Monday assorted links


1.b. - Unfortunately for current professors of philosophy, the Age of Ideas ended before they were even born.

His transcendent arguments for liberalism are themselves based on moral priors, which he argues out the other side of his mouth that the liberal state should not enforce.


"2. Krugman on the possibility of a trade war."

That's a good article by Krugman! I'm a little shocked that the rational economist from years ago has shown up.

This line probably has a long story behind it:

"But I’ve always ended up being really sorry when I let my political feelings override what my economic analysis says."

No, it's a short story.

It's a #humblebrag that you can translate as "All of my forecasts of doom about Trump have been utterly and transcendentally wrong, but that's only because I am consumed by rage against Trump, just like all good people who read the NYT. So I'm sure you can forgive me. And I'm even really sorry."

Even when taken in that vein it's still a clear example of rational thought overcoming emotional outburst. Which is clearly an improvement.

Yes, it does. Krugman was saying that much before Trump, to explain other mistakes he had made. "But I’ve always ended up being really sorry when I let my political feelings override..." is really a lucid acknowledgements of Krugman's one big problem. I wish he had continued his blog, but without any politics, only economics (and some sci-fi and music if he likes).

Why does the fact that you don't like his political opinions mean he shouldn't write about politics?

It's not his comparative advantage.

I love how Krugman brings out the Krugman Derangement Syndrome in all of you. Makes me like him more.

I started by posting: "That's a good article by Krugman! "

You have poor reading comprehension.

Krugman Derangement Syndrome must be the latest brain-eating virus running around these days.

Seconded. Well-written, informative, sensible where speculation is necessary, useful links for context.

1a. I don't see why we just don't have some academic institutions focus on studying and teaching the "canon" and others that focus on the "inclusive anti-canon". There are things that would seem to be good in both approaches, so why not just let people choose what works for them? Why should every academic department have to try and be all things to all people?

This is a really good idea. Can someone explain why colleges don't differentiate themselves by identifying with one or another canon, or by having either canonical or non-canonical tracks?

It's not like it would affect anyone's life or career outcomes, and we could preserve the traditional, white, European male dominated canon (a magnificent and valuable thing, even if considered as an ancient artifact), and spare us the wars over who's in and who's out.

It has already been done. At the University of Missouri a group in its senior year looked around and realized that they all had equally poor job prospects and had all been studying the same inclusivity canon. Understandably, they suspected they'd been shoved into an academic ghetto. Sadly though, the answer they proposed was the usual one proposed by progressives. They didn't want out of the ghetto; they wanted everyone else forced into it. The predictable results predictably followed.

Misery loves company but the non-miserable prefer non-misery.

The Rickless paper doesn't actually call for an "anti-canon"; it calls for no canon at all!
But that makes no sense. Without a canon (or even an anti-canon), students in the discipline will lack a common knowledge base, a point that Rickless himself concedes at the end of the paper. But then, after making this critical concession, Rickless makes a conclusory claim (without citing any evidence) that the benefits of an inclusive syllabus will outweigh the loss of a common knowledge base.

1.b. Maybe I’m misunderstanding the paper, but that argument was very unconvincing. An illiberal living in a liberal society could simply argue that he has to abide by liberal principles like interacting with others based on mutual benefit or he’ll be ostracized or sent to jail. That doesn’t mean there’s a contradiction in his views; simply that he is doing the best with the constraints that exist. Certainly, a liberal person living in a theocratic regime cannot be said to be contradicting his own liberal principles if he follows the laws of that regime.

"If I am right, the contemporary illiberal is hoist with his own
petard: any reason he tries to offer against liberalism is self-defeating, and thus his only reasonable alternative is silence."

It does seem that the author doesn't actually seem to fully grasp the operating mode for authoritarianism.

"If the neutralist simply appeals to the fact that my beliefs are
“unreasonable”, then her or his defense of the exclusion will be question-begging."

+1, this seem to be a rather common tactic. Unfortunately those prone to it are never dissuaded by the logic that their beliefs are not fundamental. To their point of view, it's always the other side that is the "unreasonable" party.

+1. I don't understand why TC thought this was a piece worth reading, it read like an amateurish mashup of the basics of Popper and Rawls, and failed to address the numerous objections, criticisms, and counterarguments that had been lobbed at those two over the past several decades. Also there was a never-expressed assumption of natural law, in the manner put forward by Locke, throughout the paper in the author's claim that "liberalism is a necessary condition for the existence of illiberalism"; since this assumption was never expressed, the author made no effort to address potential counterarguments.

And this one: "The end of philosophy is Truth, and the proper method of acquiring Truth is Reason." The assumptions here are legion.

"I have read, and I have been questioned since I've been here about certain demonstrations against my coming. And I would like to say just one thing, and to those who demonstrate so. I wonder if they have ever asked themselves that if they should have the kind of government they apparently seek, no one would ever be able to do what they're doing again." -- Ronald Reagan

Illiberalism is self-contradictory. Fascists and Communists are more alike than they dare to admit.

5. Stunning that a defender of net neutrality gets such prominent play, after an ISP and content provider have merged, to the undoubted benefit of those now able to take advantage of AT&T's long and notable history of allowing competitors to use its network without hindrance.

Likely followed by the manifold blessings of Comcast also acquiring its own content provider.

Truly, we live in the best of all possible worlds, where the walled gardens will bring customer benefit as far as the eye can see - right to edge of the wall, of course.

Followed by Comcast acquiring a content provider? Comcast announced its deal to buy a majority stake in NBC Universal in late 2009, closed it in early 2011, then acquired the outstanding portion in 2013.

1. In his Bloomberg column today, Cowen laments that America and Washington haven't had any good new ideas lately (as compared to a few autocratic countries whose liberalization has spawned lots of economic growth)). Of course, the ideas that have dominated America and Washington since 1980 have been Republican ideas: tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation, and deficits. Republicans have come up with one big new idea: autocracy. Maybe what America needs is a shift toward autocracy, to be more like China.

"Republicans have come up with one big new idea: autocracy. "

That idea is fundamentally untrue. Indeed, you are either a) delusional or b) given to cheap name calling.

Which is it rayward? Were you just trying for a cheap internet jab? Or have you lost sight of rational analysis?

In either case, I now understand why you're reluctant to talk to your neighbors with any frankness. I suspect it's because you understand that while there are no consequences to delusional rants on the internet, there are potentially significant consequences to speaking such rubbish out loud to the people around you.

This rayward person is refreshing.

In addition to parroting many other commenters hereabout, he provides a service. He provides proof that the World's chief problem (arrogance combined with utter ignorance/absence of real education) is not confined to millennials.

“There’s no troll like an aged troll.”

On a more interesting note, what has been motivating Republicans? Well, rolling back the power of the state to intrude in our lives? To challenge political correctness? To loosen some of the restrictions on entrepreneurship?

I don’t find Trump any more autocratic than Obama or Bush. He’s coarser and cruder, but Romney’s civility didn’t get him very far. As for autocracy as right wing. Really? I recall it was the right that was more upset about Obama’s rule by executive order.

The far right hates Obama because he's Obama. Trump shakes hands with murderous dictators like Kim and cuts crappy deals for us while making some side cash with China, another communist regime, while throwing away support from close allies like Canada, UK, Germany, his use of ICE is gulagish, his attacks on institutions designed to check executive power is not only unconstitutional, but unAmerican. He's coarser, cruder, corrupt, and authoritarian. Make no mistake.

#1: "And a transcendental argument for liberalism."

I finished reading through the essay. It's well written and I agree with the conclusion, but at the end of the day it seems to be a weak tea argument.

"And it is not unfair to require illiberals to avoid grounding their
public arguments for coercive government policies in their own inaccessible, unshareable conceptions of the good. "

Surely the response will inevitably be for all sides to claim the cloak of liberal and declare the other side to be illiberal.

TIL: The high five is only 40 years old

#2. We've always been at war with EastAsia in favor of free trade.

Did you actually read that column? If so, you clearly didn't understand it. Krugman lays out some basic, widely-agreed to points about the distributional effects of trade, and then says that the negative side may be getting worse. What does he conclude?

So am I arguing for protectionism? No. Those who think that globalization is always and everywhere a bad thing are wrong.


As I said, I’m not a protectionist. For the sake of the world as a whole, I hope that we respond to the trouble with trade not by shutting trade down, but by doing things like strengthening the social safety net. But those who are worried about trade have a point, and deserve some respect.

The issues raised here are wholly orthodox. That he thinks the problems might be addressed by strengthening the social safety net is far from some radical left-wing notion.

So stop the reflexive Krugman-bashing. It makes you look stupid.

Yes, I've read it. It's really just Krugman trying to rationalize twisting himself around into an anti-free-trade stance back in 2007 in order to stay in lock step with his tribe. Sort of the same way he's decided to be in favor of the minimum wage these days. Of course, since he's an economist and he's studied the issue closely, that's really, really hard for him to do, so there are a lot of contortions and qualifications. But yes it's still an example of double think on his part. First he's for free trade, then he's against it, and then he's for it again, depending on which position his party seems to be aligned with (or against) at the moment.

I mean, really, when some writes things like "I'm not a protectionist, but ..." you know where it's going, right?

Hazel you too have Krugman Derangement Syndrome??

Since I already have TDS, I decided I something to balance it out.

1. "Liberal" and "liberalism" have many meanings. One of my favorite films is Reds, about the journalist Jack Reed. Early in the film, he was a guest of the "Liberal Club" in Portland. It was there that the old gasbag who was president of the Liberal Club shouted "I'm ready to be called!" Meaning to the war (WWI) in Europe to save democracy. I suspect that most of those watching the film were confused: the "liberal" club? I've commented several times recently about the Libertarian-Authoritarian Axis, which no doubt confusing many dear readers who identify as "libertarian". There's never been a time in my lifetime for Americans to be critical readers, critical thinkers.

Jack Reed was a Socialist who supported the Soviets. I'm pretty sure we all know where Communist's stand on the Liberty vs Authoritarian Axis.

#3. "There are plenty of statistics about the percentage of homes in various countries with either a bath or a shower, but very little about showers alone."

My 1894 house has an 1894 shower (patent date on the device) in the claw-foot tub, looking just like the middle picture at the bottom of the article. Still works.

Good write-up by Krugman. But why no consideration of producers' surplus and tariff revenue? Is it because, the implicit assumption is producers' surplus will vanish as different sectors of the economy fall in both sides" having more and less of producers' surplus? And also, if we assume that government utilizes the tariff revenue by distributing back to the consumers then the cost will be less than indicated in the note. In other words, will this cost computed here be the upper bound of the tentative trade cost of full blown trade war?

"Chemistry" is done to death as a sports topic, but it does offer lessons for all kinds of workplaces. One company has energy and synergy, at another they're just going through the motions.

Managers and coaches may get too much credit or blame in sports. What I think you need is a player who projects seriousness of purpose, but without seeming too serious about it. It's usually a veteran who's "good in the room," to borrow a hockey expression. But Andrew McCutcheon began changing the Pirates' losing culture the moment he walked into the clubhouse as a rookie. Other star players often do not have this wider effect.

Generally if a team sees itself on the upswing, it will exude energy and "chemistry." Teams that are eroding or running in circles will seem to lack the intangibles.

There is a reasonable illiberal response that social cooperation is contingent rather than foundational.

Why does anyone put up with low flow shower heads? Of all the small pleasures in life, very few measure up to the sheer delight of a brisk hot or cold shower, with a powerful and generous flow.

My fitness center recently replaced its moderate flow shower heads with low flow shower heads, and I'm sick about it. My city sits on the shore of an enormous Great Lake and we quite simply have more water than we can use. Every man, woman and child in town could stand under the shower all day, and it would not budge the level of the lake even an inch (and, I've been told, could be easily accommodated by the water department and its treatment plants).

I know some parts of the country have water shortages, but how much do high flow shower heads contribute to that? And how does that stack up against the life satisfaction that goes down the drain in a nation of low flow shower heads?

My college switched to low flow showerheads and ended up with the highest water bills they’d ever seen.

75% of the students were learning to be Marine Engineers and the rest Nav/Cargo Officers. We were all required to have our own tools, so jut added wrenches to our shower kits and took the heads off - straight pipe out of the wall, and screw the cap back on after. Best water pressure ever!

I'm disappointed as to how little coverage there is about whether these tariffs are deserved. Yes, most reasonable economists believe that free trade is good for global GDP, as do I. But it's ludicrous to act like this is the opening salvo in protectionism, yet that is the overwhelming media narrative.

Most Americans think some military spending is a good thing, but not because they want us to go to war. Instead, because some level of deterrent is worthwhile.

If China agreed to cut all tariffs on US imports and end government subsidization, this administration would jump at the chance and return in kind. The $ value of their tariffs is magnitudes greater than ours.

The point really isn't about protectionism in the sense of "Buy American" domestically, but "Buy American" internationally. Krugman is far too banal and self-aggrandizing to acknowledge that fact, but others should.

I hate that I'm defending Trump, but we'd all benefit from examining policy details and motives instead of the orange megaphone delivering it.

1) becomes Leviathan for liberals: first, it claims without much further discussion that a liberal consensus, rather than the awesome coercive power of the state, saves us from the war of all against all. Therefore, the liberal consensus can do no wrong whatever it might choose to do to those in imperfect agreement with the consensus.

US consumers of sugar have been hosed by tariffs on the import of foreign sugar by at least double the world market price and at times triple, as discussed here by Mark Perry. It's important that Red River Valley farmers are able to afford new diesel 4x4 crew cab pickups annually.

The beet lobby is surprisingly powerful in the US. We issue blend credits for all sorts of biofuels, and government crop insurance is highly subsidized. I'm not saying that we aren't guilty of protectionism or pork barrel politics. I'm simply saying, that Trump is attempting to negotiate lower tariffs abroad with the threat of tariffs on Chinese goods here. Often the stick is more effective than a pretty please.

Actually, Trumps most vociferous gripe with the Chinese is their demands for sharing US technology in exchange for access to their market, which is another issue altogether. Even Trump knows that Chinese tariffs on American goods are bad for the Chinese consumers just as the reciprocal is bad for Americans.

4. As the article itself mentions, it is strange that "chemistry" is being sought after in baseball of all sports - the least team-centred team game in the whole world.

That anti-canon article was interesting, but it did not really grapple with the main question: at the end of the day the philosophy student will have to read Aristotle, so as to better understand everyone else. So no matter what reasonable criteria you choose, you end up with a canon of at least Aristotle.

I agree, for as I mentioned above: Without a canon (or even an anti-canon), students in the discipline will lack a common knowledge base, a point that Rickless himself concedes at the end of the paper. But then, after making this critical concession, Rickless makes a conclusory claim (without citing any evidence) that the benefits of an inclusive syllabus will outweigh the loss of a common knowledge base.

Yep silly in the extreme.

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