Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

The Rittenhouse Verdict and the Future of Vigilante Violence

The Rittenhouse Verdict and the Future of Vigilante Violence There are typically two levels in a case like Rittenhouse’s, the individual issues of justice and accountability, and the social implications of the crime and its judicial resolution.  I want to spend a moment with the second. America faces an impending crisis of vigilante suppression of […]

Anti-Racism and Democracy in Our Schools

Anti-Racism and Democracy in Our Schools  It’s generally conceded that Terry McAuliffe’s statement “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach” was a big blunder that contributed to his defeat last week.  The context was a debate with his Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin, who had used his party’s playbook on Critical […]

Money Illusion in the Twenty-First Century

Money Illusion in the Twenty-First Century The starting point for any consideration of inflation is that wages (and interest, profits, and rents) are prices.  Every transaction has two sides, and one person’s price is another’s income.  In the aggregate, leaving aside international complications, inflation can’t have either a negative or positive effect on aggregate real […]

Norway’s Climate Dilemma

Norway’s Climate Dilemma Carlos Joly, a finance-and-climate consultant, has a piece today on the upcoming election in Norway, one of the world’s major exporters of oil and gas.  To its credit, Norway puts its earnings in a fund to support future generations after its deposits are exhausted, known to economists as the Hartwick Rule.  That’s great for […]

Spending and Producing

Spending and Producing When a framing becomes ubiquitous you forget it’s a framing.  This is what popped into my head when I read a headline this morning about the infrastructure bills pending in Congress: Democrats Hit the Road to Sell Big Spending Bills as Republicans Attack. Yes, they are proposals to spend money; that’s one way to look […]

Analytical Bias

Analytical Bias The world is made up of systems.  Our body is a system, or in fact a system of systems.  What we call “society” is another system of systems, as is the natural environment.  And all these meta-systems are themselves elements in even more encompassing systems that interconnect them.   But these systems are very […]

“Do Your Research”

“Do Your Research” Is it my imagination, or do vax- and mask-hesitant people, reported in news stories about the Covid Divide, almost always say they “have done their research” or something like that?  The medical people and public health advocates that get interviewed rarely seem to use this phrase, at least not in the first […]

Politics and the Pandemic: Why I Think Paul Krugman Is Wrong

Politics and the Pandemic: Why I Think Paul Krugman Is Wrong  Krugman has a piece in the New York Times today that offers an explanation for why Republicans oppose every measure—vaccination, masking, limits on indoor gathering—that could reverse the pandemic.  He says it’s because the Democrats support them and that Biden would take credit for reduced caseloads, […]

Antivax Memes

Antivax Memes  Based on various sources, including the recent NY Times podcast with interviews of vaccine resisters/hesitant, here’s my list of common elements. 1. Assuming the sole criterion for whether to take the vaccine is its effect on your own health—not taking into account whether you may infect someone else.  Antivax people nearly always justify their choice […]

What Does Vaccine Effectiveness Mean?

What Does Vaccine Effectiveness Mean? by Peter Dorman  When technical specialists adopt an everyday word, they often give it a meaning that differs from its everyday use.  This can be misleading for nonspecialists, especially when little effort is made to explain the difference.  A well-known example is “significance”, which means one thing when used in […]