Dissent Is the Health of the Democratic State
- "We live in big, complex societies, which means we are thoroughly interdependent on each other, and that we will naturally have different ideas about how our life in common should go, and will have divergent interests. This means that politics we shall always have with us. It also means that political problems are largely ones about designing and reforming the institutions which shape how we interact with each other..." (via
But because political problems are so hard, even if we could agree on what we wanted our institutions to achieve (which we don't), we can basically never know in advance what the best institution for a given problem is. (That markets should always and everywhere be the default institution is a claim Knight and Johnson carefully examine before rejecting, whereas I would simply mock.) We also can basically never be sure when changed conditions will make existing institutions unsatisfactory. Put this together and what we need is, as they say, experimentation, with meta-institutions for monitoring how the experiments are going, and deciding when they should be changed or stopped.
Labour markets: Real robot talk
This is where democracy comes in... But remember that democracy is going to work better the more people can and do really ("effectively") contribute, especially to the debate... To participate in the democratic debate, people need a lot of skills and cognitive tools: literacy; numeracy; knowing what other people are going on about and why it matters to them; the cultural knowledge and rhetorical skill to argue effectively with fellow citizens; knowledge of the world in general. Gaining all these skills and tools takes teachers and time... Making sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate in democracy would be very demanding, and we are very far from doing so. We are even far from making sure everyone has some non-farcical minimum of opportunity. We can and should move towards spreading those opportunities, and make democracy more of a reality and less of a mere promise.
- "Technological progress
sufficient to cause these kinds of dislocations should also generate overall economic gains large enough to make everyone better off
. But just because everyone could be made better off by progress doesn't mean that everyone will be made better off. There must be an institutional framework in place to ensure that the gains from growth are shared."
Why Congress can't seem to get anything done
- "The basics of it are that in every political system, there is a group of actors that need to agree in order to change the status quo."
Is America a 'kludgeocracy'?
- "A program or policy qualifies as a kludge if the fundamental policy mechanism is substantially more complicated than the problem it is trying to solve dictates."
Policy wonks, pitchforks, and the contradictions of capitalism
- "A good society depends on an active public, first and foremost. A society that has allowed the predations of the powerful to become purely private matters mediated via 'markets', courts, academies, and bureaucracies, that has delegated 'activism' to a mostly protected professional class, is nothing more than a herd hoping that today it is somebody else who will be slaughtered."
The ontology of power
- "We might define coercion very simply in terms of an actor's ability to influence the terms of choice that confront another actor... We can then broaden this concept to groups in society by postulating that certain groups have greater access to the levers of coercion than others. So we might say that 'capitalists have more power than workers' because capitalists have access to the lever of unemployment, whereas workers have access only to the power to withhold their labor at substantial personal and familial cost."
How a Trust Deficit Is Hurting the Economy
- "Research has shown that measures of trust in society are closely connected to economic growth and the effectiveness of government."
Bill Gates' Plan To Fix The World's Biggest Problems: Measure Them
- "From the fight against polio to fixing education, what's missing is often good measurement and a commitment to follow the data. We can do better. We have the tools at hand."
Rise of the Empiricists
- "What narratives am I telling myself today? Is there any data set or analyses that can prevent me from fooling myself? Empiricism will be moving more and more of the US economy forward."
Reality breaks through the Overton window
- "When the hired gun occupying the most prestigious single position in the right's intellectual parallel universe accepts growing inequality and social immobility as uncontroversial background assumptions, we have at least won the battle
of ideas. The 1 per cent have entrenched power, but even they can no longer pretend to believe that their huge wealth benefits everyone else."
A few reasons to be optimistic about the U.S. economy
- "it's possible that the political system is improving. If we can simply claw our way back to 'mediocre and ineffective
', well, that will be a big improvement from 'damaging and unpredictable