Sunday 31 January 2016

Liberal Panic.

Speaking about the growing hostility among American liberals against Bernie Sanders' political campaign and their increasingly obvious pro-Hillary Clinton bias (as evidenced, among others, by Paul Krugman, who just re-embraced the "Very Serious People" title he until recently derided), Prof. David Ruccio explains liberal ideology:
"That’s how liberal ideology works in economics. And, as it turns out, that’s exactly how liberal ideology is being deployed in our current political debate -- to normalize one, very limited set of options and to marginalize any discontent or desire that threatens to go beyond them."
Even though Ruccio largely limits himself to the American political scene, I believe his exposition has more general application.

Saturday 30 January 2016



The Two Minutes Hate is about to start. The image of Karl Marx Emmanuel Goldstein appears on the screen …

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Folly and Wisdom of Slaves.

"Eles são brancos e se entendem". (Brazilian idiom)

Robert Vienneau informs us that slaves in the U.S. often identified themselves with -- and even took pride in -- their masters.

Vienneau quotes from "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas":
"When Colonel Lloyd's slaves met the slaves of Jacob Jepson, they seldom parted without a quarrel about their masters; Colonel Lloyd's slaves contending that he was the richest, and Mr. Jepson's slaves that he was the smartest, and most of a man."
Apparently, Brazilian slaves could be a bit more cynical than their North American counterparts. One of their pieces of folk wisdom (the opening quote) suggests that; surprisingly, it endured and entered contemporary popular speech.

Saturday 23 January 2016

Coyle on Minsky, Where's Keynes?

Diane Coyle (part-time professor of Economics at the University of Manchester, plus a long CV) is a high-profile British Keynesian economist. She posted recently a favourable review of L. Randall Wray's latest book "Why Minsky Matters". Wray, as readers know, is a leading MMT proponent and an expert on Minsky.

Friday 22 January 2016

A New 9th Planet for the Solar System?

Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin (astronomers from the California Institute of Technology) announced they have conjectural evidence for the existence of a ninth planet in our solar system.

Details were published in the newsmedia, in the Caltech website ("Caltech Researchers Find Evidence of a Real Ninth Planet", by Kimm Fesenmaier, Jan. 20), and in the Science magazine website ("Astronomers say a Neptune-Sized Planet Lurks Beyond Pluto", by Eric Hand. Jan. 20).

Wednesday 20 January 2016

Keynes' "National Self-Sufficiency".

After decades advocating "free trade not only as an economic doctrine which a rational and instructed person could not doubt, but almost as a part of the moral law", in June 1933, writing for the selected readership of The Yale Review, John Maynard Keynes suddenly discovered that protectionism (aka economic nationalism, national self-sufficiency) was an experiment well-worth trying.

Saturday 16 January 2016

Stigler and the Unbalanced Keynes.

"His statistical diagrams [W.S. Jevons'] were so precisely prepared that I have been able to recover his data in several cases with sufficient precision to reproduce his averages to two significant figures. It is rare to be able to do that, even with modern computer drawn graphics. Indeed, it is rare today to be able to reproduce averages even if the data are published!"
Prof. Stephen M. Stigler is Ernest DeWitt Burton Distinguished Service Professor at the Department of Statistics of the University of Chicago. He's also the son of that Stigler.

During a long academic career, Stigler the Younger has written extensively on the history of statistics, with occasional stopovers on allied subjects. In his 2002, in equal measures interesting and entertaining short paper (Statisticians and the History of Economics, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 24(2), pp.155-164. paywalled) Stigler evidences subtle humour, wit, and irony while commenting on a set of 39 authors selected for their contributions to both statistical theory and economics.

Monday 11 January 2016

Popper and the Coelacanth.

No, that's not Popper. That's Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer and her dino-fish. [A]

On December 23, 1938, while visiting her friend captain Hendrick Goosen, Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer (curator of the provincial natural history museum of East London -- northeast of Cape Town, South Africa) accidentally discovered, part-hidden under Goosen's daily catch, a fairly large, odd-looking fish.

Friday 8 January 2016

Reply to Hedlund.

Frankly, I am a bit puzzled. My latest posts on Popper generated some controversy among my readers.

The latest comment, by long-time reader Hedlund, replying to "Popper, Art and Science" is an example. Hedlund starts like this:
"The importance of falsification is widely recognized these days, and there's overlap between Popper's critical rationalism and a thoroughgoing realism.
"An adequate summary of Popper would not end at falsificationism. Also important is anti-justificationism;"

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Hear Kazin's Advice, Corbyn.

It was December, 2011, when Michael Kazin (a professor of history at Georgetown University and co-editor of quasi-mainstream/leftish Dissent magazine) wrote "Class Warfare Waged by FDR Holds Lesson for Obama", for Bloomberg.

Kazin was recommending Barack Obama to learn from Roosevelt's example, and quotes from Roosevelt's October 31, 1936 Madison Square Garden speech:
"We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace —- business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
"They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.
"Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me —- and I welcome their hatred."
As electrifying as those words are, in the voice of Roosevelt they sound hollow, and lacking in sincerity. Still, he did win the 1936 elections.

Obama's voice wouldn't have added any sincerity, had he even considered Kazin's advice.

But the advice is good. Perhaps Jeremy Corbyn could appropriate those words and, hopefully, in his voice they will have more substance.

Saturday 2 January 2016

Eric Harwood's Story.

Eric Harwood (source)

(h/t Matt Bruenig)

"Eric Harwood, a 47-year-old man from Henderson, Nevada, has embarked upon a somewhat quixotic quest to draw attention to his desperate plight. Due to a serious physical disability, Harwood was discharged from his locksmithing job of 15 years in August and has been battling with the Social Security Administration to receive disability insurance ever since. As the battle dragged on, Harwood scrambled to keep his life afloat. He sold many of his possessions through yard sales and the internet. He set up a GoFundMe page and asked friends and family to donate. And he, embarrassingly, enrolled in Food Stamps, Medicaid, and LIHEAP. These stop-gap strategies have reached their end, however. In early February, if something doesn’t change, he will be booted from the house he rents, and he and his wife will be forced to move in with family in Arizona."

Dear Australian workers, read the rest here. Eric's YouTube channel and GoFundMe.