Nation of Beancounters


Posted in Uncategorized by Navin Kumar on January 12, 2013

1. Portrait of a microbudget film – one of the most riveting and well written essays I’ve ever read. Has Kickstarter, Lindsay Lohan and several porn stars.

2. An anti-GM activist recants – and how! If I ever change my mind, I hope I do it like this.

“I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.

… So I guess you’ll be wondering – what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist.”

3. Happiness vs meaning. An interesting starting point. I haven’t read the paper yet, but I disagree with the article’s conclusion. I think meaning can be found in the pursuit of a goal, not merely in the joy of others.

4. The similarities between public choice theory and Leninist-Marxist thought. Differences: (i) Microfoundations. (ii) The non-assumption of  “superior” and “inferior” classes. Furthermore, PCT quite explicitly states that there must be some a priori public sympathy for “small farmers” etc which ML clearly doesn’t need.

5. Latvia vs Greece.

The Latvians hit bureaucrats hard, but pensioners less so. They also made the biggest cuts right away. … The Greeks have protected their state sector, made cuts slowly, and never convinced either their public or their creditors of their commitment.

But the differences between Latvia and Greece also lie in history, in culture, and, again, in emotion and national psychology. Latvia is small, homogenous, accustomed to hardship—it endured half a century of Soviet occupation—and is fiercely dedicated to its independence. It’s also in the North. As one Riga trade unionist explained, “What can you achieve in the street? It is cold and snowing.” Greece is bigger, less cohesive, and politically divided. It has also been bailed out by the rest of Europe, politically and economically, multiple times in the past half-century. And, of course, it’s in the South. You might be cold if you can’t pay your heating bill in Athens, but you won’t freeze to death. Maybe this diminishes the sense of urgency.


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  1. […] quipped “microfoundations” earlier. Mark Pennington offers a more through […]

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