This is the new and fantastic book by Arthur M. Melzer and the subtitle is The Lost History of Esoteric Writing. It is the best book I know on esoteric writing and its history and furthermore it is clear and to the point! (I think)
Melzer starts his chapter eight with this quotation from John Toland’s eighteenth century Pantheisticon:
[Esotericism is] practiced not by the Ancients alone; for to declare the Truth, it is more in Use among the Moderns.
Here is another bit from the book:
To begin with, we need an author who, in his interpretations, is willing to follow the very un-Straussian injunction — often found on mathematics exams — “show all work.” We need to see, once or twice, how the sausage is made. The best writing for this purpose that I am familiar with comes from an appropriately un-Straussian source: Stanley Fish. His “Georgics of the Mind: The Experience of Bacon’s Essays” is a brilliant and nuanced exercise in textual analysis that openly displays, at every stage of Fish’s encounter with the text, what he thinks and why he thinks it.
…Another excellent and highly communicative reader…is Robert Connor. His Thucydides is a very sensitive reading of Thucydides’s great history, a reading openly arrived at and clearly conveyed. In conjunction with this, one should also read Clifford Orwin’s superb The Humanity of Thucydides.
Edward Hugh has a good post on this topic, here is one excerpt:
…there is simply no way incomes can rise across the entire economy because the baby boomers are now retiring to be replaced by fewer young workers with post labour reform entry-level wages. Japan’s overall consumer spending power will therefore fall, rather than rise as Abe hopes. “Individual companies may offer wage increases, but because of demographics it is simply impossible to increase the total amount that is paid out in wages,” says Obata. “On the contrary, that amount will shrink.”
And Japanese exports, after an initial boost, have flattened out, not good news. Here is a further Edward Hugh post on the Japanisation of Europe.
The median household income in the city of New York is a few hundred dollars a year more than the median household income in the state of Texas, but in practical terms the average New York City household is much worse off.The most obvious issue is the cost of housing, which for New Yorkers is about four times what it is for Texans.
That is from Kevin Williamson, who stresses that New York City is actually a relatively poor place.
By the way, New York and DC have Ginis reflecting more inequality than what we find in Mexico or Nigeria. Manhattan and Putnam County, Tennessee have Ginis almost as high as that of South Africa.
Have I mentioned that a Gini coefficient isn’t a very good measure of inequality for most purposes? It does not command much loyalty from people who actually work in that area (generalized entropy measures are much more popular), yet it has become a staple of discussion in popular economics.
Breath control is the essential skill for success in kabaddi, a game with ancient roots in which teams take turns sending a raider across midcourt who, on a single breath, tries to tag a member of the opposing team and return safely to his team’s half of the court before taking another breath. To prove to officials that he or she is not inhaling, the raider must chant “kabaddi, kabaddi” throughout the attack. The best players can do it for several minutes.
Kabaddi’s rules would seem irredeemably arcane until one learns that 435 million Indian television viewers watched the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League during its inaugural five-week run this year. Or that the league’s final attracted, for however brief a duration, 86 million Indian viewers, surpassing the tallies for the 2014 World Cup and the Wimbledon finals.
There is more here, from The New York Times, the article also explains the Thai sport of sepaktakraw. Here is Wikipedia. You can watch (and hear) some kabaddi here.
In case you don’t like Wiener Schnitzel and doner kebab:
Now Germany’s Air Food One is a subscription service that lets anyone get airline meals delivered to their home once a week.
Offered by online grocery Allyouneed.com, members can choose between two options — classic or vegetarian — just like on a real flight. The service has teamed up with LSG Sky Chefs, which provides airline food for Lufthansa, to prepare a different meal each week that matches the business class menu on airplanes. For example, this week it’s serving Arabic seafood or panserotti with porcini mushrooms. The meals are delivered every Wednesday evening and are suitable for freezing. When it comes time to cook, members can simply place the meal in the oven. The idea is that the healthy subscription meals can be ordered by busy professionals who would otherwise be ordering a takeaway. Additionally, the service lets LSG Sky Chefs get rid of the excess meals not needed by its flying customers, avoiding waste and acting as an advertisement for its food quality.
The full story is here, and for the pointer I thank Michael Rosenwald.
I wrote this in 2004 on MR:
Here are my suggestions:
1. There is always time to do more, most people, even the productive, have a day that is at least forty percent slack.
2. Do the most important things first in the day and don’t let anybody stop you. Estimate “most important” using a zero discount rate. Don’t make exceptions. The hours from 7 to 12 are your time to build for the future before the world descends on you.
3. Some tasks (drawing up outlines?) expand or contract to fill the time you give them. Shove all these into times when you are pressed to do something else very soon.
4. Each day stop writing just a bit before you have said everything you want to. Better to approach your next writing day “hungry” than to feel “written out.” Your biggest enemy is a day spent not writing, not a day spent writing too little.
5. Blogging builds up good work habits; the deadline is always “now.”
Rahul R. asks me if I would like to revise the list. I’ll add these:
6. Don’t drink alcohol. Don’t take drugs.
7. At any point in your life, do not be watching more than one television show on a regular basis.
8. Don’t feel you have to finish a book or movie if you don’t want to. I cover that point at length in my book Discover Your Inner Economist.
I think I would take back my old #5, since I observe some bloggers who have gone years, ten years in fact, without being so productive.
I remain amazed that we have as much free trade as we do. Here is from a recent Pew poll:
President Barack Obama and other world leaders are having a tough time selling the benefits of the trade agreements they’re negotiating, in part because much of the public thinks all the talk about trade’s benefits is a bunch of baloney.
Out of 44 nationalities surveyed this year, only one — Israelis — tends to believe the basic tenet of economists that increased trade will foster competition and deliver lower prices for consumers.
On a broader question of whether increasing trade and business ties with other countries is a good thing, only 68% of Americans agree, compared with 76% worldwide, according to the study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.
The Pew study itself is here and it is interesting throughout. It is in Bangladesh, Uganda, and Lebanon that people are most likely to believe trade raises real wages, and Bangladeshis are most sympathetic to foreign direct investment. Only 28% of Americans believe it is good when foreigners buy up U.S. companies. 58% of Chinese think trade leads to price increases, perhaps a sign of the prevalence of foreign luxury goods in that country.
For the pointer I thank Ray Lopez, who himself benefits from free trade, factor mobility, and foreign direct investment.
Too little, too late on the excess burdens of taxation: Cecil Bohanon, John Horowitz, and James McClure show that public finance textbooks do a very poor job of illuminating the excess burdens of taxation and incorporating such burdens into the analysis of the costs of government spending.
Does occupational licensing deserve our seal of approval? Uwe Reinhardt reviews Morris Kleiner’s work on occupational regulation.
Clashing Northmen: In a previous issue, Arild Sæther and Ib Eriksen interpreted the postwar economic performance of Norway and the role of economists there. Here Olav Bjerkholt strongly objects to their interpretation, and Sæther and Eriksen reply.
Pull over for inspection: Dragan Ilić explores replicability and interpretation problems of a recent American Economic Review article by Shamena Anwar and Hanming Fang on racial prejudice and motor vehicle searches.
Capitalism and the Rule of Love: We reproduce a profound and rich—yet utterly neglected—essay by Clarence Philbrook, first published in 1953.
The link to the issue is here.
Dylan Matthews summarizes the The Case for Open Borders drawing on an excellent interview with Bryan Caplan. Here is one bit from the interview:
Letting someone get a job is not a kind of charity. It’s not a welfare program. It’s just the government leaving people alone to go and make something out of their lives. When most people are on earth are dealt such a bad hand, to try to stop them from bettering their condition seems a very cruel thing to do to someone.
My elevator pitch has no economics in it, because the economics is actually too subtle to really explain in an elevator pitch. If I had a little bit more time, I would say, “What do you think the effects for men have been of more women in the workforce?”
Are there some men who are worse off? Sure. But would we really be a richer society if we kept half the population stuck at home? Isn’t it better to take people who have useful skills and let them do something with it, than to just keep them locked up someplace where their skills go to waste?
Isn’t that not just better for them, but better for people in general, if we allow people to use their skills to contribute to the world instead of keeping them shut up someplace where they just twiddle their thumbs or do subsistence agriculture or whatever?
On the economics, David Roodman has a characteristically careful and comprehensive review written for Givewell of the evidence on the effect of immigration on native wages. He writes, “the available evidence paints a fairly consistent and plausible picture”:
- There is almost no evidence of anything close to one-to-one crowding out by new immigrant arrivals to the job market in industrial countries. Most studies find that 10% growth in the immigrant “stock” changes natives’ earnings by between –2% and +2% (@Longhi, Nijkamp, and Poot 2005@, Fig 1; @Peri 2014@, Pg 1). Although serious questions can be raised about the reliability of most studies, the scarcity of evidence for great pessimism stands as a fact (emphasis added, AT)….
- One factor dampening the economic side effects of immigration is that immigrants are consumers as well as producers. They increase domestic demand for goods and services, perhaps even more quickly than they increase domestic production (@Hercowitz and Yashiv 2002@), since they must consume as soon as they arrive. They expand the economic pie even as they compete for a slice. This is not to suggest that the market mechanism is perfect—adjustment to new arrivals is not instantaneous and may be incomplete—but the mechanism does operate.
- A second dampener is that in industrial economies, the capital supply tends to expand along with the workforce. More workers leads to more offices and more factories. Were receiving economies not flexible in this way, they would not be rich. This mechanism too may not be complete or immediate, but it is substantial in the long run: since the industrial revolution, population has doubled many times in the US and other now-wealthy nations, and the capital stock has kept pace, so that today there is more capital per worker than 200 years ago.
- A third dampener is that while workers who are similar compete, ones who are different complement. An expansion in the diligent manual labor available to the home renovation business can spur that industry to grow, which will increase its demand for other kinds of workers, from skilled general contractors who can manage complex projects for English-speaking clients to scientists who develop new materials for home building. Symmetrically, an influx of high-skill workers can increase demand for low-skill ones. More computer programmers means more tech businesses, which means more need for janitors and security guards. Again, the effect is certain, though its speed and size are not.
- …one way to cushion the impact of low-skill migration on low-skill workers already present is to increase skilled immigration in tandem.
Plaudits are due to Givewell. While others are focused on giving cows, Givewell is going after the really big gains.