24 Jun 2013

Anything but water

  1. Refining self-interest: Academics used experiments to show that people in authority hold onto "inefficient" quantities of power -- and that their underlings contribute inefficient work effort [pdf]. From the opposite direction, Francis More Lappe ("Diet for a small planet") implores us to think with our eco-mind instead of our scarcity mind. (I think we combine the two, but I want people in power to be more eco. How do I get them to read and apply her ideas?)

  2. The economics of recycling (landfill is underpriced, so people need to be "irrationally" in favor of recycling to reduce waste going to the landfill -- but read this defense of prices in lieu of morality) and an update on farmers' quest for yield, featuring compost!

  3. Arnold Kling says that people use three different languages for politics (perhaps depending on the context), and that's why it's hard for some people to understand each other and make any progress:
    Progressives organize the good and the bad in terms of oppression and the oppressed, and they think in terms of groups. So, certain groups of people are oppressed, and certain groups of people are oppressors... Conservatives use civilization and barbarism. The good is civilized values that have accumulated over time and have stood the test of time; and the bad is barbarians who try to strike out against those values and destroy civilization... Libertarians weigh freedom versus coercion, so that good is individuals making their own choices, contracting freely with each other; and the bad is coercion at gunpoint, particularly on the part of governments.
  4. Tired of discourse? Maybe there should be a revolution?But there will be no revolution. What else can be done?
  5. Tired of all this? Look at these pretty pictures of man working WITH nature
H/T to RM


Robpublican said...

Milton Friedman supported a negative income tax which sort of amounts to the same thing. I also read something by Keynes that suggested that as productivity increased, we'd probably have to do something along these lines. If Krugman, Keynes, and Friedman are all on the same page, I think we should all pay attention.

Robpublican said...

Took a bit of searching but I found it. Keynes talking about the economy in 100 years:


David Zetland said...

@Rob -- yes, they are interested in that idea. I'm a fan of such "basic income" plans, but they suffer from an equality issue, i.e., SOME people will generate all the revenue and others will depend on them for basic income (while they paint, write poetry and express themselves). Those who have the cash will, I fear, end up writing the rules (hence slavery). Those who get an income will fall into powerlessness, to the point where they lose direction. I am no fan of wage slavery, but I also think that work makes us strong. So the intermediate step -- good pay for good work -- makes more sense to me. That's not an outcome in today's USA, but you can see it in other countries, e.g., teachers in Finland, craftsmen in Japan or regular workers in most scandinavian countries...

David Zetland said...

ps/Basic income delivers an income to everyone; the earned income tax credit only does so for people who work. Both have problems (BI may not go to health and education; EITC depends on formal employment). I'd prefer to leave income alone (replace income tax with property tax) while concentrating government subsidies on goods with public characteristics (e.g., education) as well as public goods...

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