A Weekly Link Roundup contains links to articles on the web that I found worth reading. Remember, I don’t necessarily agree with everything said by these links; I just post what I find to be interesting and well-written. If you want to know whether I support a particular opinion you see, feel free to ask. And if you need over 500 more quality links I like, don’t be afraid to look to the link roundup category.
- Why We Regulate [NYTimes]: “Just to be clear, businessmen are human — although the lords of finance have a tendency to forget that — and they make money-losing mistakes all the time. That in itself is no reason for the government to get involved. But banks are special, because the risks they take are borne, in large part, by taxpayers and the economy as a whole. And what JPMorgan has just demonstrated is that even supposedly smart bankers must be sharply limited in the kinds of risk they’re allowed to take on.”
- Time to Try Government as Employer of Last Resort: “At 10.2%, unemployment is now at its highest level since 1983. Nearly 16 million people can’t find jobs even, though we are constantly being told that the worst recession since the Great Depression has officially ended. Yet instead of trying to revive the productive economy, most of the Obama administration’s recovery efforts still remain focused on cardio-shock treatment for Wall Street. [...] We therefore suggest a new approach: Government as Employer of Last Resort (ELR). The U.S. Government can proceed directly to zero unemployment by hiring all of the labor that cannot find private sector employment. Furthermore, by fixing the wage paid under this ELR program at a level that does not disrupt existing labor markets, i.e., a wage level close to the existing minimum wage, substantive price stability can be expected.”
- How to Implement True, Full Employment: “We will briefly describe a program that would generate true, full employment, price stability, and currency stability. We will show that this program can be adopted in any nation that issues its own currency. Our presentation consists of three sections. First, we briefly examine a pilot program at the University of Missouri—Kansas City (UMKC). This provides the basis for the analysis in the second section of the functioning of a national monetary system. Finally, we show how this knowledge can be used to construct a public service program (PSE) that guarantees true, full employment with price and currency stability.”
- Christianity Isn’t Immoral, It’s Amoral: “This may seem cruel and unfair, but then we’re given a loophole. We don’t actually have to meet them because as long as we believe in Jesus’ divinity, we’ll be fine. Simple, right? Except we can’t just “choose” to believe in something we don’t actually believe in, we have to be persuaded by tangible reasons. God himself made our minds work like that. Of course, God won’t give us any tangible reason to believe because that would be too easy, so a lot of us are stuck making the only mistake that we’re really not allowed to make, and it doesn’t matter what else we do. We’re not allowed to fake believing either, because God would pick up on that. All the while, we are given free rein to behave as horribly as we want to our fellow inhabitants of this Earth, providing we remember to beg forgiveness after we do so. It’s a hell of a system.”
- Has Religion Made the World Less Safe?: “So the subtitle of the late Christopher Hitchens’s atheist bestseller, How religion poisons everything, is an overstatement. Religion plays no single role in the history of violence because religion has not been a single force in the history of anything. The vast set of movements we call religions have little in common but their distinctness from the secular institutions that are recent appearances on the human stage.”
- Loading the Climate Dice [NYTimes]: “A couple of weeks ago the Northeast was in the grip of a severe heat wave. As I write this, however, it’s a fairly cool day in New Jersey, considering that it’s late July. Weather is like that; it fluctuates. And this banal observation may be what dooms us to climate catastrophe, in two ways. [...] Almost a quarter of a century ago James Hansen, the NASA scientist who did more than anyone to put climate change on the agenda, suggested the analogy of loaded dice. Imagine, he and his associates suggested, representing the probabilities of a hot, average or cold summer by historical standards as a die with two faces painted red, two white and two blue. By the early 21st century, they predicted, it would be as if four of the faces were red, one white and one blue. Hot summers would become much more frequent, but there would still be cold summers now and then.”
- Sam Harris on “Free Will” [YouTube]: “In this elegant and provocative book, Sam Harris demonstrates — with great intellectual ferocity and panache — that free will is an inherently flawed and incoherent concept, even in subjective terms. If he is right, the book will radically change the way we view ourselves as human beings.”
- Which of These Boasts is Not Like the Others?: “1. ’90c of your dollar goes directly to building cars. Only 10% of our expenses go into planning and designing them.’ 2. ‘We’re using a volunteer director and no advertising, so we can spend 100% of the movie’s budget on shooting expenses. It’ll be a hit!’ 3. ’90% of our military budget goes directly to soldiers and weapons. We don’t waste your tax dollars on administrative costs.’ 4. ‘More than 90 percent of our expended resources … support our poverty-fighting projects around the world. Less than 10 percent of expended resources go toward administrative and fund-raising costs.’ The answer, of course, is #4, because it’s real. But to hear me tell it, it’s as silly a ‘selling point’ as the others.”
- Always Question Popularity: “my superior asked me to add a ‘popular products’ section to the bottom, listing our company’s best selling products. I started looking through our master spreadsheet, picking out the overall bestselling (and therefore, most popular) products, when he pointed me in the direction of a separate spreadsheet with the most popular products already laid out. I noticed the spreadsheet hadn’t been edited for many months, and upon asking him why that was the case he simply said the products on the list has remained the bestselling products for all that time. Without a second though, I asked ‘Could that be because you always put them on the popular list?’”
- Morphing Morals – Neurochemical Modulation of Moral Judgment and Behavior [YouTube]: “Neuroscientists are now discovering how hormones and brain chemicals shape social behavior, opening potential avenues for pharmacological manipulation of ethical values. In this talk, I will present an overview of recent studies showing how altering brain chemistry can change moral judgment and behavior. These findings raise new questions about the anatomy of the moral mind, and suggest directions for future research in both neurobiology and practical ethics.”
- Six Policies Economists Love (And Politicians Hate): “Tuesday’s show presented the common-sense, no-nonsense Planet Money economic plan — backed by economists of all stripes, but probably toxic to any candidate that might endorse it. You can still listen to the show, but we’ve had some requests for a post with our six-step plan spelled out in brief. So here they are, along with a few words about each of the economists who helped craft it”
- Genetically Engineering ‘Ethical’ Babies is a Moral Obligation, says Oxford Professor: “Professor Julian Savulescu said that creating so-called designer babies could be considered a ‘moral obligation’ as it makes them grow up into ‘ethically better children’. The expert in practical ethics said that we should actively give parents the choice to screen out personality flaws in their children as it meant they were then less likely to “‘arm themselves and others’. The academic, who is also editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medical Ethics, made his comments in an article in the latest edition of Reader’s Digest He explained that we are now in the middle of a genetic revolution and that although screening, for all but a few conditions, remained illegal it should be welcomed.”
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