A Correspondent with a Future in Management

by Kieran Healy on November 13, 2006

I just got an email from a stranger with a flair for delegation:

Hello ,
I am a BSc student with the [X University] external program and a course that I am taking requires the reading of the book ” Sources of Social Power volume 1 by Michael Mann ” . Now while surfing i came across your email and i would like to know if you could give me a brief overview about this book and probably help me if i get stuck while going through it. I have just started reading this book and its a topic that i find really intresting and will be awaiting your reply.

Maybe I could write his final paper for him as well.

Relativities: local and global

by Chris Bertram on November 13, 2006

In the past few weeks John and Henry have engaged in arguments with Tyler Cowen and Will Wilkinson on the subject of whether relative wealth matters. To be sure, that isn’t the ostensible focus of the dispute with Tyler, which is about demographics. But digging deeper, the crux of Tyler’s argument has been that Europe’s ageing population matters because it will lead to lower growth rates and that the compounding effect of these will be that Europe’s position relative to the US (and China, and India) will decline, and that that’s a bad thing for Europeans. Whilst Tyler insists that these global relativities matter enormously, Will suggests that domestic relativities between individuals matter hardly at all. Since I think of Will and Tyler as occupying similar ideological space to one another, I find the contrast to be a striking one, and all the more so because I think that something like the exact opposite is true. That is to say, I think that domestic relativities matter quite a lot, and that global ones ought to matter a good deal less (if at all) just so long as the states concerned can ensure for all their citizens a certain threshold level of the key capabilities.

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Even more dubious about demography

by Chris Bertram on November 13, 2006

From chapter 6 of E.M Forster’s _Howard’s End_ (1910):

“Evening, Mr. Bast.”

“Evening, Mr. Cunningham.”

“Very serious thing this decline of the birth-rate in Manchester.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Very serious thing this decline of the birth-rate in Manchester,” repeated Mr. Cunningham, tapping the Sunday paper, in which the calamity in question had just been announced to him.

“Ah, yes,” said Leonard, who was not going to let on that he had not bought a Sunday paper.

“If this kind of thing goes on the population of England will be stationary in 1960.”

“You don’t say so.”

“I call it a very serious thing, eh?”

“Good-evening, Mr. Cunningham.”

“Good-evening, Mr. Bast.”