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LQD: A different failure mode

by Metatone Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 01:26:05 AM EST

Economics and Politics by Paul Krugman - The Conscience of a Liberal - NYTimes.com

I've been having a strange reaction to recent news about economic policy. Stuff is happening: the Fed bungled its communications, doing its bit to undermine modest economic progress; the European Commission is sorta kinda relaxing its demands for austerity; the Bank of England appears to have issued forward guidance that it's going to issue forward guidance; and so on. But with the possible exception of Abenomics, it's all pretty small-bore stuff.

And that's disappointing. We had what felt like an epic intellectual debate over austerity economics, which ended, insofar as such debates ever end, with a stunning victory for the anti-austerity side -- and hardly anything changed in the real world. Meanwhile, the pain caucus has found a new target, inventing dubious reasons for monetary tightening. And mass unemployment goes on.

So how does this end? Here's a depressing thought: maybe it doesn't.

Thus starts Krugman's blog today. As usual, I recommend you read it all, it's not that long and it's interesting. I post this though more out of psychological interest than anything. I think most of us in part cope with our political malaise using that old Marxist theory in the back of our minds - the notion that as things roll along badly, eventually it sows the seeds of change. We fear a descent into fascism or failed states, we hope for (flavour depending on who you ask) the rise of the left.

However, as Krugman suggests, there's another way for our societies to fail, not with a bang, but a whimper, a fall back into permanent high unemployment, poverty and inequality:

front-paged by afew


Economics and Politics by Paul Krugman - The Conscience of a Liberal - NYTimes.com

But won't there be an ever-growing demand from the public for action? Actually, that's not at all clear. While there is growing "austerity fatigue" in Europe, and this might provoke a crisis, the overwhelming result from U.S. political studies is that the level of unemployment matters hardly at all for elections; all that matters is the rate of change in the months leading up to the election. In other words, high unemployment could become accepted as the new normal, politically as well as in economic analysis.

I guess what I'm saying is that I worry that a more or less permanent depression could end up simply becoming accepted as the way things are, that we could suffer endless, gratuitous suffering, yet the political and policy elite would feel no need to change its ways.

[editor's note, by Migeru] Bumped

Display:
the overwhelming result from U.S. political studies is that the level of unemployment matters hardly at all for elections

My emphasis.

If things get bad enough, Change will not happen on election day anyway.

But of course Krugman's entire reasoning here hinges upon the assumption that things have stabilized at depression levels. This is the ghost of his formal training speaking - general depression is an extremely unstable non-equilibrium process.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jul 6th, 2013 at 07:51:20 AM EST
If a depression is allowed to persist long enough there will be little useful left in the former society. NCE would deny this is possible.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jul 6th, 2013 at 10:55:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OMG, Krugman fudged this one up bad.

He's taking Nate Silver's word here that his (Silver's) single regression analysis is the be all and end all on this.  The truth is that a simple search of Google Scholar would have quickly dispelled that belief.  If nothing else Tufte's notion of a political economic cycle would suggest that the jury is still out on the relationship here.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 07:26:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Marginalists barely understand their own literature. Are you really expecting them to be current on political science?

(For any definition of "current" from the last hundred and fifty or so years.)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 01:15:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If things get bad enough, Change will not happen on election day anyway.

You are so right.
People react at the beginning of the crises while they have a lot to lose...then they are pretty much silent until they come to the point that they do not have anything to lose. Than comes violence, revolutions, wars...They may be initiated by different powers or may start spontaneously and then are highjacked by some powers but there is no peace and normal life and rules go away...not good for business ( except weapon trading and black market)...not good for anyone...not good for state as such...They better think of some solution before it's too late or it will not be that much different then Egypt or even Balkan. Ex YU wars were not about nationalism at all.It was about economy.Nationalism was just a vehicle to push people to fight each other.
But this would not be first time in history that greed overcome those in power to the point that they do not see danger for themselves even when it is in front of their noses.
There was a man Milos Obrenovic (Serbian prince and brutal vassal)  in power in Serbia during Ottomans.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milo%C5%A1_Obrenovi%C4%87_I,_Prince_of_Serbia

And story goes that when ever they wanted to take more taxes etc. from the people he would ask his advisers: How people are reacting?
If they said "People are angry, cursing etc.",  he would say "it's ok, we can rise taxes".
But if they say " people are silent" he would say " stop , we have to cut taxes"...
So silence may not be just a sign of apathy and should not be considered safe...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein

by vbo on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 11:24:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In this vein, I got to thinking about the rhetoric of monetary austerity and There-Is-No-Alternative, and I remembered the following oft-repeated argument by Thomas:
It annoys me that I keep having to point this out, but if the environmental movement is seen to stand for - to advocate- mass poverty, it will loose all popular support, and die a highly deserved death. This entire line of thinking is a dead end, because if it is mistaken - and I am quite confident it is -  it is Evil, in exactly the same way austerity is Evil, and if correct we are in any case doomed, because the course of action that would imply will never ever happen.
Austerity is evil. Austerians (and first among them, Merkel and Schäuble) continuously promise decades of recession and mass poverty. But it doesn't seem to be losing popular support; or if it is, it's losing popular support more slowly than the opposition. The "opinion leaders" in the media are not attacking Austerity with this kind of argument that voluntary poverty is unacceptable as they would be if those in power were "back to the land" environmentalists.

So, if Austerity™ "will lose all popular support and die a highly deserved death", why is it not happening? Does it happen "in the long run", when we're all dead anyway?

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 7th, 2013 at 05:22:55 PM EST
But is austerity popular or is it merely that the conservatives are so far able to muster support for their parties despite austerity?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jul 7th, 2013 at 05:41:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Alongside the fact that we haven't beaten TINA.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Jul 7th, 2013 at 05:47:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Austerity isn't popular - but it has been sold successfully as something necessary.

The reason the Right can get away with this is because they pretend to be manly, paternal and serious.

The Left is womanish, shrill, demanding, scolding, emotional, childish, and fundamentally untrustworthy.

Somewhere in people's midbrains this kind of nonsense gets turned into votes and policy.

Of course having a complicit media machine helps a lot. As does having a complicit secret-ish police state, which is willing to intimidate and incriminate 'dissidents.'

But the basic problem for the Right now is that the paint is wearing off. There's increasing cynicism about organised politics, and it only lacks a strong leader - one of those manly, paternal, trustworthy, and serious types - to organise a  push-back, and the wheels will come off in a spectacular way.

The good news - for the Right - is that even though there are glimmers of understanding among some of the population, there's still blanket ignorance about the sheer scale of the manipulation, dishonesty, and self-serving criminality that passes for policy these days.

If the trend continues that's going to start eroding too. And we're going to be in uncharted territory then.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jul 7th, 2013 at 06:35:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're an optimist.

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 7th, 2013 at 08:09:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Optimism does not enter into it. Cynicism is consent. I feel like I am living in a shitty dystopian novel a good 30-40% of the time but I fight this. We must expect better. From the media. From our politicians. From our academia, from ourselves, because if we do not hold ourselves to standards worth living by then our low expectations will be lived down to, and that future is hell on earth.
by Thomas on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 10:22:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cynicism is consent.
That's very good.

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 10:51:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas:
Cynicism is consent

you are an aphorist. concision, precision, profundity.

:)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 11:22:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right wing bumper stickers are simple and easily remembered, even if they are meaningless or simply false.  Left wing bumper stickers are too complex to read at a safe following distance.  People grasp the effects of debt and savings at the household level and apply these standards to the sovereign, even though that is a total fallacy.  People like Merkel lead the parade, and the 1%-controlled media beat the drum.
by rifek on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 12:36:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is this one from Paul Krugman too long already?

Your spending is my income, and my spending is your income.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 03:48:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It could be shortened to
my spending is your income
for bumper-stickers: when Rifek talks about "hard to read from a safe following distance" he means for the driver in the car following you on the freeway.

Americanisms aside :) one could think of other bumper sticker such as

Government deficit is private surplus #MMT
or
Government debt is private wealth #MMT


Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 04:15:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wir sind das Geld
by mustakissa on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 07:40:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't that a right-wing bumper-sticker? (Although too honest for a genuine right-wing bumper-sticker.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 09:18:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Das Geld ist wir
?

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 10:17:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's this, the exposé for some horror-movie?
by IM on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 10:23:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wrong word order and it should be plural. But the expression is well-known in German in the form Wir sind das Volk (as a slogan of the 1989 East German protests). The beauty of Zwackus's adaptation is that Volk (people) and Geld (money) have the same grammatical gender.

I tried to look up the origin of We are the people/Wir sind das Volk. I find the German version first appeared in the censored drama Danton's Death by Georg Büchner (1835). French origin? The French version is nous sommes le peuple, but I found no French-langauge article pointing at a domestic origin. As for the English version, I couldn't find a good source on its origin, either, but there are claims that it was a unionist chant during the Red Clydeside (1911 at the earliest). Curiously, it turns up in 1910 in an Australian paper as well as a New Zealand one, in different contexts. As for the Preamble of the American Constitution, it differs by a word ("We the People").

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 11:05:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Zwackus's adaptation

I mean mustakissa's...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 11:13:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
\((A = B) \not\equiv (B = A)\)

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 11:13:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which pair of equations do you mean?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 11:38:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wir sind das Geld

Das Geld ist wir

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 12:29:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We the people is definitely not the same thing as we are the people even if it differes by just one word. The first is an apposition (which could be rendered as we, who are the people, ...), the second is a full copulative sentence.

And Food is People (as in Soylent Green) is not the same thing as People are Food. Such constructions are usually intended to mean categorical inclusion, not equality.

In our example: Money is People (or The Money is the People) is not the same thing as People are Money.

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 11:20:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Duh :-) I noted it because Google kept giving me hits for both even though I put it between quote marks...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 11:40:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This 1919 op-ed in a New Zealand paper uses the slogan "We are the people" in connection with the 1915 Labour government (which it denounces in eerily similar fashion to a modern right-wing pundit). As for the 1910 Australian mention, I find that in 1910 Labour was in government both at federal level and in the paper's state (South Australia), and the 1910 paper put the slogan in the mouth of their PM. So certainly a workers' movement slogan at least in that region of the world, before Red Clydeside.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 11:32:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As tempting as the union/ALP origin was, trawling further, I find older uses:
  • 1834 and 1835, 1840: applied to excommunication-happy (Scottish) sectarian circles who also supported the tyrannical South Australia governor Ralph Darling.
  • 1851: first use in an anti-union op-ed, albeit it's unclear if the slogan already existed or if it was only the trade union name "People's Association" that raised the author's ire.
  • 1856: the first occurrence as a political slogan, in a report on the re-election of John Campbell, an Anglican.
  • 1866: first occurrence in the context of a labour struggle (the 1866 Brisbane riots).


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 12:31:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a memorable gag in the film taxi driver, a candidate is running for the US presidency with the slogan

"We are the people".

The campaign manager gets angry with a supplier when he receives thousands of buttons with the slogan

"We are the people".


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 11:35:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Without attempting research, I would guess at 19th century origins. The combined forces of nationalism (one people, one country (but differences of opinion on exactly what peoples exist and which land belongs to which)) and democracy (the people rules itself (kind of)) would gives that slogan meaning and importance.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 02:43:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I found an letter written in 1792 in which the French version is used to paraphrase French revolutionaries who take he law into their own hands. Here is the passage in the English translation of an 1878 history book:

Administrators, judges, municipal officers, all who are invested with any authority, and who have the courage to use it in forcing respect for law, are one by one denounced by public opinion as enemies of the constitution and of liberty; because, people say, they talk of nothing but the law, as if they did not know that the will of the people makes the law, and that we are the people.

Seems like the French Revolution could be the origin, after all. (Unless it goes back even further, to the English Civil War.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 04:34:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well well well. This has kicked off quite a discussion.

To make clear what 'Wir sind das Geld' meant to me: the currency is not an independent external reality that we have to accept as such (God-given?), but an artefact created and operated by political fiat, which must be under democratic oversight. (This is the essential difference to the situation in a family or company, which uses the money but doesn't control it.) It is our money, and should be used to serve our, the people's, interests. If that means non-closed budgets and inflation, then so be it.

The complication is of course that in the Eurozone, the currency is now operated from Frankfurt, making 'the people' all Eurozone inhabitants together. Still, the principle doesn't change.

A connotation that also was at the back of my mind was that regarding money, people are in the role of spenders as well as earners; balancing these roles is what Keynesianism is about. 'We', the spenders/earners, represent both of these sides of money.

by mustakissa on Tue Jul 9th, 2013 at 10:27:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
= "moneyz R Us"?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 11:38:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is the name of a new, hip bank, with apps and all?
by IM on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 11:51:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One could, but you're bumping against the fact that wingers have a fundamentally different model of reality to normal people.

What's obvious to you is traitorous and threatening to the wingers, who are so manly and serious they're threatened by anyone and anything who is different and unwilling to stampede along with the mooing herd.

So anything that includes the word 'government' is going to trigger a negative Pavlovian response, and is best avoided.

Talking points have to be simple stories for simple people. That means no red-flag words or images, because their meanings are pretty much owned by the opposition.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 11:07:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Left made the fundamental error of not being nationalistic enough. Thence in a situation when the national interest may demand selfish and radical acts, they are not trusted.
by oliver on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 10:36:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The "national interest" is often a right-wing invention (see WWI). Class war can require selfish and radical acts, too. Meanwhile, in some countries, the Left was pretty nationalistic, whether you think of Stalin, the ETA or Chávez.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 11:10:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly. Chavez won an election. Syriza did well for a new party.
by oliver on Tue Jul 9th, 2013 at 08:28:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 a situation when the national interest may demand selfish and radical acts

got an example for that?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 11:25:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
patriotism is a worn out old boot, most people under 30 now think of it a uncomfortable and obsolete.

the internet has wormholed through those old concepts (which have led us to war countless times) and now are thinking globally- ecology is the new patriotism.

flagwaving, chestpumping, jingo-ing, stuff of parody now.

chaplin beat hitler...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 11:46:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A cute story which falls totally flat in half of contemporary Europe - where the Right is heading the (in many cases visibly traitorous) collaboration governments.

The simpler (and more accurate) description is that right-wingers suck up and kick down: Like any playground bully, they try to be on the "winning team" by ever more fiercely striking out against those they perceive as being on the "losing team," or closer than they are to being on the "losing team."

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 01:25:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are making the fundamentally wrong assumption that the voters treat the political wings equally. To collaborate your patriotic credentials need to be good. Nixon could go to China. Sharon could leave Gaza.

This is entirely rational on the part of the voters. If the government says that cooperation is the lesser evil, it is much more credible if the government hates to cooperate.

by oliver on Tue Jul 9th, 2013 at 01:42:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Left is womanish, shrill, demanding, scolding, emotional, childish, and fundamentally untrustworthy.

Maybe the Left better stop behaving in a way that gives voters this impression thehn? Occupy Wall Street/London/etc certainly did nothing to hange that impression.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Jul 9th, 2013 at 09:41:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And yet when the right pulls similar shit it never gets framed that way.

Isn't that just weird?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 9th, 2013 at 09:47:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't recall times when the right demonstrated against someething in a way that appeared (no matter if it actually was or not) womanish, shrill, demanding, scolding, emotional, childish, and fundamentally untrustworthy, or in a word, unorganized. Funny, how organize! was once the slogan of the left. Then post-modernism, post-colonialism and post-everythingism arrived, I suppose.

As an aside, I think we must never underestimate the effect of symbols, examples, and leaders. We need strong symbols which can engage the public and electrify them, we need strong, realistic and credible examples on what our alternative is, and we need strong trustworthy and competent leaders who can both organize, lead and be a symbol, not only for activists but for the, ahem, masses.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Jul 9th, 2013 at 10:07:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The right never demonstrates in a way that is portrayed as blah.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 9th, 2013 at 10:31:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Try the French right against gay marriage recently.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jul 9th, 2013 at 11:26:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That was all manly and principled though. Moral majority being unfairly oppressed by liberal elites.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 9th, 2013 at 11:29:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, there's leader Frigide Barjot:

and leader Christine Boutin, pretending to be "gassed":

The manly bit was skinheads, ultra-nationalists, traditionalist freaks from movements everyone thought had disappeared with Vichy.

But I'm not a journalist, what would I know?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jul 9th, 2013 at 11:44:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, the homophobe far-right. Who don't seem to realise the homoerotics they are oozing...



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jul 9th, 2013 at 04:36:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For all but "womanly", try almost every far-right protest (including the US Tea Party). For "womanly", try some anti-abortion protests.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jul 9th, 2013 at 04:51:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Was reminded of this discussion when I saw the movie Machete yesterday. On one hand it is a story about immigration reform, on the other it is an orgie in tough masculinity and violence. On one side is evil, evil politicians that wants to build a border fence in colaboration with militia and Mexican drug lords. On the other is the good guys: refugee smugglers, immingrants, an immigration cop with the heart in the right place and of course Machete himself. So transparent that it had me laughing, but probably effective in making immigration reform masculine.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Jul 10th, 2013 at 05:37:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh bollocks.

Above a certain level of material comfort (which large parts of the Western world still enjoy), material "necessities" are mostly based on culture and propaganda.

Given that the world is finite (can we at least agree that it is not possible for each one of the 7 billion to have a personal jet?), insisting on an increase on material wealth in the West is essentially removing bread from the mouth of the poor elsewhere.

The big problem is not "Austerity", the big problem is the massive increase in inequality that goes with it. The middle classes (and the poor) are being reduced to nothing (especially in political terms).

From a rational perspective it is quite easy to downsize in many ways, with increases in the environment quality and quality of life. For instance downsizing from a car to a bike. And it is mostly a matter of how people see it. For instance here (Ox-Bridge plus a part of London), being a biker is posh, smart, etc... In my country of origin its seen as crazyness.

Now, I am aware that the biggest problem that we face now is class war of the worst kind. But a rational solution would require a measure of downsizing (coupled with re-distribution). More public transport (which is more efficient), more libraries (less individual ownership of consuming culture), Efficient houses instead of active warming/cooling, less plane travelling, etc...

by cagatacos on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 10:25:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
cagatacos:
From a rational perspective it is quite easy to downsize in many ways, with increases in the environment quality and quality of life.

quality we have left so far back in our past we have mostly forgotten what it felt like.

wanna see what happens when whole cultures become so denatured?

Thomas:

I feel like I am living in a shitty dystopian novel a good 30-40% of the time

for many people that % is much higher...

look at egypt, how many europeans are uncomfortable enough with the shakedown crisis to go stand in the open 30°C+ sun in a square for a week?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 11:19:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not that Austerity isn't working.  The problem is in the macro-economic fundamentals, and the government regulations that are standing in the way of an efficient resolution of the problem.

You see, there are simply too many useless people in modern society, people that the economy doesn't need.  However, government social programs insist on keeping these people alive.  If those were just taken away, then the useless poor would finally have to accept the verdict of the market, and either starve, or sell themselves into slavery (yet another efficient market mechanism that is needlessly restricted by wasteful government regulation).  

by Zwackus on Sun Jul 7th, 2013 at 06:44:14 PM EST
Zwackus:
You see, there are simply too many useless people in modern society, people that the economy doesn't need.

your shift from the first sincere para to the snark gave me whiplash!

many parents, if they had known the petroboom was going to end like this, would not have brought children into this world.

useless they may well be, but it's not their fault... either the accident of their birth, or the fact that their education is spurious to the needs of the present real economy.

the old paradigm would be to change the unis to better serve the industries of the future, but that takes pre-vision, in short supply. been there, done that.

a new one would be to give people access to free education to further their brain development, so the increased portion of the populus would have built a better capacity for understanding the world, which in turn would spawn better solutions to problems that have been cycling around for yonks, but by which we are still allowing ourselves be (learned-) helplessly victimised.

then these people wouldn't be useless at all...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 11:38:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right, an independent thinker is never useless, nor is an empowered creative.

However, I think it's too easy for a couple of smart and thoughtful guys to sit around and propose more education for everyone.  It worked well for us, so it oughta be good for everyone, right?

As an educator myself, I can say with some confidence that education is a waste of time for a lot of people, a chore that they go through because they have no other choice, and from which they gain as little as possible.

A lot of the time, this is because the schooling or the teachers are bad.  But there are a lot of people who just don't take to schooling of any sort, and trying to educate them in any overt way is a waste of everybody's time.  This is not a knock on them.  Many wise and competent and independent individuals develop themselves entirely outside any system of education.  It's not for everybody.

by Zwackus on Mon Jul 8th, 2013 at 06:56:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't think like this before but lately I came to the same conclusion...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Jul 9th, 2013 at 12:09:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
just watched brilliant doc on RT about the reindeer herders of the tundra, and their education issues... they are forced into boarding schools far away from their land, where they are taught the usual stuff, then they follow through if they like to higher ed.

as could be expected some are happy with this, others much less so.

deracination only works when the payoff is clear and desirable, otherwise it's inhumane.

to try and balance this situation, there are some teachers who travel out to the tundra, and some who specialise in real education, ie how to make sleds, chop wood, herd, catch and care for reindeer and all it takes to survive there.

many of those students who are unhappy bent over books indoors all day may flower if taught less cerebrally.

it was fascinating seeing the discussions, between those insisting the regulated, structured atmosphere was good for kids and the others who feel their children are being uprooted from the bosom of their families, especially so young.

another thing that struck me was the beautiful energy these 'primitives' had in their families, the obvious love and nurturing skills reflected in the childrens'' happy faces, and the perfect dentition from a simple diet and plenty of outdoors vitamin D.

the meek shall inherit the earth indeed.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 9th, 2013 at 01:10:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Noah Smith, pointed to here by Migeru explores the issue (quoting Krugman), centring on "fear of inflation".

Noahpinion: Do the inflationistas really believe what they say?

But anyway, the question is no longer whether the inflationistas have a good point. They do not. At some point in the infinite future there will almost certainly be a period of inflation, but any theories or worldviews that kept confidently predicting inflation between 2008-2013 have now been falsified by events.

So the question is: Why do people continue to profess those same inflationista views? 

So to sum up, there are three main reasons for predicting inflation, in defiance of both market expectations and recent past experience. These are 1. Commitment to a research paradigm, 2. Emotive expressions of political and personal anger, and 3. Cynical affinity manipulation. None of these things is likely to respond to any amount of data in the short term. None of them depends on correctly predicting or understanding Extant Reality. They are, rather, artifacts of a different kind of reality than the kind that moves the planets in their orbit, lands men on the Moon, and propels cannonballs in nice parabolic arcs into the walls of Constantinople. They are artifacts of Tribal Reality, the kind of reality created by human beings repeating the same words back and forth to each other in order to confirm membership in a group. The war between Extant Reality and Tribal Reality has been raging for millennia, and it will not be resolved by a few years of low inflation.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jul 9th, 2013 at 03:21:13 AM EST
Love Noah.  Guy's gonna do good things.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Jul 9th, 2013 at 07:04:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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