Randoms of the day

Bill Gates is apparently a formalist. Of course it’s easy to say that accounting should be honest, but the consequences for lots of states and cities (and the Feds) would be disastrous.

Dennis Mangan continues to post interesting stuff on Japan. John Derbyshire has good things to say about Japan in his newest book. The Japanese always have interesting roles in Neal Stephenson’s books as well.

Russ Roberts links to a table that shows that stagnation in median wages in Canada might be caused by divorce. The odd thing is that he considers this good news. I believe his interpretation is that this is good because it means that economic progress (the only progress that matters, you see) hasn’t stopped. We should not be fooled into thinking that progress has stopped by the fact that families are being destroyed at increasing rates. Ahhh, libertarianism.

I agree with Bryan Caplan’s thoughts on Italy. I think being an Italian would be particularly depressing. There is evidence all around them that their state doesn’t have to suck, and yet it does suck. They must be constantly reminded of their own aggressive under-achievement.

The Chinese think Christianity is the reason for the West’s success. It’s easy to say that economic growth is the most important thing, but it’s harder to follow that logic through to the end, as it results in some conclusions that proponents of economic-growth-uber-alles don’t like. For example, I think economic growth is best advanced in homogeneous and religious societies – all else equal.

On neocameralism.

Seattle passes a bill that increases penalties for crimes against homeless people. I swear that I am not making that up.

Iowahawk bitch slaps The Economist and The New York Times. Ouch. No wonder no one pays for news anymore.

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6 Responses to Randoms of the day

  1. robert61 says:

    Theodore Dalrymple had an article a few years ago lamenting British moral decline. Britons aren’t used to living in an immoral world. Italians are. They do fine in a world where what’s apparently true isn’t reality,whereas Britain has a tradition of telling the truth, and doesn’t cope so well with systematic falsehood. Not a cultural difference that’s immediately obvious, but I suspect he’s right.

  2. Nathaniel says:

    I am unsure whether to believe that Japan is more functional or less functional than the US, and, if one or the other, whether it’s due to strict immigration policies or a generally more solid leader-follower dynamic. Few Japanese are under the illusion that they do or should have any control over their government, and there is a strong culture there of doing what your superior tells you to.

    In some ways Japan seems more functional, but in others much less so. It’s uncommon for a Japanese household to possess a washer and dryer, for instance, and moving up in the Japanese work force is almost impossible by American standards. In addition, they possess an absolutely appalling suicide rate, which is certainly indicative that something is terribly wrong with their society.

    While it’s unclear to me that Japan is particularly dysfunctional or functional, I do think it’s clear that Japan is often the exception. Rules on how society behaves that apply far and wide start to break down when you hit Japan.

  3. RS says:

    I agree, they’re more extreme in more traits than almost any other peoples. No one else is as adapted to farms and cities. In the triathalon of IQ, hard work, least crime, they squash everyone. They’re probably also #1 in social formality, and maybe also in hygiene, cringing before the wealthy, and understanding one another from context and attitude with few words. All this is from their biological nature, and the same may be true in part of suicide rate. Certainly their traditional culture underlines suicide more than any other culture does. The Treasury of Loyal Retainers is an ideal – warrior vassals willing to self-disembowel en masse, after the fact, to render honorable their illegal revenge on behalf of their lord.

  4. Kalim Kassam says:

    Bill Gates’ TED talk on state budgets, 10 minutes.

  5. Gian says:

    Was Europe some kind of homogeneous paradise at the time of its maximum creativity?

    Bearing in mind that the category ‘White’ is pretty recent one an certainly did not exist 500 or even 200 year ago, I would say that Europe was a pretty heterogeneous place.

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