25 May 2012

So A Woman Married Herself

Witness the beginning of the sad new trend of self-marriage:
Here comes the single bride. Last week, Nadine Schweigert married herself in a symbolic wedding ceremony. The 36-year-old divorced mom of three wore blue satin and clutched a bouquet of white roses as she walked down the aisle before a gathering of 45 friends and family members in Fargo, North Dakota.
She vowed to "to enjoy inhabiting my own life and to relish a lifelong love affair with my beautiful self," reports Fargo's InForum newspaper . After the ring was exchanged with the bride and her inner-groom, guests were encouraged to "blow kisses at the world," and later, eat cake.
First, this sort of thing is the province of old, haggy women with serious personality defects.  The woman in question is 36; she’s a five at best in the looks department, and probably a four when she’s not dolled up for her self-marriage ceremony.  She’s been divorced, and the fact that she’s not interested in settling (as evidenced by the whole “I was waiting for someone to come along and make me happy” thing) generally indicates a high level of narcissism and hedonistic tendencies, as well as having a rather tenuous grip on the nature of relationships, and perhaps even low impulse control.  (Pro tip: when marrying yourself, make sure that your multiple personalities are compatible with one another.)

Second, I suspect that this will become a rather large trend, seeing as how women love weddings, particularly ones where they are the bride.  Furthermore, women do not have to be as inclined to settle for a loser provider male by virtue of the fact that most women have a (probably worthless) job and be reasonably sure that the federal government that will provide for them if all else fails.  As such, this will become a trend because it gives professional carousel riders a way to have wedding ceremony without having to bother to find a way to rationalize why they haven’t scored an alpha and are instead stuck with a loser beta.  (Pro tip:  when marrying yourself, make sure to invite all your cats to the wedding, else you could have a real mess on your hands when you get back from the honeymoon.)

Third, this should be taken as further proof that the institution of marriage is more or less dead, except for those who are committed to keeping their oaths because they pledged them before God.  That anyone attended this, participated in this, or even came up with the idea should be proof that that there are a significant number of people who think that marriage is a joke.  The current divorce rate should also prove that there are a lot of people who simply don’t take marriage seriously.  In fact, gay marriage may now be a way to make the institution more serious.  That’s how sad the state of affairs has become.  (Pro tip:  When inviting people to watch you marry yourself, Comic Sans is an appropriate font choice for the cards. And all other official wedding stationary, come to think of it.)

Fourth, the only thing that would make this story sadder is if it was a man that decided to marry himself.  I’ve no doubt that some men will eventually try to do this very thing, possibly in the name of gender equality, or possibly as a precursor to an inevitable sex change operation.  I suspect that a couple of real losers will give it a try.  The first one that does it will be celebrated, and the next few after that may get some play in the press, but I suspect that after a dozen or so no one will actually attend any wedding ceremony of a man marrying himself, because that’s just sad.  (Pro tip:  any of the various free porn sites on the web make for wonderful honeymoon destinations after the ceremony.)

That such a thing as marrying one’s self is actually occurring is evidence of a society in moral decay.  Quite simply, this act makes an even greater mockery of marriage, and is evidence of how narcissistic and ego-driven many people have become.  It is the action of a shallow, stupid, ignorant, selfish person.  This, of course, describes a large number of Americans, so expect to see self-marriage ceremonies become more popular.  Fortunately, these ceremonies are ripe for mockery in their self-seriousness and rationalizations, which prevents this subject from being completely depressing.

23 May 2012

David Frum, Liberal

It’s not news, I know, but how else to explain this:

Yet there was something also very weird about his termination. The feelings that John Derbyshire ventilated—where did they come from? Yes, some of them are common prejudices, such as rattle around in many of our heads. But others were so very highly specific. The belief that the country is pulsing with potential "flash mobs," ready to erupt at any moment? That black people form a new privileged caste in America?
Just yesterday morning, I invested a few minutes to take the temperature of local talk radio. I heard the host deliver a rant about how terribly unfair and one-sided the media are, culminating in the outright declaration: "We [meaning conservatives, or maybe Republicans] are the new blacks." Meaning, presumably, that blacks are the new whites.

First, blacks are observably a privileged class in America.  There is plenty of proof of this.  Affirmative action, most welfare programs, diversity training, black studies, the current attempted Crucible-ing of George Zimmerman, and so on.  Quite simply, the race-baiters in America—think Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Cornel West, the NAACP, and their ilk—have made careers out of exploiting white guilt.  All across the US, whites are punished for the deeds of people that have long since died for what happened to blacks. Meanwhile, blacks behave in the vilest of ways, and no one says anything because it’s suddenly racist to report that blacks commit an extremely large amount of race-based crimes.  Additionally, blacks underachieve in education and employment, in spite of having billions of dollars tossed their way and in spite of affirmative action.  They are given many, many privileges and they squander every last one of them.  These aren’t opinions; these are facts.  Blacks are privileged because they receive lots of government money and have their social dysfunctions ignored and excused.  It’s not racist to note this.

In the second place, white, particularly those who are male and conservative, have been treated like shit for the past couple of decades.  They are constantly mocked and derided, even though they don’t go around killing each other, and even though they are productive.  But now, they get treated as second-rate ctizens, and are viewed with hostility.  Even someone who is half-Jewish, half-Hispanic is convicted of a hate crime by the MSM simply because he shot a young black wannabe thug; and this happens before all the facts are out.  Quite simply, being white is not exactly a privilege, and certainly not to the extent that being black is.

Finally, ignoring these realities doesn’t do anyone any good.  Policies base on myths are worthless and doomed to failure.  And while reality may not always be enjoyable, it is essential to deal with it and not feel-good myths.  Unfortunately, the reality is that blacks have for years now been using white guilt to absolve themselves of their dysfunction, and to use the government to provide them with unearned money.  This does not bode well for the future because there is no way that blacks and whites will view each other with trust, particularly if one side wants to keep having its dysfunction socialized.

An Interesting Experiment

Some lesbian decided to live undercover as a man for a couple of months just to see what it was like.  Here are some of her observations:

Vincent said the dates were rarely fun and that the pressure of "Ned" having to prove himself was grueling. She was surprised that many women had no interest in a soft, vulnerable man.
"My prejudice was that the ideal man is a woman in a man's body. And I learned, no, that's really not. There are a lot of women out there who really want a manly man, and they want his stoicism," she said.


Again, Vincent saw the men struggle with vulnerability. "They don't get to show the weakness, they don't get to show the affection, especially with each other. And so often all their emotions are shown in rage," she said.


Vincent says she's healed now and glad to be rid of Ned. But her views about men have changed forever.
"Men are suffering. They have different problems than women have, but they don't have it better," she said. "They need our sympathy. They need our love, and maybe they need each other more than anything else. They need to be together."
Ironically, Vincent said, it took experiencing life as a man for her to appreciate being a woman. "I really like being a woman. ... I like it more now because I think it's more of a privilege."

That life is more difficult for men than for women isn’t exactly news.  Men were designed to handle hardships and adversity better than women—as evidenced by men’s general tendency to take more risks, and also by their physical strength and stature— whereas women were designed to support men’s endeavors but not take part in them.  Part of being a man is simply realizing that life will be nasty, brutish, and possibly short, relatively speaking, and adjusting one’s outlook and actions accordingly.

This doesn’t mean that men never need sympathy, or that they never need to blow off steam.  It simply means that men need to understand that at the end of the day, they’re the ones wearing the pants, whether they want to or not, and that they are the ones who have to handle all the difficult stuff, whether they want to or not.  Men who abdicate their masculinity and their male responsibilities are pathetic.

And women who envy men’s masculinity and responsibilities privileges are idiots.

It's Definitely a Bubble

That jump in the lower line is pretty much all student loans.  And whenever the government is loaning out money, you can bet that the direct recipients are in the middle of a big ol' bubble.

White Racism Is a Bogeyman

Each year, roughly 7,000 blacks are murdered. Ninety-four percent of the time, the murderer is another black person. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1976 and 2011, there were 279,384 black murder victims. Using the 94 percent figure means that 262,621 were murdered by other blacks. Though blacks are 13 percent of the nation's population, they account for more than 50 percent of homicide victims. Nationally, black homicide victimization rate is six times that of whites, and in some cities, it's 22 times that of whites. Coupled with being most of the nation's homicide victims, blacks are most of the victims of violent personal crimes, such as assault and robbery.
The magnitude of this tragic mayhem can be viewed in another light. According to a Tuskegee Institute study, between the years 1882 and 1968, 3,446 blacks were lynched at the hands of whites. Black fatalities during the Korean War (3,075), Vietnam War (7,243) and all wars since 1980 (8,197) come to 18,515, a number that pales in comparison with black loss of life at home. It's a tragic commentary to be able to say that young black males have a greater chance of reaching maturity on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan than on the streets of Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, Newark and other cities.

As Williams makes abundantly clear, the greatest current danger to black males, at least in terms of physical safety, is…black males themselves.  For whatever reason, black males really like to kill each other, relative to other ethnicities.  Now, it is true that racists (i.e. people who maliciously discriminate against others based on skin color) can make life difficult for minorities.  However, the reality is that in modern-day America, the group that poses the most danger to blacks is blacks.

Furthermore, given how whites have basically bent over backwards to show goodwill to blacks (think of all the government programs designed to relieve poverty, of affirmative action, of “black studies,” and the ever-present need for diversity training and sensitivity, not to mention the EEOC, among other things), it is patently ludicrous to even assert that white males, even of the conservative variety, are intentionally* holding blacks back to such a degree that whites are still the greatest threat blacks will ever face in their lifetimes.

Really, white racism is simply a bogeyman that blacks trot out every time they want to excuse their dysfunctional culture.  Instead of admitting that, for whatever reason, they prize bastardy, violence, and laziness, and hate education, intelligence, and stable families, they try to pin all their problems on whitey, who just won't stop holding them down.  Really, though, the reality of the situation is that blacks are their own problem, and that they would do well, if nothing else, to live by the general ethical, religious, and moral principles that middle class white conservatives practice in their everyday lives.  And it would also help if black people stopped shooting each other.

* I would argue that the feel-good leftist solution of throwing money at every problem that comes up has unintentionally contributed to the host of black pathologies now on proud display in the US, since the general effect has been to subsidize every last dysfunction that blacks have.  And whites too, come to think of it.  It also doesn’t help that cultural Marxists have spent decades undermining traditional values, seeing as how those traditional values helped to keep a lid on a host of different social pathologies.

22 May 2012

Responding to Haters

Some commenter named joe left a turd of a comment on my post “Going Gay for Race.”  It’s been a while since I critiqued a comment in full, so I’ve decided to mark this momentous occasion by making a post out of it.  (Also, blogger has a limit of 4,096 characters for comments.)
“If by tribal you mean that blacks are smart enough to realize that united we stand and divide we fall, then yes blacks are very tribal.”
Judging by the state of black-run cities (Detroit and DC, among others), it would appear that the more factually correct assertion is “united we fall.”
“Just like anyone else who wants to succeed. I am a black male who agrees with a lot of conservative principles but still tends to vote democratic (although not for Obama, not yet).”
“The reason being that conservatives just don't like us. All I have to do is listen to all the coded messages that are sent out during a republican primary to confirm that belief.”
And they should like blacks because…why, exactly? Blacks are total racists, and exploit race for every advantage they can get.  Blacks commit a disproportionate amount of crime.  Blacks have a very broken culture, as evidenced by the low marital rates, high bastardy rates, low educational rates, and the fact that most blacks under thirty are from broken homes.  Why would anyone want to bring this to their neighborhood?
“Just like your framing of black unity as being tribal is a subtle coded racist message.”
According to Merriam-Webster’s, my assertions and actions do not meet the definition of racism.  I do not believe that race is the primary determinant of human traits (I believe that it is correlative).  Since my assertions were made ex post they are not by definition prejudicial, and my lack of policy prescriptions indicates an absence of discrimination.  If you are using a different definition of “racism,” please provide it and explain why it’s more useful (and less inflammatory) than Merriam-Webster’s.
“Because tribal unit is considered to be of less integrity compared to other forms of unity. If blacks were indeed tribal then they would support any black republican candidate who challenges a white democratic candidate. Instead blacks vote for whomever they believe support the best interest of blacks.”

If this is true, why are heavily-black cities so politically and socially dysfunctional?  Is dysfunction really in the best interest of blacks?  Or are blacks incapable of thinking beyond stage one when it comes to determining personal ethics and political policies?
“That is exactly the same as every other voting group. Blacks do not necessarily fear what conservatives will do to them, but rather what conservatives might allow to happen to them. Its hard to support someone who would let harm (not necessarily physical) come to you because they think less of you.”

I see.  And how have blacks been doing under liberal policies?  See Walter Williams’ Race and Economics if you can’t come up with an answer.
“The manoshpere and the conservative blogoshpere tolerate quite a bit of subtle (and sometimes overt) racist comments and rarely does any well-meaning conservative stand up and chastise those comments. That alone would justify my democratic vote.”

And as we all know, racist comments=practical political policy (oh wait, it doesn’t).  And blacks aren’t exactly pro-white 24/7 (remember Jeremiah Wright?).  Would I then be justified in voting against Obama because he didn’t rebuke the good reverend?  Or would you want me to consider policy before I voted?
“As to gay marriage, it is less about being tribal and more about being sensitive to the issue of human rights. The decline in opposition to gay marriage reflects the framing of the gay marriage issue in terms of civil rights. For example, pro-choicer exploit that sensitivity when dealing with the black community by framing the abortion issue in terms of a woman's civil rights.”

This, of course, is perfectly evidenced in how blacks swung seven points more in favor of gay marriage in three days, which occurred during black people’s annual three-day spring holiday of political introspection, and had absolutely nothing to do with Obama coming out in favor of gay marriage.  In essence, all blacks who changed their minds did so out of intellectual honesty, and not because a black president said something about it.
“And it works. As a teen I initially considered myself pro-choice because I was opposed to the notion of rich old white men dictating what could be done to someone else's body. Blacks do not support homosexuality or homosexual marriage, they are just afraid of state sanctioned prejudice.”

Is that why blacks uniformly oppose affirmative action?  Or do they only oppose some types of state-sanctioned prejudice?
“Additionally, gays tend to vote democratic, and the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Talk about strange bedfellows.
“Blacks do what they do in the voting booth because they have a healthy and well-founded fear of conservative white power.”
Blacks do what they do because they’re racist and tribalist.  Do you really think that white conservatives would, at this point, do more damage to blacks than blacks have already done to themselves?

Further reading: Blacks and Same-Sex Marriage.

20 May 2012

Mark Zuckerberg, Beta

Here’s the proof:

I'm so proud of you, Dr. Chan : )

That’s what he posted on his GF’s Facebook wall  for getting her degree.  There is, of course, nothing necessarily wrong with complimenting a women for genuine accomplishment (she has her degree from UC’s school of medicine, so it’s not a garbage degree like, say, womyn’s studies).  But emoticons?  Those should only be used by middle-school-aged girls.

* For further proof of Zuckerburg’s crippling betatude, check out the pictures of his “girl”friend in the linked-to article.  Also see here.

Obama’s Birthright

Arizona's secretary of state said Friday he had asked officials in Hawaii to verify that Barack Obama was born in their state in order for the president's name to appear on the November ballot in Arizona.
Ken Bennett, who is Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign co-chairman in Arizona, said he made the request on behalf of a constituent.
Earlier this year, hardline Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio announced that an investigation by his office had found that Obama's birth certificate was a forgery.

Karl Denninger has done an impressive job covering this issue, so I will direct readers to his site and invite them to do search on “Obama birth certificate” to see for themselves whether Obama has actually proven that he is, in fact, a citizen of the US.  I posit that Obama has not proven that he is eligible for office, but the absence of proof is not proof of absence.  However, since he has not proven that he is eligible for office, and since there are genuine concerns over whether he is, the question that must be asked is:  why is he in office?
The answer, of course, is that the constitution is dead, and its remaining tatters now effectively serve as toilet paper for executive branch. Assuming there are even tatters left at this point.

Manufacturing Jobs

It turns out that they’re actually good for workers:

On average, hourly wages and salaries for manufacturing jobs were $29.75 an hour in 2010 compared to $27.47 an hour for non-manufacturing jobs.  Total hourly compensation, which includes employer-provided benefits, was $38.27 for workers in manufacturing jobs and $32.84 for workers in non-manufacturing jobs, a 17 percent premium.

I’ve noted before that the resurgence of manufacturing jobs is a contra-indicator that indicates that the US is entering a period of economic decline.  This is because the recent flirtation with trade had, for a while, encouraged manufacturers to relocate their manufacturing bases overseas. This opened up the manufacturing job market to global competition, driving down domestic wages.  Of course, the only reason why manufacturers relocate their bases back in the US is because wages are now relatively low, which means that the price of foreign labor has relatively increased while US labor has either remained stagnant, decreased, or increased less quickly than its foreign competitors.  To put it another way, free trade has driven US wages down.

Thus, it should be clear that free trade is a bad idea, it has sent people from working in manufacturing to working in service provision.  Unfortunately, services tend to be more marginal than tangible goods (to put it another way, scissors enjoy more market primacy than haircuts), which means that services are more likely to get cut during recessions.  This is clearly seen in this recession since current wages are now higher for manufacturing workers than service workers.*  This suggests that, if nothing else, demand for services have declined more than demand for manufactured goods.  Therefore, the cumulative effects of free trade have been to drive domestic labor from manufacturing into the more economically precarious position of service provision, thus driving down wages.

Second, this indicates that the college bubble is going to pop as people realize that college is less profitable than before.  To put it simply, one is more likely to need a degree for acquiring a service job than a manufacturing job. Now that it is more profitable to work in manufacturing than service, it seems likely that future market participants will be more likely to skip college and go straight to work instead.  And also avoid debt in the meantime.

* As is hopefully clear by its usage, service jobs are defined as all non-manufacturing jobs.

What College Bubble?

The number of PhD recipients on food stamps and other forms of welfare more than tripled between 2007 and 2010 to 33,655, according to an Urban Institute analysis cited by the Chronicle of Higher Education. The number of master's degree holders on food stamps and other forms of welfare nearly tripled during that same time period to 293,029, according to the same analysis. [Hat tip.]

There have been some that have proposed that the current surge in college costs is not proof of a bubble, but rather the natural byproduct of college’s sorting function.  (I think I first heard this proposal at Foseti’s.)  If that were the case, it doesn’t make sense that holders of advanced degrees are having difficulties getting good jobs, since the natural purpose of sorting is to take the best and brightest and put them in the best positions.

The theory of sorting makes its case on the grounds that colleges are largely meritocratic—a dubious claim at best, though true relative to colleges of, say, fifty years ago—and that they can be trusted to determine the best, brightest, and most dedicated.  Naturally, employers cannot perform direct testing for this, mostly because those sort of tests are racist, and so they need other proxies.  The meritocratic elite just so happen to provide those proxies.

Unfortunately, the sorting theory of higher education is untrue because the reality does not follow the model:  namely, those who have earned high educational honors and degrees aren’t more employable or working the better jobs.  Thus, if college is supposed to sort people, it has obviously failed, as evidenced by the fact that holders of advanced degrees are 300% more likely to receive food stamps now than three years ago, while US citizens in general are only 43% more likely (see linked article above.)

Funnily enough, there is a model that would generally predict this occurrence, and it is the bubble model, which posits that wages for holders of college degrees will decline as the supply of holders of college degrees increase, which is a direct result of government intervention into the market, particularly through the expansion of cheap credit and direct subsidy.  Low and behold, this has come to pass, mostly because the bubble model has better predictive power than the sorting model, and is thus more correct.

Since we’re on the subject of college degree holders, I’d like to point out as an aside that the idea that degrees aren’t real property because they aren’t transferrable is partially false.  It is true that one student can’t sell his credentials to another student, but it should also be noted that students aren’t the only ones who use the credentials they earn.  Employers also use student credentials by hiring employees who have certain credentials.  While they don’t “transfer” credentials per se, it is observably true that when someone switches jobs, the people employing their credentials also changes as well.  Given that there are signaling elements to college credentials (as evidenced by every guidance counselor that ever repeats the trope that college grads do better on the job market because they’re college grads), it should be plausible that there is a type of transference that exists with college credentials, except that is at the employer level, not the possessor level. Incidentally, this conceptual model reinforces the idea of a college bubble since it suggests that there can be diminishing marginal returns to adding one more college educated participant to the labor market, thus driving down wages.

19 May 2012

Going Gay For Race

It turns out that skin color is more important than morals, at least for some:

A Public Policy Polling survey found 27 percent of black voters believe same-sex marriage should be legal, up from 20 percent in a poll conducted on May 6, three days before Obama announced his support. And 59 percent say they are opposed to gay marriage, down from 63 percent in the previous poll, which was taken before the North Carolina primary.
On May 8, voters approved a state amendment, defining marriage between a man and a woman as the only legal union. North Carolina law had already banned same-sex marriage, but the passage of the amendment means civil unions and possibly other types of domestic partnerships will no longer be legally recognized.
And yet, the poll found that 55 percent of African Americans now say same-sex couples should be allowed either to marry or form civil unions — an 11-point jump from the May 6 poll; 39 percent say there should be no legal recognition for gay couples in North Carolina, down from a majority, or 51 percent, in the pre-primary poll.
So, blacks are apparently becoming more tolerant of gay marriage. This is an interesting shift since blacks tend to be extremely conservative when it comes to these sort of social matters.  This shift, then, indicates that blacks are rather tribal, and are thus willing to change their morality in order to justify their support for someone who shares their skin color.

Incidentally, I attend a predominately black church (long story; don’t ask).  We have class on Thursday night, and the subject of class was politics.  The (black) teacher is very conservative, and is not a fan of Barack Obama.  However, all the other black people in the class are dyed-in-the-wool Democrats. Not liberals, mind you, but Democrats.  In fact, if you talk about policies, blacks sound rather conservative. But if you talk actual voting patterns, blacks become rather liberal.

Anyhow, it was during this class that one of the students said that, and I quote, “whenever I vote, I just vote straight Democrat,” thus confirming the suspicions of conservative white people and reinforcing the polling statistics on the matter.  (For what it’s worth, this horrified the [black] teacher.)

 Another student argued that Christians should stand against all immoral matters, and shouldn’t single out one issue—in this case, gay marriage—as the deciding factor. He went on to say that if we couldn’t vote for anyone who had any sort of immoral stance on anything, then we wouldn’t be able to vote at all.  The conclusion he drew was that, pragmatically speaking, it’s okay to vote for someone even if their stance on something is decidedly immoral.  This is, of course, nothing more than an especially active rationalization hamster working overtime to reconcile the contradiction between needing to support “family values” and needing to support people of one’s race.  And, in the end, race won out.

Anyhow, these anecdotes simply confirm my point that blacks are rather tribal when it comes to politics and, I suspect, other matters as well.  Thus, the sudden shift in support for gay marriage among black folk is nothing more than tribalism being rationalized by an especially healthy rationalization hamster.  The moral of the story is that talking politics with black people is generally a waste of time because they already have their tribes and there isn’t anything you can say to change that.

The Rich Aren’t Necessary

So says Nick Hanauer:

It is astounding how significantly one idea can shape a society and its policies.  Consider this one.
If taxes on the rich go up, job creation will go down. 
This idea is an article of faith for republicans and seldom challenged by democrats and has shaped much of today's economic landscape.


Another reason this idea is so wrong-headed is that there can never be enough superrich Americans to power a great economy. The annual earnings of people like me are hundreds, if not thousands, of times greater than those of the median American, but we don't buy hundreds or thousands of times more stuff. My family owns three cars, not 3,000. I buy a few pairs of pants and a few shirts a year, just like most American men. Like everyone else, we go out to eat with friends and family only occasionally.
I can't buy enough of anything to make up for the fact that millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans can't buy any new clothes or cars or enjoy any meals out. Or to make up for the decreasing consumption of the vast majority of American families that are barely squeaking by, buried by spiraling costs and trapped by stagnant or declining wages.


We've had it backward for the last 30 years. Rich businesspeople like me don't create jobs. Rather they are a consequence of an eco-systemic  feedback loop animated by middle-class consumers, and when they thrive, businesses grow and hire, and owners profit. That's why taxing the rich to pay for investments that benefit all is a great deal for both the middle class and the rich.

This was supposed to be a TED talk but, fortunately, the people who run those things aren’t complete idiots and are capable of prolonged rational abstract thought.  However, it’s obvious from the excerpts that Hanauer completely out of his league when it comes to economics.

[Aside:  before I begin explaining why Hanauer is talking out of his rectum, let me first state that I have no interest in defending the rich per se.  Some rich people are terrible, like the banksters of the Fed and Wall Street that defrauded the citizens of the united states out of hundreds of billions of dollars, and some rich people are awesome, like the all the VCs and Angel investors that help to fund the start-ups of hundreds of new businesses.  Like all groups of people, there are some complete turds, some good role models, and a decent amount of mediocrity.]

Hanauer is completely out of his league because he focuses solely on consumption as the key to wealth.  I’ve addressed this in passing before, but now seems like an appropriate time to pick up on the point again:  consumption is not wealth-creating, it is wealth-consuming.  In fact, that is the definition of the term.  Short-term consumption does an especially good job of illustrating this point.  If one day I bake a cake and the next day I eat it, what do I have on net?  Nothing.  Yes, I created a cake, but I also consumed it as well, and therefore I have nothing to show for my efforts, save for some temporal feelings of being full and tasting something sweet.  And feelings, being dynamic and unquantifiable, are not exactly the stuff of wealth.  For proof, go to a bank and try to take out a loan by using future emotions as collateral.

Real wealth, in contrast, is not consumption but rather accumulation.  It is worth pointing out that accumulating wealth does not preclude its usage (think of real estate, for example). In this case, things are produced and/or cultivated, but they are not immediately consumed.  This is generally referred to as capital accumulation or capital formation.

Now, Hanauer’s analysis fails because it fails to account for the role of capital in production.  You can’t produce anything unless you have materials for production, people and/or machines for production, and a place to actually produce things.  And you can’t consume stuff unless you produce it first.  These elementary observations are apparently too complex for Hanauer to consider, which is why he claims that the wealthy don’t create jobs.

In a tautological sense, this is true simply because the wealthy don’t often consume more than the poor (although it does beg the question of who buys luxury cars and yachts, but that’s somewhat beside the point).  In a technical sense, this can be true as well, as not all wealthy people are directly responsible for the creation of jobs.  However, since production—and its attendant jobs—are generally contingent on either having capital or having access to capital, it should be obvious that the rich are necessary for job creation if for no other reason than the simple fact that they have capital that can be used for job creation.

In a technical sense, it is not necessary for capital to be held by the wealthy, seeing as how anyone can technically have capital. However, it is the rich that, by definition have the capital.  And since capital is necessary for production and thus, according Hanauer’s erroneous assertion, wealth, it stands to reason that there must somewhere be the accumulation of capital.  And those who accumulate capital are the wealthy.
Thus, the wealthy are necessary for job creation, if for no other reason than by virtue of the fact that they have capital.  Thus, taxing the rich, particularly taxes on their capital, means that that there will be fewer jobs because there will be less capital with which to enable production.

The second problematic assertion that Hanauer makes is that the government is better or more efficient at managing capital than the wealthy.  This is predicated on two assumptions.  First, Hanauer assumes that the wealthy simply sit on their capital.  Second, Hanauer assumes that the government is generally more efficient than motivated investors at allocating capital.

The former assumption is easily dispensed with as Hanauer himself notes (chase the link to find it) that the wealthy have become wealthier.  While a good portion of this is more than likely due to defrauding taxpayers, as was seen in the housing banking crisis of 2008, it is hard to deny that wealthy people generally make a point of increasing their wealth by a mechanism known as investing.  Investing is basically people letting other people use their capital in exchange for money.  Thus, the wealthy are allowing their capital to be used productively instead of merely sitting on it.

The latter assumption is a little more difficult to address, but it is worth noting that the government has created a ton of messes when it gets involved with capital allocation.  Pretty much every bubble in the central banking era is proof of this.  Anyhow, the assertion that the government is generally superior at allocating capital is provably false (see the footnote to this post for further evidence).

Thus, when all is considered, Hanauer’s argument is nothing more than Keynesian nonsense, as evidenced by its single-minded focus on consumption as the driver of wealth.  It predicated on fallacious assumptions, it ignores basic economic principles, and is nothing more than shallow demagoguery.  Incidentally, much like Krugman’s economic “analysis,” this is yet another example of the narrowness and short-sightedness of Keynesian analysis.  There is no depth to it, for it focuses on one variable, as if one aspect of the market holds the key to explaining it all.  Basically, Keynesians are like children with the way they think, since they cannot apparently consider multiples variable simultaneously, or even guard against common fallacies and short-sightedness.

Finally, note that this analysis, like most other examples of Keynesian analysis, calls for increased government intervention and control.  Isn’t it about time we acknowledge that Keynesianism is nothing more than an attempt to justify socialism using capitalistic rhetoric?

18 May 2012

Maybe I Can Help

Paul Krugman is having difficulty reaching a conclusion:
So Japan, which is spending heavily for post-tsunami reconstruction, is growing quite fast, while Italy, which is imposing austerity measures, is shrinking almost equally fast.
There seems to be some kind of lesson here about macroeconomics, but I can’t quite put my finger on it …
Krugman is, of course, referring to that well-known macroeconomic principle known as the “you-will-become-ridiculously-wealthy-if-you-dump-your-capital-in-the-ocean” principle.  It’s a close cousin to the “become-ridiculously-wealthy-by-burning-your-capital-to-the-ground” principle, which actually the basis of modern financial planning, wherein investors are encouraged to buy houses and land, then render them uninhabitable by completely scorching them, which then leads to wealth untold.

Oh wait; it doesn’t. In fact, increased GDP growth is not a good thing unto itself, especially if the growth comes on the heels of replacing destroyed capital (though it should go without saying that, ceteris parabis, it’s better to experience GDP growth in the aftermath of capital destruction than to experience non-growth or shrinkage).  Quite simply, it is always a net negative to have capital destroyed, and that the destruction of capital is indicative of a net loss of wealth.  Thus, replacing what was lost, while good for GDP growth, is a contra-indicator that simply implies that a great loss has taken place.

Krugman once again shows himself to be a complete idiot, and wholly undeserving of the Nobel prize in economics.  The broken window fallacy was debunked over 160 years ago, and yet Krugman has apparently never read it (which means he’s ignorant) or it means that his allegedly superior intellect is simply too undeveloped to draw the same conclusion on its own (which means that Krugman is stupid).  Either way, Krugman is not to be trusted for advice or analysis.

Reality Check

Here it is: Nine British Muslims, eight of Pakistani and one of Afghani origin, gang-raped dozens of underage white girls in the northern England town of Rochdale between 2008 and 2010. One of the nine just happens to be a father of five and a religious-studies teacher in his local mosque.
There were 47 known victims, mostly aged 12-16 and living in local government children’s homes. But there were probably many more victims and many more rapists.

Allow me to make three observations:

First, this story should serve as conclusive proof that anarcho-libertarianism is a pipe dream at best and, more realistically, completely unrealizable.  Why?  Some men are simply brute savages, who have no concerns for the rights of others.  In England, where such behavior is illegal based on the understanding of thousands of years of legal doctrines, judicial rulings, and common law heritage, there were men who were apparently incapable of understanding the concept of rights or were otherwise completely unconcerned with the general behavioral implications of such a policy. These type of people cannot be reasoned with, and they should simply be treated as rabid animals, to be put down or otherwise cast out of civilized society, for  they have no place therein.  More broadly, though, there are always and ever men like this:  unthinking brutes who have no empathy or regards for the rights and personhood of others.  Because there are always people like this, it is thus impossible for the dream of absolute unlimited freedom to be recognized.

Second, this bolsters the case that Islamic culture is on the ascendancy. Not only do current demographic trends suggest that Islam will have a numerical advantage, it also appears that the West has no will to combat the barbarism brought about by Islam’s practitioners.  Furthermore, Muslims do not appear to be hampered in any way by feminism, which indicates that their culture is not yet ready for suicide.

Third, and in keeping with the second group, young ladies would do well to discriminate against Muslims and Middle Eastern men.  By this I simply mean that young ladies should avoid contact with these cretins, if at all possible.  Unless said young women are hot and desire thugs and/or a good raping.  But assuming you don’t want to be raped and beaten, it would be best to avoid areas where Middle Eastern Muslim males are known to live and congregate.  Carrying a gun is a good idea as well.

This Explains a Lot

Paul Krugman, on Asimov’s Foundation trilogy:

I first read them when I was a teenager. I was really inspired by the psychohistorians, who used statistics and social sciences to predict the future. I knew it was fiction, but what really struck me is the notion that the science of what people do could be important. I wanted to be one of those guys.

I suppose this helps to explain why Krugman is so exceedingly certain about everything he says:  He really believes that he can trust the models. Now, I am not trying to suggest that economics or other social sciences are completely worthless or unimportant, but it is foolish to think that tossing a bunch of mathematic equations and statistical analysis at human behavior is going to be a good predictor of human behavior, and thus the future.  That Krugman has idolized this pretense of knowledge an certainty goes a long way into explaining why he is consistently wrong, consistently contradicting himself, and why he is apparently unable to recognize just how wrong he tends to be.  After all, he’s simply punching numbers in some rather mathematically advanced statistical models.  The problem is that he can never be bothered to question the assumptions upon which the models are built.  And that’s what happens when you trust in science.

Allocating Scarce Resources

If only there was some way to solve this problem:

People struggling with headaches, toothaches, and even feelings of loneliness are calling 911 -- often several times a day.
This chronic abuse is overwhelming what industry experts call the 911 "safety net" system. It's also wasting what could add up to billions of dollars every year, paid ultimately through higher taxes and medical fees.
This costly problem has gone unnoticed in the current debate on health care reform.

Oh wait; there is a way to efficiently allocate scarce resources:  it’s called the free market.  In the free market, people bear the direct costs of that which they consume, instead of offloading the costs onto a third party.  While this might seem heartless, it’s actually better in the long run because it ensures that valuable resources—like emergency help lines—are given to people who have a substantial need for them instead of being given to someone who is, say, “suffering” from a cold.

Now, there are probably some who might object that deserving people may fall through the cracks.  This is a rather insulting objection, though, as it presupposes that everyone is as uncharitable as the average leftist.  The reality of the situation is that there will likely be some form of charity provided to poor people who are truly in need of emergency consultations.  Of course, this charity will undoubtedly be provided for by those who defend the free market, and not by the socialists who want the government to provide for everyone’s needs, even if that means letting people suffering from the sniffles waste everyone’s time by tying up emergency help lines.

17 May 2012

Casey and Schumer Go Full Retard

Hence this bill:

During the 2012 election cycle Democrats are positioning themselves as the “defenders of the middle class,” and Sen. Bob Casey Jr. is honing that message by attacking the top .001 percent of income earners, including Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.
Along with NY Sen. Chuck Schumer, Casey is introducing a bill that would prevent U.S. citizens from renouncing their citizenship in order to avoid taxes.
The legislation was sparked by Eduardo Saverin, a co-founder of Facebook, who renounced his U.S. citizenship in September to avoid paying $67 million in taxes he would owe when Facebook goes public.

This bill is either nothing more than toothless political grandstanding or its simply more evidence that the US is trying to become the world’s next totalitarian empire.

In the first place, how does anyone expect to enforce this law?  If a billionaire decides to liquidate his domestic assets and then move overseas, he will pretty much be able to avoid taxes, even if he can’t renounce his citizenship.  To do this, he will simply need to never return to the US.  Now, the IRS can continue to tally up his taxes and basically compile back taxes.  However, if the practically expatriated citizen decides to never go back to the US, he will never have to pay those taxes.

In the second place, the government can decide to forcibly bring expatriated billionaires back to the US.  Of course, this means that either the government will have to invade other countries by sending troops or other US agents to go and “collect” the non-paying citizen, or the government will have to flex its muscle to convince other governments to round up the expatriated citizen and turn him back to the US.

Thus, the law is either toothless grandstanding or evidence of the US government’s now cartoonish attempt at becoming the world’s next empire.  And if the US wants to become a totalitarian empire, why doesn’t the government just go ahead and strip all the wealthy of their wealth?  Why bother with the charade of taxes and legislation?  Surely it would be simpler for the government to go up to wealthy and say “all your assets are belong to us.”  If the government really wants to control stuff, then why not just go ahead and get it over with. As the TSA proves every day, citizens of the US have no issue with a totalitarian government.

Hysteresis and the Pretense of Knowledge

Imagine having a fever so bad that it permanently raised your body temperature. Now imagine a period of unemployment so bad that it permanently reduces our economy's ability to produce things and employ people. That's hysteresis -- the long-term scarring of our economy from periods of short-term unemployment. I've discussed this before, and I think the evidence is very convincing it is a major issue. Hysteresis is part of the engine in the recent Brad Delong/Larry Summers paper arguing for self-sustaining stimulus.
Crucially, hysteresis is an intellectual challenge to the so-called structuralists who would argue that we should ignore the short-term economy and just focus on the long-run health of the economy. Beyond us all being dead in the long run, the long run is just a series of short runs right after each other. And hysteresis shows that short-run problems can perpetuate themselves and become embedded in the long-run economy.
The fatal flaw in this analysis is that it presupposes that the future is knowable to a high degree of certainty and, more importantly, that the effect of theoretical tradeoffs are knowable and calculable.  This is, of course, nothing more than the pretense of knowledge, writ large.  There is no way to tell what an economy would “naturally” look like in the absence of a recession, nor is there any way of knowing whether a particular recession was avoidable or whether it would have been possible to reduce the severity of a given recession.

More specifically, it’s impossible to know what theoretical production looks like in the future in the absence or presence of given policies. Production may permanently decrease because, say, demand for the product may decrease.  Or maybe the new regulation that pops up to deal with a recession increase marginal costs.  Maybe there are structural problems.  There’s simply no way to tell, and playing “what-if” games does nothing to identify the problem, let alone determine a possible solution.

In short, the hysterics over hysteresis are completely unnecessary, and are likely a by-product of a few theoreticians perceived self-importance.  Thus, it’s easy to get worked up over potential problems when you think that a) you can accurately identify them and b) actually fix them.  If this isn’t arrogance, I don’t know what is.

Additional reading: My initial post on the subject.

Why Don’t People Trust Scientists?

Jayni Foley Hein is flummoxed:

Scientists are more confident than ever that climate change is happening and is largely caused by human activities.  Yet, according to a recent poll, the American public is less likely to believe that climate change is caused by humans than they were even last year. When it comes to climate science, are we a misinformation nation?

The short answer is no.

The longer answer is this:  Scientists have a long and storied history of being wrong.  It used to be that scientists were extremely confident that the sun revolved around the earth.  Scientists used to believe in phlogistons.  Scientists used to believe a whole bunch of other since-disproven stupid crap.

Additionally, scientists keep changing what they believe.  Aside from the aforementioned geo-centric model of the universe, scientists also keep changing the age of the universe.  Of course, the reason for their ever-changing stance on a variety of laws, theories, and postulates is that their understanding is constantly changing.  They keep becoming more enlightened and correcting past ignorance, or so they claim.

Now, the question for global warming apologists is this:  Why will this time be any different?  Why should people believe that the scientists finally have it right this time around, especially in light of their history of bad theories?  And why should scientists be trusted on global climate change when they are now saying the exact opposite of what scientists were saying forty years ago?

Quite simply, scientists are not worthy of anyone’s trust because they are almost always wrong.  They are constantly reversing and/or correcting themselves.  No wonder people instinctively distrust them.


I have another post up at In Mala Fide criticizing Paul Krugman's take on regulation.  I also published an essay on zombies, if anyone's interested.

On a side note, I would like to remind those who wish to comment on the blog that comments on posts older than three days automatically go into moderation.  Thus, there is no need for duplicate comments.  Simply be patient and I will approve them in time.

Update: I've published the data I used to calculate the occurrence of recessions, which was used in my IMF post linked to above.

16 May 2012

Robot Journalism

What started as an experimental lab at Northwestern University with journalists and technologists working together is now a fully-fledged business that turns data into stories of a type which will not be winning many Pulitzers, but which certainly pass the Turing test of making one unsure whether they were written by a person or machine. The lovable "stats monkey", which came from the same series of research experiments, does the same for sports stories, without the attendant vet bills, bananas and spelling errors associated with employing a real monkey.
Although this algorithmic approach to compiling stories is by no means new – the lab which spawned Narrative Science was conducting and publishing work a number of years ago – the ultimate ramifications of what the approach symbolises seem to be taking a long time to sink into most newsgathering organisations.

To be honest, I’m surprised that robot journalism is as new as it is since most news stories seem to be written by retarded fourth-graders who have just realized what a sentence is.  Seriously, look at any newswire story, and they all seem to be the same.  Look at the news story I quoted in this blog post.  All the paragraphs were a mere sentence or two, and there was no cohesion to story.  It was just a bunch of random facts strung together with a couple of quotes interspersed throughout.

Worse yet, all news stories are just like this.  They all start with a one-sentence paragraph provides the basic gist of the story, followed by a couple paragraphs of random facts, followed by a couple paragraphs of quotes and analysis, and topped off with what is supposed to be either a clever or an insightful concluding paragraph.  Of course machines can replicate this. The proverbial monkeys at their proverbial keyboards could do this.  Come to think of it, they’d probably be better at it.

What Woman Needs Her Own Husband When They Have A Leftist President?

There is a barf-worthy piece of politicking propaganda called “The Life of Julia” that details how Obama has helped to expand the scope of the state such that women are now taken care of by taxpayers from the cradle to the grave.  I notice that he does not have a similar site targeting male voters.  There are two observations to be drawn from this.

First, feminism is pretty much complete.  At this point, women don’t really have a direct need for men, aside from the obvious.  And even then, there are substitutes.  The government now pays for whatever needs they may have from the cradle to the grave, thus ensuring that women can forego getting married to nice, stable, provider males, and thus ensuring the collapse of civilization.  Good going feminists!  Hope you’re proud of yourselves!

Second, there should not be any doubt that the police state and socialism are what happens when women have a say in political matters.  Both are predicated on a desire to feel safe and secure.  Unfortunately, neither safety nor security are absolute.  There will always be some degree of risk and uncertainty in life, and anyone who promises to eliminate it is a liar.  Furthermore, the feeling of safety is nothing more than an illusion, temporary and fleeting, and subject to occasional cessation.  Quite simply, the feeling of safety is not the same as actual safety.  Women, being more concerned with how they feel than with reality, are the thus the primary reason why social spending and security theater are given more prominence in this day and age.  It is always nice to feel that if one’s dreams don’t work out, at least there will be a safety net around.

The obvious solution to this problem is forbid women from voting, but this is easier said than done.  The easier thing to do is let this play out, allow the leviathan state to collapse upon itself, and then dispense with voting altogether in a new totalitarian regime, which is inevitable anyway.

War is the Health of the State

Using data from the last 150 years in a small set of countries, and from the postwar period in a large set of countries, we show that large investments in state primary education systems tend to occur when countries face military rivals or threats from their neighbors. By contrast, we find that democratic transitions are negatively associated with education investments, while the presence of democratic political institutions magnifies the positive effect of military rivalries. …
We study historical panel data on education spending and enrollment – for Europe since the 19th century and a larger set of countries in the postwar period – to assess the correlation between military rivalry (or war risk) and primary education enrollment (or the occurrence of educational reforms). … [Our models] show a positive and significant effect of rivalry on primary enrollment, a negative direct effect of democracy, and a positive and significant interaction term between the two. Overall, our empirical results indicate a causal relationship from rivalry to primary educational enrollment.


In Prussia, France and Japan … military defeats and/or perceived military threats appear to have prompted an otherwise reluctant ruling class to invest in mass primary education. …In most countries of the sample a war preceded the educational reform, while a democratic transition rarely occurs before the education rise … Most often, the democratic transition instead takes place *after the education reform period.

That public schools are used to basically propagandize children into having a strong love for the state should come as no surprise given the biases of those who operate the schools.  There is an obvious self-selection bias for teachers, in that it is likely that any given state-paid teacher believes that the state has a legitimate role in education and, more broadly, that the state is a generally good thing.

Naturally, this attitude will be passed on to students in some way, and students will told/propagandized into believing that their country is good, awesome, great, and superior to other countries.  Furthermore, students will also be told that any foreign resentment of their country is due to other countries’ jealousy (e.g. “they hate us for our freedoms, and totally not because we’re constantly using military force to order them around”).  As such, students grow up believing that their country is the bees’ knees, and worthy of support and sacrifice.

Instilling this attitude is thus the prime directive of schools, at least unofficially, since there is no way the state will have a laissez-faire about the attitudes students develop towards the state.  Kids may be able to graduate from high school without being able to solve a math problem with an exponent in it, and they may be functionally illiterate, but they will know that their country is the awesomest place in the world.  Some may even be willing to kill for it.  Some may be willing to die for it.

Thus, as educational standards get flushed down the toilet, one standard remains in place:  love thy country, no matter what.   Therefore, there is no point in calling what goes on in schools education; it is more properly called indoctrination.  And all this indoctrination ensures that we will be able to fight wars.

15 May 2012

On Its Dying Breath

Here’s another sign that the united states are toast:

Mr. Saverin, who now lives in Singapore, decided last year to renounce his U.S. citizenship, a decision that was made public a few days ago. The move sparked an outcry among some tax experts who suspect he’s aiming to save on taxes. [Ya think?]  Although Mr. Saverin will have to pay a hefty exit tax for renouncing his citizenship, based on some calculation of his assets, Singapore is a relatively low-tax jurisdiction, particularly for foreign investors, and does not levy capital gains tax. Thus he could save in the longer term.

Here’s a hint:  it’s no longer the “land of the free” when citizens find it less taxing to live somewhere else.

Read The Signs

“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.”
Jesus Christ

According to my source, there is talk among the highest levels of the uppermost echelon of the Department of Homeland Security, which he describes as effectively under the control of Barack Hussein Obama. During this call, he said that the DHS is actively preparing for massive social unrest inside the United States. He then corrected himself, stating that “a civil war” is the more appropriate term. Certain elements of the government are not only expecting and preparing for it, they are actually facilitating it,” stated my source.
“The DHS takes their marching orders from the Obama administration, from Obama himself, but mostly from his un-appointed czars. And Jarrett, especially Valerie Jarrett. Don’t think for a minute that the administration is doing anything to stabilize events in the U.S. They are revolutionaries, and revolutionaries thrive on chaos,” he added.
My source stated that he has not seen things this bad since he began working within DHS. “It’s like they [DHS agency heads] don’t care about what the American people see or feel about what the DHS agencies are doing. They figure that if the average American will put up with being “sexually groped and nuked” just to fly, they’ll accept almost anything. “That’s why their actions are becoming more overt.  “It’s in your face and the brass actually chuckle about it” said my source.

I do not know how credible the source quoted in the article is, but given the united states’ current march to statism, the assertions made seem highly plausible.  Quite frankly, if you’ve paid any attention to what’s been going on over the last twenty years, then it should not come as a surprise that the end of freedom in the united states is near.  Of course, this freedom has slowly disappeared over the years, mostly due to citizens’ apparent desire for security.  Or at least the illusion of security.

As such, if you have not yet made any plans to deal with the absence of freedom and the presence of jack-booted thuggery that is sure to come, now would be a good time to start.  If you were planning on Ron Paul’s election to solve the problems, now would be a good time to come up with a Plan B.

Personally, I recommend being able to leave home and go into the woods or the wilderness at a moment’s notice, which requires having a grab-and-go bag, also called a bug-out bag.  I’ve started getting mine ready, and I plan to have it finished at some point in the summer.  I would also recommend figuring out how to survive in the event of an economic collapse (hint: buy silver and gold) and in the event of social unrest (hint: get away from the cities and have plenty of food).  Again, the signs pointing the end of the united states are here; ignore them at your own peril.  And don’t say you weren’t warned.

A Nation of Cynics

“A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
Oscar Wilde

I had no idea that in 2001 an elementary school in New Jersey became America’s first public school “to sell naming rights to a corporate sponsor,” Sandel writes. “In exchange for a $100,000 donation from a local supermarket, it renamed its gym ‘ShopRite of Brooklawn Center.’ ... A high school in Newburyport, Mass., offered naming rights to the principal’s office for $10,000. ... By 2011, seven states had approved advertising on the sides of school buses.”
Seen in isolation, these commercial encroachments seem innocuous enough. But Sandel sees them as signs of a bad trend: “Over the last three decades,” he states, “we have drifted from having a market economy to becoming a market society. A market economy is a tool — a valuable and effective tool — for organizing productive activity. But a ‘market society’ is a place where everything is up for sale. It is a way of life where market values govern every sphere of life.
Why worry about this trend? Because, Sandel argues, market values are crowding out civic practices. When public schools are plastered with commercial advertising, they teach students to be consumers rather than citizens. When we outsource war to private military contractors, and when we have separate, shorter lines for airport security for those who can afford them, the result is that the affluent and those of modest means live increasingly separate lives, and the class-mixing institutions and public spaces that forge a sense of common experience and shared citizenship get eroded. [Emphasis added.]

In a post on the autism of economics, I theorized that economics had lost its way by basically trying to put a price on everything.  I now think that this mindset has already made its way into the broader culture.

I’m not sure why this is the case, but I think that this tendency to put a price on everything is indicative of a social disease.  As Friedman notes, the message is that everything is for sale.  In a sense, this is true.  But that should not necessarily mean that everything can be purchased with money.

Getting back to the disease, I think the biggest problem society faces is that of materialism.  Everyone is focused on getting things and having stuff.  As with above, schools want money, presumably to buy things for students and teachers.  The idea is that having more pay for teachers, or having smartboards, or having more ergonomically-designed desks, or having whatever else is theorized to improve students’ scores will lead to a better educational process.  In each case, though, the root assumption is that things lead to better results, not people.  Ultimately, this mindset is one that is predicated on denying people’s humanity.  Students are not individuals with their own personalities, quirks, strengths, weaknesses, and interests.  They are merely throughputs in the industrial machine of public education.  Thus, if there is a problem with students, it is not because the system is flawed, but because the system doesn’t have the right blend of educational components.  The solution, then, is to buy more components, even if that means raising money by selling naming rights to the school.

Now, my lament is not that the state should “do something” about this problem—from what I can tell, the state is actually at fault for a good portion of the problem—nor do I actually care what a school is named after.  In fact, the problem of selling naming rights of schools is not actually of much interest to me, since school names tend to be arbitrary anyway.  No, what concerns me is that everything is being reduced to a number.

This is, I suppose, an extension of the science fetishist mindset, wherein everything has to be made into objective, sortable, analyzable data.  The science fetishism of modern society pervades every aspect of society, as everything and everyone has to be broken down into their base elements and converted to an equation. Students cease to be humans and instead become numbers:  test scores, subject grades, and desk rows.  Teachers are also turned into numbers:  salaries, average student test scores, and so on.  Likewise with principals, schools, districts, administrators, and so on.  People—human beings—are reduced to easily digested statistics, which are then bandied about by the politicians and talking heads, as if simple numbers adequately represent hundreds of thousands of human beings, their drive, their ambitions, their talents, their abilities, their strengths, and their weaknesses.  When people become mere numbers, it should come as no surprise that everything else is reduced to numbers as well.

Thus, the fact that schools are turning their schools into giant billboards indicates not only has the world gone mad with materialism, it has gone so completely mad with it that even students and teachers are reduced to mere objects—throughputs and inputs for the assembly line of modern education.  Everything has a price, but nothing has value.  Everything is reduced to a number, to a statistic.

I suppose that this is the inevitable result of a society where everything is increasingly centralized.  Small business is hampered by federal laws, which are often enacted at the behest of major corporations.  (Incidentally, small business owners are far more personal and personable than CEOs of giant corporations, probably because they interact with their employees and customers on a daily business, and get to know them as humans and not mere numbers.)   The role of educator has been mostly stripped from parents and given first to state governments and, increasingly of late, to the federal government.  Even the religious world emphasizes centralization, embracing mega-churches and extremely hierarchical organization: those who make the rules and those who have to live by them often do not know each other personally, at least in churchianity.

Quite simply, the personal is frowned upon.  The large-scale, central organization is worshipped.  Leftists worship big government (who else can so efficiently save people from their humanity?); the right worships big-business (because economies of scale are so efficient, which is why the government has to subsidize them with regulations and special market protections).  Everything must be big, which means the end of the personal.

I suspect that we would not suffer all that much if we scaled back everything.  Government would be more accountable if those who ruled lived next door to their subjects (imagine suggesting this to Obama or Romney).  Businesses would be more concerned about quality of products and services if owners lived next door to their customers* (having worked for a Fortune 100 company and a couple of small business owners, I can testify that this is indeed the case).  Education would be more effective if parents and administrators lived next door to each other.

Actually, education would be more effective if parents and administrators were the same people.  The reason why homeschooling is so effective is simply due to the fact that most parents who homeschool do so because they care about their children as fellow human beings.  Personally, I can testify that while my parents were concerned about me mastering, say, long division and spelling, I could always rest assured that at the end of the day, my teacher (mom) and principal (dad) would still love me and take care of me regardless of what I scored on my math test.  Quite simply, I mattered to them.  I was not merely a number to them, but an actual human for whose intellectual, social, moral, emotional, and spiritual development they were responsible.  Try getting that from a public school teacher who spends as much time attending worthless seminars and filling out trivial paperwork as she does actually interacting with two dozen students.

At the end of the day, society is built on personal relationships.  When those relationships erode, so does society.  And when everything becomes reduced to a number, it is safe to say that society has become increasingly impersonal, and is thus in the beginning stage of decline.

* I will have more to say on this in a future post.

14 May 2012

Ron Paul Is Out

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas said Monday he will not compete in primaries in any of the states that have not yet voted — essentially confirming Mitt Romney will win the Republican presidential nomination.
Mr. Paul said he will continue to work to win delegates in states that have already voted and where the process of delegate-selection is playing out. He said that’s a way to make his voice heard at the Republican nominating convention in Tampa, Fla., in August.
“Moving forward, however, we will no longer spend resources campaigning in primaries in states that have not yet voted,” Mr. Paul said. “Doing so with any hope of success would take many tens of millions of dollars we simply do not have.”

It looks like the GOP bosses will get their way after all.  Too bad we had to endure the charade of the primaries in meantime