The end of men

Heartiste has already written about this, and so has Stuart Schneiderman (HT: Paleo Retiree), but a closer look is worthwhile, as Rosin’s own reporting does a better job of destroying her thesis than anything else I’ve read.

Here’s Hanna Rosin explaining how the hook up culture is good for women:

For an upwardly mobile, ambitious young woman, hookups were a way to dip into relationships without disrupting her self-development [i.e. career – “self-development” should in no way be confused with starting a family] or schoolwork. Hookups functioned as a “delay tactic,” Armstrong writes, because the immediate priority, for the privileged women at least, was setting themselves up for a career. “If I want to maintain the lifestyle that I’ve grown up with,” one woman told Armstrong, “I have to work. I just don’t see myself being someone who marries young and lives off of some boy’s money.” Or from another woman: “I want to get secure in a city and in a job … I’m not in any hurry at all. As long as I’m married by 30, I’m good.”

What happens in the meantime? What does this woman bring to the table as a 30 year old? Let’s explore the lurid carnival of hook-up culture with more from Rosin’s article:

members of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity stood outside freshman dorms chanting “No means yes! Yes means anal!” I’d heard this phrase before, from the business-school students, of course: on spring break, they had played a game called “dirty rounds”—something like charades, except instead of acting out movie or book titles, they acted out sex slogans like the one above, or terms like pink sock (what your anus looks like after too much anal sex).

Ah, progress – are there no limits to your extent?

David Brooks explains that Rosin’s thesis is that women are more adaptable than men, which is why women are now more successful in the modern economy.

Might it instead be that men just aren’t willing to work that hard when the only reward is a women like the ones described above? Who wouldn’t want a completely unfeminine, over used, and desperate 30-year old woman in a sea of 20-something women giving it away?

Well . . . basically everybody.

The oddest part about this discussion is that no one brings up the fact that we know exactly what an “end of men” society looks like. What Rosin describes is basically modern African-American society.

I’ve seen almost nobody, no matter how PC they are, argue that this society is the one on which we should model our future. Nor frankly does it seem particularly good for women.

Rosin seems to have pulled off a strange feat. She’s trumpeting the success of a lifestyle that’s visibly failing as she trumpets it. She’s the Baghdad Bob of modern feminism.

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69 Responses to The end of men

  1. AC says:

    You know, I have similar emotional reactions as you do towards the new sexual market. But a big part of the reason that African-American culture is dysfunctional is…you know…it’s made of African-Americans. Murray demonstrates that the elite is perfectly able to perpetuate itself in semi-traditional style, plus or minus a few years of sleeping around. This does not seem to have done it any harm.

    It’s really tempting to believe – and would be kind of nice if it were true – that sin was punished, and that (in the words of one blogger) there is a “misandry bubble” that will pop and show all the libs and wimmen the folly of their ways. I don’t really see any mechanism for this. Maybe you see one – and believe that “modeling our future” this way will somehow lead to American decline. I think that injustices can persist much longer than alt-righters think. “There’s a lot of ruin in a nation.”

    • asdf says:

      Yes, there will be no societal collapse. That is a bunch of hilarious hyperbole on the part of manosphere people. Most of us work at value transferance make-work jobs. We compete for the value created by a small part of the workforce. Economic growth is driven by a tiny part of the most productive citizens. Simply put the economy doesn’t need most of us.

      There are only three things that can cause GDP to go down in a high IQ society:

      1) Run out of natural resources (this is ultimately a technology problem).

      2) Really bad government policy (like China under communism).

      3) Losing a war (or having one drag on a really long time).

      These problems have nothing to do with the mating market or human virtue.

      Even if the treasury went bankrupt would society collapse? No, they would just default or issue a new currency. This happens all the time. The means of production are still there. It’s only a problem if such an event leads to a political system that lowers GDP (and I don’t mean higher taxes on the rich, I mean real authoritarianism).

      The problem with the current mating marketplace isn’t that its going to lead to collapse or GDP will go down. There are two problems, though the second is really a subset of the first:

      1) Brave New World Arguement: By eliminating virtuos living we ultimately diminish human happiness and spiritual fulfillment.

      All of this stuff seems fun at the time. I certainly enjoyed all the girls I banged. I also know it was all pretty meaningless. Not having started a family yet leaves a hole in my soul I confront every night when I try to go to sleep. I’d trade all those throw away fucks for that. This doesn’t mean society will collapse. GDP will go up. But GDP isn’t the God metric. Even happiness surveys aren’t. We have a genuine spiritual need to live virtuos lives. To do things that we reflect on fondly and with meaning when we die. Does such a thing mean we maximize dopamine releases in our own brains (as hedonic utilitarians would posit is the ultimate meaning of life)? I don’t know. But I feel an intense yearning for such things even if they would make me “unhappy” in a narrower sense.

      2) Virtue is not necessary in good times, but in bad times it becomes crucial.

      I don’t believe a lack of virtue will cause collapse (that is in the hands of impersonal technological breakthroughs). However, if collapse comes societies and individuals without virtue will suffer much more then those with it. And virtue is not something you pick up in the moment, but an important habit one must work to build up.

      • Bill says:

        Yes, there will be no societal collapse. That is a bunch of hilarious hyperbole on the part of manosphere people.

        During the dot-com bubble, it was common for high IQ types to believe that online was going to destroy retail, hollywood, the music industry, and a bunch of other things. More extreme versions of this could be found in strange subcultures like the “cypherpunks.” These arguments sounded convincing to me then, and they sound convincing to me now.

        What smart people seem to get wrong is rate. A lot of retail really is going away, but slowly, because of inertia. Same with the other stuff. This is part of the larger phenomenon of smart people not really getting dumb people very well. Dummies are like us, except way slower—we can use imagination, conceptual scenarios and stuff where they need repeated, direct experience. Pain is also helpful.

        The US Navy has this new advertising campaign claiming that it is “A Global Force for Good.” That is not even funny. It’s creepy. But it works on someone. And that fact, that it works on someone, has implications. Something as rudimentary as the fact that being a USG stormtrooper isn’t an especially honorable thing to do (any more) takes a long, long time to sink in.

        The other rate problem they have is with genetics. To get fast changes in phenotype (IQ, conscientiousness, natural alpha vs beta, etc) you need both large reproductive advantages and high heritability. Neither is present here, so the changes in population genetics some manosphere types seem to believe in, have to come over several centuries, not over one generation.

      • Thales says:

        “What smart people seem to get wrong is rate.”

        This is a most common mistake. People over-estimate the short-term consequences of technology and under-estimate the long-term ones.

    • Foseti says:

      I am also skeptical of the bubble-popping theory. That doesn’t mean that these ideologies aren’t visibly failing.

      If you brought back a nice, middle class person who was 40 in the 1920s, I think they’d be amazed by two things: 1) the rate of technological increase in certain technologies and 2) the rapid decline in morals among the non-elite.

      From this perspective, the bubble has already deflated. Instead of any spectacular popping, there was just a slow, steady leak. Murray’s description of the lower class is a post-bubble society.

      Rarely does societal decay come about through immediate failures. Instead, it generally happens via slow and steady decline. The decline, in our case, is masked by technological progress and the fact that it’s happened slowly and steadily for a long time. Nevertheless, it’s declined.

    • James says:

      >Yes, there will be no societal collapse. That is a bunch of hilarious hyperbole on the part of manosphere people. Most of us work at value transferance make-work jobs. We compete for the value created by a small part of the workforce. Economic growth is driven by a tiny part of the most productive citizens. Simply put the economy doesn’t need most of us.

      If you get paid, someone values what you are doing. The exception to this is government intervention, since the government can obtain funds without rendering services. If you and your colleagues were performing “value transference”, i.e. doing something that no-one else values, your employer would soon go bust. He could he make a profit, if no-one values his employees’ work? Unless, that is, the government is involved.

      Certainly, a minority of citizens are far more productive than others. That doesn’t mean your work doesn’t add value—Bill Gates just gets paid more than you. “The economy” doesn’t need anyone, because it isn’t an entity with goals. If all humans became extinct, “the economy” wouldn’t care, because it can’t. “The economy doesn’t need most of us” is not a meaningful statement.

      And this is beside the point. The law certainly needs “most of us” to uphold it—or at least the army.

      >There are only three things that can cause GDP to go down in a high IQ society:

      >2) Really bad government policy (like China under communism).

      >These problems have nothing to do with the mating market or human virtue.

      Societal collapse is independent of “GDP”.

      Really bad government can disrupt the mating market, and destroy public morals. In that case, the government may be overthrown either because people rebel, or because it can’t defend itself (would you want to join in a Universalist war effort?).

      A country’s “GDP”, besides being a fudged statistic, isn’t an index of general satisfaction. The American revolutionaries didn’t care about “GDP”—in fact, the light-touch British they kicked out seem saintly in comparison to USG.

      • Bill says:

        If you get paid, someone values what you are doing. The exception to this is government intervention

        Fraud is another exception. There are rents and quasi-rents which also are, in a way, exceptions. Universities are not purely creatures of the state. Elites would always need some way to identify one another and prove that they have elite-making characteristics. Whatever institution gets this role is likely to keep it because deviating is low status. And then it gets to eat some of the rents which flow to the elite. But the elite-making institution does not create any of the wealth which it confers on particular members of the elite.

        Also, “values what you are doing” has a very narrow, technical sense in that sentence. It just means “is willing to pay for.” Crack dealers provide value to addicts in the sense of that sentence. Even if the crack addicts know that the crack is destroying them and want to stop. Once you allow for a difference between value and choice, lots of profitable activities look to be zero value or value destroying.

      • James says:

        >Universities are not purely creatures of the state. Elites would always need some way to identify one another and prove that they have elite-making characteristics. Whatever institution gets this role is likely to keep it because deviating is low status. And then it gets to eat some of the rents which flow to the elite. But the elite-making institution does not create any of the wealth which it confers on particular members of the elite.

        In this case, the universities provide value by acting as a credible means of signalling. This is a service like any other.

        >Also, “values what you are doing” has a very narrow, technical sense in that sentence. It just means “is willing to pay for.” Crack dealers provide value to addicts in the sense of that sentence. Even if the crack addicts know that the crack is destroying them and want to stop. Once you allow for a difference between value and choice, lots of profitable activities look to be zero value or value destroying.

        Value is subjective. And asdf’s idea is obviously that everything apart from the core of farming and engineering is “value transference”. So barbers, plumbers, secretaries, car salesmen, lawyers, policemen, grocers etc. don’t provide value, because they aren’t growing carrots or designing iPads.

        And this means, we shall not replace holy USG, because no matter how it f**** us, “GDP” can still increase.

      • asdf says:

        barbers: value creation

        plumbers: value creation

        secretaries: value creation

        car salesmen: almost entirely value transferance

        lawyers: mostly value transferance

        policemen: value creation to the extent it lays the conditions for others to create value

        grocers: value creation

        As for the rest its a third grade version of economic theory I don’t plan on addressing. You will either grow out of it or not eventually.

      • Foseti says:

        I have no desire to discuss “value transference,” which is just a pseudo-intellectual re-hash of Marx’s theory of value. Marx wrote some things that weren’t retarded and that haven’t been disproved by other writers and various catastrophic experiments on mankind, but his theories of value are not among them.

        For example, asdf thinks car salesman transfer value whereas grocers don’t. They both just sell products other people made. What’s the difference?

        If you think barbers create value but other people don’t, I could direct you to a few barbarshops in the DC area that might strain your theory.

      • asdf says:

        well, secretaries may be mixed. depends who they work for.

      • Bill says:

        In this case, the universities provide value by acting as a credible means of signalling. This is a service like any other.

        It is not like any other, and you ignored my explanation of why. First, the value they provide, socially, is only the benefits of the improved allocation of talent to jobs. On the other hand, the value they provide to individuals is much greater—the difference between an elite and non-elite job.

        Second, it changes the people who are its materials. For the signalling to work, you have to make people do unpleasant things of your choosing. The nature of the signalling means these things have to be mental. So, you get the group identity caused by hazing together with the mental remodeling that goes with hard mental work on subjects of the remodeler’s choosing. You get a cohesive elite with thought processes molded by you, the elite uni.

        It confers market power on universities, or at least on the elite ones. If you don’t like your barber, you can switch to another one. If you don’t like your Harvard, you’re out of luck. Harvard owns its network of connections and its place at the top of the elite-signalling game. It can use that power. The intense, universal envy of all other academic institutions for Harvard is there for a reason.

        Value is subjective.

        That is a statement of faith, not a fact about the world. Or, if you are being cute, it is a tautology reinforcing what I said above.

      • Foseti says:

        I don’t understand how you can possibly argue that subject value is based on faith, whereas as objective value is not. That’s absurd.

        From whence does this object value spring? In what units it is measured?

      • asdf says:

        The grocer places goods people need in a convienient place they can purchase them. He provides the “good” of convienance and logistics.

        A car salesmen mostly tries to trick people by preying on their emotions in order turn a profit. His goal is to get people to buy whatever will generate the most profit for him by whatever means necessary. Those means are usually “slimy” and don’t result in any better cars being on the road or consumers being matched up better with cars they want.

      • Foseti says:

        “The grocer places goods people need in a convienient place they can purchase them. He provides the “good” of convienance and logistics.”

        The car dealer does the exact same thing.

      • asdf says:

        The car dealer makes his money on selling to you. This is very different from simply having a bunch of cars in one place (a very trivial part of what the car dealer does and often flat out unnecessary). When you walk into a car dealership some extroverted salesmen walks up to you and tries to get as much money out of you as possible. He does this not by helping you find the right car to maximize value to you, but by trying to steer you towards the car that makes him the most profit (regardless of its the right car for you). Then he tries to add on as many ripoff options as he can. He often does this through emotional manipulation tactics.

        He then also tries to negotiate, which is just another way to say argue over who gets to keep the most value (the result being zero sum and the arguement itself a deadweight loss).

        I mean christ dude, most car salesmen know they are value transferes. Proles don’t pretend their work is different then it is, only upper middle class people need to pretend.

      • asdf says:

        Foseti,

        If we have to add humor to make a point, try watching the “Cash 4 Gold” Southpark episode. When Stan’s grandpa pays $6,000 for a necklace on the home shopping network and Stan goes to the gold dealer and is told it’s only worth $10 this is a great example of value transferance.

      • Foseti says:

        My theory of value is that it’s purely subjective. And it’s impossible to say X is worth a specific dollar amount. Good X is really good X at place Y at time Z, etc.

        If you buy a candy bar for $1 all we know is that you value a candy bar at that place and time more than you value $1. This says nothing about another person’s value. At the right time and place, the right good can be nearly infinitely valuable (a horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse, etc.).

        Saying anything is worth a specific amount is silly. For example, let’s say you believe a candy bar is worth $1. Does this imply that every single person on earth would give you $1 for the candy bar (if so no trade would ever take place), does it imply that everyone is perfectly indifferent between having $1 and the candy bar (if so there would never be a gain from trade, trade would happen randomly, and you’d be indifferent to starving to death and buying a candy bar for a dollar)? Neither interpretation makes sense.

        Now to the South Park example . . .

        Look, people sometimes get ripped off. This is a phenomenon that I’d be happy to have a rational discussion about. It does not imply that every good has a specific, knowable, objective value. People can be swayed by emotion, trendiness, status and other things. These are facets of human psychology. They do not imply objective values for all goods.

        Michelangelo painted lots of pictures. Let’s say his canvas, paints and time to complete a painting were worth X. Do you really mean to suggest that the value of his painting is objectively calculable from the sum of the parts used to paint the picture and his prevailing hourly wage at the time?

      • James says:

        Asdf, if buying a car without salesmen, i.e. wandering around the dealership trying to guess what features each car has, not getting a test drive, not getting to customise options and not having an opportunity to negotiate different prices were good for the customer, such car dealerships would attract more buyers over time and do a roaring trade. Likewise, if it would benefit the customer to go to the Ford factory and pick up a car fresh off the production line.

        In addition, grocers and other small businessmen can also rip customers off. Anyone can sell anyone a pup. This includes farmers and engineers, if they can get away with it. Perhaps some customers are more gullible than others, but not enough to keep “most of us” in employment just by that fact.

        At the limit, bearing in mind that humans can survive on bread and water, all marketing could be called “value-transference”. Even farm and engineering products are marketed. Making other people want your products is a normal part of any economy, not some special category of employment.

      • asdf says:

        Foseti,

        Your falling for extreme fallacy and trying to construct some universal axiom. Smart people do this all the time when they want to rationalize away common sense so they can do and believe things they know are wrong.

        You can tell that the person in the example has been ripped off. It’s just common sense. You make these judgement in large numbers every day, often without much thought. You know in your heart that “being ripped off” and “objective value” mean “something”. What it means can’t be put into a universal axiom though (measured, cataloged, with a nice QED ribbon at the end). So like a lot of smart people you try to dismiss it rather then just calling it like you see it case to case.

        Regular people don’t need to do this. Let’s take the car example. I bought a motorcycle at the beginning of the summer. I worked with a particular salesmen the whole time. Very helpful, informed, calm, not pushy. We spent a lot of time talking and eventually I asked him about his job. He said something like this:

        “I used to be a car salesmen, but I like selling motorcycles much more. Car sales are very adversarial. Everyone has owned a car before, most cars aren’t that different functionally, and there is reliable information and comparable metrics easy to get on the internet. The vast majority of people come in here knowing what they want. We don’t really educate them.

        To the extent we sell its mostly by convincing people that a car is going to change who they are or solve some problem they have, which is a load of bullshit. The best salesmen in my dealership were loud dudes who talked fast and preyed on people’s insecurities. Our best salesmen was one of the biggest assholes I ever met.

        The job is mostly about price, which is very adversarial. Ones gain is another loss. We also got incentives for a lot of those ripoff options if you could upsell.

        With motorcycles its a little different. You really can educate people on motorcycles. Most people are first time buyers, so they don’t have experience. Different motorcycles have very different functionality which isn’t necessarily intuitive. There is also lots of extra accessories that go with it. Simply put, with motorcycles I really do feel like I’m helping people make a better choice. I’m rewarded for understanding myself and the client rather then how pushy I am. It’s much more comfortable for me and I do a lot better this way.”

        Ordinary people understand these concepts. They don’t need to lie about what they do. This guy knew he was rewarded for ripping people off selling cars. He didn’t hide it. He acknowledged it. Only high IQ people enjoy the mental gymnastics necessary to rationalize things.

      • Foseti says:

        All I’m saying is that if a person trades A for B, that person values B more than A.

        If that’s too much of a “universal axiom” for you, I give up.

        The fact that someone later regrets their decision based on new information is not at all relevant to whether things have objective values. I agree that people get ripped off. However, this fact in no way implies that goods have objective values (and that those values are identical across individuals).

      • asdf says:

        James,

        Internet purchases of cars are taking off. Dealerships are getting squeezed and exiting the market. And you can customize cars easily online. The only thing you can’t do is test drive.

        Marketing whose purpose is to inform the consumer is value creation. Marketing designed to manipulate the consumer is value transference. This is really common sense most people intuitively understand. They can handle the nuance of common sense without creating grand axioms to explain the universe.

      • James says:

        Your point of departure from common sense is the idea that most people’s work is mostly “value transference” (or to be less obscure: lieing to people and arousing their emotions with intent to sell them something).

        Firstly, there’s no line between this and regular business, nor has there ever been. Grocers manipulate you by pricing things at 99p rather than £1. Apple manipulates you by advertising the iPad as though it were indispensable, or a chick-magnet, or the key to high status. Yet, iPads and vegetables are also useful in typing comments on the Internet and feeding oneself.

        Any business that leaves people feeling sorely pissed off days after the interaction is unlikely to survive long. If it doesn’t, then it must have been somewhat valuable to the customer. People aren’t infinitely gullible, which is so the most sense I can make of your theories. If humans were, we wouldn’t be able to use markets and develop civilisation at all.

        And I wouldn’t take the car salesman’s word as gospel. Of course, people feel uncomfortable about the fibbing that aggressive business entails. It’s an evolutionary novel condition. That doesn’t mean the customer is better off without a salesman. (NB: physically testing a car’s controls and having them explained, for example, is a value exclusive to live salesmen. And as you imply, if they aren’t useful after all, they go out of business!) And e.g. a Turk in the grand bazaar would describe even more aggressive sales techniques as “just business”, because not everyone is as guilt-ridden about these things as Westerners.

      • James says:

        Not to mention that, duly generalised, the large majority of people are employed doing things you *do* consider to be value-producing.

      • asdf says:

        A person can value A more then B for the wrong reasons. Some reasons they might value A more then B are intuitively wrong to most of us. We aren’t afraid to admit it. That’s why we say things like, “you got ripped off.”

        “However, this fact in no way implies that goods have objective values (and that those values are identical across individuals).”

        This is your extremism again. I posit that we all have a roughly common sense understanding of objective value, and you have to interject I’m asserting that all individuals value all things the same.

        Yes, a football fan values a football ticket more then a non-football fan. I don’t question this. However, let us suppose that 20 tickets are on sale for the same row in the same section of the game. They are, in effect, identical commodities. If 19 of those tickets are selling for $50 and one of those tickets is selling for $150 I’d be pretty comfortable saying that the objective value of those tickets is $50. If some sucker comes along as buys the $150 ticket at the same time that the identical $50 are still for sale we don’t conclude that the value of that identical ticket is different from the others. We assume the guy got ripped off.

        I don’t have to prove that I know the objective value of all things all the time. Or that it never changes. Or that its the same person to person. It is of course easier to do so if there is some truth to any of those conditions. However, these kind of universals are simple fodder to try and deny the basic common sense truth we all intrinsically understand.

      • Foseti says:

        So far, you’ve identified the well-known economic concept of asymmetric information . Many legitimate conclusions follow from the discovery of asymmetric information. The notion that all goods have an objective value is not one of them.

        “a football fan values a football ticket more then a non-football fan.” If you admit this, the whole concept of “value transference” falls apart. You’ve admitted that valuation is subjective, i.e. that some people value things (e.g. football) more than other people value the same good. If even a small fraction of the price of a good is subjective, values cannot be objective.

        “If 19 of those tickets are selling for $50 and one of those tickets is selling for $150 I’d be pretty comfortable saying that the objective value of those tickets is $50.”

        Why is the objective value $50? What if there were 20 people who were willing to pay $500? Many college teams sell tickets at well below the price that would clear the market – this is no way reflective of the market-clearing price or any philosophical “objective” value.

        Why is the person that pays $150 a sucker? Was he unfamiliar with football? All we know is that he preferred that seat to $150, maybe he’s rich, maybe it’s his only chance to see this particular team play, etc. (the variables are virtually infinite, yet you’re claiming you *know *that he’s wrong). It’s much more extreme (and not at all established in the example) that he was ripped off.

        Look, I agree that some people sometimes get ripped off. My kid is taken care of by a nanny. She’s, frankly, pretty dumb (but my kid loves her and she’s great with him). You could convince her to buy anything at virtually any price. This is not because goods have objective values, it’s because she’s dumb. No higher order objective valuation system is necessary to explain this state of affairs.

        You still haven’t answered any of my previous questions about how objective value is derived. Is a Michelangelo painting valued merely as the sum of the cost of canvas, paint and his hourly wage? Does a piece of plywood have the same objective value in Omaha on a normal Sunday as it does in Miami a few hours before the city is about to be hit by a hurricane?

        I make fun of economics as much as the next guy. It’s ripe for being made fun of. However, Half Sigma has not discovered some new economic concept that everyone else has missed for the last several hundred years. He’s stitching a clown suit on himself every time he talks about this.

      • asdf says:

        “Firstly, there’s no line between this and regular business, nor has there ever been.”

        Obviously. Nearly every activity has some mixture of value creation and transference. Some mixtures are healthier then others.

        “People aren’t infinitely gullible”

        They don’t have to be. You just need to, “fool some of the people some of the time”. Or the famous, “there is a sucker born every minute.” Maybe its just my time in finance and insurance, but the idea that there is some shortage of suckers seems really laughable.

        “If humans were, we wouldn’t be able to use markets and develop civilisation at all.”

        That’s a little hyperbole don’t you think.

        “Turk in the grand bazaar would describe even more aggressive sales techniques as “just business”, because not everyone is as guilt-ridden about these things as Westerners.”

        Look, we all end up doing things that are wrong or useless. And when its something that is a big part of society we rationalize it with catch phrases. “It’s just me trying to get one over on you,” becomes, “it’s just business.” People want to make a living, climb that status ladder, whatever. They have a shortcut to do so and they want a rationalization.

      • asdf says:

        “Not to mention that, duly generalised, the large majority of people are employed doing things you *do* consider to be value-producing.”

        Much white collar work is value transference. The majority of finance, law, politics, tax accounting, marketing, anything that involves negotiating price, etc is value transference. Although it has a large value creation component, we can assume that since out medical system gets the same outcomes for a lot more cost that much of that extra cost is value transference.

        Large sections of education, like say SAT prep tutors, are value transference.

        In addition any portion of your job devoted to office politics versus production is value transference.

        That’s a lot, and that’s just off the top of my head.

      • asdf says:

        “you’ve identified the well-known economic concept of asymmetric information”

        The majority of profits are all about asymmetric information.

        “You’ve admitted that valuation is subjective, i.e. that some people value things (e.g. football) more than other people value the same good.”

        If you admit this, the whole concept of “value transference” falls apart.”

        How is this a challenge to the concept? Maybe we are all getting held up on the concept of “objective”. Objective doesn’t mean that a everyone values everything the same. Your acting like this means its God’s truth or something. That’s dysfunctional.

        “Why is the objective value $50? What if there were 20 people who were willing to pay $500? Many college teams sell tickets at well below the price that would clear the market – this is no way reflective of the market-clearing price or any philosophical “objective” value.

        Why is the person that pays $150 a sucker? Was he unfamiliar with football? All we know is that he preferred that seat to $150, maybe he’s rich, maybe it’s his only chance to see this particular team play, etc. (the variables are virtually infinite, yet you’re claiming you *know *that he’s wrong). It’s much more extreme (and not at all established in the example) that he was ripped off.”

        I have posited that all of the seats are exact duplicates, perfect substitute commodities. I’ve also posited that all other variables are held equal. This is specifically to avoid the noise you are adding to the question. Given the conditions I’ve laid out, how can you possibly claim that the $150 is justified. The only evidence you can offer is that someone paid it. I say that is poor evidence indeed.

        “Look, I agree that some people sometimes get ripped off. My kid is taken care of by a nanny. She’s, frankly, pretty dumb (but my kid loves her and she’s great with him). You could convince her to buy anything at virtually any price. This is not because goods have objective values, it’s because she’s dumb. No higher order objective valuation system is necessary to explain this state of affairs.”

        The fact that you know you could transfer value from her easily because you understand the objective value of things better then she does just heaps cognitive dissonance all over your post.

        “You still haven’t answered any of my previous questions about how objective value is derived. Is a Michelangelo painting valued merely as the sum of the cost of canvas, paint and his hourly wage? Does a piece of plywood have the same objective value in Omaha on a normal Sunday as it does in Miami a few hours before the city is about to be hit by a hurricane?”

        No, and no. The phrasing of these questions shows a really bad understanding of the concept I’m talking about.

        Let’s try a different example. The housing bubble. For 70 years or so housing values followed fairly strict valuation metrics that were stable. Then for a few bubble years they blew way the hell up. Then they crashed back to the long term valuation. The long term valuation, baring changes to any other variables, is pretty much the objective value of housing. The subjective short term value during the bubble was just that. There were morons who said that because people were willing to pay that then it was worth that, but anyone with a sound head on their shoulders and an understanding of objective value knew better.

        Those that bought at the bottom of the bubble and sold at the top received a value transfer. Those that bought at the top had their value transferred away. All the while the actual objective value of the house never changed.

        You could try to weasel out and say that at that time houses were worth that, but really this isn’t a refutation. It doesn’t even hold the objective difference of the plywood example where plywood was genuinely more useful in the one place as opposed to the other at a given point in time. I would hope you weren’t buying a house based on that nonsense. My guess is you have the common sense to understand what I’m talking about, if you’ll allow yourself.

        “I make fun of economics as much as the next guy. It’s ripe for being made fun of. However, Half Sigma has not discovered some new economic concept that everyone else has missed for the last several hundred years. He’s stitching a clown suit on himself every time he talks about this.”

        Of course not. People figured this stuff out a long time ago. That’s why I can’t understand your denying it.

        Look man I get it. You, me, most high earning white collar people work in jobs that have very large value transference components. Nobody wants to feel like a leech. But that’s how it is.

      • Foseti says:

        “I have posited that all of the seats are exact duplicates, perfect substitute commodities. I’ve also posited that all other variables [I.e. human preferences] are held equal. This is specifically to avoid the noise you are adding to the question”

        By “noise” you mean reality.

        I give up. This is absurd. Try reading a non-Marxist intro Econ book. I’d recommend Rothbard’s “Man, Economy, and State.”

      • asdf says:

        The replies are getting very long and I have to scroll all the way down every time I make a reply. Can we perhaps start a new thread if you reply.

      • asdf says:

        If we are going to play the reality game, its only going to help me. I got asymmetric information examples out the wazoo to play with.

        I’ve read a lot of Rothbard’s work. And ironically nothing that would be considered Marxist. It was all that “real life” that made me believe in value transference because its been my entire career.

      • Bill says:

        @Fosetti

        I don’t understand how you can possibly argue that subject value is based on faith, whereas as objective value is not. That’s absurd.

        I argued no such thing.

      • Bill says:

        All I’m saying is that if a person trades A for B, that person values B more than A.

        The question is, what is that statement? Is it a definition of the word “value?” Or, is it some kind of empirical claim?

        If the former, then it is dishonest, since it is using a normative word, “value,” for a positive thing, what someone chooses to do. It’s an attempt to equivocate between normative and positive. If the latter, then what’s the claim?

        This particular thing is a game libertarians learned from Paul Samuelson. “Revealed preference theory,” in the context of welfare economics, is this equivocation, this attempt to sneak in normativity.

        This identification of “what I choose” with “what’s good for me” is absurd. We know it’s absurd for children. And we know it’s absurd for adults for the exact same reasons we know it’s absurd for children. Because it is manifestly obvious.

      • asdf says:

        @Bill

        Your stumbling upon the heart of the matter. The arguments Foseti is making are based on assumptions he doesn’t even understand. Original sin. The problem of evil. Etc.

        We all of us know that “what we do” and “what we should do” are two different things. The libertarian, in his pride, supposes there is no should. That “what we do” is “the good” by circular definition.

        Foseti tries to claim that because either:

        1) What “the good” or “the should” is varies from person to person.

        or

        2) I can’t tell him what “the good” or “the should” is on a case by case or person to person basis…

        …that it doesn’t exist. That’s silly. Its very fault reasoning based on pride. The problem is that no matter how many common sense examples of value transferance you throw at someone if they fundamentally can’t understand issues like pride, evil, sin, and faith they really have no way to process them. The ego desires to defend itself, and pride is its great shield.

      • Foseti says:

        I said if a person chooses A over B, the person values A more than B at that particular time and place.

        You said that if 19 people pay X for something, while the 20th person pays more than X, you conclude that something is worth precisely X.

        And my statement depends on original sin? Are these serious arguments or are you guys fscking with me?

      • James says:

        >Look man I get it. You, me, most high earning white collar people work in jobs that have very large value transference components. Nobody wants to feel like a leech. But that’s how it is.

        If people are earning lots of money without benefiting consumers, guess what: you could become a billionaire! You could sell your services as an adviser to consumers, making sure car salesmen don’t rip them off. You know better than them, clearly.

        Or, you could open a car dealership that gives consumers a better deal—soon enough, people will notice that they like the cars you sell them more than others, so you’ll get all the business. And you won’t even have to pay high wages to unnecessary salesmen!

        Or take accounting. Why not start an accountancy firm? You could totally mop up. You could provide your scrupulously honest services to those people who are smart enough to run a business but not smart enough to pick an accountant who increases their profits. When they notice what a great job you do—bam, you’re a millionaire. If they can’t notice the difference, despite the complete absence of high wages for no added value, they won’t be in business long.

        You say that “anything that involves negotiating price” is value transference. Using this common sense insight, perhaps you can rescue everyone who ever went to a car boot sale, haggled in an appliance store or worked for cash-in-hand. These guys are losing money by the bucketload, and YOU could help them. But then, consultants are in the value-transfer business. Touché.

        Given that blue-collars are all being ripped off by useless accountants, lawyers, financiers and car boot salesmen, I wonder how they manage to sustain so much white-collar employment. They get paid less than these people, even before we deduct all the value-transference to which they are subjected. I suppose this, and the other horsemen of the apocalypse (automation, speculators and bankers) are responsible for America’s financial difficulties. The free market has failed—we need the government to step in here.

      • asdf says:

        Foseti,

        “I said if a person chooses A over B, the person values A more than B at that particular time and place.”

        What is your point Foseti? You are making circular references. You are making a statement that means nothing. Saying a person values A over B doesn’t mean they are correct in valuing A over B. There are all sorts of reasons they would be incorrect to make such a judgement, and often but not always regret is a sign of this.

        I can already hear the, “how the fuck do you know what is best for people you fascist. what your going to start making everyones decisions for them now.” No. I don’t know everything. I don’t know a whole lot. But there are situations, like the the 20th person overpaying for an identicle item, where I’m pretty fucking confident in saying that’s fucked up.

        I don’t want to impose some economic planning committee, but I don’t think that someone “valuing A more then B in a certain place and time,” is in itself validation. We have all sorts of reasons to believe that its not correct. We have names for all of those reasons (asymetric info, etc). But we don’t talk about them because, “A was willing to pay X at time Y,” is used to shut down the debate. We never ask “why” A was willing to pay X and time Y. The why is important. If its a bad why then maybe its a Y that shouldn’t be allowed.

      • Foseti says:

        My point is that my statement – “if a person chooses A over B, the person values A more than B at that particular time and place” – is the only non-bullshit thing we know about value.

        Any stronger conclusions are bullshit. There’s no such things as “correct” values. Values are dependent on personal preferences (I would pay not to drink vodka, but I love me some gin), income (rich people will have different valuations than poor people), time (sometimes you really want certain goods), place (a nice Mercedes in Russia is worth nothing to me), customs (Russians like vodka), etc. The etc. is important, because the number of variables are infinite.

        As I’ve said, I’m happy to have an intelligent discussion about why a person was willing to buy a good for a certain price at a certain place and a certain time. However, nothing in your argument explains why something has a “true” value.

      • asdf says:

        James,

        Barriers to entry, principal/agent problems, economics of scale, etc. There are all sorts of reasons that economic competition isn’t the way Adam Smith said (well, Adam Smith in the Econ 101 sense, the real Adam Smith actually understood the stuff I’m saying).

        Let’s say I think there is an education bubble. I can’t start another Harvard. Harvard’s legacy itself is an asset. Legacy, reputation, alumni networks, some of these can only be grown with age. It would take centuries to produce a new Harvard, assuming you could even do things perfectely.

        Your freshmen version of perfect frictionless competition markets is not one I feel like debating.

      • James says:

        I don’t think markets are perfectly efficient—no-one does. But your ideas are a lot more extreme than, “One can make money by telling lies and playing on emotions”. Competition doesn’t eliminate these things, but they are more evenly distributed than you think, and less central to anyone’s profit-making.

        How do I know?

        Because you and fellow theorists aren’t making mega-bucks by exploiting this theory. If the field of accountancy doesn’t meet real needs and is mostly “leeching”, this implies that the wisdom of you, Bill and Half Sigma is economically valuable to all sorts of people who employ accountants. Very valuable, because accountants command high wages.

        Holla when ya got dem millions!

      • asdf says:

        “As I’ve said, I’m happy to have an intelligent discussion about why a person was willing to buy a good for a certain price at a certain place and a certain time.”

        Would the conclusion of that discussion ever be that they were wrong, or it was bad, or that it shouldn’t have been allowed?

        Because the statement,

        “is the only non-bullshit thing we know about value.

        Any stronger conclusions are bullshit.”

        Indicates you believe there is no discussion to be had.

        I know you don’t actually believe that, because otherwise you’ld have bought Pets.com at its peak because, “hey, if people are paying that much money it must be worth that.”

      • asdf says:

        James,

        I’ve already described the various reasons why markets aren’t efficient and why new entrants are restricted. If you concede these points then the only question is degree. It’s my contention based on person experience and aggregate data analysis that these factors make up huge portions of the economy.

        As for getting rich I’m paid a high wage for a white collar job in an industry I consider value transferance. So I’m already “getting rich” off this phenomenon to a certain degree.

      • asdf says:

        P.S. Any reply not in a new thread I’m going to ignore at this point. It’s becomming too difficult to copy things all the way up here.

  2. zorroprimo says:

    “The Baghdad Bob of modern feminism.”

    Pulitzer! Right there.

    Rosin is an ass-clown of thermonuclear magnitude.

  3. samsonsjawbone says:

    Rosin seems to have pulled off a strange feat. She’s trumpeting the success of a lifestyle that’s visibly failing as she trumpets it. She’s the Baghdad Bob of modern feminism.

    Ha, ha… but in fairness, I do think Rosin makes her case about as well as it can be made. Fact is, most of the women I went to school with are settling down and having their babies (although the blogosphere has repeatedly assured me that this is because medical school chicks are “different”.) A lot of my disagreement with the article stems only from having different values and ideas about what “benefit” and “good for women” actually mean.

    Aside from that, one of my biggest criticisms of Rosin’s article is that she doesn’t really address the large numbers of young people who *are* aching for a return to something more traditional. She does note that “a quarter of students don’t participate in hookup culture at all” – well, to me, a quarter is a lot! Obviously not all of them are traditionalist conservatives, but still.

    “Those rich bitches are way slutty” is a hilarious (because true) line.

    If I want to maintain the lifestyle that I’ve grown up with,” one woman told Armstrong, “I have to work

    My wife and I strongly agree that we will raise our kids with a simple lifestyle precisely so that they will never feel this way.

  4. anonymous says:

    I read in a comment somewhere:

    Men on top- EVIL OPPRESSIVE PATRIARCHY HITLER
    Women on top- We’re just better at adapting

  5. ve says:

    African American women don’t use birth control to nearly the same extent as the career-driven women idealized by Rosin. Married by 30 is not the same as single mom by 18.

  6. Bruce says:

    “David Brooks explains that Rosin’s thesis is that women are more adaptable than men, which is why women are now more successful in the modern economy.”

    It seems to me that they’re more successful in the modern economy because the modern economy is characterized by huge numbers of useless or only semi-useful bureaucratic jobs. Around here, the essential jobs (engineering and senior leadership) are overwhelmingly dominated by men.

  7. […] Foseti – Randoms, Black Crime Victims, The End Of Men […]

  8. RS-prime says:

    However, Half Sigma has not discovered some new economic concept that everyone else has missed for the last several hundred years. He’s stitching a clown suit on himself every time he talks about this.

    He has possibly inflicted a confused idea/ bad term on people, but is fairly near the truth.

    My point is that my statement – “if a person chooses A over B, the person values A more than B at that particular time and place” – is the only non-bullshit thing we know about value.

    ‘A over B’ is pretty true on the individual perspective, failing hard on the social one: I can value pursuing a frivolous lawsuit, the services of a lobbyist — the services of Goldman or JP Morgan etc, which I would not equate with the driven snow. What I have largely done is exploit the sued, the out-lobbied, the out-whatever’d. (The exploits of bankers under complex PC and power-politik cover are hard to sum up in a word.)

    How about universities. Bet you they dislike things like the CPA exam and try to fight the spread of such concepts.

    Marketing whose purpose is to inform the consumer is value creation. Marketing designed to manipulate the consumer is value transference.

    This is not a complete account ; much activity is better cognized as destructive competition and/or fruitless competition. A visually arresting web design can increase your credibility relative to other firms without changing the function of your firm (/or/ its website) in the least. But there is no transfer from the consumer, at least not directly. Money is not necessarily conserved or unconserved in this transaction, neither is absolute credibility, and it’s (probably) not optimal to speak of transference: but yes, the esthetician has transferred credibility and diverted income from other, competing firms to yours, without rendering any substantive, desired benefit to the consumer. He also got a cut for himself of course. A highway billboard is similar, other than its actively blighting the landscape.

    Gucci’s obviously the same, since it exists for purposes of (mostly ordinal, though also cardinal) status-seeking so you can have sex and status. I personally decided not to get involved with things like Gucci or ads, not really out of morality but out of a belief that they are zero-sum ‘fights’ between persons and firms that will probably de-escalate somewhat in a more utilitarian future, to my potential disadvantage.

    • Foseti says:

      Here is your (and asdf’s) argument:

      1) lots of waste goes into the current creation of goods and services (see, eg CPA exams and frivolous lawsuits) and in a frictionless economy this waste wouldn’t exist;

      2) therefore, all goods and services have objective values.

      I agree with point 1).

      In no way at all, under any circumstances, does point 2) follow from point 1).

      If you admit that goods and services don’t have objective values, then I agree with everything you wrote. Yes, our economy is very wasteful and transactions costs are probably getting higher. However, that phenomenon is not an argument that goods have objective values.

    • RS-prime says:

      > (The exploits of bankers under complex PC and power-politik cover are hard to sum up in a word.)

      As is the ‘Rite of Autumn’ bemoaned by Sailer, namely the crops rotting in the fields! journo-agribuxx complex. Willingness to worsen the US demos and burden US emergency rooms should be accounted a sort of rarefied rent-seeking. Willingness to depress wages is a slightly less rarefied sort, but it’s still too much rarefaction for most. That’s why their opinion don’t matter.

      I guess quite a lot of the scammery in the US has this sort of complex structure.

      Of course I agree that the cost of health care in the US is chiefly a scam, but the obesity rates are quite different from those in continental Europe and almost the whole world. We often see comparisons vs Singapore, where I’m guessing zero of the Han and few of the others are fat. I understand there is also some value transfer from the US to the abroad because we don’t drive a hard collective bargain with our own drug firms, while most countries have social medicine and do drive a hard bargain with our firms. Hence the world benefits from our not having social medicine. Or maybe we do now ; I don’t know and of course I expect nothing less than for the new system to turn out super fucked up ; perhaps I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  9. RS-prime says:

    asdf you are obviously awash in personal virtues as well as value transference anxiety… so why don’t you start a small business, you can run ‘er just as clean as you like. While you have moderated under pressure, at the top of the thread you exaggerated the scope of value transference and the paucity of ‘real’ economic actors to an extraordinary degree, coming across about as brilliant as those you scoff at for thinking a 33% GDP decline will end in our roasting and eating each other. (I’m not saying there will be no disorder at all, but I of course agree that there won’t be anything like a collapse of daily life in the next 20 years… unless a war in the land eventually came of it ; that would present a problem.)

    Actually, maybe small biz is not such a walk in the park, or only suits certain temperaments, depending on how much you want to make. It’s pretty easy for me to be in biz for myself when my ambition is to clear $15,000 a year, being highly inclined to leisure & bachelorhood and with very low future-orientation in most respects.

    Hell you can do whatever. My best schoolteacher was a 140 IQ Jewish lawyer who got restless. Obviously schooling is mega bullshit on the whole but his wasn’t.

  10. RS-prime says:

    > If you admit that goods and services don’t have objective values, then I agree with everything you wrote. Yes, our economy is very wasteful and transactions costs are probably getting higher. However, that phenomenon is not an argument that goods have objective values.

    Yes, I agree. asdf has hedged that goods only ‘roughly’ have objective values ; that’s nice for showing he isn’t in the toils of rabies or something but it doesn’t exactly go far enough. People agree somewhat on the value of goods — as opposed to their value being ‘radically’ subjective, or random — but it seems clear that we agree much less than we do on e.g. the uh… the, ah, amatory, ah, desirability… of various female faces and forms. Which is itself obviously a matter of taste, in part.

    Like I have a couple things most people might want… the majority of my equipage, though, is kinda personalized… and I retain a few things of no value, or of considerable negative value, to anyone, such as a copy of Derrida’s _Margins of philosophy_ obtained in my wayward youth……… since with just a little wrapping paper it makes a pretty great gag gift among friends…….. especially as the book is invariably placed back in my hands fairly soon, without any request or indication on my part, further enhancing the utility of this learned volume since I get to play the same trick again after another five years.

  11. RS-prime says:

    The science societies representing professors’ interests, such as the Am Chem Soc, use the MSM to put out all these articles that gallantly invert the facts of the PhD glut. These come out over and over just like the ‘crops rotting’ fare, even though there is no PC mob to burnish them with True holiness. Test tubes are now rotting in the racks! Decomposing! Fairly few inside science are incognizant of this little campaign, lot of eye rolling about it. In fact I predict it will soon cease. I think the ACS also puts out superior journals and stuff so I’m not calling it pure-crooked. Meanwhile Pfizer or whoever closes yet another enormous array of labs — IMO mostly but not wholly an issue of low-hanging fruit.

    The unis have the ultimate predator adman: (Thomas Jefferson)^(Obama) *3. (They and the ‘College Board’ also have Griggs v Duke Power.) All women and men are equal so they must hie unto college post-haste, pausing only to vote for hope and change, and fork over to get their /g/ measured at monopoly prices, nonwithstanding Jefferson’s other, more nuanced ruminations on the subject. I multiplied by three at the end arbitrarily, just for style. I admire and agree with the analysis of Foseti: the elite degree is a genuine patent of nobility and no bubble at all, the mass phenomenon is a huge bubble.

    • RS-prime says:

      So, can you get rich by snapping up talented young cynics, or intuitive semi-cynics, who dodge college? My guess is yes — and you needn’t administer a single illicit IQ test ; even with poor social perceptions you can see the various types of talent a mile off. –Assuming you more or less have general talent yourself, assuming everything in the world (usually) accedes to make sense for you, and you, almost always, agree in turn to conform to that sense the best you can.

      Just for instance, some people talk too much. You can see there’s something a little wrong with them — they aren’t simple, aren’t to the point. As a hirer, you’ll have to be the judge of just how badly they are suffering from unsimplicity. I’m not referring to the likes of Mencius, he’s prolix but he is the simplest of the simple.

      There was a Zen master who addressed himself morningly: Sir, become sober! After that, do not deceive yourself, or be tricked by anyone else! My guess is people actually are getting rich thus, by hiring such college-dodgers. But only small firms are able to be heretical and wicked enough to pull this off in today’s “challenging memetic environment”, i.e. today’s falling-down, flaming mass media bughouse. So it won’t make the news as a method that some huge firm worked out and used to sock it to other large competitors. At least not yet. Imagine you work in such a large firm, and decide to try and drum up support for such a notion, among all the obedient and eager television viewers you work with. There will have to be a semi-permanent recession or depression on the ‘nonsense market’ before large firms can become simple and keen enough to think such thoughts…….. There is not yet enough ascendency of simple minds over unsimple minds, but the day cometh.

      This is a general problem for the ‘show me the money’ argument ; it’s not restricted to this case. How do you /know/ for some X that numerous people out there /haven’t/ raked in money largely by doing X? There are, after all, guys raking in money out there.

  12. James says:

    RS, you are mixing up different things. Of course, the government can divert wealth to those who produce little or no value. Peasant farmers under communism had value “transferred” from them—grain-proc. The government can rig things so people are forced through its useless educational organs.

    The stupid idea is that whole long-standing fields like banking, accountancy and sales create no value, in spite of free market forces.

    Then some idiot suggests these free market enterprises should be taxed heavily. You can tone the rhetoric down, but still—how does one tax “fruitless competition”? Would you tax shopkeepers smiling too much? Barbers using patter? Colourful signs? Institute a decibel limit in open-air markets? Ban websites that don’t look half-arsed?

    Of course no-one is making money by dispensing with accountants and bankers. If they produced no value, these professions would be long gone. Free markets are at least that efficient.

  13. James says:

    On the subject of communism, note that “value transference” is basically the same idea.

    In 1927, the founder of socialist planning Strumilin said in Pravda that in September the real wages of our worker reached 33.60 prewar rubles a month. A sheer glance at what Andreyev had said in 1922 shows how much the worker in 1913 and 1927 spent on superficial private wants artifically generated. He earned 33.60 prewar rubles in 1927 and “30-odd rubles” in Petersburg-Petrograd in 1913! Whereas in 1922 he lived on 4.50 rubles, and 1922 was so much better than 1919 to 1921! Yet those aryan workers lived even in 1919, 1920 and 1921, and looked happy, as heroic idealists should, and those who did not were enemies to be dealt with as such.

    In the sixties an American family which lived on 1000 dollars of 1913 a year was officially classed as the poor (and 9 million families or about one-fifth of 47 million families were the poor). About 3 dollars a day instead of 2.25 dollars a month. How far can superficial private wants be artificially generated! So far that the American poor cannot perhaps even imagine (let alone live) a life on 2.25 dollars of 1913 a month.

    Yet the founder of the socialist planning Strumilin demonstrated in his numerous volumes that such a life is not only possible, but is, indeed, the scientific ideal, and thus he laid the scientific basis of socialism that will perhaps inherit the world.

    Obviously, any amenity, amusement or adornment created by mankind in the last six millennia is a superficial, indeed bourgeois (or philistine) private want artificially generated. […]

    One suit may serve for a century if the owner knows its almost infinite value and takes almost infinite care. The same applies to practically everything except food and water. Indeed, some young communists had proved well before 1928 that practically everything except food and water constitutes superficial and, indeed, bourgeois or philistine wants.

    —Navrozov

    Long-lost wisdom! The greedy zero-sum capitalists are forcing consumers to buy things they don’t need! Flashy website designs are transferring value from the workers! We don’t need web designers, salesmen, marketers, bankers, lawyers or accountants. We don’t need the internet, or comfy chairs. We certainly don’t need books, shoved in our faces by amazon.com and its fruitless “related items” system. Criminals are busy pasting billboard signs right now.

    Scientifically speaking, it is proven that the only human needs are food and water. Let us therefore tax into submission those who are exploiting human irrationality, and supplying spurious services that exceed these objectively determined needs. Trustworthy bureaucrats can then spend this money on worthwhile things, e.g. spreading democracy.

    I propose that “Half-sigma”, “asdf”, “Bill” and “RS-prime” be the first to surrender their ill-gotten gains. If they have any morals, they’ll had in their notice right NOW, and sign up for honest employment (i.e. not involving means of production or kapital). I hear Walmart is hiring.

  14. James says:

    Navrozov isn’t speaking in the abstract.

    In the process of work, up to 2000 calories are expended on the idling of the man-machine, but as this input increases we can, according to the calculations of professor Slovtsov, obtain, for each new 500 calories added, up to 42000 kilogram-meters of useful work, an equivalent of 100 calories of thermal energy.

    For unemployed, invalids, and children of pre-school or school age at orphanages, colonies, and boarding schools of the People’s Commissariat of Education it is sufficient to establish the same norm as for other dependents, that is, 1800 calories per diem.

    This concurs with the wise intuition of “asdf”. It is indeed possible, and fruitful, for the state to determine objective human needs. Rank-and-file males are satisfied by an ideal norm of 2900 calories per diem, so any capitalist who touts more than 2900 calories per diem to a given male, adult, non-invalid customer is a crafty value-transferer.

    I am glad that people like “asdf” are willing to share their common sense with silly people who over-think everything. He could, were he less generous, have simply pointed us to the historical success of “value-transference”–based economics.

  15. Bill says:

    James says . . .

    Because you and fellow theorists aren’t making mega-bucks by exploiting this theory . . .

    Holla when ya got dem millions!

    Imagine asdf goes for a walk each day in the park. During his walk, $20 bills fall out of his pocket. Bill tells James about this curious behavior. James responds, “Bullshit! If this were true, you would be rich from picking up all the $20s!”

    This does not follow at all. If, in fact, asdf took these walks, then an industry would arise of people competing to pick up the $20s. The industry would grow until it was no longer profitable to enter it. This is one of the main points of the theory of rent seeking, the real name for “value transference.”

    You can get rich exploiting people’s irrationality if either you find a new irrationality to exploit or you find a better way to exploit an existing irrationality. Just exactly like you can get rich serving people’s real needs only if you think of a new need or a new way.

    • Foseti says:

      Wrong. Value transference believers believe in objective values of all goods and services. That’s wildly different than rent seeking.

      Rent seeking in no way implies that goods and services have objective values.

      • Bill says:

        Could be. I quit reading HS a long time ago. Maybe he has developed his ideas in a LTV direction since then. Back when I read him, it seemed like value transference was rent seeking renamed. He had a post about it once in which he very unpersuasively argued that they were different.

  16. James says:

    >Imagine asdf goes for a walk each day in the park. During his walk, $20 bills fall out of his pocket. Bill tells James about this curious behavior. James responds, “Bullshit! If this were true, you would be rich from picking up all the $20s!”

    >This does not follow at all. If, in fact, asdf took these walks, then an industry would arise of people competing to pick up the $20s. The industry would grow until it was no longer profitable to enter it. This is one of the main points of the theory of rent seeking, the real name for “value transference.”

    In reality:

    1. Asdf would notice this regular loss of $20, and stop it.

    2. Or his wife and friends would notice.

    3. If he, his wife and friends all so stupid that they don’t notice this loss, one wonders how he could earn any wage, let alone one in excess of $20 per day.

    4. Alternatively, he may be a millionaire, and care little about these $20. There are, of course, few such individuals, and to the extent that he himself recognises the loss, it isn’t really a loss—more charity, or a source of personal amusement.

    5. If the loss is genuine and ongoing, an army of thieves and bums could follow him around to pick up these $20. But an entrepreneur could sell asdf a zip-pocketed coat for $50, thus stemming the flow of $20 due to purely profit-making motives.

    Your analogy is inadvertently illuminating, in that it proves my point! Pervasively irrational people don’t have much money to throw around; people learn from their own and others’ experience; it is generally profitable to help people not be grossly irrational.

    Yes, no-one denies that the market can’t eradicate irrationality. Most people have been ripped off at some point in their lives. But only an idiot thinks that the scale of this irrationality is sufficient to sustain whole fields of white-collar employment.

    The exception to this is government involvement. The government can use its bottomless funds to distort spontaneous social and economic orders—when people lack distributed information, their behaviour is much less sensible. It can also distort orders by limiting people’s contractual freedom beyond what is sensible. The government disrupts social conditions, so people grow up in a welfare nest, without any traditions or support. These people may indeed make disastrous life choices, including bad economic decisions.

    They would do so regardless of regulation, because they have been raised absurd by an absurd culture spawned by a meddling ruling class. To blame bankers, salesmen et al is like blaming a cliff for someone walking off it. The same person would undoubtedly find a bridge or pier to stumble from, if you blow up the cliff—meanwhile, you will have damaged the environment for people who live nearby, and wasted resources.

    Why not, instead, attack the thing that caused this person to be so braindead? I thought this was what “reaction” was about. I don’t understand why all these people who read moldbug etc. think that the state needs to interfere more, that the free market is harmful, and that our government can be trusted. You might as well put on a Guy Fawkes mask and join OWS, because you are 180 degrees removed from my political interests. Have you ever read a word of Hazlitt, Hayek, Rothbard or Mises? Ever opened a book? “Roissy” and “Half-sigma” are economic authorities, because they say lots of stuff (e.g. about bints) on the internet—internet logic.

    This is not to mention that in reality, “expoitation” and value-creation are extremely difficult to separate. Take RS’s example of web design. I trust attractive websites more than crappy-looking ones, because this is a sign of reputability—these people won’t steal or give away my card details. I also find e.g. amazon.com’s advanced design very useful, because the related items are often helpful, as are the wish list function and the review/karma system.

    If the government stepped in to ban “zero-sum” web design, they would end up destroying a vast amount of value—or end up doing nothing. Meanwhile, the inspectors would be soaking up tax dollars. Similarly, short of prohibiting free enterprise, it is practically impossible to design and enforce a law banning “aggressive sales techniques”.

    • Bill says:

      Yes, no-one denies that the market can’t eradicate irrationality. Most people have been ripped off at some point in their lives. But only an idiot thinks that the scale of this irrationality is sufficient to sustain whole fields of white-collar employment.

      Las Vegas exists. Crack dealers exist. Payday lenders exist. Financial scams exist. Daytraders exist. Persuasive advertising exists. Irrationality is a pervasive feature of human cognition. All you have to do to notice is turn off the module in your head which labels this fact crimethink. Here is a good Sailer post.

      1. Asdf would notice this regular loss of $20, and stop it.

      The metaphor isn’t about the $20 bills falling out of asdf’s pocket. It’s about the industry that arises to pick them up.

      They would do so regardless of regulation, because they have been raised absurd by an absurd culture spawned by a meddling ruling class. To blame bankers, salesmen et al is like blaming a cliff for someone walking off it.

      I blame con-men for running cons. You seem to be trying to distract attention to “government,” which, magically, is always the “real problem.”

  17. James says:

    Las Vegas exists. Crack dealers exist. Payday lenders exist. Financial scams exist. Daytraders exist. Persuasive advertising exists. Irrationality is a pervasive feature of human cognition.

    The proposition under debate is that the government should outlaw or prohibitively tax (many kinds of) free contractual relations involved in white-collar employment. For example, banking, accountancy, law, tutoring, web design, advertising, marketing and sales.

    The most I can trust a good government to do is “nudge”, e.g. stipulate the default terms of some types of contract. In addition, certain conceivable types of contract should certainly be ruled out, given human frailty, but none of these exist in the status quo. The logic of the economic calculation argument rules out the government effectively combating vague problems like “persuasive advertising”.

    A free market is the least worst option. Even a benign, responsible government can’t determine who is being non-coercively ripped off, apart from in extreme cases. It can rule out e.g. certain off-the-charts interest rates, but not judge effectively upon whether a web design is too flashy, a salesman too slick, an accountant too…(whatever).

    A bloated, meddling government like ours can’t even be trusted that far. The only thing it does reliably is to force equality down everyone-who-isn’t-part-of-the-ruling-class’s throat.

    I also wonder why this is supposed to be an important issue. Is aggressive advertising a big problem of today, taking precedence over e.g. the government’s grand theft by inflation? Do these ideas have a source other than Mr. Half-Sigma?

    I blame con-men for running cons. You seem to be trying to distract attention to “government,” which, magically, is always the “real problem.”

    That Westerners trust and respect USG and Cathedral institutions too much is a tenet of the reaction. I do believe that Westerners blame stupid women/bankers/speculators/blacks/muslims/Mexicans/chavs/capitalists for social and economic problems whose root cause is misgovernance. They blame the dog for chewing the furniture, rather than its owner.

  18. RS-prime says:

    > This is not to mention that in reality, “expoitation” and value-creation are extremely difficult to separate. Take RS’s example of web design. I trust attractive websites more than crappy-looking ones, because this is a sign of reputability—these people won’t steal or give away my card details. I also find e.g. amazon.com’s advanced design very useful, because the related items are often helpful, as are the wish list function and the review/karma system.

    My original example was explicitly about pure web aesthetics, not website function. However you make a strong point ; I mean, firms that can afford fancy aesthetics really are better, on average. So the consumer actually does gain information, contrary to what I was implying. He doesn’t gain it very /efficiently/, and may also be ‘tricked’ to some extent at the same time — but he does gain info.

    (Of course beautiful images are a good thing per se, but we were stipulating arguendo that the consumer doesn’t value this.)

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