Links to Consider, 1/16
Sam Hammond and Brian Chau; Rob Henderson reacts to a Jordan Peterson video; Richard Hanania on the culture war; Scott Sumner on Fed losses
So my thesis was looking at the idea that social insurance is really the key thing, the key functional role of religion. And one of the reasons the US secularized later was because of the arrested development of our welfare state.
…America's dysfunctional culture is really a defunctional culture. We've kind of removed the functional purpose behind common cultures, including religious cultures.
I think this aligns with what conservative sociologists like Robert Nisbet would have said back in the day. That when government usurps functions from civil society, you get a defunctional culture.
Much later, after some interesting observations about AI that I am skipping over, Hammond says,
I think the way you modify the First Enlightenment project is to recognize that actually reason was never situated in individual minds. Reason is a social phenomena. It's an institutional phenomena. It's having a courtroom where the prosecutor and defense attorneys battle it out and the jury has to decide. It's having, you know, companies that are more rational than individuals in profit maximizing sense . . .
we've been pulled into this sense of moral and epistemological skepticism because all the neuroscience and psychology research is telling us that people are basically irrational. But it was never about the individuals in the first place. It's about the social settings and social scaffolding that gives people the foundation to be rational as a collective.
Speak precisely, get rid of the ums, and the likes, and the you knows and the pauses. [I am sometimes guilty of these verbal tics and am undecided about whether I will ever concentrate on eliminating them. In their book on Talent, Tyler Cowen and Daniel Gross wrote, “Beware of verbally adept storytellers…Do not overestimate the importance of a person’s articulateness.” Most of us have a bias toward well-spoken and articulate individuals. It takes practiced effort to be well-spoken, and for many smart people, practicing public speaking is not their preferred time sink].
The first sentence is his paraphrase of Jordan Peterson, taken from a vido. The rest is Henderson’s commentary. There is much, much more at the link. I noticed in watching the YouTube of my discussion with Eric Kaufmann that my verbal tics are painful—especially when they show up in the transcript. Maybe I should stick to writing. I’m not sure “becoming a more dynamic speaker” is the dragon I want to slay (Peterson’s video uses the dragon metaphor).writes,
Elites see the viciousness of the culture war and think Americans must be miserable, but that’s sort of like watching Auburn fans yell at Alabama players and coming up with a broad sociological theory to explain what’s happening. The fight itself is the point.
And Murray Edelman might have said that the fight entertains us while elites go to the back rooms to divvy up the real goodies.
there is a sense in which these losses are illusionary. The Fed is part of the consolidated balance sheet of the federal government, and the Fed’s holdings of T-bonds are a liability of the Treasury. The Treasury gains when T-bond prices decline. So in one sense the gains and losses net out to zero. Even the fact that some of the bonds are MBSs doesn’t really change that fact.
4. But in a counterfactual sense, the $800 billion loss is real. If the Fed had not purchased these bonds, the Treasury would have profited handsomely from rising interest rates reducing the market value of its liabilities. The Fed took away that profit, and thus effectively cost the Treasury about $800 billion.
He comments on an analysis of the Fed’s losses due to “quantitative easing.” As John Cochrane put it, the left pocket of government (Treasury) issued some long-term debt, but the right pocket (the Fed) reconfigured that into short-term debt. Overall, the government would have a better balance sheet if the Fed had not interfered with the Treasury’s debt management.
Arnold, you can't be the most succinct writer on the internet AND the most engaging speaker. You'll have to settle for most succinct writer on the internet and second-most-prolific EconTalk guest.
Diction and regular speech are valuable assets, despite what "Talent" asserts. Tyler warning us not to overestimate these skills is a sign of the outsized influence of the spoken word in human affairs. If you value your own thoughts, you want to present them as forcefully as possible. Learning to speak clearly and well is as important as learning to write well. Many a good product has failed through over-modest packaging.