Under A Green Moon-Ira Stoll At The New York Sun: ‘Comma in the New Yorker Opens Up Quite a Vista Of Liberal Parochialism’

Full piece here.

Stoll:

‘There was a wonderful article by an editor at the magazine, Mary Norris, about commas. Wonderful, that is, until this passage, “That was during the Reagan Administration, when many of us suspected that Reagan had some form of dementia, but no one could do anything about it. The country was running on automatic.”

Such politicization can make for bad stewardship of the arts, certainly.

Perhaps New Yorker features are increasingly flogged to maintain readership in a competitive marketplace, or are being put to use for other purposes, like reaffirming political ideology and identities to signal the right beliefs and in-group/out-group loyalties.  Many of the liberal pieties can be found on display at the New Yorker.

Unsolicited advice for The New Yorker: Build a wall around your political stable, don’t bet too much on current trends and politicians, and keep other spaces free for the genuinely ‘avant-garde,’ the strange and beautiful, and biting satire when it shows-up.

As previously posted:

Adam Kirsch was not so impressed with the 2009 inauguration ceremony:

‘In our democratic age, however, poets have always had scruples about exalting leaders in verse. Since the French Revolution, there have been great public poems in English, but almost no great official poems. For modern lyric poets, whose first obligation is to the truth of their own experience, it has only been possible to write well on public themes when the public intersects, or interferes, with that experience–when history usurps privacy.’

A reader sends a link to a SF Gate review of poet Jorie Graham’s ‘Sea Change:

‘In “Sea Change,” Graham becomes Prospero, casting spells by spelling out her thoughts to merge with ours, and with the voices of the elements. The result is a mingling of perceptions rather than a broadcasting of opinions. Instead of analysis, the poems encourage emotional involvement with the drastic changes overwhelming us, overwhelm- ing the planet.’

and:

‘Strengths and weaknesses, flows and ebbs, yet every poem in “Sea Change” bears memorable lines, with almost haunting (if we truly have but 10 years to “fix” global warming) images of flora and fauna under siege. Jorie Graham has composed a swan song for Earth.’

Oh boy.

What are these poems being asked to do?

Repost-Heather McDonald At The WSJ: ‘ The Humanities Have Forgotten Their Humanity’

***Who do you trust for discussions of the arts and culture, and would you just rather publications be up front about their ideological bents and loyalties?

Two Quick Friday Links-Real Estate Money And Regulation

From The Cuture Of Capitalism: ‘Bribery At The Buildings Dept.-Again

Regulatory capture so serious it’s rife with corruption:

‘The corruption is, along with the regulation, a contributing factor in New York City’s sky-high housing costs. Mayor de Blasio seems to want to deal with those costs by subsidizing or forcing developers to build “affordable” housing, but an alternative approach would be to eliminate the bureaucracy that makes the housing so expensive to construct.’

Related On This Site: Big cities, especially New York, tend to over-regulate business, you can hope for efficient corruption: Richard Epstein At Defining Ideas: ‘City Planners Run Amok’Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas: ‘California’s Kafkaesque Rent Control Laws’Josh Barro At Business Insider: ‘Dear New Yorkers: Here’s Why Your Rent Is So Ridiculously High’

Megan McArdle at Bloomberg:  ‘Up, Literally:’

In D.C, they stop many condo developers before they can start:

‘What is a pop-up, you ask? Well, in a city where lots are small and expensive, the idea is that you take a 100-year-old row house, rip off the roof and put another level on the house. Usually, this is followed by the developer dividing the place into condos, because putting on a pop-up costs well over $100,000, and developers are the folks with the ready cash to do it. Having done so, they want to make as much money as possible, so they split the house into two units that will each fetch more than a single large place.’

Repost-Megan McArdle At The Daily Beast: ‘America’s New Mandarins’Megan McArdle At Bloomberg: ‘Piketty’s Tax Hikes Won’t Help The Middle-Class’

Who Wants To Blog Forever?

Ira Stoll, on blogging, after the Andrew Sullivan announcement:

‘I’ve seen the advantages and disadvantages of the old media world, and of the blog world, too. Blogging runs the risk of solipsism. The reporting resources and reputations of institutions are useful in getting phone calls returned, landing interviews, gaining access, and attention. But the issue isn’t whether, given a choice, we might return to the pre-blog world, or inhabit or invent, as Ben Smith imagines, a “post-blog” world. There is no turning back. Like it or not, we live in a blog media world.

There’s a pretty low barrier to entry and much lower cost to communication since blogs like this one have become so easily available. Since then, personal-style, individual voice and personality can trump institutional authority, and have clearly affected how the media does business (Sullivan ran his blog pretty much like a business).

I’ve found there’s only so much room for depth on a blog, and I think it’s best used as a window on the world, a way to stay current, and to share one’s interests, talents, and knowledge with others, while experiencing the interests, talents and knowledge of others.

Worth keeping in mind: What you write about, how, and why, can often reveal as much about you as it does the subject you’re writing about. So, best to know something about the subject at hand, have some humility and curiosity, and expect some feedback and criticism.

Who you imagine your audience to be, and why you’re writing in the first place still matters a great deal, as it always has whether for knowledge, understanding, money, influence, praise, communication, friendship, attention, problem solving, creative expression…too many to name.

You know some of your reasons.

See you out there.

From The Future Of Capitalism: ‘Compliance’

Full post here.

Ira Stoll has a follow-up on his column from last year, by highlighting Zenefits Insurance Services, a company designing software to help businesses keep compliance costs down, especially with the new Obamacare regulations coming down the pike:

‘The company’s co-founder and CEO is Parker Conrad, a former managing editor of the Harvard Crimson and cancer survivor who I tried unsuccessfully to hire at the New York Sun. If someone has to make money from the “compliance complexities” of ObamaCare, I’m glad it’s him.’

I keep putting up this quote from Stoll’s original piece:

‘Indeed, if there is a single fact that sums up the state of American political economy at the present moment, it is this: the Boston office building once home to Inc. Magazine and Fast Company, which chronicled and celebrated small and fast-growing businesses, is now the headquarters of a publication called “Compliance Week.”’

These past decades have seen Washington D.C. and surrounding counties grow at a very fast rate, as people move there in pursuit of their talents, jobs and opportunity. The business of D.C. is politics, mostly.

Some people’s guiding ideals and moral lights lead them naturally to activism and leveraging political power to advance their interests, but certainly not all. Individually, I’m guessing there are people willing to accept pursuing opportunity in the public sector, instead of the private, where a lot of money and jobs currently are, especially in a down economy. These incentives will have them primarily managing other people’s lives, money, and time, through laws, tax revenue, and regulations.

This doesn’t seem commensurate long-term with a growing economy, more individual liberty and social mobility, nor a limited government which tends to keep more freedoms and responsibility in the hands of greater numbers of people, should they want that freedom and responsibility.

We’ve been getting a good look at the incentives, inertia and design flaws inherent in bureaucratic organizations lately.

Are we in decline? A rough patch of road?  A tipping point?

Related On This Site: Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.

Once broader ideas of the public good take hold, they tend to lead to greater claims of the public square, and view market activity as an animal to be harnessed: Amartya Sen In The New York Review Of Books: Capitalism Beyond The Crisis

Tom Palmer From Cato@Liberty: ‘Crony Capitalism’

From World Affairs Via A & L Daily: Jagdish Bagwhati’s ‘Feeble Critiques: Capitalism’s Petty Detractors’

.So, Is America In Decline?Richard Lieber In The World Affairs Journal–Falling Upwards: Declinism, The Box Set

Repost-Lawrence Lessig At Bloggingheads: ‘Fixing Our Broken System?’Conrad Black At The National Review: ‘Decline, But Not Inevitable Decline?’

 

Some Thursday Links-Robots & Politics

Ira Stoll links to Michael Spence at Project Syndicate:

Many current jobs can be automated, then potentially customized:

‘It is important to understand the economics of these technologies. The vast majority of the cost comes at the start, in the design of hardware (like sensors) and, more important, in creating the software that produces the capability to carry out various tasks. Once this is achieved, the marginal cost of the hardware is relatively low (and declines as scale rises), and the marginal cost of replicating the software is essentially zero. With a huge potential global market to amortize the upfront fixed costs of design and testing, the incentives to invest are compelling.’

As Stoll points out:

‘It’s not only McDonald’s order-takers and cashiers that may have their jobs replaced by computers, in other words: taxi-drivers and longshoremen may be next.’

Check out Stoll’s piece ‘How Raising The Minimum Wage Destroys Jobs

-You may have noticed the $15 hr minimum wage debate in Seattle, which pitted Socialist Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant against Ben Shapiro.

It’s enough to make you see red.

-The mayor is reviewing minimum wage options.  Really, it still could happen within Seattle City Limits.

Most of the country doesn’t support that kind of socialist base.

As far as political economy, it seems people have a tendency to resist change and protect their own.  Some will innovate and make new opportunities.  Many businesses have incentives to adapt or perish, and many will try and lead the way and dominate.  Many forces both Left and Right will mold their ideas, ideologies, and moral commitments to changing realities in individuals’ lives.  They will respond to the incentives from the public, their coalitions and interests, hoping to ride and shape public sentiment into political power.

All with an eye on re-election, of course.

 

From The Future Of Capitalism: ‘Jamie Dimon’s Annual Letter’

Post here.

Click through for more.

‘JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is out with his annual shareholder letter, and, as usual, it is an interesting read. The section focused on broad public policy issues, while broadly optimistic, raised these concerns:

Something is holding back the strong recovery of the great American economic engine. It is not lack of access to capital or loans, but it might be a combination of some of the following factors:

• Concerns around excessive regulation and red tape – I travel around the U.S. all the time, and this is a loud and growing complaint that I hear from businesses, small to large, across virtually all industries.

• Whether you were for or against “Obamacare,” when massive changes to such an important part of the American economy are made, it does create uncertainty for many businesses.

• The inability to face our fiscal reality is a concern. I believe that if we had adopted some form of the Simpson-Bowles plan to fix the debt, it would have been extremely beneficial to the economy.

• Entitlement spending – which now is 60% of federal spending and is growing – is crowding out infrastructure spending and spending on initiatives like research and development and training.’