The Soviet Union: Military Spending

[Part of the Soviet Union series] This one is easier than the previous ones Notice that this chart is put together from different sources. I used % of National Income (GDP for usa, and NMP converted to GDP for the Soviet Union) for both countries, but different procedures for computing Soviet GDP will yield different estimates. The huge dispersion in 1980 comes from Harrison (2003), where he collects many different estimates. Even today we don't have fully reliable numbers on Soviet military spending. Duri…

Scott Sumner's amusing philosophy

He posts here andhere. Lots of peculiar things. (I) There's no _objective _reason to view your or my political views as being superior to those of any other person. There is no objective reason. Period. Reasons are always held by a person, hence subjective. My reason to write this post is mine and no one else's. What Sumner appears to want there is 'something that forces someone to believe in something'. But there are no such things. Arguments can be more or less persuasive, but as far as I know, there ar…

Why so many charts?!

Readers of this blog will have noticed that I tend to post lots of charts in a few posts. There's a reason for that. For most questions we ask there are many interpretations. For example, drawing from my recent posts, we could ask "Does communism work?". And there we go into "But what do we mean by communism?", "What do we mean by work?". Then we get into "Which countries count as communist?", "Which measures should we used to think about 'working'?", "…

The Soviet Union series

The posts I've written about Soviet economic history, collected in one place. Best enjoyed if you listen to the Soviet anthem -best anthem ever- at the same time. I haven't written a proper introduction, but Spufford's Red Plenty could serve as an accessible one. If you want a more advanced book, read Kornai's The Socialist System. The Soviet Union: GDP growth The Soviet Union: Healthcare The Soviet Union: Brief remarks on the transition The Soviet Union: Work and retirement The Soviet Union: The f…

On the possible futility of Friendly AI research

'Friendly AI' is a field of research with the goal of ensuring that if and when a general purpose artificial intelligence (especially with greater than human intelligence) is developed, it won't be harmful to us. I think there are some problems with this. I write this post in part to attract people who want to say why I am wrong, and why Friendly AI research would actually be useful. First, if you want an introduction to what this is all about, read Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom. He explains the concept…

The Soviet Union: The Food consumption puzzle

[Part of the Soviet Union series] In this post, I cover food and nutrition in the Soviet Union. What were the Soviets eating? ... It's complicated (I) The Paradox I begin with one chart: (This post deals with the post-1960 period) So the Soviets were seemingly eating more calories than the Americans right almost until the end of the Soviet Union. Given that some people thought of the Soviet Union as a place stricken with famines and widespread queuing, this may look surprising. (Actually, the last famine i…