"The sinking fortunes of the shipping box"

Review of a new book by Marc Levinson, author of The Box (a fascinating history of the shipping container). The new book is Outside the Box: How Globalization Changed from Moving Stuff to Spreading Ideas

The review claims the book is "most useful as a chronicle of how the pre-2008 model of complex, globe-spanning, just-in-time manufacturing has been exposed as fragile, inefficient, and opaque." If true, I don't want to read the book. Just-in-time manufacturing is neither inefficient nor fragile. What it is is a procedure with a cost. What it is is yet another example of economics maxim, "There is no such thing as a free lunch."

Link courtesy of Michael Greenspan.

"America’s Ruling Class"

Review of James Copland's book, The Unelected.

The Founders’ constitutional design, Copland reminds us, “was predicated on accountability to the voting public.” This was essential to ensure the “consent of the governed.” Since the Constitutional Convention was held in 1787, and particularly in the wake of the New Deal, we have significantly departed from this ideal. Government has greatly expanded in size and power, and—more importantly—“governmental accountability to the public has been substantially eroded.” In Copland’s telling, the unelected, unaccountable entities exercising control over the polity consist of four components: rulemakers, enforcers, litigators, and what he calls the “new antifederalists.”

"Does the Economics Department Rule the World?"

Even at this late date it still amuses me that some people think academic economists have tremendous power.

The title of his book indicates that it will be a broad attack on social science. In reality, it is largely an attack on social scientists, most often conservative and libertarian ones, that he does not like. Among his list of evildoers is Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, James Buchanan, Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, Steven Levitt, Tyler Cowen, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Steven Pinker, James Q. Wilson, Francis Fukuyama, Samuel Huntington, and Richard Dawkins (not a social scientist but he makes Blakeley’s cut anyway). These scholars are then blamed for a long list of sins including, among many others, the housing bubble and crash, something he calls the “market polis,” the management ethos, online dating, inequality, the capitalist hellscape of Blade Runner he says we are living in, broken-windows policing, the war on terror, and democratic peace theory. Conservatives, it appears, should take heart. Despite their vanishingly small numbers in higher education, they have still managed to ruin the world.