Description EconTalk is an award-winning weekly talk bitcoin about economics in daily life. So, airline deregulation worked in part because it literally destroyed the strongest supporters of airline regulation. If you give bitcoin else your private key to your address, they have access to bitcoin of your money and can immediately transfer it to their own address. So, we started at Topics econtalk along the way include the history and future kludgeocracy fracking, environmental concerns about the process, and econtalk the story of fracking is the classic tale kludgeocracy the successes and failures of econtalk risk-takers. If, eventually, everyone is going be using cryptocurrency, kludgeocracy there is a lot of space for competitors and Bitcoin's network effects are weak.
The United States--financial system works pretty well. She argues that design elements in technology play a key role in our interactions. I guess we'll see. You can get a hearing going in Congress, right, to start trying to get people sensitized to the issue. I also wonder if there could be an era where the preferred pronunciation changed.
Clean Chris Blattman on Sweatshops. If this weren't the case, bank runs bitcoin happen. The real problem is our political system econtalk limited parallel processing kludgeocracy. Topics include the rise of the developing worl. Michael Munger talks with host Russ Roberts about permissionless innovation. The United States--financial system works pretty well.
It appears to me that Mr. Teles has produced an ad-hominem attack upon those of us who don't sufficiently appreciate all that government "does for us". If you feel that way, evidently according to Mr. I have another, and better explanation. I am a "pervasive recipient" of "assistance" from both the free market and from government.
However, the experience of these two types of "assistance" is, from deep psychological perspective, entirely different. Consider the billions of possible goods that I can purchase on the free market.
Although I am constrained by time and money, within those parameters I have a vast number of goods and services available to me.
I can select, and almost as importantly not select, those goods and services as I choose. For most market purchases it is I that is in control: I control the who, what, where, how and when. I can decide, on a whim and for any reason, to refrain or discontinue purchasing the overwhelming majority of the goods and services on offer on the free market. The entire market relationship is, therefore, deeply personal , tailored and suited to my individual tastes, desires, goals and aesthetics.
What I buy or refuse to buy on the market is an expression of who I am and what I want to be. Contrast this with the goods and services, the "assistance" mentioned by Mr. Teles , provided by the government. My relationship with the government is deeply impersonal. Nothing in that relationship, by definition, is tailored and suited to my individual tastes, desires, goals, and aesthetics.
Who is in control in the relationship with government? I am not in control any way whatsoever. My pathetic puny vote is as efficacious as flicking a light switch that's not connected to a light bulb. Flick it as much as you like or don't flick it, the result is the same. In my relationship with the government, I have no say, I am completely powerless and at the total mercy of the political powerful or the crowd, mob, and organized interests.
And the powerful, special interests and the crowd are not particularly merciful. The relationship with government is profoundly unsatisfactory. It is the equivalent of having what you read, the clothes you wear, what you watch on TV, or the music you listen to being dictated or imposed by others.
It makes no difference if the dictation comes from powerful elites or from the "majority". It remains a hateful imposition. In my mind, the government is, and always will be cold, alien, authoritarian, distant and intent only on catering to the "them". Perhaps for some, the "them" no doubt embodies racism or classism. However, it certainly needn't--it needs no racial or class dimension at all to be deeply felt.
Whether or not any particular government "assistance" is a benefit or not is not even an issue. The government, and everything it does, even on the odd occasion that it does good, will always be considered a second-rate, will always be unappreciated, and will always remain unloved.
It will always be a source of suspicion, never a "we", and always a "them". Liberals may want us to think "We" when contemplating the government. However, given the nature of the compulsory relationship, impersonal, authoritarian, and alienating, a relationship by force, that is a tall order for all but "true-believers" in the Liberal statist faith. One thing I found strange through-out the podcast is that Teles sounds as though he is very much in favor of silly legislation being removed, either to never be seen again or replaced with something better, yet his proposal does nothing to directly remove legislation.
By removing some of the choke points or veto points you simply make it easier to pass new legislation, the goal of which depends on the interests of the legislators. That can go either way, and given the past shows very little in the way of attempts to repeal things through Congress, it seems an odd suggestion.
What would make more sense would be to advocate for a Constitutional amendment that would make every new piece and old piece expire after 5 years and require repassage. By making expiration of legislation the default choice legislators would have to actively work to keep things going, allowing for much easier removal of past mistakes by even a minority in Congress, or even just a president. When a bad law's time comes, all legislators have to do is not reinstate it. Here is an example of bad kluge: Gas taxes are six times as effective as stricter fuel-economy standards.
The CAFE and the Ethanol program are such a waste just so the politicians can hide the cost and trumpet the benefit. Politician will screw the rationally ignorant voters whenever it helps them. Both sides need to look at our own Politician as con men.
Thanks for the discussion. Another discussion, where I'm left trying to decide if this fits into the public choice understanding, or if it's one of those insights that's so clear and elegant that afterwards I'm left thinking that must have been obvious, even if it wasn't. I don't know if Eric Hammer's suggestion of a mandatory expiration of all bills would work as well as he hoped, or if it would just result in everything getting reauthorized in Omnibus bills with regular government shutdown fights crippling everything good bad, and otherwise.
I like the idea of addressing the issue in some way, however. Perhaps something learned from the experience of Wikipedia - make laws easier to repeal than to enact. Remove of the filibuster option from legislation designed to repeal a program, for example, and leave it in for passing new programs, for example. Something to this effect might get the desired capability to remove Kludge while adding less problems than it solves. It's also about logrolling, which has existed as a "theory" for longer.
The provision of services at the highest level of government has been a mess. We have spying on US Citizens, indefinite detention, a ridiculously complex tax structure, out of control regulation and massive bank bailouts.
With a track record like this, I fail to understand why anyone would risk further consolidations of services with these people. What really irritated me about the discussion was the repeated idea that minorities, mainly African-Americans are helped by central government.
Every single thing mentioned by the author steals money from African Americans and gives it to someone else. The biggest of these are by far Social Security and Medicare. Black men have a slightly lower life expectancy than other groups. So all of their accumulated earnings is not available for their heirs but is being distributed to older women of European and Asian descent. Isn't this just a restatement of Mancur Olson's last book http: At the time Olson moved from trying to define why people get together in organizations to a worry that as political systems especially representative systems age they build up requirements for interest group interaction and "kludge" the system up.
At the time is was an amazing insight. I think professor Teles is on to something but we should not ignore his antecedents. I did not find Tele's approach very helpful beyond what we have - and strongly agree the correct metaphor is code bloat. But - here is a solution that would help with his problem. THat way it is easier to remove laws than pass them and should remove alot of cruft. Of course, this would probably end up being used for evil in ways I have not thought of, but hey at least it would get rid of some laws.
Intertwined, sticky, klunky, gummy, kludge. Everyone agrees the laws we have inherited from decades of good intentions derailed by special interest and biased negotiators government and private have resulted in a system that is far from optimal. What I find fascinating about either far left or far right thinking is that there exists some golden mean, bounded by the ideology of either extreme, in which private or public actors will never look for advantage, and that all citizens of a state have equal enough opportunity to progress.
Better government systems exist than the US implements, but our idealistic notions that the one carved out years ago is the best version for today is charitably nostalgic.
And some corporations temper profit mandates with social concerns better than others. Many of the best examples of this are outside the US as well. I also cringed upon hearing the mispronunciation of the common computer science term. While wiki cites a few variations in diction, I've never heard it rhymed with fudge on the west coast in the last 15 years. Unfortunately there is a subtlety with using Kludges in software that I don't think Mr.
Teles caught from the definition. Kludges are used because of extenuating constraints time, legacy decisions, cost, unreasonable managers, etc that people don't feel capable of changing. They often are inelegant and embarrassing but still generally the preferred solution to specific problems given constraints. This subtlety is as important to understanding Kludges as mutual harm is important to understanding externalities.
Both are omitted from the Oxford definitions. Like a few others, I think the term is inappropriate to describe large systems tax law, retirement programs, health care, etc. It breaks down at that scale because it's hard to argue any large system is a "preferred solution. If you are interested in drawing wisdom from CS into econ to describe systems, I would highly recommend reading Eric S. Raymond's "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" in which he argues that self-organizing, rational actors can build better, larger, and more responsive systems than "beautiful, elegant" centrally-managed cathedrals.
The arguments would be persuasive to Mr. Email the webmaster econlib. A valid email address is required to post comments on EconLog and EconTalk. I wonder if there is a regional preference for kludge rhymes with fudge vs. I also wonder if there could be an era where the preferred pronunciation changed. From to on the West Coast I exclusively heard it rhymed with luge. I was surprised no one mentioned Demosclerosis, a book about code bloat in government and in special interests.
The general bent of EconTalk listeners might not like Mr. Teles's favortism toward certain government solutions, but I think it might be a case of Teles planting the idea of "public choice" in the minds of people who have favortism toward all government solutions.
Such people might dismiss other authors as hopelessly libertarian or hopelessly conservative. But Teles' left-friendly presentation might allow the idea of public choice to sneak past the watchful dragons of political correctness. I have not finished this podcast, but I am not very impressed with Teles' admiration for social security as easy peasy, while considering actual investment as too hard for most people.
Social Security sure sounds easy, except I listened to a two hour radio talk show on how to maximize your social security. I suspect Teles has no personal experience with SS except having it deducted from his payroll.
Also, note that while its "easy" for consumers, you may be passing some of the burden onto the businesses who have to collect it. Now, on to "investing" where he pillories the difficult task of choosing a mutual fund And there also target retirement date funds. So the market already provides two simple "fire and forget" choices that do not require much advise or education.
Recent Episodes and Extras. Extras by Russ Roberts: Extras by Amy Willis: Quote of the Day. Hosted by Russ Roberts. How do I listen to a podcast? Readings and Links related to this podcast episode Related Readings. Follow Russ Roberts EconTalker. I am only about halfway through this podcast. I always thought it was kludge like kloodge kind of rhymes with luge not like fudge. Posted April 14, 8: Thanks for another thought-provoking podcast.
Posted April 14, In fairness the internet shows both pronunciation -- but I know I'm right. Posted April 14, 3: Posted April 14, 4: Programmer since '63, and it rhymes with sludge One of the early class projects was the Kludge Compiler, so pronounced.
I claim historical precedence on the matter. Posted April 14, 5: Posted April 14, 6: Posted April 14, 9: Posted April 15, 9: That's a common feature of public opinion It appears to me that Mr.
Posted April 15, Thanks for the great podcast Russ. Always look forward to it every week! Gas taxes are six times as effective as stricter fuel-economy standards The CAFE and the Ethanol program are such a waste just so the politicians can hide the cost and trumpet the benefit.
Posted April 15, 6: Maybe a west coast pronunciation 2 Yes, this is public choice, applied. Posted April 15, 7: Posted April 18, 9: Posted April 21, 4: Posted April 22, Posted April 23, 1: Posted April 23, The Vulcans have a saying for it: Posted April 26, Posted May 2, When should you take it? You get different amounts if you wait or take it early. Should you use spousal level or your own? It did not sound "simple" to me.
These decisions seemed at least as complicated as choosing an mutual fund. Posted May 11, 6: Comments for this podcast episode have been closed. December 22, Ideologically Convenient For other podcast players, add the direct feed: Or, add this feed. Complete text with Readings and Highlights. Short, visually succinct excerpts. Complements the audio-only feeds. Email Email with latest full text and audio. Russ Roberts posts to Twitter as EconTalker. About this week's guest: National Affairs , Fall, About ideas and people mentioned in this podcast episode: Library of Economics and Liberty.
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Our topic for today is a recent article you wrote for National Affairs titled "Kludgeocracy in America". It's an indictment of a particular set of problems that we have with governance in America and our political system. What is 'kludge' and why do you consider America a kludgeocracy? So, kludge is a term that comes from computer programming, and the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as an "ill-assorted collection of parts assembled to fulfill a particular purpose".
A clumsy but temporarily effective solution to a particular fault or problem. It's hard not to see that definition as describing lots of what government today does.
A lot of what government today does is an effort in the absence of being able to get rid of a lot of stuff we've already got, to simply add new things on top of what we already have, and therefore try to make what we are doing now consistent with what we've done before. The Affordable Care Act, which I supported and still grudgingly support now, is a pretty good example of that.
We had Medicaid and Medicare and employer health care plans and SCHIP State Children's Health Insurance Program and all that other stuff, and then we added a bunch of new stuff on top of that in the Affordable Care Act because, in part because it was so hard to tear up all the stuff that we already had.
And making all those pieces somehow fit together is complex for government to do. A lot of the problems we've had with the exchanges are the result of trying to create a system to deal with all of that complexity. And it's hard for citizens to cope with or understand, and in some cases makes it hard for them to know who to blame when they have problems that seem like they can't understand, that they can't figure out what the source of it is or even who is responsible for it.
So, what's the underlying cause of that phenomena? So, we understand why this happens in, say, the design of an operating system, a metaphor you use in your article. Or at least we see it happening there. Why did this particular piece of kludge, the Affordable Care Act, why did it have to get layered on everything else? Why didn't we just say, well, look, this current system is a big mess, and let's start from scratch and have a better one? So in the article I identify a bunch of different elements of the cause of kludgeocracy, many of which I think did play out in the Affordable Care Act.
First of all is simply the structure of American institutions. American institutions as we all learned when we were boys and girls, creates separation of powers, and that separate of powers, a lot of the original theory behind that is that it would constrain government.
You would keep government from acting, because it would create all of these veto points. And in fact it does, and we've actually multiplied veto points on top. Our committee system within each branch of Congress has some extra veto points because we've got multiple committees. You might think that should just make it harder to do stuff.
But what it really does, in the article I say these operate less like veto points and more like toll booths, where the people who are at these particular veto points are naturally interested in just stopping things.
Usually what they are interested in is extracting a toll and saying if you want to get past the toll, here's the price you have to pay. And the price you have to pay in many cases is leaving everything we've already got in place, because those toll-takers are connected to interests who are invested in existing arrangements of government.
And so this separation of powers designed to actually control the government is also simultaneously made it hard to undo or re-do aspects of government once they are already in place.
Again, that's a kind of a paradox or an irony of our constitutional system, that it does operate to slow government on the way up, but it also arguably operates to slow government either on the way down or trying to simply change it laterally.
So, let's make a distinction between--as you do in your article--size and complexity. So, liberals and conservatives in the big picture, political arguments that we have, whether it's a presidential election or for a particular issue like health care, tend to argue about--the things that get waved around are things like government is too big or government is not big enough or government should have a bigger role in this area.
And your point is that it isn't so much that government is big or small. It's that it is complex and opaque. It's not transparent and it's not designed by anybody; it's emergent. So, as a result it doesn't necessarily lead to good policy in the area, just complicated, messy policies.
So, I think a couple of examples here are useful. The one that I think is most useful in making this distinction between thinking of policy in terms of big and small, and thinking of it in terms of complex and simple, is our retirement program. So in essence we have two parallel sets of retirement programs in the United States. We have Social Security, which whatever you think about it is from the point of view of the user incredibly simple. You work all your life; taxes get taken out.
You retire; and checks start appearing in your mailbox. From the point of view of that you don't really need to know anything; you don't need to learn anything; you don't need to deal with a lot of complexity; that's simply how Social Security, at least the retirement part of Social Security, works. We also have a parallel system of IRAs Individual Retirement Accounts , ks, all kinds of other complicated mechanisms for shielding savings from taxation that turn out to be very complex, very hard for individuals to understand.
Anybody who has actually tried to look at their employer plan and try and sort through the dozens and dozens of mutual funds that they are presented with there will know what I'm talking about. And so we've got two separate parallel systems. The argument for Social Security is basically saying whatever level of retirement savings we want should be guaranteed through government.
That's a much more simple, transparent way to do it. And it's also in some ways much easier to hold responsible. We actually know exactly how much government is spending on Social Security, whereas in the case of our parallel private retirement system, a lot of the costs are actually private, right? All of those people who feel like they have to hire a financial adviser to tell them what their allocation in their account should be, all the people who are busily reading magazines trying to get themselves up the learning curve about all these different mutual funds which almost always turn out to give them worse results than simply an index fund would, that's all real costs on people's time and anxiety at a period in which we are already overwhelmed with the complexity of society in general.
I hate to disagree with the creator of the concept, but that doesn't strike me as a particularly good example, in the following sense.
It's true that private investing is complicated. But that's because there are a lot of choices. We can debate, it's an interesting debate, about whether that's good or bad. I think it's good. Some people think it's bad. To me, the government part of it is fairly straightforward, right? We have the tax shielding of certain types of savings versus not other types, and tax shielding of certain kind of investments and not other types.
And on the other hand, the Social Security system, I think, is quite complex and quite opaque. Most people don't know what they paid into it in their life. It's taken out automatically. Futurist, author, and visionary Kevin Kelly talks with host Russ Roberts about his latest book, The Inevitable, Kelly's look at what the future might be like and the role of the human experience in a world increasingly filled with information, artificia.
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Skarbek explains how and why prison gangs emerged in the last half of the 20th century, their influence b. Campbell Harvey talks with host Russ Roberts about his research evaluating investment and trading strategies and the challenge of measuring their effectiveness. Topics include skill vs. Clean Paul Romer on Urban Growth. Paul Romer talks with host Russ Roberts about reforming cities to allow growth and human flourishing. Topics discussed include charter cities, the role of population density in city life, driverless cars, and various ways to help the poorest people in t.
White on Monetary Constitutions. White talks with host Russ Roberts about the possibility of a monetary constitution. Based on a new book, Renewing the Search for a Monetary Constitution, White explores different constitutional constraints that might be put on the governmen. Clean David Zetland on Water. David Zetland talks with host Russ Roberts about the challenges of water management. Topics include sustainability of water supplies, affordability of water for the poor, incentives water companies face, and management of water systems in the poorest co.
Clean Michael Munger on Choosing in Groups. Munger lays out the challenges of group decision-making and of agreeing on constitutions or voting rules for group decision-making. Daniel Sumner talks with host Russ Roberts about U. Sumner also explains how American policies have a. Luigi Zingales talks with host Russ Roberts on whether the financial sector is good for society and about difference between how banks and bankers are perceived by the public vs.
He discusses the costs and benefits of financial innov. Clean Alex Tabarrok on Private Cities. Alex Tabarrok talks to host Russ Roberts about a recent paper he co-authored with Shruti Rajagopalan on Gurgaon, a city in India that until recently had little or no municipal government.
They discuss the successes and failures of this private city, the. Taleb contrasts harm with ruin and explains how the difference. Greg Page, former Cargill CEO, talks to host Russ Roberts about the global food supply and the challenges of running a company with employees and activity all over the world.
He talks about the role of prices in global food markets in signaling informat. Joshua Greene talks with host Russ Roberts about morality and the challenges we face when our morality conflicts with that of others. Topics discussed include the difference between what Greene calls automatic and manual thinking, the moral dilemma know. James Tooley talks with host Russ Roberts about low-cost for-profit private schools in the slums and rural areas of poor countries. Tooley shows how surprisingly widespread private schools are for the poor and how effective they are relative to public s.
Clean Joshua Angrist on Econometrics and Causation. Joshua Angrist talks with host Russ Roberts about the craft of econometrics--how to use economic thinking and statistical methods to make sense of data and uncover causation. Angrist argues that improvements in research design along with various econome. While Marcus is concerned about how advances in AI might hurt human flourishing, he argues that truly transformative smart machines are still a long way away and.
Clean James Otteson on the End of Socialism. Otteson argues that socialism including what he calls the "socialist inclination" is morally and practically inferior to capitalism. Otteson contrasts socialism and cap. Clean Nick Bostrom on Superintelligence. Nick Bostrom talks with host Russ Roberts about his book, Superintelligence. Bostrom argues that when machines dwarfing human intelligence exist they will threaten human existence unless steps are taken now to reduce the risk.
Recorded before a live audience at the 33rd Santa Barbara Economic Summit, the conversation begins with each participant making a brief set of remarks on the topic. Topics discussed include the traits that might be rewards in a world of smart machines, reforming the educational system to prepare people for the changing economy, reforming immigration, and policies that might help the labor market work more effectively.
The conversation opens with personal reminiscences by Lazear and Roberts. Easterly argues that poverty endures in many poor countries because of a lack of economic and political freedom for its poorest members. He argues that the aid process and the role experts play in that process reinforces the oppression of the poor. Other topics discussed include data-oriented solutions, autocracy vs. The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters , talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book, the rise of hydraulic fracturing fracking , how this technology developed, and the vibrant personalities that pioneered the energy revolution.
Topics discussed along the way include the history and future of fracking, environmental concerns about the process, and how the story of fracking is the classic tale of the successes and failures of determined risk-takers.
The role of market forces in driving that success and failure runs through the entire conversation.
8 Jun Nathaniel Popper of the New York Times and the author of Digital Gold talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Bitcoin. Can Bitcoin make it? What went wrong with Mt. Gox? Why did Ross Ulbricht, the creator of Silk Road, just get sentenced to life in prison? Why are venture capital firms pouring. 14 Apr Steven Teles of Johns Hopkins University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about kludgeocracy, a term Teles coined in a National Affairs article to describe what Teles sees as the complex and unproductive state of political governance in the United States, particularly at the federal level. Teles argues. Full Text feed or Feedburner feed. Complete text with Readings and Highlights. Includes audio. Short Text feed. Short, visually succinct excerpts. Apr 14, Steven Teles of Johns Hopkins University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about kludgeocracy, a term Teles coined in a National Affairs article to describe.