If you know anything, you know climate change will never be reversed. The best we can hope for is a slowing down of the rate greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere. So we all already know “the worst is yet to come,” as The New York Times headlined its piece on the new UN report. Read More
Poverty calls to mind starvation and inadequate clothing, leaky roofs, no doctors or medications for illness. But David Brooks recently reminded us of something even more important. The primary effect of poverty is “raw fear.” Read More
“A long-held tenet of free market capitalism, is wrong,” writes Eduardo Porter, business reporter for The New York Times. Economists have long held to the belief was that income disparities in a market economy would eventually level out.... Read More
In the wake of the revelations that the NSA has been hacking our phones and collecting massive amounts of personal data, can we still think privacy is possible in our world? More and more our lives are open books.
For the most part, we seem to like it that way.... Read More
The CEOs of family businesses “worked 8% fewer hours than managers without genetic ties to their companies.” This conclusion was reached by a study of CEOs in India, but it “found similar disparities in Brazil, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the U.S.,” according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. But what does that mean? Read More
Over the past year, we have awakened to the reality of income inequality. “Occupy Wall Street” made it harder to deny the growing disparity of wealth in this country. But how to explain it? What to do about it? Read More
You usually don’t want to fail. But we can be too careful. Risk-taking — even excessive risk-taking — may be the path to surprising discoveries and important breakthroughs, according to Astro Teller, Google’s self-described “Director of Moonshots." Read More
Yet another way that life isn’t fair: “Two economists say…that investors assign higher share values to companies run by attractive chief executives.” The report in The New York Times went on to state: “These chiefs are paid more than less-appealing counterparts and that the better looking the C.E.O.’s, the better they are at undertaking financially successful deals.” Read More
Neuroscience has convincingly demonstrated what many psychologists have always known: Bias is inevitable and ever-present. Now big business is coming to be aware of its high cost to productivity.
They are inevitable, normal, even, at time, useful – but does that make them good? Can we justify taking pleasure in the misfortune of another, or, as the German’s put it, “Schadenfreude?” Or can we keep ourselves from being envious of other’s good fortune? (See, “Our Pleasure in Others’ Misfortune.”) Read More
While we most of us were busy unwrapping presents on Christmas, The Wall Street Journal published an article on the NSA’s data collection. The point was not that it violated privacy – which is true – but that they were gathering far more than they could use. In short, it was also stupid. Read More
Reading about Nelson Mandela’s career, as we mourn his death, we might never know that he had been branded a “terrorist” by our government, joined the Communist party at one point, or had been vehemently opposed by American conservatives such as Dick Chaney, George Will and William Buckley who fought efforts to support his anti-Apartheid campaign. Read More
Analysis of the genome of a young boy buried in eastern Siberia 24,000 years ago shows overlap with European but also American Indian DNA. That’s a new piece of the puzzle about the origins of native Americans, but it also supports the idea that mankind is inherently nomadic—and adaptable, and something of a mongrel species. Read More
Society has many strictures about money: we shouldn’t use it to bribe judges; we shouldn’t pay for sex or traffic in slaves. Those things are often actually done. But then there are the issues that really feel wrong, that are sacrilegious or taboo.
As portrayed in the media, the economy is a kind of uncontrollable beast. Pundits watch it expand and contract. They scrutinize its stirrings, take its pulse, check its circulation, and try to assess its health. So they note the lack of jobs, the growing disparity between the rich and poor. But they confirm our sense of helplessness… Read More
Piloting drones in Afghanistan while sitting in a dark room in Arizona can seem a lot like playing a video game. Looking at a screen, the operator focuses in on a target, stalks him, presses a button, and a missile hones in – and the “target” disappears in a cloud of smoke. Read More
At one time there was a reliable supply of undemanding, simple jobs — but that was before computers. As The New York Times noted recently: “The multi-trillionfold decline in the cost of computing since the 1970s has created enormous incentives for employers to substitute increasingly cheap and capable computers for expensive labor.”.... Read More
Common sense tells us that during periods of economic hardship there will be more victims of child abuse. People will take out their pain and frustration on those more helpless than themselves. But, surprisingly, during the Great Recession, the number of reported incidents dropped. Can that be? Read More
When the government fines banks hundreds of millions of dollars, it looks like it is getting really tough with them. But as Andrew Ross Sorkin pointed out recently in The New York Times, it’s a bark with no bite... Read More
Economics may no longer be the “dismal science,” the English historian Thomas Carlyle once said it was. So many students are drawn to it today and go on to enjoy lively and lucrative careers. Some can even become celebrities and earn Nobel Prizes along with considerable stature and respect. But how much of a science is it? Read More