Monday, January 30, 2012

TBA reading 2.1

Here's the link to the reading for Wednesday.

Update: For those of you interested in the Gold Standard and the operation of the Federal Reserve, you might check out the podcasts available here and here. The show is called "Breakdown" and basically explains issues in contemporary policy. It's no longer producing more episodes, but the host, Chris Hayes, has a cable show now on MSNBC. The podcast comes from _The Nation_ so it's definitely left leaning, but he is very fair and quite friendly with conservative policy wonks like Reihan Salam, Kevin Williamson, and Tim Carney, frequently inviting them on his new TV program.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Is the Venus Project just a name for "the direction the economy is already heading"?

Right after class I found this article from one of the more interesting bloggers out there. He's a libertarian who wants to reform our monetary system (the dollar would be backed by futures contracts rather than gold) but who also favors heavy redistribution ("on utilitarian grounds" as he puts it, meaning money is more useful to the poor than to the rich)  and thinks the Scandinavian countries are among the most free-market around.

The fascinating thing about this is that he basically is saying a version of the same thing as the Venus Project, but just recasting it in purely descriptive language: basically, the economy is headed almost by necessity toward something that looks like the Venus project. It is the inevitable outcome of capitalist prosperity.

Marx, of course, also said that capitalism would inevitably lead to communism--he just was more focused on the negative aspects, namely, that people would rise up against a system in which such a tiny minority owned the majority of wealth. As automation proceeds, the owners of capital thereby own an increasing share of the wealth even as aggregate wealth is increasing, which would necessitate redistribution. Of course, this is what this blogger is saying too--he's just casting redistribution as something done voluntarily (which I suppose does not exclude the Marxist claim at all that the capitalist is just doing this out of a fear that if he does not people will just take it from him anyway).

So three apparently radically different philosophies--Marxism, a version of libertarianism, and whatever the Venus project is--are all basically saying the same thing. The way questions are framed can make an enormous difference.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

TBA reading 1.25

Here's a link to the Venus Project's "Aims and Proposals" section. Check out the website more generally and we can talk a bit about what they seem to be advocating.

Also check out the following podcast. It's nice and short and pretty interesting, and it describes another example of an idealistic-utopian proposal for economic reform: "participatory economics."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Essay 1 and MLA

A critique of Baker's argument from a libertarian perspective

Here's an optional follow-up to the Baker reading. It's a response from a libertarian blogger who also writes for Econlog, the website where Arnold Kling's posts appear (see the link in the previous post).

Some blogs to follow

Some blogs to start reading

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Course schedule with links

This is our official, dynamic course schedule. Check back frequently for updates. 

Week 1: Intro – What is “The Market” anyway?
M Jan 9: Introduction

W 11:  Liberalism, in the classical sense. Dean Baker, Taking Economics Seriously. Listen to This American Life podcast if time permits. It will help you understand some of Baker’s ideas.

F 13:  Provocations and precursors. Read Hobbes (chapter XIII – skim other chapters if you have time) and Mandeville (for some interesting background, read this, and check out the larger site more generally for good explanations of some of the concepts we cover).

Week 2 – Direct influences on Smith
M 16: MLK day. No class.

W 18: Read Hutcheson and Swift.

F 20: First writing day. Read Nancy Sommers. Make sure you are following class blog.

Week 3 – Smith, and our first current event reading
M 23:  Read Smith.  

W 25: Reading TBA. Post response to weekly current events reading by Wednesday’s class and leave two comments on another student’s blog by Friday’s class.

F 27: Bring in rough draft.

Week 4 – Recessions
M 30: Read Krugman.

W February 1: Reading TBA.

F 3:  Bring in rough draft.  

Week 5 – Division of labor and recessions
M 6: Read Smith. First paper due by 5pm.

W 8: Reading TBA.

F 10:  Possible library day or writing workshop.

Week 6 – The political economy of recessions
M 13: Read Marx (especially section 2), Beggs, and Krugman.

W 15: Reading TBA.

F 17:  Bring rough draft for peer editing. 

Week 7 – Money, then and now
M 20: Read Smith.

W 22: Reading TBA.  

F 24: Bring rough draft for peer editing.

Week 8: Topics fair
M 27: Paper 2 due by 5pm. Short presentations.

W 29: Short presentations.

March 2: Short presentations.

Week 9 – Spring break
M 5: No class. Spring break. 

W 7: No class.

F 9: No class. 

Week 10 – Crisis theory, recessions, and the origins of macroeconomics
M 12: Read Mills (via Delong) and Marx (especially section 3).

W 14: Reading TBA.

F 16: Writing workshop or possible library day.  

Week 11 – Recessions – a political or an economic problem?
M 19:  Read Marx, Delong, and Delong (which explains the issue in a slightly different way).

W 21: Reading TBA.

F 23: Bring in rough draft for peer editing.  

Week 12 – The moderns read the classics
M 26: Read Keynes (primarily section VI).

W 28:  Reading TBA

F 30: Bring in rough draft.

Week 13 – Becoming classical again?
M April 2: Read Sumner. Paper 3 due by 5pm.

W 4: Reading TBA

F 6: Easter break. No class. 

Week 14 – Finishing touches
M 9: Easter break. No class. 

W 11: Reading TBA.  

F 13: Writing workshop.  

Week 15 – Almost there
M 16: Bring in rough draft.  

W 18: Peer editing/workshopping.

F 20: Peer editing/workshopping.

Week 16
M 23: Last day of class. No final exam.

W 25: Study day. Final paper due by April 26th at 5pm.

F 27: Exams.