The political economy of a universal basic income
: "your view of what is feasible should not be backwards looking. The normalization of gay marriage and legalization of marijuana seemed utopian and politically impossible until very recently. Yet in fact those developments are happening, and their expansion is almost inevitable
given the demographics of ideology... UBI
— defined precisely as periodic transfers of identical fixed dollar amounts to all citizens of the polity — is by far the most probable
and politically achievable
among policies that might effectively address problems
of inequality, socioeconomic fragmentation, and economic stagnation." [more inside]
The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States
); press coverage
) - "The signature effects of human-induced climate change
—rising seas, increased damage from storm surge, more frequent bouts
of extreme heat—all have specific, measurable impacts on our nation's current assets and ongoing economic activity. [The report] uses a standard risk-assessment approach to determine the range of potential consequences
for each region of the U.S.—as well as for selected sectors of the economy—if we continue on our current path..." [more inside]
“But what shall we dream of when everything becomes visible
?” Virilio replies: “We’ll dream of being blind."
... You seem to think everyone's worried about robots
. But what everyone's worried about is you
, Marc. Not just you, but people like you. Robots aren't at the levers of financial and political influence today, but folks like you sure are. People are scared of so much wealth and control being in so few hands... Unless we collectively choose to pay for a safety net
, technology alone isn't going to make it happen." [more inside]
VC for the people
- "It's just that people who have options are much more likely to actually find success than people who don't." [more inside]
The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution
- "[Charles Percy Snow
] was pleading for a more adequately educated ruling class so that the suffering of the poor might be ameliorated... Snow wanted to believe something like this: political decisions in the modern world often concern how to deploy science and technology, so people well-trained in science and technology will be better prepared to make those decisions. But that's a syllogism without a minor premise." (previously
) [more inside]
Inside the Nightmare Launch of HealthCare.Gov
- "Unknown to a nation following the fiasco, McDonough's assignment from the President had boiled down to something more dire than how to fix the site. As the chief of staff remembers his mission, it was 'Can it be patched and improved to work, or does it need to be scrapped to start over? He wanted to know if this thing is salvageable.' Yes, on Oct. 17, the President was thinking of scrapping the whole thing and starting over." (previously
) [more inside]
In an interview with German television station ARD TV
, Edward Snowden has alleged that the NSA is actively engaged in industrial espionage on behalf of US economic interests, targeting German engineering firm, Siemens and other international industrial concerns in its data collection activities, with no legitimate intelligence aims in mind. While the international response
to the new allegations is still developing, back home in the US, Snowden has already been accused of disloyalty by US officials on both sides
of the aisle
, and at least one NSA analyst is on record stating he would personally "love to put a bullet in his head.
Congress takes a casual look at the peer-to-peer economy
- “Finding new ways to monetise used or existing
assets has the obvious and immediate effects of raising their value and the wealth of their owners, while simultaneously reducing the value of comparable stuff
owned by incumbent companies — for whom monetisation already wasn’t a problem, and who find themselves burdened by the newly competitive environment. The innovations also provide a surplus to those consumers who previously would have paid more to an incumbent. And all without any new stuff
actually having to be made.” [more inside]
The robots are here.
George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen predicts that the trend towards automation will squeeze the middle class further still, and compares its effects on American politics to a too-overlooked 1955 short story
by Isaac Asimov.
How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio
 actually makes a case against austerity
 and for redistribution, but also for money printing
(and, arguably, for bailouts), while stressing the need to keep making productivity-improving public
investments. However, it could be equally entitled: How The Industrial Age Political-Economy Doesn't Work Anymore
, viz. Surviving Progress (2011)
... [more inside]
Economists and the theory of politics
- "why unions were often well worth any deadweight cost" [more inside]
Trade-offs between inequality, productivity, and employment
- "The poor do not employ one another, because the necessities they require are produced and sold so cheaply by the rich. The rich are glad to sell to the poor, as long as the poor can come up with property or debt claims or other forms of insurance to offer as payment..." [more inside]
In Praise of Leisure
- "Imagine a world in which most people worked only 15 hours a week. They would be paid as much as, or even more than, they now are, because the fruits of their labor would be distributed more evenly across society. Leisure would occupy far more of their waking hours than work. It was exactly this prospect that John Maynard Keynes conjured up in a little essay published in 1930 called 'Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren
.' Its thesis was simple. As technological progress made possible an increase in the output of goods per hour worked, people would have to work less and less to satisfy their needs, until in the end they would have to work hardly at all... He thought this condition might be reached in about 100 years — that is, by 2030." (via
) [more inside]
In the wake of their grunge-y breakout hit "Creep"
and the success of sophomore record The Bends
, Thom Yorke and the rest of Radiohead
were under pressure to deliver once more.
So they shut themselves away inside the echoing halls of a secluded 16th century manor
and got to work.
What emerged from that crumbling Elizabethan castle fifteen years ago today was a shockingly ambitious masterpiece of progressive rock, a visionary concept album that explored the "fridge buzz" of modernity
-- alienation, social disconnection, existential dread, the impersonal hum of technology
-- through a mosaic of challenging
, eerily beautiful
music unlike anything else at the time.
Tentatively called Ones and Zeroes
, then Your Home May Be at Risk If You Do Not Keep Up Payments
, the band finally settled on OK Computer
, an appropriately enigmatic title for this acclaimed
harbinger of millennial angst. For more, you can watch the retrospective OK Computer: A Classic Album Under Review
for a track-by-track rundown, or the unsettling documentary Meeting People is Easy
for a look at how the album's whirlwind tour nearly gave Yorke a nervous breakdown
. Or look inside for more details and cool interpretations of all the tracks -- including an upcoming MeFi Music Challenge! [more inside]
The Control Revolution And Its Discontents
- "the long process of algorithmisation
over the last 150 years has also, wherever possible, replaced implicit rules/contracts and principal-agent relationships with explicit processes and rules."
Is Newt Gingrich’s plan for a moon mine science fiction
? The technology
may be in place, but is there any reason to go
"We've had revolution in Tunisia, Egypt's Mubarak is teetering; in Yemen, Jordan and Syria suddenly protests have appeared. In Ireland young techno-savvy professionals are agitating for a "Second Republic"; in France the youth from banlieues battled police on the streets to defend the retirement rights of 60-year olds; in Greece striking and rioting have become a national pastime. And in Britain we've had riots and student occupations that changed the political mood. What's going on? What's the wider social dynamic?
The First Decade of the Future is Behind Us:
Blackberries, WikiLeaks, airport scanners, 3D televisions, robot vaccum cleaners, Microsoft Kinnect, private spaceflight and Facebook all look like sci-fi novel elements to Kyle Munkittrick. [more inside]
Get the Energy Sector off the Dole
- Why ending all government subsidies for fuel production will lead to a cleaner energy future—and why Obama has a rare chance to make it happen.
40 Things You Need to Know About the Next 40 Years
For it's 40th anniversary issue, Smithsonian magazine asks experts in various fields for insights into our future and compiles a list of 40 predictions about the future of science, nature, the arts and technology. The feature essay is by President Obama, in which he explains why he's optimistic
about America's future. (VIA) [more inside]
Acclaimed writer Bruce Sterling is back for his annual State of the World interview
in The WELL's inkwell conference. It's a must-read. The first question comes from Cory Doctorow who asks him to help him plan for the future now that Cory has a kid, etc. Sterling's answer is hilarious, biting, and brilliant all at the same time. And that's only the beginning...
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year
, NATO may lose in Afghanistan
, the UK gets a regime change
, China needs to chill
, India's factories will overtake its farms
, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum
, the stimulus will need an exit strategy
, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2"
, African football
will unite Korea
, conflict over natural resources will grow
, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled
, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable)
, technology will grow ever more ubiquitous
, we'll all charge our phones via USB
, MBAs will be uncool
, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest
, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world
. And so the Tens
The Economist: The World in 2010
. [more inside]
Paul Romer: A Theory of History, with an Application
- "His economic theory of history explains phenomena such as the constant improvement of the human standard of living by looking primarily at just two forms of innovative ideas: technology and rules." (previously
) [more inside]
Robots at War: The New Battlefield.
"It sounds like science fiction, but it is fact: On the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, robots are killing America’s enemies and saving American lives. But today’s PackBots, Predators, and Ravens are relatively primitive machines. The coming generation of 'war-bots' will be immensely more sophisticated, and their development raises troubling new questions about how and when we wage war." [Via]
U.S. Presidents have had an uneven relationship
with technology. The Clinton Presidential Library
has more than 40 million White House emails on record (but only two
are from the man himself). The Bush Administration, on the other hand, junked the Clinton archival process and replaced it with a comically inept alternative
that has lost more than five million messages, many concerning official government business
. (President Bush, for his part, gave up his longtime address -- G94b@aol.com
-- just before his inauguration). Even the Reagan White House had its share of problems
with the digital age. Now, as tech-savvy
Barack Obama prepares to implement his technology plans
, does he have a shot at dragging the Oval Office into the 21st century
? Or will he have to surrender his laptop
, his email account, and his beloved Blackberry?
Leadership for the 21st Century
Harvard Business School hosts moderator Charlie Rose in a roundtable discussion concerning the credit crisis, housing, American leadership and foreign affairs. Participants are the 2008 HBS Alumni Achievement Award recipients, including eBay (and McCain advisor) CEO Meg Whitman, GE CEO Jeff Immelt, Venture Capitalist extrordinaire John Doerr
, Indian business juggernaut Anand G. Mahindra
, and former World Bank president James D. Wolfensohn.
This aired on PBS last night and it was some of the most honest, intelligent, and inspiring discussion I have heard in some time. While the only transcript I could find is a paid one here,
this 100 minute video should be required viewing for anyone working in a fortune 500 company, or those interested in politics, environmentalism, technology, foreign policy or the election. [more inside]
Barack Obama has responded
to the 14 questions posed by ScienceDebate2008
). The Martian Chronicles
has outlined some key points
of his response. John McCain has not responded to the questions, but has indicated that he will respond.
Andy Grove on Our Electric Future
- "Energy independence [viz.]
is the wrong goal. Here is a plan Americans can stick to." Perhaps some infrastructure spending1,2
is in order? [etc., &c., cf.] [more inside]
Women's rights: What's in it for men?
- "Women in rich countries largely enjoy gender equality while those in poor countries suffer substantial discrimination. This column proposes an explanation for the relationship between economic development and female empowerment that emphasises changes in the incentives males face rather than shifts in moral sentiment. Technological change that raises demand for human capital may give men a stake in women's rights." [more inside]
I was a Teenage Wares Freak?
San Diego Republican Party chairman Tony Krvaric
may have been Strider, co-founder of Fairlight
. via Slashdot
In 1798, English economist Thomas Malthus promised "Famine ... the last, the most dreadful resource of nature.
" It took another 125 years for world population to double, but only 50 more for it to redouble
. By the 1940s, Mexico, China, India, Russia, and Europe were hungry.
"The next president of the United States of America will control a $150 billion annual research budget, 200,000 scientists, and 38 major research institutions and all their related labs. This president will shape human endeavors in space
, bioethics debates, and the energy landscape of the 21st century." With the coming election, the AAAS
has created a new website
and devoted a section of their journal Science
to the Democratic
candidates' positions on science
issues. But to help further clarify their positions
, some people are calling
for the candidates to have a presidential debate on science and technology
. [Via The Intersection and Wired Science.]
“I’m an old computer nerd,” Diener said. “I can do anything with computers. Nothing’s wrong with computers. But this is the worst way to run an election.”
NYTMag piece on electronic voting, voter confidence, and the impact of old-fashioned problems like printer jams, befuddled voters and volunteers, and interface design flaws. By Clive Thompson
The dangers of living in a zero-sum world economy
- naked capitalism
reprints (with added commentary) an FT article
by Martin Wolf on why it's vital for (civilised) society to sustain a 'positive-sum' world, otherwise: "A zero-sum economy leads, inevitably, to repression at home and plunder abroad." Wolf's solution? "The condition for success is successful investment in human ingenuity." Of course! Some
are calling for more socialism
, while others
would press on to build more megaprojects
. For me, at least part of the solution lies in environmental accounting
and natural capitalism
, the US House passed the SAFE Act
. No, not that one
. Points of note:
- If signed into law, the SAFE Act will require people offering WiFi at their cafe, library, or even allowing their neighbours to use it, who notice that someone appears to have viewed certain dirty cartoons
, or pictures of fully-clothed children looking sexy, to immediately make a comprehensive report to John Walsh's CyberTipLine
, and retain the images, or face a fine of up to $150,000.
- ISPs or email services have the same obligations, and must store all data relating to the user's account, to be handed over to the authorities.
- The Democrats rushed the legislation through using a mechanism intended for non-controversial legislation. There was no hearing or committee vote. The legislation changed significantly before the vote and was not available for public review.
- The bill passed 409-2
. Opposed were Paul Broun (R-Georgia) and Ron Paul (R-Texas). The Senate is next, so consider telling them what you think
Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal
by Joel Salatin. This Saturday will mark this article's four year anniversary. Frankly, I was mildly surprised not to have found it mentioned before in MeFi. It's a good read about a sad state of affairs; how our government is turning its own people into outlaws, because freedom has been traded in for an illusion of security. ...but then we already knew that. Don't we?
My Right Wing Dad
is a new-ish and rather informal blog that aims to provide "a chance for folks to examine the unrestrained rhetoric that is quietly passed from in-box to in-box in America," by hosting a collection of the emails that form an often untraceable and unacknowledged part of public discourse in the U.S., especially on the Right. Tagged by category (for example: God
, and World War II
), the amateur archive presents a range of colorful opinion, not all of it strikingly accurate, and some of it offensive. In efforts to understand liberal and conservative habits of communication
, it may be worth considering the role of forwarded email in the electoral process, and the reasons that the forwarding of email is popular among some people
, and whether this behavior tends to correlate with particular political opinions. The emails hosted on MyRightWingDad may in any case be enlightening, unless you're already on the forward list of someone in the know.