Belle Waring: Uses and Abuses of Tarps: Weekend Reading

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Belle Waring: Uses and Abuses of Tarps: “It took me so long to find this quote. I remembered that it was Solovki, yes! And that Maxim Gorky was the visitor! And the tortures with the logs, and being staked out for the mosquitoes, and rolling the prisoners down the stairs, and the brave boy who told all, all! to Gorky and was left behind to be shot the moment Gorky’s ship left the horizon empty and barren! And the tarps. But could I find the quote? I damn sure could not. I was in the position of Edward Gorey’s Mr. Earbrass who starts up in the night having thought of the perfect lines for an epigraph: ‘His mind’s eye sees them quoted on the bottom third of a right-hand page in a (possibly) olive-bound book he read at least five years ago. When he does find them, it will be a great nuisance if no clue is given to their authorship’…

…I had to read before and after many instances of the mention of Gorky I will tell you what. But virtue prevailed! The Solovetsky Archipelago is almost certainly what the name of the Gulag Archipelago comes from, as Solzhenitsyn considered it the mother of the Gulag, and the primary site before the cancer metastasized. The Soviets, eager to show that the camps are actually rather nice if you think about it sent Maxim Gorky to investigate. He was newly-returned to the Soviet Union and probably disinclined to rock the boat which currently supplied him with some vast apartment and a dacha (irrelevantly, haven’t we all sort of wanted a dacha? They sound great. Perhaps Trump will get one eventually):

[In summer 1929] The rumor reached Solovki before Gorky himself—and the prisoner’s hearts beat faster and the guards hustled and bustled. One has to know prisoners in order to imagine their anticipation! The falcon, the stormy petrel was about, to swoop down on the nest of injustice, violence, and secrecy. The leading Russian writer! He will give them hell! He will show them! He, the father, will defend! They awaited his coming almost as a universal amnesty.

The chiefs were alarmed, too; as much as possible they hid the monstrosities and polished things up for show. …and they set up a “boulevard” of fir trees without roots, which were simply pushed down into the ground (they only had to last a few days without withering.) It led to the Children’s Colony…

Only in Kem was there an oversight. On Popov Island the steamer Gleb Boky was being loaded by prisoners in underwear and sacks when Gorky’s retinue appeared out of nowhere to embark on that steamer! You inventors and thinkers! Here is a worthy problem for you given that, as the saying goes, every wise man has enough of the fool in him: a barren island, not one bush, no possible cover—and right there, at a distance of 300 yards, Gorky’s retinue has shown up. Your solution? Where can this disgraceful spectacle—these men dressed in sacks—be hidden? The entire journey of the great Humanist will have been for naught if he sees them now. Well, of course, he will try hard not to notice them, but help him! Drown them in the sea? They will wail and flounder. Bury them in the earth? There’s no time. No, only a worthy son of the Archipelago could find a way out of this one. The work assigner ordered, “Stop work! Close ranks! Still closer! Sit down on the ground! Sit still!” And a tarpaulin was thrown over them. “Anyone who moves will be shot!”

Such creativity! And the need to give Gorky one slender reed on which to lean for his glowing reviews of the labor re-education camps! Even his choice of fiancee seemed to augur his judgments: “The famous writer embarked from the steamer in Prosperity Gulf. Next to him was his fiancee dressed all in leather—a black leather service cap, a leather jacket, leather riding breeches, and high narrow boots—a living symbol of the OGPU shoulder to shoulder with Russian literature.” (Why is this such a popular totalitarian dictatorship way to dress? I mean, it looks bad-ass; actually I guess I’ve gotten much of the way there in the past. And it’s more plausible than waxed yellow chintz with cabbage roses—the SS would have looked way less threatening in that. Up to a point, I guess, at which it would have become creepy by association.)

The government can’t have been in any way disappointed with Gorky’s write-up, which is sickening in a way that presages his really disturbing book about the White Sea Canal. (In it he claims that not one prisoner died during the digging of it, when dead prisoners were more or less piled on the future banks, having perished from starvation and cold.) “There is no impression of life being over-regulated. No, there is no resemblance to a prison; instead it seems as if these rooms are inhabited by passengers rescued from a drowned ship.” Ah, yes. And Stalin killed him anyway, after a bit, out of a paranoid excess of caution! Or, I mean, he died of pneumonia, suddenly. Let this be an improving lesson both to those who employ tarps to cover that which would trouble another’s peace of mind, and those who so wish to be fooled they will look at a tarpaulin and see that nothing, absolutely nothing can be wrong…


#weekendreading #orangehairedbaboons #stalinism #publicsphere 

Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings… (May 28, 2019)

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  1. (23013): Mourning the Death of James Buchanan: “Daniel Kuehn gets it right, I think, on the significance of the career of the late Nobel Prize-winning economist James Buchanan: ‘He got a lot right, with public choice and constitutional economics. He also got a lot quite wrong, particularly his take on the political economy of the Keynesian revolution. But he certainly was a talented and productive economist well deserving of his Nobel prize.’ I would go somewhat further: he got a lot right that desperately needed to be gotten right and that nobody else would have gotten right in his absence. He made a difference in economics at more than the margin, which is something you can say of very few economists… | Six Faces of Right-Wing Chain-Forging Economist James Buchanan…

  2. Abigail Adams (1776): Letter to John Adams: “What sort of Defence Virginia can make against our common Enemy?… I have sometimes been ready to think that the passion for Liberty cannot be Eaquelly Strong in the Breasts of those who have been accustomed to deprive their fellow Creatures of theirs. Of this I am certain that it is not founded upon that generous and christian principal of doing to others as we would that others should do unto us…

  3. James Buchanan (1997): Has Economics Lost Its Way? https://delong.typepad.com/buch_econlostway.pdf

  4. Dierdre McCloskey: Review of Buchanan, “Better than Plowing”

  5. Wikipedia: Étienne Maurice Gérard: “1er Comte Gérard (4 April 1773–17 April 1852) was a French general, statesman and Marshal of France. He served under a succession of French governments including the ancien regime monarchy, the Revolutionary governments, the Restorations, the July Monarchy, the First and Second Republics, and the First Empire (and arguably the Second), becoming Prime Minister briefly in 1834…

  6. Wikipedia: List of American and British defectors in the Korean War


  1. Rather than saying, with Stigler, that industrial policy is too dangerous because it is too vulnerable to rent-seeking, more economists should be writing papers like this: Reda Cherif and Fuad Hasanov: The Return of the Policy That Shall Not Be Named: Principles of Industrial Policy: “Industrial policy is tainted with bad reputation among policymakers and academics and is often viewed as the road to perdition for developing economies. Yet the success of the Asian Miracles with industrial policy stands as an uncomfortable story that many ignore or claim it cannot be replicated. Using a theory and empirical evidence, we argue that one can learn more from miracles than failures. We suggest three key principles behind their success: (i) the support of domestic producers in sophisticated industries, beyond the initial comparative advantage; (ii) export orientation; and (iii) the pursuit of fierce competition with strict accountability…

  2. That your grandfather Governor John Buchanan campaigned against federal voting rights acts, raised the poll tax, and established pensions for Confederate veterans—that all that goes unmentioned in the context of “I have shared in the emotional damage imposed by discrimination…”, “From that day forward I have shared in the emotional damage imposed by discrimination…” and “‘fairness’ assumed for me a central normative position…” demonstrates either an absolutely stunning lack of self-awareness or a conscious intellectual judo move to distract attention from the racial politics of the white southern establishment: James Buchanan (2009): Karen Ilse Horn, ed, “Roads to Wisdom: Conversations with Ten Nobel Laureates in Economics” https://delong.typepad.com/document.pdf: “What did the Navy teach you?… I experienced overt discrimination for being a non-Easterner, a nonestablishmentarian. In the whole group of 600 boys, there were only about twenty who were graduates of Yale, Harvard, Princeton—all Ivy League. By the end of this first boot camp period, they had to select midshipman officers. Out of the 20 boys from the establishment universities, 12 or 13 were picked, against a background of a total of 600. It was overtly discriminatory towards those of us who were not members of the establishment… | James Buchanan (2009): Better than Plowing: “From that day forward I have shared in the emotional damage imposed by discrimination, in any form, and ‘fairness’ assumed for me a central normative position decades before I came to discuss principles of justice professionally and philosophically…

  3. Let us be clear: any of the members of the FOMC who marked up their estimate of 2019 growth because of the strong first quarter is an under briefed moron, who does not belong on any forecasting or policy body: Tim Duy: Fed Sticking With “Patient” Policy Stance | Tim Duy’s Fed Watch: “The minutes of the April/May FOMC meeting revealed that participants were generally comfortable maintaining the ‘patient’ policy stance initiated in January. While some policymakers recognized that special factors boosted the first quarter growth numbers, the mood was fairly optimistic: ‘For this year as a whole, a number of participants mentioned that they had marked up their projections for real GDP growth, reflecting, in part, the strong first-quarter reading. Participants cited continuing strength in labor market conditions, improvements in consumer confidence and in financial conditions, or diminished downside risks both domestically and abroad, as factors likely to support solid growth over the remainder of the year…

  4. Daniel Seligson and Anne McCants: Economic Performance Through Time: A Dynamical Theory: “The central problems of Development Economics are the explanation of the gross disparities in the global distribution, D, of economic performance, E , and its persistence, P . Douglass North argued, epigrammatically, that institutions, I, are the rules of the game, meaning that I determines or at least constrains E. This promised to explain D. 65,000 citations later, the central problems remain unsolved. North’s institutions, IN, are informal, slowly changing cultural norms as well as roads, guilds, and formal legislation that may change overnight. This definition, mixing the static and the dynamic, is unsuited for use in a necessarily time-dependent theory of developing economies. We offer here a suitably precise definition of I, a dynamical theory of economic development, a new measure of the economy, an explanation of P, a bivariate model that explains half of D, and a critical reconsideration of North’s epigram…

  5. Douglas MacArthur (March 23, 1951): Ceasefire Communique: “Of even greater significance than our tactical successes has been the clear revelation that this new enemy, Red China, of such exaggerated and vaunted military power, lacks the industrial capability to provide adequately many critical items necessary to the conduct of modern war…. Formerly his great numerical potential might well have filled this gap but with the development of existing methods of mass destruction numbers alone do not offset the vulnerability inherent in such deficiencies…. These military weaknesses have been clearly and definitely revealed since Red China entered upon its undeclared war in Korea. Even under the inhibitions which now restrict the activity of the United Nations forces and the corresponding military advantages which accrue to Red China, it has been shown its complete inability to accomplish by force of arms the conquest of Korea. The enemy, therefore must by now be painfully aware that a decision of the United Nations to depart from its tolerant effort to contain the war to the area of Korea, through an expansion of our military operations to its coastal areas and interior bases, would doom Red China to the risk of imminent military collapse. These basic facts being established, there should be no insuperable difficulty in arriving at decisions on the Korean problem…

  6. George C. Herring and Richard H. Immerman (1984): “The Day We Didn’t Go to War” Revisited: “Eisenhower’s position is… characteristically elusive…. Eisenhower and Dulles agreed that the United States should go in only as part of a genuinely collective effort and that United States ground forces must not become bogged down in Asia…. The congressmen… insisted that the United States must not go to war for colonialism…. They made collective intervention dependent on British support and French concessions, each of which would be difficult to obtain…. Churchill… told Radford on April 26 that since the British people had let India go they could not be expected to give their lives to hold Indochina for France…. The British would not be drawn into what they feared would be ‘Radford’s war against China’…

  7. Peng Dehaui (February 24, 1952): To the Zhou Enlai-Chaired Central Military Commission: “You have this and that problem. You should go to the front and see with your own eyes what food and clothing the soldiers have! Not to speak of the casualties! For what are they giving their lives? We have no aircraft. We have only a few guns. Transports are not protected. More and more soldiers are dying of starvation. Can’t you overcome some of your difficulties?…


  1. Único Avandaro Hotel Boutique

  2. La Michoacana

  3. Valle de Bravo: Pueblo Magico

  4. Wikipedia: Stephanie Jones-Rogers

  5. Wikipedia: David W. Blight

  6. 2019 Bay Area Book Festival: The Business of Brutality: Slavery and the Foundations of Capitalism

  7. Hoisted from the Archive: Joseph Schumpeter on “Liquidationism”s

  8. Olivier Blanchard and Takeshi Tashiro: Fiscal Policy Options for Japan

  9. That your grandfather Governor John Buchanan campaigned against federal voting rights acts, raised the poll tax, and established pensions for Confederate veterans—that all that goes unmentioned in the context of “I have shared in the emotional damage imposed by discrimination…

  10. Wikipedia: James M. Buchanan: “Buchanan completed his M.S. at the University of Tennessee in 1941. He served in the United States Navy on the staff of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz in Honolulu during the war years, when he met Anne Bakke, whom he married on October 5, 1945. Anne, of Norwegian descent…

  11. Tennessee Encyclopedia: John Price Buchanan: “The war ruined his family’s land, and Buchanan moved to Rutherford County, where he established a livestock farm on Manchester Pike. Buchanan’s political life was entwined with the rise of the Farmers’ Alliance…

  12. Wikipedia: John P. Buchanan: “He campaigned against the federal Lodge Bill, which would have provided protections for voting rights for blacks in the South…. [He] enacted a measure providing pensions for Confederate veterans. Buchanan strengthened the state’s poll tax, and enacted several voting restrictions aimed at suppressing the African-American vote…

  13. Wikipedia: “The Lodge Bill… of 1890 was a bill drafted by Representative Henry Cabot Lodge (R) of Massachusetts, and sponsored in the Senate by George Frisbie Hoar; it was endorsed by President Benjamin Harrison. The bill would have authorized the federal government to ensure that elections were fair. In particular, it would have allowed federal circuit courts (after being petitioned by a small number of citizens from any precinct) to appoint federal supervisors of congressional elections…

  14. James M. Buchanan: Economics from the Outside in: “Better Than Plowing” and Beyond https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1585446033

  15. James M. Buchanan (1997): Has Economics Lost Its Way?: Reflections on the Economic Enterprise at Century’s End

  16. HET: James M. Buchanan

  17. Wikipedia: Gettysburg Address

  18. Wikipedia: Treaty of London (1839)

  19. Wikipedia: Belgian Revolution

  20. Britannica.com: Korean War: The Final Push: “Supervision of the armistice actions fell to a Military Armistice Commission (10 officers representing the belligerents), a Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (Sweden, Switzerland, Poland, and Czechoslovakia), and a Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission (the same four states, plus India as the custodian of the POWs)…. 75,823 communist soldiers and civilians (all but 5,640 of them Koreans) returned to their most-favoured regime, and 7,862 ROK soldiers, 3,597 U.S. servicemen, and 1,377 persons of other nationalities (including some civilians) returned to UNC control…. The handling of those who refused repatriation turned into a nightmare, as agents among the communist POWs and interrogators made life miserable for the Indians. By the time the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission gave up the screening process in February 1954, only 628 Chinese and Koreans had changed their minds and gone north, and 21,839 had returned to UNC control. Most of the nonrepatriates were eventually settled in South Korea and Taiwan…

  21. Wikipedia: President Truman’s relief of General Douglas MacArthur

  22. Wikipedia: Chiang Kai-shek: “Chiang Kai-shek (/ˈtʃæŋ kaɪˈʃɛk, dʒiˈɑːŋ/;[2] 31 October 1887–5 April 1975), also known as Generalissimo Chiang or Chiang Chungcheng and romanized as Chiang Chieh-shih or Jiang Jieshi…

  23. P. K. Rose: Two Strategic Intelligence Mistakes in Korea, 1950: “Perceptions and Reality…

  24. Map: Korean War: Iron Triangle

  25. Britannica.com: James A. van Fleet

  26. Britannica.com: Korean War: To the Negotiating Table


#noted #weblogs 

From Total Industrial to Limited War: An Outtake from “Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long Twentieth Century 1870-2016”

Preview of From Total Industrial to Limited War An Outtake from Slouching Towards Utopia An Economic

Total Industrial War

A total industrial war sees a state taking control of an economy and society via bureaucracy, mobilizing most young and some old men into its armed forces, and then hurling as much as it can of men, metal, and nitrogen-based explosives at an enemy so using up more than half of society’s productive potential in works of destruction. What is the point? The first aim is to keep the adversary from doing the same to you. The next aim varies: to establish for Germany a proper place in the sun and control of enough land and resources to support a very large and prosperous population; to establish for Japan an empire—a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere—like those European powers had established in the 1800s; to end Hitler’s régime; to reform Germany’s politics and somehow transform it into a peaceful democracy; to end all wars; to keep imperial Germany from turning Russia into a puppet semi-colony; to end the encirclement of Germany by a hostile Russia and a hostile France; to demonstrate that Austria-Hungary can destroy Serbia in retaliation for its state-sponsored assassination of Austria-Hungary’s crown prince; to preserve the balance of power on the European continent; to demonstrate that one’s treaty promises are credible by preserving the independence and neutrality of Belgium as guaranteed by the provisions of the 1839 Treaty of London; to preserve the Union that is the United States of America; to end slavery on the North American continent; “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”.

Some of these secondary war aims are worth five years of death, destruction, temporary mass poverty, and strict rationing. Most are not.

And even total industrial wars were, historically, limited. Nobody in World War II wanted to use poison gas, even though its use would have been useful in a narrow military sense to one side (but which side?) at the cost of much greater civilian death. Civilian populations were not routinely exterminated as armies advanced—except sometimes (often?) by the German Nazis on the eastern front. Civilian populations were not routinely treated as the inhabitants of cities taken by storm had been treated in earlier wars, as the conquering soldiers than killed, raped, and looted the civilians inside for up to 72 hours—except during the 1945 Russian march through eastern Germany. Military operations could not have their primary aim be the killing of civilians who happened to be located near military targets—unless those civilians were in Japan and underneath General Curtis LeMay’s B-29s, or unless those civilians were in Germany and the British and American high commands were desperate to get some of the Nazi artillery barrels removed from the eastern front where they were firing at Russian soldiers, and by killing enough German civilians they could get some of them moved back into Germany and firing upwards.

We are unlikely to have another total industrial war—especially not now that we have nuclear weapons. What war aim could possibly be worth it—especially given that a war aim worth total industrial mobilization would run the risk of the losing side resorting to its nukes? Miscalculation, followed by nuclear retaliation in revenge, is the only form anything like a total war could take.

 

Limited War

In a total industrial war you mobilize everything you can, destroy your adversary’s forces that can threaten your forces, destroy your adversary’s forces that can threaten your police, and then use your police to rule the territory and the people— ensuring that civilians behave as you wish them to behave and not as your adversary wishes them to behave. Perhaps you then negotiate a political settlement, on pain of reimposing rule by your police if the settlement is not kept satisfactory. Perhaps you negotiate a peace before victory (or defeat) is attained—but probably not, for one of the political costs of mobilization for total war is that defeat or even the absence of victory is likely to lead to the permanent downfall of the régime.

In a limited war the end is still the same: governing territory—or rather people—with police or the threat of police ensuring that civilians behave as you wish them to behave and not as your adversary wishes them to behave. But the means are different: rather than focusing first on destroying the adversary’s military forces, combat can and does occur at a number of levels at once: (1) degrading your adversary’s police capabilities, and thus degrading their ability to govern; (2) degrading your adversary’s forces that can degrade your own police; (3) attritting your adversary’s forces proper. And then there are the higher levels: (4) degrading your adversary’s capability of obtaining additional forces without total mobilization; (5) degrading your adversary’s perception that anything other than your desired end is possible. And all this must be accomplished: (6) without inducing your adversary to escalate the conflict to the “total war” level where the game is not worth the candle (which is made easier by the fact that, certainly in the nuclear age, the only way to win the game of total war is not to play); and (7) without making your adversary so angry that their calculations of risk and reward, of prudence, and of costs and benefits go out the window, and they launch against you a crusade.

When one steps down from the total war to the limited war level, then, war becomes, as somebody-or-other once said: “the continuation of politics by other means”. And the largest such fought by the U.S. after World War II was the Korean War “police action”.

 

There Was Not Supposed to Be a Cold War

There was not supposed to be a Korean War. In fact, there was not even supposed to be a Cold War.

Marxist theory—at least that branch of Marxist theory that became the cultic revealed religion guiding at least the official pronouncements of the governments ruling from behind Stalin and Mao’s Iron and Bamboo Curtains—was very clear on what was to come. Capitalism, in Lenin’s view, needed imperialism. Imperialism produced militarization with its enormous demand for weapons and colonies that offered captive markets. These were essential to preserve near-full employment, and so stave off the catastrophic economic crises—like the Great Depression—that would otherwise produce communist revolution. But imperalism also produced war. Thus capitalism was staving off revolution from economic catastrophe by courting revolution through political-military catastrophe.

As Lenin’s successors saw it, the capitalist-imperialist powers had successfully delayed revolution from the late 1890s though imperialism and militarism, but had then fallen into the catastrophe of World War I. And that brought Lenin to power in Russia, and the creation of the first really existing socialist country—or, rather, union of countries: the U.S.S.R. was a “union” of “republics” that were “socialist” and also “soviet”—that is, power was held by workers’ councils. In theory. Practice is always complicated. But that was as far as the revolution managed to march in the aftermath of World War I.

As Lenin’s successors saw it, the capitalists had then after World War I concluded that parliamentary democracy and representative institutions were no longer compatible with their continued rule, hence they swung their support behind fascists: Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany, Franco in Spain, Petain in France, Tojo in Japan. But this did not remove the need for imperialism and militarism, but rather sharpened it. The second great imperialist war, World War II, had been worse than the first. That had led to the really existing socialist world’s expansion to the Elbe and the Adriatic—although not before Hitler’s legions had nearly destroyed the Soviet Union.

As Lenin’s successors saw it, after the post-WWII consolidation, they had five tasks:

  1. Build up militarily to defend the territories of really existing socialism, because the fascist-militarist-capitalists might well try once again to destroy world socialism militarily—there were American generals who had wanted to start World War III the day after World War II had ended, there was at least one ex-president who thought that the U.S. had fought on the wrong side in World War II, and the U.S. had advanced scientific weapons of unbearable power.

  2. Extend the really existing socialist order to the new territories.

  3. Build up economically to create truly human societies, both to realize the promise of socialism and to demonstrate to peoples in the capitalist world how good life could be.\

  4. Stand ready to assist socialist movements in capitalist countries when they decided they were strong enough to attempt a revolution.

  5. Lie low.

If they accomplished those tasks, then the logic of imperialist-militarist-capitalism would start to work again. The capitalist powers would clash again, in another catastrophic world war. And provided the really existing socialist block could keep its head down and survive, in the aftermath it would expand again. That was the Soviet Union’s strategy: defend, rebuild, and wait, for history was on their side. Waging a cold war was not the strategy.

Stalin, however, had exhibited a taste for snatching up territory when he thought it could be taken cheaply—starting with the suppression of the Mensheviks in Georgia at the end of the Russian Civil War. After World War II Stalin had curbed his appetite. He did not impose a communist government on Finland, but let it remain democratic as long as it was disarmed and joined no potentially anti-Soviet alliances—and as long as its government was riddled with Soviet agents. He cut off support to the communist party in Greece—largely. He counseled Mao to join a coalition with Chiang Kai-shek (the Cantonese romanization of Jiang Jieshi) and wait.

But in 1948 Stalin could not resist snatching up Czechslovakia in a coupe d’etat. And Mao ignored Stalin, defeated Chiang Kai-shek, and chased him and his Guomindang to Taiwan. But in 1948 Stalin could not resist snatching up Czechslovakia in a coupe d’etat. And Mao ignored Stalin, defeated Chiang Kai-shek, and chased him and his Guomindang to Taiwan. A Cold War had begun. But U.S. plans to wage it seriously—boosting defense spending to 10% of national income and deploying U.S. armies as tripwires and more-than-tripwires all across the globe—remained planners’ fantasies, until the Korean War.

And no doubt Stalin heard whispers that he was being overly cautious, and had lost his nerve as a result of the shocks of World War II.

 

The Korean War

In 1950 the strongman Kim Il Sung, whom Stalin had installed in North Korea at the end of World War II when the Russians occupied the north off the country above and the Americans occupied the south below the 38th parallel, begged him for tanks and support to take over the south. There were then no U.S. garrisons in the south. The U.S. had declined to send troops to support Chiang Kai-shek—it had sent weapons, but had stopped when it realized that the most effective way to arm Mao’s People’s Liberation Army was to ship weapons of the Guomindang. U.S. strategic thinking was that in Asia it should use air and sea rather than land power as its weapons. And the U.S. was for decolonization—the British out of India, the Dutch out of Indonesia. While the U.S. was happy to provide logistical support to the French war against the communist Vietminh in southeast Asia, it wanted the French to promise independence rather than further colonial rule as the endpoint.

In the summer of 1950 Stalin let slip the dog of war that was Kim Il Sung and his Soviet-trained and supplied army. And the Korean War began, as the U.S. surprised Kim Jong Il, Stalin, Mao—and itself—by rallying the United Nations to send an army largely provided by the United States to defend South Korea.

Fighting raged all across the Korean peninsula, from near the Yalu River in the north to the port of Pusan in the south. South Koreans and North Koreans fought on land; Americans fought on land, in the sea, and in the air; Chinese fought on land; Russians fought in the air (with 350 planes shot down). In three years, about a million Korean civilians died, perhaps 400000 South Koreans were abducted from their homes and taken to North Korea, and the military dead and missing were, roughly: 500000 Chinese, 300000 North Koreans, 150000 South Koreans, 50000 Americans, 1000 British, 1000 Turkish, 500 Canadian, 400 Australian, 300 Russian, 250 French, 200 Greek, 150 Columbian, 130 Thai, 120 Ethiopian, 120 Dutch, 100 Belgian, 90 Filipino, 30 South African, 30 New Zealand, 3 Norwegian, 2 Luxembourgese, and 1 Indian soldier. The U.S. Air Force dropped half a million tons of bombs during the war—that is 40 pounds of bomb for every North Korean then alive.

The United States did not use its nuclear weapons—it was a war, but it was a limited war. U.S. theater of operations commander Douglas MacArthur asked for their use at the end of 1950 when Chinese People’s Liberation Army attacks forced the United Nations’ army to retreat from near the Yalu River back to south of Seoul. The Pentagon and U.S. President Harry Truman refused. Starting in March 1951, with the battlefront stabilized near the 38th parallel that had divided North and South Korea before the war, the Pentagon and Truman began to seek a ceasefire and a return to the status quo ante bellum—to the state of things before the war—leaving neither victor nor vanquished.

Yet the war dragged on for two more years. And the casualties mounted: military comm https://www.britannica.com/event/Korean-War/North-to-the-Yalu anders on both sides thought that leverage at the peace table was to be gained by attritting their adversary’s forces and depriving them of jumping-off points in case the war was widened. Key, in the minds of United Nations commanders Matthew Ridgway and James van Fleet, was the “Iron Triangle” about 100 square miles in area, near the 38th parallel, running from Pyonggang in the north to Kimhwa in the east to Chorwon in the west.

The ultimate sticking point in the negotiations, however, was the status of prisoners of war. The Chinese and North Koreans wanted all prisoners of war returned to their countries of origin. The United Nations and the South Koreans wanted to keep prisoners of war who wished not to return from being forced to do so. On March 5, 1953, Soviet Dictator Josef Stalin died of a stroke. Stalin’s heirs decided that the Korean War was pointless and should end. Mao’s negotiators accepted the United Nations’s prisoner-of-war position. 10000 of 15000 Chinese prisoners of war decided not to return to China 5000 or 70000 North Korean prisoners of war decided not to return to North Korea. 327 South Korean prisoners of war decided to stay in North Korea, as did 21 Americans and 1 Briton. 18 of the 22 eventually returned to the western bloc. However 8000 missing from the United Nations forces (and 80000 missing from the South Korean forces) remained unaccounted for. Most of them surely died in battle, but…

And so the current state of things—with North Korea under the autocratic rule of the current Kim dynasty which has presided over the worst famine of the post-World War II period, and with South Korea independent and now a rich industrial power and a democracy—began.


#slouchingtowardsutopia #strategy #koreanewar #coldwar #highlighted

Robert Heilbroner (1996): The Embarrassment of Economics: Weekend Reading

Joseph schumpeter business cycle graph Google Search

Robert Heilbroner (1996): The Embarrassment of Economics: Schumpeter arrived in his famous riding habit and great cloak, of which he divested himself in a grand gesture. He greeted us in a typically Schumpeterian way: “Gentlemen, a depression is for capitalism like a good, cold douche.” The remark shocked us…


Robert Heilbroner (1996): The Embarrassment of Economics (Challenge, 39:6, 46-49, DOI: 10.1080/05775132.1996.11471942) https://doi.org/10.1080/05775132.1996.11471942:

Is economics free of ideology? No, says this eminent economist and historian of economic thought. And it would be best if economists acknowledged it.

I am approaching an age that can be called venerable, a process over which I have no control but which allows me certain privileges, among them saying outrageous things. This, I must warn you, is an outrageous speech, all the more so because it is delivered in dead earnest, despite a certain flippancy that may intrude from time to time. The subject is the degeneration—I am tempted to say “degeneracy”—of economics, a social discipline I hold, or rather wish I could hold, in the highest regard.

Let me describe my own introduction to economics. I entered Harvard in 1936 (hence venerable) and took my first course in economics the following year. Our textbook was Principles of Economics, by Frederick Garver and Alvin Hansen (one of America’s best-regarded economists). I should add that, although the Depression raged outside the classroom, it did not within the pages of this book. Published that year, only once did it mention the Depression. Without using the term “depression,” the text states that national income was estimated at 80 billion in 1929 but had fallen to about 40 billion by 1932. There is no further mention of these facts, their cause, significance, or cure.

The following year I took a more advanced course in economics taught by Wassily Leontieff. Our textbook was by Alfred Marshall-not, alas, the appendices but the text. The following year my most important course was Business Cycles, given by Hansen himself, who turned out to be a remarkable man. Although Hansen had disagreed with John Maynard Keynes’s General Theory when it was first published in the 1930s, he reconsidered, becoming Keynes’s foremost disciple in the United States. In his Harvard course, we heard from a wide range of instructors, such as the Marxist Paul Sweezy and Edward Chamberlain (who invented monopolistic competition). This course was where I first encountered Joseph Alois Schumpeter, who plays a major role in what I am about to say.

Schumpeter arrived in his famous riding habit and great cloak, of which he divested himself in a grand gesture. He greeted us in a typically Schumpeterian way: “Gentlemen, a depression is for capitalism like a good, cold douche.” The remark shocked us for two reasons: First, was a depression a good thing? Second, few of us knew that a douche was the European term for “shower.”

That was enough to put Schumpeter in my head, where he stayed for a long time.

In 1942 I read his Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. I am sure many of you recall those wonderful introductory chapters in which he discusses Marx the Prophet, Marx the Sociologist, Marx the Economist, and finally Marx the Teacher. This introduction ends with Schumpeter paying his profound respects to Marx. Why? Because “stripped of the glitter of dubious gems,” Marx was a conservative and thus commands our respect. You think I jest. Look at the last paragraph of Chapter 4.

There are two other remarks that stayed in my mind Part Two of the book begins “Can capitalism survive? No. I do not think it can.” Part Three begins “Can socialism work? Of course it can.” This explains why one of my first articles about Schumpeter was called “Was Schumpeter Right?” and begins with “No. I do not think he was.”

However, I have not yet revealed the crucial reason why Schumpeter has so influenced me, although not in a direction he would have approved of. In 1950 I was asked to review his magisterial History ofEconomic Analysis. There, toward the beginning, I discovered a section about ideology-the focus of this article. Ideology plays a role for Schumpeter of greater importance than for any economist of his generation or of our own. The section begins innocently enough by inquiring how social scientists think. Schumpeter arrives at the conclusion that they are driven by visions (he uses the term “precognitive concepts,” although I think “gestalts” would have been better). These visions then become the basis for analysis (carefully constructed logical thought) and for ideology (not-so carefully-structured value-laden views). Needless to say, Schumpeter strongly believes that analysis is good and ideology is bad. He admits that we can never altogether rid ourselves of the latter, but by diligent application, a good deal can be scrubbed out.

The immediate effect of this section was my article “Was Schumpeter Right, After All?”-the first sentence of which was “Right about what?” I do not mean “right” about the tendency of ideology to insinuate itself into analysis or that it cannot be at least partly extirpated. I mean right about the legitimacy and validity of ideology. Moreover, if ideology means that sociopolitical commitment will color and shape analysis, I again agree with Schumpeter that ideology will eater into and “infect” all important judgments.

Contrary to Schumpeter, I believe that ideology enters into analysis as a matter of necessity, not as a corrigible weakness. Ideology is not foreign matter that debases the pure stuff of analysis. On the contrary, political judgments and values are integral to and indispensable for analysis because we could not form the original gestalts without them. They are the raw

stuff of our perceptions, which our analytic capabilities can manipulate but not create. Because we are all creatures of social orders, it is impossible to depict or describe these orders without utilizing the feelings of attachment, resentment, identification, and distance that make us each a part of the social whole. A nonideological being would exist as a lifeless construct, not as a sentient member of society. It follows that economics can never be without ideological content that is, without an expression, almost always unconscious, of the values that the analyst attaches to the matters he is observing or analyzing.

Perhaps I should now pause while cold towels are passed around and those who wish to leave may do so. The following five points should make as plausible as possible this heretical, subversive, perhaps even dangerous claim that ideology is all around us.

The first point is what Sherlock Holmes would have called the “Curious Case of the Missing Word.” In our case it involves a word that is indispensable for the very existence of our discipline, but which is almost never pronounced by its disciples. The word is “capitalism.” How often does capitalism appear in the pages of the American Economic Review? Aside from those annual issues in which past presidents speak on broad topics and may drop the telltale word, capitalism is not treated with the seriousness that attends the rest of the journal. The words “model” and “system” abound. But capitalism? I challenge you to find it in issues of the American Economic Review from the past twenty years. f you find one mention per copy you are a more diligent researcher than I.

How is this an indicator of ideology? Let us suppose that we discover in the Vatican archives a multivolume journal called Studies of Our Times, covering the period that we call the Middle Ages. Now let us further suppose that the word “feudalism” rarely appeared in that journal. Would that not suggest a certain aversion to a word whose only meaning is of grossly unequal social relationships—-lords, vassals, serfs, and slaves? Is not the absence of the key term “feudalism” in a journal devoted to studies of the medieval order parallel with the failure to mention a corresponding key term related to our own socioeconomic order? Economists feel uneasy using a word like capitalism that may seem to praise or damn when in fact it is a description of certain characteristics, as is the term feudalism.

My second point concerns a quotation by Milton Friednan-Nobel laureate, famous theorist, and one of the rare economists who is not at all hesitant to mention capitalism. In his book Free to Choose, Friedman analyzes the difficult question of the inequality of rewards that is an obvious feature of the distribution systems we find in capitalism, and he raises for consideration whether this unevenness is “fair.” If fairness means equality, he concedes, the distribution system under capitalism would not be fair, but Friedman goes on to say that inequality is part of life. Some people are born with better looks than others, some with more native abilities, some with musical abilities. Admitting that it is easier to interfere with the distribution of property than of talent, he asks “From the ethical point of view is there any difference between the two?” There is such a difference——although perhaps it escapes Friedman’s eye——namely, that whereas the distribution of talents is a matter beyond human intervention, the distribution of property is not Friedman is a brilliant man, but in his attempt to defend capitalism from the charge of unfairness he is not. He cannot see the differences because he is an ideologue.

My third point concerns a certain unnamed Nobel Prize winner who was interviewed by Arjo Klamer in his justly acclaimed book Conversations with Economists. Klamer asked this writer whether economists can hold that government might be a force for social justice. Our Nobel laureate replied that this would not be his view: “I think of the pharaohs as responsible for most of the social injustice in ancient Egypt.” Is this ideology-free? To choose the pharaohs as an exemplar of government? Another economist might have chosen Abraham Lincoln instead-that would certainly be construed as ideological. This Nobel Prize winner also describes the unemployed as those who have “chosen” not to work an ideology-free description, I’m sure you will agree.

Point four is found in so many textbooks and articles that I need give no specific examples. It is that the irreducible atom of economic life consists of the “individual,” whose activities we put under the microscope—not the macroscope. What is this individual presumed to be constantly doing? Maximizing utility. I will avoid the easy task of exposing the vacuity of the words “maximizing utility.” The phrase is consistent with all possible observed behavior and refutable by none. I ask instead that we watch the individual perform his allotted task and inquire why he is engaged in this balancing act. Almost invariably, he is deciding how to spend his income among the various options before him. And what is so ideological about that? It is the unnoticed intrusion of the innocent word: income. For you cannot have an income unless it comes from someone else. Hence the individual is an absurd—dare I say “ideological”—representation of the irreducible atom of economic life. Is there not something profoundly suspicious about taking a monadic individual, not the societal dyad, as the representative agent for capitalism?

This leads to my fifth and last point. It concerns the term “crowding out,” a phenomenon that occurs whenever the government spends too much money and, by virtue of having first crack at the money pool, displaces from the credit line some worth borrowed from the private sector. No one has any trouble with that. But wait-during wartime, things are the other way around. When winning the war is the first priority, it is acceptable that the government, not private enterprise, get first crack And what is ideological about that? It lies, of course, in the tacit admission that the private sector’s credit needs should be fulfilled during peacetime because they have a higher social usefulness. Do they? Two assumptions underlie this statement: First, the assertion that profitability is a reliable measure of usefulness and, second, that there is no possible way of judging the social utility of public expenditure in peacetime. It is not necessary to say more than the word “externalities” to make the case that profit rates alone will not measure social returns or to assert that studies could be made with regard to the respective social returns of two sectors. How they would turn out, case by case, is uncertain. I am reasonably sure, however, that the attribution o f such a social advantage to the private sector is, at best, a dubious assumption.

Let me finally try to get to the bottom of things. I hope I have made the point that economic analysis is shot through with ideological considerations whose function is to mask the fullest possible grasp of some of the properties of a capitalist social order. What is the reason for this highly ideological (i.e., partisan) view?

I cannot answer that question with any degree of certainty. Were the case one of systematic distortion in a dispute over property, the explanation would be that the distorter had something to gain from presenting his case in the most favorable, although not necessarily the most accurate, light. It may be, of course, that economists are themselves capitalists at heart, wishing to protect their social positions and perquisites by screening their beliefs from public view. But I shall not make that assumption. The use of ideology by economists arises from its usefulness in attaining another goal rather than safeguarding capitalism from justified criticism. This higher goal is to establish its close relation to the explanation system we call science.

Scientific thought is probably the most highly regarded of all the activities that make up our complex modem way of life. The pursuit of science assumes a kind of purity of spirit and grandeur of purpose that resembles the religious pursuits of an earlier time. Moreover, economics—to those who pursue it—-approximates science. Indeed, it is almost a science: It is the only branch of social inquiry that contains something resembling the lawlike inner structure of scientific explanation.

For economics this lawlike interior is not based on physical constants but on the remarkable fact that the parallel psychological stimulus—a rise or fall in prices——-produces opposing reactions on the part of two categories of society—buyers and sellers. From there it is but a tiny step to supply-and-demand functions (written in often complex algebraic terms), geometric diagrams, and concepts of equilibrium—-all the trappings of a scientific journal. I hope I may be forgiven for relating here what I have written too many times-namely, that a Martian who came across a copy of the American Economic Review might be forgiven for concluding that it was a journal of physics.

Moreover, for all the evident weaknesses of these lawlike underpinnings, they do introduce analytical possibilities into economics that are the envy of sociologists, political theorists, and the like. Curiously, this does not necessarily make economics the most penetrative vision among these modes of inquiry. If you want to know why a bushman hunting party divides its kill as it does, you read an anthropologist, not an economist. If you want to know why the political world looks as it does, I suspect you will learn more from de Tocqueville or Robert Bellah than from Jeremy Bentham and Gary Becker.

How far to push this? I do not know. I am deeply convinced that economics is an explanation system that relates only to capitalism (you will notice that I shy away from the term ”theory”). I believe that by extending its reach to societies that lack capitalistic inner workings, economics diminishes itself. By acknowledging its dependency on a capitalist basis, economics would add depth and validity to its conclusions. And far from ”politicizing” its findings in some tendentious sense, it would imbue them with a strength they do not now possess. The power of economic analysis ultimately rests on its acknowledgment, not the denial, of the sociopolitical arrangements whose consequences it wishes to understand and, if possible, to improve.


#weekendreading #economicsgonewrong 

James Buchanan (1997): Has Economics Lost Its Way?: Hoisted from the Archives

Hoisted from the Archives: This serves as a good index of how much Milton Friedman’s redefinition of “neutral monetary policy” to mean “whatever monetary policy keeps nominal GDP on its trend growth path” led people prone to motivated reasoning in a laissez-faire direction completely and horribly astray. It also serves as an example of an astonishing failure to mark one’s beliefs to market. Never mind that the rough constant of M2 velocity before 1980 had been an obvious example of Goodhart’s Law, and never mind that even before 1980 forecasts of the state of the economy one and two years out based on M2 were inferior to other forecasts, by 1997 James Buchanan had just seen a remarkable five-year 30% runup in M2 velocity. and the complete ditching of monetary aggregates not just as targets but even as indicators by Alan Greenspan in favor of a neo-Wicksellian “neutral interest rate” approach that had nothing whatsoever to do with an “effective monetary constitution” of any type:

FRED Graph FRED St Louis Fed

James Buchanan: Has Economics Lost Its Way?: “IV. The Keynesian Aberration….. The Keynesian enterprise can be interpreted as an ultimately failed attempt to jury-rig improvements on a structure of institutional constraints that were nonsustainable… an aberration… grounded in rather elementary misunderstanding of… the classical vision…. Who could expect that ‘the market’ could adjust quickly to a dramatic reduction in the politically-influenced and unpredictable supply of money? It must remain forever mysterious as to why Keynes and the Keynesians were willing to neglect prospects for institutional reforms in the effective monetary constitution, while, at the same time, proposing radical changes along other more specific dimensions of policy… politicized controls over particular choice vectors (employment, investment)…

James Buchanan (1997): Has Economics Lost Its Way? https://delong.typepad.com/buch_econlostway.pdf


#hoistedfromthearchives #economicsgonewrong #macro #monetarypolicy 

Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings… (May 25, 2019)

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  1. Rob Beschizza: Reporters Who Quote Ums And Ahs Only Make Themselves Look Bad: “Journalists sometimes use a version of the facts to support faleshoods. Check out the following, posted by Daily Mail reporter David Martosko, quoting a teenager on Trump’s use of the racist ‘Pocahontas’ slur…. Martosko wanted to establish here was that the teen—and perhaps by implication young Warren supporters in general—is confused and foolish. He did this by including all the ums and ahs of speech, filler terms… and extraneous commas. Most people saw this ‘verbatim’ text for what it was, and Martosko was thoroughly ratioed by readers…. Most of us talk just as the teen did, when challenged to speak extemporaneously. This can be true of even polished and well-prepared speakers. Listen to politicans and pundits on cable news panels, with an ear for the fillers, and you might be surprised…. We don’t usually judge speakers for it because our brains correctly interpret it as meaningless filler…. Reporters usually remove speech disfluency when they quote subjects. In fact, it is generally considered unethical and unprofessional for editors not to remove the ums and ahs and filler terms…

  2. Eliza Mackintosh: Finland Is Winning the War on Fake News. Other Nations Want the Blueprint

  3. Julian Matthews: A Cognitive Scientist Explains Why Humans Are So Susceptible to Fake News and Misinformation » Nieman Journalism Lab: “We might like to think of our memory as an archivist that carefully preserves events, but sometimes it’s more like a storyteller…

  4. Andrew Carnegie: Steelmaking: “The eighth wonder of the world is this: two pounds of iron-stone purchased on the shores of lake Superior and transported to Pittsburgh; two pounds of coal mined in Connellsville and manufactured into coke and brought to Pittsburgh; one half pound of limestone mined east of the Alleghenies and brought to Pittsburgh; a little manganese ore, mined in Virginia and brought to Pittsburgh. And these four and one half pounds of material manufactured into one pound of solid steel and sold for one cent. That’s all that need be said about the steel business…

  5. Sam Biddle: Facebook’s Work With Phone Carriers Alarms Legal Experts: “From these eight categories alone, a third party could learn an extraordinary amount about patterns of users’ daily life, and although the document claims that the data collected through the program is ‘aggregated and anonymized’, academic studies have found time and again that so-called anonymized user data can be easily de-anonymized. Today, such claims of anonymization and aggregation are essentially boilerplate…

  6. Khoi Vinh: ‘John Wick: Chapter 3–Parabellum’ Review: “A film creates a compelling fantasy world and fans clamor for more. So sequels build that world out, they show more of its mechanics, its people, its history… the inevitable outcome is bureaucracy…

  7. Joe Wiggins: Why Are Other Investors So Biased? | Behavioural Investment: “If you ask a fund manager why they believe that their investment philosophy can generate excess returns, they will almost inevitably state that they are seeking to exploit the behavioural biases exhibited by other investors that create pricing inefficiencies.  It is somewhat puzzling therefore that if you question the same fund manager about how they seek to address their own biases the response is either entirely unconvincing or evasive…

  8. Ben Steverman: The Wealth Detective Who Finds the Hidden Money of the Super Rich: “Thirty-two-year-old French economist Gabriel Zucman scours spreadsheets to find secret offshore accounts…

  9. Arindrajit Dube: Econ 333 : “Income Inequality & Policy Alternatives…

  10. Wikipedia: Barbarian: “The case has been made that [Rosa] Luxemburg had remembered a passage from the Erfurt Program, written in 1892 by Karl Kautsky, and mistakenly attributed it to Engels: ‘As things stand today capitalist civilization cannot continue; we must either move forward into socialism or fall back into barbarism’…

  11. Douglas B. Harris (1997): Dwight Eisenhower and the New Deal: The Politics of Preemption

  12. Brian Warren: Mac Open Web

  13. Gavin Kennedy (2010): What Adam Smith Actually Identified as the Appropriate Roles for 18-century Governments


  1. Another old piece, but more true than ever. On the left, the talking heads the media puts on the TV as economists are economists. On the right, they are grifters who play economists on TV. My recent encounter with Steve Moore at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club has erased any doubts I might have had: Paul Krugman (2015): On Econoheroes: “I gather that some readers didn’t get what I was driving at in declaring that Joe Stiglitz and yours truly are the left’s ‘econoheroes’, but the likes of Stephen Moore and Art Laffer play that role on the right…. What I meant—I thought this was obvious—is that Joe and I do tend to get quoted, invoked, etc. on a frequent basis in liberal media and by liberals in general, usually with (excessive) approbation. And the thing is that while there are people playing a comparable role in right-wing discussion, they tend not to be highly cited or even competent…

  2. Ben Thompson: China, Leverage, and Values: “Tim Culpan declared at Bloomberg that The Tech Cold War Has Begun…. ‘We can now expect China to redouble efforts to roll out a homegrown smartphone operating system, design its own chips, develop its own semiconductor technology (including design tools and manufacturing equipment), and implement its own technology standards. This can only accelerate the process of creating a digital iron curtain that separates the world into two distinct, mutually exclusive technological spheres…

  3. Gavin Kennedy: What Adam Smith Actually Identified as the Appropriate Roles for 18-Century Governments: “Navigation Acts, blessed by Smith under the assertion that ‘defence, however, is of much more importance than opulence’ (WN464); Sterling marks on plate and stamps on linen and woollen cloth (WN138–9); enforcement of contracts by a system of justice (WN720); wages to be paid in money, not goods; regulations of paper money in banking (WN437)…

  4. Adam Smith: An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of The Wealth Of Nations: “The first duty of the sovereign… protecting the society from… other independent societies… by means of a military force…. The second duty… of protecting… every member… from the injustice or oppression of every other member…. The third… of erecting and maintaining… institutions and… public works… in the highest degree advantageous… [but] of such a nature, that the profit could never repay the expense to any individual, or small number of individuals…. [These] works and institutions… are chiefly for facilitating the commerce of the society, and… promoting the instruction of the people…. Of the public Works and Institutions for facilitating the Commerce of the Society…. Of the Expense of the Institution for the Education of Youth…. Of the Expense of the Institutions for the Instruction of People of all Ages… chiefly those for religious instruction…

  5. Jamie Powell: Tesla’s Shifting Capital Raise Narrative: “In two weeks, the 2.4bn in cash has gone from being a “contingency fund” to being potentially burnt in ‘approximately ten months’ unless changes are made to its expense structure. Changes so large that every expense has to be signed off by CFO Zach Kirkhorn…

  6. Martin Wolf: The US-China Conflict Challenges The World: “Historic allies of the US… would stand beside it….. Yet these are not normal circumstances. Under Donald Trump, the US has become a rogue superpower, hostile, among many other things, to the fundamental norms of a trading system based on multilateral agreement and binding rules…. We are also seeing a big shift in conservative thinking…. The US no longer sees why it should be a ‘responsible stakeholder’…. Some might conclude that the high costs mean that the conflict cannot be sustained, particularly if stock markets are disrupted. An alternative and more plausible outcome is that Mr Trump and China’s Xi Jinping are ‘strongmen’ leaders who cannot be seen to yield…

  7. Robert Heilbroner (1996): The Embarrassment of Economics: Schumpeter arrived in his famous riding habit and great cloak, of which he divested himself in a grand gesture. He greeted us in a typically Schumpeterian way: “Gentlemen, a depression is for capitalism like a good, cold douche.” The remark shocked us…

  8. Rosa Luxemburg (1916): The Junius Pamphlet: “The Crisis of Social Democracy…. Socialism is the first popular movement in world history that has set itself the goal of bringing human consciousness, and thereby free will, into play in the social actions of mankind. For this reason, Friedrich Engels designated the final victory of the socialist proletariat a leap of humanity from the animal world into the realm of freedom…. Friedrich Engels once said: ‘Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to socialism or regression into barbarism’. What does “regression into barbarism” mean to our lofty European civilization?… This world war is a regression into barbarism. The triumph of imperialism leads to the annihilation of civilization….. We face the choice… either the triumph of imperialism and the collapse of all civilization as in ancient Rome, depopulation, desolation, degeneration–a great cemetery…

  9. Language, opposable thumbs, and erect posture—those are the three keys to the kingdom: Doug Jones: Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better: “With Ardipithecus Radius (about 4.5 million years ago) we have the strongest evidence so far that hominins have adopted bipedalism…. Even… she had a somewhat diverging big toe, and arms and hands well-adapted for suspension, suggesting she was bipedal on the ground, but still spent a lot of time in trees…. Bipedalism allowed ancestral dinosaurs to overcome the tight coupling of locomotion and respiration that prevents sprawling lizards from breathing while they run. But human bipedalism, with no counterbalancing tail, is different. As far as we know it evolved only once…

  10. Rosa Luxemburg (1916): The Junius Pamphlet: “In the midst of this witches’ sabbath a catastrophe of world-historical proportions has happened: International Social Democracy has capitulated. To deceive ourselves about it, to cover it up, would be the most foolish, the most fatal thing the proletariat could do…. The fall of the socialist proletariat in the present world war is unprecedented. It is a misfortune for humanity. But socialism will be lost only if the international proletariat fails to measure the depth of this fall, if it refuses to learn from it. The last forty-five year period in the development of the modern labor movement now stands in doubt. What we are experiencing in this critique is a closing of accounts for what will soon be half a century of work at our posts…

  11. Chris Cook: Brussels Takes Control: “The EU’s initial response to the referendum result said: ‘Any agreement, which will be concluded with the United Kingdom as a third country, will have to reflect the interests of both sides and be balanced in terms of rights and obligations’. A few days on, it added: ‘Access to the single market requires acceptance of all four freedoms’. This reflects a belief in what the EU is actually for. Those who know her have learned that when Merkel, who grew up on the far side of the Iron Curtain, says freedom of movement of people is a fundamental principle, it pays to take her seriously…. The statement was also intended to ram home the basic principle that the EU insists rights be balanced by obligations…. This has created fixed grooves that third countries must fall into. In return for unfettered access to its internal markets, they have to tick certain boxes. When the UK Treasury modelled possible outcomes of the Brexit negotiations before the referendum, it presented a discreet menu of options… Switzerland’s… Turkey’s… Canada’s… found the same likely range of options. This formula–’no cherry-picking’–was most clearly set out in a diagram released to modest fanfare in late 2017 by Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator. It became known as the ‘staircase’ diagram: https://delong.typepad.com/.a/6a00e551f0800388340240a4899366200d-pi

  12. Over at Equitable Growth. From last March: The brilliant Bhash Mazumder in conversation with Liz Hipple. He is right in his stress on siblings as an excellent test strip for measuring and understanding inequality in one easy-to-calculate number: Liz Hipple: In Conversation with Bhash Mazumder: “The sibling approach… boils everything down into one number by saying, what are all of the things that two siblings shared growing up? How much does that determine their overall outcomes?… That’s an important measure that we haven’t studied a lot. In the United States, there has been some research on sibling correlations, which I’ve contributed to a little bit, that suggests there’s much less intergenerational mobility in U.S. society than in other countries…. There is something about the nature of our society causing family background characteristics to strongly influence children’s long-run outcomes, thereby reinforcing inequalities…

  13. Tremendously depressing. We have a huge problem here. Absolutely brilliant by Alwyn Young on the replication crisis in economics. In empirical practice, instrumental variables appears to be a very weak crutch indeed. this reinforce my judgment that it is almost always better to write down the causal structure, present the correlations, and then provide a map given the correlations and given reasonable assumptions about the possible organization for the causal network from causes to effects: Alwyn Young: Consistency without Inference: Instrumental Variables in Practical Application: “I use Monte Carlo simulations, the jackknife and multiple forms of the bootstrap… 1359 instrumental variables regressions in 31 papers…. Non-iid error processes adversely affect the size and power of IV estimates, while increasing the bias of IV relative to OLS, producing a very low ratio of power to size and mean squared error that is almost always larger than biased OLS. Weak instrument pre-tests based upon F-statistics are found to be largely uninformative…. Statistically significant IV results generally depend upon only one or two observations or clusters, excluded instruments often appear to be irrelevant, there is little statistical evidence that OLS is biased, and IV confidence intervals almost always include OLS point estimates…


  1. Wikipedia: Orthonormal Basis

  2. Wikipedia: Fleetwood Mac

  3. Martin Surbeck et al.: Male Reproductive Skew Is Higher In Bonobos Than Chimpanzees

  4. Wikipedia: Event Horizon

  5. Rosa Luxemburg (1916): The Junius Pamphlet

  6. Wikipedia: Rosa Luxemburg

  7. Andrew Carnegie (1889): Wealth

  8. Karl Polanyi (1940): Five Lectures on The Present Age of Transformation

  9. Wanted: A Readable Polanyi…

  10. Wikipedia: Winston Churchill

  11. Wikipedia: 1953 Iranian Coup d’État

  12. Wikipedia: Mohammad Mosaddegh

  13. Wikipedia: Mohammad Reza Pahlavi


#noted #weblogs

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

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1954): Letter to Edgar Newton Eisenhower: “The Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything–even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon “moderation” in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid…


#weekendreading 

Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings… (May 21, 2019)

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  1. Nico Schmidt: https://t.co/xeKxYpazgs?amp=1: “Facebook massively pressured EU experts to keep them from inquiring into whether the platform‘s business model enables disinformation, eventually leading to weak EU mechanisms on disinfo…

  2. Noah Smith: Trump Plan to Lower Imports Risks Lowering Consumption Instead: “Stuff made overseas isn’t the drag on growth Trump thinks…

  3. Daniel Patrick Moynihan et al.: The Negro Family: The Case for National Action

  4. Amit P. Mehta: Donald J. Trump, et al. Plaintiffs, v. Committee on Oversight and Reform of the U.S. House of Representatives, et al.: “[Buchanan] maintained that the House of Representatives possessed no general powers to investigate him, except when sitting as an impeaching body…

  5. Josh Barro: @jbarro: “So I’ve never watched this show before but I do like where Peter Dinklage picks up the illuminated manuscript like it’s POLITICO, only interested in what it says about him…

  6. Maxine Berg (1980): The Machinery Question and the Making of Political Economy 1815-1848 #books

  7. Kevin Robillard and Igor Bobic: Vulnerable Republicans Who Backed Obamacare Repeal Aren’t As Fired Up About It Now | HuffPost: “Incumbents facing reelection in 2020 are softening their rhetoric about the Affordable Care Act even as Trump seeks to strike down the law in court…

  8. Tim Worstall: Open-Ended Bond Funds Can Cause Systemic Instability-In Extremis, They Can’t Liquidate Fast Enough: “We know that banking itself is fragile as assets cannot be recouped as fast as depositors withdraw money-possibly. Closed-end funds don’t suffer from this problem. Open-ended funds possibly can-it depends on the liquidity of the market they’re invested in…

  9. Willem Buiter and Catherine L Mann: Modern Monetary Theory (MMT): “What’s righte is not new, what’s new is not right, and what’s left is simplistic…

  10. Wikipedia: Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges | La Cité Antique


  1. The Gap asked researchers to quantify the benefits from offering its employees more regular schedules. The benefits are substantial: Alix Gould-Wirth: Retail workers’ Unpredictable Schedules Affect Sleep Quality:: “Retail outlets of The Gap, Inc…. surprising connections between retail workers’ schedules and their sleep patterns…. Randomly assigned 19 stores to a treatment group to implement the intervention and nine stores to a control group that did not…. The intervention made a substantively (and statistically) significant impact on the sleep quality of workers…

  2. One of the wisest people I have met on the internet: Jack Ayer: The Best Books on Bankruptcy: “If you see bankruptcy as a creditor’s remedy, you can understand the history of the word. There’s a founding legend—I’m not sure I believe it—that it comes from the Italian, ‘banca rotta’ which means a ‘broken bench.’ The theory is that if the debtor couldn’t pay his debts, you destroyed his trading place. It was only later that creditors began to realize that sometimes you could get more out of the debtor by encouraging his cooperation…

  3. What does the left—the Democratic—wing of the Democratic Party find itself reading this winter? Well, it looks like it is reading, in part, me and my coauthor Steve Cohen. Admittedly, “tells much of the same story… in language even more accessible and unobjectionable to mainstream and centrist audiences” is not the most enthusiastic endorsement I have ever had. But I will take what I can get: Demond Drummer: New Consensus Reading List: “A new consensus in economic thought is emerging…. This reading list is designed with the goals of winning over people who–whether they’re progressives or centrists–are still entrenched in the old consensus of neoliberalism, and also providing converts with a deeper understanding of various aspects of the new consensus….  Bad Samaritans [by]… Ha-Joon Chang…. Concrete Economics [by Steve Cohen and Bard DeLong]…. Made in the USA … [by] Vaclav Smil…. Mariana Mazzucato _The Entrepreneurial State…. Kate Raworth[‘s] Doughnut Economics…. Rana Foroohar… _Makers and Takers…. [Invisible Hands by Kim Phillips-Fein…. Mariana Mazzucato and Michael Jacobs [Rethinking Capitalism]…. Ha-Joon Chang [Economics]…. Justin Yifu Lin [Against the Consensus]…. The Public Banking Solution [by] Ellen Brown…. Ann Pettifor [The Production of Money]…. The End of Alchemy by [Mervyn King]…. Martin Wolf [The Shifts and the Shocks]…. Mohamed El-Erian [The Only Game in Town]…. +Freedom’s Forge [by Arthur Herman]…. Mark Wilson’s Destructive Creation…. [When Small States Make Big Leaps) by Darius Ornston]…. The Park Chung Hee Era [by Byung-Kook Kim and Ezra Vogel]…. MITI and teh Japanese Miracle [by Chalmers Johnson]…. Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not [by Prassanan Parthasarathi]…

  4. In large part, this desire to resort to high marginal tax rates is a counsel of despair: an admission that we cannot think of policy tools that would command congressional assent and that would restructure the economy that would “predistribute” income in a significantly more egalitarian way. But to the extent that people assign market prices some special moral status—as what you “earn”—this may well be a moral-philosophical mistake, even if it is not a utilitarian-economic mistake: Dylan Matthews: How to Tax the Rich, Explained: “It’s no accident that the Democratic Party went from wanting a 39.6 percent top tax rate to wanting much more. The 1990s Democratic Party made friends with the rich. The 2008 Democratic Party was eager to bail them out. The 2019 Democratic Party seems ready to declare war…. The Democratic urge to tax the rich isn’t a wholly new development. In the 2016 general election, Hillary Clinton embraced Sanders’s proposal for a 65 percent top estate tax rate, and both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were able to raise the top income tax rate by a few points…

  5. Given how much cars are used for commuting, it always seemed to me that much of the case for Uber was based on a refusal to note the peak time demand problem. But I concur with the conclusion here: the S-1 is devoid of meaningful information because the meaningful information is bearish: Ben Thompson: Uber Questions: “What an alluring pitch it remains! The fundamental idea of paying tens of thousands of dollars (more or less) for a large metal box that sits idle the vast majority of the time, doing nothing but depreciating in value, doesn’t really make much sense in a world where everyone carries Internet communicators that let you call up a ride when—and crucially, only when—you need it…. Here’s the problem, though: it’s impossible to tell if theory matches reality….. Uber’s S-1 is particularly lacking…. This is at best disappointing, and at worst feels like a cruel trick on retail investors…. Uber may still be worth the investment: the theory of the company remains plausible, and the company is decreasing its losses…. However, if I bought individual stocks… I would be out: this S-1 is so devoid of meaningful information (despite its length) that it makes me wonder what, if anything, Uber is trying to hide. If I am going to be taken for a ride I want at least some idea of where I am going—isn’t that the point of Uber in the first place?…

  6. Find a community, gain a special skill within that community, build something worthwhile that may outlast you, play your position, find people who will respect your work. Is this the answer to how it is that people are able to work together constructively in groups? These are Michael Nielsen’s ideas, and I think they are good ones. I think that they apply to students just as much as or more than they do to researchers and to political communities: Michael A. Nielsen: Extreme Thinking: “Three principles that I believe are critical to success in any tough learning situation…. Balance three activities… development of a common understanding with… people with whom one is later able to feel a common sense of community… development of abilities which are not common to your community… making a creative contribution to your community, to something larger than yourself. To develop effectively, we need to balance all three of these…. Effective learning requires long-term vision…. The example of kids playing soccer…. Create a social environment that will support and reinforce the change…

  7. Ezra Klein: 2020 Democrats Need a Power Agenda, Not Just a Policy Agenda: “Concentration of power is the problem, so redistribution of power is the policy…. The Roosevelt Institute’s manifesto-ish new paper, ‘New Rules For The 21st Century: Corporate Power, Public Power, and the Future of the American Economy’…. Concentration of power is the problem, so redistribution of power is the policy…. TThe traditional economic analysis is that growth comes from innovation, innovation comes from competitive markets, and competitive markets come from government getting the hell out of the way. The Roosevelt authors say we’ve gotten that dead wrong. Yes, growth comes from innovation, and innovation comes from competitive markets, but competitive markets—be they economic or political—don’t come from a laissez-faire government. They come from policymakers breaking up concentrations of power, because the last thing power wants is competition…

  8. Scott Lemieux: The Latest Selective Campus PC Panic: “Yglesias has a very good explainer on the campus PC panic du jour. A few points: Paul has already explained why the claim that criticizing Sullivan—who is not a public defender or professional defense attorney—for taking on Weinstein somehow undermines the Sixth Amendment is silly…. The critical point here is that Sullivan could have represented Weinstein and continued to hold one of the most prestigious and well-compensated jobs in American academia. What was not renewed was his contract to be a quasi-ceremonial RA at an undergrad residence hall. Much of the discourse around Sullivan is built around treating losing a side gig as a glorified RA as if it presented the same issues as losing a tenured position…. As I’ve already argued with respect to Saint Christakis, if PROVOKING undergraduates is very important to your identity as an academic, it strikes me that ‘being head of an undergraduate dorm’ is not the side gig for you. Relatedly, the argument that it’s outrageous that undergraduates should have a say in who supervises their residences is farcical on its face…

  9. I should long ago have told people to read this pinned tweetstorm from Equitable Growth’s Will McGraw. A great many people who should know better—especially people on the ideological right—do not understand that when one assesses factors, one wants to control only for those complications that confound the effects you are trying to study, and that you have no business controlling for those complications that mediate the effects you are trying to study: Will McGrew: “Some claim that the wage gap disappears if you control for all relevant variables. This is 100% false. According to the evidence, workplace segregation and discrimination are the largest causes of the wage gap faced by Black women…

  10. It is pretty clear that the post-2008 U.S. labor market is such that it totally deranged the unemployment rate as a meaningful measure of labor market slack, and we now need to look at primate-age EPOP. But it also deranged prime-age EPOP—only not as badly: Josh Bivens: Predicting Wage Growth with Measures of Labor Market Slack: It’s Complicated: “Why have wages grown so slowly in recent years despite relatively low unemployment rates? This puzzle has dominated economic commentary…. Since 2008, the share of adults between the ages of 25 and 54 who are employed (or the ‘prime-age EPOP’) has predicted wage growth better than the unemployment rate. But even the prime-age EPOP has done a poor job at predicting wage growth since 2008 compared with both its own predictive power pre-2008 and the predictive power of the unemployment rate in earlier periods…

  11. Gareth Campbell, Richard S. Grossman and John Turner: Before the Cult of Equity: New Monthly Indices of the British Share Market, 1829-1929: “We splice our blue-chip capital gains index with the Financial Times 30 (FT30) index to create a new blue-chip index that covers nearly two centuries, 1829 to 2018. By 1940, our blue-chip index is below its 1829 level, but during the next six decades it experiences an almost 80-fold increase…. There have been at least seven sharp contractions in the stock market over nearly 200 years and that most of these have been associated with major economic downturns…. During our sample period, investors earned an average nominal return of about five per cent per year, which suggests the existence of a modest equity risk premium by modern standards. This indicates that the emerging phase of UK stock market development was not associated with particularly high returns. Almost all of the gains experienced by investors arose from dividends, suggesting that profitable nineteenth century firms returned their gains to shareholders via dividends, in contrast to modern firms, which are more likely to return to shareholders through capital gains while smoothing dividends…

  12. Economist: What to Do If The Usual Weapons Fail: “If the usual weapons fail, there are plenty of new policy responses for governments to turn to. From the robots that help care for an ageing population to holographic pop stars, the future always arrives early in Japan. Economic policy is no exception. When the massive Japanese financial bubble of the 1980s imploded, the Bank of Japan (BOJ)… tested many of the policies, such as QE, that would enter the toolkit of other central banks during the financial crisis. Yet Japan was seen as an example of central-bank incompetence, until smug Western central banks discovered after 2008 that getting an economy to perk up when interest rates were near zero was harder than it looked…

  13. In England, at least, if “middle class” as defined as not-rich who can nevertheless expect some support from their parents and pass a nest egg down to their grandchildren, there was no real, lsubstnail, and numerous “middle class” in the twentieth century: Neil Cummins: The Missing English Middle Class: Evidence From 60 Million Death And Probate Records: “Using a combination of old-fashioned archival research, mass scripted downloading, optical character recognition, text parsing, and sets of algorithmic programming tools, I have digitised every individual entry, 18 million records with estate values, from the Principal Probate Calendar from 1892 to 1992. To this I have added all 60 million adult English deaths…. This simple finding is quite stark: despite the great equalisation of wealth over the 20th century, most English have no significant wealth at death…

  14. In a time of bubble, raising interest rates and restricting the lending of regulated institutions may be counterproductive if there are unregulated institutions as well. This is an old lesson. We forgot it, and relearned it yet again in the 2000s: Itamar Drechsler, Alexi Savov, and Philipp Schnabl: How Monetary Policy Shaped the Housing Boom: “Between 2003 and 2006, the Federal Reserve raised rates by 4.25%. Yet it was precisely during this period that the housing boom accelerated, fueled by rapid growth in mortgage lending. There is deep disagreement about how, or even if, monetary policy impacted the boom. Using heterogeneity in banks’ exposures to the deposits channel of monetary policy, we show that Fed tightening induced a large reduction in banks’ deposit funding, leading them to contract new on-balance-sheet lending for home purchases by 26%. However, an unprecedented expansion in privately-securitized loans, led by nonbanks, largely offset this contraction. Since privately-securitized loans are neither GSE-insured nor deposit-funded, they are run-prone, which made the mortgage market fragile. Consistent with our theory, the re-emergence of privately-securitized mortgages has closely tracked the recent increase in rates…

  15. I would not say that new technologies were “geared toward maintaining the role of human labor in value creation”. I would say that new technologies required microcontrollers—and the human brain was the only available microcontroller—and software ‘bots to manage materials and information flows—and the human brain provided the only available ‘bot hardware. Now neither of these are the case: Daron Acemoglu and Pascual Restrepo: The Revolution Need Not Be Automated: “For centuries after the Industrial Revolution, automation did not hinder wage and employment growth, because it was accompanied by new technologies geared toward maintaining the role of human labor in value creation. But in the era of artificial intelligence, it will be up to policymakers to ensure that the pattern continues…

  16. Paul Krugman: Don’t Blame Robots for Low Wages: “Participants just assumed that robots are a big part of the problem—that machines are taking away the good jobs, or even jobs in general. For the most part this wasn’t even presented as a hypothesis, just as part of what everyone knows…. So it seems like a good idea to point out that in this case what everyone knows isn’t true…. We do have a big problem—but it has very little to do with technology, and a lot to do with politics and power…. Technological disruption… isn’t a new phenomenon. Still, is it accelerating? Not according to the data. If robots really were replacing workers en masse, we’d expect to see the amount of stuff produced by each remaining worker—labor productivity—soaring…. Technological change is an old story. What’s new is the failure of workers to share in the fruits of that technological change…

  17. Made me want to very much read a book I had not gotten to. Now I have. It’s excellent. I endorse Noah’s review: Noah Smith: Book Review: The Revolt of the Public, by Martin Gurri: “Social media, Gurri asserts, has both empowered and emboldened the public, freeing it from the control of centralized, hierarchical push-media…. The public’s goal is negation-denunciation of respected leaders, derailment of political programs, overthrow of parties or governments, discrediting of institutions, etc…. The usefulness of this book is in drawing parallels between a bunch of things that might seem unrelated…. If Gurri is right, these things are fundamentally about a technology-social media-and the way it changes power relations between the public and elites, then we can expect today’s explosions of anger to be followed by others tomorrow, and then others the day after tomorrow, and on and on and on. Gurri may not convince you-in fact, if he does, you’re probably not enough of a skeptic-but he will give you a new framework with which to usefully think about the political chaos of the modern world…

  18. Another old piece, but more true than ever. On the left, the talking heads the media puts on the TV as economists are economists. On the right, they are grifters who play economists on TV. My recent encounter with Steve Moore at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club has erased any doubts I might have had: Paul Krugman (2015): On Econoheroes: “I gather that some readers didn’t get what I was driving at in declaring that Joe Stiglitz and yours truly are the left’s ‘econoheroes’, but the likes of Stephen Moore and Art Laffer play that role on the right…. What I meant—I thought this was obvious—is that Joe and I do tend to get quoted, invoked, etc. on a frequent basis in liberal media and by liberals in general, usually with (excessive) approbation. And the thing is that while there are people playing a comparable role in right-wing discussion, they tend not to be highly cited or even competent…

  19. It is not at all clear to me that quantum computers will ever be practical devices for anything other than simulating quantum-mechanical systems, at which I agree they will have an enormous edge over classical devices. Although “simulating” is perhaps the wrong word: “mirroring” or “modeling” would be better. As Scott Aaronson rightly says, they will be useful for broader purposes only to the extent that the interference properties can be harnessed for our use, as in Childs et al.: Scott Aaronson: Quantum Computing, Capabilities and Limits: “Every quantum algorithm is… trying to choreograph things in such a way that for each wrong answer to your computational problem… the paths… cancel each other out, whereas the paths leading to the right answer should all be ‘in phase’ with each other…. If you can mostly arrange for that to happen, then when you measure the state of your quantum computer, then you will see the right answer with a large probability…. So nature… gives you a very bizarre ‘hammer’….People always want to… [say] the quantum computer just tries all of the possible answers at once. Bt the truth is that if you want to see an advantage, you have to exploit… interference…

  20. Scott Alexander: Who By Very Slow Decay: “After a while of this, your doctors will call a meeting with your family and very gingerly raise the possibility of going to ‘comfort care only’, which means they disconnect the machines and stop the treatments and put you on painkillers so that you die peacefully. Your family will start yelling at the doctors, asking how the hell these quacks were ever allowed to practice when for God’s sake they’re trying to kill off Grandma just so they can avoid doing a tiny bit of work. They will demand the doctors find some kind of complicated surgery that will fix all your problems, add on new pills to the thirteen you’re already being force-fed every day, call in the most expensive consultants from Europe, figure out some extraordinary effort that can keep you living another few days…

  21. Against Raj Chetty et al.‘s belief that school quality—rather than the fabric of society—is a key mechanism creating and blocking possibilities for upward mobility: Jesse Rothstein (2017): Inequality of Educational Opportunity? Schools as Mediators of the Intergenerational Transmission of Income: “Commuting zones (CZs) with stronger intergenerational income transmission tend to have stronger transmission of parental income…

  22. Irwin Collier: Chicago. Monopoly Course Proposal by Abram Harris with George Stigler’s (Dis)approval, 1961: “[TO:] Al Rees, Chairman [DEPARTMENT:] Economics [FROM:] George J. Stigle [IN RE:] propose 200 level course in the College by Abram L. Harris. Dear Al: This new course of Abe Harris arouses no enthusiasm on my part. It sounds like a protracted bull session, in which large ideas are neither carefully analysed nor empirically tested. Even if this is a correct prediction, it leaves open the question of our listing it. Abe is a nice guy, only about 3 years from retirement, and it serves no good purpose to hurt his feelings. My own inclination would be (1) to list it, with explicit proviso that it is only for as long as he teaches it, and (2) advise our majors to forget it…

  23. Abram L. Harris (1961): Countervailing Power, Monopoly, and Public Polic: “Combine theoretical analysis in a survey of the ideas of some leading economists who have dealt with the problem of market imperfections and monopoly along with discussions of the early trust movement…. A technical mastery of theoretical economics is not a prerequisite. One main purpose of the course is to stimulate undergraduate interest in theoretical economics, the history of economic ideas, and the relation of these ideas to current economic policy issues. The course should be open to beginning majors in economics, students who are undecided about a major in the social sciences, and to those who are just curious…. The Concept of “Countervailing Power”: Old wine in new bottles? Chamberlain… Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, and Alfred Marshall…. John Bates Clarke and his student, Thorstein Veblen…. The Standard Oil and U. S. Steel cases and federal anti-trust legislation. Recent anti-trust cases: administrative interpretation and application of federal legislation. Marx’s thesis concerning industrial concentration…. The extent and measurement of industrial concentration…. A term essay will be required of all students who take the course for credit. The essay may take the form of a review, e.g., Berle’s Twentieth Century Capitalist Revolution, Mason’s The Corporation in Modern Society, Chamberlain’s Labor Union Monopoly or may deal with some topic… selected by the student in consultation…. P.S. The content of the course may appear be heavy and, probably, cannot be entirely covered in a single quarter. The layout will have, no doubt, to be tailored as we proceed to give the course for the first time…

  24. :I. W. Gabriel Selassie: Abram Lincoln Harris Jr. (1899-1963): “Abram Lincoln Harris, Jr., the grandson of slaves, was the first nationally recognized black economist… a Marxist…. The Black Worker was recognized as the foundation for future economic histories and assessments of the black condition. The Negro as Capitalist argued that non-racial economic reforms were the key to solving black fiscal woes. He also argued that capitalism was morally bankrupt and that employing race consciousness as a strategic way to enlighten a public was self-defeating.  W.E.B. DuBois described Harris as one of the ‘Young Turks’ who challenged the then existing historical theories about blacks in a capitalist society while insisting upon using modern social scientific methods to further his analyses of African American life…


  1. The Free Dictionary: Idioms: Outside My Wheelhouse

  2. Wikipedia: The Negro Family: The Case For National Action

  3. Josh Marshall: Josh’s Epic List of Books

  4. David Dyer-Bennet: “Federal Service” in Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers | James Gifford: The Nature of “Federal Service” in Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers

  5. Charlie Stross: CMAP #16: Book Title Blues: “Here are the rules for book titles these days: Make it memorable and pronouncable… unique…. Have a series title waiting in the wings…. While your snappy, unique title is the lede, feel free to add a colon or semi-colon separated list of potential series titles and cover blurbs, so that folks searching Amazon for Regency-setting dragon shifter hentai romance with talking starships will still be able to find your novel…


#noted #weblogs 

Robo-Apocalypse? Not in Your Lifetime: Live at Project Syndicate

Robo Apocalypse Not in Your Lifetime by J Bradford DeLong Project Syndicate

Live at Project Syndicate: Robo-Apocalypse? Not in Your Lifetime: “Will the imminent “rise of the robots” threaten all future human employment? The most thoughtful discussion of that question can be found in MIT economist David H. Autor’s 2015 paper, “Why Are There Still so Many Jobs?”, which considers the problem in the context of Polanyi’s Paradox. Given that “we can know more than we can tell,” the twentieth-century philosopher Michael Polanyi observed, we shouldn’t assume that technology can replicate the function of human knowledge itself. Just because a computer can know everything there is to know about a car doesn’t mean it can drive it. This distinction between tacit knowledge and information bears directly on the question of what humans will be doing to produce economic value in the future… Read MOAR at Project Syndicate


#projectsyndicate #riseoftherobots #highlighted