Sunday Reading

I’ve been busy with job materials, teaching, writing, more writing, and also sleeping, so this week’s Sunday Reading is more lightly curated than usual. And to pick up some of the slack, a special bonus pinch-hit from the great Bint Battuta, whose twitterfeed is always a treasure trove of smart amazing.

Mapping Marijuana (price variation):

Obama sticks it to people who need to breathe air. Krugman responds:

As some of us keep trying to point out, the United States is in a liquidity trap: private spending is inadequate to achieve full employment, and with short-term interest rates close to zero, conventional monetary policy is exhausted.

This puts us in a world of topsy-turvy, in which many of the usual rules of economics cease to hold. Thrift leads to lower investment; wage cuts reduce employment; even higher productivity can be a bad thing. And the broken windows fallacy ceases to be a fallacy: something that forces firms to replace capital, even if that something seemingly makes them poorer, can stimulate spending and raise employment. Indeed, in the absence of effective policy, that’s how recovery eventually happens: as Keynes put it, a slump goes on until “the shortage of capital through use, decay and obsolescence” gets firms spending again to replace their plant and equipment.

And now you can see why tighter ozone regulation would actually have created jobs: it would have forced firms to spend on upgrading or replacing equipment, helping to boost demand. Yes, it would have cost money — but that’s the point! And with corporations sitting on lots of idle cash, the money spent would not, to any significant extent, come at the expense of other investment.

This “Top Secret America” reporting is still amazing, and chilling. Part one, two, three, and four:

The Post investigation uncovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America created since 9/11 that is hidden from public view, lacking in thorough oversight and so unwieldy that its effectiveness is impossible to determine….

Some selections from Bint Battuta’s twitterfeed:

Postscript additions: