It is a supreme irony of modern American life that the political movement that terms itself “progressive” is, in the economic realm at least, increasingly passionate about the status quo. Speaking today about the burgeoning “gig economy,” presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton could not help herself but to set modernity firmly within aging ideological tram-lines. Developments such as AirBnB, Zaarly, Uber, DogVacay, and RelayRides, Clinton conceded, are not likely to “go away” any time soon. But they are worrying nonetheless. Indeed, the “sharing economy,” she proposed, is “polarizing” and it is disruptive — guilty of no less than “displacing or downgrading blue-collar jobs.” Technological advances, she concluded, must not “determine our destiny.”
The period from roughly 2700 BCE to 2500 BCE was the age of the pyramid in Egypt, and one of these was so massive that it remained the tallest building in the world for the next thirty-eight centuries
Syriza’s strategy, insofar as there was one, uncovered a method of failing that was much more complete and all-encompassing than anyone had thought possible at the start of the process.
“The pentaquark is not just any new particle,” said LHCb spokesperson Guy Wilkinson. “It represents a way to aggregate quarks, namely the fundamental constituents of ordinary protons and neutrons, in a pattern that has never been observed before in over fifty years of experimental searches. Studying its properties may allow us to understand better how ordinary matter, the protons and neutrons from which we’re all made, is constituted.”
The economic causes of the French Revolution are sometimes insufficiently appreciated. In his book The French Revolution: An Economic Interpretation, Florin Aftalion outlines some of those causes. The French state engaged in wars throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. To pay for the wars, it employed complex and burdensome taxation, tax farming, borrowing, debt repudiation and forced “disgorgement” from the financiers, and debasement of the currency. Lord Acton wrote that people had been anticipating revolution in France for a century. And revolution came.
Liberals and libertarians admired the fundamental values it represented. Ludwig von Mises and F. A. Hayek both hailed “the ideas of 1789” and contrasted them with “the ideas of 1914” — that is, liberty versus state-directed organization.
In other words, candidate Clinton is signaling that she’s a member of the economic illiterati – a group that for centuries has warned that ordinary people will be impoverished by expanded opportunities to buy and sell (that is, by globalization), by machinery that releases labor to perform tasks that would otherwise be too costly to perform (that is, by automation), and by innovations that increase the supply of goods and services by encouraging owners of private property to use their properties more intensively to satisfy consumer demands (that is, by the sharing economy).
Biography is no substitute for history, much less for theory and history of thought, and journalism is, at best, only a provisional substitute for biography. But one way of understanding what happened in economics in the twentieth century is to view it as an argument between Samuelson and Friedman that lasted nearly eighty years, until one aspect of it, at least, was resolved by the financial crisis of 2008. The departments of economics they founded in Cambridge and Chicago, headquarters in the long wars between the Keynesians and the monetarists, came to be the Athens and Sparta of their day.
“This is a big shock,” said Suchitra Sebastian, a condensed matter physicist at the University of Cambridge whose findings appeared today in an advance online edition of the journal Science. Insulators and metals are essentially opposites, she said. “But somehow, it’s a material that’s both. It’s contrary to everything that we know.”