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Not a single word from Yglesias about how seminal marketing will be in the future, and yet he ends with this seeming refutation -

'Cowen's actual message seems to be that we ought to make ourselves more complacent, and that these somewhat bleak trends he forecasts aren't really all that bad if you look at them in the right light. But I don't quite see why. If good public policy were easy, there wouldn't be so much poverty and misery in the world. But if good public policy were impossible, there wouldn't be any success stories and "growth miracles" and "trente glorieuses" and so forth.

Why not try? Average is only over if we want it to be over. And I don't!'

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6. Matt Yglesias reviews Average is Over.

I left this comment on Yglesias's page but think it worth noting here too, especially if it's wrong.

Matt notes a number of useful policy ideas and then says,

It's a nice agenda if you ask me

I agree, but my reading of Cowen is that the agenda you list will lead to marginal improvements, and while those are obviously nice, the main issue in economic stagnation concerns technological progress, and the main way for individuals to succeed in this environment is to learn to work with and complement machines. Most the agenda you list does have an impact on those latter two points but not a tremendous one.

That may explain his political complacency (assuming he is complacent; I have alternative explanations) and more importantly the political complacency of voters, who, even if they do pay attention, contra The Myth of the Rational Voter, will read Cowen and see that marginal improvements are good but still just that: marginal.

Having not read the book, I might be wrong but I don't think TC is particularly emphasizing working with/complementing machines as much as suggesting concentrating on the human side of the equation i.e. finding ever more ways to get people to part with their cash for items all over the Maslow pyramid.

But, anyhow, yes, the agenda, inasmuch as Yglesias is right, is just moving decks on the Titanic.

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Doesn't this just mean that Yglesias has more faith in the effectiveness of using top-down political mandates to shape society than Cowen does? That's obvious to anyone who reads the two.

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#4: I discussed this a bit on my site from a different angle. Children have not been picking up instruments or getting involved in the arts for some time now. Having some idea how difficult it is to master an instrument goes a long way toward appreciating it played by a professional. Replacing this with software - those robots Tyler frets about - has not worked out so well. Popular music sales have been plummeting.

It is not a public policy issue. It is a culture issue. Vibrant, expanding cultures produce loads of art. Much of it is not very good, but some fraction is transcendent. The West is not vibrant of confident no so it stands to reason that the production of new art would plummet. It also explains why attendance at theaters and museums are down. Who wants to be reminded of the glorious past when the future seems dismal?

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I took the "Grit Test", well it's easy to guess what answers will give you a higher "grit" rating. I tried to be honest, but I can't be sure I was.

How would you design a questionnaire to elicit truthful responses?

i've spoken to duckworth a few times, and she acknowledges the test is easy to game. yet it still ends up being a better predictor of success than gpa, sat scores, leadership history/potential and/or participation in sports, at least when it comes to west point. then again, perhaps those cadets are less likely to try to game the test.

Or perhaps it's their ability and propensity to game the test that's predictive of success...

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#2: I suspect an editor forced the writer(s) to add more names to the list to stretch the column. Most are just fools and loud mouths adding nothing to the intellectual history of the Left. The clear winner should be Burnham, because he was the only one of the list who was right. Being right should count for something, even in the warped world of left wing politics.

I don't really think Trotskyists should count, so I think Wonkblog's list is wrong. Or they should get their own list. JP Cannon at least was an actual leader in the Communist Party before he got booted out, but none of the other Trotskyists listed had any significant role in the CPUSA. I also don't think Maoists like Putnam should count in the spirit of the original list, or folks like Rustin who were maybe young communists for a semester or two. Otherwise Lee Harvey Oswald should be on the list.

"Otherwise Lee Harvey Oswald should be on the list." And of course he should be.

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Well, it is fair to say that Oswald is responsible for more American history than any man in the 20th century. That would make him the most important communist, by definition.

Well done.

And here I was thinking, thinking that the IJN admiral that planned (and executed) the attack on Pearl Harbor had a much bigger influence on 'more American history than any man in the 20th century.' But then, what is getting the U.S involved in WWII, along with the creation of nuclear weapons, leading to the Cold War, compared to some guy with a rifle killing a popular president.

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Why on Earth shouldn't Trotskyists and Maoists "count" as communists? Seems like a bizarre standard to only include people who were a part of the CPUSA as True Communists(TM).

Well obviously this is a topic on which the Americans set the standards. That also is why we need to pay careful attention to the semantics of whether Obama is or is not a socialist.

Interesting. I never considered that he wasn't.

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I was surprised how many of them influenced the Neo-Cons. Viewed through a conspiratorial lens, the Reagan Revolution and Fall of Communism was the culmination of a Trotskyite plot to defeat Stalinism.

Both prize theory over reality, and appear comparatively untroubled by the cost in human lives, so it's not entirely surprising.

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Mark Thorson: It is a fascinating thing. 25 years ago a whole bunch of people writing for conventionally liberal publications like The New Republic suddenly had some sort of crisis and decided start their own deal. The fact that all of them are mid-to-late stage Boomers is probably important in some way lost on me.

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4. I'm not sure why we need the part below "Still, as far as willingness to shell out for concert tickets, it seems that there's something more fundamental going on.", because there's no reason to think that the preceding explanation leaves a gap to be filled. Incomes are down; luxury goods suffer proportionately more. The rest looks like an effort to talk about things the author finds interesting.

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Great articles on China but I am wondering if you were to draw on historical analogies China is much closer the US in S&L crisis/scandal size and scope not Japan 1990 or Korea 1998:

1) In the late eighties most of the S&L losses tended to be in 'second' tier fasting growing cities, many of which in the South and especially Texas. I can't visit Dallas without seeing all the office buildings are from this era. Admittingly, the balance sheets of banks and builders and not local governments was more true in 1987.

2) Didn't the S&L accelerate the consolidation of financial instiutions and that appears to be China's goal here?

3) How does a economy increase consumption spending and devalue the currency? It seems the easiest way of increasing consumption to increase wages.

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I wonder when the Washington Post will list the Top American Fascists?

You know, not the really terrible ones that supported totalitarian mass murder, just the ones who really liked the ideas it was all based upon.

Wernher von Braun ?

Wallis Simpson

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Don't say that he's hypocritical
Say rather that he's apolitical
"Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down
That's not my department," says Wernher von Braun

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Henry Ford?

'The newspaper published The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which was discredited by The Times of London as a forgery during the Independent's publishing run. The American Jewish Historical Society described the ideas presented in the magazine as "anti-immigrant, anti-labor, anti-liquor, and anti-Semitic." In February 1921, the New York World published an interview with Ford, in which he said: "The only statement I care to make about the Protocols is that they fit in with what is going on." During this period, Ford emerged as "a respected spokesman for right-wing extremism and religious prejudice," reaching around 700,000 readers through his newspaper.[53] The 2010 documentary film Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story (written by Pulitzer Prize winner Ira Berkow) noted that Ford wrote on May 22, 1920: “If fans wish to know the trouble with American baseball they have it in three words—too much Jew.”[54][55][56][57][58][59]

In Germany, Ford's anti-Semitic articles from The Dearborn Independent were issued in four volumes, cumulatively titled The International Jew, the World's Foremost Problem published by Theodor Fritsch, founder of several anti-Semitic parties and a member of the Reichstag. In a letter written in 1924, Heinrich Himmler described Ford as "one of our most valuable, important, and witty fighters."[60] Ford is the only American mentioned in Mein Kampf.[61][62] Adolf Hitler wrote, "only a single great man, Ford, [who], to [the Jews'] fury, still maintains full independence...[from] the controlling masters of the producers in a nation of one hundred and twenty millions." Speaking in 1931 to a Detroit News reporter, Hitler said he regarded Ford as his "inspiration," explaining his reason for keeping Ford's life-size portrait next to his desk.[63] Steven Watts wrote that Hitler "revered" Ford, proclaiming that "I shall do my best to put his theories into practice in Germany," and modeling the Volkswagen, the people's car, on the Model T.'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Ford#The_Dearborn_Independent_and_anti-Semitism

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#6 "... because I feel like a lot of Cowen's recent work has taken a somewhat cryptic tone for strategic or commercial reasons that are a little bit beyond me."

My feeling has been that Tyler outsources completion of some ideas.

Well. general directors tend to have that tendency, institutionally.

However, details tend not to be available in the comments sections.

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#2: "a still in existence group": is the US giving up English altogether?

Yep, we talkin Merican now but if you like oldy-old talkin, here you go:

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their [Grammar hegemons] to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of [glotto-diversity]. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind [Lousy Instructors of Language].

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It's not a question of hegemony or grammar, you twit. It's a question of the writer being tin-eared.

the phrase "a still in existence group", when pronounced the way most Americans would pronounce it, scans as a Homeric hexameter fragment would (short// long short short // long long // long..., only the middle two prosodic elements being complete) and has the added plus of sounding Scandinavian as to word order (james joyce, Tolkien, and G.M Hopkins would approve). It also has the philosophical virtue of describing the phenomenon in question firstly from the most abstract possible point of view (still as opposed to not still) secondly in the second most abstract point of view (in existence as opposed to non existence) thirdly in the least abstract point of view, depicting a rather homely and non-philosophical finish in "group". If I were not tired, I would list several parallels in Milton, Pope and Dickens (although, I concede, no such parallels would be found in
fully attested Vergil, in Tennyson's published works, or in Longfellow, to name three poets, each of whom gloried in not having type of tin ear described in the uncharacteristically rude comment previous to this one).

Beautifully done, you non-twit, you.

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#6 “The End of Average”
Their is still plenty of work that if done would improve life. Is it not that the deltas are important. Ie. If labor saving capital allows some businesses to lay off workers faster than other business can expand to put the newly available labor to work. As an example: There is even some work that is not done for cultural reasons like some high earning women clean their own homes. Some high earning men mow their own lawns.

BTW when and if capital reaches a point where it $1 invested in capital returns more that a $1 invested in schooling will you (tyler) recommend that people and Government invest the cost of college (160K+) in capital and students skip college. E.g. skip college and buy 160K worth of VTI?

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#7
This particular genius "bounced from one station of the meritocracy to the next: intern in the White House speechwriting office, Marshall scholar at Oxford (where she studied neuroscience), management consultant for McKinsey and Company, charter-school adviser."

Not one productive endeavor in the lot and yet we as a society really need more kids to follow a similar path? Inventing more tests to further school admissions arms races?

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5. Will Chinese attempts to reduce air pollution increase CO2 emissions? Probably not because there is so much competition to coal gas. Alternatives include coal seam gas (the article mentions poor success with fracking but that may not last), solar, wind, imported LPG, and even importing low sulfur coal from Australia or other locations. But the danger is that the coal to gas plants will be built anyway even if they aren't economic either for national security reasons (coal gas can be converted to synthetic liquid fuels for military use if oil imports are cut off) or because prefectural bosses are desperate to keep their coal industries alive and pull strings to get the plants built. That would be bad because once the high capital cost of the plants becomes a sunk cost the temptation will be there to get as much use out of the plants as possible. Fortunately China is serious about reducing its emissions so hopefully coal to gas won't go far.

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#3 Not only long, but snarky. Evidently Connelly prefers philosophers that stick to their ideologies through thick and thin rather than those that come to interpret reality through experience, a concept called "learning", without jumping onto bandwagons.
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"...he admitted that scientific socialism was another kind of faith; even worse, the hypocrisy of myth masquerading as science had made the distortions of Stalinism inevitable. The idea that nationalization of the means of production would “automatically eradicate all social inequalities” could not be grounded in reason, and required instead a dictatorship of those in command, operating through a system of illusions, coercion and lies."
Those that worship at the altar of democracy might be accused of the same things.

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