The last 25 years have delivered amazing economic and technological progress for humanity. *Political* progress, in contrast, is hard even to detect during this period.
After “Don’t blame the victim,” the second-most obvious maxim for blame is, “Only blame the perpetrators.” Precisely who, though, are the “perpetrators”? Another deep criticism of my approach is that I blame too narrowly. Instead of concentrating blame on specific wrong-doers, we should blame large swaths of society – or even whole countries.
Last week, I reported on two myths about socialism. My new video covers three more.
Unsurprisingly, not all economists agree on how to approach what used to be called “political economy”. Adam Smith in 1776 defined it as “an inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations”. It was understood that the default state of mankind was poverty, so the question was how people become wealthy.
Episode 054 looks at two Stoic topics: the first from Seneca who wrote, “Nothing can satisfy greed, but even a small measure satisfies nature. So it is that the poverty of an exile brings no misfortune, for no place of exile is so barren as not to produce ample support for a person.”; and the second from r/Stoicism, a post by Ok_Intern_4405, which started, “I’m in my late twenties and I feel I am constantly pressuring myself to make good use of time, whether it is a conscious decision or not. I imagine a number of you could relate. Maybe it’s the rat race that has gotten into me, I’m not sure. But looking at the success of my peers, I can’t help but feel the need to not waste any second of my life.”
Episode 448 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following entries to r/shitstatistssay: @NathanHRubin writes, “Millennials don’t hear socialism & think about the USSR or the Cold War… we think about Canada, Switzerland…”; PixPls writes, “It’s time that teachers stood up to their states and just said ‘No’. And while they are at it, a 20% raise is in order.”; Wordsmifff2991 writes, “The biggest cause of poverty is greed… Yes Jeff Bezos I’m talking to you.”; and NeonDepression writes, “There wouldn’t be any value without labor period. The worker HAS to create it for there to be any wealth whatsoever. Property inherently is theft… There is no such thing as a free market when people are forced to work in order to live. Thats called coercion.”
Was 2020 the worst year ever? The media keep saying that. We did have the pandemic, a bitter election, unemployment, riots, and a soaring national debt. But wait, look at the good news, says historian Johan Norberg. His new book, Open: The Story of Human Progress, points out how life keeps getting better, even if people just don’t realize it.
Economically speaking, there’s a straightforward win-win case for these Mexican resorts: Not only do they make the tourists happier; they make the Mexicans happier by providing them with better opportunities than they have elsewhere in the Mexican economy. If you reconsider this verdict through the distorted lens of Social Desirability Bias, though, a radically different picture appears before your eyes. Once you forget economics, you could easily describe the resort experience in the following sordid way.
Data show alarming trends in drug overdoses and suicide as people—especially young people who are least at risk from COVID-19—are forcibly cut off from friends, families, and communities.
The Goldmans won their case on a “preponderance of evidence” standard rather than “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” In Trump’s case, there is no reasonable doubt: He’s on the hook for billions.