Bichler and Nitzan, ‘Making America Great Again’

ABSTRACT Trump has promised to Make America Great Again. As a self-proclaimed expert on everything of import, he knows exactly how to increase domestic investment and consumption, boost exports, reduce the country’s trade deficit, expand employment and bolster wages. And as America’s leader-and-policymaker-in-chief, he has taken the necessary steps to achieve every one of these […]

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Fix, 'An Evolutionary Theory of Resource Distribution'

ABSTRACT This paper explores how the evolution of human sociality can help us understand how we distribute resources. Using ideas from sociobiology, I argue that resource distribution is marked by a tension between two levels of natural selection. At the group level, selfless behavior is advantageous. But at the individual level, selfish behavior is advantageous. […]

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Fix, 'Personal Income and Hierarchical Power'

ABSTRACT This article examines the relation between personal income and hierarchical power. In the context of a firm hierarchy, I define hierarchical power as the number of subordinates under an individual’s control. Using the available case-study evidence, I find that relative income within firms scales strongly with hierarchical power. I also find that hierarchical power […]

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Are We Measuring Inequality the Wrong Way?

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. In a recent blog post called “How Not to Measure Inequality”, the anthropologist Jason Hickel argues that economists measure inequality the wrong way. Hickel thinks that standard measures of inequality (such as the Gini index), underestimate global disparities. The problem, according to Hickel, is that economists measure […]

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Call For Papers: Energy, Institutions and Society

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. I’ve been asked to create panels for the upcoming International Conference on Thermodynamics 2.0. The conference aims to bring natural and social sciences closer. It will take place at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts, USA from June 22-24, 2020. I’m calling the panel(s) Energy, Institutions and Society. I’m […]

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2019/02.1: Fix, 'How the Rich are Different: Hierarchical Power as the Basis of Income Size and Class'

This paper investigates a new approach to understanding personal and functional income distribution. I propose that hierarchical power — the command of subordinates in a hierarchy — is what distinguishes the rich from the poor and capitalists from workers. Specifically, I hypothesize that individual income increases with hierarchical power, as does the share of individual […]

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The Allure of Marxism … And Why It’s a Mistake

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Karl Marx is probably the most important social scientist in history. But while his influence is beyond compare, Marx’s legacy is, in many ways, disastrous. Few thinkers have inspired so many people to commit crimes against humanity. Think of Stalinist gulags. Think of the Ukrainian famine of […]

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As it Dies, We Talk About the ‘Free Market’ More

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. In The Growth of Hierarchy and the Death of the Free Market, I argued that economic development involves killing the free market. What was the evidence? As energy use increases, so does the relative number of managers. This growth of managers, I argued, indicates that economic development […]

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2019/04: Hager and Baines, 'Jurisdictional Tax Rates: How the Corporate Tax System Fuels Concentration and Inequality'

ABSTRACT Corporate concentration in the United States has been on the rise in recent years, sparking a heated debate about its causes, consequences, and potential remedies. In this study, we examine a facet of public policy that has been largely neglected in current debates about concentration: corporate tax policy. As part of our analysis we […]

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Can A Service Transition Save the Planet?

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Let’s talk sustainability. Unless you’re an anti-science crank, you probably agree that we’ve got a problem with carbon emissions. We need to drastically cut emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change. On this we should all agree. The question that’s open for debate is how to cut emissions. […]

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Agent-Based Models and the Ghost in the Machine

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. In the opening post of this blog, I described my ‘top-down’ approach to studying society. This means studying groups of people without trying to reduce everything to the actions of individuals. It’s not that I think individual actions are unimportant. Of course they are important. The problem […]

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