blueollie

Not always agreeing with our friends…

Paul Krugman: I like his rationalism. He won’t simply agree to “go along”, even with intellectual/political allies:

Joe Stiglitz has an Opinionator piece arguing that inequality is a big factor in our slow recovery. Joe is an insanely great economist, so everything he says should be taken seriously. And given my political views and general concerns about inequality, I’d like to agree.

But — you knew there was a “but” coming — I’ve thought about these issues a lot, and haven’t been able to persuade myself that this particular morality tale is right.

It’s worth noting that two of Joe’s four points aren’t really about the current recovery. He argues that high inequality is causing huge waste of human talent, because the poor and increasingly the middle class lack access to good education; and I agree. He also argues that inequality fosters financial crisis, and I agree with that too.

But we’re talking about the financial crisis aftermath, not the crisis itself. What role does inequality play?

First, Joe offers a version of the “underconsumption” hypothesis, basically that the rich spend too little of their income. This hypothesis has a long history — but it also has well-known theoretical and empirical problems. [...]

Surf to read what Krugman has to say. Some points:
1. It is not apriori impossible to have full employment based only on the wealthy spending a lot and
2. Remember that when you measure income, someone with a high income THIS year might be having an unusually good year; therefore they might save more than you’d expect (rather than spend more).

Religion Jerry Coyne is a scientist and an outspoken atheist. So what value might he see in a hypothetical afterlife? (note: Coyne is critiquing a Sidney Callahan article):

I’m not optimistic to think that cosmology or consciousness will replace heaven, and I think that Callahan knows that. What will replace heaven is a better life on earth, and that means not Rembrandt or Donne, but universal medical care, more income equality, and less crime. But leave that aside:

When I debate at home with my beloved Catholic atheists, I finally end with the remark that the only outcome for our argument is that they will be surprised on dying. If they are right and nothingness prevails, then none of us will exist to continue the conversation. Thank God I can’t believe that for more than a minute.

Now that’s wishful thinking: Callahan simply can’t entertain the possibility that his consciousness will be extinguished at death.

I must confess, though, that I too chafe at the thought that the religious people will never learn they’re wrong. And I sometimes wish that the faithful could be resurrected for a few brief minutes after death—just so I could tell them, “I told you so!”

(emphasis mine). :-)

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January 20, 2013 - Posted by | economy, politics, politics/social, religion, social/political | ,

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