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Tuesday, January 29, 2008


PATHWAYS: A magazine on poverty, inequality, and social policy

Cross-posted to FreedomDemocrats.

A prominent team of economists is publishing a new magazine devoted to issues of income distribution. In the first issue of Pathways Magazine: A Magazine on Poverty, Inequality, and Social Policy you'll find anti-poverty policy proposals by John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Hilary Clinton. The editorial board includes Kenneth Arrow (of Arrow's impossibility theorem), and Charles Murray.

Murray contributed an article (the only one I read), in which he rehashes some of his ideas regarding poverty, and clinches the prize of "the most sophisticated of vulgar libertarians". He makes a strong argument that the main factor contributing to poverty in America is social breakdown, including fatherless children--but he doesn't provide any insight as to what anyone can do about this social breakdown. Furthermore, having found an a major factor influencing poverty, he seems to be dismissive of any further examination of other factors --regardless of whether they influence poverty directly or reduce the social breakdown that he focuses on.

He also dedicates some space to the issue of why highly-paid workers earn so much more than the average salary. He attributes this to the increasing value of cognitive skills (technology development and large-organization management) and appealing to an increasing tournament effect among entertainers. He treats these phenomena as historical inevitabilities; without a word, he dismisses the possibility that these market structures are the result of semi-arbitrary property laws, taxes and subsidies, or even our cultural values--all of which we can change if we dislike the consequences.

Tip to Mirror on America.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


DIY at the next level?: TechShop, Construction Junction

TechShop: Open-Access Public Workshop
TechShop is like a health club, but with machine tools rather than treadmills. Is this just a hobby for the middle class, or might it provide a new economic outlet for workers seeking to control their produce?

Construction Junction
recycles building materials, generally recovered from demolished buildings. It's generally seen as an environmentally conscious and cheap way of getting stuff. Can institutions like this make local economies more robust to economic downturns--reusing their local scrap rather than needing to import new parts? Can a smart, labor-intensive supply site compete with standardized, automated distribution networks?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Glenn Greenwald: Oligarchical Decay

Oligarchical decay

Glenn Greenwald writes:
And thus we have a perfect oligarchical system in which, literally, our most powerful and well-connected elite are free to break the law with impunity, exempt from any consequences. While exempting themselves, these same figures impose increasingly Draconian "law and order" solutions on the masses to ensure that even small infractions of the law prompt vigorous prosecution and inflexible, lengthy prison terms.

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