"noah smith"

Bloomberg: Middle-class Americans were "fleeced" by neoliberalism

Noah Smith (previously) writes in Bloomberg (!) about the "fleecing" of the Gen-X and Boomer middle class -- a class that is growing continuously smaller and poorer, thanks to "financial deregulation, tax cuts and a lax attitude toward consumer protection and antitrust." Read the rest

A handful of essential ideas from economics

Inspired by this year's Edge question ("What scientific term or concept ought to be more widely known?"), Bloomberg columnist Noah Smith enumerates five economic concepts that we would be well-served to familiarize ourselves with: "Endogeneity" (when you don't know whether something is a cause or effect); "Marginal versus average" (something can be good on average, but so bad at the margins that it's a net negative); "Present value and discounting" (how much would you sacrifice today for the promise of something great tomorrow?); "Conditional versus unconditional" (you can hedge a prediction by adding a condition: "Assuming Donald Trump loses the election, the biggest crisis we'll face is a continued transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich"); "Aggregate" (differentiating global effects from local ones: borrowing money reduces your personal net worth, but increases some one else's, so you're getting poorer, they're getting richer and in the aggregate, it's a wash -- governments need to think in aggregate, voters need to think in particular). Read the rest

Free trade lowers prices -- but not on things poor people need (and it pushes up housing prices)

Part of the economic argument for free trade deals is that they benefit workers by producing cheaper goods -- even if you lose your manufacturing job, you can buy stuff a lot cheaper with the next job you get. Read the rest

What FRPGs can teach us about gold

"Look at games like World of Warcraft, Diablo, Dungeons and Dragons, or the original Final Fantasy. In those games, gold is the money, and you often get gold not by doing an honest day's work, but by running around and beating people up and taking their gold. In other words, the entire world of modern fantasy role-playing is a subtle joke on gold's unsuitability as a medium of exchange." -Noah Smith (via Making Light) Read the rest

Django Unchained: "A white revenge fantasy"

Noah Smith (who is white) saw "Django," and loved it. "Not for the cartoonish violence (which was OK, nothing special) or for Tarantino's trademark witty banter (which was a bit subdued)," he says, but for its politics. "I'm pretty sure that for all its elements of blaxploitation, Django's politics are all about white people," writes Smith. "It's not a black revenge fantasy; it's a white revenge fantasy." Django isn't black people's story of slavery: it's white people's. Read the rest