/Tag: economics

The New Socialists.

The real answer is much simpler […] the thing that’s proved the most effective recruiting sergeant for socialism is capitalism itself. In fact, nearly 60 per cent [of university-educated Millennials] agreed with the statement “capitalism has failed”. But when a majority of young people say they think “socialism would be a good idea”, what they are actually talking about is the mixed economic system under which many of today’s ageing Thatcher–Reagan fanboys grew up. That is, a planned, concerted approach to the distribution of capital, rather than the debt-laden, short-term contract present in which our Hunger Games-style system has landed us.

Guy Rundle on why kids these days fuckin’ love socialism.

2019-01-16T07:51:26+10:0015th January, 2019|Tags: economics, politics|

So I wasn’t really expecting Karl Marx to talk about the economic impacts of mufti day1) in his seminal 1867 work, Capital. Volume I: The Process of Production of Capital and yet… here we are.

(I’m not even making this up. The English translation literally uses the word “mufti”—the term meaning “casual dress” has been in use since 1816—and it’s in the context of perceived worth and how a general has more of such, i.e. what we’d now call “social capital”, when in uniform as opposed to not.)

  1. (Incidentally, the term “mufti” in a modern context is probably kind racist, given its appropriative Orientalist roots, so… there’s also that. []
2019-01-04T13:27:05+10:002nd January, 2019|Tags: books, culture, economics, politics|

Shock money.

This number is probably the truest measure of a person’s real wealth: What is the largest unexpected financial shock you could sustain without the cost of that to you suddenly becoming ten times the original cost or more? That number isn’t something easy to calculate; it depends on whether you have a family that can help you out, on your income, on whether that shock involves losing your job (and thus your health insurance, if you live in the US), on whether you have access to any other sources of security (including public assistance).

But it tells you a lot more about someone’s wealth than the total amount they have in the bank. […] If you want to understand economic class in the Western World today, here’s a simple rule of thumb: There are people for whom a shock that’s reasonably likely to happen within a year — a car breakdown, a lost job, and so on — would be catastrophic, and there are people for whom catastrophic events happen much more rarely. Those are your two social classes. All of the economic changes of the past few decades can be summarized as a lot of people who were previously in the second group (first factory workers, then a lot more “middle-class” jobs) suddenly found themselves in the first group (thanks to everything from the mortgage crisis to job automation).

Yonatan Zunger on true wealth.

Zunger goes on to posit that repeated shocks—particularly intentionally engineered shocks—are one of the easiest ways of redistributing wealth upwards.

2019-01-17T08:18:18+10:0021st December, 2018|Tags: culture, economics|

What if you didn’t?

I have a half-baked, three-quarters-joking theory of cryptocurrency, which is that it is a magical incarnation of a sort of male internet grievance. People — mostly men — sit around on Reddit complaining that they are underappreciated geniuses and that it is unfair that they have not been rewarded with vast wealth. They feel dispossessed and betrayed: They expected the modern world to reward computer literacy, but then they grew up to realize that the modern world, much like the old world, rewards mostly people skills and creativity and emotional intelligence. And then Bitcoin came along, and paranoid computer-literate people who spent a lot of time on the internet were the early adopters, and it became the world’s first economic system that allocates wealth basically for hanging around on Reddit. What [venture capitalist Alexia] Bonatsos describes is not an accident; cryptocurrency seems almost custom-designed as a way for the men to get all the wealth, again.

I know you are going to email me to complain about this theory, but what I want to propose here is: What if you didn’t?

Matt Levine on grievance.

2018-11-26T08:10:23+10:0017th August, 2018|Tags: cryptocurrency, culture, economics|

Same as it ever was.

The claim being made [by blockchain advocates] is not that we can engineer greater levels of cooperation or trust in friends, institutions, or governments, but that we might dispense with social institutions altogether in favor of an elegant technical solution.

This assumption is naïve, it’s true, but it also betrays a worrying politics—or rather a drive to replace politics (as debate and dispute and things that produce connection and difference) with economics. This is not just a problem with blockchain evangelism—it’s a core problem with the ideology of digital activism generally. The blockchain has more in common with the neoliberal governmentality that produces platform capitalists like Amazon and Uber and state-market coalitions than any radical alternative.

Rachel O’Dwyer on the stoic conservatism of blockchain.

2018-02-21T10:14:39+10:008th August, 2018|Tags: economics, politics, tech|

HIM: Aah, economics. It sounds so smart and convincing, yet is so constantly wrong!

ME (sagely): The White Man’s Science.

2018-08-10T11:43:09+10:008th August, 2018|Tags: economics|

Fuck your bootstraps.

The architects of that austerity have so much faith in their grand ideas to starve the poor into submission and quietly allow the disabled to die behind the scenes, that they have slunk away into the shadows with their gold plated pensions and £25,000 sheds for company. David Cameron, merrily fisted his Big Society up the arsehole of community and did a bunk in the morning without so much as a polite cup of tea. George Osborne, who declared a ‘war on welfare’ on Five Live in 2013, now editing a national newspaper, criticising an administration he was very much a part of, as though it were all a jolly jape. Iain Duncan Smith, a man who sniggered in a meeting in Parliament as a poverty-stricken single mum spoke about being famished with hunger, while I sat behind him shaking with rage at his insolence. Austerity is more than a war; it is an assault against the unarmed, against the most vulnerable children in our nation, a massacre of basic rights and dignity. And this war, live every other, is orchestrated by rich old men in suits, pushing their little pieces around the map, toying with lives and discarding them at will, puffing their chests out over their subsidised champagne. It’s been a while since I’ve been quite this angry, but my god, I’m livid.

Jack Monroe on the War on (the) Poor.

Monroe is the the creator of Cooking on a Bootstrap, a website that provides tasty recipes aimed at people living at-or-below the poverty line. Monore started her blog when she herself was living on benefits as an extremely poor single mother.

As is probably inevitable, Monroe sometimes gets used as an example of a “good poor”, i.e. a mother who’s still able to “cook well” for her child even on a very tight budgets, as opposed to the “bad poors” who rely on ready made and convenience meals. It probably goes without saying that most of the people who do this are both, a) affluent, and b) politically affiliated with organisations known to favor “austerity” and other brutal economic policies that disproportionately impact those who have the least.

Monroe’s response to the latest such incident, of which the above is a quote? Well worth a read…

2019-04-29T10:45:03+10:008th August, 2018|Tags: culture, economics, food, politics|

Extractive coal.

On the capitalist ravaging of Appalachia.

Obviously, this is about the US, but given the debate on mining and company taxes1 going on here, it’s very much worth a read.

  1. And the carbon tax, which was basically a company tax aimed specifically at natural-resource-extracting industries. []
2018-02-06T08:16:39+10:0023rd July, 2018|Tags: economics, politics|