Socratic Form Microscopy

The writing of Zachary Jacobi.

Browse posts by category, date posted, or see some top posts below.

Ending Bailouts and Recessions: Why the Left should care about monetary economics

I’ve made no secret about how important monetary economics is to my thinking, but I've also never clearly laid out the arguments that convinced me of monetarism, let alone explained its central theories. This isn’t by design. There’s almost an introduction to monetarism already on this blog, if you’re willing to piece together thirty footnotes on ten different posts. It is obviously the case that no one wants to do this. Therefore, I’d like to try something else: a succinct explanation of monetary economics, written as clearly as possible and without any simplifying omissions or obfuscations, but free of (unexplained) jargon. (read the rest)

See other posts in the category Economics, such as You Shouldn’t Believe In Technological Unemployment Without Believing In Killer AI and Not Just Zoning: Housing Prices Driven By Beauty Contests

The Nuclear Weapons Series

This post series is meant as a non-exhaustive primer on the (declassified) physical and strategic realities of nuclear weapons. It’s supposed to get you up to the point where you can begin asking the right questions in a relatively short time period. If you want more information, I’ve included relevant links (mainly to Wikipedia) at the end of every section. (read the rest)

You can also start with Nuclear Weapons Explained Backwards. an introductory presentation where "instead of covering the boring stuff like how fission works, I’m going to talk about the strategic realities surrounding the use of nuclear weapons"

A Practical Guide to Splitting The Housework

There are three main things you need to work on if you want to be able to split both the act of doing chores and the mental load of keeping track of them with your partner. These are: general skills, noticing things, and keeping track of what needs to happen. It’s difficult to work on any of these in isolation. Getting better at chores will help you feel empowered to notice when they need to be done or keep track of the schedule of doing them. Doing chores whenever you notice they need to be done will give you the practice you need to get better at them. (read the rest)

See other posts in the category Advice, such as Not Making That Mistake Again: A Quick Dive Into Vegetarian Nutrition and Resume Tips For Students

Book Review: The Captured Economy

There are many problems that face modern, developed economies. Unfortunately, no one agrees with what to do in response to them. Even economists are split, with libertarians championing deregulation, while liberals call for increased government spending to reduce inequality. Or at least, that’s the conventional wisdom. The Captured Economy, by Dr. Brink Lindsey (libertarian) and Dr. Steven M. Teles (liberal) doesn’t have much time for conventional wisdom. (read the rest)

See other Book Reviews, including reviews of Bad Blood and Origins of Totalitarianism

Against Moral Intuitions

In Catholic school, you have to take a series of religion courses. The first two are boring. Jesus loves you, is your friend, etc. Thanks school. I got that from going to church all my life. But the later religion classes were some of the most useful courses I’ve taken. Ever. The ethics part hit me the hardest. I’d always loved systematizing and here I was exposed to Very Important Philosophy People engaged in the millennia long project of systematizing fundamental questions of right and wrong under awesome sounding names, like “utilitarianism” and “deontology”. (read the rest)

See other posts in the category Ethics, such as Book Review: The Righteous Mind and Utilitarian Virtue Ethics

You’re Doing Taxes Wrong: Consumptive vs. Wealth Inequality

When you worry about rising inequality, what are you thinking about? I now know of two competing models for inequality, each of which has vastly different implications for political economy.In the first, called consumptive inequality, inequality is embodied in differential consumption. Under this model, there is a huge gap between Oracle CEO Larry Ellison (net worth: $60 billion), with his private islands, his yacht, etc. and myself, with my cheap rented apartment, ten-year-old bike, and modest savings. Under the second model, inequality in new worth or salary is all that matters. This is the classic model that gives us the GINI coefficient and “the 1%. (read the rest)

See other posts in the category Politics, such as Meditations on Regulation, or the Case of the $10,000 Staircase and Westminster is bestminster

Annual Predictions

Zach made annual predictions, focused on geopolitical, Canadian and personal developments, in 2017 (results), 2018 (results), and 2019 (results). The idea is to pick a limited number of probabilities (I recommend 51%, 60%, 70%, 80%, and 90%) and assign one to each item that you have an opinion on. At the end of the year, you count the number of correct items in each probability bin and use that to see how close you were to ideal. This gives you an answer to the important question: “when I say something is 80% likely to happen, how likely, really, is it to happen?”

See every Predictions post

A Cross of Gold: The Best Speech You’ve Never Heard

I write today about a speech that was once considered the greatest political speech in American history. Even today, after Reagan, Obama, Eisenhower, and King, it is counted among the very best. And yet this speech has passed from the history we have learned. Its speaker failed in his ambitions and the cause he championed is so archaic that most people wouldn’t even understand it. (read the rest)

See other posts in the category History, such as Weather today fine but high waves and Book Review: The Horse The Wheel And Language