Stealing in the name of the victims
Posted by aogThursday, 05 August 2010 at 19:37
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Obama Administration is planning to siphon money from Justice Department prosecutions to politically favored non-governmental groups.
But clearly we should never worry about any polticization of such tax farming, where NGO actors apply their creativity in generating cases for which they get money. Such apparatchiks simply don’t have incentive to cut such ethical corners.
|Annoying Old Guy
Thursday, 19 August 2010 at 19:35|
If a self-proclaimed elite displays the same range of abilities as some non-elite group, then how do we tell which is which?
Distribution of abilities. But you’ve done yet another bait and switch — we were talking about generic range which you’ve now qualified as “ability” without, as usual, any acknowledgement. It’s one of the things that makes your comment so unclarifying.
As for my original example, you could tell which was which by having a sample solve a differential equation, or paint a sunset. But let me try a different one which might be more understandable for you.
Suppose we have two towns with a million people in each. In one town, there’s one guy who makes $1M/year, and 999,999 people who make $10K per year. In the other town, there’s only one guy who makes $10K/year and everyone else makes $1M/year. These towns have the same range of incomes, so then how do we tell which is which?
Personally, I consider most self selected elites credentialed morons, but your explanation of it makes no sense. On the other hand, as far as I can tell, you believe in one elite, that of the appartchiks who are not, unlike the American military high command and corporate leaders, manifestly incompetent. I must say the idea the leadership of the federal government has demonstrated less incompetence over, say, the last decade vs. our military leadership would seem highly debatable. Yet you have no hesitation in turning over any and all aspects of our lives and economy to the former. Quite at odds with your claimed belief here.
I dunno if I have to explain the entire history of self-proclaimed elites? Am I required to explain that the Harvard alumni, when it was Judenrein, was not as elite as it liked to think itself?
You could explain whether you think elites exist. You claim you don’t, then give examples. The latter is called an “existence proof”, where you prove something class of thing exists by providing an instance of the class. So I hear “elites don’t exist, because here is an example of one”. Whether that Harvard elite had an accurate self image is quite irrelevant.
You are also defining “elite” rather narrowly, again without acknowledging that. People with personal wealth over $1B are an elite, even if their “abilities” are indistinguishable from the norm. The Old Media titans, back in the day, were an elite because of their control of societal information flows, even if their “abilities” were indistinguishable from the norm. That same with our new appartchik aristocracy.
The manifest incompetence of today’s military high command
Ah, today’s military high command. This kind of walkback is why I am so skeptical of basically everything you write.
Besides, vast enterprises can succeed even with top leaders who are not only not competent but not even sane. How many stars did Douglas MacArthur wear?
Ah, now you’re adding “sane” to the mix. I wasn’t aware that it was an opposite of “competent”. Clearly you don’t know many mathematicians or physicists. And clearly we see what a massive failure due to incompetence his efforts in Japan were.
|Annoying Old Guy
Friday, 20 August 2010 at 17:10|
The way you are now defining elite would make all Catholics or all Frenchmen into elites
No, because “all Catholics” do not have some significant capability (such as enormous wealth, or informational control, etc.).
You called for a new elite
No. Let’s just scroll up, shall we? Ah, there it is —
We were talking of having an elite rather than a ruling class.
I don’t care if some group of people (like Harvard graduates) call themselves an elite in your sense of the word. Go for it, I say. It’s when they decide that, because they are elite, they should decide how I should live, that I object.
I thought you meant that would be good because it would do a better job.
No, as I have stated repeatedly, I meant it would be good because it would do less of the “job” of controlling my life.
That said, you make two statements that once again seem to contradict each other. To wit,
If ‘better outcome’ doesn’t translate as ‘superior ability,’ I cannot quite imagine what it does mean.
It is my contention that, once a system is set up to run of itself, management doesn’t matter until the setup wanders outside its original parameters
So, until the latter happens, there would not seem to be any relationship, in your view, between “better outcome” and “superior ability”. Ability seems to be irrelevant. Why, then, do you spend time mocking the “manifest incompetence” of American CEO’s? How can you tell, since management doesn’t matter most of the time? In specific, why do you care if McArthur was incompetent?
Of course, I strongly disagree with that assertion. My view is that no human activity “runs itself” without constant “upkeep” from management. Your cooking example simply shows that knowledge doesn’t decay, but your learning to cook involved no operating “system”.
I never said I thought any and all aspects of our lives should be turned over to government.
This is in response to what, exactly?
no aspect of our lives is beyond their [elite] control.
Which you did write, as cited there and here.
|Annoying Old Guy
Sunday, 29 August 2010 at 14:13|
Nor do we have 50,000,000 unhoused people — the number it would take, at American density rates, to fill 18,000,000 empties.
OK, so why do you think that’s equivalent to “30 million rural people without enough to eat”?
So it is overproduction
Yes. I never wrote it wasn’t. I am happy that a statement you made, that no one disputed, has turned out to be correct.
something you would be concerned about, being of the school that believes that unregulated markets most efficiently allocate capital.
Perhaps I am concerned about it. On what basis would you presume I wasn’t?
As a side note, I would like to point out once again a critical analytical failure of yours, which you fall in to over and over again.
Let us consider some property P. We can use the values from 0 to 1 to represent how “P” something is, 0 being not at all, and 1 being totally / perfectly P. If we take P to be “efficiently allocates capital”, and P(FM) and P(G) to be the capital allocation efficiency of free market economies and government manipulated economies respectively, then my view which you state correct is that P(FM) > P(G). Your error is taking this statement as equivalent to P(FM) = 1. You then disprove the latter as if that also disproves P(FM) > P(G). In this particular case, that there was a misallocation of capital would prove that free markets are not perfectly efficient, but hardly proves that the free markets are not more efficient than government manipulated ones.
Beyond that, of course, is that the housing boom was fueled by the FMs, which makes the capital allocation much more a function of government policy than free markets. It has failed spectacularly, which many free market types predicted from the start and follows directly from its general principles.
As for housing becoming more affordable, that’s a ratio between housing prices and income. If income is going down even faster than housing — which it is for the lower orders — then they don’t benefit.
Then would not the crisis be in the falling wages, not the overproduction? Again, you wrote the problem was overproduction, not falling wages.
Reaganomics policy to drive American wage rates to Asiatic levels is near success
And you call the Tea Party types conspiratorial.
Call centers can now hire American workers for only a 15% premium over Indians.
And there’s no possibility that is a result of increasing wages in India. Taking it the other way, though, apparently all those increases in the minimum wage were of no use.
|Annoying Old Guy
Thursday, 02 September 2010 at 16:54|
I read your comment but did not grasp the basis for your disagreement. For instance, the structure of the market does matter a great deal, but I fail to see what that has to do with anthropomorphizing it. Yes, it does make sense to consider the market as an emergent entity that is distinct from its components, but that’s not at all the sense that Eagar uses it in the “let it do whatever it wants to do”. My complaint is not the anthropomorphizing, but forgetting that’s just a cognitive tool, not reality.
If Howie Hubler loses $9 billion of other people;’s money for them and is rewarded with $50 million, then in what sense does the market “work”?
If Harold Raines runs Fannie Mae in to the ground, fomenting a global economic crisis, and is rewarded with $30 million and new jobs, in what sense does the government “work”?
I ask you this again and again despite that you refuse to acknowledge the question, but why does a failure like your example demonstrate the market doesn’t work, but examples like mine never indict governments?
Who has contributed more to the economy, the semiliterate who gets $9 an hour to change oil down at Jiffy-Lube, or the top 10 bankers? Clearly, it’s the Jiffy-Lube guy.
OK, fine, I agree. So … what?
The market must exist somehow because it is rewarding Howie Hubler.
The market exists because people do. But I wonder why I shouldn’t consider you a communist, since you object to markets in principle, as exemplified by this comment. After all, things like your example will happen as long as there are people and markets, so the only solution is to completely eliminate markets. I suppose, though, you’re going to claim no broker lost vast sums of client money while Glass-Stegall was around.
|Hey Skipper is late to the party
Thursday, 09 September 2010 at 15:27|
Greenspan said oversight wasn’t needed because people with money would exercise counterparty surveillance against each other. He was wrong.
Sure, there were shortfalls in CPS, but what were their sources? Rating agencies that constituted a government granted cartel. Quangos (the FFMs) that surreptitiously bundled high risk and low risk paper and sold it as the latter.
As a point of history, the Quangos disprove your assertion: paper was bundled precisely to foil CPS; otherwise, what was the point?
Put it another way: Who has contributed more to the economy, the semiliterate who gets $9 an hour to change oil down at Jiffy-Lube, or the top 10 bankers?
Over what period?
Instead of restricting that question to the last several years, which you did over at RtO, why not take a slightly longer view; say, the last 10 years, or since the end of G-S?
There could be several points, but the obvious one is that claims that merit is rewarded is without merit.
An assertion that is without merit.
Particularly coming from a Darwinist.
Does the market always reward merit? Obviously not. But that is the wrong question to ask. Rather, the proper question is this: Does the market reward merit more often than the alternatives?
I happen to work in an industry that continually demonstrates, at every instant, in every detail, that the market rewards merit. And one of the most egregious examples of utter lack of improvement, despite glaring need, (the Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) system) is right in the government’s hands.
Or take something far simpler: bicycles. Produced in the nearly complete absence of government regulation, they are subject to the rigors of the market. Now, compare a contemporary bike at any price point to its equivalent of ten years ago. What, other than merit, accounts for the changes?
Look at merit (in a positive or negative sense) as directly analogous to mutation. The market is a dynamically self organizing system that — just like evolution — works far better than any top down organization could.
IMHO, there is a role for government (when sufficiently transparent and responsive to the electorate) as a counterparty to business, in certain classes of problems. For example, where there are difficult to price goods that are in tension with easy to price goods. Industrial hog farms produce much lower price pork than their free-range equivalents, but — without regulation — will degrade the difficult to value price of clean water and stenchless air.
It is difficult (for me, anyway) to imagine a market that does not allow defectors to drive out the conscientious, in the same way that arguments for pacifism always fail on their own terms.
But aside from regulations that punish defectors then allow the market to operate freely on a level field, then the government simply gets in the way.
Saturday, 11 September 2010 at 20:53|
Imagining a world without leverage is like imagining a world without hog farms. It’s the dose that makes the poison.
As I see it, the problem with markets today is that everybody is forced to play at the riskiest level. There was a time, not so long ago, when risk-shy entities (like S&Ls) were granted (by government fiat) the ability to raise money for the purpose of allowing ordinary people to borrow to buy houses — a thing that had not happened before the New Deal.
Was that inefficient? The Reaganites thought so, with sad results. Some people are what my father, borrowing a notion from the Roman Catholic theologians, called ‘invincibly ignorant.’ Hey, deregulating S&Ls worked so well, why don’t we apply it to all banks? What could possibly go wrong?
Nothing, according to them, which is why it would be a mercy to force even the most risk-averse (for very good reasons) Americans to place their savings into a financial market that was designed to fail (see RtO for the concept for design for failure).
Luckily, unsophisticated people were more wary than their hotshot superiors and said no. But the way things were structured, there were no safe banks, no safe investments, it was all a bucket shop. That I take it, is what Rubin was fumbling to say when he said he bank could not avoid playing in the mortgage market even though every sentient human being understood it was heading for a crash.
RtO has been over this. People thought, individually, as good Smithians, that they were smart and even if the situation soured, they would have saved themselves; without realizing that it was the system, not the individual, that mattered.
When the flood gets high enough, it sweeps away the prudent householder who built on the hill as well as the speculator who built on the mudflat. That’s what happened.
As for your answer to my question about counterparty surveillance, read Janet Tavakoli.