The heresy of common sense policy

Bill Mitchell had an interesting and instructive post to his billy blog on 19 June, ‘Britain continues to look like a failed state’. Couple observations leap out that fit neatly into the heretical views of the indomitable invicti et invictae, stuff like family, community, society and quality of life. Of course, we do recognise that Thatcher did remind us, ‘And, you know, there is no such thing as society’, and do choose to sanely and humanely ignore that drivel.  Bilbo stated, ‘…I am sometimes asked when making public presentations how I judge the success or otherwise of public policy. I respond with a simple rule of thumb. The benchmark is not how rich the policy framework makes society in general but how rich it makes the poor!…’

With such a lead-in we have a look at how many countries of Latin America have fared in that direction.


To put that in context, we add some reality to the incessant PR. Here in a nutshell is something, covered also by The Atlantic on 13 May 2011.


For more depth and analysis we turn to this very recent article, ‘Growing Apart: A Political History of American Inequality’, (h/t Naked Capitalism), where we witness the unrelenting reversal of substantial economic gains among the lower deciles of the US population. In the first interactive figure we see the share of income going to that one percent decreasing by 26.6% over the 1947 – 1979 period, thereafter increasing healthily over 1979 – 2012 by 119.6%, a new very gilded era. The second interactive chart compares the Gini coefficients of the US with its OECD counterparts. For the US, the figure for 2008 was 0.38 compared with 0.36 for 2000.

And talking about the Gilded Age II, why not have Miles Corak throw a curve at the Great Gatsby?

great-gatsby-curve 2012

On poverty reduction, no endless ‘war’ needed. Only policymakers not in the thrall of their one-percent controllers. Heresy, clearly.

Living the livable life

Well, not really. Just a random take on stuff.

The Guardian (UK) would occasionally make a praiseworthy but perilous foray into the fast-moving streams of selecting best books, fiction and non-fiction. Headaches guaranteed, especially in not only determining the really, really best but also in determining the sub-categories of its non-fiction.

For fiction, a sample of the choices, not all on the Guardian’s list, of some of us would include:

Crime and Punishment

Don Quijote

Le Rouge et le Noir

Les Misérables

One Hundred Years of Solitude (Cien años de soledad)

Zorba the Greek

Great Expectations

David Copperfield

Little Dorrit

The thing about Dickens is his graphic depiction of the squalour of London, and the pollution – in the mid-20th century London would experience the type of coal-induced smog and sickness that plagued it in centuries past. In such an environment would arise Dr John Snow whose methodology to identify the source of the spread of a disease, cholera, a methodology that would be later adopted by economists. Dickens also captures well the illogic of debtor’s prison with its devastating effects on the family.

For non-fiction, tricky category, and randomly listed, and without sub-category:

Plato’s Republic

Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee

Carta de Jamaica

Hard Times

Extraordinary Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Theory and Practice of Creole Grammar

Les Essais de Montaigne

Middle Passage

Communist Manifesto

Wealth of Nations

Economic Philosophy

Venas Abiertas

Wretched of the Earth

Principia Mathematica

Thing about ‘classics’ is that sudden impulse to go have another read. And such reading can go with any of a grappe of musical selections – and the choice of musician or conductor also poses challenges. An example of such a challenge, and enjoyable at that:


Intermezzo – Cavalleria Rusticana

Or Muti? But, at about 1:40…

Intermezzo – Cavalleria Rusticana

And, no, classic is not restricted to classical music:

The Hawk

Leprechaunomics, begorra!

The luck of the Irish. This one we couldn’t invent. If even Dean Baker couldn’t believe it, who then are we? And when the usually staid, data-focused Calculated Risk joins the fray, we know we’re up a creek and hoping the Irish Times is, well, being impishly Irish with its tale, Recession out of the picture as Fermanagh puts on a brave face for G8leaders”.

4a38392c-81f9-4159-897b-e7118fe8605d-460x252Ireland GDP U

On 17 and 18 June 2013, the G8 leaders are to meet in Fermanagh, Ireland. And if that wasn’t bad luck enough for the Irish (and the unprivileged rest of the world), it was necessary to transmogrify evident signs of severe economic distress into sparkling and booming affluence. So in came the Leprechaunomists with their magic, inspired by one (case of) Guinness too many. Poof! No severe economic downturn. No brutal unemployment. The magic of Expansionary Austerity.

The blarney will meet the, the, well, to adapt Alvy Singer, “I happen to have Prof Frankfurt’s essay right here”. No pot- o’-gold for the Irish at the end of this rainbow.

Update, 21 June: Aside that comical, obligatory photo-op of posing with a Guinness, we have an incisive, withering take-down of the farce, the hypocrisy

We give praise to Honourable Clare Daly with this special shamrock.