Why We Talk About Economics

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AN ARTICLE WITH WHICH TO BEAT YOUR FACEBOOK FRIENDS INTO SUBMISSION

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One day I will write about why Donald Trump won the election. By then the post will disappoint: its main features will already be familiar, taken from similar and better articles. It will be like an acquaintance whose name you’ve since forgotten. “Kevin or Keith?” you’ll say to my article, but it will be neither.

The debate over why Trump won isn’t exactly dull, but it’s constricted by the same debate that preceded it. This is not to say that the debate is constrained: Analysts are agape and spewing histograms, heads swiveling like owls’. Commentators are catching the froth and straining it for nuggets, screaming the name of each as they flop it across the web like fishmongers. An anthropology major who rated the new T Swift album 7.8/10 cannot believe his luck: the words emerge viscous but stentorian in his sieve. “White! Supremacy!” he bellows at the internet, volleying 5000 words (12pt., double spaced) at Medium. But a proud mother (Texas, God Bless) perched above another human fountain has polished hers: “Outsider! Election!” she roars. And a smaller lump emerges, connected to the first: “Anti-establishment!” And so each side continues shrieking, the grates of their strainers perfectly calibrated to catch what suits them and let what doesn’t dribble back onto the poor data loser’s sputtering chops.

Continue reading “Why We Talk About Economics”

Samuel’s Data

10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us.”