Supply-Side Economics, But for Liberals
Neil Irwin: “Certain social welfare policies, according to an emerging body of research, may actually encourage more people to work and enable them to do so more productively.”
“That is the conclusion of work that aims to understand in granular detail how different government interventions affect people’s behavior. It amounts to a liberal version of ‘supply-side economics,’ an approach to economics often associated with the conservatives of the Reagan era.”
It’s Too Late to Compensate Free Trade’s Losers
Dani Rodrik: “Today’s consensus concerning the need to compensate globalization’s losers presumes that the winners are motivated by enlightened self-interest – that they believe buy-in from the losers is essential to maintain economic openness. Trump’s presidency has revealed an alternative perspective: globalization, at least as currently construed, tilts the balance of political power toward those with the skills and assets to benefit from openness, undermining whatever organized influence the losers might have had in the first place. Inchoate discontent about globalization, Trump has shown, can easily be channeled to serve an altogether different agenda, more in line with elites’ interests.”
“The time for compensation has come and gone. Even if compensation was a viable approach two decades ago, it no longer serves as a practical response to globalization’s adverse effects. To bring the losers along, we will need to consider changing the rules of globalization itself.”
The Handbook That Can Help Americans Rig the Government
“In this season of civic ferment, one of the most remarkable phenomena has been the success of the ‘Indivisible’ guide. Crafted by four current and former Democratic congressional staffers after the election, this 26-page manual uses inside knowledge of Congress to teach everyday Americans how to resist the Trump agenda,” Eric Liu reports for Politico.
“Drawing unabashedly on the successful Tea Party strategies of 2009–2010, ‘Indivisible’ methodically describes how citizens can pressure our representatives and their staffs both in open arenas and behind closed doors. (At congressional town halls, ‘sit by yourself or in groups of two, and spread out throughout the room’ goes one bit of advice. ‘This will help reinforce the impression of broad consensus.’) It is a step-by-step guide to making a member of Congress cave.”
“On one level, ‘Indivisible’ is a massive success story of citizen power. But on another level, it’s a tantalizing template for how knowledgeable midlevel staffers can upend the status quo and empower citizens who have been left in the dark.”
How Left and Right Media Models Perpetuate Partisan Politics
Mark Jamison: “…how the media conducts its business in this country should also be partly blamed for the political rift. I don’t mean that we should blame CNN or MSNBC for being too liberal, or blame FOX News for being too conservative. The problem isn’t that journalists have opinions, but rather that the standard media business models – daily news for traditional media and talk radio like Rush Limbaugh’s and Sean Hannity’s programs – drive some media to the left and others to the right, leading large segments of their respective audiences to become caught in media bubbles.”
“Why do traditional media lean left? As historian John Summerville points out in his book ‘How the News Makes Us Dumb,’ the daily news business model relies on convincing viewers and readers that they have to consume news every day; that the news is urgent, that today’s news is bigger and scarier than yesterday’s news and that people who don’t watch or read today will suffer as a result. Stories are often couched in terms of groups – mostly race, gender and sexual preference – which accentuates the drama. A media mindset that focuses on urgent problems often concludes that someone in authority, namely the government, should fix them… Why don’t these same economic forces press talk radio to the left? Talk radio by its nature puts greater emphasis on the individual, which aligns with the conservative mindset.”
AI and the Robot Uprising: With So Many Jobs at Risk, Why Isn’t the World More Prepared?
Steve LeVine: “…the world has looked at the potential for a robot onslaught, and decided not to resist. In interviews, American technologists and a long list of historians, ethicists, and philosophers focused on science and technology told me in a seemingly unified voice that they had yet to come across a serious proposal for an outright ban on job-stealing robots, and that if they had, they would have thought it a bad idea, undoable, or outright absurd. A prohibition on robots ‘will impoverish everyone,’ said MIT’s Andrew McAfee, co-author of The Second Industrial Revolution.”
“But wait. In much of the world, we negotiate climate and nuclear arms deals; we regulate the spread of disease and firearms; we take diplomatic or even military action against dictators; and build defenses against cyber attacks by rogue nations. In all these cases, we are seeking a rational de-escalation of a perceived existential threat. Do the robots and their makers—in Silicon Valley, Japan, and China—place our way of life in less jeopardy? And if they are as dangerous, are they truly unstoppable, akin to a force of nature? Given the political havoc already wreaked in part by working-class discontent, can we do nothing to stop or even slow what seems a mechanized approximation of an army of marching Huns?”