Mark Schaffer

Mark Schaffer

  • Commented on Do my Homework
    "We’ve got a long long long way to go from here before you actually hit starvation." But you don't have to go very far before you get famines and millions of deaths. In a famine, people don't die randomly. The...
  • Commented on That sinking feeling
    If anyone is looking for a reasoned argument to be a bit less pessimistic, this on why a crash out in March is unlikely by Simon Wren-Lewis is very good: https://mainlymacro.blogspot.com/2018/07/brexit-endgame-second-stage-which-is.html FWIW I reached a broadly similar conclusion - crash...
  • Commented on Canned Monkeys Don't Ship Well, the Remix Version
    And since Polynesia keeps coming up: “Much human adaptation depends on the gradual accumulation of culturally transmitted knowledge and technology. Recent models of this process predict that large, well-connected populations will have more diverse and complex tool kits than small,...
  • Commented on Canned Monkeys Don't Ship Well, the Remix Version
    There's another argument that I think supports your (Frank's) view. I think you'll like it, partly because it also has a close parallel in evolutionary biology. A standard argument in growth economics is that the rate of innovation (new ideas,...
  • Commented on Unsustainable Interstellar Civilization, Hotspot Colonies, and Dwarf Culture
    Wonderful! And absolutely on target. I haven't thought about that movie for years. LOL much appreciated. :)...
  • Commented on Unsustainable Interstellar Civilization, Hotspot Colonies, and Dwarf Culture
    I am with EC on this one. I think the distinction is more or less what Judea Pearl (pioneer in computing/AI/statistics/machine learning) is trying to convey here, in an interview about his new book: https://www.quantamagazine.org/to-build-truly-intelligent-machines-teach-them-cause-and-effect-20180515/ (Confession: I haven't read the...
  • Commented on Why I barely read SF these days
    MS: "You claimed intent, and implied this is what they are trained to do: "conventionally trained economists try to externalize". Sorry, this is silly. Internalising externalities is part of basic economics training." H: "Yes, I claim intent, because that is...
  • Commented on Why I barely read SF these days
    I think you are probably thinking of "consumer surplus". Related example: there is an argument that GDP does not properly capture the impact of the internet on economic growth and welfare because so much of the consumption is of goods...
  • Commented on Why I barely read SF these days
    Sigh ... this may be so, but it still isn't what you claimed. You claimed intent, and implied this is what they are trained to do: "conventionally trained economists try to externalize". Sorry, this is silly. Internalising externalities is part...
  • Commented on Why I barely read SF these days
    "Stuff that falls outside the standard economics framework includes producing children, donating organs, breathable air, fish in the ocean, wildlife and wildlands in general, carbon underground, and so forth." I'm sorry but that's just not the case. All this stuff...
  • Commented on Why I barely read SF these days
    "[W]hat is the value of something that, if it ceased to exist, would instantaneously cause the entire economic system within which you are valuing it to also cease to exist?" It's not a meaningful question in a standard economics framework....
  • Commented on Why I barely read SF these days
    Not an example of what you claimed. You claimed intent: "conventionally trained economists try to externalize". This is silly. Conventional training for economists is to internalise externalities, i.e., they are taught to try to do the opposite of what you...
  • Commented on Why I barely read SF these days
    Err ... hmm ... I don't know where to start, there is so much misunderstanding there of how economists use "value". Value in economics is based on what individuals are willing to give up to get something. There are problems...
  • Commented on The crazy years
    Worth noting that Preobrazhensky was (a) a close ally of Trotsky's, and (b) advocated a model of economic development where the surplus product of the traditional sector (i.e. agriculture) would be mobilised to support investment in industry. Not a million...
  • Commented on The crazy years
    "It demonstrates that those who keep arguing the Soviets did it all by themselves with no technology transfer from the west are (at best) mistaken." Err... nobody here was arguing the the Soviets did that, or indeed that any late-industrialising...
  • Commented on The crazy years
    (which is the same thing as "missing" as in "omitting", yep, true)...
  • Commented on The crazy years
    I didn't miss it - was thinking about Trotsky, didn't want to load the question, but maybe should have given your point. I am assuming a leadership that either did or didn't choose the Stalin FFYP strategy, but that isn't...
  • Commented on The crazy years
    (Or the North American Commonwealth, for that matter.)...
  • Commented on The crazy years
    "maybe I'm right that they couldn't have done it without the help they did get from the west (especially in the period after the Russian Civil War and before Hitler went off his nut and started a two front war)...
  • Commented on The crazy years
    "Let's look at Soviet Industrialization. The problem is that the counterfactual is ignored. Namely, how would an evolving Russian Empire look like without the Soviet Union?" You are mixing two different counterfactuals. Yours is October Revolution (1917). The one we...
  • Commented on The crazy years
    "you missed some key differences" Well, I didn't necessarily miss them, I was just listing a few similarities and one big difference (Stalin) and hoping for a response. :) (For which, thanks!) "most important of all, imagine how the USSR...
  • Commented on The crazy years
    I read icehawk's claim differently: "The Soviets achieved huge economic gains with fairly limited support from the West both before WW2 and in WW2." "Huge economic gains" meant (to me) the rapid industrialisation in 1928-40. I haven't looked at the...
  • Commented on The crazy years
    "While we're agreeing to disagree, I'm curious as to how you're qualifying the above..." You can point to particular material or products where Western deliveries were big, sure. I specifically mentioned tanks and aircraft because you specifically referred to them...
  • Commented on The crazy years
    Writing about Soviet economic history: "It all failed. Morally it failed early on. But economically... any story about why they failed needs to account for their first 40 years of economic success. It wasn't simple." There is a sort-of-standard explanation...
  • Commented on The crazy years
    I think we'll have to agree to disagree here. I am not claiming that the outcome of the German invasion would not have been different had the aid not arrived (very different question, interesting, debatable and in any case out...
  • Commented on The crazy years
    "The Soviets achieved huge economic gains with fairly limited support from the West both before WW2 and in WW2." "Not correct. You might want to check out how many trucks, tanks, and aircraft were shipped to them in WW2" The...
  • Commented on The crazy years
    "And the Soviets' 'full industrialization' wouldn't have been possible without the massive transfusions of material and technology they received from the west during the 'Great Patriotic War'." Umm ... no. In terms of military production and industrial mobilization for war,...
  • Commented on Crib Notes: Empire Games
    And now, with exquisite timing, here comes Brad DeLong (Berkeley economic historian) with a lovely blog entry on whether, in an alternative history, Rome could have experienced an industrial revolution and made the transition from Malthusian to modern growth: http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/11/notes-on-mark-koyama-on-rome-on-medium.html...
  • Commented on Crib Notes: Empire Games
    Fair enough, though strictly speaking I think you should be comparing agricultural capacity (a stock) to population (also a stock) rather than to fertility (a flow). The declines in fertility are huge - according to the UN, from around 6...
  • Commented on Crib Notes: Empire Games
    Well, I don't really want to get into a longwinded defence of economics and economists here, esp when I did it already in the comments of a different blog entry here - environmental economics, externalities, pollution, resource constraints etc are...
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