The Daily DeX: News Notes And Quotes For 05/09/2019

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Today on The Daily DeX: Don’t bet on the death of inflation, 846 episodes of Cops, and declining humanities degrees.

+“Everyone thinks inflation is dead — but don’t be so sure” | Marketwatch

“To be sure, the reasons why inflation is dead can appear overwhelming, and Bloomberg Business Week does a good job detailing them. But it’s when a particular position seems overwhelmingly obvious that it’s crucial to question it. As Humphrey Neill, the father of contrary analysis, liked to remind investors: “When everyone thinks alike, everyone is likely to be wrong.”

So it’s important to consider reasons for why inflation might not be dead. Vincent Deluard, head of global macro strategy at INTL FCStone, provided four reasons:”

→Deluard’s four reasons why low inflation won’t be our new normal for long: 1) The “stampede” of tech unicorn IPOs (“Venture capitalists in effect subsidizing the unicorns”); 2) A debtor class (MIllennials) is about to assume much greater political power (“This newly ascendant group largely consists of net debtors, of course, who would benefit from an “inflationary debt jubilee.”); 3) Renewable energy is inflationary (““The efficiency of current windmills and solar panels is approaching its theoretical limit,” and “storage costs are much higher for electrical power than they are for hydrocarbon fuels.” As a result, the “transition toward renewable energy will be inflationary.”); and 4) The labor market is a lot tighter than the Federal Reserve thinks it is (“Deluard contends that this reserve army is nowhere near as large as otherwise thought, since “many of the workers who left the labor force permanently switched to the gig economy.””) The fourth is the most intriguing (closely followed by the third.) I’ve found it difficult to accept that the pool of labor still on the sidelines is as large as analysts have claimed.

+“New podcast digs into all 846 episodes of “Cops” and its distorted reality of crime culture” | Fast Company

“The problem is that Cops is more reality show than documentary, and Taberski, a veteran reality show producer, knows there’s a huge disparity between reality show “reality” and documentary reality. In the course of their investigation, the Running from Cops team discovered that the police had final cut approval for the series. “When you start to look at the contractual relationship between producers and police–and we got our hands on a few of those contracts between Cops and the police departments–I think people will be really surprised how much the police are controlling their own message on the show,” Taberski says. Watching the show in that light, he adds, “It just shows how dicey it is to be using reality-show storytelling techniques for something so real and important as policing, and how your biases can creep in even unintentionally.”

Taberski and the producers also found that while prostitution, drugs, and violence make up 58% of crime depicted on Cops, according to the FBI, those three categories only account for barely 17% of crime IRL.”

→Why don’t we ever see someone with real power and influence getting arrested on Cops? Reality shows are never about reality. They’re always about reality as someone else wants it presented. However, I’m equally convinced reality shows are about reality as we want it presented. How easily do we assume that because an episode of Cops has obviously been edited that police interactions never violate a citizen’s rights? And if we didn’t assume this, would we even know violations if we saw them? What we want from shows like Cops are age-old, deeply ingrained, and rarely challenged depictions of criminality that assure us that whatever the police do on this tv show is right, proper, and the closest thing to a wall between order and disorder we can imagine.

+“Stop Worrying About the ‘Death’ of the Humanities” | The Wall Street Journal

“The habit of seeing universities as the main or even sole custodians of humanistic culture isn’t just inaccurate; it is bad for universities themselves. When we consider the university the only place where society can explicitly formulate its visions of truth, beauty, and justice, it’s no wonder that campuses become fierce ideological battlegrounds—for students, faculty and outside observers alike. (When the University of Tulsa recently reorganized its curriculum, for instance, it created a division called “Humanities and Social Justice,” as if these were two faces of the same coin.)

This conception of the humanities invites the same problem that often afflicts an established church: It becomes a place where we put our ideals for safekeeping while we go about our real lives. The crumbling of such a church doesn’t necessarily imply that belief is in decline. It can also mean that belief is taking different forms and requires new outlets for expression.”

→For as long as I can remember (I started reading it in high school), on certain cultural and social issues The Wall Street Journal has served a special function as part of the conservative media ecosystem. Outlets like Fox News use political correctness on college campuses to cast doubt on the value of college as such. They push this message to predominately older viewers, their primary demographic. Meanwhile, WSJ makes a more subtle case that declining numbers of liberal arts degrees are evidence that the humanities need not be exclusively located within the confines of college campuses. This message is for younger conservative readers who likely received college degrees before the advent of what I’ve called 3rd Wave Political Correctness. While the Fox News and WSJ messages differ in degrees of subtlety, they are essentially the same message—college as we currently understand it isn’t worth it.  


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