28 Comments

One thing:

- Hell yeah for this guy and his ambitious optimism!

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Feb 28, 2021Liked by Noah Smith

This is a fantastic interview. It further convinces me that the only way forward for the Democrats is to re-embrace the economic legacy of FDR.

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Feb 28, 2021Liked by Noah Smith

Made my day.

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Feb 28, 2021Liked by Noah Smith

As someone who has written about the ups and downs of industrial policy in Japan I remain skeptical about invoking it as a way forward for the American economy. To some extent the notion that the Ministry of Trade and Industry actually successfully carried out industrial policy - picking winners and losers, creating semi-public/semi-private companies like the JEEC corporation that purchased computers from Japanese electronics companies then rented out their services (thereby beating IBM at its own game), managing gluts in certain sectors like textiles - is overblown. MITI never supported the Japanese automobile industry; it was beaten in court by some of the iron and steel companies that opposed supply management; it promoted the airplane industry that proved to be a flop. The general consensus is that it was somewhat successful during the Miracle Growth phase (1950s and 1960s), becoming an actual impediment to Japanese economic performance thereafter. Why? Because government bureaucrats are relatively inexperienced in evaluating innovations that actually work in the market. A classic case in point is the attempt by METI (the renamed MITI) to promote an operating system for Japan that would only work there, effectively locking out Microsoft and Apple. Another example is the triumph of the Japanese video game and anime sector, something METI eventually touted with its "Cool Japan" movement. The fact is MITI/METI has gone out of its way to claim credit for things that it never did. METI never promoted cool Japan businesses when they were getting off the ground just as it never say a future for Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Isuzu, and Mitsubishi Motors,

Carl Mosk

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Yep that's right. "Can Japan Compete?" is another good book on this, if you haven't read it.

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Definitely noted, and appreciate your thoughtful and thorough response to this! I agree with you that government bureaucrats (as they are now) are inexperienced and will have a harder time succeeding at implementing successful industrial policy. Part of the reason the WW2 mobilization in the US was successful was that we didn't put a normal bureaucrat in charge, but instead had people like Bill Knudsen running the War Production Board (and Freedom's Forge is a great book detailing how he did it). It's in our power to change who the people in government are, just like FDR did with WW2. Part of the rationale for Brand New Congress not recruiting existing career politicians was because of this exact point. We wanted to get the kinds of people who would be successful at executing a big industrial plan into government.

And on MITI, I just wanted to throw in an example of one of the institutions used in the past. With Japan's auto industry, it wasn't MITI, but the government of Japan and Japan's central bank did back the industry to help make it successful. For example, the Bank of Japan bailed Toyota out in 1949 and a combination of protection and subsidies helped Toyota get the 30 year runway it needed to finally produce a successful car in the international market. I would consider that a form of industrial policy!

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Feb 28, 2021Liked by Noah Smith

I thought it was a great interview. So far your interviews have been awesome. Keep up the good work.

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Thank you!!

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Feb 28, 2021Liked by Noah Smith

Was this a paid guest post? I felt like I was getting pitched rather than being genuinely challenged or persuaded.

I was hoping to have my views challenged in a smart, engaged way as I've been skeptical of any sort of feasibility and the general reasonableness of the GND.

I think I would have been much more likely to feel that way if Noah had more input than teeing up talking points and setting up seeming strawmen to knock down.

Normally love your posts Noah, unfortunately this one didn't hit for me.

I know you're likely trying to allow your interviewees space to present their views, but I think they'd be more persuasive with a realistic foil.

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Fair enough! I'm still very new at the interviewing game, so this is great feedback, thanks.

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Feb 28, 2021Liked by Noah Smith

Rereading my comment, I come off overly harsh. Sorry for that. It was a long post and I kept hoping to get more of a back and forth.

Appreciate the exposure to different ideas from smart people and don't want to dissuade you from continuing to try more.

Thanks for your efforts!

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Thanks! Appreciate it. I think my main change will be to limit the length of replies. That will make it less like a "paid promotion" (ha!), and more of a back and forth, which will also give me more opportunities to push back on things if I want (though I am generally more interested in learning rather than arguing when it comes to these interviews). It's pretty hard to push back on one sentence out of a 2000 word reply!

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Feb 28, 2021Liked by Noah Smith

Oh god if I had a dime for every time I did that ..... 😁

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Hey Kurt, I got the exact opposite vibe. I thought Noah did a great job and that Saikat did a fantastic job of selling his new industrial plan and Noah is a great interviewer. As someone who leans Conservative I thought, yeah I can get behind this. Noahs column is also a nice break from the usual culture war stuff that I seem to read.

Second and more important. As much as it pains me to write this America is a minority majority country and with Bidens win the GOP is working very hard to ensure this never happens again. So no matter how distasteful it sounds the America's future lies with those backwoods red neck Bud Light drinkers the elite love to dis!

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Thanks Rob! Also noted. I do think I should have probably limited the length of replies. Saikat really likes to write a lot! But I was a little hesitant to push back this time because we've had such big arguments in the past. I wanted this interview to be stuff that I either didn't know about or kind of agreed on. There is certainly much we disagree about and that we could have argued about. Like I said, I'm still getting the hang of this interview thing! Thanks for all the feedback.

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Feb 28, 2021Liked by Noah Smith

Agree he sounds like a fascinating person!

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Personally I had the opposite reaction, I thought it was great to have Chakrabarti describe his ideas on industrial policy and national-bank financing at length. In Canada policy is generally based on incrementalism and compromise (carbon pricing *and* pipelines), so the Green New Deal hasn't gotten much traction, and is described by its advocates here in rather vague terms.

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Feb 28, 2021Liked by Noah Smith

Totally fair. Maybe I simply wasn't in the right frame of mind today to be receptive.

Completely agree on the culture war point. Almost nothing makes me lose interest faster than naked partisanship and tribal signaling.

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> As much as it pains me to write this America is a minority majority country

This wording confused me! But then I realized you meant political minority, not ethnic minority…

I've only ever lived in parts of the US that were majority-minority (like Atlanta) and of course it wasn't a problem.

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The notion of democratic industrialism is great, and I enjoyed this interview a lot, but I can’t shake the feeling that this whole space of ideas is too much like Bernie’s 2016 platform — 20th century solutions for the 21st century. Ignoring automation doesn’t seem like the best way to help people and rebuild a functional society in the long term. Ignoring the right-tail biases inherent in jobs associated with scaling new tech (and the existing economy) isn’t honest. A grand plan that takes 20-30 years to get us where we should already be just doesn’t feel like a reliable path to a good future.

I want to see us to reach even further.

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I really enjoyed the positivity and the focus on production rather than just redistribution. I think the democratic industrialism in the GND is primarily focused in industries that have not (yet) been automated - retro fitting for building heating systems, construction generally, grid, transport and utilities infrastructure, and the national and regional financial services industries necessary to channel the public investment strategy, as well as good stable employment and public goods associated with establishing quality universal health and education services. That said I agree it’s important to be honest about the long standing challenge posed by automation. But Automation and AI is also an opportunity if taxed sufficiently to fund public goods at say Norwegian levels, for instance with carbon and land value taxes as well as the usual income and corporation taxes. But the decline of employment has been forecast since the mechanisation of agriculture. There is indeed a history of declining employment first in agriculture, replaced by manufacturing, then in manufacturing replaced by services. It is an open question now whether automation + AI means services are next and the lump of labour fallacy turns into a fact.

My question other question is whether the evidence from war time, when the US state’s capacity to pick winners for investment was not really being challenged (planes, tanks, ships, armaments), is strong enough for peace time. I hope it is. The answer above is that the US is wealthy enough to ‘invest in everything’. But as with the Japanese decision to go with hydrogen there are still critical national and regional choices to be made that create path dependency, for instance in the regional choices for the huge energy storage investments that are necessary to decarbonise energy, transport, steel, cement, manufacturing, agriculture and buildings using intermittent renewables. For instance one prominent model of the US GND was dependent on building a huge national pumped hydro storage capacity - that on close examination was not feasible. In addition It strikes me the investment level and universal basic services probably implies Northern European tax levels close to 45% of GDP, 10% higher than US voters have been persuaded to vote for so far. Great thread!

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This was a beautiful interview! I really appreciate you reaching out to people who work behind the scenes in politics to produce the various movements we see today. As an aspiring politician and economist, this really gave me hope for not just for me but for our entire country. Thank you Noah and keep them coming!

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The chakrbarty says he doesn't lk to be label ,but out of the blue names Modi as right-wing when in ground reality here he's more centerists nd the opposition here(India) ranges from far-right to far left.India was under pure crony capitalism during Congress rule with new scams by politicians every single day.so yeah "world's right is India's left".

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This guy claims to have written the Green New Deal??? US Green Party candidates had been promoting & running on identical/similar platforms for years before this.

Wiki:

"United States

Early efforts

In 2006, a Green New Deal was created by the Green New Deal Task Force as a plan for one hundred percent clean, renewable energy by 2030 utilizing a carbon tax, a jobs guarantee, free college, single-payer healthcare, and a focus on using public programs.[56][57][58]

Since 2006, the Green New Deal has been included in the platforms of multiple Green Party candidates, such as Howie Hawkins' gubernatorial campaigns in 2010, 2014, and 2018, and Jill Stein's 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns.[57]"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_New_Deal

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The idea originated in 2009 by Edward Barbier in 2009. In 2010, Howie Hawkins ran for NYS Governor as the Green Party candidate advocating the GND (Hawkins was the 2020 GP Presidential candidate). Credit should be given where it is due.

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My finder came up empty looking for the word "forests" in this interview which is disturbing. I'm one of many who are promoting proforestation and a halt to commercial logging on public lands so that trees, understory and forest soils can continue the critical work of capturing CO2 emissions undisturbed. The GND Resolution now in Congress only addresses "reforestation" and vague references to "forest protection". That's not acceptable and leaves the door open for business-as-usual by industrial logging operations in the midst of the Climate Crisis.

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Thanks for the link. Found this about the benefits of protecting old growth forest over tree planting enlightening ‘ One paper found in multi-aged forests around the world of all types, that half of the carbon is stored in the largest one-percent diameter trees. So I began thinking about this, and I realized that the most effective thing that we can do is to allow trees that are already planted, that are already growing, to continue growing to reach their ecological potential, to store carbon, and develop a forest that has its full complement of environmental services.’

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