Today’s selection of articles:
- “What companies are for” (The Economist, 2019-08-22). The article raises relevant issues — businesses may not be best suited to addressing and solving all social problems, what is a social goal is not always obvious, the trade-off between stabilizing the status quo and upsetting it — but, in my opinion, misses the mark in analyzing each. If business is not well suited to addressing social problems, and government is gridlocked, what is the answer? (E.g., strengthening local governments at the expense of national ones, ceding more control to individuals and communities rather than to federal entities, etc.) If businesses ought not to pursue certain social goals for lack of information or conflict of interests, could this lack or conflict be addressed? (Let’s be real: Firms already pursue certain social goals behind the scenes, by dint of the products they produce or the lobbying they fund.) Why would corporate activism endanger dynamism? Because of “sheltering” by government? If we as society demand no such sheltering be allowed, would that solve the problem? It seems the bigger danger of corporate activism is it gives an outsize influence (in terms of power and money) to majority interests: Businesses may adopt majority values and goals in the interest of future business. Is majority rule always the best way to solve social problems? (I can think of several examples that suggest, if not prove, the answer to this question is “No”.)
- “How life became an endless, terrible competition“, by Daniel Markovits (The Atlantic, 2019-09).
- “Blame economists for the mess we’re in“, by Binyamin Appelbaum (NY Times, 2019-08-25). Appelbaum offers a scapegoat and sacrificial lamb for society’s current problems: Economists.
- “AI reveals how ‘Old town road’ became the biggest song ever“, by Courtney Linder (Popular Mechanics, 2019-08-15).
- “In the ultimate power move, Taylor Swift will rerecord — and own — her old albums“, by Michelle Ruiz (Vogue, 2019-08-22). Concerns over the journalist’s highlighting of power aside (I guess all issues come down to a power struggle, in the end, but is it human destiny to continue them, find better ways of resolving them, or something else?), doesn’t it make sense that artists should own their work? Kudos to T-Swift for pursuing what she believes in.