Choices

Gender feminist theory predicts we’d see nearly equal employment of males and females in all occupations if we could erase the ‘patriarchy.’

In STEM and managerial positions there would be more women; in health care and K-12 teaching there would be more men (a side effect of no real interest). That this is not the case is indisputable evidence of pervasive discrimination based on sex.  (Except, of course, for dangerous, physical jobs like lumberjack, oil rigger, lineman…)

The intersectionalists leading those feminists (i.e., almost all of them) are quite certain this misogyny results from the evils of capitalism, insufficient government dictation of female-friendly employment rules, and paucity of financial incentives favoring females. In short, any difference in male vs. female outcome results from deep systemic suppression of female choice.  Don’t doubt this.  James Damore did, and look what happened to him.

The root cause is white male privilege – of which capitalism and too little government coercion are but symptoms. I’m sure I’ve left out much else of the intersectionalist potpourri, but life is short.

Drawing lines from every situation ever encountered by humans to meet at a grand conspiracy theory nexus (so long as such drawing elevates your identity group’s oppression quotient) can be lots of fun, I guess. It keeps you occupied, and gives you all the perks of victimhood. Still, blaming everyone else, over all of history, for everything that isn’t perfect in your present society seems like more work than any supposed insight might be worth.

This is the theory upon which the current feminist societal prescription rests. Let’s examine some outcomes where it has been tested.  Emphasis mine.

Countries with Higher Levels of Gender Equality Show Larger National Sex Differences in Mathematics Anxiety and Relatively Lower Parental Mathematics Valuation for Girls
-Plos One, 2016

“We propose that while economic considerations may play a more prominent role in STEM-related interest for individuals living in less developed countries, intrinsic subject-specific interest will play a more important role in educational and occupational attitudes and choices for individuals living in countries with higher levels of economic well-being. When the relative role of interests become more important than the financial drivers, and when men and women have more freedom to pursue their intrinsic interests, the well established sex difference in occupational interests will become more strongly expressed [74–77]. Altogether, these patterns might explain why girls benefit less than boys in terms of reduced mathematics anxiety. For example, in more developed countries in which people engage more in activities that intrinsically interest them, girls might not engage in STEM activities as much as boys, giving them less opportunity to reduce their negative feelings about mathematics…”

In sum, wealthy societies provide more opportunity for choice. This should not be surprising. But, put another way: Free market capitalism is most likely to indulge individual “intrinsic interests.” It is a superior economic system in terms of choice – regardless of sex. And, “the well established sex difference in occupational interests will become more strongly expressed,” suggests men and women pick activities and occupations most appealing to them. Differences in outcome would not, then, appear to be the result of a conspiracy to oppress women.

There is more evidence for this conclusion:

The Gender Scandal: Part One (Scandinavia) and Part Two (Canada)
-Jordan Peterson, 2018

“Given that differences in temperament and interest help determine occupational choice, and that difference in occupational choice drives variability in such things as income, it follows that political doctrines that promote equality of opportunity also drive inequality of outcome.”

When barriers to choice are lowered more choices will be made according to individual preference. Outcomes will then vary according to “temperament and interest.” This is also what the feminists claim. What they don’t like is that the result confounds their prediction. More choice does not appear to make females more nearly identical to males.

In fact, the opposite happens:

Sex differences in personality are larger in gender equal countries: Replicating and extending a surprising finding
-International Journal of Psychology, 2018

Sex differences in personality have been shown to be larger in more gender equal countries. We advance this research by using an extensive personality measure, the IPIP‐NEO‐120, with large country samples (N > 1000), from 22 countries. Furthermore, to capture the multidimensionality of personality we measure sex differences with a multivariate effect size (Mahalanobis distance D). Results indicate that past research, using univariate measures of effect size, have underestimated the size of between‐country sex differences in personality. Confirming past research, there was a strong correlation (r = .69) between a country’s sex differences in personality and their Gender Equality Index. Additional analyses showed that women typically score higher than men on all five trait factors (Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness), and that these relative differences are larger in more gender equal countries. We speculate that as gender equality increases both men and women gravitate towards their traditional gender roles.”

This next is related (though men and women compete in separate chess tournaments, and for reasons similar to the idea that it is unfair for male and female athletes to compete head to head):

Which countries are best for creating and encouraging women chess players?
-Marginal Revolution, 2019

“To oversimplify only a wee bit, it is the countries with less gender equality which have more female chess players, relative to male chess players. Here is some description:

Denmark is the worst country in our list of participation, with only one female player to roughly 50 males, while the rest of Scandinavia as well as most of western Europe also languish at the bottom.

On the other hand, some of the best countries show evidence of the effect of female role models, and would be no surprise to players familiar with women’s chess history. Georgia (ranked 5th) and China (ranked 4th) both featured multiple women’s World Champions. There are also some high rates from a few unexpected sources: Vietnam (1st), the United Arab Emirates (2nd), Indonesia (8th), and even Kenya (12th) really buck the trend. Interestingly, a lot of the best countries for female chess players are in Asia. Besides Vietnam, there are five other countries in the best ten, and if I am a little more lenient with the chess population cut-offs, Mongolia and Tajikistan would also be in there.

Here is one cited hypothesis:

Could it be that, deep down, women just don’t like chess as much as men?

I consider that to be possible, but unconfirmed. In any case, the lesson is that gender imbalance in a particular field can be correlated with greater equality of opportunity overall.”

Let’s look at the number of women in senior business positions in the most gender equal countries:

Nordic Welfare States Worsen the Gender Gap
-National Review, 2018

“Saadia Zahidi, senior director and head of gender parity and human capital at the World Economic Forum, has stated that “while patterns vary across the Nordic countries, on the whole, these economies have made it possible for parents to combine work and family, resulting in more women in the workplace, more shared participation in childcare, more equitable distribution of labour at home, better work-life balance for both women and men and, in some cases, a boost to waning fertility rates…”

So how are women faring in the modern Nordic welfare states? They’re doing quite well in many ways. Nordic societies have a large share of women active in the workplace, perhaps the most gender-equal attitudes in the world, and a tradition of women’s empowerment in the political sphere.

One might expect this to translate into many women reaching the top of the business world. But this clearly is not the case. In a new policy study for the Cato Institute, I show that the share of women among managers, as recorded by the International Labour Organization, is 43 percent in the United States, compared with 36 percent in Sweden and 28 percent in Denmark.

Comparing the Nordic countries with each other, a pattern emerges: Those with more extensive welfare-state policies have fewer women on top. Iceland, which has a moderately sized welfare state, has the most women managers. Second is Sweden, which has opened up welfare services such as education, health care, and elder care for private-sector competition. Denmark, which has the highest taxes and the biggest welfare state in the modern world, has the lowest share of women in managerial positions.”

So, managerial employment is inversely proportional to gender equity and statism. This is a correlation, not a cause.  But it is not a single example, and requires an explanation.  It does prove that the policy structure demanded by feminists is not producing the results they expect and desire.

Relationship of gender differences in preferences to economic development and gender equality
-Science, 2018

“What contributes to gender-associated differences in preferences such as the willingness to take risks, patience, altruism, positive and negative reciprocity, and trust? Falk and Hermle studied 80,000 individuals in 76 countries who participated in a Global Preference Survey and compared the data with country-level variables such as gross domestic product and indices of gender inequality. They observed that the more that women have equal opportunities, the more they differ from men in their preferences…”

[H]igher levels of economic development and gender equality favor the manifestation of gender differences in preferences across countries. Our results highlight the critical role of availability of material and social resources, as well as gender-equal access to these resources, in facilitating the independent formation and expression of gender-specific preferences.”

More simply, free market capitalism enables a luxury good – a focus on gender equality of opportunity – and when gender equality is maximized the differences in chosen employment increase.

I’m not sure if the intersectional feminists would argue that the reason fewer women choose to play chess, to pursue a career in STEM, or to aspire to managerial positions when its made easier for them to do so, is that they are subjugated by culture from the womb. It seems like one of the few arguments that would explain why their theory has been not just ineffective, but counterproductive.

With that claim, though, they would be hinting that many women in advanced countries are too dumb to see ‘the way’ when it’s shown to them.

Human personality is complex, more so because not every decision is rational, and there may be other explanations than individual interest/temperament/choice. Still, feminism is left to explain why less support, less equity, less freedom for women… results in more parity (as defined by equal outcomes) for women.

Encouraging women to be more like men has backfired if the goal is equal outcomes.

Maybe the definition of “gender gap” isn’t what we’ve been told it is. The science tends to show it’s a choice gap.  That’s very hard to ‘correct.’  You’d need government to enforce it.

So, if we want numerical equality of, say employment outcome, what we’re left with is making men more like women. This is the impetus for the toxic masculinity campaign.

Note to Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria,

As a newly elected Congressional Representative, self-described democratic socialist, open borders advocate, Medicare for all proponent, free college education supporter, BDS enthusiast, and CAGW partisan you have your work cut out for you in your new job.

I think it’s possible you’re operating under a few misconceptions that will make that job more difficult. For example:

And so I do think that right now we have this no-holds-barred, Wild West hyper-capitalism. What that means is profit at any cost. Capitalism has not always existed in the world, and it will not always exist in the world. When this country started, we were not a capitalist [nation], we did not operate on a capitalist economy.

Not exactly. There hasn’t been anything resembling hyper-capitalism in world history, and certainly not in the United States since about the time of Woodrow Wilson. We are far from achieving a free market system.  “Profit at any cost” is, in any case, not a charge reasonably leveled at capitalists.  But, you know this, since you have a degree in economics.  Right?

You do seem confused about what socialism is:

When we talk about the word ‘socialism,’ I think what it really means is just democratic participation in our economic dignity and our economic, social, and racial dignity. It is about direct representation and people actually having power and stake over their economic and social wellness, at the end of the day.

To me, what socialism means is to guarantee a basic level of dignity. It’s asserting the value of saying that the America we want and the America that we are proud of is one in which all children can access a dignified education. It’s one in which no person is too poor to have the medicines they need to live.

Noble sentiments, with which few would disagree, but perhaps you should pay more attention to the current example being set in Venezuela, where they’re trying out actual socialism. They’ve run out of medicine and most citizens are on the verge of starvation.  I’m not sure how your concept of dignity squares with the desperation of eating zoo animals, or prostitution for food, or surgery without anesthesia, but it’s at odds with mine.

Venezuela, where you might profitably look for evidence regarding how your intentions translate into reality, is bucking this trend:

“In 1981, the year Ronald Reagan became America’s 40th President, 44.3 percent of the world lived in extreme poverty (i.e., less than $1.90 per person per day). Last year, it was 9.6 percent. That’s a decline of 78 percent.”

…which is causally associated with the capitalist idea of free markets.

Of course, that’s what we would term “current events.” So, a little history, in case you think that the Chavez/Maduro experiment has simply had a run of temporary “bad luck*”: In 2017 (60 years after the revolution) Cubans’ average monthly salary reached a post-revolutionary all time high of 767 pesos, or $28.94 a month. That’s half of the extreme poverty line. Dignity for Cubans might be more easily achieved if fewer of them were very poor, and fewer had been driven to emigrate.  This is hard to achieve, but your ideas make it harder.

*“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

― Robert Heinlein

As you say on your website merchandise page “There is nothing radical about moral clarity.” Perhaps you should check your clarity.  Your good intentions don’t make that clarity moral.

The selected zero-sum victims cult

Conflate the ideas in the following 3 articles, and ponder.
1) Selection effects

To take a more provocative example [of selection effects], consider the “____ studies” fields in academia. Even if they don’t explicitly require professors to have left-wing ideas, they select for such professors by making uncomfortable anyone with a different point of view. In other fields, this is less the case. But I fear that in those other fields, any lack of diversity along gender or racial lines will be used as a wedge to make them to come up with selection criteria that have the effect of pulling in people with a left-wing viewpoint. In economics, I call this the “road to sociology watch.”

2) Does the Zero-Sum Nature of Academic Success Contribute to the Left-wards Bias of Academia?

For a while now, I have had a theory that the zero-sum nature of academic success (competition for a fixed and perhaps shrinking number of tenured positions) affects the larger world-view of academia. (This article that compares academia to a harmful cult demonstrates this zero-sum thinking pretty well.)

3) The Free Speech Crisis on Campus Is Worse than People Think

We’ve heard about microaggressions, said to be small slights that over time do great harm to disadvantaged groups; trigger warnings, which some students demand before they are exposed to course material that might be disturbing; and safe spaces, where people can go to be free of ideas that challenge leftist identity politics. We’ve heard claims that speech that offends campus activists is actually violence, and we’ve seen activists use actual violence to stop it —and to defend this as self-defense—when administrators fail to do so…

[T]he new culture of victimhood combines sensitivity to slight with appeal to authority. Those who embrace it see themselves as fighting oppression, and even minor offenses can be worthy of attention and action. Slights, insults, and sometimes even arguments or evidence might further victimize an oppressed group, and authorities must deal with them. You could call this social justice culture since those who embrace it are pursuing a vision of social justice. But we call it victimhood culture because being recognized as a victim of oppression now confers a kind of moral status, in much the same way that being recognized for bravery did in honor cultures…

Victimhood culture is a new moral culture, not simply a variant of dignity culture. Its adherents and defenders still use much of the language of dignity, as when writer Regina Rini describes the goal of microaggression reporting as “a culture in which no one is denied full moral recognition.” This sounds like dignity culture, except that the implication is that even minor and unintentional slights deny people full moral recognition. The break with dignity culture is more fundamental, though. Dignity culture fights oppression by appealing to what we all have in common. Our status as human beings is what’s most important about us. But victimhood culture conceives of people as victims or oppressors, and maintains that where we fall on this dimension is what’s most important about us, even in our everyday relationships and interactions. And this means that victimhood culture is ultimately incompatible with the goals of the university. Pursuing truth in an environment of vigorous debate will always involve causing offense—and one of the shibboleths of victimhood culture is that it’s okay to offend the oppressors but not the oppressed. Many campus activists, realizing this, have attacked the ideals of free speech and academic freedom. One of these visions will have to prevail—either dignity culture and the notion of the university as a place to pursue truth, or victimhood culture and the notion of the university as a place to pursue social justice.

The first article ends with the passage I quoted, and there’s more there to think about. “Making uncomfortable anyone with a different point of view” is a very nice description of why our campuses have become so anti-free speech. RTWT. I also highly recommend perusing the comments.

The second article makes a wonderful point about capitalism. The comments there are also worth a look.

The third article is fairly long, but it does an excellent job making the case that “Victimhood culture is a moral culture, and the activists who embrace it are moral actors, not part of a “snowflake generation” that can’t cope with disagreement.” In other words, victimhood culture is much more of a threat to classical liberal values than you might think if you dismiss it as a silly, passing phase of young naifs surrounded by mentors who view 1984 as a “How to” guide.

This new culture is abetted by social media; where qualifications for oppressed tribal membership are continually redefined, identitarian scoring systems are maintained, and virtue signaling shaming rituals are fueled.

Further reading:

Rule by internet mobs.
Narrow Roads of Bozo Land: How We Came to Be Governed by Online Mobs

Crowdsourced anonymous Kafkaesque accusations.
How An Anonymous Accusation Derailed My Life

The value of victimhood.
Collision with Reality: What Depth Psychology Can Tell us About Victimhood Culture

And what should we fear?
Western Civilisation “Not Welcome Here”

Finally, see if you can connect these dots to Jordan Peterson’s popularity.
Harvard Study: 20% Of College Students Consider Suicide; 9% Attempt It

Victim culture activists truly are as afraid of words as they say they are. It’s not posturing, it’s mental illness posing as a moral code; producing fragile people whose stifling nihilism becomes their only real psychological defense.

Jordan Peterson on why university safe spaces are absurd and crippling:

The Mental Health Crisis | Jonathan Haidt:

In sum:
Strictly select your collective for matching ideology.
View every game as zero-sum.
Create hundreds of victim groups.
Convince students that rights trump responsibilities.

Then teach them they are oppressed by culture outside the ivory towers, and they will demand dignity free safe spaces from within which to plot its destruction.

Lysenko’s handmaid

Sara Giordano, mentioned in an earlier post, is a Women’s Studies professor at UC-Davis, and recent author of Those who can’t, teach: critical science literacy as a queer science of failure, in which she argues that science, as and because it is defined by Western civilization, is a tool of racism and sexism. Along the way, she displays a Women’s Studies professor’s nebulous grasp of philosophy and economics by insisting capitalism is an economic system enabled by “Western science,” as opposed to some handwavingly defined “feminist science,” which apparently would favor Marxism.

Capitalism, to Giordano, is a colonialist tool; part of a conspiracy to define some people as “non-human.” She takes a long winded path to recast the standard Marxist complaints about worker exploitation as oppression of women and minorities:

“At the root of the justification for social inequality then is Western science (together with philosophy and other modern disciplines). By producing the categories of human/nonhuman as forms of natural (yet flexible) racial difference, capitalism becomes justified as a natural (yet flexible) economic system (Melamed, 2015).”

The suggestion that colonialism was not purely evil will attract death threats. I mention this not to contend colonialism wasn’t very often rapacious and immoral, but to demonstrate its invocative power. This is why Professor Giordano feels the need to make colonialism morally equivalent to science and capitalism: Untrue.

And even if it were true, it would not justify rejection of 21st century science, nor dismissal of the precept of individual liberty inherent in Western ideals.

Professor Giordano is convinced that by encouraging scientific illiteracy (and nowhere does she qualify this call for willful blindness with the word ‘Western’) we can initiate a better world:

“…not knowing science may lead to a more just world,…” ““A transfeminist technology will value illiteracy for its improductiveness for industry, as a way of finding paths unimagined by speed and productivity.””

The fact is, we don’t have to imagine it. Stalin, Mao, Castro, Kim Jong-un, Pol Pot, Chavez, et. al. have already shown us the outcome.

Ms. Giordano’s identity politics have blinded her to what capitalism actually is. Dr. Richard M. Ebeling provides a view of capitalism she would likely embrace, if it didn’t preclude her prerogative to remake society as a feminist autarchy. What Is “Capitalism” Anyway? Read the whole thing, but here’s a salient bit.

The bedrock concept behind an explanation of “capitalism” is private property. That is, the idea that an individual has a right of ownership and exclusive use of something. For the classical liberal, the most fundamental property right possessed by an individual is his own person. In other words, an individual owns himself. He may not legally or informally be treated as the slave of another person. The individual has ownership over his mind and his body. Neither may be controlled or commanded by another through the use of force or its threat.

Now, I’m sure Professor Giordano would reply that even if that is the ideal, it isn’t how it’s worked in practice. This is true, but since she is arguing in favor of a utopian solution demonstrated to be the deadliest, most oppressive set of social experiments ever performed, it is also irrelevant. At best.

Corporatism behaving predictably

You would be disappointed if you expected a publication called MIT Technology Review would eschew half baked, agenda driven articles about economics.

The MIT School of Economics needs to give some remedial instruction to David Rotman, Editor of Technology Review. In a recent article, Capitalism Behaving Badly, he reviews Rethinking Capitalism,

A series of essays by authors including Joseph Stiglitz, an economist at Columbia University who won a Nobel Prize in 2001, and Mariana Mazzucato, a professor of the economics of innovation at the University of Sussex… Together, the essays provide a compelling argument that we need more coherent and deliberate strategic planning in tackling our economic problems, especially in finding more effective ways to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions…

[The book attempts] to counter the view that free markets inevitably lead to desirable outcomes and that freer markets are always better: the faith that “the ‘invisible hand’ of the market knows best.” In fact, she argues, we should admit that markets are created and shaped by government policies, including government support of innovation.

Maybe we should admit that markets are distorted by government and result in misallocation of resources. Whatever we admit, we should not pretend that the United States is a capitalist country. It is a corporatist economy where government decides for policy reasons to give money to favored industries. Mr. Rotman apparently favors ‘green’ industry as a major part of a command-and-control industrial policy.

Rotman explains the failures of Solyndra, A123, Fisker, Navistar, Evergreen Solar and others, by arguing the wrong people were in charge, and they spent the money wrongly or stopped supplying it when more was needed, as if the politics were irrelevant and “some people” are not only above such things, but have nearly perfect appreciation of all market forces.

Mr. Rotman specifically addresses Solyndra:

Take, for example, the failure of the solar company Solyndra. It is often held up as the kind of thing that occurs when government picks winners. But, writes Rodrik, Solyndra failed largely because competing technologies got much cheaper. Such outcomes are not necessarily an indictment of industrial policies. The real problem, Rodrik argues: the U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee program that supported the solar company had a mixed set of goals, from creating jobs to competing with China to helping fund new energy technologies. What’s more, it did not properly define procedures for evaluating the progress of potential loan recipients and, importantly, terminating support to those companies when appropriate. Instead, according to Rodrik, in the absence of such rules, money was lent to Solyndra for political reasons—President Obama and his administration used the company as a high-profile way to highlight its green-energy initiatives. Having singled out the solar company for praise, the administration was then reluctant to end its commitment…

The stimulus bill was well-­intentioned, and the instinct to use government spending for a specific social goal, supporting the development of green energy, was laudable…

1-Competing technologies got cheaper. Failure to recognize that likelihood is not external to government decisions, it is central to why the government shouldn’t be making them, and most certainly counts as a failure of industrial policy.

2-A mixed set of goals is likewise a failure of government policy. In this case, its execution of the “strategy,” if one should be so generous as to call such a mess strategic. Close enough for government work, I guess.

3-Slack control of money lent is also a clear failure of government execution of its confused and shortsighted planning.

4-Money was lent for political reasons. Duh.

This is not to be laid at the feet of capitalism, since it had no role in the matter.

Creating a rigorous industrial policy to encourage green technologies is no doubt a worthwhile objective. Economists and the lessons from efforts like the stimulus bill can teach us how to design such policies to be robust and effective…

No, they have demonstrated again and again and again that they cannot. We do not learn from experience. We do not learn from Smith, Hayek, Bastiat, Sowell and Ricardo, et. al..

Mr. Rotman’s actual agenda is clear. He wants more public/pirate partnerships for his pet cause, only better than the last ones. The pirates aren’t capitalists, they are robber barons whose victims are taxpayers.

But won’t wise industrial policies also require wise politicians?

No, there is no such thing as a “wise industrial policy” such a thing requires prescient politicians who have the ability to anticipate market changes, develop focused policies and implement them very efficiently. All while avoiding the opportunities for graft and corruption. Can you name such a politician?

Update Oct 25 11:40
How command-and-control industrial policy actually works:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman met and corresponded on multiple occasions in his capacity as a top White House adviser with a previous employer seeking energy policies that it described as a potential “gold rush,” hacked emails and public records show.

John Podesta was a top White House energy policy official before joining the Clinton campaign last year. He previously served on the board of renewable energy investment firm Equilibrium Capital. He owned stock in the firm and drew $4,000 in annual “board fees.”

White House ethics rules bar employees from working on issues affecting former clients or employers for two years after taking their jobs. However, internal emails show that Podesta was in contact with Equilibrium within months of joining the White House as the company pursued a new energy efficiency financing model that would steer it significant revenue.

Ignore the infighting

We’ve been hearing lately about Newt’s criticisms of Reagan and tendency to have too many ideas. We’ve been hearing lately about Mitt’s rapacious activities at Bain Capital and his accounts in the Caymans. We’ve been hearing this from Mitt and Newt respectively.

I’ll start with sentiments I generally agree with as stated by The POH Diaries:

Here’s the bottom line. I have no dog in this fight. My candidates either didn’t run or imploded on impact. I’m not comfortable with Romney’s apparent weaknesses, and despite his ability to articulate conservatism my gut tells me that a Gingrich nomination and subsequent Presidency would end in heartache as well. But the main point is this, neither one of these men, whether they’re really conservative or not, whether they’re a rino, liberal, progressive, or just opportunistic, is Barack Hussein Obama. And that’s enough for me. Certainly it would have been nice to have a strong, conservative candidate with populist appeal to take the fight to Obama. But who the challenger in this race ends up being may mean less than perhaps it ever has in history for the simple reason that the incumbent will be Barack Obama. That one fact in itself may be our biggest asset.

Now, two comments about the revisionist history being peddled about Newt and Reagan and one on ideas. I find the “romantic belief” attractive, especially when mostly privately funded.
One. Two. And one.

And a couple of items about Mitt’s “vulture” capitalism, AKA the economic system that built America and Obama wants to destroy.
One. Two.

It will help keep our heads clear to consider that GOP on GOP attacks shouldn’t sour us on evicting the most corrupt and least competent President we’ve ever seen. “[W]ho the challenger in this race ends up being” matters less than it has in any election you’ve ever voted in.

Managerial progressive?

Why is Romney doing such a lousy job defending his record at Bain Capital?

That article focuses on the number of jobs created which may be associated with Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain capital, or while he was Governor of Massachusetts. This is over thinking it. The core reason Romney isn’t an articulate defender of Capitalism is that, for him, Capitalism is merely a question of managerial competence. Sadly, he lacks a principled understanding of Capitalism, and thus can’t defend it as a philosophy. Much like Herbert Hoover.

Someone should ask him if he’s ever read von Mises, Hayek or Ayn Rand.

Appearance of corruption

Among other things, capitalism is about taking risk. When the government removes all risk from an “investment”, the result cannot be called capitalism. It can be called corporatism, crony capitalism, mercantilism, fascism or socialism, but not capitalism. Such deals are the province of corporatist whores and their government enablers who suspend the rule of law in order to loot the public treasury.

Solyndra “investors” took out a 535 million dollar risk-free loan from you, and they are not going to pay it back.

The Obama administration restructured a half-billion dollar federal loan to a troubled solar energy company in such a way that private investors — including a fundraiser for President Barack Obama — moved ahead of taxpayers for repayment in case of a default, government records show.

Administration officials defended the loan restructuring, saying that without an infusion of cash earlier this year, solar panel maker Solyndra Inc. would likely have faced immediate bankruptcy, putting more than 1,000 people out of work.

“Without an infusion of cash… Solyndra Inc. would likely have faced immediate bankruptcy?” So, instead of 1,000 lost jobs we have 1,000 lost jobs at a cost of $535,000 per lost job, and those whose lost their jobs don’t get the money, the venture huckster-bundlers do.

The “appearance of corruption” is a good enough reason for the Supreme Court of the United States to suspend our First Amendment rights. The appearance of corruption is apparently not a good enough reason to avoid giving free money to Solyndra connected bundlers.

Go figure.

Recycling electrons & some ideas

I was searching the “accumulated wisdom of TOC” today (;)) on a slightly different topic.  Serendipitously, this June-09 post struck me as worth repeating: 

Taxes and the economy

Some comments on Sunday’s post, Health care notes, were interesting to me and resulted in this post. Here are the comments:

Janet Brown said…

This is just one more reminder that the only real way to keep our economy strong is not by raising taxes, but by keeping taxes low, fair and simple.

We need to take action and contact our legislators and sign petitions like the ones the U.S. Chamber of Commerce backs (here).
1:08 PM EDT

Life Insurance Broker said…

@Janet Brown

Explain to me how keeping taxes low will help anything? With no tax money there will be no money in the government thus no money for the economy.

Take care, Lorne
12:00 PM EDT

Paladin said…

@Lorne

By “money in the economy” let’s presume you mean the value created in the economy. Almost all of this value is created by private productive individuals and organizations. The allocation of that value is properly vested in free markets. The government’s legitimate role is to take a very small portion of that value and use it to provide its legitimate services. High taxes reduce “money in the economy”. Low taxes increase it.

Thomas Sowell has written an excellent overview titled “Basic Economics”. Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics is One Lesson” is good too, but maybe not quite as accessible.
12:55 PM EDT


Lorne,

There are so many very basic, common, and erroneous assumptions packed into your short comment that I am not sure if you are serious. I will respond as if you are, however, because you would be far from alone in such thinking, and I hope addressing these ideas may be useful to others as well.

You seem to be confused about how wealth is created. We may call it money, but that is just a proxy. I think Paladin well addressed this issue, but there are other questionable memes he left unanswered.

One of your problematic assumptions is that without “the government” there wouldn’t be an “economy.” This begs the question of what “the economy” is, and we don’t have time for that here. Suffice it to say that, historically, good government has assisted economic activity by providing a stable and trusted medium of exchange, i.e., money, in a stable environment. This is not to say government must do this, it has just been convenient. It is also not to say that government can be trusted to be a good steward. Recent events prove this.

As to what is “money,” it has ranged from Cowry shells to tulip bulbs to tobacco to limestone wheels 12 feet in diameter. All of these things were a medium of exchange (could be traded for something else), a unit of account (could be traded at a standard value), and a store of value (could be put aside and used later at a similar exchange rate). Whenever they lost any one of those characteristics, they ceased to be money.

Government, then, has hardly been the sole source of money. At one time banks issued their own currency. Gold and silver have themselves served as money without any government’s imprimatur. Not so long ago, our national paper currency was backed by those precious metals. Paper was simply easier to transport.

So, it is not necessary to have government to have either money or an “economy.”

Money, today, in the US, is not backed by any commodity with intrinsic value. What used to be silver certificates, redeemable for the actual metal “payable to the bearer on demand”, are now Federal Reserve notes backed by the “full faith and credit of the United States government.” The intrinsic value is zero, or at best equal to the value of a good counterfeit. The value of a Federal Reserve note is psychological.

As to money supply, to over-simplify, good government should provide a psychologically acceptable currency in sufficient volume so as to allow for the orderly exchange of goods and services. The volume of money in circulation should keep pace with the value of productivity: It should grow at the same rate as productivity. Too much growth in the money supply begets inflation, too little means deflation.

Inflation is itself a tax, and therefore a conflict of interest for your government, because when that government issues (prints) money in excess of the requirement, the money you got paid yesterday suddenly buys less. It becomes diluted, and the real value of your savings shrinks. The Weimar Republic and modern Zimbabwe are extreme examples. As a thought experiment, imagine what would happen if the government decided to wipe out its deficit by the simple expedient of printing money equal to the amount of the deficit. Don’t laugh, in a similar vein Zimbabwe declared inflation to be illegal while printing new money at a ratio of a million to one to the old. Zimbabwean inflation in July 2008 was 40-50 million percent.

Lorne, you seem to think that government may actually create wealth. It does not. Not even when it owns General Motors. If General Motors could produce cars people wanted to buy at a profit, what role does government have? If General Motors cannot produce such cars at a profit, how can government fix that? Certainly not by simply taking your money and giving it to General Motors. That does not create wealth, it destroys it by robbing you.

Government, at least in Western democracies, has typically reasonably well performed one function beneficial to the economy. It provides a mechanism for the enforcement of contracts – the rule of law. Not that this could not be done privately, but we have generally ceded the responsibility to government because we trust the process (even so, special entities exist for arbitrating disputes). If we were to cease to trust the government process it would be a serious problem.

So, what does this say about a government, like the Obama administration, willing to quadruple the deficit and to abrogate legal contracts? Quite simply, it erodes the faith and confidence necessary to assign value to the money that government produces. The Chinese have noticed.

Further, it damages the economy by misdirecting resources for political purposes. Resources taken from you. Higher taxes is the government taking more of those resources. From you.

So, when that same government raises taxes what is it doing? [It is] Illustrating another misconception in your comment. Taxes do not create jobs or products or the economy. The jobs that money could have created, and the investment in productivity and innovation that could have been made, are stopped in favor of tattoo removal among Los Angeles gangstas, or propping up a failed auto workers union.

Without economic freedom you cannot have political freedom. All of this economic discussion should be framed with that reference. Specifically, the loss of political freedom represented by government intervention in the form of excessive direct taxation, or in indirect taxation through regulation and inflation. You are not free to choose.

On that note, I will add three other books to the ones Paladin mentioned in his comment (Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics and Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson) that could also help you understand this better. I assume you would like to.

  1. Eat the Rich, P.J. O’Rourke. A really fun read. Pay special attention to the chapter on Hong Kong under John Cowperthwaite.
  2. Free to Choose and Capitalism and Freedom, Milton Freidman. Classics, easily understood, but take them in that order.
  3. The Road to Serfdom, Freidrich Hayek. Heavier going and appropriate for more advanced study.

Thanks for stopping by and inspiring this post.