Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Tyler Cowen Writes About Spies

Hmm, Tyler Cowen, who according to his postings at Marginal Revolution  has visited in recent years:
  •  Alesund, Norway
  •  Addis Ababa and Gonder, Ethiopia
  •  Mexico City
  •  Fez, Meknes and  Casablanca, Morocco
  • Skopje, Macedonia
  • Chongqing, China
  • Lagos, Nigeria
  • Jinan and Qufu, China
  • Split, Croatia
  • Porto, Portugal,
now writes at Bloomberg:
Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt was described as “hyper-human” in the latest installment in the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, which was the top performer at the box office this past weekend. We are used to James Bond visiting the British Secret Service technology officer “Q,” and receiving an array of gadgets, such as a specially equipped Aston Martin that can create its own oil slicks. Fewer movies are made about lower-cost, mundane spies, and so Americans are misled.We think of spies as exotic, and so we imagine them as rare rather than commonplace. The recent TV show “The Americans” also contributes to this false impression.
Furthermore, think about the bureaucratic side of spying. We tend to focus on the cloak and dagger side of the KGB and successor institutions, but they’re also just government agencies trying to boost their budgets and achieve higher status in their home country...
[I]ncentives encourage spy agencies to maintain arms-length relationships with a large number of potentially connected individuals. They may end up working as part-time or opportunistic spies, but most of the time they hold normal jobs, albeit in sectors that are potentially sensitive. 

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