Louis Putterman joins Glenn to discuss his new book, The Good, the Bad, and the Economy. Louis explains what China’s experience of Maoism and capitalism tells us about human nature. He describes recent experimental work that shows the limits of the selfish-rational-actor model, noting that human beings are social animals with motivations that are more complicated, and more interesting, than the rational pursuit of self-interest. Glenn and Louis explain the irrational side of reciprocity. Louis reviews his research linking the strength of a nation’s institutions with how much its citizens trust each other. They draw some surprising conclusions from South Korea’s “cram schools.” They conclude by speculating that the emergence of the norm favoring gender equality may be an instance where egalitarian human values are winning out over human nature.
Conor, freshly back from the Aspen Ideas Festival, talks to Phoebe about the best way to attend a huge conference. They discuss whether high school students would benefit from publishing their papers online rather than just handing them in to a teacher. They next discuss what the goal of parenting is, referring to both Anne-Marie Slaughter and The Cosby Show, and Conor imagines an alternate life as an Ivy League preppy. Phoebe remembers Andy Griffith by talking about the town of Mayberry and the way race relations weren’t portrayed there. Conor theorizes that as online education becomes more popular some providers will start competing with one another by offering offline amenities. And Phoebe praises an author whose novel was panned in the New York Times by a critic who didn’t understand it.
On Fireside Chats, Mark and Scott talk Affordable Care Act. Has Mitt Romney got his message straight on whether the mandate is a tax or a penalty? What’s with all the leaks coming from the Supreme Court? Does the constitutionality of the law actually matter, or are the justices just partisan actors? Is there a “conservative cabal” of Supreme Court clerks responsible for the leaks? As far as the politics going forward, Mark thinks the Republicans wouldn’t repeal Obamacare, while Scott thinks they just might.
On Foreign Entanglements, Matt and Zack discuss new evidence that Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, who died in 2004, may have been poisoned. Why would Israel have assassinated Arafat at the same time it was preparing to withdraw from Gaza? And how might the renewed debate over Arafat’s death affect the Israeli-Palestinian conflict going forward? Matt brings up the recent talks on Iran’s nuclear program in Moscow, where Zack is skeptical that any progress was made. Should the US have intervened directly to support Iran’s Green Movement in 2009? Finally, they discuss what Mitt Romney has to gain by traveling to Israel during an election year.
John tells George about how he bonded with his son over horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, and then they turn to science news. Have scientists really discovered the Higgs boson? Even if they have, John and George say we’re a long way from a theory of everything. They argue against “boot-strap” physicists that try to explain how something can come from nothing. Finally, they wonder, with physics in a state of crisis, what will bright young minds study?
On The DMZ, Matt and Bill discuss Bill’s recent New York Times op-ed, “How Liberals Win.” Does it make Bill a corporate shill, a liberal fascist, or both?! Bill responds to Tim Carney’s critique of his piece, delving into the history of FDR’s National Recovery Act. Are liberals more optimistic about America than conservatives? They conclude by discussing what it’s like these days to publish an op-ed in the Times.