The lack of an American left-wing blogosphere

It seems that the original complaint isn’t “there are no left wing blogs” but “why are extreme left wing viewpoints not cited approvingly in the New York Times, the voice of establishment discussion”.

Doesn’t that also answer your question about the existence of union/unionization/labor focused blogs? Also, wouldn’t they have to be relatively right-wing to find a union audience? I’m guessing blue-collar labor skews highly Republican nowadays. Teachers and Hollywood are probably the only lefty union members remaining.

The money and professionals thing is an explanation of why there’s so few labor blogs, yeah.

I’m guessing blue-collar labor skews highly Republican nowadays. Teachers and Hollywood are probably the only lefty union members remaining.

Nope, inverse income and positive union membership still correlate with Democratic vote share. Gelman’s Blue State, Red State describes how people like Thomas Frank and David Brooks were making errors here.

However, many of Krugman’s professional colleagues really do treat ideology or “political constraints” as given, and perform the exercise that economists perform reflexively, starting with their first grad school exam: constrained optimization. Constrained optimization is a mechanical procedure. The outcome is fully determined by the objective function and the constraints. A party that understands the objective function and can shape constraints controls the outcome.

Let’s play a game.

That’s a really insightful post.

Damn, that’s a great blog. Thanks for linking it.

Goddamn does that ever deliver interesting stuff, though I don’t know how much I agree with. For example, this bit on the prime rate now being for suckers is fascinating.

Wow, I agree with Jason.

Let’s play a game.
His example reminds me an awful lot of a little exercise I once partook in.

I was working at an institute in Europe that studied, among other things, international policy and negotiation. They held a workshop for anyone who was interested and I went. As part of the workshop we played a few games to demonstrate some of the principles that were being discussed.

In one game we were separated into two groups and told that the groups were planning one, joint vacation. Group #1’s preference was to go to the mountains. Group #2’s preference was to go to the ocean. People in both groups were told that they’d prefer to go to a non-optimal location with the entire group rather than not go at all or go with half the group. We had 15m to plan and then we were to negotiate.

Now the idea was to create a negotiation where we all wanted to come to an agreement but had no tangible reasons to try and argue for our preference (there was nothing inherently better about the mountains or the ocean, it was just our preference). I imagine we were supposed to talk about compromises, consider flipping a coin, make up arguments (“the ocean is too expensive”), etc.

I came up with an altogether different plan. Once the negotiation began, we let the other group start and then announced that we had already purchased non-refundable tickets to go to the ocean, wouldn’t be able to afford to get new tickets for the mountains and that, if the other group wanted to go on vacation with us, there was no choice but to go to the ocean.

The leader of our the group immediately remarked, “ahh, you must be Americans”.

It lead to some interesting discussion. Basically what we determined was that yes, this strategy was a pretty successful one for our one off example. However it probably would have pissed the other group off quite a bit in reality and would have soured future negotiation.

And thinking on it, I think this is basically the strategy of the current GOP. They keep walking up to the democrats and saying, “if you want to play ball then you have to play by our rules because we already bought our tickets to Looneyville” and the Democrats continue to respond, “well it’s the only game in town”. If they ever want to get favorable terms then the Democrats have to be willing to simply walk away at some point. If they will always rather play on the Republicans terms rather than not play at all then they’re going to keep on losing.

P.S. I sort of agree with the blogger in the OP as well on certain subjects such as financial reform and dealing with the financial crisis. It seems to me that at some point the mainstream, middle class left fell in love with their 401k’s and became a little fascinated by some of the more progressive-sounding bits of the “free market”. That’s how we somehow went through this entire crisis without every really questioning the sorts of core assumptions that really needed a good thrashing. Sure Keynes is nice and lefty but his current invocation seems more about propping housing and stock prices back up and what we’re really arguing about with the right is “what path will get us back to the financial bubble as quickly as possible?”. We should have had people demanding that we tear down Wall Street and break up the banks (that is, a credible number of them). Then, maybe, we could have found a nice comfy middle that made some real headway towards the left.

Instead, the Dems put forth their position (“I hear we’re supposed to throw money at things, mostly banks”) in such a cowardly fashion that it was guaranteed to fail. Leave aside whether the policy was smart or not (politically or economically), there’s the simple fact that Democrats picked a strategy that had no political legs. It didn’t matter whether their policy was sound: they happily agreed to kick at goalposts impossibly far away. I.e. given that they couldn’t fix the recession overnight their policy was doomed to make them seem responsible for the entire mess.