Truly Nuts

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

We’re spending thousands of dollars of water to grow hundreds of dollars of almonds, Alex Tabarrok notes — and that is truly nuts:

As you may have noticed at the grocery store, almonds are in demand right now whether raw or in almond milk. Asian demand for almonds is also up. As a result, in the last 10 years almond production in California has doubled. That’s great, except for the fact that almond production uses a huge amount of water and water in CA is severely mispriced and thus misallocated. [...] More water is used in almond production than is used by all the residents and businesses of San Francisco and Los Angeles combined. Here’s a chart from Mother Jones:

Water Misallocation in California

Offense-Bullying

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

It is rarely the truly oppressed who take offense, Devin Helton explains:

The truly oppressed are downtrodden and submissive. They know better than to take offense — they will just get smacked down.

[...]

[W]hen some campus activist group gets a speaker disinvited, gets a professor fired, or forces the administration to apologize, the activists have exercised raw power. The more the administration capitulates, the more grievance will be claimed, the more offense will be taken, the more the activists will flaunt their power. Current law forces colleges and workplaces to avoid creating a “hostile environment.” This law thus gives any member of certain groups the ability to bully the administration or speakers by simply pointing their finger and saying, “That person has offended me!” Does this sound familiar from history? The result has been an increasingly out-of-control, spiral of insanity.

How ISIS runs a city

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

ISIS uses the city of Raqqa as a showcase for its efficient and benevolent rule:

According to witnesses, ISIS has maintained a relatively high level of local services by changing as little as possible in the areas it governs. Most of the civil servants who make the city function remained in their old jobs, still paid by the government in Damascus even though they are now effectively entrenching ISIS in power. School teachers, state telecoms company employees and municipal workers all remain at work, under ISIS control but paid by Damascus. According to several businessmen, activists and ISIS supporters in Raqqa, ISIS has placed its own members at the top of existing institutions, like schools or the municipal headquarters, to make sure employees follow ISIS’s new rules.

In the education system there have been major changes such as the cancellation of subjects like philosophy and the adoption of a new ISIS-authored curriculum for religion. In other ISIS-run sectors the only significant change is that employees must interrupt their work to pray.

[...]

Initially ISIS members impressed them with their piety and the effective way they policed Raqqa but he was won over by their generosity. ISIS gave the man’s brother an $800 grant to pay for his wedding in the Spring of 2014; it gave the man himself some free diesel; and gave his neighbor money to repair his damaged house.

“The Islamic State is walking in the Prophet Muhammad’s footsteps,” he said by Facebook chat. “They are protecting our boys and girls from vice. We don’t have those nearly-naked girls walking around like in Damascus. No one is smoking here, and it’s almost impossible to commit adultery. They are saving the Islamic community from vice and destruction.”

Another resident, named Abu Yasin, 58, spoke by Skype from Raqqa. He picks up a lot of local news from the customers in the kebab restaurant he owns. He says ultimate authority rests with the provincial emir or governor and with the Sharia court. Anyone who has a serious complaint or problem appeals to those authorities. He has to pay a set tax to ISIS and close his shop during prayer times.

The Null Hypothesis for Income and Wealth

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Arnold Kling shares the sort of evidence that Robert Putnam should confront, from a working paper by David Cesarini and others:

We use administrative data on Swedish lottery players to estimate the causal impact of wealth on players’ own health and their children’s health and developmental outcomes. Our estimation sample is large, virtually free of attrition, and allows us to control for the factors — such as the number of lottery tickets — conditional on which the prizes were randomly assigned. In adults, we find no evidence that wealth impacts mortality or health care utilization, with the possible exception of a small reduction in the consumption of mental health drugs.

Our estimates allow us to rule out effects on 10-year mortality one sixth as large the cross-sectional gradient. In our intergenerational analyses, we find that wealth increases children’s health care utilization in the years following the lottery and may also reduce obesity risk. The effects on most other child outcomes, which include drug consumption, scholastic performance, and skills, can usually be bounded to a tight interval around zero. Overall, our findings suggest that correlations observed in affluent, developed countries between (i) wealth and health or (ii) parental income and children’s outcomes do not reflect a causal effect of wealth.

Why We Reject Facts & Embrace Conflict

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Musa al-Gharbi explains why we reject facts & embrace conflict:

There is a growing body of research suggesting that when beliefs become tied to one’s sense of identity, they are not easily revised. Instead, when these axioms are threatened, people look for ways to outright dismiss inconvenient data. If this cannot be achieved by highlighting logical, methodological or factual errors, the typical response is to leave the empirical sphere altogether and elevate the discussion into the moral and ideological domain, whose tenets are much more difficult to outright falsify (generally evoking whatever moral framework best suits one’s rhetorical needs).

While often described in pejorative terms, these phenomena may be more akin to “features,” than “bugs,” of our psychology.

For instance, the Machiavellian Intelligence Hypothesis holds that the primary function of rationality is social, rather than epistemic. Specifically, our rational faculties were designed to mitigate social conflicts (or conflicting interests). But on this account, rationality is not a neutral mediator. Instead, it is deployed in the service of one’s own interests and desires — which are themselves heavily informed by our sense of identity.

This is because our identities are, among other things, prisms through which we interpret the world. These trends hold just as true for secular agents as religious ones, for liberal ideologues as conservatives (as for so-called “independents,” they are generally partisans in disguise) — the phenomenon is known in academic circles as “cultural cognition.”

Importantly, this identity-based reasoning does not reflect a lack of cognitive sophistication. Quite the reverse: the better an agent is at justifying their beliefs and dismantling undesirable arguments or evidence from others — these tend to be more prone to, and less aware of, their biases; their beliefs are much more difficult to successfully challenge or revise.

As a result of these trends, identity-based disagreements often seem intractable: rather than leading to consensus, these clashes typically generate fundamentalism and polarization — often causing significant social dysfunction and instability, and not just in the ideological or political spheres. Identity-based armed conflicts, for instance, tend to be much more violent, and much more difficult to resolve, than other forms of war. And what’s worse, mediators, especially when they present themselves as objective or neutral, tend to exacerbate and prolong these struggles.

There is an analog in the socio-political sphere, namely the tendency to try and neutralize conflicts by framing issues in secular terms, appealing to “universal” truths or values. But of course, these interpretations tend to be highly-controversial–relying on a host of implicit, and often problematic, assumptions about everything from how others think to what serves their interests.

[...]

But unless the dominant party (or the systems and institutions it has established) is beyond meaningful challenge, the typical effect of this approach is increased polarization; and the higher the perceived stakes, the stronger the “us v. them” effect will be (even to the point of radicalization). This is because fostering parochial altruism is essential for intergroup competition. And so when there is an opportunity for a meaningful shift in power (such as in the lead-up to an election or in the aftermath of a crisis), this cultural partisanship will be especially pronounced.

Accordingly, the best way to reduce polarization is not by obscuring critical differences under the pretense of universalism. Instead, societies should aspire to lower the perceived stakes of these identity conflicts.

For example, rigidity, polarization and groupthink are much less common, and more easily addressed, in deliberations within an identity group; closed-mindedness is largely a response to a perceived threat from outside. In heterogeneous contexts, many of the benefits of this enclave deliberation can be achieved by engaging interlocutors in terms of their own framing and narratives, mindful of their expressed concerns and grievances. That is, identity differences should not be suppressed, avoided or merely tolerated, but instead emphasized, encouraged and substantively respected — emphasizing pluralism over sectarianism. This can create a foundation where good-faith exchange and intergroup cooperation are feasible. Or put another way, the problem isn’t cultural cognition, it’s the lack of cross-cultural competence.

What tears the mask off the face of the past

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

No one who reads Qutb’s Milestones could doubt that the destruction of ancient monuments is perfectly in keeping with Islamist thought, Theodore Dalrymple says:

It was one of the founding texts of modern Islamic fundamentalism (if that is not an oxymoron) and is worth studying not for itself but for the light it sheds on a certain mentality, namely that of Moslems who believe themselves in possession of the highest truth yet find themselves permanently sunk in moral, economic and social squalor.

The book breathes hatred or contempt for all that is not Islamic and is a kind of Islamo-Trotskyist call to permanent revolution until the whole world accepts Islam:

When Islam strives for peace, its objective is not that superficial peace which requires that only that part of the earth where the followers of Islam are residing remains secure. The peace which Islam desires is that the religion (i.e. the Law of the society) be purified for God, that the obedience of all people be for God alone…

And since Islam is the one true religion, it follows that real as against pseudo- peace necessitates the acceptance everywhere of Islam. Just as Trotsky did not believe in socialism in one country, so Qutb did not believe in Islam in one country (and Trotsky was a much better writer that Qutb, of course).

Qutb makes it quite clear that no consideration at all is due the polytheists, against whom a merciless war not only could, but must, be fought. Moreover, in his view, all that existed before Islam was mere jahiliyyah, ignorance. These are not the kind of ideas propitious to the preservation of ancient monuments, to put it mildly.

Dalrymple contrasts this against Lord Curzon’s speech to the Royal Asiatic Society in Bengal in 1900:

If there be any one who says to me that there is no duty devolving upon a Christian Government to preserve the monuments of a pagan art or the sanctuaries of an alien faith, I cannot pause to argue with such a man. Art and beauty, and the reverence that is owing to all that has evoked human genius or has inspired human faith, are independent of creeds, and, in so far as they touch the sphere of religion, are embraced by the common religion of all mankind. Viewed from this standpoint, the rock temple of the Brahmans stands on precisely the same footing as the Buddhist Vihara, and the Mohammedan Musjid as the Christian Cathedral. There is no principle of artistic discrimination between the mausoleum of the despot and he sepulchre of the saint. What is beautiful, what is historic, what tears the mask off the face of the past and helps us to read its riddles and to look it in the eyes — these, and not the dogmas of a combative theology, are the principal criteria to which we must look.

The Economics of the California Water Shortage

Friday, March 20th, 2015

The New York Times paints an apocalyptic image of California’s drought, but California has plenty of water, Alex Tabarrok notes — just not enough to satisfy every possible use of water that people can imagine when the price is close to zero:

As David Zetland points out in an excellent interview with Russ Roberts, people in San Diego county use around 150 gallons of water a day. Meanwhile in Sydney Australia, with a roughly comparable climate and standard of living, people use about half that amount. Trust me, no one in Sydney is going thirsty.

So how much are people in San Diego paying for their daily use of 150 gallons of water? About 78 cents. As Matt Kahn puts it, “Where in the Constitution does it say that the people of California have the right to pay 0.5 cents per gallon of water?”

Water is such a small share of most people’s budgets that it could double in price and the effect on income would still be low. Moreover, we don’t even have to increase the price of water for residential or industrial uses. As The Economist points out, “Agriculture accounts for 80% of water consumption in California, for example, but only 2% of economic activity.”

What that means is that if agriculture used 12.5% less water we could increase the amount available for every residential and industrial use by 50% — grow those lawns, fill those swimming pools, manufacture those chips! — and the cost would be minimal even if we simply shut down 12.5% of all farms.

Moreover, we don’t have to shut down that many farms, we just have to shut down the least valuable farms and use water more efficiently.

Theatre gave birth to democracy in ancient Greece.

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

Theatre gave birth to democracy in ancient Greece:

In 534 BCE, Pisistratus, tired of the divisions among his fellow citizens, invented the annual theatre festival. With this stroke of genius, all theatre activity came together at a single place and time. All four tribes came into a common space and shared a common experience.

The result was nothing short of revolutionary. Athenian consciousness changed. Within a generation, in 508 BCE, democracy began.

It began when Cleisthenes, an aristocrat, reformed the Athenian constitution, which had institutionalized the four tribes’ power in a way that led to tyranny in the first place. Instead, Cleisthenes created a new system that “redistricted” the city-state and instituted a legislature where the members were chosen by lottery, instead of by clan or heredity. “Demo” in “democratic” means “common people.”

The next 104 years were the “golden age” of Athens. Democracy flourished, and so did the theatre — Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides all wrote their plays during this period, and competed with each other at the annual festival.

Sophocles and Euripides both died in 406 BC. The 27-year-long Peloponnesian War ended in 404 BC with Athens’ defeat at the hands of Sparta. The great age of theatre was over. And as Athens crumbled under Spartan rule, so was Athenian democracy.

(Hat tip to Anomaly UK.)

Designing Private Cities, Open to All

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Alex Tabarrok and Shruti Rajagopalan argue for private cities, open to all:

Gurgaon was a small town 25 years ago, but today it’s a city of some two million people filled with skyscrapers, luxury apartment towers, golf courses, five-star hotels and shopping malls. Often called “the Singapore of India,” Gurgaon is home to offices for nearly half the Fortune 500 firms.

Gurgaon, however, grew not by plan but in a fit of absence of mind. After the state of Haryana streamlined the licensing process, it left developers in Gurgaon to their own devices with little intervention from any national, state or local government. As a result, almost everything that works in Gurgaon today is private. Security, for example, is privately provided for almost all housing, shopping and technology complexes. Over all, about 35,000 private security guards protect Gurgaon, compared with just 4,000 public officers. Gurgaon also has India’s only private fire department, filling an important gap, because it must be capable of reaching Gurgaon’s tallest skyscrapers.

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But not all is well. No developer in Gurgaon was large enough to plan for citywide services for sewage, water or electricity. For a price, private companies provide these, but in inefficient ways. Sewage doesn’t flow to a central treatment plant but is often collected in trucks and then dumped on public land. Tap water is often delivered by private trucks or from illegally pumped groundwater. Reliable electricity is available 24 hours a day, but often using highly polluting diesel generators.

Compared with the rest of India, Gurgaon fares well but its functioning is far from ideal. Is there a middle ground between China’s ghost cities and the anarchy of Gurgaon? Surprisingly, privately planned cities may be an answer. And one of the oldest is in India.

Jamshedpur was founded by Tata Steel, as a company town, in 1908. It has landscaped parks, paved roads and even a lake, but it’s no playground for the rich. It’s a working town. Nevertheless, it is the only city in the state of Jharkhand with a sewage treatment plant, and it’s one of the few cities in all of India where residents enjoy reasonably priced, reliable electricity and safe tap water. In a survey by the marketing research company Nielsen, residents ranked the city among the best in India for its cheap and reliable provision of sewage, water, electricity, public sanitation and roads.

Jamshedpur works because Tata owned enough land so that it had the right incentives to plan and invest in citywide infrastructure. Tata has also had to maintain good services in order to attract workers. In Gurgaon, private developers built lots of infrastructure, but only up to the property line. By extending the property line to city-scale, the incentives to build large-scale infrastructure like sewage, water and electricity plants are also extended.

The Cost of Relativism

Monday, March 16th, 2015

David Brooks reviews Robert Putnam’s Our Kids and examines the cost of relativism:

Roughly 10 percent of the children born to college grads grow up in single-parent households. Nearly 70 percent of children born to high school grads do. There are a bunch of charts that look like open scissors. In the 1960s or 1970s, college-educated and noncollege-educated families behaved roughly the same. But since then, behavior patterns have ever more sharply diverged. High-school-educated parents dine with their children less than college-educated parents, read to them less, talk to them less, take them to church less, encourage them less and spend less time engaging in developmental activity.

Interspersed with these statistics, Putnam and his research team profile some of the representative figures from each social class. The profiles from high-school-educated America are familiar but horrific.

David’s mother was basically absent. “All her boyfriends have been nuts,” he said. “I never really got to see my mom that much.” His dad dropped out of school, dated several woman with drug problems and is now in prison. David went to seven different elementary schools. He ended up under house arrest, got a girl pregnant before she left him for a drug addict.

Kayla’s mom married an abusive man but lost custody of their kids to him when they split. Her dad married a woman with a child but left her after it turned out the child was fathered by her abusive stepfather. Kayla grew up as one of five half-siblings from three relationships until her parents split again and coupled with others.

Elijah grew up in a violent neighborhood and saw a girl killed in a drive-by shooting when he was 4. He burned down a lady’s house when he was 13. He goes through periods marked by drugs, clubbing and sex but also dreams of being a preacher. “I just love beating up somebody,” he told a member of Putnam’s team, “and making they nose bleed and just hurting them and just beating them on the ground.”

The first response to these stats and to these profiles should be intense sympathy. We now have multiple generations of people caught in recurring feedback loops of economic stress and family breakdown, often leading to something approaching an anarchy of the intimate life.

But it’s increasingly clear that sympathy is not enough. It’s not only money and better policy that are missing in these circles; it’s norms. The health of society is primarily determined by the habits and virtues of its citizens. In many parts of America there are no minimally agreed upon standards for what it means to be a father. There are no basic codes and rules woven into daily life, which people can absorb unconsciously and follow automatically.

Reintroducing norms will require, first, a moral vocabulary. These norms weren’t destroyed because of people with bad values. They were destroyed by a plague of nonjudgmentalism, which refused to assert that one way of behaving was better than another. People got out of the habit of setting standards or understanding how they were set.

Next it will require holding people responsible. People born into the most chaotic situations can still be asked the same questions: Are you living for short-term pleasure or long-term good? Are you living for yourself or for your children? Do you have the freedom of self-control or are you in bondage to your desires?

France’s Submission

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Anthony Daniels (Theodore Dalrymple) reviews Houellebecq’s Soumission:

Houellebecq is a writer with a single underlying theme: the emptiness of human existence in a consumer society devoid of religious belief, political project, or cultural continuity in which, moreover, thanks to material abundance and social security, there is no real struggle for existence that might give meaning to the life of millions. Such a society will not allow you to go hungry or to live in the abject poverty that would once have been the reward of idleness, whether voluntary or involuntary. This, in Houellebecq’s vision of the world, lends an inspissated pointlessness to all human activity, which becomes nothing more than a scramble for unnecessary consumer goods that confer no happiness or (at best) a distraction from that very emptiness. For Houellebecq, then, intellectual or cultural activity becomes mere soap opera for the more intelligent and educated rather than something of intrinsic importance or value. That is why a university teacher of economics in one of his books describes his work as the teaching of obvious untruths to careerist morons, rather than as, say, the awakening of young minds to the fascinating task of reducing the complexity of social interactions to general principles.

So brilliantly does Houellebecq describe the arduous vacuity of the life of his protagonists that one suspects (or knows?) that his books are strongly autobiographical, not in the shallow sense that the incidents in them are necessarily those that he has lived, but in the deeper sense that the whole of what one might call the feeling-tone of his protagonists is actually his. This tone is in a way worse than mere despair, which has at least the merit of strength and of posing a possible solution, namely suicide; the Houellebeckian mood is as chronic illness is to acute, an ache rather than a pain. In Soumission, for example, the protagonist, a university teacher of literature, describes his (and, implicitly by extension, our) daily life as but a succession of trivial, boring problems and imperative tasks that are the dark side, as it were, of modern convenience: “blocked washbasin, internet connection broken, speeding ticket, dishonest cleaning lady, mistake in tax return.” I doubt whether there is anybody — any middle class person at any rate — who will be unfamiliar with these irritations that can, if they accumulate, come so easily to dominate our thoughts and to color our attitude to life.

Management Theories of Roman Slave-Owners

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Most Romans thought cruelty to slaves was shocking, Jerry Toner says:

They understood that slaves could not simply be terrified into being good at their job. Instead, the Romans used various techniques to encourage their slaves to work productively and willingly, from bonuses and long-term inducements, to acts designed to boost morale and generate team spirit. All of these say more than we might imagine about how employers manage people successfully in the modern world.

Above all, the story shows how comfortable the Romans were with leadership and command. They believed that there is a world of difference between having the organisational skills to run a unit and actually being able to lead it. By contrast modern managers are often uncomfortable with being promoted above their staff. I worked in a large corporation for a decade and I had numerous bosses who tried to be my friend. Raising yourself over others sits uneasily with democratic ideals of equality. Today’s managers have to pretend to be one of the team.

The Romans would have scoffed at such weakness. Did Julius Caesar take his legions off-site to get them to buy-in to his invasion of Gaul? Successful leaders had to stand out from the crowd and use their superior skills to inspire, cajole and sometimes force people to do what was necessary. Perhaps we would do well to learn from their blunt honesty.

American policy makers do not read books

Saturday, March 7th, 2015

American policy makers do not read books, T. Greer reminds us:

Some books are surely read, of course, but the harsh truth of the matter is that between their professional responsibilities and the reading burden posed by simply keeping up with current affairs most people charged with crafting American strategy do not have the time to read very many real books. The knowledge they gain from what they read during their policy-making years will be broad, but it is probably not deep.

For some areas this is to be expected–ISIS has hardly been around long enough for many monographs to be written about it. But books upon books about counter-insurgency and terrorism, Islamic millenarian ideology, contemporary Near Eastern society, and the region’s history have been written. Many of these books, especially those with a historical bent, cannot be reduced to a power-point slide briefing or a New York Times op-ed. And if readers of The Stage have learned anything from reading this blog, it should be that the historical and cultural context of our adventures abroad matter. We lose wars when our strategists do not know realize this, and much more besides.

One cannot take this condemnation too far. There is a real limit to what you can expect policy-makers to master. No man can be an expert in all domains and it is too much to expect the Secretary of State to read three or four histories of a troublesome country every time a new crisis begins. Back when John Quincy Adams was America’s premiere grand strategist and it took several weeks for letters to cross the Atlantic it was feasible for statesmen to pull off a reading spree before the trouble was over. This is too much to expect of senior policy makers in this era, who are not only expected to make time in their schedules for fancy photo ops and jet trips across the world, but often must react to crises minutes and seconds after they occur. It is a wonder these men read anything at all.

If the American strategist of 2015 has a deep base of historical, cultural, and scientific knowledge to draw on to guide the decisions he makes this is because he acquired this knowledge base before he was a senior policy maker. You can actually see hints of this in the survey data — Avey and Desch asked policy makers to list the living international relations scholars they thought had the greatest influence on actual policy making. Along with scholars-turned-officials (e.g. Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Anne-Marie Slaughter) and public intellectuals (e.g. Francis Fukuyama, Fareed Zakaria) were a list of men whose scholarly apogee was twenty to thirty years ago, back when our policy makers were undergrads! (Funnily enough many of these men — Samuel Huntington, Albert Wohlstetter, Hans Morgenthau — are not only past their scholarly prime, but are no longer alive!) Those who rose to prominence after 1995 barely register.

A Civilization Is at Stake Here

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

We can’t defeat “global extremism” without discrediting the ideology behind it, T. Greer argues:

At the turn of the twentieth century, China, Japan, and Korea saw vast changes in the shape of their society because the old Neo-Confucian world view that had upheld the old order had been discredited. In Europe both communism and fascism rose to horrific heights because the old ideology of classical liberalism that had hitherto held sway was discredited. As a global revolutionary force communism itself withered away because the events that closed the 20th century left it discredited. If Americans do not worry about communist revolutionaries anymore it is because communism was so thoroughly discredited that there is no one left in the world who is willing to pick up arms in its name.

We cannot “win” this fight, in the long term, unless we can discredit the ideology that gives this fight teeth.

Luckily for us, this does not require discrediting a fourteen hundred year old religion held by one fifth of the world’s population. It is worth reminding ourselves that the ideology we seek to discredit is a comparatively new one. It was born in the sands of Najd shortly before Arabia became “Saudi,” crystallized in its present form only in the 1960s, and was not exported abroad until the late 1980s. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict excepted, almost all “Islamist” terrorist attacks can be linked directly to this new Salafi-Jihadist ideology and the madrassas and proselytizing media used to spread it. It is an ideology that directly threatens the sovereign rulers of every country in the Near East, and one whose interpretations are not only opposed by the majority of Islamic theologians, but have little relation to the way Islam was practiced in most places a mere 30 years ago.

That an ideology is new or rebels against established world views does not make it less dangerous. Novelty also says little about a movement’s future success–once upon a time Protestantism was a novel ideology. I encourage people to use this analogy. Think of these Salafi reformers as you do the first wave of Protestant reformers back in the 16th century. The comparison is apt not only because the goal of the Salafi-Jihadists is, like the original Protestants, to bring religious practice back to a pure and original form, or because the savagery displayed by many of the Protestant reformers was quite comparable to ISIS at its worst, but because this comparison gives you a sense of the stakes that are at play. This is a game where the shape of entire civilizations are on the table. The Salafi-Jihadists want to change the way billions of people worship, think, and live out their daily lives. ISIS’s success in the Near East gives us a clear picture of exactly what kind of society the Salafi-Jihadists envision for the Ummah.

I will not mince words:  humankind faces few catastrophes more terrible than allowing Salafi-Jihadist reformers to hijack Islamic civilization. Theirs is an ideology utterly hostile to human progress and prosperity, and their victory, if attained, will come at great human cost. The Protestants secured their Reformation with one of the most destructive wars of European history; there is little reason to think Salafi-Jihadist victories will be any less disastrous. Not every ‘great game’ of international power politics is played for civilization-level stakes. But that is exactly what is at stake here. We must plan accordingly.

Thanks, Price Controls!

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Alex Tabarrok shares his (and Tyler Cowen’s) latest video, on price ceilings: