Saturday, October 08, 2011

Progress, Inequality, Etc

You can't keep updating a single post, so I'm ending the previous one while continuing to be preoccupied with the same broad set of themes. These link-heavy posts are kind of like my public filing system.

I don't want to be all Crooked Timber all of the time, as the posters there would say, but a couple of the recent post-plus-comment debates there cover off, and make largely redundant, my personal musings.

There's this one on whether, stagnant median incomes aside, things have really got better in the last 30 years. To be brief, I'd say that the basics of life -- housing, food, education and health -- have become more costly and less secure, even for the upper middle; but once you get past that threshold it's easier to have and do a variety of things.

This one on the fraught questionof how to balance concerns about short-term economic stimulus, long-term environmental sustainability, global poverty, and developed-country inequality.

Elsewhere, the morphing of Occupy Wall Street into We Are the 99 Percent suggests that this might be one protest movement with a good enough marketing pitch to gather momentum.

Also, Arthur Goldhammer criticisizes a"Randian" depiction of Steve Jobs:  

To say this is to take nothing away from Steve Jobs, who was brilliant at what he did. But what he did was essentially to package the genius of tens of thousands of others, who worked not for extraordinary shares of immense profits or for rock-star celebrity but for love of the work itself. When the technologies are in place, it is inevitable that a Jobs will come along and find the key to commoditizing them, but creation of the technologies is a long, slow, and above all social process, which owes more to the actions of a far-sighted state and to basic research pursued in universities and private labs than to the genius of any entrepreneur.

For some light relief, ther's an interesting thread on Public Address discussing the implications of the Voluntary Student Membership bill likely to pass Parliament.