Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Cheating, oligarchy - and an uneven playing field

Below, I'll weigh in in why it doesn't matter at all if some in the FBI or on Mueller's team dislike Donald Trump.  But first, let's talk about te great news being celebrated by the world's owner-caste, right now in Davos. Their biggest investment has paid off.

Now that the Tax Cut for the Oligarchy has passed, watch the pattern of the last several decades play out. The GOP has controlled Congress for all but two of the last 24 years, setting new records for indolence, sloth and corruption, as respect for that institution plummeted and only cheats like gerrymandering keep their grip on power. 

But they are always hard-working - even manic - on one topic. They can be relied upon to deliver "supply side" gifts to their uber-rich lords. For example:

"GOP mega-donor Charles Koch and his wife donated about $500,000 to Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) joint fundraising committee, days after the GOP tax plan was passed... lowering the corporate tax rate and estate taxes....  He and his wife also gave $237,000 each to the National Republican Congressional Committee on the same day..."  

Drain the swamp? There have never been better days for K Street lobbying firms.

To be clear, some tax cuts are different than others. It would be harder to argue against cuts that were actually aimed at achieving - in real life - the fantasy goals of every Supply Side gift to the rich. When cuts are targeted to incentivize R&D, or investment in productive capital, or export sales or job growth, these things historically happened, resulting in economic stimulus on the "supply side." So why did this GOP tax cut (and nearly all of the others) do none of those things?  Not even some infrastructure spending that might prevent a recession?

As Adam Smith described... and every sane economist knows... most plutocrats won't invest in such things, when they get a big new slug of cash. Instead, it nearly always goes to inflating "rent-seeking," passive asset bubbles. (Anyone notice the stock market? Or how passive rentier income was way-advantaged in the Tax Bill, over wages or innovation?) 

The top trend subsidized by Supply Side "reforms" -- after skyrocketing wealth disparity -- has always been ever-shorter ROI (Return of Investment) horizons.

Note: that's diametrically opposite to the long range view of guys like Elon Musk or Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos, who got super rich by working with engineers to deliver better goods and services. Guess which political party these innovator billionaires are never part of?

== Real entrepreneurs know this... ==

Fully 50% of our economy derives value and function from the prodigiously creative innovation that Americans performed since before the Second World War. That trait defeated Hitler, ended the Depression, won the Cold War, built a great middle class and - more importantly - kept the greatest general peace the world ever knew. It made the U.S. so rich that we could uplift most of the planet through our ironically-beneficent trade deficits: buying anything the world wanted to sell us and thus transforming their nations, cities and lives.

It took us to the moon and made our existence vastly more interesting, putting all the world’s knowledge at our fingertips! Those who would directly undermine our national penchant for innovation are - therefore - at-best fools and at-worst outright traitors.

And you know that I mean the “T-word” literally. It is the only conceivable explanation for the Mad Right’s outright and open War on Science — along with every single other fact-centered profession.  There is only one reason for them to do that… to eliminate any competing elites who might counterbalance a return to 6000 years of feudal power.

New York Times
Now look at an article Lost Einsteins: The Innovations We're Missing, by David Leonhardt in the New York Times - which included a national map that uses one metric — number of patents per 1,000 children — to elicit obvious… well, just look at the map and see what thoughts are roused.

Now I have some reservations about the article itself. It hollers so, over the glass-half-empty that the author fails to note how full it is! This is the core insanity of liberalism. If writers like this were more balanced - giving us glimpses of good news, as well - then Fox & idiots would not control the narrative, so.

Consider this: right wingers -- and the prevalent Dumb Wing of Libertarianism -- sneer at liberal efforts toward equal rights for all genders/races etc. They deride this great project as based on sappy do-gooderism or else sanctimony. They style themselves to be the “practical” ones.

But what is practical about wasting talent? What could be less “libertarian” than pre-biasing a child’s outcome based on traits for which she had no choice, and thus preventing her from proving herself with accomplishment? Thumbing the scale so that the number of skilled/confident competitors is minimized? That was the trick of feudalists for 60 centuries, and shame on every faux-libertarian who justifies it! Even if Ayn Rand approves, Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek despise you.

There are many aspects to this problem, such as the failure of our leaders to stand up to those overseas who steal our innovations hand over fist. Some of that is to be expected - Americans were I.P. thieves in the 19th century - but the insatiably rapacious extremes of recent years are so predatory that they are tantamount to war. Tantamount to stupidity! Because the predators - unable to engender their own creative caste - are killing the goose that has laid their own golden eggs of development. And my biggest disappointment about Barack Obama was how tepidly he addressed that travesty.

Arnold Toynbee, arguably the greatest of all historians, said that the one trait shown by almost all nations that failed or collapsed was when they stopped investing and heeding their own "creative minorities."

Which leads us back to the glaring generality… that the wing of American political life that should care most about the health of innovative enterprise has become its worst enemy. Again, the recent Tax Bill wages open war on every single aspect of American ingenuity, creativity, science, R&D, and innovation, top-to-bottom, so systematically that its true author must have been some foreign despot.


== Prosecutors gotta prosecute... ==

As promised, here's the polemical point that no one seems able to make, in defense against the latest Fox-Mad harrangue about the Mueller probe.

Does anyone in politics or punditry have three neurons to scrape together? Trump supporters scream “bias!” because some at the FBI, or Fusion GPS, or or Robert Mueller’s team may have - despite Mueller’s scrupulous efforts - displayed distaste against DT or even Republicans. “Bias!” 

Alas, Trump opponents should have a trivial answer - one that no Democrat or journalist or independent public figure has spoken, to my knowledge. That answer is… “So?” I mean prosecutorial bias? Horrors! … Um, not!

Dig it, our justice system - like markets, democracy, science etc. - is designed to be adversarial! There is no need for investigators or prosecutors to be completely disinterested or impartial, so long as they follow well-know standards of conduct and eventually, before trial, subject their behavior to defense discovery and scrutiny. Eagerness to “get that guy” is their job!

Take Ken Starr, whose relentless pursuit of Bill Clinton cost the taxpayers upwards of a hundred million dollars, put the nation through hell, and finally came up with just one thing: a husband desperately fibbing about some consensual-adult 3rd-base infidelity in a hallway. That… was… it.

Sure, the whole Starr Chamber witch hunt was disgusting political theater, but among all the decrepit lunacies of that affair, the least noxious one was “these investigators blatantly dislike the guy they’re investigating.” Starr and his pack committed innumerable lies, torts and even criminal offenses. But enthusiasm for their goal was not one of them. So long as a skilled defense team has full access to every action and datum… and so long as the courts are fair and unbiased… then prosecutors should certainly want to succeed at prosecuting.

All of the current, desperate confederate whining against Mueller et. al. is far beyond hypocritical. It isn’t remotely logical! And it is a sign of the microcephalic stupidity of liberals, that they are unable to pause, perceive this counter-meme - and a myriad others - and actually respond with knife-like logic. 

Caught between evil-treason on one side and stupidity on the other… what can we do?

Well, get more folks to subscribe to Contrary Brin!

-----

== Addendum: Hayek would be so mad, by now... ==

I mentioned him earlier: How ironic that Friedrich Hayek is generally dismissed as an apologist for elimination of all market regulation, yet the liberal (leaning-Keynesian) economics site - Evonomics - explores Hayek’s views on both market theory and evolution with considerable respect. (Evonomics is also the one place, online, that most often studies and lauds Adam Smith!) In this conversation, several leaders in both economic theory and evolution start by praising Hayek’s revelations that markets are about information and how over-regulation is inherently fraught with errors that stymie the crowd- and open-sourced wisdom of markets.


Alas, Hayek thereupon was lured to the opposite extreme, as his arguments were used to justify elimination of regulations that kept markets flat-open-fair and competitive. If 500,000 civil servants are too narrow a clade to allocate economic resources well, then how is an incestuous, conniving-secretive and conspiratorially greedy CEO caste of golf buddies supposed to be more wise? 

Hayek’s criticisms of socialism applied cogently to Leninist regimes, but as these scholars point out, they’re much less meaningful when aimed at Norway.

“Regulations” that break up power concentrations (e.g. anti-trust action vs. monopolies and duopolies) are not suppressors of competitive enterprise, but rather gave birth to its golden age… as our parents in the Greatest Generation well-knew, before those beneficial and stimulative regulations were chopped away by right wing “reforms.” (Followed by collapsing growth rates.)

Hayek’s greatest failing? His inability to refer to the other great enemy of market enterprise, feudalism, which wrecked far more nations and economies than poor, dumb socialism could ever dream of. A flawed and stupid system that wrought hell in 99% of past cultures, feudalism is rooted in human temptation to cheat, and it appears to be roaring back. And the shills who work for the lords are - alas - really good at oversimplifying and misquoting Friedrich Hayek.

The fundamental is this: if markets work best when the maximum amount of information (and least deception) is acted upon by the widest diversity of market participants... then liberal policies that intervene to ensure all children get education, health care and infrastructure are best -- not for “goody-two-shoes” reasons but for entirely pragmatic and Hayekian-capitalist reasons! 

And "conservative" policies that empower a narrow caste of 5000 secretive-conniving golf buddies are the worst enemy that free and creative markets could possibly have.

115 comments:

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Does anyone in politics or punditry have three neurons to scrape together? Trump supporters scream “bias!” because some at the FBI, or Fusion GPS, or or Robert Mueller’s team may have - despite Mueller’s scrupulous efforts - displayed distaste against DT or even Republicans. “Bias!” Alas, Trump opponents should have a trivial answer - one that no Democrat or journalist or independent public figure has spoken, to my knowledge. That answer is… “So?” I mean prosecutorial bias? Horrors! … Um, *not!*

Dig it, our justice system - like markets, democracy, science etc. - is designed to be ADVERSARIAL! There is no need for investigators or prosecutors to be completely disinterested or impartial, so long as they follow well-know standards of conduct and eventually, before trial, subject their behavior to defense discovery and scrutiny. Eagerness to “get that guy” is their job!
...
Sure, the whole Starr Chamber witch hunt was disgusting political theater, but among all the decrepit lunacies of that affair, the LEAST noxious one was “these investigators blatantly dislike the guy they’re investigating.”


Republicans--especially unpopular Republicans--have a strange definition of bias. Anyone who looks at reality and concludes something different from the Republicans is (unfairly) "biased" against them. Only lickspittle supporters predisposed in their favor can be "fair". This is not just for Trump--the George W Bush administration used language the same way.

In the past here, I've invoked the fictional case on "The West Wing" in which Democratic President Bartlet has been caught deceiving the American people about his medical condition, and in order to regain the trust of the country, his administration asks the congress--controlled by Republicans--to investigate the matter. I've noted that "the opposition is doing the investigation" is supposed to inspire confidence in the integrity of the process. Contrast that to this sneering notion that the investigation of Trump is not to be trusted because the opposition is doing the investigation.

I've been asserting that this shows an implicit assumption that Republicans are good and Democrats are bad, and that is part of it. But there's something more fundamental at work here. In (fictional) Bartlet's case, his expectation was that the investigation would clear him of wrongdoing. That he didn't revel his medical condition, but he had taken steps to mitigate harm that his condition might cause, and in the end, everything was under control. A conclusion of that type would seem suspicious if the investigators were friendly to the president. Being cleared by Republicans would give it more credibility.

The reason supporters of real-life Trump don't agree with that strategy is that they fully expect the investigation to implicate Trump. That's a different thing, in fact the opposite thing. (Heh) They claim they're afraid that Democrats and Dem-sympathizers will do a witch hunt, but in fact, they're afraid that an opposition investigation won't whitewash it. Only a sycophantic investigation will do the cover-up necessary to overcome the reality we all know to be the case.

Anonymous said...

I am in total agreement with the theme of this piece. (I have no idea how you find time to write this much thorough detailed stuff on such a regular basis.)

I won't give you Bill Gates, though. Gates made his fortune through sharp business dealings and manipulation of the law. Neither he nor his company has ever delivered an important technical innovation. Indeed, as someone who has been a practicing software developer since the 1970s and a computer scientist for 30 years, I would argue that the 1990s were an era of stasis and even regression in software precisely because of Microsoft's domination of key spaces. It started when Microsoft and Intel crowded out Apple, the UNIX workstation vendors and a number of promising startups, and ended when the browser, the cellphone/tablet and Linux crowded out Microsoft as the principal delivery system for software innovation. Meanwhile, for more than two decades Microsoft's biggest revenue stream by far has been from its investments of cash-on-hand.

I have a hard time giving you Elon Musk, either. Sure, since he got rich he has become one of the good guys, delivering quite a bit of technical goodness. Never forget, though, that he made his fortune by starting an unregulated bank, PayPal, that has defrauded its users and evaded its responsibilities ever since. Abusing a temporary monopoly on online financial transactions is again a business innovation, but not a technical one.

Finally, I won't give you Bill Clinton. I am very liberal on most issues, and agree that Bill Clinton was a decent-enough President who managed to find a centrist spot from which to run the country reasonably well. The problem with the Lewinsky scandal wasn't that the President had extra-marital sex ("third base" my ass): it was that he, a 49-year-old man in one of the greatest positions of power in America, had sex with his 22-year-old intern. The President was literally and directly this young lady's boss. This is sexual harrassment of a subordinate, and would be treated as de jure nonconsensual in any normal work situation. Like any sexual-harrassing employee, he should have lost his job, President or no.

Winter7 said...


LarryHart:

I hope that honest FBI agents can filter the right information at the right time, during the trials against Donald Trump. The Republicans play dirty. Consequently, it is necessary for the honest to play dirty.
May the subtle GAIA grant all honest men the ingenuity necessary to win.

Excuse me. I must go to an issue.

LarryHart said...

Anonymous:

The problem with the Lewinsky scandal wasn't that the President had extra-marital sex ("third base" my ass):


No one is claiming he penetrated her with his organ, so yeah, "sex" only metaphorically.


it was that he, a 49-year-old man in one of the greatest positions of power in America, had sex with his 22-year-old intern. The President was literally and directly this young lady's boss. This is sexual harrassment of a subordinate, and would be treated as de jure nonconsensual in any normal work situation. Like any sexual-harrassing employee, he should have lost his job, President or no.


That's a defensible argument, moreso today than back then. Keep in mind, though, that he wasn't impeached for sexual harassment. He was impeached for lying about the affair under oath. Technically, he'd have been just as guilty of that if all he had done was to "lust after her in his heart" assuming he claimed otherwise under questioning.

Also, and I realize this is snarky, but he did lose his job. In January 2001. Less snarkily, he might have lost Al Gore his job too.

TCB said...

Let's not forget, LOTS of presidents had affairs, and it used to be swept firmly under the rug. I've heard an anecdote about JFK, on being told that the Republicans had a photograph of him on a beach with a woman other than Jackie, both naked as birds. He laughed and said, "Don't worry, they won't release it."

Different times.

David Brin said...

I never called Bill Gates a complete White Hat. He drove my brother's company out of business. Though he has been buying his way out of hell, with good deeds, and did Andrew Carnegie. And both win points on the basis that this article is about -- working with engineers to use capital to actually create new goods and services. So I retract nothing. It is the job of government to look closely at sharp business practices and yes, my brother would give you an earful about how deregulation betrayed him.

I TOTALLY disagree about the Lewinsky affair. She knew where the door was and could leave - at any time - with "White House Intern"on her young resumé. And he was in no position - not likely - to say anything but nice things. She bragged to her treacherous roommate and was betrayed by her. Are there slimy aspects to Clinton? Sure. But the tales of coercive predation have never - not one of them - sounded credible. He clearly go off by preening "Lookie here! Alpha male!" and then having them come to him. That needs to be dis-incentived! But there's a sliding scale.

Alfred Differ said...

From the main post....

Hayek aimed "Road to Serfdom" only partially at Stalin. Read it carefully and it is obviously about Germany at the top level, the Soviets at the next unspoken layer (the war was still underway and they were an ally) and UK Labor at the bottom. He said later he was concerned the British intended to continue the centrally planned approach to the markets after the war, so he wanted to point out that the road they intended to take led in the same direction Germany took earlier.

He wasn't aiming the serfdom book at Norway because Norway wasn't the home to old school liberalism. The UK WAS and it appeared near the end of the war that they planned to abandon their heritage. History shows that is exactly what they tried up until roughly the late 70's when the system they built demonstrated its flaws. By then, Hayek was disgusted by the whole affair. You can see it in his 70's material and how he turned away from economics. He turned toward the philosophical underpinnings for all the social sciences of which economics is only one.

One thing to remember about him and how he viewed people is that he preferred no one ever use the term 'Hayekian'. He saw what happened to the ideas Keynes put forward. He saw how they evolved with the Keynesians and his disapproval was strong. His disapproval of people who thought they understood him was pretty strong too. When Thatcher used another of his books (The Constitution of Liberty [1960?] if I recall) to make her point in a speech, he was known to have commented that she obviously didn't understand the content. She may have been an improvement in his opinion, but not in the manner she would have self-assigned.

If one doesn’t have the three book set he wrote in the 70's when he thought his time was almost up, chances are one doesn't have a complete view of how he saw things. The first of those three is critical as it works alongside the book from 1960. The last of the three replaces the last section of the book from 1960 with what was learned since. Without all three, one won't see the distinctions he drew and why debates over laissez faire miss the point all together. Consider these questions.

1) Can people in a small group economize shared resources? What are the minimum requirements for doing so?

2) Can a community of people economize shared resources? What are the minimum requirements for doing so?

He argued the answer to the first turns out to be "yes", but the requirements are very interesting. The answer to the second turns out to be "no" unless you have a community of people willing to surrender their interests. Humans do that occasionally like in times of war or when coerced by a tyrant. Absent social pressure, though, we usually don't. What the implications are of that answer turn out to be very interesting. He then expanded on it to look at other types of markets and THAT material should be required reading for people who visit here.

For the computer nerds out there, this connects back to NP problems. Human markets do something VERY interesting when examined from that perspective. It’s as if we decided long ago that P is not NP and for most of what matters in our daily lives, we already have institutions that function as search engines for the hardest of the problems we face. The strongest criticism I can level using this terminology at people who would use coercive planning from a center is that they are too stupid to recognize an NP problem and think to solve it as if it was in P.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Re the UK
The UK was going really well - they had more or less recovered from the kicking that the USA had given them after WW2 and were doing very well when Mad Maggie went and destroyed them

Huge increase in unemployment - vast drop in productivity
Only by using the North Sea Oil bonanza and selling off the family silver were the Tories able to balance the books
The rich did do very well out of it !

Lewinsky was an adult - there was a power imbalance - but as Dr Brin comments it was not nearly as large as it looks - a CEO would have much more of a power imbalance on one of his staff
If you say as some do that Lewinsky did not have the right to make her decisions about HER body then you are treating HER as a second class citizen

Once somebody is an adult they should have full control over their own body - old enough to join the Army? - then old enough

David Brin said...

Duncan, the mad labor left deserves some credit for British malaise and Industrial disease. Because of their abuses, Maggie was able to do what the GOp did in California... cut the property taxes to impoverish government. But the aim in the UK was deeper. Property taxes - or "the rates" - ensured the rich had to actually do something and make some income to hold onto their estates. Maggie ZEROED it. And lordship went on the rise.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin
I was working in the UK during the late 70's - for every hour we lost due to industrial action we lost about a week due to managerial incompetence

I don't know about the US unions but the UK unions are run as democracies - we have to vote to take action
The average working guy goes to work to work - he/she knows that working is actually a good way of spending his time - the day goes much faster
Getting him (mostly him) to vote for industrial action is HARD - he can't afford it! - and he does not want to go on strike!

The only reason that we had any strikes at all was because management was incredibly skillful in pissing people off!

You would see newspaper reporting of so and so striking for some silly reason - but if you knew the people that was always the straw that broke the camels back - the "Final Straw"
The newspapers and media was (and is) owned by the rich and presented a very biased view

Before I entered the workforce I had strong anti-union views - when I saw what was actually happening I changed a wee bit!

Senior management then (and now) came from the public schools (you would call them private schools) and had studied "The Classics" and did not have a single clue!


Before Maggie there was a political consensus to keep unemployment down - so Uk unemployment ran at about 2%
This did involve some inefficiencies - subsidies to keep people working

Thatcher removed those subsidies - and ramped unemployment to 12%
This saved pennies and cost hundreds of pounds
Even now we still have unemployment above 4% - that represents millions of people - generations in some parts of the country - who have been long term unemployed
Long term unemployment is horrible - nasty - people die very early

It is possible to argue that the subsidies kept some inefficiencies - but making one small part of society more efficient by making a larger part much LESS efficient is not a good deal

Unless you are part of the "Owners Society" that owns the companies - then high unemployment is a GOOD thing - it drives wages down and breaks union power

The Coal miners are used as the big example - this is actually a very poor example - coal mining was already on the way out

Better examples would be the car and motorbike manufacturers and general manufacturing

Thatcher kept interest rares high
I worked for a diesel injection company - we made very very high precision parts
BUT a combination of high interest rates and short term economics meant that the Germans could pay their workers 50% more - and still undercut us by 10%
It simply wasn't worth investing in high tech manufacturing kit in the UK so the result was low tech cheap machinery and competing by low labour costs

Thatcher destroyed more of British industry than the Luftwaffe!

I started with The kicking administered by the USA - Roosevelt was damn sure that he was going to prevent the British Empire from regaining it's strength

Duncan Cairncross said...

Just a comment about unemployment rates
I have heard some people say that the unemployment rate is people between jobs and that if everybody changes jobs one a year and takes 2 weeks to get another then that is 4%

They then say that about 4% is the absolute minimum - effectively zero unemployment

WRONG
The unemployment rate is defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as including "all jobless persons who are available to take a job and have actively sought work in the past four weeks.

Somebody going between jobs and taking 2 weeks off is NOT part of that number

People changing jobs are NOT unemployed even if they do arrange a gap between positions


In practice "unemployed" means without a job for at least a month

The minimum level of unemployment is somewhere about 1% That is what we should be aiming for

George Carty said...

AIUI much of British industry fell victim to the Tory plan to create a class of petty rentiers that could be relied upon to fall in line behind the big rentiers at the ballot box.

Just as how California's Republicans set the stage for that state's sky-high contemporary house prices with their Proposition 13, the British Tories systematically eliminated all the factors that had previously kept housing costs in check: first with the Land Compensation Act 1961 (which prevented local governments from compulsorily purchasing land at agricultural prices), then by abolishing Schedule A taxation (a tax on the imputed rent enjoyed by owner-occupiers), then by selling off public housing cut-price (and forbidding local authorities from replacing it) and then in the late 1980s by abolishing the rent controls that had been in force since 1918.

These measures not only resulted in British industry being starved of investment, but also resulted in much of it being destroyed outright by asset strippers, which made windfall profits by converting commercial or industrial land to residential use.

I suspect one reason why Germany is now the superstar economy of Europe is because Germany's own venal rentier elite (the Junkers) was destroyed by defeat in World War II, as most of their lands were either lost to Poland or expropriated by the East German Communist government. This lack of landowner power meant that Germany has retained a regime of nationwide rent control to this day, which means that German capital was productively invested in industry instead of squandered in bidding wars over land.

(At least until the Euro was introduced of course – after then German capital poured into peripheral Eurozone real estate, with ultimately calamitous consequences for those peripheral Eurozone countries.)

And maybe Japan's rapid rise up to the 1980s was also made possible by the destruction of landowner power (in her case by the far-reaching land reforms that took place under the American occupation).

George Carty said...

David Brin: "After the 1948 war, the Saudis specifically coerced all muslim nations to ban immigration by Palestinian refugees and to declare they had to stay in camps, as pity targets for public opinion."

How did the Saudis coerce other Muslim countries into not integrating Palestinian refugees -- did it involve threatening to refuse access for Hajj pilgrims by any chance? (Since you specifically said "muslim nations", and also since Saudi oil wasn't as important in 1948 as it would become in later decades...)

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

I have heard some people say that the unemployment rate is people between jobs and that if everybody changes jobs one a year and takes 2 weeks to get another then that is 4%

They then say that about 4% is the absolute minimum - effectively zero unemployment

WRONG
The unemployment rate is defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as including "all jobless persons who are available to take a job and have actively sought work in the past four weeks.

Somebody going between jobs and taking 2 weeks off is NOT part of that number

People changing jobs are NOT unemployed even if they do arrange a gap between positions


I'm in the IT field in the US, and I don't know anyone who voluntarily takes even a week off between jobs. They usually give notice when they've already got the next job lined up.

And this might have changed after the 2008 recession, but before that, even a gap of a few weeks on a resume was treated with suspicion. In the 90s, I worked for a manager who left the company as a negotiating move--he came back eight weeks later for more money and a promotion. During those eight weeks, he took another job. I told him afterwards that if I knew I'd have my old job back in that short a time, I would have just enjoyed the time off, and his response was an incredulous, "I've got bills to pay."

Point being, I don't know anyone who voluntarily quits a job and then starts looking for a new one from scratch.

sociotard said...

io9 ran a couple of enjoyable short stories on the subject of Universal Basic Income (Kiln People is a favorite of mine)

https://io9.gizmodo.com/read-the-into-the-black-contests-winning-story-set-in-1822338909

Alfred Differ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | That is what we should be aiming for

I agree with you on the proper definition for the unemployment rate.
I disagree that we should be targeting 1%.

Targeting any particular rate misses the point. It is NOT the purpose of an economy to employ people. The purpose is to trade. One of the trading blocs happens to be labor offering hours for a wage. Their interests are often at odds with other traders.

It is a conceptual error to optimize for low unemployment.
The smarter target is broad, fair trading for all market participants.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Anon said: "it was that he, a 49-year-old man in one of the greatest positions of power in America, had sex with his 22-year-old intern. The President was literally and directly this young lady's boss."

The problem here is that even though Clinton weilded enormous power, he was not Lewinsky's boss, Under normal circumstances, that would be a disingenuous distinction, but it's one of two memes the right love to repeat about that scandal.
The second is Lewinsky's testimony. Before she even began her position as an unpaid intern, she boasted to a roommate that she was "going to earn my presidential kneepads" and her own account under oath makes it clear that she, not Clinton, was the aggressor.

Of course, compared to now, that was a very minor incident. Trump is far, far worse.

Winter7 said...

Certainly this website is the only place where it is possible to discover what is really happening in the world of politics. Therefore, it would be very convenient to find a way to attract millions of people to this website.
If Brin's words could be heard by 70% of Americans, then we could stop the tide of irrationality.
For those who can understand the importance of making the entire nation understand, the goal should be to promote this website. Therefore, we must think what would be the best strategy to achieve the objective. The main strategy to follow is obvious: Find all possible means to give much publicity to this website.
If there are people there who have control of radio stations, printing presses, newspapers, television channels, groups of activists who can hand out leaflets that touch the pillars of David Brin's philosophy. (and at the end of the brochure, write the address of the website: https://davidbrin.blogspot.mx/
It is possible that some can create short videos, with fragments of Brin's main ideas, and present them in television commercials. And it is also possible that some can create audio versions for radio stations across the nation.
Groups of all kinds, could adopt a strategy of distributing leaflets, house by house, with the best topics of this website.
Maybe some can print T-shirts with David's best phrases. And that just to begin with ... Imagination is the limit.
¿Does anyone else have more advertising ideas?
David says he does not want to be president of the United States. I hope he changes his mind. Above all, now, that there are no clear rules in the world of politics. And certainly, I am sure that the others here support the candidacy of David Brin to the presidency of the United States. But; the final decision is David's. (Try all of you, convince him to try to be the new president) (Maybe all of you can convince him)

Winter7 said...

Duncan Cairncross:
You seem to know a lot about Britain.
I get the impression that, in the English political system, the monarchy has the last word, with the right of veto, and the parliament is a kind of democracy under the protection of the monarchy. Is this the situation?
But I suppose it is not possible for a monarchy to maintain a perfect democracy, since the oligarchs could always win the friendship of members of the royal family. Which would distort the political decisions of the members of the royal family.
But I think that in the long run, it will be necessary to find something that can defend the perfect democracy. A power that the oligarchs can not overcome. Maybe a monarchy can not. But there must be something that can.
By the way. I see you make electric vehicles. ¿Have you not considered the creation of flying cars?
¿Have you noticed that the biggest mistake in the design of the Moller M400 Skycar was the small size of the fans with ducts and the fact that the fans with ducts are not mounted on axes of rotation?
Of course, the use of lightweight aluminum engines is a wise decision, but it seems to me that the entire design can be improved.

locumranch said...


The level of hypocrisy here is astounding:

(1) David argues that "it doesn't matter at all if some in the FBI or on Mueller's team dislike Donald Trump", even though (1) Mueller & Strzok's FBI exchanged threatening emails about President Trump both before & after the FBI gained investigatory authority despite the fact that (2) Threatening the president of the United States is a class E felony, a fact which ostensibly makes (3) Mueller & Strzok's investigatory team felons who (4) no longer qualify as FBI agents due to FBI employment guidelines that forbid the employment of felons.

(2) It also appears that 'Star Chambers' like the Anti-GOP Mueller Investigation are perfectly acceptable to the likes of David as long as the word 'Starr' is only spelled with one 'R'.

(3) David then attempts to differentiate Good Oligarchs from Bad Oligarchs, even though there is little to no qualitative difference between the political influence-peddling & tax avoidance strategies exhibited by the Kochs, the Gettys, the Jobs, the Musks, the Gates & the Bezos. No difference!!

(4) And, poor Zepp (the doofus) tries to differentiate between Clinton's amateurishly chubby paramour who cashed in her sexual notoriety in order to to sell actual purses & Trump's notoriously professional paramour who directly exchanged her actual (cough) purse for copious cash, even though both are the very definition of opportunistic whores.

Sounds like False Consciousness to me, this partisan belief that one Star Chamber, Whore or Oligarch are completely different from any other.


Best

Zepp Jamieson said...

Run along, locumranch. Nobody takes you seriously anymore.

locumranch said...


Play your cards right, Zepp, and maybe you can wife-up your own Lewinsky-esque oligarchic sloppy second some day, assuming you become a multimillionaire oligarch President one day. LOL.

Best

Winter7 said...

As for the Saudi issue ... What they have told me confirms my suspicions that the Saudis are a brutal and perverse people. The way they treat women; the unconditional support that the Arabs gave to the Nazis in the Second World War. Even the Laden family is a Saudi family! In Wikipedia it can be read.
"The bin Laden family (in Arabic: بن لادن, bin Lādin), also spelled bin Ladin, is a wealthy family intimately related to the innermost circles of the Saudi royal family"
¡Haaa! ¡Those Machiavellian Saudis!
For this reason and many other reasons, a civil war in Saudi Arabia would be convenient. The Shia would support the rebellion and Yemen could be the base of operations for the insurgents. Undoubtedly, Iran would support the rebellion.
If it is possible to establish democracy in Saudi Arabia, the danger in the area would decrease for all.
Of course, it's not our problem. But it is a good mental exercise to find a solution to world problems.
If you will excuse me. I must go to make repairs in my Sietch Tabr. 8)

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Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred

There we differ completely
A Society is an engine to look after it's members - promoting Trade is just one of the tools that it uses to do that
Without that "engine" we would still be hanging about in trees being eaten by sabertooths

Winter7
While the Monarchy does have a right of Veto it would only be able to use that ONCE! - Parliament is Supreme
I think of it as a fuse - it can blow ONCE - and that may save the situation by forcing everybody into a re-think

Flying cars - like the Moller - run into basic physics - they need entirely too much power
Thrust = mass flow rate x velocity
Power = 1/2 mass flow rate x velocity SQUARED
So as you have identified you want BIG fans - as in a helicopter! - and even then they will need a LOT of power and drink a lot of fuel

David Brin said...

Duncan just because a union is “democratic” does not prevent it from either being insanely red or else completely taken over by the Mafia, as happened to many unions in the US. The dockworkers burned thegiant French liner the Normandie, a huge loss to the allied war effort, to get FDR to order release of some mafia dons.

You’ll not get me to defend Thatcher… I lived in London during her reign. I despise that whole feudalist rotten bunch. But I also knew Red Ken Livingstone when he ran the GLC and the utter insanity of that side was very nearly as bad.

What? You thought Trump was the first to exploit working class angst to create fascistic dogmatism?

“Roosevelt was damn sure that he was going to prevent the British Empire from regaining it's strength…”

To the extent that the instincts of Clemenceau and Lloyd George and Chamberlain led to the greatest disasters the world ever knew…. WWI then the Leninist coup, then Versailles and all that followed… then damn streaight. They ignored Wilson and made catastrophe. In 1945 Marshall and Truman etc said: “Okay our turn.” And Pax Americana has been so vastly better than Pax Brittanica that there’s no comparison.

And yet, of course, this is also bull. The colonial empire had to go, but we shared tech with Britain down the line and wanted a strong ally against the USSR.


Winter7 I don’t know which scares me most, that you are serious about me, or sarcastic! ;-) Kidding. Thanks. But at least I know the uber AIs are reading this blog. ;-) But no, I do not support violence in Saudi.

Oh, locum’s baaaaack. And again deliberately expresses incuriosity about my actual meaning, which is diametrically opposite to what he proclaims it to have been.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Doctor Brin's comments regarding the Normandie (Lafayette) got me curious, and I looked on Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Normandie

The article makes it clear that it almost certainly was an accident. The only reference to mob/union sabotage is this: "Members of organized crime have retrospectively claimed that it was they who sabotaged the vessel. The alleged arson would have been organized by mobster Anthony Anastasio, who was a power in the local longshoremen's union, for the purpose of providing a pretext for the release from prison of mob boss Charles "Lucky" Luciano. Luciano's end of the bargain would be that he would ensure that there would be no further "enemy" sabotage in the ports where the mob had strong influence with the unions.[63]"
An interesting link, the memoirs of Lucky Luciano, can be found here: http://www.dcdave.com/article5/101110.htm He implies the sabotage was done as a favour to Thomas Dewey. Red and Unions, it should be noted, were not big fans of the Republican Dewey.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"What? You thought Trump was the first to exploit working class angst to create fascistic dogmatism?"

I'm sure you're already aware of this, but Hitler renamed the German Nationalist Party to German Nationalist Social Labour Party in a (depressingly successful) effort to attract working class votes.

George Carty said...

Actually, Hitler renamed it from the German Workers' Party to the National Socialist German Worker's Party.

You may be getting confused with the German National People's Party (DNVP in German) – the Nazis' main rival on the hard right, led by newspaper owner Alfred Hugenberg.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I stand corrected. In any event, the intent was the same: to try to fleece the working class into supporting fascism.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin
I really don't know how that "insanely red" bit happens

The working men I knew were all "conservative" (with a small c) and the voting was open - show of hands
I do believe that the open voting that we used could tend to amplify an outcome
What should have been 80/20 may become 90/10 - but I don't see how it could turn a 40/60 into a 60/40
During this period we were forced into secret ballots - I am actually MORE cynical about those as the people doing the counting have more control than our old open ballots

The only reason that the Unions were seen as being insanely red was the newspapers - although the incredible skill that some of our management showed in pissing people off was impressive

There was one guy - nickname "The Rottweiler" who could have caused a strike by giving everybody an extra fiver - I kept him as far from my people as I could! - not easy as he was my boss

I'm not sure that you are right about the Empire
BUT I am sure that the actions that the USA took to break the Empire caused unnecessary hardship in the UK after the war

The world now is actually a huge amount better that we all expected - and getting even better - but we can still look backwards and see how many better paths we missed!

john fremont said...

Compared to airplanes, also require much more maintenance

David Brin said...

Duncan seriously? You call “a show of hands” to be “open”? It is the classic method of enforcing uniformity and submission.

“BUT I am sure that the actions that the USA took to break the Empire caused unnecessary hardship in the UK after the war…”

Do tell?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Very good book - does not talk about the reasons but it does give a very good picture of Britain just after the war

https://www.amazon.com/Austerity-Britain-1945-1951-David-Kynaston/dp/0802716938

That sets the scene - the main reason for all of that post war austerity was the way that the USA treated Britain after the war
After Britain had born the brunt (The USSR took more damage but they started out on the other side) the USA continued to require to be paid for all of the equipment that the UK had used to save the USA's ass

The USA never paid anything for all of the advanced technology shipped over there during the war and continued to use it commercially afterwards

The UK was under worse rationing than during the war because everything had to go to "export" to pay off the Americans They already had all of our Foreign bases and all of our Gold
The USA made a substantial profit out of WW2

Show of hands

I have never understood how a show of hands could obtain submission - distort so that what should have been a 70/30 became a 90/10 - yes I can see that

But actually reverse a verdict? - no the "enforcement" part drops to zero when the numbers are equal

But a secret ballot - unless you have a very robust oversight on the counting process lends itself to total distortion
When I was at school we had a vote on who would be the next years Prefects - It always ended up with the ones the Rector would have chosen - and he did the counting!

LarryHart said...

George Carty:

Actually, Hitler renamed it from the German Workers' Party to the National Socialist German Worker's Party.


Zepp Jamieson:

I stand corrected. In any event, the intent was the same: to try to fleece the working class into supporting fascism.


And from there, we have the canard that "National Socialism" is a creature of the political left.

Tony Fisk said...

Duncan, "Show of hands" allows the counters to see the owners of the hands. This can allow the standover merchants to pick their targets in future.
Even if there is no intent to do that, people from dictatorial environments (aka immigrants) will feel intimidated.

matthew said...

Curious why us spy agencies are so sure Russia is behind the DNC hacks?

Because the Dutch watched it happen and told us about it.

Among other delicious details - the Dutch had hacked the security cameras at cozy bear and id'ed the Russian hackers and Russian spy agency bosses.

https://www.volkskrant.nl/tech/dutch-agencies-provide-crucial-intel-about-russia-s-interference-in-us-elections~a4561913/amp?__twitter_impression=true

matthew said...

Two more details from the above article -

The Dutch hacked Cozy Bear because of the downing of the airliner over Ukraine in 2014. Many Dutch citizens onboard and they wanted proof of Russian involvement.

Also, the Dutch stopped sharing the intel with the US after Trump became POTUS because they (wisely) suspected Trump would share their methods and intel back to his Russian masters.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Tony
I would agree - but - I would not want to try to "dictate" to the average British working man - especially in a Union environment -
Management does do that - all of the time - but if anything that makes them more resistant to anybody else doing it

Secret Ballots and Shows of Hands -
Both have advantages and disadvantages - but IMHO a Show of Hands can distort a bit - and it is obvious that is happening
A "Secret Ballot" can distort A LOT - and be completely under the carpet

Zepp Jamieson said...

Saturday night massacre averted: Apparently, per the NYT, Trump ordered his lawyer, Don McGahn, to fire Mueller. Rachel Maddow is leading with this story, and includes the interesting tidbit that when McGahn said he would quit rather than fire Mueller, he told a top aide to Trump to not worry about it happening because Trump would never do it himself. He was right. Bok, bok!

Zepp Jamieson said...

That matches what I remember from my London days. I arrived there in 1957, well after the end of the war, and there were still some areas in rubble. We were strictly forbidden from playing there, both for the obvious reasons regarding rubble, and because of the fear that there may be unexploded bombs. Of course, we did so anyway.
There were a lot of teens around with crutches, canes and leg braces, the result of rickets and other health problems related to severe malnutrition. Britain was essentially a starving island from 1944 until 1947. There were so many people with war-related injuries and health issues that National Health was absolutely necessary.
I knew that Britons widely despised Yanks in the years following the war, but never really understood why, what with the Marshall plan and all. I didn't realize until very recently that the Plan didn't pass Congress until June 1948--three years after the end of the war--and England was basically left to writhe in post-war horrors while Americans boasted to the world of their wealth and comfort.

locumranch said...


What we have here is a failure to communicate:

Whereas David sees Mueller's starry Strzok Chamber as justifiably "adversarial" (making such short work of the whole 'fair-level-equal playing field' misrepresentation), others just see more Ken Starr tit-for-tat partisanship payback.

Similarly, some just see ho-hum Prostitution when the PC see Empowered Gender Equalists exchange sexual favours for wealth & infamy, mollified by the Hypoagency Charade (the ability to scream 'victim' and 'rape' up to 30 YEARS after the fact) in order to absolve these unequal Gender Equalists of any & all responsibility for their own decisions & actions.

For a change, let's not mince words: Partisans are partisans; oligarchs are oligarchs; whores are whores; the minorities that David pins his hopes upon are minorities; and identity politics sets political identities against each other.

Majority Rule is the Essence of Democracy.


Best

Zepp Jamieson said...

Yeah, I still get that "National SOCIALIST" noise from Trumpkins who then assure me that if Hitler was a socialist, then he was a liberal, and thus liberals are just like Hitler.
There's a new wrinkle now: a pretense that neoliberalism and liberalism are the same thing. I haven't yet figured out whether the conflation is the result of pig-ignorance, or if neliberalism is falling into disrepute as people see it for what it is.

Zepp Jamieson said...

On the McGahn Mueller story I accidentally left out a vital bit of information, and for that, I'm sorry. This all happened last summer. Anyone who thinks this happened just now, my bad. Last summer. Although there's reason to suppose that's only the first time Trump tried to get someone to fire Mueller.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Saturday night massacre averted: Apparently, per the NYT, Trump ordered his lawyer, Don McGahn, to fire Mueller. Rachel Maddow is leading with this story, and includes the interesting tidbit that when McGahn said he would quit rather than fire Mueller, he told a top aide to Trump to not worry about it happening because Trump would never do it himself. He was right. Bok, bok!


I've been trying to get someone on this list (you know who you are) to acknowledge my view of Trump as being an #IllegitimatePresident, and if memory serves, firing Mueller would have been a precipitating event toward agreement on that point.

We now know that the firing all but happened. It was prevented only by a third party's interference, no different from a hypothetical attempt to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue prevented when the gun jams.

Does that technicality really make a difference? Firing the prosecutor investigating his crimes would have demonstrated illegitimacy, but having his order to do so refused exonerates him? I think not.

The Republicans in Congress coming up with insane theories of Mueller's disqualification for the job would make good sitcom material if it weren't so serious.

#ThereAreNoGoodRepublicans

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Yeah, I still get that "National SOCIALIST" noise from Trumpkins who then assure me that if Hitler was a socialist, then he was a liberal, and thus liberals are just like Hitler.


That didn't start with Trump. My old formerly-sane conservative buddy on the "Cerebus" list used to argue that Naziism was a leftist thing. Also, that Obama was like Hitler because Obamacare resembled the German national health care instituted by Otto Von Bismarck. As if the reason Hitler is viewed as the ultimate in cartoon supervillainy is because he favored national health care.


There's a new wrinkle now: a pretense that neoliberalism and liberalism are the same thing.


You're giving me straight lines. :)

"The word you are looking for is liberalism. But this is not liberalism. Neoliberalism perhaps, but that's a different thing, in fact the opposite thing."


I haven't yet figured out whether the conflation is the result of pig-ignorance, or if neliberalism is falling into disrepute as people see it for what it is.


I think it's both things. Neoliberalism is falling into disrepute, and the unfortunate label makes it easy to blame exactly the wrong side of the aisle for it.

LarryHart said...

In old "Superman" comics, when the fifth-dimensional imp, Mr. Mxyzptlk, was tricked into saying his name backwards which forced him to return to his home dimension, all of the mayhem his magic caused on earth just magically disappeared, no matter how illogical the reversion to normal was.

If only 'twere so when Trump is forced to return to his home dimension.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/25/opinion/solar-power-trump-administration.html

...
Last fall, Rick Perry, the energy secretary, tried to impose a rule that would in effect have forced electricity grids to subsidize coal and nuclear plants. The rule was shot down, but it showed what these guys want. From their point of view, destroying solar jobs is probably a good thing.

Why do Trump and company love dirty energy? Partly it’s about the money: what’s good for the Koch brothers may not be good for America (or the world), but it’s good for G.O.P. campaign finance. Partly it’s about blue-collar voters, who still imagine that Trump can bring back coal jobs. (In 2017 the coal industry added 500, that’s right, 500 jobs. That’s 0.0003 percent of total U.S. employment.)

It’s also partly about cultural nostalgia: Trump and others recall the heyday of fossil fuels as a golden age, forgetting how ghastly air and water pollution used to be. But I suspect that it’s also about a kind of machismo, a sense that real men don’t soak up solar energy; they burn stuff instead.

Whatever the specific motivations, the administration’s first significant trade policy move is stunningly boneheaded. You shouldn’t even call it protectionism, since its direct effect will be to destroy far more jobs than it creates. Plus it’s bad for the environment. So much winning!

Zepp Jamieson said...

Yup, I first encountered it on Usenet back in the 90s. I think Rush told his dittoheads, "Go and say this; it will drive the libruls nuts!"
The "...in fact, the opposite thing" line crossed my mind as I was typing that post in.

Anonymous said...

And what about the lands? Who do they belong to?

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | Roosevelt was damn sure that he was going to prevent the British Empire from regaining it's strength

That's a given, but it wasn't just Roosevelt. Nations have a way of acting on their geopolitical interests and there is no doubt US and UK interests were at odds right around the start of WWI. You can find our early steps to displace the UK in how we competed to be a reserve currency just before WWI. Roosevelt was following through on a long plan and did the deed before we got into WWII with the Lend/Lease program. By demanding foreign basing rights, we put ourselves in direct competition for control of the seas.

If you go by the Stratfor description of US geopolitical interests, wresting the seas from the UK was goal #4 of 5 and it was accomplished with Lend/Lease and the Japanese attack on British foreign interests. All we had to do at that point was take back what Japan took and then keep it... which we did.

There WAS conflict after WWII regarding Suez, but that was Ike sticking to our geopolitical objectives again. This time it was #5.

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7 | Moller's sky car wasn't designed to fly in an economical way. It was designed to bring in investment money which got invested in real estate. His investors did well enough that it wasn't a scam. The 'side' investments were for parking money while the car project got worked. The car project got worked using fees charged by the 'management fund'.

It's a neat trick for dealing with projects that might not make any money and might present serious technical and schedule risks. Hire a fund manager as part of your team and use the fund fees instead of the direct investments. One does risk running into trouble with regulators if one doesn't walk an exact line, but it can be done.

He lived up the road when I was going to grad school. Many people in town knew the game. 8)

Alfred Differ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | A Society is an engine to look after it's members

... and this is where you run up against guys like me. We always ask WHO is looking after us because we want to know if they are using their own objectives or ours. Optimizing for labor means treating it as a bloc. What happens if my objectives don't line up well with my neighbors?

Hayek's argument for why a community can't economize shared resources is based on the fact that they can't agree on what's best most of the time. Economizing problems are big, hairy linear algebra problems where one searches the vertexes of the multi-dimensional polytope for the one that works best. It's the Linear Programming problem and apparently belongs to P, but Hayek wasn't looking at it in detail. What he pointed out translates roughly as 'the equations don't exist'. Shared objectives give shape to the faces of the polytope. Without shared objectives, the faces are fuzzy at best and non-existent at worst. If pieces of the polytope are missing or malformed, you don't have a system of equations to solve.

An economy can optimize. It might not find the global optimum, but one can assume such a thing exists and try to find it.

A catallaxy can try for locally optimizations within trading blocs, but they aren't stable and might be ill-defined in the presence of vigorous trade. A global optimum in a nonsense concept. Literally nonsense.

Your engine ain't an engine no matter how much you'd like it to be.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Call it an engine or call it a cat
It still needs to be looked after

As society is a dumb unit with no inbuilt survival instincts calling it a mechanism is closer than an organism

A complex mechanism - but it's better having somebody at the wheel and trying to avoid the cliffs than leaving it all to the gods

Trying to keep it on the road may involve some whoopsies but NOT even trying would be much worse - unless I suppose you are a "Son of Mary" and preach that your god will warn you before the nuts come loose

We can't achieve a global optimum - but saying that it's impossible and we are not even going to try is another thing altogether

Alfred Differ said...

It's not that it is impossible. It is that it is nonsense. You are using YOUR objectives to determine a fitness function. I might agree with many aspects of them, but not all. Those differences are enough to make the optimum a nonsense concept, but it is even worse nonsense for people of different cultures from ours.

I'm not so sure the car steers itself off a cliff without a driver. It seems to steer toward feudalism most of the time, so I don't mind you grasping for some way to prevent that. I'll help. It's just that the recent (last few centuries) move away from feudalism wasn't the result of intentional steering attempts. It was the result of something seemingly unrelated and it went unnoticed for several generations.

I'm not saying we should abandon all hope of influencing the course we take into the future. I'm saying we need to be respectful of our own limitations and the fact that we did not get here through the intent of anyone who saw how to do it, yet get here we did. Our host is pretty good at predicting the near future, but if you look at how he does it, he doesn't assume a steering wheel is available. He points at fair, flat markets where we are free. He actually points at a catallaxy (whether he knows the term or not) and gives a fair description of it.

Made Order / Grown Order
Taxis / Kosmos
Economy / Catallaxy
Thesis / Nomos

We confuse a lot of people when we mistake a grown order for a made one. We do this by using erroneous analogies. Think about how many kids we've confused when we teach them 'division' in math class by describing it as something like 'sharing' cookies. That analogy only works when dividing my integers. A better translation is 'measuring', but getting K-12 math teachers to see that can be a challenge. 8)

john fremont said...

@Larry Hart

That didn't start with Trump. My old formerly-sane conservative buddy on the "Cerebus" list used to argue that Naziism was a leftist thing. Also, that Obama was like Hitler because Obamacare resembled the German national health care instituted by Otto Von Bismarck. As if the reason Hitler is viewed as the ultimate in cartoon supervillainy is because he favored national health care.

A paleoconservative named Erik von Kuenelt Leddhin argued that in his work Leftist Revisited , published in the mid 1970's. In fact, Leddhin argued the Nazis were leftists , throughout his whole life. This Naziism as leftism has a very long pedigree in conservative thought. I find it ironic however that one of the works praised by conservatives who see public healthcare as a step to tyranny, is cited here by Dr Brin, Hayek's The Road to Serfdom . In the book, Hayek includes a passage on the value of social insurance

“Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision. Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance, where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks, the case for the state helping to organise a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong. There are many points of detail where those wishing to preserve the competitive system and those wishing to supersede it by something different will disagree on the details of such schemes; and it is possible under the name of social insurance to introduce measures which tend to make competition more or less ineffective. But there is no incompatibility in principle between the state providing greater security in this way and the preservation of individual freedom. To the same category belongs also the increase of security through the state rendering assistance to the victims of such "acts of God" as earthquakes and floods. Wherever communal action can mitigate disasters against which the individual can neither attempt to guard himself, nor make provision for the consequences, such communal action should undoubtedly be taken.”

Hayek, writing during WW2, didn't see public healthcare as the" Road to Serfdom" at the time. That's why I couldn't understand why guys like Glenn Beck was telling the Tea Partiers to buy this book during the whole Affordable Care Act debate. This work by Hayek didn't strengthen their arguments.Maybe one of Hayek's later books did but not that one.

LarryHart said...

john fremont:

This Naziism as leftism has a very long pedigree in conservative thought


It's an exercise in doublethink, though. They blame Naziism's bad reputation on it being leftist, but they worship Hitler for his white supremacy and his opposition to communism.

Similar to the alt-right smearing Hillary Clinton as a thrall of bankers using Jewish star symbols while also decrying her as an enemy of Israel.

LarryHart said...

A good, revealing NY Times column about how the evangelical movement was always about freedom to discriminate:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/26/opinion/trump-christian-right-values.html


In 1958, the Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell, who would go on to found the Moral Majority, gave a sermon titled “Segregation or Integration: Which?” He inveighed against the Supreme Court’s anti-segregation decision in Brown v. Board of Education, arguing that facilities for blacks and whites should remain separate.

“When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line,” he wrote, warning that integration “will destroy our race eventually.” In 1967, Falwell founded the Lynchburg Christian Academy — later Liberty Christian Academy — as a private school for white students.
...
The people who are most disturbed by such theological contortions are earnest evangelicals who fear the disgrace of their religion. Trump’s religious champions, Michael Gerson writes in The Washington Post, are “associating evangelicalism with bigotry, selfishness and deception. They are playing a grubby political game for the highest of stakes: the reputation of their faith.”

I sympathize with his distress. But the politicized sectors of conservative evangelicalism have been associated with bigotry, selfishness and deception for a long time. Trump has simply revealed the movement’s priorities. It values the preservation of traditional racial and sexual hierarchies over fuzzier notions of wholesomeness.

“I’ve resisted throughout my career the notion that evangelicals are racist, I really have,” Balmer told me. “But I think the 2016 election demonstrated that the religious right was circling back to the founding principles of the movement. What happened in 2016 is that the religious right dropped all pretense that theirs was a movement about family values.”
...
But it seems absurd to ask secular people to respect the religious right’s beliefs about sex and marriage — and thus tolerate a degree of anti-gay discrimination — while the movement’s leaders treat their own sexual standards as flexible and conditional. Christian conservatives may believe strongly in their own righteousness. But from the outside, it looks as if their movement was never really about morality at all.

locumranch said...


"A global optimum in a nonsense concept", says Alfred and, for this brevity, he wins the Soul of Wit Award that cuts Pinkerian & Progressive cant to the very quick.

"People & the World must get BETTER", argues the nonsensical 'shoulda coulda woulda' idealist who assumes & presumes absolute knowledge of what 'Better Is', based on idiosyncratic personal preferences wherein the global oligarchic casino wishes to eliminate CHEATING (as our host wishes to do) in order to better create a credulous population of easily managed wage slaves & suckers, while those who favour individual autonomy wish to facilitate CHEATING in order to allow the individual to 'win' against an oppressive oligarchy.

The Ideal Society that David wishes to create is just another nonsensical euphemism for someone else's preferred & exceptionally hellish (as far as other people are concerned) global optimum.

Best

Jacob said...

There are downsides to show of hands and the secret ballot. I've got to admit that my faith in our current system is low after reading this forum for years and having worked an election.

We should be use a relatively secure, pseudo-anonymous public voting system. We couldn't do it before the internet, but we can now. It main downside is that it will be a pain to setup initially. The advantages of an easy to use transparent system where you can avoid harassment are well worth it.

LarryHart said...

Jacob:

We should be use a relatively secure, pseudo-anonymous public voting system. We couldn't do it before the internet, but we can now.


How does that not simply amplify the negative effects of the secret ballot already noted here, while adding a technological single-point-of-failure to boot?

A.F. Rey said...

An article at FiveThirtyEight argues that the end of Gerrymandering won't end safe districts, Congressional extremists or governmental gridlock. In fact, they site a Cook political report that indicates that "only 17 percent of the decline in competitive districts over the past 20 years was the result of redistricting."

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/ending-gerrymandering-wont-fix-what-ails-america/

OTOH, they don't argue that ending political gerrymandering is bad, either. :)

David Brin said...

ACtually, there's a way in which Republicans might WANT to end gerrymandering, this year. See, Gerrymandering packs lots of the minority party into fewer districts.... a cheat for which the politicians doing this deserve hell. But the notion is "We'll have a lot of districts in which our candidates have a modest but comfy margin."

But in a year when your party is collapsing, like 2018, those modest margins may vanish everywhere, worsening the collapse.

In any event, it is in the state assemblies that we must see this pack of cheating-lying fact-hating traitors annihilated. And watch as poor locum shrieks "Brin wants to kill people!"

Jacob said...

Hi Larry,

Transparency. Right now, you cannot verify that any vote you've ever made was counted. You would have an # which is hard to trace back to you. Everyone gets to see all #s voted. The entire electorate can ensure that their # was counted as cast. We will have strong indications of election meddling.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Alfred: If even markets can't cause economization of shared resources, we are all in serious trouble. Most of the world agrees on the general goal of combating climate change, but the American Republican Party insists otherwise. I am not interested in having my grandchildren suffer for being the Climate Scapegoats because my neighbors acted entitled while bewailing their "poverty" (when most of them were three to five times richer than the average human and worked hard to prevent any systematic help for the actual destitute just down the road).

I have a healthy respect for serendipitous improvements, but not so much so that I trust serendipity to maintain or further improve society. We *do not know* whether our type of society is a complete fluke, a local optimum, or a relatively inaccessible global optimum. We *do* know that it is not an easily accessible global optimum; otherwise GWB's conceit that democracy would spontaneously emerge as soon as a dictator was shot, or the "Arab Spring" notion that overthrowing modern Pharoahs would solve social ills, would be true. Obviously not: only two or three countries came out of the Arab Spring better, many were unchanged or worse, and some failed the stress test altogether (Libya, Syria).

As for "equations" -- the whole point of having distributed decision-making (markets, democracy, courts, etc.) is that you don't have to even try to do global equation solutions. The important skill of governing a market economy is to be able to dig the economy/society out of local suboptimal attractor states like coercive monopolies, while preventing the big failure state of feudalism (including making sure the government cannot be turned to the service of feudalists!)

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Jacob, Duncan: Secret ballots have to be visible and counted openly -- otherwise, just as you say, the numbers can be fudged to be whatever you want. This is why we need non-networked, open-source, paper-trail voting machines ASAP -- and same for the voting rolls. I am convinced the voter rolls are the most hackable component of the current American voting system, whether it be domestic cheaters or foreign spies doing the hacking. (I don't care -- I just want it secure, and seen by all to be secure.)

@Larry: the only question is whether the discrimination was primarily over race or religion. A lot of private schools in the South existed that would accept non-white students in small numbers -- but God help you, literally, if you prayed the wrong way.

@Alfred:

@Zepp: If you think a Britain without a Marshall Plan was bad, you should read about the Morgenthau Plan that it replaced. Starving and impoverishing the Germans was on the menu, along with leaving Europe to rot.

@matthew: Yowza! One wonders why this is coming out now -- I suspect someone in the Netherlands is sick to death of this "just the Fake Dossier" nonsense. The evidence and coincidences are lying around everywhere, and you have to be deliberately avoiding them to miss the pattern at this point. Unfortunately we have lots of powerful people deliberately encouraging just that.

@Winter7 -- on constitutional monarchy -- it is for precisely this reason that modern European monarchies are designed to keep the Royal Family resolutely out of politics. They are bound to accept whatever ministers the Parliament deems appropriate, and every decision to do anything but speak in a quiet voice is a momentous decision.

Nonetheless they can be useful -- look up "23-F" to see how Juan Carlos paid the dues on his family's claim to the Crown by defending democracy.

On Saudi Arabia -- they are still a ways from being capable of democracy; clannishness would prevent its function. But with a new generation foreseeing that the oil will one day cease to pay lavishly, there is hope. Iran is much closer -- it is already semi-democratic and "all" that must happen is to dissolve the ability of Ayatollahs and (more practically) the Revolutionary Guard (who are the right arm of power) to reject candidacies. Easier said than done.

Jacob said...

Hi Catfish,

You can certainly make Secret ballots hard to cheat. Completely dropping hackable systems or proper post election analysis (e.g. random manual recounts) which unfortunately adds to cost. I think we can make elections more convenient and protect against the consequences of open voting at a cheaper price.

Treebeard said...

(For some reason I felt like putting this out here; nothing new or radical, but maybe a reminder since there's a lot of bother about democracy in this thread.)

The world is not heading for American-style democracy—not now, not ever. That was a product of a particular Anglo historical experience and culture, not some universal destiny for mankind. People everywhere value other things more than democracy, such as religion, ethnic identity, culture, economic opportunity, etc., so when there is a choice between democracy and one of those, democracy will lose. This seems pretty obvious to me, but some people seem keep insisting that the whole world wants and needs democracy. No. Muslims want Islam, Chinese want to make China great again, Israelis want Judaism, Europeans want to live around other Europeans, Tibetans want the Dalai Lama, etc., more than they want anglo-democracy. Democracy is an option, but it's secondary to such deeper allegiances (which determine how people vote anyway). I guess I'm with ISIS on this one: democracy is an empty idol, a false god, and a potential suicide pact.

Winter7 said...

David Brin:
Is it possible for Democrats to create new laws that prevent Republicans from packing many of the minority party into fewer districts? It required?
I suppose Republicans can carry out that specific fraud because they have Republicans in the key positions of government in those states. Does not that mean that all bureaucratic posts in the state should be governed by people outside the political factions? Of course, that seems impossible. What if all the important bureaucratic posts are held by two representatives of both parties? It is to be expected that, if so, the Republican leaders would try to impose themselves on the Democratic chiefs. A direct war, in which those who manage to gain control of most of the staff in the office wins, either by hook or by crook. Which perhaps excludes that option.
In any case. ¿What laws could prevent Republicans from allocating all minorities in a few districts? ¿Do they have a department of statistics, demography and geography? ¿Would not those departments of statistics and demography have to carry out studies that verify the validity or malice of the allocation of districts to the population? ¿What other government departments can know if Republicans are using the allocation of districts as an electoral fraud tool?

The same text in Spanish, in case there is erratic translation:
¿Es posible que los demócratas creen nuevas leyes que eviten que los republicanos empaquen a muchos del partido minoritario en menos distritos? ¿Qué se requiere?
Supongo que los republicanos pueden realizar ese fraude específico gracias a que tienen a republicanos en los puestos clave del gobierno en esos estados. ¿No significa eso que todos los puestos burocráticos del estado deberían ser regidos por personas ajenas a los bandos políticos? Claro está, eso parece ser imposible. ¿Y si todos los puestos burocráticos de importancia son desempeñados por dos representantes de ambos partidos? Es de esperar que, de ser así, los jefes republicanos intentarían imponerse a los jefes demócratas. Una guerra directa, en la que gana quien logre obtener el control de la mayor parte del personal de la oficina, ya sea por las buenas o por las malas. Lo cual excluye talvez esa opción.
En todo caso. ¿Qué leyes podrían evitar que los republicanos puedan asignar todas las minorías en pocos distritos? ¿Tienen un departamento de estadística, demografía y geografía? ¿No tendrían esos departamentos de estadística y demografía que realizar estudios que verifiquen la validez o malicia de la asignación de distritos a la población? ¿Qué otros departamentos gubernamentales pueden saber si los republicanos están usando la asignación de distritos como una herramienta de fraude electoral?

Winter7 said...

Duncan Cairncross:
I get it. For you the problem of the flying automobile is a matter of being responsible with the ecology of the planet. All right. I suppose it will be better to wait until we can handle the force of gravity at our whim. I wonder if all the atoms emit gravitons without mass because of the energy generated by the movement of the particles ... I wonder what they have found out about it in the LHC in Europe.
But if one day it is possible to create low cost flying vehicles, it is possible to see some safety problems in the future with the consequent prohibition of such vehicles. Only the police and those of the elite would use such vehicles (those of the elite always have control of the laws, so that ...)
The same text in Spanish:
Entiendo. Para ti el problema del automóvil volador es una cuestión de ser responsables con la ecología del planeta. Bien. Supongo que será mejor esperar hasta que podamos manejar la fuerza de gravedad a nuestro antojo. Me pregunto si todos los átomos emiten gravitones sin masa a causa de la energía generada por el movimiento de las partículas.… Me pregunto qué han averiguado al respecto en el LHC en Europa.
Pero si algún día es posible crear vehículos voladores de bajo costo, es posible ver algunos inconvenientes de seguridad en el futuro con la consecuente prohibición de dichos vehículos. Únicamente la policía y los de la élite usarían dichos vehículos (los de la élite siempre tienen el control de las leyes, de modo que…)

Winter7 said...

Alfred Differ:
So what about the flying car project was a trick to get money?
Wow! That Moller yes that turned out to be all a rascal. At least, that project has inspired other similar projects and that's good. But I prefer blimps. (I wonder if mixing 50% hydrogen with 50% helium, could avoid fire risk in an airship) Flying in an airship should be child's play. (unless the wind gets too strong) (but that's what the side engines are for).
How much is it possible to increase the speed of an airship? A matter of lightweight materials and aerodynamics. I think a small airship could have a more acceptable speed.


The same text in Spanish:
¿Entonces lo del proyecto del automóvil volador fue un truco para obtener dinero?
¡Wow!. Ese Moller sí que resulto ser todo un bribón. Por lo menos, ese proyecto ha inspirado otros proyectos parecidos y eso es bueno. Pero yo prefiero los dirigibles. (me pregunto si mezclar 50% de hidrógeno con 50% de helio, podría evitar riesgo de incendio en un dirigible) Volar en un dirigible debe ser juego de niños. (a menos que el viento se ponga muy fuerte) (pero para eso son los motores laterales).
¿Qué tanto es posible aumentar la velocidad de un dirigible? Una cuestión de materiales ligeros y aerodinámica. Creo que un dirigible pequeño podría tener una velocidad más aceptable.

Winter7 said...

Alfred Differ:
So, the Americans did not return the islands to the British because they paid for the islands with blood? Actually, I never thought about that. It is very rare that the British never claimed possession of the islands. I guess the British thought it was a matter of time. And then, they forgot the matter.
¿Did the Americans charge the English for the help? I thought it was clear that war was a matter of survival, not a business. Anyway. As I recall, the British also charged the Russians for the supplies that were sent to Russia during the second war. Without these supplies, the Russians would probably have lost the war against the Nazis, even with the foolish strategies of Hitler.
I learned of that detail because it happens that the HMS Edimburg, a British ship carrying 465 bars of Russian gold, worth 43 million pounds. Part of a payment by Stalin for supplies sent by the English to Russia. But the Germans attacked them brutally. Many died, and although they managed to keep the ship afloat, the damaged rudder made them spin in circles. Then, the captain ordered what was left of the crew to leave the ship, and ordered that the ship be sunk. In 1981, the divers of "Jessop Marines" began to take out the gold, in exchange for 45% of the profits.
¡43 million pounds! ¡By the underpants of the goddess Tlazolteotl! That's a lot of money!

In Spanish:

¿Entonces, los norteamericanos no devolvieron las islas a los británicos porque pagaron por las islas con sangre? En realidad, nunca pensé en ese asunto. Es muy raro que los británicos nunca reclamasen la posesión de las islas. Supongo que los británicos pensaron que era cuestión de tiempo. Y luego, olvidaron el asunto.
¿Los norteamericanos les cobraron a los ingleses por la ayuda? Pensé que quedaba claro que la guerra era un asunto de supervivencia, no un negocio. En fin. Según recuerdo, los ingleses también les cobraron a los rusos por los abastecimientos que fueron enviados a Rusia durante la segunda guerra. Sin esos abastecimientos, los rusos probablemente hubiesen perdido la guerra contra los nazis, incluso con las tontas estrategias de Hitler.
Supe de ese detalle porque sucede que el HMS Edimburg, un barco británico llevaba 465 barras de oro ruso, con valor de 43 millones de libras. Parte de un pago de Stalin por los abastecimientos enviados por los ingleses a Rusia. Pero los alemanes los atacaron brutalmente. Muchos murieron, y a pesar de que lograron mantener el barco a flote, el timón dañado los hacía dar vueltas en círculos. Entonces, el capitán ordenó a lo que quedaba de la tripulación abandonare el barco, y ordenó que el barco fuese hundido. En 1981, los buzos de “Jessop Marines” comenzaron a sacar el oro, a cambio del 45% de las ganancias. ¡43 millones de libras! ¡Por los calzoncillos de la diosa Tlazoltéotl! ¡Eso sí que es mucho dinero!

Winter7 said...

Catfish N. Cod:
Haaa So, one way to diminish Saudi power is to make renewable energy sources more popular. Nevertheless; The weak point of energy sources as a large-scale option is that politicians can choose the energy sources they prefer. (which is the current problem in the United States)
Consequently, I suppose it is convenient to create homemade units of renewable energy. If citizens have personal sources of energy, the energy independence of families will increase and the power of the harmful carbon industries will decrease. Do not depend on political decisions. Let's think outside the box.

Pappenheimer said...

Winter 7,

I have read that the FAA, when presented with an actual, working flying car design, "s**t a collective brick" in the author's words. This was more than a few decades ago. They have been trying to forestall the concept ever since.

I imagine that if every flying car automatically switched over to a synced air traffic control system the moment it lifted off, the FAA would be happier. They would be even happier if the car had a automatic landing system that put the car down safely and alerted the cops/emergency services the moment some drunken moron/getaway driver jimmied the ATCS off.

Pappenheimer said...

...And yes, the US didn't start sending aid to England during WWII without strings. We made sure there was no gold left in the Bank of England's vaults AND (if I recall correctly) then took over some Caribbean islands belonging the the UK, in return for Lend-Lease. Congress's purse strings loosened a lot after Pearl Harbor, but suspicion of British intentions and fear of being outclassed by smooth Foreign Service negotiators continued - look at the mistrust surrounding the US/UK negotiations on invading Europe.

A.F. Rey said...

The world is not heading for American-style democracy—not now, not ever. That was a product of a particular Anglo historical experience and culture, not some universal destiny for mankind. People everywhere value other things more than democracy, such as religion, ethnic identity, culture, economic opportunity, etc., so when there is a choice between democracy and one of those, democracy will lose.

That probably will be true in the short run, but in the long run, societies need something more valuable than any of those things you listed. They need to compete with other societies.

If Western-style democracy gives an advantage over other styles of government to the society as a whole, then natural selection will eventually convert other nations to it, as people realize the system's advantages, even in preserving their other values of religion, ethnic identity, culture, economic opportunity, etc.

Of course, in the long run, we're all dead. :) But that doesn't mean it won't help our children.

Winter7 said...

And my flu continues. It must be a new record! I hope this flu has nothing to do with the zombie virus that is killing deer in heaps. I have to prepare another tea.
¡And the cold weather has returned! I suppose that, in these moments, in California the climate is colder than here. Did the fires end? I hope they do not have any more fires. Californians must find a solution to the problem of fires. That is not something that should be left to chance.
Create elongated lakes to serve as a barrier against fire; Increase the amount of deer that can eat all that grass that then burns. Or use wildlife to decrease the amount of grass under the trees. We could import small varieties of kangaroos to do the work. If the solution does not work. We can bring tigers for the kangaroos to eat. And if the tigers are a problem, we can bring ... Something, from another dimension.
bye!

Zepp Jamieson said...

Catfish N Cod wrote: "f you think a Britain without a Marshall Plan was bad, you should read about the Morgenthau Plan that it replaced. Starving and impoverishing the Germans was on the menu, along with leaving Europe to rot."
It was a true horror story, and it's punitive approach would have made a third world war in Europe inevitable in fairly short order.
Morgenthau wrote a book detailing his plans in 1944, and it inspired the Germans to fight on. I don't suppose it helped that he was Jewish.

David Brin said...

the denouncers of democracy are correct that it seems unstable, in the face of 100,000 years of evolution favoring gangs of male bullies taking other mens' women and then wheat. That bullying cheating gained reproductive success, especially when it mutated into feudalism. It also resulted in shitty governance. Even genius kings like Marcus Aurelius and Henry II and Emperor Yongle made fabulous blunders and absolutely blew their most crucial task - arranging for a high-quality successor.

In contrast, Periclean, Florentine, Venetian and especially American democratic republics out created, out-produced and out-performed not just any feudalism, but ALL of them. Combined. By orders of magnitude.

The American version added science and error-discovery, much to the irritation of proto-feudalists, and explaining why they are waging all out war on all fact-using professions.

Given all that... especially the fact that knuckleheads like Treebeard rave "facts" that aren't true, while spewing venom at fact-systems and fact-users,,, one could dismiss all he said.

Except that he's right about one thing. The odds have always been against us. The Great Silence across the galaxy testifies that most sapient races get something wrong. The fact that 99% of human societies fell for feudalism suggests why.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Winter7 asked, " Did the fires end?"
They did, but it left thousands of square kilometres of land denuded, and when the rains finally came, they created a debris flow near here to killed 23 people and destroyed hundreds of homes in one of California's richest communities.

locumranch said...


What utter bosh: Poor locum will shriek nothing of the sort.

Rather than the ridiculous straw-man of Brin wanting "to kill people", Brin merely wishes to render them forever rule obedient to an intellectual elite of his personal selection who will then have power to 'selflessly' influence public morality, eliminate dissent, redistribute wealth & enforce climate change edicts under the guise of science, a hoary old power fantasy shared by every priesthood, tyrant, oligarch & Davos-attending would-be Master of the Universe since time immemorial.

So much for Individual Preference, Democratic Freedoms & his oft-mumbled Libertarian Pretensions !!

Those deplorables who dare challenge the 'Progressive Utopia to Come' must be thoroughly indoctrinated in the beneficence of the NWO, stripped of their God & Guns, dragged screaming into the daylight (like it or not), and forever silenced for the future good of humanity.

Can the gas chambers be far behind? Will there be gulags for the likes Garrison Keillor? David has already suggested the genetic elimination (through the non-violent eugenics of 'selective breeding', of course) of up to 50% of the male population in a previous thread.

Even in the name of Science, I am horrified that a man of David's obvious intelligence would chose to repeat such a nasty piece of human history in the pursuit of arbitrary human betterment.


Best

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | It is possible for there to be no global optimum and for the world to get better with no dissonance. An optimum is a precise thing. ‘Better’ is very imprecise. This is the very point of making a distinction between an economy and a catallaxy. Two people trading with each other obviously don’t have shared objectives regarding what they trade and how they value the stuff relative to other stuff. In voluntary trade, both make the exchange and argue they are better off. Neither is likely to feel their situation is optimal, though, because for at least one of them there is always a gap between what they wanted and what they got. For example, I’d prefer to buy my morning cup of tea for ½ the price I usually pay. I settle for the regular price and would reject the trade at 2x the price. I don’t know what the seller would prefer to get paid, but there is a decent chance there is a gap between what they want and what I actually fork over to them. Free trades are at least a little disappointing to all involved because of this, but they don’t happen at all unless both parties feel they are better off.

Put away your dictionary for a moment. (Yes… I know you were reaching for it to ‘splain what “better” means.) Remember that people exhibit behaviors that describe better what the terms mean than a book that can’t possibly cover the depth of meaning in a term. Think of “better” as an iceberg and the dictionary definition as the bit of it above the waterline.

I do agree that what Progressives argue is ‘better’ is something the rest might not appreciate as much. However, when 90%+ of the people in my community all agree that some particular action is better, the most I’m going to argue against it if I disagree is that they leave me be. It’s rather pointless to tilt at those particular windmills.

Zepp Jamieson said...

This is well-trodden ground, but it really is true that the very things that make Democracy strong are those that make it vulnerable. Deliberations and debate are a slow, often laborious process, and it frustrates the people who yearn for quick answers that contain elemental values. In order for a democracy to function, not only must the power of government be curbed, but the power of churches, corporations, and the aristocracy, since all have ambitions inimical to the freedom and chaos of a truly functional democracy.

Alfred Differ said...

@john Fremont | Hayek’s later position on social insurance wasn’t a reversal so much as a complaint that government was using these programs to create a class of dependent voters. In this sense, they were creating serfs in the fashion that concerned him during WWII. Opposition to the government doing this could, of course, be read as opposing helping people who needed help which could then be used to dehumanize plan opponents. This path from good intentions to unintended misery is exactly the point of that book.

Unfortunately, many readers thought he argued that it was a slippery slope and once on it there was no way off or no alternative path away from danger. Neither is true, but Hayek’s rebuttals aren’t as widely published as the book itself. One has to be a dedicated Hayek reader (admittedly a kind of self-punishment) to find this all in Hayek’s collected works. The one book of his that doesn’t sound like it was written by an academic who loved precision was obviously ‘co-written by the editor’ when Hayek’s health finally failed him.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Winter7

The problem with flying cars is the power consumption - with current energy sources that means petrol and cars that get 4 miles to the gallon - if you are lucky!
It's not so much a "green" stance as the fact that people simply won't put up with that sort of fuel consumption

Alfred Differ said...

@Catfish N Cod | If even markets can't cause economization of shared resources, we are all in serious trouble.

Maybe, but I suspect not. Many in the world DO agree on the need to combat climate change. Since they are also market participants, the prices they demand for goods and services influence our neighbors who aren’t thinking ahead far enough. There are always short-sighted people in markets. Those of us who do care about the future should get ready to exploit their a$$es for thinking so short.

I have a healthy respect for serendipitous improvements, but not so much so that I trust serendipity to maintain or further improve society.

Heh. I have to chuckle at this because I’m of the opinion that the vast majority of what’s been done that improves society has been unplanned in the sense that it is ‘grown order’ instead of ‘made order.’ We’ve never known the future in great detail. Read any story written long ago about what might be happening in our era and one gets a lesson in the apparent impossibility of imagining the unimaginable. Fly cars? Nope. Tickets to the Moon? Nope. Warp drive? Nope. Proletariat Utopia? Nope. Instead we snuffed out small pox, absolutely crushed absolute poverty, doubled the lifespan, created a method for educating everyone, and did NOT manage to blow up the world.

I accept that spontaneous orders do not produce improvements on schedule or even as desired. What they do manage to produce, though, is the unimaginable. Yes. Syria is a living hell that captivates our attention, but what else is going on? Look both broader and deeper.

…dig the economy/society out of local suboptimal attractor state…

I have no beef with that until people try too hard to predict the attractor. If we have experience with it, I’m for trying to prevent it again. If we are guessing too much, though, I’m inclined to let something bad happen and learn from it in order to avoid producing one of those stories about a future that we prevented because we couldn’t imagine something better. Bad things happen, but I worry about the good we will never know because we didn’t trust ourselves enough to try.

David Brin said...

Ah, how shrill and so many words, for locum to cry out:

"I know my side is evil and wants to crush all freedom and kill its enemies and demolish thought... and I can't stand you smug liberals who invented freedom and tolerance and science ... so I'll... yeah... I'll wave my arms and chant "You AREN"T for freedom, tolerance and science! Yeah, that's the ticket! The old OPPOSITE TRICK! Yeah!"

"Because you invented and push for freedom, I know it'll make you wince to shout YOU HATE FREEDOM!"

"Because you invented and push for tolerance, I know it'll make you wince to shout YOU'RE INTOLERANT!"

"Because you invented and support science and willingness to subject delusions to critical accountability, I know it'll make you wince to shout YOU REPRESS FACTS AND ACCOUNTABILITY!"

"I don't have to back any of it up. The incantation, alone will make me feel righteous, even though I am thus implicitly accepting liberal values, that Freedom tolerance and science are good things! Hypocrisy? Who cares?"

Winter7 said...

I've heard them talk about the details of what happens in American politics. It's a much more complex issue than I imagined. But well. Same day. Whether we play Chinese checkers or chess, the key is to be able to win if you are better. But that is only possible if the rules of the game are respected. It is clear then that the weakest point of any political system is that it can be manipulated by the feudal lords.
Now, let's think outside the box and go directly to make a list of reparations that need to be made to every democracy. We can call this list, "Winter's List". Creating this list is important, as it is clear that it is important to know what to do in the future, if democracy is to be saved. We need to know in advance what is convenient, as it is evident that times are changing very fast, and who knows, maybe that list could save the existence of democracy. Winter is coming.

This is the list:

1- Joffrey Baratheon
2- Cersei Lannister
3- Walder Frey ...

Hooo. High. Sorry, that's another list. I was wrong. Let me search ...
Now yes ... I will put point # 1 on the list. You are following This is the list:

1- Mechanisms to prevent democracy from being manipulated by the oligarchs
2- …..

Winter7 said...

Alfred Differ:
“Bad things happen, but I worry about the good we will never know because we didn’t trust ourselves enough to try”.
Does that statement mean that it would not bother you that democracy is subjected to a drastic and severe reconstruction? Because maybe we have to make some changes.
I trust that it is still possible to save democracy as a system. But it is clear that democracy must change ... We all fear change. But we should be more afraid of the changes the oligarchs make to democracy without asking either you or me.
If a democracy with great flaws could lead the United States to great achievements; Imagine what a true democracy could do for all of humanity!
(or we can build the time machine and ...)

Winter7 said...

Zepp Jamieson:
It is terrible that many people died because of the fires. That should not have happened. Everything was a lack of planning and foresight. Sometimes politicians do not want to go beyond the basic duty.
I hope that politicians learn from mistakes and take strong measures to prevent these tragedies from happening again.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Wasn't the fires. Two deaths from the Thomas Fire, both indirect. Little old lady had a heart attack, and a fire fighter had a traffic mishap.
It was the mudslides two weeks later. A lot of people tried to warn the residents of the risk, but in the mandatory evacuation zone there was only 15% compliance.

Winter7 said...

Ignore the following message, it is only the placement of another temporary mark on this website, to serve as a "point of reference" as part of the Cronos project experiment. I will not translate the text. Just ignore this message:

Punto de referencia temporal número 2.
7.08 PM. Viernes 26 de enero.
Pasé unos quince minutos observando las estrellas desde el pasillo de mi casa. Hay un tenue velo de niebla. La luna se ve con claridad a través de la niebla. Cantidad inusual de satélites. Lo que parece ser un lento dron pasó a medio kilómetro de altura. Pero no emitía sonidos, únicamente luces. Quizás es un nuevo tipo de dron, más silencioso.
12 25 AM Sábado 27 de enero.
Estoy ante la computadora, en mi cuarto. La niebla ahora es más espesa. Puedo oler la fuerte carga de humedad en el aire. Es algo inusual.

Winter7 said...

Zepp Jamieson:
Yes, but the fires destroyed the plants that held the mud up to the roots, which caused the avalanche of mud when it rained. As a result, the mud avalanches were caused by fires. Without the fires, the landslides would not have happened.
I searched the news. What happened looked like a tsunami.
I did not know that tragedy had happened.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

"I don't have to back any of it up. The incantation, alone will make me feel righteous, even though I am thus implicitly accepting liberal values, that Freedom tolerance and science are good things! Hypocrisy? Who cares?"


Oh, he does back it up, in a very 1984ish way. Freedom for bullies! Tolerance for the intolerant! Diversity means that calls for supremacy have equal merit to calls for equality! These are the values loc claims we betray.


First, they came for the Nazis, and I did not speak out because I was not a Nazi.
...
And there was no one left to come for me.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Yeah, and the Thomas Fire had four elements that made it worse than most fire-denuded areas: exceptionally steep terrain; the vast size of the fire; the proximity to suburban and urban areas; and the fact that it occurred in mid December, a time when even southern California doesn't get significant wildfires. Or didn't use to.
All that was needed for tragedy was a brief but very intense downpour, occurring in the wee hours of the morning. And that's exactly what happened.
Now it's not even the end of January yet, and we find ourselves under a red flag warning, which means extreme fire conditions. That brief rain was the only rain we've had so far this winter, and we're on course for another record dry year.

Tim H. said...

Alfred, I'm also not holding my breath for a "Proletariat utopia", but it might not take that much to achieve a passable facsimile. Given that genius can and does appear in any variety of human and in unlikely circumstance, it would make long term sense to arrange a suitable environment for genius to flower. Mostly what's needed is for some reactionaries to lose the habit of making decisions with unsuitable body parts.

locumranch said...



But Larry_H & David do betray the principles they claim to support!

They equate (1) MORE restrictive rules with GREATER individual freedoms, (2) BIGGER government with LESS restrictive rules, and (3) ENFORCED political homogeneity with LIBERAL diversity.

Larry_H says as much when he trots out the old Orwellian 'Freedom TO' as compared to 'Freedom FROM' canard in order to transmogrify the positive Freedoms to Liberty into Orwell's negative 'Freedom FROM Liberty (wherein 'Freedom is Slavery').

The modern Diversity Agenda is a Big Lie, elsewise it would seek to promote actual diversity through the elimination of restriction in favour of actual heterogeneity & dissent, rather than by insisting on Borg-like universal equality, homogeneity & consensus.

Seeking to 'improve humanity' & 'make the world a BETTER place', Western Progressivism reveals itself as a Blythedale Romance style Utopian Cult rather than a scientific experiment as is repudiates the very idea of 'control groups'.

The Bicoastal US & parts of West Europe can drink this transcendental Kool-Aid if they so wish -- I & others like me will not object -- as long as the Kool-Aid quaffers do NOT force the Central US & other conscientious objectors to participate.

Let us be & allow us to 'better ourselves' as we see fit, THEN feel free to turn yourselves into egalitarian Eloi for all we care ...

We will reward you with praises if your Better Angel experiment succeeds; and, if it fails, your Control Group brethren will clean up your mess by eating your sheeple livers with a side of Fava beans & a nice Chianti.


Best

LarryHart said...

In just about every realm of logic or math, there is an example similar to (IIRC) Godel's Paradox, which demonstrates limits on what can be defined. For example, define the set X as "The set of all sets which do not contain themselves". If X does not contain itself, then by definition, it must be in the set X, i.e., it contains itself.

Likewise, no truth value can be assigned to the statement, "This statement is a lie."

For similar reasons, it is impossible to simultaneously have absolute freedom from oppression and absolute freedom to oppress. It is impossible to have equal rights or equal opportunity for those who want equality and for those who want equality for all before the law and those who want the law to favor their subgroup. It is impossible to have the freedom to practice religion however you see fit and for religious institutions to have the freedom to impose their religion on society as they see fit.

You have to pick a side. I'm not conflicted by my choice.

JOIN! THE! MOCKINGJAY!

LarryHart said...

...apologies for the stutter above.

"It is impossible to have equal rights or equal opportunity for those who want equality for all before the law and those who want the law to favor their subgroup."

TheMadLibrarian said...

Sorry, Locum, I give up. Trying to find common ground to make reasonable discussion with you is like trying to teach a pig to sing.

Zepp Jamieson said...

From Walter Miller's "A Canticle for Liebowitz":

"So it was that, after the Deluge, the Fallout, the plagues, the madness, the confusion of tongues, the rage, there began the bloodletting of the Simplification, when remnants of mankind had torn other remnants limb from limb, killing rulers, scientists, leaders, technicians, teachers, and whatever persons the leaders of the maddened mobs said deserved death for having helped to make the Earth what it had become. Nothing had been so hateful in the sight of these mobs as the man of learning, at first because they had served the princes, but then later because they refused to join in the bloodletting and tried to oppose the mobs, calling the crowds “bloodthirsty simpletons.”
"Joyfully the mobs accepted the name, took up the cry: Simpletons! Yes, yes! I’m a simpleton! Are you a simpleton? We’ll build a town and we’ll name it Simple Town, because by then all the smart bastards that caused all this, they’ll be dead! Simpletons! Let’s go! This ought to show ‘em! Anybody here not a simpleton? Get the bastard, if there is!
"To escape the fury of the simpleton packs, such learned people as still survived fled to any sanctuary that offered itself. When Holy Church received them, she vested them in monks’ robes and tried to hide them in such monasteries and convents as had survived and could be reoccupied, for the religious were less despised by the mob except when they openly defied it and accepted martyrdom. Sometimes such sanctuary was effective, but more often it was not. Monasteries were invaded, records and sacred books were burned, refugees were seized and summarily hanged or burned. The Simplification had ceased to have plan or purpose soon after it began, and became an insane frenzy of mass murder and destruction such as can occur only when the last traces of social order are gone. The madness was transmitted to the children, taught as they were-not merely to forget-but to hate, and surges of mob fury recurred sporadically even through the fourth generation after the Deluge. By then, the fury was directed not against the learned, for there were none, but against the merely literate."

Hmm. We seem to be doing it in reverse order: Simpletons first, then the Deluge.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Leibowitz, I mean. Liebowitz was the fake news one.

Anonymous said...



So locumranch is proposing the establishment of absolute anarchy? Does locumranch deny the existence of laws? What measures exactly locumranch proposes?

locumranch said...


In order for locumranch to "deny the existence of laws", we would first have to agree that laws possess more than arbitrary moral authority. The more progressive among us say 'No, the laws do not reflect any sort of objective, absolute, divine or universal authority because secularism & the Church v State separation.

In the absence of objective, absolute, divine or universal authority, we must then assume that the moral authority of law is subjective, arbitrary or lacking. And, if we conclude that the moral authority of law is subjective, arbitrary or lacking, then 'Yes, it fairly easy for anyone & everyone to deny the existence of valid laws'.

Then, there's the separate question of law enforcement & the justifiable use of force wherein we either assume that moral 'Right makes Might' & justifies the use of physical force, or we assume that 'Might makes Right' insomuch as the ability to enforce subjective, arbitrary & immoral laws justifies their legal enforcement.

And, then, there's Friedrich A. Hayek who states that “There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal. While the first is the condition of a free society, the second means as De Tocqueville describes it, a new form of servitude.”
[Individualism and Economic Order]

In their attempt to make all people equal, the progressives among us favour totalitarianism. They also favour more restrictive rules, bigger government, enforced political homogeneity & wage slavery to government taxation. Their rules, laws & the enforcement thereof are subjective, arbitrary & occur on no other pretense than 'Might makes Right' by their own admission.

It is progressivism, then, that "deny the existence of laws". Like Mao, Pol Pot & Stalin before them.


Best

David Brin said...

YOWL! Screech "opposite to facts are true!" and "My opponents mean and say and will do the opposite to every thing they stand for!" I am back to ignoring the psychosis.

onward

onward

raito said...

WI currently has a Marine Captain (as close as I can find) running as a GOP candidate for Senate. I don't think I want him. His radio ads are more jingoistic than a WWII-era John Wayne movie. He also casts himself as an outsider, but he's been working politics since college, at least.

About the only thing I agree with him on is that his switch from D to R is something shared by a number of politicians over the years.

And I still maintain that our host is ignorant of sumo. Personally, I think it's more a difference between a schoolyard fistfight and aikido.

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