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

The Death of Shame

The Death of Shame In any society not in a state of civil war, shame is a powerful force, perhaps the most powerful.  Individuals or organizations caught cheating, lying or otherwise doing evil, when exposed and called out, are expected to be embarrassed.  They should repent their sins and promise to make amends.  Other than […]

A Washington State Carbon Tax Goes Down in Flames

A Washington State Carbon Tax Goes Down in Flames Initiative 1631, which would have created a carbon tax in Washington State, lost by almost 12% of the vote this week.  Commentators on all sides have interpreted this as a decisive defeat for carbon pricing, making more indirect policies like subsidies to renewables the only politically […]

Nobel Prizes in Economics, Awarded and Withheld

Nobel Prizes in Economics, Awarded and Withheld Most of the commentary today on the decision to award Nobel prizes in economics to William Nordhaus and Paul Romer has focused on the recipients.  I want to talk about the nonrecipient whose nonprize is perhaps the most important statement by the Riksbank, the Swedish central bank that […]

Citizens United, Thoroughly Debunked

Citizens United, Thoroughly Debunked I admit I haven’t paid too much attention to debates over Citizens United, since I regard the direction taken by regulation, control over who may contribute to political campaigns and how much they can put up, to be misguided.  I would like to see comprehensive control over how much money can […]

“as a”

“as a” Kwame Anthony Appiah has an op-ed in Sunday’s New York Times dissecting the “as a” locution, in which one first announces one’s gender, race, sexual orientation, or class position before making an argument during a public discussion.  He interprets it as a claim to represent the entire group defined in the preparatory clause, and explains […]

Would Serious Climate Change Mitigation Policy Increase World Hunger?

Would Serious Climate Change Mitigation Policy Increase World Hunger? That’s the finding of a recent study published in Nature Climate Change, “Risk of Increased Food Insecurity under Stringent Global Climate Change Mitigation Policy” by an international team of 22 researchers.  (Coauthorship like this is why god created et al.)  The abstract has made the rounds of the blogosphere, including Marginal […]

Mush versus Mush on Climate Change

Mush versus Mush on Climate Change The very long New York Times piece on climate change politics in the 1980s by Nathaniel Rich has attracted a lot of critical commentary—justifiably.  To say that the failure to achieve a political response was due to human nature, a genetic defect that prevents our species from planning ahead, is just […]

For a Fiscal Neutrality Amendment

For a Fiscal Neutrality Amendment Against the dogmatic ignorance of a proposed amendment to the US constitution mandating a balanced budget, I propose an alternative, a fiscal neutrality amendment: “No unit of government within the United States may establish voting or other decision procedures that embody a bias in favor of either higher or lower […]