Links and Updates

Michal Kalecki
Michal Kalecki

(1) Coming soon–Interview with Bob Pollin:  Today’s image is a lovely drawing of Polish macroeconomist Michal Kalecki, by Manuel García Jódar and available on Wikimedia Commons.  Kalecki comes up in the interview my co-editor Alejandro Reuss did earlier this week with UMass-Amherst economist Robert Pollin, one of the co-authors of the paper that took down the Rogoff and Reinhart paper on debt and growth.  The interview takes that paper, and R&R’s paper, as a starting point for a really interesting discussion of the current global economic predicament and ways out. A shortened version of the interview will appear in our July/August issue, with a longer version appearing online.

(2) A bit more on NSA surveillance:  I have a few more links to share on the NSA surveillance scandal.  Can we call this a scandal?  I think it counts as one much more clearly than the “scandals” that were said to be plaguing the Obama administration just before Snowden and Greenwald brought their revelations to the world. But one of the ways people are trying to discount the whole thing is to claim that “we always knew” that there was massive surveillance. This seems strange to me.  People certainly joked about it and/or suspected that the government had the capacity, but to find out that it definitely has the capacity and is in fact exercising the capacity seems to be news to me.

A related case: hat-tip to Donna B. for alerting me to something that readers of this blog might not have overlooked as I did, that a proposed amendment to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act would legalize domestic war propaganda (see Buzzfeed and for details). To which my response was: huh? has it been illegal?  But it has, because of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987.

But in the case of the NSA’s surveillance program, no member of congress has yet proposed repealing the 4th Amendment, which the program appears to violate.

So here are my new links:

  • From the Chronicle of Higher Ed, from before l’affaire Snowden, Why Privacy Matters, Even If You Have ‘Nothing to Hide’.  Excellent. A friend who subscribes to the “we knew they were doing it” view, and also the “whatever they need to do to keep us safe” view, also likes to make this point about how you have nothing to worry about if you haven’t done anything wrong.  I like to tell him to try saying that in a German or Russian accent and see if it gives him the creeps.  In a similar vein, he remarked to me (jokingly), after an exchange in which I criticized the NSA program sharply, that maybe I should move to another country since I don’t seem to like this one.  My response was that people used to tell people that they could move to the Soviet Union; now the NSA is bringing the Soviet Union here to the U.S.A.!
  • Naked Capitalism’s “must read” for today, from Bloomberg, U.S. Agencies Said to Swap Data With Thousands of Firms.
  • Naked Capitalism’s review of Snowden’s interviews with the South China Morning Post.

(3) Consumed on Marketplace:  I have been enjoying Marketplace’s series Consumed this week. Much of it, including the segment on P.J. O’Rourke’s new book on Adam Smith, was anticipated by Thad Williamson’s article in D&S a few years back, America Beyond Consumerism.

(4) The Yes Men’s latest antics:  They are pissed off that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has backed down from suing them. Details here and here.

(5) Hilarious book from PM Press:  The Basic Skills Caucasian Americans Workbook.

That’s it for today.

–Chris Sturr

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