Links to Consider, 11/19
Brett Andersen on two-worlds morality; Justin Mares on government nutrition; Matt Goodwin on upward mobility; Tim B. Lee on house prices
In pre-Axial societies like ancient Greece, human beings thought of themselves as being continuous with both the rest of nature and with divinity. Differences between things were differences of degree rather than of kind. The most important difference between entities was the amount of power they had. The difference between human beings and gods was not a moral or metaphysical difference, but rather consisted of the fact that the gods were more powerful than regular people. The gods of the ancient Greeks might be morally flawed from our perspective, but they are still considered gods because of their great power.
The Axial Age, as it manifested in both Greece and Israel (to be focused on because these are the two main influences on Western civilization), disrupted this worldview. Vervaeke refers to this disruption as the great disembedding. We went from a continuous cosmos to one in which there are two worlds: the everyday world of sensory experience and the transcendent world of divinity. This happened in both Greece (largely via Plato) and Israel, with these strands later being synthesized through Plato’s influence on Christianity. At the same time, we transitioned from a morality in which continuous ‘good vs. bad’ became dichotomous ‘good vs. evil’.
Let me offer a periodic reminder that when I link to an essay, I recommend the whole essay, not just the excerpt that I provide here.hosts Justin Mares, who writes,
In 2016, $7 billion of SNAP (a nutrition-assistance program for low-income people) funds were spent on sugary drinks. Which means revenue from taxpayer-funded SNAP made up nearly 20% of Coke’s annual US revenue that year.
Yes: in a government program specifically engineered to help lower-income people improve their nutrition, sugary drinks are one of the largest line-items
My mum did the very best she could and I am immensely proud to say she is my mum. But like many other single mums she suffered many of these things. My brother and I watched her drift in and out of depression, in and out of relationships, and, later, in and out of alcoholism. And that had an enormous impact, especially on my brother.
His thoughts on social mobility, family structure, and agency all draw from his personal background.
“My base case is something like a 10 percent drop in home prices relative to the peak,” said Arpit Gupta, a finance professor at New York University. But he said things could get much worse than that.
“A 30 percent drop in prices would not be super out-of-the ordinary if you take the level of volatility we've had for the last 20 years,” Gupta added. That would put the current housing bust on par with the crash that began in 2006 and triggered the Great Recession.
Pointer from. Robert Shiller has pointed out that the historical pattern for price corrections in the housing market is that they take a long time. Instead of prices adjusting rapidly, housing turnover slows to a crawl.
Government programs for lending and government programs for nutrition are more similar than not.
I wrote a comment about the price action for housing from 2006 to 2012 but it is clearer with graphs so I made it a hastily put together blog post. The TLDR is that housing prices were heavily driven in that period by the over building of units, as seen by the vacancy rates plus the difference between housing starts and housing completions. We don't need idiosyncratic explanations for the housing market when supply and demand does an excellent job on its own. For those interested