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J. Bradford DeLong
Berkeley, CA
J. Bradford DeLong is an economist teaching at the University of California at Berkeley.
Interests: history, economic history, information age, political economy, grand strategy, international relations, material culture., information technology, economics
Recent Activity
**Should-Read: Jo Mitchell**: [Dilettantes Shouldn’t Get Excited](https://criticalfinance.org/2017/11/19/dilettantes-shouldnt-get-excited/): "The Freshwater version of the model concluded that all government policy has no effect and that any changes are driven by an unexplained residual... >...The more moderate Saltwater version, with added Calvo fairy, allowed a rediscovery of Milton Friedman’s main results: an expectations-augmented Phillips Curve and short-run demand effects from monetary policy. The model has two basic equations.... >The first... aggregate demand... based on an... assumption about how households behave in response to changes in the rate of interest. Unfortunately, not only does the equation not fit the data, the sign of the main coefficient appears to be wrong. This is likely because, rather than trying to understand the emergent properties of many interacting agents, modellers took the short-cut of assuming that the one big person assumed to represent the economy would simply replicate the behaviour of a single textbook-rational individual—much like assuming that the behaviour of an ant colony would be the same as that of one big textbook ant. It’s hard to see how one can make an argument that this has advanced knowledge beyond what you could glean from a straightforward Keynesian or Modigliani consumption function.... >[The second,] the Phillips... Continue reading
Attracting him a very great move by , I must say... Greg Leiserson has been killing it on tax policy this late summer and fall, most notably with [The Tax Foundation’s score of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act](http://equitablegrowth.org/research-analysis/the-tax-foundations-score-of-the-tax-cuts-and-jobs-act/). But there is lots more good stuff as well: * **Greg Leiserson** (2017-11-09): [The Tax Foundation’s score of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act](http://equitablegrowth.org/research-analysis/the-tax-foundations-score-of-the-tax-cuts-and-jobs-act/): "First, the Tax Foundation appears to incorrectly model the interaction between federal and state corporate income taxes, thus overstating the effect of statutory rate cuts. Second, the Tax Foundation appears to treat the estate tax as a nondeductible annual property tax paid by businesses, which results in inflated estimates of the effect of repealing the tax. Appropriately addressing the issues raised in this note could reduce the Tax Foundation’s estimate of the increase in GDP that would result from the legislation to 1.9 percent—a reduction of roughly half—even if there are no other issues with the Tax Foundation’s estimates...." * **Equitable Growth** (2017-11-10): [Statement on status of Tax Foundation response to Equitable Growth critique](http://equitablegrowth.org/equitablog/response-to-the-tax-foundation/): "The Tax Foundation has since acknowledged that the interaction between federal and state corporate income taxes in its model is incorrect and stated... Continue reading
**Must-Read**: I think Greg is right here: **on their own terms** the Tax Foundation's calculations look to be twice as big as they ought to be—and, as you know, everybody else involved has very large doubts about whether one should take the Tax Foundation's calculations as proper professional estimates: **Greg Leiserson**: [The Tax Foundation’s score of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act](http://equitablegrowth.org/research-analysis/the-tax-foundations-score-of-the-tax-cuts-and-jobs-act/): "First, the Tax Foundation appears to incorrectly model the interaction between federal and state corporate income taxes... >...Second, the Tax Foundation appears to treat the estate tax as a nondeductible annual property tax paid by businesses, which results in inflated estimates of the effect of repealing the tax. Appropriately addressing the issues raised in this note could reduce the Tax Foundation’s estimate of the increase in GDP that would result from the legislation to 1.9 percent—a reduction of roughly half—even if there are no other issues with the Tax Foundation’s estimates.... Critical assessment of the Tax Foundation’s analysis is particularly warranted, as some legislators have suggested that they might consider dynamic scores from organizations other than the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation—the traditional source of nonpartisan estimates of congressional tax proposals—in determining the budgetary effects of the legislation.... Continue reading
**Must-Read: Brink Lindsey**: [Further thoughts on libertarian anti-democracy](https://twitter.com/lindsey_brink/status/931591616565006343): "Further thoughts by Will on libertarian anti-democracy’s effect on the GOP... >...and a thread with a few thoughts of my own . In Will’s telling, libertarian property rights absolutism moralizes and thereby strengthens other sources of antipathy to democracy on the right. I think that’s right and important, but there’s another channel of influence I want to focus on. It goes like this: property rights absolutism -> “taxation is theft” -> tax-supported governments are illegitimate and indistinguishable from organized crime -> delegitimizing “the state” and exposing its criminality are therefore a necessary precondition for a truly free society. >Buying into this leads straight to “the worse, the better” nihilism. Anything that reduces public confidence in their rulers is a good thing. Declining trust in government (i.e., in democracy) is celebrated as a move in a libertarian direction. >Most self-described libertarians share this mindset to a substantial degree. Such thinking is most pronounced among anarchist libertarians—who, I believe, now dominate the libertarian rank and file thanks to the Ron Paul movement and the Mises Institute. When you think this way, you have no reason to defend the norms and institutions of liberal democracy,... Continue reading
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Information from the very sharp **Eric Toder**: [The House Ways and Means Tax Bill Would Raise the National Debt to 123 percent of GDP by 2037](http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxvox/house-ways-and-means-tax-bill-would-raise-national-debt-123-percent-gdp-2037): "The Tax Policy Center estimates that the House Ways and Means Committee’s version of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA)... >...over the first decade... increases the deficit by 1.7 trillion dollars.... Between 2028 and 2037, the TCJA would reduce net receipts by 1.6 trillion dollars and add 920 billion dollars in additional interest costs. Over the entire 20-year period, the combination of reduced revenues and higher interest payments would raise the federal debt held by the public by 4.2 trillion dollars... This is based on: >the baseline economic and budget estimates in the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) March, 2017 long-term and June, 2017 updated 10-year budget projections... But, of course, if the Trumpublican plan is passed, the best forecast of how the economy would evolve would not be the baseline CBO spring 2017 projections, but would be different. How different, and in which direction? The best way to explain what professional economists think is to follow turn-of-the-twentieth-century British economist Alfred Marshall and divided the analysis up into four "runs", each of which corresponds... Continue reading
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**Neuroskeptic** (2010): [The 9 Circles of Scientific Hell](http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/2010/11/24/the-9-circles-of-scientific-hell/#.WbVxRcaZNE4): "_Dante’s Inferno_: a classic of world literature, the definitive statement of the mediaeval Christian world-view, the first major work in the Italian language, and the basis for a violent videogame... >...The poem offers a tour through the nine increasingly horrible levels of Hell, in which sinners are tormented forever. >But Dante lived before the era of modern science. I thought I’d update his scheme to explain what happens to those guilty of various scientific sins, ranging from the commonplace to the shocking. >Bear in mind that Dante’s Hell had a place for everyone, and it was only Christ’s intervention that saved anyone from it; even “good” people went to Hell because everyone sins. But they are still sins. Likewise, very few scientists (and I’m certainly not one of them) would be able to avoid being condemned to some level of this Inferno… but, that’s no excuse. ---- >**First Circle: Limbo**: “The uppermost circle is not a place of punishment, so much as regret. Those who have committed no scientific sins as such, but who turned a blind eye to it, and encouraged it by their awarding of grants and publications, spend eternity... Continue reading
**Comment of the Day: Howard**: [](http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/11/should-read-charles-j-sykes-year-one-the-mad-kinghttpwwwnybookscomdaily20171110year-one-the-mad-king.html?cid=6a00e551f08003883401b7c9335a77970b#comment-6a00e551f08003883401b7c9335a77970b): "There are a handful of conservatives... >...jennifer rubin, max boot, bill kristol, john podhoretz, ric wilson, and stuart stevens all quickly come to mind, and i may be missing some - who are going to emerge from the trump years with their heads held high for their willingness to stand up for reality, and sykes is turning out to be one of the most on-the-money... Continue reading
**Should-Read: Jason Fruman**: [On Twitter: "Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha..."](https://twitter.com/jasonfurman/status/930852679336775684): "It is hard to know where to start on Treasury's comments on their analysis of dynamic scoring... >...But a few points.... "[Treasury] had published research... spur enough economic growth to offset the deficits..." No it has not. The two reports I am aware of contradict this claim—not producing needed growth even for more radical, paid for plans. . "Treasury will be releasing information on how the tax plan does under various growth rates." Do they think we're idiots? You can already get that from OMB and CBO. . "Mnuchin has worked with the Council of Economic Advisers on growth projections." I love CEA, but they do not have anything resembling the sophistication of models that the Treasury career staff have—which is why Treasury career staff have done this dynamic analysis in the past. "We support transparency". HahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaHahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaHahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaHahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Continue reading
**Must-Read: Paul Krugman**: [Leprechaun Economics, With Numbers](https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/11/09/leprechaun-economics-with-numbers/): "8% is a reasonable number for after-tax required return... >...with a 35% tax rate, this means a pre-tax rate of 12.3%. Cut the tax rate to 20%, and the pre-tax return should fall to 10%. The increment of capital should have a rate of return roughly halfway between, 11.15%. Tax Foundation asserts that capital inflows will be enough to raise GDP more than 3%, which is wildly implausible. But let’s go with it for the sake of argument. This means inflows of around 30 percent of pre-CCC [annual] GDP. So how much does this raise foreign investment income? The answer is, 8% times 30%, or 2.4 percent of GDP out of a GDP rise of 3.45 percent in my example. In other words, the true gain to the US is 1.05%, not 3.45%. That’s a big difference, and not in a good way.... >Even if you believe the whole “we’re a small open economy so capital will come flooding in” argument, it buys you a lot less economic optimism than its proponents imagine... Continue reading
**Should-Read: Paul Krugman**: [Everybody Hates the Trump Tax Plan](https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/16/opinion/trump-tax-plan-hate.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region&_r=0): "Gary Cohn, Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser, met with a group of top executives... asked to raise their hands if lower taxes would lead them to raise capital expenditures... >...only a handful did. “Why aren’t the other hands up?” asked Cohn, plaintively. The answer is that C.E.O.s, living in the real world of business, not the imaginary world of right-wing ideologues, know that tax rates aren’t that important a factor in investment decisions. So they realize that even a huge tax cut wouldn’t lead to much more spending. And with that realization, the rationale for this tax plan, such as it is, falls apart, leaving nothing but a scheme to make the rich—especially those who rake in investment income rather than working for a living—richer at everyone else’s expense.... >Their claim is that cutting taxes on corporate profits would lead to an explosion in private investment and faster economic growth.... About that economic growth: Foreign investors would be earning profits and taking them home. So much—probably most—of any growth we would get from cutting corporate taxes would accrue to the benefit of foreigners, not Americans. But don’t worry too much about... Continue reading
**Should-Read: Paul Krugman**: [Days of Greed and Desperation](https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/11/17/days-of-greed-and-desperation/?smid=tw-share): "The House tax bill is wildly regressive; the Senate bill actually raises taxes on most families, while including a special tax break for private planes... >...In effect, the GOP is giving middle-class Americans a giant middle finger. What’s going on?... [Perhaps] many Republicans now see themselves and/or their party in such dire straits that they’re no longer even trying to improve their future electoral position; instead, it’s all about grabbing as much for their big donors while they still can.... This calculus is clearest in the case of House members representing the kinds of districts — educated, relatively affluent, traditionally moderate Republican—that went Democratic by huge landslides in Virginia. If 2018 ends up being anything like what now seems likely, these members will need new jobs in 2019 whatever they do—and the best jobs will be as K Street lobbyists.... Their future lies in collecting wingnut welfare, which means that their incentives are entirely to be loyal ideologues even if it’s very much at their constituents’ expense. >The Senate is a bit different; there aren’t a lot of obviously doomed Republicans. But... the next few months [may] be the last chance they... Continue reading
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**Must-Read**: As one would expect, Paul Krugman is right here: If the Tax Foundation's model is a good projection of the effects of the Trumpublican tax cut for the rich, it would indeed reduce manufacturing employment by around 2.5 million". Now it is highly unlikely that it would do that—a tenth of that number would be more on the mark. IMHO, take the Tax Foundation's claims about the bill and divide the benefits by 10—and recognize that the Tax Foundation does not assess the costs of the bill at all: **Paul Krugman**: [Tax Cuts and The Trade Deficit](https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/11/14/tax-cuts-and-the-trade-deficit/?_r=0): "TF provides very little detail on their model, which is itself a flashing red light: transparency is essential... >...But... read in a ways, there’s a table.... >In... a decade... the U.S capital stock will be 9.9% bigger than it would otherwise have been. Where do the savings for that increase in capital come from? Since there’s nothing in the bill that would increase domestic savings—on the contrary, the budget deficit would reduce national savings—they come from inflows of foreign capital... extra... trade deficits... more than $600 billion a year. Somehow, TF isn’t advertising that point.... Mainly it would come from manufacturing.... The... Continue reading
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**For the Weekend: Stephen Vincent Benet**: The Devil and Daniel Webster XII : "Walter Butler rose in his place and his face had a dark, gay pride on it... >..."The jury has considered its verdict," he said, and looked the stranger full in the eye. "We find for the defendant, Jabez Stone." >With that, the smile left the stranger's face, but Walter Butler did not flinch. >"Perhaps 'tis not strictly in accordance with the evidence," he said, "but even the damned may salute the eloquence of Mr. Webster." >With that, the long crow of a rooster split the gray morning sky, and judge and jury were gone from the room like a puff of smoke and as if they had never been there. The stranger turned to Dan'l Webster, smiling wryly. "Major Butler was always a bold man," he said. "I had not thought him quite so bold. Nevertheless, my congratulations, as between two gentlemen." >"I'll have that paper first, if you please," said Dan'l Webster, and he took it and tore it into four pieces. It was queerly warm to the touch. "And now," he said, "I'll have you!" and his hand came down like a bear trap on... Continue reading
**Comment of the Day**: I have evoked some rants from Robert Waldmann... **Robert Waldmann**: [Monday Smackdown: Oh Dear!](http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/11/monday-smackdown-oh-dear.html?cid=6a00e551f08003883401b8d2bf205d970c#comment-6a00e551f08003883401b8d2bf205d970c): "It isn't exactly Robert Waldmann's critique... >...In 1982 someone told me that he thought macroeconomics had taken a wrong turn and commenced a sterile research program which would last decades and be fruitless. That's a lot more impressive than saying such a thing now. >Who was that guy? Oh yeah, his name was Brad DeLong. >He was explaining why he had chosen history and econometrics as fields. >Experiments? Bah, humbug! >I don't know where to put this, but I have a theory as to why people call simulations experiments: If you are dealing with something you don't understand, you attempt to learn how it works with experiments. The perception that theoretical work assisted by computers is experimental is due to the fact that no one understands what drives the behavior of modern DSGE models. >This is one of their defects. One use of a model is to clarify thought. A model which is mysterious like a cell (or an economy) can't clarify thought. If you need to do numerical experiments to understand the behavior of your model, it has failed one of... Continue reading
**Should-Read: Martin Wolf**: [A bruising Brexit could shipwreck the British economy](https://www.ft.com/content/e09d1f88-c9fe-11e7-ab18-7a9fb7d6163e): "The UK economy remains the most regionally divided in Europe... >...Inner London is the richest region in Europe. The other regions (apart from the rest of London and the southeast) are far poorer.... Gross domestic product per head has also only regained pre-crisis levels in London and the southeast.... Various categories of insecure work have greatly increased. In 2016, for example, 2.8 per cent of all people in employment were on zero-hours contracts.... It must be hard for people working under such contracts to have much control over their lives. >The UK’s level of inequality is among the highest in Europe.... People might wonder, given UK performance, what these business leaders have done to justify such huge increases. They might also point to the facts that the UK’s average productivity per hours worked is among the lowest among high-income countries and, still worse, productivity has flatlined since the crisis.... Last, but not least, on this list of failings, UK investment is exceptionally weak.... Spending on research and development is also relatively weak.... This is not a vigorous and healthy economy well able to take the shock of substantially worse... Continue reading
**Should-Read: Matthew Yglesias**: [Watch CEOs admit they won’t actually invest more if tax reform passes](https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/11/15/16653698/ceos-investment-tax-reform): "A telling and important moment... >...Awkward.... John Bussey... asks the CEOs in the room, “If the tax reform bill goes through, do you plan to increase investment—your companies’ investment—capital investment,” and requests a show of hands. Only a few hands go up, leaving Cohn to ask sheepishly, “Why aren’t the other hands up?” The reason few hands are raised is there’s little reason to believe that the kind of broad corporate income tax cut Republicans are pushing for will induce much new investment. A tax plan that was specifically designed to reduce taxation of new investments might do that. But most corporate profits are, of course, the result of activities undertaken in the past. So a broad cut in corporate tax rates is a windfall for what in tax policy jargon is called “old capital,” as well as for monopoly and quasi-monopoly rents and various other things that have nothing to do with incentivizing new investment. >The biggest immediate winners, in fact, would be big, established companies that are already highly profitable. Apple, for example, would get a huge tax cut even though the company’s... Continue reading
**Comment of the Day**: [Six Faces of Right-Wing Chain-Forging Economist James Buchanan...](http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/11/six-faces-of-right-wing-chain-forging-economist-james-buchanan.html): It's by, well, me: What seems to me a very strange comment on Twitter from Henry Farrell , who appears to deny that he (and Steve Teles) bend over backwards to be "fair" to Buchanan, while providing no such charity to McLean: >As I read our essay, our positive claims are (1) that public choice has some intellectual value and (2) that Buchanan saw himself as engaged in a project of counter-entrenchment. For the rest, we extend to Buchanan only that minimal form of intellectual generosity we'd all like-that when someone is accused of looking to protect the Southern way of life against the civil rights movement, masterminding Pinochet's constitution, & being the sinister intellectual Svengali behind the rise of the anti-democratic right, one would like to see supporting evidence. >As we explicitly note in the essays, we would not at all be discomfited if evidence emerged showing that either Buchanan or other public choicers had problematic views or pasts-on the basis of my run-ins with Charles Rowley, I know that there is a lot of nutty thinking there. But basic standards of intellectual argument demand that if... Continue reading
What seems to me a very strange comment on Twitter from Henry Farrell <https://twitter.com/henryfarrell/status/931227926779047937>, who appears to deny that he (and Steve Teles) bend over backwards to be "fair" to Buchanan, while providing no such charity to McLean: "As I read our essay, our positive claims are (1) that public choice has some intellectual value and (2) that Buchanan saw himself as engaged in a project of counter-entrenchment. For the rest, we extend to Buchanan only that minimal form of intellectual generosity we'd all like-that when someone is accused of looking to protect the Southern way of life against the civil rights movement, masterminding Pinochet's constitution, & being the sinister intellectual Svengali behind the rise of the anti-democratic right, one would like to see supporting evidence. "As we explicitly note in the essays, we would not at all be discomfited if evidence emerged showing that either Buchanan or other public choicers had problematic views or pasts-on the basis of my run-ins with Charles Rowley, I know that there is a lot of nutty thinking there. But basic standards of intellectual argument demand that if you make very strong claims, you had better have good evidence. The reason MacLean's book is a bad one is that it does not have such evidence, and grossly misinterprets the evidence it has. "It reads as though you are interpreting our essays as an intervention in a political fight within economics. They are not. They are interventions in a fight about the standards that one ought to have when one makes strong arguments as an academic in the public sphere. Finis." I read this as an admission that they do indeed bend over backward to be "fair" to Buchanan—in a way that I think winds up being unfair to their readers. I think this largely because I do not see McLean as making "very strong claims". I read this as, essentially, what I said: a hermeneutic of immense charity towards Buchanan; a hermeneutic of immense suspicion against McLean. As I said, I think Will Wilkinson gets it right: My response: Like I said: a hermaneutic of **enormous** charity directed in favor Buchanan; a hermeneutic of **enormous** suspicion directed against McLean. "If you make very strong claims, you had better have good evidence". The claim that an upper class mid-20thC white southerner looks to protect the Southern way of life against the civil rights movement is not a "very strong" claim: it is the default assumption of everyone. "Masterminding Pinochet's constitution"; the claim that Mt. Pelerin circles were deeply, deeply committed toward making the Pinochet regime a success, and that they had frequent discussions among themselves and Chileans about how to turn the admittedly regrettable excesses into a proper Lykourgan moment is not something anybody has ever denied. That Friedman and Buchanan hoped to get their ideas into the government of the Chicago Boys is not a "very strong claim", but obvious. And as for "being the sinister intellectual Svengali behind the rise of the anti-democratic right", I always assumed that Buchanan was trying to use the Kochtopus to fund both public choice and the rollback of the New Deal", there I think McLean oversteps. Buchanan was not as pro-democracy as Friedman, but not as anti-democratic as Hayek and company. The unanimity-beyond-the-veil-of-ignorance assumption did exercise a definite pull, at least after he gave up seeing Massive Resistance as a useful ally. It's interesting: the breach of academic standards that drives me batshit in this whole thing is Buchanan's promise to Darden that only "'Manchester' liberals who emphasize individual freedom as the central feature of the good society" and "Western conservatives who emphasize the importance of Western traditions in preserving the good social order" need apply for his patronage and mentorship. This used to drive Mancur Olson absolutely batshit too. That seems to me that is worth making a stink about: we certainly do not operate that way here at the B.
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**Must-Read**: @dashching seems like an unhappy camper today—unhappy with the Tax Foundation setting forth a model that (a) they know is inaccurate even on their own methodologies, and (b) based on a methodology—that the medium-run drag on growth from a larger deficit does not exist—that I do not believe can be defended in a professional manner: **Chye-Ching Huang**: [@dashching on Twitter](https://twitter.com/dashching/status/931207023596900352): "A Tax Foundation dynamic score that no-one should pay any attention to an indication of what this bill would do for growth... >...Two major problems: >1. Unlike mainstream models, the Tax Foundation's ignores deficits. Would be very strange for lawmakers concerned about deficits to rely on a model that ignores them . >2. Further, @gregleiserson has identified two major *additional* conceptual errors with the model , that don't seem fully resolved. These are not errors modeling specific proposals, but affect the model's results, *every time* it runs... Continue reading
**Should-Read: Douglas L. Campbell**: [Ancestry and Development: the Power Pose of Economics?](http://douglaslcampbell.blogspot.ru/2017/11/ancestry-and-development-power-pose-of.html): "George Mason... asked me to present my work joint with Ju Hyun Pyun, taking down the "genetic distance to the US predicts development"... >...This has evolved into an Amy Cuddy "Power Pose" situation, in which Spolaore and Wacziarg refuse to admit that there is any problem with their research, and continue to run income-level regressions and write papers using genetic distance which do not include a dummy for sub-Saharan Africa, but exclude that region instead.... The remaining question is how robust the genetic distance-development relationship is in Europe. In fact, there is already a paper, by Giuliano, Spilimbergo, and Tonon, saying that the impact of genetic distance on both trade and GDP in Europe is not robust.... The early drafts of that paper also said something about GDP in Europe, while the published version stripped out GDP precisely because the referees—likely Spolaore or Wacziarg—wouldn't allow it.... >Wacziarg has now posted regressions on his website used by this referee, so I gather that he must be the author... had some very choice words for this paper... "Giuliano, Spilimbergo and Tonon, the authors of this paper are clearly referring to... Continue reading
**Should-Read**: The point, though, of being a party of cultural grievance-mongers catering to symbolic and social recognition ethno-sectarian demands is that one can also, on the side as it were, enrich plutocrats. As Lyndon Johnson said in Bill Moyers's hearing: "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you..." This has been going on since the 1890s... hell, the 1870s... hell, the 1810s. It used to be the business model of the Royalist wing of the Southern Democratic Party. Now it is the business model of the Republican Party. The interesting thing is that they do not seem able to execute it very well: **Matthew Yglesias**: [Republicans should admit to themselves they mostly don’t want big change](https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/11/3/16596440/republicans-change): "It’s a cranky old person party, not a policy visionary party... >...Republicans are mostly a party of cultural grievance-mongers, not ambitious legislators. That’s why Donald Trump is their president. That’s why they don’t seem to notice or care that Paul Ryan is a total fraud. They’d be a lot happier if they just owned it.... Continue reading
**Comment of the Day: Erik Lund**: [The Robert Heinlein Wars, Part MDCCLXIV: Hoisted from 2006](http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/10/the-robert-heinlein-wars-part-mdcclxiv-hoisted-from-2006.html?cid=6a00e551f08003883401b8d2b4cc69970c#comment-6a00e551f08003883401b8d2b4cc69970c): "It's pointless to read Heinlein through a political lens. He was a narcissist; it's all about him... >...Starship Troopers was written for Heinlein's Scribner's contract. He was supposed to produce an annual juvenile novel for the Christmas season. The novel was written in a hurry, submitted too late for editorial revision, and rejected by his long-time editor, Alice Dalgleish, sometimes mischaracterised as a blue-stocking prude. (Well, I suppose she could have been; LGBTQs can be prudes, after all.) >With the rejection, Heinlein was free to shop Starship Troopers around. Later, he characterised this as his plan, all along. He was tired of juveniles. (Except that he returned to the well with Putnam in Podkayne in 1963.) >So what else might have been going on in Heinlein's mind? Many of Heinlein's early books were dedicated to family members; but ST is dedicated to a a crazy guy who was lobbying to get the United States to redeclare war on North Korea and save his son from the sekrit Commie prison camp he was sure the boy was in. (You may recall this as a background point... Continue reading
**Should-Read: Nick Bunker**: [The forces behind the highly unequal U.S. wealth distribution](http://equitablegrowth.org/equitablog/value-added/the-forces-behind-highly-unequal-u-s-wealth-distribution/): "Two papers... give us some guidance on the forces that have led to such an unequal wealth distribution in the United States... >...Jess Benhabib and Alberto Bisin... an overview of previous research... three broad mechanisms or explanations that have been the focus of previous research and consider how much they could help explain this “fat tail” of wealth.... The first mechanism deals with income inequality and how that arises from shocks to individuals’ earnings. The second is related to capital income risk, or differences in the rate of return on investments at different levels of wealth. The third factor is “explosive” wealth accumulation.... >Benhabib, Bisin, and Mi Luo (also of NYU), is an attempt to parse out the influences of these three factors on U.S. wealth distribution.... Differences in the rate of return on capital and in savings rates are the main factors explaining the distribution of wealth in the United States. As suggested by the first paper, the differences in income caused by shocks don’t explain much—though shocks do contribute significantly to mobility up and down the rungs of the wealth ladder. The differences in savings rates—documented... Continue reading
**Comment of the Day**: "Praise then darkness and creation unfinished"; "praise the fire and the impulse of making"; isn't there another large, very densely-written book by now? **Graydon**: [](http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/11/a-very-nice-essay-on-sexual-morality-from-elizabeth-bruenig-but-it-could-have-been-shorter.html?cid=6a00e551f08003883401bb09d68667970d#comment-6a00e551f08003883401bb09d68667970d): ""Good" is a value judgement, subject to context and hindsight, and it's subject to hindsight forever... >...There are a whole bunch of things even in Christianity about this -- "we do not presume to come to this thy table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness" -- that a whole lot of people clinging to morals over material consequences could do with considering. (Similarly the really very trivial observation that morals do not and cannot scale to large groups; this is why prophets have railed against cities for such a very long time. A working city is not run on the basis of morals. If there are no working cities, there is no economy.) >"Praise ice when it is crossed, ale when it is drunk, a ship returned to harbour, a friend on the pyre..." Moral judgements happen, when it is possible for them to happen, afterwards, in difficulty, in complexity, and -- none of us being divine beings -- in doubt. >Everyone is always responsible for everything they do.... Continue reading
**Must-Read**: Noah Smith gets this 100% right, IMHO **Noah Smith**: [On Twitter @noahpinion](https://twitter.com/Noahpinion/status/931200696900128768): "Nasty tweets are like nasty blog comments... >...My feed is like a blog. And because Twitter has no way to delete or moderate individual tweets, blocking is the only option for curation.... >Blocking isn't for my own benefit. It's to protect my timeline and my followers from people who just come to disrupt conversation and create unnecessary bad feelings!... [People muted] still respond to my tweets and engage with my followers, this disrupting the friendly, positive community I want to create in my timeline... Now it is time for 560 to make it even more like a weblog! Continue reading