Welcome Ha-Joon Chang, and Host Jon Jeter.

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

23 Things They Don’t Tell You about Capitalism

Jon Jeter, Host:

In 1972, an American football player named Duane Thomas turned the tables on an interviewer in the week leading up to the Super Bowl to ask this question:

“If it’s the ultimate game, how come they’re playing it again next year?”

What makes Ha-Joon Chang’s new book, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism, such a joy to read, is not the challenge it poses to the bad economics that undergirds global finance, though it does precisely that. Just as Thomas did nearly 40 years ago, Chang’s book succeeds, fundamentally, because it challenges the dead language that is used to market as progress our growing political discontent.

The “free market” doesn’t exist today, any more than “free love” did in the 60s. Maximizing shareholder value produces Pyrrhic victories. Why has greater macroeconomic stability yielded so much instability in the form of one speculative bubble after another? What does inflation matter to people with no money?

Even when numbers do dominate the narrative, it is no less illuminating, as when Chang explains that Sven, the bus driver in Stockholm, earns roughly 50 times what Ram earns for driving a bus in New Delhi. “Poor countries are poor,“ he writes, “not because of their poor people. . . but because of their rich people.”Or when he notes that George Washington’s choice of clothes made in Connecticut to wear at his inauguration, may well have violated World Trade Organization strictures today.

An economist who specializes in the political economy of development, Chang’s book is witty, accessible, and playful, in much the same way as the monstrously successful Freakonomics. But if Freakonomics is the textual equivalent of Seinfeld—a book, really, about nothing–there’s nothing banal or trite about Chang’s book. With the storm clouds gathering over the U.S. and Europe, 23 Things provides a useful road map for how we can get out of the rain.

128 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Ha-Joon Chang, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You about Capitalism”

BevW April 24th, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Ha-Joon, Welcome to the Lake.

Jon, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

dakine01 April 24th, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Good afternoon Ha-Joon and Jon and welcome to FDL this afternoon.

Ha-Joon, how did you arrive at 23 things? I do a lot of writing about the plight of long term un/underemployed at my blog and it seems as if 23 is a quite conservative number.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 2:02 pm
In response to BevW @ 1

Thanks, Beverly, for organising this. And thank you Jon for giving my book such a nice introduction.

It is great to be here.

Ha-Joon

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Thank you for visiting with us, Ha-Joon Chang.

Looking forward to this salon.

;~DW

eCAHNomics April 24th, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Hi Ha-Joon,

I haven’t read this book yet, but I loved Bad Samaritans, and particularly enjoyed the book tour presentation you did that showed on book-tv. Have you turned your son out to shine shoes, or did you decide, as seemed likely, that you would continue to pay for his education until he could become a professional? Inquiring minds…

Jon Jeter April 24th, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Great to have you here, Ha-Joon. I’m only halfway through your book,but I have to say, so far, it’s a marvel. One of the things that really impressed me is the sense of history that you bring to the narrative. So, let me jump right in and ask: what does history suggest about American prosperity given our government’s seemingly unyielding push towards austerity?

Dakinikat April 24th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Hi! One of the things that I keep wondering is how we’re going to fight so much market concentration when the government refuses to enforce our anti-trust laws. Do you think it’s possible to do something about how many markets these days are basically oligopolies? Especially in the products and services that are price inelastic?

eCAHNomics April 24th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

My less frivolous & more general Q is whether you think the simplified version of the battle of the rich against the rest of us could be couched in intellectual terms as supply-side vs. demand-side economics?

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Hi, dakine01,

Yes, there has been some speculation about the number 23. Some even thought this was because I am a fan of Michael Jordan, which I am not (not that I don’t like him, but I don’t watch basketball – I am a baseball fan). You may be disappointed to learn this, but 23 is essentially a random number. The working title was ’20 things …’, but, as I was talking to my literary agent, Ivan Mulcahy, we agreed that 20 was a bit boring. So I started playing with the number. I could have probably written 29, 30 things, but that would have made the book to big, so I started with 25, which I thought is too obvious. And then I don’t like even numbers, so that left 21 and 23. 21 I thought was too close to 20, so I went for 23.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 2:09 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 5

Hi, eCAHNomics,

Thanks for your kind words on Bad Samaritans. Hopefully this book should be more fun to read than that.

My son is still being massively subsidised by me, directly and indirectly. I am still waiting for free-trade economist colleagues to live by their own doctrine and send their kids to work!

dakine01 April 24th, 2011 at 2:11 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 9

Thanks for the reply. Just as an fyi/tech note: there’s a “Reply” button in the lower right hand of each comment. Pressing the “Reply” will pre-fill the commenter name and comment number being replied to and make it easier for others to follow the ‘conversation’

Note: some browsers don’t like to let Reply work properly if it is pressed before the page completes loading after a refresh.

eCAHNomics April 24th, 2011 at 2:13 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 10

Amazing how the (laughingly-referred-to-as) free market economists demand all sorts of corp welfare. But I digress.

One of my other serious Qs is about Bernanke’s Great Depression essays. Have you read them, and if so, what did you think?

I’m going to write a diary on firedoglake about them. I bought the book and started reading them last summer, but dropped the project until now, when I’ve picked it up again.

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 2:15 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 10

Oh dear!

Then you probably do not favor a harsh austerity program to “produce” a large federal “surplus” at this moment?

And you, no doubt, favor accountability for the too-big-to face consequence big-money set?

DW

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 2:16 pm
In response to Jon Jeter @ 6

Hi, Jon,

Thanks for your kind words on the book.

The US is a country that has much shorter history to be remembered than most other countries but still manages to forget more than the others. Few Americans know that their country became rich by explicitly rejecting the doctrine of free trade and inventing, and practising, the alternative doctrine of infant industry protectionism. Few seem to remember that its willingness to massively increase government spending after the New Deal, unlike most European countries, is what saved the country from the Great Depression. Even more recent history is forgotten. Few Americans remember that it is government funding of R&D in things like defense and health that have created new leading industries in the US (and the world) during the post-WWII period – computer, semiconductor, aircraft, bio-engineering, internet, and what have you (something that would be critical in creating the new ‘green’ industry). I think the US could do much better than now by simply remembering what it has done in the past.

dakine01 April 24th, 2011 at 2:16 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 11

Oh, and I think I prefer that the 23 be a random number given how many ways and things there really are about capitalism in general. And for what it’s worth, I don’t think the Free Market has ever existed outside the fevered imaginations of some economists who like to make up numbers and scenarios that have no grounding in real life

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 2:17 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 12

To the front page with you!

;~DW

eCAHNomics April 24th, 2011 at 2:18 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 14

The US is a country that has much shorter history to be remembered than most other countries but still manages to forget more than the others.

Short version: History began yesterday. (Or maybe tomorrow; I forget which.)

Jon Jeter April 24th, 2011 at 2:20 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 14

i see the phones, as it were, are already lighting up, so get to this question in your own time, but what I really want to know, in your best estimate, is what is the doomsday scenario for the U.S. economy. in other words, if the American government continues on its current course, is it probable that the U.S. dollar will no longer be the international reserve currency? and if so, what does that mean for working people in this country?

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 2:21 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 17

Come on, eCAHN, Ha-Joon, in America, “History is bunk!”

And we are proud of that. “We make history” etc.

Heck, here in Pittsburgh PA, most do not know the story of Homestead or the role unions played …

DW

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 2:23 pm
In response to Dakinikat @ 7

I don’t necessarily think the US anti-trust law is the most appropriate but that is another story. However, it is clear that corporate interests have bought up the political class in the US so much that anti-trust law is now more or less meaningless. Unless the US changes its campaign finance law, this trends will continue. For example, in the run up to the 2008 financial crisis, we could not expect the government to regulate Wall Street properly when most Treasury secretaries are former Wall Street men and when most politicians depend on donations from the Wall Street.

eCAHNomics April 24th, 2011 at 2:24 pm
In response to Jon Jeter @ 18

I’d like to butt in here, but you can tell me to STFU if you wish.

Or Ha-Joon can comment on my comment.

My Q @ 8 is the context.

I think the U.S. economy will fall apart, having nothing to do with the USD, except marginally, but rather bc U.S. economy is demand driven, and if USG policies constantly favor the rich over the rest, then demand cannot be sustained.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 2:26 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 12

I am afraid I have not read Bernanke on the Great Depression, so cannot comment on it. However, he is someone who could talk of ‘great moderation’ on the eve of the biggest financial melt-down in generations.

eCAHNomics April 24th, 2011 at 2:27 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 20

I notice a western European tendency to move to the right since the demise of communism. Sarkozy, Merkel, your U.K. pretenders like Blair (or is it Blare, I forget).

So if you care to opine about how economic policy in all countries will favor the rich, at the expense of the rest, if there is no longer any real, extreme, left, I’d be interested in that.

Jon Jeter April 24th, 2011 at 2:27 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 21

I readily agree; I am curious though if Ha-Joon has any ideas on how the U.S. economy will fall apart, and to what degree, based on his reading of history

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 2:28 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 15

Yes, the very first chapter (called ‘Thing One’ in the tradition of Dr. Seuss – remember Cat in the Hat?) of my book is titled, ‘There is no such thing as a free market’.

Dakinikat April 24th, 2011 at 2:29 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 20

I guess I’m thinking some what along the line of not only to big to fail, but too big to care about providing actual goods and services that they could be providing. I think regulation to keep the markets standardized and translucent would get rid of some of the worst side effects from typical financial market frictions and that is attributable to the failure of politicians to task and fund regulators. But, there seems to be this acceptance of these huge entities that really don’t bring anything to the market. The banking literature suggests that there are no economies of scale. Why so many huge banks with so much power over pricing and product offerings? Does effective regulation solve that problem alone?

Michael W. Hudson April 24th, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Ha-Joon,

Congrats on your book. It’s always refreshing to see an interesting, thoughtful contribution to the debate over free markets, economics etc., one that goes beyond the numbers and takes flesh and blood human beings into account.

My two cents: I’m always fascinated by the almost-religious fervor that some Chicago Schoolers seem to bring to their discussions of money, economics, poverty, corporate fraud, etc. Many economic commentators seem to view the world bloodlessly and completely detached from the way actual human beings interact — treating each other with compassion, robbing each other blind, lying, cheating, cooperating, acting impulsively with little real information etc. etc.

eCAHNomics April 24th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 22

OK, so here’s my going in hypothesis.

Background: I have run more regressions in economics than there are one-person’s degrees of freedom, so I instantly recognized Bernanke’s methodology as bogus.

Bernanke is an unrepentent supply side monetarist.

There is NO entry for fiscal policy in his index, and in the index for a book of 300 pages, there are 3 pages referencing Keynes.

You get the gist.

I’ll provide the rest in my forthcoming diary, but it’ll take awhile before I can craft it as well as you craft your books.

ubetchaiam April 24th, 2011 at 2:32 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 14

But when you have a President whose mantra is ‘looking forward’, that certainly doesn’t encourage people to ‘look back’.

“Even more recent history is forgotten.”; so true but what is the solution to having U.S. citizens remember history? Who is pointing out that if the world had ‘intellectual property law(s) back in the 1800′s like it does now, the U.S. wouldn’t be the place it is now.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 2:34 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 13

Sorry, got to see this a bit late.

The austerity programmes are predicated on the assumption that there is a private sector rearing up to rush in to fill in the gaps left behind by reduction in public spending. When this does not exist, the result is further slowdown, as we are seeing in countries like Ireland and Greece.

ubetchaiam April 24th, 2011 at 2:36 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 20

“Unless the US changes its campaign finance law, this trends will continue.”—”ca=ching !! Jackpot hit !!

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 2:36 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 20

The campaign finance law can ONLY be changed by Congress.

In fact, EVERYTHING fundamentally, economically, and with the breakdown of the rule of law, of which the economic debacle is a part, those behaviors that are deliberately causing our society to collapse, are owing to Congressional complicty and malfeasance, though some think it mere stupidity.

Now, with a unitary executive and unquestionable state’s secrets protections available to wealth and to power, not to mention the recent “People’s United” SCOTUS decision, expecting Congress to kill the golden goose is a wee bit beyond hopey-changey.

You may have seen Chomsky’s suggestion that elections are simply a game run by the PR crowd, or, perhaps you remember Emma Goldman’s words about voting?

As an economist, what advice have you to suggest a humane and decent way forward?

Or, are we to wait for the collapse and then begin to ponder our alternatives.

DW

ubetchaiam April 24th, 2011 at 2:38 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 32

“Or, are we to wait for the collapse and then begin to ponder our alternatives.”; don’t wait DW. it’s coming a MUCH sooner than the Second Coming.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Hi, Michael, really great to meet you again, even though virtually. And thank you so much for your kind words on my book.

I agree with you. Even Hayek complained that the definition of ‘perfect competition’ so central to Neoclassical economics (the core of today’s free market economics) excludes all actions that real world people associate with competition. But in my view the bigger problem is that most economists are not even interested in the real world, bloodless or not! It seems to me that many mainstream economists think that any knowledge about the real world contaminates the purity of their intellect.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 2:44 pm
In response to Jon Jeter @ 18

Jon, I think the process in which the US dollar is de-throned as the world’s reserve currency will be a protracted one – as it was the case with the British Pound. In the short run, countries like China, Japan, and other Asian countries that hold US T-bills and other dollar assets won’t be able to dump those assets too much too quickly because they rely heavily on export to the US. In the long run, of course, the dollar will slowly decline, but I am not enough of a historian of the global monetary system to say anything intelligent on this. Perhaps Michael Hudson can teach us something here?

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 2:44 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 30

Right.

Basically, the American Federal Government chooses between the public interest and private interests … precisely as eCAHN suggests.

The myths of American Exceptionalism, “It can’t happen here …” asnd so forth, preclude that understanding from reaching hoi paloi, and most economists, Dog bless ‘em, either don’t understand themselves or are loathe to address the truth.

DW

eCAHNomics April 24th, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Here’s another swipe at my fundamental Q.

H/T Yves Smith, p. 107 of Econned.

Only 8% of AEA surveyed economists endorsed neolib, and only 3% did so strongly. Results in a 2007 article in Journal of Economics & Sociology, authors excoriated economists for being so backward.

How did the 3% get to be in charge of all of western econ policy, and why are the 97% groveling in their academic hovels (public intellectuals like you the rare exception).

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 2:45 pm
In response to ubetchaiam @ 33

Yeppers, ubetcha!

DW

Dakinikat April 24th, 2011 at 2:45 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 34

Don’t you think a lot of that has to do with all the indoctrination of every one on rational expectations? The model stuff treats frictions like they’re odd things instead of everywhere and invading everything. There’s not even a decent asset pricing model in mainstream finance and yet, every thinks Fama walks on water in Financial Economic circles. It’s hard to get beyond that ‘random walk’ down Wall Street stuff.

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 2:47 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 37

A certain 1% wanted this result?

Who coulda ‘magined?

On edit: Oh, and the political class is neolib, overwhelmimgly, Magot and Raygun led the way.

;~DW

Dakinikat April 24th, 2011 at 2:47 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 37

Look at the Obama adminstration. All the economists left within the first few months. His economic advisers are basically lawyers or Wall Street people and the few economists he does have now are Chicago School. Stiglitz and Krugman can’t even get near him. I figured Christie wasn’t going to last long, but Summers couldn’t even take it. They don’t hire economists any more. They hire lawyers with finance backgrounds.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 2:49 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 23

Yes, policies have moved to the right in many European countries since the fall of communism, but that is not necessarily a permanent trend. Currently, rightwing governments in Germany, France, and Italy are all in trouble. What I am worried about, though, is that in many European countries the mainstream leftwing parties have been ineffectual in defending the working class, so a lot of working class voters have moved to far-right, anti-immigrant parties (Le Pen’s National Front in France was the herald, followed by Jorg Haider’s party in Austria, but recently even in countries like Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, populist far-right parties have become very influential).

Dakinikat April 24th, 2011 at 2:49 pm
In response to Dakinikat @ 39

oh, and I have to add, after being forced to repeat all of FAMA’s studies for a seminar at one time, that he basically blocks out the Great Depression period from his studies because he considers it an outlier … how do you take any one’s asset pricing models serious that have to avoid financial collapses?

eCAHNomics April 24th, 2011 at 2:50 pm
In response to Dakinikat @ 41

I get that.

I’m hoping to get a diff, or deeper, or more implication rich, perspective from Ha-Joon.

Dakinikat April 24th, 2011 at 2:51 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 35

as long as the GCC community pegs to the dollar and oil is still huge, it will be a slow decline, indeed …

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 2:51 pm
In response to ubetchaiam @ 31

Even in Britain, where elections are publicly managed, with TV air times strictly allocated according to share of votes, etc., increase in corporate donations have had insidious effect on democracy. With the recent lifting of limits on corporate donations, things are unfortunately set to go even further in the wrong direction in the US.

eCAHNomics April 24th, 2011 at 2:51 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 42

What about the simple version, certainly true in the U.S. and U.K., that traditional political party defenders of labor, are being bought off by corps.

And if so, what to be done.

Dakinikat April 24th, 2011 at 2:53 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 44

I just had to vent … drives me nuts.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 2:53 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 32

I think the only way to change American politics is for people to get organised and put pressure on the politicians (of course, in this unions should play an important role, although I don’t know enough about American politics to know whether this is a realistic prospect). After all, that is what democracy is for! We saw some signs of that in Wisconsin, and paradoxically the Tea Party shows that there is a lot of popular willingness to get involved – only that the energy is channeled into the completely wrong direction ….

Michael W. Hudson April 24th, 2011 at 2:55 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 34

Well said. I’ve argued that journalists covering economics in many cases may be harmed by a common career path: studying the abstractions of academic economics and then starting out covering some numbers-heavy financial beat, such as the junk bonds or IPOs, before moving on to covering economics, the Fed, etc.

It’s great to study economics, and learn (with a bit of skepticism) the terminology and the ideologies of the discipline, but I think it’s important for reporters, before they start writing about economics or government banking policy, should spent time covering some sort of “real-world” beat, such as police, local courts, workplace issues, etc., where they have to spend time knocking on doors, talking to real people and learning how the world works at the ground level, how to find and read court records, how to work sources to get real information rather than spin and so on.

Perhaps the same should be said for economists: it might be good for them to spend time working on the ground with an NGO, or in the budget-office of a mid-sized city, before they begin making sweeping pronouncements about how the economic works, where markets are headed, etc.

eCAHNomics April 24th, 2011 at 2:55 pm
In response to Dakinikat @ 48

I’m at whatever the next stage of the 12-step program is after venting. :-)

ubetchaiam April 24th, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Mr. Chang, what is your current perspective regards the ‘currency wars’ you discussed on DemocracyNow back in November of 2010? any changes in thought?

eCAHNomics April 24th, 2011 at 2:56 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 49

Union leaders in the U.S. are in the veal pen after O’s election, as are formerly D-pols you could rely on to be progressive.

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 2:57 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 42

Of course nuthin’ like that will happen in the YouEssAy, we like our parties cute and sweet, we serve cake … and tea.

(If the Democrats move any further to the right, they’ll fall right off the flat earth, (there being no “middle”) if the dragons of the “here be …” don’t get ‘em.)

We are moving right just as fascist as we can, Ha-Joon, we’ll show them European whippersnappers a thing or two … and we gots the the weapons to prove it. We didn’t engage in “endless war” fur nuthin’.

;~DW

Jon Jeter April 24th, 2011 at 2:57 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 49

if workers in the U.S. are counting on unions to come to their rescue in 2011, then I am afraid we are in a lot of trouble.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 2:59 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 37

I haven’t seen the survey, but the result depends on what they meant by ‘neoliberalism’, which has acquired (justifiably) a bad reputation. It is a bit like racism. Few people would, even in anonymous surveys, say that they are racist, but when you see them behave, you realise that they are. Far more than 3% of economists strongly believe in free-market doctrine, although I believe that the majority are really conformists, who would have endorsed another doctrine if it were in control. Don’t forget that the (sizeable) minority of neoliberal economists in the academia are strongly supported by those who have money, control over media, and other power in the real world.

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 3:00 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 49

I agree, Ha-Joon, but it will take the people of this nation some time to grasp their predicament, their common plight, and to rally, together … In the meantime, I wonder at the patience of the rest of the world’s people, frankly, I marvel.

DW

Jon Jeter April 24th, 2011 at 3:02 pm

as a recovering reporter, I am afraid that your suggestion may be a bit outdated at this point. while the industry was by no means perfect 20 years ago, it is now overrun with 30-something careerists who have never met a Latino immigrant or unemployed African American in their life–and are not encouraged to do so.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 3:02 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 47

I think that is basically how it has been.

Ultimately, most politicians are going to behave in ways that get them more votes. So the only way to change them is to change people’s mind and their attitude to politics.

cmaukonen April 24th, 2011 at 3:04 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 34

Hi Ha-Joon
Economists are not the only ones.

papau April 24th, 2011 at 3:07 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 56

You are a delight to read – perhaps because I agreed with 90% of it (there is nothing “free market” where wages are largely politically determined – macroeconomic stability does not make the world economy more stable – an educated population by itself doesn’t make a country richer) – - but more than this it is so well written and to the point that even my old brain could absorb your points. I liked the technique of a summary of the econ fairytale “Markets need to be free. When the government interferes to dictate what market participants can or cannot do, resources cannot flow to their most efficient use. If people cannot do the things that they find most profitable, they lose the incentive to invest and innovate.” followed by “The free market doesn’t exist. Every market has some rules and boundaries that restrict freedom of choice. A market looks free only because we so unconditionally accept its underlying restrictions that we fail to see them.”

And I liked the way you turned around the Reagan idea that the current system is failing because of too much regulation, too many taxes, and a distribution system we can not afford without confisgatory tax rates that wastes money for welfare benefits that make the rest us lazy by saying that folks are better off if the welfare state was stronger because entrepreneurs would be more willing to take chances and innovate if the risks weren’t as great ( a great sales point for universal health) – listing out other countries with more robust welfare benefits that actually outperform the US (the USA does not have the world’s highest living standard. Norway, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden and the USA, in that order, had the highest incomes per head. On income per hours worked, the USA comes eighth, after Luxemburg, Norway, France, Ireland, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands. Japan, Switzerland, Singapore, Finland and Sweden have the highest industrial output per person). And shot down “free trade” by noting that USA growth was best when it was the world’s most protectionist country (1830s to the 1940s), and that Britain’s growth period of the 1720s to the 1850s was when it was one of the worlds most protectionist countries.

For the record some of your “things” (Chapter titles) are:

(1) There is no such thing as a free market
(2) Companies should NOT be run in the interest of their owners
(3) Most people in rich countries are paid more than they should be
(4) The washing machine has changed the world more than the Internet has
(5) The U.S. does not have the highest living standard in the world
(6) Making rich people richer doesn’t make the rest of us richer
(7) People in poor countries are more entrepreneurial than people in rich countries
(8) More education in itself is not going to make a country richer
(9) What is good for General Motors is not necessarily good for the United States
(10) We are not smart enough to leave things to the market

As to Thing 17 “A well educated workforce is absolutely necessary for economic development”, US management agrees with you that this is not important – since the 80′s internal company paid for “liberal Arts” education has been dead -”Thing 17″ only exists to sell higher Ed student loans. German Unions getting workforce education may be why Germany is doing so well with its exports.

I also liked the point that every where in the world we did better before Reagan and Thatcher – Britain’s growth rate in income per person per year was 2.4 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.7 per cent 1990-2009, with rich countries growing by 3 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.4 per cent 1980-2009 (with developing countries growing by 3 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 2.6 per cent 1980-2009, and with Latin America growing by 3.1 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.1 per cent 1980-2009, and Sub-Saharan Africa by 1.6 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 0.2 per cent 1990-2009. The world economy grew by 3.2 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.4 per cent 1990-2009. All Reagan and Thatcher gave us was the rich get richer and growth rates (and investment as a share of national output) went in the dumper.

But, there is always a but, I did not understand the put down of micro-finance (yes interest rates can be outrageously high) as it would seem that micro-finance adds to stability and security — the safety net — which you says is vital. And while I understand how immigration controls keep first World wages up, I did not like like that fact and how it might be used in the current immigration debate. And finally as noted above I do not get how we get in “Thing 5″ from the fact that the US is not the best economy to a new motivation for the economy to replace greed and the accumulation of wealth.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 3:08 pm

I think your suggestion is really great, Michael.

I remember once co-authoring a paper on the industrial policy of a developing country from which two of my co-authors (then PhD students) are from. When one of the students went to present the paper in a conference, he was met by an eminent econometrician who wisely advised her that she should forget about working on policy because ‘policy’ is something that you do when you are in your 50s, 60s, when you have done 20-30 years of rigorous technical work. When she came back from the conference, she was in a state, so I asked her, ‘ OK, having worked on econometric techniques for 30 years, where are you going to get your wisdom to give policy advice? Basically you are going to scavenge on your Economics 101 and mix it up with your personal prejudice. Is that what you want?’ I am happy to report that she worked in an international organisation and now back in her own country, working on labour market and education policy.

Michael W. Hudson April 24th, 2011 at 3:09 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 10

This great piece by Jennifer 8 Lee is a powerful indictment of how unpaid internships separate the haves and have nots — that is, how kids who can be subsidized by their parents snap up the unpaid spots and get a big leg up on kids who need to actually make money in the summers to pay the bills, finance their college tuition, etc.

http://nytimes.com/2004/08/10/politics/10interns.html?th

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 3:09 pm
In response to Jon Jeter @ 58

So, Jon (and thank you for your presence, BTW), we have an “enclaved group” telling the rest of us the true nature of reality, when such “careerists” might, as someone once suggested about politicians, “They might as well be living on Mars …”?

Somehow, this is not surprising, however, it is “something” …

Tailor made to suit the MOTU.

DW

ubetchaiam April 24th, 2011 at 3:10 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 57

A bit OT but pertinent; I’ve been dating women who have come to this country from other nations (Iran,Czechoslovakia(now Czech Republic),Mexico) and what they all are consistent on is a fear of speaking out and being more concerned with ‘freedom from’ than ‘freedom to’.

It’s a ‘diametric paradigm’ that fits many U.S. citizens and speaks to the dying, predominant meme of the 1776 Declaration.

It truly seems as though until a majority of a population becomes “uncomfortably numb”, no one ‘rocks the boat’.

Michael W. Hudson April 24th, 2011 at 3:10 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 62

That’s a happy story of breaking out of the careerist path.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 3:12 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 57

Yes, I think our generation is much more docile than our parents and grandparents. Thanks to media monopolies. With the internet, the news control by the monied class is getting weaker, so perhaps our children’s generation will be different.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 3:13 pm
In response to Jon Jeter @ 58

Gosh, if reporters don’t meet real people, who do? I am worried.

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 3:14 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 62

Ah, Ha-Joon, you are a fine mentor of conscience and humanity.

Appreciation where it is truly deserved.

Namaste.

DW

David Kaib April 24th, 2011 at 3:15 pm

I agree wholeheartedly that there is no such thing as a free market. I wonder if, given that, and your other claims, it is useful to refer to anything in the real world as capitalism?

(I too, loved Bad Samaritans, but I am afraid I have yet to read 23 Things).

Michael W. Hudson April 24th, 2011 at 3:15 pm
In response to Jon Jeter @ 58

Jon,
I’m definitely behind the times in many respects, and you’re certainly right about the influx of book-smart but real-world-detached journos. but I do know of places still left in journalism where young reporters can get shoe-leather experience. maybe we can continue this discussion off line at some point….

Jon Jeter April 24th, 2011 at 3:20 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 68

I could argue that journalists have done even more harm to the global economy than have economists. they (we) are like the nerdy kids in school, who want to cool, so we just ingratiate ourselves with the ambassador, the pol, the CEO

eCAHNomics April 24th, 2011 at 3:21 pm

They could start by reading Nickle & Dimed.

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 3:21 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 67

I second this genuine hope, Ha-Joon, realizing, as we both do, the critical importance of engaged and supportive parents, and the best of teachers, who always hope (and know) that wisdom and capacity does blossom when honestly encouraged.

DW

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 3:21 pm
In response to papau @ 61

Thank you Papau for your very kind words on my book.

As for microfinance, I could go on about it, but please refer to my joint paper with Milford Bateman, which can be downloaded from my website

http://www.hajoonchang.net/downloads/pdf/Microfinance.pdf

You can also listen to the podcast debate that I did on microfinance for the Guardian newspaper website.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/audio/2011/apr/01/focus-podcast-development-microfinance

As for the immigration point (Thing 3), I agree that it may be mis-used. I accept it if someone calls it a questionable political judgment, but it was not done frivolously. In fact I did think about that issue very hard before writing the chapter, but in the end I thought it was important to make people realise that our individual productivity is collectively determined, which is essential in destroying the free-market argument that says that people get paid what they are paid because they are worth it.

speakingupnow April 24th, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Could it be that both economists AND the journalists that cover economic activity have forgotten that economics is a “social science”?

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 3:23 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 73

Excellent suggestion, eCAHN. Should be required reading. Presumably, some among the younger generations still do such a thing?

DW

eCAHNomics April 24th, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Ha-Joon,

Up above you advised that progressives “get organized.” That process is not resource free.

In the U.S. we have recently seen the Tea Party come out of nowhere & go to the top of the national political agenda, courtesy of Koch Bros funding.

“Lefties” have no such source of funds.

Anyway to “get organized” without money?

Jon Jeter April 24th, 2011 at 3:24 pm

oh, there are certainly some outlets that encourage actual reporting; i shouldn’t be quite so glib. . . but much like our cities have been gentrified over the past 15 years, so has our media, and outlets like the NYT and the Washington Post (my former employer)worst of all. . . and as someone who has followed your work for years now, Dr. Hudson, it would be my pleasure to speak with you about this, or any other subject

Jon Jeter April 24th, 2011 at 3:27 pm
In response to speakingupnow @ 76

i think the newsroom managers at some of our largest newspapers especially would say the idea is antique, trite, naiive. . .

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
In response to Jon Jeter @ 72

That’s quite a claim. But in the end, whatever position they support, economists will be proven ‘right’ because they can run a statistical regression to show whatever they want to show (Ronald Coase, the Chicago economist who got Economics Nobel in the early 1990s famously said that ‘If you torture the data long enough, Nature will confess’).

But on the relationship between journalism and economics, you may want to read the review of my ’23 things’ by Steve Weinberg, a journalism professor from Missouri and a former journalist.

http://remappingdebate.org/article/23-things-they-dont-tell-you-about-capitalism-ha-joon-chang

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 3:30 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 78

Aye, there’s the “rub”, ’twill come down to another form of “currency”, me thinks, eCAHN.

Call it “blood, sweat, and tears …”

A labor of love?

Both of the above?

;~DW

Michael W. Hudson April 24th, 2011 at 3:32 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 75

collectively determined indeed, and it’s not just of course that our productivity is enhanced by our coworkers, workplace infrastructure, etc., but also that our productivity can conversely be reduced by bad working conditions, bad management, etc.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 3:33 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 78

I wasn’t thinking organisation is free – time- and money-wise. But if people without much money or time can never organise themselves, we will still be living in oligarchies with no voting rights for poor people, women, ethnic minorities, and without labour rights and human rights.

I don’t want to endorse the Walt Disney view of the world (‘If you believed in yourself, you can achieve anything’), but on the other hand we should not be too pessimistic.

stewartm April 24th, 2011 at 3:33 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 67

Yes, I think our generation is much more docile than our parents and grandparents. Thanks to media monopolies.

Media monopolies and the rightwing predominance of the mainstream media and its talking heads are more a reason of the widespread indoctrination, why people actually can be made to *believe* that the economic system which has been hurting them was helping them, in spite of their own lying eyes.

But for the political quiescence of the population–for the middle class at least, I think the last 30 years that has been generated by fear. Fear that if they didn’t stay quiet and just ‘try harder’ against their eroding economic situation, if they didn’t shut up at work and just “go along”, that the loss of a job would forcibly send them back into the unemployed at worse or at working a job for half the pay and no benefits at best. In many ways a worsening economy is great for “worker discipline”.

That is what separates the current generation of workers from their predecessors—a former coworker said that back in the 1960s and 70s, “there were people who would risk being fired for doing what was right” to which I replied “Yes, but showing that kind of bravery is much easier when there’s a growing economy and 3 % unemployment”. If you got fired, it was not that big a deal back then to land another job is short order. Nor would you find that your education was considered “obsolete” for your position back then like you do now.

One of the things that I like from looking at the chapters of your book is how you mention how education ‘won’t save us’. I am seeing this at my own job–greater education has just meant that the educational requirements for every job level have been expanded *for no rational justification*. They’re requiring associate degrees or trade schools for what high schoolers did (and do) perfectly well, BS’s and MS’s for what associate degreed people do perfectly well, and PhDs for what BS’s and MS’s do perfectly well. They do this just because this is just another way of underpaying labor.

-stewartm

Jon Jeter April 24th, 2011 at 3:33 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 81

i think there is a reason that journalists like the one who wrote this review are being eased out of newsrooms all across the country. . .they are critical thinkers who actually have some fealty to truth

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Absolutely.

papau April 24th, 2011 at 3:34 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 75

Thank you for the links – I will read them.

PeasantParty April 24th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Ha-Joon,

I’ve been waiting for you to be here. Thank you so much for your time. I am really happy to see somebody put the kaboosh on the talking points and bring truth to us.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 3:38 pm
In response to stewartm @ 85

I very much agree with your analysis of the ‘politics of fear’.

I am glad that you like my point on education. For those who have not read the chapter, we need to think carefully about what I call the ‘Swiss paradox’ in the chapter, by which I mean the fact that Switzerland has by far the lowest university enrolment ratio in the rich world (1/2-1/3 of rich country average) but has one of the highest standards of living and productivity in the world.

eCAHNomics April 24th, 2011 at 3:38 pm
In response to stewartm @ 85

Education is just another wingnut red herring. Not only has its rapidly rising cost been another stranglehold on U.S. economy, life med costs, but it is used as a way the reichwing can blame the victims by not getting themselves prepared for the jobs that are really really really there if workers weren’t too stupid & lazy to find them.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 3:38 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 89

I am grateful for your encouragement.

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 3:39 pm
In response to Jon Jeter @ 86

Agreed.

Even universities are little interested in critical or original thought, but then, or, more honestly, now, the main function of such places is to produce willing replacements for the status quo.

Some graduates of the “school on the hill” come to mind, especially of late.

DW

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 93

I may add that, with increasing cost of education, students are becoming more like consumers, and teachers service providers. Many of them just want the degree that will justify their investment, rather than the ability to think critically and understand the world.

eCAHNomics April 24th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 93

Poison Ivy U.

Where point of going there is to make contacts and learn how to obey the PTB.

Ha-Joon, are Oxbridge similar?

Michael W. Hudson April 24th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
In response to Jon Jeter @ 79

Jon, actually I’m not Dr. Michael Hudson of “Super Imperialism” fame. He’s the economist and I’m a mere reporter, but people understandably confuse us b/c we share a name and subject interest (see this piece we wrote together: http://michael-hudson.com/2010/11/hudson-to-hudson/ )

PeasantParty April 24th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Ha-Joon,

Do you see the coming bond market crash in Japan as something that might shake the US into correcting their current path? I’m seeing some of the signs of Japan’s last market fall and do not see how the US can support them this go round.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 3:48 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 91

As I argue in Thing 17, much of higher education is a ‘sorting’ device and does not add much to the ‘productivity’ of the individual concerned.

cmaukonen April 24th, 2011 at 3:49 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 91

Like all those temp jobs I see posted for web designers and Windoz apps programmers.

Jon Jeter April 24th, 2011 at 3:49 pm

I am properly embarrassed. I had no idea. well, I would still very much like to continue our conversation off-line, that is, if you would be interested in talking to someone who is clearly dumber than a bag of hammers.

ubetchaiam April 24th, 2011 at 3:49 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 94

Many MOST of them just want the degree that will justify their investment, rather than the ability to think critically and understand the world.; such is my experience.

Michael W. Hudson April 24th, 2011 at 3:50 pm
In response to stewartm @ 85

re risking job for what is right: a good point. one of the story lines of the financial debacle that has gotten too little attention is how few whistleblowers came forward while the ponzi-like and actual ponzi behavior was going on. in my conversations with folks who worked in the industry, many say they were effectively silenced — harassed, marginalized, demoted, fired — when they tried to report fraudulent activity.

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 3:50 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 94

Absolutely true, Ha-Joon.

Americans are more “consumer” or “customer”, these days, than “citizens”.

Even the US Postal Dept. refers to the people as “clients” and “customers”…

DW

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Dear Michael,

I am sorry that I got mixed up too. I have met the other Michael quite a few times in conferences, so that is why I said it was nice to meet you again in my first reply to you. But I can see that great minds think alike – your analysis is very much like what the other Michael would have come up with.

Jon Jeter April 24th, 2011 at 3:51 pm
In response to ubetchaiam @ 101

well, if they were all capable of critical thought, someone might find it suspicious that student loan debt in the U.S. has eclipsed credit card debt. . .

Michael W. Hudson April 24th, 2011 at 3:51 pm
In response to Jon Jeter @ 100

as I said, the confusion is very common and very understandable. i’ll shoot you an email later on.

cmaukonen April 24th, 2011 at 3:52 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 103

No…we are a resource. Like manure or crude oil.

ubetchaiam April 24th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

And look what happened to Bradley Birkenfeld when he ‘came forward’.

BevW April 24th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

As we come to the end of this Book Salon,

Ha-Joon, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon (your evening) with us discussing your new book and Capitalism.

Jon, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Ha-Joon’s website and book

Jon’s website and book

Thanks all,
Have a great week!

Michael W. Hudson April 24th, 2011 at 3:54 pm
In response to Jon Jeter @ 105

and that some student lenders have employed many of the questionable practices that credit card and mortgage lenders have long embraced.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 3:54 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 97

I am afraid I am not up to date with the situation in Japan on this. The best person to read on the recent Japanese economic situation is Richard Koo (‘Holy Grail of Macroeconomics’).

PeasantParty April 24th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Reminds me of the great FICO scam. (wink)

PeasantParty April 24th, 2011 at 3:56 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 111

Thank You. I’ll look him up.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 3:56 pm
In response to BevW @ 109

Thanks, Beverly.

Thank you Jon for hosting this. And thank you very much everyone for asking such interesting questions and making enlightening comments.

Please check out my website for more information, as Beverly said.

Jon Jeter April 24th, 2011 at 3:56 pm

thank you all. I had a blast

econobuzz April 24th, 2011 at 3:57 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 62

OK, having worked on econometric techniques for 30 years, where are you going to get your wisdom to give policy advice? Basically you are going to scavenge on your Economics 101 and mix it up with your personal prejudice.

Great description of the career path of many economists.

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 3:58 pm
In response to cmaukonen @ 107

Ah, cmaukonen, I fear we do not rate even that high. We are merely serfs. expendable fodder, and, increasingly, in the way.

Some years ago, the Nation had an article entitled “Get Rich or Get Out!”

That sums up many things.

DW

speakingupnow April 24th, 2011 at 3:59 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 111

Thank you for your insights today.

PeasantParty April 24th, 2011 at 3:59 pm
In response to ubetchaiam @ 116

Ya beat me to it! Thanks.

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Thank you, Ha-Joon.

Drop by whenever you’ve time, please.

Thanks to Jon and Bev and everyone else as well.

Simply smashing salon!

;~DW

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 4:01 pm
In response to speakingupnow @ 119

It was my pleasure.

Ha-Joon Chang April 24th, 2011 at 4:02 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 121

I will try to drop by when I can in the future. Thanks.

kall April 24th, 2011 at 4:10 pm

I unfortunately tuned in late for this today. But the book sounds compelling, and I just bought it for my Kindle.

stewartm April 24th, 2011 at 4:14 pm
In response to Ha-Joon Chang @ 90

I very much agree with your analysis of the ‘politics of fear’.

The sad thing is, too many workers don’t see it as “politics”. At my workplace, I hear refrains like “in a few years’ time we’ll all have to pay for most of our retirement or [insert benefit here]” as if they were talking about some inevitable process like the tides or the sunspot cycle, the result of the will of God or of Nature. I have had many a discussion where I have said “No, all this is due to politics, who has gotten elected and which policies which have been pursued. Just like policies helped create the Great American Prosperity of previous decades, policies since Reagan have been actively dismantling it”. Of course, the fact that the Democratic Party has made precious little attempt to make this an issue helps further said attitude.

I am glad that you like my point on education. For those who have not read the chapter, we need to think carefully about what I call the ‘Swiss paradox’ in the chapter, by which I mean the fact that Switzerland has by far the lowest university enrolment ratio in the rich world (1/2-1/3 of rich country average) but has one of the highest standards of living and productivity in the world.

Absolutely. In concurrence with what others here have said, how education actually acts nowadays is to de facto create a new sort of nobility. You have to access money–lots of it–to get the chance for an educational “ticket” for success, and to get in a really “good school*” requires even more. (And the best of the “good schools” often offer little in the way of financial aid–hint, hint). Once you’re in a “good school”, however, what you actually DO in it matters little. (I just talked today to a student friend who’s attending one of the college top law schools, and he tells me that he suspects that he has to study and work less hard than many at lesser schools). Grading is done on a curve, so there are those who party their butts off in school and barely pass–but that doesn’t matter, just if they do the minimum they *will* get hired preferentially to those in lesser schools.

And once they get that job, what happens? I have seen this myself, on several occasions. The young employee spends a couple of years or so in a entry level job, then, he or she gets the ‘magic tap on the shoulder’, and is transferred to be a staff assistant to some bigwig. Then next step is their first supervisory position, and unless they screw that up, and screw it up big-time, it goes upward from there. In 10 or 15 years or so they’re vice president of such-and-such and heading so-and-so department. And you have to ask yourself “Based on what, exactly, achievements they actually accomplished or talents they actually showed in that 2-year entry-level stint?” especially when you look at others with the same degree from “lesser” schools who have shown talents and have accomplished a lot yet their promotions come slowly if at all.

A new nobility, indeed. And these “nobles” form our leadership class–a leadership class composed best of mediocrities like a John Kerry or at worst incompetents like a George W. Bush. It forms our leadership in business and in politics to a large degree. Worse, having talked to some, they actually have come to believe they’re the best and brightest. One of my coworkers from such a school reportedly feels slighted and upset because this person (after less than 5 years at the job) has not been promoted to be the boss of our group, a group that includes high-ranking PhDs who have published and accomplished much in working there for more than 25 years. Those expectations that they “deserve this” just based on where they got their sheepskin had to be implanted somewhere.

-stewartm

cmaukonen April 24th, 2011 at 4:27 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 118

Indeed it does.

DWBartoo April 24th, 2011 at 4:38 pm
In response to stewartm @ 125

Excellent comment, stewartm, in fact it could easily be a well-attended diary, and it deserves a broader exposure.

DW

maa8722 April 24th, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Ha-Joon, welcome! I have only a moment to scan, and will read in detail tomorrow. I noticed one thing, however.

You wondered about the “ultimate” Super Bowl being played over and over again. It is a business, of course, which makes money in the capitalist system, and it would not exist on such a scale otherwise.

Yet there also habits of repetition which occur in, say, the arts (and probably a lot of other endeavors) which suggest the peculiarity is at first a common human trait, and the Super Bowl has merely tapped into it.

In my own case, from time to time I open a book about Van Gogh paintings and have seen each one many times. I have even traveled to the Netherlands to see the real ones, and have made that same journey for the same paintings more than once, and at some expense. It’s the same for me with obsessions about certain classical music composers and certain works they produced. One hearing, or reading, is ultimately not enough. The need returns.

So I think the tendency is for some things which we enjoy in our lives to simply wear out on a per episode basis. They have to be renewed from time to time to maintain their value. It may have to do with restoring some minutiae, detail, of something which our imperfect memories will ultimately lose if we neglect it.

I have to admit I watched the last Super Bowl though I’m not a football fan. I didn’t know who was playing until the game began. I spent some moments wondering how the players and fans could possibly chalk this up as of any value for the long term (forgetting about the money for a moment). But then football isn’t my concern, yet I won’t begrudge anyone who loves it as much as I love what I do.

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