Friday, January 07, 2022

Politics, polemics, but especially... prediction!

First, an item from the news.
So, only the Cheneys sat on the right side of the Aisle as every Republican member of the House boycotted… um, found ‘important business elsewhere’… when the House met to memorialize the officers killed by the rioters on 1/6/21. 

When the Cheneys - who stole billions from us in the Great Iraq Logistics Scam that was the sole real purpose of the Second Saddam War - say THEY have had enough of the Trumpist nightmare they helped create?

Sigh, history repeats. Like the Prussian "Junkers caste" lords who in the 1920s were SO sure they could 'control' the brown shirts they had subsidized. And around 1936 started murmuring: "what have we done?"



Heed this from The Sorcerer's Apprentice, from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:



Oh, here comes my master! Help me Lord, I plead!

Spirits I have conjured, no longer pay me heed.


== Prediction time? ==

It’s ‘prediction season' again! For example Mark Anderson of the Strategic News Service has one of the most brilliant predictive success records around. See Unveiling SNS's 2022 Predictions

I’ve dribbled-out my own across the years and have written extensively about the need for predictions registries and the use of wager demands to hold blowhards accountable.

But for years I’ve gone on record in many places calling 2023 the Year of the Flying Car… though at first it will likely be hobbyists away from town… plus licensed air-limo services in cities. For the Rich, of course. And watch how that works out!


One of my better recent items: Repairing the World: is that creative, preserving power in human hands?” I am interviewed by the legendary John Elkington for Green Swans Observatory. (October 2021).  A PDF transcription is available.


I participated in this report by the World Economic Forum on Positive AI Economic Futures. "Many computer science experts believe that, in this century, machines will be able to do most tasks better than humans. Given these sorts of predictions, it is important to think about the possible consequences of AI for the future of work and to prepare for different scenarios. Continued progress in these technologies could have disruptive effects: from further exacerbating recent trends in inequality to denying more and more people their sense of purpose and fulfillment in life, given that work is much more than just a source of income."

One of my most biting essays about politics and economics has been updated and reposted on The Street. As is my wont, I pause often to demand wagers, e.g. whether Supply Side/Thatcherism ever made a successful prediction of positive outcomes. No one ever steps up to bet, proving the cowardice of adherents of that mad cult... but also the polemical stupidity of Keynesians, for not using this simple method to highlight who's been right a lot... vs. who is always, always wrong.


Oh, any guesses why the Street folks chose to conclude the essay with an image of the grave of Karl Marx?


"Former White House strategist Steve Bannon on Monday dug in on this threat that Donald Trump-loyal “shock troops” will move to “deconstruct” the federal government the minute a Republican takes over the Oval Office again.

“We need to get ready now,” Bannon said on his “War Room” podcast. “We control the country. We’ve got to start acting like it. And one way we’re going to act like it, we’re not going to have 4,000 [shock troops] ready to go, we’re going to have 20,000 ready to go.""

== we’ve got anti-vax & climate denialism backwards! ==


Everyone (it seems) gets this backward. It's accepted that our fact professions - from science/teaching/journalism/medicine to the 'deep state' intel/military officers - are attacked by the Mad Right in order to prevent action on climate change. 


Wrong! 


Instead, climate denialism... and anti-vax and the rest ... are agitprop used to rile up confed/MAGAs, getting hem to aim their resentment at 'elites' of knowledge, rather than the elites of money/lordship who are actually stealing from those poor schlumps. In other words, oligarchy is applying exactly the same trick used by plantation lords in the 1860s to get a million poor whites to march and die for their class oppressors. 


Just watch Fox for a while or listen to Sinclair radio (kremlin) jocks. Vastly more time and energy is spent explicitly attacking nerds in the various fact professions than explicitly attacking races/genders etc. Make that a wager. Moreover, there's a reason for that. While disempowered victims (races/genders/the poor etc.) are hurt most by Mad Right policies, they are not the ones standing in the way of oligarchy's current putsch to grab all world power.


(Think. The powerless aren't the chief worry of the powerful. That is a tautology.)


The empowered clades who are blocking that ambition are the fact and knowledge professions. Including law and civil service and the officer corps and above all scientists. Discrediting the boffins is among the very top oligarchy priorities.


Hence, the anti-vax 'movement' and denialism and all that are inexplicable except in this context, where it suddenly becomes clear WHY the Foxites are deliberately killing thousands of their own followers with a campaign to divert them away from life-saving medicine. If they did not have climate denialism and anti-vax and abortion, they would have to concoct some other cult mythologies to use in the war on nerds.


Stop fracturing the coalition to save democracy and the enlightenment! See "Democracy Cannot survive the fracturing of the Democratic Coalition" by Ian Bassin in The Bulwark: “In the early days of the first Trump presidency, our organization cohosted a “Summit for Democracy” at which the keynote speakers were a Democratic senator, a Republican senator, and opposition leaders from Russia, Poland, and Egypt who had experience facing off against autocrats. At the end of the event, the foreign opposition leaders were asked to each give one piece of advice to Americans now facing the specter of authoritarianism. 


The Polish MP Agnieska Pomaska said this: “Don’t let the opposition fracture.” Her advice was born of experience. In Poland, the increasingly autocratic ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS), initially rose to power in 2015 on only plurality support (35 percent in the first round of voting) because the opposition could not stay united. In Hungary, the autocratic Fidesz Party managed to translate its own plurality support into legislative supermajorities in large part because the Hungarian opposition fractured in the lead-up to both the 2014 and 2018 elections. Once in power, both PiS and Fidesz then engaged in a program of dismantling democratic institutions and checks and balances. …”


The conclusion of the Bulwark article: Bassin notes, “In their book How Democracies Die, the Harvard scholars Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt compared four countries’ experiences in interwar Europe. In Belgium and Finland, far-right extremist parties gained some traction after World War I. In both countries, the center-right united with the left to block those anti-democratic parties from ascending further to power. 

In Italy and Germany on the other hand, the center-right in both cases chose not to do that, and instead sought to co-opt the political appeal of rising far-right movements by incorporating them into their ranks. We all know what happened next. Thus far, most pro-democracy Republicans have chosen to try to tame, or co-opt, the rising authoritarians in their midst. This is a mistake. Stopping the next authoritarian attempt will require a broad, united opposition. This unity of purpose is more crucial than any legislation.”

154 comments:

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

See "So you still think you can control them?" from Cabaret.


Thanks for including the clip. It's even scarier than I remembered it.

I'm also reminded that Michael York was pretty ubiquitous in movies of that time, having also played, among others, Logan in Logan's Run and D'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers. Thus, somehow, he became my mental image for Gordon Kranz when I first read The Postman, and has been so on every successive reading.

Dwight Williams said...

Agreed on this. The oligarchs gambled and threw the rest of us away.

Tim H. said...

The assault on knowledge can't mean anything good for the long term economic prospects of the United States, if new ideas can only be developed by enterprises run by folks with enough money to attempt something risky, we're liable to be starved of innovation.

David Brin said...

Tim H no one here (I think) wants to end the allure of producing new goods & services and getting rich thereby. But the scaling of richness should get HARDER with the 2nd billion$ not easier. And creating inheritance brats whould be discouraged. And money as political leverage doubly so.

duncan cairncross said...

Tim H

The only example of the "rich folk attempting risky things" is Elon Musk

And he did that when he was a millionaire - long before he became a billionaire

So Dr Brin's - making it HARDER to get the second billion - would probably not have made any difference

locumranch said...


The aging US Democrat Party embraces an equally geriatric Dick Cheney as a defender of democracy;

The endorsement of an AI-mediated Player Piano dystopia by those dedicated to 'preserving power in human hands';

A climate change believer who celebrates a flying 'Aircar' powered by fossil fuels & internal combustion (not legal in California after 2035); and

A proponent of democracy who supports rule by an expert managerial caste & an unelected WEF oligarchy.



The cognitive dissonance is strong here, even though our host (when compared to society at large) only appears to have a mild case.

Western Society appears increasingly insane as it (1) suspends the rule of law in order to protect the rule of law, (2) alleges that the vulnerable unvaccinated somehow represent a deadly threat to those who are vaccinated & fully protected and (3) substitutes Lin-Manuel Miranda lyrics for reasoned political discourse.

Germany has got the climate change belief so bad that it has chosen to close all its nuclear power plants (because climate change) so now it's entirely reliant on dirty Russian fossil fuels & the generosity of its mortal enemy Vlad.

Vonnegut was right when he said that "Human beings are about 1,000 times dumber and meaner than they think they are".


Best

Unknown said...

"Germany has got the climate change belief so bad that it has chosen to close all its nuclear power plants (because climate change)"

This is flat out wrong. Nobody, German or otherwise, thinks nuclear power plants emit CO2 or other greenhouse gases. It's because of Fukushima and (closer to home) Chernobyl - the technology is seen as dangerous, and Germany has a strong Green party arguing the case.

"...alleges that the vulnerable unvaccinated somehow represent a deadly threat to those who are vaccinated & fully protected."

My wife is fully vaccinated, but due to prior cancer treatments and age is still considered high risk. I cordially invite anyone who thinks she should act as if the unvaccinated are NOT a danger to her to die in a fire.

Pappenheimer

I don't normally make direct contradictions but these are either egregious statements of error or dissimulations.

addendum:
"Western Society appears increasingly insane." Well, yes. But my reasons for thinking so may be in direct opposition to Locumranch's. It seems as if this timeline took 2 massively wrong turns in the 2000 and 2016 US elections, and I am not sure I like where the handbasket I'm in is going.

and finally, for Larry Hart, from someone who fenced recreationally until 2020 -

"Only Porthos could devise a new method of disarming himself!"

Unknown said...

You know, I will put money on the line about this, as our host suggests. I'll wager $50 - traveler's checks, whatever, funds sent to a neutral party - that Germany's decision to shut down their reactor program had nothing to do with climate change.

Pappenheimer

Alfred Differ said...

duncan,

The only example of the "rich folk attempting risky things" is Elon Musk

Uhm. No. Gotta call bullshit on that, but not with any anger. It's just that I know some millionaires and a couple of multi-millionaires who violate this rule.


everyone else,

As for making the second billion harder to acquire, I'm not inclined to be supportive. I'll help defend our political markets from people who can spill torrents into them in certain ways, but not if the solution intrudes too much in the old commercial markets.

——

The problem with making the second unit of a 'thing' harder to acquire than the first is that markets don't work that way for any realistic pricing mechanism for anything.

The classic 'man dying of thirst in a desert' story shows this. He'll pay anything for the first liter of water someone brings to him. He'll pay much less for the second. Same goes for ships caught at sea with no anchor. The first one they might buy from a passing ship is priceless. The second isn't.

The value of a 'thing' depends on how much of it you already have. Marginal costs are meaningful. This is how it works with investment capital too. What percentage of my company must I surrender to an investor for $X in the first round? Likely much more than $X in the second round if things go well. I might have to work my behind off (or get very lucky) to earn my first million, but the second will cost me much less. Just like the second liter of water or second anchor.

——

A few years ago my brother and I were working though inheritance issues after my parents passed. There wasn't much to divvy up so it was pretty simple. He wanted an unequal split among us all since all of us were not equally well off. Turned out to be nearly impossible to do legally, so we had to abandon it and plan for gifts later. Along the way though, we wound up having that discussion we'd long delayed about who was most successful. Without a doubt, he was in financial terms and I was in terms of 'personal development' which he measured by education accomplishments. I made an off-hand comment about millionaires and he looked at me kinda funny. Unbeknownst to me, he had already passed that level years earlier and was working higher. His wife was a sharp cookie when it came to real estate, so they just had to make sure her brothers didn't screw things up. He wouldn't say exactly what he was worth and probably couldn't. Some of his investments weren't liquid. We talked about this stuff at length, though, and one thing became really clear. The 'first' of anything is hard to get. The second is easier. The tenth is dirt simple.

It doesn't matter whether the first thing is a hamburger, a $100 bill, or a starship. Once you can get one, the second is easier for the simplest of reasons. You know how. It's actually the value of your human capital that is altering the price of the second, third, and tenth. That first thing is so damn expensive because you are building that knowledge.

Look back at your own salary history (if you work for a living) and tell me that hasn't held true on average for you.
Look back at the value of your creations that can be 'licensed' (if you have any) and tell me the second was harder to create than the first.
Bet you can't.

Larry Hart said...

locumranch, wrong on all counts as usual:

Western Society appears increasingly insane as it (1) suspends the rule of law in order to protect the rule of law,


The Republicans are the ones doing that, suspending fair elections in the name of election integrity and suspending democracy in the name of saving democracy, killing and maiming policemen because Blue Lives Matter.


(2) alleges that the vulnerable unvaccinated somehow represent a deadly threat to those who are vaccinated & fully protected and


A deadly threat to other unvaccinated, some of whom vaccines won't work on. A breeding ground for new mutations which thwart vaccines. And a threat to everyone--including the vaccinated and protected--by overwhelming the health care system which is also needed for car crashes, heart attacks, and other life-threatening situations which vaccines don't protect against. *


(3) substitutes Lin-Manuel Miranda lyrics for reasoned political discourse.


What I claimed, and stand by, is that had Hillary Clinton schooled Trump by rattling off some killer Hamilton lyrics during that debate, she'd be Madam President by now. She also could have neutralized his following her around the stage like an ape had she had the cultural awareness to say, "Will someone get this big walking carpet out of my way?"

Not saying that's a good way to run a railroad. Just that that's how it happens to be run.

* One would think that a supposed-doctor would be especially aware of this one.

Don Gisselbeck said...

I'm anxiously awaiting a robot that can ski suncups and icy moguls. As of three years ago, they couldn't manage beginner slopes.
https://youtu.be/3C07u89jWmc

Larry Hart said...

Pappenheimer:

My wife is fully vaccinated, but due to prior cancer treatments and age is still considered high risk. I cordially invite anyone who thinks she should act as if the unvaccinated are NOT a danger to her to die in a fire.


Fully agree. I am out of fucks to give for the feelings of the terrorist snowflakes.


I don't normally make direct contradictions but these are either egregious statements of error or dissimulations.


Same here. I normally don't hear the words of traitors, but some require not just refutation but humiliation in response.


addendum:
"Western Society appears increasingly insane." Well, yes. But my reasons for thinking so may be in direct opposition to Locumranch's.


I hold that truth to be self-evident.


and finally, for Larry Hart, from someone who fenced recreationally until 2020 -

"Only Porthos could devise a new method of disarming himself!"


:)

The Michael York version of The Three Musketeers was one of my favorite movies as a teenager, and I think it was because it tempered the action-adventure with exactly the same level of humor that the Batman tv show did.

David Brin said...

Cannot imagine Richelieu except as played by Charlton Heston! Fay Dunaway! Raquel!

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

Both Faye Dunnaway and Racquel Welch did seem a bit miscast in those roles (as did Michael York). But you're absolutely right about Charlton Heston. He was Cardinal Richelieu.

"By my hand, and for the good of the state, the bearer has done what has been done."

scidata said...

I must weigh in on Michael York.
I read everything I see about "Lost Horizon" because it's the seed of "Foundation" (Gibbon and Thucydides were the soil). In the 1973 musical version, York played Robert Conway's brother George. It was so bad that it nearly ended several careers, including his. Siskel & Ebert both gave it 1 star. It made the list of 50 worst films of all time. One nickname was "Lost Investment". Read its Wikipedia page for lots more fun.
BTW York held a degree in English from Oxford.

Der Oger said...

Germany has got the climate change belief so bad that it has chosen to close all its nuclear power plants (because climate change) so now it's entirely reliant on dirty Russian fossil fuels & the generosity of its mortal enemy Vlad.

I'll try to provide some perspective.

1. The first nuclear exit was planned through the Red-Green coalition under Chancellor Schroeder, then overturned under the first Merkel term. Then, it seemed a good idea to replace nuclear power plants with Russian gas. Climate change wasn't that of an issue even with the Greens in the years 1998-2005, and one could still hope that Putin would lead Russia into a more democratic future.

2. The second nuclear exit started directly after the Fukushima catastrophe, by the conservative-libertarian government coalition (Merkel II). A EU - wide audit determined that most European nuclear reactors had considerable safety problems, as they had not been modernized for 20-30 years and more. As with Czernobyl (see below), it started to affect the polls, and so, Merkel did what she always did: She merkeled.

to merkel (v.):
a) to do nothing until you absolutely have to;
b) to express your trust in a subordinate when you are about to fire them;
c) to govern by the polls;
d) to steal potentially dangerous themes from opposition parties to keep their numbers down.

She made a 180° degree turn and had the seven oldest reactors shut down immediately, with the others following until this year.
That effectively killed the most important environmental issue of the greens and saved herself another term, despite her administration being rocked by several scandals. (To her credit, unlike the rest of her party, she never was caught in any personal wrongdoing such as corruption or having gained an academic title under false pretenses.)The Greens were denied an easy victory (an lost further by proposing things like mandatory veggie days.)

3. Schröder, part of the Hannoveran SPD party machine, became employed by Gazprom after losing the 2005 election. His closest allies remained heavy-weights of our domestic politics for the last 20 years, though they are on the way out. Chancellor Scholz might be one of the last Schröderians. Yet, Nord Stream II was the culmination of their endeavors in this area.

(BTW, this is a more common form of corruption over here: Instead of greasing the hands directly, you provide a well-paid working place whenever someone leaves politics.)

Der Oger said...

Continued:

4. Some History: The early Greens formed as a political party of the old extraparlamentary opposition of 1968, the growing environmental movement, and the peace movement opposing the Cold War Arms race. (Which included the Churches.)

Nuclear power was a wedge issue starting in the early 80s, with violent protests, and violent police reactions.

Then, Czernobyl happened. I remember these days as being full of worries, as radioactive fallout rained down. It changed us, made us more critical of nuclear power. Like, a national trauma.

And as we became aware of it, we suddenly realized en masse that we had no place for the radioactive waste. One site, Gorleben, was selected as a temporary depot mostly because it was in a relatively remote and low-populated area at the intra-German border. The transports required tens of thousands of policemen each year and each year, protesters came back for another 30 years. The prospective end depot was declared geologically unsuited a few years ago, and waste had to be recovered from a glowing sludge of salt, water had entered. The protests became a ritual like the 1st of May riots in Berlin.

5. The American worries that we could become dependent on Russian gas are taken as hypocritical, as we are supposed to buy liquid gas from you ... and from an environmental perspective, Russian Gas is "cleaner" than yours (which is won by fracking, if I remember correctly. Also, it may be that you are an autocracy in four years from now, too ... so it would not matter anymore which dictator sells it to us.

6. Our Manchins have effectively torpedoed regenerative energies, yet, some of them lost the last election. The new coalition treaty (which is nothing more than a wish list) has mandatory solar energy on every new house built in it. Yet, I am in goo hope that we can regain some of the lost ground. Maybe we are capable of transforming our economy and society into a greener form.

David Brin said...

Der Oger. Interesting perspective. Informative! Still, the notion that taking Putin's claws out of Europe's throats and weakening him is not worth half a decade of US natural gas seems odd.

We have that method of corruption and much, much more. By far tyhe worst form is likely blackmail.

Treebeard said...

You gotta love it when they’re trotting out Dick Cheney to try to give themselves anti-fascist credibility. Here’s a legitimate fascist mastermind being feted by people who are entirely creatures of an alliance of Big Government/Big Corporation/Big Money/Big Media, telling us to watch out for fascists while using it as a pretext to grab more power. Are these people for real? The dark humor of it is almost too much even for me.

Matt Taibbi has a good piece about this: A Tale of Two Authoritarians

Some excerpts:

Seeing leading Democrats nuzzling the man George W. Bush called “Iron Ass” summed up the essential problem of the ordinary person trying to find a political home in this landscape. Even if you find the Trump phenomenon troubling, his opposition is not only authoritarian, but organized and armed with the intellectual tools to understand and appreciate how the technological elimination of democracy might be achieved in the 21st century.

On the pretense that new powers were needed to combat the sweeping global threat whose existence 9/11 supposedly proved, Cheney institutionalized executive assassination, torture, mass surveillance, secret prisons, secret budgeting, and the wholesale elimination of congressional oversight over most of his program, turning the world into what one Pentagon adviser who talked to Seymour Hersh back in the day called a “global free-fire zone.”

It was under Cheney’s watch that we turned into a country that snatched people off the streets all over the world, put them in indefinite detention in an archipelago of secret hell-holes, threatened to rape their family members, and resorted to techniques like “rectal feeding” so often that one Guantanamo Bay prisoner had to bring a special pillow to sit in court.


But forget all that, Dick is one of us, he's alright, he's a goodfella.

The cognitive dissonance of trying to process the constant conflicting signals and outright absurdities coming from this ruling class can't be good for one's mental. It's surely a major factor in the rising levels of derangement locum mentioned. We have several data points here at this blog, where our host spent years repeating the most absurd claims about Trump and Russia and reminds us regularly that we're gods in a war for the future of the galaxy, where matthew talked about building weapons and just the other day promoted a Stasi-style enemies lists, and Larry is now calling people who choose not to get unvaccinated “terrorist snowflakes”. Extrapolating from this sample, it suggests that we have a rather serious mental health problem among our educated, credentialed liberal class, though fortunately most of my interactions with the lesser classes have been less disturbing.

Since I'm all being helpful and finding solutions to the world's problems, my suggestion is this: trying stepping back from the main vectors of crazy (social media and mass media), go out and see what people and the world are actually like, forget all your narratives and ideologies for a while and just live. That's why I try to do, and when's the last time I said anything crazy?

David Brin said...

I did not bother more than skimming this ent-gram. But feh. Again, you call US the thing you see in the mirror, a creature of reflexiv, on-off loyalties and hates.

I despise Dick Cheney with great passion and say so any time he comes up. He is like a Prussian lord belatedly trying to staunch a Nazi movement he and others thought they could 'control.'

Does that make him 'better' than his fellow Bushite klepto-cheater-lords? Yes! Bettet, though not in any moral way. Rather it means(1) he's likely too smart to have been blackmailed, like Cruz, Graham, McConnell and most goppers...

.. and (2) smart enough to know that if the Union side is ever FULLY roused by the Trumpists, we will pry up every rock and shine light on all the pluto-caches that were stolen. And then apply the Rule of Law.

That makes Dick Cheney NOT more moral than the craven GOP traitors abetting Tumpism. Just smarter, but we already knew that. So sure, I'll accept his help. I'm not the hypocrite here.

You are, sir.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

That makes Dick Cheney NOT more moral than the craven GOP traitors abetting Tumpism. Just smarter, but we already knew that. So sure, I'll accept his help. I'm not the hypocrite here.


Like most right-wingers who try to portray liberals as hypocrites, Treebeard accuses us of "feting" Dick Cheney as a great white hero. No, we still hate the guy, but as Dr Brin mentions, we welcome his coming over to the good side on this issue. Mainly because he has "Republican cred", and nothing gets accomplished in this country if it can be smeared as solely a creature of the left.


Treebeard:

and when's the last time I said anything crazy?


Nuh uh. Not touching that straight line with a 39 and a half foot pole.

Larry Hart said...

Almost missed this bit of locum-like slander.

Treebeard:

Larry is now calling people who choose not to get unvaccinated “terrorist snowflakes”.


Not quite.

I'm calling "terrorists" those who routinely threaten violence or death to their own Republican officials who aren't quite in the bag enough to cheat for Trump, or to ordinary citizens who act as election officials, or to school board members who won't toe the Trump line.

I'm calling "snowflakes" those who complain about cancel culture against themselves, but absolutely freak out at any mention of a fact which makes themselves uncomfortable with the truth or which weakens their political arguments.

The fact that both of those categories plus "Trump supporters" and "white trash" could walk into a bar and order himself (singular) a drink is not my fault. Deal with it.

locumranch said...


Yes, yes. We agree. We all understand that every crazy has many many good 'reasons' with which to justify their insanity or their equally insane policies.

The Germans (especially the 'Good Ones') really really believe in climate change, but they are also technophobes who really really fear nuclear power, so it's really really understandable that they choose to burn brown coal & petrochemicals and poison the planet because 'reasons'.

Good Californians (climate change believers too) have already banned pre-2010 lorry engines, all small IC engines (as of 2025) and all new IC engines in passenger vehicles like Aircars (as of 2035). They also fear nuclear power and, even though they can't keep their electric lights on or their trucks rolling at this very moment, that's OK because 'reasons'.

But, by far, the Pro-Vaxx Covidians are the most insane. They value every single at-risk human life (the dying, the old & the obese) to such an absurd extreme -- they are so damn 'good' -- that they are perfectly willing to have every other low risk individual (quote) DIE IN A FIRE (endquote) for refusing an experimental vaccine, which fails to stop viral transmission anyhow, because 'reasons'.

That's over 90 Million people wished dead in the US alone by an extremely moral group of Covidians because 'reasons'.

Insane 'reasons' that they share, I suspect, with many many progressive and really fearful US Democrat Party members who demand the 'unpersoning' of 150 million fellow non-democrat citizens because 'reasons'.


Best

______

Der Oger's post illustrates 2 important points:

(1)The first is the Abilene Paradox which illustrates how the peaceful resolution of individual differences can result in sociopolitical dysfunction; and

(2)The second is how the Germans prioritize their own self-interests (cheap fuel) over the security interests of a (toothless;dysfunctional) anachronism like NATO.

duncan cairncross said...

Alfred
I agree - markets don't work that way

Neither do about 50% of all processes - which is why we invented Governors and why there is a whole branch of engineering devoted to "control"

We started off with James Watt's big brass balls - but we have had to become more sophisticated a modern controller is usually a PID - Proportional, Integral, Differential unit

Which uses all three terms to keep the process under control

We don't say "Its a positive feedback process so we can't use it"

We set up the controls to keep it under control

We do this for EVERYTHING - so why not for "the market"???

We could use tax

A progressive income tax is the "Proportional"
A wealth tax is the "Integral"
A "windfall tax" is the Differential

Half of the modern world is controlled

GMT -5 8032 said...

"He wanted an unequal split among us all since all of us were not equally well off. Turned out to be nearly impossible to do legally. . . ." I don't know what state you are in, but unequal dispositions are very easy to do in most states. But your approach to make gifts later is acceptable and if your statement is based on facts that I don't know, certainly don't change your plan based on my ignorant comment.

Your statement about the "first being the hardest" is certainly true. I remember a conversation with a very successful businessman back...oh...30 years ago where he said pretty much the same thing. He started his first business. It was a success and he sold it. He started a second business; it was even easier making it a success. He sold it. Lather; rinse; repeat. You learn the most the first time you do something (whether it is starting a business or starting a series of crimes) and each time you succeed, you get better at it.

GMT -5 8032 said...

My wife and I are both vaccinated and boosted. The issue of vaccine mandates is coming up in my military reserve unit and I understand the concerns of people who are vaccine hesitant, even though I am not one of them. I've always known that infectious diseases were a difficult issue for our social and government systems to handle. We want to put limits on how powerful government is...and infectious diseases are one issue where it is hard to balance out the competing concerns.

The house purchase is moving ahead at warp speed. An issue came up after the home inspection turned up some expensive problems. The realtor (acting as dual agent) was worried that we would end up in conflict with the sellers. We made a proposal about cost sharing (which the seller was not obligated to consider since our contract did not make the purchase conditional on correcting any problems that came up in the inspection). Seller accepted our proposal without the need for any compromise. So things are still looking good. The bankers are amazed at how fast we are getting the paperwork done. But then, 36 years as a lawyer who spent a career focusing on compliance made me ready for this. We close on January 21st. I just hope the bank has the mortgage loan ready in time. Looks like they will.

Reminds me of the time we wanted to build a detached garage for our first home. The City zoning department rejected our application. We appealed to the zoning appeals commission. It got rather funny when we learned that the reason why our variance request was rejected was because our application was the first one that the zoning department had ever received that was perfect in every way. They saw that I was a lawyer and that made them suspicious. The chairman of the zoning appeals commission was not amused.

David Brin said...

GMT, congrats on the house buy progress. Hope it goes well.

the 2. d billio or successful business is easier in part because of your higher credit-worthiness and track record/reputation and contacts!

Compliance atty, eh? See my postings about 'compliance assistance'... one of 100 polemical tactics that would be effective, if dems didn't have the polemical IQ of a cranky cub scout.

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/10/voter-id-laws-scam-or-accountability.html

Robert said...

The issue of vaccine mandates is coming up in my military reserve unit and I understand the concerns of people who are vaccine hesitant, even though I am not one of them.

Won't be the first time that the military has been mass-innoculated:

https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/GW&smallpoxinoculation.html

Variolation was riskier than vaccination, yet Washington ordered it done. Too bad he's not held up as an admirable figure in America, otherwise his example might be an inspiration to those right-wingers who so venerate your Constitution and Founding Fathers…

(Yes, sarcasm.)

David Brin said...

Moreover, accusations of snowflakery hurled at liberals ignore the fact that liberals and moderates were willing to be the guinea pigs for rapidly developed vaccines. And a whole year has gone by with creepy-cowardly-concocted conspiracies as the only reason to doubt this almost-perfect scientific miracle.

And as added proof of symbolism-obsessed mania, not a single MAGA has been willing to back up any of the constantly shifting ravings. To step up and put actual cash money on any of the accusations against the vaccines. Because they know fully well they are all hot-air assertions, disproved, one after another after another.

Close to 200 million Americans and more than a billion worldwide vaccinated with Moderna/pfizer/J&J, Deleterious effects - those few serious with any solid evidence at all - are statistically two to three ORDERS of magnitude lower in occurance or severity, at-worst(!) than effects of the disease itself.

Ironically, vaccine-driven resistance to infection is likely what propelled Omicron to take over in virulence... and it does seem milder in symptoms and IS approaching a level where - at last - death rates may be similar to a bad flu. And yes, talk of easing up on closures and shut downs may be apropos, very soon.

I'm still paranoid about something science has NOT provided much reassurance about... Long Covid. Until I know it does not embed in organs, like AIDS, I will remain boosted and very cautious.


Der Oger said...

The Germans (especially the 'Good Ones') really really believe in climate change, but they are also technophobes who really really fear nuclear power, so it's really really understandable that they choose to burn brown coal & petrochemicals and poison the planet because 'reasons'.

Yes. Technophobia is the reason we are one of the leading industrial nations.*

(1)The first is the Abilene Paradox which illustrates how the peaceful resolution of individual differences can result in sociopolitical dysfunction; and

Oh, yeah. The cities are in flames, the streets awash in blood.*

(2)The second is how the Germans prioritize their own self-interests (cheap fuel) over the security interests of a (toothless;dysfunctional) anachronism like NATO.

And then, everyone does. Yet, NATO became dysfunctional by the administration of that former backstabbing guy.

BTW, Fuel isn't cheap here, gasoline prices are roughly double of that in the US.

*Sarcasm, if not already clear.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

And as added proof of symbolism-obsessed mania, not a single MAGA has been willing to back up any of the constantly shifting ravings. To step up and put actual cash money on any of the accusations against the vaccines. Because they know fully well they are all hot-air assertions, disproved, one after another after another.


You know what you never hear, even once? A vaccinated person with a tearful deathbed post on social media confessing that she was so misguided, and imploring her family not to do as she did and to resist vaccination before it's too late. Why?


Close to 200 million Americans and more than a billion worldwide vaccinated with Moderna/pfizer/J&J, Deleterious effects - those few serious with any solid evidence at all - are statistically two to three ORDERS of magnitude lower in occurance or severity, at-worst(!) than effects of the disease itself.


That's my response to anyone who refers to an "untested" or "experimental" vaccine. The experiment has been done in real time for a year now. Billions have been vaccinated. No one has actually turned magnetic. And why would Bill Gates need to put nanobots into your bloodstream to track your every movement when you carry a tracking device with you 24x7 and post your own federal crimes on Facebook (ok, I mean Parler)?


Ironically, vaccine-driven resistance to infection is likely what propelled Omicron to take over in virulence... and it does seem milder in symptoms and IS approaching a level where - at last - death rates may be similar to a bad flu. And yes, talk of easing up on closures and shut downs may be apropos, very soon.


If infection is no longer any worse than seasonal diseases we're used to and transmissibility no longer overloads the hospital system, then I'd agree that vaccination can be a personal decision.


I'm still paranoid about something science has NOT provided much reassurance about... Long Covid. Until I know it does not embed in organs, like AIDS, I will remain boosted and very cautious.


The Pyrrhic "good" news for you and me is that we're probably old enough to die of something else before hidden, long-term effects of a new disease gets us.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

otherwise his [Washington's' example might be an inspiration to those right-wingers who so venerate your Constitution and Founding Fathers…


I was literally going to type "Their 'founding fathers' are Christopher Columbus and Cotton Mather, and their 'constitution' starts and ends with the second amendment." Then, I read your link, and saw that Cotton Mather was responsible for the colonies' first inoculation effort in 1720.

Robert said...

I'm still paranoid about something science has NOT provided much reassurance about... Long Covid. Until I know it does not embed in organs, like AIDS, I will remain boosted and very cautious.

I know a chap who's got long Covid and he's mostly recovered physically, but mentally? Still got brain fog so bad he had to take early retirement because he couldn't think well enough to do his job. Can't drive because he can't process events fast enough to be safe. Has a hard time retaining new information.

Last stats I saw was that around 20% of those who catch Omicron end up with long Covid, including cognitive effects, and that includes children. That's what scares me — my grandnibs catching it at school and being permanently cognitively impaired.

scidata said...


Re: cognitive impairment
That's actually the main reason I hang around places like this and CollapseOS - a sort of early warning system. It's something I've learned over long haul stroke recovery. So far, so good - no flies on me :)

Confederate and Russian empire types like to call NATO a dysfunctional anachronism. Har.

Unknown said...

Der Oger:

"The cities are in flames, the streets awash in blood.*"

Well, I live in Washington state, where Seattle was destroyed several times by Antifa and BLM over the course of 2020/2021. That's what happens when you raise the minimum wage.*

Pappenheimer

* also sarcasm

Treebeard said...

The issue with covid vaccines isn’t just or even primarily a scientific debate, though there’s plenty of disagreement there. It’s more about not consenting to an intrusion by Big Gov/Big Pharma into your biology and having basic freedoms taken away for doing so. I deny them those rights, and it’s not up for negotiation or debate. My resistance is not really at the level of your arguments. Certainly the heavy-handed way vaccines are promoted, dissent is shut down and dissentors are demonized contributes to the overall resistance. I mean, do these these vaccine-pushers really think that putting little Ministry of Truth advisories on any video dealing with covid or deplatforming doubters inspires confidence in their story? Do they really think artists and entertainers giving us dancing syringe people, sheep herds shaped as syringes and shrieking boomer talking heads are culturally persuasive? There is a general sense that we are dealing with authoritarians who have arrogated powers that we didn’t give them, and next time it will something else (e.g. Climate Change restrictions), because we know that power always seeks more power. Arguments like "it's for your own good" or "the good of society" are matters of opinion and have no limit to their possible abuse, so you have to draw a red line somewhere. This is a red line. And again, it’s not up for negotiation or debate. I'm confident in my own immune system and don’t require any assistance from Big Pharma, thanks anyway. Next topic.

Larry Hart said...

Finally (and well worth the wait), Stonekettle on the Jan 6 anniversary...

https://www.stonekettle.com/2022/01/insurrection-one-year-on.html

...
And by and by, given the nature of social media, I reconnected to old friends, those very men I had once so admired, the ones who trained me in honor, duty, professionalism, and the skills to see the truth through chaos.

And I was horrified.

You see, a liberal black man had just been elected to office.

I voted for him. Yes, I did. Not reluctantly, but with enthusiasm. Proudly. Obama, my God, he was young and dynamic and smart and educated and articulate and kind and compassionate and funny and all the things that made me proud to be an American.

I'm still proud that I voted for him, twice, voted for the first black president not because he was black but because he embodied the very best of what this nation might be.

But what does that have to do with January 6th?

How did we get here? To this moment?

That's how.

President Barack Obama.

Because the election of a young, dynamic, smart, educated, articulate, kind, compassionate, and funny liberal black man galvanized the foul racist mean underbelly of this country like nothing else ever had.

Those who attacked the Capitol a year ago today. They are in almost every regard, the antithesis of Barack Obama, mean, crude, uneducated, ill spoken, filled with rage and blind ignorant loud blustering false patriotism.

And those men I had admired? Those veterans I respected?

Like me, they were trained to be objective. To put aside their own bias. To demand proof. To require evidence. To check and doublecheck the information.

And they threw all of that away, all of it, when a black man took office.

They forgot everything they ever knew.

They forgot who they had been.

They watched Fox News all day and they lost their humanity. They lost their objectivity. Without the supporting structure of the military and the purpose it gave them and the impartiality our profession had imposed upon their worldview, they lost their very identity.

They became, literally became, different people.

It was horrifying. Like watching a loved one eaten alive by Alzheimers.

They included me on increasingly insane email chains that quoted Nancy Grace, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck as fact. They sent me racist mails quoting the comedian Jeff Foxworthy as if that guy was some sort of expert on anything. They posted racist memes to their Facebook pages and said with a sly wink, it's not really racist if it's true. Heh heh. They sent me dire proclamations from the NRA how the negro in office was somehow coming to take their guns -- these were men who'd been trained in firearms by professionals, who'd served honorably in war, who laughed at a bunch of unholstered swaggering goons like the National Rifle Association and yet here they were now suddenly quoting Ted Nugent.

And it got worse.

It got so much worse.
...

David Brin said...

Tunning whiner ent! Who is taking your rights, snowflake? This exactly why your cult wages open war upon all fact professions. Because all is symbolism. Yu would rather help spread a plague to our immunocompromised parents than admit facts prove your Foxit cult masters were wrong.

But you do you. Yeah sure. We're persecuting you. Hallucinating whiner.

Larry Hart said...

@Treebeard,

Serious question. Why don't you ever, I mean EVER, rail against the threat to freedom and personal autonomy from those who threaten violence and death as a means of intimidating others into toeing the line of the right wing?

You will apparently die on the hill of not letting Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi order you around, but you seem to have no problem with Ron DeSantis or Gregg Abbott infringing the rights of localities and businesses. You rail against those who accept the word of Dr Anthony Fauci as sheep, but give the blind followers of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, or Friggin-for-God's-sake Mike Lindell a pass.

Why?

Larry Hart said...

More from the Stonekettle 1/6 post...

https://www.stonekettle.com/2022/01/insurrection-one-year-on.html

This part nails a certain blog participant with surgical accuracy:


For evil to flourish, good men forget who they are. They forget the ideals they once swore to give their very lives for. They come to believe that they are aggrieved, that justice, liberty, and democracy are zero sums and that they have been diminished by the rising freedom of others. They come to see education and intellect as "elitism" and they begin to regard duty and the obligations of civilization itself as oppression. They raise up ignorance, hate, and especially violent rage as strengths and sneer in contempt at compassion, charity, and selflessness.


Whereas this is exactly what my old formerly-sane conservative buddy, Chris, turned into when President Obama was elected:

They included me on increasingly insane email chains that quoted Nancy Grace, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck as fact. They sent me racist mails quoting the comedian Jeff Foxworthy as if that guy was some sort of expert on anything. They posted racist memes to their Facebook pages and said with a sly wink, it's not really racist if it's true. Heh heh. They sent me dire proclamations from the NRA how the negro in office was somehow coming to take their guns -- these were men who'd been trained in firearms by professionals, who'd served honorably in war, who laughed at a bunch of unholstered swaggering goons like the National Rifle Association and yet here they were now suddenly quoting Ted Nugent.

Treebeard said...

@Larry, you have to give me some examples of how those people are threatening my rights and freedoms. I'm not a Fox News watcher or Republican, so I don't pay much attention to them.

@Dr. Brin, I don't call it persecution, since I'm fortunate enough to be self-employed and no one really cares about covid restrictions where I live. I'm not at risk of getting fired for not getting jabbed, or have a business or lifestyle that is significantly affected by it, so it's a minor inconvenience. But it is a red line, and it is symbolic, just as many things are symbolic for you. Every ruling system relies on symbolism; getting vaccinated and wearing a mask symbolize submission to the authority of the technocracy; not doing so is a symbolic rejection of it. Since technocratic authoritarianism is the clear and present danger to human freedom (not populism or nationalism or whatever it wants us to believe is so threatening), this is a good place to take a symbolic stand. None of this is whining, just stating my position since the topic came up.

Jon S. said...

Dick Cheney is not a "good guy". Dick Cheney is not on our side.

However, Maxim 26: The enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy. No more, no less.

We can be co-belligerents without ever being friends, or even allies.

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

@Larry, you have to give me some examples of how those people are threatening my rights and freedoms.


Well, the right-wing domestic terrorists probably aren't threatening your rights and freedoms, since they're aligned with your political sentiments. They routinely threaten other people's rights and freedoms. I'm not surprised if you're fine with that.

The people who credit anything told to them and will do anything they're told to do by the likes of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Mike Lindell, etc may not be threatening your rights, but then neither are those who listen to Dr Fauci or the CDC. Your complaint against the latter seems to be that they are sheep who fearfully do what their masters tell them rather than think critically for themselves. I submit that the former are guilty of that very thing, and am ostensibly curious as to why you don't consider that to be the case.

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

since I'm fortunate enough to be self-employed and no one really cares about covid restrictions where I live. I'm not at risk of getting fired for not getting jabbed,


I suspect you were doing social distancing long before it became a thing, so yeah, you're probably safe from communicable diseases transmitted by proximity to other people. Not everyone is so fortunate.


getting vaccinated and wearing a mask symbolize submission to the authority of the technocracy; not doing so is a symbolic rejection of it.


Seriously? Do you feel oppressed by the reality of facts such as the law of gravity or Newton's laws?

Stopping for red lights or driving exclusively on one side of the road are symbols of submission too. Do you rebel against those restrictions as well?


Since technocratic authoritarianism is the clear and present danger to human freedom (not populism or nationalism or whatever it wants us to believe is so threatening)...


This is hardly established truth, so any conclusions from the premise are just as conditional. Just sayin'.

David Brin said...

"Just as many things are symbolic for you."

A lie! But of course almost every time you come here, you shout at uss assumptions about motives and psychology and behavior that only reflect what you see in the mirror.

Dig it fellah, we are ALL subjective, sure. But science teaches us to recite "I might be wrong." And there are things like justice and perspective and CURIOSITY, above all, that have made millions of humans perform a miracle... penetrating their subjective will to believe subjectivities with scalpels and lasers of objective evidence.

And there are NO areas of your zeitgeist that you appear to ever question, in that way.

Larry Hart said...

Without further comment...

https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/rex-huppke/ct-cps-chicago-schools-covid-closed-union-teachers-omicron-huppke-20220107-xrxj74m5vffyziqkbrrwrtoj3m-story.html

The current Chicago Public Schools mess is a perfect microcosm of this country’s increasingly boneheaded handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

I’ll put it in the form of a parable: A group of people see a bear charging toward them. They’ve dealt with a similar bear before and know what needs to be done to minimize the impending mauling. With ample time to prepare, the group fractures. Some pretend the bear isn’t there at all and refuse to accept an effective spritz of bear repellent. Others assume the bear will be different this time and might just go away. Some think getting mauled is the only way to avoid a future mauling. Some smartly take cover. And some just let the bear maul them, wondering, as their toes get snacked on, why the heck they hadn’t planned for this in advance.
...

Alfred Differ said...

duncan,

We do this for EVERYTHING - so why not for "the market"???

Because, my friend, the market is more like an organism than it is an engine.

You do NOT understand its inner workings.
You can't even define a term like 'efficiency' as Work Done/Heat In.
You don't know because we don't know.

The market isn't just non-linear.
It is multi-multi-dimensional and inherently not predictable.
We simply lack the information to shape the boundary value problem, let alone solve it.


Don't let the simplicity of thermodynamics fool you. It is a wonderfully self-producing theory making something from almost nothing. Assume a state function on a few continuous variables and TA DA thermodynamics falls out. Much of micro-econ does too, but for econ we do NOT have the state function. We don't even know how many variables to consider. We keep inventing things, thus can't even predict the number of free variables exist.

Using thermodynamics as an analogy for market theory is a direct path to failure. Right off a cliff.

Markets are much more biological.

Alfred Differ said...

GMT-5

The problem my brother faced originated in the papers left by my father and mother. He was advised by counsel not to do anything different. I thought my siblings would not have contested anything, but the danger supposedly came from the next generation. Personally, I didn't see it as an issue, but a few months later my late sister had an 'odd' view of what we should do with my mother's house and I changed my mind. My brother was advised well and we avoided an unnecessary fight.

Years ago, I learned to appreciate advising lawyers as a distinct group from those who fight court cases. One helped me and a few partners unravel an LLC that wasn't set up right. It wasn't worth a dime at the time, but some of us were willing to fight to the death over stupid things. Molehill sized mountains. Avoiding all that at the time impressed the heck out of me. 8)


I also learned that 'the second being easier' also applies to those who fail the first time because they learn what not to do. Do that often enough and one will back into a way to win that first one. The trick is to find a way to try multiple times without being thrown in jail* or tracked down by angry mobs with torches and pitchforks**.



* My second failed attempt (after the imploding LLC) involved a Director who did something the CEO felt would get us all tossed in the slammer. Oops. Had to unravel that one too. Haven't started attempt #3 yet. 8)

** Still not safe for me to talk about a particular event in Texas.

Alfred Differ said...

Treebeard,

I deny them those rights, and it’s not up for negotiation or debate.

It's not a 'right' they are expressing. It's a power granted to them by your neighbors.

It's not a 'right' people like me are claiming over your biology. It's a moral duty we are demanding of you in the sense of 'Justice'. What may you reasonably expect from me? What may I reasonably expect from you? Those expectations form a rule set (mostly unwritten) and your duty is (mostly) about what we expect of you.


Casting this as an issue of 'rights' demonstrates what you are really doing.
You are arguing you have no moral duty here. You've denied it. No negotiating or debating it.

You are committing an ethical error and we judge you accordingly.



I'll go a step further and make another judgement.
If you have no moral duty to us, you state clearly you belong to a caste above us.
I reject that.

Larry Hart said...

Unfortunately true...

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/10/opinion/covid-biden-trump.html

To keep Trump and his epigones away from high office, it isn’t enough having the moral high ground. It’s like something Adlai Stevenson supposedly said once when a voter told him that every thinking person was on his side. “I’m afraid that won’t do,” he replied. “I need a majority.”

Democracy needs a majority.

Treebeard said...

Alfred, you can call it a “moral duty“ but it doesn’t change anything. Societies justify tyranny with “moral duty“ all the time. It’s still a claim of power that I reject. If that puts me in a caste above you, I can live with that.

duncan cairncross said...

Alfred
You always come back to the

"We don't understand it completely so we cannot adjust it"

Which is bollocks !!

We understand almost nothing "completely" - but we still adjust things and by a process of trial and error we get results

You could describe all of science as a "process of trial and error"

All of engineering is multidimensional and ultimately non predictable
But we do get there by eating the elephant one bite at a time

Paradoctor said...

Treebeard:
The tyranny is oppression by the virus. It is assaulting the human species. Fortunately, we have resources for resistance, including the ability to create and distribute vaccines. Your arguments against the vaccines echo ones given by pundits themselves vaccinated. I trust the doctors more than OAN.

David Brin said...

Again and again, our ent exhibits blindness to irony. His stance is surficially solipsism. A male loner standing self-reliant and needing no one. "I am a rock. I am an Island." A stunningly dumb stance:

1- because the ingrate owes all to the civilization that coddled and pampered him above all previous generations. But also :

2- because his postings earlier showed classic neo-feudalist, even monarchist slants. He seeks masters to bow before. Making the whole autonomy this a lie.

Alfred Differ said...

Duncan,

It's not that 'we don't understand it completely.'

The problem is we are approaching it with a Ptolemaic kind of theory. Ptolemy's cosmology was closed and Earth centered. It wasn't just the deferents and epicycles that were wrong. It was fundamentally wrong as a model of the solar system.

Markets aren't engines. They are ecosystems. We CAN understand them, but try it a while and you'll see why a governor is a dumb analogy. One doesn't 'control' an ecosystem. One participates in it.

There ARE crude things you can do to ecosystems that affect everything, but you are very unlikely to get predictable results. The thing with thermodynamics is one CAN predict and get improvements. Popper's demarcation criteria are met. Falsifiability is a must, but so is the one that says an improvement in knowledge about initial conditions leads to an improvement in the uncertainty surrounding the output prediction.

Ecosystems don't support them both, so you cannot control. You can have the illusion of control much like Ptolemy had the illusion of predicting planetary motion.

Remember that trial and error in an ecosystem literally IS evolution. Can you imagine a governor on the microbial kingdom that biases outcomes in favor of the animal kingdom? Pfft.


You are trapped in the wrong analogy for the system you imagine you can control. Same thing happened to ancient astronomers.

Alfred Differ said...

Treebeard,

Societies justify all sorts of things good and bad, but we've had a system of 'virtue ethics' since ancient times. "Justice" was one of the virtues defined by the expectations we have for each other. To attempt escape from those rules ensured being judged as 'unjust'. Every virtue has two vices... (absence and excess), so your choice to reject the rules squarely lands you in absence.

Sure. Tyranny has been historically justified. Slavery too. Our sense of why we don't murder each other also comes from these rules. They vary a bit with our cultures.

Rejecting ours won't get you in a caste above us though, because we reject castes above us. Some of us tolerate castes below us, but not above us. Our rule set embedded in 'justice' won't tolerate what you want to try.

So... that's why our host tends to refer to you by labels more appropriate to other cultures. You aren't one of us unless you can accept our judgement that you are unjust.

A.F. Rey said...

Meanwhile, on the transparency front, the Missouri Governor plans on making it more expensive to obtain records from the state government (by charging fees for attorneys to review the records before release) and to increase the number of categories that are shielded from being released.

https://missouriindependent.com/2022/01/10/governor-looks-to-target-missouri-sunshine-law-during-legislative-session/

Republican governor, of course. :(

David Brin said...

thx AFR.

Almost every activity from that entire gang boils down to howls of "don't look! Never look at us or dig into what we did!"

Treebeard said...

@Alfred, I’m not really sure who this “we” is you’re talking about. I speak for “me”, and maybe for that special caste of “anarchs” (not monarchs) who give themselves maximum freedom and don’t concern themselves too much with being “one of you”. These ideas about ethics and moral duties are ultimately “oughts” not derivable from anything that “is” except will to power. We’re the caste that understands that and doesn’t fool ourselves, I guess.

scidata said...

The zeppelin incident in EXISTENCE is one of several snippets that seem to have been discovered, completed independently, in my own life. Specifically, the rapid re-learning of Morse Code, which helped me come back from a stroke years ago. I sometimes wonder if OGH thinks I'm stealing his ideas! (I'm not, too dense for such skullduggery). It also closely mimics THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY, which wasn't penned by either of us, so there's that. In the context of the current flurry of conspiracy theories and their acceleration-by-IT, there's Moshe Vardi's 2013 ACM article "Fricative Computing" that offers a possible remedy (a partial return to the days of handwriting).
https://doi.org/10.1145/2447976.2447977

David Brin said...

Acidata wow. Fascinating you cam back from such a deep stroke! Hope it was a LONG way back. You are often 'dense'... with keen insights!

Why keep Treebeard around? Let me count the ways:

- he's not rude so I'll never block.

- #1 is sufficient! But also, he's 90% a flaming... but 10% sometimes interesting!

- cred for diversity and citokate.

#2 this time. Prompting: "Hey fellah, name one society before this one that pampered and propped up ingrate solipsists like you anywhere near so generously or reliably as this one has?

Will to power? All male mammals have that to some degree. (Snore boring!) It propelled 6000 years of dismal feudal hierarchies that wrecked individual autonomy for 99% of those below -- a few top dogs forcing everyone else to be kibble. And - despite your fantasies - the latter is what you would be in any of the power-centered regimes that oppressed 99% of our ancestors. Kibble.

I am not a liberal, but their ally in most things, since we have a common goal, uplift of all the world's children and saving the planet and maximizing genuine freedom. A liberal wants all those things for moral reasons and I share those! But I add libertarian ones from the Adam Smith (sane) wing. Because COMPETITION is the greatest creative force in the universe and our periclean enlightenment experiments have proved that you maximize beneficial outcomes when EVERYONE. gets to compete FAIRLY.

"Stop wasting talent" is more than enough justification to end poverty and ignorance, out of self-interest alone.

And yeah, I wrote all that for the rest of you. No way he'll grok any of it. Kibble.

matthew said...

Treebeard isn't monarchist, feudalist, or an anarch. Treebeard described himself as a "white nationalist" here years ago, right along with his threats of violence at the same time. He's a Nazi, pure and simple. Fascist scum.

Alfred, we do have repeatable results within markets. How many times has the supply-side incantation been proven to be garbage? How about monetary-velocity theories? How about the long-term problems with monopolies?

Libertarians cannot ignore data simply because they do not like the results.

Controlled, regulated markets outperform uncontrolled markets time and again. 100% true in the long run.
It is not a "free market" that is essential to the maximization of economic results. It is a regulated market with many players.

Remove the regulation (and taxes to set up the market conditions) and you will end up in a monopoly each and every time.



David Brin said...

Matthew, that's your interpretation and you are welcome to it. But I object to language like 'scum.' My house and rules.

"Libertarians cannot ignore data simply because they do not like the results."

Depends on the 'libertarians.' the largest numbers of them are either Rand-ites or else "Democrats are the worse of two evils, so hold your nose and vote GOP" fools. Forbes, Koch etc spent lavishly to accomplish that.

Still, the term also encompasses true followers of that very good man, Adam Smith. Cut Alfred slack for being one of those. And while I hold diverse identities, I am one, too.

scidata said...

I wasn't anything near as bad as the unfortunate publisher of Elle in THE DIVING BELL. I couldn't speak or walk at first, that's all (fairly common actually). One of the first things I read that unfroze my noggin gears again was "Why Johnny Can't Code". It was a decade later that I realized that FOUNDATION'S TRIUMPH had the same author! Now that's dense :)

duncan cairncross said...

Alfred
That is total NONSENSE - we drive ecosystems the whole time

Farming being a fine example

YES we can screw it up - but that is what the control system is for to detect the problems and put the brakes on the changes

Ptolemy's "illusion" of predicting events in the sky WORKED!! - it worked better than the Heliocentric system until Kepler applied ellipses to the problem

These solutions are NOT perfect - that is how science works -
The elephant a bite at a time
And we can and do use theories that are not correct - because they work!
Newtonian mechanics being a prime example

The Three Body Problem would be another

We cannot mathematically determine orbits for ever - but we can numerically determine orbits (with error bars that increase with time)

In the long term we cannot predict planetary position (Three Body Problem) - but we can predict stable zones (the maths is above my pay grade) so we know that the current situation
Mercury then Venus then Earth then Mars then Jupiter then Saturn then Uranus then Neptune
Is stable and will stay like that

In engineering we operate WITHOUT a god theory of outcomes a LOT of the time
Suck it and See!!!

David Brin said...

scidata yipe! So glad you are back! And glad to have been of some small help.

locumranch said...


Dr. Brin is smart & intelligent. Brilliant, even. He is extremely well educated, so much so that his Ph.D. places him in the Top 2% of an elite expert meritocracy. He is very accomplished & successful in his chosen career. He despises populism, and he is the very model of the modern expert managerial elite.

There is nothing 'common' about our Dr. Brin -- he is exceptional in every way -- and this is why his recent exchange with Treebeard is so deliciously ironic.

Dr. Brin accuses Treebeard of being an anti-democratic neo-feudalist cultist, but who is the anti-democratic anti-populist here, who is a member of an exclusive expert managerial elite & who supports minority rule by a vanishingly small expert managerial caste?

Dr. Brin is the 'neo-feudalist' here, not Treebeard.


Likewise, Alfred's comments to Treebeard are equally absurd.

A self-proclaimed 'libertarian', Alfred rejects the whole concept of a mutually-binding 'social contract' in preference for (unilateral) Virtue Ethics and declares that Treebeard has the 'moral duty' to treat others nicely when the 'others' have no such moral duty to Treebeard, even though this type of unilateral obligation is the very antithesis to libertarianism.


Well, screw that: What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

If you try to enforce your expert 'minority rule' upon us, then we'll enforce our own version of inexpert minority rule back on you, insomuch as anything you give to us, we'll give it right back to you in kind, and rightfully so.

Turnabout is fair play.



Best

_______

I mean, really, who elected tyrants like Little Lord Fauci' anyway? I most certainly didn't vote for him. You don't vote for kings. Help! Help! We're being being repressed by a vanishing small clade of self-appointed expert/aristocrat analogues! Come see the violence inherent in the system.

David Brin said...

Gawd I love it when locum takes vitamins and can actually squeeze out sentences that have sequentially to do with one another!

Of course is is stunning assholery.

I have contempt for Nazi-style, sig heil 'populism,' sure, wherein oligarchs and savanarolas and rasputins get mobs screaming syunchronized hate at every minority standing between the masters and total power. Especially minorities of accomplishment.

But of course he lies (as always). I stand with the Pericleans who created the only mode of human civ that ever matched... and far excelled-over... standard stoopin oligarchy. Democracy that engages citizenship, negotiation based on facts and comparisons of outcomes. A vox populi that is everything that right or far-left 'populism warp into bastardy. I have proved it endlessly in The Postman and The Transparent Society and everything else.

The hangnail I just chewed off the edge of one of my fingernails know more and has done more for a nation of free citizens than this dope has, across his life.

Larry Hart said...

loocumranch sounds like the school bully who punches you in the face every day until you finally had enough and...call him a big meanie! To which he responds, "Just for that, I'm gonna punch you in the face. Turnabout is fair play, after all."

David Brin said...

LH. More like that irritating small alien whos frantic attempts to bite your ankle don't penetrat the socks.

Larry Hart said...

locumranch:

I mean, really, who elected tyrants like Little Lord Fauci' anyway? I most certainly didn't vote for him. You don't vote for kings. Help! Help! We're being being repressed...


You've got the wrong Monty Python reference. The appropriate one is when you say, "Stop repressing me," when someone tells you that you can't have babies.

Slim Moldie said...

I used to think the film Alien was about rape. Or at least surviving a rape. The face sucker. The birthing of phallic chest burster. The growing monster that assails the crew and destroys the ship. The corporation that willfully traffics their crew and belays quarantine procedures.

Recently during fox news commercial breaks I started using my ninja blender and I’ve been grinding up lots of vitamins and smoking them in a crack pipe. So now I understand the allegory that was intended in Alien. Putting on a face mask doesn’t protect you from the virus. The face mask IS the face sucker! It’s so literal. The chest burster isn’t the covid 19 virus: it’s the fist of the joint UN task force who conspired with the IRS and the Chinese and NATO to rip the heart out of our freedom. And that boner of a fist is also the birth of authoritarian communist inclusiveness, global warming, atheism, confusing pronouns, flowers on mother’s day, valentines’ day, vegetarianism and super bowl half time shows with too much choreographed dancing. The growing monster that assails the crew and destroys the ship isn’t the mutating virus hospitalizing stubborn ignorami and people with compromised immune systems and innocent children. Nooo! That monster is actually the vaccine. The monster is the vaccine invading your space ship. And the monster also represents the IRS because it taxes your immune system more than prescription viagra. And if you had a big enough boner, your boner would be so big the chest burster boner couldn’t get through. And what about that lady who has the audacity to give you a dirty look when you don’t pick up your dog’s shit. What a bitch. She’s the monster. The dog only eats donuts holes and mayonnaise so the shit it makes is like the tears of Christ fertilizing the lawn. The corporation the willfully traffics their crew? That’s Dr. Fauci. Because the Chinese or maybe the Koreans. I heard Dr. Fauci is actually Chinese. But he reconstructed his face during the second Broccoli war when the Vegans tried to burn the Geisel library and give the cat in the hat manuscript to the Egyptians as reparation to the British Museum for making Higgins the boss in Magnum Pi when clearly all he had was a British accent and a much smaller mustache. And Sigourney Weaver. Ripley. Whatever. She’s the only one that survives, not because she successfully aborts the monster. We all know that should be unconstitutional. The reason Ripley survives is because metaphorically, even though she is a woman and has a vagina, she represents a man, And god said mankind. So even though she’s a woman. She’s a man. And I'm not sure what that means. But that is what Alien is really about. I think.

David Brin said...

Yeow SM I hope that was cathartic.

Slim Moldie said...

Thanks DB. I'm good. Hope everyone else is, too. Sarcasm aside, I don't comment or have much to add here but I read or at least skim regularly and I appreciate the ideas and the whole community. Even the bickering!

Tim H. said...

I think I erred on the side of brevity earlier, I don't advocate a particularly pure socialism, just "Borrow" a few bits. Innovation must be richly rewarded, rent gathering, not so much. Work should be compensated sufficiently* to enable a bit of creativity, for those so inclined, which has worked out pretty well in the past.

*Absent real estate speculation and resentful spawn of millionaires, AKA, contemporary conservatism, we might be in a good place there.

Larry Hart said...

@Slim Moldie,

Wow! And here, I thought the Star Wars bit about "It didn't go in. It just impacted on the surface." was allegorical.

But then, I can't even say "titmouse" without giggling like a schoolgirl.

Larry Hart said...

Good point...

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2022/Senate/Maps/Jan12.html#item-1

Biden also observed that, at the end of his life, even Strom Thurmond was a supporter of voting rights for minority voters, while today's Republicans are not. In other words: "Today's Republicans have less regard for the rights of Black people than a guy who ran for president on a white supremacist ticket."

GMT -5 8032 said...

One issue with the various COVID vaccines involves their status in the regulatory scheme. I will be the first to admit that regulatory schemes frequently bear little resemblance to the real world. But according to a regulatory scheme, X gets a specific status Y if elements A, B, and C are present.

Things become even more confusing when we assign X or Y a name that consists of a word that is used in common speech. The statement “Sex is addictive,” can have one meaning in the regulatory world and another in the outside world. The regulations may define "sex" in a narrow way. The statute may define "addiction" and "addictive" in narrow ways. What happens if the popular use of a word changes over time? should that affect the statutory definition of that word?

I’ve heard lawyers and physicians discuss the regulatory status of the various COVID vaccines and treatments. I’ve heard some doctors state that there have been a specific number of adverse effects suffered by people soon after receiving a dose of a specific vaccine. The fact that this number is tiny compared to the number of doses administered may not be relevant in the regulatory scheme.

The next question that comes up is then, “Why is this [fill in the blank] different from all other [similar items]?” As a regulatory lawyer, I look for inconsistent application of the rules. The fact that someone says there is an inconsistent application is not proof that there is an inconsistent application.

Is this happening with the COVID vaccinations? I don’t know. But like Dr. Brin, I am paranoid about Long COVID so I am boosted and very cautious.

Larry Hart said...

GMT -5:

The next question that comes up is then, “Why is this [fill in the blank] different from all other [similar items]?” As a regulatory lawyer, I look for inconsistent application of the rules.


For months, I was rhetorically asking the question, "What is the religious objection to this particular vaccine as opposed to all others?" Only once did I hear an anti-vaxxer state as accepted wisdom what may be the "goes without saying" meme going around in right-wing cuckoo land, which is, "This one is made from the cells of aborted babies."

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. I'll have whatever Slim Moldie was having there. 8)


I'm okay with Matthew's poking. We've worked things out and better understand each other. I'm more inclined to smile that frown nowadays.

What I might have neglected to tell Matthew about, though, is I left the local libertarian group where I live because of their mask stance. I'm not a fan of mask mandates (I'll tolerate it), but I'm staunchly opposed to selfish bastards who won't do take reasonable steps to protect their neighbors. "Let us be" isn't supposed to be about ONLY what I want. It's supposed to be about what's best for all of us. Selfish responses to health threats is incredibly unethical... so I left.

I'll write my market comments in the next post since they are aimed a bit more at duncan and matthew than the broader group.

Alfred Differ said...

for duncan and matthew (mostly)

The supply-side incantation is a wonderful example of a failed hypothesis in econ/finance. That it keeps getting put forward demonstrates actual enemy action since the actual affect IS desirable to certain members of our community.

That's not Adam Smith's stance, though. Not even FA Hayek. I don't think it fits with anyone who isn't in the pockets of some very rich people.

However, the incantation has nothing to do with demonstrating that markets are controllable. If you dig around a while you'll be hard pressed to find any econ prediction (ex ante) that survives as a hypothesis. Most of them fit the evidence ex post facto and then we try to make ex ante predictions. Try it. How much will the US GDP grow this year? How about unemployment? Whether you pick an aggregate or micro-variable, we look at trends and try to predict, right? Most ex ante econ and finance predictions fail. Miserably. The ones that don't are statistically indistinguishable from informed guessing.

We see this in the stock market a lot. What are the odds that you can pick stocks that outperform the market this year? Some people do it well. Some are piss poor. Imagine you are well-informed, though, and do your research. Can you beat the SP 500 Index? Maybe. You might get lucky, but over many years I'm far better off picking a basket matching the index than I am at guessing with professional money manager is going to be right. I'm better off minimizing my costs and sticking with index funds. FAR better off over the long haul. Why? They believe the illusion that these things are predictable? Why? Because they ARE on a very short time scale. Like curves are locally flat, some ex ante predictions work and we LIKE to believe.

Nicolas Taleb talks of black swans. If you haven't internalized his message on that, you simply don't get what's going on. He talks about fat tails. I'll make the same point because they are strongly related.

Hayek talks about emergent order. If you don't internalize that, you are doing no better that the followers of Ptolemy. You'll be able to predict a few things locally and then some black swan will arrive and poke your eyes out.

Hayek also spoke about WHY we should want liberty for all of us. He gave the classic non-selfish explanation in one of his books. If you don't get that, you won't see it's connection to the market-as-an-ecosystem point I try to make. It is fundamentally WHY we want flat, fair, open markets that enable more participants and more informed participants.

Controlled, regulated markets outperform uncontrolled markets time and again.

Of course they do, but take a good look at the ones that outperform each other to see my real point. The ones that do best use constraints more than controls. That regulated markets outperform isn't a point of debate for me. We invented judicial and statutory markets AGES ago to do exactly that. There are ways to do it, though, that don't rely on Ptolemaic illusions. Stop-the-cheat is a good constraint to have. Limit-incomes is not. Help-prevent-disease-broadly is a good constraint to have. Rent-control and school-districts are not.

locumranch said...


Dr. Brin claims that he "stands with Periclean" democracy, but I have no idea what that means because the Athenians limited the ability to vote to the landed gentry, as their type of democracy specifically excluded resident non-citizens, serfs, slaves & women.

However, if we accept his support for Majority Rule Democracy at face value, then we must also assume that he supports 'Rule by Stupid People' because, by mathematical definition, at least 50% of the US polity possess either an average or below-average intellect.

What's that? Dr. Brin does NOT support a Democracy of Imbeciles?

If so, then we must assume that he supports a 'Tyranny of Smart People' instead, also known as undemocratic rule by a statistical minority of nerds, eggheads & teacher's pets who believe that they are better than the imbecilic majority.

So which is it?

Does Dr. Brin support (1) a Majority Rule Democracy of Imbeciles or does he support (2) Tyrannical Rule by a Super Smart Neo-Aristocratic Minority?

Remember that you can't have it both ways unless (gasp!) you support some sort of unacceptably classist or racist voting literacy test.


This whole COVID brouhaha is much ado about numerical literacy:

US total covid deaths = 841,000
US total covid cases = 62,400,000
----------------------------------
Giving us a US covid death-to-case ratio of about 1.35%,
and a US covid case survival rate of 98.65%.




Best

Alfred Differ said...

duncan,

Ptolemy's illusion trapped us for @#$%ing centuries. That cosmology is an ego trap. It placed us in the center of everything and promised to support extinction for humanity the way the feudal attractor does. I argue it was part of the attractor. Solipsists For A Mindless World! Unite!

Yes. It worked at making local predictions. The way it accomplished that was utterly flawed and acts as a warning for ALL theorists. This is the lane in which I learned to swim as a grad student. Hubris among theorists can do immense damage when people trust us a bit too much. It's one thing to have a theory that succeeds in making useful predictions. It is another to have an explanatory narrative on top of it that people actually like.

1. Predicting planet locations in the sky is nice trick to learn. Using it all to make astrological predictions for powerful people was the tar pit with layer after layer of carcasses trapped in its depths.

2. Noting that species evolve through variety and culling is a nice model to have in our mental inventory. Using it for an ethical justification for war, conquest, oppression, and segregation (social darwinism) is a tar pit with layer of evidence demonstrating our inclination for genocide.

The danger I'm jumping up and down about is that use of the wrong explanatory layer feeds a set of behaviors that trap us against the feudal attractor. Please recognize us for what we actually are and not what a locally useful theory allows because of a locally useful (occasionally) set of predictions.

The broad commercial market in which we all participate is an ecosystem and we should all be thinking environmentalists. Your model is closer to a managed garden model. We know better than to do that with livable environments. I'm arguing we need to extend and adapt by correctly recognizing what our markets are. We are better off with a mostly wild system (let them be) that constrains (only when necessary as measured by agreed upon metrics) as issues are found. Ex post facto constraints have unintended consequences, though, so every attempt is itself a kind of organism in the environment. We MUST treat them as such and cull or vary them too.

David Brin said...

Periclean experiments FLATTEN hierarchies in order to expose rulership to cleansing light and criticism. They begin by expanding rights from 0.01% kings and oligarchs to 20% - land owning adult male citizens, as happened in Florence, Rome and Amsterdam and the 1776 US revolution. Arguments raged over taking it farthe and Pericles likely would have pushed for that. But it was a VERY immature society.

The same push for expansion happened successfully (geographically, not by caste) in Rome. But it took off in America with the Jacksonian 'revolution' of the 1820s+ that expanded franchise toward 40% of the pop[ulation. Then the 1860s war that give another 10% the right to own their own bodies. Then the 1870s and 1920s coutner strokes that pushed back for limits of race and caste... versus changes in 1900 and especuially 1933+ that helped the workers.

In other words, locum don't know squat.

Larry Hart said...

locumranch:

Does Dr. Brin support (1) a Majority Rule Democracy of Imbeciles or does he support (2) Tyrannical Rule by a Super Smart Neo-Aristocratic Minority?


Dr Brin can speak for his own self, but my guess is that he favors lines of communication and persuasion to make stupid people less stupid. I understand that to you, that comes off as "tyranny" because you want to be wrong and want to fight for your right to be wrong, and someone telling you true things that you wish were false is oppression.

But let's assume, just for the sake of argument, that only a small percentage of stupid people are intentionally and proudly stupid. That a larger majority of people who believe false things to be true would rather know what is actually true. That there's at least some self-interest involved in being able to make accurate evaluations and forecasts of the world around one. The right arguments in the public square (which is not force) might persuade such people that some of the elite smart people actually know what they're doing, and that they know things which would be helpful to them (the ostensibly stupid people themselves).

Majority rule, not by stupid people per se, bu by people with enough self-awareness not to worship at the altar of their own stupidity.

US total covid deaths = 841,000
US total covid cases = 62,400,000
----------------------------------
Giving us a US covid death-to-case ratio of about 1.35%,
and a US covid case survival rate of 98.65%.


And yet, hospital beds and ICU beds in particular in Illinois are dangerously close to capacity, with some counties being completely full up. Which not only demonstrates that surviving sometimes comes at great cost to the patient and to the community, but also that COVID is stretching thin a health care system which we rely on for all sorts of non-COVID conditions.

Numbers like "How many people had COVID and lived to tell the tale" don't reflect the strain on the community that the disease is causing.

Alfred Differ said...

This whole COVID brouhaha is much ado about numerical literacy

It's a bit more than that. Quite a bit more. Some of us don't like our inferiors telling us what to do when it comes to protecting them from their superiors.

I could argue about the numbers, though. I could try to extrapolate what the death toll will be once we've all had one of the variants. I could limit my attention to the US or look at the total population of almost 8 gigapersons.

What I'll do instead is note that the vaccines and whatever follows them seem to reduce the death toll. There ARE people with legitimate reasons* for not taking the vaccine and I can respect them just fine, but the broader group who rejects them for selfish reasons is enabling a breeding population for variants that are still lethal. Less so it seems with the latest one, but that just alters the extrapolation. It does nothing to alter the point that selfish choices among some are killing others.

This is where an irrelevant point will be made about other selfish choices that kill others. I'll just nod my head in agreement in advance and point out that I feel the same way about them. I might not do anything coercive to stop people from making these selfish choices, but I have no qualms calling them out as unethical bastards guilty of negligent murder. **



* Seriously. There are legitimate reasons why some cannot. I was among them a few years ago when I was immune compromised. I get it. Humans come with a moderate amount of genetic variety, so we don't all react the same way to vaccines. There ARE legit reasons to avoid CERTAIN vaccines.

** If others want to get coercive, I might not oppose. Depends how much I think one bad thing prevents another bad thing.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

In other words, locum don't know squat.


Which is nobody's fault, not even the Romans'.

But we can fight for his right to know squat.

David Brin said...

BTW... I earned my status from nothing. Isn't that supposed to be the ideal? Alfred & I are all about encouraging flat fair COMPETITION - and so are most liberals, while the US conservative movement favor cheating at all levels and in all ways.

The essence of FREEDOM is not symbolism. It is being able to stand up without fear and compete fairly, in markets or democratic politics. That's why I demand wagers!

And the Cult always always runs from them. Always.

Treebeard said...

Locum, I don’t think it’s really Democracy that these folks want, but Technocracy. The slogan of the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair sums it up pretty well: “Science Explores, Technology Executes, Mankind Conforms”. It means rule by the “experts”, in which popular opinion that differs from expert opinion is an annoyance and a possible threat that needs to be engineered to fall in line. We’ve had this system for 80+ years, which explains why on an endless series of issues, popular opinions are ignored in favor of the “expert consensus”. It explains why we are always being subjected to bizarre, unpopular new elite initiatives, which over time via expert social engineering/coercion become part of the new “popular consensus”. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work. Trump’s success represented a breakdown of that system, which has driven the expert class to hysterics as their arrogance and authority is increasingly mocked and flouted (John Michael Greer had a great piece related to this recently: Tomorrowland Has Fallen).

I’m somewhat neutral; I see that experts often have useful knowledge in certain areas compared to the masses or the conventional wisdom, but in other areas seem incredibly dumb, delusional or depraved (e.g. the "woke" derangement sweeping through our institutions, whereby I am now being provided peoples' pronouns in emails so I know which gender they identify with). This is why I’m an Anarch: I don’t submit to Technocracy or Democracy. They're both stupid in different ways.

Larry Hart said...

I said:

And here, I thought the Star Wars bit about "It didn't go in. It just impacted on the surface." was allegorical.


Y'know, until just this minute, I never really considered how ovum-like the Death Star was, relative to the swarm of sperm-like X-wing and Y-wing fighters attempting to penetrate it.

(I did get the symbolism of the premature launch, but took it no further than that.)

scidata said...

Ptolemy is my primary case for the evil of anthropomorphization. I'd pay serious coin to see a debate between Ptolemy and Planck, even though it'd last about 2 minutes. Frilly platitudes are often bestowed on past great scientists. There are a few however, who owe the world unspeakably vast reparations. I want my 1500 years back, with interest.

matthew said...

Alfred, as (almost) always we agree on a whole bunch of the basics regarding economics and liberty. My repeating some of those basics back to you is me setting the arena for the more interesting differences on how you and I proceed from those basic agreements.

For example, you've just ceded a whole lot of ground regarding regulation of markets compared to many of your co-political cadre. Constraints versus controls-type of arguments are where I think we should be as a society, I agree with you on this.

So, let us look at one of the most-used methods of constraint in a market - taxes. You have stated repeatedly here that "Taxes are theft."
I maintain that taxes are required to set up a regulated market. Even if taxes are not monetary, they are still required. Non-monetary taxes might include, for example, all members of a market have to take unpaid turns as a "regulator" for market transactions. That unpaid time is still a tax on labor. Thus, still a tax.

Taxes can act as a constraint to uncontrolled runaway growth by a successful market participant. We use this method in the US model of progressive taxation, where the more money a person or company makes, the higher percentage they owe as taxes. This is exactly "constraining a market" not "controlling a market."

And yet, "taxes are theft" according to you. So, some methods of controlling a market are ideologically OK to your strain of libertarian, but not taxes... because... theft? This is where I find your arguments to date to be lacking.

Regulation of a market is OK (as long as it is constraining not controlling), but taxes are not OK as a method of constraint. Have I paraphrased your position accurately?

duncan cairncross said...

Alfred

You are raising a standard "Straw Man"

We do "know" how to move the economy in the desired direction
This is just like the Three Body Problem - we CAN make good predictions in the short term

What we can't do is just make a big change and then expect it to carry on regardless

Its like EVERY positive feedback process - like driving a car - you CAN drive the car but you can't just set the wheel and the throttle and go to sleep

We CAN trim the economy - and we can keep on trimming the economy

Forget your strawman and look at what is actually being proposed

David Brin said...

" I don’t think it’s really Democracy that these folks want, but Technocracy."

Of course that's what you think. You must.

Alan Brooks said...

Treebeard has to find out the hard way, during the 2024 election cycle, just how determined the Right is to set up a new confederacy. It’s about two years until the 2024 caucuses and primaries begin.

Alfred Differ said...

matthew,

In the interests of clarity, I shall quote with precision the position I've adopted from Hayek. It's from one of his last books and predates the pronoun revolution. Hopefully everyone will remember the old meanings.



Law, Legislation, and Liberty (volume one)
Section Three
Principles and Expediency

Individual Aims and collective benefits

The thesis of this book is that a condition of liberty in which all are allowed to use their knowledge for their purposes, restrained only by rules of just conduct of universal application, is likely to produce for them the best conditions for achieving their aims; and that such a system is likely to be achieved and maintained only if all authority, including that of the majority of the people, is limited in the exercise of coercive power by general principles to which the community has committed itself.



I'll add to it a point he makes at the bottom of the page about why he doesn't quite like Adam Smith's description for "Condition of Freedom" (works as 'condition of liberty' too)

Hayek's version is "a state in which each can use his knowledge for his purposes"

Smith's version is "every man, so long as he does not violate the laws of justice, [being] left perfectly free to pursue his own interests in his own way"

Hayek preferred to avoid Smith's connection between freedom and egotism and selfishness. We all know how some have misinterpreted Smith as suggesting freedom is inherently selfish… and that's a good thing. Anyone who goes beyond superficial quotes, though, knows Smith was a professor of moral philosophy. Virtue Ethics at the time. The way they've mangled his intent ensures it's almost bass ackwards.

The danger with Hayek's version is similar, though. Quote happy people will miss the part that says "restrained only by the rules of just conduct" and focus on what's allowed. Selfishness again.

-to be continued

Alfred Differ said...

(continuing)

I'm a fan of Hayek as an improvement on Smith. We learned a lot in the intervening decades and Hayek addressed some of it in his later years. 'Restrained' isn't 'Controlled', though. There is a HUGE difference that Hayek understood well… and described… in his three volume followup to Constitution of Liberty.



Many Libertarians approach this from a selfish perspective. It's not hard to understand why. They have their own philosopher(s) to idolize. I don't, so I don't fit in their world except where we agree on certain ways to achieve agreed upon goals. I usually don't care if someone wants to be foolishly selfish. They self-limit in the markets and their ideas get piped to /dev/null. I'd rather they did that compared to something more effective at convincing others to be selfish. (Hence my ire at Two Scoops and his ilk.) That doesn't mean they aren't useful at times, though.

What I do here among you all has nothing to do with their selfish interests. I say 'taxation is theft', but I'm not really interested in fighting that fight here. I won't win it anyway and too many think I must be approaching it selfishly. MY interest is in the part of Hayek's thesis where he speaks about the majority of people limiting themselves in the exercise of coercive power. Re-read that thesis paragraph and focus on the end of it. That's what I go on and on about when asking Duncan* to consider the possibility that he's using an utterly flawed model that suggests we have predictive powers that are worse than illusions. They are SEDUCTIVE illusions. They dance half naked behind veils we want to remove. They appeal to old urges to control. They are exactly the tools a majority can use to exercise coercive power 'for the good of all'.

Along the way… if I help convince anyone to limit themselves by sticking to general principles of universal application… chances are pretty good they'll get why I toy with the 'taxation is theft' term. It is because it is an exercise of coercive power and many of you want to ditch the universal application thingy. "F@#k the billionaires! Take their property!" Ah. That doesn't sound universal to me, so I ask about rules of just conduct violated and how we might restrain the behavior.


* I don't mean to pick on Duncan. It's just that he's demonstrated the savvy to understand the intricacies of modeling reality. I remember the earlier content regarding engine design. No doubt others here have the savvy too, but I haven't seen them writing about it. If they ever do, I'll expand my target list. Bwa-ha-ha!

Alfred Differ said...

Duncan,

'Aiming at a Straw Man' is a fair criticism of my posts. I honestly do hope we are closer in our positions. If so, we can both thrash it to bits and move on.

I don't think I am, though.


I've studied the three body problem. It's a wonderful example of a system where we know the rules and can integrate from initial conditions to final state and still not be able to predict the final state except in limited cases. It's a wonderful example for showing students why we CAN'T solve it. The initial conditions literally don't contain enough information to specify a state path ex ante. We can discover it, but we can't predict it in general.

There are a number of computation problems that are very similar. We know solutions exist to problem X and we know verification of them is trivially easy, but finding them is a different matter. NP.

Chaos lurks around ever corner, but we integrate numerically and hope for the best. Soldier On!

——

Markets aren't like that. Not even close.

Micro-econ teaches a practice that is remarkably like thermodynamics. Assume a state function F on N independent variables that are locally (across a small hyper-volume) continuous and differentiable. Now look at small changes to the state function dF. The partial derivates work out with the usual method as a sum across partial derivates on each variable times the differential on that variable. Chain rule. Ta Da! We've defined marginal products. VERY analogous to thermodynamics though we use different names for things.

Here's the problem though. Their ain't no state function. You can pretend at one and build something that a lot of people will agree is close enough, but look at it closely and you'll discover N is likely more than a million. Maybe billions. Do you REALLY believe people when they say a state function is 'close enough' when we know darn well the dimensionality of the problem is really frickin huge?

No problem they say! We aren't trying to model individual atoms when doing thermodynamics. We just need a few aggregates that describe the system and we can invent those. Welcome to Keynesian economics. We limit N by choice by ignoring what the micro-econ folks know about the nature of markets. We TRADE. That means the marginal products have meanings directly tied to what gets traded. What meanings do we have for the Keynesian aggregates? Well. We make them up mostly. If you like them, you can run your models and integrate toward predictions.

I argue that the aggregates are the same kind of illusion we suffered with Ptolemaic astronomy. You'll get some predictions right on a fundamentally flawed explanatory narrative. The few you get right are swamped by the failed hypotheses, but no one wants to think about them. We WANT to believe the illusion of control.

Robert said...

There ARE people with legitimate reasons* for not taking the vaccine

A lot of Conservative politicians up here claimed medical exemptions to the Covid vaccines. At rates 100 times what you would statistically expect.

When the government announced that medical exemptions would be verified by Public Health and added to the the vaccine passport they got very upset about their rights being interfered with, that their word should be good enough, and several have decided not to seek re-election this spring for family reasons rather than get their loudly-proclaimed exemption verified.

Our Tories heading down the same road as the GOP, but they haven't (yet) gone as far.

Unknown said...

Dr Brin,

There's a government type in the old Traveller RPG called "Feudal Technocracy" (type 5). It's generally found on low population planets and is described as "Ruling functions are performed by specific individuals for persons who agree to be ruled by them. Relationships are based on the performance of technical activities which are mutually beneficial". I can't think of an historical example of such a paragon among governments, because the presupposition is that the ruled have the option to NOT be ruled and, I guess, can hop on a Far Trader jumping to the next star system. Low berths are cheap if you don't mind arriving frozen.

Many online discussions point out that this would be a transitory step that, within one or two generations, would devolve into a "Self-Perpetuating Oligarchy" (feudalism - type 3), unless the population lucks out, sends the Galt's Gulch types off on the Empress Marava to participate in the Low Lottery^, and becomes type 4 - "Representative Democracy".

If you're curious, the Earth as a whole is type 7 (Balkanized) though the US currently resembles either type 4 or a "Civil Service Bureaucracy" (type 8) as an individual government, but came close to being reclassified as type A* or maybe B** recently. Let's hope any Imperial Interstellar Survey team passing by in the future doesn't have to type in anything above 9 (Impersonal Bureaucracy) for us. The governments get worse as you go up the hexadecimal chain.

Pappenheimer

^ guess the number of cryopassengers who don't wake up at the far end, and win a prize!
* charismatic dictatorship
** uncharismatic dictatorship

Alfred Differ said...

matthew,

My main beef with taxation isn't it's nature as a restraint (which it isn't, but I'll get to that). It's the belief that it is a valid form of punishment for unjust behavior. You hit your little sister, so I'm going to take away your candy. You dumped toxic wastes into the local drinking water, so I'm going to take your profits.

No. The point of restraint is to prevent future unjust behavior. Whether we punish the evil-doer now is a different matter. What we actually need is to prevent future copy cats. A tolerated 'unjust' behavior isn't unjust… by definition.

What taxation does is change the ROI for certain behaviors, right? That's the hope. How do we know it actually works, though? The world has an awful lot of people getting really, really rich even with taxation occurring. It becomes a game theory problem at some point. How much toxic waste can I dump in the water at what cost to me? How often can I hit my little sister at the cost of how much candy?

The biggest, humongous error economists made and propagated for decades was treating trade as a matter of prudence. With that assumption, they found an easier path to creating a state function called maximal utility. Doesn't matter if they could actually define it since all they needed was the thermodynamic equivalent of differential of utility. That's gotta work, right? Bzzt. It doesn't. Humans don't trade strictly on prudence as evidence by our inclination to punish market cheaters (billionaires or not) at a significant cost to ourselves.

Taxation as a control/restraint/whatever turns unjust behavior into a utility calculation. It's dumb to do that.


Worse yet, collecting taxes REQUIRES coercive power exercised on behalf of the general community that should be limiting themselves to restraining unjust behaviors. Use of those powers leaves piles and piles of cash in the hands of people who might only be slightly less bad AND we've turned it all into d(utility) calculations. Ugh.

duncan cairncross said...

Alfred

That is exactly my point - the Three body problem - if you attempt to find a mathematical solution then you fail

But if you simply use a numeric solution then you get answers - YES the error bars get bigger as time passes - but engineers are used to error bars
And they start out very small - the trick is to keep an eye on it and redo the calculations to shrink the error bars

Same with economic manipulation by means of taxes and other tools - apply them and keep a beady eye on the results

I agree about taxation - and I prefer taxation to most forms of legislation for exactly the reason that you specify
If you make something illegal then you encourage people to break the law
Taxing it shifts the ROI and makes it less profitable
ALSO taxation is often a way of compensating for the externalities - if you do something that ends up costing the nebulous "people" something
Burning coal - the emissions cause thousands of deaths - so taxing the coal makes sense

Legislation banning an activity (like adding poisons to milk) is nessesary when the results are just so bad that taxing is no longer enough

Back to models - like the Keynesian model - its a model and it helps you to decide what to do
In engineering terms a good "model" is invaluable - but its still a model and the "oh Shit" moment is still there

Without a model at all you are into the evolutionary system - you make random changes and follow up on the ones that work
THAT WORKS
But a decent model makes it go faster

When you are working on something the theoretical basis for your model is less important than the question "does it predict the outcome from this change"


When I'm making something I always consider that I can make almost anything - as long as I can keep doing it again until I get it right
I would make a terrible pilot!

Saying that I would probably still crash less than somebody saying that we should keep our hands off the controls unless we could predict EXACTLY what will happen

duncan cairncross said...

Alfred
We NEED "coercive power" (exercised on behalf of the general community) to stop all sorts of profitable behavior from poisoning milk to blackmail and protection rackets

We also need "coercive power" to get "rent" for community owned property

So having "coercive power" for taxation is just part of those

Paul451 said...

Alfred,
You keep twisting the topic. No-one was discussing the merits of "sin taxes". That's a completely different topic to using progressive and wealth taxes to reduce the disproportionate advantages that wealth itself brings to gaining more wealth.

Also, if you hit your sister, your parents probably would take away your candy. The analogy would be with a criminal fine, though, not a tax.

The analogy with tax would be, for eg, you got more candy from trick-or-treating than she did, because you were bigger and could push in front of smaller kids like her and draw the attention of householders, so your parents make you share some of yours with her as part of your familial obligation. Sure, you whine, you complain, you lecture them about virtue ethics. But you either make with the sweet-stuff, or it all gets taken from you.

It's weird that you seem to grok this when lecturing Treenazi about vaccination/masks, but the moment it comes to someone potentially taking away your candy...

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

My main beef with taxation isn't it's nature as a restraint (which it isn't, but I'll get to that). It's the belief that it is a valid form of punishment for unjust behavior. You hit your little sister, so I'm going to take away your candy. You dumped toxic wastes into the local drinking water, so I'm going to take your profits.


You're conflating taxes with fines.

Although taxation can (and often is) skewed in such a way to deter behavior, that's not the real purpose of taxation. Taxation is the citizens supporting the functioning of government. My grocery store doesn't "punish" me by exacting payment for food and stuff. The movie theater doesn't "punish" me by charging admission. Taxation in a functioning democracy is the price of admission.

Even in the worst medieval regimes, I'd say that the purpose of taxation wasn't punishment. It was enrichment of the ruling class. Punishment was inflicted in order to coerce people into paying taxes, not the other way around.

Larry Hart said...

Well, duh!

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2022/Senate/Maps/Jan13.html#item-7

If the Democrats think: "We will keep the filibuster because we may need it some day," they should seriously consider the possibility of the Republicans abolishing it when the Democrats used it to block legislation they want. That would be a double whammy: (1) the filibuster would prevent the Democrats from enacting their agenda when they had the trifecta (i.e., now), but (2) the Republicans simply abolished it when they had the trifecta.

Andrew said...

s/hem/them

locumranch said...


It's worse than you can imagine, Treebeard.

In all of human history, expert minority rule (aka 'rule by the best & brightest') always degenerates into what Dr. Brin describes as 'Feudalism'. Always. Regardless of the initial selection criteria. This is part of the reason why progressives everywhere are so desperate to improve or 'transform' humanity.

Remember that the old Blue Blood Aristocracy of yesteryear were the technocratic expert managerial class of their age. They started out as our best, brightest & most educated class (being the undisputed masters of the written word, the military arts and the chivalric moral code) until they degenerated the inbred incestuous clan of incompetent power-hungry hemophiliacs that we think of today.

As evidenced by the rise of wannabe political dynasties like the Kennedys, Bushes, Clintons, Faucis & Cheneys, the West is well on the way to repeating the tiresome aristocratic errors of our idiot past.

Dr. Brin's CITROCATE appears to be the only way out of this historical trap, I am loathe to admit, but not necessarily in the reasoned & orderly way that Dr. Brin proposes.

The way out appears to be a volatile combination of Consensus Democracy (which, if left unchecked, leads invariably to cultural enstupidification and the so-called Tyranny of the Masses) and Anarcho-Libertarianism, as evidenced by a willingness to diminish, destroy, replace and refresh our ruling class on a regular basis, at least before it degenerates into yet another imbecilic aristocracy like we have now.

The key Libertarian mantra is and has always been 'Keep government small or not at all' or, as Thomas Jefferson once put it:

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.

And it appears, my friends, that our Tree of Liberty is in desperate need of both fertilization and refreshment.


Best
____

The term 'taxation' has two distinct meanings: It means 'fee-for-service' when our monies are taken for our own immediate enrichment, but it means 'theft' when our monies are taken for the sole purpose of enriching others.

David Brin said...

As usual, there's not a single paragraph offered by locum that's true. (Some are lying half-truths.) It's all garbage.

The elites under feudalism started as thugs with swords who killed other thugs with swords in order to keep the same peasants down and take their women. Yes, often first generations of dynasties did feature some military or political genius... inevitably decaying as spoiled inheritance brats did what they always do.

Gradually some meritocracy crept in at lower levels.

His version of populist 'democracy" would be masses sig heiling in unison.

Notice he does not even remotely defend the thing that "conservatives" supposedly used to stand for, but now cheat-betray utterly.

Flat - fair- transparent- COMPETITION with minimal cheating or wasted talent or undue advantage.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

loc seems to be on board with today's so-called-conservatives whose entire idea of freedom seems to come down to "freedom to inflict harm on others without consequence." Anything that impedes their ability to do that is "a threat to freedom!"

Treebeard comes from a slightly better place. He doesn't come across as actively wanting to harm others. Just to be free from any constraints imposed by civilized interactions with others. As long as we leave him alone, he's perfectly content to leave us alone. Not so the rabid confederates who aren't happy unless they're stepping on someone's upturned face.

Larry Hart said...

Right twice a day?...


The term 'taxation' has two distinct meanings: It means 'fee-for-service' when our monies are taken for our own immediate enrichment, but it means 'theft' when our monies are taken for the sole purpose of enriching others.


Who are you, and what have you done with locumranch?

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin

Locum did offer a sensible sniblet

The term 'taxation' has two distinct meanings: It means 'fee-for-service' when our monies are taken for our own immediate enrichment, but it means 'theft' when our monies are taken for the sole purpose of enriching others.

That's almost correct - I would substitute "benefit" for "immediate enrichment"

David Brin said...

Donald Trump endorsed booster shots and said politicians who hid their vaccination status were “gutless.” Yeah, yeah, he should talk? He ranted at the 1/6 mob "Go to the Capitol now, and I'll be right there with you!"

... Is all this pro-vax stuff so he can take credit for the vaccines? When all he did to 'accelerate' them was announce a symbolic name: Project Warp Speed. Still, in this case he was right on both counts.

Another theory? He's jabbing at deSantis, his top rated rival in polls of the clown car.

---

LH & Duncan... the meta is that both of you looked for an excuse to notice a rare exception when locum - or Treebeard - said something that - standing alone - happens to be cogent or correct. I do that too! It is a sign of confidence and strength. A strength that the weak-minded and frantic cannot display.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

.. Is all this pro-vax stuff so he can take credit for the vaccines?


I think someone got through to him that he's been killing off the voters he will need in order to win in 2024.

Paul451 said...

Duncan,
"When I'm making something I always consider that I can make almost anything - as long as I can keep doing it again until I get it right
I would make a terrible pilot!
Saying that I would probably still crash less than somebody saying that we should keep our hands off the controls unless we could predict EXACTLY what will happen"


Manually piloting a plane is an active, iterative process. You have a mental model of how the plane (or car, or pushbike, or your-feet-on-the-ground) should work, you constantly correct as time goes on, particularly as you reach useful or critical milestones.

Additionally, you can "trim" the controls to correct for any ongoing bias in the aircraft's movement. Both innate biases, like how it counter-rotates to the rotation of the engine; internal balancing, like fuel or cargo loads; or external biases, like a cross wind. The trim only works as long as the conditions are the same. It's unreasonable to expect conditions to remain constant... and yet aircraft are always fitted with trim controls.

The analogy to taxation as a means to correct systematic economic biases seems obvious.

Paul451 said...

David,
Re: Duncan and Larry and Locumranch,
OTOH, if you do find yourself agreeing with something Locumranch said, it's always worth checking to see if he's using terms differently than you...

For eg,
"The term 'taxation' has two distinct meanings: It means 'fee-for-service' when our monies are taken for our own immediate enrichment, but it means 'theft' when our monies are taken for the sole purpose of enriching others."

I'm willing to wager (if it were possible to do so without the subject being aware), that by "enriching others", he's referring to such theft as public health care and education.

Larry Hart said...

There's no pleasing some people.

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2022/Senate/Maps/Jan14.html#item-2

It's not so easy to reconcile a "yea" vote on one mandate with a "nay" vote on the other, and the two justices didn't try all that hard in the (also unsigned) opinion, where again the identity of the majority is known because the minority issued a blistering, signed dissent. Kavanaugh is being lambasted by conservatives, many of them slurring him as "Cuckanaugh." Some are also slamming Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), blaming McConnell for Kavanaugh's presence on the court.

Larry Hart said...

I said:

I think someone got through to him [Trump] that he's been killing off the voters he will need in order to win in 2024.


There's a line in the original Ghost Busters film when Bill Murray's character is trying to convince the mayor to follow his suggested course of action instead of the "dickless"guy. "But if I'm right...you will have saved the lives of millions...of registered voters."

Maybe some adviser has finally convinced Trump that "I saved your life" is a better electoral strategy than "I let you own the libs by dying."

A.F. Rey said...

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.

And it appears, my friends, that our Tree of Liberty is in desperate need of both fertilization and refreshment.


As bad as things are getting, locumranch, I would not so blithely volunteer my blood for fertilization purposes. For one thing, it really doesn't work all that great. :)

reason said...

I didn't read all of the thread so forgive me if I'm making points that other people have made. One of the many problems I see with economics (as a trained economist) is that it is very hazy about "What is the problem that the economic system is trying to solve". There is a tendency to look at the economic system as it is, and then deduce that what it is doing is the same as what it SHOULD be doing. Please read the book "Donut Economics" - because I believe it is one of the very first books to actually address that. A system that systematically concentrate wealth and power and maintains much unnecessary poverty is not a system that I would regard as a useful for human society. I have yet to see an economy that increases the general welfare without significant redistribution.

I tend to consider the economic system as human ecology. If we look at natural ecologies, we will see that the resources available to individuals or groups of individuals tend to be self limited because of competition. The cost of defending resources rises roughly proportionally to the square of the radius of the territory area, as defending the borders of the territory eventually costs more than value of the territory being defending. But in our modern economic system we get the state to defend that territory for free allowing the cost of defending wealth to take a decreasing proportion of wealth as wealth increases. This is why progressive taxation is a must. Without it, the system will become dysfunctional.

David Brin said...

reason you are bracketing the important thing but (I think) missed it.

THE fundamental human problem is willful delusion. We are all delusional, preferring subjective overlays on the world over any need to re-evaluate. Fortunately we do not share the SAME delusions and can point at each others'! But only under conditions of relative equality, when reciprocal criticism cannot be punished by elites... as happened in 99% of human societies, where kings, priests, oligarchs and owner castes used their power to suppress criticism from below.

This is why COMPETITION - the greatest creative force (that made us) is so hard to maintain and was quashed in 99% of societies, till we innovated ways to flatten power structures and get elites criticising each other. At which point cheating was reduced, openness allowed not only reciprocal crit and accountability but also flexible ALLIANCES leading to many positive sum games.

Economics is one of five great arenas that have boosted the benefits of competition, by making it (1) FAR less bloody than in nature, with many 2nd chances, (2) filled with a maximum number of skilled competitors as Adam Smith and F. Hayek demanded, (thus wasting less talent), and far less prone to cheating.

The other 4 competitive accountability arenas are democracy, science, courts and sports, all of which benefit from cheating-reducing regulation. And yes taxes, in some cases.

To be clear, those saying the c-word aloud 'competition" the most are its deepest enemies. Every 'economics' proposal made by the mad right is aimed at reducing competition, feeding wealth and power disparities, elimination of rival (accountability) elites, and cheating. Hence the current ill health of flattening and other systems in markets and democracy, especially.

Larry Hart said...

Paul451:

For eg,
"The term 'taxation' has two distinct meanings: It means 'fee-for-service' when our monies are taken for our own immediate enrichment, but it means 'theft' when our monies are taken for the sole purpose of enriching others."

I'm willing to wager (if it were possible to do so without the subject being aware), that by "enriching others", he's referring to such theft as public health care and education.


I generally share your suspicion--in fact whenever loc begins a sentence with "Larry is correct that...", I usually go screaming for Jesus to help me.

But in this case, since it is not plausible to interpret "when our monies are taken for our own immediate enrichment" as "when my money is taxed in order to be handed right back to me", I presume that part refers to taxes spent on adding value to the commons.

Even if he meant it differently, he did say a true thing.

reason said...

David,
my view of science is a bit more nuanced. My father was a scientist (in the public sector) and I have a first cousin who is professor of biochemistry (after studying under my father as well). I think science is fundamentally a co-operative process, enhanced sometimes by the competitive instincts of the participants but requiring rigid transparency in order to function. One of the most severe problems of our times is that we have imagined that science can be left to the private sector which is a disaster. The private sector (as illustrated by Donald Trump) abhors transparency. Also the private sector will not look for problems - think of tobacco causing lung cancer, or leaded petrol increasing crime. Nobody earns profit from illustrating such problems, but showing them is essential to ensuring that the system works for social progress.

But I also am a believer is a "national dividend" which you may also call a universal basic income to better align the economic system with it's purported function (so that everybody has a stake in it - if the system gives one dollar one vote, then everybody should have some dollars). This article from the site you keep pushing I think is good https://evonomics.com/a-new-capitalism-the-case-for-universal-property/.

I tend also to think that when people developed economics they thought that money just facilitated extended barter and that production came first. The classical model was essentially a barter model. But I think money changes the whole game. I think money comes first - which is why I think trickle is 100% the wrong way around. Money flows up. Money in the hands of ordinary people encourages production, it is not that production gives money to ordinary people - production just gives value to money. There is no use in producing something if nobody has the money to buy it.

scidata said...

Dr. Brin: THE fundamental human problem is willful delusion

"Man follows only phantoms" is the trap that chained us for so long. The Tree of Liberty is a shrub next to the Tree of Knowledge. Genesis is in for a serious rewrite if things like the JWST pan out.

David Brin said...

reason... there are many overlaps between cooperation and competition. But it is a great error to think scientists aren't the most competitive humans our species ever produced.

I am fine with innovating techniques to limit wealth disparity and uplift the bottom. Though uplifting children should be a no-argument.

Larry Hart said...

reason:

But I think money changes the whole game. I think money comes first - which is why I think trickle is 100% the wrong way around. Money flows up.


I'm glad to see that someone with your credentials is singing my same song. It seems so obvious as to be self-evident that "trickle down" is the wrong metaphor, and that "heat rising" or "gravitational attraction" much better describe the way money flows in a system.

Alfred Differ said...

Paul451,

No-one was discussing the merits of "sin taxes".

Mmm. Maybe you were lurking the last few weeks. I'm not sure. I'm not twisting, though. I'm still reacting to the 'no good billionaires' concept that was floated here. There are some here who feel 'billionaire' is 'sin' because it must have been acquired sinfully.

[The issue with that should be obvious. It's the old belief in a zero-sum game. My gain is someone's loss. My earned billion is someone's starvation wages. It's a steaming pile of bull poo.]

I was trying to help clarify things for Matthew by quoting Hayek precisely to show where I stand. There is a legitimate need to restrain behaviors that are considered unjust, but I want those behaviors named. I someone acquires a billion dollars it isn't enough to point at the money. Show me the evil done. Show me the injustice. When people do that, this here classical liberal will take their side at least in terms of preventing future injustice. They might not like HOW I want it prevented, but at least we'd agree on putting a stop to it.

Always, always… name the unjust behaviors to be prevented. Describe. Provide evidence. If we agree, I'm supportive. If not, at least we are trying to persuade each other on ground that is solid under our feet.

but the moment it comes to someone potentially taking away your candy…

See? See how hard it is to hear this stuff without assuming selfishness in the one saying it?

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Taxation is the citizens supporting the functioning of government.

Then explain to me why so many feel they've been robbed?

My grocery store doesn't "punish" me by exacting payment for food and stuff. The movie theater doesn't "punish" me by charging admission.

The correct name for this is 'price' and the transactions are voluntary.

Taxation in a functioning democracy is the price of admission.

Oops. No. There are no negotiated prices. The majority sets them through their representatives. Everyone pays or risks coercive actions by government to collect.


Sorry. Progressives want to make taxation sound like the price of the social contract. Many people do. It isn't, though, and the evidence is the fraction of people who feel wronged. They aren't all monsters. They don't all feel wronged for the same reason. Some feel their money shouldn't be used to make war. Some feel their money shouldn't be used to passively prop up churches. Some feel… Well… The point is that many of us DO FEEL robbed.

There is no arguing against that evidence. We can talk about why they do and whether they are engaging in unjust behaviors, the the evidence is what it is.


For the record, I pay my taxes properly and don't object much. If we are going to be taxed, I'd prefer a progressive system. I do NOT want taxes to be punitive, though. Nor do I want y'all messing with them in a way that kills the golden goose. Still… I pay them. As a resident of California… I pay LOTS in taxes and happily appreciate the services they provide from functional governments. As I'm currently a federal contractor, YOUR taxes land in my bank account as income for the service I'm providing back through them to you. So… I'm not complaining about the social contract. It's just that I don't like how we do it sometimes. I especially don't like how we deal with people who have reasonable disagreements with some of those services.

Alfred Differ said...

duncan,

Honestly, I feel at times like someone trying to describe 'inertia' to a believer in Ptolemy's cosmology.

The Three Body Problem is modeled accurately with differential equations that can be numerically integrated. The error bars on future predictions get larger with time because of computational precision limits compounded with precision limits on initial conditions.

Here's a test of your understanding of the model. Are the future uncertainties proportional to initial imprecision? I'm not asking if they are linearly related. Use any finite polynomial order you like. Is there a predictable relationship between initial imprecision and future uncertainty?




Legislation banning an activity (like adding poisons to milk) is nessesary when the results are just so bad that taxing is no longer enough

No. A million times no.

Legislation banning the adding of poisons to milk is justified on the grounds that doing so is unjust. Taxing the criminal behavior turns it into a game theory problem. Capture the cheaters and and toss their asses in jail. Unjust behavior is UNJUST first and imprudent second. Capturing their milk profits places that money where it can be spent to do good and traps us (stupidly) in trying to craft two wrongs into a right.

David Brin said...

Alfred and I agree on a lot, but: "Sorry. Progressives want to make taxation sound like the price of the social contract. Many people do. It isn't, though, and the evidence is the fraction of people who feel wronged...."

Label me progressive then. I want those who innovate as wildly successfully as Elon or Steve Jobs to have riches as an incremental reward. But I also fear oligarchy, the great enemy. Hence I would either:

- simplistically make each successive billion harder... certainly harder to pass on to genetic heirs... or

- added taxes that are bills for the many ways their rise was subsidized by us, or

- turn ever increasing shares of those added billions into an investment fund / foundation that he/she controls.

The advantage of #3 is she/he still gets zillionaire bragging rights. And with a proved track record, he/she has earned the right to steer investment into chosen innovations. In fact, when the innovations are as good for us all as Elon's I'd eliminate taxes on everything that goes into the fund/foundation.

Larry Hart said...

@Alfred Differ,

Just so you know, I feel like someone with an 8th grade education arguing with a professor on the subject, and yet, the point seems to obvious it needs to be made.


"My grocery store doesn't "punish" me by exacting payment for food and stuff. The movie theater doesn't "punish" me by charging admission."

The correct name for this is 'price' and the transactions are voluntary.


There are no negotiated prices at the grocery store or the theater. All exceptions duly noted, I either pay what the institution tells me the price is or I go without. And yes, the transactions are voluntary to a point, but there are sneaky behaviors I put up with because it's just too hard to fight. Like, my cats don't like beef flavored cat food, but to buy the brand of chicken and turkey cat food that they like, I have to buy a box that is 1/3 beef. I can buy a gallon of milk cheaply enough, but I can't buy just a pint for anything close to 1/8 that price. Those feel just as much like "theft" as taxation does.

I could take my business elsewhere--to a point. I can do without Friskies Buffet, but I can't do without cat food at all. I can't do without food or shelter or heat. You can also take your business elsewhere--to a point. If you don't like taxes in California, you're free to move to Texas or Florida. Neither rejoinder avoids being disingenuous, but I don't see why taxes are more "theft" than corporate price setting.


"Taxation in a functioning democracy is the price of admission."

Oops. No. There are no negotiated prices. The majority sets them through their representatives. Everyone pays or risks coercive actions by government to collect.


"And it's a victimless crime. The only victim is Moe."

Meaning, the majority setting rates through their duly elected representatives is negotiating prices. Messy, but better than the king or dictator or commissar setting them on a whim. Look at what's going on with the Build Back Better bill, where certain Senators (at the behest of their constituents) won't allow the cost to go above a certain number of dollars. How is that not negotiated prices?


The point is that many of us DO FEEL robbed.

There is no arguing against that evidence. We can talk about why they do and whether they are engaging in unjust behaviors, the the evidence is what it is.


Many of us feel robbed at the gas station too. Or by the prices charged for food and beer at the stadium. Or by the electric utility. Complaining about retain prices is practically a national pastime. You seem to be asserting that taxes are in their own special category because they're not determined by a one-on-one negotiation, but it seems to me that almost nothing in day to day, month to month life works that way.

The case that you're making for "taxation is theft" also applies to any financial interaction with a company larger than a true mom-and-pop owned shop.

continued...

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ continues:


Unjust behavior is UNJUST first and imprudent second. Capturing their milk profits places that money where it can be spent to do good and traps us (stupidly) in trying to craft two wrongs into a right.


On this, I do agree with you. Cigarette taxes are the obvious example. They're designed with the dual purpose of discouraging smoking and profiting off of those who aren't discouraged (because no one will lobby AGAINST taxing bad behavior). But it ends up putting the taxing body in the position of becoming addicted to the revenue generated by that bad behavior. Meaning if people really do cut down on smoking, the government faces a shortfall.

Where I do agree with taxing behavior is when the reason is not because the behavior is morally "bad", but because the behavior levies an externality cost on the surrounding community. In that case, it makes sense to tax the behavior as a means of recouping the cost being foisted upon the community.

And if the corporation is legally shielded from liability against the wishes of those they do harm to? I'd argue that "limited liability is theft" as much as taxation is.

matthew said...

Alfred, "taxes are theft because some of us think they are" (paraphrasing) is not the winning argument you seem to think it is. A *majority* of US citizens disagree with your interpretation.

If you think taxes are theft, convince 51% of voters to get rid of them.

***
I've talked a bit about the Pro*d B*y / Portland Police Bureau connection here before. Here is an article about it from a weekly local paper.
https://www.portlandmercury.com/blogtown/2022/01/14/37952603/portland-police-used-right-wing-meme-threatening-violence-in-training-presentation

I urge all of you to take a look at what our local "Protector Caste" were using for training material.

Alfred Differ said...

David and I agree on a lot with the biggest one being that when we disagree we can still sit at a table and discuss ways we might compromise toward a common goal even when we have very different reasons.

The labels don't matter much to me. Progressive, liberal, libertarian, conservative… Don't care really. I'll look for ways we can restrain unjust behavior and support SOME ways over others while still agreeing that injustice is injustice. The ways I don't support almost always give me hives regarding unintended consequences and hubris.

So… in the interest of discussion… I'd challenge our host to describe how he would

1. make successive billions harder to acquire,

2. make the taxes on those successive billions in the investment fund NOT SERVE the oligarchs.

I don't mind tax money being used to subsidize the paths along with our ambitious people rise. We do that with higher education and many other systems. I'm not offering blank checks, though. There are some dumb ways to do it that favor people in service industries supporting those paths. Since those people vote, there is always a risk analogous to the military-industrial complex… from which I currently derive an income.


I also offer a simple challenge. Answer me this

Is passing your money to your genetic heirs unjust? I don't think it is.


What is unjust is when those heirs gush torrents into other markets associated with government and take control from us. If I am willing to support restraints on unjust behavior, should I not be looking more at the gushing torrents and NOT inheritance?

Yes. I know inheritance is how we've historically clung to the attractor. I get it. We got rid of kings, though, so can we not find a way to deal with the ACTUAL unjust behavior here. It's not the money we want to pass to our children that is the problem. It is what they do with the money.

David Brin said...

Alfred we can argue niceties of 'rights' but I care about one thing aabove all, to prevent a return to 6000 years of wretched rule by cheater lords who connived to give their sons powers they never earned.

I've met 5 of Elon's 6 sons and nicer boys I never encountered! No mtter what innovations we winf up instituting to stave off inheritance feudalism, I expect they'll be rich and creative all their lives. Terrific. I just don't want them having both the assumption and means to own my grandkids.

Alfred Differ said...

David,

Sounds like an admirable goal to me. Cheater lords* should be buried in unmarked graves. I'll help dig.

For the sake of the discussion with the others, though, if Elon's sons are nice boys, then we aren't justified in preventing Elon from passing money to them.

I take a stance with you for preventing a return to the past, but it's a moral stance because I think universal application of restraints will speak to history as much as our successful innovations. Universal application of general rules IS what stops the kids from assuming and the grandkids from arrogating.


This rule I like is a lot like the one you discuss in your transparency book. It's not what they know about us. It's what they do with that knowledge. Apply it to riches because I think it is the same exact rule. Actions matter.



* I'm pretty sure the oligarchs will twist the investment fund to serve their interests within a generation. They already do these kinds of things in the bond markets when they 'allow' government debt to grow and then rent their money to progressives who think it's going to a good cause. Piketty even points out how it works.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Heh. I don't mean to pick on Duncan with that crack I made about explaining inertia. The point I want to drive home is that inertia simply doesn't exist as a concept in a Ptolemaic cosmology. It isn't there to even be considered. The universe has a center and things behave different with respect to it. It's all there in Aristotle's work.

The model we assume works shapes everything we think about when pondering what is, what might be, what can't be, and SO much more. They shape us too in how they give meaning or deny it to our questions. What's the difference between a duck? Is that nonsense? What about 'Does God exist?'



Prices at the grocery store that you pay are still negotiated. You CAN walk away without starving. You may not like what they charge, but no one will exercise coercive powers of government if you go somewhere else or substitute A for B. The main way negotiation occurs is NOT traditional barter anymore. It is EXACTLY what you described with the cat food. Don't like the price of X? Well… Product Y is an approximate substitute and it's price is slightly less annoying. Ta Da! You walked away from X at the asking price and the market has to adapt to that.

NO ONE likes prices. Not the buyer or seller. Sellers ASK for a price. Buyers BID or offer a lower price. Sometimes the bid is indirect because buyers look at a different product, but bid/ask spread always exists. No matter what happens, in a voluntary trade the price is somewhere in that spread. In the stock market, the spread is explicitly given. In the grocery store it isn't, yet it's still there. Don't like the price on the fresh baked loaf of bread today? Wait. Substitute it for the day old loaf they want to get rid off somehow. Their 'ask' on the day old will be lower most likely. If it isn't, look around a bit more. If you don't want to look… well… then you don't really mind their 'ask' price all that much.

The spread is always present in every voluntary transaction. Sellers rarely get their ask. Buyers rarely get their bid… so NO ONE is happy.



majority setting rates through their duly elected representatives is negotiating prices.

Nope. Show me the bid/ask spread.

What is actually done is closer to a spoils system where my wallet or unused retirement money is the spoil to be divided.


Or by the electric utility.

Heh. I'm actually with you on that. Monopolies don't have spreads on the transactions, right?


Cigarette taxes are the obvious example.

See? That's actually one example where I sided with progressives. It looked like I supported a sin tax when I voted to jack it up in California, but what I wanted was to discourage idiots who don't take their health seriously enough to prevent the preventable. In my VERY particular case, it worked like a charm. My mother-in-law lives under my roof. She was a smoker for 50 years. She stopped and is still alive at 75 much to her surprise. (Bwa-ha-ha!)



I'd argue that "limited liability is theft" as much as taxation is.

Oh boy. That sounds like a juicy topic worthy of thrashing in detail. I'd be happy to point out how the general partnership default organization is disastrously dangerous on the flip side. The partner with the deepest pockets is f@#^#d when things go bad whether they engaged in unjust behavior or not.

Alfred Differ said...

matthew,

If you think taxes are theft, convince 51% of voters to get rid of them.

Believe me when I say I know I can't win this right now. The people who are MOST inclined to side with me often look like selfish bastards. No doubt about that.

Doesn't mean I'm wrong, though. I could be, but I strongly doubt it and don't give a fig that the majority thinks I'm nuts on this.

What I DO care about is that they understand I'm not approaching this like a selfish bastard. Y'all are doing it wrong and I know why. What's so hard to understand about that? *



* Ha! Yah. I'm laughing at that, but not for the same reason.

duncan cairncross said...

Alfred
The Three Body Problem

Every time we launch anything into space we are attacking the N Body problem (the Three Body on steroids)

And we simply calculate the locations/velocities with ever increasing error bars

The lower the quality of the initial input the larger the error bars

I remember a Larry Niven story about a comet/asteroid impact
The initial calculations of the possible position of the comet was a like trumpet - as the initial data got better the size of the "trumpet" shrunk

This is what we do ALL the time in mechanical engineering and in flying and in DRIVING!

Quick you are driving along this road at this speed and the road curves by this much - how many degrees do you rotate the steering wheel???

You don't know!!
I don't know !
We just steer until the car is following the desired trajectory

The "Second Billion Problem"

Today its easier to get the second billion

Want to make it more difficult?? - dead simple - a wealth tax

You are worried about our taxes going to the Oligarchs ? - I am as well - Our Gracious Host's ideas on Transparency would go MILES towards that

As would a UBI

Der Oger said...

@Alfred:
Show me the evil done. Show me the injustice.

I think it is worth to look at how this money is earned. Many will invest it, and that is when the "evil" starts.

Companies paying minimum wages to most of their employees when they could afford to pay higher wages? Evil.
Companies conducting union busting (and works council busting over here)? Evil.
Companies selling arms to dictators, unstable countries and drug cartels? Evil.
Companies damaging the environment and lobbying for less regulations? Evil.
Companies "investing" in politicians and campaigns hazardous to democracy, workers rights, the environment, human rights ? Evil.
Corporations and brokers investing in companies with the goal to plunder them like a biblical swarm of locusts? Evil.
Fossile energy companies? Evil.
Partisan Media companies? Evil.
Prison Industrial Complex? Evil. Especially if connections to sentencing judges and regular law enforcement can be detected.
Investing in property? Somewhat evil, because it drives prices up for non-rich people and destroys grown communities.
Healthcare and pharmaceutical corporations selling their products at inflated prices and causing addiction crises? Evil.

(The longer I look at this list, the less "evil" art buying sprees and 100m yachts and decadent parties suddenly become.)

Don Gisselbeck said...

Why have we decided that it is good for society to give effectively unlimited wealth and power to sociopaths whose only concern is maximizing their own wealth and power?

People who continue to simp for Elon Musk should watch more Thunderfoot.

reason said...

Alfred,
I agree taxation is theft and property is also theft and FOR EXACTLY THE REASON. But I believe that both taxes and property have massive practical benefits that outweigh any conceptual unease they may have. I just don't think anarchism (of any colour) works, it always ends in violence.

David Brin said...

"I'd argue that "limited liability is theft" as much as taxation is."

A perfect case - like patent law - where a vastly needed reform unleashed super creativity... then got warped by parasites into a monsrous vampire suck that needs fresh reforms.

---

This discussion reinforces my belief that tax laws should emilinate trusts etc as SHELTERS - and every other way the rich use to protect parasitic or rentier aggrandizement and inheritance.... But I'd use tax laws to reward not just charitable foundations but creation of a new kind of foundation where the zillionaire must actually pour the new cash into R&D or productive capacity, the way Supply Side promised the lords would do with skyrocketing wealth.

In other words, instead of a tax free charity, a profit-making enterprise that gets low taxes because it truly does take big risks with new , potentially productive things.

The Foundation must re-invest in new and fine things and the zillionaire may be its chieftain - he/she earned that right by earlier successes --... and maybe extract a small flow of profits for personal use... and zillionaire officially "owns" it... allowing pride of place.
But this new entity is committed forever to re-invest in potentially profitable activities that have potential for true win-win results if they succeed. I actually think Elon would be willing to go with something like that.

Larry Hart said...

Getting down to the small stuff...

Alfred Differ:

Prices at the grocery store that you pay are still negotiated. You CAN walk away without starving. You may not like what they charge, but no one will exercise coercive powers of government if you go somewhere else or substitute A for B.


In some cases, that can work. In others, there is no viable alternative, or more often, the sellers of viable alternatives take their cues from each other so they all cost the same. If you don't like what McDonalds is charging, you could go to Burger King instead, but you'll probably pay the same price. If you don't like what the gas station on your corner is charging, you might be able to find a slightly lower price somewhere in range, but for the most part, the stations in proximity to each other will cost the same.


majority setting rates through their duly elected representatives is negotiating prices.

Nope. Show me the bid/ask spread.


Biden bid $6 trillion. Joe Manschin won't go for anything over than $1.5 trillion and would prefer less than $1 trillion. Doesn't even matter what each thinks they're actually getting for the money, they're haggling over the price.


I'd argue that "limited liability is theft" as much as taxation is.

Oh boy. That sounds like a juicy topic worthy of thrashing in detail.


I thought it would be. :)

I might be using the term wrong. I'm not interested in the way the partners agree to split risk and reward among themselves. What I see as "theft" is the shielding of corporations from responsibility for the damage they cause via externalities.

locumranch said...


Classism is defined as "prejudice against or in favor of people belonging to a particular social class".

Some people hate and distrust "cheater lords"; some despise the know-it-all managerial class; others feel the same about the bourgeoisie; and still others wish to punish and penalise the unproductive poor.

Happy Hunger Games everybody!!

And may the odds be ever in your favour.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Dr. Brin, your ideas about reinvesting in R&D sounds like the old movie "Brewster's Millions", where to prove he is worthy of inheriting billions, the protagonist must spend 1 million in 30 days without sinking any of it into anything that might be an investment. One of the first things he did was put out a call for any whacky ideas where the inventor wasn't able to get an investor to take them seriously. Oddly, more than a few of the whacky ideas turned out golden, and Brewster was stuck with a ROI :)

David Brin said...

There's a new Korean version of Brewster's millions. A fun concept for several flicks... and really, really easy to overcome.


Larry Hart said...

Maybe the US populace really is ok with a right-wing coup.

So, I'm getting my hair cut this morning. Recent snows and freezing rains have made it slippery outside, so everyone is relaying stories of slipping on the ice. The customer next to me tells of breaking her leg on the Colorado slopes "twenty years ago" and her adventures flying home. I mention that "twenty years ago" is very close to 9/11, and ask whether her adventure happened before or after that date, because "before" (as it turned out to be) it would have been easier to adjust flight plans than "after".

So the woman cutting my hair segues from the subject of 9/11 to how "they" are trying to make January Sixth into the same kind of thing. Trying to stay diplomatic (she is holding a scissors and a razor near my neck), I say that they two are similar in that everybody remembers exactly where and how they heard about them. Her reply, "Well, I also remember Kenosha, and how they just burned down businesses and no one is doing anything about that."

Point being, that's where we're at as a country. Anyone sympathetic to social justice protests (not to looting) and antagonistic toward right-wing political violence is forced to keep his mouth shut or else be seen as the one being impolite and making everything political. While those on the other side get to say their piece as if it is just fine in polite conversation.

As long as it remains so, we'll always lose the messaging wars.

Larry Hart said...

locumranch:

Classism is defined as "prejudice against or in favor of people belonging to a particular social class".

Some people hate and distrust "cheater lords";


Some people think "criminals" should be jailed or killed. Is that prejudice against a particular social class too?

Tony Fisk said...

The Brewster reference reminds me of an old Donald Duck cartoon with a similar theme.
Scrooge's money bin's getting too full and he can't bring himself to get rid of any of it. Enter Donald, who's more than happy to go on a spree with his Uncle's finances. A week, and several million dollars, later they return home to find that all the money was spent on Scrooge industries, and has flowed straight back to the source.
(Monopolies are bad, children!)

Anyway, enjoy your weekend, and hope no more calderas collapse near you.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Larry Hart said...

Tony Fisk:

A week, and several million dollars, later they return home to find that all the money was spent on Scrooge industries, and has flowed straight back to the source.


Reminds me of the Kurt Vonnegut novel Jailbird, in which every corporate name mentioned is followed by "a wholly owned subsidiary of the RamJac corporation."

Scrooge McDuck is an example of what reason was describing above when he said:
I tend also to think that when people developed economics they thought that money just facilitated extended barter and that production came first. The classical model was essentially a barter model. But I think money changes the whole game. I think money comes first

I think there's a flaw in the common notion that money is more valuable/important than the things it can be exchanged for. This shows up in Ayn Rand novels, in which her productive heroes are only interested in trading their productivity for wealth, which they perceive as equivalent to "accumulating money." Her heroes are supposedly loners whose skills and acumen are such that they could thrive in any environment and are beholden neither to society nor to other people. But what is money other than a means of receiving value from society and other people? A planeload of gold won't keep you from starving if you crash on a desert island.

Money is half of a transaction. You provide value to someone else in exchange for money and then (you hope) trade that money in turn for something that you value. If you keep all of your money in a safe and never spend it, you are foregoing the value you presumably have earned. The one who dies with the most cash doesn't win; he loses because he presumably worked for value that he never actually enjoyed.

Larry Hart said...

missed the "onward"

onward

Robert said...

Prices at the grocery store that you pay are still negotiated. You CAN walk away without starving.

Not always. Some people live places where there is very little/no choice for shopping (eg. small owns when you don't have a vehicle). Then your choice is pay or do without.