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.”....
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?
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...
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?
The campaign for Mayor of New York City pits a Republican defender of the retiring billionaire, Michael Bloomberg, against a severe critic who is calling for higher taxes on the rich. The media is calling it “class war,” while a new analysis of the income gap suggests that may be plausible.
There has been a lot of excitement about neuro-scientists at M.I.T managing to plant a false memory in the brain of a mouse. The New York Times suggested that this provided “detailed clues to how such memories may form in human brains.”
The financial analysts who rank public offerings for the ratings agencies, such as Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, like to think they can be objective. Their reliability is what they sell, really, along with expertise in puzzling out balance sheets.
Capitalism’s insatiable drive for returns remains a wild card at the center of our economic system, a source of economic instability. A case in point: the current recovery in the housing market may have less to do with the optimism of prospective home-owners about the slowly improving economy as with Wall Street’s demand for new investments.
Many of us are inclined to view the whistle blower as a kind of hero, the person who sacrifices his own career to warn others of the danger he alone knows, a danger that could eventually ensnare others in suffering or moral corruption. But it hardly ever works out that he is rewarded for his daring.
The public was not alarmed after Edward Snowden blew the cover on the government’s vast data mining operation. Without thinking too much about it, it looked like most of us had assumed it was going on all the time.
When capitalism took over the world roughly 200 years ago, it vastly increased society’s productivity but at the cost of immense human suffering.... Over time, the imbalances have been modified and corrected.
Clearly the guys at Apple, talented at developing amazing products based on brilliant technological innovations, are also busy innovating in other ways, and that tells us a lot about how dysfunctional our financial system has become.
Suicide rates have been rising dramatically. But of special concern, as reported in The New York Times is the number of middle-aged men killing themselves: “Suicide has typically been viewed as a problem of teenagers and the elderly, and the surge in suicide rates among middle-aged Americans is surprising.” (See, “Suicide Rates Rise Sharply in U.S.”)
Talking about capitalism has not been easy. The word is freighted with ideological connotations of conflict. Merely using it raises the specter of Marxism, along with such concepts as “alienation” and “exploitation,” terms that reflect historic struggle.
We don’t really need to know how things work in order to use them, do we? More and more, technology is hidden behind “user friendly” controls. But there is a growing case to be made for the dangers of our increasing technological ignorance – or incompetence.
A prominent researcher in Positive Psychology now suggests that our “heart’s capacity for friendship . . . obeys the biological law of ‘use it or lose it.’ This has implications not just for our states of mind, but for our ways of communicating.
“Gibberish,” concluded Floyd Norris, the financial reporter for The New York Times, summing up the “London Whale’s” description of his disastrous strategy to the JPMorgan group charged with overseeing investments.