The philosopher Isaiah Berlin once said that the trouble with academics and commentators is that they care more about whether ideas are interesting than whether they are true. Politicians live by ideas just as much as professional thinkers do, but they can’t afford the luxury of entertaining ideas that are merely interesting. They have to work with the small number of ideas that happen to be true and the even smaller number that happen to be applicable to real life. In academic life, false ideas are merely false and useless ones can be fun to play with. In political life, false ideas can ruin the lives of millions and useless ones can waste precious resources. An intellectual’s responsibility for his ideas is to follow their consequences wherever they may lead. A politician’s responsibility is to master those consequences and prevent them from doing harm.Getting Iraq Wrong
E.T. (Enkhtaivan?) on Western Journalism - darn good post!
Generation after generation, the rich had more surviving children than the poor, his research showed. That meant there must have been constant downward social mobility as the poor failed to reproduce themselves and the progeny of the rich took over their occupations. “The modern population of the English is largely descended from the economic upper classes of the Middle Ages,” he concluded."In Dusty Archives, A Theory of Affluence" - revolutionary argument indeed!
As the progeny of the rich pervaded all levels of society, Dr. Clark considered, the behaviors that made for wealth could have spread with them. He has documented that several aspects of what might now be called middle-class values changed significantly from the days of hunter gatherer societies to 1800. Work hours increased, literacy and numeracy rose, and the level of interpersonal violence dropped. [...]
Around 1790, a steady upward trend in production efficiency first emerges in the English economy. It was this significant acceleration in the rate of productivity growth that at last made possible England’s escape from the Malthusian trap and the emergence of the Industrial Revolution
My post on "A Farewell to Alms" (posted this winter)
EnglishRussia - quite nostalgic blog, by the way.
Rebecca, Atlanta: Great article! Just wanted to point out that I think all presidential candidates are inherently narcissistic, to a certain extent. Someone announces to the world that he believes himself to be the best person to lead an entire nation — that rather implies an excessive regard for his own talents or achievements, does it not? I realize, of course, that you were referring to the inherent lack of empathy evidenced by both Romney and Giuliani however, I thought it worth mentioning that all the candidates meet at least half the definition of narcissistic! Deluded self-confidence is a frightening but necessary quality of the political personality. It's when that same arrogance is accompanied by a lack of empathy that otherwise innocuous narcissistic tendencies become full-fledged personality disorders!Krugman's straightforward answer (:P) for his recent Op-Ed Column - "It's All About Them"
Again, loved the article — love all your articles, for that matter! Keep up the good work.
Paul Krugman: The Mayo Clinic definition of narcissistic personality disorder says: "Individuals with this disorder lack empathy for other people but need constant admiration from them." That's what I'm getting at, without suggesting that these guys are literally crazy.