"I am tempted to put forward the hypothesis that what had changed was the aging of those with visceral memories of the Great Depression and of World War II, who had in the front of their minds an unusually strong degree of empathy with others, remembering how the world, chance, and fate had demonstrated that we were all in this together."

You nailed it Brad - it's the lack of empathy that steers most conservative and some progressive policy making today. Or maybe its the allocation of empathy, witness Biden, Schumer and Pelosi's choice of who to support in the rail contract situation.

Expand full comment

Many years ago I read a comment from Ludwig Von Moses which I've never been able to find again, but I had written it down. It went like this, "If Socialism can deliver what it promises, we will be Socialists. But it can't deliver anything near to what it promises. "

Inequality sounds to many people as a concept they understand, but I don't think they do. Some inequality is national, some local, some familial, some historical, etc.To help counties have a decent standard of living is measured by each country. I consider this a decent goal and maybe even possible. Plus, what groups of people accept as unequal changes all the time. Clarity and feasibility are required to reduce "Inequality."

If you haven't read Henry Simons, you should.


Expand full comment


Expand full comment

Isn't it pretty to think so. I don't think there is enough natural resources, intetnational cooperation, or clean energy capabilty to raise 8 billion people to global north standards, and certainly not in a single generation.

Expand full comment

I think you are wrong about natural resources and building-out clean energy. Alas! You are certainly right about the second.

Expand full comment
Dec 1, 2022·edited Dec 1, 2022

A few points:

A major reason for the decline of the welfare state around 1980 was inflation. Reagan and Thatcher got elected because voters lost confidence in liberal leaders' willingness and ability to fight inflation. Most voters also felt that labor unions had grown too powerful and that union demands for ever higher wages and benefits were a cause of inflation. (Of course the biggest cause of inflation in the '70s was OPEC raising the price of oil 400%.) It should also be noted that neoliberalism worked, at least for a time. Productivity growth in the U.S. and Britain was higher than in social welfare states like France. Once ommunisim fell in 1989 nobody doubted that neoliberalism was the best way to run an economy.

On a separate issue Delong is wrong if he thinks the "pie" is big enough for everyone to have "enough." There are now 8 billion people in the world. If wealth was distributed equally worldwide, the standard of living in the West would decline to the point were revolution would be inevitable. Even the relatively modest outsourcing of manufacturing jobs from first world nations to third world nations over the past 30 years has caused serious problems.

And for my last point: After bemoaning the strike at UC, Brad then changed the subject without offering any solutions.

Expand full comment

There is no deep reason why we could not raise the world as a whole to global north standards of living in a generation, or at most two: we have the power to bake a sufficiently large economic pie.

Paul Krugman is with you on the “No OPEC, no neoliberalism” point. But I am not sure I agree.

Expand full comment


Now, back to figuring out how to persuade Progressives, who, however annoying, are good people, on board with True Neoliberalism, not the heresy that goes by its name To wit:

Taxation of net CO2 emissions.

Attraction of high-skilled and talented people form all over the world to come live among us.

Tax consumption progressively

--- eliminate taxes on business income but impute it to owners and taxes as ordinary income

--- tax indexed capital gains as ordinary income

--- to the extent revenue constraints permit, allow deductions of non-consumption from taxable income

Reform land use regulations to allow higher value uses, especially in large urban areas

Tax vehicular congestion and charge for use of streets and roads. [We have the technology to do this.]

Break the link of health insurance and employment

Reform site specific hazard insurance to set rates according to model-estimate risks

Higher EITC

Child Tax Credit

Regulate and to some considerable extent enforce laws according to cost benefit analysis.

Fiscal policy focuses on growth and redistribution.

Monetary policy focuses on macroeconomic aggregates (whatever trajectory of inflation maximizes growth).

With luck this could attract some heretics back to the True Church. Utopia, however will have to wait for the Second Advent.

Expand full comment

Sold on this summary and extension of ideas in your book. Add as the new conclusion in next edition?

Expand full comment