Looters tend to be ingrates

Taken from a review of Tyler Cowen’s Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero

“How is this tweet, from “Dina,” for showing lack of gratitude toward business? “If you think about it. People with glasses are literally paying to use their eyes. Capitalism is a bitch.” Shortly after it was posted, it had accumulated 257,000 likes, surely with more to come.”

It’s both more and less than a lack of gratitude. Big Rock Candy Mountain would not impress her.

I wonder about her reaction should she ever hear of Iron Lungs, or Polio vaccine. Or, for that matter, food stores.

“Dina, here’s a free, live sheep. It’s your food and clothing supplement for the next quarter. Otherwise, you just get subsistence quantities of basic protein paste and three yards of poor quality burlap salvaged from potato sacks.

Other people’s labor supplied the sheep (as well as the protein paste and burlap) so you can learn to how to butcher, preserve meat, tan hides, and sew. And to make your own knives, saws, sewing tools, refrigerator, and electricity. People are literally paying you to learn existentially valuable skills.

After you’ve acquired those skills, you’ll need to work on how to raise sheep. Society can’t afford this gift indefinitely.

After that, you could look into creating a global transportation system to ship any excess sheep to Venezuela. We hear people there would literally pay for them.”

Negotiating tactic

I keep seeing this defense of the President’s tariff policy: “The threat of trade war is just a smart negotiating tactic. Chill out.”

I concede the possibility that it is a negotiating tactic. However, that doesn’t make it an intelligent or wise negotiating tactic.

One problem is that lying about the economic effects of tariffs encourages Americans’ economic ignorance; which is already a yuge, yuge problem.

If Trump was insisting global warming is caused by humans and that female pay is 75% of male pay, how would that work out? Those are economic negotiating positions, too. And they are lies.

Trump Doesn’t Understand How Tariffs Work, Brags About Making Up Trade Stats

Update 5:50PM
Edits for clarity

Rent Seekers

Bills Make It Easier For Private Marketing Bureaus To Force Dues on Businesses

This regulatory statist, public/pirate partnership should cease. The parallels (rent-seeking and arbitrary, bureaucratic consumer punishment) to Trump’s trade war impulses are educational opportunities for the economically ignorant.

Update 01/13/17:
It occurs to me to ask how this is different from the SEIU dues-skimming travesty?

Lamenting free exchange

As Wildfires Raged, Insurers Sent in Private Firefighters to Protect Homes of the Wealthy

“Consumer advocates lament that the programs mean the rich can get better fire protection.

“Do we like the idea of a two-tier system for wealthy individuals and people with less means? No,” said Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, a national insurance-focused consumer nonprofit based in California.

“But do we want to see their approaches work? Yes,” she added.”

Let me translate,
Ignoramuses lament that people are allowed to PAY for useful services.

“Do we like the fact that some people have more money than others? No,” said a clueless spokesperson for a non-profit, “because we don’t understand the meaning of ‘for-profit.’

But do we want to see their approaches work? Yes,” she added, “but only if everyone has very expensive homes.“”

This is what Amy Bach is complaining about:

A- Some people PAID for a service on the open market they thought beneficial to them.
B- The sellers delivered the service as contracted.
C- This arrangement resulted in 1) saving houses from conflagration, 2) reducing costs otherwise to be born by the seller of the service.

Anybody can start a business offering the same service, if they so desire. How can these fools be called consumer advocates unless they do start such a business? AND give the service away, presumably using slave labor and other peoples’ money.

What has government done to you lately?

…would be a better headline.

What’s Government Done For You Lately?

Here is the core error of the 20th century: the belief that government can accomplish anything with enough intelligence, resources, and power. It afflicted regimes all over the world from Lenin’s 100 years ago to Obama’s today (and this will also be true of any probable successor). This theory built massive bureaucracies, justified vast wars, and drove the creation a legal and regulatory apparatus of unprecedented imperial reach.

The faith survives today, though with ever less conviction. Failure after failure has even sown doubts among ruling-class intellectuals and mainstream politicians. But because so much of the state apparatus – and the strategies that collect money from the public to fund it – are based on this model, a shift away from the paradigm will not come easily.

This, of course, is the central problem with David Rotman’s MIT Technology Review article promoting a small tweak to traditional top down economic planning as if it were a wholesale change instead of an exercise in relabeling:

[Dani] Rodrik [an economist at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government] said in an interview that while “unfortunately” we’re stuck with the label “industrial policy,” today’s versions are very different from ones conceived decades ago. Rather than singling out a specific sector—say, aerospace or steel manufacturing—for support with large investments and tax incentives, new thinking suggests working across sectors to achieve a desired goal such as addressing climate change, using tools such as carbon pricing…

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…

The problem with Solyndra, then, was a mixed set of explicitly political goals applied to a specific sector subject to intense competition. The solution to such bad industrial policy is to apply explicitly political impediments to all economic activity. The competition will then be for government favors, like suspending the Obamacare cadillac tax.

No more picking winners and losers, no siree, we’ll just apply general taxes on carbon the government will conjure a ‘market’ in carbon. Do you believe it will be politically neutral, remain focused on the single problem, and with properly defined procedures for evaluating the continuing necessity for the market? I.e., that the bureaucrats running the scheme will ever even look for reasons to suspend it? If so, you must believe that Obamacare has fulfilled its promises.

It’s so simple, just find a big ‘social problem’ with dozens, or hundreds, of different causes and impose a single 2,000 page solution. I don’t know why we didn’t think of this approach to solve the obesity epidemic. We’ll just put nutrition labels on candy machines, ban soft drinks over 16 ounces and move toward taxing calories.

That this is still picking winners and losers, such as Warren Buffet’s wind farms versus Peabody Coal’s entire business, seems not to occur to these capos of industry.