Wednesday, December 13, 2023

*Everyday Freedom* Greeting strangers can boost happiness levels

AFP restrains $1 billion in criminal assets in major milestone

Russian billionaire represented by former attorney-general Christian Porter fighting to overturn Australian ban

Putin’s Angels 😇 patriots Vladimir Putin wants to reclaim Russia’s former glory, and he expects the support of Russians across the globe, wherever they may live

Study suggests greeting strangers can boost happiness levels.

Capitalism, with friends like these, you don’t need enemies Steve Keen

McKinsey Sees AI Adding Up To $340 Billion To Wall Street Profit Bloomberg

VoxDev: A pervasive politician-developer nexus exists in Indian cities, where politicians receive illicit financial support from real estate developers in exchange for favourable building policies and accelerated approvals. This “quid pro quo” facilitates the flow of “black money” — income hidden from tax authorities — into campaign coffers. The nexus is difficult to discern in detail due to the opacity of the system, but we uncover what is plausibly a natural consequence: when politicians turnover, building construction slows down.

From a summary in VoxDev of my Journal of Development Economics piece (with Tandel and Gandhi) on the politics of development in Mumbai.

Addendum: See also my Journal of Urban Economicspiece on the dangers of public interest litigation in slowing development and also my videos Skyscrapers and Slums and Rent Control in Mumbai for more on these issues.

The Realities of Socialism is a multimedia project—a collaboration between organizations in Canada, Australia, the United States and United Kingdom—to educate people about the experiences of socialism that was imposed on tens of millions of people across the world throughout the 20th century. Here you will find data-driven videos, infographics, short videos and informative studies about socialism’s history in Poland and Estonia, Sweden and Denmark’s short experiment with socialism, and Singapore’s unique approach.

Here is the link, my colleague Peter Boettke is closely involved in this work. 

Here is the full research paper on capitalist start ups by Daniel Bias and Alexander Ljungqvist.

Drunk and Asleep on the Job: Air Traffic Controllers Pushed to the Brink NYT. What’s wrong with the labor market? ‘Tis a mystery!

*Everyday Freedom*, by Philip K. Howard

This is very much a book that needed to be written.  Here is one short excerpt:

Powerlessness has become a defining feature of modern society. Americans at all levels of responsibility feel powerless to do what they think is needed. The culture wars, sociologist James Davison Hunter explains, stem from institutional impotence: A “growing majority of Americans believe that their government cannot be trusted, that its leaders . . . are incompetent and self-interested, and that as citizens, they personally have little power to influence the . . .institutions or circumstances that shape their lives.”

Feeling fragile, and buffeted by forces beyond our control, many Americans retreat to online groups defined by identity and by distrust of the other side as “a threat to [our] existence.” It’s hard to identify what’s wrong amid the clamor and conflict in modern society. But a clue can be found in remembering what makes us proud. America is where people roll up our sleeves and get it done.

The ability to do things in our own ways activates the values for which America is well-known: self-reliance, pragmatism, and loyalty to the greater good—what Alexis de Tocqueville called “self-interest, rightly understood.” For most of American history, the power and imperative to own your actions and solutions—the concept of individual responsibility—was implicit in the idea of freedom.

Americans didn’t abandon our belief in individual responsibility. It was taken away from us by post 1960s legal framework that, with the best of intentions, made people squirm through the eye of a legal needle before taking responsibility. Individual responsibility to a broader group, for example, was dislodged by a new concept of individual rights focused on what’s best for one person or constituency. The can-do culture became the can’t do culture.

At every level of responsibility, Americans have lost the authority to do what they think is sensible. The teacher in the classroom, the principal in a school, the nurse in the hospital, the official in Washington, the parent on the field trip, the head of the local charity or church . . . all have their hands tied by real or feared legal constraints.

And yes he does propose concrete solutions, most of all at the level of the law.  The whole thing is only 84 pp., and this is one of the books that comes closest to diagnosing what is wrong with our country.  The subtitle is Designing the Framework for a Flourishing Society.