Lane Kenworthy is 43, married, and has four children. He was born in New York, grew up in Atlanta, and attended college at Harvard and graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. He was an avid soccer player through his twenties. He is now professor of sociology and political science at the University of Arizona. He studies the causes and consequences of poverty, inequality, mobility, employment, economic growth and social policy. Lane is the author of various articles and books, including In Search of National Economic Success (1995), Egalitarian Capitalism (2004) and Jobs with Equality (2008). He blogs at Consider the Evidence.
Why do you blog? > Mainly for selfish reasons: to clarify my thinking and understanding by writing things down and engaging in conversation. But I also hope that what I do is of some benefit to others.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Kieran Healy, who blogs at Crooked Timber and is a colleague at Arizona, was kind enough to give me a good bit of help at the outset in thinking about how to do this and with some technical matters. More generally, blogging has led me to discover and read many more blogs and websites than I otherwise would have. It's now one of my chief sources of information.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > None yet, thankfully. My main complaint is the amount of time I spend on it, though that's entirely self-inflicted.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > I've been blogging for less than five months, so I am a novice.
What are your favourite blogs? > Mark Thoma's Economist's View is indispensable for me. Day-to-day, my favourites at the moment are probably Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein and Tyler Cowen. On a per-post basis I'd say Dani Rodrik, Andrew Gelman, and The Monkey Cage.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Christopher Jencks, Paul Krugman and Amartya Sen, among many others.
What are you reading at the moment? > Several books on Ireland, which I'll visit for the first time a few weeks from now: Tom Garvin's Preventing the Future, R.F. Foster's Luck and the Irish, and an edited volume titled Best of Times? The Social Impact of the Celtic Tiger.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > I read too little fiction, sadly, but I suppose Anna Karenina or A Tale of Two Cities.
What is your favourite movie? > The Philadelphia Story, Casablanca, Doctor Zhivago, All the President's Men.
What is your favourite song? > Virtually anything by the Indigo Girls, Manu Chao, Louis Prima or Dire Straits.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Lots - managed trade, targeting of government benefits, work obligations, to mention just a few. My commitment to a prosperous, dynamic, and equitable society has remained constant over time, but I'm happy to be guided by empirical evidence when it comes to the types of policies and institutions best suited to the achievement of it.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > That most important questions are empirical ones.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > That the pursuit of social justice has large economic costs.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > I love Albert Hirschman's The Rhetoric of Reaction. It was of great help in clarifying my thinking about the nature of arguments commonly made in opposition to progressive institutions and policies.
Who are your political heroes? > Among elected political officials Lincoln and FDR, but also Gandhi and Gosta Rehn.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > Abraham Lincoln: 'The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do, for themselves in their individual capacities.'
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Universal health care with an effective cost control mechanism.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Nuclear weapons.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > Yet to come, as poverty and violence subside in less developed parts of the world
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > Possibly. My wife's views are pretty similar to mine, but some of the people I've most enjoyed spending time with have very different views than me.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Kindness.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'Failure is the stepping stone for success.'
What, if anything, do you worry about? > My kids' happiness.
What would your ideal holiday be? > Travelling with my wife in Italy, France or Spain
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Reading, strolling, cooking, and occasionally watching soccer, tennis or basketball.
What talent would you most like to have? > To be able to play the piano.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > I doubt there's one I would enjoy more.
Who are your sporting heroes? > Pele, Johan Cruyff, Mia Hamm, Pete Sampras.
Which soccer and basketball teams do you support? > I've no hardcore allegiances. I 'support' whichever team is playing attractively - in recent years Barcelona, AC Milan, Manchester United, the San Antonio Spurs.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I'd travel more, but very little else.
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