What I’m Reading: September 28th, 2016

  • (1) Interesting, yet disappointing conversation on race and policing in America between Sam Harris (Philosopher & “Thought Leader”, Hannibal Burrus (my favorite comedian in the business), and Joe Rogan (MMA announcer and commentator, prolific podcaster, comedian)—three individuals who I greatly respect, enjoy, find entertaining, and learn from frequently. I’ve embedded the audio below, via SoundCloud (part one here, covering most of the interesting dialogue, and part two here). Lots of talking past one another and an overall seemingly unsuccessful dialogue, with all parties seeming to deserve fault in the failure of the conversation to reach some sort common understanding or at least common dialogue. It’s disheartening to witness wise individuals struggle to have a fruitful dialogue on the topic. I actually don’t recommend taking the time to listen unless you have personal affinity to the participants. Sam Harris has an interesting and more fruitful conversation with Glenn Loury, who cites the recent work of Roland Fryer. Fryer’s work provides a nuanced look at police violence and race that is worth considering. A conversation between Glenn Loury and Rajiv Sethi goes into criticisms of Fryer’s work, as does a conversation between Loury and Harold Pollack. Also mentioned is the work of Ta-Nehisi Coates, which provides a broader perspective on race and American society. Last, by way of sharing a timeless dialogue, I’ve embedded below footage from the 1965 debate between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley Jr. at Cambridge University on the question: “Is the American Dream at the expense of the American Negro?”
  • (2) Briefly sticking to the topic of race relations in America, but turning towards more abstract and esoteric frames of analysis, an interesting article has been published looking at the normative theories of Gary Becker on economics consequences of racism, testing their empirical validity. Abstract below:
    • Abstract: Economic theory has long maintained that employers pay a price for engaging in racial discrimination. According to Gary Becker’s seminal work on this topic and the rich literature that followed, racial preferences unrelated to productivity are costly and, in a competitive market, should drive discriminatory employers out of business. Though a dominant theoretical proposition in the field of economics, this argument has never before been subjected to direct empirical scrutiny. This research pairs an experimental audit study of racial discrimination in employment with an employer database capturing information on establishment survival, examining the relationship between observed discrimination and firm longevity. Results suggest that employers who engage in hiring discrimination are less likely to remain in business six years later.

  • (3) Via NinjaEconomics, a periodic table made proportional to the element’s abundance:

  • (4) Peter Thiel has two outstanding conversations with Bill Kristol (here and here) and another with Wired Magazine (here). The conversations are far ranging, impossible to summarize in erudite fashion, and eminently worth carefully consuming. The conversation embedded below is the best of the three, in my view. Additionally, Thiel recent book, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, is one of the best business, technology, and public affairs books of the decade—highly recommended.Thiel’s thinking provides a much more interesting and insightful (and in my view, correct) look at the sources of “short-termism”than traditional accounts, such as Vice President Joe Biden’s in today’s Wall Street Journal. 
  • (5) The Cato Institute’s Alex Nowrastehs—without question among the nation’s leading researchers and commentators on immigration policy—has an outstanding and self-explanatory article in Time Magazine titled “America’s Fear of Foreign Terrorists Is Overinflated.” Great read that has garnered great media coverage. Along these lines, Modeled Behavior looks at the Trumpian Skittles meme using the type of basic data analysis and sound research that has been such anathema to the Trump Campaign. I present it below in the Twitter tradition of “Shot-Chaser” framing:
    • *SHOT*: 
    • *CHASER*: 
  • (6) Via Chris Fleming on Twitter (linked here and here, and screenshot below), discusses an interesting tension between Frank Knight and F.A. Hayek on the future of Liberalism. He shares the work of Ross Emmett of Michigan State University on the topic, which begins on page 92:

  • (7) While on the topic Hayek, an interesting paper via @aClassicalLiberal on a “Hayekian Welfare State.” The article comes from an Econ Journal Watch symposium issue on the topic and was discussed at some depth at the Adam Smith Institute.
  • (8) Michael Moore—son of my home state of Michigan and director of many poorly researched screeds on screen—is quite self-assured that Millennials are a giant and profound cabal of socialists. Two Tweets from me in response are embedded below. But there are deeper levels worth considering. Along these lines, I think Kevin Drum misses some of the depth in wondering why so many Millennials are supporting Gary Johnson by ignoring the obvious-many of their views track libertarianism more closely than he recognizes. The analysis of Echelon Insights, as embedded in Tweet form below, bolsters this suggestion.  Considering the difference between capitalism and crony capitalism is an important piece of the puzzel—see the work of Raghuram G. Rajan and Luigi Zingales. Moreover, there is much misunderstanding about young Americans regarding their current economic state of affairs and whether their misfortunate is the result of pure capitalism in America (clearly, not the reality of the American economic model) or more reasonably, too little or too much intervention from government. Indeed, Millennials and youth globally face troubling economic realities—see quote from the NYTimes and chart from The Economist below.

“One in five people in their 20s and early 30s is currently living with his or her parents. And 60 percent of all young adults receive financial support from them. That’s a significant increase from a generation ago, when only one in 10 young adults moved back home and few received financial support.” -NYTimes: “It’s Official: The Boomerang Kids Won’t Leave.”

  • (10) Last, and not to put to fine a point on it, but I suppose once “the remenant” is being discussed, things are looking grim for liberty in the present moment.
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