe that it has advanced even further since 1998…

  27. Andy Matuschak: Why Books Don’t Work https://andymatuschak.org/books/: ‘Books are easy to take for granted…. Words in lines on pages in chapters. And at least for non-fiction books, one implied assumption at the foundation: people absorb knowledge by reading sentences. This last idea so invisibly defines the medium that it’s hard not to take for granted, which is a shame because, as we’ll see, it’s quite mistaken…. Have you ever had a book…come up in conversation… [and] discover that you’d absorbed what amounts to a few sentences?… When someone asks a basic probing question, the edifice instantly collapses. Sometimes it’s a memory issue: I simply can’t recall the relevant details. But just as often, as I grasp about, I’ll realize I had never really understood the idea in question, though I’d certainly thought I understood when I read the book. Indeed, I’ll realize that I had barely noticed how little I’d absorbed until that very moment…. The books I named aren’t small investments. Each takes around 6–9 hours to read…. Human progress in the era of mass communication makes clear that some readers really do absorb deep knowledge from books, at least some of the time. So why do books seem to work for some people sometimes? Why does the medium fail when it fails?…

  28. Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen: How Can We Develop Transformative Tools For Thought? https://numinous.productions/ttft/: ‘We have developed a website, http://quantum.country, which explores a new approach to explaining quantum computing and quantum mechanics. Ostensibly, Quantum Country appears to be a conventional essay introduction to these subjects. There is text, explanations, and equations…. But… Quantum Country is a prototype for a new type of mnemonic medium. Aspirationally, the mnemonic medium makes it almost effortless for users to remember what they read. That may sound like an impossible aspiration. What makes it plausible is that cognitive scientists know a considerable amount about how human beings store long-term memories. Indeed, what they know can almost be distilled to an actionable recipe: follow these steps, and you can remember whatever you choose. Unfortunately, those steps are poorly supported by existing media…. There are many ways of redesigning the essay medium to do that. Before showing you our prototype, please pause for a moment and consider the following questions: how could you build a medium to better support a person’s memory of what they read? What interactions could easily and enjoyably help people consolidate memories? And, more broadly: is it possible to 2x what people remember? 10x? And would that make any long-term difference to their effectiveness?…

  29. Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen: How Can We Develop Transformative Tools For Thought? https://numinous.productions/ttft/: ‘One of the ideas motivating Quantum Country is that memory systems aren’t just useful for simple declarative knowledge, such as vocabulary words and lists of capitals. In fact, memory systems can be extraordinarily helpful for mastering abstract, conceptual knowledge, the kind of knowledge required to learn subjects such as quantum mechanics and quantum computing. This is achieved in part through many detailed strategies for constructing cards capable of encoding this kind of understanding. But, more importantly, it’s possible because of the way the mnemonic medium embeds spaced repetition inside a narrative. That narrative embedding makes it possible for context and understanding to build in ways difficult in other memory systems…. We believe memory systems are a far richer space than has previously been realized…. We’ve taken to thinking of Quantum Country as a memory laboratory

  30. Dwight Eisenhower (1954): Letter to Edgar Newton Eisenhower: “You say that the foreign policy of the two Administrations is the same…. It is well for us to have friends… to encourage them to oppose communism… to promote trade… and to attempt the promotion of peace in the world, negotiating from a position… strength…. The party… in power… must perforce follow a program that is related to these general purposes and aspirations. But the great difference is in how it is done and, particularly, in the results achieved. A year ago last January we were in imminent danger of losing Iran, and sixty percent of the known oil reserves of the world.  You may have forgotten this. Lots of people have. But there has been no greater threat that has in recent years overhung the free world. That threat has been largely, if not totally, removed. I could name at least a half dozen other spots of the same character. This being true, how can anyone be so unaware of what is happening as to say that this Administration has conducted foreign affairs under the same policies as did the former Administration?…

  31. Karl Marx (1865): Value, Price, and Profit https://delong.typepad.com/files/marx-vpp.pdf: ‘At the moment when supply and demand equilibrate each other, and therefore cease to act, the market price of a commodity coincides with its real value, with the standard price round which its market prices oscillate. In inquiring into the nature of that VALUE, we have therefore nothing at all to do with the temporary effects on market prices of supply and demand. The same holds true of wages and of the prices of all other commodities…. Normal and average profits are made by selling commodities not above, but at their real values…. Deduct from the value of a commodity the value replacing the value of the raw materials and other means of production used upon it, that is to say, deduct the value representing the past labour contained in it, and the remainder of its value will resolve into the quantity of labour added by the working man last employed…. The values of commodities, which must ultimately regulate their market prices, are exclusively determined by the total quantities of labour fixed in them…. Capitalistic production moves through certain periodical cycles… [with] the market prices of commodities, and the market rates of profit, follow these phases, now sinking below their averages, now rising above them. Considering the whole cycle, you will find that one deviation of the market price is being compensated by the other, and that, taking the average of the cycle, the market prices of commodities are regulated by their values…

  32. One of the most intriguing anomalies in all of behavioral economics is the so-called Monty Hall problem—many people refuse to believe that revealing apparently irrelevant information—that there is a goat behind door #2—about where the automobile is can and should change your assessment of likelihoods and thus your optimal decision. Perhaps this is because we are wired at a fairly deep level to believe in no correlation without causation—that we have to see a causal link between two phenomena in order to be willing to believe that they are correlated. Whether that is the explanation or not, it is clear that those of us who are bears of little brain need a lot of systematic help in parsing out issues of causation in complicated systems. And here Dana Mackenzie and Judea Pearl’s _The Book of Why is going to be of enormous help in providing a gentle introduction to the issues and framework for thought. Here it is reviewed by the extremely sharp Lisa Goldberg: Lisa Goldberg: Review of “The Book of Why: https://www.ams.org/journals/notices/201907/rnoti-p1093.pdf: “Pearl’s co-author Dana Mackenzie spoke on causal inference…. It concluded with an image of the first self-driving car to kill a pedestrian…. With a lead time of a second and a half, the car identified the object as a pedestrian. When the car attempted to engage its emergency braking system, nothing happened. The NTSB report states that engineers had disabled the system in response to a preponderance of false positives in test runs. The engineers were right, of course, that frequent, abrupt stops render a self-driving car useless. Mackenzie gently and optimistically suggested that endowing the car with a causal model that can make nuanced judgments about pedestrian intent might help…. Professor Judea Pearl has given us an elegant, powerful, controversial theory of causality. How can he give his theory the best shot at changing the way we interpret data? There is no recipe for doing this, but teaming up with science writer and teacher Dana Mackenzie, a scholar in his own right, was a pretty good idea…

  33. The extremely smart Ricardo Hausmann has good ideas for the reform of public-policy school education: Ricardo Hausmann: Don’t Blame Economics, Blame Public Policy https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/blame-public-policy-not-economics-by-ricardo-hausmann-2019-08: “Public-policy schools, which typically have a strong economics focus, must now rethink the way they teach students–and medical schools could offer a model to follow…. Economics is to public policy what physics is to engineering, or biology to medicine. While physics is fundamental to the design of rockets that can use energy to defy gravity, Isaac Newton was not responsible for the Challenger space shuttle disaster. Nor was biochemistry to blame for Michael Jackson’s death. Physics, biology, and economics, as sciences, answer questions about the nature of the world… generating… propositional knowledge. Engineering, medicine, and public policy, on the other hand, answer questions about how to change the world…. Although engineering schools teach physics and medical schools teach biology, these professional disciplines have grown separate from their underlying sciences…. Public-policy schools, by contrast, have not undergone an equivalent transformation…. Policy experience before achieving professorial tenure is discouraged and rare. And even tenured faculty have surprisingly limited engagement with the world, owing to prevailing hiring practices and a fear that engaging externally might entail reputational risks for the university. To compensate for this, public-policy schools hire professors of practice, such as me, who have acquired prior policy experience elsewhere…. The teaching-hospital model could be effective in public policy…. Consider, for example, Harvard University’s Growth Lab, which I founded in 2006 after two highly fulfilling policy engagements in El Salvador and South Africa…

  34. I recommend reading Kurt Vonnegut, as perhaps more relevant and informative for our times than he was for the post-WWII era in which he wrote. I found Mother Night striking me harder than Slaughterhouse 5, but mileage will vary: Daniel Kennelly: A Triumphant Failure: “There’s nothing intelligent to say about a massacre, wrote Kurt Vonnegut of his book about the firebombing of Dresden. So why are we still reading it a half-century later?…. Re-reading Vonnegut’s collected works from the vantage point of 2019, I had the strange experience of believing that all along Slaughterhouse had somehow been reaching its way backward in time into Vonnegut’s literary career. It was as if the book were to Vonnegut what Billy’s wartime experiences became to him: a moment in time, trapped in amber, surfacing randomly in his work, unbidden, frequently unwelcome. Dresden haunted Vonnegut’s life, and Slaughterhouse haunted his career—this ‘short and jumbled and jangled’ book, a ‘failure’. So how does an understanding of the three unique temporal perspectives contained in Slaughterhouse-Five—our own, Billy’s, and the Tralfamadorian one—help us appreciate this ‘failure’ of a book?…. We are the Tralfamadorians, collectively, creating nuclear weapons because ‘if we don’t, someone else will’…. And we are Billy, each of us as individuals. We could stand up and yell, ‘Don’t get on that plane! It’s going to crash!’ But Billy ‘didn’t want to make a fool of himself by saying so’, and we don’t want to sound like fools either…

  35. Definitely this week’s most important must-read: Dylan Matthews: Should the Minimum Wage Be Raised? The Economic Debate, Explained https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/11/20/20952151/should-minimum-wage-be-raised: ‘There’s still disagreement. But it looks like in many cases, pay raises swamp any lost jobs…. Dube, Cengiz, Lindner, and Zipperer find that much of the disagreement between the Card/Krueger and Neumark/Wascher approaches is attributable to a quirk in the late 1980s and early 1990s. During that period, blue states experienced an economic downturn relative to red states that predated the biggest blue state minimum wage increases; that made it look like minimum wages were lowering employment growth, when what was really happening was that blue states both had lower employment growth and separately increased their minimum wages. “In our QJE paper we showed that the specifications under argument (lot of controls, little controls) actually all suggest little job loss in the post 1995 period; and that this appears to be driven by the quirky 80s boom/bust,” Dube told me. “None of us knew this until recently. This is actually progress.”… Dube notes in his review that the best evidence we have suggests minimal job impacts on minimum wages of up to 60 percent of the median wage. The median hourly wage in El Centro, California is about $15.50, meaning the $13 an hour minimum (effective January 1 of next year) is over 80 percent of the median wage there. The effects there might be very different…

  36. I agree with Arvind and Dani here: It is quite puzzling that financial globalization still has as many strong advocates as it does among policymakers and their ilk: Arvind Subramanian and Dani Rodrik: The Puzzling Lure of Financial Globalization https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/financial-globalization-neoliberalism-discredited-by-arvind-subramanian-and-dani-rodrik-2019-09: “Although most of the intellectual consensus behind neoliberalism has collapsed, the idea that emerging markets should throw their borders open to foreign financial flows is still taken for granted in policymaking circles. Until that changes, the developing world will suffer from unnecessary volatility, periodic crises, and lost dynamism…

  37. Michael Kades: “Kodak https://twitter.com/Michael_Kades/status/1185290953483079683 invented the Digital Camera in 1974. You know who did not want to develop it and bring to market for fear it would canabalize their film monopoly? Yup, Kodak. https://businessinsider.com/this-man-invented-the-digital-camera-in-1975-and-his-bosses-at-kodak-never-let-it-see-the-light-of-day-2015-8 My guess is Kodak made the right choice to maximize its profits. That is why competition is important for innovation…. Actually Kodak did anticipate it. They just realized they were better off sucking every last dollar out the film monopoly and delaying the digital revolution as long as possible. Also, I would not call a near century of dominance ephemeral…. Isn’t the question whether Kodak’s decision to milk its existing monopoly was more profitable than pursuing a digital camera. I tend to think Kodak knew what it was doing. Even a couple of years up front of large monopoly rents >> a long tail of competitive profits…

  38. Science fiction and fantasy publisher Baen Books is publishing some truly totally weird batshit these days. Far beyond Fox News totally weird batshit. Perhaps the weirdest: ‘Perhaps the most outrageous, and certainly most damaging for our civilization is the campaign of “women’s liberation,” male-bashing, “role-reversal,” or whatever you care to call it. Again, as most of these epidemics are at the beginning, it seems to be far more vicious in America and Britain than in the rest of Europe. Yet, all the signs are in evidence that the infection is rapidly spreading, particularly through the electronic media, invaded as it is by the images of glamorous, bright, articulate, hyper-energetic and.super-successful women executives…’ Just saying: Vladimir Bukovsky (1992): Judgment in Moscow: “Epilogue…. There are much more far-reaching consequences of the West’s failure to win the Cold War…. From the collapse of the world order to the bankrupcy of welfare state, and from the crisis of representative democracy, abused and besieged by power-hungry ‘minorities’, to degeneration of our cultural life-these all are direct results of the collectivist egalitarian dream which reigned supreme since French Revolution…. The case of Bosnia is probably the most illustrative…. God only knows why did they decide, in their wisdom, to make an independent state governed by a Muslim minority (43.6% by the 1991 census) out of a Yugoslav province…. Serbs, constituting“ the largest “minority” (31.2%) particularly objected to any attempts at separating them from Serbia proper…. The Serbs in Bosnia have suddenly woke up one nice morning in an “independent” Muslim-governed state. Small wonder they have taken to arms…. The ensuing civil war, barbaric as it usually is between peasants fighting for their land, has been cleverly termed the “ethnic cleansing.” Ethnic? Since when did “Muslim” become an ethnicity?… Most of the main culprits in Yugoslavia-the leaders of “ethnic communities”-have routinely committed similar crimes for the past few decades in.their former capacity as the communist bosses. But, no, no one is going to judge them for those crimes. And if they continued to murder capitalists and kulaks, priests and “reactionaries,” no one would have dared to condemn them. Our moral indignation must be reserved only for the mythical “ethnic cleansing”…

  39. Annalee Newitz: A Better Internet Is Waiting for Us https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/11/30/opinion/social-media-future.html: ‘A Better Internet Is Waiting for Us: My quest to imagine a different reality: Social media is broken. It has poisoned the way we communicate with each other and undermined the democratic process. Many of us just want to get away from it, but we can’t imagine a world without it. Though we talk about reforming and regulating it, “fixing” it, those of us who grew up on the internet know there’s no such thing as a social network that lasts forever. Facebook and Twitter are slowly imploding. And before they’re finally dead, we need to think about what the future will be like after social media so we can prepare for what comes next. I don’t mean brainstorming new apps that could replace outdated ones, the way Facebook did Myspace. I mean what will replace social media the way the internet replaced television, transforming our entire culture?… There are many paths beyond the social media hellscape, and all of them begin with reimagining what it means to build public spaces where people seek common ground…. Erika Hall’s design firm Mule…. “I absolutely believe that you can design interfaces that create more safe spaces to interact, in the same way we know how to design streets that are safer,” she said. But today, she told me, the issue isn’t technical. It has to do with the way business is being done in Silicon Valley…. Companies like Facebook and Twitter lack an incentive to promote better relationships and a better understanding of the news “because they make money through outrage and deception,” Ms. Hall said. Outrage and deception capture our attention, and attention sells ads. “At a business model level, they are ad networks parasitic on human connection.”…. Siva Vaidhyanathan…. We don’t have to lose our digital public spaces to state manipulation. What if future companies designed media to facilitate democracy right from the beginning? Is it possible to create a form of digital communication that promotes consensus-building and civil debate, rather than divisiveness and conspiracy theories?… Mr. Scalzi… imagines a new wave of digital media companies that will serve the generations of people who have grown up online (soon, that will be most people) and already know that digital information can’t be trusted. They will care about who is giving them the news, where it comes from, and why it’s believable. “They will not be internet optimists in the way that the current generation of tech billionaires wants,” he said with a laugh. They will not, he explained, believe the hype about how every new app makes the world a better place: “They’ll be internet pessimists and realists.” What would “internet realists” want from their media streams? The opposite of what we have now… a more robust, comprehensive version of privacy settings, where news and entertainment would reach you only after you opted into them. This would be the first line of defense against viral falsehoods, as well as mobs of strangers or bots attacking someone they disagree with…

  40. Duncan Black: No One Will Believe You https://www.eschatonblog.com/2019/11/no-one-will-believe-you.html: ‘I think about this a lot: “For example, when Priorities informed a focus group that Romney supported the Ryan budget plan—and thus championed “ending Medicare as we know it” — while also advocating tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the respondents simply refused to believe any politician would do such a thing.” It is a problem when you can completely accurately describe what Republicans very explicitly say they want and people will refuse to believe you and perhaps get mad at you for “lying” to them…

  41. Karl Marx (1867): Capital, Vol.3, Chapter 52: Classes: Weekend Reading https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/karl-marx-capital-vol3-chapter-52-classes-weekend-reading.html: ‘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…

  42. John Maynard Keynes: View of the Pre-World War I European Equilibrium https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/john-maynard-keyness-view-of-the-pre-world-war-i-european-equilibrium.html (1919): The Economic Consequences of the Peace https://delong.typepad.com/files/keynes-peace.pdf: ‘Very few of us realize with conviction the intensely unusual, unstable, complicated, unreliable, temporary nature of the economic organization by which Western Europe has lived for the last half century. We assume some of the most peculiar and temporary of our late advantages as natural, permanent, and to be depended on, and we lay our plans accordingly. On this sandy and false foundation we scheme for social improvement and dress our political platforms, pursue our animosities and particular ambitions…


  • Comment of the Day: Graydon https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/author-__-graydon-said-in-reply-to-meno-yup-suleiman-has-a-unified-state-suleiman-has-a-sort-of-post-classical-c.html: ‘Yup. Suleiman has a unified state; Suleiman has a sort of post-classical central bureaucracy able to make and sustain policy. Suleiman has a professional army. (And a less professional army.) And yet Suleiman couldn’t quite take Vienna or make the conquest of Hungary stick; the result is not stable control of Hungary, but a hundred and fifty years of conflict which the Ottoman Empire eventually loses. This isn’t the pattern Brad’s talking about with Babur; that’s an example of someone able not so much to achieve victory as to change the local rules of warfare in the process of achieving victory. Afterwards, the things which conferred power no longer do so. (Napoleon isn’t usually thought of as an example but would be one.) Suleiman specifically and the Ottomans generally can’t do that in Hungary; they’re using the same rules the various European powers are using. They start with a significant advantage in application, but not a sufficient advantage; they haven’t got the ability to change the rules…

  • Comment of the Day: Graydon: “‘Truth’ and ‘facts’ are different; “truth” is a statement about the inside of someone’s head. (Generally one’s own head.)…

  • Comment of the Day: Ronald Brakels https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/gdp-b-accounting-for-the-value-of-new-and-free-goods-in-the-digital-economy.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a48e6cf3200c#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a48e6cf3200c re “GDP-B: Accounting for the Value of New and Free Goods in the Digital Economy”: ‘It’s a very interesting question, but I will say any country that needs to rely on the unmeasured benefits of new technology to be able to say life has improved over the past generation or two for the lower income half of their population is doing something wrong…

  • For the Weekend: Mark Knopfler: Good On You Son https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/mark-knopfler-good-on-you-son-for-the-weekend.html https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIBCHh-fMUE

  • Lecture Notes: Smith, Marx, Keynes: A View of the History of Economic Thought (UNFINISHED) https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/lecture-notes-105.html: Well, I have wound up, by surprise, giving the last third of the lectures in Economics 105: The History of Economic Thought: Smith, Marx, Keynes. I admit I was not as averse to being imposed on by the Department as I might have been because I thought it might push me to get my head and my thoughts together. Here they are—unfinished. But I should give the students an opportunity to see how I think about these thinkers and their works: https://www.icloud.com/pages/0howtV7CndvjkSCCLmtjmq_SA

    • Three Great Books to Have Read—But Not Necessarily to Read https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/three-great-books-to-have-readbut-not-nefessarily-to-read.html: I have been remiss in posting here because I have had the unexpected load of getting together lectures for the last 40% of: Economics 105: The History of Economic Thought: Smith, Marx, Keynes. So let me apologize for the dearth of material by stepping through my lecture notes: 1) Smith, Marx, Keynes: The aim of this course it to examine the history of economic thought through the lens of three major economic thinkers: Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes, each of whom wrote one long, difficult, but undeniably great book. Adam Smith in 1776 published his An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Karl Marx in 1867 published his Capital: A Critique of Political Economy (volume 1). John Maynard Keynes in 1936 published his The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (note the absence of the Oxford comma from Keynes’s title: Keynes was a British academic but not one from Oxford but rather from the University of Cambridge). In addition, read Robert Heilbroner’s excellent (if old) The Worldly Philosophers, a short survey of the history of economic thought, for context and background…. Here the full files are—unfinished: https://www.icloud.com/pages/0howtV7CndvjkSCCLmtjmq_SA

    • Adam Smith’s View of Human Nature https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/adam-smiths-view-of-human-nature.html: 2) Economic Sides of Adam Smith’s Philosophy: 2.1. Starting Points in Human Nature: Adam Smith starts with the observation that humans are largely but not exclusively self-interested creatures: we are, largely but not exclusively greedy. Yet we have a complex and sophisticated societal division of labor. And that division of labor is essential to our prosperity. Indeed, it is essential to our survival: drop one or two of us into the Sierra Nevada, even in summer, and we will quite likely die. Drop 100 of us, and we will quite likely survive, and even flourish. How can animals that are by nature greedy nevertheless cooperate on a large scale? That is the deep moral-philosophical question that we can see both of Smith’s big books…. https://www.icloud.com/pages/0howtV7CndvjkSCCLmtjmq_SA

    • Adam Smith: From Human Nature to Human Society https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/adam-smith-from-human-nature-to-human-society.html: 2.2) From Human Nature to Human Society: Hence the key importance of the human cultural invention of money in forming our large-scale human society: money means that any one of us can make a short-term one-shot exchange relationship with any other one of us, someone who we may well never see again. Money, you see, is manufactured trust, and it allows us to extend our societal division of labor to encompass, indirectly, nearly everybody else in the world. For example, consider the 30-foot bronze statue of Athene Promakhos—Athena Fighting-in-Front—that the council and people of Athens had cast and installed on the Acropolis around -450… https://www.icloud.com/pages/0howtV7CndvjkSCCLmtjmq_SA

    • Lecture Notes: Adam Smith https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/lecture-notes-adam-smith.html: ‘Adam Smith starts with the observation that humans are largely but not exclusively self-interested creatures: we are, largely but not exclusively greedy. Yet we have a complex and sophisticated societal division of labor. And that division of labor is essential to our prosperity. Indeed, it is essential to our survival: drop one or two of us into the Sierra Nevada, even in summer, and we will quite likely die. Drop 100 of us, and we will quite likely survive, and even flourish. How can animals that are by nature greedy nevertheless cooperate on a large scale? That is the deep moral-philosophical question that we can see in both of Smith’s big books…

    • Adam Smith: Society & the “System of Natural Liberty” https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/adam-smith-society-the-system-of-natural-liberty.html: ‘2.3) Society & the “System of Natural Liberty”: Adam Smith was a genius because he had a truly game-changing insight into how our societal division of labor should be organized. As far as the production and distribution of our collective material wealth is concerned, you see, most of what we need and want is both excludible and rival… https://www.icloud.com/pages/0howtV7CndvjkSCCLmtjmq_SA

    • Adam Smith & Poverty https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/adam-smith-poverty.html: ‘2.4) Adam Smith & Poverty: Adam Smith loathes poverty. Adam Smith is eager to create a society in which there is no poverty. Adam Smith spends a substantial amount of time investigating the course of poverty over time… https://www.icloud.com/pages/0howtV7CndvjkSCCLmtjmq_SA

    • Adam Smith: Wealth Inequality Prevents More Damage https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/adam-smith-wealth-inequality-prevents-more-damage.html: 2.5.2) Wealth Inequality Prevents More Damage: Adam Smith’s second way of minimizing the importance of economic inequality is to claim that it is a relatively gentle alternative to other forms of inequality that will emerge if economic inequality is reduced. Smith argues in Book III of the Wealth of Nations that the rise in inequality in market income and consumption went along with reduced inequality in social status and hierarchy—and in reduced societal violence as well. Great landlords who cannot earn and spend their wealth in the city will focus on arming and maintaining retainers, and the result will be that they will “make war according to their own discretion, almost continually upon one another, and very frequently upon the king; and the open country still continued to be a scene of violence, rapine, and disorder”. But once there are luxuries to be purchased by wealth earned by selling produce to the growing cities, “it was impossible that the number of their retainers should not as gradually diminish, till they were at last dismissed altogether”, and so peace came to the countryside. As John Maynard Keynes was to write a century and a half later: “It is far better for a man to tyrannize over his bank balance than over his fellow citizens…” Here the full files are—unfinished: https://www.icloud.com/pages/0howtV7CndvjkSCCLmtjmq_SA

    • Smith Gets Snarky, Stoic, and Cynical: Snarkism: Adam Smith’s third way of minimizing the importance of economic inequality is to snark. The aim of wealth is to make you happy. Smith thinks that what wealthy women wish they could buy is beauty, and what wealthy men wish they could buy is strength. But who are the beautiful and strong in England? Adam Smith tells us in an aside on nutrition on the good qualities of the potato… https://www.icloud.com/pages/0howtV7CndvjkSCCLmtjmq_SA

    • Adam Smith & Inequality: Inequality Generated Outside the Market https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/adam-smith-inequality-inequality-generated-outside-the-market.html: ‘2.5) Adam Smith & Inequality: 2.5.1. Inequality Generated Outside the Market: Smith’s first way of minimizing the importance of inequality—or at least minimizing the responsibility of the market and of the economy for fighting inequality—is to argue that inequality springs from politics and sociology rather than from market economics. Inequality arises from the role that hierarchy and command-and-control play in the mixed-up processes that are human society. The society of England becomes more unequal because William the Bastard from Normandy and his thugs with spears—300 families, plus their retainers—kill King Harold Godwinson, and declare that everyone in England owes him and his retainers 1/3 of their crop. The society of England becomes more unequal because Queen Elizabeth I Tudor grants a monopoly over trade with America to Sir Walter Raleigh. Why? Because he had successfully flirted with her. These are not economic processes. These are not closely connected with the “system of natural liberty” than is the market economy… https://www.icloud.com/pages/0howtV7CndvjkSCCLmtjmq_SA

    • Lecture Notes Marx: Karl Marx’s Intuitions: Marx’s Enthusiasm for the Market https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/karl-marxs-intuitions-marxs-enthusiasm-for-the-market.html: 3) Karl Marx’s Intuitions: Marx’s Enthusiasm for the Market: But back up. First, note that Karl Marx was much more enthusiastic about the market economy and the prospects for the societal division of labor than Smith had been. This enthusiasm had multiple causes… https://www.icloud.com/pages/0howtV7CndvjkSCCLmtjmq_SA

  • Yes, the Communist Manifesto Is Worth Reading. Why Do You Ask? https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/yes-the-communist-manifesto-is-worth-reading-why-do-you-ask.html: As you get ready to study for the final exam in Econ 105, let me make a suggestion: rather than going back over the (long and sometimes difficult) large selections from Capital assigned in the course syllabus, take a look at something else Marx wrote (with his BFF Friedrich Engels)—the Communist Manifesto. I recommend the Manifesto itself; an article by George Boyer (that I commissioned) on its historical context; the MEIA’s brief sketch of the Communist League, the organization for which the Manifeso was written; and British economist Eric Hobsbawm’s introduction to the 150-year-anniversary reprinting of the Manifesto. These pieces are all quick and lively, and they go back over the intellectual terrain and context of Capital and of Marx’s ideas from a somewhat different ankle—thus making them excellent things to read as part of your studying process…

  • A Note: Read Oxford “Very Short Introductions” as a Way of Studying for the Econ 105 Exam…
    In general, I am not a believer in studying by rereading things you have read before. I am a believer in reading new things, related to but different from those already assigned in the course…. Christopher J. Berry (2028): Adam Smith: A Very Short Introduction https://www.google.com/books/edition/Adam_Smith_A_Very_Short_Introduction/B_lyDwAAQBAJ
    Robert Skidelsky (2010): Keynes: A Very Short Introduction https://www.google.com/books/edition/Keynes_A_Very_Short_Introduction/ji7qS75PtMYC
    Peter Singer (2000): Karl Marx: A Very Short Introduction https://www.google.com/books/edition/Marx_A_Very_Short_Introduction/j1WsDAAAQBAJ

  • Comment of the Day: Yes, the Communist Manifesto Is Worth Reading. Why Do You Ask? https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/comment-of-the-day-_brad-delong_-yes-the-communist-manifesto-is-worth-reading-why-do-you-ask-_ashton-kemerling_.html: Ashton Kemerling: “If you can’t read things you disagree with, you’ll never ever get anywhere. Besides, Marx had a pretty good critique of capitalism, even if you’re not sold by his recommendations. Dad, Capital is a really hard read though.” Brad DeLong: “Which is why when I control the syllabus I assign the Manifesto; Wage Labor & Capital; the Gotha Program; (maybe) On the Jewish Question; and Value, Price, and Profit”…

  • Hoisted from the Archives: The Premature Kingdom https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/the-premature-kingdom-hoisted-from-the-archives.html: Perhaps the question “should Christians be Christians?” is like the question “should Communists be Communists?”. For in its essence, the problem—the poisoned chalice—that Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus handed the Christian bishops of his day in the fourth century C.E. was closely analogous to the problem that Lenin’s successful coup 100 years less two days ago handed him and his comrades…

  • Hoisted from the Archives: _Prolegomenon to a Reading Course on Karl Marx: _ https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/prolegomenon-to-a-reading-course-on-karl-marx-the-honest-broker-for-the-week-of-december-12-2014.html: Prolegomenon to a Reading Course on Karl Marx https://www.bradford-delong.com/2014/12/2014-12-18-th-oaeg-atwm-reading-about-marx-thursday-virtual-office-hours.html: These days, when people come to me and ask if I will run a reading course for them on Karl Marx, this is what I tend to say: The world is divided into those who take Karl Marx’s work seriously and those who do not. On the one hand, those who do not take Karl Marx’s lifetime work-project seriously are further divided into three groups: Those who ignore Marx completely. Those who use selected snippets from his work as Holy Texts, and Those modern “western Marxists” who find inspiration in the works that Karl Marx wrote exclusively before he was thirty. Of the first group there is, of course, nothing to say. Of the second group, the late Louis Althusser can serve as our example and principal poster child. And I will leave him to Michael Berube and Bill Lazonick…

  • Convergence https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/introduction-outside-of-the-charmed-magic-circle-of-western-and-central-europe-north-america-and-the-other-anglo-saxon.html: Introduction: Outside of the charmed magic circle of western and central Europe, North America, and the other Anglo-Saxon settler colonies, few indeed are the economies that have managed successful economic development in the sense of convegence: materially closing any significant fraction of their productivity and living standards gap vis-a-vis the world’s economic leaders. The Northeast Asian Pacific Rim, now including China; further south, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam; India and Sri Lanka; elsewhere, Turkey, Chile, Botswana, Mauritius, and Cabo Verde. That is all. And with perhaps one or two exceptions, those few have followed the particular economic development path of using low-wage manufacturing exports to nurture their domestic communities of engineering practice—a path that is now closing…

  • Smith, Marx, Keynes: Cement Your Knowledge https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/smith-marx-keynes-cement-your-knowledge.html: Knowledge system and cognitive science guru Andy Matuschak writes a rant called Why Books Don’t Work https://andymatuschak.org/books/, about big, difficult books that take him six to nine hours each to read…. [His] points have strong relevance for students in U.C. Berkeley’s Econ 105: History of Economic Thought: Do we live in a Smithian, Marxian or Keynesian World?. The core of the course is an assisted reading of three big books that are d—-ably difficult…. To assist you in this process, we have compiled 150 questions-and-answers—50 about Smith, 50 about Marx, and 50 about Keynes—that we think you should review and learn as part of your active-learning incorporation of the thought of these three authors into your own minds…. For those of you reading this who are in the intended audience of Econ 105 students in the fall of 2019, here is an incentive…. Some of these questions will be on the exam… https://www.icloud.com/pages/0yyHboa030OEohMkflwYE1u5w

Note to Self: One take on how we can learn better https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/11/note-to-self-one-take-on-how-we-can-learn-better-andy-matuschak-and-michael-nielsen-_how-can-we-develop-transfo.html: Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen: How Can We Develop Transformative Tools for Thought? https://numinous.productions/ttft/: ‘It’s difficult not to be disappointed, to feel that computers have not yet been nearly as transformative as far older tools for thought, such as language and writing…. We believe now is a good time to work hard on this vision again. In this essay we sketch out a set of ideas we believe can be used to help develop transformative new tools for thought…’ Andy Matuschak: Why Books Don’t Work https://andymatuschak.org/books/: ‘Books are magical! Human progress in the era of mass communication makes clear that some readers really do absorb deep knowledge from books… the people who really do think about what they’re reading…. Readers must learn specific reflective strategies… run their own feedback loops… understand their own cognition…. These skills fall into a bucket which learning science calls “metacognition”…. It’s challenging to learn these types of skills…. Worse, even if readers know how to do all these things, the process is quite taxing…’ Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen: Quantum Computing for the Very Curious https://quantum.country/qcvc: ‘Presented in a new mnemonic medium which makes it almost effortless to remember what you read…


#noted #weblogs #2019-12-01



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