Monday, June 27, 2011

Bill Maher & David Carr think you are idiots

If you aren't a liberal democrat who lives in one of the DC-Boston Metroplex states or in some other huge, and hugely corrupt, city then you are a slope-browed neanderthal idiot. Nice to know where you stand on Americans, Carr. Why don't you just emigrate from the US. We hear that French people are nearly as nasty and xenophobic as you, so why not move to France and spew your bile from there?

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nyts david carr middle places home of low-sloping foreheads



gen david petraeus on leading im not a quitter



obama praises robots that boost the performance of diapers



obama we have not run out of stuff to make


New York Times columnist David Carr responds to Bill Maher implying Alabama and Kansas are not the "smart states."

David Carr: "If it's Kansas, Missouri, no big deal. You know, that's the dance of the low-sloping foreheads. The middle places, right? [pause] Did I just say that aloud?"



Friday, June 17, 2011

Weiner Goes to Hollywood

Relax, Weiner. And get ready for the pseudonymous "David Kahane's" take on the Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) political comedy revue.

Pure funny!

Read the whole thing...

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“Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

“That good, huh?”

“At least I didn’t get snippy or anything.”

“Sure you didn’t call anybody a jackass? Didn’t bash Dana?”

“Best behavior, I swear. I apologized to the planet. I even apologized to Huma, just like you told me to.”

“Glad we didn’t have a failure to communicate. Was she there?”

“Are you kidding?”

“Must have been tough,” I mused. “But always look on the bright side of life. Like I said the last time, I’m going to make you a bright, shining star.”

“I think I want to be alone,” he said.

This was bad: I couldn’t lose my star in a green-lit project. “Listen, Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore. Or even Kew Gardens. What’s the matter?”

“Somebody shouted, ‘Bye-bye, pervert.’”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

“Somebody asked if I was more than seven inches.”

I had to calm him down. “I know you. You used to be big.”

“I am big,” he retorted. “It’s the pictures that got small.” He was still fuming. “Listen, Dave, I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more.”



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Putting Austrian Economics in its Place

Catalan gets it. He most definitely gets it. The Austrian school of economics is the one branch of economics that has one theory of practice that applies from the very smallest examples at the micro end of the scale to the largest examples at the macro scale. It successfully predicted the collapse of the USSR. It predicted the failure of the stimulus in the US in 2009. And it has predicted the continuing failure of Keynesian spending and quantitative easing to do anything good for the US economy. When you switch your frame from the absurdist Samuelson version of economics, with its sharp dividing line between micro and macro and a dependence on econometric models that don't work, to the Austrian version that uses thought experiments and derived universal truths, then the real shape of things becomes apparent.

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I recently came across "Putting Economics in Its Place," an article penned by Richard L. Heilbroner, an avowedly Schumpeter-influenced socialist.[1] Heilbroner's main purpose is to argue that the explanatory scope of economics has been greatly exaggerated. He contends that economics does not provide a universal, underlying science of society. He exemplifies this theme by pointing to the — alleged — failure of the economics profession to predict and explain the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union.

Not only does the Austrian School not suffer from the weaknesses Heilbroner charges economics with having, but it was the Austrians who settled many of the issues Heilbroner suggests still mar the science. No less important, in reading his article through an Austrian lens, one realizes just how complete the Austrian framework is. Heilbroner, for instance, rehashes discussion on the scope and nature of the science — this discussion should have been settled with the contributions of the likes of Lionel Robbins and Ludwig von Mises.[2] Finally, an analytical union between Heilbroner's criticisms and his own flawed conclusions buries non-Austrian economic frameworks, and as a result elevates Austrian theory above its opposition. Had Heilbroner possessed a better grasp of the many Austrian contributions to the debate, the conclusions he drew would have been considerably different.[3]

Heilbroner's central assertion is that economics can only describe the capitalist system, and thus has nothing to offer in regards to describing noncapitalist orders, such as prehistoric and command societies. This thesis is a corollary of his belief that what defines economics is a specific technique by which man accomplishes sought ends, namely the mixture of labor and "the materials and forces of nature."[4] From this, one can infer that Heilbroner believes that the techniques that man may employ in seeking ends in a precapitalist society, a command society, and a capitalist society are different.

But the Austrians show us just how utterly absurd Heilbroner's position is. Society is not shaped by the techniques employed by humanity; rather, the techniques are fashioned by the underlying nature of society. Indeed, the entire purpose of economization is to organize means and ends as a method of dealing with the fundamental scarcity that characterizes society — if it were not for this scarcity, there would be no purpose for economization. The nature of this scarcity is no different whether a society is a precapitalist, capitalist, or command one; the economization technique employed is the same across the board. Indeed, economization is the technique! There is no alternative, and attempts to plan an alternative can only end in failure.[5]



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

That "not as shovel ready as we thought" quip is going to come back to bite Obama

The campaigner in chief was in North Carolina at a confab supposedly on Jobs and Competitiveness, two things his administration has been attacking at every turn, when he made the quip that will live forever in infamy.

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President Obama pauses Monday during a tour at Cree, a leading manufacturer of energy-efficient LED lighting. AP

The Republican National Committee could not have scripted a more damning sound bite. President Obama on Monday attended his administration's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness at an enviro-friendly lighting firm in North Carolina. Considering the dismal state of the economy, it should have been a subdued event.

But when it was explained to the president that the federal permit process for construction and infrastructure projects can cause delays ranging from "months to years," and "in many cases even cause projects to be abandoned," a gaffe ensued.

It was remarked to the president, "I'm sure that when you implemented the Recovery Act, your staff briefed you on many of these challenges." A smiling Obama responded, "shovel-ready was not as . .. uh ... shovel-ready as we expected."



60% commented that the decision to abort made their lives worse #tcot


X-Men: First Class is a fun show

I don't have much to add to this review from Big Hollywood. First Class is a really fun movie and Fassbender as the man who would become Magneto is great in his role, just as Kevin Bacon carries the movie as the evil lunatic Sebastian Shaw.

X-Men: First Class had virtually everything going against it in pre-production– series fatigue (it’s the fifth entry in Fox’s X-Men saga), none of the original actors in starring roles, 1960s period costumes–on paper, it seemed like the ultimate studio cash-in, only to be outdone by the inevitable X-Men in Space: Electric Space Boogaloo from Space (in 3D!). Fortunately, it’s nothing of the sort.

Despite many flaws common to the superhero genre, First Class is quite possibly the best film in the series, not because it’s chock full of impressive special effects and action, but because broiling beneath its main characters’ performances are ideas–not just any ideas, but the central political and philosophical questions of the film’s time period whose minutiae our modern pundits still grapple over. This is not so much a review as a jumping-off point for discussion, so beware of spoilers ahead.



Even in India, Government's Main Function is to Choke the Economy

Gurgaon is a thriving piece of India, despite having absolutely no government services. Those who constantly agitate for descriptions of how things get done if government doesn't step in to provide water, policing, and to take money from the productive and give it to beggars, can learn a lot from Gurgaon.

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India has stumbled onto the secret to economic growth, reports the New York Times:

In 1979, the state of Haryana created Gurgaon by dividing a longstanding political district on the outskirts of New Delhi. One half would revolve around the city of Faridabad, which had an active municipal government, direct rail access to the capital, fertile farmland and a strong industrial base. The other half, Gurgaon, had rocky soil, no local government, no railway link and almost no industrial base.

As an economic competition, it seemed an unfair fight. And it has been: Gurgaon has won, easily. Faridabad has struggled to catch India’s modernization wave, while Gurgaon’s disadvantages turned out to be advantages, none more important, initially, than the absence of a districtwide government, which meant less red tape capable of choking development.



It's Palin Season!

Hey Democratic Media Complex, we know what you're doing.

"Be vewwy quiet. We aww hunting Pay-wins."

h/t: Stix


Class and Common Sense

Some English fellow calling himself "lenin" writes at his eponymous blog on many matters that lend their selves to Marxist proselytizing. Recently he attacked the idea that optimism about economic mobility was a common sense conclusion, favoring the idea that there was no economic mobility because class barriers were too strong. Being a Marxist-Leninist, "lenin" advocates empowering the government to protect individuals against these class barriers. The problem is summarized in this quote.

The Almighty, indeed, sent the potato blight, but the English created the Famine.

The Irish Potato Famine came about because of the same potato blight that ten years previously had killed off the potato crop in the USA, and that had spent the previous several years killing off the potato crops in Europe. But the reason it brought about a famine that killed off the Irish, despite all the corn and cattle that were raised in Ireland being exported to feed England, was government. The conquering English government had passed laws preventing Irish Catholics from owning or leasing land during the 16th and 17th centuries, and only restored some ability to lease land in the 18th century while leaving the title to Irish lands in English hands. Irish lived in such government created poverty that they could only survive on the potato, which was the only crop that could feed a family on one or two acres of farming land. If the potato failed, then the Irish had no way to feed themselves and died. All the wealth of the country was being exported to England by the order of the English government.

The point is that the English government oppressed the Irish and created the potato famine. Likewise, the Ukrainian famines of the 1920s and 1930s that killed off 20% of the populace were created by the Russian government of Lenin and Stalin. The permanent famine in North Korea is created by the North Korean government. Chinese and other communist famines of the 20th century, including the famine created by the communist Ethiopian government of the 1980s, were all the result of government oppression.

In ancient times, it was the actions of kings plundering their peoples that always led to famine and revolt. It has always been so. Governments oppress the people. That is their function. The only government that does not oppress is one that is prevented by the actions of the people from oppressing them, and that requires starving the government and taking away all the powers it has.

This is what "lenin" ignores. Government does not get rid of oppression or class barriers. Government creates them. What are class barriers but measures of how close people sit to governmental power? The ultimate high class person is the king, followed by his court, other nobles, and preferred tradespeople with royal monopolies to engage in this or that type of commerce. Free men are below that, and government owned servants and slaves below them.

So if the government's actions create these classes, how should we ever expect the government to create a classless society? The answer is we cannot. As it is in the government's structural interest to create class boundaries, the only way to prevent the creation of class boundaries is to starve government of power. Given that "lenin's" solution to class barriers is impracticable, let us consider the question of economic mobility.

Is he right that it is impossible for individuals to raise themselves by their bootstraps from poverty to success? Does it require assistance from people who help voluntarily, or does it require government to clear the way? Clearly it is possible for people to lift themselves up from poverty by their own bootstraps. We all know of people who have done it. There is no question that it is possible. Is it easy? No. How can it be made easier? Get help from friends and family. That has worked for many immigrants to the US who arrived with nothing and own hotels, convenience stores, restaurants and other thriving businesses within a generation. Several families from India or Thailand or Vietnam or Korea would pool their money and invest in the best businessman, who would start a successful business and pay back his investors, and they would follow either individually or in new agreements.

At the end it boils down to optimism versus pessimism. Which are you: A glass half full or a glass half empty person? If you are an optimist, you're a capitalist. If you believe you are doomed to oppression and need the help of government, which has never voluntarily freed a people from slavery but has created plenty of slaves, and which oppresses by its very nature, then you are a marxist, socialist, communist, fascist, royalist, or some other kind of believer in big government.

As for me, I believe in individuals and capitalism. It creates freedom and wealth. Big government, on the other hand, oppresses individuals and creates equal misery for all. Pick your side wisely.

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Over the last dozen or so years, there has been a substantial rise in inegalitarian political attitudes, a drop in support for redistribution and, confluently, a more modest but real drop in the number of people who think of themselves as being 'working class'.

It is axiomatic that public attitudes are complex, with clusters of seemingly contradictory attitudes expressed on the same subject. The most recent social attitudes survey (British Social Attitudes, 27th report) confirms this with its mixed bag of results giving socialists reasons to cheer and mourn. But this is banal, what we would expect. The question is in what overall direction does the balance of these composite attitudes tend; in what direction is the trend over time? The authors of the survey find that on such matters as welfare, poverty and wealth redistribution the public has shifted to the right and ascribe this to New Labour's tenure in office. Most interesting for my purposes, though, are the findings on the 'race to the top'. These findings disclose a set of attitudes which in the relevant ideological struggles would tend to favour the right. They find that most people think of themselves as upwardly mobile, and believe that 'meritocratic' factors such as "hard work" are the most decisive in determining one's success (as compared with 'ascriptive' factors such as class, or race).

When you consider that this is not merely debatable but absurd, that hard work is very far from being a more important factor in success than class background (or race, gender, etc), it becomes apparent just how much ideological ground work has had to be done to construct this 'common sense' worldview, and how much the constituents of this 'common sense' had to compete with and displace every day experience.


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