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Tag Archives: populism

10% Less Democracy

I’m a great admirer of my colleague (and former EconLog blogger) Garett Jones‘ Hive Mind.  His new 10% Less Democracy: Why You Should Trust Elites a Little More and the Masses a Little Less is a worthy successor. Though less revolutionary, 10% Less Democracy presents a mighty and succinct case that “populism doesn’t work.”  Democracy is only tolerable because elites usually don’t slavishly do what’s popular.  In functional polities, economically and cognitively...

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Flower Children or Techno-Tyranny?

Some people seem to think that there exist only two political alternatives: techno-tyranny or flower-children delusion. This may not be what Margaret Sullivan meant in her Washington Post column of yesterday (“Trump Is Pushing a Dangerous, False Spin on Coronavirus—and the Media Is Helping Him Spread It,” March 2, 2020), but I thought about that when I read her: Trump’s tendency to spin out assertions untethered from reality becomes a recipe for disaster when combined...

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Helen Dale on liberalism and technocracy

CapX is running a series of pieces on “Illiberalism in Europe”, with the support of the Atlas Network. The first one is by writer Helen Dale and makes a number of interesting points. Dale is clearly more sympathetic to the populist upsurge than others. Yet she identifies persuasively one of its characters: that is, antipathy for experts. This has been accounted as a most dangerous factor by many, beginning with Tom Nichols’s book The Death of Expertise: The Campaign...

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McCloskey on Liberalism and Democracy

I am reading Deirdre McCloskey’s Why Liberalism Works, which I shall confess I’ve started with some ambivalence. “Aunt Deirdre”‘s last book is a collection of essays and most of the time this genre is ill suited even for the most talented of writers. Occasional essays were meant for the occasion, indeed, and they do not always survive it brilliantly. Yet Deirdre has obviously worked a great deal on these essays, and they form a consistent and cogent whole. The title...

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Italy’s new political crisis

Is Italy going to have elections in the fall? Or will it have a new government, supported by a coalition of the populists and the mainstream left, bringing to an end the coalition of the populist left and the populist right which has led the country in the last few months? Jacopo Barigazzi on Politico provides a good summary of a political crisis which is rather peculiar even by Italian standards: For almost 14 months, Salvini has been saying that this government will...

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Boris Johnson- any reason for optimism?

The new British prime minister, Boris Johnson, is considered a dream politician by some conservatives, and a nightmare by many more. Boris is regarded as a messy organizer, a man affected by attention-deficit disorder, a beloved but not particularly effective mayor of London, an opportunist who chooses to be anti-EU not because of deep convictions but simply to prop his career up, and a demagogue. He is considered by many a clown, and he certainly did all he could to...

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The real wage myth

After the 2016 election, several pundits suggested that the Trump victory reflected frustration with stagnant real wages. Unfortunately, this argument is based on a misconception. The average hourly earnings series at the FRED data site only goes back 12 years, but real wages were doing well before the 2016 election: BTW, in nominal terms, average hourly earnings are currently $27.77/hour. FRED does have a much longer series for average wages earned by production and...

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Sebastian Edwards on MMT and Latin American populism

Sebastian Edwards is perhaps the world’s leading expert on populist policies in Latin America. He has an excellent new paper discussing the lessons of Latin American populism for the debate over MMT. Here’s the abstract: According to Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) it is possible to use expansive monetary policy – money creation by the central bank (i.e. the Federal Reserve) – to finance large fiscal deficits that will ensure full employment and good jobs for everyone,...

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What’s Been Lost: The Value of Being Reasonable

Just about the only thing the virulent proponents of various extremes can agree on is that anyone attempting to be reasonable is a mortal threat that must be neutralized or destroyed. Dating back to the era of Benjamin Franklin, a willingness to hear another point of view and another set of solutions–i.e. being reasonable–was the hallmark of political progress. The value of being reasonable has been lost, and I think there are three sources of this erosion: 1. Though few...

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The European elite is playing a dangerous game

The Financial Times describes the global rise of populism: In an age of rising populism, the Mexican president, though, is not alone in his suspicion of policymakers. US President Donald Trump prefers to follow his gut, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has ridiculed western-educated economists and piled pressure on the reserve bank, while UK cabinet minister Michael Gove stated bluntly that people “have had enough” of experts. The new Italian government might be...

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