Tuesday, 28 September 2021

These Passing Things at Fountains Abbey

These Passing Things, at Fountains Abbey, by Steve Messam.

It's not that I actually disliked the installation. It was colourful and fun. I guess...

It's just that it's yet another modern art installation hosted by the National Trust which has absolutely nothing to do with the space in which it is presented. (See also: Rievaulx Abbey and the Moon. And Rievaulx Abbey and the Brocken Spectre.) Garish colours and novelty alone are not "art" - they are just cynical ploys to increase visitor numbers, while contributing nothing to the heritage of the venue.

You know what is interesting about Fountains Abbey? The fact that there are clearly peregrines roosting somewhere nearby, picking off the many pigeons that live among the ruins. Why not have peregrine watching events? Bird of prey demonstrations? Something genuinely relevant to the place. Rather than a piece of colourful corporate "art".

Anyway. Just as well for the NT that I'm already a life member, because I wouldn't be becoming one now, or recommending it to anybody else.

Monday, 27 September 2021

Hartlepool and the failure of the economics profession in 2020

Church street, Hartlepool. September 2021.

"Economists surprised the public also with their cavalier attitude toward the plight of small businesses, devastated by lockdowns. The profession’s central tenets rest on the virtues of competition. Yet economists’ foremost wonder about the intense duress experienced by small businesses during lockdowns seems to have been whether the closures will have a “cleansing” effect by eliminating the worst-performing firms first. To the dismay of many, the dismal science has had very little to say about how lockdowns have favoured big business and what this will mean for market competition and consumer well-being in the years to come.

Economists’ reluctance to challenge policies that favour big business is regrettable yet understandable. Increasingly, we economists work for big business—the digital giants in particular. We send our students to work for Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and Google, and we count it a great success when they land jobs with those prestigious companies. Being on good terms with these companies is important also because of these companies’ data and computational resources. Both are now crucial for successful publishing and associated career advancement in economics. Rare is the economist who is immune to the power wielded by the digital giants within the economics profession."

Lockdown Harms and the Silence of Economists.