Raj Chetty explains some of his background and motivation in this Rediff interview (via V.K. Chetty):
"In my case, I realised that my long-term objectives lined up better with a PhD than other paths. At a young age my dream was to discover something that would have a great impact on the world and help a lot of people. I think I was very aware of issues such as poverty and lack of growth partly because of my background, having grown up both in India and in the US. I remember, quite vividly, going to the Taj Mahal when I was eight. It was immaculate and beautiful inside. But outside, you see extreme poverty in Agra. Experiences like that sparked my interest in understanding how to improve the economy. "
Two articles on non-Smithsian developments; one by James Fallows and another by David Ludden (via Brad DeLong links).
Discussion on Tyler cowen's article on private contractors; in particular the first comment by Bruce Wilder:
"Tyler Cowan: "the overall problem is not private contracting in itself; ... but rather ... the sins and virtues of . . . governments"
There you have the whole of Tyler's philosophy.
The rest of his op-ed treats us to a tour of a few of his many unfounded prejudices, helpfully re-lit from novel angles to support his thesis.
Ordinarily, Tyler is obsessed with progress. It is actually one of his more endearing traits, and a founding concept of his blog, Marginal Revolution. It kind of disappears in this op/ed, though. A necessity, if you are going to argue that "privatisation" of warfare is not a regression to the brigandage of the 16th century.
Efficiency is another Tyler favorite, which is replaced, here, by an undefined, "flexibility". ". . . the use of contractors is not a free lunch" Tyler helpfully informs us, but he never gets around to mentioning just how much more, American mercenaries cost then the also paid soldiers of a volunteer Army. Of course, very few of our soldiers in Iraq are Republican campaign contributors. But, then, how could they be? General Petraeus costs Uncle Sam less than the lowliest thug employed by Erik Prince, and charged to Uncle Sam through three layers of contractor and subcontractor."
Andrew Leonard reports ecouraging trends from South Korea:
"South Korea, write World Bank researchers Woojin Chung and Monica Das Gupta, is the first Asian country to reverse the discouraging trend of "rising sex ratios at birth" -- by which is meant families taking advantage of new sex-selection technologies (or good old-fashioned female infanticide) to favor boys rather than girls. (Thanks to Ben Muse's Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement blog for the link.)
The trend is all the more noteworthy because until relatively recently, South Korea's authoritarian government did its best to legislate societal adherence to radically Confucian traditional values that emphasized the primacy of the male lineage and the extreme necessity of having sons to care for one's ancestors, both living and dead. In the view of the authors, Korea's example offers promise for other Asian countries, especially India and China, where "son preference" is also rampant and social demographics have become highly skewed."