Monday, September 28, 2015

Humans and Humanity

There are two worldviews by which people seem to sort themselves which I’d describe generally as “liberal” and “conservative.” Very broadly stated, the differences may be expressed as, the liberal hates humans but loves humanity, and the conservative hates humanity but loves humans. The liberals hold all the levers of power currently. The liberal has the whole span of national (nay, global!) GDP in which to sate his urge to do good for the sake of “humanity.” The cost of one million refugees clustered around a few urban train stations or even better, safely tucked away in camps in Eastern Europe, is conveniently socialized.

Back in the realm of humans, e.g., Hungary, the situation focuses the mind on the conservative mundane very quickly. Conservatives perforce do not have the luxury of ignoring that people take up space and generate waste; or that they require food, water, shelter and hygiene (none of which is free); or that young men are little more than cerebellums with balls; or that linguistic barriers shut off a whole host of signals on which people rely in order to empathize and respect each other. Layer on the bio-ethnic and creedal differences, and it is abundantly clear what sort of violations liberals in government office buildings have committed.

Surely this “do-good” impulse can be sated, one would think, by care in turn for one’s family, one’s neighbors, one’s fellow parishioners, and outwards to the city and the nation. But the managerial state makes other claims on our social cohesion: college football, TV, amusement parks, DIVERSITY and TOLERANCE, the duties owed to the great and wise multi-national corporations. “Bread and circuses,” one might call all this.

This is why Trump, who wants a border fence and higher marginal tax rates on fund managers, is the conservative in the race and an idealistic goober like Jebe Arbusto, who thinks so fondly of those anonymous, teeming brown masses in the southern latitudes and all those equally remote budding social democrats in the Middle East, is the liberal. Trump’s sneering disdain for “humanity” is evident. He calls illegals “criminals” and “rapists” and says “Mexico” is sending us its worst. He’s a real estate man. He thinks in terms of property values, aesthetics, who your neighbors are. His customers are wealthy people. He doesn’t want to live in Brazil. Doesn’t want to answer to shareholders in public companies over how many nickels and dimes he gouged out of the lumpenproles in their cell phone contracts.

Make no mistake: the neo-conservatives have hijacked the conservative label. They are liberal ideologues through and through.

Thanks to Porter for the inspiration.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Why practically all macroeconomics is wrong

Because the discipline's two main statistical models are total crap.

GDP and CPI: Broken beyond repair.
All models are wrong, some models are useful. Two highly cited statistical models in economics – Real Gross Domestic Product and the Consumer Price Index – are so broken so as to not be useful. The models are a hodgepodge of dubious assumptions and subjective judgements that have been munged together and massaged until the results simply mirror the intuition of those constructing the model. By trying to be all things, the numbers end up meaning nothing. The GDP statistic tells us neither about well-being, nor about actual productive output of raw goods. For every purpose that GDP may be used, a better measure exists. I’ll start this essay by deconstructing GDP and the CPI, and then I’ll present the alternatives...

Continued at the link. For the most part, the purpose of macroeconomics is to justify the notion that governments can do what individuals, households and businesses cannot. Actually, governments can do two things that everybody else cannot: kill people with impunity and print money without being prosecuted. But no government can do either forever.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

What libertarians actually believe

Labadee (also Labadie) is a port located on the northern coast of Haiti. It is a private resort leased to the private company Royal Caribbean International until 2050.[1] Royal Caribbean International has contributed the largest proportion of tourist revenue to Haiti since 1986, employing 300 locals, allowing another 200 to sell their wares on the premises for a fee[2] and paying the Haitian government US$10 per tourist, increasing to US$12 in March 2015.[3]

The resort is completely tourist-oriented, and is guarded by a private security force. The site is fenced off from the surrounding area, and passengers are not allowed to leave the property. Food available to tourists is brought from the cruise ships. A controlled group of Haitian merchants are given sole rights to sell their merchandise and establish their businesses in the resort.

Borders? Check.

Patrolled by armed security force? Check.

Controlled access? Check.

Oligopolistic markets? Check.

Closed borders work.