Tag Archives: technology

Is the World Actually Getting … Better?


On this week’s episode of my podcast, I Have to Ask , I spoke to Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard and author of the new book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress . It follows up on his controversial best-seller The Better Angles of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined , which offered a sweeping account of why Pinker believes the present is better than the past.

Below is an edited transcript of the show. In it, we discuss why people have so much trouble with the notion of progress, whether global warming […]

NOAH SMITH: Zero-sum thinking is just another way that war is waged

Image: 123RF/ nito500

Image: 123RF/ nito500 Remember “war”? That thing where countries (or kings, or religions) would gather up a bunch of people, give them weapons, and have them slaughter each other and pillage the countryside? For most of the past 3,000 years, war was a more-or-less constant feature of human life. Psychologist Steven Pinker, in his book “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined,” chronicles the transition from a world where violence was the norm to one where it’s a startling, even shocking rarity.

That doesn’t mean war is over, as gruesome examples such as Syria attest. And a […]

Noah Smith: Zero-sum thinking makes our fights much nastier


Hide caption By Noah Smith / Bloomberg View

Remember “war?” That thing where countries (or kings, or religions) would gather up a bunch of people, give them weapons, and have them slaughter each other and pillage the countryside? For most of the past 3,000 years, war was a more-or-less constant feature of human life. Psychologist Steven Pinker, in his book “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined,” chronicles the transition from a world where violence was the norm to one where it’s a startling, even shocking rarity.

That doesn’t mean war is over, as gruesome examples such as […]

A new study says much of the rise in inequality is an illusion

Results from these papers are also mixed. Sunday hands me her smartphone and invites me to listen to a recording of her work, which is much better than I expected — though I am not sure what . ‘Predistribution’ is a new word for an old idea – that inequality and poverty should. (Note: see the New Yorker’s helpful infographic about wealth inequality and New York’s subway lines. It’s much more complicated than that. But we believe that the time has come for a new approach. Segregation and the wealth gap According to the Lewis Mumford Center at the […]

Remarks by the President on Economic Mobility

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. Thank you so much. Please, please have a seat. Thank you so much. Well, thank you, Neera, for the wonderful introduction and sharing a story that resonated with me. There were a lot of parallels in my life and probably resonated with some of you.

Over the past 10 years, the Center for American Progress has done incredible work to shape the debate over expanding opportunity for all Americans. And I could not be more grateful to CAP not only for giving me a lot of good policy ideas, but also giving […]

Marital choices and widening economic inequality

"Couple," by rawpixel used under CC BY 2.0. Desaturated with colour filter from original and cropped. Do marital choices contribute to widening economic inequality among households?

While growing inequality has many causes − from skill-based technological progress to globalization − demographic changes have also played an important role.

During the first half of the twentieth century, college attendance increased overall – slightly faster for men than for women. This trend changed for the cohorts born since the 1950s: Women’s graduation rates caught up with men’s and then surpassed them. To take a striking illustration: the fraction of women aged 30 to […]

Community-led R&D can power job growth in small-town America


Above: An Innovation Collective meeting Over the past few years, economic inequality has become a topic of focus for economists, politicians, and leaders of industry. Tech titans are starting to discuss concepts like the future of capitalism , universal basic income , and wealth redistribution as the technology they’ve developed starts to automate more and more jobs.

New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle have seen average wages rise at an unprecedented rate, while smaller towns across middle America have, in many cases, lost jobs and businesses . This has been compounded by a mix of highly skilled talent […]

Hey, Rust Belt And Sun Belt: Don’t Follow The Coasts


Source: Shutterstock The successes and challenges of coastal cities are the exception, not the rule. If the cities in the vast interior of our nation are ever to reach their fullest potential, this must be remembered.

Over the last 25 years, the physical and economic growth and expansion of our coastal metro areas has dominated our perceptions of all American metro areas. We know that cities like New York, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Washington, DC and a handful of others have had the good fortune of having the physical, social, cultural and financial infrastructure to vault themselves into a leadership […]

Wages — finally — tick higher, boding well for the entire economy


Hide caption Workers in the tightest American labor markets are finally receiving pay packages that are growing faster than inflation.

According to a Jan. 1 article in the Wall Street Journal, cities such as Minneapolis, Denver and Fort Myers, where unemployment is around 3 percent, the labor market has tightened so much that businesses need to increase wages to attract employees. In Minneapolis, for example, where unemployment is 2.3 percent, wages have risen by 4 percent.

We need to applaud higher wages because they enable people to spend more. This sets in motion a virtuous cycle: More spending by consumers creates […]

The Ugly Face of Inequality in India

The Ugly Face of Inequality in India

Income inequality in India has hit its highest level in 92 years . New figures from Credit Suisse suggest the wealthy elite of India, its richest 1%, now own 58.4% of the wealth. This makes India, often revered as a key rising economic power among the developing nations, the second-most unequal country in the world. What is behind this recent rise in inequality? And is it really a problem?

Causal Factors

Social divides in India have often been attributed to its rigid caste system. This system takes roots in Hinduism, which traditionally separated people into four groups: at the […]