Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2016

Diction Didact - 'Try Hard'

Just a term I encountered tonight while RP-ing with some friends. A try hard tries hard, yeah, but only on their image, their presentation.
A person who puts a large amount of effort into achieving a certain image, or counter-image, to the point where it is obviously contrived. Rather than achieving an image through genuine personality, the try-hard consciously attempts to fit a certain style through deliberate imitation, forced style, or scripted behavior. That is to say, he/she is trying hard to create an image.

Examples: An affluent, suburban dweller who makes great efforts to cover himself in tattoos and piercings; try-hard.

A person who wears certain items of clothing for the express intention of appearing "non-conformist", and flaunts it; try-hard.

Someone who purchases a motorcycle only to appear as a "bad-boy"; try-hard.

A person who shuns certain genres or styles of music or art simply because it does not fit his self-image, or the image he wants to portray; …

Two Links to FEE Articles

This just in, an increase in a minimum wage somewhere was followed by a decrease in job creation. The somewhere is Washington DC. I know, to most of you this is not surprising. While comparing the 12 months after and before the minimum wage hike the article points out that in the...
... year-long period after the first wage increase, employment in all other District industries grew by 1.9 percent. Jobs in higher-wage industries, where the minimum wage is less relevant, thus dramatically outpaced those in the leisure and hospitality sector, where growth was negative 0.1 percent. Don't y'all cheer at once. Raising the minimum doesn't instantly transmute low-skills-low-pay workers into mid- or high-skills workers. But what was the job growth rate in the 12 months before the minimum wage rise?
That is not the only comparison worth considering. In the 12 months before D.C. raised its minimum wage, jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector grew at a healthy rate of 2.2 percent…

AnCap Is Evil - AnCap Wants Your Soul

Anarcho-capitalism is a funny, kooky li'l ting. Folks have been nifty enough to create wiki articles not only for anarcho capitalism overall but for each of its core concepts as well. One also gets an excellent all-round summary from Bryan Caplan's FAQ.

From that FAQ's list of anarchist texts I have identified those which you must read to understand anarcho-capitalism, autarchism, voluntaryism, or whatever we're supposed to call it. They are presented in order of publication below. The last of the six on this list is not free.

The Production of Security by Gustave Molinari

The State by Franz Oppenheimer

The Market for Liberty by Morris & Linda Tannehill

For a New Liberty by Murray Rothbard

The Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman

The Problem of Political Authority: An Examination of the Right to Coerce and the Duty to Obey by Michael Huemer

Below are two empirical works that offer real examples, in detail, of stateless law / private law / polycentric law. Neither of th…

Antony Fantano Can Be Very Funny

Antony Fantano does great music reviews, possibly the best on Youtube. But theneedledrop is not his only Youtube channel. He also does a more lo-fi ting at thatistheplan for the delectation of douche bags like Yours Truly.

Keep resisting capitalism, baby!

Capitalism Made Your iPhone

I've seen a lot of strange noise rising up on Facebook lately. It appears that some people think capitalism makes things, and that other people seem to think that capitalism is just getting in the way. Obviously neither case is true. This is an econ blog after all!

An example of the former problem is the quote inside the screencap below with the sentence 'capitalism made your iPhone' and a rebuttal to the effect that different economic systems sumply determine who gets paid for creating stuff. The rebuttal is true as far as it goes, so I won't address it here.

If we take the sentence 'capitalism made your iPhone' completely at face value then it's a false statement. Workers apply labour and capital to make and distribute iPhones. But nobody disputes that. At least no economist or businessperson disputes that, as economists and businesspeople are workers themselves.

Bear in mind what capitalism is and is not. It's just a mode of production. The differen…

Econ in a Few Short Youtube Videos

Basically, watch these videos in the order in which they were placed in the playlists, take notes on the key points of each one, and become an economic badass. You can get through everything in both playlists in just a few weeks of watching one to three vids per day. Get jiggy!.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ECON [PRIMER]
53 videos about how to think, at the fundamental level, like an economist.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ECON [INTERMEDIATE]
21 videos about topics like substitution, taxation and deadweight loss.
Love ya, learn econ

An Artful Pair of Wings From Grimes!

Grimes' fourth studio album, Art Angels, hurls forthright and furious into the public consciousness, proceeding to rape our minds with a lurid collage of soundscapes and themes straight from the abyss. Spectrum Pulse is saying many of the same things I would say if I were articulate enough.

"Overcooked musically and undercooked lyrically" is something I agree with. I wish there was more like Life in the Vivid Dream, more of the screaming elements from Kill v. Maim, and more of the echoey loveliness that we associate with Grimes like the way she tones the word 'uncontrollable' on the song Flesh Without Blood.

As for the lyrics themselves, it felt to clean and poppy for me. I want my Grimes listening experience to be akin to a "hentai nightmare" to steal a phrase from Spectrum Pulse's video above.

That said, at least she's doing something interesting and her own. And wary points of view are not the only ones getting through. Some are outright glo…

Liber Means Free

I reserve the right to be wrong.

The Backbencher reanimated some terrible memories from my university days when they ran an article about Walter Benjamin, of Frankfurt School fame. By deliberately misquoting the scholar, Daniel Pryor turns the Frankfurt School on its head, from criticising capitalism to criticising the state.

In War, Peace and the State Murray Rothbard makes clear that the state is the health of war and that libertarian arguments about privatising and deregulating industries are little more than sideshows by comparison.

Liber means free, but it's not much use to be free from lots of taxation when the little tax you're paying funds a military-industrial complex and a police state, which remains essentially the case in every rich country on Earth even where the government doesn't go in for foreign adventurism, like Finland or Switzerland.

So read War, Peace and the State forthwith, and say 'no' to war!

What Lingos Are Most Similar to English, Though?

What Modern Language is Closest to Latin?

I found some very interesting discussions by typing the above question into Duck Duck Go.

I knew that the modern descendants of Latin are the so-called Romance languages. That's French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Romanian to us, natch. But there is a whole can of worms to contend with when trying to answer the question!

On Quora, the ultimate social Q&A session, I found out that actually they're almost impossible to compare. though that doesn't stop some people further down the list of answers from trying.

One Portuguese speaker even included a delightful schoolboy poem about the dead lingo we now use to name lifeforms;
Latin is a languageas dead as dead can befirst it killed the Romansand now it's killing me Follow the link above. It's a very interesting conversation! Also, go here for a forum-style chat on the same subject, with broadly similar conclusions but different evidence.

Sometimes I listen to Reason

Today I listened to Reason. :p

Hillary Clinton Shouldn't be so Proud of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare);

How Long Will Health Insurers Continue to Put up with ObamaCare;

The Fiction Behind Bernie Sanders' Health Plan;

Three times the healthcare fun!

Fear the CFR!

Five pieces on the Foreign Affairs website - maintained by the Council on Foreign Relations - piqued my interest today. The first I had read before while browsing the print edition in a store a few months ago. The titles are all in the urls. Happy hunting!

If you can't see the whole articles, just register for free and everything will become clear.

While the CFR may be the closest thing to an evil global conspiracy to take over the world that we have in real life, the articles people write for Foreign Affairs can be very interesting.

Peak Stuff? Really?

I just saw a BBC News interview where the anchor asked an economist of Pantheon Macroeconomics whether recent sales data indicated that we had reached 'peak stuff' yet. [1][2]

A sort of anchor piece at the Guardian website offers a brief overview as of late 2011 of this idea of peak stuff with some data on what's going on. [3] More recently Ikea's sustainability officer said similar things. [4] If one wants the wiki experience while reading about this tripe one can try the P2P Foundation. [5]

One thing that caught in my craw about the interview - and about discussion of the latest Guardian story online - was that the question included the economic fallacy of planned obsolescence. [6]

But going back to the Guardian overview from 2011, one sees that it's all about just raw quantities of stuff, not economic growth. Tonnage of household waste, food and fertiliser, cement, paper, water, and energy usage are the main contenders. The other example was total car purchases…

FEE is Your Friend

Some articles on FEE's website are quite glorious today.

We have a lovely rejoinder to the criticism of capitalism spewing forth from Pope Francis. The piece references his home country of Argentina and compares its economic growth from 1896 to 2010.

Turns out in 1896 Argentines were, per capita, as well off as Yanks were. Why the difference now, eh?

An evil capitalist app is doing more for road safety than the state police force. Should I even be surprised anymore?

The permanent end of extreme poverty is within sight, maybe even imminent.

Malala Yousafzai, like much of the world's poor, went to private school.…

Michael Huemer Might be AnCap Jesus

Michael Huemer, who wrote a book called The Problem of Political Authority, is a professor of philosophy and identifies as an anarcho-capitalist.

Watch out now, he's gunning for you, statists! Here he explores the psychology of ubmission to political authority.

One of the best things about Huemer's case for liberty is that it's all about common-sense, no consequentialist or deontologist ethics, just common-sense responses to the world.

He's spoken about the arguments in favour of the state twice on The Tom Woods Show and both times has been illuminating and interesting.


Possibly my favourite video of the lot, here Mikey argues against a minarchist, Richard Epstein, convincingly and entertainingly. Well, if philosophical discussion is your idea of entertainment. Straw man attacks are conspicuous by their absence, but then that's Mikey for you.

And in the spirit of Post-Christmas, here's an amusing video of David Friedman accusing Huemer of TV theft!

Enjoy cap…

Snacks with Snex

Sometimes I chinwag with friendly people on the internet, and we talk in a most friendly manner about things that are friendly, like nukes. Most friendly indeed.

17:41 - snex: i love it when leftists think theyve trapped me by asking me "so you think people should be allowed to own nuclear bombs?"
17:41 - snex: uhh yes. people already do own them
17:41 - snex: and the people that already own them have already shown to be untrustworthy
17:41 - Matthew John Hayden: quite
17:41 - snex: and its not like theyd suddenly be at the 7-11
17:42 - snex: youd have to be rich as fuck to buy one
17:42 - snex: id trust bill gates with a nuke
17:42 - Matthew John Hayden: no doubt the contracts would come with public disclosure clauses
17:42 - snex: way more than i trust obama
17:42 - Matthew John Hayden: yeah
17:42 - snex: they wouldnt need to. you cant hide buying uranium and other parts required
17:43 - Matthew John Hayden: fairy nuff
17:43 - Matthew John Hayden: see how easily I can be …

Justifying Private Property 101

Let's just put up the links that give the basics on why private property is better at affording a peaceful, prosperous society than any alternatives to it.

[1] Who What Where When?

[2] Commentaryism - Violence, Property, Theft & Entitlement

[3] Whi Is Entitled to What From Others?

[4] Demolishing Common Property in 110 Words

How Many Types of Economic Activity Are Their?

Answer: One. The only form of economic activity is exchange. There are two types of exchanges that we engage in throughout our lives.

1. distribution - moving stuff around and/or passing it to other people

2. production - changing things by applying labour and capital to them

These two types of exchange have already been discussed on this blog a little bit. There are several ways to organise each process in terms of the specific exchanges taking place themselves or in terms of the legal framework dictating what exchanges are and are not allowed.

Examples of the former would include the market mode of distribution and the guild mode of production.

Examples of the latter include the political philosophies of liberalism and socialism.

And so on, and so on. There's always more to say.

Star Wars 7!

Recently a thing happened. Big wow, right. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released to theatres worldwide on the 18th of December (ordering dates day/month will be one thing I miss when I move Stateside later this year) to near universal acclaim.

The consensus is that this is a triumphant return to form, with interesting characters, a story that puts them at the centre of everything, and delightful action and humour. Reviews have been glowing, box office reciepts astronomical. To date the movie is averaging 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and grossing over $1.73 billion as of the 12th of January.

I find myself in two minds. First, I loved it. My raw emotional reaction to the characters and their travails was absolute enthralment. I realised very quickly I was watching a great adventure movie when one character engaged in a daring escape from their former masters using a prisoner as pilot; the bromance struck up between those two characters was narrative gold and a delight of such magnitude I…

Marginal Utility, Interest and Profit

Humans decide what to do and what not to do based on the sum of utility they think they'll get from doing it. The difference between the utility of doing a thing now versus doing the same thing a certain span into the future gives rise to so-called interest, or the difference between what one will give up in the present versus what one would like to get back when that future time arrives. If this value ends up being positive after all costs are factored in then profit has taken place.

So let's meet these three sexy concepts and put some meat on their bones!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ MARGINAL UTILITY
Marginal utility is a lovely abstraction to explain how humans decide between possible means and ends. Basically utility is feelings of satisfaction which can be understood as either actively positive feelings or just the escape from negative feelings of unease.

The utility that humans can gain from satisfying their wants has an ordinal ranking, a utility function or value scale

Slate Star Codex versus Vox on Guns

Scott Alexander was kind enough to show how silly the case against the freedom to own guns is by showing an important distinction that's completely hidden by some data shoved together by Vox.

Turns out that, while US States with more guns per capita see more suicides by gun, they actually see fewer murders. And that's that. Go read Scott;s article. It's a far better piece with better data than anything I could put together.

Cultural Marxism

Thorium talks about cultural Marxism for under eight minutes. Enjoy!

Production Versus Distribution

Capitalism is a mode of production. Markets are a mode of distribution. Thus capitalism and markets are not the same thing. The freer the marketplaces within a given geographical area the easier it is, once thecapitalist mode of production has been discovered, for people to engage in the behaviours that distinguish capitalism from not capitalism.

So capitalism can exist in the near absence of a functioning marketplace - for example a situation where people are free to engage in exchanges but only at prices set externally by a state, a tribal vote, or a guild rather than by supply and demand.

Capitalists can still allocate labour and capital in previously untried ways in such a situation. It's just overwhelmingly likely that they'll be less incentivised to do so in ways that reduce costs for customers. This is because most instances of resource allocation will tend toward the passive rather than active side of the pressure put upon capitalists by other capitalists when price c…

Because Science!

Kyle Hill at Nerdist speaks on the subject of hive minds and explains that they are really just individuals observing the actions of the other individuals near to them - a starling keeping tabs on the 6 closest other starlings, a locust changing direction in response to bites on its legs from the locusts behind it...

Ew. I won't sympathise with locusts! I won't sympathise with locusts! I won't!

Anyweasals, cool vid, right?

It seems to demonstrate exactly the same phenomenon that underlies price changes in a marketplace, whereby all vendors change their prices very quickly to reflect the movement of the equilibrium price they're chasing. Only an efficient markets hypothesis guy would think we ever get there, but the chase on the other hand is very real.

Obviously hive minds are not real independent of the minds of the individuals partaking in a given social order. Each bee is as fundamentally locked inside itself as each human is, hence the head-butting described in th…

Survival, Safety, Comfort, Leisure

It strikes me that an easy shorthand for the form of the satisfactions we make goals of may be to rank them in terms of their position, working from mere survival up to totally frivolous leisure.

In our minds we organise our goals according to what might be thought of as a hierarchy of wants. This means that, put simply, we will come up with goals based on the urgency of the thing we want. If the thing and the use of it assures mere survival, and your survival is imperilled, then that use is the one you will choose.

Neoclassical economics employs the concept of utility functions, and Austrian econ the almost identical concept of value scales. The difference is that Austrian value scales are always reckoned to rank preferences ordinally, whereas utility functions can be ordinal or cardinal. Well, some dispute that, but it has held in econ textbooks and, I'm pretty sure, the working behind Principles of Economics by Marshall!

I am not presuming to have my own alternative to either …

World Hunger - Getting Better or Worse?

Thinking about how rates of hunger have shifted over the last 25 years led me to the Global Hunger Index, which covers - wait for it - the last 25 years. What do we see by looking at their figures for hunger in different countries in the years for which data are available?

The Global Hunger Index uses aggregated statistics to arrive at a 'score' for every country studied in a given year with 0 the ideal and 50+ an absolute nightmare of near famine-level proportions.

If you were switched-on enough to follow the link above you probably noticed it includes an interactive world map showing the change in rates of hunger for folks in many countries that might best be described as low-income or middle-income.

An illustration of the score system is just below.

And just in case it wasn't already obvious that everything is getting better, here is the data for all of the individual countries measured on a scatter plot in terms of their reduction in GHI score from 2000 to 2015.


Glossary for Easy Reference

Here I am dumping that list of terms from a previous Commentaryism post cos I think I'll rely on some of these in the near future. By all means have a look-see and tell me where there might be errors or oversights.

DROarbitration agency, & private court are synonymous. These agencies can be organised as for-profit or non-profit corporations, or as for-profit or non-profit co-ops (community, worker, customer, whatevs).

Corporation is taken to mean body of persons organised in such a way that its owners and workers are functionally distinct - in practice some people might own shares in a corporation that also employs them, but the positions are distinct nonetheless. People gain and lose ownership by buying or selling shares respectively.

Co-operative is taken to mean a team in which owners acquire and lose ownership shares on the basis of their interactions with it, whether as workers, customers, or just local neighbourhood dwellers. Any one co-op cou…

More for Robert LeFevre About Autarchy!

Don't mistake autarchy for autarky. The pronunciation of both word is the same but the meanings are quite different. Autarchy is self-rule, where autarky is self-sufficiency, and is one of the economic policy goals of fascism.

Robert LeFevre contrasts anrchy and autarchy by explaining the roots in Greek of both words;
Anarchy derives from the Greek. The prefix, an, denotes not or withoutArchy denotes rule or ruling. Thus, anarchy means without rule. And in the hyphenations which have proliferated, it appears that few if any wish to be known simply as anarchists. Each person who will accept the label anarchist today probably has in mind a qualification of his position. .
LeFevre again; It would follow that a word in general usage which cannot be precisely applied to any particular person or doctrine without some type of explanation or modification, is more handy as a term of opprobium and scorn than otherwise.

101 - 101 - 101

Post number one-hundred-and-one.

I will not be doing any more Commentaryism videos for the next few months because I'm sick of getting into aimless arguments with people who can't be bothered to learn even the bare minimum about economics before mouthing off at people like me who've studied economics for years.

I have also encountered many smart people who have challenged me and forced me to grow and change my outlook, and while I'm grateful for that, none of these arguments are making me any less an anarcho-capitalist.

So I guess it's time to explain what I actually am, considering all the shit I've flung at various leftists these past couple of months. I am an anarcho-capitalist, or anarcho-liberal, or private property anarchist. Basically what I'm saying is that rather than a mish-mash of liberalism and socialism, which are what go into classical Left anarchism, I am philosophically a liberal through and through.

I believe that the limit of people's…

Steve Horwitz Versus Inequality Doomsayers

Steve Horwitz, the sexiest economist in America, demolishes insipid nonsense about inequality while also explaining why it gives rise over time to all the universally available goods and services that we all enjoy as of New Year's Day 2016.

By which I mean new things that only the rich get access to mutate over time as new iterations are produced until they eventually become ubiquitous.