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October 2019

"The gilded rage: why is America so angry?"

By Peter Wood, who I feel is qualified to discuss the subject. In addition to being an academic--president of the National Association of Scholars--he published A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now in 2007.

But I would offer a different explanation, in four parts: 1) the decline of formal religion, 2) the aging of the Baby Boomers (while not completely accurate, there is probably something to the stereotype of old people getting cranky), 3) too much big govermment, which imposes conditions and makes choices that people have a lot of difficulty escaping or opting out of, and 4) the increased willingness of institutions to tolerate--even indulge and respond to--anger. In short, it often works.

I realize that all but #2 are endogenous and require explanations themselves. But that might be for later posts.

Postscript: Megan McArdle takes a turn at explaining. She has four causes, too. I like--because it is consistent with #3 above--". . .ever-increasing centralization of the federal government has exacerbated this divide, pushing power to remote authorities that are less accountable to individual voters, and less trusted." And Gurri's idea has promise. But the other two are meh.


"What the U.S. Can Learn from the Adoption (and Repeal) of Wealth Taxes in the OECD"

I kinda think that no one in the U.S. would be dopey enough to try a wealth tax. But these days, who knows?

See also "Summers on the Wealth Tax," "Elizabeth Warren Is Running Out of Fake Money to Pay for Her Terrible Ideas," "Questions that are rarely asked"--Is a wealth tax going to apply to government pensions? Hmmmm.--"Elizabeth Warren’s Financial Berlin Wall"--"Because this is not about revenue. This is about revenge."--and "Elizabeth Warren Reveals Plan To Pay For Medicare For All: New Color Printer That Prints Realistic-Looking $100 Bills," (this last one from the funny Babylon Bee).


"How the Aspiring Can Learn to Write Like Economists"

A summary of John Cochrane's 15 writing tips aimed at Ph.D. students although they apply to pretty much everyone. These two are especially good:

1. Scarcity: “As economists, we teach our students about scarcity. As authors, we should remember that time is a scarce resource. That means taking out all of the easily ignored details and stressing the big ideas.” 

. . . 

11. Responsibility: “Much bad writing comes down to trying to avoid responsibility for what you’re saying.”


"I’m from the Deep State and I’m here to help"

Fine formulation:

We have been told it’s a crazy right-wing conspiracy theory to believe that some public servants, mostly in the fields of intelligence, law enforcement and diplomacy, might cooperate in informal cabals to pursue their preferred policies regardless of who is in power and to protect their fiefdoms from oversight, interference and the executive, legislative and judicial control. . . . 

This narrative is now officially old and busted. The new and hot one: the Deep State exists and it’s good.

Related: "The State Department’s been fighting presidents since long before Trump," "No, The Deep State Isn’t A Bunch Of Unbiased Patriots Who Deserve Our Gratitude," and "The Deep State Comes Out Of The Shadows".


"Maybe I Am Dreaming"

Very nice piece by Jürgen Klopp, a very grateful and sucessful coach.

Honestly, when I was 20 years old, if someone came from the future to tell me everything that was going to happen in my life, I would not have believed it. If Michael J. Fox himself had come flying in on his hoverboard to tell me what would happen, I would have said it was impossible. . . .

Sometimes people ask me why I am always smiling. Even after we lose a match, sometimes I’m still smiling. It’s because when my son was born, I realised that football is not life or death. We’re not saving lives. Football is not something that should spread misery and hatred. Football should be about inspiration and joy, especially for children.