Discover more from In My Tribe
Links to Consider, 9/17
Razib Khan hearts substack; Brian Chau on populism; I answer five questions; Allison Schrager's wise observations; Tyler Cowen on social media
friends who know how bullish I am on this platform often privately ask whether I am confident Substack will continue to defend free speech. I am happy to say I have complete confidence that as long as the current leadership team is intact, Substack will stay true to the classical liberal vision of openness and debate. I have interacted enough with the leadership team personally and heard enough encouraging things from old friends I trust in Silicon Valley to be highly confident in this prediction.
Khan is the person I most admire on Substack. I enjoyed the whole essay, as I do many of his essays. I hope is prediction is right.
In our Zoom discussion for paid subscribers last Monday, we spent some time on Substack’s business prospects. One thought is that Substack can build a moat by getting its recommendation process working well, so that the best way to get traffic is to stay on Substack. Along those lines, my idea of offering, say, a 10 percent discount on participating newsletters if you subscribe to, say, 3 or more, would appeal to readers and also help to build the moat.
You can disagree on economics, abortion, and even immigration, so long as you recognize the one commandment: the ruling class is illegitimate.
My view of the ruling class is that it’s really bad, but we could do worse. Calling the ruling class illegitimate sounds to me like a call for revolution, and I am not there yet.
Anti-establishment feelings are widespread, as Chau points out. But a coalition that is united around what it is against and divided about what it is for strikes me as unstable and not particularly helpful. Note that Martin Gurri sees ineffectual nihilism in a lot of the protest movements fueled by social media.
Evan Kasakove has five questions for me. The last one:
EK: What would fiscal and monetary policy look like if policymakers understood your book Specialization and Trade?
Kling: Policymakers would have more humility. They would not undertake drastic measures, such as TARP or the COVID relief efforts, or the Fed increasing the size of its balance sheet by orders of magnitude.
Not only are wages still growing, but they are also more stable than ever. Men’s wages still grow (but at a slower rate) and start lower when they are young. This all means men earn less over their lifetime, but they experience less risk—so it’s hard to make a welfare judgement. Other shocking findings are that high-paid CEOs are not to blame for runaway inequality, and most of the 1% are only in the 1% for a few years of their life.
Her post deals with several topics, and on each one she offers an interesting insight.
Well, his [Jonathan Haidt’s] take on social media, it’s far too negative, and it’s way more negative than the evidence itself justifies in my opinion. And he’s this weird mix of someone who’s such a huge defender of free speech, but when free speech comes on social media, all of a sudden it’s ruining the world. [laughs] And I don’t really get how he squares all those views. It’s not logically impossible, but it’s not an easy or comfortable fit either.
Tyler also points out that social media behavior could be endogenous. That is, we have a society that is going nuts for other reasons, and the nuttiness plays out on social media.