Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Big Government to Prevent Bigger Government

I recently posted Tyler Cowen's thoughts on income inequality, but the article linked was originally sent to me by Justin because of Cowen's positive thoughts on the bailouts (which I don't support):
How about a world with no bailouts? Why don’t we simply eliminate the safety net for clueless or unlucky risk-takers so that losses equal gains overall? That’s a good idea in principle, but it is hard to put into practice. Once a financial crisis arrives, politicians will seek to limit the damage, and that means they will bail out major financial institutions. Had we not passed TARP and related policies, the United States probably would have faced unemployment rates of 25 percent of higher, as in the Great Depression. The political consequences would not have been pretty. Bank bailouts may sound quite interventionist, and indeed they are, but in relative terms they probably were the most libertarian policy we had on tap. It meant big one-time expenses, but, for the most part, it kept government out of the real economy (the General Motors bailout aside).
I actually agree. In fact, in my history classes I describe the intervention of FDR's New Deal as effective. Not because it fixed the Great Depression, but because it was the moderate choice in a time of extreme global chaos. Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco were taking over nations as the extreme right. Stalin and the communists were taking over as the extreme left. Even in America leftist critics like Governor Huey Long were writing books like Share Our Wealth. In fact, 1930's socialist Norman Thomas wrote that the "Mr. Roosevelt did not carry out the Socialist platform, unless he carried it out on a stretcher". Perhaps FDR's huge expansion of the government was the least government could do without forcing a revolution.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Income Doesn't Mean Inequality of Life

From Tyler Cowen:, who wrote a whole book about how income inequality is real, but wrote an article recently about how the implications are not that bad:
First, the inequality of personal well-being is sharply down over the past hundred years and perhaps over the past twenty years as well. Bill Gates is much, much richer than I am, yet it is not obvious that he is much happier if, indeed, he is happier at all. I have access to penicillin, air travel, good cheap food, the Internet and virtually all of the technical innovations that Gates does.
Compare these circumstances to those of 1911, a century ago. Even in the wealthier countries, the average person had little formal education, worked six days a week or more, often at hard physical labor, never took vacations, and could not access most of the world’s culture. The living standards of Carnegie and Rockefeller towered above those of typical Americans, not just in terms of money but also in terms of comfort. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Worthwhile Sentences on Writing

From Hugh Hollowell: "The thing about founding a nonprofit is that, eventually, all your dreams turn into paperwork."

From Justin Landwehr: "Words are the waste products of our experiences."

From David Foster Wallace: "Writers have a queer blend of shyness and exhibitionism."

From Brene Brown: "Maybe stories are just data with a soul."

From Mark Twain: “A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.”

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Improv Comedy Meets TED Talks

My intention wasn't for my 1000th post to be my last, but I'm it sure looked that way. I've been extra busy with some great opportunities that have come my way and I just couldn't make my way to the top of the pyramid to blog. One of the most exciting things is that Alchemy Comedy, which has just ended out first and sold out our second Improv 101 class, has been asked to close out Greenville TEDx. You know I love TED and improv, so I'm excited to put them together. On March 30th, we will be watching all the TED Talks and using them to inspire a series of improvised comedy scenes to conclude the day. So if you're in the area get your tickets soon, apparently they sold out the last few years. And if you're out of town, you're in luck, I hear they are going to stream it!