Adam T. Bradley

Posts in category “quote”

The study of money is the root of all evil

All these findings correspond with a substantial body of research in the economic literature, which, with the help of surveys, laboratory experiments, as well as field experiments showed that those who learn about markets (economists) or act in markets (businessmen) are lacking in … ‘pro-social behavior’ … I also use corruption as a proxy to show whether there are any differences in pro-social behavior between economists and non-economists, but unlike them, I observe behavior outside the artificial situation of a laboratory. By analyzing real world data of the U.S. Congress, I found that politicians holding a degree in economics are significantly more prone to engage in corrupt practices.

René Ruske, “Does Economics Make Politicians Corrupt? Empirical Evidence from the United States Congress

Tracking when someone is wrong on the Internet

In the sub-basement of the old State, War, and Navy building in Washington, DC, there’s a door with a small, yellowing card next to it reading, in Selectriced letters, “AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION.” (There is, of course, an ongoing debate between the authenticity faction and the archival preservation faction over whether the card ought to be replaced with one made of acid-free paper.) Inside the room is – well, is a lot more dust than there should be, actually, but also an agglomeration of black boxes wired to a console distinguished by its steel heft and Bakelite knobs. There’s a row of lights across the top of it, each with a paper label underneath – 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, and so on – years extending back to the dawn of the republic and forward, with the limited foresight of the original engineers, to 1976. Fortunately, that year – with a special bicentennial appropriation – the AHA was able to add an auxiliary console, carrying the lights forward to the millennium. But no further; nobody works here full time anymore.

Eric Rauchway, “Inside the Division of Historical Defense

Nuke the ice caps!

Unhappy about the weather? Everybody talking but nobody doing anything about it? Well, just get in touch with the Atomic Weather Commission. A flick of the nuclear switch, and presto! — the North Pole melts, the vast continent of Antarctica thaws into productive use, Greenland grows bananas, Vermont grows oranges, and everybody’s heating bill vanishes. Not fantastic at all, according to mathematician John von Neumann, who also predicts that energy may be just about as “free as the unmetered air.” So, no light bills.

Life Magazine Editors, “1980's Shape of Things to Come

Technological Determinism and the Myth of Self-Reinvention

Film noir sometimes functions as a kind of critique of the claims of ahistoricity of the consumer subject. Noir protagonists are often on the run from their pasts, and we are there to witness the moment when it finally catches up to them, often ending in their death. So the genre stages the failure of individual self-reinvention, and implicitly offers a critique of consumer capitalism and the American Dream. Could this tradition of critique be advanced in the context of today’s subjectivities? What history is repressed by social media?…

The internet is no longer marginal phenomenon, and the social context you thought you left behind is back with a vengance. The internet turns out to be a wonderful surveillance device, which certainly doesn’t help those who really need to get away from their families or evade authoritarian governments. Silicon Valley startups like Airbnb and Uber operate like web startups, existing only in the supposed void of cyberspace, until it turns out that you actually need licenses from city governments to run a taxi service, and maybe asking people to run illegal boarding houses could result in large fines for them. Others, like Khan Academy make fatuous claims that their simple websites solve problems that have vexed educators for decades, if not centuries.

Mike Bulajewski, “Technological Determinism and the Myth of Self-Reinvention

On Copyright Sharks

Unfortunately, much of the current argument is between different species of corporate shark, betweeen the sharks who want to eat the minnows for free now and the sharks who have extensive copyrights that they are deriving rents from, who want to extend the term to ridiculous lengths. Neither species of shark has a case. But novelists, poets, artists and photographers do. A case not to be ripped off by sharks.

Chris Bertram

The Problem with (Strike) Debt

But why the intense focus on debt and its relief? Debt could be an excellent point of entry into a discussion about many other things. Why so much personal debt? Because wages are stagnant or down, unemployment is high, yet the cost of living continues to rise. Why so much mortgage debt? Because until sometime in 2007, housing inflation (meaning tax-subsidized homeownership) was practically the American national religion. Why so much student debt? Because higher education is too expensive—in fact, it should be free. Etc. But Occupy has inherited a lot of American populism’s obsession with finance as the root of all evil, without connecting it to the rest of the system.

Doug Henwood, “The Problem with (Strike) Debt