Sunday, April 24, 2011

Assault of Thoughts - 4/24/2011

"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking" - JMK

- Yglesias connects the Jetsons to Keynes's "Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren", one of my favorite essays of his. Yglesias doesn't work the complete logic out, but he notes a reason why I think Keynes was ultimatey wrong about work hour predictions: leisure isn't always consumption-free. Modern leisure is very consumption-heavy. We'll have to work for that. Aside from questions of increased leisure and the role of consumption in the future, I don't think we're done investing, which is a more fundamental reason why Keynes was wrong! The previous post was about visiting and presumably eventually settling Mars. Once we actually have a nascent colony on Mars, do you think the the marginal efficiency of capital is going to be driven to zero? Ummm... no. Once we have a human footprint on Mars it will be several centuries until we see that again, I think. We will get wealthier which means more people will trade of labor for leisure. I have no doubt there will be some of the substitution, and there ought to be! That's the fruit of progress, which we ought to enjoy. But we aren't finished yet, and we never will be. There is plenty more investment to do. In the long run, we're simply on another frontier.

- Poetry from Gary.

- A new post from Evan.

- The new Review of Austrian Economics is out.

- An anonymous commenter shares this story about ridiculous pricing of some Amazon books. He ties it to very thin markets, which may play a role, but it also simply has to do with algorithmic trading, as Brad DeLong points out. That makes you really wonder about the old claims of market socialists that advances in computer technology could make socialism more viable!

4 comments:

  1. I am disappointed, but not surprised that Matthew Yglesias is a devotee of a substitute religion.

    He is an egalitarian.

    He is writing a blog post on the possibility that a rockstar in the Simpsons could be earning several million times what George Jetson earns. Of course, George Jetson lives in an imaginary post-scarcity utopia, but Yglesias considers is to be a genuine concern that income inequality would go through the roof even in such a world.

    Of course, that's how I understand egalitarianism in America to be. If I were a yet-unborn baby to be a given a choice by an angel, I would rather be poor in the United States than be poor in Russia. And yet, R/P10% of US is 15, while R/P10% of Russia is 9. Russia is a more egalitarian society than America, but which American would really want to live the life of a working class Russian?

    American egalitarians are pagan theologians, not critical thinkers. The above line of reasoning will never convince an egalitarian, because it is the height of absurdity that one worries about inequality in the Jetson's universe.

    It's all a substitute religion. Yglesias' life is made no worse by the fact that some people earn more money than him, and Yglesias does not make anyone else's life worse off by earning more than him. That's how I feel about this income inequality nonsense.

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  2. Daniel,

    So I am reading "The Theory of Games and Economic Behavior." What are your thoughts on this tome?

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  3. Libertarians are selfish and stuff: http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2011/04/freedom-selfishness-cooperation/

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  4. "After 9/11, can anyone believe that the world's governments are going to foster a regime of laissez-faire toward private space shuttles that could be hijacked for suicide missions from orbit, or that might disintegrate over several time zones?"

    9/11 gets dragged into everything at some point.

    http://www.salon.com/news/politics/2011/04/12/nasa_spaceflight_future_government_robots/

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