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The Problem With Neglecting Political Economy

Wednesday, January 25, 2012
One of the more frustrating things about contemporary economics, and of the left-tinged types like Matt Yglesias who are influenced by neoliberal economics, is the total neglect of political economy. There is a very, very old tradition linking the structure of the economy, and in particular the distribution of wealth, to the system of politics. In short, extreme distributions of wealth tend to result in extreme distributions of power, and hence oligarchic politics. This means that if you want to have a popular government, you need to pay very close attention to developments in the economy - which is why one of my earliest posts was on the importance of preserving small businesses and labor unions as bastions of stable democratic politics.

So I'm happy to see that Matt is at least willing to entertain the idea that there might be some problems with the domination of the economy by huge international corporations totally indifferent to the needs of human beings. Gee, Matt, do you think maybe the growing concentration of wealth and the assault of our quality of life might be linked somehow?
Posted by Arbitrista @ 3:19 PM

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So The Founders Really Did Sound Like Americans?

Sunday, January 15, 2012
A common criticism of movies set during the American Revolution is that the rebels should have spoken with British accents, not American ones. Well according to this guy, apparently it's the British whose accents have changed.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 7:54 AM

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Advice to Social Scientists (And Especially Economists)

Saturday, January 14, 2012
"...it is the mark of a trained mind never to expect more precision in the treatment of any subject than the nature of that subject allows; for demanding logical demonstrations from a teacher of rhetoric is clearly about as reasonable as accepting mere plausibility from a mathematician."

Aristotle, the Ethics.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 4:43 PM

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The Era of Data

Thursday, January 12, 2012
I just downloaded detailed data on close to 20,000 governmental subunits from a federal government website in less then ten minutes, in a simple, easy-to-use spreadsheet.

Empirical researchers just entering grad school these days have no idea how lucky they are. Well, except for there being no jobs, of course.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 4:50 PM

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