Deirdre McCloskey on liberty and human flourishing

The real ability of the poorest to buy goods and services rose, 1800 to the present, by 3,000 percent. Literally. A factor of thirty. … I take it you value human liberty and human flourishing. (If you do not, we have nothing to discuss, and can go straight to fighting it out in the streets.) You will know that the…

Lant Pritchett on reducing learning poverty: targeted interventions vs systemic change

“… when the whole system is producing weak results for nearly every child, then “inclusion” is a false premise. In this situation, it is necessary to fix the whole system and increase performance across the board in order to reduce the number of children stranded in low performance. Lant Pritchett – Tackling Education poverty with system-wide improvements Lant Pritchett is…

Raj Chetty and Ezra Klein on culture, communities and representation

Ezra Klein: I think we’re very used to thinking about two levels of context that really matter here – what’s happening in your family, like “Is your dad or mum an inventor? Are your parents married?” and then what’s happening in government policy. And it seems to me that what you show is that this mediating space of your direct…

Three questions from economics

What are the tradeoffs in this situation? What gains can be made from trade and cooperation? How can we reframe this question to find new answers, or change the way we feel about the answers we already have? Largely drawn from Tyler Cowen’s interview with Tim Harford.

Podcast Recommendation: two interviews with Raj Chetty

I really enjoyed listening to these two interviews with Raj Chetty. By all accounts (I’m not qualified to judge!) he is a good economist. He also comes across as someone who’s interested in people and working for policies that help actual people in the real world, rather than as an economist only interested in theory and abstraction. These episodes are…

Resource: Introduction to Economics at Marginal Revolution University

Economics is a critical lens for understanding how change happens, key issues in the politics of justice and equality, and for building effective organisations. If you’re looking for an introduction, these videos from Tyler Cowan’s Marginal Revolution University are a good place to start. And here’s a fun start on globalisation…

On inequality

Inequality is inevitable (because we’re all different), and it isn’t necessarily wrong (if we value the freedom to make meaningful choices) and doesn’t necessarily have to be corrected (because we value diversity). Once we’re clear on this, we’re forced to be specific. We can ask which kinds of inequality we’re not prepared to tolerate, making sure that we’re clear about…

Resource: Tim Harford on 50 Things that Made the Modern Economy

If you haven’t thought much about economics, this series from the BBC is a first-rate introduction to a lot of key ideas about how markets work. Each episode is about ten minutes long and features at least one interesting, often entertaining and sometimes surprising ‘thing’ to illustrate fundamental principles of economics. There are lessons galore about how technologies take off…

Econtalk: Mauricio Miller on Poverty, Social Work, and the Alternative

This is a really interesting episode of Econtalk, and worth a listen. Highlight 1: Accurate description of poor communities A couple of things here really resonated with my experience of living and working in low-income communities in Jakarta: Miller’s descriptions of the resourcefulness of people in poor communities – that many people in poor communities are hard working and resourceful…