Friday, September 21, 2012

Department of Huh?: Skidelsky on Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren

I have always been a big fan of Economic Possibilities. It is a powerful essay. It makes lots of good points. It's very optimistic. And even among Keynes's enormous pile of well-written essays this one, I think, is particularly well written.

But the one area where Economic Possibilities falls flat is that it fails at predicting the far future!

Why is Skidelsky celebrating the one obvious and universally agreed upon failure of the essay?


  1. Um, because ... It's a Tweet.

    1. Worse!

      Why waste scarce tweet space on utter falsehood?

    2. Dude, have you read some people's Tweets? This example is pretty straight and narrow in comparison. And I am not just talking about your everyday folks, I am also including academics (which is sometimes even worse).

      You and Jonathan have recently gone into the world of Twitter. To me it is like Facebook on acid. It's like getting bits and pieces of a story, but by the time you might figure it out, the tide has turned and there is a new wave of "understanding" to soak the fabric of the old one.

      It's all proclamations with no substance, because well, there isn't enough characters for substance. If you've ever followed a Twitter debate then surely you know what I mean.

    3. I will let you in on a secret: this is not deeply upsetting to me - it just gave me an opportunity to make a point about an essay I like :)

      I am a Skidelsky fan too.

      I appreciate it as a dissemination tool. That study on Danish job assistance came through twitter, for example. I agree - I see less value in the twitter back-and-forth so far.

  2. "I am a Skidelsky fan too"

    No, you don't say.

    Seriously, though. I think that Twitter can clutter up the gears of any established idea, if only for its inability to express the nuance therein. There are many gems to be found with regard to information dissemination, the only problem is that this process is chaotic and without direction. More often than not, in my belief, this causes confusion and discord rather than progress and understanding. For those who root for a team, it works wonderfully. But, for those who are out of that loop, they're left wanting. It's the ultimate meme machine: if you know the line to that movie then you're in, if not, then you're out of the loop.

    Then again, I am a guy that often needs over 500 characters to express the idea that 1+1=2. So it should be no surprise that I would be discontented with such a thing as Twitter.


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