Read : 2019-02-17
Today’s selection of articles:
- “Anatomy of deception and self-delusion: Walter Lippmann on public opinion, our slippery grasp of truth, and the discipline of apprehending reality clearly“, by Maria Popova (Brain Pickings, 2019-02-11).
- “A neuroscientist explores the biology of addiction in ‘never enough’“, by Terry Gross (National Public Radio, 2019-02-12).
- “Huge study finds professors’ attitudes affect students’ grades“, by Scott K. Johnson (Ars Technica, 2019-02-15). Read the published study in Science Advances.
- “In Amazon fight, progressives showed what they want: a new economic agenda“, by Patricia Cohen (NY Times, 2019-02-16). Are we focusing on the important issues? This article and much of the debate around Amazon HQ2 seem superficial. What’s important: (1) Amazon getting tax breaks? (2) What Amazon is doing with the money it doesn’t have to pay in taxes? Maybe both. If (1) is important, politicians could (among other things) enact a simpler tax system that all of us can read and understand, that doesn’t require (or engender) specialized lawyers and accountants, that doesn’t permit special deals or gaming the system (or at least makes it very hard and not very lucrative). (But a simplified tax system would instantly erase a ton of jobs! True. What if these jobs exist because of, and in service to, an inefficient, biased system?) If (2) is important, we the people can demand that our political representatives ask companies how they will distribute their tax breaks and hold them to it. Right now the situation seems thus: Companies tell people “Trust us to solve your problems”, while politicians tell people “Trust us to solve your problems”. Does anyone trust the people to solve our own problems? Do we trust ourselves? Granted, this view is simplistic — for example, there are problems whose resolutions carry consequences for people not directly involved, and are arguably most fairly dealt with at a higher level. There’s a time for government solutions, a time for business solutions, and a time for our own solutions. Do others feel patronized and enfeebled more and more by both big business and big government, trying to do it all for us?
- “Who’s afraid of budget deficits?“, by Jason Furman & Lawrence H. Summers (Foreign Affairs, 2019-03/04).
- “Yanxi Palace: Why China turned against its most popular show“, by Andreas Illmer (BBC, 2019-02-08). Spoiler: Because its most popular show wasn’t viewed as promoting the “correct” values and history.