Free market assumptions damaging | Otago Daily Times


I am currently teaching my students the standard theory of how wage rates are determined in a market economy.

Whenever I teach this theory, I have a serious unease that I am teaching right-wing dogma. It all sounds plausible in theory but struggles under closer scrutiny. It is based on several unrealistic assumptions about the real world.

It assumes there is no power imbalance between employees and employers. It assumes that in all occupations there are many workers competing for jobs and many employers competing for workers. It also assumes firms are operating in competitive markets for their output. They are not making excessive profits and therefore cannot afford to pay their workers more.

This theory seems plausible at first glance. According to the theory, the employer must pay the worker a pay rate that reflects his or her productivity, otherwise the worker can easily find other employment with competing firms …

Source: Free market assumptions damaging | Otago Daily Times Online News

The Decline And Fall Of The Empire Of Liberty


America, the apotheosis of liberal republicanism, has been the arch-foe of imperialism. Something, however, has changed. The tide of liberal republicanism is going out: in America, in Russia, and, vividly, around the world.

Liberal republicanism thrived as it delivered the goods — a rising standard of living — wherever well applied. That process stalled out, at least in America — America, the premier engine of the liberal republican world order — around the turn of the millennium.

Yes, free markets are the foundation for equitable prosperity. Yet sometimes — all too often — the rhetoric of “free markets” is used to veil special pleading for oligarchs. Capitalism was the wrecking ball for feudalism.

What is one to do when the modern equivalent of feudal barons appropriate the language of capitalism to justify their power and privilege?

Source: The Decline And Fall Of The Empire Of Liberty

Frank and Steven’s Excellent Corporate-Raiding Adventure | The Atlantic


The 1980s, a decade of corporate raids evoked so memorably in the book Barbarians at the Gate, were one such revolutionary moment.

At the start of that decade, most stock was held by scattered, individual investors, and institutions such as pension funds and insurance companies were passive owners. In 1981, there was not a single attempt in the U.S. by any investor to unseat a manager. It was a good time to be a chief executive.

But during the following five years, all of that changed. By 1986, more than 10 percent of corporate takeovers were hostile—the buyers bypassed managers and instead directly offered shareholders a large premium to sell their shares—and banks were making record-setting loans to fund them.

(The raiders greatly augmented, or leveraged, their investments with borrowed money, enabling them to target even the biggest corporations.)

Carl Icahn targeted and broke up underperforming companies, such as the airline TWA.

Source: Frank and Steven’s Excellent Corporate-Raiding Adventure – The Atlantic

Do You Read Differently Online and in Print?

The Internet may cause our minds to wander off, and yet a quick look at the history of books suggests that we have been wandering off all along.

When we read, the eye does not progress steadily along the line of text; it alternates between saccades—little jumps—and brief stops, not unlike the movement of the mouse’s cursor across a screen of hypertext.

From the invention of papyrus around 3000 B.C., until about 300 A.D., most written documents were scrolls, which had to be rolled up by one hand as they were unrolled by the other: a truly linear presentation.

Since then, though, most reading has involved codices, bound books or pamphlets, a major advantage of which (at least compared to the scroll) is that you can jump around in them, from chapter to chapter (the table of contents had been around since roughly the first century B.C.); from text to marginal gloss, and, later, to footnote.

Source: Do You Read Differently Online and in Print?

Why being grumpy at work is good for you | Quartz


Research also suggests being forced to fake happiness for long periods of time can cause physical and emotional health problems, from depression to cardiovascular conditions.

“People who focus on being happy actually, over time, become less happy,” Susan David said recently.

Source: Why being grumpy at work is good for you — Quartz

Quantum cryptography is unbreakable. So is human ingenuity | Aeon Ideas


Two basic types of encryption schemes are used on the internet today.

One, known as symmetric-key cryptography, follows the same pattern that people have been using to send secret messages for thousands of years.

his is the sort of encryption used when you set up an online account with your neighborhood bank.

The second scheme is called public-key cryptography, and it was invented only in the 1970s.

This is incredibly useful in modern electronic commerce.

Source: Quantum cryptography is unbreakable. So is human ingenuity | Aeon Ideas

You Might Be Genetically Predisposed to Procrastination


While procrastination seems like a character flaw, it evolved for a reason. “The genes progressed down generations because these people were still holed up in caves fearful of predators [saying], ‘My tools are not sharp enough. I better spend more time perfecting this spear,’” Sharad Paul says. “These people survived more because they avoided conflict, and these genes were handed down to future generations.”

The best thing to combat procrastination or sluggishness is to get moving, says Paul. “Start slow and keep building endurance levels up,” he says.

Source: You Might Be Genetically Predisposed to Procrastination

The brain-heart dialogue shows how racism hijacks perception | Aeon Ideas


Among neuroscientists, it’s increasingly popular to think of the brain not as a passive organ that receives and reacts to stimuli, but as more of an inference machine: something that actively strives to predict what’s out there and what’s going to happen, maximizing the chances of staying alive.

On the one hand, this is a reason for optimism: if we can better understand the neurological mechanisms behind racial bias, then perhaps we’ll be in a better position to correct it.

But there is a grim side to the analysis, too. The structures of oppression that shape who we are also shape our bodies, and perhaps our most fundamental perceptions.

Source: The brain-heart dialogue shows how racism hijacks perception | Aeon Ideas

We’re living in the cult of cruel | The Coffeelicious

We live in a country that espouses free speech, but many are forced into silence in fear of the hate avalanche.

In a private Facebook group, many women talk about not reading the comments of their published articles out of self-preservation. “Don’t read the comments” is a constant refrain.

Women leave social media because they’re beaten down by people in fear of losing their privilege. A whole group of people has been reduced to a patronizing “snowflake” moniker because of their inability to toughen up, and it’s as if the Internet has become Darwinian in the sense that only those who hate, and those who can withstand and endure that hate, survive.

Source: We’re living in the cult of cruel – The Coffeelicious

The System I Used to Write 5 Books and Over 1,000 Blog Posts


I’d get up early, brew my coffee, and sit down to write. And I’d wait. And wait. And I’d wait for the words to come, but nothing would come quickly. Some days, nothing would come at all …

I began breaking those activities — ideation, creation, and editing — into three separate actions. And you know what? When you have one goal to accomplish, you are far more productive and focused than when you have three.

As I did this, writing became easier and easier. I started writing more.

Source: The System I Used to Write 5 Books and Over 1,000 Blog Posts