Independent in All Things, Neutral in Nothing

Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Severing Community from Geography

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The traditional conception of democratic citizenship roots itself in a specific polity, and will for the foreseeable future.  Disparate political communities, each with their own form of governance and view of the human good, do not serve as a deterrent to virtuous citizenship, but in some cases serves as a boon for good citizenship.  Most people believe in national identity and attachment to it as both inevitable and desirable.  Few and far between are cosmopolitans—at least outside of the halls of liberal academia—who bemoan particularistic and provincial attachment to nation, state, or local space.  “For the vast majority of human beings,” Leon Kass writes, “life…is lived parochially and locally, embedded in a web of human relations, institutions, culture, and mores that define us and—whether we know it or not—give shape, character, and meaning to our lives.”  This idea of citizenship and its connection to community is alive and well. Read the rest of this entry »


Investing Illusions and Delusions

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The latest issue of my company’s newsletter, Chiefist Positions, went out today. In it, we examine “investing illusions and delusions,” through the lens of two powerful and outstanding books:

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
  • The Halo Effect, by Phil Rosenzweig

You can find Kahneman’s book on Amazon or in most bookstores. You can find Rosenzweig’s book in used bookstores, Amazon marketplace,, or With shipping, it will cost you about $6, which will be the best $6 you spend all year. Get them both, and read them.

Written by Russell S.

January 12, 2012 at 2:28 pm

“Medicare as we know it:” A Lesson in Demagoguery and Political Phrasing

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Our nation faces a crushing burden of debt from an entitlement state that continues to accrete power in ways unknown to most people.  We face the debt burden with a Congress full of unprecedented partisan rancor and a leadership deficit where very few are willing to rise above the fray and propose bold solutions.  Indeed, the Congress offered only one solution to the budget and entitlement crisis, Representative Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget plan.  The US Senate decided it would not attempt to pass a budget this year—for the second straight year—and the President only gave one speech on the budget, which has not assumed legislative form (the Congressional Budget Office, the non-partisan agency charged with formally scoring legislation, cannot score speeches).  To make matters worse, the President invited Representative Paul Ryan to his speech at George Washington University, only to call his plan “unserious” and “uncourageous” after seating Ryan in the first row—just when the GOP expected an olive branch on debt and deficit reduction. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Introducing Statistics

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While I visited family in Louisville last week, I browsed through Carmichael’s bookstore, of the last independent book sellers in the city. I ran into a section of books called “Introducing …. A Graphic Guide.” The titles ranged from Introducing Freud: A Graphic Guide to Introducing Buddha: A Graphic Guide. The one on statistics caught my eye, so I bought it and read it over the next couple days.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Russell S.

April 23, 2011 at 1:12 pm

“Exorbitant Privilege:” The Future of the US Dollar

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Michael Crittenden and Barry Eichengreen had a fascinating debate over the future of the US dollar in last week’s edition of the Wall Street JournalCrittenden avers that the dollar, despite talk to the contrary, will remain the global reserve currency because nothing presents itself as a legitimate alternative to the dollar at this point.  However, the US will experience diminishing returns for the status of the dollar.  On the contrary, Eichengreen posits that the US dollar will lose its global reserve status due to long-term deficits and competition from China’s renminbi and the Euro. Read the rest of this entry »

The Importance of Institutions: Analyzing the Egyptian Case

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The Middle East, from the Persian Gulf to the Maghreb, is currently in the throes of revolution.  Western journalists, in my opinion, suffering from myopia, are celebrating these revolutions as “the next 1989,” a series of revolutions that overthrew the political order in an entire region—the Eastern Bloc—and created a new world order in its place.  Let us examine this claim, with an eye toward institutions. Read the rest of this entry »

Sources of Bureaucratic Legitimacy, Part II

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In part I, I argued that Max Weber’s “sociology of legitimacy” helps us understand the authority claims of modern bureaucracies.  Weber argues that authority generates itself by social construction founded upon universally accepted norms and beliefs.  This culminates in three main forms of legitimacy—traditional, charismatic, and legal authority—and corresponds best to affective and rational social action.  However, Weber’s theory is insufficient to explain how legitimacy pervades the public consciousness, becoming part of an intersubjectively or interdependently shared structure of public beliefs. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by ryancberg

December 21, 2010 at 10:02 pm