The Mezunian

Die Positivität ist das Opium des Volkes, aber der Spott ist das Opium der Verrückten

Irrelevant Halloween Double Special: Economics Needs to Keep Economists From Mainstream Newspapers

As with most ideas, I’m uncertain ’bout the intelligence o’ economists—not comfortable with accepting them as intelligence ’cause some rich organizations called “colleges” say they are, but also not comfortable with just writing them off as ditsy.

Whenever I see economists try to defend their profession gainst the mean ol’ critics in mainstream media, my uncertainty is only exacerbated. They usually only make themselves look stupider, which is hard to believe from people who are apparently able to graduate from places like Harvard. My paranoiac side makes me want to believe that perhaps these newspapers intentionally pick strawmen economists to make the whole profession look bad, though I’m not sure why they would. I dunno.

Neither precludes us from pointing & laughing, however.

I. Mankiw Doesn’t Know What the Hell He’s Protesting

In smugly-titled New York Times article, Know What You’re Protesting,” Harvard economist Greg Mankiw protests gainst Occupy Wall-Street hippies & somehow makes them look like scientists & him look like a postmodernist-sputtering hippie. ’Gain, my paranoiac side makes me think this is an elaborate troll-job on Mankiw & Occupy’s part.

He starts with paragraphs o’ self-fellating/self-pitying backstory wherein he treats a li’l walkout as if ’twere the French Revolution. How did you live through it, Mankiw? I hope your metaphorical tweed suit was not ruffled by such uncouth behavior.

I particularly loved this bit:

I have been told that at least one of the students who walked out sneaked back in later: he wanted to support the protest but didn’t want to miss the lecture [Emphasis mine].

Apparently this Harvard-educated scientist never took a single rhetoric class, since if he did, he’d know that “I have been told” is known as weasel-words & that no true scientist uses them. They provide evidence or shut up.

To be fair, this is a believable story: Mankiw’s amazing lectures are, I’m sure, a life-changing moment that could never be replaced by, say, reading 1 o’ the millions o’ economics textbooks out there. How can anyone learn ’bout the Phillips Curve with mere text when one could hear it through Mankiw’s sexy voice? Everyone knows Mankiw’s lectures are fucking rock concerts. I bet this totally-not-imaginary student made sure to get a front-row seat with a bucket o’ popcorn in-hand.

If anything, we should expect the opposite: lazy students pretending to protest so they can sneak a free hour to smoke pot, get laid, make Super Mario World rom hacks, or whatever you punks do nowadays.

If there is any truth to this claim, the answer obviously is that some student stoned out o’ his mind saw the other students walk out; thought, O, is class over already?; & went out with them, only to learn the truth afterward & sneak back in thinking, O shit. Whoops.

So what is his—Mankiw’s, not the stoner’s—rebuke to these foolish peons? Well, after he digresses into some irrelevant bullshit ’bout the 70s, he makes a strong case for his class:

It includes ideas of many greats in the field, like Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Arthur Pigou, John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman.

A whole 1 o’ those lived past the 1950s, too! Clearly Mankiw is on the cutting edge o’ economic science. Those students will surely leave that classroom with impeccable knowledge o’ how to get the most cows from bartering pigs.

Then he parrots some student newspaper’s appeal to “nonpartisanship”—an imaginary concept idiots make up so their ideas don’t have to be held up to any authentic standards, & thus have their idiocy revealed. He, ’course, doesn’t provide evidence for his nonpartisanship—as no centrist ever does, since it’s based on an imaginary scale. As true scientists, we should take his word without skepticism.

He then devolves into cretinous dick-sucking o’ Paul Samuelson & whining ’cause some bearded Marxist whined ’bout him not being a bearded Marxist. I could whine for a whole article ’bout he & Nordhaus’s Economics & how the claim that it’s nonideological is as blatant a lie as saying the sky is green; but for now I’ll simply note that Mankiw himself provides no reason why I should like Samuelson’s work other than that Mankiw calls him “left-o’-center.” I love how people who complain ’bout ideology can use nothing but ideological words to defend their arguments—almost as if they’re completely full o’ shit. The fact that “left-o’-center”1 doesn’t mean anything concrete doesn’t hinder this Harvard economist 1 bit. What a scientist!

I think this was meant to be his bid to cater to the silly leftists, which isn’t consistent with his claim that he doesn’t serve ideology. But if he knew anything ’bout leftists, he’d know its various clans hate each other, anyway. The “left” includes some o’ the most libertarian & totalitarian ideologies in the world; “left” doesn’t mean shit.

Warning: explicit handjobbing ’head:

I don’t claim to be an economist of Paul Samuelson’s stature. (Probably no one alive can.)

Unfortunately, the vile Marxists have a rebuke: Ha! That doesn’t include Zombie Marx!

Back to serious—O, wait, I’m reading an economist’s op-ed. There’s nothing serious here.

Yet, like most economists, I don’t view the study of economics as laden with ideology.

“In our opinion, we’re not idiots.” Apparently, this “scientist” still hasn’t realized that opinions without evidence or rationale are worthless. People will decide for themselves whether you’re ideological or not—& so far you have proven yourself not so, if only ’cause ideological people require a’least some intellectual content in their loony theories.

Most of us agree with Keynes, who said: “The theory of economics does not furnish a body of settled conclusions immediately applicable to policy. It is a method rather than a doctrine, an apparatus of the mind, a technique for thinking, which helps the possessor to draw correct conclusions.”

Well, that is wise, & not mindless buzzwords strewn together: “Economics doesn’t make conclusions; it just chooses methods o’ thoughts based on the conclusions toward which they inevitably lead. Totally different.”

That is not to say that economists understand everything. The recent financial crisis, economic downturn and meager recovery are vivid reminders that we still have much to learn.

So far you’ve yet to show that economists know anything. Literally, the only evidence you’ve given is points in which economists have failed.

Why do so many articles I argue with end up arguing with themse—Mankiw’s ’nother 1 o’ them! You think I didn’t notice the way you slyly snuck in that reference to Zombie Marx. You’re 1 o’ them, too. They’ve taken over every economic school & pit them gainst each other while they sneakily take over. Damn you crafty Marxists.

Widening economic inequality is a real and troubling phenomenon, albeit one without an obvious explanation or easy solution. A prerequisite for being a good economist is an ample dose of humility.

O, fuck off, David Brooks. Then you must be a shitty 1, considering all o’ the self-fellatio earlier.

I want to note ’gain that Mankiw’s basic conclusion is: “Occupy Wallstreet protesters are dumb ’cause they don’t believe I’m equipped to talk ’bout economics, & I agree with them.” Maybe that’s the humility he’s talking ’bout: the paradox o’ an economist who knows he’s an idiot—& yet ’cause he’s an idiot, his knowledge that he’s an idiot must be wrong. “I think I’m an idiot… they think I’m an idiot… I am an idiot… therefore, they must be idiots, too. QED.”

I want to point out the letter Mankiw made the mistake o’ linking to, as it ’gain demonstrates how much smarter Mankiw’s students were than him. I want to particularly emphasize this paragraph:

A legitimate academic study of economics must include a critical discussion of both the benefits and flaws of different economic simplifying models. As your class does not include primary sources and rarely features articles from academic journals, we have very little access to alternative approaches to economics. There is no justification for presenting Adam Smith’s economic theories as more fundamental or basic than, for example, Keynesian theory [emphasis mine].

“Those ideological leftists! All their hippie slogans o’ ’primary sources’ & ’academic journals’!”

Mankiw should take his own advice to know what he’s protesting; others may do the same & won’t have a high opinion o’ his rebuttal when he doesn’t.

Addendum:

I have later learned that “left-o’-center” Mankiw also wrote a delightful paper titled “A Defense of the One Percent,” which is so full o’ hilarity that I may have to dedicate a separate article to it.

The briefest I could say is that its use o’ references barely rises ’bove infantile book reviews & that its overall scientific value is akin to the kind o’ papers I wrote in my freshman Sociology class. I hope this was just something a drunken Mankiw spewed out in 1 night & not something that reached an actual economics journal. I mean, I know they have the highest o’ standards & all. Not like those silly li’l sociologists!

II. Nonfalsifiability: the Apex o’ Science

Our next example is by Andrew Lilico, with ’nother modestly-titled article in the Telegraph, “Good economists are almost always right about almost everything,” forgetting to add the important adage that a good economist is hard to find—& impossible in this tripe.

Good economists are usually about as right as it’s possible to be. There, I said it.

Whoa, hold on there, George Carlin. I can’t take this edgy stand-up next to my Mutts & Family Circus.

I love how ’gain he qualifies it with “good,” & qualifies it further with “as it’s possible to be,” to maximize meaninglessness. I’d think being usually correct is what would define a “good” economist: the true debate is whether most economists are good.

That shouldn’t be controversial. After all, that’s why economists get paid so much…

Nothing’s mo’ scientific than the “Just-So” fallacy.

& I’m sure quite a few heterodox economics make a lot o’ money, too, so this assumption is not only invalid, it’s conclusion is self-contradictory.

…and why societies managed according to economic principles such as sound money, secure property rights and effective competition are much more prosperous than others.

“These societies that exist in my fantasies.”

Actually, most o’ the most prosperous countries are those vile socialistic Nordic countries & Switzerland, which are well known for lots o’ income redistribution & having some o’ the greatest tolerance for intellectual-property piracy. So “secure property rights” is wrong, & “sound money” & “effective competition” mean nothing mo’ than “good things,” & thus prove nothing. An economist’s job is to determine what money is sound & what competition is effective, not to just say that good things are good.

It’s why so much everyday government policymaking is dominated by economic reasoning, from the price controls imposed upon utilities, such as water and electricity (even called “economic regulation”), to the rules on how economic reasoning has to be used in devising regulation and setting taxes (so-called “impact assessments”).

I’m glad he emphasizes this “reasoning” aspect I’ve never heard ’bout before. I’d usually run my economy like Mario Party: just roll & hope we land on boom! Oops! Landed on a Bowser space! Gliosmar Gutenberg owes $20 trillion in taxes. Better luck next time, Gutenberg.

I love how these economists are so simpleminded & yet so arrogant that they have to make up imaginary opponents to hide the fact that they can’t argue gainst their authentic critics. This is Ayn-Rand level strawmanning: “They can’t be arguing gainst my logic, since it’s so impeccable, so they must just reject reason itself.”

It’s why the tools of economic reasoning, such as game theory, have come to dominate so many other disciplines, from evolutionary biology through moral philosophy to political science and military strategy, most famously including nuclear weapons policy — there is even a branch of physics called “quantum game theory”.

I’ve read quite a few scientists disagree. For instance, I’ve read biologists correcting some economists’ hilarious ignorance o’ biology. Meanwhile, physicists are so opposed to mainstream economics that they made up their own field. Indeed, I’ve noticed a pattern o’ other scientists mocking economists for thinking they’re smarter than they are.

I must confess that this & my broad reading o’ works by famous economists has colored my perception, which is not helped by Mankiw & Lilico. However, I’ll give other economists the benefit o’ the doubt & assume these 2 got in by sucking someone’s dick—forgive me if I doubt carpet-cleaning will get one far in the immensely progressive field o’ economics—or something.

It’s why your television screens are full of economists every day, explaining not just news events, but almost everything, from which football managers are the most skilled to why singer Katherine Jenkins is so successful.

“We may suck @ predicting recessions; but we can predict which team will make the Super Bowl—Go Tunnel Rhinos!”

Some such challenges are easily deflected. Orthodox economics tells us that it is impossible to predict significant financial crises in advance – or else everyone would predict them and trade off that and so they wouldn’t happen. There’s little point in criticising economists for being unable to predict shocks they say are impossible to predict.

“It doesn’t matter if we suck—we’re s’posed to suck. So there!”

Some textbooks will tell you economics is the study of incentives. I unpack that as follows: economics is the discipline that tells you why behaviour makes sense.

“I’ll unpack that by misinterpreting it.” The idea o’ incentives is that you try to influence certain behavior by making that behavior mo’ beneficial; that’s kilometers ’way from manufacturing explanations for why any action is “rational.” I should point out that none o’ these prove that economists are good @ setting incentives (Hint: in a society where bankers are rewarded for fraud by giving them bailouts & stay-@-home spouses are punished for doing society-benefiting work, they aren’t.)

Ironically, “behaviour makes sense” makes no sense. What behavior? Just behavior in general? Is that the bold stand he takes? “I think it’s time we behaved in some fashion, unlike all those inanimate people vegetating round. There, I said it.”

Hey, wait… Is he just regurgitating Mises’s tautological “human action” nonsense? Is Lilico an Austrian economists pretending to be 1 who doesn’t living in a cave? Get out o’ the neoclassicals’ chair, Lilico! We’re s’posed to be having a serious discussion here.

If my left arm goes up, a physicist might tell you about the atoms and molecules and forces that took it there. A biologist might tell you about the electrical impulses in the nerves in my arm and the hormones and energy transport in the blood. A certain sort of old-fashioned psychotherapist might tell you about how raising my left arm resolved the struggle between my super-ego and my ID. But economics is the discipline that seeks to explain why I raised my left arm in terms of why that made sense to me, given my objectives and beliefs.

See, the difference is that the former 2 are actually science, while the latter 2 are just shit people make up in their head that have no way o’ proving or disproving—also known as “pseudoscience.” It’s good to hear that economists presume to read every individual’s mind. No wonder “good” economists are right ’bout everything: they literally have psychic powers.

But rationality is not an assumption of orthodox economic theory in that sense. Instead, it is what is called an “axiom”. No behaviour can prove that people aren’t, in fact, rational, because for an orthodox economist the only kind of explanation of any behaviour that counts as an economic explanation is an explanation that makes sense of that behaviour — that shows why the behaviour is rational.

“So, you see, economics is nonfalsifiable, & thus pseudoscience.”

Economists are apparently like spoiled brats who just make up rules when they start to lose. “Ha! You think you checkmated me, but I’ve decided that that move doesn’t count as an economic explanation ’cause I say so, so you lose.”

Irrationality and other heterodoxy is usually little better than an all-encompassing conspiracy theory, explaining everything and thus nothing — for while many behaviours may not be rational, there is no behaviour that is not irrational.

That’s just the flip-side o’ your argument, & thus yours is just as stupid.

In the 19th century economics faced a mystery. In the Irish potato famine of the 1840s and during the Paris Commune of the 1870s, when the prices of staple food (in the one case potatoes, in the other bread) went up, demand went up also. Pondering this mystery, economists eventually reasoned as follows.

(Slaps forehead.) This makes no sense! Why would people continue to demand food when the price has gone up? You’d think their desire to end deathly agonizing starvation would transfer to cheaper demands—like kitten stuffies—to maximize their utility.

To be fair, he does answer with this very same obvious point. So apparently “good” economists are as smart as some likely-mentally-unstable bum blogging ’bout his favorite Donkey Kong Country levels2. So where’s my check then?

So, his idea o’ “good economics” is psychoanalysis—making up any reason one can to ensure any possibility turns out “rational”? Then it’s fitting that he brought up Freudian psychiatry, since his beliefs are just as scientific.

’Course, psychiatry has evolved from Freudianism into something far mo’ scientific. Let’s hope economics does—or has already done—the same by ignoring kooks like this guy.

Suppose instead we had answered: “Obviously, if people were rational, then when prices went up they’d buy less. But they aren’t always rational, as demonstrated by the examples of bread and potatoes.” Then we would have missed the key insight.

We’d be dumbasses. Thankfully, the only heterodox economists who say that exist in Lilico’s fever dreams. I think they’d usually use mo’ potent examples—like pointing to a YouTube video o’ some drunk fuck in a cowboy hat & whip jumping into a bear’s cage so he can try riding it.”

Contrary to most popular commentary, the main financial economics models have worked extremely well during the financial crisis, and remain in place.

“Just look @ the good job we’ve done making up in our head explanations in retrospect for economic phenomena that happened almost 200 years ago. Where would we be without economists?” This is indeed a good sign: we need only wait till round 2190 for economists to finally figure out why this bewildering depression happened.

But even supposing they hadn’t, that wouldn’t have proved we should abandon the attempt to make sense of events; to abandon the attempt to offer an orthodox economics account. For very often it is when we are forced to grapple with a mystery, with behaviour that does not at first seem to make sense, that we produce the greatest insights.

“No matter what, we win. That’s my favorite part: I absolutely hate standards. Then I couldn’t get rich writing mindless tripe like this.”

The insights orthodox economics will eventually produce in reaction to the financial crisis will advance our social and economic life and prosperity even further than economics has done already. For good economists, given time and sound theory, are almost always right about almost everything.

Ha, ha, ha! I can’t fucking believe he repeated my joke as a serious advantage o’ economics.

You know there’s only 1 explanation for this: since, as any “good” economist will note, all actions are rational, this article’s sloppy logic must be rational. There’s a perfect explanation: Lilico’s ’nother Marxist rationally writing nonsense to discredit mainstream economics & push the public into the hands o’ communism.

They’re everywhere now.

Addendum:

For an actually intellectually-valuable critique o’ Lilico’s fine work by an authentic economist, one can read this article by Steve Keen, which claims that Lilico didn’t even interpret what he was defending correctly—which is unsurprising, as a lot o’ what he said didn’t even make sense. I’m glad my original but unstated thesis that these 2 are merely madman who snuck into the realm o’ economics has been confirmed.

1 Also, “left-o’-center” is a hilariously redundant. Everything to the left is “left-o’-center.” That’s what left is: anything to a specific side o’ the center. One could be an outright communist or anarchist & still be “left o’ the center.” There’s only 2 alternatives to being “left o’ center” in some regard: being right o’ the center or being in the center.

2 I expected to finish that article before this 1.

Yes, this terribly serious 1-way economics discussion I’m having took less work than ’splaining how fun mine cart levels are.

Posted in Politics

FUCK MY LIFE THURSDAY

Today I opened this ancient scroll in indecipherable lettering whose contents spoke o’ a world so twisted & so bleak that no mere words could describe it, even though these words did. So hideous were these words that they struck my brain like a firebolt, causing my limbs to shake uncontrollably, as if my nerves had been transformed into ants, & causing my mouth to froth. This became too much for my spindly legs, causing me to collapse onto the ground, knocking my cranium so hard gainst the wooden floor that I was knocked unconscious.

When I woke, I saw a creature too despicable to describe, with skin consisting o’ steel & leather patched together, a million poison-colored orifices dripping oil-colored drool that steamed as it burned into the wooden floor, & a shape that defied geometry. FML.

Posted in What the Fuck Is this Shit?

What I Think ‘Bout the World

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Posted in Crazy, Poetry

Immensely Successful Asshole Preaches Greatness o’ Failing

On my routine visit o’ the creative black hole that is DesignTAXI so I could learn mo’ ’bout the amazing existence o’ people who draw other people’s work with colored pencils, I found this article that simply regurgitated some corporate designer’s work to teach you not to worry ’bout failure—as corporate designers sure needn’t.

I must confess that my minuscule brain finds this message counterintuitive: the very definition o’ failure is that which one doesn’t want; acting to prevent that is almost the definition o’ acting in a successful manner. I’d even say that millennia o’ evolution has taught us that trying to avoid failure is the best way to, well, avoid it.

I think the idea is that failure somehow creates later success, a hypothesis that isn’t backed by evidence. Quite the contrary: success usually begets mo’ success, failure mo’ failure. One is probably better to stick with just success & leave failure to the people who hate living.

See, the wacky part ’bout failure is that it negatively effects someone’s concrete conditions. For example, Millman might say that the violent pain one would feel after jumping off a hundred-story building would teach someone not to do so anymo’, & that that lesson would lead them to succeed further in life by not jumping off hundred-story buildings anymo’. The negative consequences o’ failure teach people not to do the things that cause failure.

I’d agree, but also note that that person’s dead now, & can’t cash in that lesson anymo’. Thus, the problem with “learning” from failure: the time when that lesson is useful is usually after the failure has already happened. Thus, failure is usually only truly useful if one has a time machine to go back & prevent those failures. In contrast, not committing the failures in the 1st places gains one the same benefits. Sure, one doesn’t “learn” from the failure; but one skips the failure, anyway, so one doesn’t need that lesson—not to mention the various ways one can learn from failure without experiencing it oneself. Better advice might be, “Watch other people who fail a lot so you can learn from their failures & not suffer the consequences.” Wouldn’t that be mo’ practical?

Usually, when one “learns” from failure, it’s when they never truly experiences failure @ all. See, when I think o’ failure, I think o’ mentally-deranged people dying o’ dehydration & hypothermia out on the streets. Judging by Millman’s words o’ wisdom, she seems to think failure is feeling a tad sad ’bout oneself. With these radical differences in outlook, it’s not hard to see why we have opposing views on the value o’ failure.

If I were callous, I might even question what failures the “President o’ Design” @ the republic o’ Sterling Brands might’ve endured. ’Course, I am callous, so I shall do just that: what do you know ’bout failure?

Then ’gain, perhaps her “illustrated essays,” which appear to be emulating the style o’ my 6-year-ol’ nephew, prove her point well. I might even be impetuous ’nough to say that anyone could do such work; then ’gain, people said the same ’bout abstract artists. Then ’gain, said abstract artists said the same, too, so perhaps they were right. Millman doesn’t seem to harbor the same self-awareness.

’Course, there are 2 sides o’ failure: doing shoddy work & being treated as if one had done shoddy work. This is where our opinions diverge, ’course: she seems to think it important to do a lot o’ shoddy work—just don’t be treated as if you did shoddy work. Hell, our President o’ Design follows this: as we can see by her cliché collages o’ typography that’d make a art-school freshman roll her eyes, she continues to do shoddy work & be paid millions for it.

See, I have the opposite view, for some reason: I think people should put effort into doing good work, even if one doesn’t get any reward for it. That must be why I’m not President o’ Design—or even Speaker o’ the House.

You can’t fault some o’ her inspiring messages, however:

Start with a big fat lump in your throat.

Start by choking yourself to death. Millman doesn’t fuck round: we o’ the Millman cult induce failure @ its most basic form by failing @ life in the most hilariously pathetic way possible.

Start with a profound sense of wrong, a deep homesickness, a crazy lovesickness, and run with it.

I agree wholeheartedly. Truly: no sarcasm this time. ’Course all us humans should constantly understand what dregs we are, separate ourselves from our loved ones to minimize our burden on them, & run—just run far ’way.

In ordr [sic] to strive or [sic] a remarable [sic] life, yu [sic] have to decde [sic] that yu [sic] want one.

(I’m glad to see a reference to “DECDE,” my favorite Final Fantasy spell.)

It’s good to see that even with her childlike art, she still proves she can understand basic English (it’s only her shoddy composition that causes every middle letter to be cutoff that’s a problem). Yes, striving for something does mean that one wants it.

But as much as I knew what I wanted, I felt compelled to consider what was reasonable in order to ensure my economic security.

security

Phh. Yeah. Fuck that bourgeoisie noise. I bet the bums on the street have a blast dodging the police @ every moment they spend mo’ than a minute in 1 place. Why else would they choose to stay there? After all, all humans have magical powers to get whatever they want with their mind beams.

I think we look at these people as lucky, when in fact, luck has nothing to do with it. It is really about the strength of imagination [No period, as if she’s Jim fucking Davis.]

So she truly believes in the fantastical powers o’ mind beams. It’s good to see that belief in literal magic is still ’live & well in our “advanced” civilization.

Also, I love how 1 o’ the videos is called “FAIL: Debbie Millman.” Not funny, YouTube troll paid pennies to crowd the cesspool o’ cat videos & scarecam LPs even further with her masterpieces.

Posted in Yuppy Tripe

Mises Daily Got Logic Wrong, Yet ‘Gain

Why write an article on a subject you know nothing about?

Why not? It never stopped Mises Daily from writing ’bout economics.

You walked into that 1, guys.

Anyway, some philosopher named Amia Srinivasan @ the New York Times made the mistake o’ taking laissez-faire libertarianism seriously & civilly asked ’bout their many logical inconsistencies as good moderate liberals always do. The Mises Institute Mises Daily, parroted by the Mises Institute, as every narcissistic political group that views themselves as the greatest victims in the world, take this as further evidence o’ the mainstream media’s irrational hatred o’ the 1 true economic system. This time that charge is led by David Gordon in The New York Times Got Libertarianism Wrong Yet Again.

What Srinivasan does is compare 2 laissez-faire libertarians—1 who was so anal that he himself used the term Utopian in his book, showing that even he knew he was full o’ shit—& 1 who tries to temper his crazy religion with some acknowledgement o’ reality. These comparisons are common ’mong good moderate liberals: much as there’s the “civil” or “rational” Republican as opposed to the loud-mouthed louts liberals are used to getting misspelled death threats from, there is the dream o’ the laissez-faire libertarian who doesn’t type his posts from a subterranean cave.

I disagree with her claim that either o’ them might be rational, but that’s not the topic now. What is is Gordon’s illiteracy:

It isn’t just that he finds it “difficult to say” that you deserve what you get in the market. He doesn’t say it at all. […] In his account, you get what you are entitled to, a very different matter.

Thesaurus.com & Oxford disagree:

Deserve: verb: to be entitled to.
Deserve: 1. be worthy of (reward, punishment, etc.) (deserves to be imprisoned). 2 (as deserved adj.) rightfully merited or earned (a deserved win). Synonyms: 1. merit, be entitled to, rate, warrant, justify. 2 (deserved) merited, earned, well-deserved, just, rightful, fitting.

Gordon tries to distinguish these terms by defining the former as “patterned” & Nozick’s as “historical,” despite neither o’ these having any relevance to these terms. Nor does he describe what he means. It’s clear that Srinivasan’s examples o’ people being poor or rich due to luck are based on the past, & thus just as historical as whatever Nozick’s beliefs are—’less Gordon doesn’t understand what that word means, either.

The example he gives offers no further understanding, either: someone needs a kidney, someone else has 1 ideal for the picking. Should the latter be forced to give it up? He connects this to income, despite many significant differences. He acknowledges that these are morally arbitrary, but nevertheless insists that to redistribute income or kidneys would be wrong ’cause they’re “entitled to them.” He doesn’t answer why or how this doesn’t fall under Srinivasan’s problem.

Furthermore, the income example is flawed, since it’s not intrinsically connected to one’s body & can be redistributed without even touching its owner. If 1 loiterer’s on ’nother’s property, she is not coercing him in any way; in contrast, if the latter does force her to leave, he is using coercion. Only in laissez-faire libertarians’ arbitrary definitions for “coercion,” “freedom,” or “entitled property” is this different; & they have no cause to complain if one refuses to accept their arbitrary definitions.

The question to ask is, if property control—& that’s what it is, the control over others’ use o’ certain property, regardless o’ what they want to call it—is not based on merit, what is it based on? In order for the market to be defended as an objectively just mechanism for distributing property—’bove the public’s opinion or other consequentialist concerns—then it must have an objective measure o’ value to compare it to. If not, then market economics is nonfalsifiable & unscientific—an economic theology.

His linguistic blunders continue:

He does not hold that “any exchange between two people in the absence of direct physical compulsion by one party against the other (or the threat thereof) [is] necessarily free.” He does say that if you face severely limited options, and your predicament comes about because others have acted within their rights, your choice is still voluntary. This is a rather more nuanced claim, a matter that escapes Srinivasan’s attention.

No it isn’t: it’s the same thing. Free & voluntary mean the same thing. If one is not necessarily free then, by definition, their actions are not voluntary. I turn to Oxford & Thesaurus.com ’gain:

Voluntary: adj. willing, free, free-willed, freely.
Voluntary: 1. done, acting, or able to act of one's own free will; not compulsory. 2 unpaid. 3 supported by voluntary contributions. 4 brough about, produced, etc., by voluntary action. 5 controlled by the will. Synonyms: 1. free, elective, willing, spontaneous, unsolicited.

What annoys me most ’bout Austrian-schoolers is that relying on deductive reasoning would require godly-perfect logical thinking for a brilliant linguist—keeping in mind that praxeology bases its strength purely on the words it’s based on, rejecting math as well. So it’s shocking how linguistically ignorant Austrian-schoolers are. Or a’least their readers are: Gordan could be intentionally using Orwellian language for propaganda purposes.

He complains ’bout Srinivasan’s confusion, which shows a lack o’ self-awareness, considering the word-twisting he uses. If New York Times writers get libertarianism wrong, it can probably be attributed to self-proclaimed libertarians being so bad @ ’splaining themselves. I mean, this is the New York Times we’re talking ’bout: the same newspaper that has writers who outright brag ’bout how they can’t read. When even I in my ivory tower—that’s what I call my room in my mother’s basement, by the way—can’t understand how A can be A & not A @ the same time, how can you blame them?

Nowhere does Nozick say that the structure of libertarian rights exhausts morality.

Personal anecdote: I just recently started reading an excellent book called To the Point: A Dictionary of Concise Writing that mocks the use o’ vague academicspeak in political writing as a way to evade clear truth. I bring it up ’cause this article has convinced me o’ its writer’s accuracy.

What is the “structure of libertarian rights” & what does he mean by “exhausting” morality? That it only handles some aspects o’ morality, & not all? Then how does it handle morality in other aspects that contradict it? That’s why rational philosophies do “exhaust morality.”

Rather, rights tell us when force or its threat may be permissibly used.

Right. As all rights in all moral systems do. Thank you for reiterating that right-libertarianism is a philosophy & not a study o’ beetle mating habits.

It is not at all the case that anything you are free to do, according to this structure of rights, is morally permissible.

Petty critique, but doesn’t “according to this structure of rights” sound cultish?

Speaking o’ Orwellian language: So Libertarian morals do not simply allow you to do morally just actions… but also immoral actions? Should we add “Injustice is Just” to the Ministry of Truth’s list o’ slogans?

Srinivasan’s whole purpose is to criticize laissez-faire libertarianism’s lack o’ moral coherency. You are acknowledging it yourself. Is that what his argument is? “Yes, but it’s not s’posed to be morally correct”? Then what value does it have as an ethical system. Or does Gordon think “morals” & “ethics” are different, too? (Spoiler alert: they’re not.)

Neither is it the case that moral obligation is confined to freely chosen commitments[.]

So he acknowledges that laissez-faire libertarianism is, in fact, authoritarian in that it forces you to do things gainst your will.

[A]gain, Srinivasan wrongly conflates moral obligations and enforceable obligations.

Probably ’cause she can’t psychically guess what you mean by the latter. Is he describing what one is physically capable o’ doing in a “might makes right” way? ’Cause if he is, with his defense o’ that & his downplaying o’ pesky morals, he seems to be describing nihilism mo’ than laissez-faire libertarianism.

I must confess, with the all o’ the acknowledgements o’ laissez-faire libertarianism’s lack o’ ethics, I suspect Gordon may secretly be a leftist who snuck into the Mises Compound in an attempt to bring it down from the inside. That’s the only explanation for why these arguments are so bad.

While Gordon accuses Srinivasan o’ conflating synonyms, he appears to be unable to understand why someone writing on morality would be obsessing over moral obligations. How absurd o’ her.

Srinivasan goes on to reject Nozick’s claim that a “minimal state” is redistributive. I’d complain ’bout a so-called libertarian using the weaselly term “minimal state” to shroud their hypocritical view on when coercion is useful—when it benefits them—& when it isn’t—when it benefits the poor.

Gordon gives 3 reasons why this isn’t true:

People are not forced to pay for the minimal state, though they would find it in their in their interest to do so[.]

A consistent theme: the true difference ’tween laissez-faire libertarianism & authoritarianism is that the latter is a’least honest, while the former plays word games like this to hide its authoritarian nature. Like a mob boss, Gordon says, “Theoretically you don’t have to support our government; but if you don’t, well, I’d hate to see what happens to you…”

[A]nd the monopoly prices charged by the dominant agency really are redistributive, not just seemingly so.

Gordon offers no evidence. He literally just says, “It is so. So there.

Further, the minimal state does not arise entirely through free bargaining. The Dominant Protective Association prohibits other agencies and independents from imposing risky decision procedures on its clients.

The bullying commies…

It’s unfortunate that the Mises Institute didn’t select someone with a better knowledge o’ libertarianism to write ’bout it. But the article, replete with errors as it is, may do some good: it may bring the incoherency o’ libertarian ideas to the attention o’ readers who otherwise might not have realized them. After all:

As Quine once said after Nozick had complained to him of a negative review, I think by Carlin Romano, of Philosophical Explanations, “Every knock a boost.”

I concur. “Every knock a boost”! Thank you, Quine: a great fortune-cookie writer is you.

Addendum:

David Gordon’s totally a leftist. I bet that Resurrecting Marx, though seeming to be an attack gainst him, is his way o’ sneaking his vile Marxism into the pure Church o’ the Market. I’m on to you.

Book cover for Resurrecting Marx depicting bearded Marx leering at you.

Look @ that cover. Marx looks so disappointed. “You spent your money on this? Truly?”

Can the ’analytical Marxists’ save Marx from himself. Gordon says no way.

To be fair, Gordon does make a good point: it’s hard to save someone when they’ve been dead for over a century. & if resurrection is the goal, Marxists should know that they need a’least a gallon o’ bourgeois blood for the sacrifice to succeed.

Addendum 2:

Hilariously, there’s a tiny disclaimer @ the bottom o’ the article that says, “Note: The views expressed in Daily Articles on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.” If this article is evidence o’ the quality o’ “Daily Articles,” then ’twas wise to specify this.

Posted in Politics

$

Ma, can I please borrow a $?
I swear I’ll pay it back ‘ventually.

Just 1 mo’ $;
I swear this’ll get me on my feet.

I know it’s been taking a while,
but if you give me just a few mo’ $s,
I swear I can pay you back with interest ‘ventually.

Boy, it’s time you learned how to cut your losses.

PLYK!

Posted in Crazy, Poetry

Duh… Is that How Politics Works?

Right-libertarians generally hold a simplistic interpretation o’ reality—’specially economic reality—largely based on Western traditions, safely unhindered in a world where the debate is whether capitalism is awesome or “too much freedom.”

Thus, it’s no huge surprise when I read Randall Halcombe’s “Joseph Stiglitz on Crony Capitalism” @ the official church o’ Mises, the Mises Economics Blog1, which reads like a middle-schooler’s attempt to discuss the political economy:

Although Joseph Stiglitz has a reputation as one of the most prominent defenders of big government…

I always thought Karl Marx had that reputation, but never mind. I’m sure Stiglitz scoffs @ the pure “anarchy” present in “Marxist-Leninist” states like North Korea.

It does appear to me that throughout the political spectrum, from left to right, there is a substantial consensus that government is the cause of many of the problems people perceive.

It’s shocking that problems in a political system might be caused by the organization that manages said political system. If Halcombe had taken only a minute to think ’bout it, he might’ve realized that opposition to too much capitalism—& especially it in general—in a capitalist country presupposes criticism o’ the government that maintains said capitalist system. I don’t know what logic exists in the belief that the US would be better off if ’twere socialist—or whatever alternative one wants—but that the government need not change to be, you know, socialist. It’d be quite a creative solution: change the political system without changing it @ all!

To be fair, I have to remember that right-libertarians are used to debating liberals; so this “solution” has likely been encountered in debates many times before.

The disagreement is over how to solve those problems.

(Slaps forehead.) So that’s the rub. I was so sure that with the left & right agreeing on the government needing to change in some way—a terribly specific diagnosis—they’d surely agree on how. We were so close to bringing that bipartisan Utopia dwelling in the Third Way’s fever dreams to fruition!

He goes on to explain how Stiglitz criticizes income inequality, caused by the “negative impact o’ government”—which isn’t equivalent to “too much impact.” He further connects Stiglitz to right economists through their criticism o’ cronyism, carefully ignoring the vital role the market plays in causing cronyism (I’ll delve in this later in this article).

I am encouraged to see that people throughout the political spectrum, from Stiglitz to Stockman to Schweizer, recognize government power as the source o’ many o’ our contemporary problems.

As we all know, Stiglitz is right there with Bakunin & Kropotkin on the far left.

& just ’cause you found some other guys in your li’l club who call themselves right-wing doesn’t mean they represent a significant role in the general movement. I can just imagine Mitch McConnel with his arm in mid-stretch to grab his cash from MoldyFumes, inc.2, only to stop with his pupils dilated & his hands grasping his hair, screaming, “No! I can’t! What would the famous Stockman & Schweizer think?”

Those on the left see more government, and better government, as the remedy to poor government policies, which seems counter-intuitive.

Sigh. This is the equivalent o’ a 3rd-grader’s attempt to describe leftism & fails. There’s no such thing as “mo’ government,” ’less one means “mo’ people in government,” which is, indeed, what those further on the left want: direct democracy. If the government exists, it exists, whether it uses police force to maintain 1 resource distribution or ’nother, or whether it chooses to ignore resource distribution entirely (note: never heard o’ a market defender backing this last choice). Only supporting government when it defends one’s riches, but not when it actually expects compensation for that, isn’t “libertarian”; it’s just narcissistic.

Why would we think a bigger government would work better than the government mess we already have?

1. Nobody calls for “bigger” government, ’cause that’s not a real thing. That’s an abstract label people on the right made-up.

The only way that argument makes sense is if we’re arguing ’tween splitting up the US or not. That’s not the discussion @ all, so Halcombe’s clearly mixing his words up.

2. The current government mess has nothing to do with the government being “too big.” If one’s belief is that the problem with the US’s economy is the rich being too powerful, then obviously the problem is that the government prefers the rich—that is what Stiglitz was actually saying. I don’t know why Halcombe had to complicate it with this abstract nonsense.

Stiglitz has already explained how all the incentives lean toward making government more responsive to the elite, at the expense of the masses.

& this is caused by either income inequality—which can only be fixed by income redistribution—or a lack o’ sufficient laws gainst excess lobbying. The solution to both requires “mo’ government” in the right-libertarian argot; hence Stiglitz’s diagnosis.

I don’t think Halcombe understands the implications o’ this point—though, to be fair, Stiglitz may not, either, considering his claim that “[i]t doesn’t have to be this way.” Think: the incentives make government corrupt. That’s the opposite o’ what Halcombe is arguing: rather than just the government corrupting the market, this shows that the market corrupts the government.

If anything, this shows that pure laisssez-faire is self-defeating: the economic inequality it’ll create will also create unequal influence over government, giving the rich superior control over the majority—as already happens now. If some o’ them benefit from cronyism—& some do, which is why they push for it—then they will have the superior means to make that goal become legal reality. Thus, laissez-faire naturally creates the very cronyism that s’posedly violates it.

That’s the paradoxical nature o’ power: power itself is all that can prevent other power. That’s what a “power vacuum” is: when there’s no power structure, there’s nothing to stop some other group from taking power. Thus, a lack o’ government intervention, rather than making society freer, only allows them to be defacto replaced by rich citizens who are not so shy ’bout using their economic advantages to enforce their own power. If anything, the imaginary “less government” solution is what’s counter-intuitive.

That also ’splains why the problem with cronyism is far deeper than just there not being ’nough “wise” economists like Stiglitz who somehow figured out that US politics & economics is corrupt—not unlike a 50-year-old finally learning that Santa Claus isn’t real. The very same cronyism gives those that benefit from it superior power over government, thus making it difficult to change it in any way that goes gainst what they want—which is said cronyism. It’s cyclical, with the market corrupting the government corrupting the market corrupting the government, & so on. This is why said cronyism is not new, but goes far back into US history—& will surely continue to thrive, regardless o’ the paper-spined promises o’ such benign capitalists as Stiglitz.

But if we agree that government has caused many of the problems we all see–all of us from the political left to right–then we are part-way toward finding a solution that we all agree would fix those problems. My thought is: eliminate what we all agree is the cause.

You know, I’ve just realized that there actually is something that laissez-faire libertarians who want a capitalist society without government & moderate liberals who want a capitalist society without cronyism & poverty can both agree they oppose: brutal reality.

1 This time I did read the book being discussed—& I must confess that I was able to understand it perfectly, & thus with a tear in my eye, I am unable to accept the kind o’ street cred that Douthat has proven himself to hold.

2 They’re truly some obnoxiously “ironic” marketing company.

Posted in Politics

Laughing

It’s better to die laughing.
That’s why I’m always laughing.

Heheheh.

Posted in Crazy, Poetry