A Radical Centrist Vision for the Future:
100 New Constitutional Amendments
Billy Rojas – RadicalCentrism.org – 2011
Update: The contents of this page have become part of the sub-site A Radical Centrist Vision for the Future: 100 New Constitutional Amendments for the 21st Century.
On Monday, I was on Leonard Lopate’s WNYC radio show talking about my recent article on John Maynard Keynes. (The piece is no longer behind a firewall. You can read it here, and listen to the interview here.) At the end of the show, Leonard asked me an interesting question: Has the financial crisis and Great Recession produced any big new economic ideas? My immediate response was that it hasn’t, or, if it has, I wasn’t aware of them. After the show, I thought about the question a bit more.
I still think the answer is no. There is nothing to compare with Keynesianism or Monetarism or even the so-called Washington Consensus of the nineteen-eighties and nineteen-nineties. Certainly, there is no new Keynes. But I do think that some important ideas have been discovered—or, rather, rediscovered. Here are six of them, together with some tips for further reading, one of which is rather self-serving:
1. Finance matters. This lesson might seem obvious to the man in the street, but many economists somehow managed to forget it. Two who didn’t were Hyman Minsky and Wynne Godley, both of who were associated with the Levy Institute for Economics at Bard College. Minksy’s now-famous “Financial Instability Hypothesis” can be found here, and one of Godley’s warnings about excessive household debt can be found here. (It is from 1999!)
2. Credit busts are different from ordinary recessions. On this, the most widely quoted work is Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff’s historical survey, “This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly,” which details how debt overhang in the public and private sectors tends to produce “lost decades.” For an old but still very readable account of how debt overhang can create deep recessions, I would recommend Irving Fisher’s famous essay from 1933. For something more recent, I recommend this essay by Ray Dalio, the head of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s biggest hedge fund.
3. Positive feedback and multiple equilibria have to be taken seriously. With the rise of rational expectations theory, the idea that financial markets and entire economies can spiral into bad outcomes—and for no very good reason—was relegated to a mathematical curiosity: so called “sunspots.” Now, the notion is back, and for good reason. It appears to describe the world pretty well.
The role positive feedback played in amplifying the credit crisis of 2008 has been studied extensively, and this article by Princeton’s Markus Brunnermeier provides a good survey. Turning to what is happening in Europe, Paul De Grauwe, of the Brussels-based Center for European Policy Studies, and <a href=”http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/08/wonking-out-about-the-euro-crisis-very-wonkish/ Read the rest of this entry »
From Dr. Ernie:
I am “done” with philosophy.
I’ve moved on to something I call “zoasophy”. Zoasophy is related to Philosophy the way Engineering is related to Science — the goal is to actually build systems that work, not just think about them.
The word “zoasophy” means “liver of wisdom”, in contrast to philosophy which means “lover of wisdom.” It comes from the greek word “Zoa” meaning life, as in zoology and Zoe Girl. Not “liver” as in the bodily organ — that would be hepatosophy. 🙂
The foundational principle of Zoasophy is:
The Truth is What Works
What Works is not the Truth
That is, the ultimate test of truth is whether it actually works. At the same time, just because something works does not mean it is true. Truth emerges from repeated examination of results and competing hypotheses, as encapsulated in my Radical Centrist Manifesto.
As such, zoasophy shares much in common with pragmatism, in that we care about the “cash value” of ideas. But where pragmatism is traditionally analytic — trying to uncover truth — zoasophy is primarily synthetic, trying to construct useful (if imperfect) truths. It is similar to what little I understand of Frank Ramsay‘s approach to truth. [Update: and, as pointed out by several people, the activism of philosophers John Stuart Mill and John Dewey, whom I need to learn more about].
Zoasophy is closed related to “prefuturism”, another neologism I toss around. The pre-future is — obviously! — what comes after the post-modern. 🙂
More specifically, a prefuturist believes we are continually creating a future with a deeper understanding of truth and reality, but we aren’t there yet — and never will be. Everything we make is flawed and imperfect, and usually in some ways worse than what went before, but overall we can move things incrementally forward.
Thus, zoasophers believe in the improvability but not perfectibility of human constructs — including perhaps our selves. In particular, we believe that rational arguments can approximate but not quite capture the real world. That is, our mathematical and conceptual models can become extremely good at capturing many aspects of the real world, but are only partial approximations, and must continually be tested against reality — especially in new contexts.
Ultimately, the real test of a zoasopher is not what they say, but how they live. Or rather, their ability to actually live as they say they will, and achieve the results they claim for the reasons they provide.
Which is why, as a good zoasopher, I should probably stop talking about it and go back to practicing it…
Sustainable Capitalism 2.0 is on the march…
CEOs Need a New Set of Beliefs – Raymond V. Gilmartin – HBS Faculty – Harvard Business Review
Raymond V. Gilmartin
In the past 25 years, CEOs of many major corporations have relied on a flawed set of beliefs to lead their organizations. This set has influenced them to place way too much emphasis on maximizing shareholder value and not enough on generating value for society. Today we are mired in the Great Recession, which was brought about by the near collapse of the financial system. This environment and the behavior produced by the prevailing set of beliefs to which CEOs subscribe have deepened a widespread public distrust of corporations and capitalism.
In this blog post, I will offer a new set of beliefs, which can renew and restore faith in corporations and capitalism.
From: “Norman Berdichevsky”
Nazis in Newark 1933-41; a Parallel Universe with Today
by Norman Berdichevsky
Book Review of Nazis in Newark
by Warren Glover
Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, NJ. 2003
The crisis we face today that has resulted in an ever more aggressive and truculent, militant Islam threatening the foundations of Western civilization from without and within, bears an uncanny parallel, almost a parallel universe, with the dreadful anxiety-filled 1930s, when a virulent Nazism intimidated and cowed much of public opinion throughout the United States.
The following annotated list of 10 core Radical Centrist values was initially inspired by Mark Satin’s August 2007 article from his Radical Middle Newsletter, under the title– Post-Partisan Politics: First American Political Ideology?
In that essay Mark detailed his ideas for 10 Radical Centrist “principles.” However, reading the material it struck me that better terminology for what he had written was “values.” Principles, at least as I understand them, have a more operational sense rather than an inspirational sense. To be sure, this is partly a subjective call. Depending on context one can be the other. Yet there already is a set of 10 Principles which are essentially operational in nature which was written for our group in December of 2010. And we could now use a set of values.
By no means did I agree with all of Mark’s ideas; in a couple of cases, especially, I disagreed strongly. And some of what he said has already been expressed at RadicalCentrism.orgin other ways. Regardless, by and large his work is thoughtful and has considerable merit on its own terms. Yet there are other ways to say some of the things he put into words, and none of what follows is a simple duplication of the Radical Middle statements of “principle.” There also was an agenda in this set of 10 RC Values which is uniquely our own. I wanted to integrate into the overall new essay a number of important ideas that have been expressed in our group over the years, or very recently. Hence you will find ideas that Ernie has emphasized in the past, or myself, or David, or others at one time or another. This also includes Doug Johnson, although the subject he is most closely identified with, a Radical Centrist philosophy of education, is only discussed along the way and deserves special treatment. His 2008 essay, “Change from the Radical Center of Education” will need to suffice for now, but is so good as it is that the best I might be able to do by way of picking up on the topic would be to add some considerations. It is very difficult to try and find anything “wrong” with his article.
None, or almost none, of the 10 Values corresponds with the categories in Mark’s essay. The new article only starts from Mark’s work ; everything has been re-thought, with ideas from our group woven into the overall text in different ways in different places.
Doubtless not everyone will agree that these are “the” 10 values of Radical Centrism. Or, more likely, some may agree with half, even with most, but have reservations about the rest or simply think that some items would benefit from revision. Some may wish to add other Values to the set.
This is an attempt to put it all together, the best I could for now. Suggestions are welcome, as are criticisms.