. . . promoting capitalist acts between consenting adults.
Saturday, 28 April 2012
ECONOMICS FOR REAL PEOPLE: Planning without central plans
And in other news…
… Monday evening will see the second meeting for this semester of the Auckland Uni Economics Group. Here’s their note advertising the show:
ECONOMIC HARMONIES, IV: Planning Without Central Plans
It’s said that the market can’t plan; that without a central planner no planning can get done.
But as Stalin’s Great Grain Famine demonstrated, central planning couldn’t even produce grain—a simple commodity complex neither in production nor distribution.
It’s a mystery to many people how the market feeds people—feeds them, clothes them, houses them, provides them with iPads, iPhones and the collected works of One Direction—but just because they can’t see the planning themselves doesn’t mean there’s none there.
The market has a plan. It’s called the Price System.
The Price System is the means whereby hundreds of million individual decision-makers can coordinate their plans without ever having met each other.
This is the “Visible Hand” of the market that is all but invisible to those who can see only central planning, and not the products of the millions of interactions that ‘are the products of human action but not of human design’ representing the ‘spontaneous order’ of the market.
So this Monday at the Auckland Uni Economics Group we discuss the Price System and Economic Coordination—offering:
a horse auction,
answers to many questions, including * price signals: what exactly do they communicate? * who exactly sets prices? * on costs of production (and how so few economists understand their import) * if price reflects value, then why are diamonds (which merely glitter nicely) more expensive than water (which is the very stuff of life!)?
All this and more, including five simple principles to help you understand how the market almost automatically coordinates the economic activity of every person on the planet, and why the result is order rather than an “anarchy of production.”
After weeks of talk, we've decided to kick off a course on Logic tomorrow morning in Mt Eden.
The course is Leonard Peikoff's Introduction to Logic, a four ten-lecture series featuring sessions on Basic Logical Theory, Informal Fallacies, Deductive Reasoning and Inductive Generalisation, Definitions and The Aristotelian Syllogism.
Yes, it's late notice. Sorry. But there it is. [If anyone’s especially ken we can quite happily repeat the sessions at a more convenient later date.]
Sessions starting tomorrow will be at my office in Mt Eden, Level 1, 236 Dominion Rd: just down the road from Eden Park. If you're keen to join us at 10:30am tomorrow, or on subsequent Sundays, either call or text Riko Stevens, 0277 487021. ]
What: Introduction to Logic lecture course (four audio lectures in total) Where: Organon Architecture offices, Level 1, 236 Dominion Rd (just down the road from Eden Park) When: Tomorrow, Sunday, 10:30am
See you there! PC
PS: I’ve corrected the course content now. Sorry If I’ve created any confusion.
It’s Friday. It’s the ramble. You know the drill. But first, the quote for the week.
No concept man forms is valid unless he integrates it without contradiction into the total sum of his knowledge. - Ayn Rand
Think about it. Now, on with the show…
The Murdoch-bashing of the smart set who believes he ‘controls Britain’ has crossed the line from rational inquiry into David Icke/Ian Wishart territory. As Tim Abrahams observes, "Murdoch is only as powerful as politicians have allowed him to be." Is Murdoch really a lizard in a suit? – Brendan O’Neill, S P I K E D
“I’m hearing increasing talk about managing the economy…” The government illusion - Matt Nolan, T H E V I S I B L E H A N D
John Banks won his seat with the help of a small band of committed youngsters. Now he tells them to go to hell, their response should be… Freedom, Choice and John Banks – C A C T U S K A T E
The problem with student loans isn't the interest. It's the principal. - David Burge
David Farrar blogs on Labour’s leadership and lack of ideas thenclaims “This is the problem you get when Labour doesn’t know what it stands for.” The National Party blogger fails to see the irony. The unfortunate experiment - K I W I B L O G
For the irony deficient like David, here’s one observation out of many that could be made, this one by Berend: “Interest free student loans, no raising pension age, but scrapping of military bands will bring the savings!” Scrapping military bands 'a national scandal' – N Z H E R A L D
“Among the Labour Party’s objections to increasing GST from 12.5% to 15% was that GST is, in their view, regressive…I shall be interested then to see their views on the Ministry of Health’s notion to increase the tax on tobacco to the point that cigarettes cost $100 per packet.” Our unsung regressive tax Apr – N Z C L A S S I C A L L I B E R A L
Some people call them Pull Peddlers. Ayn Rand called them The Aristocracy of Pull. I just call them scum, and they infest the corridors of Parliament buying and selling favours. Secretly. Name the lobbyists, Lockwood. – Duncan Garner, T V 3 B L O G
The United Nations—home of Food for Oil, the IPCC and Helen Clark—is going to build a machine of 4.5 billion people "in which resources are infinitely reusable and there is no adverse byproducts. Oh, and which refutes the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Isn’t it amazing what “sustainability” can do? UN to Spend Trillions Trying to Create a Perpetual Motion Machine – Dale Halling, S T A T E O F IN N O V A T I O N
“There is some satisfaction to be had in no longer having to identify Nancy Pelosi as US House Speaker. I never liked seeing her wield that gavel. Someone once remarked that a hammer in hand causes one to search for nails to pound in, and she was always searching for nails. She specialized in coffins." A Renewed Assault on Freedom of Speech – Edward Cline, R U L E O F R E A S O N
And still, after all these years, “there is still no convincing evidence that mobile phones can adversely affect human health.” There is abundant evidence however that believing every scare story you hear will. ‘No evidence’ of mobile phone cancer risk – I N D E P E N D E N T ( U K )
Hasn’t it been fun watching “the dwindling band of climate alarmists distance themselves from Gaia hypothesist James Lovelock, now he’s admitted he and his fellow alarmists over-egged the pudding on global warming. Lovelock hemlock to climate alarmists – Miranda Devine, T E L E G R A P H
Yes, Sweden is still overtaxed and over-regulated. But unlike most other places in the world, the direction is the right one—and the results are plain. Sweden and the Recession – W H A L E O I L
Pity the poor professional asset manager in these times, in needing to navigate not just irrational markets but to cater to clients hungry for performance and intolerant of the bad kind. Party On – Tim Price, D A I L Y C A P I T A L I S T
A UK game show (featuring a strangely desiccated Jasper Carrot) uses the famous Prisoner’s Dilemma to provide a gripping finish. Here’s what usually happens:
And here’s how one smart fellow solved the dilemma:
The central bankers are finally realising “gold is quietly becoming a core banking asset for collateral purposes, at a time when the alternative, sovereign obligations, are becoming dangerously unstable as a bedrock of value.” A plea for sanity - C O B D E N C E N T R E
Keen makes one serious error however. He says “when the crisis hits, European governments will be forced into imposing austerity on countries that desperately need a stimulus.” But with all due respect, Mr. Keen, isn’t this the same thing as saying that, “when the delirium tremens hits, the medic will be forced into imposing sobriety on a patient who desperately needs a fifth of vodka?” Open Letter To Steve Keen, Who Says Stimulus Is Necessary - Keith Weiner, D A I L Y CA P I T A L I S T
What he and his colleagues are looking for, and are all at sea without, are the insights of Jean Baptiste Say: “What he needs, as does everyone, is an understanding of where demand at the aggregate level comes from.” And where it comes from was first outlined by Monsieur Say 193 years ago. John Taylor may I introduce you to J.B. Say – Steven Kates, C A T A L L A X Y F I L E S
Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. – P.J. O'Rourke
It’s still all Greek to the poor central bankers. “The current annual rate of contraction (-19%) of the Greek money supply guarantees many more eruptions from that Balkan nation.” Greece Is Imploding - Steve Hanke, C A T O @ L I B E R T Y
“Q: Why do Japanese investors keep buying their own public sector debt, which is racing to 250% of GDP by 2015, twice the level that got Greece in trouble? A: Part of the explanation is what we call financial repression, where the government puts pressure on domestic institutional investors, frequently through regulations. But much of the explanation is likely deflation, which creates acceptable real return to bonds, that are not taxed. The eventual JGB crisis must await 2015 or later…” One reason why Japan allows deflation – Tyler Cowen, M A R G I N A L R E V O L U T I O N
“Here is a puzzle for Keynesian and other neo-classical economists. When a consumer buys something, he must choose; and if he increases his purchase of one product, he must reduce his purchases of other products by the same amount. In other words he cannot buy both. This must be true for whole communities as well. How then can you have [the economic growth supposedly measured by GDP]? It is of course impossible without monetary inflation…. Understanding these dynamics is central to a proper understanding of our economic condition…” The paradox of choice – Alasdair MacLeod, C O B D E N C E N T R E
Where does paper money come from? In two words: from debt. Money As Debt – Tyler Durden, Z E R O H E D G E
You might think designing a kitchen is all about aesthetics, ergonomics and craftsmanship. But you’d be wrong. It’s more about your happiness. Psychology of the Kitchen - Johnny Grey, G R E Y M A T T E R S
Don’t eat this. Ban that. John Stossel reckons the Food Nazis should go to hell. “I don't suggest that we ignore the experts and eat like pigs. But the scientific question should not overshadow the more fundamental issue. Who should decide what you can eat: you? Or the state? …The moral issue of force versus persuasion applies even if all the progressives' ideas about nutrition are correct.” Stossel on the Food Police – G U S V A N H O R N
The government sucks - but it sucks less than governments that don't allow you to say 'the government sucks.' - Penn Jillette
Fact: People who hate beer must also hate civilisation itself. How Beer Created the World - Eric Crampton, O F F S E T T I N G B E H A V I O U R
In 450BC, noted toga-wearer Sophocles philosophised that the best diet for the Greeks was bread, meats, various vegetables and beer (the last of which they called Zythos).Good enough reason then for Epic brewer Luke Nicholas to launched his latest hoptastic creation… NEW BEER: Epic Zythos IPA – Neil Miller, E P I C B L O G Epic Zythos – Joel McFarlane, B R E W N A T I O N
“You can count on my support.” “It wasn’t my fault.” “You’re next in line for a promotion.” Really? 12 Ways To Spot A Liar At Work – Carol Kinsey Goman, F O R B E S
Lasse Hallström’s film of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen serves up an appealingly fishy main with a side of political satire… Audience charming in the Yemen – S P I K E D
How do you get big stuff done? SF author Neal Stephenson has some answers.
Apparently Councillor John “Mystery” Morrison was part of a delegation of Wellington councillors taking the trip to the MCG this year to join 86,900 fans cheering on the game that has become an Anzac Day tradition in Melbourne, won this year in a breath-taking finish by Collingwood. Unavailable for comment after the game (rumours that the hospitality proved too much are hereby confirmed as being totally unfounded), before leaving for Melbourne, Morrison and businessman John Dow – a key figure behind Wellington hosting three pre-season AFL games between 1998 and 2001 – told the Dom Post:
It's still got a fair way to travel but we've had positive talks about St Kilda being associated with Wellington and looking to play up to two, maybe even three, major club games against opposition like Collingwood, Essendon or whoever. So the two factors make it pretty interesting, that we've got a club who wishes to be in partnership with us and we've got the governing body. We're talking about this partnership arrangement kicking off next year with an Anzac Day game here. I think that's a particularly good marketing ploy.
This is magnificent news for New Zealanders keen to follow the world’s most libertarian sport, fantastic news for those working on the game at grassroots level here, great for Wellington (the Hawthorn club’s similar involvement with Tasmania has proved highly beneficial for both), great for fans like myself who will be making the pilgrimage from all over,* and furthermore it’s just what the stadium was built for. (Yes folks, the AFL played a part back at the design stage in making it the oval it is.) And as NZ-born Brisbane Lions’s chief executive Malcolm Holmes points out, for teams like theirs the travel time is comparable to that of visiting Tasmania or Perth. So no travel problems either for the teams. Everybody wins!
This year just the MCG on Anzac Day, next year Wellington as well!
* Which, to be fair, may not be entirely beneficial for Wellington. Although I’d expect the Malthouse at least to prosper.
So the measurement of Gross Domestic Product is more accurately a measure of Net Domestic Consumption. Something with which governments can too easily fiddle, either by boosting their own spending or encouraging their central banks to “ease” quantitatively.
That the UK’s figures for this fiction are still flatlining despite all their fiddling is a measure of just how anaemic, not to say non-existent, the UK’s recovery really is.
But despite five years of increasingly desperate fiscal and monetary irresponsibility, some folk are still saying the real problem is the UK government hasn’t been fiddling enough. Their QE programme should have been even more profligate, say numbnuts about the programme that has left the UK another year poorer and deeper in debt. “Their austerity measure didn't work,” bleats the likes of Scott Yorke and sundry other commentators like Bryan Gould et al whose knowledge of economics could almost fill the head of a pin.
Well, as Murray Rothbard, used to say (in so many words) , it’s no crime not to know anything about economics, but it’s pig-ignorant to comment as if you do.
As for the UK government itself, despite the political rhetoric Cameron and Osborne have imposed the very opposite of austerity. For the past five years their deficit has been between two to five times that of New Zealand. And…
…despite some very modest spending cuts [records Sean Rosenthal at the Mises Daily], it is now taxing more and spending more than it ever did. Although British spending as a percent of GDP fell mildly from 51.1 percent in 2009 to 49.8 percent in 2011, this level still signifies a massive increase in spending from 2007 levels of 43.9 percent of GDP. Similarly, although the British deficit as a percent of GDP fell from 11 percent in 2009 to 9.4 percent in 2011, this deficit still amounts to a huge surge compared to the 2007 level of only 2.8 percent and, with the exception of this recession, exceeds all other deficits in Britain since World War II.
The British government is spending more than it ever has. It is taxing more than it ever has. And its deficit is more than it ever has been—except for the depths of the war that virtually bankrupted it.
And it hasn’t worked. And why would it? As Tory MP Daniel Hannan vainly tried to tell then-PM Gordon Brown back in ‘09, “you cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt.”
So as the Chinese philosopher LaoTse sagely observed, “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
It’s time, in other words, for current PM Cameron and his Treasurer George Osborne to try something else.
There has been a billion dollar deterioration in the NZ government's forecast financial position in just two months, with a 2014/15 surplus of NZ$370 million picked in February now projected to be a NZ$640 million deficit… Despite the new forecasts however, English said the government was still committed to reaching an operating surplus before investment gains and losses in the 2014/15 year…
War appears to be as old as mankind, but peace is a modern invention. - Sir Henry Maine (1822-88)
Charles Sargeant Jagger's Royal Artillery Monument at Hyde Park Corner, London
“It is well that war is so terrible,” said General Robert E. Lee after the slaughter at Fredericksburg, “otherwise we should grow too fond of it.”
But fond of it humans have been for most of our history. For thousands of years war has been an intrinsic part of the social and political order. For most of human history, armed conflict has been the accepted method by which ambitions are achieved. It took more than mere wishes to change that tragic history. It was not simple pacifism that did it. It was only the realisation (developed over many centuries) that the interests of human beings are essentially harmonious that eventually allowed the “invention of peace”—however sporadic has been its application.
Wars are not natural events or accidents, like earthquakes, landslides or hurricanes. No, like economic depressions, totalitarian dictatorships and murder by concentration camp, wars are neither acts of nature nor 'Acts of God': Wars are acts of man -- of men who seek to achieve their values by violence, resisted by those who rise to defend their own lives, their values, and their sacred honour.
Wars are the result of aggression by those who see value only in force, and who see other human beings as chattel…
Austrian-born economist Ludwig Von Mises saw more than his share of war and its results. The invention of peace, he wrote in 1949, can only come about with the rejection of the roots of war. Which is to say, to reject the spirit of conquest and the notion that values can be attained through aggressive government action; which is to say, to reject statolatry—which is to say, to reject the warrior code and embrace the code of the trader…
Total War: The market economy involves peaceful cooperation. It bursts asunder when the citizens turn into warriors and, instead of exchanging commodities and services, fight one another… War and the Market Economy: Of course, in the long run war and the preservation of the market economy are incompatible. Capitalism is essentially a scheme for peaceful nations. But this does not mean that a nation which is forced to repel foreign aggressors must substitute government control for private enterprise. If it were to do this, it would deprive itself of the most efficient means of defense. There is no record of a socialist nation which defeated a capitalist nation. In spite of their much glorified war socialism, the Germans were defeated in both World Wars. What the incompatibility of war and capitalism really means is that war and high civilization are incompatible. If the efficiency of capitalism is directed by governments toward the output of instruments of destruction, the ingenuity of private business turn out weapons which are powerful enough to destroy everything. What makes war and capitalism incompatible with one another is precisely the unparalleled efficiency of the capitalist mode of production. The market economy, subject to the sovereignty of the individual consumers, turns out products which make the individual's life more agreeable. It caters to the individual's demand for more comfort. It is this that made capitalism despicable in the eyes of the apostles of violence. They worshiped the "hero," the destroyer and killer, and despised the bourgeois and his "peddler mentality" (Sombart). Now mankind is reaping the fruits which ripened from the seeds sown by these men… The Futility of War: What distinguishes man from animals is the insight into the advantages that can be derived from cooperation under the division of labor. Man curbs his innate instinct of aggression in order to cooperate with other human beings. The more he wants to improve his material well-being, the more he must expand the system of the division of labor. Concomitantly he must more and more restrict the sphere in which he resorts to military action. The emergence of the international division of labor requires the total abolition of war. Such is the essence of the laissez-faire philosophy... This philosophy is, of course, incompatible with statolatry. In its context the state, the social apparatus of violent oppression, is entrusted with the protection of the smooth operation of the market economy against the onslaughts of antisocial individuals and gangs. Its function is indispensable and beneficial, but it is an ancillary function only. There is no reason to idolize the police power and ascribe to it omnipotence and omniscience. There are things which it can certainly not accomplish. It cannot conjure away the scarcity of the factors of production, it cannot make people more prosperous, it cannot raise the productivity of labor. All it can achieve is to prevent gangsters from frustrating the efforts of those people who are intent upon promoting material well-being. The liberal philosophy of Bentham and Bastiat had not yet completed its work of removing trade barriers and government meddling with business when the counterfeit theology of the divine state began to take effect. Endeavors to improve the conditions of wage earners and small farmers by government decree made it necessary to loosen more and more the ties which connected each country's domestic economy with those of other countries. Economic nationalism, the necessary complement of domestic interventionism, hurts the interests of foreign peoples and thus creates international conflict. It suggests the idea of amending this unsatisfactory state of affairs by war. Why should a powerful nation tolerate the challenge of a less powerful nation? …. Such was the ideology of the German, Italian, and Japanese warmongers. It must be admitted that they were consistent from the point of view of the new teachings. Interventionism generates economic nationalism, and economic nationalism generates bellicosity. If men and commodities are prevented from crossing the borderlines, why should not the armies try to pave the way for them? From the day when Italy, in 1911, fell upon Turkey, fighting was continual. There was almost always shooting somewhere in the world. The peace treaties concluded were virtually merely armistice agreements. Moreover they had to do only with armies of the great powers. Some of the smaller nations were always at war. In addition there were no less pernicious civil wars and revolutions. How far we are today from the rules of international law developed in the age of limited warfare! Modern war is merciless, it does not spare pregnant women or infants; it is indiscriminate killing and destroying. It does not respect the rights of neutrals. Millions are killed, enslaved, or expelled from the dwelling places in which their ancestors lived for centuries. Nobody can foretell what will happen in the next chapter of this endless struggle. This has little to do with the atomic bomb. The root of the evil is not the construction of a new, more dreadful weapons. It is the spirit of conquest…. Modern civilization is a product of the philosophy of laissez faire. It cannot be preserved under the ideology of government omnipotence. Statolatry owes much to the doctrines of Hegel. However, one may pass over many of hegel's inexcusable faults, for Hegel also coined the phrase "the futility of victory" (die Ohnmacht des Sieges). To defeat the aggressors is not enough just to make peace durable. The main thing is to discard the ideology that generates war.
Guards of the Dead by Austrian sculptor Franz Metzner, in the Crypt of the Monument to the Battle of the Nations created to commemorate the battle that was the beginning of the end for Napoleon’s dictatorship, after whose fall Europe enjoyed nearly a century of (almost) laissez faire and its longest interlude of peace ever … before the rising tide of statolatry and aggressive nationalism combined to create another bloodbath. Ironically, the monument itself was built to commemorate the victory of the people over an oppressive ruler —but in commemorating the victory of ‘Der Volk” it became for some a commemoration of the maturation of the Germans as an organised ethnic group, and hence was to become the locus of the same aggressive nationalism “the people” had opposed, but this time in German garb.
Man who invents Gaia backtracks on warmism: I was too ‘alarmist,’ says Lovelock.
It was in the 1960s that chemist James Lovelock first offered up the ‘Gaia’ hypothesis, i.e., the notion suggesting “all organisms and their inorganic surroundings on Earth are closely integrated to form a single and self-regulating complex system, maintaining the conditions for life on the planet.” A notion that in hippier hands became the speculation that “Mother Earth” isn’t just a metaphor but a reality, and she is out for revenge.
Despite his impeccable scientific credentials, Lovelock went on to embrace any amount of silliness himself. In his 2006 book, The Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth is Fighting Back, he turned full-on catastrophist, arguing our “lack of respect” for Gaia is already testing her capacity to minimise the effects of our addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, making it inevitable that most of the earth will rapidly become uninhabitable. (In his most recent book, "The Vanishing Face of Gaia", he reckoned human civilisation will be hard pressed to survive at all.)
Even the best democracies agree [sic] that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.
In short, Lovelock was your regulation big-government, deep-ecology, celebrity climate alarmist talking up catastrophe and hanging out with the Al Gores, James Hansens and Tim Flannerys of the celebrity warmist world .
But that was then.
Now he’s saying something more inconvenient for them.
The problem is we don't know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn't happened. The climate is doing its usual tricks. There's nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now. The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time... it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising -- carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that,” he added...
Asked if he was now “a climate skeptic,” Lovelock said:
“It depends what you mean by a skeptic. I'm not a denier.” He said human-caused carbon dioxide emissions were driving an increase in the global temperature, but added that the effect of the oceans was not well enough understood and could have a key role. “It (the sea) could make all the difference between a hot age and an ice age,” he said… As “an independent and a loner,” he said he did not mind saying “All right, I made a mistake.” He claimed a university or government scientist might fear an admission of a mistake would lead to the loss of funding.”
James Lovelock has had an epiphany.
Time for those administering our Emissions Trading Scam and doing out the funds to fellow warmists to do the same.
PS: Proposition 23, to which the aging hippy is donationally opposed, would suspend California's Global Warming legislation requiring energy companies to do the impossible by reducing their carbon output to 1990 levels.
[Central banks don’t]t expand the money supply by dropping cash from helicopters. It does so through capital transfers to the largest banks. A major issue this year … is the growing disparity between rich and poor, the 1% versus the 99%.. The source is not runaway entrepreneurial capitalism, which rewards those who best serve the consumer in product and price (Would we really want it any other way?) There is another force that has turned a natural divide into a chasm: [central banks like] the Federal Reserve. The relentless expansion of credit by “The Fed” creates artificial disparities based on political privilege and economic power. David Hume, the 18th-century Scottish philosopher*, pointed out that when money is inserted into the economy (from a government printing press or, as in Hume's time, the importation of gold and silver), it is not distributed evenly but "confined to the coffers of a few persons, who immediately seek to employ it to advantage"… The Fed doesn't expand the money supply by uniformly dropping cash from helicopters over the hapless masses. Rather, it directs capital transfers to the largest banks (whether by overpaying them for their financial assets or by lending to them on the cheap), minimizes their borrowing costs, and lowers their reserve requirements. All of these actions result in immediate handouts to the financial elite first, with the hope that they will subsequently unleash this fresh capital onto the unsuspecting markets, raising demand and prices wherever they do. The Fed, having gone on an unprecedented credit expansion spree, has benefited the recipients who were first in line at the trough…
Do we really want it that way?
[Hat tip Daniel Gross]
* Yes, that David Hume. Poor philosopher, sound economist.
Asset sales, the Crafar Farms issue, the Sky City pokies deal: every time there's a poll on these issues (however unscientific), the results are damning. So if people hate these policies, why do the polls say it's business as usual for National?
Scott offers five suggestions to explain this apparent conundrum. Let me offer one more.
The clue to this one was supplied by thinking about the release of Gordon McLauchlan’s Passionless People sequel. If McLauchlan is right, then NZers would generally rather sit down to a nice tea than take an abstract idea seriously—even one to which they are supposedly violently opposed.
"New Zealanders don't give a stuff about anything too much,'” he says with just a bit too much relish.
New Zealand has become "a broken country, and no-one wants to fix it.” And New Zealanders have lapsed "into a lack of passion bordering on inertness.” If a New Zealander feels a bout of passion coming on, "he goes and paints a roof.”
So a smile and a wave and a relaxed backroom deal or two is apparently the right approach for folk like this. You don’t want to overbalance on the roof.
Mind you, there is another answer that Scott doesn’t really canvas either. It is that , bad as this lot are, we are so scarred by nine years of Helen Clark that anything that comes in her colours is going to take years to trust again. (Which is why so many of even Smile and Wave’s detractors are now supporting the Greens’s Ginger Whinger instead of Labour’s Mr Invisible.)
You could object that Smile and Wave has failed to overturn anything that was introduced by Helen Clark—even things to which he was previously “passionately” opposed—so is no different to her in substance. But that would be to take ideas seriously.
PS: There is actually one other possibility to consider.
“There's no question that the Key government has been taking a hammering in the media,’ says Scott. But I wonder if NZers truly take their piss-poor media seriously any more?
ECONOMICS FOR REAL PEOPLE: Monday, Monday, Monday!
Here’s the note on this week’s discussion at the Auckland Uni Econ Group (which, by the way, has now switched to Monday evenings for the rest of the year):
First off: We have changed our meetings to Mondays at 6pm, due to there being a lot of other events on Thursdays. This week we continue looking at the Economic Harmonies with Part III of our series, asking: What Really Makes the World Harmonious?
Remember how economics teaches us The General Gain From the Existence of Others?
Remember how the Division of Labour makes us all more productive?
Remember how Comparative Advantage and the Pyramid of Ability show us we all have a place in production … how trade raises the value of everything … do you remember the lesson of The Double Thank You Moment?
Remember the Miracle of Breakfast--and how Paris (and New York) Gets Fed?
These were all the lessons of the Economic Harmonies—the greatest lesson that philosophers could learn from economics (and economists should learn from their own science).
Well, this week we look at the foundations on which the very existence of all of the these miracles rest—the six institutions that underpin all the Gains From the Existence of Others, without which human economic life would be characterised less by harmony and more by plunder!
Come along this Monday to continue your exploration of economics, and hear about these very special six things.
Date: Monday, 23rd April Time: 6pm Where: Seminar Room 219, Level 2, Auckland University Business School Building (Owen G. Glenn Building)
In America, they tip. In NZ, we shout beer. If you like the service here at Not PC, drop a tip in the tip jar and you can do both.
ECONOMICS FOR REAL PEOPLE: Planning without central plans
hey check this new website www.countcode.com. It's a social network made for programmers, where you can download,share or upload source codes, where you can count your own code lines for free. You have access to the web forum and the web chatroom. we are happy to have you joined to our community!Economics Development is a process whereby an economy’s real National Income Increases over a long period of time, and if the rate of development is greater than the rate of population growth, then pre capital real income will increase. Banks are the custodians and distributors of liquid capital which is the life blood of our commercial and industrial activities.
That's interesting. According to me, it's a ten lecture series. At least the one I have is.
That description on the page, which the link goes to, does not sound particularly like they pertain to logic (well directly at least), so perhaps it is an error?
If you are interested and would like a lecture booklet, let me know so that I can arrange to have one printed for you.
That's interesting. Perhaps you'd better send a lecture booklet.
(PS: You can see now how effective our weeks of talk have been--and why you're receiving late notice.)
I really enjoyed the first lecture. Who'd have thought a lecture about logic could be that entertaining?
@Julian: Clearly you'll now need to check your premises. :-)
I'm missing all the best shit. But at least I was there for pogoing.
@Marnee: Ah yes! That you were. :-)
FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: Anzac Week edition
ANZAC Day AFL in Wellington, 2013
Will be there with bells on.
I'm a bit late to this thread but this is fantastic news. AFL is leading the way in showing how a professional football league should be run. Unlike not-so-Super Rugby, there is still a huge emphasis on getting bums-on-seats with afternoon games and family-friendly prices and environments. The pathetic turn-outs to the 2012 Super Rugby Games speak volumes as to the decline the code is in (and this only 6 months after we won the RWC).
How to look after high-tech guests without the hassle
Hell yes. Number for the local pizza delivery.
UK Recession: “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” [updated]"“Their austerity measure didn't work,”
It didn't work because it wasn't an austerity measure.
I wouldn't want to use Sweden (60% income tax + 25% VAT = effective rate over 70%) as an example for anything.
But while the UK still has the NHS, state-funded "education", National Insurance, the Dole, student loan scheme, child tax credits and the rest of the stalinist mess of course the UK hasn't enacted any austerity measures
Do high taxes & prosperity go hand in hand?
It will be interesting to see how this policy actually works out, which I fear it might. What horrible, disgusting, 'appeal to envy' techniques they are using... without even getting the base facts right. But, I guess when you are riding on emotions alone, the facts of the matter are inconsequential. Also, the fact that they have the nerve to call it the "Buffet Rule" is quite intriguing.
Why do you objectivists have to be so objectionable though? What's with that? Is it intentional?
Even if (purely hypothetically) your arguments about the mighty super rich were compelling and logical, your audience would be completely alienated by the the tone of the schoolgirl-like buffoons you put up to present them.
May we suppose you're suggesting your own "tone" as an exemplar?
This would presume it to be a winning strategy to replace logic with snark.
"This would presume it to be a winning strategy to replace logic with snark."
You mean that's not already your presumption? With you guys it's gone beyond a strategy and is now a modus vivendi. I'm just being polite; when in Rome etc.
ANZAC EVE: Reflections on war
So you were vehemently opposed to the invasion of Iraq then. Funny, I could have sworn.... And of course your chum Lenny Peikoff is such a peaceful chap, when he's not advocating nuking innocent people and bombing theoretical buildings that is.
It always bemuses me, that if countries go to war against each other, that is considered bad by the lefties, it doesn't matter what the justification is or was.
But if a country kills or brutally oppresses it's own people, they don't say a word..
Where on earth did you get that funny notion from? How very odd.
What a load of hogwash. I don't know of any other respectable political movement that has more of a lust for war than objectivists.
@Anonymous: Well, maybe it's time to check your premises.
Indeed, anonymous. Where did you get the idea that objectivists were respectable?
Man who invents Gaia backtracks on warmism: I was too ‘alarmist,’ says Lovelock.
And this will no doubt be widely reported by our MSM, that is if they are not too busy canvassing Doug Sellman, Sue Bradford or the anti gambling fascists to see what else we need to have banned for our own good.
Thanks for bringing that one to my attention.
That's the sort of admission that the hoodwinked Chicken Little believers may actually listen to.
"We thought we knew 20 years ago."
This guy obviously has no understanding of objectivity
James Cameron: Hypocrite
But this is just cheap snark. You can agitate for causally efficacious shared sacrifice of various sorts and conditionally agree to do your share without being prepared to first be a (usually causally inefficacious) saint yourself. E.g., Warren Buffett can call for higher taxes on people like himself (or for everyone) without unilaterally giving away the same sum of money first. Presumably Cameron's just like the rest of us, living the largest most interesting life he can. What everybody's lives (from the richest to the poorest) will look like in a low-carbon world is almost impossible to know/plan and it shouldn't be required of anyone who wants to see price signals for carbon etc. introduced that they guess at what might be required of them (perhaps in a world of all those explicit price signals Cameron, the super-winner lives exactly the way he lives now but has to spend large sums of money buying lots of individual carbon allowances off poor people).
@plague You must be the change you want to see in the world. - Mahatma Gandhi
@PaulB. No. You shouldn't have to be Jesus/Gandhi to effect collective/group-level change (Gandhi's advice on practical matters is almost always awful). That's what ordinary politics and persuasion is for. Rather than requiring people to be saints (of course if they *can* motivate themselves to be unilaterally self-sacrificing that's wonderful, it's just not required), the rest of us should try to elevate the debate and the politics by calling out destructive individuals (such as NotPC in this instance) who insist on trying to play the man not the ball.
Anyway, pointing out that James Cameron has lots of money, and spends it on stuff, negates the laws of physics how exactly?
And it’s true for New Zealand as well…
When you put it like that, it sounds just like the dystopian worlds of Atlas Shrugged, 1984 and Brave New World all rolled into one.
It’s not the helicopters you have to worry about
Smile & Wave at the Passionless People
I think I canvassed that in option 2:
People don't like National, but they dislike the opposition parties more.
That would fit with your theory that people are scarred by the Clark years.
Of course, I don't actually agree with it...
Just to pull you up on one point: I get the feeling from the blurbs I've been reading that what McLauchlan wants us to get 'passionate' about is more income redistribution. No thanks.
And while it's commendable to launch into politicians, he's pretty much against 'business types'.
Just more Statism.
@Scott: At 14%, it seems some people do like at least one opposition party...
@Mark: Indeed he does. But that's not the only, or most fundamental, part of his thesis.
Perhaps I better give it a read then: you think it worth it?
I'm just so 'over' everyone pushing the Statist line, I'm worn out, and normally can't be bothered anymore, even if they may be making some good point by the by (or even mainly).
Indeed, if someone is pushing the State in my face, I just don't see what they can possibly offer me, because I know that at last resort they're looking at my wallet to fix their perceived problems, and they're always willing to take away my liberties to ensure I've got to cough up. I don't know what's worse in that: boredom or the offensiveness of it.
Sorry, Rambling. And I'm on holiday ... waiting for the next high tide and some fushing ;)
"After the weekend’s polls, poor old Scott Yorke is wondering what his Labour Party has to do to get a break. "
How about come up with some good policies?!
I blame the piss poor media, they get obsessed with trivia that half a dozen people get excited about. They all pretty much follow the same lines and suffer group think, quoting Sue Bradford and Doug Sellman as if they are somehow sane and representative. Most people I work with figure out the world has changed and we may have to take one or two for the team and I don't think labour have figured it out yet. Who in their right mind would turn down a 1000 construction jobs because of a couple of gambling addicts who have no end of outlets anyway to fuck up their lives.
First off, PC and Scott are the only blogs I read on a regular basis these days. Both have a unique voice on the internet.
IMO I think issues like asset sales and so on simply do not resonate with the 'ordinary NZer'. And really Labour should be saying "OK we will create the economic environment whereby Kiwis can afford to buy land in their own country so we don't have to sell to offshore interests."
Another thing (which I have always drummed into my kids) is an old saying I read in a book by Nathaniel Branden-- "No one is coming." As in no one is coming to make your life great, to give you a job, or to make you happy.
I believe the NZ voter has taken that thought on board over the years and is a lot more intelligent than a lot of folk think.
If the Labour Party want to gain some traction, they could do a lot worse than promote the policies of 1985-1988.
Tom Hunter said ...
Snort! I finally got hold of Gordon McLauchlan’s original Passionless People for a couple of bucks in a used bookstore in 1980 or so. I'll grant that I laughed in a few spots, but the overall tone was more snark than smart. Check out his "clever" little quips about Charles Upham's VC-winning actions. But back then Gordo was part of the BabyBoomer literary avant garde, determined to shake NZ out of its pathetic traditions. Kicking the crap out of everything was expected, especially if it was perceived as "conservative". If it was all torn down, surely something better would rise in its place, probably led by the left-wing?
Just five years later of course his countrymen would refute his thesis and engage with a degree of passion that scared the crap out of themselves. And a few years beyond that they'd take him at his word and tear down many other aspects of conformist old NZ, destroying the work of generations as it were.
I don't recall Gordon and the rest of the left being too happy about that, although he at least would adapt by donning those symbols of the 80's - aerobic tights and being a salesman for SOE privatisation. Quite conformist actually.
So now he's back - and still missing the point. Perhaps he and Scott Yorke would do better to read this article from the US - In Nothing We Trust - which notes the collapse of people's faith and trust in almost all the institutions of society in the US, with Muncie, Indiana as the selected aiming point.
The left and right-wing simply do not get this, but especially the left. As the The Dim Post plaintively pointed out some months ago, left-wing parties all around the world are failing to make much traction at all during tough economic times when they should expect to be hailed as saviours.
Sure, they'll win elections like Obama did in the US and as Hollande might in France. But bewilderment and disappointment have quickly followed the former and will follow the latter if he wins.
The reason is that the traditional left have nothing to offer but new government institutions as well as bigger, better forms of existing bureaucracies (with new "systems"), all fed by wonderful new types of taxes that will also act as incentives to guide society in the direction of genius planners. The new left and far-left (even the so-called anarchists) are little different, which is why the Greens will screw up royally once they have some real power.
The left simply refuses to accept that those approaches don't work anymore (if they ever really did) - but ordinary people actually do increasingly understand the failure, perhaps only in a gut sense rather than the desired intellectual level. Still, why sneer at Kiwi's refusal to engage at the level of ideas when so many of them are stale.
Meanwhile the traditional right will simply offer to try and cap all this insanity and "manage" it better. That's the final ironic capstone of Gordon's interview; that he has a degree of veneration for Holyoake, whose primary argument was exactly that - and who I've long believed has a direct descendent in the form of the very man Gordon so gleefully denigrates - smiling John Key.
McLauchlins basic point is that the 'she'll be right' attitude of kiwi indifference and apathy is the core of the problem. Can't be denied.
ECONOMICS FOR REAL PEOPLE: Monday, Monday, Monday!