No solution is perfect

I’m re-reading Radical Markets by Eric Posner and Glen Weyl for a project I’m working on. And I have been struck by this in a new foreward by Vitalik Buterin and Jaron Lanier:

It is important to understand the proposed radical markets in the spirit in which they are offered. A mechanism cannot become the center of human civilization but must serve as a tool in the context of civilization. That point should be implicit, since many methods are proposed here; obviously, the intent is not to make any one of them singularly dominant.

If you didn’t catch the Radical Markets hype a year ago, it’s essentially an argument to inject market mechanisms, and our greater knowledge of how markets work, into more aspects of society. Such as by introducing quadratic voting in elections to better measure intensity in preferences.

Or, more spectacularly, perpetually auctioning the use rights of private property. Essentially, allowing anyone to go and bid on any property at any time. The idea being (among other things) to better capture the value of these assets in the tax system.

There are problems with some of these ideas. Initially at least. Such as that without initial capital reallocation, the removal of certain property rights could lead to more inequality. Or that many people desperately need the stability afforded them by property ownership.

But I really like this argument that we need to consider the idea within context rather than turning it into a straw man. We need to think of them as mechanisms that could be strategically employed, within an established political economy.

Especially as our discourse has sped up, as more diverse voices added, it is tempting to summarily dismiss new ideas because they aren’t perfect. Because there are negative consequences that hadn’t been considered.

I like Ryan Avent’s reading of Radical Markets as a work of political philosophy. On the need to consider radical solutions to big problems. As an appeal to consider market mechanisms in areas that we currently don’t.

Again from Buterin and Jaron Lanier:

Abstractions can play out differently according to context. Any mechanism can be turned into an instrument of violence if it is overly amplified and drowns out every other process in a society. And yet without better mechanisms, we are doomed to stumble around, failing to address the complexities of our times.

None of the rules in society are natural. They’ve all been contrived. The questions are why and by whom. Injecting markets into more areas of society may make sense. Or maybe the inverse.

New ideas may not suit as panaceas, but do right in specific situations or after some adaptation. Perhaps it’s time for something more targeted.

As always my emphasis

Lanka Briefly for 23/12/2019

Morning all,

Here’s today’s headlines:

News

  • Banks, SMEs await clarity over moratorium on loans below Rs. 300 million (Daily FT)
  • Govt. offers lifeline for tea sector (Daily FT)
  • Govt. delays permanent appointment of CB Governor (Daily FT)
  • Boxing Day Tsunami: 15 years on (Sunday Observer)
  • Sri Lanka to up employer EPF contribution to 15-pct, start social security fund (The Island)
  • Celebrate Christmas humbly – Cardinal Ranjith (Sunday Observer)
  • Opinion

  • I stand up for one country one law – Anuradha Yahampath- (Daily Mirror)
  • Why were Catholics massacred on Easter Sunday? (The Island)
  • Electoral Victories And Pyrrhic Outcomes (Colombo Telegraph)
  • Traffic jams at Dehiwela (The Island)
  • Private sector best practices can overcome bureaucratic inertia (Daily FT)
  • Beedi leaf smuggling rampant despite detections, need for punitive action (Daily FT)
  • Business

  • SL authorities strongly dispute the premise of revision of outlook by Fitch Ratings (The Island)
  • SriLankan Airlines enters Esports arena (The Island)
  • CHC vacates Enjoining Order on Uni Lanka and Dharshan Lanka (Daily FT)
  • SMEs buoyed by new Government’s timely relief and surprise Christmas bonanza (Daily FT)
  • Huawei ‘Seeds for the Future’ programme rewards upcoming ICT professionals (The Island)
  • EU and TAF focus on gender-based violence and women’s access to justice (The Island)
  • World

  • New Zealand volcano death toll rises as another victim dies in hospital (ABC)
  • Boeing capsule makes successful ground landing after aborted space mission (ABC)
  • ‘We are at a turning point in war’ against jihadism: French President Macron in Niger (France 24)
  • Germany: CDU rejects calls to bring thousands of refugee children from Greek camps (Deutsche Welle)
  • Berlin celebrates start of Hanukkah by lighting biggest menorah in Europe (Deutsche Welle)
  • Erdogan says Turkey cannot handle new migrant wave from Syria, warns Europe (France 24)
  • Climate

  • Great Lakes waters at risk from buried contaminants and new threats (The Conversation)
  • Jacinda Ardern on culture wars, her plan for 2020 and how to cook snapper (The Guardian)
  • Uncertainty, delay continue for Dominion’s Atlantic Coast gas pipeline (IEEFA)
  • Greek utility to speed up coal phase-out plans (IEEFA)
  • Indian ratings agency lowers outlook for country’s coal-fired power sector (IEEFA)
  • The great Christmas tree debate: Is it better to buy a real tree or a fake one? (The Conversation)
  • Sport

  • Azhar Ali, Babar Azam tons, Naseem Shah three-for put Pakistan on victory path (Cricinfo)
  • Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Chelsea: Antonio Rudiger suffers alleged racist abuse (BBC Sport)
  • Tottenham v Chelsea: Racist behaviour appears to mar Premier League game (BBC Sport)
  • NFL Week 16 latest – Titans v Saints, plus Ravens & Giants in action (BBC Sport)
  • England in South Africa: Joe Root will trust bowlers to decide on fitness (BBC Sport)
  • Watford 2-0 Manchester United: David de Gea error and Troy Deeney penalty lift Hornets’ hopes of avoiding relegation (BBC Sport)
  • Further reading

  • What Comes After Oil Culture? (Jstor)
  • Is 3D printing the future of battery design? (MIT Tech Review)
  • The Theatrical Magic of The Christmas Angel (Jstor)
  • Cradled by therapy (Aeon)
  • Yes, Women Participated in the Gold Rush (Jstor)
  • Boeing’s Starliner won’t make it to the ISS now because its internal clock went wrong (MIT Tech Review)

  • You can sign up for this briefing via email here.

    Straya Briefly for 23/12/2019

    Morning all,

    Here’s today’s headlines:

    News

  • Wolf Creek actor John Jarratt settles lawsuit against Telegraph (SBS)
  • ‘How is this possible?’: Greta Thunberg weighs in on Australia’s bushfire crisis (SBS)
  • ‘Not much left’: Small NSW village all but wiped out by devastating bushfire (SBS)
  • Australia fires: NSW devastation laid bare as 72 homes destroyed in SA bushfires (The Guardian)
  • More must be done to tackle climate change: McCormack (Sky News)
  • Emergency Fire Warnings Downgraded In Victoria (Ten)
  • Opinion

  • We are at the mercy of streaming services. It’s time to bring back the DVD (ABC)
  • Australia’s struggle with smoke and fire should put nuclear power on the agenda (SMH)
  • A salute to heroic firefighters as our beloved country burns (SMH)
  • Tasmania has entered a ‘golden age’, but not everyone is enjoying it (ABC)
  • ‘In denial, in hiding or in Hawaii’: Scott Morrison goes MIA (SMH)
  • Scott Morrison’s Hawaiian sojourn won’t be the PR disaster his critics hope (SMH)
  • Business

  • ‘Shovel ready’: Spanish firm to put $500m into Australian wind and solar farm (The Guardian)
  • ‘Everybody’s going to lose’ if some of us refuse to pay a bit more tax (ABC)
  • Farmers in Queensland’s salad bowl region warn food prices will rise due to drought (New Daily)
  • Chemist Warehouse sees sales and profits slow amid tough retail landscape (SMH)
  • ACCC reports electricity bills are dropping in the nation (Sky News)
  • US and China tease pact that could end 17-month trade war (New Daily)
  • World

  • Don’t want to dine with your enemy? In Hong Kong, there’s an app for that (ABC)
  • Macron calls colonialism a ‘grave mistake’ during visit to Ivory Coast (France 24)
  • German union threatens fresh Lufthansa strikes after holidays (Deutsche Welle)
  • French fashion designer Emanuel Ungaro dies (BBC News)
  • Green groups hail landmark ruling as Dutch Supreme Court mandates steep emission cuts (France 24)
  • Starliner returns early after failed mission (BBC News)
  • Climate

  • Great Lakes waters at risk from buried contaminants and new threats (The Conversation)
  • Climate change ‘one of many factors’ responsible for bushfires, PM says (ABC)
  • Jacinda Ardern on culture wars, her plan for 2020 and how to cook snapper (The Guardian)
  • Telsa Models X and 3 ranked among Australia’s Top 3 safest cars for 2019 (Renew Economy)
  • Michael McCormack agrees Australia needs to do more on climate change (ABC)
  • After a huge 2019, RenewEconomy and The Driven are looking forward to 2020 (Renew Economy)
  • Sport

  • Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Chelsea: Antonio Rudiger suffers alleged racist abuse (BBC Sport)
  • Bath blow London Irish away with first-half blitz of five tries (The Guardian)
  • Chris Lynn falls a few metres short of fastest Big Bash century (ABC)
  • De Gea howler helps Watford to a shock 2-0 win over Manchester United (SMH)
  • A-League decade in review: The teams, players and goals that shaped Australian football in the 2010s (ABC)
  • Tottenham v Chelsea: Racist behaviour appears to mar Premier League game (BBC Sport)
  • Further reading

  • Is 3D printing the future of battery design? (MIT Tech Review)
  • What Comes After Oil Culture? (Jstor)
  • The True Story Behind ‘The Aeronauts’ From the Smithsonian’s Curator of Balloons, Blimps and Airships (Smithsonian)
  • Facebook Finally Fixes Its Two-Factor Mess (Wired)
  • ‘Boomerspeak’ Is Now Available for Your Parodying Pleasure (Wired)
  • Car Share Shrinks, a Tax Break Vanishes, and More Car News This Week (Wired)

  • You can sign up for this briefing via email here.