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Archive for January, 2012

Thomas Kuhn. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

January 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Bla Bla bla

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Categories: Book Summary

Marky Blyth Great Transformations

January 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Marky Blyth’s book mainly states that ideas should be accounted for when explaining economic behaviour. His these are that ideas provide stability and not institutions in situations of Knightian uncertainty (you don’t know the future or your own interests). This makes sense, it is not institutions that make us feel safe but our knowledge of the way the world works. To this end a large number of ideas are covered in the book comparing Sweden and the US. The other theses are that ideas are required to attack, dismantle, set up, and operate stabely new institutions of economic governance. In the US an Denmark both countries developed embedded liberalism where employment was valued over inflation and both business and labour were embedded in the state structure that mediated the two. There is then a shift in the 1970s towards the self regulating market liberalism using monetarism and other financial creeds that is continuing today. This is important because Blyth shows that economic change BEGINS with ideas. Agents actively try to win the debate of ideas and after the 1960s business was gaining ground because it redefined its own interests and how to achieve stability in the economy and organized itself in a way that it could use the concentrated influence of its wealth to change popular opinion in the US and elite opinion in Sweden. The ideas behind what is good for the economy (mainly low inflation and investment versus high employment and consumption) are therefore not natural economic processes that result from exogenous shocks but a result of internal dynamics. This book is somewhat  frustrating because it clearly shows how money talks and how it came to talk over the years, but it also shows how agents have power and can induce change (usually if they are well organized and have money and deal well with public relations). The current theory of chnage argues that domestic economic shifts towards conservatism occur because of technological developments, increased competition, or external shocks, Blyth shows that before any of these can have an effect the ideas for them to play out must be set. For Blyth there is a limit to what action governments can take set by the ideological environment. Therefore Swedish bourgeoise leaders acted as socialists in power because they had no alternative ideas before resuscitating monetarism and the current Neoliberals govern as conservatives because the limits of the possible choices of action are already set. This is worse in Europe because the highly conservative EU regulates economies from the center.

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Howard Zinn on historical records

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

24:30

The really critical way that people are deceived by history is not that lies are told but that things are omitted. If a lie is told you can check up on it, if something is omitted you have no way of knowing that it has been omitted.

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Disorderly Hegemonic Transition Theory

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

To use the two-level game metaphor, US politicians were ill-equipped to advance the long-term interest
of the US and world capitalist economy, and were far more attuned to the short-term interests of their constituencies.
Rather than act as a responsible hegemon, Strange argued, the US preferred to export its internal problems to the world
in the form of inflation in the 1970s, growing debt in the 1980s, and a disastrous expansion of consumer credit risk in
the 1990s, and let everyone else suffer the consequences. In a prescient work published in 1986 that envisaged the kind
of global crisis that erupted in August 2007, Strange enumerated the reasons why she thought the world economy was
evolving from a multilateral system anchored in Keynesian ideas to what she described as “Casino Capitalism”: a global
economy dominated by speculative booms and busts. Such a volatile economy did not emerge because of the existence
or not of a hegemonic state, as HST believed, nor was it a consequence of the ability of parochial interests in the US to
impose their will on the majority, as Mancur Olson’s followers believed. Rather, it came about through a series of
decisions or, equally important, non-decisions made at various levels and often with wholly unintended consequences,
by various US administrations, their political and economic allies, multinational corporations, banks, international
accounting, law firms, and others.

 

From the Compendium article of globalization and global political economy

Categories: Uncategorized

Human Adaptiveness

January 12, 2012 Leave a comment

The Potato and the Tomato are American plants. Potato from the Andes, and Tomato south America in general. They were only introduced to the old world after the 1600s. It is amazing that potatoes are associated with Ireland, Russia (Vodka) and other Eastern European countries, and tomato’s are associated with everything really. Spanish bread, Italian everything, Pizza. It really is amazing, in 200 years cuisines of entire countries were completely revamped, and still people use food to claim connections and heritage. Makes you wonder what the Romans ate if they had neither Pasta nor tomatoes. I’m not including corn because it is generally known to be an American food, but its inclusion is also quite impressive. If anything the spread of food is a good sign of the possibility of coexistence and adaptation.

“The tomato was introduced to cultivation in the Middle East by John Barker, British consul in Aleppo circa 1799 to 1825.Nineteenth century descriptions of its consumption are uniformly as an ingredient in a cooked dish. In 1881, it is described as only eaten in the region “within the last forty years”” From Wikipedia.

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Teleology

January 10, 2012 Leave a comment

So to add to an increase in population, another clear change that can be said to be teleological is the increase in the population living in cities. I think more people live in cities than outside of them in the world as of 2008.

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Social Mobility

January 7, 2012 Leave a comment

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/05/us/harder-for-americans-to-rise-from-lower-rungs.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

 

SO this article makes the case that there is not much social mobility in the US, but to me it is striking how much social mobility there is at all. So the graph shows that below than half of men raised in the bottom fifth of society stay there. The rest move on elsewhere. That means that a majority actually do have social mobility (albeit a slim one). I don’t get wy this number is thought to be a low one, to me it is very high. After all if there is absolute mobility that means that as many people are falling into the lower fifth than those leaving it.

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