Friday, May 21, 2010

note-taking/record keeping/posting elsewhere
John Quiggin is an idiot.
"The crucial feature of a ratchet is that, at any time, the mechanism is a locally stable equilibrium, which can be shifted in one direction, with a moderate energy input, but can’t be shifted the other way without breaking the mechanism."

That mechanism you describe fits more with prices going up faster than down or taxes going down faster than up, or the drift of policy to the right over the last 40 years, though it doesn't describe the origin. In this instance the engine is simple fear. Strange that you make no mention of emotion. The question becomes how people become united in fear.

The ground is set for the weakening of freedoms by the redefinition of democracy, from a society of multiple competing and conflicting interests to a single unifying one. An "open society" defined only by individual economic interests is less open than one defined both by individual and collective choices, economic and otherwise. The streamlining of social life towards one function leads to a sense that threats to that function are threats to society itself. If openness is the logically best defense of a free society [the response to bad speech is more speech: first amendment near-absolutism etc.] The logically best defense for a streamlined functionalist society is to put up barriers. If "progress" is the most important thing than "progress" takes priority over openness. A people united in one way are easily united in another, in this case fear.

Read Tony Judt on Robert Reich. "Change happened." Beware the passive voice and passive observation. Reason alone can make a nation of adults into a nation of children.
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Alice de @52:
“An intellectual elite protected from the consequences that befall the masses may not be a bad thing, but...”
It is in fact a very bad thing, above and beyond what’s usually called reactionary. That you feel the need to begin with a caveat of that sort shows us how far we’ve come.
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Jack Balkin on SSRN: The Processes of Constitutional Change: From Partisan Entrenchment to the National Surveillance State

And Tim Worstall @65 : Neoliberals didn’t slash the state any more than they did the university, they just changed their function.

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