… to restrict their activities?

David Cay Johnston doesn’t say that, but on reading his essay, I was thinking that. The corporations that occupy Congress won’t tell you anything you weren’t already thinking about how the government serves corporations, but it is a well framed and well written and reasonably detailed update that you should read. Continue reading

Gene Marks, you wrote an essay for Forbes that has gotten a lot of people rather upset. People are upset because you display insensitive unchecked privilege and, essentially, you blame an entire class of people as the victims of what is mostly not their fault but rather, your fault and the fault of the modal Forbes reader, as well as society more broadly, history, culture, economics, racism and all sort of other things that are largely beyond the control of the Poor Black Kids of the Inner City of whom you write.

I think you meant well, but you did not do well. There are many ways in which you display a marked lack of a clue about your topic. How so? Let’s start at the beginning of your essay: Continue reading

The Republican Governor’s Association met in Florida this week and featured pollster Frank Luntz, who … told attendees that he’s “scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death.” The pollster warned that the movement is “having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”

Apparently, there are some interesting changes going on in the current culture of politics. According to Luntz, people still prefer “capitalism” to “socialism” (we all know the average American has no clue what either one is, so when we say “capitalism” and “socialism” we speak not of the systems but the words themselve… but I digress). But, he says, people know that capitalism is immoral. That’s an improvement! He suggests to his Republican mentees that they avoid the word “capitalism.”
Continue reading

Based on Richard A. Epstein’s new Broadside, this video outlines the differences between the classical liberalism of the Tea Parties and the progressive agenda advanced by the OWS movement, and reveals that the painful performance of the American economy in the past decade is not a function of bad luck, but the product of flawed institutional design….

Continue reading

…These days, when I drive out Route 55, also known as the Olsen Highway, most of the buildings I see were built since I stayed in that run down little motel, which by the way was long ago torn down and replaced with new development. Nothing about that drive is familiar now, except for the Rainbow which had just been built when I stayed there, and an old beat up strip mall from the mid 20th century. There was once wilderness, a few farms, the usual lakes. Then, Boom! Building everywhere.

And the funny thing is that today, many of those buildings are for sale, vacant, for lease. There are even buildings built in the last ten years that are at risk of deterioration through misuse. And that isn’t a particularly depressed part of town.

It seems that civilization, and its economy, are like the proverbial river that you can’t step into twice: It is always there, but never is it the same. This has been true since the Industrial Revolution: Cheap hydroelectric power harnessed by modern turbines under emerging brick mills filled with rural transplants, mostly women and children, losing the occasions finger or hand to the machinery but driving a brave new economy with the production of cloth or flour. But the water allowed only a certain amount of growth, so it was supplemented with coal-powered steam engines running the mill’s machines. Then the coal became the main form of energy. Homes lit by burning tallow and whale oil became brighter with the introduction of gas lines and lamps, and the streets glowed at night in London and New York and Minneapolis, and eventually liquid petroleum found its use to drive more industrial engines, and eventually cars, and eventually furnaces in our homes, and eventually along side coal power stations that produced the electricity that made our homes even brighter….

That is part of an essay I wrote for Financial Engagement, a Public Thing. It is published (in print) as part of a newspaper project. There is a PDF version of the while shebang, which you can get to here.