Friday, March 20, 2015

We want to keep Ian Welsh slaving away at his computer, don't we?


"I am fundraising to determine how much I’ll write this year.  If you value my writing, and want more of it, please consider donating."
-- Ian Welsh, during his just-about-done fund-raising drive

by Ken

It's time (actually, almost past time) to show Ian Welsh how much we value his blog-writing.

Apologies for my bad timing -- I should have gotten to this a couple of weeks ago, and in this case timeliness would have been a boon. Because while I'm sure Ian Welsh isn't going to turn away contributions that come in after he's rung the gong on this year's fund-raising effort, his calculation of how much he can afford to write for over the next three months will be based, as it has been since last year's fund-raiser, on the tallies for the period.

Partly I suppose my dilatoriness had something to do with me getting around to kick in my paltry offering, since I can hardly ask you to give to something I wouldn't. But now I've done my piece, such as it is, and I want to make sure you don't forget -- or make the acquaintance of if you haven't already -- one of the most original and thought-provoking observers and commentators I can put you in touch with, not to mention one of the most readable.

I'm often less confident than Ian about the solutions to problems he takes to be axiomatic, but I have a pretty strong feeling that we haven't much shot at useful answers if we don't figure out the right questions, and I almost always feel that Ian brings us closer. And the range of subjects he covers is not only impressive and stimulating but helpful as a reminder of the interconnectedness of, well, things.

Consider just the start of his post today, "Serfdom Is Better Than What the West Is Heading For":
One of the things that we forget about Feudalism is that serfs had rights: economic rights.  They had the right to farm common land, they had the right to take wood from common forests, they had the right to live where they had lived before.

This is not to say that they were free, they certainly were not.  But they were not slaves; they had access to, as it were, capital: what they needed to grow their own food, shelter themselves and clothe themselves.

We have an overly grim view of the Middle Ages, but, in various periods and various places, serfs, let alone freeholders, lived quite well.  Much of what we associate as the worst of the Middle Ages actually happened either in the Dark Ages or in the Renaissance.  For example, torture really takes off in the Renaissance, because as Stirling Newberry has pointed out, torture chambers and so on take a lot of iron and they didn’t have it to waste in the Middle Ages. . . .
How's that for (a) an unexpected reconceiving of seemingly familiar notions and (b) a lesson in connectedness?

Or there was a post not long ago that found Ian pondering "The Dangers of Intelligence Without Creativity or Judgment," which took off from this:
Divide intelligence into three parts, (yes, you can divide other ways):

1) processing power and pattern recognition (measured pretty well by IQ)

2) Creativity

3) Judgment

A lot of people only have the first, they are very smart ordinary people, they will get to the same solution a modestly bright person would, just a heck of a lot faster. The folks who put up their hands first in class, whose self-worth is based around #1.
And came to rest with the conclusion:
Learning how to think is, in many ways, more important than raw processing power. . . . [T]oo much power and too little judgment will get you killed, and too much processing power and no creativity will just get you where everyone else would have gone, but faster. Better hope that’s the best place to go.
Or there was a post called "When Keynesian Stimulus Works," which began:
It has become fashionable in many circles to denigrate Keynes and Keynesianism because unconventional monetary policy hasn’t worked.

I’m not going to mince words, people who make that argument are idiots.  Unconventional monetary policy is not Keynesian stimulus.

Keynesian stimulus is about widespread demand: giving money to rich people is not Keynesian stimulus.  The government spends, or even just gives money to people to increase their spending.

Unconventional monetary policy is not Keynesian stimulus.

Further, Keynesian stimulus only works where there aren’t supply bottlenecks. If you were to do (actual) Keynesian stimulus today it wouldn’t work, because oil would rocket past $150/barrel and the economy would immediately collapse.

Keynes did not concentrate on this issue because it wasn’t a problem in his time period . . . .


But you can do this for yourself. I would encourage you to visit the site and browse the "Recent Articles" list, or stroll through the current batch of posts and then keep going back. Depending on your mood and inclinations of the moment ,you'll pluck out different posts that cry out, "Read me!" And the chances are overwhelmingly good that you'll come away with something new to think about, or a new way to think about something you've already thought quite a lot about.

Timed to last year's fund-raising drive, I wrote a February post titled "As you think about kicking in to Ian Welsh, just remember that 'Dumb Davy' Brooks gets paid NYT $$$ to write that, er, stuff." I don't mind going out with that thought.

UPDATE -- Fund-raiser lands Ian in the five-times-a-week writing zone; plus, he does count later contributions

As of March 23, Ian reports the following resutls:
Fundraiser Finished: Five Articles a Week, Average, Reached

2015 MARCH 23

by Ian Welsh

We raised $5,246.64 in one time donations and $539 in recurring donations (recurring includes people who already had a subscription). That puts us solidly in the five articles a week, average, bracket. I’ll start up that schedule as of April 1st. If I get seriously ill and can’t do it for a week or some such, I’ll extend the duration.

THANK YOU very much, everyone who donated.  This will make a large difference.

I do keep track of donations after the fundraiser and it does affect how much I write, so if you didn’t give and still want to, rest assured it isn’t wasted. [Emphasis added -- Ed.]

Again, my thanks.

Note again that Ian does take into account in his calculations donations that come in after the fund-raiser, so don't think that the lateness of my pass-along lets you off the hook. (Yeah, you thought you could work that angle, right?)

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At 5:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fuck yes, we do. I've already donated. Thanks for posting this for a deserving writer.

At 8:47 AM, Anonymous Bil said...

I might donate if Ian added DWT to his excellent blogroll.

At 8:37 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Hey, Bil, I was going to refrain from commenting, but it seemed wrong not to thank you, however belatedly, for your support. And it does tend to show that there wasn't any kind of quid pro quo in my expression of support.



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