1824. Keynes wrote……


It is our duty to prolong peace, hour by hour, day by day, for as longas we can. We do not know what the future will bring, except that itwill be quite different from anything we could predict. I have said inanother context that it is a disadvantage of “the long run” that in thelong run we are all dead. But I could have said equally well that it is agreat advantage of “the short run” that in the short run we are stillalive. Life and history are made up of short runs. If we are at peace inthe short run, that is something. The best we can do is put off disaster,if only in the hope, which is not necessarily a remote one, thatsomething will turn up. While there is peace, there is peace.  1937.

How to govern in a capitalistic society, but are there other posibilities?  Why should a few own capital? A way of getting a responsible elite to govern and be rewarded? Weak logic.

1822. Economics on the defensive, not offensive.

Dani Rodrik has a fairly new book.( 2015) I decided to read while looking for who is trying new economic thinking.

Gets a good review for example from Dian Coyle.

“But I hope open-minded critics of economics will read Economics Rules to learn how the best of economists approach the subject, and how important their work is.

Rodrik starts the book with

This book has its origins in a course I taught with Roberto Mangabeira Unger on political economy for several years at Harvard. In his inimitable fashion, Roberto pushed me to think hard about the strengths and weaknesses of economics and to articulate what I found useful in the economic method. The discipline had become sterile and stale, Roberto argued, because economics had given up on grand social theorizing in the style of Adam Smith and Karl Marx. I pointed out, in turn, that the strength of economics lay precisely in small-scale theorizing, the kind of contextual thinking that claries cause and eect and sheds light—even if partial—on social reality. A modest science practiced with humility, I argued, is more likely to be useful than a search for universal theories about how capitalist systems function or what determines wealth and poverty around the world.”

“A modest science..more useful than .. about how capitalism functions or what determines wealth or poverty.”

More useful? To whom? I like Unger so the idea that they did a course together got my curiosity up and discovered that Unger and Cornel West are doing a course together now and on it is on line. But first, Rodrik gives a few example of “good economics.”

This is one is central.

” He [the economist] recommended that fares be increased at peak times and in sections with high traffic, and be lowered at other times and in other sections. This system of “congestion pricing” was nothing other than the application of economic supply-demand principles to public transport. It reduced car-bon emissions, and generated considerable revenue for the Singaporean authorities to boot.”

So we know that working people are stuck wih a fixed time frame so they will pay the highest rates. Very regressive. Why doesn’t Rodrik see this? Then “more revenue” for the state which means taxes can be lower. To me Rodrik’s thinking is just not dealing with the obvious. How can he get his mind in such a warp in a book that is saying it is reevaluating the god and bad f economics practice?

Must see Roberto Unger and Cornell West at Harvard Law.

American Democracy course – February 2
Rodrik continues t be an interesting thinker but too defensive of standard economics and not seeing to the needs of a population that could reject Clinton and reluctantly (for many) vote in Trump.. Here he is better for example in his review of Karl Polanyi on his website. http://rodrik.typepad.com/ for march 8.



1821. Leaders for special interests

We have Trump representing the angry, but not representing why they are angry. The Democrats represent the professional class  who caused the problems for three or four decades (actually post WW2) but do no represent a new way that prevents the problems caused by neo-liberals  (think Clintons).

The results:  few represent the country, the species, the globe, American democracy. For years we knew of the ghettos, the declining income of the poor, the growing militarism, the exploitation of the poor in emergent economies, the decline in education and rising crazy costs. But our kids would be ok. OK? No. We must do better.

1820. Governmental detachment.

Serious problem. In Trump’s case, he and the people who surround them are not involved with the social civic society groups that are mot relevant t their supposed role in Government. Energy and EPA of course, and Health, Interior, also.

The expected competency of government is to know what they are talking about.”. 

Their actions os governors is to destroy what they do not know. This is not the expected role of governance and I would say Trump has shown incapacity to govern, should be subjected to removal, and the government has declared it is the enemy to things that represent me, hence the government has chosen to be my enemy.

The problem is that the people around Trump represent the extreme rich and mobilize the weakest and poorest with a hope that will be trashed by what Trump and congress actually do – or don’t do. The Democrats represented the professional class and also tried, and somewhat failed, to mobilize those hurt by the focus on the interests of that class. The professional class was and is pretty detached from the rest of the country and its painful eclineNo party was leading on the real issues: climate, inequality, automation, corrupted governance. Further, the rise of the Republicans, from weak states and hardly a majority of the country, is the fault of te Democrats who let the gerrymandering take place and did not work to develop the party. There is now really no Democratic platform and no emerged (but hopefully emerging and as yet usnseen) democratic leaderships that offer an alternative. Yet stuff will happen.


1819. No leader?

Is there any political leader who speaks for the very accurate, though limited recognition by many Trump voters of the  malise of society , but are not bring served well by what Trump is actually about? Many young, many Bernie supporters, fit in this category of the un-led.  Neither the Democrats  nor Republicand are coming forth with such a dpokesperson.

1818. Freedom today.

Freedom now means cutting through the layers of ideology and advertising that make us uncomfortable, but we can’t cut through to a solid ground outside us that is TRUTH because despite our half believing it, it doesn’t exist. But we can cut through to pieces of ideology and belief that make us feel ok about living, about being alive. Always tricky, always requiring vigilance and discernment. But better than just going along the encrusted road to nowhere.

To stretch yourself try

Yuja Wang Shostakovich 1st Piano Concerto

and for hard reading


To cope with the human condition now requires of us  much more education in the interstices of the normal disciplines (which fail us).

My interest in freedom is deep. The current uses are so varied. I was a student of Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom. Terrific book, very widely read. Can there be something like it now? There are two problems: he deals with right authoritarian tendencies but not left (he came out of the Frankfort School and its humanistic marxism), and he has a critique of existing societies but his vision of a free society is abstract and timeless.

Breaking through is very hard work. Consider this simple diagram (needing words because I am not taking the time to draw it better).


On the Left is Paradise !, Basically the Garden of Eden, but it could be just a green more natural world. On the right is paradise 2, our current world desire. It is us, also with a mate, lying down instead of walking, and we can imagine them with a cell phone or iPad. But instead of nature we have what we consider essentials: V, bath and shower, sink and running water, computer  stove, refrigerator and car. We believe these are essential, but along with that belief comes the belief in the system that provides them.   see why we have a lot of work to do?