Missing Link Friday – Riots, austerity, gossip and wood tape

A modest proposal for debt ceiling reform: It’s spending on Medicare that’s driving up the deficit, writes Noah Millman. So at the American Scene he suggests replacing the debt ceiling with a ceiling on Medicare spending.

Austerity and Social Protest: Governments might not be punished for budget cuts in the polls, but austerity measures are not cost free, argue Jacopo Ponticelli and Hans-Joachim Voth. In a recent paper they argue that "Expenditure cuts carry a significant risk of increasing the frequency of riots, anti-government demonstrations, general strikes, political assassinations, and attempts at revolutionary overthrow of the established order." (Via: Henry Farrell at Crooked Timber.)

Rioting for fun and profit: "A riot can bring out both the best and the worst in people", writes Johnney Void. While setting fire to shops with flats above them might be "really f#*@%g stupid", Void thinks the riots were mostly good fun. Most of the kids "were caught up in the delirium that came with showing, if only for a few nights, that they were not powerless. Kids with little to lose and little to hope for owned London, just for a while. And they can do it again".

Fierce inarticulate aggression: "Dating back to the first time I was mugged as a 16-year-old, by children my own age in a daylit Dalston street, I have never feared any adult as much as I’ve feared children on London’s streets", writes Will Davies at Potlatch.

Many Londoners aren’t surprised by the riots, he says. Isolated incidents have been happening for some time. There’s a surreal form of cultural apartheid flowing from gentrification, he writes. "The symptoms are familiar: fierce inarticulate aggression bordering on sadism, destruction as a form of creativity, sufficient boredom that an entire evening can be dedicated to hounding a single innocent individual, terrifying group norms whereby a 16-year-old is leading a pack of 14-year-olds." (Via: Mark Bahnisch at Larvatus Prodeo.)

Words can hurt: Gossip is dangerous says Robin Hanson. But many libertarians insist" that law should limit its attention to ‘physical’, not info, property and harms".

Hanson wonders "if, as kids, libertarians tended to be witty weaklings – losing most fair physical fights, but winning most fair verbal sparring. Perhaps such kids prefer everyone to embrace the slogan ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,’ because then the people they hurt via words can’t complain, because they can’t even admit they were hurt."

(Un)making your own luck: You’d think that winning big in the lottery would help indebted people avoid bankruptcy. But according to a group of US researchers: "A comparison of Florida Lottery winners who randomly received $50,000 to $150,000 to small winners indicates that such transfers only postpone bankruptcy rather than prevent it". (Via: Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution.)

It pays to be fat? A recent post by Marina Adshade stirs up controversy. Citing a paper by health economist Heather Brown, she writes: "Employers may punish women who are obese with lower wages, but not all women are paying a penalty. Single women who are obese earn higher wages because they invest more in unobservable job skills. Why? Because heavy women have to plan on never having a husband to help pay the bills."

Wood tape: Sometimes it feels great to be able to listen to your children, writes Spilt Milk. "I’m not so great at it, sometimes, but when it works — well, those are the nights I go to bed knowing I have loved and been loved well", she says. Wondering about the ‘wood tape’? Click through Spilt Milk to the story by Scott and all will be revealed.

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KB Keynes
KB Keynes
12 years ago

hey Don I linked the Austerity and Anarchy paper on this very blog!!!!!

Oh the pain

12 years ago

With all those broken windows, the London riots should be stimulating aggregrate demand quite nicely. Better still, it provides justification for more government spending on more police, more self important civil servants to administer the police and a whole host of hangers on.

Of course, the UK doesn’t actually have any money to spend on these things, but no one should be afraid of a little debt… or a big debt, even better! We should expect the UK economy to bounce back to prosperity any moment now.

Or not, as the case may be.