Speculations on Community vs. the Market

This one is bound to get tongues wagging, but there’s an important idea here: On the Contrary: Long Live the Nanny State

Social structures like close extended families that once constrained behavior have weakened even as widespread affluence has democratized overindulgence. A result is that Americans eat too much, save too little and absolutely guzzle planet-warming fossil fuel, all to our collective detriment. Forget about the national debt. What we have here is a ballooning self-control deficit.

[…] It’s tempting to suggest that government shouldn’t even be in the business of influencing noncriminal behavior, except that it already is and always will be. States advertise their lotteries constantly, for example, although they rarely mention the infinitesimal odds of winning. Internet casinos are usually a better deal.

[…] So there is no point in pretending that government doesn’t influence behavior. Some changes in the government’s own behavior, in fact, could have a big economic payoff by saving us just a little from ourselves. Taxing consumption rather than earnings, for example, would probably bolster savings and reduce consumer indebtedness even while dampening inflation and increasing productivity.

The question is, what would an effective nanny state look like? […]

Upsetting the Paradigm

Hollywood Clicks on the Work of Web Auteurs

Some people say that the film industry has more to fear than just being late to the party. If the Net begins spawning films — and not simply helping to market or deliver them, as has happened to date — studios’ grip on the business of putting pictures on screens may be challenged.

“Their nightmare is a direct feed from moviemaker to audience,” said Walter Kirn, a frequent contributor to The New York Times who has been serializing his novel “The Unbinding” on www.slate.com and saw one of his other novels, “Thumbsucker,” adapted to the big screen. “Their only trump cards are that they are pools of capital for making expensive things. Otherwise they are cut out of the action.”

Geoffrey Gilmore, director of the Sundance Film Festival, said: “We are probably at a period of greater change than we have had in the past 50 years. The industry is scared about what they should make and how they should deliver it. What’s the next step? Where’s the development coming from?”