What can The Young Ones teach us about Thatcherism? part one

Hatful of History

This is the beginning of a work-in-progress piece I have been devising on The Young Ones and Thatcherism. I thought I would post it as the clip is great and rather topical. If you can think of any particular bits in the series that have historical relevance for understanding Thatcherite Britain, please comment below.

In one of my history topics that I used to team-teach in, I presented a lecture of Thatcherism and Britain in the 1980s. In this lecture, I showed my students a clip from the episode ‘Cash’ from the UK television comedy show The Young Ones. The scene portrays one of the characters pretending to have a baby in a non-furnished house. In the panic of the impending ‘baby’ (the character, Vyvyan, is actually male), another character, Rik (the typical student-lefty stereotype), yells:

We can’t, we haven’t got any money. Vyvyan’s baby will be a pauper…

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“Rolling Stones” | Rice Krispies Cereal TV Ad

Source: “Rolling Stones” | Rice Krispies Cereal TV Ad (WATCH VIDEO).

Brian Jones, the founding member of Rolling Stones wrote the jingle, and the band was paid 400£ for the performance.

Towards an egalitarianism of respect

The most interesting part of the left-wing responses to the assortative mating dilemma is to talk about another topic.

They fully accept that government cannot go around regulating whom people marry despite the fact this is a major source of inequality.

The reason why this inequality is acceptable because they acknowledge implicitly the point that Nozick made about how the inequality came about is important. If the inequality is the result of people exercising their rights, the inequality is just

The Sand Pit

Last night, debate teams from Victoria University at Wellington and from Canterbury squared off to debate the moot, “This house would ban people with university degrees from marrying each other.”

It was great fun. Vic had the affirmative and did a fantastic job with it. Canterbury won, partially because the affirmative wasn’t able to show it would be enforceable without substantial offsetting harms.

Matt Nolan, of TVHE fame and who’s finishing up his thesis on inequality, was one of the the panellists after the debaters had finished; I was the second. I’ve copied my speaking notes below, but delivery varied a bit. I think the debate was videoed; I’ll update this post with it when it’s available.

You might have come in tonight scratching your heads a bit about tonight’s moot. The proposed policy is obviously absurd: a far more intrusive extension of the state into people’s lives than most…

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Nature: There are Worse Threats to Biodiversity than Climate Change

Watts Up With That?

1944 Picture of Bulldozers 1944 Picture of Bulldozers

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

A commentary published in Nature has claimed that careless human exploitation of natural resources poses a far greater threat to endangered species than climate change.

Biodiversity: The ravages of guns, nets and bulldozers

There is a growing tendency for media reports about threats to biodiversity to focus on climate change.

Here we report an analysis of threat information gathered for more than 8,000 species. These data revealed a contrasting picture. We found that by far the biggest drivers of biodiversity decline are overexploitation (the harvesting of species from the wild at rates that cannot be compensated for by reproduction or regrowth) and agriculture (the production of food, fodder, fibre and fuel crops; livestock farming; aquaculture; and the cultivation of trees).

Early next month, representatives from government, industry and non-governmental organizations will define future directions for conservation at the World Conservation Congress…

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1984: The year the Olympics were mostly privatized

Mostly Economics

Didn’t know this at all. Olympics in LA were mostly through private efforts:

Put off by the financial setbacks experienced by Montréal and still grappling with the turmoil and political unrest left by the Cold War, the 1984 Summer Games were not particularly popular when it came to attracting potential host cities. In fact, only two cities even officially bid to host the 1984 Olympic Games: New York City and Los Angeles.

Los Angeles won the bid in the end, but its residents were not enthusiastic about this decision nor were they willing to foot the bill. The people of Los Angeles were so adamant about protecting their tax dollars from wasteful spending that they proceeded to pass a city charter prohibiting the use of public funds to be used for Olympic facilities. The city now had the honor of hosting the Olympic Games, but no way to pay…

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New Keynesian versus New Monetarist effects

Matt Rognlie

In response to my skepticism about monetary frictionsStephen Williamson says that I “need to learn some monetary economics”. We’ll see.

It’s useful to think about the precise difference between the “New Keynesian” (Woodford) and “New Monetarist” (Williamson) effects of monetary policy. In New Keynesian models, monetary policy is important primarily because it affects the real interest rate, shaping patterns of consumption and investment across time. If interest rates are high, it’s expensive to buy a car or build a factory, and even ordinary consumption becomes less attractive compared to the return from saving. If interest rates are too high, consumers spend less than the economy can produce, and we see a recession. A good example of this type of model is in Eggertsson and Woodford’s classic piece on the liquidity trap.

In New Monetarist models, monetary policy is important for a completely different reason. Certain kinds of…

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Old ideas that never die (monetary policy edition)

Matt Rognlie

When I listen to discussions of monetary policy, I’m often struck by the extent to which outdated terms and concepts are fundamental to the conversation. I don’t mean that the academic discourse is backward—in fact, it moves along rather quickly. But discussions among practitioners, and in the financial press, fall back on the same obsolete ideas over and over.

Obsolete idea #1: The CPI as a central indicator for monetary policy

When the conversation turns to inflation, most of the time it’s assumed that we’re talking about the Consumer Price Index, as if that were the only price index that could conceivably matter. In reality, of course, there are plenty of other price indices—the Producer Price Index, the GDP deflator, nominal wages—with an equal or better claim to relevance in monetary policy. The CPI is not even close to the correct measure for the purposes of either output stabilization or efficient…

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The practical irrelevance of the Friedman rule

Matt Rognlie

In his recent Economist debate with Brad DeLong on whether the inflation target should be raised, eminent monetary economist Bennett McCallum emphasizes the Friedman rule as an important determinant of the optimal long-term rate of inflation:

First, in the absence of the ZLB, the optimal steady-state inflation rate—according to standard new Keynesian reasoning—lies somewhere between the Friedman-rule value of deflation at the steady-state real rate of interest (therefore something like –2% to 4%) and the Calvo-model value of zero, with careful calibration indicating that the weight on the latter may be considerably larger. Second, a theoretically attractive modification of the Calvo model would imply that the weight on the second of these values should be zero, so that the Friedman-rule prescription itself would be optimal (in the absence of the ZLB).

Third, even when the effects of the ZLB are added to the analysis, the optimal inflation rate is (according…

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