The Inconvenient Reality of the Global Labor Glut

A Review of
The Wealth of Humans: Work, Power, and Status in the Twenty-first Century
(Author: Ryan Avent)

Economist writer Ryan Avent’s thesis is that the world has a glut of labor that will only get worse forever—due to advancing technology and automation—and that the main solution is politically-difficult redistribution. Among other things, he discusses the potential remedies of trying to increase global demand (questionable feasibility) and of breaking down barriers to immigration.

It would be great if ordinary Americans could digest and debate his economic analysis; unfortunately, Avent’s discourse is rather too advanced. Yet the topic of course has politically urgency. We see many voters who have resonated to economically-futile proposals to tax imports and to “bring back manufacturing jobs.”

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Tricks of Persuasion in the Presidential Election

A Review of
Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter
(Author: Scott Adams)

Scott Adams’ Win Bigly already feels a bit dated, given that the shock of the 2016 election is slowly fading. But the lessons that that election offered us must not be ignored or forgotten, and Adams’ perspective on it is useful.

Voters need to have a deeper understanding of persuasion: to recognize it when a politician is baiting their emotions, to be suspicious when fallacious logic is being employed. It’s not merely about civility, or that voters should stick only to facts, nor even yet that politicians and partisan media should have greater need to fear getting “caught.” Most of all, it is that today’s clutter of public bullshit eclipses even the possibility of serious public deliberation about issues.

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How to Thwart Economic Snake-Oil Salesmen

A Review of
Advice and Dissent: Why America Suffers When Economics and Politics Collide
(Author: Alan S. Blinder)

Economist and Washington veteran Alan Blinder has come to understand very deeply the contrasts between economists and politicians. Economists are rational, correct, and naïve, while politicians cynically use economists to rationalize whatever they want to do.

Blinder is very clear-eyed about this, and eloquently describes today’s condition—so well that I’m obliged to include more quotations here than usual. But his is an extremely Washington-centric perspective, which I will comment upon later.

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