Thursday, August 25, 2016

G11 - Week 2 - Day 2

In-class work
  1. Questions?
  2. Read page 21-22
    1. Complete exercises 1-2 (p. 22)
  3. Market Structures
    1. Skim pages 22-26
    2. Complete exercises 3-5 (p. 26)
  4. The Law of Demand - HD
    1. Skim pages 26-29
    2. Complete exercises 6-9 (p. 29)
  5. The Determinants of Demand - HD
    1. Skim pages 29-35
    2. Complete exercise 10 (p. 35)

From the blogosphere
  1. Does hosting the Olympics make us happier?
  2. Euthanasia arbitrage the moral hazard culture that is Belgian French
  3. Minority rule: Migration, Brexit and Mandates

Currently Reading

The Democracy Project

"The truth is that most Americans have been taught since a very young age to have extremely limited political horizons, an extremely narrow sense of human possibility. For most of them, democracy is ultimately something of an abstraction, an ideal, not something they’ve ever practiced or experienced;" (Kindle Locations 109-111).

"Everyone involved recognizes that creating a democratic culture will have to be a long-term process. We are talking about a profound moral transformation, after all" (Kindle Locations 149-150).

"The social argument I’ll be making is fairly simple. What’s being called the Great Recession merely accelerated a profound transformation of the American class system that had already been under way for decades. Consider the following two statistics: at the time of this writing, one out of every seven Americans is being pursued by a debt collection agency; at the same time, one recent poll revealed that for the first time, only a minority of Americans (45 percent) describe themselves as “middle class.” It’s hard to imagine these two facts are unrelated. There has been a good deal of discussion of late of the erosion of the American middle class, but most of it misses out on the fact that “middle class” in the United States has never primarily been an economic category. It has always had everything to do with that feeling of stability and security that comes from being able to simply assume that— whatever one might think of politicians— everyday institutions like the police, education system, health clinics, and even credit providers are basically on your side. If so, it’s hard to imagine how someone living through the experience of seeing their family home foreclosed on by an illegal robo-signer would be feeling particularly middle class. And this is true regardless of their income bracket or degree of educational attainment.

The growing sense, on the part of Americans, that the institutional structures that surround them are not really there to help them— even, that they are dark and inimical forces— is a direct consequence of the financialization of capitalism. Now, this might seem an odd statement to make, because we are used to thinking of finance as something very distant from such everyday concerns. Most people are aware that the vast majority of Wall Street profits are no longer from the fruits of industry or commerce but from sheer speculation and the creation of complex financial instruments, but the usual criticism is that this is just a matter of speculation, or the equivalent of elaborate magic tricks, whisking wealth into existence by simply saying it exists. In fact, what financialization has really meant is collusion between government and financial institutions to ensure that a larger and larger proportion of citizens fall deeper and deeper in debt. This occurs on every level. New demands for academic qualifications are introduced to jobs like pharmacy and nursing, forcing anyone who wants to work in such industries to take out government-backed student loans, ensuring that a significant portion of their subsequent wages will go directly to the banks. Collusion between Wall Street financial advisors and local politicians forces municipalities into bankruptcy, or near-bankruptcy, whereupon local police are ordered to massively increase enforcement of lawn, trash, and maintenance regulations against homeowners so that the resulting flow of fines will increase revenues to pay the banks. In every case a share of the resulting profits is funneled back to politicians through lobbyists and PACs. As almost every function of local government becomes a mechanism for financial extraction, and the federal government makes clear that it considers its primary business to keep stock prices up and money flowing to the holders of financial instruments (not to mention guaranteeing that no major financial institution, whatever its behavior, ever be allowed to fail), it becomes increasingly unclear what the difference between financial power and state power really is." (Kindle Locations 157-181).

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