Archive for August, 2010

Atlas did not shrug

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

The cathedral has pursued a policy of compromising with and absorbing competing elites – thus it both allowed the big banks to capture the regulators (resulting in financial crisis, but consolidating the elite’s power over ordinary Americans) and allowed the Soviet Union to infiltrate the US government (thus causing wars and communist victories, but consolidating the elite’s power over ordinary Americans).

As Dusk tells us:

look at how much regulation the banking industry came under during the 1990s and 2000s to serve the interests of social justice by giving out more mortgages to poor and Non-Asian Minority home-buyers. Rather than bankers individually growing weary and ultimately withdrawing from their calling, they as collective corporations dove into coerced self-sacrifice headfirst and for years swam around in big bucks. And if somehow the pool’s drain opened up, someone else would keep them afloat – I mean, people aren’t just going to let saints go under for serving the cause of social justice, right?

Researchers, inventors, and artists too resent having to comply with state regulations such as meeting affirmative action targets – e.g., when appealing to the government for grant money, having to detail how some expensive piece of equipment will be used in equal measure by men and women, as well as by whites / Asians and NAMs. Or having to detail how some community arts outreach project will target all demographic groups equally, if a financially strapped arts group wants state funding for it. Nevertheless, as annoyed as they may be, on the whole the members of these professions are not in revolt, do not even give off the smell of stewing in resentment, and don’t suffer from the high burn-out rates that Rand would’ve predicted.

What Rand fundamentally miscalculated was the ability of inventors, businessmen, etc. to not just slip out of their regulatory fetters but to then form them into lashes with which to whip their competitors, a phenomenon known as “regulatory capture.”

Anti anti communism, the repudiation of McCarthyism, is the same phenomenon: We now know that McCarthy was correct, but politically inconvenient.

McCarthy named Fred Fisher on television as a hostile communist infiltrator within the American government – as indeed he was.

Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

Fred Fisher never denied being a communist. No one has ever said he was not a communist He was a member of the National Lawyers Guild, which we knew then to be a communist front organization, and subsequent intercepts has confirmed to be a communist front organization – therefore, a hostile infiltrator, sabotaging the US government from within.

The reason communist infiltration was tolerated and encouraged was that the Cathedral perceived itself to be using the Soviet Union, rather than being used by the Soviet Union.

Similarly, the Cathedral likes to import Muslims precisely because of their anti western attitudes.

To say that it was outrageous to criticize Fisher,was to say it was outrageous to worry about hostile people
exercising power in sensitive positions within the US government.

On the evidence revealed in the Venona intercepts, there is compelling evidence that the Lawyers Guild was a communist front organization.

The evidence presented by the House Unamerican activities committee also seem to me to be quite convincing, but someone might reasonably disagree – the evidence could plausibly be interpreted as evidence of anti anti communism, rather than evidence of communism, plus evidence that the benevolent and helpful soviet union
was benevolently assisting the benevolent and helpful Lawyer’s guild to engage in helpful benevolence.

And that is precisely why anti communism came to be demonized – because the Lawyer’s guild, with the direct and substantial support and assistance of the Soviet Union, was in fact assisting the Cathedral in its war against ordinary Americans, and was not directly assisting the Soviet Union in its efforts to conquer the world – so the Cathedral quite reasonably and realistically perceived themselves as using Stalin, rather than being used by Stalin.

The Lawyer’s guild were doing what the Cathedral perceived as good – at the instigation and with the assistance of Stalin and the Soviet Union, and were not obviously doing anything the Cathedral might perceive as bad, like arranging for the Soviet army to shoot Cathedral members and bury them.

Thus the Cathedral could plausibly view the Lawyer’s guild as the Cathedral infiltrating and manipulating the communists, rather than the communists infiltrating and manipulating the Cathedral.

The activities of the Lawyer’s guild are evidence that the Cathedral was soft on communism and allowed themselves to be infiltrated. It is also evidence that the Cathedral strategy of being nice and doing favors was working, that infiltration was a two way street.

Remember when Khrushchev said “we will bury you” they immediately proceeded to reinterpret him as proposing a
relatively peaceful takeover that leaves the existing cathedral in place as Soviet apparatchicks, rather than shipping them off the gulag – revealing what they really wanted and hoped for.

They hoped for and expected the kind of Soviet takeover that was the implied backstory of those “Startrek the Next Generation” episodes created before the fall of the Soviet Union – though I am pretty sure the Soviet Union had a very different kind of takeover in mind, intended to deal with the Cathedral with hot lead and shovels, rather than giving Cathedral members cushy jobs as Soviet Apparatchiks.

The Cathedral realistically believed that communists could and would promote their ideal of a greater, more powerful, and more benevolent state, just as they realistically believe that Muslim voters will vote for more government. They were unrealistic in believing that the Russians shared progressivism or could be persuaded to share it.

They realistically hope to use the enemies of America against their American enemies, and unrealistically hope to convert the enemies of America to progressivism.

It is even less realistic to suppose that Muslims will be converted to progressivism, but observe the strident response of progressives when we ridicule this delusion:  “Raaaaacist!

The Cathedral sets a very high value on being reasonable and nice and civilized. I recall that when a warmist scientist addressed skeptical scientists, he urged them that if they took a more conciliatory position they would have “more influence” I don’t remember his exact words, and they matter little because the message was primarily in the way his body language commented upon his words, the unspoken but gestured message being “accept a lot of warmist beliefs, and warmists will accept a little of skeptic beliefs, and we will see to it that you get grants.”

And thus, contrary to what was predicted in “Atlas Shrugs”, scientists have come on board with the Cathedral and abandoned science, rather than retreating to Galt’s Gulch.

A similar tendency towards shear niceness was evident in the financial collapse. It was quite unthinkable that financiers who has pissed away billions of their clients money in nice behavior, should thereby become unemployed, or even have their wealth and power seriously diminished, or even have their control over other people’s money diminished, or be asked to make any substantial changes in the way they managed other people’s money. And so the bankers are not heading off to Galt’s Gulch either.

The Cathedral, though quick to accuse its American enemies of being extreme, uncompromising, and violent, is paralytically incapable of dealing with enemies that actually are extreme, uncompromising, and violent. It likes to ally with them against its American enemies, but even absent that inclination and strategy, is just generally incompetent and incapable at dealing with them, so in desperation ascribes its own niceness and willingness to compromise, to them.

Its tendency to compromise, to distribute power in tiny little bite sized chunks, means that stuff just does not get done – as for example, the fact that the buildings damaged and destroyed in 9/11 are still damaged and destroyed nine years later.

To repair or replace any of these buildings, needs a hundred approvals from a hundred Brahmins, which no normal American businessman is ever going receive for anything (hence our European levels of unemployment).  Islamists, however, can achieve it, because of their ability and willingness to apply negative incentives to roadblock bureaucrats. Being nice to each of one hundred Brahmins, good members of the establishment, unfortunately precludes being nice to one businessmen. When, however, the businessman is a dangerously non nice Muslim, such obstacles can be readily overcome.

The Cathedral approach to coalition building means it has no ready answer to those that spit upon its coalition and murder its members, other to welcome them inside, as it welcomed Ward Churchill inside.

Anti anti communism was not necessarily crazy, since they perceived themselves to be using Stalin to make war on evil Americans, even though Stalin thought he was using them, but the mortgage disaster, which is still under way, was definitely crazy, dismantling technological civilization to avoid possible slight warming is seriously crazy, and the Muslim takeover of Europe is really seriously crazy.

Treasury committed to supporting too big to fail

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Government lacks the will to allow to big to fail firms to fail, and the will and competence to regulate them. If a firm is too big to fail, it will take advantage of that fact, leading to crisis and massive tax payer losses.

Intefluidity reports that Treasury is not willing to deal with this problem.
Interfluidity tells us:

I believe these policymakers conflate, in full sincerity, incumbent financial institutions with “the system”, “the economy”, and “ordinary Americans”.

Ultimately, this “minimalist” approach to managing the GSEs amounts to nothing more or less than keeping the existing system and proposing that it be better regulated, including specific regulatory suggestions that are foreseeably unlikely to withstand industry pressure. No offense to its very smart proponent, but this was a non-idea dressed up as reform.

Large, complex, leveraged and interconnected financial firms simply cannot be regulated, by the private or public sector. Without regulation they quite rationally maximize stakeholder wealth in a manner that happens to be socially and economically destructive. The only way around this is to change the incentives of all stakeholders, and that could only happen by placing them in a different kind of firm. We have to limit the size and composition of firms’ creditor base, so we can be sure losses to creditors would be socially and politically tolerable. (We do this already, or try to, with hedge funds.)

Seventy percent taxes coming eventually.

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

In Greece, payroll tax, value added tax, and income tax adds up to around seventy percent.  It is perfectly clear that this is far above the Laffer limit – the private sector in Greece is largely underground and not quite cash, like a third world country.  If someone is employed by the state he pays taxes on his income because employed by the state, but does not actually do any work, because employed by the state.  If someone is not employed by the state, he usually finds a way to make a living that does not exactly involve taxable income as such, so he seldom actually does any taxable work.

But the Cathedral is not much affected by contact with reality.  Dylan Matthews took a survey of  the elite, to ask them where the Laffer curve maxed, and all of them that were among our masters answered 69% or 70%, or refused to answer. Such a high value is improbable, but what is really improbable is such perfect agreement on such an uncertain number. You cannot get perfect agreement on anything unless it is official Cathedral doctrine. And if a high Laffer maximum is Cathedral doctrine, then actions that would be insane unless you believe in a high Laffer maximum are the Cathedral program

The cost of government

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Fleischer explains why he is not hiring. He must spend $74,000 to provide Sally with an $59,000 salary, of which after tax she gets $44,000 plus $12,000 in benefits. Plus he faces large uncertainty that these costs may be arbitrarily and unpredictably increased.

The recent substantial increases in the cost of employing people have not been reflected in substantial reductions in people’s wages, thus wages are substantially above market clearing levels.  The Fed could, I suppose, inflate their way out of this problem, using inflation to sneak the real value of wages down, thus causing employment to recover.  Government could then point out that the bloated capitalists are increasing their oppression of the victimized proletarians, and use that as justification to make employing people even more expensive.  Never let a good crisis go to waste.

Rush Limbaugh – smarter than ten thousand ecology PhDs

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Back when BP’s oil was spouting into the gulf of Mexico, Rush told us:

“The beach will fix itself”

“More oil spilled every year in Africa, in Nigeria, than so far in the Gulf, so it’s not unique. It’s not exceptional. It’s not the largest. Mexico had a spill that larger than this, nobody talks about except apparently me”

And behold:  The beach has fixed itself.

The reason that BP was drilling there in the first place is that giant oil plumes occur naturally from time to time in that location– not as big as this one, but comparable. There is an entire ancient oil eating ecology naturally present in the gulf

This supposed crisis is akin to the supposedly horrifying crisis of the radioactive boy scout – any man made radiation is deemed ten gazillion times worse than naturally occurring sources of radiation, and any man released oil is deemed ten gazillion times worse than naturally occurring sources of oil.

Just as the soil is full of living creatures things that turn dead leaves into compost, the Gulf of Mexico is full of living creatures that turn oil into asphalt. The asphalt sinks to the bottom, and eventually gets buried in mud. It appears that sea creatures ate most of the released oil, and cleanup crews collected only a tiny portion. No doubt it was rough on those sea creatures that cannot eat oil, which all the cute charismatic creatures from seagulls to crabs cannot, but nature is rough whether humans meddle or not.

And while the cute charismatic creatures had a hard time for a while, now the oil is gone.

A solution to the gay marriage and the covenant marriage problem

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

The Other McCain agrees.  Get the government out of the marriage business.

Let each church decide for itself what marriage is, which views the government should ignore, and let people draw up what contracts they choose for living together.

You have the right to contract.  Let us have gay nuptial contracts, not gay marriages.

And the same for heterosexual relationships:  If a seventeen year old girl can contract for gigantic college debts that cannot be expunged by bankruptcy, in return for some academic training that will not necessarily give her a career, then she can agree to a nuptial contract that government does not necessarily think is fair to women.

Palin Power

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

According to polls, Palin’s Support for a Candidate Doesn’t Matter or Is Mostly Negative, yet we observe that  in practice that when Palin endorses a candidate that is way behind, that candidate shoots up in the polls, and quite often wins.

There are several possible explanations of this

  1. People tend to give politically correct replies to polls, rather than what they genuinely believe.
  2. Republican party activists do what Palin tells them to do, and republican party voters do what republican party activists tell them to do.
  3. A nobody cannot beat a somebody. Get Palin’s endorsement, you are no longer a nobody, you are a serious candidate, the one to beat.

I suspect all of these explanations are true.