hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Monday, June 29, 2009
Thinking about Josh Marshall's post about rent-seeking & the public option, and his link to the Wikipedia page,



I think my core complaint with mainstream economics is that there seems to be a careless, unspoken assumption that

1) Rent-seeking usually occurs because of too much government, and not too little.

2) The main problem with rent-seeking is in the seeking of rent, and not in the rent itself, and its distribution.

I first started thinking on these George-ist type issues after reading this article by by Dan Sullivan, via someone in the comments on Dean Baker's blog:

"Are you a Real Libertarian, or a ROYAL Libertarian?"


Two more Deep Thoughts:

When a large portion of the nation's elite adopts the mindset "make my pile quickly and retire early", bad things happen.

Orwell: "It is easier — even quicker, once you have the habit — to say `In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that' than to say `I think'."

Saturday, June 27, 2009
More Deep Thoughts:

The basic lesson of this financial crisis: Don't count your chickens before they are hatched.

Crate & Barrel sells neither Crates nor Barrels.

Frédéric Bastiat: "Everyone wants to live off the state. They forget that the state lives off of everyone."

Me: Everyone wants to live off investments. They forget that investments live off of everyone.

PG Wodehouse: "The Glow Worm always sold well, principally because of the personal nature of its contents. If the average mortal is told that there is something about him in a paper, he will buy that paper at your own price." (The Pothunters)

The nut grafs of Part One of Wigan Pier (which actually appear in Part Two):

". . .So long as it is merely a question of ameliorating the worker’s lot, every decent person is agreed. Take a coal-miner, for example. Everyone, barring fools and scoundrels, would like to see the miner better off. If, for instance, the miner could ride to the coal face in a comfortable trolley instead of crawling on his hands and knees, if he could work a three-hour shift instead of seven and a half hours, if he could live in a decent house with five bedrooms and a bath-room and have ten pounds a week wages—splendid! Moreover, anyone who uses his brain knows perfectly well that this is within the range of possibility. The world, potentially at least, is immensely rich; develop it as it might be developed, and we could all live like princes, supposing that we wanted to. . .The world is a raft sailing through space with, potentially, plenty of provisions for everybody; the idea that we must all cooperate and see to it that every-one does his fair share of the work and gets his fair share of the provisions seems so blatantly obvious that one would say that no one could possibly fail to accept it unless he had some corrupt motive for clinging to the present system."

I'm not sure that Orwell is right on this, but I'm also not sure that he's wrong.

Dorothy Sayers: "Every time we expect, as is said, our money to work for us, we are expecting other people to work for us; an when we expect it to bring in more money in a year than honest work could produce in that time, we are expecting it to cheat and steal on our behalf. . .The virtue of which covetousness is the perversion is something more positive and warm-hearted than thrift. It is the love of the real values, of which the material world has only two: the fruits of the earth and the labor of the people." (The Other Six Deadly Sins)