Cross-posted from Real Economics.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
A bit surprising that a quick search here indicates no one has yet blogged about Trumpster's choice as next chairman of the Federal Reserve: Jerome Powell, who is not an economist, but a lawyer. Powell, a Republican, has been on the Fed Board of Governors since 2012 when he was appointed by--who else?--Barack Obama.
Fair and reliable elections, an informed citizenry, wide participation in governance -- these are cornerstones of democracy. But the recent election in the U.S.A. has pointed out serious cracks in those stones. Gerrymandered districts weakened voters of one party, and made races non-competitive. Recently-erected hurdles stopped many from voting. Big media focused on the horse race, and ignored policy issues. Persons trafficked in misleading and fake news on social media. And, in the end, demagogy and crackpottery carried the day. What follows are six simple ideas that can, I think, be easily implemented, and that might well go a long way toward fixing those cracks and strengthening our democracy.
In "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," Lewis Carroll tells the story of Alice, a more-or-less average curious, rational child, who, on a dreamy summer day, chases a waistcoat-wearing white rabbit down a rabbit hole into a bizarre land. In this, and in a later book ("Through the Looking-Glass"), we find many strange characters producing many puzzling and irrational quotes. For instance, we have the giant talking egg, Humpty Dumpty:
When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master—that's all.'
And we have the Queen of Hearts, who is quite quick to propose simple, brutal solutions:
[The King] called the Queen, who was passing at the moment, 'My dear! I wish you would have this cat removed!'
The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. 'Off with his head!' she said, without even looking round.
... and, when the Dormouse spoke out of turn in court:
'Collar that Dormouse,' the Queen shrieked out. 'Behead that Dormouse! Turn that Dormouse out of court! Suppress him! Pinch him! Off with his whiskers!'
An observer of American politics since 1980 or so, might well picture oneself as, like Alice, having gone down the rabbit-hole to find many strange Republicans, who, like the characters in Wonderland, issue puzzling and irrational quotes. Over the decades, here are just a few of the characters we have met, as we went down, down, down ...