Thursday, January 31, 2013

TBA reading 2.7

Here are the links for next week's topic, the Superbowl:

Here is another podcast regarding the policy/economic aspects of the big game (this will be the last one for awhile from this particular program):

Also, quickly skim (<10 mins.) the paper below to get the main argument. It is the scholarly article related to this podcast and gives a good sense of how the media translates technical language into more accessible language, and also of what we should make of this:

Here is an analysis of a wholly different type, to illustrate some other directions you can take your writing and blog posts:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

TBA Reading (actually, recording) for Thursday, January 31st.

Here is a good policy-based analysis of the Armstrong affair. (Is it just me, or do I detect a trace of Hobbes here?) Planet Money is a good podcast to get acquainted with, as it finds interesting ways to address ordinary things in a substantive way. Listen to it and post a response/reaction/analysis of a related issue to your blog by Wednesday afternoon. Respond to two blog posts by Thursday's class.

Our blog list

Here are the URLs for our blogs:








Friday, January 18, 2013

Essay 1

Essay 1: Policies and Prescriptions - Analyzing the Arguments of Others

For this first essay, we will compose a short (3-4) page paper focused primarily on developing a thesis and supporting it. We will focus more on research later; for now, let’s just practice developing a claim and using textual evidence to prove it. For this essay, you can write about almost anything that has something of a connection to our readings or to our class discussions. Here’s some general topics you might consider writing about:

1. Compare and contrast the ideas of two different theorists we have read, and develop a thesis that shows how their different assumptions about ethics leads to different ideas about politics, economics, or philosophy. Don’t worry about explaining everything about their ideas. This isn’t a report, but rather a paper focused on developing your own argument. An easy way to approach this paper would be to pick a quote from each writer and focus your paper entirely on showing the important differences that develop from the ideas each writer expresses in those quotes.

2. Apply some of the ideas we have been discussing to current events. Pick an idea or two from a writer or two and attempt to explain what these show about a contemporary debate in current affairs. What would Hobbes say about the way we finance pharmaceutical research, for example. What would Mandeville think of restrictions on immigration? These are just a few examples of what you could write about. You could also combine this with option 1 and write about differences in how classical theorists might explain contemporary events.

3. Pick a provocative quote from one writer we have read and explain why it is significant for his argument? Does it reveal something essential that we otherwise would easily overlook? If you had a strong reaction to something one of the writers we read claimed, try to formulate in a more formal, analytic language what that is and then explain the nature of your reaction. What larger implications does this quote present?

Whatever option you pick, or whether or not you pick one of the above options, try to avoid falling into the twin dangers of offering a book report or a harsh polemic. Avoid opinionated language like “I think,” “I believe,” “is wrong,” “is right,” “is good,” “is bad,” “contradicts him/herself,” etc. Also avoid summarizing or listing a series of facts without connecting them back to your thesis or explaining why they are important. The easiest way to do this is to present a clear thesis that sympathetically approaches your subject matter without becoming either overly deferential toward it or totally hostile to it.

I’ll primarily be looking for three things: a clearly defined and argumentative thesis; formal, analytic language; and a detailed analysis of the thesis and its implications. For citations, use MLA style (a works cited list with in-text citations). Bring a rough draft of ~2 pages for 1/31. The final is due 2/6 by 12pm. 

For more information on MLA, see here

Basic summary of MLA: It consists of a Works Cited list starting on the top of a separate page at the end of the paper, which contains all the various sources you refer to in the body of the paper AND ONLY those sources that you refer to directly--don't include works that you have read but do not quote from, paraphrase, or cite as evidence. To cite paraphrases, just place the author's last name and the page number at the end of the sentence in parentheses, with the period outside the parentheses [example (Freud 8)]. For quotes, just add in quotation marks around the direct quotation and place the citation again in parentheses at the end of the sentence. If you refer to the author in the sentence and are not referencing a specific page, then you do not need an in-text citation beyond the mention of the name.

The basic rule-of-thumb for MLA is to give as much information in the Works Cited as needed so that a reader can find your source (author, title, publisher, date of publication, title of publication if the work appears in a journal or magazine or newspaper, translator, etc.); for the in-text citations, list only as much information as needed to find the source in the list at the end of the paper. The custom is to start with author's last name and page number, then add a shortened version of the title, and finally a first initial if there is still confusion.

So: (Freud 8), (Freud, Dreams 8), and (S. Freud, Dreams 8)

would be how we would provide an in-text citation for the following entry in a works cited list:

Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams. Ed. and Trans. by                  
        James Strachey. New York: Avon, 1998. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Change for a trillion?

Because of the looming debt ceiling crisis, there's a scramble to think of alternative means of financing if Congress and the President get stuck at an impasse. One idea is that, instead of selling bonds, the Treasury could sell a trillion dollar coin to the Federal Reserve (the only entity that could possibly come up with such a vast sum, since it has the power to create as much money as it likes). It's a sign of the times that this idea is almost being taken seriously.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Baker on free markets in healthcare

If you have time, check out this recent Dean Baker piece, which applies some of his thinking from The End of Loser Liberalism to recent discussions in the media.

Blogs to follow

Liberal/neoliberal blogs:

Mathew Yglesias

Paul Krugman

Brad DeLong

Dean Baker

Ezra Klein

Libertarian/classical liberal blogs:

Scott Sumner (there's an excellent blogroll in the right hand corner)

Tyler Cowen

Arnold Kling et al. (also has an excellent blogroll to the right)

Will Wilkinson

Bleeding heart libertarians

Marxist/Marxist-friendly blogs:

Mike Konczal

Doug Henwood

Crooked Timber

Jacobin Magazine

Monday, January 7, 2013

Welcome! Course schedule with Hyperlinks.

Course schedule:
Note: The readings for Tuesday are set, while the readings for Thursday are to be determined. We will discuss the next week’s TBA reading each Thursday. From time to time I may move readings around or replace them to more closely coincide with the class’s current interests. Watch the blog for these updates.

Week 1 – “The Free Market”: A Floating Signifier
T Jan. 8: Introductions.

Th 10: Dean Baker, The End of Loser Liberalism. Read chapters 1-3 and 10-11 (pages 1-38, 136-156). Listen to This American Life podcast if time permits. It will help you understand some of Baker’s ideas.

Week 2 – Precursors
T 15: Read Hobbes (chapter XIII – skim other chapters if you have time), 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).

Th 17: Read Hutcheson, Hume (Appendix one and two, “Concerning Moral Sentiment” and “of self-love”) and Smith (“Of licentious Systems”). Make sure you are following class blog and have started your own blog (please email me the link and I will post it on the class blog).

Week 3 – Regulation: another floating signifier.
T 22: Read Smith and Swift.

Th 24: Read Hume and Krugman.

Week 4 – Recessions as regulatory failure
T 29: Read Baker, ch. 5-6 (pages 53-84). Read Marx (Ch. 8-10) and Smith (for general information on history of money) if time permits.

Th 31: Reading TBA. Bring in rough drafts for peer editing. Read Nancy Sommers.

Week 5 – The pragmatist’s guide to utopia.
T Feb 5: Paper 1 due Wednesday by 12pm. Read Beggs, Marx and Hume.

Th 7: Reading TBA. Possible library day.

Week 6 – Utopias left and right
T 12: Read Marx, Sumner and Ackerman.

Th 14: Reading TBA. Peer editing. Bring in drafts.

Week 7 – Presentations  
T 19: Read Horwitz/Swire and Caplan. Presentations.

Th 21: Reading TBA and Presentations.

Week 8 – Presentations
T 26: Paper 2 due Wednesday by 12 pm. Read Konczal and Robin. Presentations.

Th 28: No class. Instructor away at conference. Library day or other activity TBA.

Week 9 – Spring break
T Mar. 5: No class.

Th 7: No Class.

Week 10 – Trade    
T 12: Read Ricardo and Baker, ch. 7-8 (pages 84-117).

Th 14: Read TBA.

Week 11 – Critique of finance: a conservative tradition
T 19: Read Burke (2.1.318 to 2.1.323), Mailer interview, and Baker, ch. 4 and ch. 9 (pages 38-53 and pages 117-136).

Th 21: Reading TBA. Peer Editing.

Week 12 – Death, Taxes, and Utopia
T 26: Paper 3 due Wednesday at 12pm. Smith (“Of the Effect of Utility”, chs. 1 and 2), Frank and Salam.

Th 28: Reading TBA.

Week 13 – The tragedy of the privates.
T April 2: Read Smith (“Conclusion of the Chapter,” the short section at the end) and Yglesias.

Th 4: Reading TBA. Instructor away at conference. Library day or activity TBA.  

Week 14 – Looking forward
T 9: Zizek, Sumner, and Sumner.

Th 11: Reading TBA. Peer editing/writing workshop.

Week 15 – Finishing touches
T 16: Read Conley. Writing workshop.

Th 18: Reading TBA. Writing workshop.

Week 16 – Done
T 23: Last day of class. Reading TBA. No final exam. Paper due Wednesday by 12 pm.

Th 25: Finals begin.

Week 17
Finals continue.