Saturday, September 21, 2013

Invisible Hand

Why do people prattle about "as if an invisible hand" when it is government alone that visibly constrains the businessmen to mere economic competition rather than the violence, monopoly and theft of mafias?  It is government that visibly constrains the consumer to mere purchase rather than ignoring the system of property and anarchistically using whatever is desired, either peacefully or forcefully.  It is that government coercion that redistributes from the businessman to the consumer a large part of the consumer surplus.  It is that government coercion that allows the accumulation of property that permits civilization.

Incredible, pervasive coercion is necessary to create markets.  Coercive threats are necessary to property: they limit the power and freedom of individuals to use the wealth that surrounds us that belongs to others.  Coercive threats limit the power and freedom of businesses to become mafias.  If this seems like an "invisible hand", it is only because it is all-pervasive like the air we breathe at all times.

An apt analogy for the invisible hand of capitalism is the cattle chute.  Cows are prodded from a truck into the cattle chute and they exit at the slaughterhouse.  There is no prodding in the cattle chute, so you might say that it is as if "an invisible hand" is guiding the cattle.  Yet the cattle's behavior is controlled by the walls of the chute, which are too close together to allow the cattle to turn around, and by the continual entrance of other cattle behind them that forces them to go forward.  This institution brings about the desired social benefit of getting the cattle into the slaughter house.  Our government-created capitalist institutions are similarly restrictive of choices, and there are continual new entrants forcing those ahead of them to keep moving.  Why is it that we think the cattle chute is visible, while capitalist institutions are invisible hands?

(From Invisible Hand at the wiki site.)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

What's new

Lots of new goodies, from suggestions and various articles encountered in my readings.

857 pages so far that are indexed.  That's already lots more than my old site.

NEW 9/14/2013: Tax Filings Hint at Extent of Koch Brothers’ Reach [More...]
Charles and David Koch controlled hundreds of millions of dollars of tax-deductable corporate political donations through their Freedom Partners group for the 2012 elections. "That rivals or exceeds the annual budgets of the largest advocacy groups in the nation, like the National Rifle Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce." Plutocracy on the rise! [more...]
NEW 9/08/2013: The Institutional Structure of Production
Ronald Coase's Nobel lecture. He discusses the importance of the structure of institutions for understanding real-world economics and the pervasiveness of transaction costs and how they lead to firms, rather than individual contracting. [more...]
NEW 9/08/2013: Assuming Theory Applies To A Real World Example
Without knowing the specifics of the relevant institutions, you cannot assume a particular economic model will make valid predictions. The commonest example of this fallacy is assuming a free market model. [more...]
NEW 9/08/2013: Is technological progress a thing of the past [More...]
"Some authors, however, have suggested that product and process innovation are running out of steam [...] The answer is short and simple: we ain’t seen nothin’ yet, the best is still to come." [more...]
NEW 9/08/2013: Is technological progress a thing of the past? [More...]
"Some authors, however, have suggested that product and process innovation are running out of steam [...] The answer is short and simple: we ain’t seen nothin’ yet, the best is still to come." [more...]
NEW 9/06/2013: Shine your light on me … [More...]
How Paul Samuelson and Ronald Coase got into a pissing match over lighthouses being public goods, and how both were wrong in several respects. [more...]
NEW 9/05/2013: Was Coase Right About the Lighthouse? [More...]
No. The famous lighthouse example of Nobel Laureate Ronald Coase was supposed to be an example of private production of public goods. "Given Coase’s insistence that economists get their facts right, how ironic that he himself should fall victim to the same mistake!" [more...]
NEW 9/05/2013: GIGO
"Garbage In, Garbage Out." Applying economic theory to badly mistaken "facts" (or critical omissions), usually in service of free market fundamentalism. Even Nobel Laureates do it. [more...]
NEW 9/05/2013: Ronald Coase And The Misuse Of Economics [More...]
How the Coase Theorem was misused by right-wingers to do the bidding of big business. [more...]
NEW 9/01/2013: Anarcho-Depravity [More...]
Libertarians (including the Libertarian Party have a long, sordid and extensive history of claiming children ought to be treated as free adults when it comes to sex, employment, legal prostitution, legal addictions, etc. [more...]
How Ayn Rand and L. Ron Hubbard Came Up With Their Big Ideas [More...]
Really funny short video about a bet between lovers Rand and Hubbard to see who can do the most harm by spreading the most evil ideas. [more...]
Neoliberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy [More...]
Neoliberalism described: "[W]hat is crucial is that the liberalism in what has come to be called neoliberalism refers to liberalism’s economic variant, recuperating selected pre-Keynesian assumptions about the generation of wealth and its distribution, rather than to liberalism as a political doctrine, as a set of political institutions, or as political practices." [more...]
Labor Rights
Libertarians oppose labor rights because they conflict with the private exercise of power by employers. If an employer wishes to deny you bathroom breaks, requiring you to sit in your own urine, that is his privilege. [more...]
The Left's Big Sellout: How The ACLU and Human Rights Groups Quietly Exterminated Labor Rights [More...]
"I went to the websites of three of the biggest names in liberal activist politics: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the ACLU. Checking their websites, I was surprised to find that not one of those three organizations lists labor as a major topic or issue that it covers." Hayek and Koch influences are blamed. [more...]
It's Hip! It's Cool! It's Libertarianism! [More...]
Libertarianism as a cat's paw suckering the young into supporting the wealthy and ruling classes. [more...]
Megan McArdle: A Covert Republican Party Activist Trained By the Billionaire Koch Brothers [More...]
Megan McArdle is held up as an example of how right-wing welfare for conservative shills works. [more...]
Slovakia Vs. The Cato Institute [More...]
Reaction to right wing reforms (including to the pension system) along Cato recommendations led to a 2012 landslide win for the “populist” center-left Smer party. [more...]
The Curse Of TINA [More...]
How think tanks arose (in Britain) to "become a branch of the PR industry whose aim is to do the very opposite -- to endlessly prop up and reinforce today's accepted political wisdom." Points out how Hayek described their function as selling second hand ideas. [more...]
Count The Costs [More...]
"Count the Costs is a collaborative project between a range of organisations that, while representing a diverse range of expertise and viewpoints, share a desire to reduce the unintended costs of the war on drugs." At least 70 supporting organizations. [more...]
Will Wilkinson, a Profile in Ideological Blindness [More...]
"Where is the public debate about really radical redistribution in order to meet human needs? There isn't one in the United States, which is obvious to anyone without Wilkinson's ideological blinders." [more...]
The 1% solution [More...]
Matt Steinglass chastizes Will Wilkinson: "[...] trying to describe the history of the past 30 years, with its great growth in inequality and increasing influence of money on politics, as one of increasingly progressive ideology leading to growing government intervention in the economy seems to me impossibly far-fetched." [more...]
Calm down, Will Wilkinson! Joe Stiglitz is not the problem. [More...]
"Are Will and I living in the same country? This idea that progressive success has led to public-private collusion is very clearly a false narrative." [more...]
Government Corruption Is Bad
Anti-corruption politics has been going on for millennia. It has been a major theme in Progressivism for well over a century. Corruption is a capitalist phenomenon: it is for private, self-interest. Government has a significant role to play in anti-corruption efforts, both for government and private industry. [more...]
An umbrella term for a huge number of organizations and publications founded, funded, or controlled by Charles and David Koch. It includes most of the libertarian organizations and publications you've heard of: the Libertarian Party, the Cato InstituteReason Magazine, etc. [more...]
Will Wilkinson
A shill for the interests of the wealthy, who has been employed by the Institute For Humane Studies, the Mercatus Center, and the Cato Institute -- all parts of theKochtopus[more...]
Anatomy Of A Libertard: Will Wilkinson And The Koch-Funded Nomenklatura [More...]
Koch libertarian ideologue production is compared to the Soviet Union’s Communist Party member production. "[...] guess what thinker changed Will Wilkinson’s life? Actually, don’t try guessing: Ayn Rand, that’s the answer every time, just as Lenin was the answer every time in the Soviet Union." [more...]
Subsidized Training In Libertarian Ideology
Enormous amounts are spent by Koch-funded or founded organizations to train politicians, judges, college students and professional libertarian shills in the application of libertarian ideology for government and public relations. [more...]
Tea Party
The Koch Brothers have pivoted to use their libertarian-developed propaganda [and substantial funding] in an attempt to manipulate the Republican Party. [more...]
Markets Are Created By Government
Modern markets rely on stable property, transportation, currency, educated workers and customers, and other factors with enormous market failures. Remove the government infrastructure of these, and markets will shrivel. [more...]
Rand Paul's "Slavery" [More...]
Quite a number of libertarians think the classic libertarian "Taxation Is Slavery" argument that Rand Paul repeats is inaccurate if not idiotic. [more...]
Senator: Food Stamps Are Just Like Slavery [More...]
Senator Rand Paul equates government programs that prevent people from dying of starvation with slavery. Because what is the government taking money you’ve earned if not the Leviathan forcing you to work part-time for its profit? [more...]
A list of FAQS criticizing libertarianism, but written by other people than Mike Huben[more...]
The question libertarians just can’t answer [More...]
If your approach is so great, why hasn’t any country anywhere in the world ever tried it? Some political philosophies pass this test, such as Nordic social democracy. Laughably, they try to substitute claims of economic freedom instead. [more...]
There are no libertarian nations.
There never have been either. There are not even any libertarian communities, despite numerous attempts to found them as micro-nations, oceanic platforms, etc. Even Scientology has done better than libertarianism, with its Sea Org. [more...]
Libertarians: Still a cult [More...]
Claims that the US between Reconstruction and FDR was "libertarian" show an amazing ignorance of history. [more...]
Singapore Is The New Chile [More...]
The Chilean retirement privatization was reversed very quickly, making it more like Social Security. Likewise, supposedly free-market health care in Singapore is becoming more like Obamacare. [more...]

Nurses Explain Obamacare in 90 Seconds

Nurses Explain Obamacare in 90 Seconds

Libertarians have got to hate this!  Government policy making lives better.

They don't want "Hi, we're from the government and want to help." to be greeted with cheers.

What I should have said….

I noticed two people pointing into my rather unusual front yard garden, and so I went out to say hi and see if they had any questions.  They were an old white guy and a quiet minority girl.  They wanted to know why I had tags on the flower stalks of my daylilies, and the man had guessed they were there to repel birds.  I explained that I hybridized daylilies, and the tags had two purposes: to describe seedlings that I wanted to keep and to label seed pods with the parentage.

The man asked a question with the word "designer" in it, and immediately my Jehovah's Witness detector went off!  I told them I was an atheist.  He asked how I came to not believe in god, and I replied that it was a silly idea.  He then made the argument from design (watchmaker argument), and among other things asked the girl if she thought my house had spontaneously appeared or if it was designed.  I pointed out that spontaneous appearance was EXACTLY his theory of creation, and that lots of things are NOT designed but develop out of natural processes.

Now, I've been arguing with JWs and other religious twits for more than 40 years, but I don't keep in practice.  Even though I read Pharyngula religiously.  Here's what I should try the next time:

I would address the girl.  "Let me predict how this discussion will go.  This man is trying to teach you ancient lies, and teach you how to spread them to other people.  He will try to bully me with arguments that are hundreds of years old, and hope that I don't know how to defend myself against them.  When he discovers that I know answers to his arguments and he cannot bully me, like all bullies he is a coward and will try to run away so that he will not look stupid in front of you.  Every time I answer open of his arguments, he will ignore the answer and switch to another argument: watch him do it."

Then, I should take the initiative away from him.  "Who designed YOU?"  If he says god did, point out that he was not created, his parents produced him.  His parents didn't design him either: they randomly combined gametes.  His parents didn't create him, he developed from the zygote.

At this point, he will try to get away (often promising to return later), and I would point out to the girl: "Look!  His bullying has failed, and he is trying to get away before he looks even worse in front of you.  He can't get biology that we can see with our own eyes right.  Watch him: he will never be able to get those answers right.  What he is NOT telling you is that his lies have been answered for centuries: you can read those answers in books that he won't tell you about."  If he has said he will come back, point out that even if he isn't lying about coming back, he will not come back with the girl because he doesn't want her to learn the answers to his lies.

If he hasn't scuttled away, I would ask him "What is the name of your God who you think did the design?  How do you know it wasn't Brahma?"  I would turn to the girl and explain that other religions have other creator gods and other sacred texts that are supposed to be true.  I would point out that his denial of those gods was a kind of atheism, and that I just denied one more god than he did.  But not for the same reason: he makes an exception for his one god to be true.  I treat them all the same, all false."

I would want to conclude with something like: "While you are young and haven't read the books they don't want you to read, they try to use bad arguments to trick you into believing the same things they do.  They are mean and will reject you if you decide on your own beliefs.  Learn about atheism as you grow up."  But this is a hard thing to say to an adolescent.  JW's really do shun even their own children is they step out of line.  I hate that sort of cruelty, and I'm not decided about whether to present that plainly to an adolescent whose development could be really screwed up by parental rejection.  There might be less harm if the independent thoughts come later, after economic independence.

My actual discussion was much less organized, and insufficiently aimed at the AUDIENCE: the girl.  If I had been smart, I would have pointed out how entirely wrong he was about my labels, and how wrong he is about many other things.  I did stop his first attempt at escape.  But I only run into JW's going door-to-door every few years.

An even better strategy might be to address only the girl, and say things like "is that what they tell you?"  When she would not be able to respond to something, say "I don't expect you to know everything: let's see if this guy knows an answer" and then embarrass him.  The goal is to let the girl see what a prat the older person is.  The girl is the victim: I won't be able to change the mind of the adult.