November 22, 2012
Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by economists Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson offers an institutional interpretation of economic growth and development. Societies are successful, the authors argue, when their political and economic institutions are inclusive and adaptive. Societies become repressive and ossified, on the other hand, when their institutions are ”extractive”–that is, when a small, parasitic elite embeds itself in a privileged position and siphons off wealth from everyone else.
William Easterly, who offers a mostly positive review, does a good job of laying out the virtues and flaws of the book in the Wall Street Journal.
Jeffrey Sachs, on the other hand, offers a far more negative review.
Acemoglu and Robinson’s response to Sachs’s review, posted yesterday, is devastating. They write:
Sachs charges that we are “simplistic” and our argument “contains a number of conceptual shortcomings”. But in each case, these are either just stated (and are wrong) or he is criticizing something we haven’t said. The Sachs strategy seems to be to throw a lot of mud, hoping that some of it would stick — did we say that we didn’t think it was quite thoughtful?
Read the whole thing.
January 16, 2012
Pat Buchanan on America’s decline:
You know, people who read my book say, “Pat, you are not a roaring optimist,” and I’m not. Look at the education system. We have dumped trillions of dollars into it in the last 45 years, since 1965, and what do we have to show for it? We have test scores that continue go down until they revise the tests to make them easier, so the scores will stop going down. You are getting no real progress there. The United States as a country has fallen into the middle level of Western countries in terms of its test scores, and it’s headed toward Third World status.
David Boaz on those “Yes We Did” Obama bumper stickers:
Yes we did increase the national debt by $4 trillion? Yes we did create a national health insurance program passed in such haste that it’s full of gross errors and requires restrictions on telling the media about it? Yes we did continue the wars a lot longer than we promised? Yes we did launch a third war in the Middle East without congressional authorization? Yes we did exercise presidential powermore aggressively than George W. Bush? Yes we did laugh at the very idea of not arresting people for smoking pot? Yes we did ratchet up regulatory costs in a weak economy? Yes we did create the slowest recovery in postwar history?
Richard Spencer on Martin Luther King:
Despite conservatives’ wishful thinking, “The Dream”—in all its manifestations—is the antithesis of a free society. Government’s enforcing that all people and businesses judge non-racially is in itself a totalitarian notion and has, in fact, resulted in a massive interventionist infrastructure and bureaucracy. (Rand Paul tepidly hinted at as much during his 2010 Senate campaign.) The costs of the industry of “civil rights” and “diversity training” in the workplace can be measured in the hundreds of billions, if not trillions, per year. (And pace conservative revisionism, the actual Martin Luther King unequivocally advocated most all of the measures done in his name.)