Saturday, August 29, 2009

Three blogs by economists that I read frequently...

Harvard economist and libertarian.

Another group of academic economists

William Easterly's blog, mostly about developmental economics

Friday, August 28, 2009


The ideas of libertarianism make a great deal of immediate sense to me. I have never been particularly interested in joining most collective enterprises and it seems to me that apart from perhaps religions, the biggest collective enterprises in the world are national governments. I'm even less enthused about such collectives when I am forced to support them, as I must through my taxes. So the libertarian ideal of a small government which allows people wide latitude to regulate their own affairs according to their own standards holds considerable appeal.
On the other hand I recognize that the modern world is predicated on huge collectives of people working towards common goals and although I am also hardly enthused about many of these goals, I also recognize that such "modernity" is here to stay. So that puts me in a rather difficult situation if I feel obligated to participate in my nation's government.
Fortunately, I don't.
That may changed if I ever move back to the States but for now my political sympathies will remain happily theoretical.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Feeling like a Foreigner

An acquaintance of mine recently moved back to the United States after several years living abroad. He commented that he felt like a foreigner in his own country. "What once seemed normal now looks ridiculous" he said. I myself return to the States every year or so for a quick visit and on every occasion feel as this acquaintance does now. And frankly, upon a fair bit of reflection, I like that. It means that I have become able to look at American culture in the same way that I look at every other culture that I encounter, i.e. as something weird, and because of that weirdness, as something infinitely intriguing. From questions as mundane as why Americans generally prefer tanned skin (when so many other cultures prefer white skin) to ones as important as why Americans have an aversion to child labor (when in most other parts of the world such labor is the norm and considered healthy), I actually value the fact that I no longer have any emotional or instinctual opinion on either of these issues, or countless others, that would identify me as coming from an American cultural heritage. And its not that I look down on that American heritage anymore than I look down any other heritage, which is to say not at all, but I do feel as if I have distanced myself from it and that this distance allows me to reflect upon it in a way that I find valuable.