Bourgeois Ideology Caused the Great Enrichment

(p. A13) What accounts for the wealth and prosperity of the developed nations of the world? How did we get so rich, and how might others join the fold?
Deirdre McCloskey, a distinguished economist and historian, has a clarion answer: ideas. It was ideas, she insists–about commerce, innovation and the virtues that support them–that account for the “Great Enrichment” that has transformed much of the world since 1800.
. . .
. . . , this monumental achievement was caused by a change in values, Ms. McCloskey says–the rise of what she calls, in a mocking nod to Marx, a “bourgeois ideology.” It was far from an apology for greed, however. Anglo-Dutch in origin, the new ideology presented a deeply moral vision of the world that vaunted the value of work and innovation, earthly happiness and prosperity, and the liberty, dignity and equality of ordinary people. Preaching tolerance of difference and respect for the individual, it applauded those who sought to improve their lives (and the lives of others) through material betterment, scientific and technological inquiry, self-improvement, and honest work. Suspicious of hierarchy and stasis, proponents of bourgeois values attacked monopoly and privilege and extolled free trade and free lives while setting great store by prudence, enterprise, decency and hope.

For the full review, see:
DARRIN M. MCMAHON. “BOOKSHELF; The Morality of Prosperity; Grinding poverty was the norm for humanity until 1800. It changed with the rise of values like tolerance and respect for individual liberty.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., June 13, 2016): A13.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date June 12, 2016.)

The book under review, is:
McCloskey, Deirdre N. Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital, Transformed the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016.

King Henry I Might “Have Liked Being Buried Under a Car Park”

(p. A4) LONDON — Looking for a dead medieval king? You might want to check under a parking lot.
That theory, at least, is on the minds of archaeologists and historians in Reading, about 40 miles west of London, who this week will begin searching for the high altar of the abbey founded by King Henry I. They believe that the altar — and, they hope, the king’s remains — could be under the parking lot of a local prison, near the abbey ruins. The area around a nearby nursery school will also be searched.
Nearly four years ago, archaeologists discovered King Richard III’s grave under a parking lot in Leicester, about 100 miles northwest of London, on the site of a former monastery.
. . .
John Mullaney, a historian who is part of the team undertaking the search, said that archaeologists knew “within a few yards” where Henry was probably buried. He said the team would use ground-penetrating radar to search the area around the prison, and around a nearby nursery school.
. . .
As to whether a former monarch would roll in his grave at the prospect of spending eternity under a parking lot, Mr. Mullaney was philosophical.
“I’m afraid that England is a nation of car drivers,” he said. “We are a small country and most people travel by cars, so we need lots of car parks. Henry was a reforming king and would have been fascinated by the idea of cars and transport, and may well have liked being buried under a car park.”

For the full story, see:
DAN BILEFSKY. “The Search Is On for King Henry I, Who May Be Buried Under a Parking Lot.” The New York Times (Tues., JUNE 14, 2016): A4.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date JUNE 13, 2016, and has the title “Search Is On for King Henry I, Who May Be Buried Under a Parking Lot.”)

How Many Government Staff Members Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb in King Tut’s Display Case?

(p. A7) The intense attention paid by experts to Tutankhamen’s tomb has not always been matched by staff members at the run-down Egyptian Museum. In January the government said eight people at the state-run museum were being disciplined for their role in a botched repair job that caused minor but lasting damage to King Tut’s golden burial mask.
The repair job was an attempt to correct the damage caused by workers who had accidentally knocked the beard from the 3,300-year-old artifact in August 2014 as they repaired a light fixture in its display case.

For the full story, see:
DECLAN WALSH. “King Tut’s Blade, and ‘Iron From the Sky’.” The New York Times (Fri., JUNE 3, 2016): A7.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date JUNE 2, 2016, and has the title “King Tut’s Dagger Made of ‘Iron From the Sky,’ Researchers Say.”)

“We Can Fight Back When Our Lives Depend on It”

(p. A23) San Jose, Calif. — I’LL never forget the first piece of safety advice I got when I began my transition from the male body in which I was born to the female body I now occupy: Carry a whistle. If I was attacked, I was supposed to blow it in hopes it would alert some do-gooder to dash into a dark alley to break up a brutal hate crime.
The idea was not only preposterous, it was also insulting. The implication was that I, being transgender, wouldn’t be able to save myself. But I didn’t need a whistle; I had a gun.
Since the attack in Orlando, Fla., many L.G.B.T. groups have been calling loudly for laws restricting gun ownership. But if anyone should be concerned about protecting the individual right to bear arms, it’s L.G.B.T. people. We need to stop preaching nonviolence and voting for politicians who don’t protect us.
Violence toward L.G.B.T. people is real. We are victimized at far greater rates than other minority groups. We often face multiple assailants. The attacks are frenzied and quickly escalate from harassment, to fists, to something altogether different. People die.
If you find yourself in a violent encounter, you’re lucky if you get three seconds to react. If you want to save yourself, you have to go on the offensive. And a whistle isn’t going to cut it.
. . .
But every day, Americans use guns to defend themselves, and they don’t even have to pull the trigger. The mere appearance of a firearm can save their life. Just last week, Tom G. Palmer, now a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, wrote in an op-ed article in The New York Daily News about an episode in his 20s when he flashed his pistol at a group of men who were threatening to kill him because he was gay — and they retreated.
This is a call to L.G.B.T. people to take their own defense seriously, and to question the left-leaning institutions that tell them guns are bad, and should be left to the professionals. Become a professional. You’re allowed. That’s what the Second Amendment is for. We can fight back when our lives depend on it.

For the full commentary, see:

NICKI STALLARD. “The L.G.B.T. Case for Guns.” The New York Times (Weds., JUNE 22, 2016): A23.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

Letter to a Crony Capitalist

(p. B4) . . . , an excellent read is “Dear Chairman: Boardroom Battles and the Rise of Shareholder Activism,” by Jeff Gramm, owner and manager of the Bandera Partners hedge fund and an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School. This book explores the rise of activist investors like Carl C. Icahn and Daniel S. Loeb.
Mr. Gramm has collected a series of deliciously rich letters, many of which were never before published, sent to chief executives by investors by everyone from Warren Buffett to Ross Perot. They are eye-opening, often chilling and include fascinating lessons about business.
My personal favorite is this letter from Mr. Loeb to the chief executive of Star Gas Partners: “It seems that Star Gas can only serve as your personal ‘honey pot’ from which to extract salary for yourself and family members, fees for your cronies and to insulate you from the numerous lawsuits that you personally face due to your prior alleged fabrications, misstatements and broken promises. I have known you personally for many years and thus what I am about to say may seem harsh, but is said with some authority. It is time for you to step down from your role as C.E.O. and director so that you can do what you do best: retreat to your waterfront mansion in the Hamptons where you can play tennis and hobnob with your fellow socialites. The matter of repairing the mess you have created should be left to professional management and those that have an economic stake in the outcome.”

For the full commentary, see:
Sorkin, Andrew Ross. “DEALBOOK; Tell-Alls, Strategic Plans and Cautionary Tales.” The New York Times (Tues., JULY 5, 2016): B1 & B4.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date JULY 4, 2016, and has the title “DEALBOOK; A Reading List of Tell-Alls, Strategic Plans and Cautionary Tales in Finance.”)

The book praised by Sorkin in the passage quoted above, is:
Gramm, Jeff. Dear Chairman: Boardroom Battles and the Rise of Shareholder Activism. New York: HarperBusiness, 2016.

World Health Organization Praises Coffee, Reversing 1991 Warning

(p. A9) An influential panel of experts convened by the World Health Organization concluded on Wednesday [JUNE 15, 2016] that regularly drinking coffee could protect against at least two types of cancer, a decision that followed decades of research pointing to the beverage’s many health benefits. The panel also said there was a lack of evidence that it might cause other types of cancer.
The announcement marked a rare reversal for the panel, which had previously described coffee as “possibly carcinogenic” in 1991 and linked it to bladder cancer. But since then a large body of research has portrayed coffee as a surprising elixir, finding lower rates of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, neurological disorders and several cancers in those who drink it regularly.

For the full story, see:
ANAHAD O’CONNOR. “Coffee May Protect Against Cancer, W.H.O. Concludes, in Reversal of a 1991 Study.” The New York Times (Thurs., JUNE 16, 2016): A9.
(Note: bracketed date added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date JUNE 15, 2016, and has the title “Coffee May Protect Against Cancer, W.H.O. Concludes.”)

Government Land Use Regulations Increase Income Inequality

(p. A1) . . . a growing body of economic literature suggests that anti-growth sentiment, when multiplied across countless unheralded local development battles, is a major factor in creating a stagnant and less equal American economy.
It has even to some extent changed how Americans of different incomes view opportunity. Unlike past decades, when people of different socioeconomic backgrounds tended to move to similar areas, today, less-skilled workers often go where jobs are scarcer but housing is cheap, instead of heading to places with the most promising job opportunities, according to research by Daniel Shoag, a professor of public policy at Harvard, and Peter Ganong, (p. B2 [sic]) also of Harvard.
. . .
“To most people, zoning and land-use regulations might conjure up little more than images of late-night City Council meetings full of gadflies and minutiae. But these laws go a long way toward determining some fundamental aspects of life: what American neighborhoods look like, who gets to live where and what schools their children attend.
And when zoning laws get out of hand, economists say, the damage to the American economy and society can be profound. Studies have shown that laws aimed at things like “maintaining neighborhood character” or limiting how many unrelated people can live together in the same house contribute to racial segregation and deeper class disparities. They also exacerbate inequality by restricting the housing supply in places where demand is greatest.
The lost opportunities for development may theoretically reduce the output of the United States economy by as much as $1.5 trillion a year, according to estimates in a recent paper by the economists Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti. Regardless of the actual gains in dollars that could be achieved if zoning laws were significantly cut back, the research on land-use restrictions highlights some of the consequences of giving local communities too much control over who is allowed to live there.
“You don’t want rules made entirely for people that have something, at the expense of people who don’t,” said Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

For the full story, see:
CONOR DOUGHERTY. “When Cities Spurn Growth, Equality Suffers.” The New York Times (Mon., July 4, 2016): A1 & B2 [sic].
(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 3, 2016, and has the title “How Anti-Growth Sentiment, Reflected in Zoning Laws, Thwarts Equality.”)

The paper mentioned above by Ganong and Shoag, is:
Ganong, Peter, and Daniel Shoag. “Why Has Regional Income Convergence in the U.S. Declined?” Working Paper, Jan. 2015.

The paper mentioned above by Hsieh and Moretti, is:
Hsieh, Chang-Tai, and Enrico Moretti. “Why Do Cities Matter? Local Growth and Aggregate Growth.” National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Working Paper # 21154, May 2015.