Randoms

– "A vastly underexplored topic is the British government’s role in greasing the skids for World War I." More here. And here.

– Nydwracu and Ferd are complaining about truncated RSS feeds. You can turn truncated feeds into full feeds here. There is a delay though.

– Is high IQ self-defeating?

How to respond when someone says that people have always been complaining about the decline of society.

– All this Koch v. Cato stuff just shows that – as is so often the case – Rothbard was right.

– Borepatch points to a study showing that people can’t govern themselves. He doesn’t like the conclusion, but I do. There are a few neighborhoods in DC (let alone the whole city of Detriot) that he’s welcome to walk through if he’d like evidence other than a scientific study.

– Economists lie more.

Fact of the day: "only 7.5 percent of U.S. patent holders are women."

No wonder Warren Buffett is bad-mouthing gold. On that theme, here’s what it would be like if we had a stable currency.

– Here’s an entire post from Yglesias written in coded language. He’s trying to say that liquor stores are switching from selling single 40oz cans of malt liquor to black people to selling small batch bourbon and offering wine tastings to white people. It’s not a complicated phenomenon if you explain in normal language.

The warm glow of diversity

The Myth of Margaret Thatcher:

She closed a lot of subsidized coal mines, steelworks, shipyards, and car factories. But at least they provided work for male heads of families.

Britain today still has a vast state-employment sector, but it consists of hospitals, local government, and education establishments. There are legions of homophobia monitors and contraceptive outreach workers—not wholly frivolous examples of real posts, often with large salaries, sustained by public money. Just beneath that is a gigantic welfare state that absorbs the entire annual product of the national income tax. Currently the country is convulsed in debate as to whether it is right or just to set an upper limit on welfare payments of roughly $40,000 a year per household, the equivalent of rather more than $50,000 a year in taxable earned income.

Meanwhile in the areas where the coalminers and steelworkers once toiled, gaunt young men who have never worked and never will work smoke marijuana or inject heroin untroubled by an emasculated police force, and their sisters have babies outside wedlock, adding to the enormous number of fatherless families dependent on state handouts for their narrow lives.

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23 Responses to Randoms

  1. Borepatch says:

    My objection to the study is the implication that Cornell scientists are in a better position to determine who legitimately can rule. Most Ivy League types that I’ve met are astonishingly clueless outside of a very narrow field.

    So you’re entirely correct that I don’t want to walk through Detroit or Anacostia, but I don’t have much better to say about the faculty lounge when it comes to choosing a decent government.

    Oops, gotta go – it’s those darn kids, back on my lawn …

    • Foseti says:

      No disagreement from me about the Cornell faculty. People may be too dumb to rule themselves, but that doesn’t argue for rule by college faculty either. If only we had a responsible aristocracy . . .

      • anon says:

        Moldbug may already have answered this, but how is rule by aristocracy any different than Nancy Pelosi but with more power? Or the EU?

      • Foseti says:

        Two big points of difference. 1 in terms of responsibility. When was the last time a Congressman had his head cut off? 2 in terms of selection.

        Ideally, elites should have a big stake in the functioning of the country and should be held directly responsible for failures.

        What makes you think that Pelosi has any power though? The real power is nameless and faceless and hence lacks all responsibility and accountability.

      • spandrell says:

        The argument against democracy is that it sort of forces the politicians into providing a welfare state. The welfare state being the real problem, as it bankrupts the economy while producing dysgenics.

        Pelosi would be harmless if she had no incentive to buy NAM votes through AA and food stamps.

      • Leonard says:

        Anon: the answer is that an aristocracy would generate men (and the odd woman) who are capable of ruling. Whereas, democracy generates actors who are good at doing whatever is necessary to get elected — in our case, extroverts with strong acting skills and no firm beliefs.

        MM touches upon this in many places, although I don’t recall that he has ever done a post specifically about the qualities required to rule. The first post I could call to google was this:

        Congress is simply not a plausible governing body, because Congress is simply not a collection of statesmen. It is a collection of party hacks, basically actors in the world’s dullest reality show, perhaps with a few amateurish proto-statesmen in the mix. Since these people do not habitually exercise the function of statesmen, namely sovereign judgment, there is no realistic program under which power can be restored to their hands. Their hands are too limp to hold it. Exactly the same was true of the Senate of the Roman Empire.

        Similarly, others (again, typically Republicans) dream of a restoration of populist democracy, in which red-blooded Americans take back their government directly – without any of those corrupt politicians. Again: dream on. The American voting population, as a collective body, is nowhere near fit to hold the reins of government. It is not some collection of misunderstood statesmen. Indeed, it knows almost nothing of the reality of how Washington actually works. It is as unfit to govern as I am to fly a 747.

        Those who dream of turning this clock back, of restoring defunct political arrangements or institutions, must answer this question: why would anyone who got their hands on power, then convey it to some other incompetent party? The answer is simple: they wouldn’t, and shouldn’t. If their goal is personal aggrandizement, they keep the power themselves. If their goal is competence, they keep the power themselves, or transfer it to some competent authority. Thus, the Republic is not restored; should not be restored; cannot be restored.

        Note the line about “sovereign judgment” — it is that judgment which an aristocrat has experience with, which differentiates the aristocracy from other forms.

      • Alrenous says:

        Does anyone here doubt the Dunning-Krueger effect specifically? I’m sure there are some exceptions, but it seems generally sound.

        To summarize:
        Lordship is a skill, that must be trained and practised.
        Democracy is the premise that those with no skill or practise in lordship should choose the next lord for everyone.
        By contrast, having the lord be responsible for their actions selects for skill in lordship.

        Aristocracy literally translates into ‘rule of the best’ and meritocracy should in theory be a method of achieving this. Historically, neither have been what they say on the tin.

  2. Five Daarstens says:

    Foseti:

    I too have become very skeptical of economists.
    Have you see this e-pamphlet concerning free trade ?

    http://www.amazon.com/Conservative-Case-Against-Trade-ebook/dp/B007BYRZQK

    As a person in the IT field, I feel the market forces alot more than a tenured professor at an elite American University.

    • Foseti says:

      I saw that yesterday. Haven’t checked it out yet though.

    • Phlebas says:

      >I too have become very skeptical of economists.

      Fabian Tassano discusses the “theory of the second best” here.

      Quote:

      “The one thing second-best theory can definitely tell you is the following: you should be wary of policy changes which involve partial marketisation of a given area. E.g. if the intergenerational market for private capital (= inheritance) is heavily distorted by estate duties, don’t rush to marketise (i.e. remove subsidies from) cultural institutions such as universities or opera houses.”

      It seems to me that this is the problem with some free market economists; yes, a free market is the best solution, but if the government is such that is unlikely to allow to exist anything approximating a free market, an individual liberalisation won’t necessarily provide a net benefit economically or otherwise.

      In the case of Margaret Thatcher, one might argue that abolishing subsidies for those unprofitable industries might have been a sound policy assuming that it were accompanied by a thorough and general economic liberalisation; however, given all of the other ways in which the state continues to distort the market, it wasn’t necessarily a beneficial policy.

      The same thing applies to the matters of free trade, immigration and so on.

  3. Remnant says:

    “You can turn truncated feeds into full feeds here”

    Absolutely awesome. Thanks!

  4. rightsaidfred says:

    … an upper limit on welfare payments of roughly $40,000 a year per household

    Are they really generating the wealth to sustain this?

  5. Anonymous says:

    The koch v cato dustup would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad.
    The libertine wannabee washington-elite Cato staffers are concerned with losing their jobs to flyover rubes who don’t drink microbrew or have the correct opinion on gay marriage or (worse) keeping their jobs and being forced to work alongside same. They don’t want to lose their coveted ability to pass (and most importantly, fuck within) with the progressive social circles. If you want a laugh, check out their “save cato” campaign on facebook and twitter. These people are the height of arrogance, self importance and self delusion, some of them are “pre-resigning”, “threatening” the kochs that cato would be worthless without them… they really think that nobody else in the entire world could put out white papers and update a blog…

  6. Phlebas says:

    >How to respond when someone says that people have always been complaining about the decline of society.

    And if anyone ever drags up this alleged quote of Socrates:

    The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

    in an attempt to prove that kids’ behaviour is no different today than it ever was, point out that this is an entirely fictional quote which presumably endures in the public mind only because it so flatters the imagination of some people.

    Also, thanks for the Mises/Cato news – the undeservedly popular Bryan Caplan is a good example of the phoniness of the Cato “libertarians”. Here he is failing to understand the Austrian business cycle theory and getting pwned in the process.

    • teageegeepea says:

      Caplan doesn’t have any formal affiliation with Cato. Oddly enough, Arnold Kling does and seems to think it’s much ado about nothing.

      Anonymous above, I doubt the folks Koch hires will be “flyover rubes”. I’d advise you to read Andrew Gelman’s “Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State”, or even Charles Murray on “super zips”. There is not that much of a shortage of GOP-connected beltway denizens (even if they may have long commutes from their nice Virginia suburbs). And according to Will Wilkinson gay marriage was an issue that divided Cato in his time there rather than something they’re unanimous on (though it’s certainly possible things changed over time). You’re right that it is mostly a matter of preserving jobs (Ed Crane’s above all) and they could start from scratch (Cato has no endowment). But most people don’t like to do that if they can easily avoid it, which many seem to think they can through embarrassing Koch.

  7. Vladimir says:

    spandrell,

    The argument against democracy is that it sort of forces the politicians into providing a welfare state. The welfare state being the real problem, as it bankrupts the economy while producing dysgenics.

    That’s actually the slowest and probably the least bad failure mode, and also a rather uncommon one. The fact that it’s been happening in the Anglosphere makes it something of a historical outlier. The more common outcomes of democracy are exemplified by Jacobinism, the Weimar Republic, or the 1990s wars in ex-Yugoslavia.

  8. james wilson says:

    No democracy can evolve to anything but a sad end under universal suffrage. As Tocqueville observed, it is the worst feature of democratic government, and in fact is a powerful revolutionary instrument.

    A quarter of adults were eligible to vote after the ratification. That did not prevent political horseplay, but with one notable exception the experiment did not become unmanageable until 1933. Of course, this is exactly what socialist call management.

  9. dearieme says:

    “She closed a lot of subsidized coal mines, steelworks, shipyards, and car factories”: I know what he means but he’s too approximate. The coal mines were a nationalised industry, consuming huge subsidies. Many were closed under Mrs T. But Mr Oborne surely doesn’t suppose that an extractive industry can continue after everything that can be economically extracted has been extracted?

    She denationalised the steelworks: if they closed later that was their problem, not hers. Some of the shipyards had been nationalised, most had not. That industry closed under – if you’ll pardon the expression – its own steam.

    As for the car factories, the main British-owned ones had been nationalised by her predecessors, were sold off and proved hopeless under their new owners.The American-owned ones were never nationalised and many of them closed too, eventually. She at least had the gumption to encourage Japanese carmakers to set up shop in Britain, and very successful they’ve proved to be.

    The main complaint about Mrs T seems to be that so much more needed radical change than she could pull off. Very true. But my thoughts at the time were (i) She’s making changes in a direction that must be tried, but (ii) It’ll probably fail because the rot has gone too far. Many Americans must feel like that today, surely? Point (ii) at any rate.

  10. rightsaidfred says:

    The real power is nameless and faceless and hence lacks all responsibility and accountability. (Foseti, 3/7 — 11:52)

    Care to expand?

    Can power be traced to named individuals; or is power a meta-phenomenon, arising from the collective of many actors?

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