Archive for August, 2008
Bishop Hill explains the Hockey Stick Graph. It is an exceedingly long and complicated story, even in his simplified version, but the short of it is: The global warmerists lied.
Massive globalization — a major move towards free market capitalism — has brought over a billion people out of poverty, while sixty years of socialist chaos and violence has failed to convince most of the world that central planning is a very bad way to run any economy.“Ruble” symbolizes pretend money, unconvertible into goods, much as “Finland” symbolizes submission to a hostile power, and “Peso” symbolizes inflation.
Globalism has done what socialism promised to do and failed to do: It has lifted those parts of the third world that adopted it out of poverty. If you have been shopping for a subnotebook, this should be obvious. Globalization means that if you are using a subnotebook, you are using a subnotebook designed and built in a country that recently used to be third world and used to be socialist, but which has moved substantially towards free market capitalism.
Socialism aimed to create an alternative to normal economic transactions, an alternative that would avoid such banes of capitalism as business cycles, windfall profits, and unemployment. Socialists expected to that their benevolence, wisdom — and absolute power backed by the most brutal extremes of savage violence — would bring the poor out of poverty, but instead chained the poor into serfdom and slavery.
Socialist transactions usually involved crises, shortages, unfullfillable quotas, and the continual threat and frequent reality of violence.
To do what they were commanded to do, administrators under socialism had to do what they were forbidden to do — the plan functioned, in so far as it did function, through an illegal underground black market economy. To enable the military plan to be fulfilled, troops lurked on the road to intercept and seize goods planned for other purposes. Civilians substituted the black market for the plan, and the military substituted pillage for the plan.
The Soviets created a Potemkin village of normality, thinly concealing a chaotic and violent reality that people were forbidden to notice.
Socialists interpret trade and business as fraud and violence, which gives them continual cause for war, especially war on their disarmed and frightened subjects. The failure of socialism was and is blamed on internal and external enemies. Somehow, capitalism was continuing, so more violence was required. If poverty is caused by wicked capitalists, and poverty continued, then obviously capitalism must be continuing, and must be hunted down and crushed.
“Globalization” is that Walmart and China are entwined, that American business phones are manned by Indians in India, and as a result of globalization, a major part of the third world, most importantly India and China, are now becoming first world.
Globalization is a success, a success as obvious and spectacular, as socialism was a spectacular and dreadful failure.
Lots of planning and state intervention remains — and lots of violence and chaos remains. But to the extent that do we have globalization, it has succeeded spectacularly. Its crises are the crises of success. If Chinese were still trudging around barefoot in the mud and snow, we would not have the present energy crisis.
There is still a lot of state intervention and state owned enterprises, in China and elsewhere, but there is now a lot less of it, and what there is accepts capitalism, rather than trying to fix capitalism. No more “iron ricebowl” in China.
China still has extensive state owned enterprises, but they no longer have monopoly privileges – they are subject to competition, and required to make a profit. If they lose money, the management is fired. If they continue to lose money, everyone is fired – which is one hell of a lot less socialist than America’s Amtrack, and features business cycles, windfall profits and unemployment, all the things that socialism and state intervention was justified as remedying. The resource crisis has led to huge windfall profits by Chinese resource businesses, and of course lots of Chinese state owned enterprises have shut down for inability to turn a profit, leading to unemployment, plus the whole economy is coordinated through just in time contracts organized by firms run from outside China, through private contracts with global businesses, not through a government plan. The Chinese economy is run through virtual private networks managed by overseas servers, the servers largely located in places such as Bermuda, which virtual private networks and servers are the nerves and sinews of globalization.
And to the extent that such intervention has been dramatically reduced, and transformed in ways that make it less disruptive of capitalism, transformed in ways that accept the unpredictable outcomes of free market competition, and the winners and losers that such competition produces, the poor have become vastly better off.
In the last ten years or so we have been hearing a lot of disturbing reports about Britain – reports of a society of fearful and servile subjects, of criminals acting with impunity, of the British accepting second class status to Islam. Maybe the gun lobby is exaggerating British submission to criminals, maybe racists and war hawks are exaggerating British submission to Islam, but this story of cowardice and betrayal from Basra fits with what we have been hearing about self defense in Britain and freedom of religion in Britain.
The authors, however blame the leadership, not the troops, so perhaps with a more manly leader, such as Margaret Thatcher, the old British would reappear. On the other hand, the similar humiliations in the Persian gulf, and the very similar cowardice and betrayal in Helmand province are worrying. Doubtless it was the leadership that betrayed Helmand province, but was it the political leaders that caused troops to surrender on the Persian gulf?
The boundaries of all the Balkan and Caucasus states are ill defined, one blurs into the other, each contains people who feel themselves outsiders and oppressed. In some, like Estonia, “oppression” is merely that if you cannot speak the majority language, or a widely spoken international language such as English, you have poor job prospects. In others, oppression consists of robbery, rape, and murder. By and large the resentment is greater, and more likely to lead to bloody fratricidal violence, when it is merely a matter of not being able to get a job if people cannot understand what you are saying.
A lot of people that think themselves Ossetian and Russian live in Georgia. Most of them cannot speak Georgian. Imaginary repression resulted in bloody insurrection, which resulted in real and bloody repression. Russia intervened and seized what it now calls South Ossetia. It installed a police state there, which suggests that not all South Ossetians hate the Georgians more than the Russians.
Georgia proceeded to build up its military power, and had a stab at getting “South Ossetia” back. Russians then invaded Georgia a couple of days ago, to prevent Georgians from recovering “South Ossetia”.
So it is not necessarily serious. Both sides might well accept a return to the status quo ante, wherein “South Ossetia” remains a Russian police state. Georgians, however, are perfectly capable of making the status quo painfully expensive for Russia, and have been doing so, which might provoke Russia to eliminate Georgia – or Georgians.
My explanation for high oil prices is the collapse of oil states. Arnold Kling argues that instead the problem is that investors fear the collapse of advanced states, so are reluctant to take their money.
My explanation is that oil states are increasingly short of the competence to pump oil, the ability to provide security to people pumping oil, and the credibility to make deals with people who are competent to pump oil — for example it is difficult for foreign companies to pump oil in Nigeria, because there are too many different bandits and terrorists to pay them all off, and difficult for foreigners to pump oil in Venezuela or Mexico, because the government cannot credibly promise not steal everything, and difficult for the Venezuelan government to pump oil, since it could not run a pie stand, plus the security situation in Mexico, though better than Nigeria, is deteriorating.
Arnold Kling, however, argues that the problem is the increasingly scary on book and off book debt levels of the advanced nations, in particular the US. Investors fear hyperinflation. Where to put their money? Answer: Buy commodities that are underground, and leave them underground.
The second national climate assessment predicts that the United States will “very likely” experience rising sea levels and increasing droughts, heat waves, intense storms and resulting illness and premature death over the next century as climate change intensifies.
But, as is the usual practice with climate “science” , the report fails to make available the evidence that supposedly leads to this conclusion, a gross and flagrant violation of normal and proper scientific practice.
And so, the US Chamber of Commerce, not academia, not any scientific body, has demanded that normal scientific standards be upheld.
This republican advertisement is so funny and so true, that I stole it.